Last week, Texas had the mother of all snow and ice storms. We are talking record cold and unprecedented amounts of precipitation for an extended period of time. It was just nuts. It was dangerous and beautiful all at the same time. We did amazingly well. We had no burst pipes, no extended time without power, no food shortages, and no loss in water or gas services. We were incredibly lucky. I say luck because it was just that. I had friends a few blocks from my house that had a totally different experience because they happened to be on a different power grid or their house was slightly newer and the pipes in the attic weren’t as insulated as some of the older homes. The one issue we did have was no internet service. It was so bad my husband couldn’t even use a cell phone to run a hot spot so he could work from home. Text messages barely worked and even talking was a challenge. It was practically 1982 up in here.
The lack of connectivity was the main reason I didn’t post anything last week but not the only one. Here lately, I find it’s getting harder and harder to come up with a topic that doesn’t make me sound like a whining bitch or wouldn’t land me in trouble with some of my more cancel culture-ish friends. What is it that we were told as small children? If you can’t say something nice; don’t say anything at all? Well, I don’t have much to say that’s nice. I have some issues with a few things and cancel culture is large and in charge. It used to be when you disagreed with someone you either got over or you didn’t but you didn’t make a big production about it. For example, ever since Tom Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch all those years ago professing his love for Katie Holmes, I decided he was crazy and I would no longer give my money to any of Tom Cruise’s endeavors. Did I jump on anyone’s couch to alert anyone to my boycott of Tom Cruise? No, I did not. Have I gone to see him in any movie since that fateful day? No, I have not. Does Tom Cruise miss my measly little $10 from my movie ticket? Not in the slightest. Do I feel better that I’m not lining his crazy, cultish freak show self? You betcha. That my friends is how canceling used to work. You did your thing and you kept it to yourself or maybe you told a few friends or your significant other. You didn’t pull a Tom and jump on the couch and act like a fool.
Because I can no longer say anything nice, I think I’m going to take a hiatus. I’m very much thinking of canceling this blog. Maybe my hiatus will inspire me or maybe it will just show me that this phase has passed and it’s time to move along. In the meantime, check out this picture of the creek by my house all frozen and beautiful. Mother Nature is a bitch but she sure is pretty.
Y’all, I just love useless knowledge. I especially love reading or listening to stories about how something came to be. Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Lore. This particular episode was all about the founding of Seattle, its great fire, and its subsequent rise from the ashes.
One of the most fascinating characters in Seattle history is a lady named Lou Graham. Ms. Graham was a Madame. She owned several brothels including one that still stands today on the corner of South Washington and Third Avenue. It, ironically, is now called the Washington Court Building. But, that’s not the most interesting part. Ms. Graham was a German immigrant who worked hard, had a great head for business, and knew how to court power and influence. She used her power, influence, and money for philanthropy in her new town and granted loans to the city and the city’s wealthy elite when the city hit financial troubles – like after the great fire. At the time of her death, she was one of, if not the, richest woman in America.
The funny thing about all of her wealth, she had no direct descendants or a spouse to leave her substantial fortune to when she died. She had a will. The will stated the money should be distributed to various relations back home in Germany. Apparently, despite all of her power and influence when she was alive, it didn’t count for much when she died. Her will was ignored and the City of Seattle used her fortune to establish the public school system. While a good and noble thing and worthy cause to be sure, it sort of sucks that a bunch of men, the same men that probably frequented her establishment felt they were better stewards of her money. If you research her online some sources say these relatives in Germany were frauds, that they really weren’t relatives. Other sources make it appear her will wasn’t a proper document. However, I feel like it was just another case of a bunch of powerful people trying to pull rank on someone they couldn’t control.
If you want to listen to the podcast that led me down this rabbit hole, it’s called Lore, episode 98, entitled, Never Alone. You can find it here. I pulled the picture for this blog off the internet. A simple Google search will produce more images and information but this was her crowning jewel establishment. I think it looks rather plain and boring – sturdy even. One would never suspect its origins.
