Sunday, May 30, 2010

Racing Dreams

It's a beautiful afternoon and I'm doing two of my favorite things: scrapping and watching a race on TV. Not just any race, though. Today is the Indy 500.
Oh, to be Danica Patrick. . . .
Helio Castraneves in on the pole today. Unfortunately, one of my favorite drivers, Paul Tracy, failed to qualify for this year's Indy. I watch for Paul in every IRL race cuz me and Paul - we go way back.
In 2007, Brenda and I volunteered with the Champs Car folks at the Cleveland Grand Prix. We had a blast working behind the scenes the three days leading up to the June race, but the best part was what happened on Race Day.
Our crew of volunteers was told we'd get to escort the drivers on the parade lap. Escort - as in get behind the wheel and DRIVE THE DRIVERS AROUND THE TRACK.
I've never been so excited in my life.
Before we closed up shop and headed over to to the grandstand, we were given strict instructions about not bothering the drivers, not using the air conditioning because it would drip condensation on the track, etc. etc. etc.
Oh, and one more thing.
Whoever drove Paul Tracy was EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN from doing or saying anything to upset him. Don't argue. Don't ask for his autograph. Do what he says and get him around the track safely. I knew Paul Tracy's reputation as a helluva driver who was passionate about racing and not afraid to express his opinions. I also knew that in 2002, a bogus call by the Indy Racing League left him in heartbreaking second place at end of the Indianapolis 500, a ruling that would have soured anyone. But Tracy was a true Champs star, and right then and there I knew that's who I wanted to drive.
As we pulled up to a long row of Mazdas, Brenda and I could hardly contain ourselves. Right away, I spotted the car designated for Paul Tracy and outran one old lady co-volunteer to get to it first.

After Brenda and I took pictures, I opened the door to my Mazda and hopped in. Outside at the staging area, the temperature was 95 degrees. Inside, it was at least 150. Mazda had not embraced the genius of Ford's pedals forward technology, so I spent 10 sweaty minutes trying to adjust the seat so my feet could reach the pedals. Another 10 sweaty minutes were spent trying to raise the seat so I could see over the steering wheel. I adjusted the mirrors and then sat back and looked around. Off to my right, Paul Newman was talking with his crew chief. I couldn't stand it anymore and dug out my forbidden cell phone to call my dad and play "Guess where I am?" He was as excited as I was and told me to be careful and have fun. Just then a Champs car representative came by to tell us we'd be moving up to get our drivers in three minutes. As he disappeared down the row of cars ahead of me, a rivulet of sweat slid down my back. I leaned forward to unstick myself from the seat. I accidentally bumped something, and all of a sudden my windshield wipers were flapping back and forth in the glaring sun.
I twisted the turn signal post on the left side of the steering wheel.
I tried to push in the turn signal post. Then I tried to pull it out.
I furiously patted the dashboard and armrest for anything that looked like a windshield wiper control.
Opened the glove box for an owners manual.
At this point, the heat of the boiling sun and the lack of moisture under the wipers combined to make the most annoying screeeeeching sound every time they swiped the width of the windshield.
Oh my god.
I was going to pick up Paul Tracy with my windshield wipers on. I could see the headlines now: "Distracted Tracy Loses Major Race, Vows Revenge on Dumb Blonde."
I started to hyperventilate. With shaking fingers, I dialed Brenda's cell phone but she didn't pick up, probably because we were moving along pit row now to pick up the professional race drivers we'd been entrusted with introducing to their waiting fans.
I almost wet my pants as three cars ahead of me stood Paul Tracy, looking hot and impatient in the relentless sun. In a total panic, I began swatting/hitting/twisting/smacking everything on the dashboard in an attempt to undo whatever it was I'd done. Thanks be to the racing gods - the windshield wipers settled under the hood just as I drew up alongside my professional race driver.
I almost cried from relief.
Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to unlock the doors.
My professional race car driver was standing in the boiling sun on pit row, locked out of his parade lap car. I began swatting things again and managed to pop the locks. Then Paul Tracy in the flesh eased himself into the car, looking resplendent in his hurt-your-eyes blue and white racing suit.
"Whew. Hot in here," he said and immediately turned on the air conditioning. I told him about the condensation on the track thing, and he laughed. "Girl, we'll melt in here!" was all he said. I don't remember much as I pulled away behind the string of Mazdas and began to pick up speed except that he wasn't scary or nasty or even impatient. We made some small talk, I think, but I can't be sure because I was trying to figure out if the long wait in a 150 degree car had left me stinky. Mostly I concentrated on not saying or doing anything else stupid.
Then we were up to speed and pulling out onto the track. With a grin, Paul eased himself off the passenger seat and up through the sunroof.
Once I'd maneuvered around the first turn at 65 mph just fine, I let out a long breath and relaxed a bit. I knew I couldn't ask Paul Tracy for a picture, but thanks to my cell phone I snapped this picture of him to remember the best parade lap of my life:

