Ham & Cheese Casserole

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Lots of people fret about what to do about all those Thanksgiving leftovers.  Talk about your first-world problems!  Not me. Ever since I went through a strange time last year, where I obsessed about food since my grocery budget was $30/wk, I’m joyous every day I have food in the house.

I was gifted a ziplock bag of fried turkey and another ziplock bag of fried ham after Thanksgiving dinner. Although I eat pork, I don’t buy it. So a bag of fried ham got me thinking of how I could honor its presence in a meal. Then, it came to me: ham mac and cheese casserole!

I’d never made it before, but this comfort food was just what the doctor ordered, considering the fact that things have been rather stressful at work and the weather has turned cooler. Combined with butter, whole milk and two types of cheddar, the ham was guaranteed to shine, especially topped off with spicy panko bread crumbs. I originally was going to add a couple of handfuls of spinach, but remembered at the last minute that I had frozen peas, which fit the bill even better.

One of the best returns on making a casserole is getting 8 meals out of it, which I conveniently packed up in plastic food containers, ready to be microwaved for lunch. This dense casserole had to be heated up for at least 2 1/2 minutes and every minute counts on a 30-minute lunch break, especially when we worked from headquarters. In my apartment, nothing is more than 10 steps away; so time doesn’t seem to slip away from me as I travel from the kitchen to the bathroom to take care of human needs before getting back to work.

During those few precious moments with my feet kicked up, I savored every rich, delicious bite. What a difference a fantastic meal makes for those afternoon calls!

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Thanksgiving 2016

1-gluten-free-animal-graham-crackersSince my friend who hosted this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is gluten sensitive, my contribution was a pumpkin cheesecake with a gluten free graham cracker crust. What a fantastic sacrifice of some animal graham crackers! 2-graham-crackers Pre-Vitamix days, I would’ve mashed those bad boys up with a potato masher like Mom used to do. It’s all about incorporating technology now.3-melted-butterFive tablespoons of melted butter added to the crust’s deliciousness.
4-sugared-crust Despite the fact that I used cookies, I faithfully followed the recipe and sprinkled a tablespoon of sugar.5-buttered-crust Even before I baked the crust, I could smell the flavor as I mixed in the butter.6-baked-crust Baking the crust for five minutes truly brought out the flavor.7-cheese-sugar-vanillaNext, I got the main event ready: three packages of cream cheese, one cup of sugar, some vanilla extract.
8-creamed This base could’ve been any cheesecake.9-spicesThen I added some fresh traditional Thanksgiving spices: cinnamon and allspice. 10-pumpkin Although the recipe called for one cup of pumpkin, I couldn’t taste it. So I put in the whole 15-oz can. Everyone savored the taste and asked if I’d used fresh pumpkin. Ha!  I’ve heard from at least two people, who used fresh pumpkin, confess that next time they’d use canned pumpkin. Good enough for me.11-eggsLastly, I added three eggs and hand grated nutmeg.12-before-baking After pouring the batter into the pre baked crust, I gave it a final serene swirl to smooth it down. As any good chef or baker will tell you, it’s not merely using fresh ingredients that makes a dish, it’s also the care one puts into the preparation. The end result? Edible love.13-baked The recipe stated to bake the cheesecake for 60-70 minutes, but it looked plenty ready after 35-40 minutes. 14-fry-master I arrived just in time to see my friend’s husband checking on the first turkey he’d fried up. I love the fact that he was a former firefighter since turkey fryers have caused so many fires and injuries.15-whipped-cream While other preparations took place, I whipped up some fresh cream with too much sugar and put it in the refrigerator. 16-prepping-fryer Nearly an hour later, I documented the frying of the second turkey. 17-next-turkey This bird had already been injected with liquid spices. 18-lowering-turkey Our fryer chef carefully lowered the bird into the boiling hot oil. 19-in-the-fryer 20-boiling Still using caution, he closed the lid.21-lid-closed And then slowly backed away.22-carving-turkeyThe other captain of the chef team, curved up the first fried turkey.
23-turkey-platter In the process, she made a beautiful  turkey display.24-dinner-plate In addition to a glass of water and a chalice of red wine, I made my eclectic Thanksgiving plate: green beans with sliced almonds and cranberries; mashed potatoes with cream cheese, rosemary and garlic; apple salad; fried turkey; fried ham; and Mexican spaghetti casserole.25-desserts We had two homemade dessert selections: flan and pumpkin cheesecake.26-dessertsI skipped seconds on dinner just to double up on dessert. Besides, we were all gifted leftover turkey, ham and potatoes. I left half of the remaining cheesecake with my hosts and then delivered the rest to another friend who lived nearby.

