Monday, March 29, 2004

If April Showers Bring May Flowers What Do May Flowers Bring? PILGRIMS!!

For almost 2 years now I've been into doing genealogy. My grandma gave me some basic information on her family and I ran with it. I now have about 8 notebooks full of information that I've gathered off the internet and it's not stopping anytime soon. This is a never-ending job but at least it's enjoyable.

My mom told me once that everyone has at least one famous person in their family tree. For years and years I thought the only famous person we had came from my grandfather's Swedish ancestry...Jenny Lind, The Swedish Nightingale is a cousin of some sort. I always that was cool considering I love to sing...not well but I like to do it. I'm sure Jenny rolls over in her grave sometimes when her ancestor belts out "I Will Survive" at karaoke.

When I got married, my mother-in-law informed me that through her husband, we're related to Doc Holliday of OK Corral fame. THAT was even cooler, I thought! He's also a cousin. Jeff & I were watching Unsolved History one day and they were using forensic scientists to try and discover how the whole shootout at the OK Corral began. It turned out that Doc Holliday started it all by cocking both levers on his double barreled shotgun. When the second one clicked, Wyatt Earp (I think) thought it was a Clanton gun being cocked and he started shooting. Way to go, Doc!

When I started actively researching genealogy, I found out that we're related to General George Washington Littlefield whom Littlefield, Texas is named after. He apparently was a major cattle barron back in the late 1800's. We're also related to the guy that wrote the first biography of George Washington and made up the story about chopping down the cherry tree.

Jeff is a descendant of Priscilla Mullens & John Alden, the two famous pilgrims from the Mayflower for those of you who didn't pay attention in history class. One of their daughters married the son of Miles Standish so he's in our tree as well. Through one of the Alden daughters we're cousins with author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I didn't think we could fit more famous people on this tree until 2 weeks ago. I found a direct link between Priscilla Mullens and William The Conqueror & Charlemagne! So now there's all these kings and lords and counts and princes in the tree. I was thrilled until I opened my big mouth and told Jeff who he was related to.

Now he's convinced that he has a claim to the English & Scottish thrones and that I should feel grateful that he married a peasant way below his class. I tried to tell him that somewhere in my dad's family was a knight...they were important...he didn't buy it.

He now calls himself King Tars I.

All I ask is that I'm considered co-regent. It's all a peasant like me can expect, I guess.


Saturday, March 27, 2004

The Dark Side of Dieting

My mom is on the Atkins Diet.

I would never ever EVER go on the Atkins Diet cuz you can't eat bread. I would literally shrivel up and die without bread. What would I surround my roast beef & horseradish sammiches with if I couldn't eat bread? The thought makes me shudder.

Mom is a stronger woman than I am. She's been on the diet for about 2 weeks now because in June she's going to Bermuda and in July we have a family reunion. She wants to look good. I'm trying to be supportive. I gave her one of my Denise Austin videos that focuses specifically on the abs. She's done it once. Better than nothing, I guess. I try to talk about the benefits of kickboxing, yoga, pilates & walking...they've all helped me lose over 60 pounds over the last 2 years. She's receptive to the ideas I throw out but she doesn't have a lot of time to implement them. One day she will.

Unless Atkins gets to her first and she cracks.

That point almost came Thursdsy night. It was my brother's birthday so we were at her house playing euchre. We had gone shopping earlier that day to buy party favors and candy for his party on Saturday. We weren't going to open the candy until the party but Dad got into the Watermelon Twizzlers which started the revolution. Everyone started eating the Twizzlers and the flavored Tootsie Rolls. It was sheer madness, I tell you! Candy wrappers everywhere!

At one point, Mom got up from the table where we were playing that stupid Mid-Western card game and started yelling. "THERE'S NOTHING TO EAT IN THIS HOUSE!! NOTHING!! WE HAVE NO FOOD TO EAT IN THIS HOUSE! WE DON'T EVEN HAVE ANY BREAD! NO FRICKIN' BREAD, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!!? AND ALL THIS CANDY YOU GUYS PICKED OUT SUCKS!!!!!"

Derek, Heather & I just stared at each other in shock. Apparently not eating bread had caught up with her and she just couldn't stand it anymore. I tried to be helpful and reminded her that Wendy's was open til 1am and that the McDonalds down the way from her house was open 24 hours. She just stared at me. That wasn't what she wanted. I was scared. I think we all were.

The party is in 15 and a half hours. I sure hope she bought some bread!


Friday, March 26, 2004

Update on the Kite

I flew a kite today. Yes, even after last week's debacle, I climbed right back on that horse. And guess what? I DID IT! I did soooo much better! I think it was the self-flying kite I had, though.

This time, my kite was a more durable Mickey Mouse kite. He crashed a lot but every time, it soared right back up, practically on it's own. There was even a tree in close proximity and I never once threatened it's well-being. I'm very proud of myself.

I also saw "Ladykillers" today, the new Tom Hanks movie. Weird...funny but weird. If you don't mind bad language and dark comedy, check it out.

Also - Happy birthday Andy!!


Thursday, March 25, 2004

He Aint Heavy...


Yes, today is Derek's 30th birthday. Technically, he'll be 30 in 6 minutes from right now. When we were little, we made a big deal about what time we were born; Derek was born at 4:30 in the morning so by the time he woke up, he was officially his new age. I was born at 4:45 in the afternoon so I had to wait. I hate waiting.

As a family, we've always been big on birthdays. Parties, presents, the whole works. When Derek was getting ready to turn either 4 or 5, Mom deciced to buy him a goldfish for his birthday. Of course, there was no way to go buy the fish without Derek coming with us...the pet store by our house closed early and Dad worked during the day. So, Mom did what she had to do. She took Derek with her & I to the pet store.

"Hi, can I help you," the eager young sales clerk asked as we walked in.

"I'd like to buy a G-O-L-D-F-I-S-H for his B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y, please," Mom told him, thinking that this way, Derek would still be surprised. I'm sure she had a way to get around taking the fish home so he wouldn't think it was for him. However, SHE was the one who got surprised. Derek looked up at her and said "I'm getting a goldfish for my birthday?!!?"

I know everyone in the store just stared, mouths agape, mom most of all. She didn't even know he could spell! What a way to find out! So Derek got his fish...we got, two: Blackie & BlackTip. We weren't that creative in naming our pets back then. Both fish had black marks on them, hence their names. They didn't last too long...I remember the night they passed on to the giant fishbowl in the sky...we were getting ready to go out to dinner and as we were uncerimoniously flushing the fish, Derek said, "Too bad we're going to Three Thieves tonight...we could have had fish." Cold-hearted boy! And HE'S the favorite???


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Park Avenue leads to SKID ROW!

I'll admit it to anyone, regardless if they ask or not. I'm not ashamed of it. I love hair bands. I love the music, the hair, the make-up...most of all I love the guys. When I was in 10th grade, Ratt was my favorite. They were all over my walls - much to my mother's dismay. Then Poison moved in, followed by Cinderella. And then...SKID ROW!! I saw MTV's premiere broadcast of the "Youth Gone Wild" video and instantly fell in love with Sebastian Bach. He was perfect: tall, long blonde hair, pouty lips and pipes of steel. I talked my cousin into lending me money to buy their tape (It was $12, I had something like $6 or $7) and then I kept it. I don't think I ever paid her back or even made her a copy of the tape. Oops. Regardless of my selfishness, I wore the thing out. I bought every metal magazine out there of there was even the smallest picture of Skid Row in it.

After a while, I moved away from Sebastian and started to focus on Snake. Dave "Snake" Sabo was one half of their guitar tandem. Now HE was's hard to explain why I thought he was my perfect guy. He's not that tall (only 5'10" or so),his hair was crazy...all over the place, thick and brown with uneven blonde streaks...he always looked dirty...but he had great eyes, really sexy lips and the guy could play the guitar! It was so fun watching him play. While he played great, he had no body rhythm. He would bounce around like he was on springs.

