Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance.

Decided to take to the streets with my exercise routine this morning and hauled out my bike.  It had two flat tires and I decided rather than cursing the situation, I'd concentrate on enjoying the fact that manually airing them up substituted nicely for weight work on my arms.  

I couldn't resist stopping and snapping this photo on the overpass along the way. I had to wonder, since I've always heard going under a train is good luck, if standing over one constitutes the opposite.  

Let's hope not.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rydell 4-EVER! At Maiden Alley Cinema's 11th Birthday Bash/Costume Party

You know how it sometimes kind of sucks to live in a small(ish) town? Where there's little opportunity, John Cougar Mellencamp? Where everybody kind of knows everybody? 

But, then again, sometimes, something happens that's just so damn much fun partially because it's a small town. Where everybody kind of knows everybody. And if you don't know everybody you kind of think you do. Or should.


Let's just say the Maiden Alley Cinema's 11th Birthday Bash/Costume Contest was just such an event. 

Movie People.  Gotta love 'em.
Danny Zuko, a Pink Lady, Sandy
Honestly, it's not like I need a lot of encouragement to dig out my "Grease" CD, listen to it obsessively for a week, and throw together an ensemble from Rydell High. Really? It's the most.  To say the least. (Word to the wise: crinolines go on LAST. Ahem.) As I mused on crackbook the other day, somehow I still know every lyric and harmony from the Grease soundtrack, but have no real recollection of what happened Wednesday.

Hopelessly devoted (and shiny).

Not that I care.

I read an article not long ago that discussed some recent research that indicated listening to the music of one's youth has a major depression lifting effect. While I'm happy they did the research, all they really needed to do is ride along with us in our costumes on the way to the party as we sang along

Stupid, ridiculous, giggle-snorting happy. 

And that's before we started drinking...

...and giggling some more at the world's most fabulous movie get-ups. You see here H. I. & Ed with little Nathan junior in his car seat, the infamously hard-won Huggies, and --look closely-- a copy of Dr. Spock's "Baby and Child Care". These two won the costume contest and, damnit, I have to admit, they deserved the award even as wonderful as our costumes were.  (Danny Zuko sneaked into a lot of photos. He's very gregarious.)    

Nice guns, Holly Golightly! I'm happy to say this particular Holly clearly did not have a case of the Mean Reds and was but one of a large contingent of Hollies in Ethan Allen sponsor, Kenn Gray's, entourage. Not only did Gray treat us to a flock of Hollies,

but he won the tablescape contest with the Tiffany theme. 

Timing award to Heather Anderson here.  After all it is Shark Week.

It may be simple, but I love Love LOVE this Shaun of the Dead costume from demon baby (wolf pussy!) creator, Cory Green.  Hi, Danny. 

And then? I, like, ohmygod! Ran into my old jacket worn by Valley Girl, Lily Shapiro. I'm so totally sure!  I actually owned this stonewashed fringey nightmare back in, maybe, the late eighties? It required very big hair, a vat of Bud Lite, two packs of Marlboros, and irresponsible decision making at every donning.  What can I say? It was a very demanding jacket. I hope Lily can bear up under the strain (and resist the call of the wild better than I). 

Event originator and MAC Executive Director, Landee Bryant aka Billie Jean. She's everywhere. Also? She dyed her hair just for this costume. That's dedication, people.

Miss Scarlett O'Hara, y'all! And in Miss Ellen's portieres.  Also? Team: Open.  You gotta pay the taxes on Tara somehow, after all. Fiddle dee dee! 

Could I love this Elle Driver costume a little more?  I don't think so. Apparently, she hangs with Ed and H. I.  Small world!

And just when you think these partygoers can't get more inventive?  In rolls Lars and his real girl . No small feat as this is an "upstairs" party.

There were so, so many more you guys. But I had too many Red Stripes to keep up. Just remember, kids, it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's what you do with your dancin' shoes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Design Find: Vintage Taylor Smith & Taylor Boutonniere Dishware Set

I was poking around a consignment shop yesterday looking for possible clothing items for a costume I was putting together (more on that later) when I literally stumbled across a couple of boxes containing the dishes you see pictured above. It's not an unusual pattern, in fact it's one I've actually seen many times before and liked for the combined elements of mid-century and that super yummy interior turquoise, though I would normally prefer a more geometric and less floral pattern, given a choice. 

