Tuesday, May 31, 2011

All Graduated Out

The graduation festivities are over, and we survived intact. A good time was had by all, everything went well and I managed to make it through a baccalaureate program, honors night, the graduation ceremony and Project Graduation without crying. I came close a few times, and I thought I was going to burst out in loud tears when the kids released their balloons at the end of Project Graduation early Saturday morning, but I held it together, which was a dadgum miracle I tell ya’. Besides being emotional, I was worn out from staying up all night with 98 rowdy teenagers at the time, and a sore toe could have made me weep. However, I bit my lip and can now say I made it through each event without actually shedding a tear. Although, I’d rather not talk about how many tissues I needed while writing the letter they asked us to write to our child for placement in his Project Graduation goodie bag. THAT’S where all my tears went, three days before graduation. By the way, for those of you not familiar with it, Project Graduation is an event where the kids are basically locked in the school all night for a variety of fun and games as a way of keeping them from getting drunk, driving and killing themselves, like we used to do when I was a teenager. There are financial incentives for attending, and all but four or five kids in Teen Angel’s class attended. As a chaperone, it’s kind of like running a marathon; it takes every ounce of physical strength you have, you’re proud you stayed awake the whole time and you want someone, ANYONE to give you a medal for surviving the darn thing.

We were up all night during Project Graduation, and around 5am Saturday I looked at Hubby and said, “I know without a doubt that I am finally just too old to stay up all night.” Watching the sun rise after partying all night just isn’t the same at 47 as it is at 18. I never thought I’d reach the age where a cool pillow and five hours of sleep sounded better than another pitcher of margaritas and a convenience store burrito at 3am, but there it is. I’m becoming a geezer, and I just don’t care.

We also had a graduation/pool party at our house last night, where the kids swam and made noise until about 1am, and I’d apologize to the neighbors for the noise, but the drunken pool party two houses down from us drowned us out and no one seemed to notice our mayhem. This is the second teen gathering at our house in a week that went until 1am. The first time, Hubby woke me up around midnight, told me the kids were still in the pool and asked me if he should send them home. I said, “They are 18. We know where they are and what they’re doing. No.” But I did remind him that I had to be up for work at 5:30 the next morning, and that since he was the retired one he was responsible for keeping an eye on them until the party ended. And back to that we’re too old to keep staying up this late thing, we are happy the late night festivities are over for a while.

We got word two days before graduation that Teen Angel was ranked 7th in her class, putting her in a special place on the podium during graduation and near the front of the diploma line. And if you think I’m not going to brag about that, then you must not know the Ten Commandments of Parenting. She’s a good kid, and I’m proud of her scholastic achievement, but honestly, I was most proud of her when she relayed to me a graduation night conversation between her and a girl in her class. The girl asked Teen Angel why she wasn’t more sad about the fact the kids wouldn’t see each other again on a regular basis. TA said, “Mom, I just told her, high school is a small part of life. There’s a whole big world out there, and I plan on seein’ it.” Now, that’s my girl. And that one statement was worth all of the late nights this past week and in the last eighteen years that we’ve spent raising that child. She got her schedule for her first semester of college last Friday, and all I can say is, “Look out world! Here she comes.”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Number 7 in her class!

And we couldn't be more proud.  Not just for her scholastic achievements but for the beautiful person she has become. 

It's graduation night, brothers and sisters.  Pray that I hold myself together without too many tears.  Oh, and pray for us parents staying up all night at Project Graduation.  Hula hasn't seen the back side of 4am since she had the flu in 2008.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Duck and Smother

There I am sitting in the closet last night with Teen Angel and the dog and cat, wondering if this tornado season will ever end, and the dog looks up at me as if to say, “Seriously, are we going to hide in here AGAIN?” And I said to him, “Dude, you gotta do something about your anal glands.” Poor fellow, he’s terrified of thunder and lightning, AND he’s a bit out of sorts anyway since he was recently diagnosed as diabetic, and he now gets two insulin shots a day. He’s not a fan of the needle, and his new low calorie food gives him gas. Between his nervousness and the cat’s bad attitude, it was a little uncomfortable in that closet.

