Friday, January 31, 2014

That One Time When We Almost Bought an RV

Last weekend, the Louisville Fairgrounds hosted the annual Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow. This particular event holds a special spot in the mushiest, gushiest part of my heart because I used to go every year with my dad. Dad was a busy guy and we didn't have many solo outings, but I could always count on the boat show to be one of them. The wacky Kentucky weather kept him from attending this year, but the 3 of us managed to make it up on Friday, before Colonel Frost and his Merry Band of Snowmen landed on Saturday morning.

It began as an idea thrown against Neal, wondering if it would stick.
"What do you want to do tonight?"
"I dunno....we could go to the boat show...."
But then we discovered that he (active duty) and Blue (under the age of 13) would be free. AND every admission includes a year's subscription to either Yachting (which we passed on because it would be a constant full-page, in-color reminder of our financial shortcomings), Outdoors (also passed on because our hunting experience is limited to scavenging the refrigerator for leftovers), Field & Stream (again, we only fish from the seafood section of Kroger), and Popular Mechanics (BINGO! I have no idea what I'm going to learn from the next 12 months of this magazine, but perhaps it will have something to do with fast cars and cupcakes). But also, there was a good deal of exploring to be done on boats we'll never own and RV's we'll never drive. And deep fried candy bars....let's not forget that.

There were, indeed, many boats to drool over. Last summer, we were all river rats on my dad and stepmom's pontoon. Floating down the Kentucky river during mild and lazy days, we waved to fellow boaters, watched Dad fish, and enjoyed the city from a different perspective. But mostly, we just tried to keep Blue from flinging himself into the water below.

Last fall (and after only one summer afloat), my dad and stepmom sold their all new meaning to "one and done." Fortunately, there are stacks of photos and hours of video to prove that, once upon a time, there was a boat. We will all miss the summer of watercraft, but perhaps not as much as Blue, who (after being at the show for 5 minutes) picked out Dad's new boat. It has a slide...naturally.

But then came the RVs. Neal and I have casually tossed about the idea of purchasing an RV, living in it for a year and paying it off with our military housing allowance and then living in it occasionally after each reassignment. It's interesting how many 2 and 3-person military families are doing this. After walking through no less than 2 dozen RVs last Friday, the idea became all the more attractive.
I mean, seriously...this is nicer than the house we own. And there's a panel under the TV that houses a fireplace. The backsplash in the kitchen? That is actual tile. Of course, there is a downside...
So, yes...unless they dropped a zero from that price tag, this is just wishin & hopin. And perhaps smokin a twee bit of crack.

But we found others that would meet our needs just fine...especially the need to not go bust after buying something that could be washed away or blown to kingdom come.
This one was Blue-approved for its superb climbability and ease of window peering. Also cup holders in the couch, which we do not currently have and I think should come standard on all furniture.
This one apparently passed the bed test...but only because it probably was softer than his crib mattress. It did not, however, come anywhere close to Mama and Daddy's perfectly-soft-in-all-the-right-spots mattress.

And then there was the one with the bow-chicka-bow-wow roman shades that were remotely controlled. With one push of a button on the control panel next to the bed, you could open and close the bedroom window coverings. I took a video because...REALLY?? But I'm keeping that one for myself (as I may have created a dirty ditty to accompany the whirring of button-activated shades. Rhyming games with a toddler all day has its benefits).

We didn't end up buying an RV. If our next move is Kansas, I would prefer NOT to be whisked up into an F8 funnel as I'm frying an egg in these houseslippers...
(Yes, I took this picture in Target and texted it to 2 people saying "if we move to Kansas, I'm buying these shoes.")
So, 3 hours later, we had a magazine subscription, 2 Cabela's hats (which they were handing out at the door for about 30 minutes and we just got lucky), an exhausted little Blue, and a tummy full of...
deep fried Snickers.

I call that $10 well-spent. 
We are headed to Bernheim Forest this something called a Pollywog Play Party, which is intended for children under 5. There probably won't be any fried Snickers...but there also won't be the temptation to spend $400,000 on a mobile home. 
Happy Weekend! And Cheers!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Old MacDonald Had a Farm ( ark, as it were)

We've all grown up saying, "if you don't care for the weather in Kentucky, wait 5 minutes." Although we were away for 3 years, the old adage seems to still hold true. On a Sunday it was 50 degrees, sunny, and breezy and then, 3 days later, record cold temperatures. Yay for weather patterns, or the complete lack thereof. We have managed to take advantage of the random days of warmth and sun while remaining plopped in the direct path of the space heater during the other days. But honestly, it makes a girl pine for Georgia winters, even though that package includes flying cockroaches in the kitchen.

On one such sunny Sunday, we met Blue's grandparents at Henry's Ark in Louisville. Knowing nothing except what we read on their Facebook page, we came equipped with a bag of kale, some apple slices, 2 bags of carrots and the camera. Henry's Ark is a non-profit rescue shelter and home to many unexpected animals...2 zebras, an ostrich, an alpaca, deer, an emu, many freely roaming ducks and goats, and a fair number of wild turkeys. There were also a couple of sheep and a bunny. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Only 1 of some animals and more than 2 of others, they are an equal-opportunity ark. And they encourage the feeding of animals, but ask that you not bring bread or cereal (their Facebook page literally states, "if you feed the animals bread or cereal, you will be sent the vet bill). I can appreciate this as I'm raising a wild animal of my own...he definitely needs more kale and carrots and less bread and cereal.

After an opening of the skies and a dumping of rain (worthy of any ark) the evening before, the main path through the refuge was fairly muddy. And the hooves of hungry billy goats were caked with mud, too (although nothing a little Shout and a pre-soak cycle couldn't fix). But the animals were glad to have guests, especially ones bearing food.

