Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Beach Stories, Episode 1

I don’t foresee there ever being a Beach Stories episode two or three, but I went for it anyway.

Pretty much every family vacation we ever took was to some sort of beach, whether it was Lake Tahoe, Newport Beach, or almost any beach (you name it) between Northern Viginia and Florida. (Virginia Beach, check. Myrtle Beach, check. Cocoa Beach, check. Even Nassau and Waikiki, check).

I was kind of shocked to learn that Jon has hardly ever been to any beaches in his life. I forced him to go and find me seashells the last time he was in Florida, and that was his second ever trip to a sandy ocean-beach. He even sent me a picture of him standing in the water. There was also an option on his phone to include the sound of waves crashing. It almost sounded believable, too, until they tried to throw in a couple of electronic seagull sounds. He did bring me back some shells, though, so mission accomplished.



Anyway, our family firmly believed in vacations, and those vacations were always to some form of beach. With three girls, someone (me) was bound to get left out, so when we lived in Virginia, my parents let me take along my friend, Christine, on these trips to the coast. That way I had someone to play with and I wouldn’t spend as much time screaming at my sisters.

Okay. So we’re in North Carolina, and I’ve just barely polished off yet another bowl of Team Cheerios (does ANYONE remember Team Cheerios? They were amazing. Three or four different kinds of Cheerios in one box. I ate so many boxes of that stuff that particular trip that my mouth was bleeding, not even kidding), when The General announces it’s “TIME TO GO TO THE BEACH, everyone get your derbis, we’re out the door”.

Let me interject here. “Derbis” may very well be my dad’s favorite word in the whole world. It came from some foreign Army captain he had early on in his military career. This guy kept yelling at everyone that they’d better get their derbis together, they were full of derbis, derbis derbis, derbis. When my dad finally gets around to asking this guy “What, exactly, is derbis?” he gets the following response: Foreign Army Buddy beckons him closer, crouches down, picks up a handful of dirt, and says (with finality) “Derbis.” The General has used it daily ever since.

Okay, so we’ve just been instructed to get our derbis together and head out the door. As everyone files out, I notice dear, sweet Christine (bless her heart) hanging back, waiting for me, with a look of panic on her face. She looks left and right, pulls me aside, and confesses “but I don’t have any derbis…I must have forgotten to bring it…” I didn’t mean to laugh at her..but I did. Actually, we all did, once I told everyone what she’d said. It was the greatest thing ever.

So we’ve all got our derbis (those of us that remembered to bring it, of course) and we’re off to the beach. The waves were unusually high and we were having fun digging holes and splashing around. Corinne and Annie were floating behind where the waves break (typically I’m too scared to go out that far) and Christine and I were body-boarding. We started to notice all these little fish jumping out of the water. It was cute and kind of weird, and we all commented on it.

I’m pretty sure that not even half of my family believes what happened next, but I promise you, this really did happen. Out of nowhere, this big old wave comes up behind us. Christine was further out, facing the shore and I was a few yards in, facing this enormous wave. All of a sudden, a huge, dark, fishy shadow flashed just under the surface. The last thing I remember seeing before I turned, screaming and running out of the water and up the shore, was dear, sweet little Christine getting knocked over and churned to pieces underneath the water. She had seen the expression on my face and was in the process of asking “What is it?” when the wave got her.






(forever burned into my memory)



No one got eaten by a shark that trip, although we did visit an aquarium a couple of days later and learned a story of a shark attack that had taken place on that same exact beach years and years before. A guy was surfing and he had just paused to watch the silly little fish that were jumping out of the water when the shark bit his hand off. The idea is that the fish start jumping when sharks are feeding. Creepy! (Although, it has been mentioned to me that dolphins also eat fish, so I’m not ruling out the possibility that it was a dolphin in that wave and not a man-eater.)

Great times on the Atlantic coast. Christine became more of a member of the family than I was on those trips, as is evidenced by THIS family portrait at the top of a lighthouse.



I became all rubber-legged about a third of the way up, and once I’d gone a few more steps, I called it quits and slid back down the stairs on my stomach.