And since I probably wouldn't be driving on a Champs or Indy or NASCAR track again anytime soon, I snapped this pic of the track as we came out of turn three. That's Lake Erie off to the left and the infield on the right. I have no idea who the driver is poking out of the sunroof ahead of me, though:

Way too soon, we were braking to a slower pace and pulling back into pit row. I pulled up to Paul Tracy's spot without hitting anyone or anything and gently stopped the car.
"Good luck today. Stay safe," I said. Or at least that's what I said in my head. Lord only knows what came out of my mouth. All I remember is Paul Tracy thanking me for a "great ride" and then watching his blue tushie as he got out of the car.
I'd just driven Paul Tracy on his 2007 Cleveland Grand Prix parade lap and delivered him safely back to his crew without maiming him, causing an international incident or inciting a tantrum. Most importantly, I'd done it without publicly humiliating myself and without the use of windshield wipers.
I sat back, a stupid grin on my face. Life was good. Very good, indeed.
That's when a big angry man with a red face smacked the hood of my Mazda and yelled through a bullhorn, "Hey, lady! Get the f*** outta here! We've got a race to run!"
I threw the Mazda into gear and did a little fishtail in my hurry to catch up with the other Mazdas way ahead of me down pit row, praying the TV cameras were engaged somewhere else. We wove our way through the back lot to the staging area and parked. I jumped out and found Brenda. No question - this was the best fun ever.
And guess what? Paul Tracy won the Cleveland Grand Prix that year! I was kind of proud that his parade lap was rather uneventful, although he's had to overcome much worse than a hapless parade lap escort to be successful. The very next year, the Indy Racing League took over the Champs Car series and Cleveland was eventually dropped from the circuit. I'm sad the Grand Prix isn't here anymore but 2007's race couldn't have ended better.
When my dogs sleep, they dream of being Dobermans.
Me - I still daydream of being a Ken Block or Matt Kenseth or Danica Patrick. I can vividly imagine what it would feel like to take the third turn at the Brickyard or Darlington or drive gymkhana. The feel of the car, the smell of the fuel, the rumble in my gut as I work my way through the gears using all my skill and strategy to challenge the laws of physics and push my car to the limit and test good fortune.
It'll never happen, but that's okay.
I'll always have Paul Tracy's legs.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


