Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Last of the Outlaws

Happy birthday Willie Nelson! 75 years. Wow.

His was the first concert I ever went to. Willie played the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs in 1985. The adults were all crowded into the dining room to hear him play and all the kids had free reign of the hotel. Back then the carpet looked exactly like the carpet of the hotel in The Shining. Once in a while we would cram through the throng of adults in the dining room to hear some songs but mostly we ran through the halls and darted into various rooms. We stayed after the concert and collected all the flowers from the tables. I drank my first Shirley Temple and learned that's what sophisticated kids ordered when they wanted to be like the adults, ordering drinks with names.

There was always Willie Nelson music in our house. I saw Honeysuckle Rose in the theater, for cryin' out loud.

Four years ago he played in Eureka again, and this time I was working at the Auditorium where he played. His show was far less, err, energetic but he still pulled it off, especially considering he was older than 70! He knew what the audience wanted to hear and he appeased them.

So here's to Willie Nelson - they just dont' make 'em like him anymore.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Never Want to Leave a Campfire

We just got back from three glorious days camping deep in the Ozark Mountains. We drove there during a violent thunderstorm. Friday night the rain stopped, though and it was gorgeous and sunny during the days. At night, it got COLD. But we had a blast. I'm filthy, stink of campfire and am covered in bug bites and I can't wait to do it again.

We camped somewhere in there:
Will, earning his keep by chopping firewood.

The railroad tracks.

Railroad sign.

Bucolic scene, a short walk down the railroad tracks. Stella told me this was her favorite tree.

Close-up of a railroad tie. It doesn't even really look like wood at first.

Gangsta Stella with a found jawbone.

A bunch of us ran down to the tracks to watch the train we could look for our smashed coins!

Across the river.

Bonfire on Saturday night.

Fiery sparks.

This snake danced. He would bob and weave from side to side.

This one is so getting printed and framed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Attempting to Harnass the Power of the Internet

I need your help, dear readers.

In the past two days I've been asked not once, but twice for good book recommendations.

Sarah will be going to Dominica for a month and needs lots of engrossing books to read as she swings lazily in a hammock by the beach. Okay, so in all honesty she could be swatting away malaria-filled mosquitoes, but I can't get over those Wikipedia pictures of the beaches so I'm trying not to hate her.

Lori, on the other hand, is being held captive in an apartment complex filled with grim, judgmental senior citizens. She clearly needs to escape into a good book.

I can highly recommend my current readings: The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders and In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

Any other suggestions? Don't lead these ladies down a path of mediocre books now, okay, Internet?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday on Tuesday

WHAT A DAY, people.

Students are sick. Stella is sick. Chicklet has a growing abscess at the base of her tail due to the frequent ass-beatings she gets from the neighborhood cats, each of whom, I swear, is the size of a raccoon. And then there's the work. The constant work.

We're supposed to go camping for three days this weekend and if I have to drag a sick teenager out to the woods and pay someone $100 to take care of the pus-filled cat and feed the dog, then BY GOD I will! If I don't get this time to be outside, away from electricity and out of cell phone range, then I will lose it. I really will.

I ran home at lunch today to make chicken soup for Stella and to lance the abscess. All the while I'm fielding calls from work. This is my life....a phone glued to my ear as I'm stirring soup and holding the cat down to feel around her butt for a puncture wound. Ahhh, the glamorous life.

Enough bitching and moaning. On to the pictures:
Tulips on the Fayetteville square.

I love the shape of these succulents. Cacti? What the hell ARE these futuristic plants?

This is Mikey. He's sweet.

Stella had to do an independent study for her G/T class. Perhaps because of our great experience hosting Japanese students and cooking with them, she chose to study sushi. She made it for her class:

Speaking of is an example of the face she makes when she's doing a self-portrait:
And then here's the face she makes when I'M behind the camera:
Her outfit is so totally 80s, right? Hilarious.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekend of the Converted Domesticate

What better way to cap off a week in which I worked late every night than by working - and playing?

I didn't mind, though.

Friday night I had a work thing until around 7. Then I went to watch D. play with Mike Blackwell for his CD release show. By the time I sat down in the back of the room I knew it was all over. I left after the first set so I could change into my nightgown and watch The Dog Whisperer on the couch with the pets nestled around me.

Saturday we got up early(ish) to take my group of Indonesian students to the Farmers' Market. It was an absolutely perfect spring day. The market was a typical Saturday morning madhouse. We're working on getting Lucy better trained on the leash. This was a good test for her, as there were about 5,903 other dogs and smells to tempt and torture her. It was also good for the Indonesians, many of whom are afraid of dogs.

Saturday night we almost went to dinner and a movie. I had been invited to the International Banquet on campus. We ditched all other plans, made cocktails and settled in for a vicious round of Scrabble. Playing Scrabble with me is sometimes more of an endurance test than a fun way to pass the time. I am a score fiend and can often take 15 minutes or more to decide on a final word. It pays off though! D. must have wanted to redeem himself because they we played a full round of Yahtzee and although we tied in individual game winnings, he scored more points overall.

I need to tell you about that drink - an adult Creamsicle. You put ice, vodka, orange juice, an ounce or so of vanilla syrup, and a splash of half-and-half in a cocktail shaker and then shake the dickens out of it. You pour it into glasses and you have a frothy, delicious drink that tastes just like a frozen Creamsicle. I recommend you have at least two tall ones if you need a Scrabble handicap.

Sunday was even more beautiful. I took the Indonesian students to plant bulbs and celebrate Earth Day. We all had fun digging in the dirt. Stella mowed the yard again. D. grilled steaks that put us into a digestive coma. It was a great day.