One of my biggest pet peeves in life is being talked down to or treated like I don’t have enough sense to make my own decisions. I distinctly remember being a child and being talked down to by adults. It felt like just because I was small they thought I didn’t have any self preservation instincts or reasoning skills. I remember thinking when I was big, people would no longer talk down to me and try to make decisions for me. Looking back, that was probably that was really naïve.
Today, I was scrolling through my Disney blogs when I saw that several titles have been removed from the children’s section of Disney+. They’ve removed Aladdin (both animated and live action), The Aristocats, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, and Swiss Family Robinson. These movies aren’t new. Pretty much everyone over the age of 18 has seen these movies and there’s nothing that needs censoring. I’m not surprised because apparently, my beloved Disney feels like we the consumer can’t make decisions about what is okay and acceptable. A couple of years ago they decided Pirates of the Caribbean needed a refurb because the auction scene was too much. Never mind the fact that pirates are actually criminals. And, more recently they’ve announced that Splash Mountain and Jungle cruise are getting a refurb. What burns me is the fact that Disney feels the need to tell me what is and isn’t appropriate for my family. I don’t need their meddling. If I feel my kids aren’t ready for something, I won’t let them participate in that activity. It’s a novel idea called parenting – an idea more and more people seem more than willing to abdicate to someone else. Is Disney going to put warning labels on all the movies? How about they take down Bambi because his mother gets shot? That’s traumatizing – I would say even more so than seeing a bunch of cats getting sauced in Aristocats.
If you’d like to read the source article it will be listed below. Source: Allears.net
How does the old saying go? Never talk about religion or politics in polite conversation. I guess I’m not very polite. Last week I talked about politics so this week I thought I’d touch on religion.
This topic happened organically. I didn’t intend to discuss religion. The preschool I work for is faith based. Apparently, it’s time to overhaul its online presence so all the teachers have to come up with a new bio and picture and they want to know our favorite Bible verse.
Before I go any further I should state for the record I am a Christian. I’m not a shout it from the rooftops, ask everyone I meet if they are saved and would they like to attend church with me this Sunday type of Christian but I am Christian. However, when I got the email I needed a favorite bible verse all I could think of was, “Jesus wept” and the Christmas story as told by Linus in Charlie Brown Christmas.
I started feeling like a shitty Christian because I couldn’t quote verses. I decided I would quiz some of my holier friends about their favorite verses. I’m not gonna lie; I was going to straight up steal a favorite Bible verse. I’m not proud. But, I quickly realized none of their verses fit me. So, I did what I should have done in the first place. I dug my old high school student Bible out of my keepsake box. This thing still smells like smoke from my parent’s house. It’s falling apart. The whole maps section in the back is just gone but I can’t bear to get rid of it. This thing and my youth group quite possibly kept me out of jail in my wilder days. I started flipping through the tissue thin pages looking at highlighted passages and was finally able to settle on a few. John 14:1, Philippians 4:4 and 1 Corinthians 13:13.
This exercise helped me discover something about myself. I don’t need to memorize words written by random guys thousands of years ago to prove I’m a good Christian. I just need to remember the overall teachings. As the old Tom T. Hall country song says, “Me and Jesus, got our own thing goin’. We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about.”
If you’re curious. I settled on 1 Corinthians for the verse I gave to my work as my favorite but I wanted nothing more than to list John 2 where Jesus turns water into wine simply for the shock factor.
Photo Credit: I lifted this meme off the internet. No copyright infringement intended. I’m using it under fair use. I just love Ouiser Boudreaux. I aspire to be like her one day.
Well, I’m about to touch the third rail. You know the rail that supplies the current for subways and such. In other words, something too hot or dangerous to touch. Not to sound like some social justice warrior, but when I see something I feel is wrong I’m not going to sit quietly. If I feel like it’s something important I’m going to voice my opinion – loudly.
Having said that, I’m very concerned about recent censoring on Twitter and Facebook and the canceling of the ability to utilize the app version of certain social medial platforms like Parler. I’m not a Trump fan. I never have been. I’m not on Parler or MeWe. This censorship does not directly affect my ability to communicate. However, censorship worries me. If the President of the United States and a legitimate business can be censored by media giants what’s to keep media giants from censoring anyone they deem a menace. The answer is nothing. Not one damn thing. They can censor us all and for no reason other than we hit their algorithm for a shutdown.
