My Blog

Join me in figuring out "what now?"

I Think I Just Confirmed I’m A Geek (Again)!

Watching this cop series on NETFLIX and when one officer shows an “old” officer something on his smart phone, I am too busy trying to figure out what brand of phone he is using and miss the point of why they showed the audience!

Thank heavens for streaming and I can hit the button and go back 10 seconds. This time I pay attention.

MacCupcake

Leave a comment »

“The Thing” and Penny Marshall?

One of mine and The Kid’s movie is John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. We often quote it and watch it, I’ll bet we’ve seen it at least a hundred times. We can rattle the dialog as it occurs.

tapety-the-thing-co-john-carpenter-kurt-russell-filmy-505060

Well, we had watched a different John Carpenter movie earlier, so of course, we had to watch “The Thing” just one more time. After all, on iTunes it is the only movie we “own”. 🙂

And even though we’ve seen it a bazillion times, occasionally something never seen before (or recognized or acknowledged) will catch your eye. Tonight it was early in the movie when two of the characters roll a joint and watch pre-recorded VHS tapes and one of them is “The Price is Right” game show. Palmer watches the screen for a moment and then get’s up and changes the tape, not before quipping “I know how this one ends.” Just before ejecting the tape we get a shot of the show on the screen.

photo

For some reason, maybe I never looked or paid attention, except tonight. And I swear its Penny Marshall. You know, of “Laverne and Shirley” fame. I swear it has to be her. I did a search of the entire internet, all the way to the end, and couldn’t find any reference.

What do you think?

MacCupcake

3 Comments »

April 15th Has Come Early

Every year, I finish filing tawww.turbotax.com_-300x300xes way ahead of the deadline. I know that if I waited, every day in the back of my mind would be the dread about having to complete the forms and file. It has almost become a little personal game for me to see just how early I can get them filed. This year was not one of my top ten years, though. One of my W-2s didn’t show up until February 7th and then, of course, we headed out the very next morning for our week long trip to south Texas.

So, I am actually in the midst of completing the forms now. And let me tell you, I am not having a whole lot of fun. I have used the exact same tax prep software since, I dunno, forever. Way back when it originally came out and it was called MacInTax. It was acquired by Intuit wayyyy long time ago and is now known as TurboTax. I even worked for Intuit for a number of years, um, five-ish years, although I worked on the Quicken product for Macs. No one is paying me anything to write about this, but this software changed my life as far as filing my taxes go. (And don’t tell anyone, but I also worked on the H&R Block’s product TaxCut for a bunch of years, too.)

Even still, though, having to pull all the documentation together and do all the calculations is still a major pain in my butt. Why can’t the US get it together and figure out how to do a much simpler and more fair way of taxing?

On the upside, I am also watching the first two seasons of Netflix’s “House of Cards” in anticipation of the new season on February 27th. I am so in “lust” with Frank Underwood (aka Kevin Spacey) in this series!

house-of-cardsI think that I have watched the entire two seasons at least four complete times and I am still amazed that each time I watch it, I see something new or something that I hadn’t seen before or had totally forgotten. This has to be one of the best written and acted shows in a long, long time. I am anxious to see what they do in the next season.

MacCupcake

Leave a comment »

Adventure Time: Day 6 (Friday) – End of the Trip – We’re Home!

Friday morning, I think it took an act of God to get us out of our big comfy beds. But eventually we did roll out. We even discussed staying another day, but funds were getting tight and we still needed at least two tanks of gas and meals. Isn’t that always how it goes? Just as you’ve found your grove, time is up. 😦

On our way home, we opted to take the less traveled path. It is pretty uneventful, traveling the interstates. But we sing together (how many people do you know like the same music as your kid?) and tell stories and we are pretty comfortable talking about just about anything. So the time we spend together isn’t awkward or uncomfortable in the least. I love our relationship.

