May 24, 2008


A few weeks ago, Ridge started asking to go fishing, which was odd to us since he's never been. Sure, we live a walking distance from the Washita River, almost exactly at the spot General Custer massacred those sleeping Cheyenne women and children. A particularly good day for Ridge consists of throwing sticks into the river, but until recently, that's as far as he got to go.
Then, last Sunday, as though they'd been staunch fishermen since birth, Rowdy was bent by Ridge's sad imaginary fishing, throwing a limp rope over the hill and pretending to reel in a whooper. So, with my Mother's Day gift, a fishing rod (back of ladies, Casa Nova is mine), in tow, Rowdy, Ridge and Rolan set out for the river.
Predictably, Rolan was not much of a fisherman, although the adventure certainly did his heart well. Mud, twigs, grass and a round robin of small, nearly-defenseless animals. Ahh, if Heaven were on Earth, right. So, Rolan spent the bulk of his fishing time alerting the fish to the above ground water by chunking tree limbs into the water and then shrieking with delight at his murky splash. Faster than the water could calm he was throwing sticks into the water again.
Of course, this routine, so amusing to Rolan, did not please his older brother Ridge, a serious fisherman for certain. From the start, Rowdy knew if this outing would bear any success, he would need to have to poles in the water at once: one hoisted upon a plastic pipe/steel pipe combination and drilled firmly into the red clay and then another for Ridge to cast and then reel in about 20 times per minute.
With all the obvious handicaps to the possibility of actually catching a fish that this outing so clearly had, they actually managed to snag a few. In fact, they caught three. One was big enough to drag the pole out of the huge industrial contraption contrived by Wallice. Another one was maybe two pounds, although not quite as big as killer. And then there was the third one. The one who looked as though he belonged in a bait shop and I mean in the refrigerator, not on the trophy wall. However, even with the two larger fish for competition, this small Texas minnow captivated Ridge. He was tickled and entranced at the same time. Fearlessly he picked the flopping fish up by his index finger and his thumb, laughing out loud as the tail swiped his nose. He even took a break from scolding Rolan, whose rock and stick throwing had Ridge teetering on an episode.
After he examined the dainty fish for a few more minutes, he did something that totally shocked his dad and me. He tossed him back in the river. Three year olds don't always do the best of explaining their decisions, so I still don't fully know what inspired this from the humanitarian out to extinguish all gophers. I thought it was cool though.
Since Ridge melted his dad's heart into fishing last week, they've been regular Captain Ahabs. Normally they sneak away while I cook supper. As always, Mom misses the good times. I don't need to go down to the river to know what's happening anyways. Undoubtedly Rolan is chunking various rocks, sticks, limbs, pebbles and even manure into the water until his little heart almost bursts with glee. Undoubtedly Ridge is scolding him for scaring the fish, although this holds no bearing on Ridge's own good time or even him requesting Rolan stay home the neck time. Each day they catch a few new fish to add to the collection forming in my deep freeze. With mud in nooks and crannies I didn't even know they had, their smiles shine. Yes, they are fishermen.

