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Archive for the ‘Leftovers’ Category

When I was four and Tracy was five, my parents took us to amusement park central, Southern California. We obviously went to Disneyland, though the only things I can remember about that visit are the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Adventure Thru Inner Space. I don’t even remember Cinderella’s Castle. If you look closely below, you’ll see me and Tracy standing in front of it, with Papa Don nearby on the right, making sure we don’t get kidnapped.

??????????????

I have a vague memory of The Enchanted Tiki Room and all the crazy animatronic birds in that tropical setting, though my Mom said I fell asleep about five minutes into the show. But I was wide awake during the Adventure Thru Inner Space. They actually shrunk the riders on the trams as they went through the ride. It would turn us into the size of atoms. At least that’s what I thought. There was a big microscope thing with a glass tube and we could see teeny tiny riders moving through it inside. I was mesmerized by it. The Adventure Thru Inner Space was eventually replaced with Star Tours, and well, I guess we all know where that idea is headed now.

During that trip, we also visited Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm. Imagine planning that vacation now. Of course admission tickets weren’t $3,000 dollars back then. Park refreshments probably weren’t that expensive then either. In fact, here Tracy and I are enjoying tasty, ice-cold sodas with Woody the Woodpecker:

woody

You think we’d stop slurping those sodas long enough to smile for a photo. But hey, there was likely a month of Powdered Milk that preceded those treats, so the brain freeze was probably well worth it.

Since I was only four, I just have a few specific memories about the Happiest Place on Earth, but I remember a “feeling,” like a happy, sunshine-y feeling. I really have no recollection of Universal Studios either, except for watching a cowboy get shot off a building. And I don’t remember a thing about Knott’s Berry Farm, except for visiting the replica of Independence Hall, with its replica of the Liberty Bell inside. Here’s a tiny, blurry glimpse of me and Tracy standing in front of it:

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Even though we’re micro-sized in the photo, you can tell we’re wearing matching clothes again. We were basically Irish Twins, and Mary Ann always dressed us alike. She either made our clothes or ordered them from the Sears catalog. Here’s another example:

twins

Just kidding, that’s not us. We didn’t get the part.

Here’s Independence Hall at Knott’s Berry Farm again:

hall

See that narrow path next to the flag pole? I believe that is the actual spot of my first clear memory as a human. It’s where I fell down, and immediately started crying. Not because I was in pain, but just for the drama. See, I think I fell down on purpose so I could yell and cry so my parents would turn around to see how far behind them their precious child was, and in danger of being lost or kidnapped. I think I was about five feet behind them, but when you’re four, it seems like miles. So I wailed, and my Dad came back, surveyed my traumatic injuries, and held my hand for the rest of the day.

A few years later, my grandparents started giving us Knott’s Berry Farm jelly samplers for Christmas. I couldn’t wait for that thing. There was Cherry Jelly with real chunks of cherries in it. But even better, there was Mint Jelly. Obviously Mary Ann wouldn’t serve that with lamb, so I ate it on toast. No one else wanted any, so more for me. I practically licked that jar inside out when it was empty. I’ve still never had lamb with mint jelly. Pretty sure I never will.

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Who Am I?

I’m not much for labels, but I’ve never been able to explain my diet to anyone. It would be nice to have a term to describe it. I’m about the farthest thing from a carnivore, but I’ll never pass up bacon. And I’m no vegan because I couldn’t live without cheese or butter. Especially if that cheese is gooey and piled up on top of a slice of pizza, or if the butter is melted so I can stick an Alaskan king crab leg in it. Pescatarian? Nope. Well, I mostly eat seafood when it comes to proteins, but I’ll eat chicken, too, and will never turn down a tasty piece of honey ham. For the most part I eat organic foods and a vegetarian diet with the occasional piece of meat thrown in, usually when I’m having dinner at someone else’s house. But the term “vegetarian” doesn’t work either. So what the hell am I?

