Friday, August 31, 2007

Drag Him off the Field Already! Play Ball!

Baby Boy was playing football for the barracks (he's in the Army at Fort Wainwright, Alaska presently) when the inevitable occurred; he hurt himself. Every year the boy played ball he broke at least one other person besides himself, but he always managed to hurt himself severely somehow. That's probably why I was encouraged to take out the school's athletic insurance policy! We used it. So, what happened yesterday was not the least bit surprising to me. The soldiers in the barracks next to Reuben's barracks threw out the challenge - football. For a while this summer my son was subjected to playing soccer - like a commoner! Hahahaha, OK, I'm sorry if that offended you, you have to understand our upbringing to appreciate the dislike for fotbol - it's just not FOOTBALL unless the ball itself is elliptical.

The boys were lined up, they were wearing colors, they were wearing smiles, they were calling audibles and doing what they needed to do. No one on the other team realized that the boy I raised was literally taught to play real football by none other than Reggie White, the greatest man to ever step foot on a gridiron. Reuben memorized, passionately, every play he was taught and he utilized the methods and training for many years from the time he was 12 to the day - well, until yesterday! The number 92 carved into my son's arm (tattoo) bears witness to the love he has still for the original "Minister of Defense" as Reggie was called. The call was made, the count was set, up on his heels, through the pall of flesh on three - the boy hit! He hit the line, he blasted through the line, missing the quarterback by a fraction of an inch he continued running straight toward the wide receiver who was making his pattern in good time. Reuben's speed has always carried him just THAT much faster - BAM! They hit. He collided into the intended receiver, but not before his large extended arm slammed toward the ball - knocking it to the ground. The play, the precious play was saved! Go Boy!

OK, the bad news: Reuben was under the boy he tackled, and so was his arm. I'm not sure yet which arm was affected - I got the call in the middle of the night actually as it was being x-rayed at the base hospital. You see, it's a rule in our house, you have to call the mom when you're in the hospital no matter what - I need to know to start praying. There is another rule too: Get the man off the field so you can play ball! I asked the guy that called me on behalf of my broken son, "Did he make the play?" The man laughed. He answered "That is EXACTLY what Reuben said you would say!" I repeated my question - I could tell in his voice that Reuben was going to be OK, the more important questions needed to be asked. Did he make the play? That's one question. Did they get him off the field so they could resume play? Did he cause a time-out unnecessarily? You know, things like that. Well, the Pvt that I was talking to assured me that the U.S. Army didn't just pull my son off the field. The play was made, yes, but the game was stopped due to injury. How very sad. Today we hang our heads in shame. Just kidding. I'm just really glad my baby is OK, or will be. He said he's on really strong drugs at the moment and that now would be a good time to ask him other types of questions that he may answer without regard to consequence. I may do that.

Thank you Army guys for pulling my baby to safety, but try to understand the reasoning behind those questions; a gladiator is only as good as his heart. My son would have wanted the game to continue, I'm sure. There was a time during his high school years, his junior year I believe, that I went to a game and it looked like it might rain. Rain it did! Buckets and buckets full and wind too. Everyone else in the entire stadium ran for cover - I could not. I wasn't allowed to abandon the game - not for rain. If it had begun to lightning I could have left IF they had called the game, but my job was to stand fast and to give the nod and the signal to the boy on the field that I was behind him 100%...150% if possible. I was the ONLY spectator in the stands. The game was resumed and the others returned. My boy's drenched smile shone as proudly for me as mine did for him. I don't leave the man on the field either. I will never leave the man on the field. Pull him off so the others can play ball - I'll love him from wherever I am standing fast. Today it is in Oklahoma. My heart and my prayers are in Alaska.

Hooah! (Thanks Clark for the call)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Going to Spain!

This past Sunday one of the members of my church, a guy who has taught elementary students for nearly 30 years, leaned over and made a joke during class. I reciprocated and it just kept right on throughout the entire class. We both love the English language, the double-meanings, the puns, and of course, the jokes that hardly anyone else would get - unless they were word nerds like we are. During the course of my fun someone said out loud "Hey Jude! So you've never been to Spain, but you've been to Oklahoma?" To which (or to wit) I answered "Well, they tell me I was born there, but I really don't remember - in Oklahoma, not Arizona, but what does it matter?" If you're old enough you'll get that.

It's true - I was born in Oklahoma, not Arizona, but now I won't be able to state that I've never been to Spain. That is, I won't be able to say it after September 15, because that's when I'm suppose to be flying over to that beautiful country with my dog Faith. We've been invited to be guests on a television show, do a few interviews, promote the books, that sort of thing. I can't wait. It's not been easy getting the tickets, the passport, the contract, the deposits, or any of it. I have to get Faith microchipped this weekend - before the GAME, but she'll be fine I'm sure. It's not expensive and it could save her life in the future too. She'll be properly spoiled for days afterwards too, I'm sure. She's such a baby when she gets her shots. Matrix just takes it...snarls a little when he sees the nail clippers, but shots he's OK with. Faith just whines like a brat for either really - and we end up distracting her with cheese and/or gummi bears.

SPAIN....the food should be out of this world. I'm told I'll be in a 4 or 5 star hotel. That scares me, will I have the clothes to wear? I can't see myself wearing my ragged out torn Levis in the ritzy ritz hotels in the streets of ancient Madrid. I will remember to bring something flowing and white - that's always good for Europe! I told myself I didn't want to be the fat American stepping off the plane in Europe my first time. I'm down to 155 now, perhaps I can get 10 more off before touchdown. I sincerely don't want to be a stereotypical American. I'll also remember to thank everyone, listen intently, not ask people to say things in English - but then again, I don't speak any other language, so I may have to see pictures. I think I'll try to refrain from ordering dessert too - and fatty foods. Just the salads, the chicken dishes, and no thanks on the snails - seriously, no thanks. I like my slugs on the beach where they belong, not on my table!

