Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spy Games

Julie at Another Chance Ranch is hosting this week's Fun Monday, and her assignment was to post "your best spy camera photo and the story behind the photo."

(If you read The Pioneer Woman, and yet don't know Julie, I'll boil it down for you. Remember the movie "Beaches?" As Oklahoma ranch girls go, Julie is the Barbara Hershey to Ree's Bette Midler.)

Now, I knew going into this assignment that the Spy Queen, aka the Horny Redneck Christian Woman, aka Vicki, was going to rule hands down. I'm not sure if it was that knowledge, the fact that I pored thru dozens of photographs this weekend, or Matt's self serving boob contest that led to my photo choice. But I came to the realization that the best spy photograph in my possession was actually taken OF me and my husband.

In 2003, we took a "mini-vacation" in Eureka Springs, AR, in addition to our regular vacation. We just needed to get away for a few days, and drove a short jaunt up to the Northwest corner of the state for some fishing, shopping, dining, etc. It's tough to schedule a good time for a family portrait, so when I spotted the "Old Tyme Photo" studio, I dragged Roger and Amber inside. Our last photos were made in 1997 at Judge Roy Bean's studio, so it was definitely time for an update.

We had the traditional family photos made, and then shots of us individually. Amber quickly got tired, and the photographer wanted to take a few of us as a couple. As his assistant left to help Amber change out of her clothes, the photographer worked to adjust the flash umbrellas. Now, if you know Roger and me, you know that we tend to goof around and pick on each other quite often. Well, here we were, all gussied up, and me looking like a saloon tramp.

Roger did what came naturally, the photographer had been "spying," and this photo was the surprising result:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

D. C. Salivations

One of Swampy's best tips in preparation for my D.C. trip was to suggest that I take in the tapas at Jaleo, located at 480 7th Street NW in the heart of Downtown. Tapas, according to the Jaleo site, are "the traditional small dishes of Spain, the small plates of this and that served at bars and cafes across the country." Basically, they are appetizer-sized portions, and though I wasn't brave enough to try the blood sausage or the squid offerings, I was satiated beyond my expectations after dining here.

Earlier today, I found the actual recipe for patatas bravas, which when topped with a bit of crumbled bleu cheese, was my favorite.

We had quickly discovered that the restaurant located at the Watergate Hotel, called "Aquarelle," was aqua-expensive for aqua-not-much-food. Like you see pictured to the left, it was a lot of plate, some sprigs of stuff, and a dribble of sauce...all yours for $17.50. Welcome to fine dining in D.C. Nothing against the accomplished chef - a LADY chef, at that - but when I pay that much for a meal, it had better be enough to fill me up. Luckily, the full-stocked bar made up for my lack of food, and KM didn't mind me partaking of a wee bit of liqueur.

According to one of our tour guides, there are 68 Starbucks locations in and around Washington, D.C. It was VERY convenient to slip in and get a "pick me up," anytime the need arose.

The Front Page restaurant, located in Dupont Circle, was a place we stumbled into as weariness set in. I had warned KM that Dupont Circle had a more "alternative" feel - and she passed me a few wide-eyed looks as their representatives passed by our window. I felt more like an educational tour guide, as I have close friends from all races and persuasions. All this to say that the Page One burger was really good, and priced well for lunchtime.

I love eating out - and if I'm on a vacation, I REFUSE to eat at an establishment that has a franchise close to my home. I want something totally different, and preferrably, a restaurant that serves alcohol. Living in a dry county makes me long for real tablecloths and libations with a meal. So, I have to know - where are your favorite places to dine? Who knows...I may go on an eating tour!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fun Monday Hair Disaster

Robin at PENSIEVE is this week's hostess, and her assignment was to: "Pull out your old photo albums and find your WORST BAD HAIR DAY." Wow...that's a tough one! There were two I was torn between, so you get the privilege of seeing them both. Along with BONUS material: flagrantly bucked-teeth.
Here I am early on in life, when it was extremely easy to tell that I was adopted. (Either that, or my mother was the talk of the neighborhood, for having an "off-color" child.) My mother is bathing me, and my hair is in its most unmanageable stage - curly, kinky, in an afro. I can only imagine how my mother tried to tame the mane until it grew long enough to put in pigtails. However, I was really hip with this '70s look.