(The stomach thing may or may not be true, but that was the first time I realized that I’m terrified of heights. The lighthouse wasn’t even that high, to tell you the truth, and I couldn’t handle it. We’ll see how the Eiffel Tower goes…)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oh What a World





Tucson skies are, 9 times out of 10, always clear and bright, but when we do have cloud cover, we get awesome sunsets. I hurried home to try and catch what I could of this one on my camera.

So, we went to eat two nights ago at El Charro, a nice-ish Mexican restaurant, and I had my first-ever experience with ceviche…it was a good one. They take diced-up shrimp and cook it just by marinating it in citrus juice, then add it to a pico de gallo of tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, and cilantro. I’ve heard about it ever since I moved here, and just barely tried it the other night. Amazing.

And our waiter was a total psycho, as usual. We had to tell him about thirty times that we wanted CORN tortillas. It went a little something like this.

Him: Do you want flour or corn tortillas?
Jon: Corn
Him: Flour?
Jon: No, corn.
Him: Flour?
Me: ..No, CORN.
Him:….Flour?
Both of us: COOORRRRNNNNN. CORN. Corn corn.

And it wasn’t loud in the restaurant, and we were definitely enunciating. Okay, so here comes the best part of the night. Both of our drinks ran dry within the first ten minutes of us sitting down. Jon refuses to mention it, but I wanted more Dr. Wells so I asked him for a refill. So he took my glass, disappeared around the corner for about a half a second, and then set THIS back down in front of me.



Half-full!!! What, did he think he could evaluate how thirsty I was just by looking at me? It was so ridiculous, we just stared at it with our mouths open. Oh my.

In other news, you may remember a certain trumpet-playing Star Wars enthusiast. Well, my friend from work informed me that the girl in that video is her boyfriend’s sister-in-law!! Small, small world.

Anyway, I’m trying to convince Jon to start a blog of his own. He’s always got great stories of his travels. Like, this one doctor, before beginning surgery, turned to Jon and goes “Now…if I go in a little too deep here, I might hit…..” (And just stares expectantly at Jon until Jon jumps in…”Well, there’s the spleen around this general area…pancreas here….liver here…..”, pointing as he explains.) And the doctor goes “oh, yeah, right, right.”

See? That story would have been so much better if Jon had just written it up himself. I wasn’t even there and I’m trying to explain it. Lame.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show


First of all, if you are one of my 4 friends on Facebook, please ignore that I’m using basically the same commentary on my blog as I did on my photo album. Not everyone that reads my blog is on Facebook, namely my mom.


So my sister Annie came down to Scottsdale this past weekend for a big horse show (or “whore show”, as Jon calls it. You can’t even really tell the difference when he says it, so it’s easy to get away with). Anyway, Scottsdale is only about two hours from Tucson, plus I have an aunt and uncle that live there, so we went up and met Annie there and got to spend some time with family, which is always fun. We headed up Friday after work and picked up Annie at the event center directly after her first ride of the weekend. After dropping our stuff off at my aunt Stacey’s house and visiting for a while, we went to eat at Pei-Wei (the honey seared crispy chicken is the only thing I have and ever will order from there..amazing). Annie made a huge mess as usual – it was so bad that the old Asian waiter wiped it clean while we were still sitting there, and then pointed to the seat next to her and asked “who was sitting here?” THAT’S how bad her mess was. The spilled rice spread across her entire side of the table. Hilarious.

Anyway, so Saturday we spent the entire day at the event center, Westworld. The show is a huge deal and there were hundreds of vendors, pretty art galleries, and tons of events going on at any given time. We checked out a children’s western showmanship class in the morning (basically a beauty pageant on horses). I regret the terrible condition of these pictures. Looks like I need more practice.


(This girl was my favorite. She took second.)





(This girl was my second favorite. She took first.)





(This kid had no chance whatsoever, but he was so ridiculously cute I had to give him credit.)


Okay so we kind of branched off from Annie for a while because she had other rides to watch, other people to mingle with, and horses to warm up. But every time we bumped into her, I was eating something different. There was the most amazing row of food vendors directly adjacent to the dressage arenas. I began my day with a gyro, followed closely by some roasted corn…

(just ignore the pained look on my face, who knows what that’s about)

The corn was followed by a giant corned dog, followed by Jon’s waffle cone.

Then it was time for her ride.


(This is my favorite picture that I managed to take.)





(I would have liked this one better if Sundance’s ears weren’t pinned back, and if you could see his leg from behind the cone.)




