Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mmm Mmm Mmm... KC!

Last weekend I enjoyed one of  the best weekend road trips I've had in quite awhile, with some of my very favorite people in the world:

Me and my little brother, Thomas

Thomas has lived in Kansas City for... well, probably three years or so?  Maybe a little more - time goes by so fast.  We always talk at holidays about getting together for a weekend in KC, and we had been planning this one, with cousin Krista and her hubby David, for the last couple of months.  Unfortunately, Krista and David had to cancel after some last minute changes at home (I was looking so forward to hanging out with them, but we are planning another trip, very soon.) and  I didn't let that keep me from going - I had really been looking forward to my weekend in KC.

I was so excited to get to see friends Garry and Heather, and their kiddos Ryleigh and Christian. 13-year-old  Ry hung out with us quite a bit, but afterwards I realized that Christian is not in a single photo - he is 17 and was downstairs playing X-Box the entire weekend.   Garry and Heather are some of my favorite friends ever- two of the many friends that I made while Dave and I were together.  Garry and I hit it off instantly the first time I met them 5 years ago, because we are both huge music fans.  Ok, I have to give him props and admit that he is head and shoulders above me, as I have had to say in this blog several times.  BUT I still do fairly well, I think he will agree.  And Heather is wonderful too (even though Ryleigh likes to give her a hard time about being a musical idiot, but that's really not true!)  She is sweet, funny and always so interesting - in the know about food, art, travel and lots of other things that we catch up on when we're together.

In addition to just being awesome people, they took Paige under their wing when she started college at William Jewell 2.5 years ago - I know they have been her family there in KC, and they absolutely adore her as well, of course.   She was over at their house every week for dinner, and I am certain that they are missing her terribly while she is away at Oxford this year.  (The bonus for next year will be that when I make any trips to see my KC friends/family, Paigey will be back there as well.  If you haven't seen it, check out her blog, Inhabiting Oxford - she is an amazing young woman, and a very talented writer, and I'm so proud to have her in my life)

Ryleigh, Heather and Garry

While I didn't get to meet up with Krista and David in KC, I did bring someone along with me on my road trip.   This is Brian, a southern boy from Charlotte, NC (hello, Annie! He's from your neck of the woods....) who has lived in Springfield for the past five years.

He and I met through mutual friends, and the best thing about him - he makes me laugh.  Other than that, we have a lot to talk about, quite a bit in common.  Both just out of second marriages, and both lost our mothers when we/they were young...  just easy to spend time with him, and I really enjoy it.  So he headed with me to KC on Friday, happy to get away for a weekend and hang out with my friends and family.

We arrived in KC late Friday afternoon, and met Garry and Heather for happy hour at Buddha, in Zona Rosa shopping center.   After we visited a bit and got caught up on the latest happenings in all of our lives, we headed back to Garry and Heather's house, to enjoy some appetizers with the rest of the family.

 Heather fixed two kinds of  pizza, plus some awesome crab rangoon (Ryleigh made those) and some fabulous "Bang Bang Shrimp", which I think H. said is a yummy dish at Bonefish Grill...  but all my shots of the food looked pretty yellow and didn't do it any justice! I am learning about white balance in my photography class, but obviously I wasn't workin' it while I was taking these shots - Next time, I'll do better.

Friends Brent and Laura also joined us for the evening - they had a babysitter for their two little ones, and could've gone out on the town for the night, but decided that we would be just as much fun - and I think they were right!

One of the highlights of the night, hands down, was this lady:

Grandma Rose....  this photo is perfect - the cheetah jacket,
the HUGE glass of red wine... and I'm sure whatever she
saying was hilarious, as always!

Garry's Grandma Rose turned 90 this year, and is, quite simply, amazing.  She is one of the most young-at-heart people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.  I've had the opportunity to spend time with her several times over the past few years that I've known Garry and Heather; I always enjoy her wit, her stories, and her love for red wine - a woman after my own heart, in that respect!   We enjoyed appetizers and drinks with her, and then we all sat down in the living room to watch the photo montage that one of her daughters had made for her 90th birthday celebration.   Rose and her husband had seven children, and she has spent time all over the world.  Garry's grandpa was with the CIA, and I've heard stories from Garry about his mother and her siblings' time in different countries, but it was amazing to sit with Rose and listen to her comments as we watched the story of her life unfold in California, Italy, Cypress, and more.

