Monday, November 17, 2014

Crystal Bridges, here we come!

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
It's like I always say, half the fun of a trip is the happy anticipation of it. And, since it's a sad 21 degrees outside, I've decided to start looking forward to our weekend in Bentonville, Arkansas, two weeks early. From all reports, Bentonville is a hip and happenin' town thanks, in large part, to its jewel, the three-years-old-this-month Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  located in a holler (yes, a holler) in the Ozark hills.  Read all about it here. Our plan is to stay at the hip and whimsical 21c Hotel because penguins are my favorite.
A candid borrowed from TripAdvisor.
There are, apparently, lots of green penquins standing around the hotel. The staff has fun moving them around to surprise their guests. Yes, it will be December. And, yes, that might not be the prettiest time to visit Arkansas, unless it snows. (Oh, and I hope it does!) But, the way I figure it, winter is penguin season. And I want to see them in their element.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Out with the old

I realized I need to accelerate the distribution of my stuff if I'm going to have enough space to accommodate Mom's stuff at the end of the year. I hadn't planned to take much of her stuff but, darn it, I'm doing it for the kids. It's possible they might want some of her stuff - or my stuff - someday. My attic is full and, since we have no basement and a storage unit is out of the question according to the hubs, I'm in full-out, blinders-on purge mode. Some of the things I'm getting rid of are unusual, if not downright strange...
 like this antique saddle makers bench, for instance. I decided to put it on Craig's List. 
This is a German World War I-II ammunition carrier. I gave it to a guy who sells things on eBay for people. His 30% cut seems worth it to me.
This is the challenge. According to my research, it's a vintage Japanese ceramic gofun geisha doll in a glass case...worth anywhere from $150 to $350+ online. The eBay guy doesn't want it (too hard to ship) and, in her 18" box, she's taking up way too much space. I'll give her a run on Craigslist. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Most of the stuff will end up going to Goodwill, I imagine. (I've already made three trips to shelters in the last two days.)  It's true what they say, "The stuff that you own soon starts to own you."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Moving Mom via Memory Lane

I spent an afternoon last week with Mom, expunging one of the many closets in my childhood home. The move to her new apartment is getting closer (2nd week in January) and a sense of urgency is setting in to get things distributed before the holidays. I left with two boxes of stuff for Goodwill and a box of "keepers," such as art pottery, copper pieces and an album of my baby pictures.
Oh, to have that little bottom again.
As the first-born, there are a LOT of pictures of me, much to the dismay of my baby sister, Number 5. (Photos of her as a child are almost non-existent, poor thing.) When I was an infant, my dad was stationed at an Air Force base in Sacramento. My mom had a camera and a LOT of time on her hands.
Babies, both of us.
I am thrilled to have the pictures, although after I scan and catalog them, I doubt I'll even look at them again...
Check out Dad's death grip on my little arm. Classic.

until I have grandchildren, of course!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hermann highlights

Wine tasting in Missouri offers different scenery than in California.  Different grapes, too, which weren't so much to our liking with a few exceptions. Still, a fun and scenic adventure. Great weekend getaway.
The view of the Missouri River from Oakglenn Winery. The scenery was the best part about this place. Otherwise, a little too touristy and kitschy.
Trying my iPhone's panorama feature
This is a popular spot downtown that offers every kind of sausage you can think of...and then some.
They give you just enough samples to make you stay for lunch...and take home five 1-pound packages. (Or, we were just exceptionally malleable customers.)
The dining room at the Wurst Haus.  I can't recommend the German potato salad and red cabbage enough. The real deal.
A giant sycamore shades the patio at Hermannhoff Winery.
A little sitting niche by the Hermannhoff patio. 
The wine cellar at Hermannhoff.  The wines there were just okay, but there were drier (which, to our palates, means better) California wines next door.
Our favorite stop, Bommarito. Not on the official wine trail map, so you have to ask.
This is where we actually purchased wine to bring home. Delicious. Award-winning. And, with a female winemaker/sommelier, to boot.  Highly recommended.
The scenery at Bommarito isn't bad either.
This is the Adam Puchta winery. A trolley full of red hat ladies forced us to wander away from the main tasting room. What a stroke of luck! We strayed into the gift shop and found the premium tasting room - excellent samples of port and sherry. We brought home a bottle of to-die-for port which we'll attempt to save for Christmas Eve.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hermann MO: Willkommen

We checked into the Alsace Suite at Schiller Guest Suites in Hermann around 3 o'clock yesterday. I took these photos before we messed the place up...
Huge suite. Living room opens to kitchen. Bedroom beyond.
The kitchen with its fabulous old sink. This is a bed-and-do-it-yourself-breakfast.

