Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Are You There, God? It's me, Hula.

Dear God, Thank you for the many blessings you send my way on a daily basis, like a wonderful family, a comfortable home and the patience required while repeating myself sixteen times so Papa T. can hear me tell him where his green beans are on his plate. Thank for the good health I have experienced in recent weeks, aside from that nickel sized blister I got from running ten miles in old running shoes. Please give me the wisdom to stop doing that kind of thing even though I know better. The old shoe thing, not the running ten miles thing. Thank you for the beautiful spring flowers that give me hope for life renewing itself. I am struggling to see the blessing involved in this latest rainy cold snap, but I’ll get there. Eventually. Maybe. Help me to love my teenager with a full heart, open arms and a controlled tongue. Seriously, help me with the controlled tongue thing. I appreciate all the help you’ve sent me in learning how to use the new sound system at church, even the couple of folks who apparently know all about running it without ever touching the thing. I’m especially grateful for the motor that Daddy found in the newspaper that might save us about $500 in lawn mower repairs. ESPECIALLY GRATEFUL for that. You can drop that kind of manna on me anytime. Please look after all the sick folks I know. Not to complain, but that list is getting’ a little long, Lord. I’m hopin’ we can shorten that up pretty soon. Aunt Mary could use a little boost, ya’ know. Give me the strength to lead our worship committee through this update of our services, and the wisdom not to sign up for that committee the next time appointments are being made. I mean, unless you really want me too. Psst…can I just be on the Feed the Bereaved Committee next time? And grant me patience to deal with all of these little things that are gnawing at me during this especially hectic time, like my computer issues at work. Not to be greedy, but if you could just make Adobe Updater leave me alone, that would be swell. Help me to look for the best in everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, especially You Know Who. I promise I’m trying’, but it’s hard. I suppose I should thank that person for keeping me in close contact with you, though. Anyway, it’s been a pretty good day, and that’s all I have this time. Watch over my peeps, and tell Granny Goober says hey! Amen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Sweet Mother of Maybelle, I had forgotten how funny Whoopie Goldberg can be until I saw this the other night. I laughed so hard I almost spppttted.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Well, I could be all righteous and scream something like, “Wildcat THIS!” given Kentucky’s unexpected win in the NCAA yesterday, but that would be a little dishonest given that I did not pick them to advance this far in my bracket. Dadgum Ohio State screwed me up. I was as high as second place in the office pool until Saturday evening. I took a big tumble to #10 after the Kansas disaster (sorry Rink) and the Cats’ win. There was that whole Butler thing Saturday night, too. I had picked Florida to win, but I was actually rooting for Butler. How can you not? What a Cinderella story, and hello, cutest little coach EVER.

Is he really an adult? Or is he a mathematics major who is pulling the greatest scam in the NCAA ever? He is cuter than a speckled pup underneath a rosebush. I just love it when the underdog wins; although I think we can all quit calling Butler the underdog now, given their performance during the past two seasons.

Hubby was embarrassed because I refused to leave Rafferty’s restaurant Saturday night until the end of the Butler-Florida game. He might have been a little more embarrassed because I was hootin’ and hollerin’ out loud. Along with the elderly gentleman at the next table. There were plenty of empty tables, and the servers there have that whole everybody waits on everybody system, so I didn’t feel like I was costing our server any tips, and I was just GLUED to the game. When I finally gave up my seat I found Hubby waiting in the…well, the waiting area. Patiently. I love that man, and the way he puts up with me when I’m a pain in the patooty.

We are not big sports fans in our house. Oh, we love watching live sports when people we know are involved, especially kids. Gosh, T-ball is one of the best forms of entertainment there is on a summer night, and we’re the best cheerleaders in the world. But as a rule, we don’t watch college or professional sports on TV. It’s one of the reasons I married Hubby. I don’t have to worry about scheduling our lives around the NBA or the NFL. There is the occasional bull riding event, but that’s a rarity. Besides, I can just wait until he falls asleep in mid-rodeo, steal the remote and flip it over to Food Network. He just isn’t into watching sports, and neither am I.

