Saturday, May 30, 2009

I LOVE Cab Drivers

I do love cab drivers. I meet lots of them throughout the year and wonder if anyone has ever done a study on the collective personalities of a city's cabbies in relation to the city itself. Does that group of mobile ambassadors reflect anything about the city in which they live and work?

I think they might.
Twice in Philadelphia I've been taken on the tell-tale "ride" know, the ride where you get in the cab, tell the driver where you want to go and he ends up driving around in loops just to knock the fare up a few bucks because he knows you're from out of town and won't know the difference. Problem is, I know the difference in Philly because I have worked there lots. Enough to know a cab ride from one spot to another should take about so many minutes. But I don't know my way around enough to be able to tap the guy on the shoulder and say "Dude, you shoulda turned back there....why didn't you?" I just don't trust cabbies in Philly.

It took me several rides in another city to decide they apparently never hire people who speak English. First few rides the drivers kept mumbling and I assumed they were talking to me. I listened, trying to understand them and respond. Took me a while to realize they speaking Hindi or Guatamalish or Ethiopian, they were talking into the blue tooth headset in their ear....and I'm pretty sure they were saying something along the lines of "Dumb American chick in my back seat thinks I'm trying to talk to her."

In the city where I live, the only sure spot to find a taxi cab is at the airport.
If you're visiting town, don't plan on eating out and then catching a cab back to your hotel after dinner. Huh-uh. These streets ain't the Field of Dreams, folks. If you build up your hopes of a ride home..............there is no promise they will come. If you make the call on Wednesday, make sure you've got provisions to get you through the weekend just in case. It's going to be a long wait. On the other hand, if you are at the airport and you want a ride home after a return flight, you won't have a problem. Jack (named changed to protect me) is always there waiting. At least he always seems to be there waiting for me. Last three times I hitched a cab ride home from the airport, Jack was curbside to grab my bags. Jack is a friendly cab driver. Very friendly. He's chatty too. He will ask you if you had a good trip. He will ask you if you like to travel. He will ask you if your husband or boyfriend likes it that you travel. The FIRST time he asks you that, you will tell him you're not married................and then he'll tell you his wife doesn't understand him and.....well, you know where this is going.

Rewind and tell Jack the friendly cab driver that your husband the former Marine drill instructor black belt in karate and gold medal-winning Olympic sharp-shooter has a terrible temper and HATES it that you travel. Jack will dispatch you to the doorstep swiftly, help you with your luggage and graciously decline your tip.

Speaking of friendly...........I'm working in Las Vegas this week.
And this is my new favorite cab driver.

He greeted us with a genuine smile, chatted all the way to the hotel, slowed down a bit so we could gawk at a fender bender that did mean things to a real expensive car and hummed out loud, declaring "she sure has nice booty" when we passed a billboard announcing Beyonce was coming to town soon.
Who could disagree and I do love genuine, unbridled enthusiasm in anyone.

Thanks for the ride, Ernesto.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Great Weekend

I should be in bed. I've been off four days, I want to be at work early tomorrow because I'm working out of town all next weekend. Dang, but I just can't make myself close the door on this holiday weekend until the verrrrry last minute...which has just about arrived.

The bike is assembled!! Heck yeah!!!
Rode it on Friday afternoon. Need to make some adjustments but me and the tools made peace, we put the bike together and it actually looks just like the picture on the website. I'll take some pictures.

The rest of the weekend was just fun. Went to street festival with the kids on Saturday. The clouds opened up just about the time we arrived and rain pretty much closed down the party. We stood around yakking in the rain which was fun anyway. We had two little 1-year old's with us, teensy little girls in sandals that have just recently learned to walk and they both were completely delighted at discovering street puddles. While everyone else was hiding under umbrellas and tarps, the two of them gleefully pranced around in the water, completely oblivious to the falling rain. Can't imagine they could have had any more fun unless maybe they were naked...everyone knows babies love runnin' around stripped down to the birthday suit.

Sunday afternoon my study group...whereas I might add we have recently streamlined our fine selfs down to a compact unit of three members who get along famously.... met here at my place. John just got back from duty in Italy and brought some wine that he thoughtfully carried all the way back on the plane. Jill brought crackers and this cream cheese/jalapeno jelly stuff that is wicked delish. I threw together some sandwiches and we had ourselves a bit of a party under the shade of the patio umbrella. As a nice breeze blew we spent a little bit of time discussing our strategy for next weeks in-class debate on smoking, religion and stuff, a lot of time talking about life in general and what we plan to be when we grow up. By the end of the second bottle Jill (the youngster in the group, I might add) needed to nap on my couch, John was pontificating on the wardrobe preferences of Middle Eastern women and I'd become more intelligent than you could possibly imagine.
I slept pretty darned good last night.

