Monday, July 28, 2008

She was there

Just quickly I'll say that the sleeping girl was there again last night, but someone had already claimed the gold circle seating position right behind her so we didn't get the bonus show. I did get a glimpse that she was using a notebook for a pillow and had a pen clutched in her hand. Two corners of her blanket were held down by half empty bottles of orange juice. The Man said he saw he sit up near the end of the show and was watching. Wonders never cease.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by the way, was wonderful.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ah! The theater!

The Cleveland Shakespeare Company was in town last night and put on a wonderful performance of Hamlet. This is the third year they've graced our humble community college with their presence giving those of us starved for culture a free show.

But the Andersons got more than one show last night, I'm afraid to say. The tale I'm about to unfold is so strange, I honestly can say that you had to be there to appreciate it, but I shall attempt to tell it true.

There is a little outdoor amphitheater where the show was to be held. Some people bring chairs and some blankets. A few hardy souls bring nothing and sit right on the grass or hard concrete steps. Last year we took a blanket and it sucked sitting on the ground all that time, so this time it was chairs.

As we scan for a place to sit, we spy a nice open spot right behind a blanket that's been spread on the concrete. There's a girl sleeping on this blanket using a wadded up beach towel for a pillow. She has an empty plastic cup clutched in one sleeping hand. This girl isn't just napping though, she appears to be passed out cold. We set up our chairs behind this snoozing person and wait for the show to start. I gaze down at the sleeper and notice a good sized spider on the back of her bare thigh. As a wonder if I should brush it off, the spider scurries up and over her bottom, up her back, into her hair and back out, OVER HER EAR, finally jumping off the top of her head. I wanted to scream.

Fifteen minutes later the show starts and the sleeping girl slumbers on. Occasionally she turns or fidgets. Soon she is directly in front of me and the Boy giving us a total view up her too short shorts to reveal her black and white stripped panties. Adjusting this part of her clothing now becomes part of her nocturnal activities as well. There have been plenty of more spiders and ants using her as a highway this whole time as well.

The players are booming on the stage, acting their hearts out, but still our favorite audience member prefers her dreams. This goes on for two hours.

Finally, right when Hamlet accepts Laertes challenge of a duel, Sleeping Beauty sits up. She doesn't look disoriented at all. Actually she looks very comfortable in her surroundings. She adjusts all her bits and pieces some more, rummages through her purse and finally settles in for a smoke. For a short while she actually pays attention to the excellent sword fight on the stage but then decides to do some texting instead.

Everyone is dead on the stage and Horatio is giving his sad, sad speech to end the play. Our theater lover is folding up her beach towel and her blanket, luckily she doesn't stand right in front of me to do all this. She locates her high heel shoes and picks up all her stuff just as Fortinbras delivers the last lines. While the cast takes it bows, she picks her way through the dark going who knows where.

Tonight is Rosencrantzs and Guildenstern Are Dead. I do hope we can watch this play with her again. She added so much to the performance. Hamlet will never be the same for any of us again.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Doing my patriotic duty

We took advantage of the sun and warmth yesterday to hit Cedar Point. It was fairly crowded. We rode a few rides, caught a show, had some fries and an elephant ear and left. But this post is about what happened on the Fourth of July at CP. I've been putting it off, but the Man insists that I document the incident. I'll let the three of you be the judge. I've gotten nothing but grief about this from my family.

Like I said, it was the Fourth of July and we thought, for some misguided reason, that going to CP would be a good idea. Unfortunately everyone else within a ten hour drive of the place had the same thought. The place was packed. We didn't get there until around 5Pm and our only goal was to ride the Millennium and see the fireworks. We ended up getting in plenty of rides, including the Millennium before nightfall.

We headed down to the beach for the fireworks show. The Man created us all amazingly comfortable beach recliners dug into the sand. Mine came complete with a headrest thanks to my bag. The beach was filling up fast and it wasn't long before we were surrounded on all sides.

Right behind us there were two young men. It was obvious that they were employees of the park who were off duty. One was Slovenian or Slovakian, I didn't quite catch it. The other (and I'm tipping my hand in this story by naming him this) was the Stupidest American on the Beach. I'm just going to script out their conversation, along with my reactions. The fireworks show was going on this entire time, but it wasn't so loud as to drown out this unfortunate conversation.

