Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Buying the Bike





I do NOT have to grow up! There is no sense to that.

Just because I'm 47 years old doesn't mean I have to act old, be old, look old, or stop playing. I'm into being me not into being a number. My idea of getting around has changed back to the way I got around when I was 10. I'm going to walk and ride my bike. I don't have a bike right now, so I'll be getting one this weekend. I wish I could find a Banana Seat bike like I had in 1970. That would be great. I named her Nancy and she was teal - - she had a pretty flowered seat, streamers of course, and I put that playing card in the spokes like I was suppose to. My mother caught heck for that because it meant she let us kids actually play with cards! Wow...to think now that I could have really played my life away and become a Texas Hold 'Em star! That would have shown those Baptists a thing or two! HA!

I have a couple of Big Sisters and one of them, Andie, had the really cool old-fashioned (at the time it was new) bike. She looked like she was stylin' on that big thing. I was jealous...but couldn't imagine life without Nancy. Since I'm old enough to work and pay for my own bike now, I'm thinking the middle road will do. I'm going to the bike store Friday and just picking out a middle of the road job with a big fat seat for my big fat seat! Should be fun. I've been riding a recumbent bike for years, a stationary thing. It's time I actually got up and went somewhere - - I may be totally into it and buy a basket so I can carry my fruits and vegetables back from the corner produce market. That's the way to embarrass the hell out of the kids! YES! I'm doing it. A horn would be an extra bonus.

While I was at the store today picking out the bike I wanted, I saw a kid across the way playing in her yard, blowing bubbles and giggling out loud trying to catch the big ones. I loved her smile! I drove straight to Target and bought a big red bubble wand - $1.00. Good to see some things never really go up in price. Fun is one of them. I've been entertaining my boss and the director all afternoon. They just shake their heads and smile - - and that makes me happy.

Why grow up? Old people do that! NOT ME!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Doga and the 10-Foot Giant Yam Outside My House





I couldn't resist this blog - - it was bound to happen. I've been an on-again off-again vegetarian for the past year now, and I have to tell you that being one is far more satisfying than eating meat - - it is for me. I found that when I ate meat for the duration of the HCG diet I put myself on I was slower, didn't have as much energy and felt my waistline filling back out again - - when the whole purpose of the diet was to LOSE that section of my body! Hence the embracing of the yam. I will admit I do love the vegetables I consume and I often think of myself as being like the Nigerian legend "Adamo" who refused to stop eating everything in site. He was banned from some villages for it, and the people hid their yams from him - some say they were actually worshipping the yam. I won't go that far.

This morning when I woke up I found my four dogs laying every which way across the bed and realized that the reason my back and joints feel so tight and restricted has to be that I'm catering to the dogs at night. I'm literally rolling myself up (while I'm unconscious and sleeping) into a ball and believe it or not the dogs still think I'm taking up too much room - - the truth is that KING is gaining too much mass. He's about 32 pounds now, and if I can't convince him and Rupert to sleep with Caity like they're suppose to I may end up inventing a bigger bed - I know it would sell.

I wake up, stretch, do the movements that indicate that I MAY actually want to adjust myself,(God forbid) and this would mean disturbing the dogs. Ordinarily we don't make that mistake in our house; once the dogs are comfortable, we suffer. However, after a good night's rest, and/or a few hours time, it is OK to nudge and push a little on the K9 units in order to relieve my own body of any possible permanent damage - - but what about their needs? Oh please,don't even get me started. We do DOGA in my house rather than yoga simply because they (the dogs) refuse to leave my mat once I pull it out. In the morning, when we're doing bed-yoga-doga it's the same, only this time I simply must insist on King's big head getting out of my face while I do sit ups and curl-crunches. He thinks it's funny to add his weight to my belly to see if I'm awake or strong enough to make him go up and down - - what am I, a carnival ride? I don't think so. Maybe Rupert, that's a constant 14 pounds, but I'm not entertaining the St. Bernard/Dane with this possibility - - he's 32 pounds now, but that's going to change soon. The women in the picture are actually taking their small dogs to the gym and using them as weights while they do their yoga - - this has become a tried and true method at my house as well, but only one of my dogs fits the weight criteria...Rupert.

