Pass the Mike.


You might not know this about me, but years ago I worked as a recorder for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  And by recorder, I don’t mean the musical instrument “played” by 3rd graders.  I mean recorder, as in someone paid to attend important meetings at classy hotels, tape closed-door conversations, and later transcribe every salacious detail.  As far as jobs go, a real peach.

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Animal Attraction

Yesterday, amid snow filled skies, a group of friends gathered to celebrate the union of two very much in love stuffed animals.

The Happy Couple
The Wedding Party
The Best Man

A marvelous time was had by all and the ceremony got me thinking about love.  Isn’t it amazing how two different species of stuffed animals can come together to form a perfect union?  I know some folks are really adamant about who can & cannot commit to one another, but really, who are we to judge the love a chickie can feel for a bunny, and vice versa?  Or, say. the attraction a Buffalo can feel for a Donkey?  Because surely you haven’t forgotten about MY FRISKY COOKIES??!

YES FRIENDS! hard to believe they’re STILL humping after all these years!!  (But not as hard for us as for that donkey.)

Click to relive the magic (really, just read the original blog posts)

December 2007.  Donkey & Buffalo find each other in a crowded tub of crackers.

January 2008.  Donkey & Buffalo remain “attached at the hip”

February 2011.  Three years later ….. and STILL GOING STRONG!

As if their long lasting interlocked state wasn’t evidence enough, I have further proof that the Donkey & Buffalo’s inter-species love is here to stay.  Dear reader. What I have to show you may be shocking, but remember, it is NATURAL.  Earlier this afternoon, when I fetched my animal crackers from their special box, they…. weren’t alone.

BEHOLD!!!!!

Animal Cracker —- OFFSPRING!!!!!!!!

The Donkey & Buffalo’s union has produced a (I don’t know what to call it) just in time for the grandaddy of all Love Ins, Valentine’s Day.  Though he looks a little funny, his legs are a bit twisted and he appears to be moving forward and backward simultaneously, you cannot dispute the look of sheer unbridled JOY on the (whatever it is)’s face.  DON’T JUDGE!!!!  LOVE CONQUERS ALL

SO.  To all you naysayers. I say PPpFFFFFFTTTTTT.

My quest for the perfect winter coat.

I am not your average woman.  I have suspected as much for years, but last night confirmed it.  After dinner, we drove 20 minutes north to the mecca of Freeport.  Home of that most beloved of all Maine institutions.  L.L.Bean. You might not know this, but as a new Maine-uh, it is mandatory that you buy stuff from L.L.Bean.  It doesn’t matter that you even like what you’re buying, but you MUST BUY STUFF THERE.  It’s the only way to prove your loyalty.  And believe me – the label checkers don’t ask questions.

We weren’t going for just anything though.  Last night, we had a MISSION.  My birthday is coming up in a week, and my mommy has been requesting – nay, INSISTING that I find myself a nice new winter coat.  Now that we have moved to the tundra (at least in comparison to balmy HOTlanta where she resides) she wants to make sure I am warm & toasty all winter long.  Since she cannot tuck me in in person, she wants to do the next best thing.  What every mother longs to do for their child.  Buy them a coat from L.L.Bean.

BUT MOMMY! I have said, I HAVE a coat.  A coat that I LOVE.  Nine years ago, we found each other in the gilded racks of Bloomingdales.  I knew he cost a little more than I was willing to pay. but as my Mommy was buying, it was o-kay.  I took him off his hanger and whisked him away – to more love than a coat has ever known.  We have held each other through winter storm and ice, cold pelting rain and wind, and though he has a few batttle scars, a slight rip at the seam and two lost toggles, he is still as beautiful as the day we first met.  Unfortunately, my mother sees him differently.  She never liked him.  Well, maybe a little at first, but now if she “sees me in that ratty black thing ONE MORE TIME, soaked to the bone and looking like a (quote-unquote) DROWNED RAT she will scream.”  My poor coat.  I hear him crying in the closet when the light is out.  He knows it’s just a matter of time.

Last night we drove to L.L.Bean.  We parked our car in that maze of spaces and we hauled it upstairs, past the fish pond and the maple syrup display, to ladies outerwear.  I eyeballed the selection of nice new winter coats.  Lovely indeed.  Long ones, short ones, every color in between.  But from the first I tried on, I knew none of them would do.  B/c I am simply something L.L.Bean has never banked on.  I am more than Regular, and far more than Petite.  I am not your average woman.  As much as I tried cramming my long stick-like arms into the sleeves of these coats, each and every one of them was waaaaaaay too short.  It was like being transported to Hobbit town.  Each coat left inches of flesh exposed, from my wrist to – in some cases, my mid-arm.  After consulting with not one but two kindly salesclerks who reassured me I am NOT A FREAK.. I determined something L.L.Bean has not.  Tall women who come to buy winter coats do not want to be re-directed down to the men’s department.

So we returned home, where I spent 3 hours online last night perusing umpteen websites in quest of the perfect coat.  Believe me when I say I lavished extra attention on sleeve length.  By bedtime I was zonked.  There are only so many jackets one can look at before getting burned out.  At least when you are me.  I was astounded at how popular puffy parkas have become.  This year blinding satin sheen in combination w/ Michelin-man-style Puffiness seems especially IN.  Partner that w/ Big BLING like gold chains and tassles, and that about sums up my search.  I am looking for a normal coat, something that doesn’t scream I AM A MAFIOSO WIFE.  You can imagine how this has left me.  Frankly, I’m starting to think I will be buried in my beloved old coat.  Thank goodness.

