Sunday, May 31, 2009

She's a Big Girl Now

Have I mentioned lately how proud I am of this one? Besides being an "A" student and working hard at her job, she's a great help to her grandparents, a pretty cool cousin to her nephew and a right mature young lady given some of the tragedy she's had to deal with in the last few years. She's also very empathetic to others. My baby's growing up, but she's growing up to be a good girl. Growing way too fast, though. Way too fast. Oh, and she's just like her mama. She can't keep her mouth shut, even when I tell her to.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Indulge Me One More Time

I can't stop. I'm sorry. I love old buildings. Besides, I find it interesting that all of these were taken within a one block area that I'm extremely familiar with but never took the time to check out these small details until I was piddling around waiting for Teen Angel. I was all about looking up when trying this little experiment. Don't worry, this phase will pass soon. In the meantime, I would challenge you to try this. Pick a spot you know like the back of your hand and look hard for the things you never noticed before. Then post the pictures and come back and let me know what you found. For the locals, these were all taken in the first block of our downtown area.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Going Around in Circles

For a while I took pictures of everything that moved. Now, I seem obsessed with things that don’t move, specifically architecture. For some reason I’m drawn to shapes within structures.
Like circles: Half circles. Scrolls. Arches. I can’t seem to stop. And while I first thought it might have something to do with a new awareness of the art in architecture. I really think it has more to do with the fact that my family is tired of me snapping pictures of every move they make.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Friend Debbie in Japan is Going to Love This

That was my first thought when I sat down at my favorite bakery last Friday for lunch. You see, Debbie does this thing called Flamingo Friday over at her blog, where she shows us all kinds of flamingo themed items. It warms the cockles of Caribbean souls like me. And when I peeked in the cookie case of the bakery I found something most appropriate for Flamingo Friday:Flamingo shaped cookies..and they were shortbread to boot. Yum, yum.By the way, if you ever figure out the identify of the wonderful person who discovered that mixing copious amounts of butter with sugar is a good thing, let me know. I want to nominate them for a Nobel Peace Prize because eating shortbread in the shape of my favorite bird makes me mighty peaceful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nothing Butt Frustration

Ladies, can we talk about underwear for a moment? Men feel free to jump in on this one too, but I suspect this topic is probably more of a hot button with women. Somebody please tell me why it’s so difficult to find comfortable undergarments, specifically-and pardon me for using the “P” word, panties. After 44 years of walking this earth, I am still struggling to find panties that don’t crawl, creep, bind or pinch. It just shouldn’t be this hard. While a cure for the common cold would be wonderful, frankly, I’d rather someone invent a pair of drawers that are pretty yet comfortable, well fitting and don’t ride up the crack of my butt. (It’s at this point my preacher may be reconsidering the link he has to this blog on his website.)

Underwear is important, except to my friend Nickie but that’s a post for another day. It’s the foundation for the look we present to the public every day, and panties are like shoes. If they’re uncomfortable or ill fitting they can ruin your whole day. Or at least drive you crazy. This is weighing on my mind because I have spent the last six months buying panties that I wished I hadn’t. I buy a new style or brand with great expectations that this, THIS will be THE pair, only to have my hopes dashed by a day of rolling elastic or crawling edges. I just don’t get why this is so hard. One pair is cut too low. Hello belly roll. Another is too high. Wedgie anyone? One pair sags in the seat, and another has elastic so tight that I feel like a stick of sausage when I wear them. Silky, knit fabrics are hot. Cotton is perfect but often creates big fat panty lines. Thongs eliminate the panty line issue but I just can’t go there. In all fairness to Victoria’s Secret, I tried a thong once, and spent the day wondering how badly the inside of my cheeks were going to be chapped by the time I got home. By the way, have you seen the panty liners made for thongs? What’s the point of that I ask? I won’t elaborate so as not to run off the three men who read this website, but really, what IS the point when there isn’t enough fabric to support a piece of absorbable material smaller than a postage stamp? Talk about living on the edge.

Twice in the last twenty years I’ve found a brand of underwear that I liked and was able to walk into the store and pick up my size in that brand, knowing they would fit and I wouldn’t have to give them a second thought. Life was good when Jockey was king in the 80’s and the Hanes low briefs beckoned to me from the shelf of Dillards. But for some reason, the manufacturers of said panties fiddled with their formula and left me adrift in a sea of uncomfortable spandex and cotton, and currently, I am once again a woman without an island.

