Monthly Archives: February 2010

And we danced

Growing up a preacher’s daughter/missionary kid, I never danced a lot.  I love my daddy to PIECES, but dancing’s just not his cup of tea and he wasn’t too keen about his daughter shaking her groove thang on the dance floor period much less with those alien creatures called “boys”.  I saved my dancing for college when I went to “foot functions” (as we called them at my Baptist college) and stayed out on that dance floor all night looking a little like Gumby on crack.

I still don’t know HOW to dance but it doesn’t keep me from trying.

Mr. CPQ enjoys cutting a rug or two and has been known to spontaneously turn the kitchen into a dance hall given the right music and a wife who isn’t cranky about who didn’t eat their supper.  The first time we danced together was early in our dating career in his apartment living room.  Brooks and Dunn were crooning “Neon Moon” and my dance partner was smooth as silk while I tried to keep up and not step on his size 14 feet.  After our little turn about the coffee table, he realized he had a hot mess on his hands suggested we take country dancing lessons together and that sounded like more dates for me a great idea so for a while, we met weekly at the honky-tonk tucked away inside a shopping center Holiday Inn to get a few pointers from the pros and practice our my newly acquired skills.

Flash forward fourteen years and this past weekend we were executing twirls and pass-throughs on that Jamaican dance floor like we’ve danced together all our lives.

And we have.

Through laughter, through sorrow, with tears, and with delight.

In living rooms, roadside hotels, and on pristine beaches.

In step.

With only the occasional stepping on of toes.

Have a nice day.

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The White Witch and the Man in Black

I thought that I would just sit on the beach with a fruity umbrella drink and my knitting a book in my hand, but I was with a sightseeing crew and they wanted to go see the famed Rose Hall,one of only 15 remaining “grand houses” from the sugar plantation days left on the island.  Rumor has it that Rose Hall is haunted by the ghost of the former owner, Annie Palmer AKA the White Witch, a 4’11” spitfire who allegedly murdered three of her husbands and countless other slave lovers.

I was a little nervous about going to a haunted house because CPQ does NOT do ghosts or ghost stories.

I blame it on sneaking a peek at my brother’s copy of The Amityville Horror.  Thirty-three years later, I still can’t stand to look out of a window at night for fear I’ll see the red eyes of whatever’s about to get me.  I never found out what those red eyes were.  After reading that sentence, I shut the book and ran screaming from the house.

Oh, and Mom, if you’re reading, it was Paul’s book.  Feel free to beat him about the ears next time you see him.

Since it was broad daylight and I was with a large group, I went with the whole “safety in numbers” thing, and off we traipsed to Rose Hall.

Spooky.

This is not an attempt at taking an artsy picture but more a documentation of an escape route should I have encountered a rogue spirit in the dungeon.

The Dining Room – less spooky in color than in black and white.  You KNOW I’ll always show food to its best advantage.

Annie’s bedroom where she, herself, was murdered by a vengeful slave.  The white spectre in the headboard shows up in a lot of pictures as proof that Annie’s still making her appearance, but guess what?  It was just the sun.  I moved two feet over and took the next picture, and voila, she was gone.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Not too far from Annie’s house is another estate which shall remain nameless but belongs to a famous singer whose name rhymes with Shohnny Mash. You know Shohnny…he WALKED THE LINE…and went to JACKSON….and might have occasionally had the PRISON BLUES while he was DRESSED IN BLACK? And who also sung a song about Annie Palmer?

This is the part of the post where CPQ remains intentionally vague so as not to implicate herself or a member of her family in a series of events which may or may not have happened and over which s/he had absolutely no control.  This is also the part of the post where any incriminating pictures are deliberately left out because they may or may not exist.

A certain love of CPQ’s life decided to go golfing with some of his friends at a nearby course, and while their caddie was driving them around, he pointed out that Mr. Mash’s estate was just around the bend.  Being afficionados, the gentlemen in question expressed a desire to see the house and so off they went to the front gates where the security guard politely allowed them to take a picture in front of the gates and also politely let them know that there was no admission to said estate.

These gentlemen took the aforementioned picture and hopped back in the cart and then started driving up into the tangle of vegetation, presumably to find the next hole, though since I know these golfers, it was more likely that they were trying to find an errant ball.  Suddenly, the cart took a hard left and before the guys had a chance to ask where they were, they drove through a clearing and arrived IN THE BACK YARD of Shohnny’s house.

Allegedly.

Being former fraternity boys, all of them, they may or may not have taken a multitude of pictures pretending to swim in the pool, eat at the patio table, and generally act like music legends.

Being a former government employee, I can neither confirm nor deny that this all occurred.

And it’s not breaking and entering if there wasn’t a fence or a sign, right?

Have a nice day.

I’m not jerkin’ you around….