Target’s dollar week, MY ASS.

I don’t normally read Sunday circulars, but as we’re hard up for money and this week’s Target ad promises DOLLAR WEEK (***hearts & stars***), I made an exception.  Friends, I give you EXHIBIT A.

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You can see for yourselves the very same Bullseye & Bold Print which drew me in.

On closer inspection of the cover, however, I was dismayed to find nary an item on sale for a dollar.  Tide for $11. Charmin for $13.  Lean Cuisine frozen dinners, 5 for $10 bucks.  Hmm.  That’s odd. I thought.  Maybe they’ve saved all the real dollar deals for inside?   And so I leafed through this week’s Target circular.  CAREFULLY.  All 16 pages.  And how many of the 150-plus products advertised this dollar week did I find listed at $1?  Two.

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target3

I cannot speak for you, but the words dollar week on the front of this week’s Target circular, to me, mean stuff selling for a dollar.  Not $11.  Not $8.  BUT ONE SINGLE DOLLAR.

Not to put too fine a point on it.  But what exactly is the meaning of a dollar week if 99% of the products advertised are selling for more than a dollar?

Would it not simply be the same week as last week, and every other week of the year, in which Target sells its stuff for more than a dollar?  And refers to its sales simply as sales?  Wouldn’t every store be having a Dollar Week THIS AND EVERY WEEK, if indeed the true definition of “dollar week” is really MORE THAN ONE DOLLAR after all?

THE MYSTERIOUS CASTLE OF ALPHARETTA

Many of you know that my sister – and then parents – relocated to Atlanta several years ago.  There is a rumor floating around that I was NONE TOO PLEASED about this decision.  Regardless, we paid our first of several visits to the city in the summer of 2007.

On our first trip to Atlanta, we saw many interesting things.  The Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, and the Carter Center for starters.  But slightly off the beaten path, just north of the city in the suburb of Alpharetta, we found something which topped them all – at least in terms of its uniqueness.

BEHOLD, my friends!  THE MYSTERIOUS CASTLE OF ALPHARETTA

castlehouse11

castlehouse2

Believe it or not, this is no theme park sideshow.  This building stands as one of the most unusual living spaces ever. I myself have seen the owners, a gentle-looking older couple, out lovingly tending the grounds. The property lies (trust me on this) WAY OUT IN THE OPEN, at the corner of Arnold Mill and Cagle Roads, in either Roswell or Alpharetta (now the city of Milton). [As the dividing line is (for an outsider at least) too close to call, I am of course giving it to my parents who live in (you guessed it) Alpharetta (_now Milton_). But enough about Georgia politics!]

The house has a certain aura of MYSTERY about it. Likely b/c it is the only thing even semi-interesting and/or remotely Disney-esque for miles. and MILES. And of course, as any good mystery junkie, I HAD to get to the bottom of it.

Coming home from dinner one night, my father related the facts as he knew them. The owner, a former truck driver, built the castle years ago. Although it looks uninhabited from the road, with windows made of reflective yellow glass, most of the living quarters – ACCORDING TO MY FATHER’S SOURCE – are actually (hold your breath) subterranean. WOW. As if the exterior wasn’t captivating enough, rumor has it the house is actually a front for some sort of neolithic man cave dug deep inside the earth. Could it get any better??!!

Well, YES.

Although our paltry photos do their best to describe the actual home, they leave out some VERY juicy details. Such as The Moat. Yes, You heard me. The perimeter of the castle is surrounded by a (I do not know how deep) moat, dug into the ground and made into part of a swimming pool. It appears the moat widens at the rear of the house and becomes more conventionally pool-like. As you can see from the photo below, there is a small adjacent pool castle building, complete w. diving board. You cannot actually see said diving board in the photo, but it is there in reality, sticking out. I am not lying.

castlehouse3

Having done some research, I have read conflicting reports of the actual square footage of The Castle. Ranging from 1,400 to 6,600. QUITE A BIT OF DIFFERENCE, wouldn’t you say?? Me too. And as the above ground portion of building is truly tiny, I can only hold w/ the man cave theory. And speaking of a dream house, can you imagine anything better than thwarting pesky Avon Ladies and Jehovah’s Witnesses with your very own DRAWBRIDGE???! (No offense intended of course to those selling cosmetics and/or God.) But it seems as though the lucky owners made – as if part of their plan – not one but TWO drawbridges. I have read (second hand) that these lower into garage door openings. But again, I cannot attest to the factuality of this statement.

The entire perimeter of the property itself is (as you can see) girded by a wrought-iron fence, topped at points by sweet (British?) garden gnomes.

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In writing this post, I mean no disrespect to the owners, Rudy and Ruth McLaughlin.  To the contrary, I too believe every man’s house is his castle.  They just took the phrase slightly more literally than the rest of us.  And in doing so, provided us all with a little interest, a little mystery, a little something DIFFERENT. I thank them for doing so.  Certainly, my parents – who live just minutes away from the castle, must have a smile on their faces each time they drive by.  And the countless denizens of the adjacent affluent housing developments, when they’ve had “one too many” at the [insert club] dinner, never have to wonder IS THISHH ONE MIINE? when they pull up in the drive.

castlehouse4

Looking for MORE information w/out making the actual trip? See:

Roadside Georgia’s entry on THE CASTLE
Milton’s ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR
Way Marking’s entry on THE CASTLE
Will Roswell or Milton get Ted’s Spread?
And perhaps, the most encompassing entry yet on The Castle.