Perhaps, you’re thinking that it’s just me. That my body is aging and changing. Well, I’m not willing to accept that theory yet, because it doesn’t seem to matter what shape my backside is in. Over the years, I’ve experienced flabby, small, droopy and even flat without being able to find a panty that performs adequately. And all of this is complicated by peer pressure to buy pretty panties. I’ve gotten a little dependent on white cotton. I didn’t think much about it until lately when I mentioned the need for new underwear my husband suggested very sweetly that I might look for “some pretty ones”. Which was really his way of saying, “Geez, Hula, could you try something other than the white six pack from Wal-Mart?”

For months now, I’ve tried just about very brand and style this side of the Mississippi and have gotten nowhere. Frankly, I’m getting a little desperate, so I’m begging the folks who make underwear to gather together some women of all ages, shapes and sizes for a heart to heart talk over some wine and cheesecake squares and maybe some of those little ├ęclair things you get at Sam’s Wholesale Club. Find out what we REALLY want in a pair of panties. Not what you THINK we want or what some men who have watched too much porn think we want. Please put together some underwear that fits our needs and our lifestyle and is on the pretty (not trashy) side, so I can quit fiddling with waistbands and leg holes and get back to worrying about the really important stuff. Like whether or not that rash on my waist is a sign of Lyme disease or just a reaction to the self tanner I’ve been using.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'!

Sometimes I think I have the coolest job ever. Who else gets to start their day with a bucket truck ride into the beautiful skies just after sunrise? With a slight breeze wafting through my ponytail and the the sun warming my nose I watched the cars on the nearby interstate rush their passengers to their daily destinations and wondered where all those people were going. And I marveled that unlike them, I got to stand perfectly still way up in the sky and enjoy God's handiwork from a boxseat. Cool. Way cool.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fine, Thanks

“How are you doing?” It’s a question we get asked often these days by folks who know about Sissy’s suicide. My answer varies, depending on the mood I’m in at the moment, but usually I tell them something like, “I’m fine, thanks. Thanks for asking.” I soften it a little because people don’t really want to know how we’re doing. Oh, the ones who we’re extremely close to want to know and can stand the honesty when you lay your heart in their hands. God bless them. The others wince at our pain and really just want some sort of reassurance that we’re doing alright because they can’t bear the details of our grief. And that’s okay. I understand. Really, I do. There’s something about this kind of grief that’s a little more intimate and raw than the pain you feel when someone dies of a natural cause. It’s a little TOO intimate for some people.

The truth is, we ARE doing okay. We hurt tremendously, but each day we smile a little more than the day before, and each day feels a little more normal than the day before. Each day brings a new emotion. First, there was numbness and disbelief. Then came the anger. Anger that she could put Mama J. and Papa T. through this at such an old age. However, my anger drifted away as we began to sift through Sissy’s belongings. It’s such an intimate process, reading someone’s private papers and sorting through their finances and treasured items. Each thing I’ve touched or read has given me a better understanding of how the depression took over and destroyed her life. She started dying the day her son died nine years ago, and I just can’t be mad that she chose to finally end her suffering. I know she didn’t do it to hurt us. She just wanted the pain to end.

We’ve only begun to dispose of her belongings. Because Mama J. and Papa T. are not physically able to take care of that task, it has fallen to me and Hubby to do the bulk of the work. It will take weeks to close her accounts, clean out closets, box up items for an auction and prepare her house for sale. Some of the boxes we have to go through contain keepsakes that Sissy saved when her son and husband died. We don’t look forward to that. We try not to think about how much has to be done because it gets a little overwhelming. In fact, we try not to think too far in advance about any of this because it is so difficult. Mama J. and Papa T. need a lot of care right now. Their pain runs the deepest of all. To bury two children and a grandchild in the last two decades is almost more than they can bear. They are managing, but they are very fragile right now.

