my type of excitement

Here on the blog, I endeavor to keep you readers up-to-speed on the latest trends. I’m your gal for all things dump,

dump-cakes

wiener-dog,

roxy

senior fashion

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and arts happenings in our town.

kathywithhorns

You’ll be relieved to know I’m taking time away from snapping heart-stopping photos for my new action-photography book, Captivating Drain Covers of the 19th Century, to pursue a new hobby. I’m sweeping aside (for now!) my research paper on the Breeding Habits of Dust Bunnies and I’m explaining to Benjamin Moore how I can no longer accept remuneration as the Official 2015 Paint Dry Timer. The Texan wants me to give up editing my new cookbook, 1001 Uses for White Rice, to free up more time in my schedule.

What’s the new hobby?

yogurt1

I’m making homemade yogurt!! I know, I know….pop that nitro-glycerin tab now so your heart doesn’t explode from all the dairy excitement. I bought this yogurt maker from Amazon. It’s a neat little contraption and it ferments 7 perfectly wonderful little jars of tasty yogurt. Upon spying the organic whole milk in the fridge, the tall Texan cross-examined me.

What’s this?

It’s organic whole milk.

Why did you buy organic milk?!

You know….they say it’s healthier for you. It comes from cows that haven’t been treated with antibiotics.

So…you’re buying milk from only sick cows?

At any rate, I’m enjoying my creamy homemade yogurt. I eat it with a drizzle of honey topped with blueberries or granola. Better than ice cream and so good for the gut. Can you say pro-bye-ought-icks? Probably not, if you’re under 50.

As for arts happenings, I recently witnessed a certain individual discovering her favorite genre of music. This revelation made my heart soar as I discerned this was the type of music for which she was created. Who would’ve guessed? I thought she was created for square dancing. Boy, was I wrong!

The hips never lie. This gal lives for the blues. RIP B.B. King

Hope you are enjoying your inspiration this week.

Dance-like-no-one-is-watching love to all.

end

 

 

 

Is it the end or the beginning? Depends upon how you look at it.

kathysitting
Let’s think about the year.

Ready for a TMI post of my year in the rear-view mirror? If not, you’ve been warned. Exit now.

On an unusually warm January 2014 day, we headed to the ranch and came face-to-face with prehistoric artists. The petroglyph cave kept me wondering and researching.

Wall of prehistoric cave writings.
Wall of prehistoric cave writings.

March found me smoking and wearing lots of makeup for Threepenny Opera.

kathysmoking

Easily one of the best, most interesting days of the year was spent with artist, Andrew Scott DeJesse and his fun wife. We explored the petroglyphs and the ranch topography looking for inspiration.
andrewincave
Boy, did he ever find it.

Simply stunning.
Simply stunning.

Found a springtime bird’s nest at the barn. I thought the horrible draught was never going to end. The little birds seemed a hopeful sign.
moping
A very special munchkin turned 1.
finalhannah
Memorial Day found me at this beloved piece of heaven.
rainbowlake
Early summer meant branding time.
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114b
Someone overachieved when frying chicken for the cowboys.
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End of June, I was trekking on the west coast searching for the perfect photograph.
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The wiener dog displayed her love of country on July 4th.
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Got a new lens for the big camera. What did I choose to capture. You guessed it.
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Fall 2014 found me wading knee-deep into a new project….Opera Goofa.
kathywithhornsFall colors spoke to me in Colorado.

A friend helped me spy this cool tree resin shot.
A friend helped me spy this cool tree resin shot.

Halloween 2014 brought Dorothy and her ruby slippers back.
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Oh…and 2014 was the year of the supermoon. How many did we have? I’ve lost count.
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And finally….whew!!…..if you’re still reading, you are either certifiably insane or a crazy wiener dog fanatic. Christmas 2014 with the fam.

The Texas is wearing a wiener wonderland sweater...you just can't see it.
The Texan is wearing a wiener wonderland sweater…you just can’t see it!