Faith, for her part, will be flying in the cabin - or we don't go. At first we were told that Spain doesn't allow dogs in the cabin of their planes, but Faith isn't just a dog, she's a celebrity, and she's a U.S. Army soldier, and she's a goodwill ambassador. The fact that she has to fly in cargo in America is loathsome, but the airlines insists on booking us at First Class rates ONLY if we fly so it's cost prohibitive....however, traveling overseas - they can either pay it, or we stay home. I don't want my puppy in the cargo for more than a few hours at most. She always seems so interested in seeing me after just a short jog from Dallas to Chicago. It must be rather lonely in the suitcase section! Then again, when she's in the cabin she just curls up and goes to sleep in her chair, and not a single passenger realizes she is even in First Class until we land. Barking at the landing gear seems to make her happy - so she does it. No, she never partakes in the champagne, and I don't usually ask that she have her meal served with finger napkins either. She has no fingers to wipe! She just wolfs it down like a dog - imagine that!

Hopefully we'll be in the air soon and being a little giddy for the vacation, for the fun, for the experience. I look forward to seeing my passport too. I took the pictures today - I didn't like them. I'll redo them tomorrow - hey, it's my first! I have to carry it around for years, and I want it to be just right. If you have any tips for me about traveling in Europe, please e-mail, I need to become educated I'm sure!

Sooner Football - Selmon Sauce!

Only 2 more days before the opening kickoff of the 2007 Football Season and I had to capitalize it because it is a proper noun! Don't argue with me, I have a Masters in English - I know a proper noun when I see one. Sooner Football, Bob Stoops, The Boys, Red & Crimson...all proper nouns. Everyone of them worthy of proper recognition. We have a family tradition in our world that I simply couldn't get out of - and I wouldn't. I wouldn't (and didn't) let the fact that my son is 3 time zones away from me stand in the way of he and I eating our Swaubs hot links with Selmon Brothers Sauce all over them. Now, for those of you who may not be familiar with either the Swaubs or the Selmons, I think you can Google the Selmons and find out that not only are they the best BBQ sauce makers in the world, they all played football for Oklahoma University in the DAY. The National Championship Day. Well, we've had 7 of those days here in Oklahoma, but who's counting? (We are!)

We, Reuben and I, always start the first game off right. We fire up the grill, pile on the links, wear old worn out jerseys, and we fly the giant OU flag outside - on top of the roof so it can't be missed. We always use the OU throw pillows to throw at the referees on screen when they screw up, and we always drink RED drinks, such as Red Bull, Merlot wine for me, or Red Koolaid, something RED. It must be RED. Naturally we sing the fight song when appropriate, which is absolutely every down when we achieve more than 4 yards, and when we make a great tackle. We sing it when we score, we sing it when the other team DOESN'T score, and we sing it when we win too. Simple lyrics really - wanna learn? "Boomer Sooner! Boomer Sooner! Boomer Sooner! Boomer Sooner! Boomer Sooner! Boomer Sooner! Boomer Sooner! Boomer Soon - ER! Then you have to do the drum roll part, and start all over again. Not hard - join in.

Well, this year, seeing how Reu will be stuck in Alaska and unable to see the game - we've arranged for camstreaming and/or radio on XFM so he can catch the plays. I decided to foot the bill and send him a bottle of Selmon sauce too, but decided against the Swaub meats. He'll have to make due with whatever brand he can pick up in the land of the midnight sun. Perhaps Selmon sauce will actually go well with caribou - he may have a new tradition to share when this is over. Nevertheless, he does have the jersey, he does have a smaller version of the flag, and he does have that Good Ol' Oklahoma Spirit! (another proper noun)

Go Bob! Kick some TEXAS butt. (Hey, Matt - First North Texas falls, then we're gunning for longhorn - no capital letter needed my friend!) LOL - Football has entered the building!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Positively Agree!

I have been a very positive thinker for years. Also, for years, I have positively thought that I was rather unique, strange, different, or really just sort of OUT THERE, and apparently, most people agree with me. I can't help it really, it's just the way life dealt my cards and I suppose it's the way I have always decided to take those cards and make little houses out of them, maybe paper aeroplanes - rather than to cry over something I can't change.

When I got back to work today from a well deserved lunch, my boss (who I've taken to calling Boy Boss due to the fact that he's almost 1/2 my age, and he's so much like my son in many ways) explained to me on his way out the door that (1) he was behind in his sales quota for life insurance policies this month. (2) that in order for him to make the cut in the district office we needed to sell 3 more policies by tomorrow, and (3) he didn't care how I got them, as long as I got them. I decided, as I always do - to think positively. WHO, I asked myself, can I pounce on this week?

It wasn't long, not long at all before I was able to call the boy, er, man up on his cell to tell him that I had indeed two good prospects and was working on the third. His silence on the other end of the phone was deafening...he was thrilled. How? How did I do this? I simply did what I knew he hadn't done since the day he walked into the office a year or so ago. I canvassed the offices in the building. People work in our building. Real live people, with real live needs, and if everyone in the building is like him - self employed, then they need life insurance. That's what more than 20+ years of selling the stuff was saying to me anyway - two down, one to go. By close of business we had four. Four, not three - four! It helped a little that he had threatened to let me keep my job if I found him the necessary three. I don't really need the job, but working with him makes me think of being that much closer to my real boy. He says some of the boy like, inappropriate things my son would say, and even though he doesn't blow his nose in the trashcan like Reuben would, he burps, farts, and adjusts himself fairly often. (Just like home!)

