The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Not Quite Broadway, But Close Enough September 17, 2014

Filed under: Theater Obsession — DDKlingonGirl @ 12:47 pm
Tags: , ,
It's a regular Whodunit!

It’s a regular Whodunit!

Hello, all!  Well, you’ve had a break, and I haven’t mentioned a lot about the theater lately, so now it’s time to catch up on ALL the theater things.  Mwahahaha!  I mentioned in the last entry that I had a couple of new theater things looming on the horizon.  Neither one of them has panned out exactly as I expected, but I know they probably happened the way they were supposed to do.

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Ok, so here’s what it is.  (Random Movie Quote Interruption.  Robin Williams in Good Morning, Vietnam:  I just want to begin by saying to Roosevelt E. Roosevelt, “What it is, what it shall be, what it was.”)

Sorry, where was I?  Oh, ok, the theater things.  The first Thing was that I was hoping to be given another opportunity to be a stage manager in my local, often-mentioned, community theater group, Ardmore Little Theatre.  Our next production is Clue: The Musical, which if I am reading it right, is a relatively small, likely all adult, cast, simple staging, and not a lot of complicated cues.  I was hoping for that, because although I tackled a big-cast, monster-set, teen musical as my first stage managing opportunity, I wanted to see what it would be like to do a much different type of production (with the qualities I described for Clue, obvs.).   Unfortunately, someone else was chosen, but that is definitely ok, because it gives me the chance to do the other thing I was kind of torn about when I was hoping for SM.  See, I’d also wanted to audition for Clue.  (Whispering: I’d kind of like to play the Detective. :D ) It’s really intimidating for me, because I don’t know if I can pull off the funny, but the other part is, she has to dance a tango, sort of, with Professor Plum.  Now in case I haven’t mentioned it before… I don’t have two left feet.  No, no.  I have at least three.  Seriously.  I have frequently been known to describe my attempts at dancing as looking like “the Tin Man getting electrocuted.”  So there is that.  Secondly, I have never had a role in a musical before.  I was in the chorus of Les Mis last summer, which I LOVED, but I have never had an actual role, one in which I would be wearing a mic and all that.  I know I can sing (although sometimes I tend to disparage my ability at that, too) but I don’t know about singing and dancing, on stage, while trying to be funny!  It might be too much, but you know?  I really, REALLY want to try!

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When it comes to the theater, I want to do everything.  I have had a tiny moment’s experience running the light board, I’ve stage managed, I’ve acted (sort of), I’ve been in a chorus.  I want to learn the fly loft, and I want more experience onstage, and eventually I want to direct.  I’ll just throw that out there now.  I do.  I’ll admit it.  I know it will likely be a long time before I get the experience and knowledge and skill I will need to be able to accomplish it, but might as well admit I am going to be actively working toward that goal.  Definitely.

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The OTHER theater thing that I was referring to before was helping another group of folks from a nearby community try to get their theater reorganized after letting it languish for several years.  The Way Off Broadway Players of Tishomingo, Oklahoma.  A couple of ALT friends and I have so far gone to two of their organizational meetings, and they are off to a great start.  It looks like if they can just get enough public interest going, they should be able to have a play in production in a matter of months.  I had ulterior motives for that, you know.  I was hoping to have another group besides ALT (a non-competitor) that I could also get involved with, get experience from, meet people through, and enjoy.  So when they get their group off the ground, you can bet your sweet patootie I will help them in any way I can.  And if they happen to need me in a leading role, you know… of course I’ll very generously volunteer.  I’m kidding, of course.  I think the ones who are getting it started are looking forward to being back on their own stage, but they also need help with sets, costumes, backstage, etc. which I would absolutely help with if it were at all possible.