There are two exceptions for me. Well, three. I love ice skating. What can I say? It’s a chick thing. I will watch every hour of Olympic coverage and savor each one, and I love the NCAA tournament. The tournament is great because there are always big upsets. The athletes are not overpaid jocks putting forth just enough effort to collect a big paycheck and score with a woman in every town while their wives sit at home with the kids. They are kids who play with their hearts and put it all on the line every time they step onto the arena floor. There are great stories to be told about these players and their teams as they ride the thrill of victory and the agony of da feet. It’s one big soap opera, and that’s why I like it. I sit on the sidelines all winter long and then jump into the cheering when the Big Dance starts in March. I don’t really have a favorite team. I root with my heart, so my fellow Kentucky fans will forgive me for jumping onto the Wildcat wagon at this late juncture. What can I say? I can’t win the office pool anyway, and I love a good comeback. Go Big Blue!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hey there, Delilah!

One thing I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you is my love for ugly dogs, specifically English bulldogs. I know they are an acquired taste, but I have a real weakness for them. I’ve always said I would have one before I get old and feeble, and after this week’s photo shoot I’m certain of it.

I shot some photos for a local pet publication, and one of the pets was an English bulldog. Oh, my goodness, I’m in love! Brothers and sisters, meet Delilah. How can you not love THIS?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Look what I found!

I am so buying this shirt. I mean, really, do I have a choice? I think not.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hang on to Your Hats

I’m not sure where to begin in explaining all of the excitement going on around this place lately. Like the four loads of laundry I did Saturday or the hamburger casserole I made last night. Then there was the ever thrilling truck breakdown that caused me to do the dance of despair. It’s just one thrill after another, and I just don’t know where to start. How’s about we start with the truck?

Hubby has a 1983 blue Ford pickup that he acquired before he acquired me. He ordered it new that year and can still describe in great detail where he was when he placed the order, how much he paid for it and the name of the salesman. Me? I can hardly remember the color of the Peeps I bought at the grocery store last weekend, but Hubby is a detail man. He loves that truck. In fact, he has given me strict instructions on what to do with it if he dies before I do, and those instructions do NOT include selling it to the first person who offers me a Ben Franklin.

Its value is more sentimental than fiscal. We paid the taxes on it last month, and they were a grand total of $21. The truck runs fine 95% of the time and is well preserved because he treats it with kid gloves. The downside is that when it quits running it always costs us an arm, a leg and two toes. When something on it finally wears out, it’s usually big. He took it in for maintenance yesterday and apparently the front end is about to fall out. The tab? $800. Now, I know that’s less than a couple of car payments, but I just hate sinking money into something older than my underwear. I don’t want to buy a new car though, and Hubby can’t part with Old Blue, so we’ll fork over the bucks and get it fixed. I’ll just bury him in the thing if he does go first and save the cost of a coffin.

Papa T. has had a bad cold all week long which killed his appetite. He’s eating without tasting, so I was able to sneak a spinach salad in on him last night without him noticing. I swear, feeding him is like having a toddler all over again. I have to hide the nutritious stuff in something cheesy or dense. He may not be able to see, but he can sniff out a green vegetable like a bloodhound.

Things are suddenly busy on the photography front. This evening I’m shooting a cover shot and photos for a new pet publication that’s being put together locally. Photographing dogs and cats over which I have very little control should be challenging, to say the least. I have an engagement shoot this week that came up unexpectedly. Have I mentioned how much I love brides? And this weekend I’m shooting some children’s pictures on a farm that has thousands of daffodils. (More on the daffodils later. MUCH more.) It’s a regular portrait palooza this week.

In the midst of all this, I’m learning to run the new audio visual system we just installed at church. Sunday, I managed to project lyrics and such during the service without messing anything up so I considered that a success. I must admit, the ornery side of me thinks it would be really funny to project bunny ears above the preacher’s head, but I’ll refrain. See? This is why I have to go to church every Sunday. I have trouble reigning in my inner Belushi.

