Sunday, June 28, 2009

Smells Like Fresh Rubber

Why is Debbie smiling as the wind blows in her hair?
Because it's a fabulously, beautiful day after a week of sweltering heat and humidity, the sky is blue and the temps have dropped and.........

And because I just got new tires on my car. are not that exciting.
No........I don't like hanging out in the auto shop for an hour on a gorgeous morning where I have to write a check for over five hundred dollars before all is said and done. For tires. TIRES. Not the most exciting thing in the world to shop for or purchase. But my sweet little car needed 'em so that's what she got.

The car is happy.
And that makes mama happy.
Vrooom Vroooooom

Friday, June 26, 2009

Arrowhead Stadium in the Summer

The kids were little. The boys maybe 5 and 7, their little sister toddling around on 3-year old legs. The annual Family Picnic was rolling around, same time, same place, same relatives. That's ok. Those aunts of mine make a wicked potato salad, well worth the trip to the other side of the county. I promised to be there.

Until I heard the announcement on the radio.
The concert was scheduled to be held three hours away in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. Tickets would be sold by lottery with only a certain number available for Iowa buyers. We tried. Ohhh man we tried! Sad and disappointed, the ticket lottery came and went, leaving us empty-handed. We scoured the newspapers but the scalp prices were crazy.....$300 for a pair to start out. Closer to the concert date the prices came down a bit, but not much. This was wayyyy back when and that was one huge pile of money for a concert in KC.

I caught a glimpse of the ad as I was flipping through the newspaper.

Six tickets for the Jackson concert in KC.
We'll sell them for what we paid for them.
$50 bucks each.

I called the guy and offered him everything but a gallon of my blood to hold the tickets until I could get to his front door in a neighboring town. I called my cousin. We couldn't believe it. We were on our way!!!!! A week later on a sweltering summer day I grabbed my baby sister, taped a "Don't start without us, Michael!!!" sign in the back window of the car, picked up my cousin as we sent our husbands and kids to the family reunion without us (bad bad girls!!!!) and headed down to KC.

That I somehow managed to lock the car keys AND the concert tickets into the trunk of the car in the black asphalt parking lot of the stadium later that afternoon in 100-degree temperatures is a memory that pales in comparison to that of the distance we had to climb to reach our seats in Arrowhead Stadium. I'm not sure how far up we were but I do remember passing a sign that said "Nosebleed Section" at which level the ushers were handing out oxygen bottles to those of us that still had about 23 rows left to climb. Once seated I swear to you I saw all my dead relatives float by on clouds with a wave and curious looks on their faces that said, "What the hell are you doing up here, it's not your time yet......"

Soooo what!!! We were THERE!!!!!!
From our celestial vantage point, while the rest of the crowd hummed in ignorant anticipation, we were able to see the vans pull up back stage as the Jackson brothers arrived. With the use of high-powered binoculars we could actually get a good enough look to figure out which one was Michael. He was the one little miniature person wayyyyyyyyyyy wayyyyyyyyyyy down there wearing a glove on one hand.

My cousin saw him first. She threw down the binoculars, shrieked "Michael is down there!!!!" and we all started to scream.

"How do you know!!!! How do you know it's HIM!!!???????"

We were all crying and screaming.

Lower levels of the stadium hadn't a clue but those of us up in the rafters with our scalped tickets got the first glimpse of Michael Jackson before he hit the stage on his Thriller tour in Kansas City, Missouri. It was him all right. We could see him. Well..........we could see the glove. It was him. IT WAS HIM!!!!!!

OH!!! MY!!! GOD!!!!!!!

I watched him grow up. First time I saw him was at the Iowa State Fair. He was the cute little brother of the Jackson 5. Before all the craziness. The nose. The kids. Before he wouldn't sell the Beatles tunes back to Paul. Before all the ugliness started. Who knows what was true. What were lies. Who knows what happens along the way to make a talented little boy grow up to have so many problems. He's gone and we'll never really know.

I choose to remember him just like I saw him on that sweltering summer day. He danced across the stage with his brothers in heat that had me panting for air. And I was just jumping up and down screaming. We got our $50 bucks worth, for sure.