Thanks for counting blessings with me. Hope you had some interesting moments in 2014, and here’s hoping 2015 is a stellar year.
We’ll talk about goals/resolutions for the new year later. For now, I want to embrace two words for the coming year: dream bigger.

**raising my champagne glass** A grateful toast for you!  Thanks for being a friend of this quirky, old person blog. Here, here!!

Glass-half-full-love to all.

the voice

Did you have me pegged as a Matt McAndrew fan?

matt
photos courtesy nbc.com

 

I know, I know….I’m way outside the expected demographic of this show

Who do you like? Damien?

damien

Or are you a fan of the 3-namers: Craig Wayne Boyd and Taylor John Williams?

craig

 

taylorEver notice the person with the best voice (technically) never wins these competitions?

As an audience member or a potential itune downloader, with what are we connecting?

Here’s my theory. I think we like and appreciate singers who aren’t technically perfect. We connect with the person comfortable in his own skin. A person who embraces his own imperfections/quirks and bravely bares them for the world to see.

A few seasons ago, I adored the quirky Nicholas David.

The Voice - Season 3

A bearded white guy singing soul music? Nicholas has a nice voice, but it was his interesting interpretation and 100% commitment to his singing that I admired. I’d buy a ticket to his concert. Any chance he’ll come from Minnesota to West Texas??

I’ve mentioned before that I sing on Monday mornings with a group of retired singers who visit retirement/nursing homes. Last Monday, several of our group sang Christmas solos for residents at the local veteran’s nursing home. If you’re not an aging vocalist, you might not fully appreciate how difficult it is to get the rusty pipes warmed up and ready to sing at 9 am.

Scott wowing the crowd with a beautiful solo.

 

singingstars 005aAs the holiday serenades washed over me, I was struck by the interestingly rich quality and warmth of the voices. These were tones of character-voices bespeaking a history. I imagined the laryngeal tapestry required to produce such sounds:  a bride resolutely saying ‘I do’ at the alter, a mom gently singing lullabies to her baby or perhaps vocalizing (loudly!) for her toddler to avoid an unsafe street, a young man calling signals for his team mates in a football game, an officer barking orders at soldiers in his charge, the cries and prayers uttered at the graveside of loved ones. These disparate elements are woven together producing a distinctly unique, imperfectly-golden sound. Perhaps these voices aren’t as nimble flitting up and down a scale as they once were, but they are the grace notes of a full life.

I guess we’ll keep squawking as long as a chair turns.

Imperfections? I’ve got ’em. Funny….they might just be my biggest strength. I’m unfurling the freak flag and running it up the pole. There’s room for your flag, too!

Hope you have a chance to add your voice to the wonder of the unfolding Christmas story.

Fa-la-la-la-laaaah-la-la-la-loooove to all.

 

stable

 

 

The fox must’ve eaten the chickens in the henhouse at the blog. Some of you have been kind enough to notice and you’ve mentioned my absence to me. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

I’ve been in a general blog/life funk.  I’ve been feeling broken and incomplete. How could anyone who gets life so wrong, so often have anything worthwhile to contribute? What leaves me feeling like a smelly gym sock? Here’s a few thoughts:

When the better choice is patience, I choose quick action.

When the better choice is love, I’m judgmental.

When the wise choice is silence, I say too much.

When I should be praying, my hamster-brain paints worst-case scenarios.

I’m writing today, cause I’m remembering this blog isn’t about perfection. That’s right, chicken-wingers…..it’s about the journey! The hot-fudge-sundae-days AND the bug-on-the-windshield days. It’s about days like today when we offer ourselves and our neighbors another spin at the roulette wheel of life. The only required buy-in is a tiny mustard seed of faith.

We’re on a journey to Christmas. Walk with me and we’ll trek to a stable. Aren’t you glad we’re not traveling to a palace? Our comfy, car sweat-pants might not be appropriate attire to meet a child-king, but we look great for entering a stable. Dirty, worn-out boots are welcome. This stable is brimming with the real aromas of cows, horses, pigs, hay and ummm….ummm….animal doo. You won’t inhale the scent of the most fashionable $75 Diptyque ginger-pear candle in this stable.

graham and pnut

No worries about chipping the dried excrement off our shoes before entering. We’ve stepped in piles of it lately but the beauty is….we’re still welcome inside. The only thing is….that overstuffed backpack of regret we’ve struggled under?  It has to stay outside. Along with the stinky gym sock.