I have to think that thinking positively helps in other ways too - it just does. We all hate it when we go into a business and hear someone being negative, hurtful, scorning and awful to the clerk at the counter. I hate it when I was being talked down to when I worked in retail, and it's the number one reason I would prefer my girls to work in businesses where they have less chance to deal one on one with irate customers. It just pulls you down to hear all the complaining - but I will say this; working at Avis Rent-A-Car Reservation Center in Tulsa for a year between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 2:45 a.m. was a blast!!! I was on the complaint line. That was my job. I suppose the people at Avis got a hoot out of listening to me explain the rules and regulations to the multitudes of customers who would call in with the stupidiest of complaints in order to get a credit on their next rental. I was fun....positively fun.

After working the complaints for a while they'd switch me to what the called the "Death" line because they wanted to shake up things for me and not allow me to become depressed from all the complaints, which were constant actually. We had four reservationists devoted to the complaints on a 24/7 basis. The Death line was even more interesting - I'd get calls from Monroe, LA....a sheriff stating that a 1/2 body was found in the trunk of the Avis car. He wasn't sure if the De-Ce-Dant was a customer or a victim of something gone a bit bad. He's say the De-Ce-Dant may be a man, but he wasn't going to pull the britches off to see! We'd go over the necessary paper work, and I'd think to myself - wow, I thought I was having a bad day. Just thinking about the things I heard over the Death line for Avis really pushes me to be more positive in my daily thoughts and conversations - you never know. You could be renting a car one minute, and being described by the local sheriff as a 1/2 body the next...and him not even willing to pull off your pants to try and identify you!

Well, positive thinking has gotten me further in life than being sour-headed, foul-mouthed, or mean. I can be all of those things - but the good life, the sweet life, the really-blessed-in-your-face life has to be a product of being genuinely happy, and if chocolate is simply not available to assist that process, thinking positive can be. Maybe the chocolate will appear just because you were hoping it would! (Making the world a better place to sell insurance)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Yeah, about that.....

I was trying my hardest to get through to the Financial Aid assistant's head at the Oklahoma State University (OKC branch) in order to receive the necessary information I needed to receive regarding my child's eduction -when out of nowhere (actually, my purse) came the unforgivable! The highly recognized, very upbeat, pumped up fight song of their rival school - Oklahoma University's "Boomer Sooner". Yes, I will admit, we live in a house-divided. My son and I, because we're extremely intelligent people; always on top of the situation, always on the ready - you know, are OU fans. My two daughters on the other hand - because OSU-OKC is so much closer to home, they have friends that attend the school, and it has the academic programs they're interested in - have left the sanctity of our union, and have become Oklahoma State Cowboys. I will say this: they are not "fans". Reuben and I are die-hard Sooners, thank you.

The ringtone sounds off! It's blaring, I'm ignoring it. I'm trying to make my point to the woman behind the desk - she's the one thing at this moment coming between my littlest and her books. She's glaringly (and alarmingly) stoic, unmoving, not even thinking about budging on the fact that the FAFSA, or student aid, can be incorrect. It is incorrect and I continued to make my argument, going so far as to pull out evidence and proof positive in my favor. I know I'm right about this you see, so I don't let up. I'm vigilant! All the while my purse is throbbing and screaming the beat of the drums - I paid extra for the animated version. I use it for an alarm clock in the mornings too - it's very effective. I don't believe anyone (even the dead) could sleep through 2 rounds of Boomer Sooner blaring over the speakers just inches from their head. Gives me that start I need each day to face the world -or tackle it, kickoff is less than a week away.

You know you're living in Oklahoma this time of year. You're not allowed to be dead because it won't be an excuse for NOT choosing sides. You either wear Red or you wear Orange. You have a choice -and that's it. You can be a Sooner or a Cowboy. Forget the fact that I actually physically and academically surrendered my time and money to Oklahoma City University, where our colors were blue and gold and our mascot for many years was a bug -seriously, it was a bug - a tough scarab yes, but nevertheless - an insect. In Oklahoma, and probably in Texas, you make the decision early in life if you have the choice - or you follow the footsteps of your parents in making your own indelible decision, but a decision will be made. You must, and I mean MUST wear red or orange this time of year, and you must be proud. It's the way it is.

So, here I sit today in enemy territory, trying to get my daughters' education paid for with federal monies - it will happen. I, like the steadfast rock standing before me, am a strong and unmovable force - I wear RED.....but if she's nice I'll say thank you.

Boomer Sooner!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

'ello Aloe!

You know, for being the brilliant and often outlandishly intelligent person that I am - I can really be a dummie from time to time. I have to stop making fun of my Aries son for running straight into things, or for opening his mouth without thinking. I'm forever telling him how he needs to read the instructions, work with someone who has the experience he's trying to gain before jumping head-straight into a project...good advice right - so why am I the one who just drank over 12 ounces of full strength aloe vera juice without consulting the label to find out that the recommended adult dosage is something like 2 ounces a day? I think the word "laxative" will be in my immediate future, but at least the word "relief" will be as well.

