Just a girl rambling around the globe and writing about it.

Musings from around the block and farther.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wanted: Tooth Fairy with Frequent Flier Miles

Marlowe's first tooth was lost in the driveway of our new house.  Her second fell out during our first night in Paris.  And this one just fell out in Texas, the night after Serena lost a tooth at my parent's house during Christmas dinner.

I wonder where we'll be when the next one gets loose?

Mama's Lil' Sharp Shooters

These photos are the ones that I will treasure when I'm older, when my kids are grown up and my own Daddy may be too frail to still be shooting bull's-eyes with incredible accuracy. When I look at them, even right now, my heart feels all warm and fuzzy.  And I'm a Democrat from a blue state, so that's saying something big.

This is my youngest daughter, with her Grandpa, shooting a rifle for the first time.  She is so small, she had to stand up on a wooden box to reach.  (Like I said to my sister, "Only in Texas do they offer a booster for shooting...")

My dad, who wasn't born a Texan "but got here as soon as I could," gave the girls a safety lesson before we left the house -- he said they wouldn't focus as well on the range, and he wanted to be clear about what was expected from them so that everyone had a safe, fun time.  Not only did the girls keep their attenuators (the headphones that muffle high-pitched sounds) on, they didn't fuss about the yellow goggles we had to wear. And they started to realize that shooting guns isn't just about mean people or gangland drive-bys, but can also be a sport of skill and accuracy.

But best of all, they were AWESOME.  Emme shot 12 of 20 targets, still clicking the trigger with her finger after she'd run out of bullets.  On the first try. Nina shot her first bullet about 1/2" off the bull's-eye.  Marlowe stepped up onto her booster like a pro and listened to her Grandpa and gave it her best try.  The accuracy will come, but the courage to try something new is in her heart.  On the video I took, you can hear my dad turn to me and say, "You'd'a never done that at her age."  

And that's who I still am.  My dad loaded up a Civil War rifle for me, first adding the gun powder, then a piece of pillow ticking, then a huge 50 cal. bullet, then some real black powder onto the striking plate, which a piece of flint rock would strike to start the fire that would roar through the barrel to fire up the powder and send the bullet toward the target.  (Can you believe that we fought a war in which all of these things would have to take place before a gun could be fired?  No wonder so many died in the Civil War.)  There are two triggers: the first sort of takes the "safety" off and the second is the "real" one.  There's smoke and there's a loud boom.  When my dad did it, he turned to me and said, "You next?"

I said yeah, but when I stood there with this machine in my hands, I got really nervous and ended up letting my sister have a go at it.  See what I mean? My girls have Texas in their blood.  Guts and glory.  Mama's so proud.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Las Vegas: Moms Gone Wild

Las Vegas is one of my "happy places."  I don't go very often, but I really do love it.  Glitz, glamour, sugar, coffee, liquor, lights, sounds, crazy people watching... it's all there.  And it was so much fun the last time we went -- over Thanksgiving weekend -- that it's taken me a month to even write about it!

I am only including these two photos of me and KP, even though there are many, many more from our capers around the hotel and casino, mall and environs.  We had a scavenger hunt, for goodness' sake, and our list of things to do was extensive; a sampling:

* introduce yourself to a stranger
* take a picture with a statue (this was accomplished several times - extra credit)
* compliment a stranger on his/her hair
* make a friend
* take a picture with Elvis (statues, impersonators and velvet portraits all OK)

We also had the brilliant idea to make 3 "days" out of 2, by separating our days into shifts (9 am - 6 pm for shopping, gambling and spa, 9 pm - 3 am for dinner, fun and gambling, then sleep, then more fun in the morning). Hey, if you're a mom and you only have a few days in Vegas, you're gonna make the most of what you've got, right?

(Disclaimer: I talk big, but let me tell you that KP and I had the Brambleberry Fizz drinks -- in our hands in the pix to the left -- and we didn't drink any more after that.... we were both brambled and fizzed.... Some girls can't handle Vegas, I suppose!)

A Cruel Joke in Texas

When this car pulled up to the rental car stand in Dallas, the first thing I noticed was not its shiny paint job or that it looked like a rapper's pimped-out ride (in a good way), or that it was a brand-new "flex-fuel" model of my beloved Suburban.  No, what I saw was the license plate, issued in New York.

"Uh," I said to the young valet, "are you kidding me? My dad's gonna laugh me out of Tyler.  Won't the rangers pull us over with New York plates?"

He smirked and shook his head.  "Ma'am, I'd like to say no..."

"But you can't?"

He shook his head again, wiped off the door with a clean rag and offered us an ice scraper.  In case it snows. Yikes.

When we got to the Fairmont in Dallas, the valet asked, "Is it cold up in New York?"

"Oh, we're not from New York," I said, explaining the rental car thing.  "I just hope we don't get pulled over on the way to Tyler."

He smiled and said, "Well, at least you've got your Texas accent, ma'am."

I squinted back at Raf and the kids, who like to poke fun at how easily I slip into a slight drawl when I'm in the South, and said, "Yes, sir, I do."

Christmas, Lone Star Style

I love me some Texas, I do.  And, since my parents live in East Texas, I am lucky enough to be able to visit the Lone Star State more than most.

My parents live about an hour and a half east of Dallas, so it would be easy enough to fly from LA to Dallas, then drive a little to get to their place by dinnertime.  But, and maybe it's the residual memories of the "Dallas" soap opera ("Who shot J.R.??") or the historic proximity to the grassy knoll where JFK inhaled his final breaths, I have a soft spot for the denim-n-diamonds city of Dallas.  Our favorite hotel is the Fairmont, where the five of us can fit comfortably into a corner suite and decompress from a travel day before heading to Grandma and Grandpa's house. 

What is it about this ritual that I love so much?  Many years ago, I read a photojournalistic book called "the journey is the destination," and the phrase stuck with me.  I mean, are any of us really going anywhere? Or are we firmly stuck in the "here" and the "now," which is all that we really have control over?  In which case, we don't know if we will ever really reach "the destination," so we may as well relax and enjoy where we are, even if we are en route to a fabulous or far-flung or family place.

And so it is that Dallas has become my Texas "rest stop."  All the "work" has been done - for this trip, it means that the gifts have been wrapped and shipped from home and the kids' school is out, there is no work for Raf, no dishes or meals or laundry - and we can breathe and be together, watch a "still in theaters" movie on the hotel TV while snuggled up in the big fluffy bed, order room service that arrives with a side of the Southern charm and hospitality that we've come to know with the Fairmont staff. The kids take long baths and emerge, sparkly clean and fresh smelling, in white robes.  We love it so much that we rarely ever even leave the hotel room.

When we do leave, the streets remind me that we aren't in California anymore.  Shoe shine stands, BBQ joints with smoke curling up from the roof, the flagship Neiman Marcus department store, men strolling in cowboy hats and boots, lots of dusty pick-up trucks... as well as Starbucks and glitzy stores and well-turned-out ladies.  I wonder, sometimes, what it's like to live there, but that thought defeats the purpose.

Be here now.  How can I enjoy it as much as possible before moving on?  With a healthy dollop of spicy Texas BBQ sauce and a nod from the brim of my hat, that's how.