Friday, February 27, 2009

Haunting our resort room boob tube

The drive down to Frederick for the Oyster feed was long enough that the Wifey and I decided to make a weekend out of it and find some interesting digs to cohabit with our girlies in tow.

We ended up at this plushy palace of southwestern Oklahoma charm.

Wifey had known about the amenities at Quartz Mountain for awhile, and it's reputation as a world-class (and I don't use the "world" word lightly here) artist retreat/colony even managed to permeate the mitochondria in my memory cells some time ago. But who knew a cushy, resort resided in the dramatic mounds and valleys of the Wichita Mountain range.

We took advantage of their $59 room special (as did my in-laws who joined us for the mollusk madness), spent the evenings exploring the galleries and sharing the heated pool water with Dieter, Greta, Helga and Otto, a foursome of tourists from Munich in search of the real America (not their real names, but hey, I took Spanish in HS, not German).

Check-out day morning we gorged ourselves on surprisingly edible hotel buffet fare and hiked it off taking in several of the nature trails that surround the resort. The cave trail was a thrill for the girls, while my F-i-L seemed preoccupied with his search for deer, elk, and turkey signs. Several times I noticed him reaching around back for his shoulder slung rifle that wasn't there as he blazed the trail for us, mighty sprightly for a man of his age I might add.

The only "made-us-go-hmm" moment of our stay came when we scanned the channels of the hotel supplied cable tv and found this image occupying the digital bandwidth on channel 78.

The image on the tube is exactly as we saw it...frozen in time, no audio, no 60 cycle hum, no character generator scroll running along the bottom warning us of the impending switchover to digital signal.

Just this image.

Examine if you will, as we did, and you'll notice quirky details in the picture. I'm toying with an appropriate caption for the shot. So far my choices are:"Laura and Luke enjoying their final cup of coffee moments before being attacked by three enormous french roast coffee beans from behind."

"Jack Black travels back in time to have a cup of joe with Janis Joplin, but suffers from temporary blindness due to a malfunction in his DeLorean's flux capacitor."

"Celebrating the release of the seasons 1-3 of the landmark 90's television series Friends on Blu-ray DVD, Ariel and Ishmael enjoy a cup of coffee and attempt to harmonize the lyrics to the theme song, "I'll be there for you."

Okay smarty pants, you come up with something better...

And visit beautiful Quartz Mountain while you're at it. If you're lucky, these two will still be drinking their joe on channel 78.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Burping oysters for 20 years

A referral and personal invite from a lovely lass in Wifey's office who calls the uber-cool burg of Frederick, Oklahoma her home town, found the family unit and I spending a fall-like February day consumed by (and later consuming) mass quantities of bivalve mollusks fresh from the gulf coast.

It was Oyster Fry time in Frederick.

I know what you're thinking and I know that look that crept across your face as I strung together fresh seafood and Oklahoma in the same sentence. It's the same look I get whenever we're sitting at a sushi bar in the city and the chef assures us that the fatty tuna is fresh, fresh, fresh -- saying it three times in a row in a charming attempt to assuage our fears of nematode laden raw fish.

But some casual fryer-side questioning of the man who oversees the transport of the raw oysters from the gulf coast fishing docks to the Frederick community center kitchen in a matter of hours put my mind at ease.

As did the first, second, fifth, seventh, (uggh), and twelfth bites of fresh, raw, ice cold oysters, dabbled with tabasco and a squooge of lemon juice, with nary of hint of fishiness or aquarium essence to be found.

And while freshness is no guarantee of a roundworm free dining experience, I made sure to down a half-dozen of the cracker-breading fried shellfish wonders for good measure.

This being an Oklahoma culinary institution, the brimming platter of fundraising comestibles included a generous scoop of coleslaw, a handfull of Ruffles, some fresh from the can S.E. Rykoff green beans, water and/or tea, all topped off with a squeezable slice of Wonder bread.

Someone down Frederick way also came up with a red sauce that was the perfect blend of smooth, bite, sweet, and Cajun sassy-ness that they were more than generous handing out for oyster dipping madness.