Speaking of my inner Belushi, I have discovered that Hubby, who is still a little crippled from his foot surgery, does NOT like being called The Hobbit. Or Hop-A-Long Cassity. And he really hates it when Teen Angel and I whisper as he limps by us with his crutch, “God bless us everyone.” He has no appreciation for Charles Dickens. Or my sense of humor.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hula-gen Family Fun Fact #231

In 1979 the Hula-gen's had a family photo made, and Hula's hair was as wide as Oklahoma. Perhaps, that was because of her fear of having big ears, which seemed to run in the family.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Photo Friday Challenge-"Polished"

Ha! I discovered something about myself today. I had hardly any photos that qualified for this challenge. Apparently, I like a lot of rough textures. LOL.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Got Flavor?

I was perusing the Irish cream dessert recipes over at The Pioneer Woman’s site this morning, and my, what a peruse THAT was. If it’s one thing I love it’s desserts made with Irish cream. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi (I didn’t get anywhere near the correct spelling on that the first time..or the second or third time) to cookies. And cakes. And beverages. And cream sauces. And anything else that could use a splash of smooth. Anyhow; it reminded me of something I forgot to share with you back during the holidays. One day in December, I started digging around in my cabinets for something I had lost and ended up pulling out every bottle of flavoring I use in cooking. And came up with this:

Proof that Hubby is right when he says I like to have one of everything in the kitchen. Eighteen bottles of extracts and liqueurs. You want citrus? I got it. Maple? No problem. Coffee flavors? Nut flavors? Mint? I’m all over it. In fact, I’m not sure there’s a flavoring I don’t have. Is this a problem? I think not. Other than the fact, I can’t decide which one I like best. I’m partial to amaretto, but sister mercy, that Godiva white chocolate liqueur is heaven with a straw. Not that I drink it with a straw. I like to sip my chocolate martinis straight out of the glass, thank you.

Honestly, I rarely make drinks with the liqueurs. I usually just throw them into any and everything sweet I cook around this place. If you’re a teetotaler and come to my house, don’t worry, I can whip you up something without alcohol. Just don’t light a match near those cookies on the counter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm back in the ditches

Ooh, it’s one of my favorite times of the year for nature photography. I’m a sucker for spring blooms, and the blooms are a bloomin’ in these parts. Most of the showy stuff is still to come, like the dogwoods, the cherry blossoms and the tulips. But the daffodils are here, and they are giving me hope that this chilly wet weather will someday end, give way to sunshine and warm my Caribean soul.

Get ready to be beaten over the head with pictures of spring blooms. The challenge? To photograph them in unexpected ways that showcase the individual parts of the plant that you may have never paid much attention to.

Up first is the simple daffodil. It hangs out in ditches and fields and isn’t as attention seeking as the tulip, but it’s the bloom that trumpets spring, so it’s one of my favorites.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Word of the Day: Whack

Pronunciation: \ˈhwak, ˈwak\

Origin: British
Definition: 1. a : to strike with a smart or resounding blow b : to cut with or as if with a whack : chop
2. to get the better of: defeat
3. slang : Murder, kill

intransitive verb: to strike a smart or resounding blow

Used in a sentence: Hubby pulled Hula out of the way just before the elderly lady tried to whack Hula on the back with a cane because she thought Hula was in her way at the grocery store.

*For the record Hula was NOT blocking the aisle. She had pulled her cart out of the aisle. The lady just wanted to get between Hula and the case of hams without saying “excuse me”.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Good News, Bad News

Good news! Hubby went back to the doctor Wednesday and got the surgery dressing off of his leg. He’s now down to a big bandage and a sock to catch any of the blood on those occasional times when it seeps a little blood. Which means he’s no longer the crankiest person on our block. He has graduated from crutches to a cane or rather this carved walking stick he pulled out of the attic. Teen Angel called it his pimp stick, and as my friend Randall would say, she ain’t wrong. While he won’t run any foot races any time soon, and the sole of his foot feels like burning coals, he’s recovering as he should and finally able to get around the house. He even drove himself to the doctor Wednesday, which wasn’t my favorite idea of the week, but as Charlie Sheen has proven, you can’t always make people do what’s best for them. He’s my own little assassin warlock.

