Just a Bit of Fun

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This just in!  You really can be in two places at once!!

One foot in Arizona and one foot in Nevada.  Hoover Dam.

And in other news…Alien Spaceship spotted in Arizona.

Ecuador Part 3: Throwing My Kids Off a Bridge in Banos

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Banos, EcuadorIt is pretty much impossible to go to Ecuador and not jump or repel off of something (or so I was told). We chose to head to the town of Banos – right at the edge of the Amazon Basin – to seek out our eco adventures.  And here is where I found myself thinking, I am either the coolest parent in the world…or the most negligent – maybe, they go hand in hand.  But I digress.

First, Banos.  A cute little town nestled in a pocket of the Volcano Avenue.

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador,

For the obvious reasons, it is popular with the back packer set as there is no shortage of adventures and beautiful vistas to be found.  The town itself has the same colorful attributes found in other parts of Ecuador:

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, EcuadorIf not a little rustic (in a good way!)

Banos, EcuadorBut, what we really came for was the adventures and we were not disappointed.

Unlike our usual, we (and when I say “we”, I mean my husband) did not do much research as to which company to use.  Something we learned during our time in Ecuador is that Ecuadorians are candidly straight forward.  Generally, what you see is what you get, no hidden agenda or secret costs or over exaggerated offers.  So, we drove into town and went to the first company we came to for our initial adventure:

Banos, EcuadorNo way,  not biking! We are just not ambitious enough for biking up the mountain! (I just like the picture)

Our first excursion was Jeep on and off-roading.  It turned out to be a great way to see the mountains, canyon,waterfalls and almost get killed trying to drive a stick shift up hills and through tunnels (my non-licensed teens may or may not have taken turns driving…but you didn’t hear it from me).

No, I would never let my kid ride on top of the car...never.

No, I would never let my kid ride on top of the car…never.

Next up – Zip Lining across a 600 foot deep canyon.  Again, we just drove along the mountain edge until we came to a Canyon that looked beautiful and walked right into the Zip Line office to sign up.  And here I am going to give Canopy Agoyan a shout out because they were fun, safe and I kid you not, $15 per person to Zip line across the canyon and back.

The main attraction on this zip line was the exhilarating fly over a deep canyon and view of the waterfall pouring into the river at the canyon basin.  We were able to choose how we zipped across, and we chose to fly!

Zip lining in Banos, Ecuador

But all involved agreed, the bungee jumping was hands down the coup d’etat – or, you know, the most fun!  I myself did NOT jump (how stupid do you think I am).  No, I had my kids do it. I stood on the bridge across from the jumping bridge to video and dodge traffic – like this guy who came tearing across the bridge (well, not quite tearing, but I did have to get out of the way…)

Banos, EcuadorIt was at this moment, as I was taking video (by request) that the thought from the beginning of this article occurred to me – either I am either the coolest parent in the world for letting my kids dive head first off a bridge over a rocky river…or the most irresponsible ever (jury is still deliberating).

But, I did not have much time to contemplate because I had to attend to the task at hand…video taping and making permanent record of my parental negligence.

After the first jump facing forward, both Teen1 and Teen2 agreed it was “so fun” they needed to jump again… this time backwards.  Lucky for them, the second jump came at a discounted rate and I am never one to pass up a deal.

It wasn’t until after the event Teen1 and Teen2 pointed out to me on the video(see below) how the handler flipped their feet up and out as they jumped to insure they would clear the bridge (and that they did not try to change their minds)…

Photos just did not do justice – so here goes – a sampling as it were.  One jump forward (Teen1) and one jump backward (Teen2). And yes, that is me screaming in the background:

You game? Or rather, do you have any kids you want to throw off a bridge?

Last post – Lost somewhere in Ecuador.

For other posts on Ecuadorian:

Ecuador Part 1: Forrest Gump Goes to Quito

Ecuador Part 2:  Getting Mobbed and Spit On in Cuenca

For More Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here

Costa Rica Part 3: The Eco Adventures

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When in Costa Rica, one must Eco Adventure. In fact, I am pretty sure they don’t let you leave the country until you have partaken in some Eco activity. Luckily, there is something for everyone where that is concerned: from hikes through the rainforest, canopy hikes over suspended bridges or tram rainforest tours , to activities of varying extremes like white water rafting, zip lining, ATV riding, kayaking, horseback riding, surfing, plus you can pretty much rappel and jump off of anything – waterfalls, canyon walls, the Marriott Hotel (not really, but Teen considered the possibility). And the list goes on!