Company always tuckers out my Binks.

He's been like this most of the day. I swear we didn't give him a drop of wine
but I have a feeling last night after I went to bed he was down here licking corks.

My flag few today. Thanks to my son and my best ESteven and Michael in Oregon and Donnie and Russ and Deb and my step-dad and FIL, my uncles and cousins and all of those who served. Thanks to Greg who I follow on Facebook. And John who might be deployed before we have a chance to graduate together.
Thank you, thank you all.

It's time. Day is done.
Off to bed and bring on the summer.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Holiday Weekend Eve

I am twitchy, giddy and generally all a-twitter on the eve of this holiday weekend. My Memorial weekend slate is clean with only fun stuff scheduled. Breakfast with my cuz. A little soiree with my study group. Indeed, my weekend is a calendar of hours just open and waiting for lovely things to happen. I'm going to unfold the next four days like a love letter, one careful crease at a time. Mmmm mmm mmmmmmm. I'm staying up late tonight (read that 9 pm or so....) just so I can prolong the anticipation and spend the evening nibbling on the idea of the unfettered days to come.

I bought tools. Spanners and closed-end thingies in 13mm and 15mm and I dunno what else. A smart gal suggested I hit her favorite upscale tool supply store with my shopping list so I did. Thanks Jan, you were right. They had everything I needed at Target.

Well.......I think I got the right stuff....I'm not positive. None of the tool stuff was labeled like the words in the bike book. I had to shop-by-picture, using the stuff I found when I Googled all the tool names last night.

Hey people!!!!! I think I'm gonna put a bike together tonight!!!!

That's the plan anyway.
More at 11.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boxes on the Porch

Today is a very exciting day! Came home to find both the UPS guy AND the FedEx guy had visited my front porch. Two boxes to open, ohhh man I LOVE getting stuff from those guys.

First box. Ripped it open with a bottle opener. Pair of shoes! Yeahhh! That new pair of sandals I ordered. Pulled them right out of the box, slipped them on.......easy!

Next box. Bigger. Lots bigger.
It's my bike!!!! I ordered a bike a couple of weeks ago and it's here!!! I'm so excited I could spit. But this is a job for something a little more serious than a bottle opener. Nooooo problem! My craft scissors work nicely. The big staples holding the corners of the box together bend pretty easy and............

Ok. Sooooo apparently you don't just rip open the box, slide out the bike and start riding it around the house. (Which yknow, is pretty much the way it works with shoes: open box, put on shoes, walk to mirror, admire feet, congratulate self on great choice....yada yada.)

Not so much with the bike.

Oh dear.

Sheesh. This is looking like some serious business and my happy face is starting to get sad.

Things always look better in the living room. I carry the various pieces in, prop them on the carpet and resolve to face disassembled scary bike like a big girl - with tools!!! I have some!!! How tough can this be..........there's gotta be a little instruction sheet here somewhere, I'm sure it's just a sliding A into B kinda thing. Five minutes and I'll be pedaling down the street. Now where is that instruction sheet.....................

Err...I mean, 64 page Bicycle Owners Manual and Assembly Instructions. This is the part where lesser women hiss and say "ohhhh sh*t!" Not me, baby. Nope. I march to the tool drawer and lay out my nice collection of tools.
I have a nice hammer, some pliers, five flat screwdrivers in a variety of colors and some pointy-pinchy things. And sometimes a big ol' knife and spatula come in handy, too.
Ok, let's tackle this baby and get out there on the bike trail.
The bike assembly instructions aren't bad. I think I can do it. But I'm up a creek, I have never HEARD of these tools. Spanner??? What the...or is that scanner.....put on my glasses. Nope, it's spanner. It says I have to use a 13mm spanner and I haven't a clue. And once I'm done with that, I'm supposed to use a 15mm open ended spanner.
Not to be outdone by a booklet of instructions printed in plain English, I take my study skills straight into the pages of the manual, highlight the unidentified tools and turn to my good friends at GOOGLE. What the freakin' heck is a spanner!!!???????

Huh??? Doesn't that have to be hooked to something like a handle or something? Crum. None of my screwdrivers look anything LIKE that thing.

Or this thing. So yeah. This is the part where I get sigh and say Ohhhhhhhhh sh*t.
And then, of course, I get a grip and do what I always do in situations like this.
I make toast.
What can I say, I'm a stress-eater. Some people pop a Zoloft, some people grab a beer. Me?
I make toast.
I don't know what I'm gonna do now. I feel just a little bit like I might cry.
I won't. But I kinda feel like it.
I'll figure it out.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From Wayyyy back when...