I think my mother was so worried about returning to this stage that she never again cut my hair. It grew exceedingly long, as you can tell from this photo:
This was taken while I was in the fourth grade, only a few months before my hair was chopped off to shoulder-length, a story I've shared previously. My mom used to unbraid my hair every night for washing, and then we would rebraid it in the morning before See those yarn ribbons? They were a staple at the top of the looped braid.

I almost didn't post this photo, due to the HORRIBLY offensive teeth. I had four permanent ones yanked so that the orthodontist could fit the rest of them into my mouth. My palate had also become misshapen due to years of thumb-sucking, probably related to my early abandonment. Thank goodness for $3,000 worth of braces that allows me to smile without scaring folks too terribly.

There you have it! Now I have to go check out all the rest of the hair disasters. (Oh, and in case you're wondering, one reason I don't have anything worse to display is because 1) I've NEVER had a perm - for obvious reasons, and 2) I've never had my hair colored - EVER.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bumming on the Metro

Before I left for D.C., I was told it had one of the best transit systems in the country. They don't allow any food, drink or smoking in their Metro stations, which keeps things clean. I know this photo is fuzzy, but here you can see how many folks commute during the 5 o'clock rush hour on the Metrorail. This was taken at Metro Center, where three separate lines meet.

Early in our trip, my traveling buddy, KM, had seen a homeless man scouring the trash for food. I had literally overlooked him, having reverted back to my "city ways." I learned growing up on the outskirts of Houston that you don't engage the bums - no eye contact, no looks of pity, no offerings of help. KM felt horribly sad for his plight and amazed that he would actually eat leftovers from the trash. My response must have seemed harsh: "Don't give him any money, because he'll just buy booze with it."
During our walk to the hotel each evening, KM would point out these poor souls as they bedded down. The impressions of their bodies would remain visible in the grass each morning. One indigent fellow changed her perspective, however, as we boarded the Metro on our way to a mall in Pentagon City one evening. While waiting for the Metro to leave, we hear loud expletives. Every other word is the f-bomb or some maternal variation thereof. Luckily for us, the offender boards our car...spilling the contents of his trash bags all over the floor - RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. I play nonchalant - looking straight ahead, emotionless. KM's eyes widen, and she whispers, "We need to get off NOW."

As batteries, vials of liquid and cigar tips roll around near our feet, F-Bomber is still cursing a blue-streak, interjecting the statement, "DON'T YOU BE LOOKIN' AT MY M*****-F***IN' BATTERIES!! YOU WANNA F***IN' START SOMETHIN'? I'LL START SOMETHIN' RIGHT THE F*** HERE, M***** F***ER!!" I'm still playing it cool, as the train pulls away and F-Bomber decides to return to our area of the car to retrieve his m*****-f***in' batteries that KM is DEFINITELY not looking at. She and I both are statues as he bends down to pick them up, giving us a final "DON'T YOU BE LOOKING AT MY M*****-F***IN' BATTERIES!!" before returning to his seat. KM is whispering that WE NEED TO GET OFF AT THE NEXT STOP, and I'm trying to convince her to play it cool - as I'm realizing that F-Bomber is not really talking to anyone but the voices in his head. The screaming expletives are continuous, and I faintly hear the sound of the Metro driver call for Metro Police to meet us at the next station. As we are about to stop, KM jumps up, ready to bolt the second the doors open. I notice two other passengers ready to exit, and watch as they simply get off the car and onto the adjacent car to continue their trip. We follow suit, and sit where we are facing the car containing F-Bomber. KM is concerned that he will see us, realize we avoided him, and come back there to finish us off. We both notice a poor young girl, seated right in front of F-Bomber, still enduring the expletive rant that is also audible in OUR car. Of course, we reach our destination, and F-Bomber gets off as well. Luckily, Metro Police have been observing him, and detain him for a quick search and questioning. I'm not sure what they did with this man - after all, do they really have jails full of guys like this? Probably not.