We did enjoy some cocktails over the course of the evening, including a chocolatini concoction that Garry made for the ladies:


Later in the evening we also broke out some wicked dance moves - (note: one of the benefits of this being MY blog is that all of the totally embarrassing photos of me are - well, they seem to have gotten lost... hmmm.)  But please note Garry's fine form (wearing his wife's sunglasses) below:

The fun didn't stop Friday night - we enjoyed a relaxing Saturday morning, topped off with lunch.  The girls all enjoyed Mexican for lunch, while Brian had to have some of his 5 Guys Burgers and Fries, so he and Garry headed there.

Lunch at Jose Peppers

Then Brian and I headed down to the Plaza for the evening, and met up with Thomas for dinner.  The weather was absolutely beautiful for mid-November, with temperatures in the fifties that evening.  We had a few drinks at Fred P. Otts, one of Thom's favorite hangouts.  Thomas didn't like this photo, but I thought it was great - I know the iPhone isn't a real camera, but I love the special effects... so fun!

Drinks at Fred P Otts

Sunday was beautiful, and we started the morning sitting outside of Scooter's coffee shop on the Plaza, enjoying the sunshine, before heading back home.  (I took several photos... may try to post a few soon, but they'll have to wait for another time.)  It was a wonderful weekend and a great getaway; "Thanks! "to Garry and Heather for a wonderful Friday evening of food, drinks, family and friends.  And then for Saturday, a huge "thank you!"  to Thomas for getting us a fabulous room at the Raphael at a great price, and for showing us some of your favorite spots on the Plaza.  Had a great time, and looking forward to doing it again soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Quarters of a Century... Holy Smokes!

I have a whole post waiting to finish, a post about a fabulous KC weekend with friends and family, AND  some great photos to go along with... but this one takes precedence (although it IS a day late, due to some technical difficulties with my browser):

Dad and all of us kids - 2005, at his retirement party

One of Dad's typical poses for the camera
Happy birthday to the most hard-working, determined and honest man I've ever known.  Dad, you make 75 look darn GOOD.  You're still as busy as ever, but now you've made the upkeep of The Ranch your full-time job.  In addition to mowing and brushogging the 17 acres, burning all of the piles of brush, keeping up the pond/spring, and all of your other outside landscaping chores, you  have turned into a DIY pro inside as well.   This past year you've perfected the art of picking the right wall color and expertly prepping, taping and painting most of the walls in the house... (thanks in part to some expert tips from DIL Michele)  Pretty impressive!

We all know that your work ethic will be with you until the day you leave us - but even still, you have mellowed out a little over the years, (or maybe we just think you've just mellowed out because we're all grown up and not at home anymore?) and somehow you've forgotten all the "tough love" you put us through... So today I wanted to help remind you - and all of us - about the good old days and some of your all-time classic phrases that we grew up hearing from you.  So I'm posting part of the list that we kids all helped to put together 10 years ago, for your big 6-5.  I know anyone outside of the family reading this won't get most of these, but for all of us, we've heard them countless times over the last 25-40 years. :)
  1. "Osh-ee-bulla!!"  (a phrase handed down from Pop... none of us really know what it means, other than you use it with the dogs, cats and children interchangably, whenever you wanted us to stop doing something.)
  2.  “Reveille, reveille, up all hands. Heave out and trice up, reveille.” (Courtesy of your Naval boot camp training, and bellowed to us over the sound of classical music playing, at 6am in the morning.)
  3.  "You're doing it half-a**ed!!  Here, let me show you how to do it."
  4.  “Bye, mmm-hmm, Bye” -- Always before you hang up the phone.
  5.   “I’m going to take you down to the barn and wale the tar out of you!”
  6.   “This is NOT the place to be having fun!” -- quoted by you at the dinner table one night while everyone else was laughing at something no one can remember.
  7.  “When was the last time you had your oil changed?”
  8.  “Holy smokes, _____! Look at this car- we’ve got to wash this!”
  9.  “What kind of grades are you making?  I want straight A's”
  10. “Tough love, _____!” (fill in the blank with each of our names)
  11.  “Nothing good happens after 12 o’clock, you don’t need to be out!”
  12.  “Those turkeys!” (A derogatory comment often voiced by you against someone who has done something wrong, etc.) 
I had to laugh as I went through the list and chose some to post.  Is it bad that I'm 40 and still hear you saying a few of these when I'm home??  (well, mainly the ones about washing my car and changing my oil).