May 22, 2008

Troubled Skies

Today started early, but then again, most of our days do. I knew it would be a hectic day even before I slowly coerced my weary body from its warm bed. After all, Rowdy and I are traveling to Oklahoma City on Saturday so that I can photograph the wedding ceremony of Kassie Jackson and Mike Lee. After a few hours of quality time with Lyndi on Sunday, we are driving to Galveston with Chad and Jennifer and then boarding a cruise ship to the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday. Between newspaper articles and feeding thousands of stocker cattle and climbing to the summit of Mount Laundry, for the past three days, I've been in a dead heat against time. And, I don't think I've been winning. Before my feet hit my bedroom's brown shag carpet (I know, I know), my feet were destined to hustle about in a mad frenzy, bound certainly not even to come close to running all the miles laid out before them. Hell, we hadn't even picked up our boarding passes for the cruise yet. I had to drop of picture CDs from last weekend's wedding and purchase all the necessary supplies for our upcoming voyage to the tropics. You know a ginger like myself must be prepared to enter into the steamy, blistering, drunken sauna that is Mexico. I had to try to find some bathing suit that would somehow cover all that is Shonda. Most assuredly, I knew this would be like finding a tarp for a whale. And, I had to accomplish all this rushed packing and cursing and cleaning with enough time to actually snuggle up to Ridge and Rolan. After all, I've only left Ridge once in his 3 1/2 year life. Rowdy and I took a three day trip to Vegas when he was about eight months old and I spent the last two days gazing down Freemont, pitifully lost without my baby. And, I've never really left Rolan. I know I am placing far too much importance upon myself, as though my rambunctious boys will sulk in the corner without me. They will be fine, I know. Mostly I know myself. While they will joyously indulge in rolling in mud and gorging themselves with ice cream at Grandma's, I will likely long for them. The time away will be good for Rowdy and I. It will. I'm sure it will be good for the two boys, too. But, preparation for this small hiatus has fully occupied my last three days and, with the wedding and the trip right upon us, today held a iron-clad guarantee for endless errands and cursing.
Or at least that's what I thought would make my day full of chaos and stress and frenzy. Because I had engagement photos scheduled at 7 pm in Cheyenne, I had planned on leaving the house before noon to get back in time. Like all good plans, they were, of course, broken. My computer, the never-ending thorn-in-the-side that this piece of shit has been, wouldn't fully burn the wedding photos I needed to deliver. Tech genius extraordinaire, I whizzed through the problem. By that I mean cussed out loud and periodically kicked the damn thing. Ten ruined CDs later, each of the five disks were burned. At the last minute, Rowdy decided to take the boys with him to check cattle at the north end of the county. With the slow start and the engagement photos later in the day, I was relieved at the prospect of running around Elk City without the added time of loading and unloading the boys at each stop. Apparently the authorities really frown upon the whole leaving the kid in the car thing, or so I read in the Elk Citian a few weeks ago. While I waited for Brooke at Kathy's Travel to activate our Fun Pass (get the booze a-flowin', bitches!), I braved a trip into Stage for cruise-isque attire. With a bag full of new clothes and our Fun Passes in tote, I was off to Maurices when all the weather phone calls started flooding in. For those unfamiliar with my mother's side of the family, let me just say this -- you will not find folks more scared of increment weather than these people. For that very reason, a F5 super tornado could be streaming right toward me and if they were my source of information on this, I would likely blow it off. Honestly, when my grandmother began her campaign for today's storm awareness, I really wasn't too concerned. I did call my husband just to pass along her information, but she was already on the phone with him. It wasn't until 15 minutes later when Lyndi called from Norman to suggest I stay in Elk that the idea that this might be a legitimate storm crossed my mind. Quickly I finished my shopping and went to my mother's hair salon. She was cutting Catch's and Alivia's hair, the children of my cousin Krista. Mom briefly mentioned the storms in the Cheyenne area, but she really lacked an urgency in her voice. And, given her well-documented history of cloud paranoia, I took that to mean maybe the worst was over. I knew a rotation from this same storm had touched down on the north side of Denver, causing significant damage and killing a mother who gave her own life to shelter her children. But, I honestly thought the storm must've weakened as it moved across the country's center. And, to be fair, it had. It was just so impressive in the first place that even the dimmed storm was enough to perk your ears up.
After Mom finished the little Geno's hair, we went inside her house. The news was on and Cheyenne was the total feature of the coverage. Immediately, I grabbed my phone and called my husband. When he answered, the strong whipping gusts of wind pierced through the phone. I knew there was trouble brewing when Rowdy said even he was taking shelter. The storm chasers on the television said the same thing. Helplessly, I watched the satellite graphics of the storm and its many, many rotations. Although they were in a shelter with their father, I was stuck in Elk City with my babies in the eye of the storm. I tried to bite my lips and hold back the flood gates of emotion. I couldn't. After another two droning minutes of Jonathan Congers assessment that the downtown (downtown, funny, I know) Cheyenne would likely be hit by this huge tornado with a possibility of an F3 or F4.