(I apologize for the . . . .ummm. . . earthy nature of parts of this post but I just came back from a frustrating walk with DaBoys have to vent. If you're eating, you might want to come back later.)
Charlie is a precision poo-er of the first order. I once heard about a guy who taught his dog to poo on command. I will Google this mangod as soon as I finish here.
Forget agility courses and those frou frou canines sporting Neuticles, if the Westminster Kennel Club ever instituted a Precision Pooing category, we'd have ourselves a winner. Charlie has poo'd on a single dandelion growing from a crack in the sidewalk, on the side of a tree and once - in his younger days - on a huge maple leaf even when it required a few sidesteps because the wind kicked up. After intense sniffing, Charlie will assume the position and add a test wiggle to see if this right here is indeed The Spot. Sometimes it's the right spot; sometimes it's not. Sometimes, he will do this for most of our walk completely oblivious to Sammy who wants to Go now! and me, the long suffering Dog Mom, who's been walking for the last 20 minutes with a green biodegradable Pooch Pick Up bag over her hand enduring the angry glares from homeowners who think we left them a present. "Sorry!" I'll say apologetically and give them a little wave. "False alarm!"
Sammy, however, uses more of a strafing technique. He starts at Point A but always ends up at Point B. Or even Point C. The words from that childhood song ". . . picking up pawpaws and putting 'em in my pocket . . . " always pop into my head every time I stoop/walk the length of a treelawn to reclaim our evidence.
One of the reasons Sammy moves around is that he thinks walks are really for checking up on what's going on in the neighborhood. If Mr. Watson put up chicken wire around his garden, Sammy takes note. If the family in the yellow house installed a porch swing, Sammy will see it. And if - oh glorious good fortune! - someone comes out of the house, gets in their car and drives away - Sammy is in heaven watching their every move until they drive out of sight.
Which brings us to Rastus the Squirrel up there. I have had a long history with squirrels including one squirrel named Mario that adopted my father and hated his blond daughters. But that's another post.
Actually, that's not Rastus. That's a picture I downloaded from the internet because I tried to take the picture of Rastus with my cellphone but only got pictures of places Rastus had recently sat. And I don't know that Rastus is his real name but it's what I call him. Actually, in my mind I call him "@#$%^&* Rastus!"
This morning after watching flowers grow, bloom, wither and die while waiting on Charlie to find the Just Right Spot, Sammy decided to do the deed, too, at which point Rastus came tiptoeing into view. Sammy didn't see him at first so Rastus turned his back and snapped his little tail a few times. That got both boys' attention and the next thing I know I'm being drug across the Nealy's lawn, trying to keep my shoulders in their sockets. Whenever he got too far ahead of us, Rastus would stop and do the tail thing, letting us get tantalizingly close before sprinting ahead a few more feet. At the ends of their leashes, the boys looked like plow horses, their plowshare being the hapless human they were dragging behind them. Around the curve Rastus went and along the boxwood, then across the street to run up the big elm in front of the Henderson's house where he stayed just long enough for Sammy to feel sure he was having squirrel for breakfast. But no. . . next, the little creep scampered down and headed back across the street to the oak in the Manley's treelawn where he stopped three feet off the ground, leaning back with one of his little front arms out to the side like he was posing for the cover of "Squirrel Monthly" magazine. By now, I was sure my two yipping/snapping/growling dogs had awakened every one on the block.
And that's when things really got sticky: Rastus was joined by his equally evil brother (Festus, I think his name was) and after making sure they had the full and undivided attention of both Sammy and Charlie, they decided to run up different trees.
My life started to flash before my eyes, but thankfully Neighbor Bob and his cat, Tank, stepped outside at that very moment to retrieve the morning paper. DaBoys took notice of Tank just long enough for me to regain some semblance of control. Never in my life have I been so glad to see a shirtless chubby man wearing shorts.
DaBoys and I were pretty winded so I took a minute to dig their collars out of their neck fur and refocus them. Their little tongues were hanging out of the sides of their mouths. Sammy's eyes said, "WOW!THATWASTHEBESTFUNEVER!CANWEDOITAGAIN??!HUH??CANWECANWE?? Charlie . . . well, he was just plain winded. We had to retrace our steps to find one of my flip flops (which had propped itself safely against a curb) and the poo bag (which was stuck to the Benson's hedge).
I shortened up their leashes and two exhausted but compliant dogs accompanied me home, obediently positioned one on either side of me. As we turned into the end of our driveway, though, I glanced down the street and there, six houses away, was Rastus sitting languidly on the corner.
We'll take a walk again this afternoon.
I'm thinking poo bag in right pocket and rocks in the left.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dressing Room Diaries, Part Deux . . . . . . . . . or How to Lose Your Shirt (Literally) and Survive