Their second album came out and it was huge for a while. It was the first "metal" album to debut at #1 on Billboard. Skid Row was everywhere: MTV, Saturday Night Live...I soaked it all in. And then something happened. I'm not sure what but they just kinda faded away. I bought an EP of theirs and their 3rd CD at Recycle Records, listened to them once and put them away. Over the next few years I would hear "18 & Life" or "I Remember You" and think, "Man...I REALLY liked them. I wonder what happened to them."

One day in 2000, a friend of mine, Christina, asked me if I wanted to go see the Kiss Farewell concert with her and her sister & brother. I wasn't stupid. Of course I said yes. The show was at Fiddler's Green and Ted Nugent & Skid Row were slated to be the opening acts. Skid Row? Hmmm, I thought. It would be fun to see them since I missed them during their heyday. I knew that Sebastian Bach and Rob Affuso (drums) were no longer with the band so I wasn't putting much stock in how they'd sound. I mean, who could compete with Bas?

My friend's brother has a twisted sense of humor. All afternoon as we circled Fiddler's looking for any member of Kiss, we came across a ton of scummy looking roadies. Each one we passed, Tony would tell me that THAT was my boyfriend. I always agreed in my sarcastic tone. Until we pulled into the parking lot of Long's Drugs. There was a white passenger van stopped in the lot that we had to wait for as people unloaded. The first one out was a kinda tall, dirty looking guy with shoulder-length brown hair, the crown colored fire engine red. With all four windows all the way down, Tony says, "Now THERE'S your boyfriend, Heather."

"Nooo....that guy's actually kinda cute... HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! THAT'S SNAKE FROM SKID ROW!!!!!!!" He looked over as I screamed this and without batting an eye, walked into Long's Drugs. Right behind him was the bass player Rachel Bolan and the new singer, Johnny Solinger. We weren't stupid...we ran into the store and found Rachel & Johnny who were very personable and glad to take a picture with the girls of our party. We never found Snake...I was too scared to after the way I freaked.

After the Kiss show, I was completely & totally back into Skid Row. (Johnny Solinger, by the way, blew Sebastian out of the water!) It was like high school revisited. Being into them got me back into bands like Poison, Cinderella, L.A. Guns and Motley Crue. Christina & I found a store in Denver that specialized in old magazines and posters and we stocked up on old Metal Edge's, Circus, Hit Parader & Guitar Magazines. I dragged out all their CD's and realized that everything they ever did was GREAT!! The third CD "Subhuman Race" was their best ever.

And then, in 2002, the Rock Never Stops tour was announced. Skid Row, Tesla, Jackyl & Vince Neil. Not only were they playing Denver at the beginning of August but they were playing the State Fair in Pueblo the last week of August. Christina and I bought tix to both shows ASAP. I actually started my diet because of these shows...weird motivation but it worked! Anyway...

The first show in Denver was was general admission and it seemed like everyone there was there for Tesla and could care less that Skid Row was getting ready to play. Christina & I got places right against the stage and lucky for me I ended up on Snake's side of the stage. He gave me a pick while he wailed on "Mudkicker." After their set they did a meet & greet. I GOT TO MEET THEM!! I was so stoked! Snake gave me a hug and posed for a really cute picture with Phil Varone, their new drummer. Scotti Hill, the other guitarist, was incredibly friendly as were Johnny & Rachel. They treated us like friends, not fans.

The state fair show FINALLY rolled around and Christina & I got there early. Skid Row's big ol' yellow tour bus was parked already by the arena so we hung around, waiting for a glimpse. One of the security guards was super sweet and told us that he didn't mind if we walked right up to the bus...he trusted us! Can you believe that? I couldn't, especially after Rachel & Scotti walked out and just started talking to us. We took pictures with them...while that was happening, Snake came out. His birthday was in two weeks so I had brought him a card. He posed for a picture with me, took the card and went back on the bus to drink more beer.

While we were waiting for the show to start, we went and rode some rides and played some games. I actually won a giant stuffed snake! If that's not a sign, I don't know what is! Once again, after Skid Row's set, they did the meet & greet. This one was set up so that we had to come around a corner before we could see them. When I got around so that I could see the band, Snake saw me. He waved and smiled! I almost fell down.

I had bought an 8x10 of the band for them to sign. Snake was the first guy to sign and without me saying a word, he writes "Heather, thanks for the birthday card. Snake." HE REMEMBERED MY NAME! Now my knees were really weak! I asked him if he would mind signing my snake, using his catch phrase. He didn't mind. He wrote "Fuckin' Right! Snake 2002." I'm in heaven, right? I look up to thank him and HE KISSED ME!! Just leaned right over the counter and planted a big fat kiss on me! I don't remember anything after that until hearing Phil Varone tell me that his birthday was coming up and he wanted a present from me! UH!

After the meet & greet, we decided that we didn't care about seeing the other bands - nothing could top what had just happened! So, we went back to the buses and stood there, watching for any Skid Row boys. While we were standing there, Snake walked by, waved at me and said "Thanks again for the card, Heather." Gunh! After a while, Christina's man, bassist Rachel Bolan came out, talked with her for a while and gave her a hug before going off in search of a funnel cake.

It was a great experience! I told Collin's daughter, Jordyn, abouut it one day after she found the pick in my purse and wanted to know who it came from. When I told her that he kissed me she very seriously said, "Wow. Impressive." I think that was, by far, the best reaction yet!


Monday, March 22, 2004

The 16 Year Curse

For 16 years, I was able to boast that nothing bad had ever really happened to me, injury-wise. I'd never been to the hospital for anything, very rarely went to the doctor for anything and was hardly ever sick. And then I hit 16.

I was in co-ed gym my sophomore year and we were playing team handball for the week. I was chosen to be the goalie that Monday morning. If you've never played team handball...there's a ball that someone throws and tries to get it into a goal that's being guarded by someone holding a large white pad. I don't know if it's usually played with a volleyball but that's what we were using. This guy on the other team, one of the Cohr's twins, whipped the ball at the goal and I expertly deflected it with my pad and tossed the ball out to my teammate. My teammate immediately threw the ball towards the opposite goal as hard as he could and caught the guy that had just thrown the ball at me in the head. He dropped like a rock and was unconscious before he hit the floor, bleeding from his eye.

Of course everyone was concerned for his well-being so I didn't think it was a good time to mention that my thumb really hurt after that last save I had just made. I kept it to myself and didn't tell anyone until I was in the locker room. I mentioned to my friend Ana that I thought I had broken my thumb. She told me it was probably just jammed and to shake it out. I shook it. I almost passed out from the pain. Button-fly jeans were all the rage then and I couldn't even get them fastened, my thumb hurt so bad. I had to have Ana do it for me. Luckily lunch was the next period so I went to the nurse's station before meeting Shanon in the lunch area. She told me it was jammed and gave me a baggie of ice.

I showed my thumb to Shanon and she said "Oh, that's broken! Look how swollen and bruised it is already!" Sure enough, my thumb looked like a roll of Bologna and was purple, black, green and yellow. Looked really nasty. I stayed in school the rest of the day, keeping ice on my thumb. I told the nurse what Shanon said and she scoffed. SHE was the nurse, right? I called Mom at work and had her pick up Epsom salts to soak my thumb in. The nurse swore it would be better by the morning.

The next day Derek was in the Walk For Mankind and we went to pick him up about 4. My thumb was so swollen and hurt so bad I thought I was going to puke. Mom & Dad took me to the Emergi-Care and the doctor took x-rays. Guess what? It WAS broken! And not just that but a RARE BREAK on the joint! He thought I might have to have surgery and have a pin put in it! Luckily, that didn't happen! I was in a cast for 8 weeks and ended up having to be the nurse's assistant since I couldn't dress out in gym. She never mentioned that she didn't know what the hell she was doing when it came to my thumb!