This tornado season has been so active I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve taken cover during tornado warnings. This is tornado country, so we’re somewhat used to them, but the twisters have been particularly deadly this spring, and we’re more cautious than usual. We’ve actually dodged a bullet more than once. The tornados that roared through Alabama and Mississippi recently were part of a system that hit here first. Fortunately for us (unfortunately for them), the storms built up steam after they came through here. Last night’s system was the one that killed people in Oklahoma and tried to take a second swing at poor Joplin, Missouri. God bless the people of Joplin. It just breaks my heart to read the stories about that town. We had some minor damage around these parts last night but nothing compared to what’s taken place in other parts of the Midwest in recent days.

This region has had its share of damage in the past. In 2003, a twister killed one person and destroyed several homes in the area near where I grew up. My aunt and uncle were camping at the time and rode out the storm in a concrete bath house. They went home to find that home was still standing but Mother Nature had rearranged all of their rooms. Others lost everything. I was working at the television station at the time, and it was a scary night because the tornado went right over the station.

Last night wasn’t too scary, but there was a time when the roaring wind stopped, it suddenly got eerily quiet and the dog and cat got fidgety. My head was saying, “Stay calm.” My heart was screaming, “I’m comin’ to join ya’ Elizabeth!” The wind started howling again, and I figured if it was going to blow the roof off that would be the moment. It wasn’t. It passed on pretty quickly after that, but on the whole we spent about 45 minutes in the closet. Hubby spent about ten minutes in there. He’s one of those crazy folks who likes to stand at the back door and watch it coming. That drives me INSANE. The man will NOT take cover. One time when he was mowing the yard, I tried to wave him into the house during a tornado warning, and he kept mowing. I finally shouted, “Fine! Let your arse get blown away,” stomped into the house and hid in the bathtub with Teen Angel. And proceeded to worry about his hind end for the next fifteen minutes. Last night she and I were sitting in the floor of the closet listening to the warning sirens wail, when all of a sudden he popped into the closet with big eyes and said, “Funnel cloud in Farley,” which is close to our neighborhood. Five minutes later, he was back to his post by the back door. And I was wishing for my hard hat from work.

Time in the closet is like a forced time-out. It makes you stop and sit. And think about things. While I was in there, I made a partial grocery list in my head, composed a graduation note to Teen Angel, made a to-do list for work and mulled over my stalled half marathon training program. And wondered why we can’t seem to keep a working flashlight in our house. We are flashlight challenged. I don’t know why. We have a dozen flashlights and none of them works entirely right. We need a battery operated TV, too. Since we have satellite TV we get weather warnings right up until the storms smacks our neighborhood, and then it goes out right when we need it most. We keep the weather radio going, but it isn’t as detailed as the TV meteorologists who are doing their best to whip us into a frenzy over bulging fronts and cloud rotation and the like. I will update our little hiding place a little since we still have a few weeks in the storm season, and if the trend continues we will likely be sitting in there a few more times. We’re not nearly as prepared as we need to be. I’m thinking we need some reading material in there, a few cushions and some Febreeze. Seriously, dog, you gotta do something about those glands.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hunkered Down

Right about now I'd normally be typing a new blog post, but tonight we are anxiously watching the skies for severe weather.  The system that beat up on Joplin, Missoui is now moving through this area, and while I'm not normally spooked by storms, my meterologist friends are telling me this could be the worst system we've dealt with in years.  I've lost count of how many times we've had to shelter in our closet this spring.  Frankly, the weather this year is WEARING me OUT.  Stay low, friends as this storm cuts a path through the Midwest.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lifestyles of the Waxy and Famous