There is nothing like a leisurely stroll through Macy's at 11 o'clock on a weekday - when the rest of the world is hard at work - to make me feel like I'm getting away with something. On this day, my first stop was the shoe department where I tried on five pairs of sandals. I wasn't going to buy sandals, I just tried them on because I still get giddy trying on strappy shoes. Thank you, Dr. Brian Donley, Orthopedic Surgeon Extraordinaire.
Then I allowed myself to be moisturized and pampered by the Clinique ladies, who promised me their potions would make me look 20 years younger. They seemed genuinely saddened by my decision to look my age and make a measly $32 purchase.
Next, I lingered by Fine Jewelry where they were thrilled that I wanted to see what it was like to wear a $6500 diamond bracelet. If you close your eyes, it feels just like wearing a $200 diamond bracelet (but let's not tell that to the menfolk.)
After that, it was on to Petites - and my real reason for shopping. I set about finding a pair of capris and jacket to go with the pink top I was wearing. It's the cutest thing - sleeveless with a little v-neck rimmed in tiny ruffles. I bought it during another foray to Macy's a week or so ago. But today - everything was on sale!! You know my penchant for bargains, so I skipped to the dressing room with an armful of sale goodies.
Since the store was virtually empty, the nicest saleslady hung about to see if I needed anything. I sometimes hate this, but this time it was quite helpful as I am now in between sizes. We will not pause here to contemplate how that came to be, but suffice it to say it involved cookies and was not the result of exercise of any kind.
This nice lady - Delores was her name - took over and brought me anything I needed. She even took the clothes I didn't want right out of the dressing room for me, pausing just long enough to tell my sensitive ego that I needed the next size up in that jacket.
She was right, of course, and before long she retreated to the hall, leaving me in my bra and one last pair of watermelon-colored capris, thus allowing me the dignity of contemplating the size of my rear end in private. After turning this way and that, I decided there's no way I could wear watermelon-colored capris without looking like I was using them to smuggle actual watermelons. I reluctantly shimmied out of the capris and - vowing to start running 15 miles every day - handed them out the door to Delores, who scurried off to the cash register.
I settled back into my favorite old khakis. And that's when I discovered my pink shirt was nowhere to be found.
What the. . . .? How could. . . .? I looked under my purse. I looked in my purse. I looked under the bench and while I was down there, looked beneath the door into the hall.
No pink shirt. Old Eager Beaver Delores must have grabbed it up by accident!
"Hello?" I called. "Delores? Are you out there?" but she'd gone.
I stared at my reflection in the mirror as though I expected to find me/it with an evil little smile on my/its face, dangling my pink shirt from my/its fingertips.
There was no way I was venturing out of this dressing room without every single piece of my clothing firmly on my body.
I sat down on the bench. It was so quiet. No one else petite trying on clothes. No noise from the sales floor. Where was Delores now, when I needed her most??? I tried to remember if there was one of those racks near the door where people hang the clothes they don't want. I'd have to open the door and extend my near-naked, pasty-white torso into the hallway to look. I took a breath, opened the door and took a quick peek into the hall much like the cops do in crime shows when they think someone might start shooting.
Nothing. But then my quick-peek skills are not up to cop standards so I looked out again.
Damn. My modesty being what it is, I had taken the dressing room farthest away from the sales floor and couldn't see around the corner to the doorway. No one would hear me even if I yelled. I hopped back into the dressing room and slammed the door.
Think! I told myself. Then it dawned on me. My cell phone! I dumped the contents of my purse on the floor, grabbed my phone and tried to dial 411 for Macy's phone number. Oh happy day! I'd ask for Petites, then tell Delores to get her helpful little patootie back in here with my pink shirt.
Except my cell phone had no reception. I held it up to the light, danced around on the bench with it over my head, even thrust it into the hallway but zip zero nada. After this was over, I was going to have a talk with Verizon.
I gathered all my junk back into my purse and slumped down on the bench. What in the hell was I going to do now?
Then it occurred to me that maybe Do Gooder Delores had left clothes in other dressing rooms! I listened to see if I could hear anyone - anyone at all - but it was quiet so I took another deep breath, threw open the dressing room door, shot into the hall and began lurching in and out of stalls in search of something . . . anything . . . I could put on to go in search of my pink shirt.