Eastern European Tax Break Employee: In my country the fireworks are much brighter, much higher.

Idiot: Oh yeah?

EETBE: Yes. They have more colors and are bigger too.

Idiot: Sounds nice.

EETBE: This is an American holiday?

Idiot: Yeah, it's an American thing.

EETBE: What is it called?

Idiot: It's the Fourth of July.

EETBE: I know that, but does it have another name?

Idiot: Nope, just Fourth of July. Makes it easy to remember.

I think, "Independence Day" must have too many syllables for you!

EETBE: Ah. (long pause) So what is it that it celebrates?

Idiot: Ummm.....It's got something to do with the starting of the country.

EETBE: You don't know?

Idiot: No, I know. It's just hard to explain. I don't know all the details.

EETBE: You don't know the history of your own country?

Idiot: Well see, they teach all of it like when you're in the fourth grade and then you don't get back to it again, so it's hard to remember. But Fourth of July is when the country started.

He did NOT just say that! Oh, please stop talking!

EETBE: So then, what year did this country start?


Idiot: Ahhhh....ummm.....something like....ahhhh.....1804?

What? What did he say? AHHHHHHHH!

EETBE: You don't know?

Idiot: Like I said, that was a long time ago (very long pause). No wait! It was 17...92.


This has to stop. I'm going to lose my mind!

Idiot: No wait, wait. It was 177......

I hold my breath. Will he redeem himself? Redeem us all?

Idiot: 9!

I snap. Literally. I wheel around in my chair made of sand and scream over the fireworks...
"1776! For Christ's Sake!"

I fall back and behind me the stunned silence falls like an iron wall.

The Man leans over. "That was really rude! What's the matter with you?"

The Girl chimes in, "Yeah Mama, why were you yelling at that guy?"

"He had it coming", I say fiercely. But as I am criticized by my family I start to feel I little bad for my behavior.

Finally the two behind me come out of their shock.

EETBE: (Mutters quietly)

Idiot: Yeah, 1776. That sounds right. That was the year of the Boston Tea Dance.

I didn't say a word.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Requiem for Two Restaurants

It's been a rough restaurant week for the crew around here.

Our very favorite Chinese restaurant, the little family owned one right downtown, went out of business. I'm not sure how long ago this happened because we haven't been there in about two months. We tried to go on Thursday and found a strange CLOSED sign on the door. A bum sitting on the step outside (Charming, yes I know) told us they retired after being in business for 25 years. Oh, how this breaks my heart.

I started going to Bok Haw in junior high with my BFF Amanda. We would spend entire afternoons there drinking gallons of tea and sipping chicken rice soup. Later on, it was a main date spot for The Man and I. And lately it's been a favorite for my junior high aged kids. What was really great (or maybe just odd) about the place was that it never, ever changed. The menu was always exactly the same. By the same I mean not just the same items but physically the same laminated sheets of paper, so the prices never changed over the years either. The decor, from the wall hangings to the place mats, was exactly the same from the first time that I went there to the last as well. It was a restaurant stuck in time and now it's gone.

The other restaurant is one that has been in slow decline over the years. This weekend they dealt out their own death blow.

Joe Boccardi's is a little pizza place that a bit of drive, but was always worth it. They made pizza with this super thin (like a cracker) crust. It had super sticky cheese and amazing toppings. They had giant, breaded mushrooms that were to die for as well as homemade beer battered onion rings.

And then they got a new owner. And then another. And then another. And then another. Each owner drove the quality down and the prices up. Last Friday we made a stop there after picking up the Girl from camp. They no longer have thin crust pizza and the mushroom and onions rings tasted like they were dumped from a bag into a deep fryer. The pizza that finally came was doughy and tasteless. The whole experience was a waste and I'm done with it.

So, goodbye Bok Haw and Boccardi's (of old). You'll be missed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The first sunflower

My Mother's Day gift this year was for the ugliest part of my yard to be dug up, turned over and then planted with dozens and dozens of sunflower seeds. Previously that patch of Earth contained a very nasty thorn bush, a scraggly holly bush and an assortment of weeds that we mowed down now and then but flourished in the sunny space. Today it looks like this.

The other side of that window is the kitchen sink and very soon my view will be sunflowers and not the neighbor's porch. And yes, there are too many and they are too close together and I don't care.

