Monday, July 31, 2006

My Kitchen: The Final Frontier

You know how you stumble into the kitchen in the mornings, bleary-eyed and sleepy and desperately needing that first cup of coffee? Well, here’s what greeted me from the coffee cabinet this morning:

If you can't tell what it is from the picture, it is a coffee mug of Data, the android from Star Trek...certainly NOT something one wants to see staring out from a shelf at the crack of dawn...and certainly NOT before one has completely joined the Land of the Awake. As I reached in for the La Vida Dulce coffee from Central Market, my half-opened peepers saw A FACE staring back at me!

I nearly “pulled a May Bee” on the kitchen floor (our puppy May Bee is a bit of a slow learner on the housetraining front), and I certainly didn’t need any caffeine after that early-morning jolt of pure adrenaline!!

What is the *most* creepy thing about the new coffee mug Russell hid before leaving for N.C.? Is it the startling hairline? The alarmingly-pasty pale skin? The pinpoint black-dot eyes? All I know is that together, they are TERRIFYING at dawn.

(Famous last words: “Hey, y'all! This Data mug is just *screaming* to be hidden in Margaret’s china cabinet!”)

P.S. Did I mention that my family plays a fun game where we leave tacky knick-knacks hidden in each others' homes? It started when Mom & I found hilarious custom-photo mugs at a Goodwill store in Chatham, Virginia. One was of a hairy-chested and bespectacled man (black horn rims, of course!) in a sea of bubbles in a heart-shaped tub (which found a new home in my sister's glass china cabinet) and another was of a shirtless man sitting on his dilapidated front porch near a rugrat in a sagging diaper (soon hidden among Margaret's tasteful and attractive coffee mugs). Someone had actually taken these photos to a kiosk in the mall and had these atrocious snapshots turned into coffee cups! Mom and I could not stop giggling as we hid these cast-off beauties in the homes of their new owners; one was discovered right away, the other went unnoticed for months.

Over the years, the game has included bumper stickers ("FREE TIBET!"), macrame owls, feathered "dream catchers," naughty ashtrays, frightening figurines, tacky neckties, and other unusual thrift store gems. (My family is so much fun. I feel bad for people splashing around in crabby or boring gene pools...) :-)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Family reunion--day three!

Someone asked me today if I'm having fun at the family reunion. (I'm on vacation with the people I love the most...what could be better?!?)

After church, we went to a yummy Mexican restaurant in McKinney. The salsa verde and fajitas were amazing. (We still had Amy Grace with us, but Aunt Sue & Uncle James had to take Stephen to the airport so they left after breakfast.)

After lunch, we went to Aunt Delilah's house. We got to see Deanna (and her cute dog, Magic), the older generation took us on a hilarious trip down Memory Lane, and Delilah gave us directions to the Walnut Grove cemetery in Rhea Mills. We went out there tonight and put flowers on Nanny & Bobo's graves when it was nice and cool. It was so peaceful out there, and the sun decided to put on a spectacular sunset show for us.

It was a wonderful day...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Family reunion--day two!

We're in McKinney! Here we are at the prettiest Whataburger in Texas (designed by the owner's wife). Russell is in his Happy Zone!

And here are Grace Greek's descendants at the McKinney Community Center. Mom is in her Happy Zone!

And here all "the cousins"...the children of John, James, and Linda Greek, and the grandchildren of Carl Eric Greek and Grace (Kirkland) Greek.

Happiness all around!!!!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Family reunion!

We're in Dallas! Last night we ate at Uncle Julio's and swam at the hotel (every man in the Addison Motel 6 seemed to drift into the pool area to nurse a beer and leer at Bethany and Falisha...CREEPY!), and today we picked up Mom and Russell at the airport.

Tonight we had a wonderful meal at Genghis Grill, and now Russell, Falisha, and Bethany have taken off in the red Camaro while the old folks are back at the hotel posting photos on their blogs. :-)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Angels & demons

Nothing to say really. Just uploading some pictures from the digital camera.

