An Observation: Car Daydreaming

You ever notice that when you’re even remotely considering the possibility of shopping for a new car, every car you see is the one you want?

I was thinking about that today as I drove around running errands. Every car I see on the road lately is the exact make and model I’m considering. (That one. No, that one. That one, too. Yes, that one.) Why, just last weekend I quizzed someone I hadn’t seen in two years about their vehicle before I even bothered to ask about their family.

Someone I Haven’t Seen In Two Years: Good to see you! It’s been a while! How are you d–

Me: Is that your SUV in the driveway? What kind of mileage does it get? Do you like it? Is it a smooth ride? I’ve been looking at those. Are they as nice as they look? Reasonably priced?

Someone I Haven’t Seen In Two Years: Umm…I’m doing fine, thanks…

Every little squeak and imperfection with my current ride is amplified tenfold right now. Everything about my car makes me feel like I own a golf cart while the rest of the world drives their grownup cars.

It's as if my own car is trying to tell me something...in the snow...two years ago...
It’s as if my own car was trying to tell me something…in the snow…two years ago…no, that remark had nothing to do with the crippling cold and ice that winter…or Shakespeare…

I guess I could always just give it a good cleaning to see if that makes me stop staring at other ca–nah, that’s too much work. What was I thinking?

An Observation: Midnight Meals

Do you ever wake up around 2:00 a.m. feeling hungry? Sure, we all have.

I’ll bet no one overthinks it quite like I do.

When you wake up around 2:00 a.m. feeling hungry, do you have trouble deciding what kind of food that hour requires? I’m not talking about “ooh, I think I’ll have an apple,” because you never want healthy stuff at 2:00 a.m. and that’s not even the point. The kind of food I’m talking about is relative to mealtimes falling within certain hours of the day.

2:00 a.m. is morning. Very early morning, but morning, nonetheless. Morning is for breakfast. On the other hand, you’ve been asleep, so 2:00 a.m. could fall into that “Dead of Night” category…an extension of evening…which is technically dinner time.

We can absolutely eliminate lunch as a possibility…unless you work a night shift and you’re naturally going to be hungry at 2:00 a.m. because you didn’t eat your lunch at midnight (the nighttime equivalent of high noon). BUT…then you have those restaurants who confuse the issue by serving breakfast ALL DAY…although conceivably they could also serve lunch/dinner during all of their operating hours as well if they grill hamburgers 24/7…or the famous “chicken and waffle” combo here in the South…

Then there’s the whole issue of what your stomach can handle upon waking. When does that magical digestive hour that says “you can’t eat a burrito now” actually roll over? 3:59 a.m.? I, for one, would be more likely to eat onion dip at 2:00 a.m. as opposed to 4:00 a.m.

Again…that’s missing the point. Onion dip is a snack. We’re talking meals here.

I’m going with dinner because…well, now…we can’t forget about brinner.

Mmmm…brinner. Can I have that for lunch?

The whole thing frustrated me. I took care of it.
The whole thing frustrated me. I took care of it.

A Broken Bookmark: Nerd Medal

For those of you who are keeping track, 2016 is an Olympic year. It’s a year in which we will frequently hear stories of athletic glory…and injury. Injuries that occur as a result of rigorous, repetitive, stressful training.

Yeah, I’m not included anywhere in the “athletic glory” camp. Nowhere near it. I’m somewhere on the other side of the world…in a dark corner of a small municipality, curled up with a book.

Unless “Reading” becomes an Olympic sport, I’ll never qualify for what most people view as the pinnacle of amateur athletic competition. If the IOC ever does add a reading contest, I can assure you that I’ll be going for the world record.

The face of a serious athletic reader.
The face of a serious athletic reader in training.

I’ve already taken care of the “injury” part, though.

Sort of.

Years of repetitive reading finally took their toll.

I broke a bookmark.

My...medal. (The ribbon is supposed to be attached. Oops.)
My…medal. (The ribbon is supposed to be attached. Oops.)

I travel with lots of books. I went out of town a couple of weeks ago, and I took lots of books with me, including the one in which this bookmark was temporarily residing. When I unpacked my books, the bookmark came out in two pieces.