I said you wanna be startin somethin',
You got to be startin' somethin,
Said you wanna be startin' somethin,
You got to be startin' something....

Thanks for the music.
Thanks for the great memories.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Soggy-tuck Michigan

The rain started coming down this weekend where I was working. I've told you about Saugatuck before; quaint little artsy town on the shores of Lake Michigan. 1,000 people before tourists. Three times that in the summer, lots of wandering folks and girls like me, in town to work at a wonderful gallery in the center of town.

The rain started coming down on Friday as we drove in, making us weave and crawl our way through miles and miles of road construction barriers and cones in a one-by-one curtain of mud-flap spray and blurred tail lights. Every warning about hydro-planing my drivers ed. teacher Mr. Peacock ever gave me came to mind. Visibility was just this side of zip. The sun broke through and pushed the clouds away just as we arrived. Good sign.

But it started raining again and it just kept coming down. We grabbed umbrellas mid-evening and walked a quick 2 blocks to dinner. The rain kept coming down. And down. And dowwwwwwn. We saw lightning. We heard thunder. The restaurant lights flickered. Once. Twice. Diners held their breath and shoveled in supper, wondering if we'd all end up in the dark.

An hour later when we stepped outside the restaurant we found ourselves on a small sidewalk island in an ocean of rain water. Within 4-5 steps beyond the entry of the place the "puddles" started.

I hesitate to call them puddles. Puddles are the sort of thing that babies splash up from the bath. Puddles are the naughty little pools that a new puppy leaves on the kitchen floor when he can't hold back how happy he is to see you. I know puddles. People drool them on pillows.
I savor them in the middle of my mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. I KNOW puddles.
These were not puddles. These were more like the arms of nearby Lake Michigan reaching up from the banks and shoving her hands down the street where she could pull you in by the ankles. I am not kidding you, when I stepped off the restaurant stoop into that water I swear I saw the Edmund Fitzgerald and wondered if the church bells were going to ring for me tomorrow. This was SERIOUS WATER.

There was no avenue of escape, we just had to take off our shoes and wade, lamp post to lamp post until we made it back to our little guest house. That's just what we did. And you know how it is, you're in the water, you're wet. Why not preserve the moment in photographs.

So I stopped in the middle of the street, pulled out my camera, protected it (sort of) with my umbrella (which had blown inside out, so it wasn't providing a great deal of protection from anything really anyway) and took a couple of pictures of my friends Sandra and Angie they clung to one another for dear life and made their way up the sidewalk in front of me.

I'll bet your are looking at that picture and thinking "is that water really almost up to her skirt?" Yes, it was. Had the three of us held hands, pointed our toes and done a little bit of a wavy thing with our arms we could easily have been mistaken for a synchronized swimming team. Sorry the photos are blurry. I was trying to balance the camera and the umbrella and my purse with my shoes in my hands. You get the idea.

Wet. Really, reallllly wet.

We finally reached our little second floor guest house where I slept like a baby with the wind in the treetops outside my open window. The sounds of storms continued well into the wee hours of the morning. It was only as the sun came up that everyone in town began to discover their basements were flooded, the roads were caved in, trees had uprooted and all those fabulous bedding plants they'd tucked into the ground a few weeks earlier were halfway to Chicago.

We know all about floods here in Iowa.
As we left yesterday I told them all our hearts were with them but really, it was too early for them to even understand what I meant. Unfortunately, they'll come to understand all too clearly..........later.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Sunday Looks Like

This is what Sunday looks like.

Week to week it's pretty much the same table, different books.
Have laptop, will travel. Maybe a bagel. Usually a coffee.
There is always company. Three of us in our study group.
This is Jill.

She's one of my study partners and my great friend. We sat down for our first night in class together right around the time my Sara moved away. They're the same age and so of course I've added her to my little herd of adopted family members. Our co-partner in our three-peoples team of crime fighters is John. He left before the camera came out today. One of these days I'll introduce you to him.