On one stop, we hit “The Smallest Casino in the World”. The Kid said he had saved one dollar so that he could gamble it. I warned him about being underage, but he wanted to try. So we slipped into this building which housed maybe a hundred, hundred-fifty slot machines and found a quarter machine. He fed the dollar into the machine and then hit the play button. Lost. Hit the button again – success! He was now at $4.50. He hit the button twice more and he was at $4.00. He opted to cash out. (Good boy! He was up!)

He is so smart!! Other than he had to lie about being 21… he was up! Ha! He had me put those those four singles in a frame:

IMG_5016So, now he will always have them. How great is this kid?

A little further down the road, actually far into Oklahoma. Even though we were on the Interstate, we still happened to catch view of an abandoned farm house. A quick hope off the freeway and a couple of quick roads – even a dirt road, we found the house and barn. Awesome example of how Americans can cast off the old and reach for the new. I am not saying that in a bad way, but in the wonderful way that Americans can work hard and make things better for themselves and their families.

photo 31Ever the urban explorers, we agree to take only photographs, leave only footsteps and keep only memories.

photo 38

We took lots of photos. It appears that the cows have overtaken not only the yard but the inside of the house as well. Evidence was ‘underfoot‘ everywhere!

photo 37It is amazing to think that a whole family once lived in this small footprint. It was a single floor, basically four rooms. An enclosed porch off the kitchen in the back, but I estimate that the total square footage is less than 800 square feet.

photo 36It doesn’t take much for Mother Nature to get her hold on a structure. And once she gets a stronghold, it can go quickly.

photo 35The kitchen is seeing the worst damage.

photo 33While we were there, the cows were curious. They moved in close to the house, loudly stating their presence loudly and clearly. At one point, The Kid looked out the front room window and there was a “gang”:

IMG_1870He really hasn’t had an opportunity to see real cows, up close and personal and he was a bit unnerved by their boldness and apparent aggression. I, on the other hand, spent summers in my youth on my maternal grandparents’ farm and was around cows and pigs and chickens. He was almost surprised that I could walk right up to the cows.

photo 32After that, they pretty much left us alone and watched from a distance.

After that, though, it was just about getting back on the freeway and covering the distance. It was a great feeling to pull into our own driveway. We pretty much left everything in the car and we each crawled into our own beds and sleep.

ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz……….

MacCupcake

 

Leave a comment »

Adventure Time: Day 5 (Thursday)

Not sure how I can accurately represent the nightmare that was our motel Wednesday night. Since it had gotten pretty late out on the beach and then having dinner, we opted to not have to go far to get a night’s sleep and since we wanted to go back to beach next day, we found a place right on the island.

Now, knowing that it wasn’t a nationwide chain, we figured it would be a toss up between a charming cottage and a money grudging dump. We were right, this place was scary! It was one of those places that you’re worried about whether or not the sheets had been washed since the last guest! Ha! We brought in the ’emergency’ blankets that we keep in the truck and slept on top of the beds and tried our best not to touch anything. And this place was the most expensive place we stayed the entire trip!

So, we thought we’d avoid that Thursday night. We picked a chain – pretty recognizable – in downtown Corpus Christi. 10 story building with a really nice courtyard. Initial impressions were good. At least it was less expensive than the night before. Room looked good, too. Well, at first glance. And if you didn’t look too hard.

But you know me, I am the master of noticing details, it is what makes me so good at my usual job. So, I started to see things: the dark splotches on the electrical outlet (is it safe to use?) and the ceiling of the bathroom (will it fall down on me while I am in the shower?) which leads to questioning everything. When we headed out to get ice, I had to go to four different floors before I found a working one. And finding an open restaurant downtown Corpus Christ after 7:00pm seemed to be like a needle in a haystack. We stumbled onto a Subway, but even they were out of both meatballs or chicken breasts, the two sandwiches that we love. We then opted to go with the pizza that was on the door key cards and 45 minutes later, a soggy, cold pizza arrived. I don’t even have to say it, do I?