While the ratio of fried to raw eaters was somewhere in the 80:20 range, those whom I observed were joining me in the partaking of the raw gems seemed to be imbibing with gusto. Although admittedly, the joy of grossing out fried-only oyster eaters with every uncooked bite/chew/and swallow is almost as enjoyable as eating the little slippery suckers themselves.

A craft show, art exhibit and personally guided tour of the charming historic downtown district topped off the day and kept us burping oysters into the crisp southwest Oklahoma afternoon.

Wifey ate and enjoyed her first oysters. C did as well. One. PK liked poking the raw ones.

Thanks for the day, LB.

Monday, February 23, 2009

TLA of the Day

In four short years I've gone from using such common internet software related TLA's as TCP/IP, FTP, ICQ, LAN, UFS, WWW, RSS, and XML in my daily conversation, to this one...


-- which I uttered the other day to my Wife at dinnertime while discussing current local events.

Don't know what PBR is? Well then, I guess you're not from 'round these parts.

Actually, PBR may be coming to an indoor arena near you. Check this website for a schedule.

And no, I've never been.

Big moo cows scare me.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Letter box for the week is Y

Every week, PK's kinder class discusses the traits and characteristics of a specific letter of the alphabet. The payoff comes on Friday when the students are encouraged to bring an item from home that reflects the particular letter of their weekly study.

Last week it was the letter Y.

All week long PK ruminated and contemplated on what her show-and-tell letter item would be.

The obvious items (at least in her 5-year old mind), a yo-yo, a ball of yarn, one of her Mommy's Yo Yo Ma CD's (it was a gift), a yard stick, a calendar ("It's a whole year, Daddy!") were all summarily dismissed as "what everyone else will bring."

As she ate her breakfast Trix/Yoplait yogurt one morning, it dawned on her that yogurt started with a Y and if only she could bring enough to share with the class, she'd be in like flint.

Our grocery budget nixed that idea.

Finally, one night after practicing some yoga moves on the Wii Fit, she announced that instead of bringing something for letter box show-and-tell, she would do some yoga poses for the class.

And that she did.

Although we weren't present to witness the event, she was apparently a hit, and may have sparked a budding career as a yoga yogi, leading her other kinder classmates in the Warrior, Triangle and Tree poses, constantly reminding them of the importance of breathing.

I knew that Wii would be a good investment.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Subscriptions down two

Well, the economic south bound freight train has finally breached the sacred confines of our small town hovels mailbox...and my wife is taking her frustrations out on Martha Stewart.

Let me explain.

After making the move to larger pastures, our family mantra has been to streamline where we could, which included taming our magazine subscription splurges.

I've cut out all of my subscriptions entirely, choosing instead to gather my current info online, at our local libraries surprisingly well stocked magazine section, or while standing in line at the supermarket -- can you believe that Patrick Swayze...he's so inspiring...

Okay, I do have a multi-year sub to Hot Rod, only because it was a gift.

Since my M-i-L is a self-professed magazine addict, most of her periodic publications makes their way to our house by way of the weekly underground railway between her armchair and our breakfast dining area.

And even my lovely spouse had managed to whittle her ever expanding list of interests down to two single, favorite subscriptions -- Cottage Living and Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion.

Having narrowed her focus down to these two monthly glossies, naturally she reacted to their monthly arrival with vim and vigor. Like a mother hen who loses all but two of her eggs to the sly chicken hawk, Wifey was protective and covetous of the remaining home delivered publications.

Then the bomb dropped. Twice.

In the last two consecutive months, S has received notices that both of her beloved magazines are ceasing publication due to dropping subscription numbers and lack of advertisement interest.

While the notices she received were pleasant and upbeat, promising to credit her remaining subscription dollars with an equal number of home delivered copies of Martha Stewart's Living and Southern Living, respectively, the damage had been done.

My Wife's outlook on daily mail delivery will never be the same.

And holding up my latest issue of Hot Rod and offering to share my thoughts on cam selection for a 500 hp small block Mopar build up didn't ease her pain.