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There’s a reason it’s called COMMUNITY theater, you know.  It’s meant to be something that brings a community together and provides activity and entertainment for the whole community.  Sometimes it’s not easy though.  ALT is doing To Kill a Mockingbird right now.  They open tomorrow night, and it has been a rough road.  They often seem to struggle to find enough actors to fill the roles they need.  Sometimes it’s having child actors who are good enough for an important role, sometimes it is finding enough males for a cast, sometimes it is getting actors of various ethnicities to be interested in auditioning.  Sometimes it’s the piece itself that creates difficulties, like with language and content.  But even then, community theater is a great way to open a dialogue.  ALT is going to sponsor a panel forum on Sunday after the closing matinee performance, where the community can interact with some of the people associated with the production and ask questions and talk about the issues the play covers, which I think was a brilliant idea.

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Anyway.  I know it’s not really a newsflash.  Ok, it’s not at ALL a newsflash, but I love community theater.  No matter where I go or what I end up doing in my life, I hope to be involved in community theater for the rest of my life.  :)  It’s just that awesome.

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Until next time,

D.

 

 

County Fair, Country Culture, and Confessions September 8, 2014

Filed under: Family,Weight Woes — DDKlingonGirl @ 11:51 am
Tags: , , , ,
Ooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain! (And the County Fair happens!)

Ooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain! (And the County Fair happens!)

Hello all!  Hope things are super in your world.  Mine has been pretty darn good here lately, for several reasons.  I’m doing very well on my low carb eating plan.  I had a great birthday weekend this past weekend.  I am up to the eyeballs in new theater things looming on the horizon.  Things are just… pretty darn good.

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So let me tell you about my birthday evening with my kiddos.  Some of you may possibly not live in a small southern town, and have possibly never experienced anything as culturally specific as a County Fair.  Well, let me enlighten you, if I may.  Settle in, now.  Ready?  Ok.  So the Carter County Free Fair has been going on for scads of years.  Eons.  I’m not sure, but I’m too lazy a blogger to go look it up.  Anyway, it’s a tradition.  When I was growing up we used to go to the fair every year- it was always the first weekend in September.  Now, let’s get specific and identify some definitions.  The Fair is a term used to describe the entire event, but it is actually composed of two parts- the County Fair, and the Carnival.  The County Fair is exactly like the ones you used to read about in your old story books, where people bring everything from goats and pigs to quilts and preserves, to be judged against everyone else’s.  The animals are usually shown by kids raising them for 4-H projects.  My mother used to enter photos in the fair, years ago, and she won several ribbons.

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The Carnival is a different animal.  It’s your typical affair, loud music streaming from brightly lit thrill rides, slightly…strange-looking people hawking absolutely un-winnable games (ok, mostly un-winnable), and tantalizing smells emerging from travel trailers full of FAIR FOOD!  Aka, Junk on Wheels.  Aka, Heart Attack on a Paper Plate!  Funnel cakes, kettle corn, corn dogs, sausage, cotton candy, pretzels, nachos, corn on the cob, turkey legs, deep-fried ANYTHING, sodas, fruity drinks, all made while you wait, ridiculously overpriced, and oh-so-good.

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So we went to the fair Friday night, me and my kiddos.  It was my birthday, but even if it hadn’t been, we would have gone anyway, and ONLY because Miss Moneybags, aka Daughter J. had been saving up her money to take herself, her boyfriend, and her siblings, to the fair.  This was a much-anticipated and long planned event, you see.

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Well let me tell you, there were a number of thoughts that crossed my mind as we meandered through the games, food, and animals on display.  First and foremost, is the Culture of County Fair People.  Now, everyone in my group was wearing knee-length or longer shorts or pants.  But my goodness!  The clothing (or LACK thereof!) on the girls I saw!  Skin tight shorts just barely covering their butts, mysteriously coupled with boots.  Shirts that looked like they had been mangled by a mountain lion, strategically placed rips and tears and tie-ups that seem thoroughly dedicated to showing as much skin as possible while technically remaining “dressed.”  (Kind of like Miley Cyrus wearing pasties to fashion week, but that’s a whole other kind of tacky.)  And on the other extreme, the “emo” or “Goth” or “skater” kids who for some reason decided to attend the fair wearing hoodies, despite the fact that it was still over 90 degrees at 8:30 at night! And, categorized as perhaps less strange and more mildly amusing, the “Cowboy” types who saw it as an opportunity to wear their best starchy jeans, their button down shirts, their pointy-toe boots and their HUGE glittering belt buckles that would put the Crown Jewels of England to shame.  In addition were tired, stringy-looking grandmas, wrangling three or four toddler grandkids, Yuppie parents with strollers and wagons, complete with Soccer Mom performing the Lysol and Wipe Ritual in a ring around them every 10 steps.  We even saw a couple of … hmm, how to say this? Interesting-looking ladies carrying a sign for a petition to legalize marijuana.