At the risk of prompting rounds of snickers from my readers, I've always believed I could contain myself in these situations to keep others from freakin' out. And, I was, after all, with my mother. I don't worry every year during the Spring and the Summer tornado months based purely on the fact that she worries enough for all of us. However, today I couldn't help it. Channel 4, KFOR out of Oklahoma City was the only channel out of the three locals to give steady reporting upon the storm because, after all, this ominous cloud with nine separate rotations, each of which could pop out a twister at any second, wasn't looming of the Oklahoma City metro. And, the Grey's season finale was on. Thank God NBC has shit for programming, otherwise we would have left to our own humble devices to predict this storm's potential wrath. Now, had it started sprinkling over Edmond or Warr Acres or Midwest City, holy shit, the entire state would've been glued in for three hours of a streaming play-by-play. Grey's would have been moved to some obscure 2am slot because it had rained a half inch in two hours. I am bitter, if you can't tell. I am bitter because I miss shows when the metro is in no serious danger and I am bitter because they damn sure don't have to miss theirs when my babies ARE!
Moving on. KFOR's storm chaser and meteorologist Jonathan Conder was south of Cheyenne, sending live feeds of this threatening wall cloud descending upon my babies. With live video of the storm on the tv screen, Chief Meteorologist Mike Morgan put up graphics in the corner from the satellite. Small, colorful circles lit it up like a Christmas blimp. Each one represented a rotation, a possibility for calamity. And, as Mike Morgan projected the suspected path of the storm, I could easily see that several of these small, colorful circles would soon be hovering above my house. Above my husband. Above my boys.
I hit my knees and my mom started praying for the safety of my boys. I couldn't. I don't know why, but I just couldn't. Instead, familiar feelings rushed over my body, the sense of restrained helplessness, like when I watched awestruck as the second plane sailed into the second World Trade Center. I know for many that may seem like a dramatic comparison, especially since the night did eventually end safely for my family, but that's how it felt to me at that time. Miles away, I could watch on television and know the potential havoc stalking my home from the skies above and I could do nothing but that -- watch. As I stretched my arms and body on my mother's coffee table, eyes locked on Mike Morgan, the urgency I felt most of the day to accomplish all that I needed to accomplish to leave carefree for the wedding and my trip just disappeared. It evaporated. My thoughts were fully consumed with this.
Since the city of Cheyenne, including my trapped family, had lost electricity, I relayed all the weather information to my husband via cell phones. One rotation would appear to be dissipate, relief would roll over my body like salty water on the beach and then Mike Morgan would crush that by reporting that another was gaining momentum. When Jonathan Conder, who was still chasing storms in Roger Mills County, used his cell phone to tell the station he thought he saw a funnel touch down, my emotions were in a total state of panic and confusion. I didn't want to further upset my mother, who was mummbling jibberish prayers like a gypsy or a televangelist, so I tried to restrain my anxiety and fear. On the other hand, the before mentioned anxiety and fear were pretty damn overwhelming.
Mike Morgan would say, "Well, this should be hitting Cheyenne in the next two to three minutes." Two to three minutes would pass, but the satellite graphic would remain virtually unchanged aside from the expanding girth of the storm. With each tick of the clock, I felt more and more like my mind was going to explode. I needed this to be over or at least for something to change, but it wasn't. Periodically, Rowdy would sneak out of the shelter to steal a peek at the clouds. He said the wind was so powerful it nearly knocked him off his feet.
After another ten minutes of unchanged reporting, I told my mom I had to stop watching it. The endless loop of the same information was maddening. We drove over to my cousin Krista's, where she was having some sort of American Idol singing party. Two people get microphones and karaoke while a video game console somehow determines whether or not the contestants were on pitch or sang each word on time. It was foreign to me. Krista, though, appears to have missed her theatrical calling. She would have Saddam Hussein or Kim Jung Il or maybe even George W. Bush over if they promised to play this singing game with her. Honestly, her bliss would have been cute had I not been consumed with worry.
A few moments after Mom and I arrived across town at my cousin's, Rowdy called to say it appeared to be over. I was safe to drive home. However, we weren't without casualty. I don't know if it was the wind gusts well over a 100 mph or if a small rotation dipped out of the sky and then quickly pulled back up, as tornadoes are well-known to do, but the boys' two-story playhouse with a swing set, slide and monkey bars had been blown 15-20 feet, resting on top of our fence. Random pieces of the pricey and well-loved contraption littered our yard and the wheat field south of our house like war debris. Ridge, who definitely worries when life is amiss, called each grandparent, aunt, uncle and friend to detail the atrocities of the storm. His "park," as he coined it, is broken. It is broken and twisted and, frankly, not where it is suppose to be. With each and every person he told, he went through the list of items torn, tattered or no longer with us: the slide, the ladder, the flag, the chains, the seats, the handles. He's too young to understand the ferocity of the wind, invisible to his tiny eye without the ribbons of dusty red dirt, so he repeatedly explains to his audience that the rain did it.
With this storm that destroyed big chunks of Denver passed us and well on its way to terrify the folks of Eastern Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and maybe even Tennessee, Rowdy cleared me to journey home. I took the back roads, a staple in my country life. An hour earlier, the western sky was a deep, turbulent blue, full of treacherous opportunity. With the Ford pointed toward home, that was all beyond me now, over my shoulder on its way to torture some other community. I hoped that wasn't the case, that somehow this mother cloud would disband into nothingness. But, I know better. Countless rain-soaked midnight dashes to the cellar ensures that impossibility.
As the wall clouds rolled out, I was awe-struck by the clear horizons left in its place. The sky was a palette of soft blues and pinks. The sun was a perfect glowing peach. At least for this day, there would be no more storms. No more worries. The calm after the storm, as cliche as that may be. Of course, as soon as pulled into the driveway, Ridge darted outside to show me his "broken park." To him, this was a disaster. To his momma, it was a blessing of relief.