Such a shame. It was a gift.

As the gamers among us might say, “nerd achievement unlocked.”

An Unconventional Bucket List: Twelve Items

Bucket List CatMost people have a bucket list consisting of typical, grandiose wishes…skydiving, climbing a really big mountain, flossing at least once a year.

I’ve never been one to completely follow a crowd, so I’m sharing my unconventional bucket list with you.

List Of Things To Do Before…You Know, THAT Happens

(I’m hoping I have a good 80-90 more years to work through this list. I never said I was good at math, but that should give me plenty of time…and the world record for being really old…)

1. Order a No. 3.5 at Wendy’s just to see what you end up with.

2. Name a dog “Flea Market.”

3. Run twelve hair dryers at once.

4. Take an emergency electrical repair class immediately after completion of Item No. 3.

5. Pass out business cards with nothing except a stick figure on the front.

6. Eat Jell-O with chopsticks.

7. Leash-train a bird.

8. Put a stamp on an email.

9. Ask a loan officer for thirty-seven cents.

10. Ride a tandem bicycle alone.

11. Invent Formula 410.

12. Spearhead a successful campaign to restore proper use of possessive pronouns and apostrophes.

So…anything else?

A View: All This Nature

The Natural State really lives up to its name. We have no shortage of stunning views and opportunities for immersion in the outdoors. I recently had the chance to take a brief evening trip up to a place I’ve enjoyed many times over the years.

Petit Jean Mountain is a highly unique geographic feature of the Arkansas landscape. My little car had a few Casey Junior “I-Think-I-Can” moments as it chugged its way up the twisting road (even though I wasn’t pulling several cars full of elephants…it’s a steep highway and the horses under the hood probably would have been terribly winded trying to hike it, much less approach the speed limit…but I digress…).

She'll be coming 'round the mountain...together, now!
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain…all together, now!

I’m always impressed with the views from atop Petit Jean. Even a cloudy or hazy or BLAZING HOT day is worth the trip. (For the record, it was a hazy, BLAZING HOT day.) I’ll admit, while I knew I was unprepared to do any serious hiking, I was also unprepared just to simply walk around in the heat. It was a last-minute decision to actually make the little road trip, and I ran off without my water bottle. By the time I made it to the lodge, I parked and went directly towards the vending machines. As luck would have it, the machine spent a lot of time spinning its wheels only to tell me that everything was sold out. Fortunately, it refunded my paper money–in the form of quarters and nickels–and I went into the lodge to buy a bottle of ice cold water with change (my apologies to the clerk).

If I hadn't been so thirsty, I might not have stuck around too long to capture this photo. Thank you, Arkansas humidity!
If I hadn’t been so thirsty, I might not have stuck around the lodge long enough to capture this photo. Thank you, Arkansas humidity!

Of course, with it being the summer tourist season, I wasn’t the only person sightseeing–far from it. When I reached the overlook, a few other cars pulled into the parking lot, including a family of awestruck adults and two very bored small children. I can only assume that the kids were suffering from acute electronics withdrawal…a common syndrome these days.

Lost Phone Meme
This is just an assumption…but the struggle is real.

The parents were gazing down across the breathtaking landscape, taking in the view. The kids were less than impressed.

The conversation cracked me up.

Kid No. 1: “Why did Petit Jean wanna come all the way up here?”

Mom: Silence…snaps photo of river.

Kid No. 2: “Moooooom! Why did Petit Jean want to come all the way up here?”

Mom: “I don’t know. Maybe she liked it here.”

Kid No. 1: “What are we doing all the way up here?”

Dad: “We’re looking at all this nature.”

I suppressed my laughter, spent a few more minutes looking at “all this nature,” and rolled back down the mountain, becoming a mere speck on the landscape to the spectators on top of Petit Jean.

(A boring little speck, I’m sure…)

A Summer’s Tale: Pest Control

I know that many people are worried about mosquitoes this summer, and rightfully so. They are disease-ridden, foul-mouthed, vile little critters.