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Waiting for Da Go! ;)

Waiting for Da Go! ;)

Anyway.  As I mentioned, it was definitely hot and sweaty.  Walking through the animal barns and in the show arena, I somehow managed to get sand between my toes (!) despite the fact that I was wearing sneakers and socks!  Daughter J. and her BF spent most of the evening riding carnival rides together, while Daughter S. and The Boy and I hung out and explored the fair.  We looked at the bunnies, and the chickens with funny hairdos, and goats.  Lots of goats. We rode only one thing together- the Ferris wheel.  It was here that I almost experienced a trauma, and it came with a flashback to a similar trauma that did in fact end up happening, years ago.  Here’s the scoop:  when we were boarding the Ferris wheel, I let the kids get on first, and they both sat on one side of the cart, which made it swing precariously in the wrong direction, making it virtually impossible for me to squeeze my rather large backside through the little gate and get into the cart.  So the very kind, and really not scary-looking at all, carnival worker and his partner swung the cart level and steadied it so I could climb in.  Well… I couldn’t quite make it.  I tried to step up but it was pretty high, and I was already worrying that this wasn’t going to work out and I would be humiliated in front of God and the world, but then I reached up, grabbed the cross-brace above the cart, pulled myself up, slid sideways through the cart gate and plopped into the seat, trying desperately to be nonchalant (a total contradiction in terms, by the way) about the fact that I had just very nearly experienced one of the most humiliating moments of my life.  I joked it off, grinning and chuckling at the kids, and we moved on.  I’m sure I told the carnival guys thank you, too, and I was hoping and praying that not too many people standing in line waiting were actually paying much attention to the people boarding the ride.

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So we took off, and the ride was very nice, and it was just almost dark.  I took some pictures, and a short video, but the funniest part was when I kept getting frustrated while trying to take pictures as we went around, when there kept being a blue bar across the picture.  I was confused, because I was sure I was missing the hub of the wheel that kept turning in front of my vision- I just knew I was timing the photo better than that, so I couldn’t figure out what on earth was getting in front of me that was making that blue bar.  The Ferris wheel bar wasn’t even blue- it was white!  Finally, I figured it out, and y’all… I am such a dork.  It was the far horizon on the opposite side of the fair grounds.  It was the sky just above the treeline.  Yeah.  I’m that goofy. A little slow on the uptake, but I get there eventually.

The Blue Bar Mystery

The Blue Bar Mystery

 

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Well, we finally got off the ride, having carefully planned our exit strategy so as to avoid the same trauma as we experienced on boarding.  It was thus:  when the ride stopped, I was going to stand, The Boy was going to slide over to my seat and sit there while I eased myself down from the cart.  Then he and his sister would have the balance to get out of the cart just fine on their own, and the poor Carnies could avoid a workman’s comp claim from holding the cart steady for my bulk to move out of it. Our carefully devised plan went off without a hitch and we all left the ride with no problems.  Well, except my son, Too-Tall Jones, who bumped his head on the cart, despite the carnival workers’ repeated warnings of “Watch your head!” to all of us as we climbed down.

 

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one whose experience was slightly dampened by my size.  Daughter S. and The Boy were rather chagrined that they were now too big to ride the carousel.  Sad face.  They insisted they had been allowed to ride it the previous year, and technically Daughter S. wasn’t over the weight limit, but The Boy is, since he is now 13, taller than I, and as solid as a rock.  He’s not fat, probably barely overweight now because he has gotten so tall, but the Carnie was being a stickler for rules (weight limit was 150 pounds) and decided they were both too big.  So they were pretty disappointed with that.