I’m no poly sci major and I’ll admit parts of our Constitution are fuzzy in my memory. I realize free speech isn’t necessarily covered when it comes to social media. However, social media and the internet is the main form of communication for the under 50 crowd. The internet is where we talk to our friends and family, where we network, exchange ideas, and get the majority of our news. If you cut off a person’s ability to communicate you are censoring free speech. However, one could make the case that Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google are utilizing their right to free speech. What they are doing is not illegal but could be considered wrong. This slope is so slippery a mountain goat couldn’t even keep its footing. I fear if big tech continues to impede people’s ability to communicate the mess we saw in D.C. on January 6 is just a taste of what’s to come.
Speaking of D.C., that place is effectively being shut down. Roads are closed. Bike shares and scooters are shut down. The Metro has shut down 11 stations near the city center. The National Guard has occupied the area. Hotels and Airbnb have canceled reservations in D.C. and surrounding areas. Aren’t all these closures and the occupation by the National Guard an infringement of our right to move freely and assemble? What if you happen to live in that area, work in the area, or were already there on vacation or visiting family? What if you are a contract worker in D.C. and living in an Airbnb as temporary housing. I realize this is a lot of what ifs but it is not out of the realm of logical possibility.
Ironically, censorship, closures, and occupations are touted as a means to keep the public safe. Safe from irrational, crazy hate speech. Safe from lunatics hell bent on hurting our elected leaders and property. Safe from domestic terrorism. Yet, to me, it feels a bit like putting a frog in water and setting it to boil. The frog doesn’t realize it’s in danger until it’s too late. Our constitutional rights are possibly being trampled and no one seems to care because we just want to be away from the crazies. The only problem is we are letting others tell us who is crazy and who isn’t. Question Authority.
For years our family was cursed. Cursed. What a joke, am I right? It does seem rather ridiculous especially if you aren’t particularly superstitious. I guess because I am superstitious it always really seemed like we were cursed. You see every year since the hubs and I married in 1997 if it snowed we would move within the next calendar year. The first year we were married it snowed. I want to say it was January 1998. By July, we moved away from our hometown and we’ve been moving ever since.
This snow phenomenon wouldn’t be a big deal if we lived say in New York. But, we live in the south. We’ve always lived in the South. And, these snows aren’t your run of the mill winter storms but 20 year snow events. When we lived in Wilmington, NC, the first place we moved to, it hadn’t snowed for 20 years. After we had lived in Wilmington for 18 months they had a freak Noreaster and it dumped something like 6-8 inches of snow on a beach town. The same thing happened in Columbia, SC, Baton Rouge, LA, and now two different towns in Texas.
The year we moved from our old town to our new town it snowed in the new town and we had ice in our old town. One could argue that the curse was broken then but in my opinion not really. Especially since my hubs was already living in the new place and we received frozen precipitation in both cities despite them being several hours apart.
No, I believe the curse was lifted last year. It was a year ago to the day it snowed in our current town. It was a freak storm. We weren’t even supposed to get anything. It rarely snows in our portion of Texas. Yet out of nowhere, the most beautiful fat wet flakes began falling to the ground. The fact that it accumulated was even more amazing. My kids can’t even remember the last time it snowed this much. They made a snowman. The whole family cobbled together coats and waterproof hunting gear to play in it. We had a snowball fight and laughed at the neighbors looking at us like idiots. We had plans for that day and we canceled them to play in the snow. It was marvelous.
But, it’s been a year and we have not moved. There hasn’t even been the hint of a move. No call from a boss. No whispers of a promotion in another town. No rumors of a business being bought out and a division getting sold. Nothing. Thanks to Covid my husband has been at home more this year than he ever has. In years past he traveled so much, he was club level on the airlines and a couple of hotel chains but not this year. So to that end, yes the curse has been lifted. Will we get snow again this year and possibly move next year? I don’t know. Maybe. Honestly at this juncture between what 2020 and 2021 have thrown us I wouldn’t be surprised if flying monkeys fell from the sky. Wait, did y’all hear that loud boom too?!