There are definitions for people who avoid grains (gluten-free) or eat “clean.” There are Paleo diets, Atkins folks, “No Meat With Feet” eaters, raw food aficionados … even Fruitarians.

Yeah, the way Hugh Grant’s character looks at her is the way most people look at me when I try to explain myself as I pick pepperoni and sausage off a slice of combination pizza after eating a slice of Hawaiian.

It was so easy back in the day. When I was a kid, there was only one type of “eater” I knew about: the EatWhat’sOnYourPlateOrGoHungry-atarian. We ate whatever was served: peanut butter and jelly or bologna sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables, or fruit and veggies from a can. We ate hamburger, potatoes, tacos, fish sticks, fried chicken, TV dinners, mac and cheese, Spam and, thanks to my Mom, Friday Night Casserole, which was a combination of any and every thing I just mentioned.

But the clouds parted today when I stumbled upon something while doing some random research. There’s an actual term for how I eat:

Flexitarian.

That’s right. It’s a real thing:

Merriam-Webster Logoflexitarian

noun flex·i·tar·i·an \ˌflek-sə-ˈter-ē-ən\

Definition of flexitarian:

  1. one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish

Hmm. All this time I’ve suffered without my own label, but it was there all along. Though I doubt I’ll go around announcing myself as a Flexitarian; that just sounds ridiculous. If anything, it seems like a term Hans and Franz made up for someone who likes to go around flexing their muscles. But at least I feel validated now, and I have a fancy term to throw around if I ever need to explain my flexible eating habits. Actually the term “Flexitarian” could help prevent quite a few uncomfortable situations:  Are you a Democrat or a Republican? Patriots or Falcons? Paper or Plastic? Good Witch or Bad Witch?  “Actually, I’m a Flexitarian.”

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I think I’ve mentioned I love Friday the 13th. I’ve always loved Friday the 13th. When I was a kid I simply loved Fridays. Which is strange, because that often meant Friday Night Casserole for dinner. But Fridays after school were also the start of the weekend, and when it was a Pay Day Friday we were able to pick up our favorite fast food or go out to dinner. And then we’d sprawl out on the living room floor to watch our favorite prime-time lineup: “The Brady Bunch,” “Nanny and the Professor” and “The Partridge Family”:

So when I combine Friday with 13, I can’t go wrong; 13 has always been my favorite number. I don’t know why. It’s just awesome. And I’ve won my fair share on the roulette wheel betting on 13 Black. It’s also a baker’s dozen, and you can never go wrong with one extra donut, amiright.

Some people freak out and think Friday the 13th is totally unlucky and scary. Probably because of scary movies. One time after the original “Poltergeist” came out, my sisters and I pulled a prank on my Mom, figuring we’d freak her out when she woke up on Friday the 13th. After she went to bed the night before, we placed dining room chairs on top of the kitchen table and scattered a few around the room. And we opened up a bunch of kitchen cabinet doors. We taped this note to the dining room table, and by the reply she left, you can tell we didn’t scare her one bit:

fri-the-13-note

Anyway, I always look forward to Friday the 13th being a lucky day. They don’t happen that frequently. The last Friday the 13th was in May. And that was the exact day Jay and I received a letter in the mail letting us know we were chosen to be “Wheel of Fortune” contestants. True story; stay tuned.

So don’t sit home like a scaredy-cat on Friday the 13th. Get out there. Go buy a lottery ticket. Ask that special someone out on a date. Send in an audition tape to “Wheel of Fortune.” The next Friday the 13th isn’t until October, so today’s your only chance for another 10 months. Well, if you’re Irish, you have St. Patrick’s Day coming up. You know, luck of the Irish and all that. Plus all the alcohol. So essentially you have another lucky day in just two months.

Of course, if you’re planning a camping trip this weekend at a place called “Camp Crystal Lake” you might want to change your plans.

