Where Did November Go?

So…uh, what happened to November folks??  I don’t really know where to begin because the post I’ve been thinking about posting is irrelevant seeing as how Halloween is long over and gone.  So just imagine, I walked around my neighborhood and took pictures of the decorations people put up and some of them were pretty cool.  A lot of people around here did some sort of decorations even if it was minimal.  One of my favorites was a ginormous spider a guy built out of PCP pipe with glowing green fangs and put up in the front yard.  I’d post the pics but they didn’t turn out all that well now that I’m looking back at them.  We even decorated our porch which was a cross between nice harvest with pumpkins and hay bales and typical Halloween with spider webs and ghosts.  I even tried to make this:

It didn’t quite turn out exactly like this but good enough.  Another reason I’m not posting pictures is because my computer is going through a freak out period.  I just got it a few months ago and there’s already some sort of hardware glitch.  Lovely.  I’ve talked to tech support on two separate occasions and all I’m wanting them to do is send me a box to put my computer in so I can send it to be repaired.  It is now a month after my initial call and I still don’t have a box.  Grrr.  I will be making yet another call tomorrow and may have to ask to be transferred to their complaints department or something.  It’s frustrating and annoying.  And I’m annoyed that I have to talk to some guy in India who I can’t understand and who can’t understand me.  Double Grrr.

With the semester coming to an end I’ve been bombarded with papers, projects, assignments, etc.  The good thing is I’m starting to see the end.  Whoo hoo!  We had family in for Thanksgiving which was fun.  I was a cooking fool last weekend.  I made a big dinner the night before then cooked the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and made four pumpkin pies.  I love pumpkin pie.  All the cooking is just the warm up for the Christmas desserts that need to be made.  Last year I baked a little over 400 cookies, 5 loaves of bread, three batches of fudge, 2 batches of cream cheese brownie bars, 2 or 3 batches of homemade oreo cake/cookies, and tried divinity which I ended up being sidelined for because that’s really hard to make.  Maybe this year.  Speaking of the Christmas season, all the holiday movies have started up which I’m apparently a sucker for.  So odd because ordinarily I can’t stand Lifetime or Hallmark but sprinkle in Christmas and I can’t turn it off.  Go figure.

Well for some stupid reason I woke up at 3:45 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I hate that.  So I”m going to go attempt to do that now.  But I’m going to leave you with what I discovered making a web outside my window:

Ok, ok so it wasn’t really a goliath birdeating tarantula out there but it may as well have been.  It was totally big and creepy.  Well, pleasant dreams!

3 Hours of My Life

Let me tell you about my afternoon today.  It wasn’t the craziest or most hectic afternoon I’ve ever had.  There weren’t any real emergencies or life or death problems.  But it was one of THOSE afternoons.  I was supposed to get off work today at 2:00.  Around 11:00 or so the lady I work for asked if I would be willing to stay a little bit late so she could take care of some family stuff.  Normally I totally wouldn’t care but I have class on Wednesday nights and I was nervous at what staying a little bit later actually meant.

She assured me absolutely no later than 3:00 and there was a good chance she would in fact be back by 2:oo.  I end up staying and hear from her husband that apparently some other family problem came up and he wasn’t sure when she was going to make it back.  Enter a little nervousness on my part here.

I’m watching the clock like a crazy person, imagining the worst possible scenario possible when she shows up a little after 2:30.  Phew.  I have three hours to get done what I need to and get to class.  Plenty of time.

I get home and immediately go to the computer to check email and since it’s a class night, I needed to log onto my student account and pull some information from my class.  Naturally I discover our internet connection is down.  I call my mom to see if it was working when she was home a couple of hours earlier on her lunch break.  It was.  I’ve now discovered it’s only recently gone down and of course I missed my apparent window of opportunity to log on.

While I’m on the phone with her, I see a furry rodent scurry into view.  Oh crap.  I go into my brother’s room and sure enough, his three gerbils have escaped by gnawing a giant hole through some tape and plastic.  Lovely.  And it’s no surprise they would choose their jail break now because my brother is out of town and won’t be back until the weekend.  Smart little devils.

It takes me over an hour to finally catch Scribbles.  I’m now sweaty and really dirty.  Want to discover how dirty your house really is?  Let loose some gerbils and try to track them down.  It’s now about 3:45.  Still have plenty of time to get ready and eat before I have to be to class.

Right about at this point my mom, who came home when she heard about the escapees, discovered gerbil #2 – Scruffalufagus.  I’m going on record to say that my mom is completely afraid of gerbils and was basically no help in catching them.  Regardless, she found him and it took me another half hour to finally catch him.