Let’s go.

Traveling mercy love to all.

who doggone dunnit?

An Interactive Arthur Canine Doyle murder mystery. You get to vote…who doggone dunnit??

Returning from a festive Independence Day picnic in the verdant Pike National Forest, our ears were still ringing with the laughter of too-infrequently-seen loved ones.andrewjumping Our appetites were wonderfully sated from ingesting loads of barbequed ribs, brownies and beer. Our pack of friendly and tired mountain dogs playfully surrounded us on our walk home.

PicMonkey Collage

Quadriceps burning as we begin the final ascent to our cabin, the Texan spies a problem and breathlessly asks,

Did anyone else see that ground squirrel run into my shop?

Damn chipmunks! Fun to look at, but oh-so-destructive in the wrong environment. The Texan prides himself on our cabin being mostly rodent-free. We have escaped the damage other cabins have experienced from unwelcome mice, pack-rats, black squirrels and chipmunks. The chaos caused from a rodent falling through the ceiling at a family member’s cabin is ever fresh on our minds. The sight of chewed insulation and ceiling tiles, torn-out stuffing from beloved sofas, and enough animal poo to infect the state of Colorado with hantavirus is forever seared in our memories like a badly-grilled panini.

I didn’t see anything.

I saw it. It was a ground squirrel. Great….now he’s making a home in my shop and we’re leaving tomorrow! He’ll be stuck in here. When we come back, my shop will be a chipmunk Woodstock!

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photo Nancy Eisenstein

Dogs……come here and find the offending ground squirrel! Get it!!

The pack ‘o mountain dogs descend upon the shop. Tails a’waggin, noses a’ sniffin and paws a’ scratchin to find the violent rodent.

Breaking with traditional mysteries, I’m telling you the horrifying outcome. The mystery of this story is for you to decide, who doggone dunnit? Which innocent-appearing dog, in rambunctiously sniffing for a trespassing chipmunk, came out of the shop with the lifeless body of a….steel yourself….it’s upsetting….you’re not gonna like it….an innocent baby rabbit!

Was it the queenly-posing old bichon, Sophie?

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Could it be the confused, orthodontically-challenged Charles? AKA Charlie?

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Perhaps the perfectly pawtriotic, but supreme-sniffer Roxy-Doxy?

pawtriotWas it the outgoing, yet vapid doodle, Reba?

reba

Did the mastiff last spotted in San Fran mysteriously appear in Colorado to slay the tiny rabbit?

023aDid the faithful herding dog hatch a hateful plot to indulge her taste for hasenpfeffer?

paradisebranding 185aCould the killer really be the angelic labrador, Mambo?

mambo

By the way….there were some other egregious law-breakers on our trip. Use your own viewing discretion with the following photos.

NEVER, EVER SPIN A BABY!

spinningbabyNEVER GO BAREFOOT IN THE FOREST!

feetYOU MUST BE AT LEAST 16 TO SAFELY OPERATE A MOTORCYCLE!

mtnsJuly2014 202aDON’T PICK THE WILDFLOWERS!

mtnsJuly2014 182bRule-breakers everywhere you look.

Leave a comment on who you believe to be the guilty, rabbit-killing canine. I’ll out the murderous dog next week and let you know if you are the next Sherlock Holmes.

I guess your prize will be…..being able to read this blog. All you want. For free.

Yay.

Grilled panini love to all.

 

real vs pretend

easterdogs
The Easter grand dogs.

Planned a relaxed celebration with the Sprouts and Grands on Easter evening. I knew everyone’s day would be filled with church and Easter lunch. Could we gather at dinner time for some grilled hot dogs and fun picnic foods? No one would be required to wear Easter finery.