Dirty Needle Mosquito

To compound the situation, 2016 in Arkansas could be classified (so far) as “The Year It Rained.”

(Author’s Note: I’m not trying to make light of the serious problems we have going on involving mosquitoes. However, that doesn’t mean that mosquitoes are any less of the annoying nuisances that they have been in the past, and this is the part of their personalities on which I will be focusing in this here blog post.)

You can find mosquitoes all over Arkansas, but insofar as I can tell, none are as vicious as the ones who reside in the Delta.

Let me preface this by saying that I love my friends in the Ozarks. However, the next time one of my friends in the Ozarks complains about the two mosquitoes that gave them one bite last summer, I want to show them a picture of a Velociraptor and explain to them that the creature in the photo only represents a tenth of the ferocity of the evil, blood-sucking, soul-stealing Delta monsters that bring thirty-five hundred of their friends to carry you somewhere over the rainbow on any day that ends in “y” between the months of May and October.

Whew.

On second thought, I could just invite them over for a few days so that they can get the full experience.

I’ve seen the mosquitoes in the hills, and I’m not even sure they qualify as mosquitoes. In fact, they just look to me like slightly bigger gnats.

I feel that I’m qualified to make this distinction since I have lived in both the Ozarks and the Delta. Face it–your citronella candles are useless here.

Try this. You'll get used to the popping sound.
Try this. It looks just like a tennis racquet, but you’ll get used to the popping sound. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m trying to decide what kind of habits I should adopt this year to minimize my contact with the bugs. I’ve come up with three possibilities.

1. Dress in “beekeeper chic.” (See also radiation suit.)

2. Keep the fans, air conditioning, and vacuum running constantly. The combination should make it difficult for a mosquito to find a landing site.

And…the most practical option…

3. Do the best I can and hope it’ll turn out okay.

I think I’ll go lather up with my favorite summertime perfume: Eau de Off.

A Definition: Essential Oils

Essential oils are awfully popular these days, don’t you think?

My question is twofold: If they’re so essential, then how have I managed to make it all this time without them? And what is an essential oil?

I suppose one answer to the first question is that I’m a lady but I’m not exactly girly. I like wearing dresses and skirts, but I don’t care for spending all of my spare time shopping for them. I didn’t get my first pedicure until I was 31 years old and I was reluctant to ever get another one after I left about half of the skin on my right heel on a nail technician’s cheese (foot) grater.

I’m also the skinniest person you’ll ever meet who subsists on a steady diet of pizza and hamburgers. I have a multivitamin in my medicine cabinet, so I assumed I was covered in the “essentials” department. (From A to Zinc.) Therefore, a health-nut or fashionista-type trend probably would go unnoticed in my world until it was about to go out of style.

I figured it was time to bring Webster into the equation for some good ol’ definitions.

Noah Webster
There he is. Found him. Noah Webster. The dictionary guy.

The definition of an essential oil (from what I could find on the internets) is an oil that that smells like the plant it comes from. The “essence” is the characteristic fragrance of the plant from whence it came.

I’m not satisfied with that, though. Being a words person (and self-proclaimed Meticulously Observant Observer), I decided to break down the nomenclature (ooh, a big word–thanks, Noah Webster) and determine exactly what an essential oil is. I’ve taken what I have deemed as the most appropriate definition¬†for each word (where multiple examples are provided) and listed them below:

essential (adj.): extremely important and necessary

oil (n.): a thick, black liquid that comes from the ground and that is used in making various products (such as gasoline)

Well, then. According to these definitions, the most essential oil in my life appears to be motor oil. It gets me to and fro each day…in an indirect manner, but, still…it’s much more essential to my day-to-day routine than smelling like a botanical garden.

You have to admit, they are nice...
Okay, you do have to admit that they’re nice…

Not that smelling like a botanical garden is a bad thing. Quite the contrary–I really like the idea. I just don’t think it’s as “essential” as the word suggests it is.

A Painting Party: No Numbers Required

Painting parties have recently gained popularity, and I’ve gladly surrendered to the trend. You say someone with no painting skills whatsoever can create art on a canvas without the use of numbers? Sign me up!

