Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cardinal Fever

Today I was passing through Lambert International Airport in St. Louis when I came upon this balloon archway supporting the St. Louis Cardinals efforts in the World Series. It is such a fun tribute to the Cardinals, and I found myself wondering if that is the concourse the team will be coming through when they come back from Texas.

I flew down to Charleston today for a visit to Folly Beach, and I went to a bar/grill for supper and to catch part of the game. Some guys in the bar, of course getting louder the more they drank, began to first make fun of this series because, after all, who cares about the Cardinals or the Rangers. I could ignore that, and their terrible attempts to sing along with the music in the bar, until they started the name calling. When Albert came up to bat, one of them shouted that Albert was just a fat, stupid fag. At that point I decided to leave and finish watching the game in my townhouse. It is hard to believe how ignorant people can be.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Once Around the Block

We had a block party yesterday, and 181 men, women and children were there! Wow! I'd like to take credit for the idea as a neighbor and I had tossed around the notion of shutting down Maple Avenue for a party. But two women over on Portland Terrace beat us to the punch and organized the whole thing. They included multiple blocks and went so far as to set up a directory of everyone who responded so that we know who lives where. They ordered up a large inflatable jump pumpkin for the bigger kids and someone provide a small inflatable castle for the little ones. Porters chicken and tea, lemonade and water was provided (we all chipped in $5 per adult and $3 per child to cover that and other miscellaneous expenses). Even numbered houses brought appetizers or side dishes, and odd numbered houses provided the desserts.

I walked over at 2:30 to help set up the tables and chairs and then headed back home to get Jim, the dessert and two chairs. Jim had just returned from an overnight motorcycle trip, so I had to wait for him to shower and change. Then we headed over to the party, which was in full swing by then. It was great to meet so many new people (new to me if not to the neighborhood), especially the lady across the street who has been using my book to research the history of their home. I know her husband quite well, but she is extremely shy so I have only waved to her in passing. I also met another man who recently wrote a book about why we climb mountains; a bit of psychology thrown in as I understand it. We are going to get together and chat.

The party broke up just after 7 so we were able to get home in time to watch the Cardinals. Unfortunately it was already 4-0 so we missed whatever the Cards did big in the first inning. It was an exciting game to watch nonetheless. Go Cards!

Friday, October 14, 2011

From Rally Towel to Crying Towel

 Jim and I attended the playoff game last night at Busch Stadium. I didn't think I would even get to go to one of these games because of the structure of our tickets. There are four seats which are owned by three different groups in order to split up the numerous games throughout the season. In addition the one-third that is owned by SWT is split half with an architecture firm. It is all good and fine until the Cardinals get into post-season play. Then everyone wants the tickets. As it ended up, SWT had two of the tickets for last night and Jim's partner was out of town. So I got to go!

We went downtown early so that we could get a parking spot. Our normal lot usually charges $10 to park but for the playoffs the price was $25. Yikes! We walked to a bar near the stadium and had a hamburger before going into the stadium. We were too late to see the Cardinals warming up, but got to see the Brewers doing their thing. When the guy next to me sat down, he easily took up 1/4 of my seat as well. Not even kidding here. Plus he had some medical condition that made him sound like a cat trying to hock up a hairball, followed by persistent coughing. All through the game. I never thought I would be happy to have the gals behind us get progressively louder the more they drank, but that at least helped defer the sound of the throat warbling going on next to me.

Besides that, it was fun to see the Clydesdales once again parading around the infield, and their wagon filled with baseballs instead of beer kegs. And the military acapella group performing the National Anthem (with all the correct words!) was truly beautiful. The Cardinals were even beautiful for the first couple of innings. Then it was like a different team had taken the field. What a disappointing outcome. We did not want to be the ones who brought home a loser! On the other hand, it was a fantastic night to be outside with my hubby, so the night wasn't a total loss.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Boys Are Back in Town

Andy was home this weekend, and I can't believe we haven't see him or Megan since Christmas, and then only for one day when we drove over to Megan's hometown in Indiana so we could exchange gifts. Megan's folks have been out to D.C. twice since then, so we are definitely on the bad in-law list. Nick, who was Andy's best man, recently got married in New York by a Justice of the Peace, so his parents wanted to throw a reception for them here. (Well, in Jerseyville where they live actually.) Megan was unable to come because her graduate school classes meet every Saturday, so Andy came alone.