An emotion that keeps drifting in and out of our souls is guilt. Should we have done more? Could we have done more? What if? I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had. We keep reminding ourselves that we did the best we could. It was Sissy’s decision, not ours. My emotional barometer clicks over to sadness most of the time now. Not extreme sadness. Just a dull ache that things did not end better. That our relationship with Sissy was rocky near the end. I hold onto the memories of the good times. The dinners and trips together before her mental illness turned her into a person she never wanted to become. I’m especially grateful that Christmas 2007 with Sissy was such a wonderful time. It was the first time she was able to celebrate Christmas with us since Chance’s death in 2000. I hold onto the memories of her smiling and laughing amid the twinkling lights and colorful packages.

Those memories will sustain us as we slog through this grief. We will prop each other up and try not to tear each other down with our emotions. That's a big danger for the family members affected by suicide, you know. We have a long journey ahead, but our days are better now. We’re looking forward to the fun that summer brings: swimming, concerts and parties with friends. We have a party this Saturday with old friends, and we will see Willie Nelson in concert Memorial Day (11th row!). We have plenty to smile about, and we will be okay. We’re fine. Really, we are. And thanks for asking.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Look Who's Talking

Well, if you count m-m-m-maaa-maaa and lots of blubbering. And guess who's sitting up.And crawling. Man, that boy has found his legs and is on the move. As daddy says, he's like a worm in hot ashes. You can't hang on to him, and he won't be still. I had a terrible time trying to take pictures of him yesterday. The one thing he isn't in a hurry to do? Show us a tooth. He's slobbering like a rabid dog but showing no signs of a tooth yet. However, he is quite interested in untying your shoes and pulling out hunks of your hair. And because we can't say no to him, we let him.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fun Monday-Pampering

After a few weeks away from the Fun Monday fun, I'm back in the saddle this week. Mariposa is our hostess and she wants to know how we pamper ourselves. Here is her assignment for us:

"We all need to learn to pamper ourselves and not just in times when we are stressed.So for next week, let us share each other's self pampering stories...may they be from little pleasures to guilty pleasures!"

Only recently have I learned the art of pampering myself without guilt. For years, I'd get a massage or squeeze out a little "me time" but wouldn't really enjoy it because I felt like I should spend every spare moment with my family. It's a neuroses of working women, I think. I finally figured out though, that the world didn't fall apart and no one at home was hopelessly lost without me if I took an hour or two for myself. And I've never looked back. I pamper myself guilt free these days, and there are a couple of things I do that I really enjoy.

First of all, I play Bunco once a month with some girlfriends. We get together for food, games, gossip and laughs. It's a great time and always a good reminder of how important it is to cultivate and maintain friendships. Play dates are important for grown ups, too. Once a year, the Bunco group does a slumber party, and because we'd all like to keep our jobs and our reputations I will not divulge all of the nonsense that goes on. Let's just say we like to "cut loose", and leave it at that.

The other thing I treat myself to is having my nails done. After years of biting my nails and wearing them down to horrible looking little nubs, I took the advice of a good friend and starting having acrylic put on my nails and getting them polished every couple of weeks. It keeps my hands looking nice, which is important in my job. I sit in a lot of meetings with community leaders and occasionally get interviewed by local media, so appearances are important in my position. Which is kind of a bummer, because I'd rather show up for work in my robe and flip flops, but that's not how the world spins. The funny thing about the nail appointments is that I get more pleasure out of the chats I have with my nail tech than I do out of the actual manicures.

I don't have a picture of Cindy to show you, but I wish I did. She is fascinating. She came to the U.S. from Vietnam seven years ago with the intention of making a better life for herself and eventually becoming a U.S. citizen. When I first started seeing her four years ago, she spoke very little English. I had to point to the color of polish I wanted. In those four years, her English has improved remarkably and includes a little slang like "honey" and "baby". She got her drivers license, earned an associate degree at the local college and earned her cosmetology license. She went from renting a booth in a beauty shop to owning her own shop.

She is one of the hardest working people I know. She is not afraid of dirty work, long hours or studying for hours on end to earn good grades. She loves to learn and was a straight A student. Her drive comes from growing up dirt poor. As in didn't own a toothbrush until she was thirteen years old poor. As in worked in the rice fields as a child poor, and shared a dress with her sisters.