When I do eventually get the dogs off of me and am able to pull out the mat and do a few actual asana poses I am again faced with faces...four of them staring at me. We do the pee-thing outside - well, I don't, I do that inside, but when we return it's all four faces staring up at me, or eye-ball to eye-ball if one is laying on the bed and I'm sitting on the mat. I bend over, kiss the dog in front of me, and pose. The hands that are suppose to be in front of me relaxing are now usually scratching ears, legs, bellies, and there's this tail thumping me in the back - - it's Faith, she's not into the under-the-bed thing anymore, and wants to get to work quickly. She's come out from the cave and is now behind me thumping me with her tail reminding me that the sun is up and the work day begins...now.

But what about that 10-foot giant YAM outside my house? I laugh at the image in my brain because of the bones that I have been giving to my dogs. See, dogs aren't suppose to eat chicken and/or turkey bones right, but they can eat beef and pork ribs. However, a bird can, and I've seen it, take it's K9 revenge out on the roadkill I've seen - - coyotes, wolves, I'll add raccoons in there for measure. What if, and I'm just saying, what if...a yam, the size of Rhode Island, was to come up to my house and smile at me? I'd pretty much know I was a goner - - the very fact that this thought hit me this morning meant ONE THING...I wasn't awake enough to lift the Dachshund up and put him on the belly, and I was probably suffering from St. Bernard respiratory weight failure...believe me, it is NOT easy to crunch up the middle of my body with a slobbering puppy waiting for the next wave!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Making Stuff




(Not my pictures)

About a year ago or so I was at home working - scheduling speaking engagements and getting things all geared up for the summer rush when suddenly out of nowhere everything financially and related to work just came to halt! BAM! I was unemployed. I had some in savings and my son helped out a bit - - but the time off gave me all the extra time I needed to hone a few crafts and skills that I had been wanting to explore deeper; I'm an artisan at heart.

I took several art-oriented classes in college both in my bachelors and my masters degree programs - - classes on everything artistic with the major exception of painting or actually drawing - - I can't do that. My motor skills are such that I do so much better throwing things, molding things, shaping and hitting things rather than being delicate, and if I am required to use patience - - forgetaboutit. I don't have that virtue. Nope, I do not paint...unless you count abstract in the most broad terms imaginable...then yes, I paint.

I was lucky enough to have a Michael's hobby store just down the road from me and it gave me the names of the ingredients as well as mold information so I could get online and order what I wanted. I'm rather Scottish when it comes to buying things at full price - - and I don't think that's a racist statement, I'm very very proud of my heritage; we have a reputation of being frugal that's all. I found many sites very helpful and I began buying things that would allow me to create, design, mold, throw, and otherwise spend hours out of my days making the biggest mess I could and yielding what I found to be a good product with JUST the amount of highly scented oils and it provided not only an outlet for my creative mind it also brought me that much closer to the realization that we don't need to shop for 1/2 the things we shop for. There was a time I even considered making dish washing soap, laundry soap, and stopping short of creating dog food - - I determined that I had a way of obsessing. (In 2007 I made 26 neck scarves for gifts...crochet. I'm not good at even two stitches, just one...but I did it over and over and over again)

I looked around my new house and realized I don't have a single bar of soap that I made in my house. I don't have even ONE candle here, and I don't have any pots! I have a few dishes I made, a cup I think, and I have a few pots that CAITY threw which are far superior to my work anyway. I found a box of ceramic tiles the kids painted 4 years ago that I haven't fired and I'm working on finding a kiln in the town of Gainesville - - I bet I have to drive to Denton for it, but I think it will be worth it this weekend to do that. I know the tiles will bring back a lot of memories for all of us. I think they were suppose to be coasters for my parents. I cant remember. If not they will be -- Mom, hope you're not reading this because I just spoiled your Christmas.