So, after that, I never got hurt anymore (not seriously, anyway), still never went to the doctor and rarely got sick. And then last year I hit the 16 year mark again.

We had gone up to Parker for my cousin's birthday party. They have a trampoline in their backyard. We all thought what fun it would be to go jump on the stupid thing. At first, it was me, Mom and my sister-in-law, Heather. That was kinda dumb in retrospect, having three people bouncing around at the same time but we lucked out and no one got hurt. Mom got off and Heather & I started doing old cheerleading jumps. I hadn't been a cheerleader or had a reason to do any of those jumps in 16 years! I was pretty rusty but I was doing all right. Heather did a dutch and I tried that one. Didn't do so well. Figured I'd give it one more try. I was at the edge of the trampoline and I jumped up, did a pretty sucky dutch and came down directly in the center, the bounciest part of that evil contraption. It sent me flying at a speed that I'm sure was way over the trampoline limit.

The trampoline is set against a huge wooden deck. I was heading straight for the deck and figured I was set to slam into it with my face. I had a vision of what I'd look like with a broken nose and I panicked, pulling my body back. Unfortunately, when my body fell backwards, my foot was underneath the cloth part that covers the springs so my foot didn't come with me. The pop echoed throughout the neighborhood. I thought it was broken. It looked like someone had shoved a softball underneath the skin.

I ended up being just a sprain but I had to hobble around on crutches for two toes looked like little vienna sausages from the swelling...the bruising circled my leg up to just underneath my knee...and I couldn't do any of the exercise tapes I'd just purchased. What a pain that turned out to be! I would have rather broken my thumb again!

Now I'm afraid to see what's waiting for me when I turn 48...the injuries seem to be getting less extreme...maybe I'll just lose a fingernail or something.

But I will never play team handball again and I'm sure as hell never getting on a trampoline again!!


Saturday, March 20, 2004

Let's All...Go To The Movies

If you're a movie buff, you recognize the title of this blog as being a line from "Annie." Daddy Warbucks, played by Albert Finney was the one who said it. When that movie came out, I was in 6th grade, I think. I saw it 9 times. It was easy for us as a family to see a movie multiple times because my dad managed the Cinema 70 theatre. We got in for free and got free snacks. What could be better when you're a kid? Free movies & free popcorn and candy!

When I was in school, every once in a while the teacher would go around the room and ask the kids what their father's did. No matter what anyone else's dad's job was, when it was my turn, everyone would go "Ohhh! You're sooo lucky!" Hell, yeah! Sometimes Dad would bring home big garbage bags full of popcorn. Movie theatre was a good day when that happened. Once he brought home a huge container of Lolly's. I had canker sores on my mouth continuously for about three months!

9 times was not my record for seeing a movie at the Cinema 70, not by a long shot. 9 did seem a normal number for me, however. I saw "Raise The Titanic", "Superman 2" and "Xanadu" 9 times as well. I remember the summer "Xanadu" came out. I was a huge Olivia Newton-John fan and every day I would ask my mom, "Do you want to see 'Xanadu' today?" Most of the time she said no. She knew that the movie sucked and that the acting blew and didn't want to subject herself to that any more than she had to. But I didn't know that! I was only 9. To me, it was the greatest movie ever! Not only did it have ONJ in it, it also had ELO songs, roller skating, muses, a cute guy (in Michael Beck...I later dated a guy that looked like him. I watched "Xanadu" a lot during that time.) and love that descended all barriers. To me it was the perfect movie. I still watch it every now & then when I'm in a cheesy mood...I know the acting stinks but I still love the music and think Michael Beck is adorable. My favorite Phoebe line from "Friends" is "Oooo! Xanadu!"

Back on record for seeing a movie in a theatre is 19. 19 1/2, if you want to get technical. I had to leave halfway through one time. But the movie that gets the honors is my favorite of all time. "Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom."

My mom saw it first and loved it. She came home raving about it and told me all about the funny scenes. So she took my brother & I to see it. We adored it! Everything about it, even the scene where the guy gets his heart ripped out. I'll admit that the first time I saw that I spit my licorice out in shock. But I got used to it and knew it was just movie magic. It always surprises me when I'm reminded that it was this movie that brought the PG-13 rating into existence. I was also surprised when I bought the Indiana Jones trilogy on DVD, watched the extras disc and heard that this was the least favorite movie of Steven Spielberg!

After my dad retired from the theatre, he got into golf. Not as much fun for me, I'm sad to say. I was still a movie buff and now I had to pay to get in! What a shock after so many years of free entry! The first movie we saw at the Cinema 70 post-Dad was "Goonies." If he had still been the manager, it might have eclipsed "Indiana Jones" for most views. As it was, I think I saw it 3 times. Because I had to pay. Damn it!

Since those glory years, only two movies have ever been added to my list of "You saw it HOW many times?" The first was "Titanic." I saw it the requisite 9 times. And yes, I paid for every single viewing. I also saw "Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones" 8 times. But that was because i have a crush on Ewan McGregor and he looks all hot as Obi-Wan! Haha. If you count IMAX then there's another movie I saw 8 times..."NSync Bigger Than Live." 8 times. I admit it. I like NSync. Their music is fun and a couple of the guys are cute. (Not Justin!)

Now that I have videos and DVD's, I can go back to watching movies multiple times and learning all the lines like I did when I was little. And I only have to pay once. I just wish that I had a big ol' trash bag full of popcorn by my side to eat while I watched.


Friday, March 19, 2004

A Horse Is A Horse, Of Course, Of Course...

When I was young, I loved horses. Apparently that's just a little-girl thing; I read somewhere that's it practically law that little girls be into horses. I didn't know that when I was small...all I knew was that I loved horses. So did my friend Shanon. She had shelves full of model horses that we played with when I'd go over to her house. While playing, I dreamed of the day that I'd finally get to ride a real horse.

One day my dream came true. An old friend of mine (old is a relative term. I think I was in 4th grade and I'd known this girl since I was in kindergarten. Back then, that's a long time!), Cricket, was having a birthday party and part of the fun was horseback riding! I was all a-twitter with excitement. I was going to ride a horse! I was going to feel the wind whip through my long blonde hair as it galloped across a field of flowers....

Back to reality. My horse was an old, saggy gray mare who had, absolutely HAD, to be the last horse in line. If any other horse lagged and ended up behind me and my nag, she completely stopped and would wait until he was back in front of her. When the guy in charge of leading all the little girls on this horse ride came to check on me, I complained that I was moving too slow. "Well, you said you had never ridden before so I gave you the safest horse we had." He said this like I should be thanking him. Bah! I just learned that to get what I want, it's better to lie. By telling the truth all I had accomplished was killing my dream of running wild & free.

After about an hour, it was time to head back to the stables. All this time I had tried my best to enjoy the ride but I was severely disappointed. Apparently the horse felt this and decided to do something about it. Without warning, the mare took off at a hard pace. Whee! Now this was what I was talking about! This is - OOF! The damn thing ran me straight into a tree!

Yes, my second running-into-a-tree story but this one wasn't my fault! This horse galloped, purposely, for a tree that had long, thick, low-hanging branches. My forehead struck a branch and with my cry of pain and surprise, the horse came to a stop. Her mission was complete. I could hear her back in the stables with her horsey friends, "Yeah, I taught that whippersnapper a lesson. Smacked her right into that oak tree." And all her buddies would laugh.