When we first started talking about where The February Trip would be this year (it’s a work thing that makes the missed dinners and travel worth it), Mr. CPQ told me that Jamaica was one of the available options.  I’m pretty sure I wrinkled my nose and said something that may have sounded like “Anywhere but there, please”, which I know makes me sound like a spoiled princess, but it has nothing to do with my comfort and everything to do with tales from my brother’s honeymoon 25 years ago.

Mr. CPQ gently reminded me that things may have changed in 25 years, and besides, rumor had it a five-star resort with a butler and a pillow menu waited for me there.

Butler?

Pillow menu?

Spoiled princess it is, mon.

We stayed at the Iberostar Rose Hall Grand and I can’t say enough about what a beautiful place it was.  The rooms were gorgeous (the only exception being the mocking set of bathroom scales just to the side of the whirlpool tub), the views spectacular (the picture above is from the balcony in our room – thanks, Barrington, for the upgrade), and the staff among the most courteous I’ve met anywhere in the world.

The food was great.  I was feeling adventuresome and tried some new things like curried goat (interesting), octopus salad (loved it- had seconds), fish and pineapple salad (hmmm), Jamaican beef patties (yes, please, and I bought some frozen at the warehouse club yesterday so I could have the islands with me), ackee and saltfish (which is a breakfast dish and quite possibly the first and last time I’ve had fish before 9 a.m.), and jerk chicken (come to mama).

I have deliberately avoided eating jerk chicken my entire adult life because I wanted my first taste of jerk to be authentic (Along those lines, I’ve not had a fish taco yet because I want to eat the first one in Southern California).  We chose Scotchie’s for our jerk lunch because A) the bus driver recommended it; B) the hotel staff recommended it; and C) its lack of roof, doors, and sanitation rating sealed its authenticity.

We ordered two of everything and it was delivered to our table wrapped in aluminum foil.

We basically threw caution to the wind and ripped it open and ate with our fingers, until we discovered that scotch bonnet sauce probably shouldn’t be anywhere near our fingers that might inadvertently rub an eye.

Yes, it was as hot as it looks.  Instantly addicting and delicious, too.

One of my two bottles of water because of the aforementioned (and as you can see, heartily eaten) hot sauce.

Festivals – think beignet without the powdered sugar.

Think I ate three of them.

And we were very happy.

(Me and my travel buddy for the last five years, Fran)

Have a nice day.

Tomorrow:  Seeing ghosts and trespassing onto property belonging to people who may or may not be famous.

She’s baaaack….

Oh, you don’t KNOW how happy I am to be typing these words this morning.  It may have something to do with waking up to the sound of my kids running down the hallway or drinking out of a 16 ounce coffee mug (note to hotels: people don’t drink out of  6 ounce cups anymore).

More than that, though, I think I’m just happy that I survived the plane ride back from Jamaica.

I may or may not be a nervous flyer.

Just ask the stranger on that flight from DC into Dallas in 1996. He and I got a little more than personal when we hit an unexpected air pocket.  Like, “let’s pick out the furniture together” personal.

I blame the captain for my nervous condition.  We had been parked at the gate in Montego Bay several minutes past departure time and I had noticed the attendants were passing looks back and forth and whispering to each other under their breath.  To me, that meant there was an obvious malfunction that was going to cause major failure over shark infested waters.

Having worked for the government, I was also trying to go over the necessary diplomatic niceties that would need to occur should circumstances require us to land in Cuba, and I was hoping that fifty years were enough for Fidel to have gotten over that whole Bay of Pigs things.

The pilot finally came on and said that there were major storms over Cuba and that we couldn’t fly over the island on our way to Miami and we would need to fly the long way around the storms (AND OVER MORE OPEN WATER) to avoid the turbulence. I had not taken enough Valium wasn’t quite prepared for this change of events but Mr. CPQ assured me that we would be fine, so I practiced my deep breathing while we thundered down the runway and started to climb into the sky.  I tried to remember that given enough rocket power, even cardboard boxes can fly, and I was just about to release my grip from the arm of the seat when I smelled something.

In great alarm, I turned to Mr. CPQ and said, “I smell electrical smoke.”

Now, Mr. CPQ can’t smell a darn thing.  Expired milk? Bad ham? That tub of botulism otherwise known as our sour cream?

Nope.

He was useless to me.

Until he pointed out that perhaps that odor I was smelling was the pot of coffee that the attendant had started brewing before we took off.

Which says a lot about the state of airline coffee these days.

ANYHOO, this story has a point, which I will get to before Friday.

THE POINT IS, as we were on approach to Miami, you know, that part of the trip where the airplane is slowly DESCENDING, we experienced a little something unexpected when the engines started groaning tremendously and the nose of the plane started to ASCEND.

Rapidly.

As we have established, I may be a nervous flyer, and I was, naturally, freaked out concerned.

I turned to the love of my life and said (for the 10th time in the last hour), “I think something’s wrong.”

Mr. CPQ rolled his eyes patiently explained that when a plane is banking, the nose of the plane must remain elevated so that it doesn’t turn into a death spiral and crash into the ground.

