Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Peek-A-Boo, I See You

The day I shot wedding pictures we started at the beauty shop. One half of the shop was bustling with a bevy of young beauties getting ready for the wedding while the other half was filled with elderly ladies getting their weekly wash and set. I noticed one lady who kept stealing glances at the young women and trying not to be seen doing it. What she didn't know is that I was stealing pictures of her without trying to let her see me. I figure we both got what we wanted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movin' Along

I write what’s on my mind, so it seems like whenever I get to the middle of each new week my fingers have the urge to tap out how busy the week is and how fast the world keeps spinning. And then I remember that I wrote about that the previous week, and the week before that. And then I wonder what on earth I’m going to put down on cyber paper instead because all I know right now is “busy”. And fast. And warp speed time. Halloween is this weekend for Pete’s sake. And soon to follow that is Thanksgiving, and great Gertie, Christmas in only a few weeks away! However, I CAN report that I have purchased one Christmas gift already, so my goal of starting my Christmas shopping before mid-December for a change has been met. Pass me a celebratory margarita, please. And some Halloween candy.

Life keeps marching forward in a quick step for the Hula-gen’s so instead of trying to form some sort of cohesive post with a beginning, middle and tidy summary, I’ll just spit out some tidbits for you.

1. We haven’t had rain in western Kentucky in months. It is no exaggeration to say that the rain we’ve accumulated this summer could fit into a teacup. We’ve had sunshine every day since May. The people of this community can thank the Hula-gen’s for the downpour we had yesterday as it was the day we had planned to pour concrete at our house. Once again, God is teaching me a lesson in patience.

2. Daily, we get the wild idea to get into the pool as soon as we get this concrete finished, and then we stick our toe in it and feel the 59 degree water.

3. A photographer friend of mine set up his studio lights and helped me to shoot the studio portion of Teen Angel’s senior pictures last night. It was great fun but quite the workout. He made me shoot everything on manual and work through the things I didn’t know. He is an excellent teacher, and I’m very grateful, but it felt kind of like when the gym trainer makes you do those extra fifty sit-ups you’d rather not do since your abs are already burning. He was all aperture, shutter speed and custom white balance, and boy, was my head tired when we finished. Ask me where that aperture button is today. Just ask me. I dare ya’.

4. Teen Angel has a new beau. That thud I just heard was the sound of all of you parents with teenagers who just dropped to your knees to pray for me. Thank you.

5. I finished editing wedding pictures today and will nervously hand those over to the bride later this week. Ooh, it makes me nervous to share my work with others in such a personal way. I now have to start editing some senior pictures I shot for a girl last weekend and prepare for a shoot Saturday morning involving a three year old and a one year old. I’ll get to see just how fast I can move and shoot Saturday. This is all pushing me out of my comfort zone in a good way and inching me closer to that $2,300 lens I want. Nikon 70-200mm here I come!

6. I love learning new things as I get older. Have I said that lately? I really do. It makes me feel not so old.

7. Hubby is totally engrossed in picking out stuff for his man cave. We’ve had more conversations about paint colors in the last two weeks than we’ve had our entire marriage. He was also watching Steel Magnolias by himself last night when I got home. Maybe we should dress HIM as Dolly next Halloween.

8. I’m taking two vacation days this week and spending one whole day shooting fall foliage in the local wildlife areas. I can’t wait. Hubby is going along so the bogey man won’t get me in the wild woolly woods. I don’t know what he’s worried about. I could kill someone with these boney elbows of mine. Nevertheless, it should be a nice day together as long as he remembers to refrain from asking, “Why are you shooting THAT?” We had that discussion earlier this week when he walked in the door and found me shooting pictures of the foam on top of the tea pitcher. He may be in touch with his feminine side, but he knows nothing about photography textures. Or that bag of Halloween candy I have hidden in the kitchen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hula-gen Family Fun Fact #81

Each year the Hula-gen's like to attend an adult costume party hosted by their friends, but as Teen Angel pointed out Saturday night my enthusiasm for the costume aspect of it is a little stronger than Hubby's.

Teen Angel wouldn't let me answer the door when the pizza man arrived Saturday, and Hubby volunteered to go into the convenience store to pay for the ice instead of letting me go in there. I think he was embarrassed by my um.....wig. For the record, I had a "large" time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

True Confessions

I love you John Denver! There, I said it, and I don't care who knows it.