For now I'll just have to be patient and join her in taking out her frustrations by disdainfully criticizing the "yankee-inspired" design sense of Martha Stewart in her monthly rag.

Could be fun.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Storm basement follies

The historic high rise my Wife works in has several below ground basement levels.

On the rare occasion when tornado sirens wail through the alleys and narrow streets adjoining the downtown district, the tenants of her building make their way to the lowest levels of the historic center and sit out the closing tornadic activity in climate controlled comfort.

Other than the normal conversations that erupt when folks are gathered underground waiting out a passing wonder of Oklahoma weather, modern technology has enabled two-way communication with those on the "outside" as well.

Fingers fly over miniscule keyboards, sending digital updates and messages of relief or concern to friends and loved ones.

Cell phones flip, click, flop and slide open and closed as interrupted 9-5er's seek information of events occurring outside the safety of their concrete and steel block size tomb.

People gather around laptops that are wirelessly streaming the latest video feeds from the local news stations as they kick into high gear and cherish the opportunity to flex their weather reporters muscles.

Somewhere in the serene chaos, my Wife notices the husband of a friend of hers among the not-quite huddling masses. She described him as "texting furiously" on one of his micro-qwertied electronic communication wonders, while dealing with "a continuous barrage of incoming calls on his cell phone."

So engrossed was he in his dissemination of both verbal and written digitized information that my Wife didn't bother to engage him in any conversation, but managed to sneak in a quick "hey-wave" of cordial acknowledgment.

Like most tornado warnings, this one passed, but was soon followed up with a twin doppelganger of duck and cover twister warnings soon after.

When the third (and final) tornado warning was called off about the same time the guy at the Slade Gravel pit was yanking on the birds tail sending Fred Flintstone for a rail slide down the tail of his brontosaurus, Wifey caught up with "husband of friend" guy on a rare moment of non-communication calm.

Why the fast and furious phone/text fest during the warnings?

Turns out the guy works high up in the OKC Thunder organization, and was fielding frantic calls and text messages from panicky and distraught Seattle-ites who relocated here with the team back in July.

While they may have experienced some nasty winter weather during their previous 8-months as OKC taxpayers, and a bit of rain under the shadow of the Seattle Space Needle back home, apparently the sirens wailing in the downtown area ("Tornado's only strike trailer parks in rural areas...right?") were enough to spook the lot of them, prompting the mass exodus of Seattle Supersonic turned OKC Thunder staffers from their comfy desks and into their designated storm shelters.

And then the calls and IM's starting pouring in.

You gotta feel for these people in some little bitty way, as I outlined in a previous post.

Still and all, this was a serious round of weather, as eight good people down in Lone Grove lost their lives, and more may be found today.

Whether you came here from Seattle, So Cal, or all points in-between, when those sirens start wailing, life boils down to a few simple things.

A good lesson to carry through the coming days.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Tod and Buzz in the bath

Blogger's Note - Okay, this blog post should be a two parter, but bear with me here and if you need to, read it over a two-day period to lessen the eyestrain and avoid the brain hurt.

The original plan was to have the upstairs bathroom be for the girl's to share and for the ground floor bathroom to become the domain of the adults.

As we have almost (finally) completed the 2nd level interior renovations (Stairway, 2 bedrooms, 1 office, 1 playroom, 2 hallways, 3 walk-in closets, 2 secret hiding cubbie holes, and one huge bathroom complete with two sinks, two-station make-up vanity, walk-in closet, 9-drawers, 12 cabinet doors, and a clawfoot tub) we're looking to bogart the downstairs bathroom as our own.

We celebrated by installing a new, taller 17" ADA height commode (which would have been a bit of a jump for our littlest to use on a daily basis) into OUR bathroom, while moving the standard 14.5" one into the girl's bathroom.

Their themed, brightly hued, and somewhat mismatched towels and bath supplies are upstairs; our soothing and natural matching earth toned linens now occupy OUR bath linen closet.