We were up and out of there early – we even had a maintenance guy knock on the door around 8:00, wanting to fix the bathroom cabinet door. There had to be a to-do list two miles long and 90% of the hotel empty and he had to knock on our door?

Back to San Antonio. You know that The Kid and I are urban explorers and on our way out of San Antonio we spied what looked like an abandoned mansion and garage-ish type building just off the freeway. Our interest was piqued.photo 18

This was an amazing property. You can see it when you pull up. Columns, stone and patios.

photo 7

As we walked around, peeking in windows, we started to notice that the construction of this grand palace was unfinished.photo 17

But it was locked up tight. With security features that Fort Knox might envy. There was no getting into this house.

photo 16

Beside the house was a garage or perhaps a stable. The doors you see on this side are duplicated around the entire building.

photo 15

More shots. There was a unique, natural-looking swimming pool. At every corner, every door, every wall there was amazing art work. Inside as well (we peaked through the windows), there were statues, paintings, mounted deer heads. On the back patio were these amazing metal pinatas (well, before rust took them over they must have been spectacular).

IMG_8915Just look at the size of this door! It had to be at least 14 feet tall! The front entry was flanked by two little ponds with a stream running under the walkway. It must have been cool at one time or sometime in the future, but now the water was dirty and half dry.

photo 14There seemed to be the trappings of someone having actually moved in, but like I said, construction was still going on. Actually, lots of things were already falling down from neglect. Quite sad, actually.

photo 13More shots of the entry. I think there were supposed to statues on the walkway. There were also concrete deer standing on the small hill that ran around the front of the property.

photo 12One of many of these structures. The structure you are looking at actually had a built in grill and I think, a pizza/bread oven.

photo 11This odd statue was out behind the house. You can see that things need to have more care, as his arm and hand is starting to deteriorate.

photo 10This is the view from the main patio out over the pool towards the stable(?).

photo 9Another shot of one side of the house. There is an example of artwork left on the wall.

photo 8This was really fun scoping out. Later that evening, I did some searching and it seems that there are a few stories of this place. One was that it was owned by the Mexican cartel member, another a wealthy Mexican farmer. Another was that it was a noveau riché and the couple ran out of money before finishing it. I saw appraisals of from $1M to $10M. Who knows for sure.

From there, we continued our northward journey. It didn’t take long before we were ready to call it a day. This time is was The Kid’s turn to choose a place to stay. With my track record, it was worth it to let him to take the reins.

Give Yogi a 'high five'!

Give Yogi a ‘high five’!

photo 40Well, as it turns out, I should have had him doing it the whole time. He used his phone and did a quick search on Expedia.com. We actually even had to turn around and drive back about 20 miles, but he was ‘trust me Mom’ and convinced me. I am glad he did!

Here’s a panorama photo of the room. It doesn’t do it justice. We stayed at this absolutely wonderful place called “Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park”, near San Antonio. He made the decision based on the single picture of a room and the fact that they had three stars. We walked into a room – er, they called it a cabin – that was designed for a small family. Two queen sized beds and bunk beds. The bathroom, no joke, was nicer than mine here at home!photo 29

The beds had the most luxurious linens, and was much like sleeping on a cloud! Fireplace and big oversized leather chairs and a table, microwave and fridge. I gave serious thought to moving there! Ha!

photo 28 This evening went was too quickly. I had the best night’s sleep in, like, a year. Wow.

All right, still have to write up the last day. But it has been a long day today.

MacCupcake

Leave a comment »

Adventure Time: Days 3 and 4 (Tuesday and Wednesday)

====Due to lack of internet connectivity, I was unable to post at the time. But I did have it written! =====

We left San Antonio pretty early to head to Corpus Christi. Originally, it wasn’t our intent to go that far south, but from San Antonio, it was less than 150 miles. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to show Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico to The Kid. I didn’t really remember much from Corpus Christi itself, as the time I lived there was a blur of working and fighting with the then-boyfriend whom I had followed to Texas.