If this was his attempt to soothe my jangled nerves, NEWS FLASH, it didn’t.

I told him that while my love for him was unparalleled in the course of human history, he was flat out wrong.  Something was amiss.

Seconds later, the pilot came on and apologized for the sudden change in course, because it seems that ANOTHER PLANE WAS IN OUR PATH and he needed to take corrective action to avoid landing us, not on a runway, but on the breaking news segment of every major television station as they reported our demise.

I don’t know what gave me greater pleasure: avoiding a mid-air collision or proving Mr. CPQ wrong.

Have a nice day.

P.S. Pictures and travelogue tomorrow!

All aboard the crazy train

Oh.

My.

Word.

This week has been a ZOOOOOOOOOO.

I would tell you all about it, but I am leaving on a jet plane in about six hours and I haven’t packed, cleaned bathrooms, or selected my reading material for the plane (oh, and theoretically, I’m supposed to sleep somewhere in between now and then as well).

Some highlights:

1.  Gretchen came to visit this week and we’ve had so much fun cackling and catching up on everything that has been going on since we last saw each other in Washington last summer.  The highlight of the trip was introducing her to some other bloggy (and real life) friends at an ever-so-fun lunch Wednesday.  You can read all about it and see a cute pic at New Every Morning’s  blog.

2.  I had a belated birthday celebration this week with my friend Cheryl.  She gifted me with an evening cooking class at Southern Season, a foodie’s dream store.  The theme was Northern Italy, and the food did not disappoint.  I walked away with several new recipes, one of which was a chocolate hazelnut pudding that was TO DIE FOR and is now the new recipe I’m going to use for the upcoming party (instead of the problematic tiramisu).

3.  I found a swimsuit.  I will spare you the modeling of said swimsuit, but let’s just say it looks okay, and thank you, TJ Maxx, for having soft lighting in your dressing rooms.

4.  Seeing as I’m not going to miraculously lose those last (or first, for that matter) 20 pounds, I have officially begun vacation eating.

5.  Even though I’m leaving tomorrow, my house is being lived in and well protected by my in-laws, children, and psycho cat. You have been warned.

Love y’all!

Have a nice day.

Nostalgia: Works every time

I’m not the world’s most creative gift giver.  I do well with lists that have exact specifications, and when in doubt, as in the case of my teenage nephews, the iTunes gift card is my go-to purchase.

This year, however, the gift gods smiled upon me and I found a present for Mr. CPQ that hearkened back to the days of his misspent youth and caused him to renew his vows of ardent devotion.

Have a nice day.

Monday Musings

In which I use yet another list because I can’t string a cohesive thread through everything I want to talk about today….

__________________________________

1.  Friday night I went to a Soup-er Bowl Party with a bunch of girlfriends from my Sunday School class and, OH WHAT FUN to sit around the appetizer table and not have to fight the men for a share of the Buffalo Chicken Ranch dip.  We laughed, we cackled, we talked recipes and chick flicks, and, most of all, enjoyed being together.  I feel so blessed to have such amazing women in my life.

2.  Speaking of fun, on Saturday I went to my friend Cheryl’s house and raided her closet for some island-y clothes to wear to Jamaica.  I just happened to be there while she was doing a little cooking ahead for a party she’s throwing in a few weeks and in addition to scoring a cute dress with matching earrings, I scored a Tupperware container full of sauce and meatballs that went straight from her stovetop to my dining room table.

Thats-a lot-a meatballs….

3.  I’m supposed to be bringing tiramisu for 50 to Cheryl’s shindig.  I made two different recipes over the weekend and neither of them turned out the way I wanted them to, so it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong.

Fortunately, tiramisu is Mr. CPQ’s favorite dessert, so I have a willing taste-tester.

Unfortunately, tiramisu is Mr. CPQ’s favorite dessert, so I have a highly opinionated critic.

4.  Speaking of Mr. CPQ, he stood over the washing machine all day yesterday and helped me get caught up on the laundry.  I don’t know when I’ve ever loved him more.

5.  Speaking of love, I have a beautiful Valentine garland on my fireplace mantle.

My friend Heather made it and had a giveaway on her blog for it last week and I didn’t announce it on my blog or even tell Whimzie about it (and I tell her everything) because I was selfish, selfish, selfish, and WANTED THAT GARLAND ALL TO MYSELF.

Sadly, I did not win.

Shamefully, I went back to Heather’s blog and left a snarky comment congratulatory message for my friend Gretchen, who did win.

Scandalously, I went to Heather’s Facebook page and left another little message saying that if for any reason Gretchen could not fulfill her duties as winner in the giveaway, I would be more than happy to step up and claim the prize, for I am giving that way.

Surprisingly, Heather found me at church on Sunday and GAVE ME A GARLAND ANYWAY.

Secretly, I am squealing every single time I walk through the room and see it.

Have a nice day.