Here's the first flower, right on the verge of blooming. This is from one of the mid sized flowers that the package claimed would bloom in a variety of colors.

My planting technique on these seeds was the key to their success. I opened the packages over the newly turned dirt and then walked all over them. I'm fussy like that.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A few pictures

I didn't take many pictures on the trip, but here's a few from the cave. We took two separate tours of the cave. Each tour was two hours long and involved climbing, ducking and squeezing through tight spaces. Here's the entrance. It gets cold and dark fast.
Here's The Man trying not to hit his head on the low ceiling. There were plenty of moments like this.

And moments like this where this was all the room you had to walk. Sometimes it would be a narrow path like this combined with a low ceiling.

The first tour was a dry part of the cave so there were no stalactites or stalagmites. That was the main reason we went on the second tour so we could see things like this.

The thing about a cave is that it's pretty dark in there, so the majority of the pictures we took didn't come out. Or the pictures came out, but it doesn't do the formation any justice, like this one which is called Frozen Niagara. I guess that's why they sell books of good pictures in the gift shops.

Home Again

We made it home. At least three of us have. The Boy won't be home until Saturday morning. The trip back from Dayton was the longest, most frustrating ride that we've been on in a long, long time. The world was throwing everything it could in our way to keep us from reaching home: Traffic, traffic, traffic, accidents, traffic, construction, traffic, every red light and then a frelling train! It took forever!

Mammoth Cave is...mammoth...and cavey. Combined the Man and I must have said WOW! probably close to a thousand times. It is an amazing place. Be warned that the area around the National Park is completely littered with the most cheesy, old school tourist traps that can be imagined. They make you start to doubt whether you've made a correct choice in vacation destination. But in the end the cave is almost too much for words. You've just got to go and see it for yourself.

I found lots of pressed penny machines on our trip and came home with nine new pennies: Two from King's Island, two from the museum in Cincinnati, one from the Mammoth Cave hotel lobby, one from a scary roadside gift shop, another from an even scarier gift shop and two from the Air Force Museum in Dayton. We went to that museum just to kill time while we waited to pick up the girls from Wright State University. It was in the area, had free admission and a penny machine. We only had an hour but you could spend all day in there. It was much more interesting than I thought it would be.

Marco was very happy to come home as well. He's a crazy car rider anyway, but when we pulled up the driveway he started flipping out because he recognized home. The cats seem to have missed us as well, especially Meg who is constantly at my heels or staring at Marco while he sleeps.

Today was all about laundry, getting groceries and laying around watching the Project Runway marathon. The new season starts Wednesday and The Girl has laid down serious threats if we don't tape it for her.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

From the road

The Man: "Do you want to come down to the [loud, crowded, smoky, room full of games you don't like to play] casino with me or do you want to stay here in the [amazing, beautiful, spacious, quiet, quite possibly the best] hotel room?

Me: I'll stay here.

Hello from the road! Sunday we delivered the girls to Dayton with no trouble at all. Their dorm rooms were so nice that it made The Man extremely jealous since the dorms in Vermont were old and creepy. After we left them, we headed down to Cincy, just to look around. There is a lovely park and walkway down by the river that we strolled along for awhile. There were tons of ski-dos and boats in the river as well as this giant barge.

Yesterday we spent the whole day at King's Island. I always wanted to go as a kid so this was a childhood dream come true! They have got some excellent roller coasters there, a few lousy ones and one that is so bad it should just be torn down now. We rode The Beast and then got right back in line and did it again. The first time we rode it, as we were leaving the station another train went over us. A little girl from somewhere in that train yelled "It's a jerky ride!" as a warning to our car. Since nowhere on the ride were we insulted about what we were wearing or had smoke blown in our face, she must have meant all the bumps and knock about that the ride gave out. At one point The Man yelled "I got jacked in the ribs!" I couldn't stop laughing about that.

This shot was taken by a Cedar Fair executive who was happening by. That makes it official!
The Man is back and he's up $15. Time to blow out of here. Cincinnati museums today because it's supposed to be sticky and hot. Tomorrow it's Mammoth Cave!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

And we're off!