What made this find unusual are the many serving dishes that were included with the set. These I'd never seen.  I nearly plotzed when, first thing, I pulled that coffee pot (carafe?) from the box and the tiny lid was with it and intact.  Then, the tiny sugar bowl and lid.  It actually gave me that light headed thready heartbeat feeling and I had to sit down on my butt real quick on the floor (I was already squatting and it was hot in there).

Next came the casserole dish and lid which caused me to break out in the cold sweat of desire and set me to digging around for the price.  TWENTY-EIGHT dollars, friends.  For 62 pieces. Luckily, this was a shop where I'm always selling my own stuff and a quick check of my account gave me another $14 to work with.  Got the whole shootin' match for $15.68 (that's a quarter a piece if you're counting which, of course, I am).  


I have not written much about it here, but I have for the last year or so, been delving pretty heavily into the world of thrift and consignment. If you're not aware, it is a world that is booming in this economy.  Booming, but still always with treasure to be had. I shudder to think of the hundreds of dollars of clothing I threw away at the Salvation Army in years past. Not that it isn't a deserving organization!  But, dang.  Sell, sell, sell, girls. Jewelry! Shoes! Purses! (And buy low!)

The manufacturer's mark found on the underside of each dinner plate.
While I can Google an approximate a value for almost every piece in the Boutonniere set, I find the carafe/coffee pot piece nowhere (not even available for reproduction as many pieces are).  The closest thing I can find to it is this; what they are calling a "carafe" or pitcher. I would love to know what the "pitcher" or coffee pot (?) I have is worth. Please do message me if you have thoughts about this.

Otherwise, I've learned that the original large set was made up of NINETY-EIGHT pieces.  It included an exhaustive list of items like tiny salt and pepper shakers, a vase, this sweet little cake and pie server, and what they're calling an "olive boat" or sometimes a "relish tray". Most sources put the time of manufacture and sale of the boutonniere dishes in the late 1950's.    

The diminutive size of most of these dishes is but another huge (har!) thrill for me.  The "cereal bowls" of which I have nearly a full (dozen) set are perhaps big enough to hold less than a cup of cereal and a similar amount of milk. Not to mention the itsy fruit/berry bowls and tiny "bread and butter" plates (for what my mother says they used to call "light bread"). The dinner plates are much larger and  quite serviceable as is everything, really, given a small enough portion size. The glasses may have been part of this original set as well, though I have to confess I really don't find them appealing looks-wise (and there were none included in the boxes I bought).   

Once I got the dishes home, I removed another more modern set of dishes from the cabinet to make room for them and then decided to turn around and sell the newer set. Hence, there is a very good almost certain chance I'll actually make money on this deal.  

As is, I plan to really use the boutonniere set for the time being, though I may sell them in the future at some point. I spent the rest of the day smugly running the less delicate pieces through the dishwasher and later that night slipped easily into the deep, dreamless sleep of the thoroughly satisfied bargain huntress.     

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pippa's Maiden Voyage (and a birfday party)

Nikki May's photo.
It was a very special week last week.  For one, there was a birfday in the offing, and, for two, Pippa's maiden voyage began the day after the big partay. 

I'm not always one for going "all out" for birthdays, however, that said, I was inspired while perusing this month's Southern Living by this make ahead Tex-Mex menu and recipes.  I made everything listed except the Hibiscus Tea (who the hell needs tea when you have tequila?) and, yes, I'm saying I went ahead on like a nutball and invited five people to eat dishes prepared from heretofore untried recipes.  I would trust no one but Southern Living to such a culinary extent, and once again, I'm happy to say my confidence was not misplaced. (But, let's be honest, my fallback position would have been to step up the tequila service enough so no one would notice had there been a last minute food mishap.)

Another Nikki May original.
With a Tex-Mex menu set, a natural Mexican theme emerged. And you know how I am about a "theme".  The whole thing suddenly screamed: GET A DAMN PINATA THIS INSTANT! MAKE EVERYONE (including yourself) WEAR SOMETHING STUPID ON THEIR HEADS!

Artiliciousness ensued. 

We're not fancy around here, so my tequila shakers were mason jars and they worked quite nicely for this purpose. The original idea was to enjoy the Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream Pie dessert in the hot tub, but this plan was quickly nixed by the weather who heard I was having a party and quickly whipped up a driving rain (haha!) coupled with 54-mile-per hour winds (wee!) on the heels of the biggest drought in years, just for laughs. 

Not that anybody cared by that time. The pie ate quite fine at the table, thankyouverymuch. That's a cinnamon graham cracker crust, by the way, spiked with red pepper flakes, making for a combination of hot/sweet that is quite uniquely delightful, I must say [insert Ed Grimley hop].