 

 

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Looking for scary things to do on Halloween? Well, if you live in or near Napa, California, you’re in luck. There’s a particularly spooky country road on the outskirts of town that you can explore on All Hallows Eve … if you dare.

 

partrick

 

Partrick Road is a long and winding road that leads out of the Browns Valley area. By day, it’s just another beautiful Napa Valley country road, leading up to gorgeous valley views. But at night, a terrifying secret comes to life.

Partrick Road was a popular spot in the 70s and 80s where teenagers went at night to park and party, make out and what-not. And most of those teenagers were well aware of the mysterious inhabitants that lurked in the trees along Partrick Road, just waiting to prey on innocent young Napans.

So what is this haunted horror that dwells on Partrick Road?

 

 

Did that scare you? Did you even click on it? Never mind. Where was I …

I’m talking about Rebobs. (Every Napan that just read that either got a chill up their spine, or laughed.) If you’ve never heard of Rebobs, well, they’re winged, monkey-like creatures that terrorize anyone who dares to venture onto Partrick Road at night. And these aren’t your mama’s winged monkeys. You think the flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz” were scary? Please. Those were just oversized bats in bell hop uniforms. Rebobs are sinister, devilish beings, and no one really knows how they originated. There are a few thoughts on the subject: Mythological creatures. Graveyard ghosts. Mad scientist’s experiment gone awry. Urban Legend (more like Suburban Legend).

Regardless of what Rebobs are exactly, or where they came from, every teenager in town went to Partrick Road at some point to look for them, or more likely to try to scare the crap out of someone else parked up there. Only most people preferred to stay in the safety of their own cars.

When I was in high school, my boyfriend and I drove my little sister and his young nephew up Partrick Road one night to look for Rebobs. We were excellent babysitters. While I stayed in the safety of the car with my baby sister, my boyfriend and his nephew decided they were going to brave a walk up the road. We watched them wander up the road in the dim moonlight until they disappeared around the bend. They were never heard from again.

Ha, just kidding. We heard them sneak up to the car and try to scare us about five minutes later. I won’t say whether they actually did or not. But lucky for us, the Rebobs must’ve been busy attacking some other kids that night.

So what do Rebobs look like? Well, basically like this:

 

rebobs

(photo courtesy of Colin Kaminski)

 

Yes, Rebobs are so well-known around Napa, that Brewmaster Colin Kaminski of the popular restaurant Downtown Joe’s crafted a beer inspired by them. I haven’t had the chance to taste it yet, but I bet it’s dark, mysterious and dangerously delicious. If you’re in Napa and are too scared to check out Partrick Road at night, you could go try Colin’s Rebob Porter on tap, or hang out at any other restaurant, pub or wine bar in town and see something else pretty scary: tourists.

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When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for the day my parents would let me use the phone to call someone. It was such a magical idea, thinking I could talk to someone who wasn’t in the same room with me. When I was nine, I finally got the chance. Of course the only person I could think of to call was my next-door-neighbor, Randy; even though I could simply yell to him out our back door if I wanted to. But I didn’t care, I was gonna get to stick my finger in that fancy rotary dialer and whirl it around seven times to reach Randy. And hopefully no one else would already be on the phone when I lifted the receiver off the hook – we actually had a party line shared with another household back in the day.

Like probably every other family in the early ’70s, our phone was mounted on the kitchen wall. And under the phone was a metal cart with this setting on top:

avocado

I think you know where this is going. Naturally I got that long, curly phone cord wrapped around the toothpicks, and that jar with the avocado tree that was never going to grow crashed onto the floor. That was the end of my phone privileges for a while.

