June 2011

I understand that it takes a village to raise a child, especially when you need funding. But try yelling at someone else’s kid and see how that village thing works out.

There is a family down the street that apparently has a couple stupid kids. I don’t really know the kids, but the mother has two three-foot tall neon green plastic things that proclaim, “Slow Children Playing” and she put them in the way of people driving right on the road where they belong.

I don’t really know if her kids have gotten a bit quicker or if they are still slow and inept, but I haven’t see the neon green stuff out in the road this year. Perhaps the kids were told what the printing on the things said and they were embarrassed to be proclaimed as SLOW.

Green guy looks something like this.

But this woman, who can’t watch her own kids and expects the entire planet to cater to her needs, is still bugging the crap out of me.

Yeah, I know. Seems like that would be next to impossible. But there you have it.

She waters her lawn. She doesn’t have an irrigation system, but she actually turns on a sprinkler each morning and then comes out later and turns it off.

I wouldn’t really mind at all if she just watered her lawn, but she also waters the sidewalk so she can get the 18 inches of grass on the other side of the cement. It overflows on to the street by about three feet, too.

She does this watering stuff while I’m trying to walk. And she doesn’t seem to understand that putting the sprinkler at right angles to the pavement means that it is impossible to use the sidewalk while she is watering it.

If she simply turned the sprinkler to be parallel to the sidewalk, I could walk past while the spray was off the sidewalk. But as it is, it is never off the sidewalk. So I have to go out into the street. Sometimes she gets me only leaving or returning, sometimes she gets me in both directions.

Apparently, she thinks this is a dangerous portion of street. See above about the slow kids thing. Last summer, she put her two green guys out in the morning and took them back in after nightfall. It didn’t matter if her precious children were outside or not, but the dang green guys sure were.

All summer, I wished we still had the Bonneville with the Catalina front end (unless we had a Catalina with a Bonneville front end) so I could hit the damn things. That car would have made mincemeat of her plastic litter.

This year, the green guys are safely tucked away in her garage. I know this because today she left the garage door open.

I would love to see her outside in the morning to I could explain to her that making me walk three feet into the street to avoid her watering venture isn’t really a nice thing. I’m out at 6 in the morning when drivers are hurrying toward work and might still be on their first cup of coffee and not very alert. If that portion of the street was dangerous to her children, surely it is dangerous for me to be forced into the road. Her kids were never forced into the road.

I’m not sure how slow you have to be to learn the meaning of “Stay out of the street.” My kids both learned it, but we lived on a street with a speed limit of 35 MPH rather than this highway where the speed limit is 25 and people complain about the SUVs with “Baby on Board” signs speeding through.

Perhaps I should just walk into her yard and turn the damn sprinkler upside down and walk past on the sidewalk. Or maybe she will give me one of her green guys to carry with me into the street.

Sunday was Father’s Day and so we were heading over to the house with the new father in it. But first, there were things to do – like kill time all afternoon. We did this by a bit of retail therapy, which isn’t as much therapy as possible when everything has to be packed onto an airplane.

We did manage to return Cheri’s bad ink cartridge and get one that worked. This was important, since I was going to be printing my boarding passes. We also figured out how to use Cheri’s scanner for her old pictures.

We managed to while away the afternoon and then we went over to Heather and Josh’s house for a cookout. One last chance to play with Lily and I got to meet Josh’s family, too. It was a fun evening and all the food was delicious. It was time to head back to Cheri’s house.

Neither one of us wanted to fall asleep. It seemed to be wasting our time when it was so limited. But we did have to head off to bed.

My flight wasn’t until early afternoon so we had some time to play. The gnomes got a bit frisky on us and whirled through the house looking for photo ops.

Gned and Gnate with their matching computers.

The boys love their coffee.

The boys on the Total Gym, getting a workout.

The gnomes on the Harley OR Gnarly Harley Gnomes

The gnomes with Harley.

The time came when we had to head to the airport. We got packed up and started our drive to Kentucky, the location of the Cincinnati airport. About half way there it began to pour. Then it poured harder. Then it poured so hard it was totally scary.

Visibility was about two inches. Cheri isn’t much for driving anyway and here she was in a strange place on a multilane highway, without being able to see. It was very scary for everyone in the car. Somehow, she managed to get us to the airport without wrecking the car. Great driving, Baby Sister.