TenaciousF, the killer frog who took up residence in the Casbah and environs this spring and has been known to stalk the hot tub and enjoy chillin' in the grill.  We found him indignantly clinging to the glass storm door after the party clearly annoyed that his invitation was lost in the mail. Guess who snapped this uber cool photo?  Where, I ask you, would this blog post be with her? That's right, nowhere. 

Eventually, after all that food, booze, and frog terror, we went unconscious. This meant, of course, that Pippa's maiden camping voyage, set for the next day, would happen none too early.  The important thing is it did still happen. And it wasn't just us this time, we decided we'd try out, not only the pop-up, but the dogs as well. 

HA, yes!  Dogs!  Because we don't already haul enough shit to the campsite. We need more crap, cosmetics, cooking gadgets, complications and supplies.  We need to add a layer of fur, hysteria,  unpredictability and slobber to the mix. Damn it, we need more stuff to worry about! That's Vance Shepherd (a suspicious Katrina rescue) on the left, and Tallulah (a spoiled purebred) on the right. 

See that look on Vance's face?  The look says, 

Clearly, they've brought me to the campsite TO KILL ME and they think I don't know it.

But I digress.  Here is a shot of Vance enjoying the unbearable lightness of interstate wind in his face on ride to the campsite, before he realized we were taking him there to die. Unfortunately, before we could set about brutally murdering the dog, we had to do something much, much worse. 

We had to back the freaking camper into place.

Friends?  If you've never backed a trailer into place, I envy you.  Because something happens when you hitch a trailer (camping or otherwise) to a vehicle.  And I'm too stupid to know what that something is.  But whatever it is, it means that turning the steering wheel (when in reverse gear) has an effect on where the trailer goes that is completely random and unpredictable. 

It has the effect of causing people to invent completely new cuss words. I'm not the least bit happy to say our camper backing (we took turns being completely ineffective) skills, or lack thereof, provided the entire campground (apparently full of people who have mastered the art of trailer backing) with a good half hour of fun and entertainment. People were standing and pointing. Telling their friends, even!

Good times!

Of course, we'd rather die choking in a pool of our own blood than ask for help.  And so we didn't.  And we eventually backed that bitch in place.  All by our own selfs. That accomplished, we set about our next fun and exciting task.  Unfurling the pop-up.  

Ever cranked a thousand year old pop-up?

It's like a team of snickering invisible body builders oppose every click and turn of the rusty, wobbly ab-busting handle.  Again, this is a task that requires inventive tag-team cursing. And beer. And hiking boot stomping.  BITCH!

DAMN IT, is camping is fun or what?!  LOVE IT!

And so, not a minute too soon, just as our supply of super offensive cuss words was exhausted, the very first Camp Pippa was established. In the late afternoon of a breezy August day, on the banks of Lake Barkley, amidst the swaying trees, and apparently not too far from a tribe of screaming monkeys in residence deep in the woods just to our north.

I have, unfortunately, been dismissed from my original post of Fire Keeper, prohibited from touching the fire biscuits, and I'm told accelerant is no longer among our camping supply inventory. 

[Note: lie]

I'm at a loss to understand how keeping a raging fire going even in the drippiest of weather is an actual MINUS in a camper, but there it is.  I really shouldn't think a few singed eyelashes is that big of a deal in light of our constant need for comforting warmth and protection from flesh hungry coyotes and rabid monkeys after sundown.

I'm going to have to go ahead and say our campfire on this trip was what I'd consider paltry.   

I do continue to be in charge of chow and so, before nightfall our first day, I made the long (five minute) trek to the grocery where the Jeff and Emily IGA gave it to us up the butt for some bacon, biscuits and sundries, as is their tradition. By the time I returned, Pippa was glowing with reassuring electric light and the air conditioner [insert chorus of heavenly angels] was humming along most efficiently.  We enjoyed the world's most delicious ham sandwiches at our picnic table as the monkeys screamed in the distance and the dogs cautiously sniffed out the limits of their new territory. We quietly cussed a man we watched expertly back a boat trailer into the campsite next to ours (first try! motherfucking show-off!).