Some are of these kids from Bible class.

And some are of devils. (Well, devil dogs, anyway...)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I've met my match…and it's not pretty.

I'm a "Phoebe-runner." Ask anyone who has ever gone to Redbud Park with me. (Did you ever see that episode of Friends where Rachel is embarrassed to jog in the park with Phoebe because she runs with the complete and utter abandon of a five year-old?) Well, instead of being a blur of knees and blonde hair and elbows when I jog (like Phoebe), I'm a comical mix of size-10 feet and cellulite and sweat!

Most of the time at the park, I walk, but there are a few certain stretches I call "the traditions," and I *must* run them. No matter how hot, no matter how sweaty, no matter if I have a side stitch or a rock in my shoe...they MUST be run. And not with sweet, graceful Chariots of Fire strides, either, but with my "I-had-asthma-as-a-child-and-really-never-learned-to-jog-so-this-full-blown-maniacal-form-of-self-propulsion-will-have-to-do" style. (Misha never seems to mind that her mistress looks like an idiot, so it's always been okay.)

Today, however, I met my style match! We've seen him running in the park before, but always when we were in the car, sitting on the prairie dog fence, or on a different path. Today, we got the full visual effect coming at us--right toward us, directly on our path--not once, but TWICE. (Misha and I did three miles this morning, which is twice around the outer track.)

He's young and handsome, kind of short, with a very well-defined body (he "jogs" sans shirt). The reason I say "jogs" in quotation marks is because they haven't invented a word to describe his modus operandi. (His locomotion operandus? Whatever.)

How to describe it? Hmm. It's like he's leaping over twenty-inch hurdles that are invisible to everyone else in the park. Each leg comes up, and then rotates out to clear the unseen barrier (like a pitcher's arm, nearly at a 90-degree angle from his hips), the sneaker slapping down with the furious intensity needed to spring back up to repeat the procedure again. And again and again…with each leg, with every step!

These are not graceful, Bolshoi-ballet style leaps, I might add. There simply are not words for the leg-rotating, foot-pounding, and arm-churning hops he does with each and every footfall of his morning exercise. It is exhausting just to watch him come at you.

And I love it. Here's hoping he's there again next week…

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Death writes a book. (And it's beautiful.)

I put off reading The Book Thief for ages because I don't like to read books set during a war...which is strange because my favorite book, The Power of One, is set in South Africa during WWII. Roald Dahl's Going Solo about his reluctant draft & RAF service to the Crown is another favorite (Dahl's accompanying photos add so much to the text, but it would also be cool to hear respected actor Derek Jacobi do the audio version!), and I was deeply touched by the YA novel Kipling's Choice, set during WWI.

For the most part, however, war is just too painful and horrible a human chapter to enjoy reading about in bed at the end of the day, not to mention that shocking images keep me up at clearly, violent books are not my cup of tea. (Bethany thinks I'm weird because I can't even watch crime shows like Law & Order!)

Markus Zusak's The Book Thief is different, though. Narrated by Death himself, it's simultaneously ugly and beautiful and haunting and touching and, best of all...hopeful. I didn't weep until page 537. (This book made Charlie Gibson cry. And the author's father cried, too--which made him swear at his 30 year-old son.)

If you're even *slightly* interested in the book Kirkus Reviews calls "beautiful and important" and USA Today praises as "poised to become a classic," then I'm BEGGING you to watch this:

or hear this:

or visit this:

In a recent interview, the author (whose wife just delivered their first child, a baby girl named Nikita, on June 23rd!) was asked what he wanted to say about the book:

"I can really only say this: No matter what anyone says--whether they love the book or hate it--I know it's the best I could do. I don't know if I'll ever be able to write a better book than that. It's everything I've got, that book. All my other books are like a small piece of me, but this book is every piece."

Off to take Misha for a walk in the park,