I was sitting at the computer, this computer, minding my own business (because that's what I do! I mind my own business when suddenly and often without permission, life happens!! Just like that - splat! Right in my face.) I found an article about the benefits and the antidotes of aloe vera juice - not the gel, not the stuff you put on your skin for burns or scrapes, no, the juice, the 100% full bodied undiluted juice in big fat bottles sold expensively at the nearest health stores or online for upward of 50% off - free shipping. That's the stuff I'm talking about. First you get it for the benefit, then you get it for less. You spend more because you weren't really spending it beforehand but now you can actually save and get the cleansing of a lifetime!

Well, seems that aloe vera juice does sooooooo much more. Much much much more than just help one get the hard, plastered, microbiographic materials clinging to your overworked and bloated intestines - you can actually (get this) regrow cells inside of your insides by simply drinking aloe vera juice daily. Seriously, it works not only as an anti-inflammatory agent for all things ailing you, it works toward the recreation of cells in the stomach, the intestines, and everything going from the opening in your mouth to the opening just below the toilet lid. (OK, that was graphic and unnecessary, but I got your attention didn't I?) This stuff sounds cool doesn't it? I didn't want to wait for the 2 ounces to do the job I guess. Actually, to be honest I didn't read the label I just saw the pictures on line of the full glass of liquid and I did the same thing - or so I thought I did.

I opened the bottle of aloe vera and promptly poured 12 ounces of it into a tall clear glass. The color can vary because this strength though claiming to be full strength is not 18x pure or something it's just 100% pure juice. Acting like the over achiever that I have always been, I then squeezed 1/2 a large lemon into it, and yes - down it went! TASTY! So, now I wait. I wait, and I wait. I bet it won't be too much of a surprise when I have to go and go and go tonight huh? But the good news is, that the candy apples and all the fixings that we attached to them this weekend at Cafe' Bauer will be gone too. That was one hell of a night! Nothing is quite as fun as audio taping a bunch of women making caramel and candied apples, then dipping them into various candies, marshmallows, chocolate pieces, coconut, and sprinkles - then as you guessed probably, just like at a wedding shower you play the tape loudly for all to hear. Naturally you'll want to be sipping (gulping) large amounts of wine or doing tequila shots when you replay the tape...makes for a much more enjoyable event.

Some of the things you hear women say out loud - while drinking wine or tequila - well, think about it: "You stick that in the other end stupid", "This could get messy", "It's suppose to be hotter right?", "Where do you put it after you've done that part?" and my favorite "Oh my gosh, I just got it all over my face, help me - no hurry, it's runny". Something tells me I'm going to need this aloe vera - my apple was a big fat red delicious. I dipped it first in chocolate then the caramel - I think it was suppose to be the other way around. I then rolled it in sprinkles and pressed slivered almonds all over it....DANG it was good. I think the worst thing I heard myself say was "Damn, I can't get my mouth around it". That was funny, you have to admit, that was funny - even funnier when you consider the 3rd tequila.

Viva la Aloe Vera! God's answer to everything wrong inside and out of you.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dancing my ARSE off!

That is exactly what I'm doing, and Cheap Trick, Journey, Kansas, Panic at the Disco, and Savage Garden are certainly doing their part! THANK GOD for Michael Buble, Phil Collins, Elton John, and John Mayer - they're the slower songs playing in my earphones. Every step, every move, jerk, thrust, and throw is helping me to not-so-secretly get to the point that I can get to the point! I don't need the photo of a size 6 pair of jeans on the frig making me covet the day I actually squeeze my size 12 body into them. I'm going for the 9. I'm just going for the 9, thank you. 9 is good. Good number....good size, and I get to be the woman I was meant to be, rather than the girl some think they need to achieve. No, I'll take the womanly life, thank you.

After what my daughter Caity told me about the penis judging contest she was involved in last night - I'll take the womanly life every time! Youth is for the young. If there is one thing I've learned from my erotica writing daughter Caity it's to be happy I don't get giddy over boys and their toys any longer. Now, I could conceivable see myself dancing on the kitchen tiles with Gary Alan, and if the man doesn't want to remember where he put his pants, I'm not going to judge him. I'm probably going to thank him a little later - never judge...never judge.

When I reached for my jeans today I was very very pleasantly pleased that they slipped on a little easier. They even wiggled about the waist - for that, I thank Boston, Kansas, Foreigner, I even thank Loreena McKennett - that woman's voice can cause you to do some really deep rolling squats that work out every tiny, itty-bitty muscle you wish you hadn't found near and around your gluts....slowly the music is working. Slowly the moves are showing up, showing off, and giving me that much more reason to sweat happily - draping over the bed exhausted isn't nearly as deadly as it used to be. The dog is even mildly entertained by me now. That overtly concerned look in his eyes has all but disappeared.

I really should be a little less open about this - after all - you are the world that I'm talking to. You are the world wide web - are you listening? Have I gotten your attention yet? Hey, I'm getting thinner, and I'm just letting the blood pump a little harder and a little longer these days to get that done....9 is good for my height.....besides, too thin isn't even sexy and after 8 and 1/2 years - sexy can be a good thing again. If you're one of the world people who have the same problems I did - get an Mp3, load it up, wear something loose, get a lot of water (room temp) and a yoga mat. Stay within the confines of the mat as not to hurt yourself or throw yourself through an open window by accident. Plant those thoughts of sveltness firmly in your head, communicate to your body the very vision that you imagine it to be - and DANCEEEE! DANCE! DANNNNNNCCCCCEEEE! and

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Who. Steppenwolf. Yes. RUSH!