I know have an hour and fifteen min. to shower, eat, and get to campus.  Shower is now done and while I’m getting ready I realize that the internet is still out and unless I call about it, there’s a good chance it won’t come back up until sometime tomorrow afternoon when I finally get a free moment to call.

So then I’m on the phone with the internet people and it’s taking longer than usual to get the problem resolved.  As I’m on hold I make a unpleasant discovery.  I completely bypassed shaving my right let.  Hello, my entire right leg.  Now I’ve missed patches before and once a partial back of the leg but the whole thing??  BLARG!!  The realization is short lived because the lady comes back on and I begin plugging and unplugging cords and try to fumble my way through computer lingo but finally the internet was up and running.

The time is 5:15 and I have 15 min. to finish getting ready, eat, and get to campus.  Needless to say I looked worse than usual and forgot about eating.  Three hours of my life down followed by another three hours sitting in a classroom discussing the analysis and theories of the classroom – boo – and did it all on an empty stomach – double boo!!

I spent the last hour or so looking for Leroy – gerbil #3 – but to no avail.  I hope tomorrow he wonders out into the open because I don’t know if I’ll find him if he doesn’t.  It’s now after midnight and I’m heading to bed so I can get up in a few and start it all over again.

*Update: I kept looking until 12:30 this morning.  Finally I got in bed and just as I was about to fall asleep I heard him.  So I spent ANOTHER hour – yes, it’s now 1:30 in the morning  – and finally catch him.  All gerbils are present and accounted for – the gerbil drama is officially over.

Neon Trees

A while back my brother told me about this band called Neon Trees that he saw in concert.  He said the show was energetic and I should look them up.  Eventually I did and I really wish he would have told me about them a little earlier because it just so happens they are from the town I was living in for four years.  A little local band that pretty much got their start during those years I was there.  I totally could have gone to see them multiple times.

I’ve heard their song Animal from time to time in different commercials and have seen them on various talk shows performing.  Catchy song.  So catchy in fact, I’ve been singing it for over a week straight.  I hear it in my head when I’m driving, cooking, eating, getting ready, sitting in class, and I’ve even sung a few bars of the chorus out loud to my preschool kids.  I’m singing it now in fact.

So here it is now.  I’m operating on the idea that the more I surround myself with it, I’ll become annoyed and block it out.  Here’s to hoping!

Field Trip

I thought my school field trip days were long over.  But just this week it was…drumroll please… ZOO DAY!!  I can’t believe how excited I was for this trip but everyday I looked at the calendar and did a countdown.  The morning of, my alarm went off and I layed there and thought about how much I hate alarms and getting up in the morning – which is what I do every morning – and then I remembered, “It’s ZOO DAY” and jumped right out of bed.

Remember on field trips days you could almost smell the excitement in the air when you walked into your classroom?  That’s how it was at the preschool when I got there.  The kids were hyper and kept informing me that they were going to the zoo to see the animals.  According to them, the zoo had every animal from elephants and tigers to cows and penguins.  Newsflash kiddos, the Little Rock zoo isn’t fancy enough for penguins and if you want to see cows you could probably just walk next door.  But their excitement for even just the possibility of some magical wonderment at the zoo was fun to see.

And who could forget the best part of field trips, the sack lunches!  I got sack lunches every day when I was in school but they were extra special on field trip days.  Lunchables, pudding snacks, fruit rollups, juice boxes, and the most important part was the handwritten note from mom.  This has carried over because along with informing me they were going to the zoo, the kids kept pulling out their lunches to show me what was inside.  I however, did not have any “fun” foods or a note from my mom inside mine.  Just two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I slapped together before I walked out the door.  I seriously considered swipping some of the goods from their sacks but in the end I refrained.

Luckily there were almost as many adults that came along as there were kids.  Unfortunately summer is more than in full swing here and it was in the upper 90s with the humidity almost as high.  Surprisingly not one kid needed to go to the bathroom the entire day and as a matter of fact, only one little girl whined and complained.  But they got to ride on the train and the carousel which were some of the highlights.  And for some reason a lot of the kids said their favorite animal was the alligator.  I don’t get why.  All you could see were his eyes as he just laid there in the water.  Snoozer.  The bear at least turned around and looked at the kids when they growled at him.

I got some really good pics of the kids but not so sure their parents would like me posting them on here so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  At the end of the day I was tired, hot, and ready for a nap.  But it was so much fun I hope we go on another one soon – though maybe one with AC next time.