May 16, 2008

I'm Married to a Fruit Loop

Like the other post, this, too, was imported from an old post. Though it is old, it gives good background for who we are.

I met my husband when I was 22. Our affair was like a fast-moving whirlwind -- the form of passion that turns novel into best-sellers and movies into blockbusters. We were married when I was 23, had our first son when I was 24 and recently had our second at the end of my 25th year. Needless to say, life has been in a constant, but wonderful state of transition since that fateful day in April, 2003.
Because I was also breast-feeding our oldest child until he was 12 months old, a month after I got pregnant with Rolan, I have been in some element of reproductivity for 2 1/2 years. Even though my second pregnancy is over now, I am again nursing, which is just an extension of gestation. I love my children with my whole being, but I do think I need to take atleast one year off from both ends. Rolan won't be 1 for almost 10 more months, so for the free time to happen, I need to be not pregnant for 24 more months.
Rowdy and I are rule-benders by nature, so naturally we were affectionate of a physical fame before the six-week check-up. When I did go back to the doc, I was nervous as a cat. However, no news is good news. I wasn't pregnant. When I got home and told Rowdy, his face held the presence of disappointment. He then vocally cofirmed that.
My head tilted like a dog's does when he is looking at his quirky owner. Rowdy then confessed he was hoping I had been accidentally pregnant and, further, that we should use no contraceptive. I feel my head shifted more to the side, my eye brows scrunch toward the center. I look more like the baffled dog. What?
He then proceeds to explain that he had spent his quiet hours in the tractor hearing the names of all three of our boys -- Ridge, Rolan and the not yet conceived -- being announced at future state basketball tournaments in his imagination. He explained that if I got pregnant right now, they would all three be on the same team for two years in a row. I tried to rationalize that we don't know the third one would be a boy and, for that matter, we didn't know that the two we already had would even like basketball. I told him I have different plans.
We talked about baby 3 again today. I thought we would wait until Rolan was 2 to start trying. Rowdy wants them to be two years apart. I don't know what will happen. But, I do know I married a crazy person.

No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk

This is an old essay written almost two years ago. However, it still makes me laugh and, with a second 2-year-old now reigning terror upon our condiments, I know this is certain to repeat itself.