Now, traumatic as that had been, it did not sway me from ever riding again. I've ridden twice at family reunions. The first one, my mom was the victim of a schizophrenic horse who was apparently afraid of water and jumped a two-foot wide creek like she was leaping over a gorge with a posse full of lynchers on her tail. The second time wasn't really wasn't the horse's fault. The guy that cinched up the saddle didn't do it tight enough...or maybe...the horse was poofing out his stomach when he put the saddle on so when he inhaled, the saddle slid off. Hmm...I've read where horses will do that. So maybe it WAS the horse's fault...

Anyway, I was riding this huge horse. I got him because I HAD RIDDEN A HORSE BEFORE! Yay for me! No more lagging nags for me. Nope, no sir. I also had my 6 year old cousin Amy riding in front of me. She was terrified being on this horse and the saddle horn was uncomfortable, poking her in the stomach. As we started to climb up a hilly part of the trail, I realized that the saddle was slipping. Crap! What do I do? The hill was getting steeper and steeper and there was a little ravine on one side of me, a patch of cactus and other inhospitable looking plants on the other. Slowly sliding, sliding...sllliiiidddiinngg....

"Hey! My saddle's sliding off," I finally yelled. My Uncle Ray, Amy's dad, flew up beside us.

"Give me Amy!" Just I passed the kid off, the saddle swung all the way over, taking me with it. Luckilly, I landed on the ravine side. I hit the edge and didn't really fall. What galled me was that no one was there to catch me. Amy had her dad to save her. Where was my support group? Ah, well...just another miserable experience riding a horse.

I haven't ridden since but we do have another reunion coming up in July. I might just ride so I can write something else here.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Watch Out For That Tree!

There suddenly will come a day in your life when you realize that you are becoming your mother...or father...but for me, I'm slowly becoming Mom. It's not a bad thing, really, except that I just have to steel myself against the fact that I'm getting super goofy and that everyone is going to make fun of me and write about my antics on their blogs. It was a simple thing I was doing today when I came to this startling conclusion.

I was flying a kite.

This kite flying day has been planned for almost a week. I went with my friend Shanon and her daughter Elena, who is 2 and probably the smartest kid I've ever seen. Even more so than Derek was...sorry, man. That's the truth as I see it! Anyhoo...we went walking in Fountain Creek Park last week and saw a guy flying a really cool dragon kite. Elena was transfixed so Shanon got the idea to dig out the kites she had bought and we would fly them today.

She had two; one was a single string set-up with a teddy bear wearing a parachute. She assembled it quickly and handed it off to me to fly while she set up the other kite. I was doing pretty good with ol' Teddy until the wind suddenly died. Teddy came crashing down to earth at a tremendous rate of speed. BOOM! Luckily, Teddy was okay. I picked him up and waited for the breeze to return, all the while Elena saying, "Go, Teddy...let's go kite!" Finally he was airborne once again.

This was when I realized that I wasn't very good at flying a kite. I was Charlie Brown. I was running all over the park with Teddy flapping pathetically behind me. Elena was entertained and that's what was important but I still felt like I should be doing better.

The wind picked up, though, and I started to get the hang of it. Then he plummeted again. This time, Teddy wasn't so lucky. He broke. Now when I tried to fly him, he just flopped like a defective butterfly. I felt soooo bad...I had broken Elena's kite!

Shanon assured me it was okay - she had only paid 35 cents for it. By this time she had the other kite ready to go but this one was a dual handled deal. Derek had warned me against just these type of kites the day before so I was wary when Shanon handed me a spool of twine while she kept the other. We didn't fly it for very long before Elena had to go to the restroom so I was in charge of flying the kite solo until they returned. Was she crazy? I had just murdered the other kite and that was the EASY one to handle!

Within seconds of their departure, I had both strings so tangled that the kite was flying lopsided. Then while trying to fix it, I constantly dropped one spool, letting it trail behind me, unraveling more string and making the knotting worse. Shanon had to untangle it when she returned. Then she let me fly solo again. She has a lot of faith in me...

I finally got it up in the air and was keeping it tangle-free. I was doing it! I was flying a kite! Maybe I wasn't Charlie Brown after all! See, I can fly a - - - and then I ran into a tree. I had been walking backwards, not thinking that there were trees and a lake filled with geese and ducks directly behind me. I guess it was lucky the tree stopped me from falling into the lake, which I'm sure I would have done eventually.

I knew right then that I was my mother. That was something she would so proud of herself for her accomplishment and then have something clumsy happen that everyone around her will tease her about unmercifully. I'm okay with it. Really.

Except next week we're trying the kite-flying again. And this time, Shanon's bringing her Snoopy kite. If that's not an omen of doom for any poor kite, I don't know what is!


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Knife? I Don't See A Knife...OW!

My in-laws are big on vacations. Practically every year they go somewhere cool like Florida, New Orleans, DisneyLand...a lot of times they take my husband & I along because we're quiet (at least I am), neat and don't eat much. They've taken me to Orlando, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Jose, Tijuana....and Juarez.

I went to Juarez the first year I was married. I had never been out of the country before (not that Juarez is THAT much out of the country, but still...) and was excited to see everything that I had heard so much about, i.e the cheap jewelry and leather coats! We crossed the border that first day from El Paso into Juarez on a bus. The bus driver was a little Mexican guy who watched everything but the road. He cut cars off, changed lanes without looking, running vehicles off the road, sped...when he came to a stop inside the little garage, he braked inches away from a brick wall. I was sitting in the front seat with my mother-in-law. We both thought we were going to be squished.

I stepped onto the streets of Juarez for the first time and was immediately assaulted with cries of "Hey, Blondie...wanna buy a blanket?" "Hey, Blondie...wanna buy some jewelry? It'll look reeeal nice on choo." Oh, my God! I was terrified! It never stopped...the cries from the vendors were continuous! Then they started in on the time he had really long hair and was wearing a fringed leather coat.

"Hey Bon Jovi, wanna buy a guitar?" Jeff actually bought the guitar. I think it cost him $17! We bought some blankets and some tequila and a couple watches and some 800mg ibuprofen, which is the real reason I was there! Gimme the drugs, baby! Woo!

Anyway...the second day, my mother-in-law (Pat) decided she was tired of the street vendors, piled us into a taxi and ordered him to take us to good out-of-the-way stores. The first one I found a red leather fringed jacket. It was soooo pretty. I asked how much. "$150."

"Too much," I said sadly, turning away. She immediately began chirping at me...

"How much you pay? How much you pay?" I looked at Pat. I didn't know and I didn't want to say too much and get snookered but I didn't want to insult the lady either by saying something like $20.



"$75," I said. She looked at me then looked at the coat. She got it off the hanger and told me to try it on. After I slipped into it, she smiled.

"$75." Yay! I had made my first barter! I felt exhilarated. I left the store, proudly displaying the jacket.

Our next stop was a little store that mostly sold pottery, antiques and knifes. Yes, knifes. Knifes, daggers, swords, switchblades...all in glass cases. The people that ran the store had actually been asleep and the doors locked but the cab driver knew them and had them open the place up for us. Now we felt obligated to buy something. In a pretty dumb move, Pat & I let the guys decide what to buy. They chose switchblades.

Now, in case you're not familiar with border laws...there are certain things you can't transport over the border in the U.S. Switchblades are on that list. We didn't know they had bought them until we were back in the taxi. Pat & I railed at them for being so stupid for about the first 20 minutes then turned our attention to how they planned on getting it through customs. They were pretty thorough in their searches.

The lining of Jeff's leather coat was ripped so he slipped inside. Pat took her husband's purchase and slipped it inside her bra. Now I was terrified that since Jeff looked like a criminal they would search him good. To my surprise, they barely batted an eyelash at him, patted him down without finding the contraband and sent him on his way. Same with my mother-in-law. The second she stepped over the border into El Paso, she shrieked and pulled her chest inwards. Without an explanation, she ran to the bathroom.