Meet Lulu

Isn’t she just the cutest?  I was on my way to Wal-Mart when I saw her trying to cross the road.  Naturally I pulled over and she became Lulu, my pet turtle.  It’s not unusual to see these little guys walking in the streets, so I’m sure she won’t be my only one this summer.  Almost as sure as I am that she will escape and be well on her way to the Mexican border by morning.  Or at least to the entry of the neighborhood.  Assuming of course a dog doesn’t get to her first.

I haven’t even had her for 12 hours and I’m already turning into some crazy turtle lady.  What would she prefer to eat? (Good grief.  She’s a turtle.)  Will she know there’s water in the bowl? (Pretty sure a turtle can find water.)  She seems to like to burrow into my shirt.  She won’t suffocate herself will she?  See, what I mean – crazy turtle lady.  And the list goes on and on.  Someone needs to start making some local friends stat!

I even went to Home Depot to get some chicken wire so I could fence her in the backyard.  When I asked the guy working there where the chicken wire was he looked at me and said, “What do you mean by chicken wire?”  Well….I mean chicken wire.  Not sure how much more clear I can be on that.

My mom asked me how I know Lulu is female and I was telling her what I had read on google.  So basically it comes down to the males being more colorful and attractive.  I guess there are a lot of species where the male is more attractive than the females.  Which I suppose makes sense if the female is choosing her mate.  I remember hearing of some species of bird where the male has to do some sort of mating dance for the female.  If she likes what she sees, then it’s on.

Sometimes I think of questions I should ask a guy on the first date and always mean to write them down.  Usually I’m thinking about them because a friend is talking to me about a bad relationship they’ve had (or are in) and I start thinking about the things I should find out beforehand.  Like, “what’s your credit score?”  “how much debt do you have and what’s it for?” “toilet paper over or under?”  “Crest or Colgate?”  “Mayo or Miracle Whip?”  You know, hard hitting questions like that.  Well now I think maybe I should take some pointers from the birds and have the guy do a little dance on our first date.   Can you imagine asking someone to do that?  Or being asked?  Hilarious.  Maybe I should do a blog entry on how we should mimic the different behaviors of species in our own relationships.  Hmm…..

Anyway, here’s one more of Lulu for the road just because she’s so darn cute.  And yes, I do realize I would never be able to tell her a part if she were next to another box turtle:

Toad Suck Daze

Every year there is a three day celebration in my town called Toad Suck Daze.  Where did the name come from you ask?  Well the story goes like this:

The legend behind Toad Suck is that long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn’t, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock & Dam now spans the river near Conway. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern. The dismayed folks living nearby were heard to say: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads.” Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend lives on at Toad Suck Daze.

But why they have a celebration named this in the first place, I have no idea.  An excuse for a party I guess.  And the really weird thing is that the first Toad Suck Daze was only celebrated in 1982.  So it’s not like it’s some old tradition dating so far back no one can remember why it’s still around.  Nope, only 28 years old.

It’s free admission and is for everyone except, well me.  Friday and Saturday night really belong to the Jr. high/high school kids, Saturday morning is for the kiddies to come out and race their toads and do a little face painting, Saturday afternoon and Sunday are for the *ahem* old folks and those into crafts, and the music every year is heavily influenced by the country genre.  Of which I’m not a big fan.  Plus every year without fail, it rains Toad Suck Daze weekend.  Needless to say I haven’t been since high school.

As a matter of fact, the weather was pretty severe this year.  I’m sure you’ve heard of all the tornadoes that swept through the state that flattened some towns and took the lives of a few people.  I was in Illinois for the weekend and happily missed out on all the excitement.

Though I missed the actual Toad Suck Daze celebration, all the preschool kids brought toads from home to race at school Thursday morning.  Talk about chaos.  When I showed up kids were all in a frenzy wanting to show everyone their toads.  Already two had either jumped out of an open box or had been taken out and then dropped, and were on the loose under the couch.

The madness continued outside as we began to race.  Some kids wanted to race but wouldn’t hold the toads, some kids wouldn’t put the toads down when they were finished racing, and all of the toads took every opportunity for freedom as they all scattered in different directions when placed on the starting line.  Imagine 17 preschool kids and 10 toads in an area that looked to be about 5 ft. squared.  There was a moment where a toad was actually dropped by one of the kids on the head of another.  I swear it couldn’t have been scripted better for a Little Rascals movie.  Talk about insanity.  But hilarious at the same time.

Maybe next year I’ll attend and blog first hand about what I see.  Maybe even include some pictures.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s something for me there after all.

Career Options

It’s no secret that I’ve been out of a job for a little over a year.  And it’s no secret that I’m not too sad about this.  However, the numbers in my bank account are getting smaller and since spring is coming quickly and I need money to buy a tanning pass, I’ve been thinking of what I could do for work.