As delicious as that cheesecake was, I don’t need it all for myself. That’s the main reason I never make a dessert unless I taking it somewhere else.

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Mid-Week Night Hike

1-skyline I braved the unknown in the dark to find our meeting place for this mid-week night hike along Lady Bird Lake, starting on the East side.  Although the organizer set the rendezvous point at a place that would be closed by the time we got there, in FRONT of that place was an international hostel that was well lit and accessible by GPS. Yet, I parked a block and a half away because I wasn’t sure of where the meeting place was. Fortunately, I saw a group of people standing to the side of the hostel, looking awkward, which emboldened me to ask if they were the meetup hiking group. 2-group-shot-wskyline We were a small, eclectic group with whom I found common ground. I knew right off the back that one woman was from Egyptian descent. Another woman had just moved from NC, my home state. One guy had both a sales and engineering background; so of course I made my attempt to recruit him and planned to send him the official referral link. One woman and I had the same game plan of strategically parking a block and a half away where there were streetlights and no danger of parking violations. 3-roanokeOur representative dog was an energetic, year-old puppy, Roanoke. As much as I liked the calm look in his eyes, I didn’t want to get pounced upon without warning.  People switched out walking him, although they had to brace themselves for the sudden bursts of running and pouncing.4-group-shot-wstevieSince we started on the East side, we ended at a prime location on the West side–the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue. One guy had never heard of him.  We all encouraged him to look him up on YouTube. We double timed it back to starting point. It’s like we all had the same idea to wrap things up and go back home.

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Spinning Wheels

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After having dinner with a boisterous group of women at a restaurant, I came across a swag table, sponsored by a local radio station. Since “free” is my price, I grabbed the only meaningful thing among a sea of junk: a book.

As I sped read the back copy, the guy working the table informed me that I had to spin the wheel and whatever it landed on, that was the swag I’d receive. Instead of looking at the wheel, I leveled my eyes at him and gave him a look that communicated, “I’m not going to spin your fucking wheel.”

I drew the book closer to my chest and protected it with the folding of my arms. In my best Southern-woman-bless-his-heart voice, I said, “But I want this book.”

Fortunately, this guy wasn’t in the mood to be a dick. He reached over, manipulated the wheel so that it appeared to have landed on “books,” and then he fake cheered and congratulated me on winning.

On the drive home, I wondered how often are people trying to force me to spin wheels that have nothing to do with the outcome of the situation?

Like the time while I taught at a prestigious private school in Mexico, our principal assigned the teachers’ parking because students had performed so poorly on a national standardized test. The result: A sharp increase in teachers arriving tardy. Most had only arrived early for a good parking space. The assigned parking vanished as quickly as it had begun. A few days afterward, some official discovered that the wrong answer key had been used and our students had actually performed quite well.

Now, it may be obvious that there’s no connection between designated teachers’ parking and standardized tests scores, but so many people in the US have been duped into believing that the way to close the achievement gap is by testing the hell out the students.