Whenever a two-year-old lives in your home, each morning starts with the certainty of adventure. I have found it is better to just accept this fact rather than try to fruitlessly fight it. It never fails mud will somehow be slopped all over the carpet within two hours of any vacuuming. It is on the principle alone that I refuse to do any carpet shampooing. There's absolutely no telling what would happen. Although the mishaps can at times be frustrating, I think I do a good job of laughing them off, for the most part. This week as been a perfect example for me of how much worse these mishaps could be.
In the past few months, because of my two-year-old Ridge's new-found obsession, Thomas the Train has taken over our lives like a Russian coup. (Until this, I had never realized Thomas was virtually everywhere, but that's another story for another time.) Although this can be frustrating when Ridge wants to watch Thomas while I am trying to take in the evening news, it does have its perk. On Wednesday, after I got the eight-month-old Rolan down for a nap, I put Thomas on the television and decided I would take a shower. Normally Ridge is so spellbound by Thomas a bomb could go off and he wouldn't notice, but remember, to every rule there is an exception. Two minutes in, Ridge presses his face against the shower door, holding a near-full milk gallon in his hand. Apparently, he wanted a glass of milk. With a hair sudden in shampoo, I tried to convince the toddler to set the milk on the floor, but in spite of that, Ridge left the room dragging the gallon behind him. I turned the water on high in hopes of washing the shampoo out of my hair before disaster struck, but unfortunately that scalding was in vain. As I walked out of my bedroom and down the hall, Ridge was sitting in an ocean of milk with the near-empty jug right beside him and an enormous grin upon his face. Looking back, I don't really know why I ran to him in light of the fact the milk was so obviously already spilled, but I did anyways. I quickly went to the laundry room, grabbed every towel I could find and then threw it upon Ridge's little mess. In keeping with my ole buddy Murphy's law, the washing machine went on the fritz that very day. Although at the time I did not know this, apparently if milk-soaked towels aren't washed immediately, your house will almost instantly smell like a rotten bowl of cottage cheese.
Although the scent of soured milk was serving as a reminder of the events of the day before, early Thursday morning better served as a sound reminder of how little these accidents really mean. Ever since Ridge learned how to shimmy out of his crib a few months ago, Rowdy and I are awakened almost nightly by a two-year-old climbing into bed with us. At 2am Thursday morning, Rowdy took Ridge back to his bed for the first time that night. When the baby woke me up a few hours later, Ridge was laying cross ways at the foot of our bed. I guess he thought if he just went to sleep down there, we wouldn't notice his return. I almost picked him up and took him back to his bed, but I worried if I did he would be up for the day. Rather than risking a grumpy two-year-old that evening, I let him rest. I wish now I hadn't. A few moments later, Ridge rolled off the bed and landed most likely upon my husband's boots. He broke his left collar bone. As most of you parents are probably nodding in agreement, there really is nothing worse than watching your baby hurt. With this chubby little finger pointing near his shoulder area and tears in his sweet little eyes, he told my husband and me, "It hurt." Having suffered two broken collar bones in his childhood, that was Rowdy's instant suspicion. A few hours and x-rays later, that was confirmed. With a brace he absolutely hated around his shoulder, Ridge showed signs of pain throughout the rest of the day. However, when he woke up on Friday, it was almost a memory for him. Periodically he still forgets the injury, picks up a toy with his left hand and then winces, but for the most part, he is the same little boy who was dragging the milk down the hall. In fact, the brace has really bothered him more than the injury, but this is a battle he is losing. Ridge has another x-ray on Thursday. Dr.Ahn said within three to four weeks, his collar bone will most likely be healed.
Although this injury will thankfully be better faster than the stinch of old dairy products will leave our carpet, it taught me a valuable lesson. Life is too precious to worry about the things you can't do anything about or to get upset about things that really don't matter. After all, there's no use crying over spilled milk.