Give me a C!  Give me an H!  Give me an E E R!  What’s that spell?  I don’t know because I’m only four!  Yeah!

What little girl wouldn’t be a professional cheerleader given the option?  You get to run around and dance, wear sparkly clothes, and shake noisy plastic ribbons around.  And as an adult, if you can look past the fact you have to run around and dance, wear sparkly clothes, and shake noisy plastic ribbons around, it could be a perfect job.  I bet the association even pays for the tanning.

Ok, so it’s not EXACTLY a bull but that plastic Dumbo served it’s purpose.  If only it hadn’t popped and leaked air, you could be reading the blog of a fearless bull rider right now.

Still trying to keep the rodeo dream alive.  This one could have totally worked except for two things 1) I did not own a horse and  2) I did not own a pair of cowboy boots.  It’s just not the same in sneakers.

Bet you can’t guess what I going for in this picture.

Told you, you couldn’t guess.  Peter Jackson wouldn’t return any of my calls but I know I could have played a better Legolas.  Unlike Orlando, my hair was real.

…everything i wanna do has already been done.
why would i wanna go and do it again?
everybody…plays guitar.  -Reel Big Fish

And that’s why I went with the plastic trumpet.  Gotta keep it fresh, ya know!  Naturally my aim was to be the guy who plays at the start of the horse races

And don’t think his snazzy outfit intimidated me.  No sir, I did what I could by accessorizing my trumpet with not only my own outfit but with my mom’s next to me.  I don’t see how this one could have failed.

Ooh yeah, the money shot!  I was born to be a rock star.  Check out my ubber cool tutu I was stylin back in the day.  Take that Avrail Lavine, I was rocking this look long before you were born.

I was just too ahead of my time.

A Community Within A Community

One morning we took a little drive out to a local Amish community because I guess they usually have really good deals in their grocery stores.  Actually I’ve never visited an Amish community and that’s the real reason we headed out there.  The deals at the stores were just a cover up.  Though I’m not sure who I was trying to use the cover up on.  Myself I guess.  Anyway, I wanted to take pictures because I knew there would be some cool images I’d want to remember but when I got there I just felt like some big creep invading their privacy.  So most of these pictures (the ones of actual people) are courtesy of my sister who was better at getting the pictures without drawing attention.

First of all, it was really cold.  And windy.  Windy and cold, and I understand they don’t use modern technology like electricity but there’s no way I’d want to put these on when they finished drying.  Partly because I don’t think they could get fully dry in this kind of weather, especially the blue jeans.  I’d definitely want to put them next to a fire first.  But I’m a pansy like that.

We  get to the store and see this:

And when you look closer, just a little further down you see this:

Not something you see everyday.  Can you imagine the poor kid that works at the store thinking his job would just be to bag groceries and help carry them out for little old ladies.  Then he finds out he also has to be the horse pooper scooper?  Tough break kid.

Inside the store we found some niffty little gems:

You may not be able to see the writing very well but we have green bean crisps, squash chips, purple sweet potato chips, and okra chips.  Hmm, sounds yummy.  I’m not understanding why the green bean bag costs $7.31.  I thought green beans were pretty common everywhere and would be the cheapest out of the four.  Guess not.  Well, I guess I now know I’d lose if I ever was a contestant on the Amish version of the Price is Right.  My little mountain climber wouldn’t have a prayer.

If dried vegetables aren’t your thing, check out their gummy selection.  Missed breakfast?  No problem, have some fried eggs:

Not sure your teeth are up for the challenge?  Try some of theirs:

I don’t know what to say about the chicken feet there on the right.  I would like to know why the teeth are only $.88 while the others are closer to the $2 mark.

Thirsty?  Try this line of soda and don’t worry, it’s good for you:

Here are some of the locals:

A few days later my sister and I were in Staples and were standing by an Amish couple who was returning a fax machine/scanner.  I kid you not.  Maybe they were part of a less strict group?  I don’t know but not something you see every day.

Heading out we were behind this guy:

I thought this was a pretty cool shot showing the contrast in lifestyles between the Amish and others in the community.  As we got closer I noticed this:

The buggies have license plates and side mirrors.  The side mirrors make total sense but the license plates make me scratch my head.  I don’t know why exactly.  I guess I just assume, maybe ignorantly, that they don’t get in accidents very often.  I mean it’s a buggy for crying out loud.  It’s not like it comes out of nowhere going 70 mph. *shoulder shrug*

There’s more to come from my little trip to Charleston.  Phew, I know, no doubt you’re all on the edge of your seats.