Bad news. Papa T.’s eye surgery has not fixed the problem. He’s been in and out of the eye doctor almost every day for the past week. They will decide Monday if they are going to repeat the surgery. What little vision he has may be gone for good. We hope not, but it’s not looking good. Double bad news-If they do the surgery again, he’ll have to wear TWO big metallic eye patches, giving him some kind of Super Fly look. Health problems are so humbling.

Good news! My running is going exceptionally well these days. I’ve been incorporating some longs runs into my weekends this month, and Sunday I ran nonstop for an hour and 45 minutes. I think I finally have my mental focus under control. Let’s hope it lasts. I’m about 90% sure I’m going to sign up for a half marathon our city is hosting Mother’s day weekend. It’s called the Iron Mom. I want to prove to myself I can do better than I did during my first half, but I also really want one of those T-shirts that says, “Run Like A Mother”. I may make that my new running mantra.

Bad news. The new swimsuits are on the rack. I tried some on the other night and besides questioning who thought fluorescent lights in a dressing room were a good idea, I decided that my body issues can be summed up in one word, “droopy”. I had to check under my knees to find my butt cheeks.

Good news! Teen Angel’s new knee pads and safety gear for roller derby arrived. They’re much thicker and better fitting than the ones she had been borrowing. I can quit worrying about her cracking her knees apart on the hard floor. Some.

Bad news. They finally announced the date for the Buffett show in Nashville. It’s Memorial Day weekend, which I would normally be excited about. However, it falls less than 24 hours after Teen Angel’s graduation and Project Graduation event. I am too old to stay up all night, drive to Nashville and stay up part of another night, especially if there are margaritas involved. I think I’m going to have to pass on Buffett this year, and that does not make me happy.

Good news/bad news-You decide. I’m learning how to run the new audio/visual system at church. I will soon be able to control the sound, cameras and projectors used during church. I’m thinking they should be afraid. Very afraid. You think they’d get the joke if I dropped in a few bars of AC/DC one morning?

Have a good weekend, y’all!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

To the Edge and Back

Brothers and sisters, I have stepped to the edge of the cliff, gazed into the Valley of the Shadow of Death, feared the evil, teetered on the edge of annihilation and survived to tell about it. I have lived through that harrowing adventure known as (cue foreboding music) PROM DRESS SHOPPING WITH A TEENAGE GIRL! There were thrills. And chills. And spills of a giant unsweetened tea when I accidentally poked a hole in the bottom of my Styrofoam cup. But in the end we walked away with a dress that made Teen Angel happy and passed my rules, which are:

1. Must have a skirt long enough to keep the fanny from being exposed when you touch your toes. (No duck dresses. A duck dress is one with a hem two inches below the quack.)

2. Limited cleavage.

3. Must cost less than one mortgage payment.

I gave up on pushing for a consignment store dress because that was an argument I wasn’t going to win. You’d think I had asked her to shave her head bald or something. I settled on a dollar amount I would pay and anything above that was on her dime or between her and her grandmother to work out since granny has more money than sense and an intense desire to make sure Teen Angel goes to prom in style. Granny also thinks dyed shoes and beaded purses are still in style, but we’ve almost talked her down from that ledge. Another week or so and we’ll have her convinced that a nice pair of silver heels will do just fine.

I do like the dress. I find it quite elegant, even if it is going to be an ordeal to go to the bathroom in that thing. And I find it ironic that pouf is in since pouf was big when I was a senior, but I like the pouf. Warning! Camera phone pictures:

Anyhoo, we had a successful afternoon of shopping last Saturday that involved only one incident of me hissing through gritted teeth, “Don’t act like an arse just because I don’t like something you pick out.” And since they had assistants, I didn’t have to stand on the other side of the dressing room catching ill fitting dresses tossed over the door or spend fifteen minutes lacing Teen Angel into each dress. I even got a couple of laughs out of the two lone fathers who tried to navigate the store full of some thirty young women sorting through and trying on dozens of fancy ball gowns with sequins and feathers and shoes, oh, the shoes! There were giggles and squeals and phone cameras clicking right and left. One dad announced too loudly to a whole room full of ladies that he had to pee, while another sat in a chair, shaking his head and mumbling, “I just don’t understand.” I think he had just seen the price tag on the dress his daughter was wearing.