The switchblade had opened up on her! Somehow, she managed to avoid being stabbed, therefore giving away the fact that she had smuggled an illegal weapon into the country. After all this, my father-in-law put his switchblade in a drawer at home and forgot about it. Same with Jeff's...I'm not sure they fully appreciated what Pat did.

I learned a valuable lesson, though. Keep sharp objects out of your bra!


Sunday, March 14, 2004

Badfinger Boogie

The handful of people that have read my blog since I started it ask me the same question: What the heck is Matted Spam? So here's the answer! Yay!

Matted Spam is a song written by my favorite musician, Pete Ham. He played with a group in the 70's called Badfinger. Anyone who knows me has heard of this band...they're my Beatles, I guess you would say. They recorded four albums on The Beatles' Apple label before it went under. Afterwards, Badfinger went over to Warner Brothers for three more LP's before Pete Ham died and the band dissolved. The first album from WB (entitled Badfinger) is where you'll find the song Matted Spam. It's a jazzy, upbeat little number about being happy again after a long depression. On Pete Ham's posthumous solo CD 7 Park Avenue, there is another version, the demo version and it's more bluesy. I like that one better.

I was first introduced to Badfinger about 12 years ago when I worked as a board operator for Oldies 92.9. One Sunday afternoon, I was pulling songs for my next hour, one of which was Badfinger's "No Matter What." My first thought was "Badfinger? What a name..." and continued about my business. Then I played the song. It starts out with this heavy guitar riff which is different from a lot of the oldies we played. It caught my attention right away. And then Pete started singing. I loved his voice; it was deep and smooth and full of enveloped me. No other singer's voice has ever done that before.

I immediately grabbed a book that we had on hand to make DJ's seem like they know everything about music and looked up Badfinger. The first few entries simply documented when each single came out. There weren't very many of them: "Come & Get It" was first (it was from the soundtrack to the Ringo Starr movie "The Magic Christian" which is a freaky-ass movie and the Badfinger album "Magic Christian Music." Paul McCartney wrote it and it's the only song Badfinger recorded that they didn't write themselves.), "No Matter What", "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue." There were a couple other songs released in the 80's I later found out but the book I had was too old to have them listed. Anyway...

A side note. One of their songs is known by everyone the world around. I bet I could sing it to my grandmother and she would recognize the song. In the early 70's, Pete Ham and Tom Evans wrote a ballad called "Without You." It was covered by Harry Nilsson and made into a huge number 1 smash. Heart has redone it, Air Supply, Mariah Carey...yet very few people know that Badfinger wrote & originally recorded the song on their "No Dice" LP. Now you know.

So, on with the story...the next entry that I found for Badfinger in that book was under deaths and it read "4-24-1975: Peter W Ham (27), Badfinger. (hanging)" Eeyeww! He killed himself? I was curious now. Another member of the Died At 27 Club and I'd never heard of him. I wanted to know why he hung himself. I grabbed another book and looked them up. Not only did I not find out the reason for the hanging but I found out that Tom Evans who played bass and sometimes sang lead hung himself in the mid-80's! What the hell? This band was cursed!

At the time that I got into Badfinger I didn't have a computer, no access to the internet, no easy way of finding anything out about these boys. I scoured Recycle Records and bought all of their albums (including three copies of "Straight Up" because I liked the gate picture and because I was selfish!) and the "Concert For Bangladesh" box set because Badfinger was there at the request of their then-album producer George Harrison. Pete actually plays guitar with him on "Here Comes the Sun." But there was no info in any of these albums. None were re-releases with additional information on the deaths of those two talented men.

Then Apple Records finally started releasing their catalogue on CD. Slowly, I got all of their albums plus some greatest hit compilations that gave me the whole story. It turns out that when they signed with Warner Brothers, they gave 51% control of the band to a man named Stan Polley. He handled all the money...and he handled it right into a bank account with his name on it and then disappeared. Badfinger was broke and they owed money to Warner. Pete was broke, couldn't make his house payment and his girlfriend was pregnant. He sunk into a deep depression...some of his songs like "Ringside" & "No More" tell the story of his downfall. One night, 4 days before his 28th birthday Pete got drunk with Tom, told him that he knew a way out and went home, hanging himself in his garage.

It's the most tragic story I've ever heard. Combined with the fact that Pete Ham, to me, was the most talented musician and songwriter I've heard...everyone should do themselves a favor and check out Badfinger!

Recommended listening: THE IVEYS -
Maybe Tomorrow (Badfinger's first incarnation)

Magic Christian Music
No Dice
Straight Up
Ass (my fave album)
Wish You Were Here (recorded at Caribou Ranch studios in the Colorado mountains!)
Head First
Say No More (Joey & Tom only)
Airwaves (Joey & Tom only)
Best of Badfinger
Best of Badfinger Vol II

7 Park Avenue
Golders Green

Over You

The Pilgrim

Mike Gibbins, the drummer, has a couple solo albums out, as well, that can be found on-line.


Thursday, March 11, 2004

My Best Day Ever

Once in a lifetime will you have the best day ever. Nothing goes wrong, everything falls into place and sometimes something happens that you've previously only daydreamed about. My day happened about 5 years ago.

It started out normally. I woke up, I went to work at the golf course where I worked at the snack counter. Usually it was a giant pain but that day I smiled at everyone no matter what and my tip cup had to emptied three times! Plus a lady came in, bought a buttload of beer and tipped me like $10!

After I clocked out, I got on Powers Blvd and headed towards my friend's house so we could go up to Denver. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a state patrolman so I looked at my speed. Whoa! I was going like 65 in a 50! Crap...the day's starting to look bad. The guy pulls me over, looks at my license & registration, tells me he believes that I have insurance when I can't find the card and lets me off with a warning! Hell, the day is slowly getting better!

I picked up Christina and we went up to Denver. There was a pre-season Avalanche game happening and we didn't have tickets so we pulled into the parking lot of McNichol's Arena and stood behind the barriers to watch the players drive in. Yeah, we were pathetic. After about an hour, this guy walks up to us weariing Avalanche athletic gear.

"You girls have tickets?" Oh, here it comes, I thought. The end to the Perfect Day. He's gonna make us leave.


"Do you want some?" What??? Turns out this guy was the assistant equipment manager for the team and his wife couldn't use the free tickets he got for every home game. Would we like to have them? Not only did we get free, kickass seats to the Avs game but he gave us his parking pass which meant we got to park with the players!!

In the section next to us during the game was Milan Hujduk! He was only my favorite player at the time and I had never met him. So bewteen periods, I got the guts to go up and ask him for his autograph. He was super sweet! Then after the game, we got to watch the other fans that had gathered by the parking lot for autographs gape as we walked to our car parked between Aaron Miller's and Jon Klemm's SUVs.

So far, no other day has equaled that one for luck. Maybe one day...


Wasted Youth

In my senior year of high school, my so-called best friend got me hired at the pizza place where she was working. Fargo's pizza was a pretty jumpin' spot to go get was built to look like an opera palace from the old west, it has these two giant crystal chandeliers from the Detroit Palace Theater hanging in the center of the restaurant, a player piano that I would like to dismember after so many years of listening to the damn thing, stuffed animal heads all over the walls and wax figures of the namesakes, Fargo & Sophia. The figures are upstairs in a glass-encased balcony, dressed to the nines. They're also haunted. I kid you not. Well...I've never seen them move but other people have and I always got a freaky feeling walking by them.

Fargo's is haunted, though, with or without the creepy wax figures. Opening day, the guy that designed the building dropped dead of a heart attack at the foot of the front staircase. During the years that I worked there I heard weird whispers when I should have been alone, felt something poke me in the head and in the upstairs women's bathroom, the faucets would just turn in by themselves. That was scared me the most, watching that water and knowing that the faucet was in the OFF position. A little kid and his mom came up to my window one day and the little boy looks around and asks me, "Is this place haunted?" I told him that it was and his mother looked at him in horror and said "Why would you ask that? What made you ask that?" I can't remember what his answer was but I'm thinking that he must have had some other experiences with the supernatural for his mom to really flip the way she did.