The next day, KM seems relieved that we have lived thru the experience and is actually hoping for another glimpse of F-Bomber. We never did run into him again, but did see this lovely creature outside Union Station, pictured above. (I didn't take these photos of bums - that's another rule of mine.)

And, don't be lookin' at my m*****-f***in' batteries.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Neophyte Q&A!

How could I NOT participate when the host is a blogger named the Ice Cream Mama? She's an easy gal, and I don't mean that in a nappy-headed 'ho kinda way. She's assigned us QUESTIONS...which are always a snap for me. I either go for the truth, or total shock value, or both - which is usually as close to the truth of Tiggerlane as you can get. So...strap on your boots, here we go!

What is your favorite word?
(Can you see me sighing and grinning right now?)

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
MUSIC. Kisses. Truth. Passion. Intelligence. Laughter.
Dang, were we supposed to do that in order?

What turns you off?
And horrible smells.

What is your favorite curse word?
The f-bomb.

What sound or noise do you love?
Vocal harmonies, blended into a symphony of voices.
The sound of my daughter's laughter.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Okay....the absolute WORST and most HIDEOUS thing....ugh. I can barely type. You know that kinda noise that makes your insides all congregate at your bellybutton? That sick, pointed type of auditory convulsion that somehow involves a connection between the ear and intestines? For me, that would be the sound of a pencil with a COMPLETELY WORN DOWN ERASER, attempting to erase.

Excuse me, while I go barf.

What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
Attempt? Uh...not attempt. SUCCEED at: Broadway performer.

What profession would you not like to attempt?

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

"Come on in, your friends and family are all here."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Foggy Bottom

So, back to more about my trip! In case you didn't know, there are several "areas" of D.C., one of which is Foggy Bottom. This is where our hotel was located, on the Potomac River, on the West side of town. This is a historic district, with lots of "rowhouses," like those pictured here. Foggy Bottom is also home to The George Washington University, and I was pleased that it meant we were also close to their Medical Center.
During our "Monuments at Moonlight" trolley tour, one of the passengers fell and hit the pavement in front of the Lincoln Monument. As he was reboarding the trolley, he had blood streaming down his face and a goose-egg-sized hematoma sprouting on his forehead. Our trolley driver took a quick detour to the hospital, and delivered him to the emergency room.

Each day, my buddy and I would walk from the Watergate Hotel to the Foggy Bottom Metro Station, which was just a few blocks away, nestled in between the university and the medical center. We always met college students and young medical students, and some pretty hot young doctors! But even more fascinating were the rowhouses. They had tiny little lawns, no bigger than 3 ft x 3 ft in most cases. I was also surprised that most folks in the area had dogs, judging by all the barking we heard as we passed by. I wondered what it would be like to live in a house like this - stacked up three stories, with neighbors right next to me. I hadn't lived like this since my college dormitory days. I also can't imagine living like that again, seeing as I feel cramped on our 66' x 150' lot and my excitement about our new house to be built on 2 1/2 acres. I joked to my friend that the yards were so tiny that residents would only have to use scissors to cut their grass. No room for lawnmowers! Well, the very next day - guess what we saw?!?!?!?

Yup! Can you see them?
I snuck this photograph, b/c I honestly couldn't believe what I was seeing. This lady had no clue that I was spying and giggling, all at the same time.

Here's a close-up of her hand, just to prove it.

Crazy, huh? I still think my husband would want a new weedeater for this task.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Fun Monday Embarrassment

Here it is, another Fun Monday! Amy W is hosting this week, and her assignment was to "find something in your closet you are keeping for some ungodly reason (the sweatshirt with all the holes, the jeans your kids used as a drawing table with markers, the shirt with the stain you only hope no one notices) take a picture of it and tell us why you are keeping it and how it got that way." Well, just in time for Easter, here is my item:
Yes, this is indeed a rabbit fur coat. Now, back in the '80s, this was THE THING to have. I begged and begged for this coat. I finally convinced my parents to purchase it for me during my Senior year of high school. I was SO PROUD! Here I am, wearing it for a photo in my Senior yearbook. Can you see my glee?
I've had it all these years - 21 to be exact, and just can't bear to get rid of it. Not too many years after I had been sporting it to every event imaginable, I found out the horribly cruel process involved in raising and slaughtering the many rabbits it takes to make just one coat. I was mortified, and I've never worn real fur since.