Eventually I was able to talk on the phone again. And I didn’t stop until I was 18. It seems like I lived to talk on the phone, like most kids. Now I hardly ever talk on the phone. There are so many other things to do on it. We may not be the “Jetsons,” or the society envisioned in “Back to the Future II,” but we’re pretty close. Just think of the hundreds of items a single smartphone replaces today. Here’s a sampling:

  • Actual House Phone
  • Camera
  • Video Camera
  • Stereo
  • TV
  • Video Games
  • Wristwatch
  • Computer
  • GPS
  • Tape Recorder
  • Alarm Clock
  • Calculator
  • Flashlight
  • Pedometer
  • Your favorite book(s)
  • Encyclopedias
  • Remote Control
  • Photo Albums
  • Yellow Pages
  • Datebook
  • Calendar
  • Timer
  • Stopwatch
  • Notepad

Not only can you save thousands not buying all that stuff above, but you don’t even have to go to the post office to send a letter, go to the library to do research, call information for a phone number, or even drive to the bank to make a deposit. And not only do our phones carry out a thousand different tasks for us, but they’re also so easy to use a toddler can operate one.

phone

So it’s no wonder we freak out if we lose our phone, or drop it in the toilet (I don’t recommend carrying your phone in your back pocket). Of course, phones still can’t make sandwiches. When I grabbed my phone and asked Google to make me a sandwich … well, try it for yourself.

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People are losing their minds over Star Wars. They can’t wait to see the latest installment in the Star Wars saga up on the big screen. They’ve been lining up at theaters all across the country, even camping out on sidewalks. I guess this happens every time a new sequel, or prequel, comes out. Every other post on my Facebook feed is about Star Wars light saber tattoos, Chewbacca shoes, Star Wars-branded bags of apples. Of course … branded apple bags. Because that makes sense.

The Force Awakens. Well, it’s definitely awakened. Maybe it’s because the big guns are back. Maybe it’s because we all know the effects will be even more awesome than before. Maybe it’s just because it’s Star Wars.

Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that I was losing my mind over Star Wars. The original Star Wars. The one called just “Star Wars.” Well, it was officially Star Wars: A New Hope, but everyone just called it “Star Wars.” But it actually wasn’t until after I saw Star Wars that I lost my mind. I don’t think anybody back in 1977 expected the phenomenon we were going to experience. It just sounded like a cool sci-fi flick to go see on the weekend.

I was 13 when the original Star Wars came out. It was playing at the Uptown Theater in Napa, and me and my BFF, Teresa, went to see it. We had no idea what we were in for. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with that dreamy, blue-eyed space farmboy who would soon be plastered all over the pages of my Tiger Beat magazines. Teresa fell in love with Han Solo. Good … more Luke Skywalker for me. But it wasn’t just a cute Jedi-wannabe that was exciting. It was the whole thing. That film had everything: adventure, romance, mystery, action, comedy, and of course, sci-fi. Not to mention the best music score. We couldn’t get enough of it. It was like crack. I don’t remember how many times I went back to the theater – with hard-earned babysitting money – to experience it all over again. One time I went to see it with my cousin, Shelly, and her mom had to come into the theater (after waiting who knows how long to pick us up outside), find us in the dark, and drag us out after we tried to stay through a second showing. Luckily movie tickets weren’t 500 dollars back then, so we just kept going back.

Star Wars was the shizit in the late ’70s. I remember my 8th grade yearbook had Star Wars art all over the cover. And this is an actual old-school trading card from one of my own fancy junior high scrapbooks:

 

Luke Skywlker

 

Star Wars stuff ended up on t-shirts, lunch boxes, posters and everything else you could imagine. And Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were cooler than the Fonz. Of course, all the guys were gaga over Princess Leia, but not as much as when she showed up in that fancy gold bikini six years later in Return of the Jedi.

I never thought I’d someday work for Industrial Light + Magic (thank you Lori!) and witness first-hand how the artists created the special effects for all the Star Wars films, including those in production when I worked there: the Re-Release films and The Phantom Menace. Walking through the halls of ILM was insane. Every once in awhile, one of the model shop guys would cruise around with R2D2. There was a life-size Darth Vader in the lobby, and I have to admit, I always held my breath when I passed him. When I first started working there, part of my job was to review all the resumes that came in. Which were a LOT. If I had a dime for every cover letter that began with, “When I saw Star Wars as a kid, it changed my life,” I’d be richer than George.