I didn't mean to write about the ghosty side of Fargo's. I have enough ghost stories in my repetoire. Fargo's Pizza Company was my first job ever. It taught me how to deal with money & count change back correctly & how to deal with the general public which I soon learned is the worst job ever. The general public sucks. In general. Most people will just come, place their order, give you their money and move along. But sometimes you get the people who can't believe that the world doesn't revolve around them.

I had people yell at me because they got the wrong toppings on their pizza and all I did was hand it to them. I had people yell at me because they wanted a veggie pizza and to do that I did a #19, Farmer John hold the beef. But they wanted a discount after the beef was taken off and I wouldn't do it. Those people actually made me cry. It was sad...other customers stood up for me which made me cry harder! I spent a lot of time in the back folding towels that night. I had one guy who was so drunk I could barely understand him and he kept telling me I was talking weird...I wonder what I looked like to him. All green and twisty, maybe?

We had a group of church kids come in one Friday night about 10:30pm. Church kids, I've learned, are the absolute worst. They were loud and obnoxious and one dumb girl studied the menu at my window for a good ten minutes before ordering a #6 shrimp pizza. When she got it, she said she hadn't ordered a pizza, she had ordered the shrimp basket. I asked her where on the menu she had seen "shrimp basket" and she pointed to the #6. "You mean, under the heading that reads 'PIZZAS' and not 'BASKETS'?" She got all huffy and walked away with her pizza. As if she wasn't enough...the damn kids stayed and stayed and stayed...we closed at 11 but we couldn't force them to leave. So the closing manager, Gary, who was a total sweetheart, let all of us closing employees change out of our uniforms (I haven't mentioned that the girls have to wear lace blouses and floor length lacy skirts. Bleh.) and have free sundaes at the break table while we waited for the kids to finally leave.

From my vantage point, I could see about three booths upstairs where the kids were sitting. After a while, one of them stood up and started taking the light bulbs out of the mini-chandeliers above them and shoving them into his pockets. "Gary! They're stealing light bulbs," I cried, shocked. These were church kids!! Before he could get up there, the thieves started to leave, cascading down the stairs. I got there first and asked the kid what he had done with the light bulbs.

"What light bulbs?"

"The ones we sat down here and watched you take. What did you do with them?"

Pretty quickly, this other kid jumped in my face, yelling that he didn't do anything, leave him alone. If I wanted to start something, he would fight me. I've never turned down a fight but I never got the chance to, either. Gary grabbed the kid by the collar of his coat, lifting his off of his feet a good 10 inches, shook him till his eyes rattled and slammed him through both sets of heavy wooden doors that led outside. My hero! The next night he said he didn't remember any of it. Too much adrenaline, I guess.

Those are the pitfalls of working with the general public. They lie, cheat & steal then want to fight you because you call them on it. What a pain in the ass. The best day of my life was when I quit Fargo's with no notice. Just said "Today is my last day." I go back sometimes because they have the best salad bar in the world and probably the best pizza. It makes me laugh to see that so many people I worked with in 89 are still there. We call them lifers...they must have done something really bad in a past life to be sentenced to work there for all eternity!

As for sentence was light...only 8 years wasted.


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Old Time Hockey, Coach

Thanks to Todd Bertuzzi and his disgusting display Monday night, the NHL has been everywhere the last couple of days. While everyone has been crying about the violence of the sport, all this coverage has served to make me recall all the fun & enjoyment I've gotten from the sport of hockey. It's better to remember the good times while the bad times are raging all around you.

When I was young, we had an NHL team in the Colorado Rockies. Rockie Hockey! They were the first professional sports team to play Gary Glitter's "Rock & Roll Pt 2" after a score. Just a little trivia for you guys! One year, my grandparents and my uncle came to visit from Grand Junction. My mother, grandmother, uncle & I were supposed to go to the Nutcracker ballet while Dad, Grandpa & Derek went to a Rockies game. I was so excited about the prospect of seeing a ballet. I had taken ballet lessons, had a pretty pink tutu at home...but, as usual, I didn't get to see my dream become a reality. The ballet had only a small number of seats left...namely, three. So guess who got cut out of the ballet group? ME! I had to go with the boys to the Rockies game.

I was pissed. I didn't want to go to some dumb hockey game. I ended up sitting next to some drunk, loud guy who cheered at the end of the game, he was my mentor! I watched him and cheered when he cheered, booed when he booed. I ended up having so much fun that I didn't care that I had missed a ballet. The tutu was put away and I never took ballet lessons again. It's not like I took up hockey afterwards - I didn't have the motivation.

Soon afterwards, the Rockies moved to New Jersey and became the Devils. I never really watched any games on TV but I always rooted for them when the sports would show the NHL scores. Then I started rooting for the Calgary Flames because Bret "Hit Man" Hart was from Calgary and he was my favorite pro wrestler. My reasons for picking teams & players was always very shallowly motivated.

1995 came. We acquired the Quebec Nordiques who became the Avalanche. It took me a while but I finally got into the game, thanks to the rugged good looks of center Mike Ricci. (See? Shallow.) I never missed a game so that I could watch him play, see his long hair fly, see his toothless grin. I bought a home & away Ricci sweater and missed a Grass Roots concert to watch the now infamous Game 4 of the Stanley Cup. I became friends with a girl at work because she was the only other person there who watched the Avs.

Christina was a groupie at heart and she taught me how to meet players and get autographs and pictures. The next few years were packed with Avs games, training camp, meet & greets. We met every player and got pictures with most of them. We met Ricci the year following the Cup win when training camp was held at the World Arena here in the Springs and he was awesome! Very cute & funny...he had a great butt. I took a picture of him from the back as he signed autographs and a 13 year old asked me, very loudly, "Are you taking a picture of his butt?" I wonder if her heard her! We also got our picture taken with Uwe Krupp, the D-Man who shot the Stanley Cup winning goal. He's 6'6" and Christina & I are not. A guy at work who saw the picture later asked if we were standing in a hole.

Christina's favorite player was the captain, Joe Sakic. It took her two years to meet him but on January 15th, 1998, it finally happened. A parking lot attendant at McNichol's named Lindy was her guardian angel and arranged for Joe to come over after the game and sign autographs. The fans outside of the place went crazy when he walked over. They asked him for a stick. He said "no." People asked for a picture and he said "no." He reached Christina in the sea of people and she freaked out! I was across the way snapping pictures when I heard, "HEATHER I NEED YOUR HELP!!!" I came running over to see that she had dropped the cards that she had brought to get signed. He was smiling patiently and signed his autograph. Then Christina got up the nerve to ask for a picture. Where he had told every other fan no, he smiled and said, "Just one." He put his arm around her and I snapped the picture. She was the last fan he obliged. As he walked away, he turned back and gave her what is now referred to as "The Approving Look." It was almost as if he realized that she idolized him. It was great!

When she met Peter Forsberg she was a little more in control. It was January 4, 2000 after a San Jose game at the Pepsi Center. Forsberg rarely came over to sign so we were just thrilled to be that close to him. I asked her if she was going to get a picture with him and she said no but while he was signing her program, she changed her mind and asked. He said sure so I stepped back to shoot the shot and she turned to the side to pose. She turned back to see if Peter was ready and he leaned down, nose to nose with her and said, "You ready?" I was six feet away and felt the heat of that ice-blue gaze. I can't imagine what it was like for Christina! She held herself together well and the picture came out as the best one I ever took.