Little Ponies, Mermaid Barbies, Watermelon scented no-tears shampoo, Lego jetski playset, suitcases brimming with hair bobs, hair beads, hair braids, hair clips, and hair bobbles, - all upstairs.

Bath and Body works skin scrubs, Mediterranean sea sponge loofah, Arbonne hair products, and oatmeal impregnated bar soaps - downstairs.

Yep, it's good to have our own bathroom.

The only complaints have been easily far.

First, in the hectic morning rush hour traffic that is our house, there are times when making the girls run upstairs to brush their teeth is problematic and downright cruel.
Solution - get duplicate toothbrushes for the downstairs bathroom.

Second, the sheer size and number of mirrors we installed in the upstairs bathroom was giving C the willies due to her unfortunate slumber party exposure to the legend of Bloody Mary.
Solution - I sat in the darkened bathroom with her one night, went through the whole Bloody Mary procedure and proved to her there was no such thing as Bloody Mary...well, at least one that didn't involve tomato juice and vodka.

Third, there isn't a flatscreen tv in the upstairs bathroom
Solution - uh, sorry girls, we didn't plan on installing one there. Tough luck.

Now, don't go all "that's such a guy thing, having a tv in the bathroom" on me. It was my Wife's idea. See, we watch so little tv as it is, that the only time my Wife figured she'd have the uninterrupted time to view a little of the tube, is while she bathed. The LCD models are so compact and streamline, that finding the space in the linen closet was a no brainer and when hooked up to a dvd player, bath time becomes movie time as well.

Which brings me somewhat circuitously to Tod and Buzz in the bath.

Awhile back I must have been waxing poetic about our families travels on Route 66, prompting my Mom to send me the dvd collection of the first season of the 60's tv show of the same name.

Having been born a few years after the premier of the famous tv show about two guys seeing the country from the bucket seats of a classic (then and now) Corvette, I had never seen one full episode in the comfort of my home tv. Unlike Gilligan's Island, Route 66 didn't seem all that popular with the syndicated station guys, as reruns were hard to come by.

They dvds came in a lovely boxed set, and had I been a single guy, with single guy values, single guy time, and single guy space, I would have run down to the quickie mart, bought a couple dozen diet cokes in glass bottles, some string cheese (don't ask) and a pounder bag of teriyaki beef jerky, plopped myself down in front of the tube and watched every episode of my new prized dvd collection in order.

Instead, over the last few weeks, I've had the pleasure of discovering the sheer pleasure of Route 66: The Series from the comfort and late night solitude of OUR downstairs bathroom. The roughly 46-minute episodes are broken up into 3 distinct acts, which, when split into 15-20 minute soak sessions, allows me to stretch my virgin viewings of these video gems from the past into manageable and concentrated sessions.

I had no idea of the dramatic depth and exceptional screenwriting offered by this vintage series, not to mention what sheer joy it was to see familiar locations (in and around LA) as they existed around the time of my worldly conception.

Seeing the UCLA campus that my Mom and Aunt attended in their younger days was a hoot. And the boarding house where the boys live while passing through LA looked to me to be what is now Yamashiro's restaurant in the hills above Hollywood.

The series pilot is as spooky an introduction to a tv show as I've ever seen, and having passed through many a dinky and dying town here in Oklahoma where you can feel the eyes of the downtown residents watching you drive by from behind their shuttered windows, I got the genuine creeps as Buzz and Tod fell into the hands of some nutjob local townies.

While my prospects of spending a few months traveling the Mother Road in a ragtop Vette with my best bud at my side are far behind me, I can't imagine it being anymore fun than my recent sojourns up and down Oklahoma's offering of Rt. 66 with my lovely wife and our two road trip loving girl's.

As for Tod and Buzz, well, we'll always have my bathroom and Kingman...Barstow...San Bernardino, right?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Richard Noggin called, take a message

Talking in code is one of those useful skills that we as parents develop early on.

Spelling out words works fine until the kiddies learn to spell. It's a dark day in the lives of all parents hoping for moments of communicative privacy during long car trips when Junior figures out that putting letters together forms words.