Man, do I miss Dick Clark’s Rocking Eve and the giant ball in Times Square. I’ve never been much for New Year’s Eve celebrations. My parents never did anything on New Year’s Eve. Watching Dick Clark drop that ball was my only celebration. I always said one year I’d go to Times Square and experience it for myself but it still hasn’t happened.
As a young adult, I was too broke to do much of anything, and then when I had the money I was usually driving back to whatever state I happened to be living in at the time. While local roads are filled with drunks most interstates are empty on New Year’s Eve.
One of the few times I did get all dressed up and hit the town was Y2K. Most of my friends and family thought we were nuts for hitting the town. I mean after all the whole world was going to fall apart at the stroke of midnight. I still can’t believe so many bought into that load of nonsense. I spent it in the place of birth, Nashville, TN, on 2nd Avenue at a bar called Graham Central Station. It was this multi-level monstrosity where you could hear techno on one floor and country on another and still something else on another. I remember racing up to the rooftop bar at midnight hoping to see the world burn or maybe fireworks and absolutely nothing happened. Zippo. I guess the powers that be were terrified all hell was going to break loose so they didn’t do any fireworks. We were all so disappointed.
A week ago tomorrow the building that housed Graham Central Station (although it’s something else now) along with most of that block was destroyed by a different explosion. It breaks my heart to look at those pictures. I spent many evenings in downtown Nashville when I was in my late teens to early 20s. I spent my 16th birthday on 2nd Avenue at the Old Spaghetti Factory with my two best friends. I worked on nearby 4th Avenue. I partied after work and parked my car every weekday in the now heavily damaged AT&T building. I saw concerts at the “new” arena. Some of the few good memories I have of that town include downtown and the 2nd avenue area. Even though I view that city as an abusive ex-boyfriend that won’t stop calling. I cannot wrap my head around people who want to cause destruction. Obviously, those folks are deranged and not of sound mind. Still, I cannot wrap any portion of my brain around their thought process – maybe that’s a good thing.
It’s about time for my annual date with George Bailey – aka watching It’s A Wonderful Life. For the record, I prefer the black and white version, not the colorized abomination. Although, my Blu-ray contains both. I wrote about this annual date and why it’s so important in 2017 shortly after I started this blog. If you missed it, you can find it here.
Imagine my delight and surprise when one of my favorite writers/bloggers/podcasters, Mike Rowe, wrote about George Bailey this past week. Mike Rowe tells a fantastic story and the way he wove the despair so many people feel around this time of the year in with the problems plaguing so many right now was nothing short of fantastic. I beg you to read his short essay at this link then go watch It’s A Wonderful Life.
And to anyone reading this, you are special to someone and you aren’t alone.
Photo Credit: I took a picture of my Blu-ray package. The image probably belongs to someone. No copyright infringement intended. I’m broke and make no money off this blog. Blood/turnip and all that jazz. Enjoy.
P.S. – Not sure when I am posting again. Maybe next week before the new year, maybe not. I’m off work and my family is home. My desk sits in the corner of my living room and don’t get an ounce of peace and quiet when these fools are here. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also trying to figure out how to get out of the house. It might be daily walks or I may pack up the kids and tell them we are going on an adventure and end up taking our picture standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona just for a photo op. There’s just no telling when it comes to me. In any case, Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a prayer that when 2020 turns into 21 it doesn’t realize it’s now of legal drinking age and decides to really get crazy.
This week I saw my four billionth version of the Christmas story. Even though the acting was beyond sub-par (five year old kids), it was still entertaining. Joseph looked bored. Mary looked shell shocked and the Wise Men stole the show by knowing all the words to the second stanza of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, which they heartily started singing at the end of the performance – totally impromptu I might add.