One of the things we did while in New York that was a blast was Madame Tussaude’s Wax Museum near Times Square. Because we were on a school trip, we followed a preset itinerary and did things as a group for the most part. Hubby and I had no interest in the wax museum because we figured it would be one of those overpriced tourist attractions that leaves you feeling ripped off. (This means you, Gatlinburg strip.) We skipped that stop and piddled around in Times Square. When we all met up for dinner though, everyone was raving about how much fun they’d had in the wax museum. The admission was already covered in our New York Pass, so Hubby and I figured we had nothing to lose and decided to give it a try during the extra hour we had before our Broadway show. Ooh, am I glad we did. What we hadn’t realized is that the museum is interactive…in an intimate way.

Here’s the thing. You get to touch the wax figures. And pose with them. And take your picture with them. Get it? Pose and take pictures. Oh, yeah. And pose we did. Even Hubby got into it, and trust me, he has NONE of the hammin’ it up in public gene. Zip. Zero. As in he likes to stand in the back and try to go unnoticed. Unlike a couple of other Hula-gen’s I won’t name. But there he was, right next to his hero.

And a few other famous folks.

Pardon me, mam, do you have any grey Poupon?

We had a large time. With George.

And Johnny.

And Elton.

And Tina.

By the way, we’ll be working on Hubby’s photography skills in the coming weeks. To the right, babe. The RIGHT.

There were famous athletes.

Teen Angel had a little run-in with Mick Jagger.

But she was gaga with Gaga, as was I.

And she met the Back In Synch Boys.

There was P Diddy. Or Puff Daddy. Or Stay Puff. Or Q-Tip or whatever his name is now.

And she made friends with the Donald’s hair.

I had another chance to kick up my heels. Warning! Gratuitous Rockette picture.

Oh, high school drill team, how I miss you so.

I have several more, but I’ll stop here. I left out the one of Teen Angel fondling Derek Jeter’s backside since I’d like for her to get a JOB after college, and we don’t need THAT floating around the World Wide Web.

The really funny thing was that even though Teen Angel went through the museum at a different time, she came away with pictures of her with Elton, Gaga and George in almost exactly the same pose as me. She’s becoming her mother and she doesn’t even know it. Sigh. My work is done.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Be Still My Heart

We'll eventually get back to New York, but I have to stop for a moment and catch my breath.  This is graduation week at our house, and Friday is the big day.  I have been bracing myself for that event for weeks, and while I'd like to pretend I'm going to weather that celebration with a big smile and a cheery Hi Ho, the truth is I'm not ready for it.  I thought I had a few more days, but reality set in yesterday.   They held the baccalaureate program for the graduating seniors, and when we got ready for church yesterday prior to that event, Teen Angel hollered at me to get her cap and gown.  Cap and gown?!!  I thought I had five more days until she put that thing on.  Not so.  I guess I just hadn't thought about them wearing the caps and gowns to the baccalaureate program.  Aye, yi, yi.

So there I was, at 2pm yesterday, sitting in a big Baptist church, watching my heart walk right down the aisle and into a pew with dozens of other boys and girls that graduated from preschool just yesterday.

Stop this bus and let me off.  Now. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Friends at the Met

For those of you who take a lot of pictures, you’re probably like me in that you sometimes find yourself wanting to photograph something a bit out of reach. Sometimes it’s a building on private property or maybe a portrait of someone on the street. The lesson we’re going to discuss today is that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask. Of course, taking the picture of someone’s child or someone in pain is not always appropriate, but you would be surprised at the things you can get away with.