And at last, there it was. . . in the last dressing room across the hall. . .my salvation. It was truly such a ghastly looking piece of clothing I'm not surprised it was left behind. Apparently, it had aspirations of being a formal gown of some kind but to what kind of formal event it hoped to be invited was beyond me. It was very glittery and sort of a dirty yellow. Strapless with silver sequins and silver beading snaking all over it. Two long rows of silver sequins were stuck to the princess seams in the front, ending in a glittery dirty yellow ruffle to which someone had attached dirty pink sparkly flowers.
Sparkly crocheted flowers.
No matter. I snatched the ugly rag off the hanger, shot back into my dressing room and slammed the door. I could only get the zipper down partway, though, because more sparkly crocheted flowers were guarding it. I didn't care. I ripped off the top two, but the next one was stuck in the zipper like gum to a ponytail and there was no budging it.
Without unzipping it, there was no way I could get the offensive rag over my head. I thought for a minute, and decided just to wrap the dress around me horizontally and sally forth that way. Not ideal, but at least no one would see I was wearing my scrapping bra - my most comfortable bra with the misfortune of having an old pop dot stuck to the front of it like a wonky nipple. (Take note: Pop dots do not come out in the wash.) The beading and sequins wreaked havoc on my armpits but I barely noticed as I cautiously opened the dressing room door and sidled into the hallway.
With any luck, I'd meet another Petite taking advantage of sales. I'd explain my situation, we'd have a good laugh and she'd go find Dunderhead Delores to bring back my pink shirt. But the hallway was empty.
I tiptoed past the row of dressing rooms (why I tiptoed, I have no idea but it seemed appropriate at the time) and rounded the corner to the sales floor. There ahead of me were racks of Chaps and Claiborne and Hilfiger . . .but no people.
I was in luck. I could go snatch something decent off a rack, zip back in here to put it on and go in search of that delinquent, Delores. I decided to grab the first thing within reach. . . which turned out to be a bikini.
I poked my head out further and saw a fuzzy haired person across the way handing a bag to someone.
I tiptoe/hopped across the aisle, around a rack of jackets and another of tank tops and tapped her on the shoulder. After much stage whispering, I was able to make her understand my situation and that no - I did not want her to see if she had that gown in my size.
Unfortunately, Dippy Delores did not recall taking any pink shirt out of the dressing room. Nor did she recognize the shirt I described as being an actual Macy's product. At this point, I just wanted to strangle Delores and run back to the dressing room with anything decent in hand but I took a deep breath and described the shirt to her again.
Me: "You know. . . a sleeveless pink tank. Tshirt material. Tiny ruffles. Vneck!"
Delores: "Are you sure you had it on when you came in?"
I'm kid you not.
Insert sound of crickets here.
In total exasperation (and with one particularly vile sequin biting the hell out of my armpit), I asked her to go gather up all the clothes she could remember me trying on. That's when a light snapped on in Delores' little empty head.
"Wait!," she cried. "Pink shirt? With ruffles on it? No sleeves?"
"Yes, Delores! Yes!! That's it!! Where is it??"
"Well, I don't think we have any more of those. I only ever saw one, and it didn't have tags on it so I had to search for a price. I just sold it to that lady!"
Enter the Google Earth moment. You know the kind - when your mind is so freaked out by the total unreality of the moment that you feel just like you did the first time Google Earth zoomed you from mega outer space right down to your tiny itty bitty rooftop.
All I could see was Delores' beady eyes and her goofy half-smile, and suddenly my mind burst with visions of her wearing a dirty yellow sequiney thing tied tightly around her scrawny neck.
And that's when Delores' manager happened by. In short order, she had escorted me back to my dressing room (where I thankfully found my abandoned purse and Clinique moisturizer bag) and was plying me with an array of pink tops all of which coordinated beautifully with the capris and jacket Dipwad Delores had stashed at the check out. Then she personally rang up my order - crediting me in full for my new pink top - and handed me a $25 gift card before sending me on my way with Macy's sincerest apologies.
Ken was home for lunch when I pulled into the driveway. I told him about my morning and gave him the gift card. He wondered if I didn't want to use it myself the next time I went shopping.
No. thank. you.
From now on, this in-between-sizes girl is going to order two sizes of everything from Macy's online.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Who Needs a TV Show Called "Lost?"