Thinking about it - - and I do; it makes sense to keep the creative mind going in times of recession and times of stress. I don't worry about anything anymore, and part of the reason is because I just happen to be a really happy and satisfied person. I'm not rich, but I find things that make me smile. I can dig my hands into clay and make something. It takes a while, nothing happens overnight. Like everything else there is a process...a cooling down, a heating up, and even a shelving period. I wonder if I could find a way to use this analogy in another aspect of my life....romance. I'll find a way.

I've been through the shelving period - 10 years. It's time to start the heating up I think....but even with that there must be a bit of prep work, a bit of play, a bit of messing things up, and shaping it. There must be a bit of consideration for the desired result, and like a good piece of art there must be a place for it to be displayed. Yep, it's time to pull out the old clay and shape it up, move it around, and get into it with everything I have...it's the only way to make it something special, something I could give as a gift.

What do you know - - I did find a way to use the analogy! I could be a writer! LOL

Disservice of Hollywood Agents - Glad I Live in Texas





Being born and raised on the RIGHT side of the Red River, the north side, made it virtually impossible for me to admit that I would ever be glad, happy in fact, to be living in the state of Texas...but I am.

I work as a movie producer in the tiny little bedroom-city of Gainesville, Texas. Gainesville is one of those "Anytown, USA" places that could have a million dollar look to it, or a half-dollar look - - depending on where you set up your cameras. It's the perfect place to film just about any movie - - except when the train rolls through town and you have to wait for the sound check. What Gainesville DOESN'T have, and I thank God, is a Hollywood feel where people have their people call others to set up meetings that may or may not take place. It doesn't have the Hollywood agent per se, someone who asks that a film be 100% funded before submitting a script to an actor - - it doesn't have the rules and the regulations or perhaps the glorified HABIT of a Hollywood agency that feels that they, the agency, has the right to screen and qualify what is and what is NOT a good film to show said actor. What we have is truly so much better: We have our word.

Remember when a hand-shake meant something? Well, it still does in Gainesville. Remember when you could buy something on credit, or just walk into a barbershop and get your hair cut and pay the barber on Friday when you got paid? You still can in Gainesville. What sets us apart in the movie industry is everything actually - - from our over-the-top or rather under-the-bottom office facilities to the way we dress, walk, talk, act, and pull together to make things happen. We don't actually have set-in-stone job descriptions. Our Executive Producer is just as likely or apt to change out the trash liner as any one of us. We don't fret over the small stuff, and hell it's all pretty much small stuff anyway - - none of us is too good to be whatever the director needs us to be...except acting. I won't get in front of the camera! I will hop 10' to hold a boom, and I'll run for beer or coffee, no problem.

We made it perfectly clear to Tim Curry's people that we wanted him to play the part of Dr. Crane in our movie. (www.themoviefaith.com) and we sent not only the script, but an informal offer to his agents at Innovative Artists in Los Angeles - - so tell me, if they KNEW they wanted the film to be 100% funded before submitting the script to Curry why didn't they say so? His agent called me and talked for more than 10 minutes about the film, the message, the hope, the direction we were going, the timing, the schedule and the finances. We talked about Faith and her miraculous story and how B-listed actors were calling us all the time to see if they can get into the film to play the part; we wanted Tim. We wanted Sandra Bullock too, and gave a script to her people - - and haven't heard a word. Tim's people did contact us, but said to "Let them know" when the film was funded 100%...why do you do that?