OH God, the music! I just got my new MP3 player, and have absolutely no idea how to download it correctly; it's not an iPod, it's a Sanyo I think - so I did what anyone would do. I found a kid, I gave the kid the machine, a stack of CDs and $20.00 - can you believe I first thought I could get away with only paying $10? Please. What year am I living in? Obviously, by the titles, and the names of the bands headlining my new player - I'm hovering in the 70's. I'm doing so (this time) without the smoke, without the drink, without the crazy guy's pants hanging off my VW's bumper - who the hell was that guy anyway? He just sort of showed up at the party and used my car as a hotel room - sorry, no shower, Bugs are rather quaint that way. I guess he could have poured the water from my flower vase over his head and called it even.

I remember in high school falling in love with bands that were just a little bit older than me - Yes, Rush, Steppenwolf, Who, Rolling Stones - because before that I had been in love with the Bee Gees, Beatles, Beach Boys, and Billy Joel. About the time Adam Ant came out I decided to give up the punky new age crap and go for the older more sophisticated music of the harder, more manly rockers - those not wearing leather pants, but sticking with dirty old Levis and letting their hair grow out naturally (forgetting the tease and made up faces) I was simply not a KISS fan like my friends were. Garth Brooks grew up about 6 miles from me, he dated a friend of mine - and no, in 1978 the man was NOT into country - his hair was long, he was a rock as they get, and the day I saw him mimicking Gene Simmons may very well have been the day I went home and kissed my poster of the band "AMERICA". There are just somethings yes, we thank God for - His unanswered prayers as Garth later wrote and sang about. I own every record GB every put out, even that silly Chris Gaines CD - but I do prefer my Garth wearing jeans, and I do prefer my Garth, crazy as he is on stage, to be wearing a hat!

So - let the kids tell me to turn it off, turn it down. Let them come up behind me in my OWN house and slam my bedroom door shut to close off the screaming and the whining of those Van Halen guitars.....oh wait, the fantasy.....Alex.....just one, awwww, yes...thank you for your indulgence, that man was incredibly - - talented. My daughters get mad at me for not having sex with him, but what I smile about is my own damn business now isn't it? I do love my music and I do love it loud. There's a reason I have various ringtones assigned to the kids now - my son has an obvious one: Steppenwolf's BORN TO BE WILD. Say no more.

Let it rock!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Favorite Felon

His name is Jeff. There is NO WAY I'm going to tell you his last name. I don't know how real life detectives and police officers do this - I was just walking down the street yesterday, minding my own business - because that's what I do, and I get this: "Hey Jude! Hey Jude!". I turned around, there was this guy, a normal looking guy, sort of tall, sort of thin, sort of young, but I didn't know who he was - or why he knew who I was. He caught up to me, because I stopped, and he said "You don't remember me? I'm you favorite felon!" OH, Oh, my gosh, yes, I remembered him. He was, as he said, my favorite felon. I met him several times in 1995 when the attorney I worked for represented him in a drug sting. You can guess the rest. I haven't seen him since 1995 for a reason.

Jeff was the funniest criminal I had ever had the pleasure of interviewing for the purpose of having contact information, basic and/or general knowledge to see whether or not my boss would want to represent him. I'm not saying the boy should have gotten a better attorney, after all, he admitted his guilt to me - then told the 12 jurors all about how he was set up, entrapped by the policeman he eventually sold cocaine to, and you know the story he told. It was a sad and drawn out tale, one that I'm sure broke the hearts of his mom and his girlfriends at the time, but not the jury and certainly not the D.A. Jeff went straight to the big house and he's just now getting to see the light of day. He told me he's been out about four months, he has a job, he's going to college (like I told him to in 1995) and he's becoming a - get this - detective. I don't know how that works. I don't know if you can become a law enforcement officer once you've been convicted and have served over 12 years for a crime you didn't admit to. I hope he's serious, I hope he gets his life on track, the one thing that bothers me if his venue. He should seriously consider moving if he's going to be going after the guys he ran around with in the 90's.

What I liked about Jeff then, and I like about him now, is his genuine kindness. He was a man who was convicted, he was a serious threat, but he was a humanitarian in his own mind. According to Jeff, he only sold coke to adults. He only sold it to people who could afford it, and he actually paid taxes on what he earned - that was the part that made me laugh. I asked him what he claimed to be his occupation on the 1040A form. He said he wrote "Sales". You just have to love a man with conviction - even if he has convictions. Another thing that endeared Jeff to me in 1995; just 13 days after I first met him he was involved in the rescue efforts of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Jeff the felon - digging through rock and wreckage to give hope and life to others. He went to jail shortly after that day. I know I wrote to him a dozen times to encourage him to read and write, to go to college if they'd let him, and to be careful in the pen. One thing he had going for him (he says) was the FACT, the absolute FACT that he never harmed a child.

What was it that Jesus said "Comfort those in prison." Jeff has a new hope. I can't believe he recognized me after all this time - but it was good to hug a man who I believe could be a new man. God, I hope so. The world could use a few more Jeffs, but with less sales convictions.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cannoli Controversy

Most people who grew up in an Italian neighborhood can tell you that cannolis are awesome! The time it actually takes to make a real batch of cannolis can vary of course, but it isn't a typically fast event - I know this from experience. I've been trying to perfect the art of cannoli form manufacturing for years - I finally broke down about a month ago and ordered a new set of 4 forms on Ebay. I had an old set from back in the 80's and like anything else made out of metal they started looking a little like I shouldn't be using them anymore - not if food was involved. You know what I'm getting at, you've seen the metal cookie sheets with rust and grime all over the surface in your kitchen. Throwing out something old and metal isn't as easy as throwing out something old and made out of soiled cloth or broken plastic. Metal is so....permanent!