Just like the dish running away with the spoon, I think my mojo ran away with my memory.

1. Found the jar of Skippy peanut butter in the refrigerator. Now who would do a dumb thing like that?
2. Lost my favorite sunglasses so began searching the entire house.
3. Gave up looking for my glasses so I could leave and meet a friend for lunch.
4. Couldn't find my car key.
5. Found my sunglasses and called my friend to pick me up.
6. Started scrapping a layout of Baby Sophia after dinner, but couldn't find that cute photo of her sleeping like an angel anywhere.
7. Decided to scrap a layout of Matthew instead.
8. Couldn't find the six little red cutwork trucks I'd worked on all week.
9. Didn't find the trucks or Sophia's picture in my scraproom, but did find the cute K&Company brads I'd bought two weeks ago for a layout of my mom.
10. Gathered all the stuff to make mom's layout and lugged it downstairs to the dining room table.
11. Realized the dogs needed their medicine so got out two pills and two teaspoons.
12. Opened the cupboard but couldn't find the peanut butter.
13. Cussed.
14. Opened the refrigerator.
15. No peanut butter but I did find my car key.

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 15th MSW Card Sketch Reveal

Heading out to visit my folks for the weekend, but wanted to pop in and say hello to my blog first. I've been ignoring it, not because I don't have anything to say but because I've been busy.
Have you ever noticed that the more time you have the harder it is to get things done sometimes? That's my own particular kind of sloth . . . . give me five minutes and I can get 15 things done, but give me an entire day and it disappears like smoke. I stay busy, but accomplish nothing.
Ah well.
It's time for the May 15th reveal at My Sketch World's new forum so I thought I'd paste Lucy's sketch and my card up here. Be sure to hop over and see the amazing cards and layouts the other designers posted. I had a ton of fun making this card - I got use my favorite punches, layer on the Prima, do some cutwork and doodle with my trusty white Signo pen. It was especially enjoyable because my mojo actually hung out long enough for me to feel some of that old inspiration coursing through my scrappy veins.
Since then, I've made a very nice nest for my mojo - bought it new toys, found it some new inspiration (can you say "scraplift"??) and cleared my schedule.
Now let's see if it's still here when I get back on Sunday. Enjoy your weekend but if you find my mojo running amok in your neighborhood, please send it home!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Extra! Extra! Read All About it!!

Well, it has been quite a week here at Scrapinator Central, let me tell you. I have so MUCH news to share with y'all, I hardly know where to begin!
First off, I have a whole new outlook on Mondays. I used to hate Mondays for all the typical reasons. But I am here to tell you that Mondays CAN bring good news because last Monday I discovered something so wonderfully extraordinary that it plum changed my entire thinking about Mondays.
Wanna hear my news?
(Insert mental image of happiness-crazed teenaged girls meeting for the first time, jumping up and down and screaming. Only they're not happiness-crazed teenaged girls, they're happiness-crazed scrappity women some of whom are middle-aged and should stop all the jumping around and screaming before they injure themselves.)
What's that you say? You hear a noise? Oh, that's just me screaming for joy right here in front of my computer. I have a tendency to do that whenever I remember all over again that I get to GO TO HOUSTON FOR THE FIRST EVER MY SKETCH WORLD MEET!!!!
I'll try to control myself.
But the news isn't all good. Nosirreee. There are some very serious elements to this Houston thang. Like for instance, all my MSW friends will now realize that my definition of "statuesque" applies to anyone over five feet tall.
Cuz I'm not.
Statuesque, that is.
Or over five feet tall.
Or. . . even. . . five feet tall period. I've just gotten really good at making sure I stand on something in group photos.
And then there's one other thang. One other teensy weensy little item. A little bitty detail, really. More of an unimportant detail than anything else.
I've been. . .um. . . been kind of photoshopping my wrinkles out of my avatar pics.
Yeah. I want to come clean so that our first meeting where we're all jumping up and down and screaming doesn't come to an abrupt halt when one of these nice ladies realizes with horror that I've been misleading everyone. Not that I'd make anyone run away in fright but I'm not exactly. . .well, let's just say. . . smooth all over, ok?
But I have been finding it hard to fall asleep cuz I'm soooo excited and will probably pack my bag before the weekend's out even though I'm not flying out until the third week in July.
In the meantime, there's some amazing stuff going on at the Spring Fling Crop where y'all can win a TWENTY FIVE DOLLAR GIFT CERTIFICATE TO SCRAPPY JO'S just by doing some of the amazing challenges at MSW. Since I'm in such a confessional mood, I should say that there's a "Recycle and Reuse" card challenge that's pretty cool and an envelope challenge that ain't too shabby either if you like that sort of thang. I'm just saying.
It's been a stellar week for sure.
My mojo came out of hiding long enough for me to start on a layout too, so I'm off to finish that up.
And work on my Texas drawl.
Happy scrappin', y'all!