In the past four years Cindy has shared with me many stories about her childhood and the poverty she has known for most of her life. I find it fascinating to hear about the lack of quality health care in her home country, the conditions she used to live in and the promises she made to herself about finding a way out of the poverty. She's one of the bravest and strongest women I know. Not many of us would be willing to leave our home country forever and hop on a plane for a country we knew nothing about, didn't know the language spoken there and didn't know what kind of job prospects we would find. Every other week I sit across from her while she massages my cuticles, polishes my nails and warms my heart. I have learned so much from her.

She is very appreciative of the opportunities this country has afforded her and loves being here. At last week's appointment she was excited because the next day she was traveling to Nashville to register for the background check that will lead to her test for citizenship. Cindy practically sparkled as she talked about it. And get this. She has already studied for the test and knows the information backwards and forwards. She spouted all kinds of facts about our government and its history. Stuff that a lot of Americans have probably not taken the time to learn or simply aren't interested in. I'm proud for Cindy, and I know she'll do well on the test. After all, she's a straight A student. And I always feel good when I leave her shop, somewhat for the manicure, but mostly for the friendship.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Declaration of Insolence

Whereas Memorial Day is just around the corner and is the official beginning of summer.

Whereas it took three of us to pull the cover off of the pool last night.

And whereas the cover was caked with slimy gunk and winter debris melted together by recent downpours.

Whereas the cover was so heavy Hubby had to crawl into the cold water to get it out.

Whereas much crankiness ensued.
Whereas we dropped the end of the cover as we pulled it out, splattering stinky, sticky gunk all over our faces resulting in a nice poo sandwich for dinner.

And more crankiness ensued.

Whereas the gunk also splattered all over the rest of our bodies making us stink and itch and staining my lovely lime green Hilton Head T-shirt.

Whereas the nastiness dirtied up the pool that was pretty sparkling clean when we first peeled back the cover.
And whereas this is the eleventh year we have made such a mess.

I hearby declare on this sixtheenth day of May in the year of our Lord 2009--the Hula-gen's will pay next year for someone else to remove the cover, even if we have to eat macaroni and cheese for a week to afford it. Because macaroni and cheese is much better than a poo sandwich.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The One Where I Sound Like an Old Fart

Teen Angel has this rockin' hot car stereo that she and her dad bought a few weeks ago. It flips around and does all kinds of tricks.And bumps and thumps. Always with the bumping and thumping she is. And it has cool little pictures that wave across the front when it's playing, including these swimming dolphins who swam too fast for me to get a picture of them.It sounds great. Looks great. It even feels great when it's vibrating your ear lobes. The only problem is...I can't seem to operate it. It's too complicated for me. It doesn't like my iPod. I can't get it to play a CD, and I can't get it to switch modes with a flick of the button like Teen Angel can. And when I caught myself last week fussing with it and whining about how stereos used to not be so complicated, I had a slight panic attack. Because oy vey, what's next, comfortable shoes and a panty girdle from the Sears catalog???

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Word of the Day


Pronunciation: short-bred
Function: noun
Date: 1801
Definition: a thick cookie made of flour, sugar, and a large amount of shortening.

Used in in sentence: "I might as well rub that shortbread on my a$$ 'cause that's where it's goin'."

*It is my new addiction since Teen Angel started bringing it home from the bakery every time she works. The Mother's Day shortbread cookie shaped like a crown with "mom" written on it was especially good. I'd show you a picture, but I ate it so fast I forgot to take a photo until it was all gone.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stayin' Alive

I have a confession. I never watch the news in the morning any more. I guess after spending seventeen years immersed in news and watching it all day, every day, I got burned out. Also, I’m pretty frustrated with the way TV news has deteriorated in recent years. I still turn on the TV when I’m getting ready each morning, but I usually pick one of three options: something historical on Biography or the History Channel (lawsie, my knowledge of the civil war and Doris Day has greatly expanded because of those channels), music videos or an old movie. This morning it was an old movie and great balls of fire, guess what was on! Saturday Night Fever. So deliciously bad. It made me want to reach for the blue eye shadow and my hot rollers. Thirty seconds of the BeeGee’s Stayin’ Alive had me drifting back to 1977. I was in 8th grade and too young to see an R rated movie, and mama wouldn’t take me for which I cursed her behind her back. I lived vicariously through a friend of mine who talked her mother into taking her, and she shared all the smutty details with me over the phone the very next day. We reveled in the music and by the time we reached high school disco fever was still hanging on. Yes friends, I managed to get in on the tail end of satin pants and the Hustle. I wish I had a picture to share with you of the ivory satin pants, satin shirt, satin baseball cap AND satin purse I wore to a freshman dance. I was so shiny you needed sunglasses to stand next to me. The pants were so slick I couldn’t stay in a chair. They were my favorite pieces of clothing that year next to my Candies shoes and green cowl neck sweater.