I got to my gate and was stunned. It was at the end of the gate area and there were three gates. And no chairs. Well, there were five chairs for handicapped people and the rest of us were forced to just mill around. Fortunately, I got a seat on the window  ledge. How can airports ask you to get to the airport hours in advance and then not have seats available while you wait?

Gned saving me seat at the airport.

I watched the storm clouds dissipate and then build up again. There was one really dark cloud that looked swirly and I thought I was going to get to see a tornado at the airport, but it didn’t happen. As our plane approached the gate, a lightning storm once again began. No one is permitted outdoors in a lightning storm, so the plane cannot connect with the gate. We waited patiently for 20 minutes until the storm passed.

Gned is such a good little traveler.

Gned and I got aboard our plane, had plenty of time to make the connecting flight, and came home to 101⁰ heat. Dick picked us up and we got home with enough time to do laundry and get ready to go back to work.

Gned was put back in his place, waiting for next year.

Lonely Gned - waiting for Gnate and Gnute - next year.

Saturday morning was bittersweet. We have been having such a wonderful time, but it was coming to an end. Gnute and Pam were leaving. But first there were things to do, places to go, and people to see.

Every Saturday morning is Weight Watchers and so we were going to go with Cheri. Cheri poked her head in the bedroom door and panted, “It’s 7:13!” Of course, when Cheri says something in a panic, it is always more dramatic than I can write it out. Pam and I were still 90% asleep at the announcement. We were happy to have a verbal clock, but we did not see the problem.

The problem was that we were supposed to leave at 7:15. Cheri is always, always, always early so leaving at the proscribed time wasn’t really “have to” but more of a “want to.” Pam and I hopped out of bed, Cheri ran to get dressed. The two of us took turns in the bathroom and dressing and all of us managed to be ready to leave the house before 7:30.

We got to WW on time. We didn’t have enough time to get a photo op for the gnomes, but we did manage to arrive prior to the actual start of the meeting.

After the meeting, we went to Frisch’s again so the Game On! meeting could take place. Part of the fun of having made it through another week of both WW and Game On is that one can celebrate with a couple strips of bacon. That is the reason for arriving for breakfast at this unlikely spot.

Rather than the usual four people for breakfast, we had six of us and there was far too much excitement for us to remember to get the gnomes out.

When we got back to Cheri’s house, it was time for Pam to really pack and make sure she had all her stuff for her next week of vacation in Cleveland. She was lucky enough to have great friends who were staying in northern Kentucky. On their way back home, they picked up Pam and took her back to Elyria to party with all her old friends.

The gnomes had one last group hug and then were each put in their private gnome home. It was tough to say good-bye to Pam, but it was so fun to have our time together.

Gned, Gnate, and Gnute saying "so long, till next year"

Down to just two sisters and two gnomes, we were a bit mopey. But we still needed to get the boys out on the town. We took the gnomes to Greenies and all of a sudden, they just perked up. They got into the taps (and yes they are old enough; see the white beards?). They played darts, pool, indoor golf, and a few other games such as foosball and skeet ball. Those guys get around.

The two gnomes at the taps

The gnomes got a little close to the dart board

Gnetted gnomes

We got home and made taco salad. For the first time since I had been in Cincinnati, I was hungry after dinner. Both Cheri and I had huge plates of taco salad and yet … we were both starving all night long. Cheri said that happens every time she has taco salad and vowed to forego the treat for the foreseeable future.

It was much quieter without the other sister and we had a rather quiet night. Cheri’s big job was to start the dessert for the Father’s Day party at Heather’s house the next day. It made the kitchen smell wonderful as she baked some cookie dough for a fruit pizza. That may have also contributed to our hunger all evening.

We tried paying the card game of Scategories with just the two of us and it was just as stupid as it was with three of us playing. All in all, it was just a bit of a sad day, with Gnute and Pam MIA.

Friday was a pretty quiet day. We really didn’t have any plans and spent the morning just being sisters in the same room, breathing the same air, yelling at Harley to get his nose out of our personal space.

We did go out and went to Applebees for lunch. Last week, Mary had reported the devastation of learning how many points were in a couple breadsticks, AFTER she had already eaten them.

Each sister got the soup and salad thing, but we didn’t all get the same soup or salad. We did all get the same breadstick with our selections. I had my entire breadstick gone without a problem. Pam ate about half her breadstick. Cheri put the breadstick to her lips, tasted the buttery outside and nearly threw the thing back on to her plate with enough force to crack the pottery. Apparently, it was not worth six points to her.