Pull out sofa. Great colors. Fantastic light.
Lovely bedroom in the French provincial style.
The view from the bed. Fireplace even put out a little bit of heat, which is good since it's 29 degrees as I write.
Sampling hard cider at a tasting in The Bank Bar downstairs.
There are grapes everywhere in this valley. Even on our windows.
Our kitchen table. The owners left a freshly baked Quiche Lorraine, eggs, fruit, yogurt, OJ, cream, muffins and pumpkin bread and, of course, coffee for us to fix ourselves, at our leisure.
And now, for a little wine and beer tasting, because when in Hermann....

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

The hubs and I are heading for Hermann to celebrate Halloween with a bunch of German wine, beer and sausage makers in "the prettiest town in Missouri."  There's a hard cider tasting tonight at the bar in our inn (right under our room, we hear, although the bar allegedly closes at 11...we'll see).  Costumes are recommended, so we're going all out....
as Sister Mary Catherine and Monsignor Hamilton.  (He wouldn't settle for being a mere priest. "Too pedestrian.") As you can see, we were pretty pleased with ourselves posing for this dress rehearsal photo. "We'll kill!"  I said, ignoring the sixth commandment. Then, I got a load of this guy on the Facebook last night....
my friend and former co-worker who, after laboring through all those World Series games and countless gawd-awful Rob Lowe commercials, is going as "Creepy Marlins Man." (You'd have to have seen the series to get the joke.) Okay, my friend, you're gonna kill!! And where on earth did you get those giant (get it?) binoculars!?!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All baseball. All. The. Time.

We do have the cutest players, though.
It's been a while since I blogged. How long? I have no idea. Days? Weeks? Seriously, I would have to do extensive research to tell you. Why is my mind in a deep blue haze? Because of baseball. Baseball - specifically, the World Series featuring the Kansas City Royals - is all-consuming. Sure, life goes on. But, not life as we know it. Everyone is preoccupied. Baseball is all we talk about, plan for, (each game starts at 7:07) work and play around. We end every conversation, every email or text with "Go Royals!" We stay up late every night, watching until long after the last pitch. We operate on precious little sleep. Monday was the hubs' and my 35th wedding anniversary. Fortunately, it was an 'off' night for the Series as the teams were traveling back to Kansas City for Game 6. So, we went out, had a nice dinner and talked about baseball, albeit in the context of our so-long-term-the-details-get-fuzzy relationship: "Which game did we get to go to in '85, anyway? And, if it wasn't Game 6, where were we when we won and how did we celebrate?" Tonight is Game 7.  I'm excited and nervous and very, very tired. Tomorrow, we'll mourn or be joyful. And I, for one, will be relieved. On Friday, the hubs and I will go to Hermann, Missouri, for a proper anniversary celebration. We've booked a suite in a funky, old inn with a four-poster bed and no TV.  There will be wine and beer and bratwurst and weird German names to pronounce. But, no baseball.  Let the games begin!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Two more days till Tuesday!