Saturday Night Fever reminds me of doing the Bump and the Hustle and the Ladies Night Slide. Good times. And in honor of that, I thought we’d do a little quiz. Come on. I know most of you are old enough to remember this movie, so let’s see who can answer all of these correctly. The winner gets the title of Disco Queen (or King).

My second confession? I DVR’d the movie this morning. Third confession-I have the best of the Bee Gee’s on my iPod-and I like it-a lot.

1. What item does Tony want to buy with an advance on his paycheck from the hardware store? Shirt
2. Who is the actress who appears as the woman Tony gets paint for in the opening scene? his mom, Helen Travolta
3. What movie poster is on the wall of Tony’s bedroom? Rocky
4. What was the name of the sequel to Saturday Night Fever? Stayin' Alive
5. Which actor wrote and directed the sequel? Sylvester Stallone
6. What is the name of the club Tony and his buddies dance in every weekend? 2001 Odessey
7. What famous “nanny” made her movie debut in the film? Fran Drescher
8. What’s the name of Tony’s friend who dies in the end? Bobby C.
*Image courtesy of

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bits and Pieces

1. I honestly cannot tell you where this week went. I was so busy it seemed to pass me right by. In fact, the whole year has been like that so far. I used to think my mom was crazy when she said things like that.
2. Hubby is in Nashville for the next couple of days with Mama J. and Papa T.. Papa T. is having surgery to relieve the pressure on his eye so he won't lose the tiny bit of vision he has left. The girls are in charge of the TV remote around here for two days. Count 'em, TWO whole days!
3. Despite my best efforts, I have fallen for that bouncy song, That's Not my Name, by The Ting Tings. That's what I get for listening to the radio. It's vaguely reminiscent of the You Light Up My Life fever I suffered in the early 80's.
4. Sometimes I'm amazed at people's rudeness. A lady came up to us at lunch today, offered condolences to Hubby on the loss of his sister and then proceeded to ask, "Do you know what made her do a thing like that?" I exhibited great restraint by biting my tongue and not saying what I was thinking, which was, "What would make you pick a gosh awful hairdo like the one you're wearing?"
5. The rain finally seems to have stopped after a week on nonstop downpours. All I have to say about that is, "Hot damn!" Our little tomato plants are yellow and mushy, which is not a good thing. It could be August before we get any tomatoes at this pace, and that, my friends, would be a tragedy.
6. Apparently, I'm going to be an early achiever on this menopause thing. It's been about 76 degrees all week, and I have sweated like a thief in Sunday school every day. When the burly man in a long sleeve shirt sitting next to you is cool as a cucumber and you're not, it's a sign that things they are a changin'. I guess the sooner I get it started, the sooner I'll get it over with.
7. Teen Angel's driving is coming along nicely, except for that abrupt lane change she did the other day which made me poop my pants. I'm never going to sleep again, am I?
8. When you buy a new CD and you reach for Celtic Spa, you know y0u have a little stress in your life.
9. What is it with underwear manufacturers? Every time I find underwear I like, they discontinue it. Is there some kind of panty conspiracy I haven't heard about?
10. And finally, my blog time and commenting has been pretty lax lately due to all of the going ons around here and my stress level. That's evening out somewhat, and I should be back to visiting some of your blogs again soon. See ya in blogland!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Family Fun Fact #47

In the late 1950's a teenaged Zeke left the farm and headed to the big city of Chicago in this car:
There he worked in a parking garage, driving other people's fancy cars, eating at corner delis and having an all around good time. He sowed his oats in Shy Town until one day he realized parking cars and partying was not going to make him rich...or even profitable. That's when he moved back home, joined the army....and met Mama. He settled down, got an education and forged a great life. But apparently, he still dreams about his days in Chicago because he dug this photo out two weeks ago and asked me to print him a copy...a much bigger copy. And he was smiling from ear to ear when he asked.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Shades of Spring