I survived intact and am now working up the strength to shop for the necessary underwear. Not for her. For Hubby, when the boy shows up to pick her up. The poor man is more scared of her dates than he is the price of the dress.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Man Cave

Remember back in October when I told you we had started building a new garage that was also going to house Hubby’s man cave? Well, it’s done. I had plans to do this big old post featuring before and after shots, but golly gee, that would take a long time to dig out those pictures and put that together, and I really don’t see that happening any time soon. So I’m just gonna slap up a few photos and give you a little look see with promises of before and after pictures sometime in the near future. When no one in my house is recovering from surgery. Or graduating from high school. Or buying prom dresses. Or having kidney stones removed. On second thought, let’s just say I’ll get to it when I get to it. In the meantime, here ya’ go with the down and dirty.

The garage was built mostly for storage, and the entire second floor and half of the first floor are used for that. Half of the first floor though is the man cave. Well, really it’s the whole family cave. Hubby designed it, but we will all use it. We wanted a space near the pool where people could relax, use the bathroom and generally hang out without worrying about wet bathing suits or keeping the floor dry and clean. We also wanted it to be a space for entertaining and to be utilized as an apartment or spare living area if ever needed. We enjoy having friends over and plan to use it extensively for get-togethers.

We had a really tight budget for this project, so we had to get creative with some aspects of it. Like the poker table.

It was actually a large round dining table from a local hotel that was being torn down. (Executive Inn for you locals.) We covered it in a $30 piece of laminate, cut some holes in it and dropped in cup holders ordered from the internet. We also added cheap chairs from Voila! A poker table the size of Minnesota. One of Hubby’s poker buddies gave him a free microwave that was being tossed during a kitchen remodel. All of the microwave carts we priced cost more than we wanted to pay, so we ended up buying a tool box from Lowe’s that was discounted because of a dent in the back. It’s actually perfect because the microwave fits the top, and we can use the drawers for storage of silverware, plastic ware and paper plates and napkins. It was actually one of the better ideas I’ve had in a really long time. What can I say? Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.

We shopped around extensively for lighting (internet), a refrigerator and fixtures like the sink, shower and toilet. There is a very small bathroom to the right of the kitchen cabinet area, but I forgot to take a picture of it before I wrote this, and taking one now would require getting up out of this chair and going out back, and honestly, I’m pretty stuck to this chair right now. You’ll have to use your imagination regarding the bathroom. Just picture something small and basic with lost cost fixtures.

The leather sofa and loveseat came from a discount furniture store, and we negotiated a good price for those. The barber chair actually came from the shop where Hubby and I get our hair cut. They were getting rid of it because it didn’t hold air pressure anymore, and since Hubby found it quite comfortable, he bought it for a nominal price. I have to admit I thought he was a little crazy when he bought it, but it works perfectly in that space.

The neon signs are a collection Hubby has had for more than twenty years. He started buying them before they got expensive, and he actually has about twice what you see on the walls.

A few are in the garage portion of the building, and others are in storage upstairs. If we put them all on the walls it would look like Gilley’s in Pasadena, Texas. And please ignore the fact that I just dated myself with that Urban Cowboy reference. We have one more to hang, and it’s being repaired right now.

While I did advise Hubby on the décor, he made the decisions and planned the whole thing himself. He allowed me to add my margarita maker and my Jimmy Buffett magnet, so it’s not totally without a woman’s touch. So far, we’ve hosted two poker nights in the man cave and a Homecoming after party for Teen Angel’s friends. That one required a zip tie lock on the liquor cabinet for the night. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good kids, but I’m no fool. I remember what I was like at that age. Teenagers do stupid things. We will have a Bunco get together there next month, poker night has been moved to our house permanently and a whole passel of folks have invited themselves over this summer to swim and have a good time. And that’s okay with us. That’s why we built the darn thing. We hope to have many good times out there in the years to come. We’ll have to. Now that we’re broke, we won’t be going very far from home. Ha!