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Anyway.  Over all it was a pretty good evening.  Despite Hot and Sweat and Sand, it was nice.  The one drawback was that I had been planning on indulging in the ONE low carb fair concession I could imagine, which was one of those giant turkey legs, but unfortunately as far as I could tell, there were none offered at any of these particular Junk Food On Wheels places.  (The carnival was part of the Pride of Texas Midway Shows, just FYI)  We didn’t have anything to eat while there, and the only drinks I bought were two water bottles.  So we were all exhausted and ravenous by the time we left, but we took care of that on the way home and taking The Boyfriend home, the next town over.  One last look:

Ooooh, pretty!

Ooooh, pretty!

 

 

Oh, you’re still wondering about the Ferris Wheel Flashback?  I didn’t think so, but I’ll tell you anyway.  Years ago when my family was visiting Port Aransas, Texas, which was my dad’s favorite place to go, they decided to go horseback riding on the beach.  There were several places you could go to do that, and we went there, paid up, everybody got on their horses, including my dad, who has always been a big guy but at that time was still fairly athletic, I guess you could say.  Anyway, I was the last one to be given a horse, and when I went to get up on it, the saddle would start to slide toward me, and I was too afraid to just keep pulling and jump myself on up there and swing over, correcting the saddle slide as I went.  So they didn’t have a step stool or mounting block, and they refused to let my dad dismount his horse and try to offer me a hand and help me up… so I had to stay behind.  The van was locked and Mom or Dad had the keys, so I sat on the running board of the van, all by myself for what felt like two hours, feeling humiliated and suicidal because I was too big to join in with what the rest of the family were doing.  I don’t remember what year it was, or how big I was compared to now, but I’m sure I was probably actually bigger then.

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So that’s the story of the Ferris Wheel Trauma Flashback and probably the most humiliating moment of my life that I can think of right offhand.

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Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the next post, in which heaven only knows what I’ll confess to next!  Oh- I know.  Next post will be all the Theater News!

Until next time,

D.

 

The Things That Amaze You When You Never Leave the House! August 29, 2014

Filed under: General Observations — DDKlingonGirl @ 10:52 am
Tags: , , ,

Cappuccino Lays

Hello all!  Ok, so I really need to get out more!  Went to Wal-Mart this morning and here is a list of the Top 10 Things I Had No Idea You Could Buy at WalMart:

10. Squid

9. Octopus

8. Caviar

7. Apple Ale

6. Cappuccino flavored Lays potato chips

5. Pretzel buns for hamburgers and hot dogs

4. Naked Superfood

3. Champagne salad dressing

2. Prosciutto

1. Ketone Gummies

 

Disclaimer:  Some of these I have discovered only in recent weeks, some I just discovered today.  I did not actually purchase any of these.  However, cappuccino chips, pretzel buns, and champagne salad dressing are on my list of things to buy if I ever fall off the low carb wagon and go completely insane.  I have been known to let out an ear-splitting squeal of delight when I discovered that the Pretzel Dogs were back at Sonic. Not something I’m proud of, per se.  Just confessing.

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So who wants to start a new program where they merely take me out all over town and show me things you cannot know exist when you live with your face stuck in a book all the time?

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Until next time,

D.

PS.  While googling images for this post, I saw an image I SWEAR has GOT to be a joke, but I’m not curious enough to look it up:  Fried Chicken Oreos. File that one under Crime Against Nature!