My roses and peonies have bloomed in amazing glory. The colors are spectacular. I snapped some photos of the blooms this past weekend, right after a rain, and I was all prepared to post some beauty shots bursting with color and raindrops like this: And this:And this:But then I got to playing with them and realized that something cool happened when I took away the color and tinkered around with the black and white hues and light within the shots. Suddenly the photos became about texture, and honestly I like these best. They just pop, and the lines are incredibly appealing to me.Don't get me wrong. I would be disappointed to look out in my yard and see shades of gray. But in print, these make my heart sing. And as Martha would say, that's a very good thing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back to Normal

What is normal? I'm not so sure anymore. Nothing about this year has been normal so far. From the ice storm to the eighteen day power outage and Sissy's unexpected death, 2009 has been one big stressful surprise after another. Frankly, I'm pretty tired of being in the running for the Suckiest Year Ever Award. And while things have felt kind of surreal lately, life does go on, and things are slowly falling back into place. Yesterday was a little better than the day before, and today was slightly better than yesterday. The school bus pulled up the street this morning at 6:40. The electric bill came right on schedule and Bitchiest Clerk Ever was still serving up sandwiches at Subway. There is security in the routine. That's why preschoolers will watch the same video over and over without tiring of it. There's something comforting in knowing what to expect, and I take comfort right now in the rote. It feels good to go back to making dinner instead of dipping up a neighbor's casserole. I look forward to going back to work tomorrow. And running on my lunch hour. And taking Teen Angel to work. And watching a funny show on TV. And giving the dog a bath. The routine is what pushes us to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving when we don't feel like it. It's what puts us in the position to accept the laughter when it finally comes bubbling up unexpectedly. It's why I took time out today to buy mama's Mother's Day gift, to put a roast in the crock pot and to clean out the refrigerator. It's how I will find normal again. While I'm not sure when or how normal will get here, I'm pretty sure it's going to sneak up on me. And that's one surprise I will enjoy.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two Chicks on the Road-Part 1-From May 2008

On this day that we laid Sissy to rest, I can't help but think about our last road trip together and how we got lost coming home from the Eric Clapton concert. These are the posts from that trip. They truly make me smile.

After this past weekend I don’t think the rest of the family will let me and Sissy travel alone again, not without a GPS, hard hats and a police escort. Our road trip to Indianapolis for an Eric Clapton concert turned into quite the adventure. We were trying to behave, and we did, but circumstances beyond our control (and some within) had the family rolling their eyes at us when we finally landed in the driveway Saturday evening. And had us recalling that movie about two chicks on a wild road trip.
Funny thing, when I looked up some quotes from Thelma & Louise, they perfectly fit some of the moments during our trip. Grab a popcorn and Diet Coke for this little tale because it could take a while. Warning: It WILL leave you questioning how we ever earned college degrees.

We left Friday morning expecting a five hour drive that would put us in Indy in time to check into our hotel, eat a nice dinner and mosey over to the amphitheater in plenty of time. Note that I’m wearing a white shirt. This will be important later. And how I wish Photoshop had a fuzzy hair, squinty eye filter.
Thelma: “You said you n’ me was gonna get out of town and for once just really let our hair down. Well darlin’ look out ‘cause my hair is comin’ down.”

The drive and hotel check-in was uneventful, (and can I just say that the North side Hilton is very nice) but when Sissy looked at the hotel clock she realized we had forgotten about the time change. We had lost an hour and didn’t have time for dinner. We rushed to the amphitheater just in time to buy T-shirts and stake out a good spot on the lawn for the warm up band. The lawn was packed.

