Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homemade Huaraches

Have you ever heard of such a thing as homemade huaraches?  As in--huarache sandals.  Well, neither had I until about a week ago.  Apparently, my dad has reached a new level of boredom in his retirement (or as he likes to call it, self-unemployment).

My father is truly one of the most creative and artistic people I have ever known; however, his exotic taste sometimes leads to handcrafted creations that border on ridiculousness.  He has never been one to follow the crowd, and he could care less what people think about him.  He most definitely marches to the beat of his own quirky drummer and has a unique sense of style.  I'll give you an example....

Enter an old pair of penny loafers and an Exacto knife.  Yes, my dad decided that his comfy, worn-in loafers were destined to be re-purposed into a pair of huarache sandals for summer.  Instead of shopping for a pair of men's sandals like a normal person, Dad busted out the Exacto knife and whittled away at the leather until his shoes resembled a loafer skeleton.  I call them "skele-toafers"...and trust me, they are hideous.

While it's one thing to lounge around the house in this monstrosity of a shoe, it's another to wear them out in public.  I was horrified when he showed up at a family barbecue to meet my boyfriend's parents sporting his penny skele-toafers.

As a shoe lover, I sometimes wonder how it's possible I could be a product of a man who makes his own sandals with an Exacto knife. Regardless of my objections, Dad wears those awful, homemade sandals with pride.  He says, "They're the only pair in Bartonville!"  Yes, Dad...and let's hope to God it stays that way.

Did you think I was joking??

Here they are in all their "glory"

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Change in Perspective

What's my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world, you ask?  Why, it's Bob's Steak & Chop House, of course.  Had you asked me this very question about 29 or 30 years ago, however, I would have no doubt responded, "Chuck E. Cheese!"  It's amazing how time changes your perspective.  What I once valued as the ultimate dining experience now holds the appeal of eating cheese-covered cardboard, surrounded by bratty children screaming to be heard over the digital beeping and bells of video games and ski ball scoreboards.  No thank you--I'll pass!  But back in the day, there was no place on earth more exciting than Chuck E. Cheese.

I loved jumping around in the brightly colored balls that always reeked of stinky feet, yet that didn't seem to bother me at the time. I can also remember with fondness, the costumed characters onstage moving in time to the music of The King while I sat there in the audience and sang along.  In fact, one Sunday after church, my family and I were eating lunch in a restaurant when Elvis came on the jukebox.  I remember hearing that familiar voice, my eyes lighting up and leaning over and telling my mom, "That man sounds just like The King from Chuck E Cheese!"  Little did I know at such an early age that the voice of Elvis didn't originally hail from the moving mouth of an oversized robotic mouse.

Yes, time most definitely changes your perspective. What were some of my favorite sitcoms growing up now seem beyond cheesy and are characterized by horrific acting and awful story lines.  But back then, man, Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski rocked my TV world! 

A few days ago, as I watched my niece bounce off the walls while coming down from her ice cream sugar high, I looked upon her burst of energy with feelings of nostalgia. Surely at some point, I too, had that same level of energy, right?  I can barely recall.  It's ironic that, as a child, all you want to do is forgo mid-afternoon naps and then stay up late, yet, as an adult, I would kill for a nap and I'm in bed no later than 9:30 every night.  So apparently, this girl has aged 80 years in a mere span of 32.  Maybe that's why Jeremy calls me "Grandmother" on a somewhat-daily basis.

Well, I may not be as quite spry as I once was, and I may not enjoy frequenting the same hangouts of even my college days...but I have matured in more ways than one.  So summer vacation no longer exists, and staying up late means catching the opening segment of Jay Leno's monologue.  Who cares?  At least I get my eight hours worth of sleep every night. 

I may now prefer eating in restaurants boasting white, linen tablecloths using utensils that I don't have to remove from plastic wrap to enjoy a juicy, rare steak, washed down by a bold, oak-y wine.  So my perspective and tastes have changed--such is life.  But I'll always recognize the soulful sound of The King when he comes on the radio because, quite honestly, some things never change.

Friday, June 7, 2013

When Push Comes to "Pool"

The clock is ticking way too slowly today as I'm eagerly awaiting my early escape from work so that I can enjoy some time poolside with a pina colada in hand.  Oh, how I love flex Fridays!  I also love the fact that I finally have my very own pool in the backyard, which is beautifully designed and landscaped by my talented, water-obsessed boyfriend. 