There are two good things about the Eco Adventures in Costa Rica.  First, almost all of the activities are offered in every region and, second, the Costa Ricans, across the board, are vastly adept at making the experiences safe, fun, and exhilarating!

Although we could not work in every activity we wanted to do, we did manage to come away with some amazing adventures. In fact, every tour we went on was a memorable experience.

1. ATV  RIDE– The Four Hour Tour

Tour Company: AXR An Xtreme Rider – Jaco, Costa Rica

ATV tour

Our ATV Tour in Jaco, Costa Rica started out to be a 2 hour ride through muddy river beds, rainforest trails, rivers and in the mountains above Jaco with beautiful vistas of the Pacific Coastline. However, at the end of our scheduled 2 hours, we were just not ready to be finished! So we kidnapped our guide and demanded he take us to a waterfall, kindly asked our guide, Luis, to take us for a few more hours, to a waterfall (‘cause in Costa Rica there is apparently a never ending supply of waterfalls to go to and swim in). He agreed, and off we went!

ATV TourTo top off what turned out to be our favorite Eco experience, Luis (who I should point out made the ride really enjoyable and exhilarating, and was very patient with myself and younger son who were first time ATV riders!), took us to mountain high restaurant – Rancho Shadday – to experience, hands down, the best homemade Epanadas (made to order no less) in the whole of Costa Rica (I still dream about them!)

"Welcome to the place where there's no world crisis"

“Welcome to the place where there’s no world crisis”

2. WHITE WATER RAFTING – Monkey See Monkey Do

Tour Company: Hacienda Pozo Azul Adventures – La Virgen, Sarapiqui River

Whte Water RaftingLet’s see, white water rafting, through a rainforest river, with Toucan and Howler Monkey’s looking on – not much to dislike here (except, I am pretty sure those Howler Monkeys were laughing at us because despite the many promises throughout our time in Costa Rica of seeing monkeys, the glimpse of them in the trees as we tried to not get flipped out of the boat was the only siting we would ever have!).

Add to it, the midway stop with fresh pineapple, machete’d on an overturned boat on the shore (Note: Costa Ricans love their machetes, available for purchase in the local grocery store), 15 foot high ledge to jump off of, and a swim in the Sarapiqui River and you have the makings of a pretty perfect experience.

The rapids were just extreme enough to be fun and not terrifying – 3’s and 2’s (although the rest of my family was ready to take on some 4’s by the end!).

White Water rafting, Sarapiqui river, Costa RicaThe beauty of the river winding through the lush rainforest is not an experience I will soon forget, if ever! Luckily, since the truth is, I don’t have any pictures that really do justice to the beauty of the surroundings. You will just have to take my word for it!

3. ZIP LINE AND TARZAN SWING – Ahhhhhaahhhhhhaaaahhhhhhahhhahhahaaa

Tour Company: Ecoglide – Arenal Park, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Zip Line, Arenal Park, La Fortuna , Costa RicaZip Lines are everywhere in Costa Rica – you would think they, like, originated the idea or something (which, of course, they did). We chose this particular Zip Line tour partially because, duh, the added Tarzan Swing. At no extra cost, we just could not pass up the chance to potentially lose our lunch doing a bungee like drop on a “Tarzan Swing”. However, it proved to be worth the risk of losing stomach contents (which we didn’t) to scream our way to the bottom (which only I did) on the Tarzan Swing– actually, the whole experience was serious fun.

The 13+  Zip Line runs (plus Tarzan Swing) were thrilling, beautiful, and felt like a once in a lifetime experience. The guides at each  tree stand between runs were fun, the level of safety was exemplary and the instruction for first time & repeat zip liners was just the right amount.