Anyway, Jill had a wee bit of a disappointment this week. Big deal at the time. Based on my own experiences, in the grand context of things, a teensy little blip on the screen that she'll learn from and forget. Do you doubt it? Just look at that smile....

Love ya, Jilly!! You'll get by with your great attitude and perhaps for a short while, with a little help from your friends.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Happy Birthday Bucky!!!

Yesterday one of my favorite people turned the ol' odometer from old to older than dirt. To loosely quote his personal sentiments on the auspicious occasion, he is now "a card carrying member of the KMA club." Or something like that. You get the idea. We're old enough we don't give a whoopteedo 'bout what anyone thinks, we pretty much live life as it feels right for us and go about our biz unfettered by the opinions of others.

I love that about people my age. And I love my friend Bucky to pieces. I've kinda known him since I was a junior high kid where we skated around the same roller rink on Saturday nights. Years later our families lived in the same small town, raising our kids and working together at the same widdy-biddy post office. We think alike, which isn't necessarily a compliment to either of us, just an acknowledgment that one loose screw deserves another when it comes to choosing friends.

If you pass him on the street on a work day, he'll be nattily dressed as a mild-mannered shirt and tie sort of fella. After hours, he'll just look like Grandpa. I thought I'd dress him up for his birthday since every little boy at one point or another wants to be a cowboy when he grows up.

If you pass him on the street this weekend, wish him a Happy Birthday.

And ask him for directions to the nearest buffalo.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

All things green and glorious

Before I left for the airport I tucked everyone in......My cat. He had a full bowl of food, a tidy litter box, radio on upstairs in case he got lonely and an open window so he could sit and enjoy the fresh air.

My plants. Watered, shades open so they got plenty of sunshine. Outdoors I gave all of the newly potted flowers a good watering and whispered a little "good luck" as I threw my suitcases into the car. They were on their own, at the mercy of the weather which...this time of year......can be completely unpredictable.

One week later I come home and whooooaaaaa................everything is lush and green and gorgeous. Except for a flat of sad little guys I forgot to stick in the dirt. To the untrained eye they look ohhh-so-pathetic and quite dead.

For example, this sorry little zinnia.
I choose zinnia's because my townhouse faces South and the summer sun on my patio can be wicked. Strong plants that thrive on all-day sun survive, but only if I water them twice a day. Not watering baby zinnias before they are planted and still living in little greenhouse packs is pretty much a death sentence if you leave them alone for a week. Good and caring garden chicks would not do this. Sadly, I hang my head in shame. I forgot to plant them.

Feeling terribly guilty I started poking around under all that brown, crunchy stuff a bit and got all excited when I found a tiny, tender little green stem. Hmmmmmmmm. A chance to redeem myself. This is a challenge and I'm going to meet it. Tonight I tucked four of these cripsy-critter lookin' guys into fresh dirt and I'm gonna baby 'em back to life or ruin my fingernails trying.

Half an hour down the road another botanical tragedy was taking place as I whiled away the hours working in Las Vegas last week. Take a look at this pretty little miniature rose I had sitting on my desk at work. Sweet, huh?

My desk is on the second floor of our studio. As you can see, just beyond the steel rail that keeps me from falling to my death every time I dive for an errant paper that shoots out of my printer with a mind of it's own, are big doors that open into the fresh air of the outdoors. Seemingly the perfect place for a lovely little rose to thrive, right?

Super-wrong. This is the same miniature rose. Oh what a difference a week makes.

It withered, wilted, drooped and pretty much gave itself up for mulch in the short six days I was gone. Disappointed? You bet I was disappointed. You don't wither up and die on my watch, buster. Home to the intensive care nursery for you.

Tonight he got a good clipping, a new pot and a spot in the sun next to several other plants who know how to behave. Hopefully he'll learn by example.

Before I took off my garden gloves this afternoon I had one more very important pot to fill. Here, I'll give you a peek.

This pot is a surprise. I can't tell you what is under the dirt until later. I can tell you, you're gonna love it.................IF all goes as planned. Fingers crossed............stay tuned.