After dinner, we had a very humble egg hunt for the 2 1/2 year old grand. It was raining.

rain
Blessed rain. Getting new gutters on Monday.

We ‘hid’ our eggs in the great room. ‘Time to hunt!’

Granny KK bought some plastic eggs at the walmarts. Didn’t want to overdose the grand on nothing but candy, so I tried to find unique little things I thought he’d enjoy. It was a difficult task, because most things small enough to fit inside the egg presented a choking hazard to his little sister. What to put in the eggs?

The little rubbery bunnies were a big hit. They were colorful and fun and he squealed as he opened each egg. Ditto, the Pez candy. He adores Pez!

grahamandhannah
Luckily, rubber bunnies are perfecto for head-bonking.

I hid this monster.
grahamwmonster

The monster was a home run. He loved it. The minature magnetic trains were instant favorites.

The bubbles were pretty popular, too.
robertwbubblesLookin’ great so far, KK! Whew.

Then the little tyke expectantly opened an egg containing this paralyzing sight.

snake
The Easter snake??

I can hear your accusations now. ‘What kind of insane granny scares her guileless grand with a scary snake?’

I admit it….the lure of the $1.00 aisle at the walmarts overcame my good sense. He’s a boy for goodness sake. I thought he would adore it.

Budding snake handler.
Budding snake handler.

The baby had no problem with it. Hhhmph.

Amid the boy’s screams and shrieks I tried to explain, ‘It’s not a real snake, it’s only a pretend snake’.

That’s when I remembered…..2 year-olds have no concept of real versus pretend. We have snakes at our house occasionally…rattlers….and they are all TOO real. What was KK teaching her grand baby?

Called the Sprout this morning with an apology for being an idiot. Instructed her to throw the snake away. She said it was too late. The toddler made them put the snake in a jar and he slept with it on his bedside table. Carried it around this morning and took it out of the jar with shouts of EWWWWW…I touched the snake! He put the snake back in the jar before he went to preschool. What have I started?

grahamjumping

Mistakes vs forgiveness. Real versus pretend. It’s all very confusing.

gpandaud1

It comes with the territory of being in a family, I guess.

family

Maybe the Sprouts will forgive me. Maybe I haven’t blended the toddler’s brain too badly. Yet.

I’m certain of one thing. There’s nothing pretend about Easter and the resurrection. His love for each one of us is immeasurable.

Hoping I can tell the grands about the authenticity of that event one day.

Amazing grace-love to all.

pondering sexy

What makes something/someone sexy?

Defining sexy is like trying to hold a handful of jello. It’s one of those I know it when I see it kinds of things. Trying to explain sexy, or trying hard to be sexy decreases the sexiness component exponentially.

So without comment, I’ll show you some sexy, not-sexy things.

Sexy.

steve mcqueenNot sexy.

justin-bieberSexy song.

 

Not sexy song.

Sexy.

 

bb-s4-posterNot sexy.

miley cyrus

There’s a particular character trait I find unabashedly sexy. I’m attracted to people who possess this quality. Sexiness in a person (for me, anyway) has absolutely nothing to do with appearance and absolutely everything to do with being comfortable in one’s own skin.

Wanna hear the sexiest name I’ve heard in a while? This name even rivals the grandma/stripper monikers I wrote about in a previous post.

Ready?

Amber Smoke. She’s a real person. And I KNOW her!

ambersmoke
photo courtesy of ambersmoke.com

Amber is one of our visiting artists featured in Amarillo Opera’s Threepenny Opera this weekend. She exemplifies being comfortable in your own skin and I love her for it!

In fact, I think each of our visiting artists brings his own unique and oh-so-sexy style to our production.

castof3po
A sexy group, for sure.

What does the term sexy mean to you? I’d love to hear. Keep it clean for KK (my granny-name)!

Let’s-stay-together love to all.

 

 

 

lessons from Amahl

Wrapped up a warm, fuzzy weekend of Amahl and the Night Visitors. This experience was loads of fun and it has me counting blessings this week. Here’s a short list of life-lessons learned.

