Friday, February 8, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

I was chatting with a guy I work with the other day about how I like to write, and he asked if I was capable of writing about things I didn't know anything about.  I told him I most definitely could if I had a minute to do a little research, but in my heart I knew it wouldn't be as "clever" or "interesting" as what I normally write because I knew diddly-squat about it.

But, I was determined to prove to myself that I could, so I had this amazing idea of doing a live blog on crown moulding.

Sometimes I don't know why I think things are a good idea.

And then, yesterday, Caity sent us this thing that delineated 50 reasons why Texas is Eden or Utopia or whatever other amazing place you can think of.  I read through it because I'm a good sport and I'm trying to convince myself moving to Texas would be a great idea (more on that later, maybe).  But I'll always be a California girl at heart, I just can't help it.  And I can't resist a little tease-fight-picking.  So I told Caity the list was totally subjective (because who really likes armadillos and Renaissance Fairs, seriously?) and then I told her I could do the same thing for any state, even Kansas.  Caity said please do, so I did, because I know nothing about it.

I've never been to Kansas, and I really have nothing personal against it.  But every one of my husband's family does.  Apparently it was the equivalent of Hell for all of the two years that they lived there.  If you like Kansas, I'm sure it's a swell place.  But for humor's sake, I can't resist the challenge.  And you know it'll be way better than instant updates on crown moulding trivia.

10 (Because 50 is way too many) Reasons Kansas is Utopia/Eden/Wherever

1. The Food:  Namely corn pone and fried chicken.  Apparently fried chicken is, in fact, the state food. You just can't complete your Little-House-on-the-Prairie-Party without corn pone (and a flowered flannel nighty).  And fried chicken is, well, fried chicken.  Greasy, bready, artery-clogging chicken.  Nom.

2. Tornadoes Kansas is famous for them and you know it.  They're super awesome, too.  And according to Bill Paxton they are the most awesome force on the planet.  PS if you've never been to Universal Studios Orlando you are missing out on the Twister "experience." (Skip to about 3:00)

3. Smallville Not Superman in general, but the WB (or the CW for you new folks) show starring Tom Welling as a pubescent Clark Kent.  And in that universe, Superteen lives in Kansas.  And everyone is either an alien or radioactive.  And yet somehow everything is kept totally secret.  And because it's a very small town in Kansas, everyone is young and attractive.  Wait...what?

4. Wide Open Spaces I can see how this could be both an awesome thing and really unnerving.  But when you think about how totally alone you are in all of everything, and that there's nothing around you in any direction...yeah... You can run around in your skivvies and no one will be any the wiser.  Like this guy puts it, "The towns dot the map every 20 miles or so.  Not that a map is entirely necessary.  One picks a road and rides it for nearly 400 miles...Your choice of restaurant, motel or campsite are easy because it's either one or none."  A great thing if you're indecisive!

I hate blurry stock photos
5. Really Cool People Kansas has produced some pretty awesome and upstanding citizens, namely Earl Browder of the Communist Party USA, Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, and hey! a whole Wikipedia section on Kansas' most INfamous.  Must be something in the dust.

It's legit!
6. Weird Laws Everywhere has weird laws.  And when I read through some of these, I realized that, for Kansas, some of these aren't all that weird.  Of course they had to outlaw riding animals in the street.  And singing the alphabet after dark (and when you add in the federal law that forbids dancing to the national anthem, ain't no one having no musical fun in Kansas, fools).

7. Truck Henge I have nothing to say about this.  But it's Kansas-Awesome.

8. The World's Largest Ball of Twine  Ball of twine.  The world's largest.  I think I first read about this in Disney Adventures back in the 90s (look here, n00bs).  I can't wait for the day when I can say I have nothing better to do than to tie twine to my already World-Record-holding ball of the stuff.  In Kansas, that is one big fat NP!!