Andy thought that he was just coming to a party in the backyard of the house where Nick grew up, which he was told began at 6:00 on Saturday. On the way here Friday he received a text message from Nick telling him that he would need a suit for the pictures, and that he needed to be at their house by 1:00 for the photographer. Say what? Of course he did not have a suit tucked into his carry-on luggage. He brought khakis and a dress shirt, very appropriate for an outdoor party. He and Jim are nowhere near the same size, so I suggested that he call my nephew. Joe had a suit that fit Andy, so he borrowed that. He had to wear his tennis shoes with it since no one else has feet as big as his. What a combo! But we figured they could have him stand in the back for the pictures.

When he arrived at the house, he could tell that Nick had totally undersold the magnitude of the event. The "bridal party" gals had all had their hair and make-up done for the photos, which were taken both in the suits and then again in traditional Bhutanese clothes (Nick's wife is from Bhutan). For the guys, that meant wearing a gho, a knee length robe tied with a cloth belt known as a kera, and knee high socks. Andy thought it felt rather freeing! Following the pictures they went to a Catholic church where the couple was blessed by a priest. Following the ceremony they went back to the house for the party which was held in the backyard under a huge tent - the kind with the sides that roll down. A sound system provided music and amplifications for the toasts, one of which was given by Andy. The party continued until the wee hours of the morning, and Andy got back to our house at 5:00 a.m. Which we, fortunately, did not know about until the next morning.

Sunday we had all of my family over for a barbecue so that they could see Andy. They hadn't seen him since Thanksgiving, so it was nice to have a laid back event for everyone to catch up. The weather was great so we were able to eat outside and listen to the Cardinals game. Such as it was...Andy flew back home on Monday, so I had a little bit of time with him by myself that day. It was a great weekend, and only would have been better had Megan been able to join us.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Singing the Blues

Someone gave Jim two tickets to the opening Blues hockey game taking place last night. We decided to take the Metrolink down to see the game. We board the Metro at the Shrewsbury station, which is nice because it is the end of the line (or the beginning, whichever way you choose to look at it) so there is never a problem getting a seat. Everyone that boarded was garbed in Blues gear (except for Jim and me since we don't own any), and the two little boys ahead of us had their hair spray-painted blue as well. So cute! As the Metro continued on down the track, fewer and fewer Blues fans got on and instead a more interesting and diverse population boarded.

At the Skinker stop a man, two women and three kids got on. I think that the two women may have been sisters and the man was unrelated to them but was the father of two of the children. The one woman proceeded to get into an argument with the man, and the swear words began to fly. "That child over there means the world to me and them two kids there mean the world to you, but you don't give a fuck about us." The two little Blues boys watched with wide-eyed wonder as the yelling took place. As they exited two stops later she said to the man, "You can come or not, I don't really give a shit." Nice. The woman behind me commented, "This is like watching t.v." Sad but true.

On the platform waiting for the return Metro after the game, the girl next to us was telling the guy with her that she has only dealt with the police twice. Once because her license tags were expired and once when she went to them to have her ex arrested. When the guy asked what had happened she explained that her ex had threatened her in person and through phone messages and emails. Run, new boyfriend, run!

I was thinking that if I road the Metro every day, I could probably write an entire book about the behaviors and conversations I witnessed. Or at the very least, I could cancel my cable!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

You Don't Know What You've Got Til It's Gone

New neighbors moved in a few months ago. The previous family had lived in the house for 11 years, so we had a nice neighborly rhythm going on. Since we have been in our house for 24 years, we don't take to change very easily or perhaps very graciously. New neighbor has three girls (the oldest of whom is 14) all in private schools, two large dogs and an indoor/outdoor cat. Old neighbors had one boy and two indoor cats.