You know what makes teachers, districts, students and schools exemplary? Money! And plenty of it. With money comes smaller classroom sizes, better resources and richer experiences both inside and outside the classroom. It’s no coincidence that students in districts with the most money score higher on standardized tests nor is it merely an excuse to note that students in cash-poor districts struggle with passing standardized tests. The achievement gap is a direct reflection of the inequity of school funding, AKA the money gap. Why doesn’t anyone ever clamor to close that?

Or how about the everyday ridiculously illogical spinning wheel of how to hang the toilet paper? Some will argue the right way is where the toilet paper hangs over the roll because, not only is it more aesthetically pleasing, but it works better since to hang it the other way will cause it to spool uncontrollably on the floor.

After 11 years of living in developing countries where I never left home without my own toilet paper stash in my purse, had perfected how to hover over a toilet, a hole, a trench or behind foliage, I knew the most important aspect to toilet paper is having it. No matter how the paper is hung, it won’t be softer, more absorbent nor more tear-proof.

Here’s another everyday illogical argument: cars vs. bikes. This great city of ours tries to remedy the shared road conflict. Each side blames the other for being dangerous and inconsiderate. They paint a vivid picture of one another’s traffic violations when it comes to who has the right of way, bikes or cars. You know which side is right? Neither! Assholes can operate a car or bike. It doesn’t matter what the mode of transportation is. Remedy the assholes, solve the traffic problems.

Another type of vehicle is movies. Movies can transport us to another time and space, delivering racism along the way. First example: Back in the 70s when no one even dreamt of an “Oscars So White” movement, my older sisters, who were teenagers at the time, could legally take me to R-rated horror movies. Inevitably, while the maniacal killer was on the loose, the actors, who were all white, would stop to have sex. Or there’d be some lone white woman running in the woods or house and fall.

One of my sisters would scoff at such scenes and mutter something to the effect, “Look at those stupid white people! Always got to have sex or fall down instead getting away.”

Of course the only reason those cliché scenes existed wasn’t due to the stupidity of white people, but the low quality of the scripts and no minorities were hired to act in them. But as a child, I really thought white people would have sex anywhere, under any circumstances and couldn’t run well, thanks to those horror movies.

Second cinematic example: When I taught ESL in Seoul, South Korea, I had a new set of adult student classes every month. So, every month I told them a little about myself and par for the course, I’d get questions about my dreads, there was always one person who’d yell out, “Michael Jordan!” whenever I said that I’d graduated from Carolina, but in one class, I experienced this little gem: one student said to me, “You must be a good dancer.”

Intrigued, I asked him why. He replied, “In the movies, all the black people are good dancers.”

I smiled, again that dangerous Southern woman smile, and said, “You know why all the black people in movies dance so well?”

He shook his head and said no.

“Because they don’t hire the black people who can’t dance.” The whole class looked amazed at one another, nodding their heads in agreement. In that moment, a part of me was furious at them, but I had to remember myself.

Wasn’t I the little girl, who, when eating dinner with her family while the news was on TV, wondered where they got THOSE black people. You know the ones who didn’t speak proper English, didn’t own a comb or brush and were always witnessing or committing crimes.

Despite the fact that most of my family and extended family are black and a significant number of friends were black, we were different than those six o’clock news blacks. I don’t recall ever seeing positive six o’clock news blacks unless they were entertainers or famous athletes.

So, during my freshman year in college when a white coed complimented me by saying, “Teresa, you don’t talk like a black person,” perhaps she’d grown up watching the six o’clock news while eating dinner with her family too.

Now I don’t want to end on such a dismal note since other species have their illogical moments as well. I live in a very pet-friendly neighborhood. Once I passed a neighbor who was walking his dog. The dog was in the position, but it couldn’t shit because it was barking at me instead. I just laughed and said to the dog, “You can’t bark and shit at the same time.”

That’s the real message here: do your business and let the bullshit pass you by.

 

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Zombie Ball 2016: Morris Day & The Time

1-suffers 2-group-shot Once again, I enticed a friend to go to the Zombie Ball with me. I didn’t realize until we got there, she’d never heard of the headliner although she vaguely remembered the antagonist from the movie “Purple Rain.”  As an added bonus, I saw another friend walking by himself in the crowd, grabbed him, so he could hang with us.