So I bought the forms and within a day I lost them! My good friend Chef Eric Bauer decided my kitchen was too small to properly make cannolis and he's kidnapped my forms. I can visit them on weekends when I have the time - he's been kind enough to bring them out on special dress-up occasions too. When he painted his kitchen he took extra special care of my forms, placing a big plastic sack over them and laying them on top of the dryer in the mudroom so they wouldn't get splashed. That was nice. I thought that was going way over the top, but it was very nice of him to think of me. Still, I faced separation anxiety from time to time when I watched Rachel Ray or Emeril come up with something delicious or decorative - something unique and Italian. I wanted my damn cannoli forms! That's what I wanted!

What I did today, I have no remorse for. I have absolutely no bad feelings and if I admit to the reading public that I actually found my method of fast-acting-cannoli-habit solving to be less than traditional, well, forgive me. What I admit to you now is a true story:

I went to the store, a store not far from my house. There I found ready-made, already in a box, prefabricated cannoli forms from a company called "Alessi". They make dried breadsticks too, I found the cannoli forms on the same aisle as the breadsticks - I was looking for spaghetti. Oh, I did it - I bought the dang box of prefabricated, boxed, aged, preserved cannoli forms for $2.49. I went over to the dairy aisle - I picked up both ricotta cheese (full fat), and a block of cream cheese. I marched my happy butt over to the confectioner's sugar and I bought a little blue box of it. I even went SO FAR as to get a small bottle of the chocolate flavored (artificially flavored I might add) sprinkles - and a little bottle of the colored sprinkles because I know my children would want both.

All I remember after that was the oooohing and the awwwing coming from my mouth as I was mixing the cheeses and the sugar in a glass bowl - I blended and I blended. I didn't even drain the cheese really, just opened up the top of the carton and plopped it into the big empty bowl. The bowl that was screaming "You haven't used me in months, I forgot was it was like to be a baker's tool!" It was now or never! Eric Bauer - take this! Bruhaaaaaaaaaa (That's actually not how you spell out an evil laugh, but I'm not that good at one in real life either).

I took my box of cannoli forms - I opened them. I began stuffing the white mixture into the holes at both ends, allowing the goo to mingle in the middle. I poured out the chocolate sprinkles into one of those really cool specially designed bowls for little ingredients when you cook, because I really think it's fun to look the part sometimes - this was one of those times. I then dipped each end into the sprinkles without, I repeat, WITHOUT hesitation. Without remorse, without even thinking what the women at the neighborhood deli will say when I run in next week for bagels - they read this blog. I will hear about my bastardizing of their mothers' recipes. I know I will.

CANNOLIS in less than 2 minutes. BAM! (No, that wasn't me being Emeril - I can't even imagine trying to do his impersonation....that was me shouting out BAM! because it was just that fast!) I had SOOOOOOO much mix left over. I really did. There were only 6 forms in the box. Oh well, maybe this weekend I'll steal over to the Bauers' home/cafe and maybe make a little suggestion about cooking up a batch of fresh forms - I have the MIX.....maybe not the mix that wins awards and melts the hearts of the little old men on the side of the street who remember standing in line for a special treat during carnivals - but hey, this is 2007 and like Eric said; my kitchen is too small to be too professional about it. The desire overtook me. My senses were corrupted - however, in the end - my senses were just.....fine!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Oh Sparticus!

Most of you already know that my son Reuben is serving in the U.S. Army as a Tanker. He's officially driving a tank-like vehicle called the Stryker, which has wheels rather than chains to move around on, but nevertheless, he's out there protecting you and me from - himself mostly I think.

The boy calls me at all hours of the night and he tells me things that for the most part could easily wait, however, if he waited I would be getting ready for work, and he'd be in formation. So, it stands to reason (reason?) that he would call me at 2:15 a.m. to tell me that he has successfully broken barricades, alluded the good guys, and that he made it into the barracks, which for him (because his role yesterday was that of the bad guy) was a coup! Sad for the U.S. Army perhaps because they allowed the "enemy" to infiltrate - he pretended to set bombs (water balloons) and he wired the place before successfully escaping as well. Such a bad boy! Or in his case, a good enemy. He achieved his goal - and he was rewarded for it. He gets to watch an NFL game sometime in the fall. He's storing these prizes in a journal, making the C.O. sign each of them so he can prove it when the time comes. (The boy essentially became a traitor to see the Green Bay Packers!)

Because my son has studied the ways of the Spartans for years, because he has trained himself to be a tough and immovable soldier, because he has memorized every last word and deed of the movie "300" - he was able to not only take out 8 American soldiers who were forced to go through a small tunnel to find him, he was also able to sneak into the barracks and set off his water balloons. He told me he was nice and didn't blow up anything worthwhile like papers, or things that would be ruined. (Such a nice terrorist)

So, when the REAL U.S. Army soldiers came back from their defeat at the tunnel to find that their barracks had been destroyed by enemy fire - they were sad - however, they agreed that having Reuben on the U.S. side was a good thing and they're going to let him stay a little longer. In fact, he's going to get to explain Spartacus to everyone that will pay attention. I asked him last night to put the Spartans in a line up - to compare them with the football team positions that I know he has created for them on his PS2 - where are they? They are, as he told me, every lineman, every safety, every offensive guard - because they don't really need defense as well as they do offense - however, he placed 4 on the defensive side just in case a good soldier from another group did make it through - you have to be covered at all times.