I have been trying to keep an open mind, but the one dog barks non-stop every time any of us steps foot in our own yard. I've tried to talk to him, let him sniff my hand, make up to him...all for naught. Annoys the crap out of me! Our dog barked at them the first time he saw them in their backyard, but after that he was like "whatever". They also replaced the front sections of their fence (which needed to be done) with new fencing that a) does not match the rest of the fence (including ours which matched their old fence), b) does not meet the fence code in our town, and c) was put up without getting a permit. Additionally they leave their trash cans out on the curb for days on end, when the city requires that you not put them out before 5 the day before pickup and remove them by the evening of pickup.

Anyway, just a few little things grating on my nerves until last night. First of all, our son is home for the first time since Thanksgiving so after we picked him up at the airport we went out to eat and hurried home to watch the Cardinals play. As we arrived home we saw a bonfire going in the yard next door and lots of kids around. The number of kids continued to swell until we had to turn our t.v. up so we could hear the game. All of a sudden we heard something that sounded at first like firecrackers going off but was instead a herd of kids clambering across our back deck. They took off around our house and out the side gate. What the hell? We went outside to check it out, and close the gates because God forbid they should do that after trespassing on our property. Kids were swarming up the private alley behind us, including some in cars. At a 14 year old's party?

We turned on all of our exterior lights, and that kept any more kids from coming into our back yard. I think the party was designed to end at 11:00, because cars started pulling up out front to pick up kids. I was looking out our upstairs front window just as a truck proceeded to jump the curb and drive through the neighbor's front yard - fortunately the house having the party. Again I say, what the hell! About five minutes later two police cars arrived, and were shortly joined by two additional cars. That sent the party-goers on their way pretty rapidly. A couple of parents came to pick up their kids while the police were there. Can you imagine being that mom or dad arriving to pick up your prince or princess and finding police at the party???

There were still kids in the backyard at midnight, when we finally turned out our bedroom light. I can only hope that having the police show up will discourage this couple from allowing any more parties at their house. Otherwise, with this being the oldest girl, the next few years will not be pleasant. After all the money and effort we have put into our property and plant material, I'll be the one calling the cops next time the little creeps step onto our yard.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The $138 Halloween Candy

Last week I decided that I was going to send our daughter a care package. I thought long and hard about what to send because there is a Walmart right outside the gates of her university in Shanghai. I know - how sad is that? So she can get pretty much whatever she needs there. But then I realized that since they don't celebrate (?) Halloween there, she probably could not buy any Halloween candy at Walmart. Thus was born the idea to send her a black and orange themed package. I purchased candy, some Halloween socks and some other fun novelty items to send that I thought the students from other countries might enjoy and boxed it all up.

After confirming that the "What can Brown do for You?" folks do actually deliver to China, yesterday I headed over to my neighborhood UPS store. The first thing the guy wanted to know is Katie's phone number. Since her Chinese phone number is about 14 digits long, I don't have it memorized. Nor do I have it in my cell phone since I hope to never call her in China. Strike 1. After weighing and measuring the box, he consulted his computer and proceeded to tell me that I should take it to the Post Office because they (PO) would only charge me $76 to ship the box. Strike 2. The downside, he added, is that while it would travel from here to China via the PO, once there the Chinese mail service would take over. No telling how long - or if - the box would get to her. But he was pretty sure it would. So I asked him what UPS would charge to ship it. Are you ready? $138! Strike 3 and your out. Or I'm outta here. I told him that I am not spending $76 much less $138 to send $10 worth of candy and other sundry items to my daughter. It's not like I'm shipping Mrs. Wryly's awesome cookies or anything. Get real!

I looked online and it appears I can get the small PO box and stuff it with as much as will fit in there. That box will ship to China for $13.25. That still seems like a lot, but I'll probably check that option out. The irony of the whole thing is that as I was pulling out of the parking lot, a PO truck pulled in front of the USP store and the driver entered the business. Have they joined forces or something?