Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 5

The One Activity

If you’ve read the last few posts under this title, you’ll know that I recently took my wife on a birthday weekend away. You’ll also know that I planned, and antagonized my wife about, a secret activity. The One Activity. The reason I chose Wichita KS in the first place.

Now let’s get on with wondering why my wife didn’t kill me. If you’ve been following the story, prepare for fulfillment! After we left the haberdashery type establishment we decided that since upon the morrow we’d be off home, we should go ahead and participate in The One Activity. Initially I planned to complete it after dark, but we knew that darkness had recently been falling rather late. Also, if we’d sat in our hotel room to wait out the daylight we would have ended up engaged in some basic cable syndicated drollery and our joints would’ve been to weary to engage on any sort of trek by the time the sun had finally descended below the horizon. So I surreptitiously googled our destination and we made our way through the alien urban terrain. A few moments later we were sitting in a deserted parking lot and I was assuring her that there was nothing to be afraid of. It didn’t take long to build up our courage. I think we both realized that we wanted to be in our room lost in some basic cable syndicated drollery and the sooner we got out of the car, the sooner that would happen.

As we neared the edge of the parking lot we found that two paths diverged before us. An upper path cut along the edge of a steep embankment. To the left, a concrete staircase descended down to the waterfront of some river whose name I never bothered to learn. Being idiots, we chose the lower path. We passed a few joggers and some folks glued to their cell phones. It felt as though we had walked quite a while and I was too wrapped up in worrying that we had overlooked our destination or that it simply didn’t exist when suddenly we rounded a slight curve. The sidewalk forked off to the right into a bit of a non-aquatic bay at the back of which I saw a metal grate set into the embankment that stood well above my head. Suspecting this to be the place, I advanced to the grate and looked inside. Sure enough, a bit of what we sought was visible with a properly craned neck. I clapped my hands in excitement and then presented the idea that we traverse the steep hillock to get a top-down view. My wife looked more perturbed than enthused, but we climbed up anyway and looked down upon the thing we had come to see.

I’ll digress for a moment to state that marriage is a scary thing. Even if you know someone very well, pledging the remainder of your days to them is always a gamble and you can never be sure that your spouse is the right one for you or vice versa. I’ll say this in closing. When your wife finds out that you’ve dragged her three and one half hours (an approximation dependent upon traffic and road work) away from home with the sole intent of showing her a goblin in a sewer grate as a special birthday activity and she doesn’t throw your decapitated body into the sewer with the thing, you’ve likely found the right person to share your life with.

I bid you Adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…make time in your life for the bizarre.

A don’t…let me forget to inform you that after dark, green lights illuminate the sculpture and emanate from the grate in a fashion that I cannot describe since I haven’t seen it in the darkness.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed; A Story in Seven Parts

Part 4

Well, That Was Fun and Unexpected

If you haven’t read the first three posts in this storyline, allow me to briefly recap. I planned a birthday trip for my wife to Wichita KS. There was a secret activity, just for her (but kinda for me too) that I saved for the end and kept her in a state of anxiety about, purposely. Now you might begin to understand why part of the title is Why Didn’t She Kill Me? The posts I’ve done so far, including this one, have been a chronicle of our adventures leading up to the moment she decided to let me live.

After our eventful trip to the zoo we headed back to the hotel for a bit of relaxing and to refrigerate the leftover Cajun food we had for lunch. Two quick facts here. 1: There shouldn’t have been leftovers. The food was amazing! 2: There will be a post dedicated just to the food we ate. We are foodies and ate at several non-chain and/or localized chain places. Every one was amazing. Now, after preserving our food and relaxing for a few minutes we wonked out (see part one for a definition of wonking. It’s a driving term.) And headed to the beautiful and historic downtown area in the midst of which rose the Museum of World Treasures. Three floors of amazing artifacts. They had roman coins and mummies! Fossils and skeletons! Geodes and crystals and books and Hollywood paraphernalia! They had a balcony where you could dress as a monarch and be photographed between two suits of armor! There were displays for several major recent wars, including a walkthrough replica of a WWII trench.  They had a gift shop, of course, and although we didn’t buy anything we were quite tempted by several items. My wife would probably like for me to touch on the parking fiasco. She loves to remind me that I tried to drive into a foot-traffic-only plaza in search of a parking space. In my defense I was a wide open space, paved in brick as is the roadway in that part of town, and there was no signage indicating that vehicles were prohibited. In light of these facts I don’t feel obliged to mention the incident at all.