Okay, so I’m curious about The Force Awakens, and a tiny bit excited to go see it. I’m sure a lot of you are going to go check out the premiere tonight. Maybe some of you had the chance to see it last night. My sweet friend, Liz, and her awesome hubby, Doug, attended the World Premiere on Monday in Hollywood, since he’s Lucasfilm’s Head of Art Design. I can only imagine how many people were bugging them for details after they saw it. But no one can leak that precious info. Otherwise, this happens:

 

 

 

Darth Vader

May the force be with you.

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blue mooncourtesy of kevin phillips – pixabay

 

Tonight is a blue moon. It only happens once in a blue moon. (Thank you, I’ll be here all week.) Apparently, a blue moon isn’t a moon that looks blue in the sky, it’s when two full moons occur within the same calendar month – and the second one is called the blue moon.

So what’s the big deal? Well, spiritually you can take advantage of this time to purge, to bring things to a close, to start fresh. If you’re pregnant, you might want to try to take a nap and make sure your hospital bag is ready to go. If you’re a werewolf … sorry, you have two transformations this month. For me, I like to think the energy of this blue moon will bring me extra luck. Or it will simply create low and high tides. Whatever.

When I was a little kid, I remember going outside and just staring at the moon. I remember hearing there was a man in the moon, and that the moon was made of cheese … but mostly I just remember looking for astronauts. I was five when man first landed on the moon. That was a big deal back then. It was all everybody talked about. I was so amazed just thinking that a rocket ship could blast astronauts into space and land them on the moon. I’d squint really hard trying to see those astronauts walking around up there. It’s weird to think back and realize we were experiencing a major part of history. Wow, I must be old.

I’ve always thought the moon was cool. When I was a kid, it was my major source of entertainment when riding in the car at night. I didn’t have a tablet, or Nintendo DS, or a Kindle, or whatever hand-held device is cool these days, so instead of fighting with my sisters in the back seat of the car, I’d just look out the window at the sky. I loved looking at the stars and the moon. That moon would always follow us. Every time we drove home from my grandparent’s house – which was almost every weekend – that moon was there. Even if we exited off the highway, made a turn, whatever … there it was. Magical. It was like my special friend, always making sure I got home safe and lighting up my room so monsters wouldn’t come out of the closet. I still watch the moon when I’m driving at night. Well, I mean I don’t actually stare at the moon when I’m driving, that’s ridiculous, but Jay is always driving so I stare at the moon. There’s just something about it. I’m excited to check out the blue moon tonight. And if it disappoints, I can always have this:

blue moon bottle

Oh yes. I know you guys (my three loyal readers) think I’m a snooty-snob who only loves fancy amber microbrews with Red in the name (like Red Hook ESB), but l found a new brewskie to love. And her name is Blue Moon. We were visiting Jay’s brother and went out that night and there was no Red Hook on the menu. Oh, the humanity. So I opted for a Blue Moon. I’d had it before, as my bro-in-law Brian likes it, but I always thought it was just your average beer. But this time, they threw a few fancy orange wedges in there. Hmm. Interesting. Quite the taste sensation. So I bought some Blue Moon at Costco cuz you can get 3,000 bottles for like $15 dollars. Blue Moon says they brew their beer with coriander and orange peel. More interesting. That’s like two of my favorite flavors; didn’t recognize them in there before. And I’ve amped it up lately. I pour fresh-squeezed orange juice in Blue Moon. (When in Fresno …) Who would’ve thought I’d like something sweet with beer. Now I add like a half-cup of orange juice or more to a beer. De-li-ci-ous. I think I’m on to something here. Well, at least I’m getting some extra vitamin C.

I just went outside and looked at the moon. It looks full already. Kinda creamy-colored, a hint of orange peel. I’m pretty sure I saw an astronaut.

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