Zip Line, Costa Rica, Arenal Park

4. HORSEBACK RIDING – The Frog of Death, our new pet

Tour Company: Discovery Horseback Tours – La Quina (near Jaco), Costa Rica

Horseback Riding, Costa RicaWhat do horses and spa quality volcanic mud have in common? Only the Discovery Horseback Tour company’s Spa Tour in Costa Rica. Owned and operated by English couple, Chris and Andrea, now 12 year residents in Costa Rica, the tour was the best possible choice for our desire to ride horses in Costa Rica. The horses were beautifully kept and cared for, many rescued from abuse situations. We chose to take the 2 hour ride by a local farm, up into the rainforest and to a small waterfall (remember what I said about the waterfalls…) where we got to slather volcanic mud (a boys dream) all over ourselves before swimming in the waterfall pool.

After emerging from the pool with smooth as silk skin from head to toe, we were treated to fresh fruit, homemade fruit juice and flavored tea before continuing on our ride. Along the way on our ride, Andrea educated us with knowledge of rainforest growth patterns, ecology, wildlife and insect habits,  and located for us various creatures to observe including the infamous Costa Rican poison dart  frog (no, pre-teen-now-teen, you can’t take him home…but he is cute for a frog that emits poisonous juices)

Poison Dart Frog, Costa RicaAnother perfect experience – Pre-Teen-now-Teen’s favorite.

5.  RAINFOREST CANOPY HIKE

Tirimbina Rainforest– La Virgen, Costa Rica and Arenal Rainforest – La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Here is the thing, rainforests in Costa Rica are as plentiful as dirt on a ditch digger (little redneck humor for ya there). They are all stunning and I don’t really think it matters which rainforests you choose to visit, just make sure you do! The Canopy hikes – going across bridges suspended over the rainforest floor– offer a view from the “upper floors” of the rainforest. (Tirimbina)

Canopy Bridge, Tirimbina Rainforest, Costa RicaWhile the hikes through the rainforest gives you the up close and personal touch. (Arenal Rainforest)

Arenal Rainforest, Costa RicaMany of the hikes offer views of waterfalls along the way and they all offer an abundance of insects (don’t mess with the ants, they may carry you off), wildlife (be sure to look up high into the trees to see monkeys – if you are lucky- and exotic birds), and lush green foliage.

La Fortuna Waterfall, Costa RicaLa Fortuna , Costa Rica

Some areas offer an aerial tram that can be a good alternative for seeing the rainforest from above if you are not inclined to Zip Line.

 

Honestly, when it comes to Eco Tours in Costa Rica, you can’t really go wrong – turn the wrong direction, yep- that could happen, but have a bad tour…not likely!

More on Travel in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica Part 1: Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer

Costa Rica Part 2: No Signs Allowed!

For More Sweet Spot Travels: GO HERE

The Buttbook

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buttFacebook sucks! Hey, don’t get me wrong. I am an avid Facebook user. I proudly post photos of my kids, myself, my family. I share achievements, funny stuff and milestones. I keep caught up on friends and families lives as one can only do in the cyber stalking way through Facebook.

However, Facebook also has the uncanny ability of making you feel like dog poop about your own life. Why? Because on Facebook, everybody else’s life seems perfect, everybody else’s kids are outstanding, everybody else’s vacations are amazing, everybody else’s significant other remembers their birthday/anniversary, everybody else’s kids make them breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, everybody else’s jobs are fulfilling (and pay more money) and nobody but nobody ever uses the bathroom.

Logically, this just can’t be true (especially that bathroom thing). If so, then seriously, my life really does suck (fortunately, my Facebook life rocks!!).

The truth is, nobody’s life is perfect…that is why it is called life. We all know this! But nonetheless, it is hard to not feel like slashing your Facebook Friends’ collective tires when they post yet again about some bit of awesomeness in their life or share that perfect “candid” photo of self or kids – especially when it is at a time when you might be contemplating a jump off the proverbial bridge rather than deal with the current stones life is throwing at you!

So, I propose there should be an antithesis to Facebook. A place one can go to detox from all the FB awesomeness. Call it, say, The Buttbook. On The Buttbook, members can only post about stuff that pisses them off, gets in their way, is boring – about real crap life pukes out. Then, when a reality check is needed to counter all the perfectness flowing on Facebook News Feed, a reminder that everybody has armadillos in the closet, or that everything in life isn’t always exciting and wonderful, members can check in with The Buttbook and feel whole again:

My husband is ok, but man, he farts too much.

My teenager is really pissing me off, if she does not look up from her phone when I talk to her I am going to slap her silly.

My house smells like wet dog hair.