1. Singing is more fun when you are surrounded by friends.

me&girls
My mezzo role models.
shepherds
Shepherds

Have you ever noticed there’s no singing 4-part harmony by yourself?

2. Talent is God-given. However, it demands an incredible amount of dedication and perseverance to develop to full potential.

3kings
Our 3 kings from far away.

Enjoyed talking to these pros about their experiences.

me&kings1
A humble shepherdess with the kings.

These guys were amazing and left me speechless at every performance! Bravi, bravo, (or is it hur-ray?) for honing your craft and reminding me of what greatness can be achieved with hard work and focus.

You guys were nice, too. Thank you.

3. Memorization is just plain difficult. I thought the music in Amahl was easy to sing. Yes, the notes were pretty easy....but yikes.…the laundry list of names and items we sang about were daunting.

Tav&brandonAssumed the lists were more difficult for me because of my old, moldy brain. It was like singing tongue twisters.

julioIn retrospect, the task seemed difficult for most everyone.

For me, memorizing requires repetition, re-pe-ti-tion and more REPETITION. I got tripped up a couple of times, but by the last show, I finally got it!

Memorizing is hard. There are no shortcuts.

4. I have a touch of claustrophobia.

The backstage area was cramped. I sensed the walls closing in on me. Tried hard not to have body odor, but they instructed us not to wear anything with fragrance because it can set off people’s allergies. So….I can’t be sure. Singers are a sensitive bunch. Thank you cast, for your understanding. The same can be said for unexpected flatulence.

5. Amarillo has an abundance of home-grown talent.

mom&amahl
Amahl and his mom.

Who would have thought Jackalope Flats could be an artsy oasis? Better believe it, because it’s true.

6. Watch the conductor. Want to have success in navigating the music? It’s nice to glance his way once in a while.

7. Having kids in the audience makes for a more energetic and fun audience.

This show was perfect for the 5-and-up crowd. The Kings’ entrance made for some wide eyes and dropped jaws.

8. I find meaning in being part of ‘something bigger’ than myself. (See #1)

nathalie&kings

I enjoy being around people. There’s always something new to learn and ways to have the imagination stretched.

3a

Thank you Amahl cast-mates. Thank you, Amarillo Opera for the opportunity to sing and for allowing me to be a small cog (or shepherd) in creating this art for our community.

Promise to continue working on the body odor issues.

Mignonette-love to all.

donut quest

His idea was brilliantly simple: then, I got involved.

The event unfolded innocently enough. Sprout #3 wanted a donut-hole tower instead of a traditional groom’s cake at the wedding reception. Cool concept and making it happen appeared to be fairly easy and straightforward. We would use the donut tower as a ‘display only’ piece and we would put fresh donut holes in cute cupcake papers around the bottom of the tower. Wedding guests could easily pick them up and enjoy. Easy-peasy!

The Middle Sprout made a donut-hole tower ‘mock-up’ before the wedding. We needed to be certain we could recreate it for the reception.

Appears to be a perfectly acceptable donut tower, right?

We both liked the ‘mock-up’, but we thought it should be a little larger…or wider or something. After showing this photo to some of her friends, comments were made about our tower appearing to be …well….somewhat phallic. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Anyhoo, while shopping for the perfect styrofoam shape for our tower, I became inspired. In the floral section of the local craft store, there were styrofoam balls of various sizes. We would construct a donut topiary. No one in the history of weddings has ever had a donut topiary! The Sprout thought a 2 ball topiary would be adequate….but, nooooo….I insisted we needed a giant 3-ball donut topiary. We bought a big pot, some large wooden dowels, and 3 balls of graduated sizes.

In hindsight I realize, sometimes good is good enough. It’s fine. Really. No one knows the difference. However, in my quest for absolute donut-tower awesomeness, things began to get complicated. The Middle Sprout was racked with doubt. The Texan was trying to devise a plan to safely construct my grand vision of an outstanding donut topiary. No problem, I said. Took it to my handy-dandy florist who constructed the topiary with a steel rod through the center. He sunk the contraption in plaster and we were good to go.