After our lunch, we had a few errands to run. We stopped at the grocery store and it was not really a pleasant experience. We did not have our parkas with us and so we were a bit chilly. It would have been nicer if we had our mittens and scarves, perhaps long underwear, too. I have no idea why they had the store that cold overall, but near the refrigerated section is was painful. They could have saved quite a bit of money had they turned the air down ten degrees and it would not have been too hot.

Steve had a package that needed to be returned to sender. So we got to the post office and found the right sized box to cram it into and got it sent back from whence it came.

We returned home and once again, the three off us each sitting at our assigned place at the kitchen table, opened up our netbooks and started seeing what we had missed while we were out in the world.

Pam was still on Facebook when she saw her chat window pop up. Steve sent her a message. They went back and forth for a while and then Pam mentioned all the things we had done that day and said Steve might want to bring Cheri some flowers. Both Cheri and Steve thought that was silly, but Steve did say he would take us out to dinner.

We looked around for where we thought we might like to go. The interwebs are fun for research. We found a restaurant we thought we could like. Then we started looking what other people said about it.

Reviews were mixed. Some people loved it; some people hated it. Many people said the portions were too small. We took a chance and went to Copper Blue anyway.

Copper Blue

Cheri and Steve each got a burger of some sort. Pam and I both got the fish cakes. Pam got hand cut fries with hers, I got sweet potato tater tots. They were spiced a bit hot and really good. Our fish came with some sauce and we both got that on the side. It was Thai hot sauce and I’m not too good with hot. Pam ate more of it than I did. Steve got the fries, too, and he didn’t like that they had pepper on them – something Pam thought was a plus.

Pam and I also got a salad with our meal and we both chose the cranberry walnut salad. It was delicious. It had lots and lots of dried cranberries and walnuts along with large chunks of seedless cucumbers and tomatoes in a bed of mixed greens. There was some type of vinaigrette dressing.

Steve and I both got dessert. Steve got key lime cheesecake. I got the Brownie of Love – a blonde brownie, topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, and then ladled with peanut butter chocolate sauce. It was delicious. I couldn’t eat my entire meal. I would order just the salad and dessert were I ever to go there again.

Our waiter was a nice kid who even played with the gnomes for us. He asked to remain gnameless.

The Gnomes and Trevor the waiter.

Our next trip was to historic Berea, Kentucky. We made it to Berea, but we overshot the actual historic part of the city. Instead, we made it to the college area, which was another area of interest, but not exactly our original destination. It was on our list of places to go if we had more time so we just visited there first.

Our first stop was at a pottery shop. There were beautiful pieces displayed. The vases, bowls, cups, and plates were done in mostly greens, blues, and browns. The glazes were done so that all pieces were microwave and dishwasher safe. Pam got a small pillow vase done in green with a gray cast to it. Beautiful to look at and it fit perfectly in the palm of her hand.

Our second stop was at a woodworker’s shop. We were amazed at the beautiful pieces of furniture displayed in the store. But more amazing was the section for the dulcimers. Our host was very proud of his craftsmanship and not only played for us, but created a song for Gned, Gnate, and Gnute. He sang for the boys and had them join in, too. They were natural musicians, unlike the girls in the room.

Gnomes groovin' to the dulcimer

We traveled around the circle and came to a fudge shop. I was aghast, struck with horror, and very nearly wept when we saw the “CLOSED” sign in the window.

Unfortunately, there was nothing more to do than move on. So we did. We came to Estelle’s place and there was a sign on the door that she was out to lunch. But we could see her in the shop. Fortunately, she could also see us and she beckoned us in.

Her filigreed work was absolutely beautiful. She had cut each section using a hand saw. First, she would punch a hole and then she would make the cut after unhooking the blade, placing it through the hole, reattaching the blade, and making the cut. One tree pendant had over 300 cuts to it.

Estelle's picture with the Gnomes. These guys can attract the women!

Pam got a gorgeous “every day” bracelet while Cheri got some filigreed heart earrings. Estelle tried mightily to sell me something, but I held firm and managed to resist. I’m just not an expensive jewelry person. I had already loaded up at Charming Charlies – just my style.