When did the Freshman 20 turn into the Middle-aged 50?

My kid did absolutely nothing cool or interesting this month.

I did absolutely nothing cool or interesting this month.

I am in debt up to my du-dun-du-duns.

My job is boring.

And all photos shared must be unfiltered, and completely candid in that “I can’t believe I look like that” way. In fact, any member posting anything cool or awesome is banned – shunned back to Facebook.

Oh, and there needs to be a “you got that right!” button  – so no one will feel alone in their “un-awesomeness”.

I think Facebook would become a lot more palatable with The Buttbook to fall back on every once in a while.

Seriously, I think I am on to something, who’s with me?

Spring Break at The Devil’s Bridge

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Along the hike to The Devil's Bridge

Along the hike to The Devil’s Bridge

Around this time last year, I shared some of my favorite pictures and moments from our Spring Break trip to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona – more particularly, the highlight of The Devil’s Bridge!

However, I never really got around to telling the story of how we actually got to the Devil’s Bridge – or rather almost didn’t get there – until now!

Thanks to my fabulous writer friend Sherri Kuhn (whom I have known since the dark ages – i.e. when I still had braces) I am sharing the story over at SheKnows.com as part of a multi-writer contribution article about most memorable Spring Break vacation trips!

Find out what turning 50 (please, NOT ME – my husband) and a quest for The Devil’s Bridge have in common.

Go here to jump right to my story of how we strayed off the beaten path!

Go here to start at the beginning and read all contributing articles!

Really, it’s all good!

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Bag Lady Gets a Job

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BagLadyB

I got a job.  Surprising, I know, what with the catastrophe that was my first interview  (Bag Lady Goes a Job Hunting).

Nevertheless, I started a new job this week.  My new position has a  wide variety of duties and responsibilities.

Well, just take today, for example.

Today I was required to…

…get my hair done with a fork.

…submit to arrest by a policeman and a king for spilling glitter.

…assist in the construction of a school for baby animals made entirely out of magnets (which was ultimately shunned by the moody giraffe baby).

…go to the doctor to find out I had two broken legs (both curable) and needed numerous shots (some painful) and a band aide.

…dress in zebra print and blue satin in preparation to get married.

…laugh hysterically at lunch with my friends at the clearly undeniably funny phrase “peanut butter and jelly.”

…have my nails done with plastic fruit.

I am thinking droopy stockings and a little bit (or say, maybe a lot) of cat hair stuck to my clothes will go virtually unnoticed in my current work situation.

Because, yeah, my job is just cool like that.

Sweet Spot Travels

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Sweet Spot Travels
Venice

Venice, Italy

 

Santa Cruz, CA

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe 2

Devil’s Bridge, Arizona

Las Vegas

Las Vegas on a budget

Arizona

Marlette Lake, Lake Tahoe

Boy Meets Tree

Biking in Lake Tahoe

UK

UK on a budget

Amsterdam and UK – funny stuff

Hamburg, Germany

Wales

Italy

Italy 2

Just ‘Cause it’s Friday (Venice, Italy)

Merry Christmas 2012-New York

9 Free Activities to Do With Kids in Italy

“We Got to Let Love Rule” – The Love Locks of Italy

Spring Break and The Devil’s Bridge

A Trip More (or Less) Ordinary (California)

Thanks For the Memories, Mexico

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 1:  The Lost Tour

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 2: The Clothing Optional Tour

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 3: The Big Cajones Tour

Mini-Break in Monterey, CA

A Paris Perspective: The Monuments

A Paris Perspective: The City

A Paris Perspective: The River and Bridges

Merry Christmas 2013 – Brussels, Belgium

Paris, the Walmart of Love?

50 Is the New 30: A Napa Excursion

Costa Rica Part 1:  Take a Picture, It Lasts Longer

Costa Rica Part 2: No Signs Allowed!