‘Mom….it sure is BIG. You think it will be OK?’ The Sprout confessed to losing sleep at night over our ever-enlarging tower. It was morphing into the Washington Monument. I have to give her credit….she TRIED to rein me in. Sometimes, my quest for awesomeness can be overwhelming.

‘Have faith Sprout. We are constructing a donut tower for the ages! The bride and groom are gonna love it!’

Armed with the tower and 30 dozen donut holes, we headed for the Texas hill country.

30 dozen donut holes=heaven

The first night in our hotel room, I eagerly began construction. The first grand styrofoam ball ALONE took all 30 dozen donuts and 2 hours of my time. I had a blood blister on my index finger from inserting toothpicks into styrofoam. Ouch.

The beginning of the grand ball.
2 hours and a blood blister later
That’s 30 dozen donut holes!

Fell in bed that evening dreaming of donut nirvana. Just needed to order more donuts in the closest town to complete the massive project. The next day, my long-suffering…very bestest friend in the whole world…who would do anything for me...little V...agreed to help with the project. We drove to the bakery where we ordered more donuts. When I asked for our order, the guy at the counter and the owner spoke to one another in loud, accusatory tones…the language was Vietnamese, I think. Seems they had sold our donut holes and only had 4 dozen left. Maybe that would be enough to do the smallest ball at the top….we paid for them and left. What to do now? We needed LOTS of donut holes in a hurry. Walmarts to the rescue!! We raided every last box of their chocolate cake donut holes to cover the center ball.

Little V, the Middle Sprout and her friend J, and I worked on that donut tower until it was blessedly complete. The topiary was listing a bit, but we were undeterred. The creation contained at least 60 dozen donut holes and it was over 4 feet high! It was almost taller than Little V!

This story is getting too long, so I’ll spare you most of the details of getting the donut contraption (probably weighed over 50 pounds) to the reception hall. It involved several awestruck young bell-boys loading it into a hotel car to drive the short distance to the venue. This donut Washington Monument took on a life of it’s own as it precariously swayed with every careful slow turn of the car. The donut topiary was heavy and becoming increasingly unstable. I sent Miss V into the reception hall for some sort of cart, while I held the swaying topiary in the car. Just as precious Miss V starts for the car with the cart, the skies open up and it begins to pour. A Noah’s ark-type of rain. Sheets and sheets of rain and a driving wind to boot. Lucky we had just done our hair for the wedding! We lug the ship’s-anchor topiary slowly up the ramp to the reception hall as we are soaked to the bone. We bravely saved the monstrosity from certain destruction several times.

Did you know that wet donut holes weigh LOTS more than plain, dry donut holes??

Sorry for bad photo. Phone pic with very bad back-lighting. We are drenched, but feeling an uneasy sense of accomplishment. I’ll post a better photo when the wedding photos come out.

Our creation was leaning so badly from it’s car ride and the drenching rain, it refused to stand upright. We worried it could fall over and injure someone at the reception. The Texan to the rescue! He walked (in the rain) to the beach at the nearby lake and came back with some wet sand. We filled the topiary’s container with the wet sand and it seemed to stabilize the wobbling a bit. The hotel staff filled the cupcake papers with the fresh donut holes and things were good to go.

Lots of folks took photos of the donut-topiary. I was a bit concerned one of the happy, dancing children on the dance floor would run into the donut table and be severely maimed. An unsuspecting lady tried to eat one of the soggy, stale donuts off the topiary and she was told it was for ‘display only’. What a horrible waste of food!, she huffed.

The lesson? I need to calm down. Awesome is not necessarily better all the time. Good is plenty good enough. I should listen to my Middle Sprout. I’ve told her 5000 times how she was right and why couldn’t she ‘rein me in’?

I can be exhausting.

But I’ve got one helluva donut wedding story.

Lots of love to the bride and groom!

Towering love to all.