When a multi-million dollar film is funded they go after the stars and it's been that way for years because the banks and financial institutes go after the high-dollar films for that one reason; to make more money. They know if it's funded they'll get the A-listers and the attention of their agents. HELLOOOOO, when it's an independent film, such as ours, and it's a low SAG such as ours, you don't get the funding UNTIL you get the star power. It may be a catch-22 in some ways, but it's a burden we don't have to bear now do we? This movie will proceed because of the initial STAR POWER of an amazing dog, who just happens to be loved by the world at large and she's not whining about not having the film funded before she signs. She's up at the under-dressed office every day, she's kissing and loving on the kids that come by and say hi to her off the street - - try that with a Hollywood starlet! Try that with a Hollywood A-lister. They'd sue you for stalking them in a heart beat...claiming you RUINED their emotional state and they just CAN'T go on today because of it. No thank you - - give me the dog! It's high time some of these A-listers get off their butts and find out who it is that they've hired. Maybe a Tim Curry or a Sandra Bullock would JUMP at the chance to play opposite of Faith in a film that may not cost $15M to make, but it has the heart and soul of anything they've ever known.

Can you imagine being an A-lister and finding out a year after a film was made, and while it was receiving all kinds of accolades and awards that YOU could have been in the film actually, but YOUR AGENT didn't think it met your criteria...or, get this, it wasn't funded, therefore in essence, it wasn't good enough for you to see or review? Isn't it about time WE decide...we meaning those who write, produce, direct, and actually create the work in the first place. It is afterall OUR film.

Please don't think I'm upset with Tim or Sandra - - no, no, no, they don't even know they've been asked to be in the film. They probably won't know because we'll have someone sign up soon simply because the movie is too strong, too inspirational, and too rewarding NOT to be a part of it...I feel sorry for them actually. They could miss out on the role that sets them aside for being big-hearted animal-loving people with a personal belief for special causes not only relating to our military, but to injured and wounded soldiers who have returned without dreams of a good future for themselves. FAITH makes the difference in some of these REAL soldiers' lives. I've seen it at Walter Reed Army Medical, and at Veteran's Hospitals. I've been there. I've held their hands, I've listened to them tell their doctors MORE, much more than they would have told them - - simply because an amputee dog is sitting beside them in therapy!

I never thought I'd say it, but Texas ain't all that bad really - - not when you weigh your options. Sandra, Tim, e-mail me if you want the script! We aren't funded yet, maybe you can change that too to help your agent out a little. jude.stringfellow@gmail.com

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Back to the Same Basics as Before

Well, I gave it my best shot - - I tried the HCG Diet and even though it was outdated and a bit hard to follow I did follow it for the first week or so and found too many flaws in it to continue. I modified it, since I wasn't losing the promised weight anyway, and found that I was still just as likely to NOT lose the weight with and/or without the HCG part of the diet. Eating only 500 calories a day isn't healthy, and it did exactly what I thought it would do - - made me feel hungry. I do have a tendency to overeat nuts if given the chance and this diet gave me every opportunity to do that. There's just no way to keep this diet going in a world where you're expected to dine out for business, or even eat with your family and not feel as if you're starving yourself. My sleep was interrupted by pains of hunger too, and that's not good. I'd usually just grab a bottle of water and wash away the hunger for an hour and go back to bed, but that only lasted a little while.

The fact that you can't, or you're not suppose to eat in the morning really didn't settle with me either. Breakfast is a very important meal - - it fuels you throughout the day. I found myself oversleeping so I would have less time between meals and I could fully consume the apple, Melba toast, and chicken breast (100 grams) with my 2 bottles of water....what I hated about the diet mostly is that I could pass by foods that I knew were good for me, foods rich in taste, but good for the body, and I would say to myself "Oh, that's not good for you, you can't do that anymore". That is NO way to live.

So, it's back to the beginning - - exercising 3-5 miles of walking every day, yoga at least 30 minutes a day, and stretching before and after I get into the bed. I wake up and do a little 5-6 minute stretch and another one before going to bed. It seems to help me get that dream state going and if I have neglected my daily walk or my yoga I can use a bit more time at that time to focus on making up 10-15 minutes of light aerobic walking in place or dancing...love to dance.

