Sunday, October 31, 2010

Explorations: The Black Cross

Being Halloween and all, I decided to write about something spooky.  Last night, we went hunting for ghosts.  The place we went to is called The Black Cross.  This is in  a small town called Cabot, not far from where we live.

Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s there was a terrible flu epidemic, and many people died.

They were buried in a mass grave, in the woods, with a large black cross erected.   Today, only a portion of that cross remains, but a newer cross has been set up.

From what I gather, no one is entirely certain the precise location of the grave.

It has been reported that many people experience odd things at this site, such as unexplained wind, noises, fog or mist, and a general feeling of dread.  Last night, it seemed pretty calm.

 We tromped all over the woods, and the only creepy thing I saw was a field mouse.

 One of my pictures did have what would appear to be orbs in it, but so did a picture I took earlier that day in another state, so maybe my camera is just dying a slow death.

We did not stay long, even without really experiencing anything, it was still kind of spooky.

Still, it was not a total loss.  In the dark, without any use of GPS, Hubby found a geocache.

Ghosts: 0 Nerds: 1

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ten Days

Ten days.  It will be approximately ten days until Hubby has to return to work.  He is on vacation.  We are planning on using the time to work on redecorating our bathroom, and prepare the house for my family's Thanksgiving visit.  I love spending time with Hubby, but he jokes that we will be sick of each other by the time these ten days are over.  Judging by how our dinner conversation went, he may be right.

I was relating to him how my nephew went to the Olive Garden with his girlfriend and her family to celebrate her birthday last night.  Hubby mentioned how he feels bad that the Olive Garden gets a bad rap.

Me: I call shenanigans.  You always complain about having to eat at the Olive Garden.  You say, and I quote, no good meal is ever partaken at the Olive Garden.

Him: I have never said any such thing, I love the Olive Garden, it is my favorite.

Me: You are so full of it, you can take your Olive Garden and shove it up your olive behind.

Him:  I don't know what that means.

Me: Oh, you will.  Let's just say, there is a reason there are olives in a dirty martini.

Him: What are you talking about, you just made that term up, dirty martini, there is no such thing.

Me: Yes, it is a way of ordering a drink, haven't you ever heard someone order a martini extra dirty?

Him: What, like in a cartoon?.......TEN DAYS!

Lord help me.

I mean I love you Hubby!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Small Town Elements: Trick or Treat

Tonight was Trick or Treat night for all the communities in our area.  All the towns have it at the same time, to try to prevent kids from going out of their neighborhood to get treats.  Not only does this help houses from running out of candy too early into the night, but also, it is much safer for the kids, since staying in your neighborhood means you know the people giving out the goodies.

Much like last year, I was really impressed with the number of parents who went with kids, and the polite behavior of all the children who came to our house.  We had our dog out with us to hand out treats, and many of the kids more more excited to pet him than to get a treat.  One little girl even offered me a treat, giving me a grape tootsie pop, which just so happens to be my favorite.  I thought it was really sweet of her.  Best costumes of the night included Rachel Barry, Lady Gaga, Snooki, and Lil Jon.

In the spirit of promoting good health and wise food choices, I wanted to hand out something a little healthier this year.  So, I decided to hand out Fruit Roll Ups.
When I announced this on facebook and twitter last week, a couple of people razzed me a little, joking that I was taking the fun out of Halloween, and suggesting our house would get egged.  First off, they are Fruit Roll Ups, which are delicious and taste like candy.  They do not taste low fat or gluten free, even though they are.  As a kid, I regularly jonesed for these things, but we rarely got them, so these were a big treat.  I envied the kids that got these in their lunches.  I mean, come on, it is not like I was handing out apples, or raisins, or pennies.  These were clearly intended for trick or treating.

Secondly, having Halloween candy in the house would be sabotage for my weight loss goals.  Even snack size candy bars are pretty bad for you, and I am not certain I would be able to resist them, even if they were the kinds I did not like.  I figured, why tempt myself.  With these, I was not at all tempted, but even if I had been, at 40 calories very low fat, it would not even really be a stumble.

Finally, I thought this was a very cost effective choice.  Last year we bought several bags of candy, and they were not inexpensive.  So when I saw boxes of 40 Fruit Roll Ups for 5 dollars each, I thought this was a great deal.  I got 4 boxes, thinking that would be enough.  Turns out we had way less trick or treaters this year, so looks like Hubby will be eating strawberry fruit roll ups in his lunch until Christmas.