The opening band made a point of getting the crowd to remember that they were The Suffers from Houston. With their funkalicious grooves, the band got the crowd hyped to hear Morris Day and the Time.3-tyrone Speaking of funky, we all enjoyed this guy’s “Tyrone” costume–a throwback to Dave Chapelle’s infamous crack addict character.4-gum-shoeI’d taken a picture of this woman’s costume before I even realized that she was a big wad of bubble gum the shoe had stepped on.
5-medusa I’d dressed up as Medusa before, but not quite as elaborately as this woman had done. Her rubber snakes added such texture, and apparently a little too much weight, to her costume.6-burlesque-dancers The Fat Bottom Burlesque troupe lived up to their name. Not only that, but the DJ had tech issues with their music, but these women handled themselves quite professionally.7-zombie-dancers Next came the Parade of the Undead, complete with aerial dancers.8-zombie-dancers I’m not quite sure why the zombies ate bits of the mummy in the beginning of this choreography, but who cares about plot when watching such a thing?9-zombie-dancers After the opening number, they did solos that reminded me of capoeira, especially the last guy.

Then, the most touching montage of Prince photos graced the screen along with his music. Took me a few moments to whip out my camera and capture the last bits of it.
10-md-the-time 11-md-the-time I remembered this album. My older sisters had it and we nearly wore it out.12-md-the-timeMorris Day came out with his usual pimp-style, comedic conceitedness.13-md-the-time Many times during the concert, Day combed his hair in the mirror that one of his band members held.14-md-the-time He crooned out hit after hit, some I’d even forgotten about.15-md-the-timeEver so theatrical, at one point, Day stated he was cold, so the guy standing in the background draped him in his white coat.16-md-the-time Nonetheless, he kept dabbing himself with handkerchiefs.17-md-the-timeDay explained to the audience that he wasn’t wiping sweat off himself because he was hot, but because he was so cool.18-md-the-timeThen he proceeded to give us a mini physics lesson. Day gave the analogy that a chilled bottle of champagne, when taken out of the refrigerator, starts to condensate. 19-md-the-time So, Day concluded that he wasn’t sweating, he was “condensating.”  20-md-the-timeAfter the penultimate song, Day left the stage. The hype man got the crowd going to bring Day out on stage for an encore. I was worried. Sometimes, the encore song wasn’t worth waiting for.
21-md-the-timeYet, he came out and did “Jungle Love.” Totally worth the wait.  His final act was to throw two of his “condensation-drenched” handkerchiefs into the audience. As my friend and I waited in the women’s line after the show, another Black woman came up to us and asked if we wanted to smell Morris Day’s scent. She held up his handkerchief with both hands for us to get a whiff. I couldn’t name the sweet, yet manly cologne, but I’m sure she’s going to treasure it for a long time.

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Slaughter Creek Trail Loop Hike

1-trailhead As beautiful as the sky was, this picture didn’t capture the 95-degree heat with the 45% humidity in the middle of October. Of all the times not to bring a hat! This was the least amount of foliage on any hike I’ve done so far.2-mid-hike Coupled with the lack of foliage, there was also very little water. So, I posed on one of the randomly placed wooden tables in lieu of a watery background.3-last-mileAlso unlike previous hikes, we made a 5-mile trek instead of our usual 4-mile hike. Thank goodness the terrain didn’t have any steep parts. My knees felt pretty good the next morning. Yet those damn loose rocks were nearly the death of me.  One guy, who had planned to go hiking with us, had rolled his ankle on a loose rock while walking his dog. Fortunately, none of my loose-rock trips resulted in anything more than a brief stumble and cursing.