 

Mama T and Crazy D’s Big Adventure August 27, 2014

Tulsa Les Mis set

Hello all!  You know what’s good about having friends?  Well, ok, there’s lots of good things about having friends, but right now, I’m thinking of two big things:  friends can support each other through difficult and scary things, and friends can have crazy amounts of fun together.  For example:

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This past weekend, I got to do something I rarely get to do, and ALWAYS want to do.  I got to go on a trip with a friend.  Ok, so it was a short trip.  Basically, it was an overnight trip.  Ardmore to Tulsa and back in 24 hours or 5000 Calories.  Since I seem to be on a Forrest Gump reference role this morning, I’ll put it this way.  My ‘best good friend’ and I went to Tulsa last Friday night to see Les Miserables at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

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Now as most of my readers know, I was actually IN a performance of Les Mis (Ok, eight performances) when Ardmore Little Theatre presented the first ever community theater production of Les Mis in Oklahoma, last year in late July.  I was just one of The Miserables, whereas my best good friend was Madame Thenardier, the Great Mean Mama.  I often now call her Mama T.

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So Mama T and I left her house at about 3:45 Friday afternoon and headed for Tulsa.  She was driving, because she has a decent vehicle, and mine… well, let’s just say it’s not really up to road trips, even relatively short ones.  So we hit the road and the first thing I did was jokingly snuggle my head on her shoulder and see if I could sweet-talk her into agreeing to the latest thing the theater asked her to do, and we spent some time hashing out why she won’t do it.  Let’s just say spotlight hogging is involved. :)

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So then we were both hungry and we started looking for ideas for somewhere to eat supper before we got to Tulsa.  Incidentally, neither of us has ANY idea what we used to do before smart phones.  The Map App and the ability to look up nearby restaurants… yeah, Invaluable here, folks.  Mama T teases me because I can barely use the map app, and she says it’s because I never get to go anywhere, which is totally true, and I don’t go many places alone, which is truer still.  Anyway, we ended up stopping in Stroud at this place called Rock Café, not to be confused with Hard Rock Café, but famous in its own right because it has been featured on Diners and Dives or something like that.  Anyway, their famous dish was a German thing called ‘jagerschnitzel and spaetzle’ which is basically a breaded pork cutlet with some brown gravy on it and little noodle balls.  It was different, and it was tasty enough for two fluffy girls who were hungry!  We also shared a southern favorite, a dish of fried green tomatoes.  Yum!

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Then onward and upward we went, arrived at Tulsa right on time, went to the theater, went in, and got seated.  This was the point at which things started to get silly.  I’m pretty well known for being, let’s say, enthusiastic, at times and I had been looking forward to this whole adventure for so long!  We sat waiting for the show to start, and the theater nerd in me was basically just dying to climb up there on stage and examine their set construction, sneak backstage and see what kind of fly loft they had, and check out their scene change setup.  We got the giggles a few times, naturally, and I don’t even remember now what all our giggles were about.  I just know we never run out of things to giggle about.

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Finally the show started, and we watched intently, comparing, of course, their production to our production.  Naturally they had some very good performances and some less inspiring performances, but the main reason we chose to do this whole Weekend Warrior Road Trip was that the actor who played Javert in our production had been cast as Thenardier in this one!  We loved him as Javert, of course, and were very curious to see what he would do in a completely different comic role.  Well, he was wonderful, as he always is, and after the show we met up with him and hung out and visited a bit, finally leaving when he decided he’d better get to his bed because he had to do TWO performances on Saturday, one as Javert in the cover cast performance, and one as Thenardier!  Wow, this guy is so dedicated.

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After saying our goodbyes we went to our hotel room and vegged out, rehashing the show and comparing notes.  We had two big fluffy queen size beds in our room and an air conditioner that worked almost too well.  At one point we were chattering away and I was already getting drowsy (what am I talking about, already, it was nearly 2:30 in the morning!) but I was trying to keep listening to her analyzing the show.  Well apparently I dozed off when she was reading aloud from the program, and she looked across the room at me and just about flipped, because I had fallen asleep so suddenly she thought I was dead!