After traversing the winding halls of the museum we crossed the street to a place we had noticed on the drive over. It was a small haberdashery sort of a place that was strewn about with all manner of delightful knick-knacks and scrapbooking detritus called Mrs. O’Leary’s something or other. I regret that I can’t remember the entire name of the place because of its charming ambience and friendly proprietors. We purchased a small pleasantry for our dog sitter and, as we were paying, became acquainted with Dan. Dan looked like a Labrador, at least in part. He might have been a mix. He was black but graying and when I first tried to pet him he ran from me. As we were preparing to leave, and his owner nearly successfully gave him to us, Dan sauntered over to me and wrapped his neck around my leg. He didn’t have a freakish neck or anything like that. He just sidled up to my legs in the front and then bent his neck so that his head was on the outside of my thigh. I petted him for a moment and then had to pry myself away from him so that we could leave. It was the first dog-hug I’ve ever received and I enjoyed it greatly.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t.

Adieu…stay tuned for the next post in which the secret activity, the one that didn’t get me killed, will be revealed.

A don’t…ever turn down a dog hug.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Got Us Killed: A Story in Seven Parts

Part 3

Of Flamingo Fights, Indecent Apes and a Charming Bird

The Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita KS is quite a place. It stands out over all the other zoos I’ve ever visited in terms of convenience for the visitor as well as quality of habitats for the animals that live there. We felt a bit silly at first due to our being at the zoo without children, however in a very short time we encountered several other childless couples and an older man with a very expensive camera. Our fears of judgement allayed we proceeded into the depths of the zoo and had a wonderful time.

We first happened upon a beautiful lagoon full of flamingos. My wife loves flamingos and as she readied her phone to photograph the birds, they began to emit a horrendous cacophony the likes of which I wouldn’t have expected from such elegant creatures. As we watched, two flamingos began to smack their necks together and they tangled together in ways that appeared most uncomfortable. They looked quite comical when they faced each other and, chest to chest, each extended his (or her?) neck and pecked the other’s back. A few feathers were plucked free and sashayed down to add flecks of brightness to the drab greenish surface of the water. Soon thereafter, from the far end of the lagoon, a lone flamingo screeched and spread its wings. It ran toward the fighters waving its wings and I suppose it was the boss flamingo because the fighting stopped and tranquility again lay over Flamingo Lagoon. Unfortunately we were unable to get a video of this. It was quite entertaining.

We next visited the petting zoo because it was the next stop on the path and, as you may know if you’ve read some of my previous posts, I’m a bit partial to goats. Quite a regal goat (regal for a goat, anyway) stood on a bench chewing his cud and watching over the others. I stepped through the gate and was immediately approached by a small goat who, I can only assume, thought I was Bart Simpson. He attempted to eat my shorts.

The chimpanzees were next and they were a putrid lot that day. They were having blatant relations right out in the open causing one young mother (human mother) to drop her Gatorade and exclaim “The monkeys are doin’ it!” and then promptly abandon her beverage and escort her children to some more civilized habitat. My wife and I laughed and hung around a bit. Not because we are fans of monkey love but because we are fans of monkeys. My wife waved at one and he lifted his hand and smiled. I found this charming so I waved as well and the very same animal who’d honored my wife with a response dropped his grin and scratched his forehead with his middle finger! I don’t know if some louse with nothing better to do than corrupt monkeys has visited the zoo or if it was just coincidence, but it bothered me. It bothered me for several reasons. Firstly, if he smiled at my wife but flipped me the bird does that indicate he recognizes the human sexes? If so, was he attracted to my wife or simply indicating his heterosexuality? You may believe me when I say I’m sure it was a male, but I won’t go into why. Secondly, if it had nothing to do with sexuality, what on earth is wrong with me? I’m at least as nice as my wife. What had I done to offend the gentlemonkey? I could go on for a while but the implications still play through my mind nearly a week later.