 

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Fear of Being Swallowed, Ch. 4

 

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The bustling streets of Kolspace were like a wonderful super-organism ready to swallow Rehema alive. This city’s rhythm was a cacophony.   The ancient labyrinthine stonewalls, which used to channel water, then later protect against enemy attacks now hustled people to and from the heart of the city.

Craig was right. She would’ve been mugged in a minute. Instead, she shared a taxi with him to his usual hotel. They could have negotiated the crowds much faster on foot, but he didn’t want to lose her in the confusion. The temperature inside the run-down taxi increased as if they’d entered a crucible. Although Rehema enjoyed the prolonged opportunity to look at the exotic vibrant-colored fabric, which the native women wore, and smell the sweet musty stench from the food vendors, she also longed for a cold shower and a breath of fresh air.

Rehema attempted to distinguish among the “tribes,” as Craig called them. Certainly, she’d blend in with her native-looking skin, but she’d been raised elsewhere. Her clothes and accent were dead giveaways.

A horrible thought suddenly sat on her head: she’d never been a foreigner before. For some stupid reason, she figured she’d returned to her gene pool and instinctively know what to do. As if her genetics would guide her.

“How long does it usually take you to trade gems?” Rehema asked, trying to mask her panic.

“Oh, the Montiers are a strange lot. Usually, they feed you and try to get you drunk before they conduct any serious business. If you can hold your liquor, then they’ll do business with you.”

“And if you can’t hold your liquor?”

“They’ll rob you.”

Rehema gasped.

“I’m joking. I negotiate on behalf of different clients who have particular gem interests. The Montiers try their damnedest to get me off track, though.”

“I bet you get a lot of requests for big diamonds.”

“Nope.” Craig reached into his leather backpack and pulled out a small black velvet bag. He tossed Rehema a sparkling, lavender, oval gem.

She held the gem with both hands although it would have easily fit into one. As she stroked it with her thumbs, a cooling sensation pulsed through her. Marveling at her interaction with the gem, Rehema held it closer to the window for inspection. Purple and cyan glints sparkled in the sunlight as a sense of well-being cascaded over her. She closed her eyes, smiling.

“Good, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Rehema said dreamily. “Is this an amethyst?”

“No, it’s a peace stone. Only Montier stones cause those feelings.”

“How much?”

Craig laughed. “That’s the problem with Montier stones—they’re addicting as hell! I doubt if you can afford that one. Tell you what: I’ll get you another one, lower quality, but it’ll still work pretty good.”

Reluctantly, Rehema handed over the stone, giving it a final, hard rub. Her heart sank as the taxi stopped at the hotel. The monstrosity looked like a fortress—not at all as romantic as she’d hoped.

“Ah, finally for fuck’s sake.” Craig wiped the sweat from his face and blew his nose in a handkerchief. “Nah, don’t bother. It’s on me.” He waved away Rehema’s attempt to pay. “I feel chivalrous today.”

As Craig checked them in, the clerk who obviously knew him, winked and said, “A double suite today, Mr. Ford?”

“Nah, one single and my usual suite.” The clerk raised both eyebrows in surprise, but said nothing.

Rehema looked around aimlessly until she met the determined gaze of a well-dressed predator with his fine silky shirt, linen pants and sharp eyes. She couldn’t break the spell until Craig asked, “Ready?”

He’d startled her, and then saw why. “Jonathan! I didn’t expect to see you here.” Craig crossed the dull, gray, marble floor of the lobby to shake hands and kiss the other man on the cheeks.

Rehema attempted to complete her hotel check-in, but the clerk had pulled a disappearing act. She uselessly clicked her fingernails on the marble counter, longing to escape to her hotel room.

Jonathan leaned in and whispered, “Introduce us,” while looking directly at Rehema.

Craig strode three quick steps over to Rehema and touched her shoulder, causing her to jump. “Sorry. What’s your last name?”

She nervously glanced at Jonathan who seemed obviously entertained. “Jones. Why?”