Good times in Cawker, KS for these folks
9. The "Garden of Eden" How perfectly fitting this is, and what better proof of Kansas' Eden-tity (ha!) than the Garden itself?  It's a completely non-creepy limestone statue garden covered in ivy and featuring no less than the embalmed body of the builder.  You can't die without seeing this (and maybe it'll be the last thing you do, too)

You should be glad I didn't put a picture of the embalmed guy.
10. Waterbeds for Horses Apparently, the Kansas State University Veterinary Department provides waterbeds for their horses during surgery.  Now if that isn't proof that Kansas is the lap of luxury, I don't know what is.  Case closed.
It's a real shame there aren't any actual pictures of this.  Fortunately, you have me to help you out with the vision.

Of course, doing research on all this Kansas stuff I found out there're actually some neat stuff that's come out of there, like Amelia Earhart and the girl who told Abe Lincoln to grow a beard.  Totes noteworthy.  Totes-worthy?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Get Back

Soooo... I have a secret.  I love photography.  Oh wait, you already knew that.  The secret is that I'm trying to get it to go somewhere.  I'm currently building a portfolio, I have a website and a few people who have asked me to do liek totally legit shoots for them (and one of them is even paying me!!!).

And then there was this photographer whose style I totally jive with, and her name is Yan.  And she is doing a workshop-- a workshop that's not stuffy and weird.  And what's more, she's giving away a seat to this workshop (through Let the Kids), and I thought I might-maybe-may have a chance at getting considered!

Heretoforth, the required evidence that I'm serious about this.  My application video, in all it's boring, embarrassing, (hopefully) refreshingly-to-the-point glory.  Maybe you'll see me on my way to Dallas come June.  If not, let's count this as one of those Lamarckian-giraffe-stretching moments, mmk?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Yellow Bucket

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I'm currently (current like a trickling stream, not like the roaring Mississippi or anything) reading "The Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv.  It's all pretty interesting, and the last chapter I read talked about kids playing with everyday objects outdoors, and how that makes some kind of important connection between nature and man-made things.  Or something silly.

Only I don't really think it's silliness, because as I read his statement, I looked up and thought, "Huh.  We did that.  It's the yellow bucket to a T!"

What's the yellow bucket?  Have I blogged about this before?  I don't think so.  It's a small plastic receptacle that helped in the formation of my childhood (that's mostly true).  I'm currently in the process of writing an overly-romanticized version of only the most interesting parts of my childhood (four whole pages so far!).  I even wrote about the yellow bucket (it's possible some of you have read this before):


One of our favorite and most coveted tools for playing outside was the yellow bucket.  The yellow bucket was often left outside, to obtain the thing that would eventually destroy it—brittleness from the sun’s rays.  But we knew where it was, where to find it when we needed it.  It originally held beads that we used to fashion into horrible necklaces.  But in later years it served as a vat for stirring up mud, or a stew pot for brewing magical concoctions that we would serve to crashed airplane pilots or lost explorers.  Occasionally we would wash it out, ban our brother from the room, and use the bucket to hold doll clothes.  My brother wasn’t allowed to play dolls.  But after one session of isolated jungle Indians, the bucket was left in some arboreal hollow and forgotten.  It didn’t truly bother us—times changed, we were blessed with a shiny red bowl that served for our concocting purposes (mud pies were passé).  But occasionally we would pause briefly in those hot summer afternoons when time dragged on and nothing was on TV.  One of us would turn to another, or just stare at the straining ceiling fan, and wonder aloud, “What ever happened to the yellow bucket?”

This Jubaea I'm posing by was the shelter under which I nursed that crashed pilot back to health. Relevance accomplished.
Anyway, it occurred to me that a lot of the things that Richard Louv talks about in his book apply to me and the way I perceive my childhood.  Maybe that's why I'm reading the book.  Maybe that's why I want those things for my future children.

Either way, those parts of my childhood that were so important have become symbols of the formation of myself, and those are symbols I will never forget: the star tree, the yellow bucket, table rock, Edgar's bike path.  I guess I just didn't realize that other people had things like the star tree and the yellow bucket, and that those things are just as important to them.

So what is your star tree?  What is your table rock and your yellow bucket?  What, when you look back, do you remember with a half-smile and a wonder?

PS, I write nostalgically about home a lot.  Like here and here.