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After that we decided we’d better sleep.  The next morning we slept in, and we had decided previously to skip breakfast in favor of going to Red Lobster for an early lunch.  Checkout was at 11:00 and we walked out at 10:59.  Whew!  The maid was only two doors down from our room.  So then we looked up the nearest RL (thank you again, smart phones!) and went for lunch.  Holy Moly!  I hadn’t been to a Red Lobster in nearly 25 years, and it was quite enjoyable, especially the famed garlic cheddar biscuits.  I chose a mixed plate of shrimp, fish, clams, and scallops, (unfortunately all breaded and fried- this was before I began my low carb thing) and she shared a bite of her crab legs and rice pilaf with me, and we split a giant, melty-center, ice cream topped chocolate chip cookie thing.  Holy Moly again!  Talk about yummy!

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Finally we left and hit the road back toward home.  We chattered all the way about this and that, and finally when we were close to our destination, she suggested we go to this really neat place, The Artesian, in the next town over from hers, which happens to have a Pinkitzel cupcake place in it!  What was really funny was that not ten minutes before she suggested it, I was thinking we should go there and pick up a cupcake or two, because that is what we always do when I go to her house.  Gotta love a good tradition!  Well, we chose our cupcakes and made it to her home.  Hung out, watched some movies about English royalty, ordered a pizza.  Finally about 10:00 that evening, I got on the road toward my domicile and my chilluns.

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Our long-awaited, much anticipated “Mama T and Crazy D’s Big Adventure” weekend was over.  It was a great little relaxing getaway, and I can’t wait  to do another one!

Until next time,

D.

 

Changed My Mind. Stepping Out in a Big Way… August 25, 2014

Filed under: Whatever — DDKlingonGirl @ 1:31 pm

Hello all.  Here is the link to the new blog.  It’s different, it’s more personal, it’s meant mainly for me, but I’m sharing because I’m just crazy.  https://fatheadedklingonwoman.wordpress.com/

Be gentle.

Until next time,

D.

 

Trying Something New. Well, Sort Of.

Filed under: Weight Woes — DDKlingonGirl @ 9:41 am
Tags: , , ,

Hello all.  Hope everyone is having a beautiful day.  Mine is looking pretty good so far, because I have made a choice to try something and see how it works out.  So you know a while back, I posted that ‘rah-rah cheerleading, never give up, weight loss is a battle, no butt prints in the sand, go team’ post? Well, I haven’t exactly stayed on the straight and narrow I intended to stay on since that post.  I have tried, but it hasn’t really been a consistent success.  Basically, I track and watch my points the first few days after the Weight Watchers meetings, but then the weekend hits and I turn into a Tasmanian Devil. 

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So anyway, several years ago I did Atkins for about a year.  I was very successful- I lost nearly 100 lbs in one calendar year.  Looking back it seemed pretty easy, except for the part where my family will never ever let me live down that “low-carb” pecan pie I tried to make for Thanksgiving.  Remind me to tell you that story sometime.  But basically I thought maybe I’d try that again.  I’m not cancelling my WW membership, and I’m going to keep going to the meetings, but I’m going to see if I can do a sort of mash-up low-carb/points tracking thing and  see how it goes. 

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I went to WalMart today and bought a few things to get started with, and when I arrived at work, I made me some cheap imitation Bulletproof coffee (cheap imitation with the exception of the imported Kerrygold Irish butter- nom nom!), and a “coffee mug in the microwave” egg-whites dish involving provolone cheese and Canadian bacon. Now my little tummy feels very full and satisfied, and I am quite pleased.  Now, though, comes the part where we see how the WW points will accumulate.  Since I’ve gained so much weight back, I have a pretty high points allowance, so I think I can do this without too much deprivation.  Drumroll please……………………………………. The points total is:  9!  Yes! I can totally work with that. 

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I also started a new blog.  It’s private for now, but I’m using it as a journal.  Maybe soon I will share it as a co-blog to this one.  It’s called the Low Carb Chronicles of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman. Yeah, I thought you’d like that.  So.  Wish me all the best in this endeavor, and for now I will leave you with a totally un-weight-related Monday rant: 

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People, please.  Do not ride other people’s butts when they’re going slow in the passing lane.  It’s just rude.  And it’s dangerous.  If they get ticked off and decide to tap their brakes just to teach you a lesson, you’re going to wish you’d been just a little more patient.  All it does is make you look like a jerk.  So, as my father used to like to say when he was teaching us to drive, “Just hang back and go easy.”  In fact I think I’ll make that my motto for the day.  Sounds like a good way to handle The Monday. Peace out, y’all! 