My most prized possession is my picture of me & Patrick Roy. I met him at training camp one year. He's wearing a Broadmoor Golf Club baseball cap, sunglasses and is actually smiling. It was the first picture that I blew up into an 8x10 and framed. The second one was the picture of Trevor Kidd and myself. Christina had it blown up and framed as a Christmas present one year. Trevor is now the back-up to the back-up in Toronto but at the time I met him, he was the starting goalie for the Florida Panthers. I got to the Pepsi Center hours before the game just to see him get off the bus. I told him "Good luck" and he gave me the peace sign. After the game, I was with the other fans waiting for the Avs to come sign when Kidd walked out to the Florida bus. I yelled out "Trevor! Do you have time for an autograph? Pleease pleeease pleeeease????" No man can refuse a begging girl like that without being totally heartless. He came and signed my program and posed for a picture. Other fans saw me and asked for his autograph. As he walked away, they said, "Who was that?" UH!

Anyway...there are a lot of fun memories involved in my hockey grouping days. The best was one night after an Avs game, I was driving Christina's car on the interstate when Aaron Miller went flying by us. She saw him and instructed me to follow him. He was a favorite player of mine so I didn't question her. We followed him off the interstate onto Santa Fe and winded around in unfamiliar territory until he pulled into a parking lot of a place called All Star Sports Cabaret. We recognized the cars of other Avs players including Chris Drury who then was the star rookie on the team.

We thought that a sports bar would be a perfect place to meet these guys. We primped in the car, took some deep breaths and walked in. The doors opened and all we saw was a naked chick dancing on a stage. It was a strip club! We didn't say a word, just closed the door, walked back to the car at a fast pace then laughed the whole way home. We never tried to follow any player ever again!

I haven't seen Christina in a while so I haven't met any players in a year or so. But we met so many so many times that I have enough memories and pictures to remind myself that hockey is still fun. My thoughts and prayers are with Steve Moore and I hope Bertuzzi is punished as severely as he can be!



Tuesday, March 09, 2004

National Spell Check

Just a note...last night I was watching the national news (can't remember which channel) and they were talking about some bill for school funds and kindergartners...I wasn't paying attention until the graphic came up. They spelled kindergarten....kinderGARDEN. Apparently, they have Widefield graduates as their spell checkers...or is that where they grow the kids? The one's they're gathering on Derek's computer...


Monday, March 08, 2004

Bambi - Sweet Forest Creature or Satan's Minion?

If you randomly poll 100 people and ask them what animal are you most afraid of, you'll more than likely hear answers of tigers, lions, bears, snakes...the usual scary creatures that could kill you in an instant with either claws, teeth or venom. But one or two people might actually say "Deer." and shudder violently with the thought of running across one of those scary, vile animals.

My mother is one of those rare people that would say she's scared of deer. When she was little she used to have nightmares that the house was surrounded by a band of evil deer that were just waiting for her to come outside so they could get her. If she waited too long, they were just going to attack the house.

Not only did these nightmares plague her but when I was months old, my mom & a friend of hers were driving through the mountains. Off the side of the highway was a tall chain link fence. A giant buck was standing on the other side. According to Mom, when the buck caught sight of the car something snapped in his brain. Keeping his beady little deer eyes on the vehicle, he jumped the fence and attacked the car, ramming his head into the passenger side (my mom's side, of course) then running off into the wilderness. My mom swears to this day that "That deer was on a mission!"

Where I work, we're basically at the base of Cheyenne Mountain. We get a lot of wildlife wandering around, such as raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks and yes, deer. Tons of deer. I go walking every night about midnight around the area and at least once a week, I see one of these animals. My mom is terrified that I'll be attacked by an ancestor of the Deer On A Mission. The only time I was ever startled by a deer was the first night I went walking by myself. There's a field across the street from work and the sidewalk is edged by giant, low-hanging trees. Just as I walked by the trees, a huge buck came flying out of the trees up onto the sidewalk. We both stopped dead in our tracks and stared at the other. He was more scared of me than I was of him and he turned and ran away.

Last night at work, I was talking to Terry. He's from New Jersey and just a funny, funny guy. The conversation turned to the area wildlife. We talked about how the geese that populate the area think they own the roads and how the one time Terry almost hit one that was crossing the road, he got The Look of Death from the goose in question. I actually saw the was funny. Anyway, Terry was telling me that when he first started there years ago, the building to the south of ours hadn't been built yet and there was just a grassy field. Terry went outside to smoke and there in the grass was a big ol' deer.

Now, I mentioned that he's from Jersey...apparently they don't have deer back there or if they do, the residents don't ever actually have any interaction with them because Terry admits he was scared out of his mind. He wanted to turn and run back inside but you can't get in the doors without swiping your badge and waiting for the click. Terry knew that he'd never make it; by the time he swiped his badge, the deer would have crashed through the glass outer doors and eaten him whole with those sharp, deer teeth!

Of course, Terry made it inside safely because, as deer are prone to when they see a human, it ran away. A few days later, Terry said he went outside to smoke and was attacked by the dog of one of our maintenance men. After the interaction with the deer, he almost had a heart attack when the big black dog showed up out of the shadows and jumped on his lap, looking for a puppy kiss.

I'm not scared of deer...I think they're cute. Famous last words...


Saturday, March 06, 2004

Bus Of Doom

I was sitting here, getting ready to blog away when I heard on VH-1 that the little things on the Quizno's Subs commercials are actually called Sponge Monkeys! Now we know..."WE LOVE THE SPONGE MONKEYS!"

We now return to our regularly scheduled Blog...

Starting school was a traumatic experience for me. Actually, it was 1st grade that was so scary. Kindergarten was fine...half a day and we made things like butter and macaroni crafts. I had a cute little boyfriend named Tony and a best friend named Cricket. Life was easy. And then 1st grade started.

First of all, I had never been away from my mom for longer than that half a day in kindergarten. Suddenly, I was expected to go to school from 8am to 3pm? Why? I wanted my mom!! I actually broke down on the playground that first day because I missed my mom so bad. I was sure I'd never see her again. They would keep me at school forever and soon she'd forget I even existed! It probably wouldn't take her long to forget about me...after all, she had Derek the perfect child at home. I'm surprised she remembered to pick me up from school at all! Just kidding, Mom!

Anyway, as if my breakdown on the playground wasn't bad turned out the teachers were really plotting to keep me from ever getting back to my home and my mom with her after-school snacks of peanut butter laden apple slices!

I rode the bus to school. I hated the bus but I did it cuz my mom said I had to. The bus driver was nice enough...Mrs Riley. She was older but pretty cool. I had Bus #9. I was told as I exited the bus that I was to memorize that number so I made sure that I got on the right bus after school. Okay. Bus #9. Easy enough!

Towards the end of the school day, our teacher told everyone that we needed to line up to go out to the buses. She had a list of what student was on what bus and as she read our name we were to put our chair on top of our desk and get in line, NO TALKING!

That was what got me. The No Talking rule. I was only 5, I was afraid to break a rule that a teacher imposed. She read off my name to get in line for Bus #12. #12??? No, I was supposed to be on Bus #9! But she said no talking...maybe they switched and I really was supposed to be on #12. So, obedient little dumbass that I was, I put my chair up and got in line, just knowing that I was in the wrong line.

Sure as shit, I got on Bus #12 and ended up in like Penrose or Limon or somewhere that for a 5 year old might as well of been India! The driver stopped on a dirt road and opened the doors. Everyone looked at me. "Isn't this your stop," someone asked.

"No. This isn't even my bus," I replied. The kids told me to go talk to the bus driver. I went and told her how I ended up on her bus and she asked me my address. Good thing Mom taught me that!! I gave it to her and she told me to sit down, she'd take me home when she was done dropping everyone else off.

My poor mom was still standing at my stop up the hill from our place, waiting for me. It turns out that when Mrs Riley made her stop, she told her that I wasn't on the bus but not to worry, they'd find me. Boy, did the school get an earful from Mom after I got home for sticking me on the wrong bus. They fixed the list right away and I never got on the wrong bus again.

