Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Pizza's On Order and We're Home Again

We just called Waldo Pizza for the yummiest veggie pizza in the world -- and though it will take 95 minutes to get here we know it's worth the wait. We also just pulled into the driveway from a Thanksgiving holiday in Branson -- and man! did we have fun!

We left Wednesday morning pretty early (before 9 a.m.) and stopped at IHop for some festive pancakes before hitting Highway 71. The road trip to Branson was uneventful and we arrived around before 1 p.m. Checked into our motel -- a new one for us called The Windmill -- and found our pet-friendly room. We liked the motel quite a lot and will stay there again. Then we picked up our tickets for the three shows we decided to see and went and found an A&W Root Beer joint in the outlet mall where we were spying out Black Friday bargains and had a super dog with suds.

After a little nap (I seem to need naps nearly every day) we drove over to the Osmonds Theater where we had dinner with Maurice, the lead Osmond singer. Well, actually we had the dinner and he showed up to cage a couple of dinner roles. The meal was surprisingly good and Hubby really lapped up the beef tips, chicken, baked potato and fixings. We watched a video of the Osmonds' lives though dinner which we thoroughly enjoyed. My dad had loved the Osmond Brothers on the Andy Williams show in the early '60's so it was a trip down nostalgia lane for me. The show which began at 8 p.m. was the best of the trip -- clearly the Osmonds have become a world class act and know how to reach out to their audience. Their voices, like Andy Williams himself, are not the best anymore but their harmonies are still top notch and they put on a super delightful show. For the last three years they have been touring so this is their first time back in Branson for a Christmas show.

Thanksgiving Day in Branson is shopping time. Almost all the mini-malls are open and one of the Outlet Malls opens at noon. We had a little turkey buffet and did a lot of shopping, especially at the dollar stores. We filled the trunk with little Christmas stocking stuffers for my kids at school. Also I bought a red suit at my favorite store.

That evening we took in the relatively new show Pierce Arrow. It was okay but kind of fulfilled the Branson stereotype of "redneck" entertainment. The music was fair but the comedy, which it's known for, is geared to the conservative hick living in Missouri and though Hubby managed to laugh, mostly I felt insulted.

Friday we hit the other Outlet Mall and I got some wonderful Christmas presents for the sister-in-law in Houston -- and her brother. Plus I bought a Christmas present for me to have Hubby give me on Christmas Day. We did a 3 p.m. show called the Spirit of Christmas which I had wanted to see for three years and it was AWFUL! Taped singing, poor dancing -- just bad. So we left at intermission and ambled out to the Target which Hubby wanted to shop at -- while I did the Dollar Tree and got 26 items at a buck each for my classroom.

Saturday we got up at 8, pack up and ambled down 65 to the Osage Beach Outlet Mall -- because clearly we had NOT done enough shopping. We had rented a Grand Marquis (full size luxury car) for the trip -- and by the time we were driving out of Osage Beach to go home, the trunk of the car was overflowing into the backseat and the dogs were balancing on several big boxes.
It was a great holiday and a wonderful respite from the daily grind. And the Houston crowd is going to have the BESTEST Christmas EVER! Really!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Day Tripping, Paper Writing, and Plumbing

Friday was a "non-duty" day for my school district so I spend it laboring over a grad paper that was actually due on Thursday -- but I got permission to turn it in a day late. I hope it also wasn't a "dollar short."

Saturday morning dawned another beautiful day in the Midwest, just the right touch of crisp in the air, leaves pretty well gone due to heavy rain during the week but now just a little cloud cover. We headed out, once again, for a good breakfast and then Hubby took the notion to drive to Lawrence. We used to go frequently when they had a thriving Outlet Mall but that is now a thing of the past.

We ambled up Highway 10 past the Haskell Institution, the Indian College just outside of Lawrence. We drove around the town center for a bit and let me remember my dad who had been born in Lawrence, lived there during his early childhood, and proudly went back to attend KU in 1920. My family drove to Colorado nearly every summer and we never went by Lawrence without singing the KU fight song full voice. Dad was very proud to have been a Jay Hawker.

Lawrence is exactly like the charming college town one would expect. The main drag is lined with trendy shops and ethnic restaurants. The population is either very young and funky or old and professional. The houses are circa 1850 and up. There are lots of apartments. There are two major cemeteries and all that I know of my father's family is buried in one of them.

We drove the main drag, inspected the city parks, and then headed out of town when Hubby went by the Half Price Bookstore. These are usually in outlet malls in the Midwest -- and I hadn't been in one in over a year. Hubby pulled in -- and I entered a fantasy land. This was different from any mall outlet store I'd ever been inside. This store sold everything a book lover could desire -- and stuff we never dreamed of.

You know all that expensive stuff that clutter the counters in Borders and Barnes & Noble? The stuff you admire, know you don't need, wish you could buy, but can't afford? Well, this store must buy up the stuff that doesn't sell - and then they price it at $2 to $5. And now you CAN afford it -- even when you know you DON'T need it.

An hour later and $100 poorer, I finally tore myself away because Hubby and the boys were waiting patiently in the car for me. I had boxes of Christmas cards, fabulous Cd's, a day planner, boxes of assorted greeting cards, five books, and Christmas presents for Houston crowd. I toted three heavily packed bags to the car -- and promised Hubby that Lawrence needed to become a regular jaunt once again.

Today we enjoyed the extra hour of sleep. Then I spend an hour in the kitchen, cooking up Hubby's favorite meal which will last us through most of the week. The laundry needed to be done -- and thankfully is mostly caught up now -- but right in the middle of the afternoon the water heater sprung a huge leak from the bottom. We've been mopping up every since. So, while I'm off teaching next week, Hubby will be plumbing. Such are the joys of married life.