Mud Puddles

From October 2005 to May 2006 was the third driest period in the history of Oklahoma since 1921. However, God poured the sweet blessing of rain upon us last week. Though Ridge didn't realize all this moisture may determine whether or not he might eat next year, he did take note of all the lovely puddles it created in the yard. He spent the entire next day scheming upon a great outdoor escape.
After Rowdy had been home for a few hours that evening, I submerged myself into the ocean of laundry that is our room. When Rowdy went outside for a smoke, Ridge followed. Upon his wee little feet were his new tennis shoes. Now, they weren't a million dollar investment or anything along those lines, but considering the rate that he outgrows them, they might as well be. When I came back to the front of the house, the silence of the living room rang of outdoor mischief. I opened the front door to see Ridge running through a mud puddle and then turning each time to see the red, murky water flying as a result. A huge smile stretched upon his face. Though Rowdy had done nothing to stop him and had probably gave him a soft push in the right direction, he had come inside and got my digital camera. Although Ridge's shoes were new, the pictures were priceless. After I printed them today, I praised my husband. He had given me material for the perfect scrapbook page. Ridge had to be given a sponge bath on the porch before he could bring his mud-soaked body into the house. His shoes had their first toss in the washer. I am sure many will follow before he and his brother are done with them. After all, the Bible says to dance and rejoice for the bounty the Lord has put upon you. Sometimes God's commandments overrule Mom's reservations.

One Man's Rock Star is Another Man's Literary Train.