We looked into a coffee/tea bar and I ventured deeper into the establishment. I saw the fourth chalkboard listing the sandwich selection. I turned to ask Pam and Cheri what they thought and they weren’t there. I had my head spinning 360 degrees trying to find them, but I did not see them. I hurried out of the restaurant and there they were on the street. They had just noticed I was missing and had the same “deer in the headlights” wild look I had displayed in the café.

They had not seen the board with the Panini selections and had left, not wanting pastries for lunch. We went back and managed to have yet again another delightful lunch.

Lunch in Berea, KY

After lunch we finished touring the college area and then headed to the historic region of Berea. We had a detailed map listing every street and even including where the stop lights were located. Even so, we managed to not know where we were exactly. We thought we might need to turn there, but there was no discernable sign.

After passing the there place, we noticed we were really in the wrong place and headed back. Directions for Cheri consisted of “follow the red car” and we then got ourselves turned around. Our problem was that half of the street sign was missing so there was only the beginning of the name of the street on one side and the side we had first seen only had the end of the street name.

As we approached where we needed to go, Cheri wanted to know what to do. Again we could say, “follow the red car” and we turned onto the street we were looking for. We got parked and began touring all the shops of the artisans.

We again started with a pottery place and worked our way down the street. I sincerely hope everything was so slow because we were there in the middle of the week and that a show is coming to town in the next couple weeks. Whatever the reasons were, we were about the only people there.

This meant that each stop also got us a tour and an explanation of the art form. We learned about weaving. We learned about basket making. We learned about jewelry making. We had a wonderful time. Also and perhaps most importantly, I found a fudge shop that was open.

We had to stop at the Hot Flash Beads store, for obvious reasons.

I'm still hot, it just comes in flashes.

On our way out, Cheri needed to stop for gas. We had a little issue with leaving Berea and which lane was the correct lane after the turn. Fortunately, the way to get back to 75 was to “follow the red car.”

Back at Cheri’s house, we needed a bit more entertainment for the evening. We based a lot of our entertainment on what was “good” to eat. While looking in the fruit basket, we found the dragon fruit. What an adventure – we looked at what was inside the beautiful outside and were amazed. It was edible, but it was not delicious. And we threw most of it away.

Bowl of dragon fruit. Doesn't it look horrible?

But we all now know what a dragon fruit tastes like. Well worth the less than five bucks. Lots of laughs at the table and on Facebook.

Wednesday was a lazy day. We didn’t have any real plans but decided to look for a place to lunch. We got online and looked for some cute little local something-or-other and decided on an adventure. We were going to dine at Wildflowers with a webpage full of bad grammar telling us all about their sustainable foods menu and all the great things to be found.

The address we were looking for was 207 on That Street I Can’t Remember. We knew the restaurant was an old two-story converted farmhouse. We knew it was in Mason. We thought we knew how to get there.

We were on That Street for quite a while and the numbers went from larger to smaller so we were getting closer. But that was South and we needed North. We crossed the midpoint. There, ahead was a two story yellow house that looked completely abandoned and with a For Sale sign in the front yard.

The day was rainy and my back seat window was too streaky for me to read much. As we passed, the numbers on the house were not three numerals, but the words written out. And of course it said “two hundred seven” and did look abandoned.

We had read that reservations were nice, but it was a rainy Wednesday and we didn’t really think we had to call ahead. And now we wished we had because the restaurant appeared closed. Across the street was a place called Mason Diner and the parking lot in front was full of cars. We were hungry. We stopped in.

We peeked at the menu and it looked like it might work. We took a seat and got waters. Then we really began to study the menu. It was all pretty yucky. I was hoping it was going to be like Big Boy on Lake Avenue, but it wasn’t. We looked and looked and we couldn’t find anything to eat. We opted to leave. Cheri blamed it on Weight Watchers and I threw some money on the table to appease the waitress.

Out in the parking lot, we decided to call and see if the restaurant was still serving while they were trying to sell the house. We called, they were open until two. It was one. We drove back over to the abandoned house and that is when we noticed it did not, in fact, say two hundred seven, but instead it was “one hundred seven.”

So we had to turn around, drive back, and found two hundred seven, a thriving business inside a two story yellow farmhouse. The parking lot behind was full. The only way to park was to parallel park in front. Cheri hadn’t parallel parked since she took her driving test. On a side street we did a little Chinese fire drill thing, Pam took the wheel and got us parked. It wasn’t that hard. She just had to drive into a space that could have held two to three cars. Even Cheri admitted she could have done THAT.