 "Ohhhh look! The humans are here. And they brought those plastic bags full of food!"
 This was pretty much the closest Blue got to any animal that was bigger than him. He has a keen awareness of when he's being sized up as lunch.
 "Hey Dad...I think he's looking at me."
"He was DEFINITELY looking at me."
 "You smell nice. Is that Chanel #9?"
 Dad met someone. They made each other smile. Somewhere in the distance, a goat gets jealous.
I wish someone else in this house got that excited about apple slices. 
 "If I show you my Julia Roberts lips, will you stick a carrot between them? "
 That awkward moment when Dad almost got mauled by an ostrich.
 "Alright, son...let's talk about how we're going to convince Dad to buy us a camel."
Neal learned a long time ago that it's always better to give carrots rather than sticks. 
Until next time, my little gobblers.

If you go:
Henry's Ark 
7801 Rose Island Road
Prospect, KY 
* It's free, but they depend heavily on your donations so bring one of the dead presidents with you. 
* Seriously, people...don't feed the animals bread or cereal. If a goat drops over in the middle of the night, that's on you. 
* If it has rained during the week of your visit, wear something other than your Coach ballet flats. 
* They have a Facebook page. Check it out. Tons of photos from other visitors, plus some handy information about the animals residing at the ark. 
* Don't feed the animals bread or cereal. Wait, did I say that already? Let me say it again. 
* Bring a camera, some kale, some carrots, an apple or 5 and your outdoorsy side. It's rustic but a completely perfect way to spend an hour or 2.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Champagne Friday: The Holiday Hangover

number of miles driven to see Christmas lights: at least 100

quarts of eggnog consumed: 2

fifths of cherry-flavored bourbon consumed: 3...maybe 4. We've lost count.

number of goofy Christmas games played at family gatherings: 4

number of bourbon balls consumed: we lost count weeks ago

number of pounds gained: it's in the double digits between the 2 of us. Blue seems to have lost a pound.

And now it's January. The most gloomy of months, according to psychologists and debt collectors everywhere. Nothing to look forward to in the foreseeable future, unless you are a fool for Valentine's or St. Patrick's Days. We were forced into hibernation all day Monday and Tuesday as the temperatures dropped to 2 degrees and the wind chill to -21. The furnace in the house couldn't keep up and Blue's bedroom temperature dropped to 52 degrees at one point. So he slept with us for TWO NIGHTS and now we're re-training him (AGAIN) to his bed. I get it...who doesn't want to sleep with their parents? It's a warm, snuggly, safe place to be...but it's reserved for sick nights, nightmare nights, and nights when the bedroom temperature falls below anything acceptable for a toddler. But thou shalt not reason with a 17 month old.

I have a few amusing insights from Christmas and then it's back to the business of making the most of our time here in Kentucky. Neal is off for a week after he graduates with his master's degree, so we're driving 2 hours down the road to spend the night in a wigwam and take Blue to see lifesize dinosaurs. We tossed around the idea of a vacation but traded it in for staycation instead. More chances to eat amazing food and less back pain from hotel mattresses.

1) Mama Virgo bought a fancy car in October. It has heated seats. It also has a sensor that tells you when someone is in your blind spot on either side of the car. The combination of these 2 standard accessories makes me want to sell some important body parts so that I, too, can have one of these cars. But I bought a lottery ticket so we'll try that route first. Anyway...heated seats...during a sleet storm right before Christmas. It's like warming my tush on the wings of angels. Mama Virgo and Nana Anna Blue-sat so that we could attend the Christmas open house at My Old Kentucky Home and eat dinner at the local musketball-riddled tavern. And on the way home, Neal turned up the heated seats. It took me a second to recognize the general feeling of warmth...down there. And I remarked on how amazing it was. He then commented that we, too, could have heated seats...even in the Prius. We have a cigarette lighter adapter that has 2 ports for plugs. We simply need one more heating pad and we are in business.

Don't cry for me Argentina...I married him voluntarily. I knew what I was getting myself into.

2) We took Blue to see Santa and all of the Christmas decor at The Galt House in Louisville right before Christmas. Aside from the dancing bellmen (yes, the bellmen at the historic hotel DO perform a hiphop dance every weekend night at 5 PM during the festivities)

my favorite part was the room of fabric lighted characters. Larger than life and whimsically displayed, I appreciated it even more than driving through the light displays in Lexington or Louisville.

 However, this poor dolly has an ill-placed "Do not touch" sign. year, let's put it on the heel of her shoe or something, huh?

3) Yesterday, I had to take one of our cats to the vet. I used the on-post clinic because they had the first appointment available. Things were going smoothly...until the fire alarm started going off. The good doctor said, "oh don't worry. It's a drill. They do them every 2 weeks and we have just learned to ignore them. Now, let's take a look at her ears....". Then someone tapped on the door and said, "um, we need to leave. This is not a drill." Apparently, the main water line for the building had burst in the stairwell and the entire ceiling had collapsed and water was pouring down the stairs. Sort of like that scene in The Titanic where the ship is sinking and everyone in steerage is trying to get up the stairs but all of them are flooded. That kind of pouring water. Fortunately, it was down the hall from us and we were allowed to return to the exam room so we could finish up. But hello, winter. You can stay for exactly 6 more weeks and then it's time for you to GO.

I wish you all a very lovely Champagne Friday, complete with bubbles and a fully functional furnace. It's going to be 50 here on Sunday. Yes, Kentucky...the state where it is 52 on Sunday, 1 on Monday and 50 on the following Sunday. Don't like the weather? Wait 3 days.