(That’s better.)




All in all, she’s the best person ever born, because she took first place out of her level, which means that the horse is a champion, and that his owner gets a blue ribbon, a plaque, a rosette, and $150. (I believe her exact words were “Yay! That’ll cover one-tenth of his entry fee!”).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentimes Day!

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day – even when I didn’t have a significant other. There are some people out there (mostly girls, in my experience) that just want to ruin it for everyone because they don’t have anyone to celebrate with, and I think that’s dumb. The holiday just reminds them of how sad and depressed they are, because their happiness and self-worth is dependent upon having boyfriend. Without naming names, I can think of at least one girl in my high school that was the epitome of despondency and misery-wallowing each and every February 14th. Take a girl that’s annoying to begin with, and then add a strong fake-hatred for anything love-related, and you can begin to understand the headache she caused each year when she didn’t receive a thousand red roses and a giant teddy bear. Girls like her try to say that it’s not because they don’t have a boyfriend, but because it’s just a STUPID commercialized holiday and who cares about it, anyway???

Wow.

Anyway, I’ve never been that way…I’ve always looked forward to Valentines. Even this year, when I only get to spend about 1 hour of it with Jon. He’s getting back from Regina (pronounced Ruh-JYNE-uh – insert immature giggling here) tonight around 9:00ish.

Oh, and we bought our tickets to Paris, hooray!!

Friday, February 08, 2008

February 8th

So, things have been pretty uneventful around here. Jon has been gone pretty much solid for the past two weeks, with the exception of a couple of days. We take advantage of the nights he’s home by going out to dinner. Any excuse to go out and we’re all over it. We’re trying to be better about it, because it’s so expensive..but if he’s been gone for a while, we’ll definitely go out the night after he gets home. Last weekend it was Red Robin, because I had a craving for an injection of cholesterol, so I chose a Royal Red Robin Burger instead. And a chocolate malt. Come on, this cheeseburger has a fried egg on it, it doesn’t get any better than that, really. I bet Corinne just said "ew" out loud.

Anyway, the girl that showed us to our booth was the slowest walker in history. Seriously, she goes “right this way”, and I almost ran her over because I started walking, and she was just scuffing along, looking this way and that. To the point where it was completely ridiculous. The second after she handed us our menus and walked away, we both looked at each other and laughed. We always have weird service. At Texas Roadhouse a few months ago, our waitress was one of those really annoying YOU WILL ENJOY YOURSELF types that is overly friendly, overly loud, has an overly high-pitched voice, and in general, totally fake. She took our orders, then squatted (I HATE it when they squat!) down near the table, lowered her voice a bit, and said “okay guys, this is what I’m going to do for ya. I’m going to take this order, give it to the chef…then as SOON as it’s done, I’ll go get it… bring it to you…(pause)…..how does that sound?” I guess we must have nodded or something, because she left, and then Jon turns to me and says “I really wouldn’t expect any less.” Stuff like that happens to us all the time. We once left a fifty cent tip at Boston Pizza in Fort McMurray, because I swear our waitress was on drugs. We’re really good tippers, too, most of the time. It takes a lot to make us go under 20%, and usually it’s upwards 30%. But this girl was absurd. She would seriously stop in mid-sentence to stare at the floor for 20 seconds at a time.

Leaving a ridiculously small tip is way more offensive than leaving none at all, I’ve decided. If you don’t leave any tip, the server might think you just forgot. Jon and I each have our own criteria on deciding if it was superior service. His whole thing is his drink – he will refuse to ask for a drink refill. If his water glass is empty within 2 minutes of sitting down, it will remain that way the entire meal unless the server notices and does something about it. Which seems simple enough, but you’d be amazed how many meals he suffers through, expectantly wondering if he’s finally going to become hydrated each and every time the waitress walks past. And MY biggest pet peeve is when the server asks me how my food is when I have JUST stuffed a huge bite into my mouth. What? Do you expect to me answer that? You really couldn’t have walked past and come back at a more convenient time? Really?

I’ve got another thing I was going to add to this post, which will seem random given the context of the rest, but I didn’t sit down to write only about restaurant service, I promise. My friend at work, Jesus, has a sense of humor about the fact that his name is.…very Christ-like. He’s been known to send out emails signed “Jesus (not your Savior, just Haysus)”. The other day he made me almost pee my pants laughing. He sent out the following picture to several people in the office.