The 500 calories will be increased to about 1000 or so, and yes, I'll do all the water, the high fiber supplements, and keep the carbs to a record low. I do fruit, I do veggies, I do chicken breast in a can, and I do those nasty tomatoes that the HCG was so clear to banish. I even eat an olive or two - - with my chicken. I'm sure the low-fat low-dairy yogurt and fresh fruit is good, and I know the skim milk is too - - so I'm not all that upset with the way things turned out. I didn't know what to expect, hoped for more, didn't get it, but I can see where the sensible and tried ways of nature are always going to win out over fads and gadgets. Besides, the weather is letting me get those 3-5 miles in, and nothing stops me from gulping down copious amounts of water - - I just wish this body of mine would start paying attention to the attention I'm paying to it!

Dang, I know I'm stubborn, but for me to be stubborn with me...that's not fair.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Ladies of Strawn, Texas

I was going to upload a few pictures of the ladies of Strawn, Texas that I hung out with last weekend but thought better of it. I'm sure a few of you would be more than interested in what they actually look like, but suffice it to say that they would be in more trouble if I plastered their faces online and told the truth about all that we did in that little bedroom city - - such a rural secret.

You have to be GOING to Strawn in order to find it. If you're just cruising around the Ft. Worth area and think you may want to venture out in a southwesterly direction for a while you may run across it accidentally, but it was NO accident for me. I was invited, hell I was PAID to come out to Strawn, Texas and to present a little show or two with my dog Faith. There were a few good reasons for the show, the first was to bring awareness to the community that animals have rights too! Other reasons for my visit weren't so laid out, not until I arrived and found not only the entire town of Strawn, but many folks from around the area - - larger and more metropolis locations such as Gordon, Ranger, and Mingus to name a few. I'm told that the 4 residents of Thurber were busy at the restaurant, but we went over to the Smokehouse and met up with them after my last performance...and then the fun began!

Strawn has a bed and breakfast registered with the Historical Society as The Thomas House, that's where I stayed. Now, when I say I stayed there, I mean I stayed there with my dog Faith and NO ONE else, not the owners, not the manager, not even other guests were in the house - - just me and just Faith. This place has six bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a couple of living rooms and/or parlors, three dining areas, two kitchens, and yes - - it has a really cool spooky basement! I had to go down into the basement! C'mon, there weren't' any lights to guide me, there was a creaky old stairwell, cobwebs and cold concrete, you have to go into the basement! The thing is, I didn't want to go alone - - that's where the ladies come in.

Once we got home from the Smokehouse Restaurant where we met up with local sheriffs, girls going to prom,kids from everywhere, and all the ranchers in the area, the girls and I headed over to the liquor store which is right next to the convenient store so we could pick up a few cigars and Amy had to have her hot spicy pork rinds! When you go to rural Texas and you're drinking and smoking, you gotta have the hot spicy pork rinds, it's just not a party without them! Amy wasn't from Strawn, but she knew the Thomas House was a really cool location to hang out. I'm glad she came with us, we needed someone to dance for us and she was voted in as having the best body to do that! Women can be so crazy with a little beer, a little gin, a little rum, and a lot of laughter going on. (Don't anyone tell the pastor of the First Baptist Church where Terry was that night OK?)

Peggy, Pam, Amy, Paula, Terry, and I decided to take a few trips to the basement and for the fun of it we brought a little flashlight that was sitting next to the door at the top of the stairs. Using my cell phone I took a few pictures of us snooping in and around the place. We found old furniture, heaters, radiators, buckets, and a few brick stacks, things you'd expect to find in an old basement - - but we found more. We found TREASURE..really, not joking, we found two treasure chests and they were not empty! One had letters and documents dating back as far as 1893. OF COURSE we read the letters! We even took pictures of them and then we put them back. We went through every drawer in the offices. We fired up the old working Victrola and danced. We scouted out the upstairs and wandered through every room, every closet, every corner of the old homestead - - because we could!