Sitting at my mother's feet, legs crossed with my elbows on my knees and my hands pressed eagerly against my cheeks, countless nights of my childhood were spent listening to my mother reflect upon her teenage infatuation with Elvis. I absorbed her memories of the lost icon, of how she went to see him at some place called the Myriad that she explained to my wild disbelief held more people than lived in our entire town. As the news broke of the King's untimely death spilled through the radio on her work desk, her boss Doug Haught, now our district judge, had to send my grief-striken mother home from her job at the unemployment office. Long before I started school, maybe even before I knew the alphabet, I could ramble off volumes upon volumes of Elvis trivia.
While I continue to love the hip-shakin' rocker, through the years, my interest has certainly mellowed. I traded in the dancing Elvis clock for adulthood, a family and a mountain of responsibility. Somewhere along the way, I would guess a year ago, my oldest son Ridge discovered his rock star. No, not the dead musician of his mother's quirky youth and his nana's American Bandstand teen years. Ridge, who is almost 3, is to Thomas the Train and PBS as crying, screaming, fainting teenage girls were to Elvis and the Ed Sullivan Show. Thanks to the spectacular innovation, the DVR, Thomas is virtually a finger away at all times. Turns out, the fictional island of Sodor, home to Thomas, also housing about 50 other trains. Hell, they even have helicopters and Farmer Cole and double-decker buses and portly old man, Sir Topham Hat, who runs the island's railway system. Now, to me, most of the trains look pretty damn similar. Sure, I can tell some of them apart because they are totally different colors, but that is not true for all of them. By far and large, most of the trains are red, blue or green. There are exceptions, but for the most part, they are one of these three colors. The series seems to revolve around about five or six engines, but there are dozens of trains that appear periodically in the Sodor fleet. Decoding which train is train depends on the shape of the train's face or how long his whistle is, if he has a whistle, or how many wheels he has or some other detail I am just not smart enough to notice. Ridge, however, knows them all!
Because raising cattle is our chosen profession, Rowdy and I seldom venture too far from the ranch. Even when we attempt to make plans, it is normally a coin toss situation as to whether something will arise that prevents us from getting to do them. (Now, there are a lot of upsides to our jobs. Our kids, for example, are able to a small degree to be apart of our work, but that is another story for another time.)
Anyways, a few months ago, we found out Thomas would be "visiting" the Oklahoma Railway Museum, located very near the Zoo and my very favorite place on Earth, the drive-you-to-drinking Department of Human Services. Rowdy and I agreed this was something we just couldn't allow Ridge to miss out on. He was scheduled to be in OKC the last weekend in September and the first weekend in October. We watched the calender as the event drew near, still trying to tie down the best time to go. Just a few weeks ago, we decided September 28, two days ago, would be the best time. My brother-in-law Chad and his wife and kids decided they would meet us there. And, we still hadn't seen Rowdy's dad since the latest of his neck surgery. A whole covey of birds with one stone, right?
Like just about every time Rowdy and I try to steal a day from the farm, our feet hit the ground running Saturday morning. While I was trying to load the car and dress the boys, Rowdy called and said he desperately needed me to help him run a load of cattle through, which is cowboy lingo for doctoring a few hundred head. As the two of us hustled cattle down the lane and through the shoot, my two clean boys gleefully threw dirt at one another, thus undoing the before-mentioned cleanliness. We quickly completed the task, threw kids and suitcases into the Explorer and headed 'er East. In spite of frequent potty breaks for me and the oldest toddler, we arrived at the Thomas extravaganza with time to burn.
As we unloaded the boys, two parents drug their two tear-soaked kids through Autumn grass to their parked vehicles. Rowdy and I exchanged psychic glances and headed toward the Railway Museum's entrance. The closer we got to the front, the more upset children we passed on their way out of the event. The percentage of crying children was nearly perfect. No one was excited about leaving their darling Thomas. Running toward his life-sized idol, Ridge paid no attention to all the uproar. Thomas, which is actually a caboose decorated in the cartoon's image, was pulling into the station just as we arrived. Though offered pizza and given the extremely rare opportunity to drink soda pop, Ridge could only think of one thing -- riding Thomas. Of course, our ride was scheduled for an hour after we arrived, so Ridge faced a lenghty wait, a century in toddler years. He spent his free time absorbing the Thomas signs and merchandise until it was time to board. This, naturally, is designed to force tired parents into purchasing over-priced Thomas items, but is rendered basically useless for Ridge due to his cheap mother. A lover of all equipment, especially a ficitional trains, Ridge explored with bewildered amazement.
The 20 minute ride on Thomas, subsequently through the projects, made an electrified Ridge point our Thomas information and tidbits to our fellow passengers. After a few moments, I realized the look of the other adults' faces seemed familar. Over twenty years ago, my parents and their friends would quiz me over Elvis almost for entertainment. Though many of their other children on Thomas knew quite a bit about the PBS series, they either did not know as much as Ridge did or weren't nearly as joyfully overwhelmed about seeing them in real life. Not only did Ridge and a less excited Rolan get to ride Thomas through the alleys of gang members, but they also got to see a Disney-isque Sir Topham Hat, play with a million dollar train set and adorn their arms with Thomas tattoos. Smiles were in abundance, that is, until our departure time drew near.
Ridge quickly realized we weren't taking him to another portion of the Thomas blow-out. I don't know if it was instinct or the recollection of the red-faced children stretching their arms back toward Thomas and the museum, as though the combination of screaming and pointing would better plead their case to their parents. Ridge began first by telling his father that he needed to stay there, but promptly intensified his protest by going limp throughout his body, flopping about like a freshly snagged fish bouncing aimlessly to find water. Other parents were facing similar opposition, though not nearly as obnoxious as Ridge's. Rowdy picked up the heaving child and Ridge arched his head toward the ground like a high diver. We both considered putting a little coal in his caboose. However, country parents are almost always cautious when dispensing our brand of corporal punishment while in the big cities. Plus, we know our son. We knew as we booked the tickets leaving would be a touch dramatic. Thankfully, we were parked close to the exit. The scrapbooker in me took hold, so of course, I took tons of pictures, including the meltdown heard 'round the world. The black-and-white video archives ran through my mind of young girls, poodle skirts and all, making themselves almost sick while they watched Elvis perform. Ridge probably won't the third generation of Elvis fanatics, but I can really see that he is capable of being someone's fanatic.
The Littles had a great time on our weekend away, thanks in part to Thomas and Friends. We dined at Red Lobster, where I feasted upon snow crab and lobster. We listened to the audiobook Real Money by Jim Cramer, my favorite market analyst. Periodically, we would pause the CD so Rowdy and I could discuss Jim's rules and methodology for trading the market, as Ridge stared at 12 x 12 Thomas the Train paper I bought at Michael's. While Ridge pointed out his beloved trains on the paper, the whole rock star concept and its truths came to me in a different light. We all have our own superstar(s). And, as we perpetually morph into different and less glamorous adults, the celebrities we'd travel great lengths and pay inflated prices to see changes, too. One mans Elvis (or Thomas, for that matter) is another man's money manager.

Finish This Page, but click on the older posts, too.

The knee-slappin,' cursin,' GOOD TIMES don't start or end on the front page, so read the older posts! Maybe you missed something. Maybe you forgot. I try to post daily, so read the older posts!
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