Granted, I was a gifted finger painting artist in my toddler years. I could write my name beautifully into brightly-colored paint on a large sheet of butcher paper. (I guess I’ve always been a “words” person.) However, once we graduated to watercolors and paintbrushes in kindergarten, I failed to paint anything that even the most sympathetic abstract artist could recognize.

Are they happy little birds? It would be a major letdown if those birds aren't happy.
Are they happy little birds? Because it would be a major letdown if those birds aren’t happy.

I take that back. I did once paint a watercolor picture of an Ag Cat to settle a backyard basketball game tie. (Yeah, kid rules make no sense. Painting to settle a basketball game? The other kid asked me to do it because he didn’t think I knew what an Ag Cat was. Well, one of the upsides of being a news junkie from birth is that I was always awake early enough to watch the farm reports. I used all the yellow paint and I won the “game.”)

I now have two paintings from two trips to painting parties. And they closely resemble the model paintings, I’m proud to say. I just listened carefully and followed their step-by-step instructions.

However, I’m not naive enough to believe that I can call myself a painter. I’m just good at following directions. Heaven forbid I’m asked to paint an actual model or a portrait by memory.

I never got the hang of portraits.
I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of painting portraits.

I may not be a real painter, but I’m sure I’ll go to more painting parties because they’re fun. After all, Bob Ross didn’t call it “The Joy of Painting” for nothing.

A Book Review: Webster’s Thesaurus

The mark of an excellent (marvelous, fine, wonderful, superior) publication (book, manual, treatise) has a great deal to do with the compelling anecdote (story, tale) contained within its covers.

With that in mind, I’m not thoroughly (entirely, totally, completely) certain (sure, assured) why or how “Webster’s Thesaurus” has attained (achieved, acquired, reached) the level of popularity–in terms of sales–that it has.

Here’s a fair warning to anyone looking for a quick (swift, speedy, brisk) read–it’s a tedious, burdensome task with no clear plot line or structure (framework, arrangement). While you will likely notice (observe, perceive, recognize) an immediate expansion (broadening, inflation) of your vocabulary, your social circle might dwindle (wane, decrease, diminish) under the increasingly frustrating weight of trying to decipher (determine, translate) your most basic conversational language.

I'm afraid to look for another word for "thesaurus." I fear that the universe would implode.
I’m still afraid to look for another word for “thesaurus.” I fear that the universe would implode.

And…I still haven’t figured out how it ends. “Zoom” seems an like odd last word for a book (see also publication).

Final review…wait for the movie.

A Brief Thought: Wordsmithery

I like words.

Aww, a girl and her dictionary.
Aww, how cute. A girl and her dictionary.

Let me rephrase that…I like MOST words.

I’ve come up with a very short list of words that I like and dislike for various reasons.

*Disclaimer: As always, the views I write are just my opinion and should not be taken as the gospel. This post is intended for entertainment purposes…nothing more, nothing less. Void where prohibited. No refunds after 30 days. Play ball.

Words I Can Do Without:

1) Diminutive. Why should a word to describe something small be so large? Suggested alternatives: teeny, tiny, little. See also “petite.”

2) Tort. I took one whole business law class in college. I read a lot of John Grisham. I have no problem with the word itself, per se, but I’d rather see it with “-illa” attached to the end. That sounds good. Suggested alternatives: tortilla. (Nothing so right can possibly be a wrong.)

3) Fabulous. I’m blaming, oh, say, the turn of the millennium for this one. It appeared in so many different television shows at the time that I’ve lost count. It’s somewhat…aloof, perhaps? (This is, of course, assuming that words have personalities.) Suggested alternatives: wonderful, terrific.

Words I Can Live With:

1) Petite. It’s such a perky little word, don’t you think? As a petite person, I approve.

2) Amazing. Although this one does tend to conjure up images of childhood magic shows, it’s a handy adjective to keep in your arsenal.

3) Pleasant. Speaks for itself. Reminds me of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Aww.

Yes, I like words. I guess I even like the ones I don’t.