And the subject of the email was “Jessie, please have people call my cell phone if I am not in the office”. (I’m the receptionist. Get it? I almost died from laughing so hard). I hit ‘reply all’ and responded “I sure will… those people need you more now than ever.” Thank goodness I have fun at work!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Squish


Pretty much every animal we ever owned, with the exception of my dad’s hunting dogs, were rescues. Whenever a cat followed one of us home from school, we kept it. One such cat was Mac, a pretty white shorthair with one blue eye and one green eye. Corinne brought him home one day and he became the newest member of the family. He must have been normal at first, since we decided to keep him, but then he started going weird (scratching, eating the Christmas tree, etc). Certain members of my family blame ME for it…that I somehow brain damaged him or something. Sure, blame the 3 year old. Either way, whether or not I contributed, this cat turned into a total psychopath. It got so bad that it was unsafe for Mac and little children to be sharing the same home, so my mom made an executive decision, packed the cat, Annie, and me in the truck, and off we went to “put Mac to sleep," which sounded like a nice thing to do.

My mom parked the truck in front of the vet’s office and left us with the crazy cat. I wonder if she was scared for our lives? Anyway, it was only a few minutes, she had to go in to fill out some papers before bringing in the patient. But when she came back out to the truck, the dumb cat was nowhere to be found. After searching the cab for several minutes, she must have just given up and decided that despite her best efforts, she had raised a couple of lying brats (“We PROMISE we didn’t let him out!”).

Okay, now I was about four at the time, so I don’t know the best way to describe what happened next, but halfway down the road, Mac appeared. He crawled out of the engine. There was a small hole near our feet, under the dash, and first his head popped out, then he twisted his body and his shoulders popped out, then he squeezed the rest of his hind-end through and plopped down on the floor of the truck, mewing. I’d like to say that that little stunt saved him – that my mom had a change of heart and decided he was meant to be with us forever - but it didn’t. She turned that truck right back around, this time instructing Annie to hold on to him tight, just to make sure.

By that point, Annie knew more about animal death than I did. Previously, before I could even walk, my family owned a little kitty named Kizzie. Well, Kizzie died one day, I don’t really know how, but anyway, she was dead. Okay, I just emailed Corinne for the whole story, and this was her reply.

“She had kidney stones. If mom had taken her to the vet that morning, she would have been ok. But she didn’t, so she died.” (I laughed for about five minutes at work over this. Seriously. I looked stupid.)

Okay. So my mom had hidden her body in the basement in a box so that my dad could bury her. She pulled him aside when he got home from work to let him know that Kizzie was dead, and that he needed to sneak her out of the basement, but be very careful because little impressionable 3-year-old Annie was watching TV in the next room, and mom didn’t want her to be upset if she saw. So my dad kind of wanders downstairs and is sneaking nonchalantly behind Annie as quietly as he can, when she turns and exclaims, “Hey, dad! Guess what!! Kizzie died!” According to him, she then proceeds to grab his hand, beside herself with excitement, and drags him into the next room, where she apparently had made the deliciously grisly discovery hours earlier. Granted, this story came from The General, who is notorious for exaggerating things, but he has been known to quote little Annie as saying, “Look! Look at that cat, she’s flat as a pancake!” whilst poking the corpse exuberantly. True or not, it’s worth asking my dad to repeat just for pure comic value.

Okay, why so many cat stories? I’ve got at least one more. This one takes place in Nevada. Picture a rainy, windy day in Gardnerville. Just the three Sweet girls sitting at home watching TV. Out of the blue, Annie says, “..what the heck?!” and slips out the front door. Corinne and I mostly tuned her out until a few minutes later, she announces that she has just rescued a little cat that was thrown out of a car window. She had been looking out the sliding glass door when a car drove past, slowed down slightly, and threw something dark and furry out of the window into the sagebrush. We teased her later, saying that they probably saw a skinny little 14 year old girl in their rear-view, scooping up the frightened kitten before they even turned the corner.