Speaking of Mary looking shell shocked, I never gave much thought to Mary during this time of year until I had kids. But, isn’t that always the case. It’s usually all about the baby. As for Mary, well as we say in the South, bless her heart. I can’t even imagine her situation. There she is a young woman, likely a teenager, minding her own business when a celestial being comes out of nowhere and informs her she’s going to have God’s baby. It didn’t matter she was betrothed to be married, the fact that she was pregnant and unwed in that time was grounds for stoning or at minimum being excommunicated from your family and/or community. To add insult to injury, when she’s huge and tired and cranky she had to ride to nowhere to register for some stupid government census. As if this weren’t the worst road trip in the history of mankind, they couldn’t find a decent place to stay just as her water breaks and she goes into labor. Can you imagine her fear? She’s in a strange town without the aid of her mom, sisters, aunts, ladies from her village, or a midwife and she’s about to have her first baby. She literally has nothing but herself, the guy she’s betrothed to, and a bunch of farm animals in a barn. I had a state of the art hospital and my husband was there and I was still pretty scared. I cannot wrap my head around how hard that must have been for her. And yet, she persevered, overcame, and did what she had to do. The fact that we know nothing more than what we do is a testament to the fact this story was written by a man. If we had Mary’s version, I’m sure we’d have a lot more detail. I haven’t met one woman who didn’t remember her kid’s birth story with extreme clarity.
Now that I have kids, I always think about Mary. I can’t help it. I think about her struggle. I wonder what would have happened if Mary had told that angel to go pound sand and leave her alone – to find another host mother. I wonder how she was so sure. I had a run of the mill pregnancy story and I wasn’t sure when I found out I was pregnant. It’s scary even if you are expecting it.
I’ll tell you one thing I am pretty sure of. If a little drummer boy showed up while the baby Jesus was sleeping she would have told him to stop that crazy drumming. And, if those wise men were really wise they would have shown up with a casserole and some diapers along with that gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Photo: This is part of my nativity scene at my house. I have wanted one of these injection mold sets since I was a small child. Over the years I’ve collected the whole thing. My husband built me this manger a few years ago. I love it.
Author’s Note: This was what I had planned to post last week but just didn’t have time. I am well aware this is controversial. I have already caught hell over this topic from family. I stand by our decision. Now on with the show.
Last year, after much scrimping and saving, I planned a trip to Disney World. It was planned, then booked, then thanks to Covid 19 was canceled and rebooked a few other times. We were finally able to rebook and go on said Disney World trip during Thanksgiving week. A lot of people questioned this decision. My family and I questioned this decision but ultimately decided to roll the dice and go. I know a lot of different states and cities have a lot of different rules right now. And, the ability to make the same decision to go would be different for every person reading this. However, this was without a doubt the best trip we’ve ever had to Disney World (and we’ve had a few). I’m about to give y’all an honest look at how we did it, what we liked and what I would or wouldn’t do differently.
Transportation: We drove instead of flying. I have heard from many that flights are incredibly safe right now with the added cleaning protocols and social distancing. However, with reduced flights and travel rules seemingly changing every few days, we did not want to purchase four plane tickets to have the flight get canceled or restricted due to travel rules. The drive was grueling. Don’t let anyone tell you that no one traveled this Thanksgiving. The roads were jammed. Every city, small and large, had ridiculous traffic. We wanted to use the vacant roads as practice for our oldest who still has his learner’s permit. The kid barely drove because the roads were so jammed. The drive was supposed to take at least 16 hours took more like 20 thanks to potty stops and an overnight at a Holiday Inn Express. It took us three hours to leave our city the Friday before Thanksgiving.
Food on the road: We went super old school and packed lunches and snacks. After observing a worker wearing a mask like a chin diaper months ago at a fast food place, we’ve sworn off eating at those kinds of places. We brought food from home and just ate out of our cooler.
Lodging: On the way to Disney World, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Louisiana. It was extremely clean – like I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Holiday Inn Express be so clean. Although the room was musty (smelled of mold) it was super clean. We all felt very safe and they had a grab and go pre-packaged breakfast.
Gas Stops/Potty Breaks: These were the places I felt the most unsafe and where we saw the most no mask wearing of the whole trip. We kept these to a minimum but sometimes you just have to stop. The no mask wearing was almost universal at gas stations and welcome centers/rest stops a like. I would say the percentage was about 50/50. Many people wore the masks but most did not.