Went out for dinner with a guy I used to date in high school. He lives in Oregon and was visiting family back here for the first time in years. Had to grab pizza at an old haunt that hasn't changed much more than an occasional light bulb since the year we graduated. Even the menu looks exactly the same.

Best thin crust pizza on the planet, if we're voting.

Mike went to a different high school than I did. He played football. Nice smile. Laughed easily. Lots of fun. We used to zip around town in his little white car. Soon as we graduated he joined the Air Force. Although we've kept in touch off and on over the years, we've probably crossed paths in person maybe three times since wayyy back when.

After flipping stories back and forth across the table we did a little tour of the city and took a nice, slow drive through the Iowa State Fairgrounds and the old neighborhood where he used to play as a kid. Fun night. Unfortunately I was out of town on business nearly the entire time he was here so we only had the one night to catch up but it was a good time. He's a proud dad and Grandpa. I had to laugh at the amount of time we spent talking about our kids and grandkids. Somethin' so wonderful about the spark in an old friends eyes when they're talking about their kids and grandbabies.

Doubt I could convince my kids to believe it but some of you are old enough to know it's really true........the memories you make when you are young are even sweeter when you relive them with old friends.

Yup. Getting older is lots of fun.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend in Asheville

I'll tell you what, I sipped myself into some serious state of Sweet Tea Oblivion this weekend. I have a great recipe and reputation for it myself, but there is something about the way a tea bag steeps in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains that gives that fabulous tea a most wonderful flavor. Mmmm and oooohhhh shugah!!!!!

I was in the Carolina's working at a wonderful place called New Morning Gallery located in Asheville. The region is known for it's artisans, skilled in all manner of traditional American craft. These are skills that have been handed down from generation to generation. The motto of the gallery is "art for living" and you'll see why as you move on down through the pictures.

The gallery features the finest American Craft work you can find. The wonderful thing is that it's not "don't-touch" art........I love wall art and they have lots of that too, but the store is filled with American Craft art which is functional, textural, touchable and intended to be integrated and their motto suggests....into your every-day living.

Take a walk with me through the place and I'll show you some really cool stuff......

I especially like fun, sorta odd-ball sculptural pieces. Lots of them to be found in galleries like this. You'd be hard-pressed to find a formal bust of one of the Vanderbilts in this place (although they built the famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville) but there are plenty of crazy dogs and cats and crows and............

......cute little pottery ladies with an attitude.

All over the gallery you'll find hand-crafted tables set with wonderfully creative pottery pieces. On the shelves are place settings of unique pottery and rows and rows of glassware. If you look closer, you'll note that the goblets are hand-blown glass. The pieces are all signed by the artists.

You don't find stuff like this on the shelves at Pottery Barn.

One of my favorite American Craft artists is Chris-Roberts Antieau. She patches her pieces together using wonderful vintage fabrics, outlining each image in beautiful embroidery stitches.

And more glass........

Could you set a suhhh-WEEET table with pretty things like this!!????

Ahhhem, might you please pass the crumpets.......

For a gal who enjoys most of her beverages from a blue Walgreens tumbler, just picking one of these goblets up to read the artist name on the bottom makes me feel a little bit elegant. And look at the kind of magic they create using their glass-work skills for these beautiful chandeliers.

Nice beak, Mister.

Brian Andreas is another great artist. His studio is in Decorah, Iowa and you'll see his work all over the country. I could stand and read the themes of his prints for hours. I picked this one out as a favorite this weekend because it reminds me of my daughter..........

I collect stars and shiny glass things that hang in my window and catch the light. Every time I work in a gallery, I choose another piece to bring home and hang in the window. I hope someday when I give them to my little granddaughter, she'll look at them and remember that Grandma Debbie taught her to love art and color.

So pretty in the light.

At the end of our first working day in Asheville, we were invited to the home of the gallery owner for a tour of his private gardens. I get all light-headed and speechless over flats of pansies and impatiens. You can just IMAGINE how much fun it was to walk in this beautiful place...all through the acres and acres of gardens are pieces of very unique sculptural art.

So THIS is what holly plants do in the spring..........

Because of the abundant shade provided by forests of old trees, woodland plants and hostas thrive in these gardens. Never too hot, never too cold. Never too light. And lots of moisture.

Yes, the garden not only sprawls for acres in every direction but it's also multi-level with little paths winding the way to every nook and cranny, many which have themes.