After this I insisted we vacate the enclosure forthwith and leave  the uncouth creature to offend the people behind us. We were off to visit a more classy breed of wildlife. This turned out to be the most charming bird I’ve ever seen. It didn’t talk. It chirped, but it was a run of the mill type of chirp. It sounded like a bird, to put it quite bluntly. What charmed us was its Hollywood demeanor. This bird would’ve fit right in amongst the preening red carpet posers of Famousville, and while I’d normally be repulsed by such behavior this was still merely a bird. She (or he?) strutted to the fence and stood sideways to us, staring at us with one eye. It slowly cocked its head, chirped to be sure we were watching, then, I’ll say fwipped for lack of a better word, its head in such a way as to put shampoo commercial models to shame. My wife and I laughed and the bird strutted off only to turn and, upon seeing that it still had us enchanted, strut back and do it all again. Four times it did this and the fourth we were able to record. I can’t post a video with my current settings, however, believe me when I say it was the best part of a very good day and enjoy a picture of him/her instead.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t

Adieu…take the time to try and interact with animals. Sometimes they can surprise you.

A don’t…corrupt monkeys. For crying out loud, they’re obtuse enough as it is.

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Killed Us; A Story In Seven Parts

Part 2

Cowtown

Cowtown, as you might not expect, had no cows. What it did have was a suspicious lady in the parking lot who watched my wife and I as we hid our laptop and bags in the compartment behind the third row seats of our van. This ties back to the last post. If our room had been ready when we arrived our valuables would’ve been safely deposited under the hotel room bed.  Look at that! Continuity and story arcs!

I kept an eye on the suspicious lady as we walked toward the Cowtown entrance. As soon as we walked away from the van, she turned away either to text her accomplice or because she was simply people watching and the people she was watching were leaving. There were signs along the sidewalks indicating that electronic surveillance was in use. This calmed me some. If our car was broken into and our valuables stolen at least there would be grainy footage of the perpetrator. At least we would know that the laptop hadn’t gotten sick of being used for my attempts at writing and marketing my book and scurried away across the world wide web to someplace where it could wait in peace to do whatever it is laptops dream of doing should there ever be a successful robot uprising.

Random thought and possible future post: Has anyone ever explored the idea of computers that have been infected with viruses being electronic zombies? How would they attack and how would the other computers survive if humans were not involved? One day, I’ll attempt to answer these questions.

The Cowtown visitors center is a large building. Most of it seems to be a conference or gathering room. A smaller room is used as a gift shop and, as we always do when we travel, my wife and I each picked a magnet and a trinket apiece for the kids. The lady at the register was very friendly and funny and suggested a few more activities. Seems like she and we are a hive mind because the activities she recommended were already on our itinerary. She also told us where we might be likely to find ghosts and we stepped back out into the heat to explore the antique houses and businesses of Cowtown.

All of the buildings were authentic and had been donated and moved to the location where they had been set up to resemble a cattle-drive era old west town. There were several houses ranging from little cabins to more well-to-do “mansions” of the era. All were furnished with authentic period pieces. As much as we hoped for something mildly paranormal, the only thing that happened was that my wife’s camera wouldn’t photograph a certain corner of one of the houses. My camera worked fine in said corner. We explored the hotel, Marshal’s office where, if I read the plaque right, Wyatt Earp had once worked. There were several businesses. A bank, a pharmacy, a clothing store and a printers. There’s even an old masonic lodge and a funeral parlor. When we got hot we headed to the saloon and had a cold sarsaparilla to support the illusion that we were in the period. We didn’t stay for the 3:30 shootout. No sense in my wife and I becoming permanent residents because we dropped dead of heat stroke waiting to watch people in chaps and spurs shooting cap guns at each other. If it had been cooler we would’ve stayed.

We were startled by the carpenter when we stepped into his shop. The other buildings we’d visited had been empty except the saloon, which we’d been warned would be staffed. We talked to him for a few minutes and then called it a day, returning to the hotel under the assumption that our room might well be ready. It was.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t

Adieu…visit Cowtown if you meet the criteria of being in Wichita Kansas and interested in such things. They offer a military discount and friendly staff.

A don’t…forget to check back for part 3 in which we will discuss some very indecent simian individuals

Happy Birthday Honey or Why Didn’t She Kill Me and How I Almost Killed Us: A Story in Seven Parts

Part 1

Leave-takings and highway-side humor

It can be a dangerous thing to drive on the freeways. I don’t mean dangerous in the mortal sense. In that sense it can be dangerous to do just about anything. I refer to the danger of missing out on random experiences and chance encounters.