Sniff. The good ones always die young.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fill 'Er Up

Things are great at the Hula-gen hacienda these days. Mama J.’s and Papa T.’s health is stable. Praise Jesus! Teen Angel is having a fun filled month at school and work. She and I actually managed to buy her a Halloween costume AND a Homecoming dress in the span of seventy-two hours without breaking out in a fistfight. I hollered into the dressing room, “That makes you look like a hooker!” only twice. Her reply? “You dress me like the Amish!” Hee hee. How I love being a mother. I’ll skip the rant about how trashy adult Halloween costumes are this year.

Things have been rolling along well lately, and the biggest source of excitement is in our backyard. After months of research and discussions about cost we decided to install a pool and a detached garage. Yippee Skippy!!! We’ve wanted an inground pool for a while but couldn’t decide if we could afford it and if we wanted to spend the money. We had an above ground pool at the old house and we really missed it this past summer when it was 972 degrees every day. We shopped around, got several estimates and finally decided to pull the trigger. We saved money by building it now instead of in the spring. We also negotiated really hard. As in embarrassingly hard. My father, who is tight as a tick, would have shed a tear if he had been there.

The garage will give us the extra storage we need, and Hubby intends to make part of it his man cave. I cannot tell you how excited he is. I’ve never seen someone so pumped up about picking out a toilet and pegboard.

The pool had to come first so as not to get in the way of the garage construction, so early last week the pool folks came with all sorts of heavy equipment and started digging. It was great fun. All of our retired neighbors showed up to watch. We haven’t had this much excitement in the neighborhood since the cops were called on that three day Fourth of July party up the street.

We started with this:

And had a hole in the ground by the end of the first day.
My favorite part came when they troweled the bottom. Those guys were smooth, I tell ya’. They started out with everybody in the pool and kept painting themselves into a small patch of cement.
Four become three.
And then three become two.
Finally there was just one.
This guy was awesome. He had the lightest touch and used a brush to flick away any crumbs. He was the Michelangelo of pool builders. When there was no more room for him to stand, he climbed into the bucket of the backhoe and leaned over the edge to smooth out the last rough patch.
It was fascinating to watch. I could have sold popcorn and sodas to the neighbors as they didn’t leave until the walls and bottom of the pool were finished.

Finally, it was ready for water.
It took three days of nonstop flow from the hose to fill up the dadgum thing. I can’t wait to see the next water bill. I hope Teen Angel likes community college.
The garage builders started this week and as of last night we had a footer.
And steps where the old deck used to be.
Unexpected cost? Replacing the siding on the back of the house because it looked like poo when the deck was removed. Ug. Up next? Concrete. And looking at the pool longingly all winter long until we finally get to swim in it. Come on spring!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Temporarily Out

There is a strange phenomenon that happens in our family on a regular basis. When the Hula-gen’s go to restaurants everyone gets what he orders. Except Hula. It doesn’t matter where I go or what I order, they are out of that particular item. It happens so often that we’ve come to expect it. It doesn’t happen to anyone else in the family. Ever. Just me. It’s a conspiracy. I’m the grassy knoll of eating out.

It’s not like I order weird stuff, either. It’s usually something fairly common. Like dumplin’s at Cracker Barrel. Last time I wanted ‘em? Temporarily out. Which is kind of like McDonald’s not having any French fries. The chicken and rice special? Nope. All gone. I’ve ordered something as simple as unsweetened tea and been told they were out of it. Tea, for Pete’s sake. Just the other day Hubby and I drove to a small town about two hours south of here to look at swimming pools and stopped at a decidedly empty restaurant touting its new citrus rice. I ordered the rice and actually thought I’d gotten lucky because the server cheerfully said thanks and turned in our order. Two pieces of buttered bread and fifteen minutes later she came back to tell me they had no citrus rice. Hubby and I laughed out loud and had to explain the humor of the situation to server Adele who had very little humor I must say.

We spend a lot of time explaining our giggles to servers because of how often this situation happens. We usually go around the table giving our orders with me near the end of the line. When the server kindly tells me they don’t have whatever it is I ordered, I usually say, “Of course you don’t,” and then we all erupt in big chuckles. On several occasions I’ve texted Teen Angel from miles away to share the moment. “At Perkins in Dyersburg. No rice.” “Cracker Barrel says no soup for me!” And her BFF usually laughs too because she knows the drill. For whatever reason, it’s just my lot in life to do without my first choice. That’s why I was not surprised when I couldn’t find the shoes I wanted last week.

For the past year and a half I’ve been wearing the cutest pair of slip on Sketchers on the weekends. They are white biker flats that are cute, cute, cute and can be worn with socks or without.