See this guy?
When we first saw him I nudged Sissy and said, “betcha five bucks he’s one of those people who starts dancing before everyone else does and dances with a real wiggly butt.” Not five minutes later he started shakin’ his groove thing. Hee hee. Takes one to know one. As the warm up band finished we noticed the sky started getting considerably darker, and we heard a rumble or two of thunder.
We decided we didn’t care if we got wet. After all, it was Clapton. It was a road trip. It was an adventure. Bring it on, we said. Famous last words. As EC took the stage, darkness descended and lightning began to flash in the distance. This kind of lightning.
(This is a picture taken that night by Sean Gilbertson. Photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Star. Hmm. It didn’t seem very safe to be standing out in the middle of a field with that kind of lightning but..well, it was Clapton, so we ignored it and hoped for the best. A couple next to us consulted a Palm Pilot and discovered there was a tornado warning for Kokomo. “Where’s Kokomo?” we asked. “Oh, it’s nowhere close to us. It’s on the border.” “Great.” We didn’t know their geography was bad. For the next hour and a half we were lost in the sweet, sweet sounds of Clapton’s guitars. That man is phenomenal. At 64 years old, he sounds even better than he did years ago. It was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to. Don’t you love how everyone raises their cell phones instead of lighters at concerts now?
As we danced and sang the lightning kept getting worse, much worse. In fact, it built to the point that it almost seemed timed to peak as the music swelled during the last thirty minutes of the show. It felt very dangerous to be in the middle of it. The drunks around us clapped and cheered every time the sky lit up, but Sissy and I kept exchanging nervous looks.
Thelma: Louise, no matter what happens, I’m glad I came with you.

We couldn’t leave though…it was Clapton, right? RIGHT? We felt a few sprinkles and knew we would definitely get wet. A light rain fell and the wind kicked up during Layla, Running on Faith and You Look Wonderful Tonight, giving the concert a kind of ethereal feeling. That feeling wore off when a downpour began three songs from the end. Ponchos and umbrellas did no good, which made us feel better since we had neither. People were dancing barefoot in the aisles and sliding down the grass. I remembered those old clips from Woodstock. The rain blew hard. It blew sideways from one direction and then another direction. The lightning was fierce, and we were standing in the middle of it soaking wet and cheering for an encore. Don’t judge. It was Clapton. When the show finally ended, we picked up our stuff and along with 20,000 other people tried to find our way out of the venue in the driving rain. It was raining so hard we had to stop every few feet and wipe the water out of our eyes so we could see to move on. A river of water washed over our feet when we walked out of the gates. Just a little closer and we’ll be in the car, we thought. The car? Oh, s***! Where’s the car? We were in such a hurry when we arrived that we didn’t pay attention to where we parked. We staggered around in the storm, searching desperately for the car and finally found it about ten minutes later. A river of water ran down my backside when I sat down. In the distance lightning hit something that flashed with a small explosion. We would not have been more wet if we had jumped into a swimming pool and failed to dry off. We tried to take a picture of our drowned rat selves, but it was too dark.

We pulled into a lane of traffic to leave but hit a logjam right away and sat there for forty five minutes. During that whole time we watched other people staggering around in the storm looking for their cars, desperately hitting their remotes. Clapton’s fans span multiple generations, so some of these folks were elderly. We felt helpless as we watched one older couple search for their car. Eventually, we started moving and made it out of the parking lot and onto the interstate. We were only eight miles from our hotel, but the relentless rain and high winds made the white knuckle drive seem longer. We started passing jackknifed semis and wrecks. We saw downed tree limbs and power outages. At our exit ramp we panicked when we hit moving water. We made it though it, but our gas light came on so we pulled over at the first gas station to fill up and make sure we were headed in the right direction. While Sissy fought the wind and rain at the gas pump, I went inside for directions and to go to the bathroom. When I entered the store three men all smiled and spoke. Friendly guys, I thought. Not really. Remember the white shirt? When I looked in the bathroom mirror, I realized that you could see right through my soaked shirt and underwear. I might as well have been naked. Nice. I had to walk right past them to leave.

The rain and 70 mile an hour winds did not let up while we ploughed through the next three miles to our hotel. A quick trip through a Wendy’s drive-thru put us next to a flooded parking lot where two ducks were swimming. It was too dark for a picture, but oh, how I wanted to capture that moment. When were arrived at our hotel, we stepped into another river of water in the parking lot but laughed all the way to the third flour, relieved we had finally made it through all that mess. It all didn’t seem so funny though when after we changed and sat down to eat, I flipped on the TV and discovered that Clapton wasn’t the only thing to roll through Indianapolis that night.