Costa Rica Part 3: The Eco Adventures

Sweet Spot Tells All (A travel interview)

Ecuador Part 1: Forrest Gump Goes to Quito

Ecuador Part 2:  Getting Mobbed and Spit On in Cuenca

Ecuador Part 3:  Throwing My Kids Off a Bridge in Banos

Somewhere in Mexico: Roberto Barrios Falls

Somewhere in Mexico: The Talking Cross

Somewhere in Mexico: Beautiful Bacalar

Weekend Wedding in Monterey

My California

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: The City Walk

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: City of Art

SoCal Mini Break: Beach Time

SoCal Mini Break: Venice Beach Boardwalk

South American Summer: Peru and Colombia

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Machu Picchu, Peru 2016

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Bag Lady Goes a Job Hunting

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I have been job hunting. And when I say “job hunting”, I mean random-resume-submissions-online-from-which-no-result-occurs.  However, finally, I received a phone call requesting my presence at an interview…with, like, people and stuff.

The fact that I had not been on an actual job interview in a ‘coons age (Country-slang for a long, long, loooong time) should have paralyzed me with fear, but I confess it did not.

On the day of the interview, I selected my clothing carefully – dress, nylons, heels, the whole works – and packed them into my car to be changed into after I ran to the hair salon to have my emerging grey hairs vanquished.  Possibly, this detour was the beginning of my folly. But, I tend to think it was my venue of choice for changing into my interview attire – Home Depot.

Yep, you read that right.  Apparently, a stop at Home Depot for husband was unavoidable.  But, hey, the Women’s bathroom at Home Depot is big and virtually unused. However, the moment I left the bathroom in full interview attire, my trouble began.  You see, as soon as I started tromping through the Home Depot aisles towards the exit in my high heels, I began to feel a slippage.

Ok, hold on, allow me to explain.  I hate panty hose as in; I detest the feel of the ‘panty part’ under clothes.  Therefore, I have long opted for the stocking scenario – the kind that has an elastic/rubbery band to hold them in place on your thigh.  However, not having occasion to wear stockings much, it had been a while since the last wearing of this pair.

So again, there I was marching confidently to the front of the store heading to my interview when I began to feel slippage of one of the stockings.  Quickly, I ducked behind a display of sockets to inspect the problem.  When I looked down, I found to my dismay the band of the offending stocking was bouncing, exposed around my knee!  I quickly pulled it back up and in my haste ripped a run down the entire length.

My first thought was, surely I had but failed to pull the one stocking up enough the first time. So, I can just hide the run in the back and take care to never turn around in the interviewer’s presence – it won’t look that weird when I back out of the door to leave, right?

But, I did not even it make to my car in the parking lot before the stocking band was slipping down again, now making it to my ankle.  And although the guy who tried to solicit “gas money” from me in the parking lot did not seem at all alarmed by my wardrobe malfunction, I was completely horrified.

I jumped into my car and started driving to my interview.  I began to worry.  What if the stocking starts slipping while I am trying to think of answers to the interviewer’s questions?

“What is your strategy for handling a problem?” (You mean, like, your stockings falling down in Home Depot?).

“What do you consider your strong points?”(Um, surviving this interview with droopy stockings?).

“Where do you see yourself in the future?” (Well, in the next 5 minutes, I see myself walking out of here looking like a Bag Lady with stockings puddling around my ankles).

And that was it, full-on panic took hold.

My mind began to race.  If only I would pass a drugstore on my way to the interview.  I could have just enough time to run in, grab a pair of dreaded pantyhose (not a stocking type place), change in the car and make my interview on time.  If only…

And then, like chocolate from heaven – there it was!!  A Walgreens Drugstore right off the highway – a bit of a back track from my exit, but still possible in my time frame!  I was saved!  I sped to the Walgreens, whipped into the parking lot, searched for the entrance.  It was only then I discovered it was a Walgreens Infusion and Respiratory Center.  Yeah, I have no idea what the heck that is – all I know is, they do NOT sell pantyhose…I checked.

At this point, I knew I was sunk. Going “nylon commando” was not an option as I had neglected shaving … and tanning. So, I reluctantly drove on with the top band of my stocking now getting stuck on the gas pedal when suddenly, within a block of my interview, where no self-respecting store should be, stood- like my very own “beacon of hope” – a Dollar Store.  You know, where they have dollar knick knacks, dollar pet toys, dollar toothpaste and apparently, dollar pantyhose…two pair in a pack.

A speedy superhero-like change in my car, an unavoidable flash to a guy walking by my car window (you’re welcome) and I was on my way again.

And thus, I made it to my interview on time, answered questions brilliantly, with pantyhose securely in place, completely professional and positively no Bag Lady overtones whatsoever.