That cat was so great, though. We named her Boo because she was black with orange eyes. She was so sweet and only wanted to sit on your lap and drool all day long. Until she got spayed. When we went to pick her up, the vet tech handed her to me, wrapped up tight in a towel. I could hear muffled yowling coming from within, and I was told that “Boo woke up a little angry from surgery….”. And she stayed that way. The anesthesia made her permanently mad. What is up with us and mentally handicapped cats?!? Anyway, she was a real psycho after that, until she met her demise. I don’t want to go into too much detail, because it was gross…

…but let’s just say it involved a garage door motion sensor malfunction. And a cat that truly did become “flat as a pancake.”

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Life-Changing Cornbread

Write this down.

1/4 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 can creamed corn
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk (CUP, not can)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups grated cheese
and one can of green chilis, very finely chopped. I used mild, but if you like spice, you could go medium or hot.

Combine all ingredients, bake in 8x8 dish for 45 min to an hour at 350 degrees (until the top is nice and toasty), and then eat. And eat. And eat.

My friend Angel brought some into work a few months back and I've been bugging her for the recipe ever since. This is about the one thing in my life I have ever made that turned out edible, and it was AMAZING. I mean it when I say it will change your life for good.

Umbrella, ella, ella

I'm not mean and I usually don't tease my dog, but she was being such a psycho the other night I had to record a couple of seconds. She hates our umbrella - HATES it. She tries to act all brave when it's closed up, running around, nipping and barking at it...but then when you pop it open, she hightails it out of there. I swear I only did this like, three times last night. Disregard the random magazine on the floor and the huge stack of shoes near the front door.

Additionally, it was also brought to my attention that my duck feeding video was long and boring. This is only like ten seconds long, so don't worry about me wasting your life away.

video

Friday, February 01, 2008

Blast from the Past

I can't try to pretend that I came up with this post idea all on my own. I was inspired by thepioneerwoman's truly awesome, incredibly 80s flashback to a high school dance. But she ripped off my post about times I've fallen, so I'm kind of doing the same thing. Okay, she doesn't even read my blog, it was just a weird coincidence, but still. Her picture reminded me of some great pictures of my own, so I dug them up for the benefit of your viewing pleasure.




This is me preparing to leave for my 9th grade semi-formal. I can't blame my hairdresser for the mulletty baby's breath explosion, because it was exactly what I had imagined and described to her in great detail. My hair is huge. My bangs are inexcusable. My braces are glistening. I'm wearing a boa for crying out loud. Look at that protruding clavicle, those knobbly knees, those calves, and those arms. Perhaps you might be able to make out the chunky black clogs (clogs!!) enhancing my already-enormous feet. I was gawky and awkward... and I didn't even know it. I thought I was beautiful, so I forced my mom to take an embarrassing amount of pictures of me before she drove me to the dance.





Flash forward two years. (the tenth grade Snowball was cancelled due to a freak ice storm). I'm now a junior wearing a strapless gown to prom. My mother took me shopping and I found that dress in Macys. It was $84, and my mom bought it for me under the strict guideline that as soon as we got home, she would craft some sleeve-like attachments to make the dress more modest. I agreed with her, but when we got home I refused to let her anywhere near my dress with any sort of black satin fabric in her hands. She should have strangled me to death, but she didn't. I was a total brat. But I paid dearly for it, because I counted no less than 8 other girls at prom with the EXACT same dress. So I learned my lesson, and look at me, I didn't turn out so bad for wearing a strapless gown to prom.

And there is a check for $84 headed my mom's way in the mail as we speak. Okay, that's not true, but if she wanted me to, I would write her one. Just let me know, mom.

Okay, end of dance pictures. So when I was digging for these, I came across another little gem. This photograph you are about to view is the result of much practice. I've been honing this skill for 20 years. My friend-who-later-became-my-sister-in-law, Lianna, took this picture of me when I was in 10th grade. When she showed this picture to her dad, she told him it was of some poor fool in the Single’s Ward, and he completely believed her. Didn’t even recognize that it was me. And he knew me well, too... I spent about four days a week at his house. Hilarious. Then when she gave it to me, she had covered the important part with a sticky note warning that I had to read first before peeling off and revealing the hideousness below. Here's the note (of course I kept it!).



Okay, so if you think you are prepared, you may scroll down to reveal the photo. Take a couple of breaths first. Clear your mind. Ready, go.























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The suspense is killing me....











































!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!