I stand by my healthy alternative treat, and will end this with the following story:

One little guy, upon seeing our bowl of treats said "Oh wow Butterfingers, OH WAIT, even BETTER, FRUIT ROLL UPS!"

Little dude, you are my favorite trick or treater ever.

Word Filled Wednesday: You Shall Return

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Returning to that from which we are made.  This is a common theme and scripture used at funerals and times of loss.  It brings comfort, which leads me to wonder, why is this the only time we ponder this topic.  We clearly see this happening all around us, particularly at this time of the year.

One of my friends adores the changing of the leaves each fall.  In fact, she and her fiance' scheduled their engagement pictures so that the blazing autumnal colors would be their backdrop.  This same friend is struggling with missing a loved one who passed away this summer.  She related to us how she used the imagery of the leaves, which bring her so much joy when changing color, ending their life cycle and returning to the place from which they came, the earth, to bring her comfort.  She realized that her loved one had done the same thing, and returned to God, from whom she had come.

Even during our lives, at some point, we turn a corner, and start to become more like we were at the beginning of our lives.  We need more help taking care of ourselves, we have more difficulty moving and communicating, we become more like the pure souls we were in our infancy.  So many people see this as a loss of dignity.  I think it is much more peaceful to see this as returning to that from which we came.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Playing Dress Up- Part 2

I love annual traditions.  And one of my favorites is the annual Halloween party that our friends the B's throw.  It always has a cool theme, with fantastic decorations, and I always try to convince Hubby to do a cool couples costume.

This year, the party theme was Ghost Pirate Ship.  The decorations were superb, all done by the B's, mostly Mrs. B.  It really led to a cool ambiance.

And every good pirate ship needs some real live pirates...

While we may not have been dressed as pirates, I was pretty thrilled with our costumes.  We dressed up as Sookie Stackhouse and Bill Compton from True Blood.  I think we looked awesome!

There were some other amazing costumes there as well...including a Mexican man being chased by border patrol

The lead characters from both Pretty Woman and Risky Business

and one of my personal faves, Dan Onorato

There was good music, delicious food, plenty of dancing, and wonderful friends.  It all added up to a perfect evening.  To the crew that sat at that table in the back, thank you all for making this the best Halloween party yet!  We had a blast, and are blessed to call you all friends.  Love you all!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Playing Dress Up- Part 1

My good friend E has an October birthday, and a healthy appreciation for the 80s.  So, naturally, she tends to use her birthday as a time to combine her celebration with the autumnal dressing up tradition, with an 80's spin.  Last year it was 80s Prom, but it was the day after our wedding, so we were not able to go.  This year, nothing was stopping us, and the theme?

80's Rockstars.  Oh heck yes!

So, let's start out with Hubby.
He will agree to such things provided it take minimal effort.  Bruce Springsteen was a good fit, all it required was blue jeans, a white t shirt, red bandanna, and working class sensibility.  Hubby was all set.

Me, I opted for something trickier.
I was Toni Basil a la the Mickey video.  I even made yarn balls for my shoes, no joke.

There were tons of other people in amazing costumes.  Robert Palmer and his girl.

Pat Benetar.

An entire family dressed up as Queen from the video I Want to Break Free

And the birthday girl, her fiance, and another couple dressed as Devo

There were tons of other costumes there, Madonna, Tiffany, The Misfits, The Bangles, heck, even Jem.  All in all, and amazingly fun night filled with music, family, and friends.

I can think of no better way to help one of the greatest people I know usher in their 30th year.  Hope it was wonderful E, and here is to an exciting year ahead!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Not your everyday pumpkins

 If you have not figured it out by now, I really love Halloween.  I am not sure why, I just do.  And one of my favorite parts of the season is the glorification of the pumpkin.  I love pumpkins, both as food and decoration.  I decided I wanted to make pumpkin soup a while ago, and could not find canned pumpkin, so I bought 3 small baking pumpkins, convinced I would make my own pumpkin puree.  When I found the canned stuff the next day, I opted to use it for the soup instead and was left with the pumpkins.

While I love carving pumpkins (last year I did 5, no joke) and baking the seeds, these were too small for that, and I knew I was never going to be ambitious enough to cook them and make the puree to freeze, so I decided to do something different.  I painted them.  But not the average painting, oh no, no faces or anything.

I painted to 2 bigger ones black, and the smaller one white, then used orange and purple paint to put designs on them.  I was going to get real elaborate, and then seal them with mod podge, until I realized they were either going to be rotten in 10 days, or destroyed by the neighborhood kids, so, I just kind of tried to be artsy.