He grasped her elbow and escorted her closer to Jonathan. “Jonathan Montier, Rehema Jones.” Craig hated doing “shit like this,” but since Jonathan was his main trading partner, deemed it a necessary business evil.

“Pleasure to meet you,” Jonathan said. He brought the back of her sweaty hand to his mouth and kissed it.

Wide-eyed, Rehema thought, “I don’t believe this is happening.”

Jonathan flashed her a wry smile.   The thought, “Believe it,” struck her.

To Craig, he said, “Our meeting place has been changed due to circumstances beyond our control. A driver will pick you up at seven tonight.” Then he added, “Both of you.”

Having recovered a little composure, Rehema squeaked out a “thank you.”

The two men shook hands and embraced again. Then, Jonathan enclosed Rehema’s hand in both of his. “I look forward to seeing you tonight.”

Nervously, Rehema nodded and pressed a smile on her face.

Once Jonathan was out of earshot, Rehema turned to Craig and said, “I’m not going.”

“What? You’ve got to go!”

“I don’t know that guy!”

Craig rolled his eyes. “Most women in this town would kill to be invited to have dinner with him.”

“I. . . I don’t like being set up on blind dates,” Rehema added nervously.

“Look, just drink some booze. Do you have fancier outfit than that?” Craig gave her dark green T-shirt, jeans and Tevas the once over with disapproval.

“I had no reason to pack a fancier outfit than this.”

He huffed, “Don’t worry. I’ll get you something.”

“Where?” Rehema demanded.

Craig, irritated with his new matchmaking role, returned to the front desk where the clerk had miraculously reappeared. Rehema trailed behind him. “Nabu she needs a fancy outfit by six tonight.” He indicated, stabbing his thumb in Rehema’s direction behind him. Nabu nodded, sizing her up. “We’re having dinner at the Montier’s.”

This time, Nabu nodded knowingly.

“Christ, I hate mixing business with someone else’s pleasure!” Craig cursed under his breath.

 

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Big Deck Reading

1-gardenI didn’t quite know what to expect when I agreed to perform at a backyard, big deck reading. Yet, this garden enticed me to take a second look. Not only were the raised vegetation beds growing plants, but it also served as makeshift seating.
2-sound-systemOne end of the deck housed the sound equipment and DJ.
3-big-deck I stood in the garden to take in the full effect of the deck, which the organizer/homeowner herself had built.  Periodically, she’d prompt the audience to say with her, “My deck is bigger than yours!”4-pasteries Another writer brought some designer pastries, where yours truly de-baconed one of a pastry’s two pieces. These treats were so huge, they had to be cut into bitesize pieces to be shared with the rest of the audience.5-toilet-sign Before the show, I used the bathroom. Normally an unremarkable event, but I loved the sign above the toilet paper roll, which reminded me of another toilet sign I witnessed at a bar/restaurant in Cuzco, Peru.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES6-me-readingThe audio dynamics alarmed me when I spoke in the mic. I then understood why the first performer had stepped back and had projected his voice even more. I toughed it out and read the vibrator excerpt from my first novel, Tribe of One.
7-me-readingFollowed by reading an excerpt from my second novel, The Adventures of Infinity & Negativa. I couldn’t tell until after the fact that the mostly millennial audience had enjoyed my reading or not. Most commented on the first excerpt.

Since I was the third reader to perform out of five, the show broke for a 15-minute intermission. Of course I took the opportunity to travel throughout the crowd, handing out business cards and inviting people to check out the roulette. Although the next roulette was the following day, no one from the big deck event, as far as I know, came out. Nonetheless, they have a few more opportunities remaining in 2016 to do so.

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St. Edwards Park Hike

1-superheroes So of course this was meant to be a fabulous hike with two superheroes on the scene.2-beginning-hikeMy schedule finally allowed me to participate in this hiking, walking and socializing meetup.The organizer usually plans a hike every two weeks or so, but I can only make it, so far, every couple of months.