Last Sunday, when we were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I ran into one of the rooms with European paintings to take just a couple of pictures to document our visit there. Now, all weekend long I had kept my eyes open for photo ops I could use for the monthly challenge at our next photography club meeting, the challenge being “movement”. As I walked into the room there was a group of friends who were reenacting the poses in a particular painting and having someone shoot a cell phone picture of it just for fun. They were just kidding around, but I saw a prime opportunity for a “movement” picture. Trouble was, they were just finishing their little experiment, and I missed the shot. So, I ran across the room and asked them to do it again. And they did. No questions asked. They didn’t know me, but they took their places again, posed and held their positions for as long as I wanted. And I got this:

A picture of five people of different ethnicities that kind of sums up the big lessons that our kids hopefully learned on this trip, that the world is a diverse place much bigger than their little corner of small town Kentucky and that surprising things can happen if you let them. It’s one of my favorite pictures from the trip, and I wouldn’t have gotten it if I had been too shy to ask. I’ve gotten pictures of barns on private property, boat rides in flood waters and other opportunities, just by asking. You’d be surprised at what people are willing to share with. Use your judgment and listen to your instincts in any given situation, but don’t be afraid to ask people for what you want if the opportunity seems right. You just might get it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

We Interrupt This Geography Lesson for a Little eye Candy

The police officers and firefighters in New York City are HOT, I’m tellin’ ya’. Lawdy, Lawdy, Miss Claudy.

And the best part? They were everywhere. I found myself asking them for directions, even if I knew where I was going. Insert Hubby’s eye roll HERE.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Many Pictures can you Take of the Statue of Liberty?

Apparently, 692.   I’m tellin’ you, I just couldn’t stop.  Standing in a boat in New York Harbor and gazing up at her for the first time gave me a little shiver up my spine.  I was not prepared for the emotions I felt when seeing her in person for the first time.  It’s one of those things every American should get to see in his lifetime, I believe.  It’s hard to explain why it’s so moving, but it is.  I could rattle on and on about it all day, but refresh your history of that beautiful green lady and GO see her when you get the chance.  She’s just grand.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been fireworks...and a hankie.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the Beginning There were Pork Dumplings

Oh, my goodness, where to start. How about the beginning? Our first stop on the trip was China Town. We went straight from the airport to China Town and immediately started shopping. It was one of my favorite stops of the trip. It’s just such an interesting place. The sights and sounds are loud, bright and busy. And the people are all about doing business with the passersby. We had lunch there in a little mom and pop bakery, where Hubby and I split three, count ‘em three delicious desserts. I don't know what they were, but the New York cop who recommended them was right on target.  

China Town is definitely the place to shop for souvenirs.  I didn't buy a fake designer purse. All of the high school girls did, though. They did the whole back room, basement bargaining thing which made my heart flutter a bit, but in the end they all walked out with colorful fake Coach and Gucci purses which immediately labeled them as tourists to all of the locals for the rest of the week. I bought a hat, but mostly I just window shopped, which really means I meandered up and down the streets with Hubby taking a zillion pictures. There was just SO much to absorb.

There were the colors.

The smells, and the action.

On the sidewalk.

And the streets.

Let me apologize in advance for offending anyone with the next picture. If you are troubled by the “F” word please scroll down past it, but I just couldn’t help taking this picture. It just seemed to sum up the attitude that proudly permeates the streets of New York City.  New Yorkers are who they are, and they don't apologize for it.

China Town...definitely a cool place.  I loved the fish markets, the fruit stands and the food. But most of all I enjoyed interacting with the people. They were so intense and so genuine. It was a great introduction to the Big Apple for us and the fake purse girls.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I LOVE New York!

Oh, I surely do.  But right now, I'm too tired to talk about it.  We got in around 1am, and I'm knee deep in laundry since I have to go back to work tomorrow.  I have approximately 600 pictures to process, and I will definitely share some of them with you soon.  Right now, I have to catch up on the 1,600 things that must be done before Teen Angel graduates from high school next week.  (Cue the hankies.) 

I have lots of adventures to share since our trip was not uneventful, but for now you should know that A.) I can cross doing my best imitation of a Rockette at Radio City Music hall off my bucket list:

And B.) I cannot stand in Times Square without hearing the Green Acres theme song in my head:

Every time I walked through there I could hear Eva Gabor shouting, "Times Squware!"  Oh, what fun.  I can't wait to go back.  And I'm going back. Oh, yes I am. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Off to the Big Apple

I will be away from the blog for a few days because the Hula-gen's are headed here:

Freakin' NEW YORK CITY, baby!  We've never been to NEW YORK CITY, and we're more excited than a bee in a honey store.  I'm not sure if NEW YORK CITY is ready for the Hula-gen's, but we're ready for it!  It's Teen Angel's senior trip, and our agenda is chock full of all the touristy things you'd expect to do.  We're going to a Yankees game, the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, the Museum of Modern Art (yes!), Ground Zero, yadda, yadda, yadda.  And while we're in Central Park I plan to jog for about a block, so I can at least say I've run in Central Park.  Ha!  We're seeing Chicago on Broadway, (window) shopping on 5th Avenue and visiting the Today Show, so for those of you in the states watching the Today Show Friday morning, keep your eyes peeled for the big, loud group from Reidland High School in Paducah, Kentucky.  Salute! 

See ya' back here next week, brothers and sisters.  I'm sure there will be stories to tell 'cause y'all know the Hula-gen's are not getting out of NEW YORK CITY without some adventures here or there.  For those of you who are Facebook friends, I'll try to post a few status updates along the way.  Ta, ta!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One of Those Rare Times I Mention Work in my Blog

Oh, goodness.  Where to start?  Somewhere in the midst of all of the graduation festivities and shooting up the diabetic dog with insulin at our house, I said to some coworkers last week, "Hey, let's gather up some cleaning supplies for the flood victims."  And they said, "Sure."  So we did.  And we had a whole Field of Dreams if we build it they will come experience. 

We rented one semi for the two day event that started Monday.  By lunch time on the first day, it was full and we ordered a second truck and by lunch time yesterday we ordered the THIRD truck.  We filled three semis, people. THREE!  People came in droves.  They brought van loads, and truck loads and pallets of bleach, cleaners, mops, rags, brooms and rubber gloves.  People emptied store shelves of some items, and I think our load of buckets would have stretched a city block if we had placed them all in one stack.  One the cool scale, it was right up there with bungee jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.  Not that I've done that, but wouldn't it be cool?  Right before the puking part? 

Here are just a few pictures.

School kids helped us.  Scouts gathered up supplies.  Civic groups and businesses gathered up stuff and brought it.  It was a great two days, and now my heart is warm, my nose is sunburned and I'm a little dehydrated because it's over 80 degrees here this week.  Summer heat and humidity arrived just in time to start the mold growing in flooded homes and to breed the millions of mosquitoes we're bound to have following all of this water.  Oh, joy.  And have I mentioned several folks around here are finding snakes in their flooded homes.  Good old cottonmouths.  I know one lady who went into her still flooded living room to find a big fat, black snake lounging on the fireplace mantle.  I would have broken my neck trying to get out of there and then messed my pants.  And I'm not even lying about that. 

It just goes to show the effects of all of this flooding will be around for a while, but hopefully, all the stuff this region gathered together in the past two days will help some.  It was all delivered to the Red Cross today for distribution, and if you're the giving kind I would encourage you to give to the Red Cross, UMCOR or another reputable agency helping with flooding all along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.  They're going to need it.     

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Road Closed

A bridge leading from Kentucky to Illinois.  It kind of says it all.

I'm somewhat disappointed that the national media has chosen to virtually ignore the devastation this part of the country has been dealing with for the last couple of weeks.  Since the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers have crested here and will slowly start to drop, the flooding will move south.  There are now people evacuating in Memphis, and Louisiana expects to see the effects of the flooding.  I'll bet ya' $5 that the flooding will be all over the national news once it hits Memphis.  Just wait and see.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Houston We Have A Problem

This is one of our local Kroger stores. 

The bad news is that they've lost at least a week of business.  The good news is that yesterday they hooked up with the local soup kitchen and gave away food to a line of folks that stretched 900 people long at one point. 

A silver lining I suppose.