I'm still scared to ride buses, though. Who knows where you'll end up?


Friday, March 05, 2004

I Feel A Blog Coming On...

I've been given more ammunition in my "Derek Is The Favorite" campaign. My mom was recently informed by the company she works for that because her sales are so good she has won a trip to Bermuda! She really deserves that trip - she works harder than anyone I've ever known. The way they broke the news to her was they sent her a swim mask in the mail saying "CONGRATULATIONS!" So she e-mailed my brother & I and kept it short and simple: "Hi. I got a swim mask in the mail today. Love, Mom."

I read it and thought, What the hell? So I started to IM Derek to ask him if he understood the message. Before I sent the message, I realized what she meant. My brother had not understood and thought Mom had finally lost it!

A couple of nights later we were all at Mom's, talking about her trip. Derek admitted to her that he thought she had just gone plain crazy. Mom said she thought it had been a cute way to let us know that she had won and then looks at me and in front of everyone says, "I'm surprised YOU got it & not Derek."

Argh! I looked at her and she got flustered. "That's not what I meant, that's not what I meant!" I just told her "I feel a Blog comin' on" and I got The Look. (The Look is another story all in it's own.)

Yeah, this is short but I told Mom I'd post this and let everyone know that Derek is still the favorite, even though Dad did say that I was smarter than Derek! Woo-hoo!


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Boo and Stuff

If you've read Derek's posts, you know that we, as a family, have had some run-ins with ghosts of all sorts. Now, Derek actually sees them while mostly I just hear & feel things. Only once have I seen something and that was two years ago in Grand Junction at my grandparents' house. It was in the haunted basement as I was walking out of the bedroom I had occupied for the previous four nights. All it was was mist floating in the doorway. I walked through it then turned to look and it was gone. That was my one big sighting!

My experiences with the supernatural started with simply feeling things. One day I was sitting in the middle of the living room floor, nothing around me. Derek was sitting on the couch in front of me so I know it wasn't him but out of the blue, something hit me in the back, knocking me forward. It felt like someone poked me really hard in the middle of the back plus the ghost must have been dragging his spooky feet across the carpet cuz it shocked the hell out of me!

A few weeks later I was in the bathroom curling my hair. Once again, these ghosts have a weird sense of humor. This one blew into my ear. It felt like I was outside in a storm, that's how strong the breeze was. I tried and tried to recreate the sensation, thinking that maybe it was a freak happening as I was stepping forward to pick up a hot roller. No dice. It never happened again.

Two people visiting the house have said they've seen my late uncle who lived with us for a short while. One saw him sitting on the couch in the mirror and the other saw him walking into the kitchen. I know he visits every once in a day I had fallen asleep on the dining room floor (long story. Trust me, there was a good reason for that). At the time, I had door beads hanging between the living room and the dining room. I woke up to the sound of the beads clacking together...opening my eyes, I saw the beads swaying as if someone very large had just walked through them. I knew my uncle was visiting.

The coolest spooky thing that ever happened to me was also experienced by my mom. My brother was living in Denver at the time and my dad was out of town for a PGA thing. I was in my room, making a tape. Mom walked down the hall and said good night. A little bit later, I heard "HEATHER!" I thought the music was too loud so I turned the volume down and didn't give it a second thought. The next afternoon we were driving around and Mom says, "Have you ever been asleep and suddenly a sound wakes you up and you're not sure if you really heard it or you dreamed it?"

"Yeah, all the time."

"Well, that happened last night. I could have sworn I heard you yell 'MOTHER!'." That was when I got spooked. I heard "HEATHER", she heard "MOTHER." Both ending with the same sound. When I heard it, it sounded like it came from her room but she said it came from my direction of the hall. It was winter so the windows were closed. Someone had been yelling in our was freaky.

Little things happen to us all the time in this's in our genes. Our Great Grandma Reed saw her husband in the back yard one day building a coffin when he was supposed to be at work. Minutes later she got the call that he died while on the job.

Things like that are what make great late night stories. One day maybe Derek or I will talk about Grandma's Haunted Basement. That should be sufficiently scary!


Monday, March 01, 2004

Little Miss Muffet

I hate spiders. They're almost as bad as bees, a little worse than clowns. Somehow, the Brotherhood of Eight-Legged FREAKS knows about this fear and religiously sends out members to sacrifice their ugly, hairy bodies just to see me get all weirded out.

Last year, for example, I was relaxing in the bathtub, reading a book. I went to turn the page and there, on my chest, was a big black spider! I jumped out of that tub in one quick motion, surprisingly not falling or slipping, leaving the spider in the water. I didn't take a bath for 2 weeks (I DID take showers. Everyone always gets all freaky when I say that) and the spider lived behind the bath pillow, feeding on the small children that passed by my house on their way to school.

Okay, maybe not, but he was eating something cuz by the time I decided to flush him out and reclaim my tub he was GIANT! He was at least doubled in size. I drowned him, thinking that when he curled up, he would simply go down the drain and life would be good. But he was too big, even curled. So...I had to steel myself and use a cup to scoop him up. I threw him into the toilet and the second he hit the water, he unfurled! He was still alive when I flushed. For weeks, I was terrified that he'd come back up that toilet to take revenge on my ass. Literally.

Now, apparently, the Spider Coilition enjoyed that display so much, they decided to send another volunteer but this time somewhere that I'd never expect, somewhere where I felt safe from all creepy crawly creatures. Work.

I work at an electronics plant, testing chips that go into cell phones, computers, military product, etc. It's considered a "Clean Room" to some extent. We don't have to wear the Bunny Suits like the people in the fab that actually make the product. Since we're just testing it, we just have to wear ESD (electrostatic discharge) safe smocks. My area is in the middle of a giant brick building with no windows and the doors are hundreds of feet away. I always felt safe there, figuring no bees, spiders or moths could get in to frighten me.

Boy, was I wrong.

My smock has a pocket on the upper left hand side where I keep my pens, tweezers and screwdriver. I reached in one night for a pen, signed off my paperwork and went to slide the pen back in. That's when I saw it: a GIANT black spider crawling OUT OF MY POCKET!!!!

It's amazing how many thoughts can go through your mind in so short a time. This whole procedure I'm about to describe took about all of five seconds. Seriously. My first thought was "GET IT OFF ME!" My hand actually started moving towards the spider then I realized I would have to touch it. Ugh! No freakin' way! Thought #2: "GET THE SMOCK OFF!" As soon as I heard myself think that, I heard the valley-girl laden voice of my training supervisor saying, "You can't take your smock off on the test floor. That's not ESD safe." My silent reply? "SCREW THAT!!!!!"

I ripped the snaps open, threw the smock on the floor and jumped about ten feet in one bound across the floor. Now this has been traumatic enough for me, having yet another damn spider on my chest but the first time I had been alone. This time there were four other people on the floor! Only one of them had known me long enough to know that I wasn't prone to these freak-outs and that something had to have happened. He was immediately concerned. The other was a lady who had been there forever but just started working with me maybe two weeks before. The second was my new supervisor of only a few months and the third...a brand new girl. First night there and she sees some goofball screaming and stripping off her smock! Needless to say on top of my fear was now humiliation!

Lucky for me, everyone understood why I flipped. They were all scared of spiders and assured me that they would have acted in just the same manner had it been their pocket the spider crawled out of. What I believe to be the worst thing, though, is that the spider was never found.

Two of my co-workers looked through my smock and around the floor for the intruder and never found him. The floor where I work is raised and made of large tiles placed on a metal gridwork. If you lift up the tiles, you can see the old floor. I'm positive that the spider's still down there somewhere, feeding on discarded & lost chips and growing bigger and smarter...and waiting for his next instructions from The Grand Poobah of Spiders.


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