The Gnomes at Wildflowers

We got inside and had more trouble with the menu. There were six things each of us wanted. There were so many wonderful things on the menu and on the plates of the other diners around us. It was hard to choose.

We each ordered our meal and amazingly enough, I ordered a dessert. I did offer to share it. It was delicious and probably about 4000 calories all by itself. But worth it, I’m sure.

We then stopped at several different stores on the way back home. When I moved to Landon, there was nothing there. I had to travel out to faraway lands to do any shopping. Now, the area is full of every store imaginable. Many of the stores I would love to have some place near me are right there at Fields-Ertel Road and others are nearby.

Right there was a Christopher & Banks and I was so excited. We went in and it was such a disappointment. I have always just walked to the back of the store and three to six racks of sale prices, out of season, move quick cheap clothes and there were none at this store. As Ryan would say, “How appointing.”

While we were out in Arizona last year, the sisters and Aunt Babe went to Charming Charlies, a store I would love to have near me. It is full of wonderful things I would want to have available year round. Of course, there aren’t any near me. So I had to load up on several lovely clearance necklace/earring sets and I found a wallet to go with my new purse.

No Aunt Babe this year, but the Gnomes with another CC bag. This won't happen next year.

All in all, it was an adventurous day. Even hitting the wrong restaurant made for a fun story. I love having all this time with my sisters.

Sunday evening, all the second and third generation Nowak people came over and we all got to play with all the small people. Lots of kisses got passed out.

On Monday, the three sisters as well as the gnomes went to Jungle Jim’s. This was an all day affair. The place is huge. There were a few more stores around the main venue. There were over 1.5 acres of produce available to pick from. The store started out as a produce market.  There are more than 75,000 international products from 70 countries. The place was simply mammoth.

Gned, Gnate, Gnute outside Jungle Jim's

The three gnomes with some Three Sisters Cheese

There are “store attractions” throughout such as life-sized  Robin Hood getting ready to shoot an arrow, Maid Marian atop a horse ready to ride into the forest. Friar Tuck was perched atop a tree limb. All this was just over the British portion of the store, about three or four aisles wide. These theme based panoramic things were scattered throughout the store.

The gnomes in the Irish section.

The seafood department was topped by a ship called the SS Minnow and Gilligan and the crew members were aboard the ship. The ship was docked and there were more life sized people on the dock. There were huge displays perched above head level throughout the place.

It was an amazing adventure. There were so many things to buy. Not just a panoply of food choices, but also things such as kitchen appliances and specialty foods.

Cheri purchased a pineapple corer and the rest of the department was full of other such wonderful finds. Pam and I had to content ourselves with looking because we have limited luggage real estate for the trip home.

We got to see the movie of how Jungle Jim started his business. He wanted my shopping experience to be fun. It was.

I was doing really good without purchasing much. I found a dragon fruit that intrigued me and I wanted to buy that. But I was willing to just walk around the store – until we got to the candy department. There was an entire row of high end chocolate bars. I looked and perused and pondered. And I selected. I ended up with 13 candy bars.

We were ready to leave when I spied about 20 bins of different flavors of salt water taffy. Since Dick just loves salt water taffy, I bought a couple pounds for him. I hope it is good; I’m saving it all for him.

I had twelve really good chocolate bars and one iffy one, so I opened the one I wasn’t too sure of. I tried it; I didn’t like it. Heather and Lily came over and I tried to pawn some of the nasty chocolate off on her. She declined after a small taste. I tried to give the rest to Steve; he didn’t like it either. I threw it away. So I was down to twelve.

I tried another one, and it was wonderful. Thank goodness.

On Tuesday, we piddled around here in the morning and then Lou Ann came over. We then went out to Premium Outlet Mall some place out in the world. Lou Ann drove. We stopped first at Saks Fifth Avenue and laughed at all the ridiculously expensive things.

The gnomes at Easy Spirit

Cheri got a pair of walking shoes at Easy Spirit. Lou Ann got a purse there. Eventually, Pam and I each also bought a purse there, but it was after walking the entire mall. We had a wonderful time and laughed a lot. Who knew?

After dinner, we went over to Heather’s house and got to play with Lily for a while and then we watched Gnomeo and Juliet. We enjoyed a nice evening and came home and then laughed some more.

The Gnomes mesmerized by Juliet

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