Here is the result:

 I then decided to put them outside.  I had found some cute little lanterns at Target, and we light candles in them at night, so I am hoping it will be a nice effect.

We may still carve a pumpkin, if we make it to the Renshaw Farm and Pumpkin Patch on Sunday.  But if not, the porch still looks pretty cute.

Every kiss counts

No doubt about it, Hubby and I are kissers.  We kiss often, good morning kisses, good night kisses, hello kisses, goodbye kisses, and kisses just for kissing sake.  Partly, it is because we are still somewhat newlyweds.  But I like to think we will always be kissers.

We kiss in public, at dinner table in restaurants, in darkened movie theaters, at our friends homes, at the park, at red lights.  Usually, just pecks, on the lips, or the cheek, or sometimes the forehead.  But every single kiss has meaning.  Every kiss counts.

We relish each kiss we have.  This may come as a surprise, since we were 30 when we started dating, but I did not kiss Hubby until we had dated for over a month.  Maybe it is because deep down, I knew this would be my very last first kiss, or maybe because I knew someone as special as him deserved something more than the obligatory peck at the end of a first date.  All I know is, that first kiss, and every one since then, have been magical, and made me the richest woman on earth.

Several mornings a week, I am up and out of the house before Hubby is awake.  Each time, I kiss his sleepy cheek before I walk out of the bedroom.  And each time, he smiles in his sleep.  I commented on this to him, and he swears he has no memory or control over this.  Having seen how out of it he is, even in the first few minutes of being awake, I believe him.  So, when he smiles in his sleep, because I kissed him, it warms my heart to know that every part of his being relishes my kisses, even when he is sleeping.

Part of the reason I kiss him, and make sure to tell him daily how much I love, respect, honor, and appreciate him, is because one never knows what will happen.  I want to make sure he is never in doubt of my devotion. I want to thank him for all he does for me, even the little things (like 5 am runs to get ginger ale for my upset tummy), because I do not want him to feel taken for granted.

So, Hubby, I love you.  Hurry home for a kiss.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Spirit of Support

Yesterday, I wore purple.  I wore it out of love, support, and remembrance.

We all have been hearing about the terrible suicides among LGBT teens who have been bullied and pushed to the point that they just cannot stand it.

I will never fully understand what it is like to be bullied on the basis of my sexual orientation or gender identity.  Being straight, I am given rights that many other people are not.  And my straightness gives me an ability to blend into the "mainstream".  But I have seen other people who were bullied, ridiculed, ostracized, and terribly hurt, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Let's face it, being a kid is hard enough.  Heck, being an ADULT is hard enough, just learning to accept and love yourself.  But throw into that mix being taunted, and even threatened, all for simply being who you are.  No one should ever be made to feel as unworthy as these kids were.

Many LGBT youth have few role models.  They fear the reaction of loved ones if they reveal their true selves.  They long to have the fairy tale love they were raised on, but do not think it is out there for them, simply because they are different.  And very few have anyone to talk to about life as an LGBT adult, so they are afraid of what they may be facing for the rest of their lives.  Which is why Dan Savage created a wonderful project called It Gets Better.  Hundreds of people, some celebrities and well know people, some everyday men and women, have submitted videos aimed at LGBT youth to tell them that "It gets bettter", to tell them they are loved, and to hold on, because life is so worth it.

Some viral campaigns started to devote 10-20-10 to Spirit day, to encourage GLBT youth.  All participants were encouraged to wear purple to show support.  I saw these events posted on Facebook, and decided to join in.  I will never know what it is like to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.  But I do know what it is like to be human, and to be hurt and devalued.  So, this is my way of spreading the message, to all LGBT youth and adults, both living and departed:

I support you.  I remember you.  I love you.

In the Big City: The Zombie Opera

Alright kids, we all know about my penchant for horror movies, and my recent zombie-esque cemetery shufflings.  So, when Boring Pittsburgh publicized the upcoming show Evenings in Quarentine: The Zombie Opera, I thought "Holy Brains, I HAVE to go to that!".  I debated and debated, and saw show after show selling out.  Then, they announced they were adding an additional show, and I decided, that is IT, I am going.  I bought my ticket straight away, and good thing, because that show sold out in 18 hours.

Last night, it was time for the show.  I purposely avoided reading too much about the show, so as to go in a complete novice.  I got there about an hour before the show started, and already, people were waiting in line for walk in tickets.  This show already has quite a cult following.