Photo courtesy:

They are comfortable and work with shorts, jeans or ratty yoga pants. They are the perfect tennis shoe to knock around in, and had I known how much I was going to like them I would have bought more than one pair. I have worn those suckers out and should have replaced them a long time ago. I was forced to deal with the issue after that unfortunate smelly feet incident at the gynecologist’s office recently. A trip to the mall turned up the same shoe in brown, gray and black, but not white. I went to every shoe store in the town but couldn’t find the white ones. No problem, I thought. I’ll just get online and order them. Not so fast Kemosabe.

I went to the Sketchers website and found the same exact style, and they were in stock, except for a couple of sizes, including mine. I went to another website. Same problem. Every size, but mine. In fact, I went to about a dozen websites. I spent forty-five minutes online searching outlets all over the country and I found plenty of shoes in all the other sizes. But not mine. Apparently, everyone with size seven feet wanted Sketcher biker flats in recent weeks. As Ralphie in A Christmas Story says, “Skunked again.” (As of today they are out of all sizes except for a 9 1/2. ) I finally signed up for an email notification from Sketcher for the date upon which they are available again. And then I proceeded to wash those stinkin’ shoes yet again. They’re on a weekly wash schedule now. I can’t bear to throw them away, although when I pulled them off last night and got a whiff of my feet I made a mental note not to remove them under any circumstances in the presence of other people from now on.

I can’t bear to give them up just yet, so I’ll hang in there a little longer and hope the folks at Sketcher stock up on them soon. In the meantime, if you’re out and about and see Straightaway white biker flat #21552 in a size seven, pick up a pair and ship them my way. I’ll reimburse you for the shoes and the shipping. I’d be forever grateful and anoint you as my new best friend. And while you’re at it, could you pick me up some dumplin’s at Cracker Barrel, too?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Minnie Me

When I say Special Delivery is the spittin' image of Super Cop, I'm not joking. Like father:
Like son:
Well, except for the 1970's v-neck shirt. Thankfully, fashion genes aren't necessarily inherited. If they were I'd likely have elastic waist pants in my future.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Look Who's Two!

We celebrated Special Delivery’s birthday this past weekend. I can’t believe he’s two years old. (Insert Old Fart voice here.) Where does the time go?

I’m proud to say he apparently shares his Aunt Hula’s love of cake.

Although I can’t remember ever stealing any off of someone else’s place. When she was watching.
Special Delivery is the spittin’ image of his daddy at this age, except Super Cop had red hair.

And can I just say that since Hubby and I are pretty far down the pike in the child rearin’ business, it’s terribly fun to watch Super Cop deal with the joys and frustrations of living with a toddler. Sorry, it’s the big sister comin’ out in me.
Oh, and if I had cheeks this cute, I’d smile too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Homecoming 2010

Will she really be eighteen in just a couple of months? Great Googly Moogly.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Word of the Day-"Perturb"


Definition: to disturb greatly in mind : DISQUIET
2 : to throw into confusion : DISORDER
3 : to cause to experience a perturbation

— per•turb•able\-ˈtər-bə-bəl\ adjective

Middle English, from Middle French perturber, from Latin perturbare to throw into confusion, from per- + turbare to disturb — more at TURBID
First Known Use: 14th century

Used in a sentence: "Hula was greatly perturbed to realize that three of the pieces of clothing her daughter wore to school today for "nerd day" came from Hula's closet."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanks, Victor and God Bless You

I have watched with fascination the rescue of the Chilean miners. I’ve been able to catch only bits and pieces of the coverage between sleep and work, but I finally stopped long enough to watch miner number fourteen emerge from the mine and out of that coffin like tube this morning to his awaiting family. It was worth the ten minute break I took from work. And I shed a tear. Or two. Okay, twenty six. Wow. It almost leaves me speechless when I stop and think about that ordeal.

Having worked in television news, I have strong opinions about the use of live television. In my opinion, it’s usually misplaced or overdone. We are bombarded with “breaking news” that isn’t and “live” images which do nothing to complement the story. However, I thought this morning as I watched Victor Zamora’s journey from the belly of the earth and onto its surface that this kind of story is exactly what live news coverage should be used for because all around the globe people were glued to televisions and computer screens watching with the same wonder and fascination that I did. Didn’t we all get excited to see the men make it safely to the top after 69 excruciating days of wondering if they’d make it out alive or die a slow death in that cavern? Didn’t we rejoice with their families as they hugged and kissed? I figure the best job on the planet today was being that woman in the red jacket that stood by the wives and children, holding their hands and giving them support during their wait at the edge of the tube shaft and then watching over and over again their joyous reunions with their husbands and fathers.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of Victor’s wife who seemed to be trying so hard to contain her emotions while that tube was rising to the top of the mine. What had the past two months been like for her? Did she ever give up hope? Had she begun to plan his funeral? And did she wait until he reached the top before she finally let herself believe he was going to be okay?