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Until next time,

D.

 

Family Traditions Series- Reunions!! August 6, 2014

Filed under: Family,In Memoriam — DDKlingonGirl @ 9:19 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,
My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

My Roots- Kyle and Ethel Findley and their children, Harold, Howard, Margie, and Donna

Hello all!  So in my last Family Traditions series entry, I promised a post about all the crazy things my family gets up to in the month of May, and I will definitely deliver that.  But not now.  I’m too excited, and of course the title of this post will give you a clue as to why.  Oh, yes, Virginia, it is definitely that time again- our family reunion is this weekend.  This is an event not just limited to my crazy nuclear family  (my parents and siblings and myself).  Oh no.  This event draws in the whooooole crazy family- all the progeny of my great-grandfather Kyle Guy Findley.  Let me tell you about us.

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We have this family reunion, the Findley reunion, every two years.  It alternates years with an even more extended family reunion (the Hoffman reunion) we have that also occurs every two years, so that barring some weird complication or problem, there is some sort of reunion on this side of the family every single year.  The one I am going to be describing to you is the only one I have been able to go to since Daughter S. and Daughter J. were about 4 years old, which, sadly, was the last time I was able to make it to the Hoffman reunion.  Now, the Hoffman reunion has one advantage over the Findley reunion and that is that it’s always in the same place, Ulysses, Kansas, where I was born.  The Findley reunion has changed locations several times over the years.

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As far as I can remember, the tradition of this reunion began the weekend of June 4, 1993.  I know this, because that was the date I chose to get married, so that all the family would definitely be able to be there.  Yeah, I’m sneaky and manipulative like that.  I hijacked the family reunion so everyone would be at my wedding.  Anyway.  The first several years, the reunion took place at the same location, one of the group campgrounds at our local lake.  Rustic cabins, no A/C, lots of trees and a big lake for boating, skiing, tubing, jet skis, and just general tomfoolery in a water setting.  I say this because my mom’s brothers have a notorious history of being wild and crazy when it comes to water sports.  They like to go fast and hit hard.  They’ve slowed down a little in the last 21 years, but I cannot count the number of pics we have of Uncle R., Uncle B., and Uncle D., life-jackets on, hair and mustaches dripping, clinging to a jet ski or a sailboard, big huge identical grins on their sunburnt faces.  That tradition has extended to their sons now, and we have just as many pictures of cousins in the same poses.

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While the boys are out running wild like hooligans on the lake, the moms are usually staying behind, either in the camp kitchen, or at the water’s edge watching all the “little ‘uns” swimming and playing.  There is always a time when the guys put away all their fast toys and just take the girls on a leisurely evening boat ride around the lake, so it’s not like the moms never get to have fun.  Back in the day, my mother, I am proud to say, used to be able to water ski like crazy!  My dad would get her out there and hit the throttle and she could just pop up out of the water like a cork.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the last time she tried, because we don’t go to the lake much anymore these days when it’s just us, but she always used to say she planned to water ski on her 100th birthday.  Dad used to say she “could water ski in a teacup!”  Rarely, we have bad things happen on the water.  One year, an uncle was pushed unexpectedly off the pontoon boat into the water, and his wedding ring got caught on the gate hinge, almost ripping his finger off.  They rushed him to the hospital and all was fine, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t like to remember that particular reunion.

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Our family also has some much happier traditions, such as talent night; we’re a talented bunch, if I do say so myself.  Usually people either sing or do skits, which is always a hoot.  This year, I’m particularly excited because… da da!  We’re having karaoke Saturday night.  We’ve hired a local karaoke DJ to come out to the reunion and help us party for a couple of hours.  I am very familiar with this particular lady- we grew up and went to the same church together.  And boy! can she sing.  She is absolutely and utterly amazing.  (File that one under hashtag: sojealous!)  Anyway, she also provided the DJ service when I gave Daughter S. and Daughter J. a big, special party when they turned 18.  It was super awesome, but that’s another story.