After we violated the privacy of the old house we sat outside talking until every one of our children called us on our cellphones and told us to go to bed! The ladies left around 2:00 o'clock and Faith and I went to bed. (All of the ghosts that once lived in the house also fell to sleep - there were no disturbances in the night)

In the morning we girls slumbered in our respective places until around 9:00 or so at which time we were joined by another Pam and Tamara, a woman who had been benevolent enough to have funded my stay at the Thomas House. Donna, the manager, and a very sweet woman indeed, was assisted by Tamara in serving us a fine breakfast of exquisite french toast topped with strawberries, juice, and copious amounts of strong Starbucks coffee...but even the aroma of Starbucks was not enough to cover up all the stories, the tales, the fun, and the mischief we brought to the little town of Strawn that night - - maybe it was being thrown out of the Mule Lip Bar in Mingus early on, but something grabbed us and we just had the best of times laughing and exploring like little lost school girls in a castle of sorts with witches, dragons, and goblins all lurking around corners in that basement. It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun if Paula hadn't insisted several times that SOMEONE was flushing the upstairs toilet...and of course, we had to explore that as well.

Thanks to the girls, I can't wait to return, and this time I'm footin' the bill for the Thomas House and bringing a few extra ladies who are quite used to my shenanigans....won't this be fun? Maybe we'll talk the boys from a certain war documentary to follow us out to Strawn the night of the big screening - - going to Iraq is one thing you know, but keeping up with a bunch of silly ladies in the basement of an old bed & breakfast; now that's takes bravado!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Brothers At War - Go See It!




This very very important indie film was written and directed by Jake Rademacher, the man you see standing to the left in both of these pictures. Jake is the brother to the others you see - his younger brothers Major Isaac Rademacher and SSGT Joseph Rademacher, both still serving U.S. Army. (Yea! Go Army! Oh, OK, that was a little personal wasn't it? I mean, my own Baby Boy Spc. Reuben Stringfellow serves U.S. Army and my dog Faith of course, is an honorary E5 Sgt.)

"Brothers at War" was the concept of the immensely creative mind of a brother who simply wanted to know what was going on in the daily lives of two of his 4 brothers who were serving in the Iraqi war. With the permission of the Pentagon, and others I'm sure, Jake Rademacher took his portable movie camera and another camera man with him to Iraq to film the daily events of not only Isaac and Joe, but his "new" brothers and a few sisters - - men and women serving full time and making an impact on the lives of those of us at home; the families of these soldiers.

It took a while not only to get the rights to go, but to get the money to sponsor the event itself. With dogged determination, (Jake is an Aries) he managed to talk the people of his hometown of Decatur, IL (thank you Decatur) to help fund his dream, and what became our inside look to the waking and sleeping hours of not only Jake's brothers but in my case the hours and days and nights of my son. No, Jake didn't record a single SECOND of my son Reuben, however I saw him. I felt him. I could almost hear Reuben's voice in the loud and rowdy voices of the men who were angry, excited, bonded, united, and sometimes just plain pissed off about what was happening to them and to their buddies. In one scene (and no, I won't give it away, but the aged question of "how does one pee when riding in a tank?" is answered), I saw the rocking and the rolling, the pitching back and forth of a Stryker vehicle, and just for one flash of a moment - - held my son's image vividly.

When this film comes to a city near you, please go see it. Watch for it. Go to the website and look and see when it will be in your town. The best site would be www.brothersatwar.com in order to see what it is all about. To see the trailer and see actual footage of the movie you can visit www.brothersatwarmovie.com.

Yes, this is the same film that actor Gary Sinise has become involved in. He is an executive producer along with Dave Scantling and Norman Powell. Together they bring you one of the most powerful and emotional films about real life in times of war without being political and without being biased about our position in the Gulf. You can call it a love story - - you can call it an adventure, but for this family and many others including my own, it is a needed understanding. Faith and I will be promoting it as much as we can through various avenues in the future - - Thank you Jake for your ambition and desires to share with us "Brothers at War".

Major and SSGt Rademacher, thank you for your service to our country. Godspeed.

You can follow "Brothers at War" on Twitter and Facebook as well.