The Name Game (aka the Banana Song) works until they catch the song playing on the oldies station and figure out the rules lickety-split.

Pig Latin would work just as well, however I've never been able to fully express myself using that obfuscated language method. Ix-nay on the ig-Latin-pay, or something like that.

Finally, we've turned to citing words and phrases common to our shared experiences from the past as bypasses to talking about certain topics. You know, say "Spring Break '89" and one or two shared memories pop forth, neither of which may be appropriate for young ears to hear, but help to get a point across about a certain 9-year old wanting to wear a certain inappropriate clothing item.

Then there are the more advanced forms of code-talking around the all-hearing/all-knowing/all-digesting senses of our offspring.

When conversing with her current husband about her ex-husband (and father of her eldest child), a friend of ours refers to a person known as Richard Noggin. "Richard Noggin called me today to complain about so-and-so's style of dress..."
"Ran into Richard Noggin down at the mall today with his new girlfriend and was surprised that the high schooler's were let out early today..."
"Richard Noggin forwarded another one of those emails to me today about Bill Gates giving away free money for forwarding email..."
You get the idea.

Here's hoping there are no Richard Noggin's in your lives.

Blogger's note - haven't figured it out yet? Okay, here's a hint. What is the rhyming nickname for Richard aka Rick? Next, what body part is represented by the word, noggin? Party on, Wayne

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Purple is the color of irony

The only public stage auditorium in my small town is of pre-war construction and is located at the site of the recently demolished mid-high school. Sometime in the 60's it looks to have been updated for code and safety precautions, but the inadequate climate control and lack of modern conveniences have rendered the once grand auditorium as somewhat of a pariah in the community at large.

A future lottery winning purchase on my part indeed.

Head southwest about 50 miles into OKC proper however, and you'll find a theater showcase worthy of the traveling Broadway productions that successfully make their way to our flyover state.

The OKC Civic Center Music Hall, specifically the Performing Arts Theater is as nice a theater as I've ever had the pleasure of planting my substantial posterior in.

A few nights ago, Wifey and I had secured our grubby mitts on a pair of tickets belonging to some season ticket holders for a wink and a smile. In exchange for our profuse bows and appreciable thanks we were treated to the traveling production of Oprah's The Color Purple.

A kiddie drop off at the in-laws and quickie snarff at a local taco stand found us parking and walking to the theater a comfortable dozen or so minutes before curtain call.

My lovely Wife and I entered the theater and navigated through the entry way accompanied by an enthusiastic population of lobby loiterers, a good portion of which were of African heritage.

Scoring donated seats from long time season ticket holders placed us in the orchestra section, shoulder to shoulder with those fortunate hundred or so folks who have delegated a chunk of their disposable income to supporting the live theater experience.

The house lights dimmed, the string players rosined up their bows, and our journey of discovery into the wonderful lives of Alice Walker's inspirational characters began.

During the intermission I commented to my Wife that the politely enthusiastic reaction to the play of those we were sitting with was in stark contrast to the raucously ebullient response on display from the upper tiers of the theater.

While it hadn't dawned on me earlier, I took advantage of the raised house lights to take a studied look around the section in which we were sitting. The majority of our fellow orchestral pit sitters were Caucasian baby-boomers, one or two generations above where I currently stand in the timeline of life.

For a brief moment I wondered where all the excited faces of color that we saw upon entering the theater had gone to, realizing soon enough that the sections behind and above us were reserved for individual, non-season ticket holding show goers.

While I didn't make a studied survey of races and ages in every seating section, the irony of the coincidental and non-racially motivated segregation of the audience at this particular show, was not lost on me.

I'll leave my critique of the show to the more articulate and salaried reviewers of the world, but both Wifey and I were inspired, enthralled and driven to extremes in emotion and hand holding for the duration of the show.

I was thankful for the comp'd seats and ample leg room afforded us in the orchestra section, but it did sound like the upper tier sections were having a better time.

And the balcony? Well, that was just one big party.