But the Gulf and South Padre Island is everything I remembered. There is something so calming and transcendent as the endless waves rushing to and crashing onto the shore. Aside from less birds and wildlife than I recall, it hasn’t really changed in thirty-five years.

The Kid is loving this! Over the course of many hours on the beach over the last two days, he has been steadily moving mountains of sand from the dunes to the break, somehow attempting to make the smallest impact on the ocean rushing to meet the shore. The temperatures have been in the high seventies and low eighties, heck the day we rolled into San Antonio the high for that day was 89! I hear that back home in KC, the temps are in the thirties and folks are bracing for snow on Friday. I remember this being the exact situation when I arrived here back in the early eighties with Sioux City experiencing a blizzard on Christmas Day, while we spent the day at the beach and swimming in the ocean!

Like I said, I think the wildlife situation has deteriorated since I was here last. We’ve only seen a small flock of birds at the water’s edge – maybe six to then, when I recall that there were hundreds all those years ago. We have had one brown pelican that seems his role is to stand guard over me, moving maybe every five minutes or so and then resuming an almost statute-like pose and not moving. too cool.

We had the requisite seafood last night. We’ve been steering clear of fast food on purpose, trying the local cuisine where possible. The seafood we had last night was supposedly caught in the waters we’re enjoying today and the bar and grill place we ate had live music just a mere ten feet away. A quaint southern Texas eatery called Scuttlebutt. It was an awesome night.

The days have been so packed that they days are blending into one another. This morning, I actually had to check my phone to see what day it was! You know that you’re having a great vacation when you have totally lost track of the days.

We had to take a short break last night and swung by a laundromat to wash a load of colors and jeans. When you spend time at the beach, sand just seems to appear magically in every crease and seam of everything you’re wearing. And the truck is so dirty and sand filled! The Kid said that the first thing he felt when he woke up this morning was sand in his mouth! Ha!

And speaking of, once we got rolling this morning, we headed back to the beach. While The Kid enjoyed himself and the sun and sea, I got to writing. Here I am in the back of the truck with the world (literally) at my feet!

photo 1Another six hours or so on the beach and now that we’ve settled into tonight, we both realized that we are sunburned! Legs, feet, arms and faces! When we return to Missouri (and a schedule snow fall), we are going to look very out of place!

photo 8Following our hours at the beach, we had lunch at another local seafood restaurant called “Doc’s Seafood”. Literally right on the water.

photo 4I was really impressed with The Kid, as he went way out of his comfort zone and tried crab stuffed flounder and ‘dirty’ rice. I had the same thing, except with fries. YUMMY!!

Following lunch, we opted to do a very tourist-y thing and visited the U.S.S. Lexington, a retired aircraft carrier now moored in Corpus Christi. It was really cool. The Kid loved it even more as he almost flitted from gun turret to aircraft on the deck. I only worried that it might make him want to join the Navy. (Okay, not that him joining the service would be bad, just would be bad right now, since we’re in an active war.)

photo 3 Like I said, he was happier than a kid in a toy store. He could hardly contain his enthusiasm.

photo 4

I took the opportunity to regale him stories of his grandpa (my dad) and his days in the Navy. I think that was seen in a whole different light, considering that we were actually standing on an aircraft carrier.photo 6We were there until they were practically chasing us out! We had managed to stay almost 45 minutes past closing. I think they were enjoying his enthusiasm too. I had actually pooped out about an hour earlier, the knees were really bothering me.

photo 7It was late that our initial plan of heading towards Austin was shelved for the next day. We found a nice hotel downtown, ordered a pizza and crashed. I am getting the final updates on this so I can post.

Well, I think we’re planning on sleeping in and getting a solid night’s sleep. Then onto Austin.

‘Night y’all!