Allow me to back up before I begin. I recently planned a birthday trip for my wife, the caveats being it would be a place neither of us had been before, one activity would remain a secret and we would never, ever drive on a freeway.

I’m rather happy we took the poet’s advice, however, our paths diverged between corn fields and cattle ranches rather than forking in the woods.

Our drive began peacefully. There was singing along with the radio and idle conversation. We pointed out houses we liked or buildings that looked haunted. We slowed to a crawl as the highway ran through the main streets of small towns and sped back up again as single pump stations and one floor town halls receded in the rearview mirror. This became a cycle; nearly hypnotic. It was the third town we slowed down for that broke our trance and caused us to nearly laugh ourselves off the road. We passed a cinder block building fronting the road. It was painted white and, although I noticed no professional signage, it appeared to be a garage of some kind. Nothing funny about that, but as we drove by we saw, spray painted on the pillar between the roll up doors, the words “no public restroom” and under that “no peepee”. We laughed until we cried; a possible mortal danger to be encountered on any driving surface, I suppose. My wife found it funny for her own reasons, I didn’t ask because we were laughing together and that is all that mattered to me. I laughed because I wondered what on Earth could’ve happened to cause someone to hastily spray paint a “no peepee” warning on his place of business? Why not make a presentable, polite sign of some sort? And what sort of person patronizes a place that has this commandment hastily spray painted upon its façade? I surmise it cannot have been a single occurrence. If someone once urinates upon your building would you not simply run the offender off and grab some bleach? It certainly wouldn’t occur to me that this might become such a problem that I’d need a quick warning to curb further offenses. I say he must’ve often stepped out for a breath of fresh air to find some transient making use of his front door’s lack of facilities.

Shortly after this we stopped for gas and, after watching some folks fuel up their farm truck, I dubbed them country roughers. I did this not to poke fun at them. Farmers are respectable folk and much needed for our infrastructure to maintain itself. Farming is dirty work, though, and they looked as if they’d been doing much of it so, since the opposite of city is country, and we were out in the country, and since the opposite of slick is rough and therefore the opposite of slicker, rougher I called them country roughers. I think the statement I made to my wife was something along the lines of  “We just fueled up the van next to a couple of country roughers.” We had another good laugh and as it was dying to breathless fits of ab-burning giggles I submitted to her that I considered she and I to be a couple of suburban semi-smoothers. We hadn’t the ab strength left to laugh again. Maybe it just wasn’t funny.

We saw some windmills and other such. Old barns and horses and before we really realized it we were pulling in to the construction riddled limits of the city we’d come to visit.  They have a frontage road the likes of which I’ve never encountered before. The gps said to make a sharp left onto Kellogg road. There were two left turn lanes and I suppose I should’ve understood the physics involved in the assumption that the inside lane would’ve equaled a sharper left turn. In my defense, I’m not a physicist and my brain was coming down from several laughter induced endorphin dumps and so we had to turn into a gas station and then make a not-so-sharp right turn to get to our hotel. We realized then that the frontage road had, as my wife called them, “wonky” built-in U-turns so that the traffic lights could be avoided. On our many ventures from our room into the city she would advise me when to “wonk” left.

And of course, our room wasn’t ready quite yet. So we wonked out and ended up in Cowtown.

This completes part one.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t

Adieu…take the slower route when you can. Maybe it won’t always be worth it, but when it is the memories you make can be priceless.

A don’t…stop to urinate upon the holdings of some poor entrepreneur. It’s not only rude, but in many municipalities, also illegal.

Fact, Fiction or Inconsequentially Entertaining; An Adventurous Rumination.

I’m going to make a statement that will result in my being judged. I’ve a bit of trepidation, but here goes; I watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with my wife the other night and, as is the case every time I watch it, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ll pause for a moment as you judge me.

 

 

Ok. Done? Good.  Now let me explain why being judged for something as simple as enjoying a movie is ridiculous. I’ll begin by paraphrasing some of the judgements I’ve heard regarding the aforementioned motion picture.