Or so I thought.

For, it wasn’t until after the interview, driving home in my car, I noticed the white cat fur confidently clinging to various parts my dark colored, interview appropriate dress.

Next time, perhaps I will get dressed at home.

Or, just bring a shopping cart to the interview.

For an update go here – Bag Lady Gets a Job

DodgeBall State of Mind

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In my testosterone driven household, sports are played & watched, hygiene is an afterthought, all bodily functions are hysterical, weapons are coveted, shadow punching serves as a greeting, and,

Movie one liners are viewed as the cures to all that ails you.

Seriously, gone are the days when I could just watch a movie and forget about it.  Now, due to the uncanny ability of my boys to remember every funny line in a movie, I now relive movies in a whole new way.  You see, not only do they recall every bit of humorous dialog, but they then proceed to plagiarize them incessantly – weaving them into our daily conversations in the name of comic relief.  Apparently, my house is in need of a tremendous amount of relief.

Over the years, favorites have developed.  For an excuse in a multitude of situations, nothing works better than “I would do that (dive off a waterfall) if I didn’t have diarrhea” from Club Paradise.

And, to deflect from an embarrassing situation, “I find everyone’s pain funny but my own…I’m French” from Flushed Away is always the perfect.

And, even though it is actually from a play, the line “If we can’t kill it, it’s immortal” from A Tuna Christmas, well, is just plain funny.

Recently, however, our world has become ensconced in the prolific one liners from the movie DodgeBall (with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller).  If you have never seen it let me assure you, it is jammed packed with all kinds of adolescent boy humor goodness. It seems no matter what the life situation, a DodgeBall snippet of dialog is just the ticket to smoothing things over and offering meaningful advice.  You doubt me?

Allow me to demonstrate:

For confronting challenges:

“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”

For conveying revenge:

“Nobody makes me bleed my own blood.  Nobody!”

For expressing disgust:

“I just threw up in my mouth a little bit

For bolstering confidence:

“My gym has shareholders, your gym doesn’t even have cup holders!”

And to take confidence to the next level:

“Here at Global Gym we’re better than you and we know it”

For snappy comebacks:

Statement:  “I’m off the clock”

Response: “How convenient for you…and the clock!”

…and the best in my humble opinion,

For facing difficulties:

“Necessary!  Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine?  No!  But, it’s sterile and I like the taste.”

Honestly, I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart…or easily offended.  But, for those wanting to indulge your adolescent side, laugh hysterically and gain a world of “good advice” in the process – well, DodgeBall might be right up your alley.

As for me, what can I say, I am a joiner and can never resist a good laugh. And, in my male dominated home, I have learned to never underestimate the power of a good one-liner!

In closing, I leave you a final DodgeBall one liner word of advice…

If you master the 5 D’s of Dodgeball, no amount of ‘balls’ can hit you – Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive and Dodge.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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Sometimes I surprise myself – learning to snowboard when I freeze at 60 degrees, embracing co-habitation with the black snakes that occupy my yard, attempting parenthood (thank goodness for that therapy fund).  Well, my most recent questionable endeavor came in the form of a job.

A few months ago a call came with the request to do a show at a local professional theatre. And when I say ‘do’ a show, I do not mean as an actor on the stage – where I have spent many a moment throughout the years –  but as a dresser in the thick of the behind-the-scenes action.

I reasoned, how hard could it be?  I mean, I have dressed myself successfully for many years (although those severely torn Levi’s – self-patched with leopard print and worn frequently in the 90’s, may not qualify); And, I dressed my boys (hopefully they were not able to read the tags on the accidently purchased girls wear).  So, without any concern for the poor, unwitting victims actors, my desire for a new experience convinced me to say “Yes!”

However, when the time arrived, I discovered that dressing a real live, full grown actor through what was to be 20+ quick changes per show, in the dark, backstage, during near silence onstage, turned out to be more daunting than anticipated. I will admit – I made mistakes.  And, I felt bad. More than once, I decided I had kissed my end of the show ’tip’ goodbye along with possibly all or most of my paycheck. And I will admit I spent a few nights beating myself up over it.

Ok, maybe just one.

Because then, I remembered something. I remembered how dearly I love to laugh.