2-2-group-back-photoFrom this view, my dreads and Superwoman T-shirt blend in like Clark Kent.
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There I am! In all my glory. The “S” on my chest stands for “Spectacular”!  I had a terrific time on a beautiful day, talking to some interesting people.  Just look at that blue sky and verdant vegetation.
3-not-really-welcomeAt one point, we came to a fenced off area where endangered species resided. Although the biggest word and irony on this sign was  “Welcome,” the imposing rules, especially the “hiking in a group of three people of less [should be fewer!],” weren’t welcoming at all. I understood the motivation, but all those rules motivated us to brainstorm how to get around them.
4-nos-signEven our organizer was tempted to divide us up in groups of three.
5-forbidden-signs Yet, a couple of members had brought their dogs. In the end, we stayed together, leaving the preserved part for another time.6-rocky-stairs Inevitably, we arrived at a loose rocky steep part.  This part reminded me of the 1000 Steps of Redemption when I descended Mt. Sinai.  I’ve yet to buy my walking stick. I had to crab walk my way down instead. 7-water-crossing I especially wanted a walking stick for watery crossings.  I followed another woman around the long way to cross this stream. At least I stayed mostly dry.  A handful of people took off their footwear and crossed barefoot.7-1-waterfall The mini waterfalls were delightful to see. I enjoy hikes that have a variety of scenery.8-watery-drivewayHowever, we spent far more time ogling this watery driveway. According to the four mailboxes on the same side of the road, adjacent to the driveway, as many as four families cross this safety hazard. That would be a stopper for me as a potential homeowner, but a couple of guys speculated they would just buy an all-terrain vehicle.

I was so happy not to cross another waterway nor ascend steep rocky steps when we turned around at this point and arrived safely to the parking lot where I reunited with my car.  That was the perfect alternative workout for my left hip and leg–my challenge areas.

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Chameleon Costume

1-the-materials The great sacrifice of three T-shirts, a pair of pants, a bath towel and wash cloth created my latest handmade costume for the spoken word and poetry show which I produce, The Austin Writers Roulette. Although I wore green shorts to complete look, I didn’t change them.2-an-eye To make the chameleon eyes, I traced circles onto two different-colored T-shirts.3-the-eyes Then, I made the first two of nineteen pillows, starting with the eyes. This headpiece was the top part of a pair of pants. Whenever I modify clothing to make a costume, I try as much as possible to retain the original stitching and design since that results in less hand sewing on my part. So, I stuffed the pockets with polyfill until they bulged and sewed the eyes on top. 4-the-tail For the chameleon’s tail, I combined the pant legs. When I researched how to make the tail curl, I quickly abandoned the idea of using a wire. Instead, I stuffed it with polyfill, then sewed the curl into the tail.5-precursor-scalesYears ago when I bought two green towels with washcloths, they actually matched. Using a template, I traced thirteen squares. I liked the contrast of the towel pieces versus the washcloth pieces.6-scales Hand-sewing those thirteen triangular pillows was another story. I sewed up one side, stuffed in polyfill, and then gave myself hand cramps holding them while sewing the third side.  Even with pins to keep the pillows shut, I still experienced hand strain.7-completed-costume Three of the scale pillows decorated the headpiece while the remaining ten decorated the back of the T-shirt.  The magical moment arrived when I sewed the tail onto the bottom of the shirt. 8-group-shot-copy Topping off my look, the most expensive part of the whole ensemble, the $15 green lipstick!  The best thing about that pricey lipstick was its staying power.9-chameleon-ccaI love to get the most mileage out of all my handmade costumes.  So when one of my three part-time jobs hosted a costume contest, I dressed as a chameleon and posed with my call center agent stuff.
10-chameleon-ccaI didn’t realize I’d have to submit the pictures via FB. I’ve resisted using FB all this time and certainly wasn’t going to join just for something like this–as cute as the idea may be. Fortunately, a coworker helped me out and posted the pictures for me. I hope to win some trick-or-treat money!

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