  1. It was stupid. My response: that is simply a matter of opinion.
  2. Mr. Jones couldn’t possibly survive a nuclear blast in a lead-lined refrigerator much less the flight and end-over-end tumble into the desert of said fridge as a result of the shockwave of the previously indicated nuclear blast. My response: Probably not. However, I have seen deer in the upper branches of trees as a result of floods. I have seen my five year old survive his ridiculous stunts that should have left him horribly maimed or worse. (Please understand, he doesn’t undertake these as a result of my inattentive parenting. He is very fast and very slippery and extremely creative in the stunts he devises at a moment’s notice.  He’s off and running in an instant, but he doesn’t run toward, say, the teeter totter or some other thing that would reasonably attract a child. He runs toward the river on the other side of the playground and jumps, fully clothed, in. If anyone wants to believe the unbelievable they need look no further than the fact that I have known my son for five years and despite this I still have a full head of not gray hair and I haven’t had a heart attack yet.  Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.) If it was a tight enough fit, as it appeared to be, that he could brace his body in such a way as to not jostle too much within the fridge or bang his head it is certainly plausible that someone could survive that. And despite these facts, it is still a fun and exciting thing to watch.
  3. You can’t use a snake as a rope.  The snake would probably tear in half or bite him since he was trying to grab the head end. Not to mention, it’s very cruel to misuse a snake in such a way.  My response: True on all counts.  However, animals often sacrifice themselves for the survival of man, albeit, rarely voluntarily.  I would also point out that they didn’t use a real snake and an experienced adventurer the likes of Indiana Jones surely knows more practical ways of extracting himself from quick sand.  The snake and quick sand scene was nothing more than a humorous way of tending to a running theme in the franchise, that of Indy’s fear of snakes.  I point out myself that simply calling a snake a rope when one is already aware it is a snake is likely not psychologically sufficient to convince oneself to grab hold.  Once again, it was just for fun.

I’ve finished my rant.  It is fun to point out the inaccuracies in movies.  I do it myself.  But to become nearly militant over such things is ludicrous.  Movies are made to entertain.  If they don’t entertain you, don’t watch them.  If they do, watch fearlessly.  I stand beside Hollywood inaccuracies.  In most cases, they aren’t as strange as fact anyway and can be quite fun to observe and consider.

I bid you Adieu…and A don’t.

Adieu…consider the ways my nerd rant may apply to other aspects of life.  Live and let live as long as no one is being hurt.

A don’t…watch Indiana Jones in any of his adventures if you want a movie that strictly adheres to the laws of physics. They’re just for fun.

Backyard Wonders

My family and I moved into a new house almost a year ago.  The house itself is sufficient, if rather small.  But the backyard…it is huge and full of wonders! There are two small ponds in the back.  Cement man-made ones.  When we first looked at the place it was early August and the surface of one was covered in lily pads while the other had very tall and unusual flowers in it.  They had very large blossoms with bizarre seed pods in the center.  A bit of research revealed that they are lotuses.  I found this very exciting because of how exotic they are and, more nerdily, because it made me think of Dean Jones in The Lovebug and the Lotus Special he apparently crashed in a race.  I worried that perhaps the winter had killed them off, but about two weeks ago they started poking up through the lily pads and have since blossomed!  They are a beautiful flower and have an interesting scent that is not quite licorice but is highly reminiscent of it.

I find myself walking through the yard randomly just looking at things.  It isn’t because I’m senile.  Not as far as I know anyway, but there are always just strange things to notice.  For one, I’ve noticed that my apple and pear trees haven’t produced a single fruit yet.  Last year when looking at the house there were apples and pears everywhere. It has been a very hot, dry summer so maybe that is why.  Disappointing, but interesting.

Sometimes my backyard wanderings are unexpected.  I see something that leads me to something else.  I read an article about Tolkien and how no one would take walks with him because he would spend several minutes silently staring at every flower and tree he came across.  I fear I have the same problem.  I don’t fear the problem itself, I enjoy staring at trees and flowers, but I fear that others might think I’m crazy.  I suppose I shouldn’t care.  Anyway, during my absent-minded wandering, with my wife watching from the kitchen window googling the best convalescent homes even though I’m only 34, I noticed two cocoons.   I’m absolutely fascinated by them.

Soon I’ll post something about whatever comes out of the cocoons.  If I’m lucky enough to see them, that is.

Until then I bid you Adieu…and A don’t.

Adieu…stop and smell the roses, even though the sound of it is quite cliché.

A don’t…let anyone stop you from enjoying the nature around you with their judgmental stares.  Anyone who judges a nature lover for loving nature is too caught up in the electronic world and needs to Anti-Hollywood.