MacCupcake

 

Leave a comment »

Adventure Time: Day 2

Woke up this morning in Texas. Nothing like driving and prepping and getting ready for a vacation to wear you completely out! But after a bonus of a few minutes snuggling with my baby, we opted for the free breakfast and then got ready to do some more driving.

We headed for San Antonio via Austin (via I-35). Started out with The Kid driving but after about an hour, I saw that the monotony of driving and the change in sleep habits was getting to him. We were due for a fill-up and some lunch, so after procuring said provisions, I took the wheel. Almost immediately The Kid’s head rolled gently to one side and he caught up on some much needed sleep.

Close to Austin, we started seeing signs for something called “BUC-EE’s”. The Kid commented that he had been seeing the signs from way back in Kansas and thought it was some sort of adventureland or something. So, when I realized that we were but about 50 miles from it, we decided to make it our stop in Austin.

Well, let me tell you about this wonderland of American consumerism! photo. 17JPGThis  is Buc-ee Beaver, their mascot. This place was a-MAZ-ing!

First, when you pull in, you will see their gas island.

photo 10There had to be at least 50 pumps. It was awe inspiring! The building was no less amazing.

photo 3This photo was taken just about the mid-point of the store. Yes, there was much we had already walked past! I had to hit the ladies’ room, and was, again, impressed.

photo 4This was half the ladies room. Plus a whole huge area with sinks and changing tables. And everything was meticulously clean (well, it does look pretty new too). Behind these doors are big spacious rooms hiding the toilets. I tell you, I have had apartments smaller than these bathroom stalls. 🙂

photo 8It really is difficult to really appreciate the immenseness of this place. And if I haven’t yet, this is a convenience store…. this is not a grocery store. I know this place is larger than the Hy-Vee we shop at in Kansas City.

Onto San Antonio… the internet pretty much took us right to the downtown area where The Alamo is. We did a little research and found a pretty nice hotel to stay at, one within walking distance of the sight seeing we wanted to do.

Oh and did I mention that while the NorthEast part of the country was being dumped on by feet of snow, we were enjoying a high of 91 degrees! We both wished that we had packed shorts and/or swimming suits. Gorgeous!

photo 14Here we are at The Alamo. The Kid was a bit disappointed in how small it was. We walked the whole thing, checking out the guns and cannons and reading all about how Texas became a state.

photo 13We then cruised to the RiverWalk. We didn’t do a lot of it, as I understand there are miles of it. I was doing lucky to do as much as we did! We found an awesome place for some Tex-Mex – Guadalajara Grill and had this out-of-this-world fajita’s thing for two. All I can say is “OH EM GEE”!

photoFollowing, we walked around downtown a bit. The Kid was amazed at some of the crazy trees and cactus growing in the area.

photo 15He really wanted to see a saguaro, but I am not sure they even grow in this area. We looked all over for a little bitty cactus that he could buy and bring home, but found none.

photo 6This building was a museum that had closed about 5 minutes before we got there. I was amazed by the trophy heads on the outside of the building. Only in Texas. Right?!?

photo 11Tomorrow’s plan is to take “the long way” to Corpus Christi and stay overnight there. On our way, we want to hit some thrift stores and do some ‘abandoned house (or building) hunting’ and I want to try and collect a few Texas-style fabrics to make a remembrance quilt.

Thanks for taking this trip with us! I only wish you could help drive!

MacCupcake

 

Leave a comment »

Adventure Time: Day 1

So, as many of you know, The Kid and I are on an adventure. With the latest ridiculous low prices on gasoline, I mused out loud that gas prices were so low that we should go somewhere. The Kid looked at me and said, “I wanna see The Alamo”.

Boom! We are on our way to The Alamo. We left Kansas City about 10:00am and we opted to stop for dinner and our first night in the great city of… … Denton, TX.

Okay, I heard a collective shaking of heads…. where oh where is Denton, Texas?