Sing it, Gladys!

To the woman who busted me in traffic this morning while I was belting out, "You're the BEST thing that ever happened to ME!!" I'd apologize but frankly, I WAS Gladys Knight this morning. And Dave Matthews. And Quiet Riot.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Does the satin make my butt look big?

Sister Mercy! Did you hear? Bell bottoms are back in style this year.

Be still my Brady Bunch heart. I haven’t been this excited about a fashion trend since the Who Shot JR t-shirt in 1980. They say you’re too old to wear a trend if you wore it the first time it came around, but I’ve been known to wear white shoes after Labor Day, so I may throw caution to the wind and jump on board this train at the risk of looking like one of those middle aged ladies you see at the water park wearing a leopard print cover-up and gold shoes.

My love of bell bottoms goes way back to 1976, the year of the bicentennial. It was also the year I held a grudge against mama for weeks because she wouldn’t take me to Kaintuck Territory to see Dr. Hook perform live. Something about hippies, drugs and lyrics laced with sexual innuendo not being appropriate for a sixth grader. Whatever. I wasn’t mature enough to go, but I was a hippie at heart in my wide bells, as evidenced by this pep band photo.

That was my favorite pair of pants during sixth grade. The style back then was to sew patchwork material onto the bottom of your bells to give them a hippie edge. Mama latched onto that with gusto because it meant she got another four or five months of wear out of our pants after a growth spurt. I wore those pants OUT, and I remember being sad when I had to give them up. Sadder than when I outgrew my black patent loafers in fourth grade and even sadder than when I spilled soda on my ivory satin disco pants at Homecoming in 1979. And that’s sayin’ something because those satin pants were hot, hot, hot with my satin shirt and matching satin ball cap and purse. And Candie’s shoes. Don’t forget the Candie’s.

I think of those patchwork bell bottoms every now and then whenever I slide on a favorite pair of jeans or try on a pair that fits just right. I smile with memories of grade school band and playground games and old friends. And I yearn for days when the only things I had to worry about were math quizzes, saving money for the Bay City Rollers album and whether I should circle yes or no when DB asked me to “go with him”. Those bell bottoms gave way to disco satin, peg leg denim and high heels just a couple of years later, which makes me wonder if those will make their way back onto the fashion racks soon, too. If so, I’m gonna have to buy some Spanx. Or get a leopard print cover-up to hide my backside.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gentle on my Mind

*Let me apologize in advance for any whining or self pity expressed here this week as I take care of Hubby and two ailing elderly folks, the neediest of which is NOT the man who just had his foot sliced open and sawed on.

I’ve had plenty of opportunity to dwell on things in the past couple of days, especially while I was waiting at the hospital, and random thoughts came to mind.

1. The delicious taste of cubed cherry Jello with whipped topping in a school or hospital cafeteria cannot be replicated at home.

2. A hospital’s legal counsel would probably advice a nurse against admitting to a patient’s wife that the patient was accidentally given a double dose of morphine, no matter how much the patient’s wife laughed at the husband’s behavior.

3. If Charlie Sheen falls in the woods, and the media doesn’t show up, does anyone hear it?

4. I owe my mother-in-law a debt of gratitude for keeping me in frequent conversation with God.

5. A sure fire way to motivate you to eat right and exercise is to try on swimsuits when they first hit the racks in February.

6. There is no joy like accidentally discovering in your office cabinet a Ziploc bag full of Reese’s cups left over from a recent marketing activity. Joy, joy, JOY!

7. Living in the Middle East probably sucks.

9. The need for a new appliance or expensive car repairs is directly proportional to the amount of income tax refund you receive.

10. Seeing two patches of daffodils, a handful of crocus and four yellow dandelions in bloom during a midday run sure gives you hope that all will eventually be right in the world and in your life.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Busier Than A One Legged Man in A Butt Kickin' Contest

Please enjoy this musical interlude from Adele while Hula tends to two senior citizens, a needy dog and one husband with a surgically sliced foot. Ha, who would have thought that at this stage of my life my teenaged daughter would be the least frustrating person in my immediate circle.