Inside the house, it's just as cozy and inviting. They really do "LIVE" the motto of their store. The home is just full of "art for living".

You've probably heard me say it before when I've returned home from a trip. It's true. Every time I walk in after one of these trips I set my suitcase down, look around at my own place and say to myself, "I've got to paint this place..........."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Busy, busy

Meetin' myself coming and going this year. Crazy busy.
Worked in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Good show. Great weather.

Just finished up a class that had me waking up at 2 AM and staring at the ceiling. The course was stressful. But I've gotta tell ya, I spend every Tuesday night with a group of people that I'm crazy about. Last fall we all bunched up together for a picture.

Three of them have dropped. The remaining group rocks. They are awesome. I just love them to pieces. So smart. So interesting. Great life stories. Next to the diploma at the end of the whole deal, they're the best part. At the conclusion of every class we go out and celebrate.
Wayyyyy fun.

Last week one of my Sar's friends let me babysit. Tyler is an absolute doll. Charming. Cute as a little bug. This is he and my Binks having a bit of a chat. You may notice they are about the same size. Actually they are exactly the same size. Yup. They both weigh 23 pounds. I think in
this shot Tyler is establishing superiority by asking Binks to arm wrestle......knowing he'll win of course, because Binks doesn't have the critical component....opposable thumbs.

Yeahhh for sure. He's a sweetie. Grandma Debbie had such a great time with him!!!

So tomorrow morning I'm off to North Carolina for the weekend. The folks I'm working with down there tell me it's sunny and green. They are enjoying a fabulous spring. Should be a good weekend.

Lest you think all these activites leave me no time for contraire. Last night I had dinner with a guy I used to date in high school. He's visiting his family, in from Vancouver, Oregon and we had a blast at one of the old pizza hangouts from wayyyy back when. Took him on a bit of a field trip around the city so he could see some of the old neighborhoods and how things have changed. Soo much fun and I wish he lived closer. Seems to be the time of life, such fun to renew old friendships.

And to learn new things. My little sportscar laptop is grossly UNDER used by an operator such as myself and I'm commited to learning more so that we can deepen our relationship and make use of all of the wonderful attributes which I have been assured, will make my life sooo much more simple.

We'll see.

In the meanwhile, a few baby steps toward that endeavor..............and my friend Donnie graciously consented to be the model for my most recent Paint program exercise. I thought he would make a great pirate. Avast, ye scoundrels!!!!!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Great Stuff Comes in Pink Packages

Let me just quickly say...........this going to school and work and business-trip schedule is just about killin' me. And it doesn't help that this new laptop has a mind of it's own. The cursor is possessed and jumps all over the place, mid-sentence. WHERE IS MY YELLOW LEGAL PAD.....!!!!!!!!

And I'm soo soooo tired.
Thus I'll direct you past what has momentarily become something of a lifeless online spot to one that surely will fascinate you. My adventurous daughter has started her own blog so that her friends and family can keep track of her comin's and goin's. As you read, you'll realize what I mean...she's been on the road lots over the past few years and she's got plenty to write about.

This is my Sar.
She's not usually Only for special occasions.

She's fun and I adore her. She's also a heck of a writer.
Drop in, check her out and tell her mama said hi.

Friday, May 01, 2009

It's H1N1, People. Now for heaven's sake, go out and buy some BACON

We raise pigs around here. Lots of them. The pork industry is big-time in Iowa. If you grew up here like I did, you know lots about them.

No. You do not get the flu from eating pork.

You can fry bacon tomorrow and eat it all morning long and you won't get the flu. You can stuff ham into your sandwich. You can grind up sausage and spread it all over your pizza. Heck, you can kiss pigs all day long and you won't get the flu.

C'mon. You know I'm right. Don't tell me some of you haven't kissed a few over the years and lived to tell the story. Sheesh. Who hasn't. My best friend and I laugh about the night I came home and called her after a date a few years back. Seemed to be a good guy. Met him through friends.

"Did you like him?"
"Yeahhh, he seems nice enough."
"Well? Are you going to see him again??"
"Mmmm...I don't think so."
"And why not???"
"Look, I know this is dumb but when he kissed me good night I kind of had my hand behind his ear............and there was something back there."
"Something??!!! Like what KIND of somethng??"

I dunno what it was but I wasn't goin' back to find out.
It could have been a bug for all I know and for all I know that coulda turned out to be a beautiful relationship but a girl's gotta draw her line somewhere.
And mine is drawn just this side of suspicious entities lurking behind ears.

Eat Pork.
Cover your mouth when you cough.

And you out know who you are......wash behind your ears.