If anyone knows me, you'd understand the feat that is pool ownership at age 32.  I spent the better part of my childhood begging Mom and Dad to put a swimming pool in our backyard.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of that happening was right up there with being gifted the much-anticipated pony I was promised but am still yet to receive.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't even learn how to swim until I was nearly 12 years old.  That's right, I was that kid.  You know--the one who frequented any pool I could,  outfitted with neon orange floaties on my arms and, in later years, the despised, obtrusive lifejacket, preventing me from submerging beneath the water.


I was also the kid rendered partially deaf, thanks to the earplugs I was required to wear at all times while in the water due to the numerous ear problems I suffered as a child.  The ironic thing is, though I never got a backyard pool, I'm pretty sure my family paid for my ear/nose/throat doctor's swimming pool as a result of my frequent visits to his office.  It was at those particular doctor visits where I underwent surgery for tubes, took hearing tests and received professional medical assessments, revealing a perforated eardrum, all of which put a damper on my childhood aquatic activities.

So the fact that I have, still to this day, never dove off a diving board and the reason I am also somewhat phobic about getting water in my ears (even in the shower) can't be entirely blamed on my parents and their refusal to put in a swimming pool.  These early traumatic experiences regarding my ears certainly played a major role.  Though I don't hold any truth to astrological theories, I find it a tad ironic that I was born under the sign of Pisces, the fish.  The only thing I have in common with the fish is that I sometimes eat it, slathered in tartar sauce with a side of hush puppies and fries.

Anyway, back to my story about childhood yearnings for a swimming pool... 

I mistakenly thought I'd come close to having my wishes fulfilled the day I came home from school and encountered a giant dirt pile in the backyard.  I thought, "This is it!  I've finally convinced Mom and Dad to put in a pool!"  I soon discovered, much to my chagrin, that the dirt pile was the beginning stage of a backyard putting green installation.  Talk about a major letdown to an eight-year-old girl!  In Dad's defense, it was a beautifully manicured and landscaped, three-holed putting green, but it was still just....a putting green.
So if you ever see me at the pool or out cruising around Lake Ray Hubbard on our boat and you're wondering why I continually keep my head above water (literally speaking), it's because I'm still averse to getting water in my ears.  Also, I've never achieved world class swimmer status.  On the other hand, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm a badass on the putting green!

Oh, and by the way, I still hold out (perhaps false) hope for that damn pony.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Taking a Toll



Just yesterday, I opened my credit card statement with bated breath and my blood pressure skyrocketed when I saw the amount of toll charges I'd racked up in a single billing cycle.  There were five--yes, I said FIVE--$40 charges on my statement.  For those of you who are mathematically challenged (like myself), that equates to $ a single month!  Those fees from the NTTA are really starting to take a toll (pun intended) on my budget...and they're about to go up in July.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find the concept of toll charges ridiculous and unnecessary?  I'm sorry, but I thought that's what my taxes paid for.  Why then must I dig deep into my pockets to finance additional fees just to allow me access to a city highway?  Keep in mind this doesn't include the cost of gas to make my one-hour commute each way to work everyday.

Lately, I've been experimenting with different routes in order to save a little bit of money where I can.  Unfortunately, what I save in tolls, I more than make up for in time and gas.  So most days, I just suck it up and take the expensive route to work.  I find myself cringing each time I breeze past a toll booth. 

I'm reminded of the children's story Billy Goats Gruff.  All I want to do is make my way down the George Bush Turnpike, unaccosted by the evil, toll-charging troll who lives under the bridge.  Though he hides in an unmanned toll booth, he makes an unwelcome appearance on my monthly Discover card bill.

I don't remember the moral of the story, but I do recall the billy goat outsmarting the evil troll.  Unfortunately, until I can find a circuitous route that doesn't add a half hour to my commute, I'm just going to have to pay the evil troll's toll charges.  Perhaps that means I'll have to eat more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Ramen noodles than I care to, but I'll be damned if I let that nasty troll cut into my monthly shoe budget!  I'm all for saving money, but come on--a girl's gotta have her standards.