Disney Hotel: The Disney World hotel was phenomenal. If you have stayed at a Disney World hotel since around 2014, you are familiar with Magic Bands. They act as your hotel key, your park ticket, on property credit supply, and before Covid, your Fast Passes. The day of our arrival, around check in time (3 p.m.), I received an email stating our room was ready. When we got to the property (almost midnight) we went directly to our room and used our Magic Band to enter. We didn’t have to go to the front desk. It was ridiculously easy. The hotel room was exceptionally clean. Mousekeeping (Disney’s version of housekeeping) only came a few times during our stay and that was to empty the wastebaskets and replenish our towels. We asked for more coffee a couple of times and they brought it directly to our room and hung it on our doorknob. We interacted with almost no one.
Masks: Currently, at Disney World, masks are required at all times for ages 2 and up except when actively eating and drinking, in a pool, or in your own hotel room. If you are outdoors, walking in the parking lot, you are required to have on a mask. If you are in the parks or on the on-site transportation like a monorail or bus you are required to wear a mask. People were exceptionally good about wearing a mask. If a person wasn’t wearing a mask a cast member seemingly came out of nowhere to remind that person to wear their mask properly. It was nothing short of amazing.
On Site Transportation: Since we drove, we also drove ourselves to the parks on occasion – especially when we wanted to be there for rope drop and we knew on site transportation would be crowded. However, we did utilize the ferry boat at the Magic Kingdom, the buses, and the new Skyliner gondola. They were all clean. Spacing was amazing. We were never within six feet of anyone and it was not crowded. There were partitions and spacing in bigger vehicles like the bus and ferry boat. We were the only family in our gondola.
Parks: I felt safer at the Disney World parks than I do at my local grocery store. To enter the park, we had our temperatures scanned. Our bags were x-rayed for contraband. We used touchless Magic Bands for entry (no fingerprints). Everyone was required to wear a mask. Hand sanitizing stations were everywhere. Handwashing stations were plentiful. Lines were spaced out six feet apart and in many cases partitioned. In busy walkways, most everyone was respectful. The only time things went sideways was in lines. We noticed some big groups did not heed the six foot rule. They encroached on our space in line but usually giving them the stink made them back off. Occasionally, we asked if they would like to go ahead of us just to keep them off our tail. Workers wore both masks and shields. This made it hard to understand them sometimes but not always. It just depended on the speaker. Crowds were kept to 35% capacity. I realize, this is still a lot of people but since we were so spread out, it never felt truly crowded. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Disney park when it was that empty. Wait times were wonderful and were never as long as posted. The longest we waited for anything was for the Frozen ride in Epcot. It was posted at 110 minutes. We waited for 70. Lines seldom stopped moving and many rides were just walk on. Because there is no park hopping or fast passes, we were forced to slow down and take the day as it came but we never missed out on anything. We didn’t even miss the fast passes.
Food on Property: It was strongly suggested that one use mobile order if not at a sit down restaurant. This was seamless. You picked items on an app. You received a notification and you picked it up at a window surrounded by plexiglass. We chose to eat all of these meals outside. Tables were spaced and it was very safe and not crowded. We did eat one sit down meal a day inside a building. We waited outside to be sat at our table inside – again at least six feet from any other party. The tables were very spaced out. The menus were on the app. We never touched anything but our food and utensils. And, again all cast members wore both a shield and a mask.
Shopping: Stores were limited in capacity. There was a distanced line to get in. Honestly, we waited longer to get into some stores than we waited for some rides. Every store had signs asking for limited touching and most prices were clearly marked.
The Trip Home: Much like the trip to Florida, the trip home included packed roads, a makeshift lunch of items pre-purchased from a grocery store, and a stay at a Holiday Inn Express with minimal stops for gas and potty breaks.
The Takeaway: This was the most laid back, relaxing trip to Disney World we’ve ever had. We weren’t rushed going from park to park and ride to ride. We took our time and rode everything, saw everything, and did everything we wanted except for one ride, which was broken. I would turn around and battle that 20 hour trip in the car right now to return. The only place I feel safer is at home. There is no doubt we are more exposed at work, school, and the grocery than we are at Disney World Resort. There are many out there that think we should not have traveled and that we shouldn’t have exposed ourselves. That is fine. They can think that way and live their lives the way they choose. I know my day to day exposure level and I am confident in my choice.