*

Once we had a family auction to try to raise funds for the next reunion.  People made arts and crafts, special food, anything they had that had a “market” value, so to speak, and we auctioned them.  My personal contribution to that effort was two copies of a collection of my poetry that I put together.  I think they made me stand up and read a couple of the poems, and then they auctioned them off.  I forget now who won them, but that was pretty cool.  It gave me a bit of a big head to know that my family members would pay money just to read my romanticized, dramatic drivel.   What can I say?  We’re a supportive bunch, and I love us.

*

In other years, the family reunion has taken place down near my grandpa’s house in the Hill Country area around San Antonio, Texas.  There are a number of nice lakes there, and my grandpa lives right on the Guadalupe river, so there are always a few that go floating every time we are there.  Our last reunion was a bit of a departure.  We met at Cuchara, Colorado.  It was beautiful there and so cool at night, but always, always too short.  One weekend is never long enough to enjoy with this family.

*

So THIS year, we’re at a church camp about 45 minutes from where we live, called Pettijohn Springs Christian Camp.  It will be a lot more comfortable than the lake camps, because (Hallelujah!) the cabins have air conditioning.  My cousin and I are the food committee (although my mother ALWAYS ends up doing more than her share of the research and planning) and therein lies another reason I am so excited:  she’ll be here tomorrow!  Yay!  I know we’re not supposed to have favorites, but she is one of my two favorite cousins, because the three of us are the closest in age.  From my birthday in early September to her birthday in mid-September, we are all three the same age.  Tomorrow when she gets here, we have to spend all day grocery shopping.  I’d like to say that sounds like a chore, but running all over town with this particular cousin, making big fools of ourselves in all the local grocery stores, laughing like hyenas when we remember all our favorite escapades, just sounds like a really good day.

*

So yeah, if you live around here, and tomorrow you see me and someone who kind of looks like me, staggering breathless with laughter through WalMart or Homeland or Aldi, with a cart piled high with groceries, now you know, it’s the Findley Family Reunion Food Committee, just doing their duty to our family to keep them from starving.  And having a darn good time while we’re at it! Ha!

*

The last, and most special tradition that you will always hear mentioned whenever we talk about our family and the essence of who we are, either together or apart, is our family church service.  On the last day of the reunions, Sunday, we always have a family worship time together.  I have said many times that I am so proud of the fact that I come from a family with a strong tradition of faith.  In past years, one of my mom’s cousins would get up and share a few scriptures and a few words with the family, then my wonderful, beautiful grandfather, the family patriarch, would get up and speak, talking about our family history and maybe sharing a story or two about his parents, and praising our family for its strength and love, but always giving the glory for that to God.  We would sing a few hymns, and be dismissed with a prayer.  This year, my father will be leading the singing, and we have practiced some of the songs we will be sharing.  In past years, my dear grandpa and his siblings would share their beautiful family harmony and sing an old hymn called “Out of the Ivory Palaces” but now he is the last of his family.  He told my mother he didn’t feel as comfortable now even to get up and speak at the worship service because he has become so forgetful it is hard for him to keep his thoughts organized.

*

Families stay the same, and families change.  Our reunions are so special because they allow us to spend just a few treasured moments together, to catch up on each others lives and see where we all are today, but more than that, they remind us where we came from, where our roots began.  We are reminded of the strength and determination of the pioneer fathers who came through the Civil Wars and the Dust Bowls, and the Depressions, whose simple lives and strong faith became our story.  We are reminded of them, and of the debt we owe them to live our lives in such a way that we carry on their legacy, that our children and grandchildren can look back on us and be proud that they are the continuation of a story worth telling.

*

Until next time,

D.

 

 

 
Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

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