Nightfall at illustrious Campsite #6.  Always reserved and never camped in.  Our campsite is the one immediately to the left (#8).  On the water, but not nearly as fabulous a vista as this. Apparently, we shall never camp here despite our repeated requests.  Nor, apparently, will anyone else. We visit often and perch atop the table and watch the turtles sunbathe and blue herons sweep across, just skimming the water, and of course sunrise/sunset. 
Our first night in Pippa was noteworthy (other than being cool and delightfully tick-free) only because poor Vance Shepherd decided that his murder was clearly going to take place in there.  At bedtime, Tallulah hopped in eagerly enough, but suspicious Shepherd was having none of it. He planted his front feet wide apart and dug in at the door.  No way. No how. Was he going willingly to his demise in the camper-o-death. Coaching, encouragement, commanding, ordering, and threatening all failed to budge the dog.  Even lifting his back end only caused his front end to become more fixed and stationary.  Finally, we would resort to (you guessed it) more cussing, and brute force. 

Helpfully, the monkeys lent their screams in the distance.

After a mighty effort, Shepherd landed in the camper where he immediately noticed, to his great surprise, rather than a giant doggie meat sausage grinder, his own soft bed from home.  He hopped in and gave us a look. 

Yah, whatever.  I still don't trust you people. Go away.      

I was initially concerned that Tallulah would launch into her glass-shattering bark alerts at every twig crunch and falling acorn while in the camper, but the constant drone of the air conditioner had the unexpected effect of drowning out, for the most part, all outside noise, thus allowing both dogs to sleep without hearing much of anything.  I woke the next day to a misty cool morning,  and found Mr. Expert Backer next door had gone off to fish with neither dog the wiser. I initially thought the noise of him leaving early would send them into a bark alert frenzy; but for the a/c noise, the entirety of LBL would almost certainly have been made aware of The Situation.

Sunrise at Camp #6.

As it was, I had to actually wake the dogs for their sunrise potty.  Tallulah deemed the entire camp her toileting area.  She located the the epicenter of the site and then, after a leisurely stretch, promptly deposited a moist shit half the size of herself in the gravel. 

There is a drop-off just beyond the table that is, essentially, the shore of Lake Barkley.

I wish I'd gotten a good photo of the camp cook stove on which you see me here frying up the bacon!  It is a three-burner gas cook top that runs on propane and is every bit as convenient as any such indoor device. It came with Pippa and, despite its age, was obviously rarely used.  As delicious as waking indoors to the smell of frying bacon is, I put it at twice as delicious a scent experienced at camp. This is doubly true for the cook.  I love to whip up a camp breakfast for some reason (who am I?). I no longer fry real bacon at home. Turkey bacon is as good as it gets around here--fat! cholesterol!--but camp calls for the real thing. 

Shepherd observes some morning fishermen as we took in some fresh air on a bench just outside the OK Corral.
With our arteries properly clogged, it was time to try to counteract that with a multi-mile morning walk. We set out with the dogs to explore the rest of the campsite that, despite us having camped there twice before, we'd never gotten around to walking in its entirety.
Just beyond the drop-off of our campsite. The edge of Lake Barkley.
The area we camp in is considered "primitive" despite each woodsy, shaded camp having running water and electricity as well as bathroom and hot shower facilities within easy walking distance. We walked some of the areas that aren't considered primitive, basically, that amounts in some cases, to monstrous RV's circled in a parking lot in the piteous sun on the waterfront.  I came to think of, and refer to it as, "The O.K. Corral" because it was absolutely a modern-day circling of the wagons.  That is, if your wagon costs $100K and has satellite TV. The people here aren't as interested in "getting away from it all" or "getting back to nature" as they are in meeting other campers and drinking a beer or fifty with them. Or at least that's my perception.  We were hailed and stopped many times as we strolled through by campers here who wanted to admire and pet the dogs and talk to us out of sheer friendly curiosity.

Not surprisingly, Shepherd is walked on a leash as he is likely to try to escape from his death sentence at any moment, but Tallulah is trustworthy (and mommy spoiled) enough on such a walk to be largely off leash.  She generally sticks close to the pack, but is also, in the end, a smaller dog with short legs.  While us big people and Shepherd can cover long distances, this is harder for Tallulah, especially given her tendency to walk not only forward, but also to dart nervously back and forth, thus adding half as much again to any distance we cover. 

Do you sense I'm getting at something?

How about I just cut to the chase:    
We found this at a really crappy flea market in Eddyville (sorry, Eddyville, but it really IS crappy).  It's a fairly high quality stroller, but was for some reason stripped of its baby seat cushion making it perfect for a fur friend ($8!).  Tallulah prefers to stand, obviously.  Chariot-style.

So, yah. 

I'm THAT person.  

My dog has a stroller.