To be continued……….

Two Chicks on The Road-Part 2-From May 2008

It never felt so good to be dry and warm as it was when we shed our dripping concert clothes. We snuggled into our beds, grabbed our burgers and turned on the TV, not really expecting much in the way of weather information since it was pushing 1am. Not only were the local stations still in the midst of wall to wall coverage of the stormy weather, they were showing dark images of storm ravaged apartment buildings on the city’s east side. What would later be determined to be an F-2 tornado had formed over Indiana’s midsection, touching down in Indianapolis and causing damage like this.
This is a photo submitted to the Indianapolis Star by Tyler Merrick. Daylight would find several people homeless and 65,000 people without electricity. Seventy mile an hour winds had toppled trees and injured eighteen people. By Tuesday the damage estimate would be up to $29 million. We didn’t know the full extent of the damage when we went to bed that night or when we left town the next morning, but we knew enough to realize we were very foolish to stand out in the middle of a driving storm for a concert, even if it was Clapton. We felt very lucky…and a little stupid.

We slept in the next morning, exhausted from all the excitement and the drive. We laughed at how old we’re getting and how we just can’t road trip like we used to.
Thelma: “You awake?”
Louise: “I guess you could call it that. My eyes are open.”

We rolled our creaky selves out of bed and onto the highway by 11am, planning a leisurely drive home and a nice meal along the way, the meal we never really got the night before. We quickly got an hour behind because of road construction on the edge of Indianapolis, but grabbed a bite to eat and made it to the Kentucky border in reasonable time. We estimated we had about three and a half hours left to travel. We were wrong. Outside of Louisville, we were flapping our gums and missed an exit that each of us has taken dozens of times. Since we weren’t traveling with a GPS and an automated voice did not shout, “YOU MISSED YOUR TURN!” and all of rural Kentucky looks about the same, we cruised along blissfully for another thirty minutes or so until we saw a sign that said “Horse Cave”. Horse Cave??!! (Insert swearing here.) We also passed a sign that indicated we were pretty close to the Tennessee border. (Insert more swearing.) Immediately we realized our mistake, but we were too far down the interstate to turn around and had no choice but to keep moving forward and figure out how to get back to the mainland.
Louise: “Well, we’re not in the middle of nowhere, but we can see it from here.”

Since we were traveling without a map (I know, I KNOW) we had to stop at the nearest wide spot in the road for directions. That stop ended up being this place.
Yes, Sissy and I went to Mammoth Cave, which is nowhere near where we needed to be. Let me know when you’re finished laughing. Mammoth Cave…it’s right next to Dino-Land and close to absolutely nothing else. We wheeled into the little tourism office, checked out the big map on the wall, took a Kentucky map with us (just in case) and headed off in a new direction. The drive was complicated by the fact that I had promised to take Teen Angel to a very important birthday party when I got home, and what was expected to be a five hour drive when we left Indy was now going to be more like seven and a half. We shall not discuss how many traffic laws we may have broken trying to get home. Let’s just say we were in “s*** and git” mode. We didn’t shoot anybody, but we were as watchful for the law as Thelma & Louise, sliding in between two other cars when we flew past that state trooper. Teen Angel kept texting and calling us, asking if we were close. “Um, no. Not really.” “Why not? Where ARE you?” “It’s a looong story. I’ll explain later,” I said. We finally squealed into the driveway in time to get Teen Angel to her party a fashionable forty minutes late. She wasn’t TOO upset. As Sissy said, no one wants to be the first pea in the dish. We were worn out, embarrassed to share our Mammoth Cave story with the rest of the family and glad to be home. We got plenty of eye rolls and questions about how we could possibly miss a turn we’re very familiar with. But we had a blast. Oh, and we WILL be buying a GPS soon, one that shouts “YOU MISSED YOUR TURN!”

Was it was worth it? Yes! It was worth every raindrop, missed turn and bump along the way. I’m okay with the unexpected. It makes life interesting. Eric Clapton was wonderful, and Sissy and I have some memories we will laugh about for years to come. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather stand out in the rain with.
Thelma: “Louise, no matter what happens, I’m glad I came with you.”