I know all of us kids like to joke with and about you; but truly, we were all very blessed to be raised by you, our moms, and Grandma G, there in St. Clair. I loved growing up there, and have so many fond memories. And I'm thankful that we all still get together, and looking forward to this year's holidays with my family.

Happy birthday, Dad.  We love you, and are looking forward to many years more.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Closing a Chapter

As of Tuesday, October 24th, our divorce was final.  I have run the gamut of emotions for the past four months - many, many tears  (less frequently now, but it still happens, sometimes when I least expect it.)  And, of course, some anger - at Dave, at myself, and just with the whole situation... but thankfully, mostly what I'm feeling now is acceptance. There was a time that I was very worried about how I would feel when this day happened.  As with most things, though, time has helped me to be prepared for it.  It was sad to read the papers, see the judge's signature, and know that our marriage is over.  But at the same time, it felt good to have the closure - we were able to end things amicably, and this is the final step.   I want Dave to be happy, and I want to be happy - and this is a step towards that, for both of us.  We didn't actually know that the judge had signed the papers until Sunday, when the attorney forwarded the papers to Dave.  He forwarded them to me that evening, since we had been discussing how we would handle health insurance costs for the month of November.

And so on Monday night, I decided that it was the right time to drink our very last bottle of the Thumbprint wine we had bought/shared together from our trip to Sonoma Valley.    So I cracked open the bottle, poured some of it in my coffee mug, and started my annual trick-or-treating traipse around our neighborhood with Gail, Caitlyn, Connor and Jace.

I'm having such fun with the camera on
my iPhone... the "emo" special effects are great!

Gail's daughter is 8, but with Jace and Connor being 13, I warned Jace that this may be his last year for Halloween... ("Son, when you're gettting close to being as tall as many of the people handing out candy, you're probably  too old for trick-or-treating!")  Of course he doesn't see things the same way, but we'll discuss it next year. This year was nice - it had been 60+ degrees that day, and the mild weather made the evening very enjoyable, which has not always been the case. There have been many cold and rainy Halloween nights spent walking around the neighborhood over the past several years, so I'm always thankful for the good weather!

I could end this post here, and make it all about my divorce being final - but life goes on, and that's the whole point, isn't it!?  So what was the rest of my week like? 

Well, by the time we called it a night on Monday, my throat was getting scratchy and I could hear my ear popping when I swallowed... uh oh. I hate getting sick.  By  mid-morning Tuesday it was obvious I had something going on, so I left work and headed to the walk-in clinic.  The nurse practitioner took one look at my throat and accompanying 101 degree fever, and diagnosed me with strep throat.  I filled my prescription, headed home and went to bed, with Vicks and a towel on my chest (reminds me of when I was little!) and slept on and off for 18 hours...  Gail, bless her, brought me over some warm chicken noodle soup and crackers on Tuesday night.  By Wednesday morning Jace was also sick, so I met his grandmother at the walk-in clinic and she waited with him while he saw the nurse practitioner.  Then he and I spent the day moving between our beds and the sofa, and just taking it easy.  We're both feeling better now, thankfully. 

Last night I met my friend Larry for drinks and appetizers - he is a wonderfully talented vocalist, and I always loved singing with him.  But more than that, he's a great friend.  I've missed him over the past couple of years - since we don't sing together anymore, we've just not made time to get together.  We caught up on each others' lives, and both agreed we wouldn't let so much time pass again!

Today will be a busy day - I'm already awake, and figure that I'll head out for a walk when it gets light.  Then I'll get the grocery shopping done for the week, and do some much-needed cleaning around the house.  Next I'm headed to the mall with my sis Suz, while Jace and my nephew Payton keep themselves entertained on the Xbox for a couple of hours.

I'm hoping that the weather cooperates tomorrow; if it does, then Jace and I are meeting my friend Leslie and her husband after church - he's the one in the photography class with me, and is going to take some shots of me and Jace with the fall leaves.  So exciting!