The lists are made and are being gradually checked off. Marco is already at boarding and probably having a wonderful time if I know him. I'm trying to let the kids pack themselves without breathing down their necks. It's not going well. Whenever they pass through a room I start peppering them with "Did you remember...". Luckily, no one seems too annoyed with this so far. I haven't even started packing the Man and myself at all yet. At least all the laundry is done.

There may be pictures from the road. Or maybe not. At any rate, I'll catch you up on all our adventures next week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Going to see "Hancock"? Take your Dramamine!

My head still feels like it's in a fog, like I have the tail end of a very bad hangover.

I was really looking forward to seeing Hancock today. We all love Will Smith, love Will Smith action movies. This one, about an unwilling superhero, seemed like it was going to be gold.

You can go ahead and read the real reviews from people who get paid to think long and hard about movies. I'm sure they'll have quite a bit to say about it. I have two things of my own to comment on.

There isn't one steady shot in the whole movie. Even if it was a scene involving just two people sitting at a table it was all done with jittering, stomach turning hand cam work. Usually in a movie like this there are points where the director pulls out a tripod now and then letting the audience catch their breath and spinning heads, but not this movie. It was nonstop wiggling, sometimes small and other times huge and sweeping. I'm starting to get queasy again just thinking about it.

My other complaint is that this was not a PG-13 movie. Okay, technically it is or else it wouldn't have the rating, but it was dancing on the very thinnest of edges of R. A better warning would be "PG-13 For Real!" It has tons of language, including the eff word more than once. I was okay with my two 13 year olds going to this, but there are going to be some very angry parents of younger kids who are not expected the amount bad words this movie contains.

Consider yourself warned. Take your Dramamine and leaving your eight year old nephew at home.

All in all, I would rather go and see Ironman for a third time. *sigh*

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nothing to whine about, but still

I am going to apologize in advance for this list of my current annoyances. None of them are earth shattering. None of them are even very worthy of note. Bear with my anyway.

All four of us are going to be out of town next week. The Boy will be at camp. The Girl will be at a different camp (of sorts). The grown-ups are taking advantage of this absence of kids by hitting the road in search of adventure. The problem comes with the other child in our life.
Our favorite kennel is booked up and has no room for him next week. He is WAY too much trouble (i.e. giant, hairy, noisy, needy) to put on any family member or friend, so I forsee an unknown kennel with insane rates in our future--if we can find one that has space for him. I don't even want to think about about the other side of that IF.

Let's keep going with Marco. I love rabbits as much as the next person (that next person being Nance). Unfortunately, Marco doesn't see them as cute and wonderful. They are his mortal enemies. Marco's main goal this time of year is to protect our home from the attacking hordes of bunnies coming from every direction. His main weapon? Tremendously loud barking. He has a special bark just for bunny attacks and it will cut right through a previously calm person and make them start screaming out the back door "Will you just shut the #$% up already?" Just the other day I spotted a rabbit in the neighbors yard. I ran over and scared it away before the dog spotted it. That is what it has come to.

I can't find the Good keys. We have two sets of keys for the van, aptly named Good and Bad. The Good set has my Girl Scout fob, a few choice keys and the clicker that works. The Bad set has just the van key and the clicker that went through the wash. The Good set has been missing for more than a week, and I'm running out of places to look. I do not want to go on vacation with the Bad set.

Do you know Real Simple? This magazine has happily filled the gap in my reading material since we outgrew Family Fun. While I love it, the thing is gigantic and chuck full of ads. I can't just flip through it, because it's too easy to miss the articles buried in all the ads. In response to this, I have to read the magazine in the nerdiest fashion ever, front to back, using a bookmark. I get about halfway through it when the next month's issue shows up. The result will be that it will take me two years to read my one year subscription.

If you've ever been in our backyard you know we have the granddaddy of all oak trees out there. Last fall, for the first time since we lived here, that tree dropped billions of acorns. They were small, marble sized, but the entire yard was carpeted with acorns. It was unreal. We were slipping and sliding on them all over the place. Now, as nature intended, there are baby oak trees growing EVERYWHERE. In the grass, in the ivy, right in the center of the roses, in flower pots, every sidewalk crack... anywhere a little acorn could have rolled, it did and now is growing. You could spend all day out there (and I have lost many days) pulling up little trees and it still looks the same. Even sitting here typing about them is getting me all worked up. I've got to go pull up some trees right now!