Walter

About a week ago, I volunteered to dog sit for a friend and his wife.  I had seen pictures of their dog but had never actually met him so earlier in the week I came over for our “introduction”.  I knew he was a bigger dog but holy crap I had no idea he was this big.  After my initial shock at his size, I began asking questions like “He’s not going to take off down the street when I let him out to go to the bathroom is he (the yard is not fenced in)?  Because he’ll just be gone if he does.  There’s no way I can chase him down and bring him back.  In the middle of the night he’s not going to forget who I am and then eat my face is he?  Because that would really suck.”  So I really didn’t ask that second question but I for sure thought it.

Turns out he’s a huge dog, with a loud scary bark which is great if there’s an intruder.  Seeing and hearing him should send the prowler running.  If not we’re in trouble because Walter is the most gentle, laid back dog ever.  And lucky for me he’s incredibly trained.  These pictures really don’t do his size justice at all.  His body comes up to my hip and his head reaches my elbow.  And he weighs more than me by about 15 or 20 lbs.

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I’ve only been with him a little over 24 hours and still have 9 days to go.  I’m enjoying it but I can’t help but think he thinks I’m dull.  You know life might be on the pathetic side when a dog finds you boring.  And when you’re constantly talking to him…like I’ve been doing.  Last night I couldn’t find his leash and kept asking him where it was as though he might magically be able to answer me.  Instead he just kept looking at me with his droopy, sad face that seemed to say, “I’m a dog you idiot!”

I did finally find the leash and today we braved the wind and little bits of snow to go for a walk.  We got plenty of stares, I assume because he’s huge and it looked like he was taking me for a walk instead of the other way around.  A few people even commented that he was a good looking dog which I of course took full credit for.  One elderly gentleman came outside and wanted to pet him.  He said he used to have a similar dog only slightly smaller.  And I kept thinking it was a good thing Walter has been trained not to jump up on people because he would have knocked this old man down and he probably would have broken his hip.

Only 24 hours into it and I’m already attached to him.  He’s the perfect mix of huge and scary looking which makes him look cool and tough and yet, so far his favorite thing to do is lay down and sleep which is cool to me.  As long as it’s not next to  me in the bed.

A Little Scenic Nudity and Some Cows

This past weekend I went to a few different spots to go hiking.  The weather was wonderful and with winter quickly approaching I have to take advantage as much as possible before it’s too late.  One of my friends had read about some natural hot springs about 15 minutes from where she lives so we thought we would check it out.  I had no clue there were hot springs in the Utah valley but apparently there are.  Anyway, we make our way to the trail and are ready to start our trek upward when I notice this sign at the foot of the trail:

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In the first paragraph is says that we may have to yield to cattle.  Really are you serious?  Cattle up here hiking?  Uh…that’s weird.  And would be scary because the trail isn’t that wide and has drop offs so I’m not sure how you would yield and/or maneuver to get out of their way.  And scary because I’m not a country girl and am not sure how I would do being so close to apparent wild cattle.  I don’t even like milk for heaven’s sake.

But it was the last paragraph that really caught my attention.  Nudity is NOT prohibited on Forest Service Trails.  Again I ask, really are you serious?  So theoretically I could strip down and hike the 5 miles round trip nude?  Isn’t there some law about indecent exposure in public?  Are the Forest Service Trails not out in public?  So I realize that we were hiking to some hot springs and there may be people that would prefer to swim in their birthday suit but honestly people, just don’t.

We begin the hike and about a mile into it we start seeing a lot of boyscout groups coming down and I was glad they were going in the opposite direction as we were.  I wasn’t in the mood to follow 10-12 year old boys on  5 mile hike.  As we are nearing the end, we pass one of the boy scout leaders that informs us that yes, we are almost there and that at the very top it opens up to meadow/field area that’s pretty cool.  This was a surprise to us because nowhere in our reading mentioned an open area.  Sweet.  We pass the last group of scouts that are still playing in the water and head for the final spring and open field.  Only thing is that a couple had beat us there.  And they were enjoying the springs naked.  Whoa! Whoa!  My eyes…my eyes!  I have to say that even though there was a sign that indicated the possibility of nudity I was surprised.  Mid-afternoon, on a public trail, with boyscouts about 50 feet away, and they were without a care in the world.  The whole point of the hike was to take pictures up in the canyons but that wasn’t exactly the subject I had in mind.  So rather than continuing we turned and headed back down.  Regardless, I did manage to get some great pics so click here to view.

As we drove down the road a few miles away from the mouth of the trail we saw our wild cattle roaming freely across the street.  Not quite ferocious beasts but I still wouldn’t want to see them on the trail.

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