I'm not sure why I still have it - but I can't seem to get rid of it and promote the donning of fur as acceptable. I'm not a tree-hugger or anything, but knowing what I know now - I just can't in good faith wear it again. And yes, it still fits.

So it sits in the back of my closest, a cruel testimony to what a young girl is willing to put the Easter Bunny through - just to have the "it" item of the year.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Photos! Photos! We Have PHOTOS!

Some smart folks out there! Yes, indeed, the quotes I posted last were from the World War II Memorial. This is a photo of the memorial, featuring a wreath laid by the group with which my daughter was traveling. My friend and I made it to these memorials much later in the day than the kids and were touched to see their wreaths, everywhere we went.I have FINALLY posted all the photos from our trip. Well, all the ones really worth looking at, for now. Amber took more photos that I haven't been able to upload yet - mostly of her trips to Gettysburg and Jamestown-Colonial Williamsburg. I have to consult with her first before getting accurate descriptions.

I was honored that two of our photos were chosen to be part of this flickr group. I immediately started crying at the Vietnam Memorial. I didn't expect my reaction - I was overwhelmed by the raw emotion that poured forth when I realized just how many lives were changed and ended forever by that war. You hear numbers of fatalities in excess of 58,000, but it's not the same as seeing the thousands of names on The Wall.

I just can't post all our photos on this blog, or I would blog about D.C. for an entire year. So check out the entire set here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

No Clue Where to Begin - How About Day One?

Folks, let me apologize for leaving you all hanging about my trip. I TOTALLY forgot that I had an EPA inspector coming to the orifice yesterday, so not only am I behind at work, but I have had extra stress. I'm not sure I can even tell you what day it is. However, I've GOT to start sharing or you'll be hearing about this trip in the wintertime. I have two very important suggestions if you plan to go to D.C. and have never been. First, talk to Swampwitch. Her tips proved invaluable during my stay. Secondly, buy this book. My traveling companion giggled at me for getting this the day before we arrived, but it was a great resource and saved us lots of headaches and wrong turns. Causing the local folks some giggles was the sight of us getting from Dulles into Downtown DC on a BUS, for heavens' sake, then using the Metro to get to our hotel in Foggy Bottom. All while hauling our massive luggage around like a couple of country bumpkins. RED and BLUE luggage. Not the requisite BLACK luggage that all those cool city folks use. Here is a photo of our view from the Watergate Hotel, which overlooks the Potomac River. It was a bit cloudy that Monday, but we thoroughly enjoyed watching all the joggers, pinickers, rowers, dog-walkers, and bums from our little perch.
This photo may not seem like much, but during our first full day in D.C., we were only off the Metro for FIVE MINUTES when we hear sirens. Lots of 'em. And being from the country? Well, that can only mean one thing. An accident! And here we were, without police scanners in hand. So, we notice a whole caravan of motorcycle cops, NOT equipped to save lives, and realize...wait...who could this be? Now I'm not one to get all giddy about our Commander in Chief, but I snapped this shot as his motorcade drove right past us. I left this photo large so you could click on it and try to pick him out. Which one do you think he is?? (BTW, at this point, I felt like a total tourist, and made attempts later in the trip to blend in.)

We visited a few more sites - and here is your test. Washington D.C. is full of memorials, monuments, and all sorts of quotes and phrases. Which of you knows where this quote is emblazened?

Give up? Okay...for those of you who have never visited the city, here is another clue - a quote from the SAME GENERAL LOCATION.

And Matt, I really don't think it would be fair for you to participate. But then again, I don't figure you for a historical if you're clueless, I'll allow you a guess. Answers next time!

I'll be visiting your blogs tonight and tomorrow, trying to get caught up!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Back from D.C.

Yes, I made it back with The Offspring, all her body parts, and all our luggage. I am still recuperating from the trip, and trying to catch up on work. Plus, I have major allergies from the explosion of cherry blossoms - but oh, the trip was so magnificent. I have much to share. For now, here is a photo taken by The Offspring, for you to enjoy: