Monday, April 30, 2012

It's 5 O'Clock in the Garage

When Sissy died, she left a house full of furniture, and when we finished selling, donating and sorting it all, we were left with two Adirondack chairs that no one wanted.  We hated to just give them away, so we kept them, even though we really didn't have a place for them.  They ended up sitting behind the garage all last year, unused, except for the occasional bird watching moment for Hubby while he enjoyed an icy adult beverage after mowing. 

We pondered what to do with them but didn't really have any great ideas.  Until we went on our cruise in January.  While we were at the Margaritaville store in New Orleans, we were looking at the painted Adirondack chairs sitting outside the front door, and I said, "Self, you should do that with our chairs."  Here's a sample:

You can actually order "Margaritaville Adirondack Chairs" from the Margaritaville folks, but they range from $400 to $600.  PER CHAIR.  So had I never considered buying any, but I sure could paint the ones I have.  So, about two weeks ago, I dragged them out back and started painting them.  But first, there was the sanding.  Plenty of sanding.  More sanding than I was interested in doing. 

And then came the painting.  Funny thing about multi-colors on dry sanded wood.  It takes a lot longer to do each color than if you just slap one color on the whole thing.  Oy, the painting, drying and painting of more coats.

And you have to do it with exterior house paint if they're going to sit outside.   It soon became a project I was eager to start and even more eager to finish.

And then came the decorating.  Look, mama and daddy!  Those art classes in college weren't a complete waste of time and money.

Two weeks and one ruined manicure later, they are done, except for the clear sealer I have to put on them when the oil painted designs are finished.  I'm pleased, although, I'm not sure I'd do it again, given the time that I had to put them.  But they are a fun piece of the tropics in the backyard for about $100, as opposed to the $1,000 plus I would have spent (theoretically) on the real deal.  They're not as elaborate as the inspiration piece, but I'm done painting. 

Someone pass me an icy adult beverage.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hula-Gen Family Fun Fact #96

That's Mama J. in that picture, with her parents. 
I love how much they look like gangsters.  Possibly they do because Hubby's grandpa on the right there?  He ran moonshine, which would explain why he always had fast cars with big trunks and managed to earn a living despite his lackluster farming skills.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Photo Friday Challenge-Portraiture

A senior photo I took last year.  I love her eyes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It Sounds Like Rice Krispies Around Here in the Morning

We're having a week where Mr. and Mrs. Hula-gen are feeling our ages.  If anything else aches or falls apart, you're going to have to start calling us Achy and Breaky or Creaky and Squeaky.  Or grunt and Groan.  We seem to be falling apart somewhat.  Although I will say my grip is apparently still better than Teen Angel who managed to drop a bowl of macaroni and cheese ON THE LIVING ROOM RUG last night. 

My foot is much better, but it's not completely healed.  I've been babying it as much as possible.  I can run three miles on it about three times a week, but I'm not running every day because it's just not well enough for that.  And it appears my ankle is somewhat weak.  It still has a tendency to roll outward if I step on slanted surfaces or something uneven, like a rock.  Or nothing at all.  I rolled it yesterday walking in flat shoes on a flat sidewalk to a lunch meeting.  I have the grace of a bull elephant these days.  Anyway, I'm trying to keep it in decent condition so I can do my part in the Iron Mom relay race in a couple of weeks.  After that, we'll see.

Hubby's right foot is killin' him.  He says it feels just like the left foot did when he had a heel spur.  The spur surgery was quite the ordeal so he's trying to limp along (Get it?  Limp along?) until he takes care of the other issues he's dealing with like the hernia and THE GALLBLADDER FROM HELL.  My diagnoses a couple of weeks ago was right.  His gallbladder is bad, and it needs to come out.  He is scheduled for surgery next Thursday, and he can hardly wait.  Which tells me a lot because the man would rather walk ten miles across hot coals barefoot than go to a doctor, much less sign up for surgery.  He is hurtin' for certain.  I was shocked at how readily he agreed to have that little ol' gallbladder yanked out. 

I can't wait for him to feel better, but sister mercy, getting there will be no fun.  He is not a good patient.  He was cranky in the surgeon's office Tuesday just because he had to fill out paperwork, and I don't expect it to get any better until everything is healed.  To say that he has no patience is like saying Hershey's dabbles in chocolate. 

Why are most men that way when it comes to medical issues?  You have to drag them to the doctor and then baby them through every step of recovery.  And women have little patience for that.  Why ?  Because we birth babies.  I'm not saying we're right (okay, I probably am), but we feel like childbirth trumps every medical issue a man can bring to the table with the exception of third degree burns over a great percentage of his body.  Even kidney stones.  Yes, even kidney stones.  You men like to compare that the childbirth, but we're not buyin' it.  If you compare how much the urethra has to expand for a kidney stone to how much the hoo hoo has to expand to pass a seven, eight or nine pound baby, childbirth wins hands down in our book.  Especially if you give birth WITHOUT AN EPIDURAL.  Really, there ought to be a badge you get to wear once you've done that.  Something along the lines of "Missed my Epidural.  I am Woman!"  I'd wear that stinkin' badge every day, and it's been nineteen years since I missed my epidural.  Believe me, you don't forget something like that.  Poor Hubby, for as long as he lives, he has to put up with my dismissal of his aches and pains with the reminder that I didn't get to use my epidural.  That's just the way it is, men.  Until science finds a way for you to give birth, we are going to declare our gender the winner of the I've Suffered More game.  It may not be fair, but look at it as a trade-out for your ability to pee anywhere standing up and the fact that you don't have to deal with menstruation. 

Next week should be interesting.  Hopefully, Hubby will sail through this procedure with flying colors.  The doctor is going to dig around and check out that hernia while he's in there, repairing it if need be.  THEN we'll begin to think about that sore heel.  And maybe the popping knee.  And the sore breast bone.  And the stiff hand......      

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Y'all Know How Much I Love Cake

A little over a year ago, janjanmom introduced me to the joys of homemade vanilla.  It was a Christmas Christmas gift that she made with her own two hands.  It was divine, and I rationed it out over the course of several months, using it only for special cooking projects, and supplementing with Watkins vanilla for the run of the mill stuff.  I finally used it all up and was sad, sad, sad.  So, around January I decided to make some more.

All you do is split open some fresh vanilla beans, stuff them into a jar, cover them with vodka and let them steep in the dark for a few weeks until the liquid turns a nice mellow amber.  Which I did.  Only I used this instead of regular vodka:
Cake vodka.  For the past three months that vanilla jar has been sitting in the cabinet doing its magic, and I have resisted the urge to open it except for a nice big whiff every now and then as I checked on its progress.  Every time I thought it was done, I held off and let it sit a little longer.  It has turned a dark golden color, and after three months, I have decided it is done.
Ooh, it is good.  Real good.  Good thing I made a big batch. Yes, I have a second jar brewing.  I used some of the homemade vanilla in a recipe over the weekend, and declared it the nectar of the gods.  As it's used you can top it off with a little more vodka, let it soak a little longer and get more use out of the beans.  Hence the two jars.  I can use one while the other is brewing again.  The Hula-gen's may never buy store bought vanilla again.  And bonus!  Cake vodka has many uses.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Solitary Confinement

I gave myself a time-out this weekend.  For the same reason, you give a child a time-out.  I needed some alone time to work on getting a better attitude.  It had kind of been building for several days and peaked about the middle of last week.  I knew I was in trouble when I found myself in a meeting and had the urge to snap at someone who challenged my opinion in a tone that I felt was a tad angry sounding.  I have a pretty thick skin, but I was feeling a bit raw the other day and couldn't let the words roll off of me.  That's not like me.  I've worked in uber-competitive environments for years and can usually look someone in the eye and calmly state my case.  But in this instance, I felt a full blown, hysterical Hula attack bubbling up my throat that caused me to count to three and silently scream for Jesus to take the wheel and drive me straight into a field of rosebuds and grazing unicorns instead of that Thelma and Louise cliff I was headed to.

By Tuesday, everything anybody did ticked me off, and by Wednesday, I waved a white flag and told my coworkers I was taking a vacation day on Thursday.  It was either that or wait for someone to hog tie me and drop me at the county line.  I spent four days doing as little as a could to please anybody else and thinking a lot about priorities.  It was good.  I'm a lot nicer this week.  At least I think I am.  Let's just say no one's challenged that notion yet. 

While I color outside the lines a lot, I generally play by the rules.  I show up when I'm supposed to.  I go to church.  I vote in every election.  I pay my bills.  I pay Papa T.'s bills.  I volunteer.  I sit on committees.  I attend meetings.  I exercise.  I order the grilled chicken instead of the burger.  I don't drink to excess.  I don't do drugs.  I read books.  I teach myself new things.  I'm the room mother, the Project Graduation volunteer, the committee chair and a vacation bible school decorator.  In general, I do what I'm expected to do.  And I have a good time doing it.  But somewhere in the past few weeks, I started developing this resistance to do what's expected.  Why be responsible when so many other people aren't?  There's no trophy for it.  No big prize.   Other than self satisfaction and contentment with a life well led.  Which is a big deal, but I just wasn't feelin' it last week.  I reached the point where I didn't care about anyone else's problems, I didn't want to hear anyone else's opinions and I certainly didn't want to do something that someone else could have or should have done.  I was just spent.  Tired of being responsible and tired of being nice.  Do you ever get tired of being nice?  Where you don't want to smile at strangers, you don't want to say thank you and you don't want to overlook the smallest slight?  Where you wanted to tell that cranky clerk at the doctor's office exactly what you thought about her rudeness or you wanted to call up every  mean girl from high school and tell her what a b**** you thought she was in freshman algebra?  And how funny you think it is that her butt is now ten sizes bigger than yours?  Yeah, that's where I was at.  So I checked out.  From Thursday through Sunday.

I painted chairs.  I shot some engagement pictures for a couple.  I cleaned a fence with Hubby and made some time for us to have a couple of meals together.   I ordered the chili cheese dog and the soda.  I did nothing related to my job.  I put Papa T. about third on the priority list and I finished a good book.  When I woke up Sunday morning to a quiet house after Hubby had left to sit with Papa T. I made the executive decision to skip church.  I edited photos, I baked a fattening pound cake with blueberry sauce, and I pondered the things that are important.  I was not in charge of anything.  I didn't give my opinion, and I pretty much didn't give a diddly dang about anything other than some time with family.

By the end of the weekend, I had remembered that it's important to take care of myself, that people's experiences make them the person they are with the opinions they have and that sometimes people grow and change for the better with time.  I also reminded myself that one really big lesson I learned with Sissy's addictions and suicide, you can't change people.  You can't make them do what they should do if they don't want to.  No matter how much I show up, how often I vote, how often I advocate for what I believe in or do what I think is right, I am not responsible for others' choices.  I just need to tend to my little corner of the world and not be judgmental of others' decisions.  Sister mercy, that's a hard one for me to adhere to.  Anyway, long story short, I'm a lot nicer today than my toddler self of last week.  I have resolved to adjust some behaviors and attitudes, and I'm out of the naughty corner.  At least for the time being. 
Coming of my chair project.  Girlfriend can paint productively when she's got stuff to think about.          

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I have to be honest, when I first read the story about the man who stripped down to his birthday suit in the Portland Airport because he felt the TSA was harassing him, my first reaction was to laugh. I’m sure I wouldn’t have laughed if I’d been walking past him with a five year old in tow, but I’m pretty certain I would have giggled if I had been alone or with my husband. Why? Because a really white naked backside is just funny. And I have to admit, I admire his um, cajones. In a manner of speaking.

I can sympathize with him. I get it. I surely do. Let’s be honest, who among us hasn’t been on the verge of a meltdown at the airport because of the crazy things that push your buttons there? Flying just hasn’t been fun since 9-11, and I fully understand how he reached the point of dropping his pants in protest. He might be under some personal stress, but I could be convinced that he just got his fill of airport security/airline nonsense and felt the need to take a stand. He must have felt pretty strongly about it, too because he stood without a stitch of clothing for quite a while in front of a lot of people, and he’s no David Beckham, so he probably has the same insecurities a lot of us have about our bodies. Another woman pulled the same thing at a different airport recently, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see some copycats in the coming months. What the heck, it sure could make the airport more interesting than it is on a typical day.

I’m all for security, but sometimes I just laugh at the TSA lines. Never do I feel more like a cow on its way to slaughter than when I’m dragging through that line with my boarding pass and my carryon. The level of security is not the same at all American airports. It seems to waver depending on the attitude of the TSA agents. There’s no rhyme or reason to the way they do things, and they certainly make some interesting choices when it comes to pulling people aside for body searches. We’ve gone through the lines at times when they’ve pulled Mama J. aside, which always cracked me up. Why pick the elderly woman with the walker? Granted, appearances can be deceiving, but the woman didn’t have enough flexibility to bend over and remove any plastic explosives from her shoes if she wanted to. Her biggest concern would have been not to pass gas when she doubled over that far. When she was little, Teen Angel got searched a couple of times. Again, you never know about folks, but Americans just aren’t big on strapping a bomb to their kids and setting them up for suicide, so pulling a Midwestern kid who’s obviously more excited by the people mover than she is her impending flight is a pretty good sign she’s not going to blow up a plane.

All of the stripping down, wanding and hassle of keeping up with your spare change and your shoes as you snake your way through the lines is trying at best, especially if the line is incredibly long or you’re running late. And the 3 ounce limit for carryon items? Oh, the pain that can cause.

When we flew home from New Orleans in January, we had a big snafu at the security checkpoint, and it was my fault. I’m the chief packer in our house, by the way. Hubby is not allowed to pack because we’d each show up with twenty pair of underwear, a pair of flip flops and no shampoo if he did it. When you leave a cruise ship, you have to put all your baggage outside your door the night before you depart the boat. That’s to get all of your luggage organized and ready to take off the boat. You essentially walk off the ship with your pajamas and whatever essentials you deemed necessary for your last night of sleep, and you get your luggage on shore. When we left the ship, we sent all of our luggage to the airport by shuttle, spent the day toodling around the French Quarter and then caught a ride to the airport closer to our flight time. We checked our luggage, I kept the carryon that had our essentials we had used that last night on the boat and headed to security. The line there was horribly long. When we got to the front of it, I realized I had on sandals and had no socks in carryon. Which meant I had to walk barefoot through security. Ug. That was even grosser than the time I found that lint covered Circus Peanut in the bottom of my purse and ate it, lint and all. I asked a TSA agent if they any of those paper booties and she actually laughed out loud in my face. “Girl, our budget is so bad around here, we ain’t had those in forever,” she said. So I trudged through in my bare feet and prayed that I wouldn’t catch Hepatitis. We actually made it through without setting off the alarms, which is a miracle for us because Hubby usually forgets to take off something metal. But I couldn’t find our carryon. About the time I said something to Hubby about it, I heard this voice boom across the security area, “Who does THIS bag belong to?” An agent was pointing to it like it contained a dead body, and sure enough, it was ours. He waved vigorously for us to come over to him, which was the first sign that we were not moving on any time soon. “THIS bag has NUMEROUS items over three ounces in it!” he barked. “Oh,” I said. “YES!” He started pulling them out and naming them for everyone to hear. Thank God I didn’t have a four ounce tampon in there. He pulled out some cosmetics, and when he got to the bottle of wine from the cruise ship, I realized I had forgotten the whole list of carryon rules when I shoved our cosmetics and stuff from our final night on the ship into that bag. He proceeded to explain the three ounce rule and dress me down like I was an idiot. I explained that I knew the rule; I just wasn’t thinking when I threw the stuff into the bag. I might as well have told him I killed puppies and kittens for pleasure from the look he gave me. Twice he practically smacked my hand when I pointed at something in the bag and got a little too close to the suitcase. “DON’T TOUCH THE BAG.”

He explained that we could either throw away the items or go back and check the bag. Which meant we would have to go through security again. I was just going to toss the stuff until he came to the $30 bottle of sunscreen I had in there, and since it’s the bomb of sunscreen and I paid THIRTY DOLLARS for it, I chose to run the bag back to the check in counter while Hubby went on to our gate to make sure they wouldn’t leave without me as our flight time was drawing near. After I checked the bag, I waited in the security line, took another barefoot stroll through communicable disease territory and dashed to our gate just in time. By the time I sat down on that plane I wanted to either hit someone or toss back a shot of hard liquor. Honestly, I’m not sure which one would have made me feel better. I skipped both, put on some headphones and thanked the good Lord there were no rowdy children sitting near me.

So I get it. I fully understand why the gentleman in Portland dropped his drawers in front of the TSA. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, but I would have applauded his efforts had I been at the airport with him. I would have also needed my sunglasses. Dude’s fanny was WHITE.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

From the Bank

This Paris moment brought to you by Hula's memories.  Oh, to be strolling the Seine again.  Someday.  Someday. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

All in One Package

On the slight chance that you missed the 2,632 pictures of spring blooms that I've taken and posted here in the past few weeks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Big Brother

We are literally just a few weeks away from the birth of Super Cop's and Mrs. Scrubs' new baby.  Woopee!  I love having babies in the family that I don't have to raise.  We did some maternity pictures Saturday, and what I love most is how delightfully happy and unaware Special Delivery is of his impending sibling-hood.   He knows something's coming.  He's just not big enough to fully understand it.  But because we all seem excited about it, he's rolling with it, too.  Too cute.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Three Things I Really Like This Week

This photo by Henri Cartier Bresson:

The father of street photography, he is probably my favorite photographer, and I could study his work all day long. He intrigues me, he makes me smile and most of all, he inspires me. If anybody knows where I can find someone who will dress up in a suit and and model for me, please let me know.

This video:

Have you seen this yet? If not, you should. It takes ten minutes, and I promise you it will be way better than any drivel on television you waste ten minutes on tonight. You must watch the whole video though. If you bail early you'll miss the best part. This little boy intrigues me, he makes me smile and most of all, he inspires me.

This video:

I'd like to say it inspires me, but really it doesn't, although I do like the concept. Mostly, I just like the song.

Toodle loo!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Weekend

My goodness, is it already the second week of April? With all the summer like weather we've been having for the past month, it feels like we skipped spring and went right into summer. I took a bit of a break the past few days to revive, refresh and renew my love for white chocolate Easter candy. I had a day off from work that I earned last Friday, and I immediately took it Monday, because oy vey, I needed to catch up on some stuff around the house. The laundry was about to overtake our laundry room because the stinkin' laundry fairy skipped our house AGAIN. That wench is going to HAVE to get it together. And then the refrigerator goblin left a mess in the fridge that appeared to be spilled fruit juice, but I'm not entirely sure about that. It could have also been meat blood. I just closed my eyes, wiped and hoped for the best.