For about 44 minutes I listened to the excited panting and hooting of the boy - telling me how he's going to be able to watch 3 NFL games so far, and with the "kill" he was able to perform yesterday, he'll be able to get into the sate lite room and see OU play Texas. It was worth it to him to become a terrorist - for the day - just for play. I asked him what he used to kill everyone, and he said a cycle! Gotta love that technology! At least it wasn't the jawbone of an ass....which I haven't told him about, because I fear what he may do to a local burro. (Just kidding)

Congrats on the war my boy! (By the way, he wasn't alone, he had a few other Spartans with him, and that begs the question: Did they call their mothers at 2:15 and explain Greek warfare to them in detail, or was that just mine?) :O

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Brothers Grim Side Show!

After deciding that I simply could not force myself to take off work for the summer and travel with a bus full of twisted, entertaining, intelligent, run-about carnival performers - I decided to let my dog and my daughter travel with them instead. Actually, truth be known, Bryce Graves, the manager of the Bros. Grim Side Show wasn't actually asking me to tour with them. He was more interested in Faith my dog, I was just collateral I suppose, more or less the trainer if you will - although, I don't believe Faith has actually been trained to do much of anything - she's a true diva at times.

For the month of July and just barely into August, Laura and Faith traveled through about 13 states and performed in about 8 shows. I could stop and count: Seattle, Mountain View, Sacramento, DeVore, Phoenix, (would have been Denver), Albuquerque, Kansas City, and finally Dallas. How many is that? Yep - 8. Each show begins with great music, mysterious barkers (but Dylan calls himself a talker, claiming Barker tells people to "Come on down", where he tells people to "Step right up!" I liked that - except it's not actually BARKER that tells people to come down now is it, it's Johnny Eubanks I think. Nevertheless - back on track - Bro. Grim Side Show is a real live 1920's style carnival type side show with fantastic performers, music, misty fog, lights, illusions, magicians, dancers, snakes and well this year it included: Jack Ringca the elite and very very talented yo-yo master, William Darke - fire eater, illusionist, caller, and I think he did a gig where he may have used blades to cut a woman in half - he does that from time to time. It included Zamora the Torture King (Google that man!), Lady Diablo, she nearly sets herself on fire lighting a cigarette with a couple of power tools - she also swallows swords, coat hangers, and gets herself cut in half six times a day - on stage was Jackie, a multi-talented woman who from birth has been disabled, but that doesn't stop her from performing martial arts, standing on one hand, walking on her hands, and creating fun and havoc!

Also on the line up was a gorgeous burlesque dancer named Amy. She took the breath away from both men and women alike as she did her routine - colorful plumes, tiny outfits, big smiles on every member of the audience during her gig, let me tell you. But the act that stole my heart and got my attention every time was that of my little girl Laura. I don't think she was on stage more than a minute and a 1/2 each show, and she didn't do more than walk around with Faith and throw doggie biscuits at her pooch, allowing her walking and balance skills to be seen - however, you gotta know my little girl was doing something she had never been able to do before the tour, and that was to get up in front of people and just have fun. She's performed for years as a singer, and she's been in concert bands and such. She's been a cheerleader, in gymnastics, so it's not like she hasn't been seen - she's been seen. This time she was having a blast just fooling around with Faith and showing off the talents of a little dog that just happens to have two legs and a wagging smiling tongue. By far my favorite part of the show.

Of course, there were side shows to the side show. The barkers Ken and Dylan were handsome in their vests and dress clothes, dapper and keen wearing derbys. Crystal Firefly Lockhart was there just being as adorable as she always is. I didn't get to see her perform this show, as I think she was taking tickets. She and Faith are EXACTLY the same height, and Faith followed her around like - well, like a puppy! When Crystal would turn around suddenly she'd be faced with a nose in her mouth! I wish I had snapped the picture fast enough - it was just too adorable. Nichole with her 20 pound headdress and tiny corsetted outfit - made me believe a woman can do anything she wants in 5 inch heels! Stitch was there too. What the heck is a Stitch? I'm not sure - but she's gorgeous! I think she usually performs with the side show as a dancer, she has strategic holes and piercings placed around and on her beautiful body where she can be lifted by hooks - yes, I said hooks. I had to laugh when a woman asked me what William was doing in a picture she took from the internet - she pointed up at him on the stage and she said "Is this the same guy that puts a drill up his nose?" and she showed me a picture.

I sell insurance. I told Alex, the sparking power-tool woman that from the point of view of an insurance sales agent - she scared me. They all scare me. Zamora scares me the most. He puts spikes through his mouth and throat, he eats glass - so give me a little girl throwing dog biscuits at a two-legged dog...please!

On the bus, which was Jenevieve Cosner's bus ( people were huddled around each other talking about their lives, not their acts - amazing lives these people lead - and from all over the country too. Literally coming together from every corner of our nation to be on this tour - I found that remarkable. They do this from time to time, and if it isn't this particular group, they'll find others - for instance, Laura and Faith, who are from Oklahoma, have left the tour, but Bryce is picking up another animal act in Missouri. Jackie hails from Idaho, Stitch from New Mexico, William from Florida, I think Crystal lives in Denver. I don't know where Jack is from - he's the most interesting man really, appearing shy and introverted - but he's actually quite capable of holding his own both in conversation and deed. They all are. I have to say of all the people in the world I've been blessed in meeting - side show performers (and that includes Stigmata - a very tattooed and body-barbed man of diverse talents and insights) have the ability to bend their minds over most matters - creating a circle of strength for themselves as well as they compadres - protection, as well as standing or belief. They simply are a different and beautiful people - - sometimes as fearless as their faces are tattooed to make you believe at times (Stigmata); and at times as vulnerable, open, honest, intellectual, and graceful to a fault.