There you have it. The me of a few years ago might be horribly ashamed of me for being so housebound and quiet and boring. The me of today is perfectly happy with how I spend my free time.

Next weekend: Camping!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Luv Aries Women

Dang it. I'm more than 30 minutes late in wishing Carolyn a happy birthday. So Happy Birthday!

We've "known" each other for like eight or nine years now but have only met in person once, back in...2000? I remember we went to The Heartland Cafe for drinks. You had only recently moved back to Chicago, right, Carolyn?

That's crazy.

I hope this year is everything you need it to be! I'm glad we still know each other!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Your Peanut Butter Got In My Chocolate!

I love the industrious nature of humans. I love how we think, "Product A is great. Product B is also great. How about we put them together for SUPERGREAT Product C?"

Seriously. What would life be like without say....the spork?
Or the El Camino?

Or Goober Grape?

Now I don't really care for shampoo+conditioner (it makes my hair pouffy and weird) but that's all D. uses. He's too busy to mess around with separate bottles, I guess.

What other combo products make your life that much sweeter?

Monday, April 14, 2008

How Misogynism Becomes Normalized

A few weekends ago, we stayed with my friend Robin who has two (really awesome) young daughters. The girls were watching the movie I have pictured above. Yes. Bratz Babyz. If the spelling* isn't bad enough, then check out their outfits. I watched as much as I could stomach and whipped out my little notebook so I could take notes on this horrific cultural nadir.

So...from what I could gather, the plot had something to do with these "babyz" who want to perform in a karaoke contest. They wear half-shirts and pull-ups. When something is really good it's labeled "Super Diva Fabulous!" They talk on cell phones. The movies features an extended "getting dressed up to go out" musical montage set to a bumping club music beat. DID I MENTION THAT (in name at least) THESE ARE BABIES?!?!

Baby hoochie mamas, showing their belly buttons (perhaps luckily, with no attached umbilical cords) talking on cell phones.....I'm speechless.

I wonder how long before the Girls Gone Wild baby cartoon comes out?

The future for girls in this generation scares me, y'all.

*Perhaps this is the time to mention that I have a special, hated pet peeve of words likely to be read by children purposely spelled wrong (daycares called Kidz Konnection, for instance).

A Capitol Time

Friday and Saturday I took 28 students to Little Rock for our standard "social justice/American culture field trip." The weather was absolutely gorgeous on Little Rock. The dogwoods and redbuds are in full bloom. I was tricked into thinking Spring is finally here. We got back to Fayetteville Saturday night and on Sunday we had snow flurries. NO!!
Top of the Capitol dome and nothing but blue skies.

Arkansas River, as seen from the Clinton Presidential Library. I have never seen it so high!

It's baby animal time at the Heifer Ranch! It was lambtastic.

I could have dozens of these kinds of kids.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Who I Want To Be When I Grow Up

When I was a little girl I had one of those great Dover coloring books of Amelia Earhart. I specifically remember a picture of her standing next to a gorgeous old car with one leg perched on the running board. She looked so tall and strong and beautiful. I was transfixed. Last night PBS showed a documentary about Amelia Earhart. It brought back my childhood crush in a big way. She was a pioneer, an early feminist, and chock-full of style:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I Could Get Used To This

Would you take a look at this girl? My baby? Yeah. I can't believe it either. She got a digital camera for her birthday and has been taking a ton of black and white self portraits like this one.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, we had a rough beginning to our week which resulted in Stella losing access to her phone and iPod, AND being grounded for her three-day weekend. I was the Worst Mother in the World....again. But then something bizarre happened. You might expect a 13 year-old to react to this injustice with even more anger and resentment and bad attitude but, surprisingly, it may have snapped her out of it. Stella responded in a way that, well, shocked me. We had a really great week and weekend together. Maybe we just needed mom and daughter time. She was pleasant and helpful and I really enjoyed her company. We had parent/teacher conferences on Friday and she's doing very well in school. High A's. Her math teacher recommended her for Honors Algebra next year, even. I fully expected her to spend the rest of the weekend pouting and fuming because she wasn't with her friends but....she didn't.

Last night we spent the night with our friend Robin and her girls. We watched Into the Wild together. She really got into the movie and was (understandably) emotional when it was over. I snuggled with her for a while and that memory will carry me through whatever challenge comes next in parenting a young teenager. I feel recharged and full of gratitude.

A few pictures from the past week:

The party the students threw for me

This is Jade. I think here she's some sort of alien cowgirl chef superhero. Obviously.

This is Abbey. She has a freakishly astute understanding of the world. At the ripe age of 19. I've known her since she was a baby and respect the hell out of her.

Oh! And the icing on the cake with Stella this weekend? When we got home today she MOWED THE YARD. We didn't have to beg, cajole or threaten even! I had to get proof:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mother Nature or Mommie Dearest?

Check it out - Arkansas is the Job of U.S. states.

We've been pretty lucky in our little corner.

Alls I can say is that the weather had BETTER cooperate when we go camping in a few weeks. Because I really need to relax in the woods, not fear for my life.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Finding Gratitude Wherever I Can

I had a great birthday. I took the day off work. I got my car tags renewed. I lay in bed and read an entire novel. My students threw a party for me and it was so sweet and thoughtful. I received gifts from all over the world and felt like a true guest of honor. I drank some Roederer (regretting it instantly the next morning when I returned to work) in my adorable new stemless flutes. I'm securely in my 30s now. No pretending otherwise!

Things have been difficult with Stella. I have a teenage daughter. That should explain most of the problems. Mothering a teenage daughter is like having your heart ripped out of your chest, kicked around for a while, and then sweetly replaced with a kiss on your cheek.