What about Victor’s son? The poor little fellow looked to be maybe five or six years old. What a burden for such a young person to carry for the past 69 days. His mother let him kiss and hug his dad before she stepped forward, probably understanding why it was so important for the little boy to be first. It was at that point in the coverage that my tears began to seep from my eyes. I just can’t imagine what that must have been like. Their lives will never be the same, and that child will never forget that moment.

And then I put myself in Victor’s shoes. What must it have been like down in that hole, surviving on meager rations and hope. What goes through your mind when all you have to do is to think about life and death? When you have no contact with the outside world for seventeen days? And goodness gracious, could I withstand that half mile claustrophobic ride in that rescue capsule winding through the rock? Would I be strong enough to survive something that takes such mental strength and will to live? I would hope so. According an MSNBC report, “Victor’s stream of humorous patter in the mine earned him the nickname "Babbler." His comrades say he laughed even at the aching molars he has suffered for weeks.” What a testament to his character, and let's hope someone fixes his teeth free of charge. Soon. The poor fellow deserves it.

Some of the miners have been dropping to their knees in prayer as soon as they hit the surface, giving thanks to God for their survival. You bet I would have been on my knees, too. As I watched the coverage, I couldn’t help but think about our preacher’s sermon this past Sunday on giving thanks. What an exclamation point to his message. I am thankful for the miners’ rescue, and I am thankful for the reminder of how blessed I truly am. There isn’t much good stuff on TV these days that I take the time to watch. The ten minutes of coverage I saw this morning was better than a full season of just about anything else on the tube this season.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Photo Friday-"Burgundy"

It IS five days late, but as daddy says, nobody wants to be the first pea in the dish.
For the other great entries, go here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Praise Jesus For Gel Pads

The Hula-gen’s went horseback riding last Friday. It’s the first time Hula’s been on a horse in nearly twenty years. Her goal was to not fall off. Goal accomplished. Whew. Don’t laugh. I have strong memories of a certain runaway horse from my childhood and a clothesline. It was also the first time Hubby had ridden in about twenty years and the first time Teen Angel had ever ridden, unless you count a few fair ponies. So the fact that we made it through the day with only one tumble (a spectacular fall from Teen Angel about thirty minutes before we quit for the day) and no injuries other than sore bottoms was a dadgum miracle.

We drove about forty-five minutes south of here to a campground that is designed just for horse folk. It has stalls, Ferrier facilities and other amenities to make it easy to camp with horses. Everyone there rides.

And those who have lost the physical ability to ride still use horses to get around.

My brother in law and his wife have camped there for years and have helped to develop the campground into what it is today. They have owned and ridden horses their entire marriage, so we toddled on down to their site and spent the day with them and their horses.

We rode for about three and a half hours in the morning and another two and a half hours in the afternoon. It was absolutely wonderful. The cell service was non- existent there, so we weren’t bothered by any real connection to civilization. And we rode along trails that wound through the hills and woods and are accessible only by horse and foot.

That particular area used to be home to scattered residents who were displaced when the federal government forced them out many years ago to bring the Tennessee Valley Authority and electricity into the area and to create a large recreational area for the public. It was a very controversial move back then, and scattered throughout the area are remnants of homesteads and small family cemeteries. This particular one bears the stone of a young man who was a drummer in the Civil War.

This used to be moonshine country, and it’s easy to see why. You could get very lost in there, very quickly. Fortunately, my sister in law knows every little nook and cranny of that place. This photo, although not very good, pretty much sums up the day: her leading the way, and me trying to take pictures without running into anything or falling off.

The best pictures were probably to be had on the first ride we took because of the lakes and eagles we saw, but Hula left her expensive camera at the campsite the first time around because she thought it best to have both hands available, given her lack of equestrian skills. I did take it the second time out and managed a few shots, but mostly I was mesmerized by the scenery. It was a spectacular fall day, and even the blandest of fields were lively with color.

Teen Angel’s fall came near the end of the ride when her horse took an unexpected jump over a log that she wasn’t prepared for. She was actually very lucky she wasn’t seriously hurt, but thankfully her pride and her fanny were the only things bruised. I was proud of her though because she got right back on and rode to the campsite.

We wrapped up the evening around the campfire with some good conversation. All in all, it was an excellent day. We even had a great sunset.

It was a badly needed day of rest and regeneration for us and a reunion with family we haven’t seen in a very long time. That alone was worth the sore bottoms.