Tuesday is going to be a banner day. The Kansas City Royals play in their first World Series game since 1985. (I had just had my second child and was living in a KC suburb, at the time.) That's exciting enough because, if you're a loyal baseball fan (and I was, back in the day,) 29 years is a long time to wait for post-season payoffs. This time around, however, I've been a loyal fan for three weeks, which is exactly how long I've been waiting for this....
my new, silver iPhone 6, which is finally scheduled to arrive by FedEx - you guessed it - on Tuesday! Finally, I'll be able to return my tortoise-slow iPhone 4 for a $200 credit and experience real legibility and speed again. The hubs said, "You'll be spending so much time fooling around on your new toy, you won't even know the Series is on." Which may be true, but that's the beauty of the World Series. There is so much more baseball to play after Game 1. Gooooo, FedEx!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola: A little perspective

Thank you, Frank Bruni, for the much-needed injection of common sense today.  Does Ebola scare me? Sure, a least, for now.  Does my heart break for the victims in Africa, Dallas and elsewhere. Of course. But, at 58 (going too swiftly on 59,) I'd rather worry about the health enemies I can see and understand, including worry.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Living in "Gilmore Girls" town

A painting of Downtown Lawrence, artist unknown.
It's so refreshing to experience your hometown through a visitor's eyes. The guest admires and appreciates things you have come to take for granted over the years. Such was the case the last four days when my friend, Carol (aka Short Jewish Gal), visited for the auspicious first reading of our play. (It went really well, I'm thrilled to report.)  Her emailed description of my little burg to a friend in Los Angeles prompted the response: "Oh, it's like Gilmore Girls!"  I thought, well, I guess if you injected a bunch of college kids and hipsters into Stars Hollow, sure, you might have Lawrence, Kansas. The SJG loved the Ladybird Diner we went to for breakfast, the subterranean sushi place downtown, our brand spanking new library (which isn't provincial at all) and, especially, the crisp, cool autumn weather, complete with turning leaves. Thanks, friend, for reminding me what a wonderful place I call home. Come back soon!
Working on rewrites in our shiny new library.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My first bathroom-warming gift and SJG #beRoyal

The Short Jewish Gal arrived from hot and dry L.A. yesterday, on time and bearing gifts:  A beautiful necklace with an azul stone that matches my eyes for me, and this most appropriate tome for the new reading room.  In return, I gave her lodging in my son's old room and crisp, cool fall weather. She is here for the first official reading of the play we co-wrote, "It's All About the Hair." Tonight, actual actors will ascend on BoomerGirl's house for a table read, followed by dinner which the SJG and I will prepare this afternoon. We are excited! Meanwhile, we are basking in the afterglow of the Kansas City Royals' play-off victories. That's the Boomer Girl's hometown team and SJG's adapted team since the Dodgers are out of it. I may not convince her to purchase a souvenir Royals t-shirt, but she will no doubt take the name Billy Butler aka "Country Breakfast" home with her on Wednesday. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bathroom Remodel: The End (almost)

New bronze fixtures. Shelves will have a new leaded glass cabinet door, eventually. I need better towels.
With less than 24 hours to spare before the arrival of our house guest, the Short Jewish Gal, the reading room - formerly known as the music room - is finished! Well, not completely finished. I need to hang more pictures and, obviously, purchase new guest towels. But, it's functional again and a heckuva lot better than this, this and this.  (Well, maybe not better, but more calming, somehow, and up-to-date.)
The new paint color is fab (I didn't get to the hall yet) and the old mirror looks great with a fresh coat of white paint. But, my favorite feature is the custom-made walnut cabinet with the soapstone top, crafted by my talented hubby, that holds extra TP, magazines and towels.
Obligatory box of Kleenex to go on back of toilet.
We hung one old picture as a nod to the old sheet music theme. (More art to come later.)
Game of Thrones... New Moon... P is for Peril
And, I'm having a blast stocking the library with books whose titles have a water closet theme, no matter how obvious or esoteric.
I've always been a sucker for bathroom humor.
I pilfered some books from my dad's old collection, others from my own, and still others from used book outlets. And, I'll be accepting any and all contributions from friends.
Some titles may be replaced as the bookcase fills up.
The plan is to wait and see if our guests catch on. But, I'm guessing I'll have to point it out sooner than later because I'll be bursting! Pardon the pun.
Go, Dog, Go... Oh, Baby! Go, Baby!... Flush!
My two favorites, at the moment, are "Sprinkles and Secrets" and "The Tao of Pooh." "Gone with the Wind" arrives in the mail soon!