It was both a pleasure and an honor to meet and speak with everyone on that tour - I know Laura loved each person as a true honorary member of the family. I thank you all for finding the time and the energy to love her as well. I do hope we can continue to be a part of the side show when we can - but if not, Laura (and Faith I'm sure) will have dreams and stories to last a lifetime. Laura rolls up in the passenger seat on the way home from Dallas last night, she drew in a deep solid breath and said "Mommy, I'm glad to be going home, but you know what, I learned about five years of life lessons in about four weeks' time - I can't be the same as I was before." The tour had its great ups and its great downs, but you know what - like any other great show, it went on.

Step right up!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dreaming of Cinnamon Rolls Being Late Again

There I was again - in my dream, and knowing I was dreaming. This was this morning, August 1, about 1:15 a.m. I know the time because I was not quite asleep and I could just barely make out the digital clock on the nightstand next to me. My clock isn't actually digital, so the fact that I thought I was staring at a digital clock made me realize I was in a dream state - so I opened my eyes long enough to see the real clock - it was 1:15. Livid and vivid dreaming again. This time I was dreaming about cinnamon rolls being late for work. They were being made so that they could be bought, so that the could "perform" and be with us when we worked. That was a strange enough concept in an of itself, but they were intentionally being made late - late, so that we would be late to work, and we would be in trouble - we as in the people who were in line to buy and/or take the cinnamon rolls as performance enhancing breakfast substances. (It was one of those techy-sort of informative dreams where you really don't learn anything.)

I was late, and of course I blamed the cinnamon roll - but beside the roll I was also late because my car, which is often a box, was actually my car - and I took the wrong turn going to work. I took an exit that clearly read "Chicago" and I don't live there. I want to live there, but I don't - so the wrong turn thing was probably a right or correct turn, but it made me later than I would have been if I had only taken in the roll - are you following me? The car was taken from me, it was parked, and I was forced to walk the rest of the way to work, but I wasn't upset about it. It was just going to take some time. I had to go through buildings, homes, and even a gate or two to get to the street I should have turned on. My car was waiting for me there, and I got into it. I finally made it to work - and here' s what I did.

I took a basket full of used shoes to the hotel, it was unnamed. I took the basket to the supermarket section of the hotel, and I gave the shoes to the clerk. On the way in I passed a famous actress who was outside with her parents who all but snubbed me for being generous with the used shoes. I skipped, and then did flips, as I often do in dreams - gymnastics, past the couple, past the actress, and into the grand hall of the hotel which was now the parking lot of where I worked. My car was just up in front, so I got into it, and I drove back to the bridge where I first made the wrong turn. I got out of the car - and walked over the bridge, but you know I didn't miss out on an opportunity to do one last backflip, and I hovered in the air for like a minute because I could - and then I saw the clock - the digital one, not the real one. I guess it made me think - and that's when I woke up and saw the actual blue lit clock reading the time at 1:15 - what do you think it all means? I'd sure like to know - I think I understand most of it.

The giving of the shoes was a nice gesture - don't you think? I never did get to taste any of the cinnamon rolls, and maybe that's a good thing. I'm really pretty and thin in my dreams - so maybe there's something to no eating cinnamon rolls, and doing backflips to work.

Cayenne Pepper Has Kicked My Gut!

I was thinking - which was my first major boo-boo, that taking cayenne pepper in pill form would be the end all to my weight loss problems because it was tauted as being the best metabolizer known to mankind. It may be....but the problem began just shortly after I took one of the 40,000 heating unit dusty red pills with only a few ounces of water. I didn't' have enough time to go to the refrigerator and get a new bottle of water to wash it down. Now, who in the world is so damn busy that they can't walk 25-40 feet to the refrigerator? Me, I guess.

About an hour after I took the energizing capsule there was a lot more going on than just the stomach acids waking up! Let me tell you - I had taken several of these pills in the past with food, one pill per meal, that sort of thing - but just using a water chaser was my 2nd big mistake. It didn't burn like cayenne pepper in your throat, your eyes, or in your mouth - it was the heat from the pill that sent me over the edge to the bathroom, pulling up my dress to expose my belly to lay on the cold cement floor! I was THAT hot! (I love saying I was hot, makes me feel all sexy, but really, I was BURNING UP).

So, after about 30 minutes of death, and the time regulated light having gone out in the office bathroom maybe 13 minutes into the heaving and breathing event, I was getting over it. I only got over it when I decided that against my strength, against my knowledge of what would happen, I took a leap of faith and drown myself in the sink - literally drinking from my hand like a lapping fool - because I was at that time, a lapping fool. I was drinking from both hands, in the dark, wondering if I was even with the living, but realizing that I was when I didn't hear any harps behind me. I heard the toilet system making a little knocking noise, but I didn't think it really measured up to harps. I was definitely living.

Well, to let you know, just so you know, I am giving the pills to my good friend who I have amply warned, and I fully assured that she will NEVER make the mistakes I have. She's a woman of greater wisdom - or maybe, just maybe, she's been an idiot like me and decided a free bottle of pills would be worth paying a bit of good health attention to! Whatever the case - good riddens to the pills, hello to downing more vinegar and water, and just doing the walking and the stretching on a daily. I would rather lose it this way than that!

Hope I can save you some heat on this one.