Like a complete and total dork, I was first in line to get in, and when the doors opened, I got the first seat, front and center.  How else could I write an accurate review.

The show had amazing programs, with a truncated synopsis marked Classified By Order of The US Government, so I only knew what to expect from Act 1.  Basically, the premise is, it is modern day Pittsburgh, and zombies have invaded the city.  Safe zones have been set up, and are being monitored by the military, but in Oakland, the zone broke down.  Ronnie and Izzie, the two lead characters, are trying to reunite with family members, with the help of their friend Charles.  Along the way, Charles gets bitten, the fate of the trio is in question for the remainder of the show.

As the show was getting ready to start there was an announcement about prop gunfire, and that the show may not be suitable for those under 13.  Then, well, then things got rolling.  We have the Prelude, then we are introduced to Ronnie, then Izzie, with the first song.  The next interlude involved the multimedia aspect of the show, which I loved.  Not only was there the live acting, there was prerecorded bits projected behind it, and the two media interacted with each other, it was so clever, and a great way of making a production for a small space feel so much larger.  The interlude was a news broadcast by the fictional Channel 8 news, one of several throughout the night, showing scenes of zombie debauchery all over the city.  I had to admit, I chuckled thinking, yeah, zombies are about the only thing driving people into PNC park these days.  There was a lot of humor, and a little bit of camp, sprinkled throughout the songs.  We then have few more musical interludes that progress the plot, I am not going to go into detail for all of them, or I will be blathering on for DAYS!  My only complaint was that one of the numbers, Last Call, was really hard to hear, and that was from the front row, so I can imagine the back row was straining.

I do want to note the song Red and the White.  This describes the military involvement in the protection of citizens.  It was quite a political piece, and reminded me of the classic style of old horror films echoing the political climate.  (Don't believe me?  Watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the original.  Best commentary on the Cold War ever.).  I also loved that this was a piece that played out on screen, using a lot of talented extras, and some cool split screen and collage screen effects.  Act 1 concluded with a musical highlight, a solo by Charles which had me forgetting I was not in a Broadway theater, both in terms of the quality and the composition, entitled I've Been Bitten.

At this point there was an intermission, where they offered us refreshments including zombie cookies,

and little pamphlets about living with the undead.

I took the opportunity to buy a t shirt and some raffle tickets (crosses fingers).  I do want to mention that during the first act and intermission, there was an issue with an audience member who had passed out.  I was most impressed with the caring, concern, and professionality of the Greybox theater staff and crew of the show in dealing with the situation.  The party was sitting near me, and the theater manager was fantastic with them.  She even had to deal with a ridiculously inappropriate audience member not related to the party making loud, inappropriate statements, and she remained calm and professional the whole time, putting the man's health her first concern.  Eventually, paramedics helped the man out of the theater, and with a wave the man assured us, to our applause, he was fine, and that the show must go on.  So it did.  But well done Greybox staff!

Act 2 started with another news broadcast, then moved into another musical highlight with Evenings in Quarentine.  There were several musical numbers that flowed one from another, but one that really touched me was Shadow.  In the remainder of the show, the music and themes took a much more somber tone, and at one point, I had chills and very very wet eyes.  The finale was simply fantastic.

I have to say, the voices of Bonnie Bogovich (Ronnie) and Elizabeth Rishel (Izzie) were amazing and so complementary.  While Elizabeth seemed to have the more operatic voice, Bonnie had a heartfeltness that really touched me.  And as I mentioned, Drew Fogle (Charles) had a real show stopper at the end of Act 1.  The quality of the music for the show was fantastic, the use of musical themes was well balanced with storytelling solo pieces.  I hope they record this, because I would buy this CD, and I would bet the majority of the other audience members would as well.  The extras were wonderful as well, with many playing multiple roles.  And of course, the prerecorded aspect really blew me away.

This may be the highlight of the Halloween season for me.  And considering I went to Crazy Scary, have been watching ridiculous B horror films like they are going out of style, been plotting how to dress up our pets, and have bought no less than 5 potential Halloween costumes this year, with a potential for a total of 4 parties to wear them too, that is saying a lot ya'll.

I see big things possible for this show, and its appeal could spread far beyond the borders of the city of its birth.  And sincerely, I hope for big big national exposure and success for the show.  But there is something sweetly satisfying about having seen the show in its first year, in its home town, in the Greybox theater, with the PAT buses outside, and Iron City being served all around me.  Long live Pittsburgh, and her undead.