Well, we’re about this close to Dallas. I figured that amenities would be less expensive if we stayed outside of Dallas. After getting a room and then venturing out for dinner, I really wish that we had hung on a little while and found something actually in the Dallas city limits. Live and learn.

sandals2Tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep (finger crossed), we will head to San Antonio. I fully expect to have enough to do for a couple of days, and we’re going to splurge and stay somewhere nice. Even though I lived in Texas in my wild young days, I never did make it to San Antonio, so with The Kid, we’re going to do it all.

Yep, going to be proper tourists. Down to the black socks and sandals! <jk>

Stay Tuned!

MacCupcake

Leave a comment »

I Took a Trip In A Time Machine

I
had thrown myself head first into playing catchup on the pile of quilts in my guest bedroom. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it here or not, but I also have a creative blog that includes sewing quilts. And sometimes that takes up a lot of my free time. Especially if I am feeling overwhelmed or misdirected. And that’s what happened over the last week.

And I know that I should be better while trying to build a readership, but I am flaky like that. What’s a girl to do?

And on Sunday, me and The Kid are planning to go south. I am thinking a week long trip but we may get tired of each other and see everything that we want to see.

Our intentions are to use The Alamo as the furthest point for the trip. We are free to follow whatever road and/or hunch that we have in between home and The Alamo. I imagine that having so much to see and do in Texas will take up a lot of time. Its been, oh what, like thirty years since I’ve lived in Texas. We may actually venture all the way down to Corpus Christi and Padre Island. Maybe.

I am but a few posts away from my 400th post. You may be wondering where they all are. Well, there was a period when I started writing this post that what I was writing was pretty raw, hard and edgy. And hurtful. Very, very hurtful. It was a catharsis for a long time, but then it just became mean words and I wanted to put that behind me so that I could move forward.

So, here I am. At a serious crossroads. I would so love to be working towards moving to Europe. Or going back to school. Or trying my hand at a new career. But I seem to be stuck. Most days I just try not to think too much.

I don’t know what else to do. Most days are a just one long blur between getting up and going back to bed.

But today, I thought about my Dad. Instead of endless noise of having movies playing in the background, I put on music instead. And it occurred to me that I was listening to the same music my son listens to. Not all of it, but a significant portion. Which then made think about my Dad.

My Dad was a country music guy. No, wait, I take that back. He was a country & western music guy. I mean, old school country. Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash. For Christmas one year, I bought Time Life’s Greatest Country Music CD set. Ten awesome CDs filled to the brim of the best from the 50’s and 60’s. Actually bought two, one for him and one for me. He loved it.

He never listened to anything else. Not The Beatles. Not the Beach Boys. Not anything remotely not country and western. He was hard core, old-school country and western. I had tried to get him to listen to the Eagles or Charlie Daniels or Marshal Tucker Band. Nope. No way. No dice. Uh uhn.

But a song came on my Pandora station from Elton John,  from his early years. And it happened to remind me of a day when I was young, was still in high school. For whatever reason, my Dad was home in the middle of the afternoon. Down in our basement and he had the stereo on and he was listening to Elton John.

Maybe I had left the LP on the turntable. (My boyfriend at the time loved Elton John and gave me every album.) Maybe the tape was in the deck. Maybe someone else had been listening and left it playing. But there was my Dad – the self proclaimed hard core country and western fan singing along to Elton John. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.

He hadn’t heard me, I was only a couple of steps down and still across the room from him. I sat there very quietly and watched him for a while. I think it was one of those times that he had really let his guard down and reached. Stood on the edge and stayed there a while. While I loved my Father already a LOT… I felt even more love for him that day. He opened up. He listened. He took a step out of the comfortable. He reached.

And today when that song played, I was suddenly transported back forty years to that dimly lit, wood paneled basement and the scratchy vinyl album watching my Dad singing along to Elton John.

It was an awesome day.

MacCupcake

Leave a comment »