And THEN there were some honey do's that my honey thought I needed to help him with. Which I didn't mind except he couldn't quite get his act together, and I spent a fair amount of time waiting on him yesterday when I could have been doing something important. Like getting a pedicure. We stopped by the pool shop to leave a water sample and spent thirty minutes in there while he talked nonstop to every employee about everything from North Korean missiles to losing weight. They actually offered him a job selling pools while we were there, obviously, because he can talk to ANYONE about ANYTHING. Then we proceeded to drive to our next stop where he told me, "Now, don't piddle around in here, we've got things to do." I stopped in the middle of the Wal-mart parking lot and said, "Really? Did you just insinuate I'm holding you up?" He gave me that what the heck are you talking about look and hustled inside like his pants were on fire. Great Gertie, I love that man, but we came within a hair of having that scene from Moonstruck where Cher slaps Nicolas Cage and says, "Snap out of it!"

I was willing to cut him some slack though because he spent Sunday doubled over in pain from what Dr. Hula suspects was a gallbladder attack, and he really wasn't much better yesterday. Today, the doctor scheduled him for a scan of his gallbladder, so we should find out next Monday if Dr. Hula and her internet research is right or if something else is wrong. If it's his gallbladder and there's some kind of surgery looming, pray for us brothers and sisters. I'm not namin' any names, but someone around here is NOT a good patient. The last time he had outpatient surgery I waited until the anesthesia wore off, handed him a package of frozen peas for the swelling and left town with Teen Angel. I kid you not.

I did manage to start a new project this weekend. I'm taking two old Adirondack chairs and trying to turn them into something similar to this:

I'll let you know how it goes. So far, I've managed to sand them, paint the base colors on one and spray paint my somewhat bare feet orange. Which I didn't notice until I got to work this morning and discovered the orange outline of my flip flops on the top of my feet. Darn fluorescent lighting. I showered twice yesterday, but obviously, I didn't scrub hard enough on the tops of my feet. It would have been nice to have noticed that before I put on flats and drove to work. And headed out to a meeting with six other people. Insert sigh here.

It looks to be a busy week. (When is it not?) I have two batches of photos to edit for customers, some work projects to launch and the chairs to finish painting. There's also the issue of feeding and taking care of my peeps. Those crazy people like to eat EVERY day. Can you believe it? And I haven't been to the grocery store in days, so we're having a week of let's make something up from whatever is in the freezer and the pantry. It's like the last week of lunches for the school year in the school cafeteria. And I need to chase down that laundry fairy 'cause girlfriend is gettin' on my last nerve. She also failed to wash my workout clothes this weekend, which meant I had to do them at 9:45 last night when I discovered her oversight. She needs to get it together. I'd hate to have to confiscate her wings.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Green Mile

When I came face to face with this fella I thought he was a mosquito, and then I realized he was a Crane fly.  All I can say is good for him.  It bought him a pardon.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hey, Little Fella

Sometimes when I'm lying in the grass peering through that big ol' macro lens I'm suprised by what I bump into.  Like this cute little guy.  I spent a full fifteen minutes watching him slide around in the mulch in my flower bed.  Fascinating. 

Had it been a garden snake?  I would have been fascinated from afar.  Very afar. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hula's Version of the Lord's Prayer (For Today Anyway)

"Our Wildcats, who art the champs, hallowed be thy game.  Thy team has won, the season's done, and the Big Blue Nation is in heaven.  Give us this title, our stellar eighth, and forgive us for bragging as we forgive those who cheer for Duke against us.  And lead us not without Calipari but deliver us from Pitino as we salute Teague, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist forever.  Amen."

Photo courtesy: Associated Press

And yes, I stopped on my way to work at 6:45 this morning to get Papa T. one of the first championship t-shirts off the press.  A local printer won the contract for the shirts, and they were available before sunrise in our town.  And thank goodness, March Madness is over.  Papa T. could not have sustained another week of tight games for his alma mater.  As it is, he's over the moon.  This after a fair amount of swearing during the last two minutes of the game last night.  Or so says his sitter, Miss Nell.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Spring rain.....there's something very invigorating in the way it drips from fresh blooms and just tickles my soul.  This one was taken just a few yards from my back door.

For all of the other entries this week, just pop over here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Pink Ones

Sorry, I can't stop.