You see, as long as

  • No limbs are lost (broken bones I’ve got covered!),
  • Everyone is still breathing,
  • No eyes are poked out…shot out…gouged out,
  • And no natural disaster has ensued

I can handle the small stuff, like, I don’t know,

  • Sending an actor out onstage with shoes on the wrong feet,
  • Attempting several times to poke same actor in the eye with glasses,
  • Dropping a few or say, several props on hard floor during complete onstage silence,
  • Habitually refusing to remember one particular assigned job without constant reminders,
  • Or, forgetting my start time on opening day and almost taking down a few pedestrians crossing a small town Main Street in my haste to get to the theatre.

The best part is, once I remember I can handle the small stuff, I find I can laugh at them as well; which is like a gift and something of which I am very fond. The only thing better being when others laugh with you.

So, in closing, please accept my sincerest apologies:

To my Actor friends – who had to endure my fits of ineptness, thank you for letting me laugh at them and for (hopefully) laughing with me; and,

To the Pedestrians – who, I fear, will never look at the safety of crossing a small town Main Street with the same abandon again.

A California Girls Rural Winter Survival Guide

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Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For example, why do aliens only abduct sanity-challenged recluse people? What are artificial bacon bits really made of? And, how does a born and bred California girl end up living in rural Missouri?  Rural Missouri, mind you, where roads have letters instead of names, directions are given in reference to so-and-so’s house – whether they still live there or not – and…it snows!

Well, in my case, I was either crazy or in love, or both.  Whatever the case, the predicament of surviving the winters became glaringly apparent upon the first snow; A feat which my California upbringing had just not prepared me for.  Therefore, for those of you who have found or may find yourself in a similar fix, allow me to share 5 of my hard learned survival tips.

1.  Be Prepared: If you are to survive in the harsh environment of cold, ice, and snow, you must have the proper tools. Following are, in my experience, the most important items.

  • Cat Box Pooper Scooper – Oh, sure, you will be told that having an ice scraper is what you need to clear off your car windshield every morning.  But, in my opinion, the everyday cat box pooper scooper makes much more sense to get the job done.  It is always handy, never gets taken by other family members for use and well, has multiple functional purposes (need I elaborate?).
  • Ugly Shoes – Trust me on this one.  Those peep toe pumps will sing a good song, but when push comes to shove (or rather ice comes to driveway) those pretty shoes will leave you flat on your behind.  The ugly shoes, however, will be your friend for life. They will keep you warm, be devoted to your happiness, and never let you go down looking like a flapping dodo (bird, that is).
  • Hair Dryer – You would be surprised how often a good blast of hot air will come in handy for various frozen things and/or body parts.
  • A Hammer – No real function, but it will make you feel like you belong – like one of the natives.

2.  Be Wary:  Never trust ice – it is the enemy and yes, it is out to get you.  It will freeze your pipes as soon as you stop dripping them in order to head to the mall.  It will freeze the Frappuccino you left in the car overnight. And, if you have a change of heart (i.e. panic attack) about driving on it, it will promptly and not very graciously, introduce you to the side road ditch.

3.  Be Audacious:  When that fluffy white stuff starts pouring out of the sky, get in your car and just go for it.  And when I say, ‘go for it’, I mean, when your husband tells you to drive fast to get over snow drifts growing in the road – DO IT! Otherwise you might find yourself stuck on top of one of those pretty drifts like a whale bellied up on the beach (which is, fyi, not near as much fun as bellying up to the bar). And, it may take every relative and friend within a 20 mile radius to come and dig you off.

4.  Be Mindful:  As in all things, there are pitfalls to watch out for during the long winter season.

  • Do NOT discover online shopping.
  • Do NOT, under any circumstances, decide the inside of your house needs to be painted all colors of the rainbow. (You may not be fortunate for to spring to arrive moments before project commencement).
  • Do NOT try to eat your weight in chocolate.

However, DO, have as many snowball fights as possible, roast marshmallows over a candle, and treat yourself to every  ‘icure come spring.

5.  Be Canny: Sooner or later you will be faced with a suspicious random occurrence that can only be experienced in the rural wilds of winter.  Therefore, when you, for example, find a several foot long shed snake skin in a storage area behind your bed where said snake clearly hibernated the winter with you, don’t, whatever you do, tell your snakephobic husband.

Goodbye and Good luck.