Monday, January 14, 2019

National Dress Your Pet Day

I know I’ve been a little overwhelming with the posts lately and I’m sure this kind of momentum won’t continue but today is National Dress Your Pet Day!

Seriously, the easiest possible holiday to celebrate here at The Yates Estates, where pretty much every day is dress your pet day.

And I know some people say that this is crazy behavior. That there is something very disturbing about dressing your dog up as if she is a small child. But I suspect this is like those people who claim they don’t like chocolate when the truth is they’re clearly just saying this out of some twisted loyalty to the idea healthy eating because everyone knows chocolate is the most amazing substance on the planet. And maybe the universe.

But I digress, my point is dressing dogs is a universally accepted form of dedicated pet care.

Especially when you have a dog who loves dressing up. I mean, this is a dog who knows her personal style! She's even rocking the supermodel head tilt!

I’ll be honest, Opie is one of those people who pretends not to appreciate Sassy's amazing sense of fashion. He also acts like Bub  should never get dressed up, like it’s somehow beneath his dignity, when I think these pictures make it pretty clear that Bub is thrilled right down to the ground with his hat collection:

But when I texted Opie today, in a spirit of marital solidarity, to ask him what he thought Bub should wear on National Dress Your Pet Day he rather curtly responded “Nothing.” Ever the educator, I explained that this showed a rather deep-seeded misunderstanding of the holiday.

At this point he texted some ridiculous blather about being at work and not having time for a discussion of Doggy Dressing, that he wasn't interested in the latest trends of Hound Dog Haute Couture, that he was frustrated with the Fixation on Fido Fashion.

Ok, he may not have actually said all that but I was too busy to really pay attention because, as I mentioned, it’s National Dress Your Pet Day and I had a photo shoot to arrange.

It is interesting to note that I have emailed these pics to Opie suggesting that these dogs might have a future in modeling and have thus far not received a reply...guess he's really busy today!

Anyway, Happy National Dress Your Pet Day everyone -- if you dressed your pet today, please share them in the comments or tag me on Facebook or Twitter!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

National Kiss a Ginger Day

So today is National Kiss A Ginger Day and in honor of this whole decision to celebrate rather than stress about my upcoming surgery, I bought a strawberry blonde wig and surprised Opie with it Friday night.

"Is that a wig?" He demanded. "Or did you do that FOR REAL?!" Which, honestly, didn't sound like he was eager for me to be a ginger.

"Tomorrow is Kiss a Ginger Day!"  I told him. "I got it so you could Kiss a Freaking Ginger for the love of God!"

At which point he--much to his regret--pointed out that I am supposed to be celebrating these days not him so shouldn't I be the one kissing a ginger?

I really hate it when he's right...though not as much as he did because today (after a few beers to lower his inhibitions) I slapped the strawberry blonde wig on his head:

Hands off, ladies, he's all mine!

And then I had to be quick because, good sport that he usually is, he wasn't really feeling the wig.

It's amazing what a man will subject himself to for love...and beer.

But I kissed my ginger!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

National English Toffee Day

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to start writing on this blog again. I got so focused on my Etsy Shop that I only wrote 4 posts last year! And I even came up with a new theme to keep me motivated: A Year of Living Joyously – Celebrating all the wacky but fun national days and holidays that permeate our calendar.

I was planning to jump right in on Jan 1st with National Bloody Mary Day, but to be honest, it’s been a rough start to the year.

To make a long, upsetting story short, I have skin cancer again.

Some of you may remember the last time I had skin cancer, back in 2004. And if you do, you probably remember that I didn’t handle it well.  Not because it was life-threatening or anything so serious but because the cancer was on my face and I made one of the colossal blunders:

I researched skin cancer on the Internet.

And the Internet, surprisingly, is NOT filled with pictures of people who come out of skin cancer surgery looking like supermodels. The Internet tends to focus on more shocking imagery and bombards the innocent searcher with photos of people who have had their noses removed.

If you are one of the people that I called after that unfortunate research decision, I should probably take this time to apologize again for screaming “Mutilating Disfigurement!” and hanging up. I’m sure that was a little disconcerting for you.

In any case, the cancer is back. And, although it's still not life threatening, it's on my face again in 2 different spots. Plus it’s worse than it was last time. And, once again, I'm not handling it all that well. Especially this week when I found out I have to have a horrible procedure known as a "forehead flap." I actually can’t bear to get into too many of the details now but trust me when I say you should NOT Google “Forehead flap" unless you’re prepared for some really horrifying imagery that might cause you to call your family and friends screaming about mutilating disfigurement.

We should all probably take a moment to feel a little sorry for Opie who can’t just hang up and get away from the disfigurement shouting and is instead forced to answer questions like “Be honest, do you think I’m going to look more like a troll or a zombie?” and “Are you still going to love me when I’m wandering around here WITHOUT A NOSE?!”

So, as you can see, I haven’t exactly been in a blog-writing mood.

But as luck would have it, today January 8th is National English Toffee Day. And my mom makes the absolute best English Toffee in the world.

I make her recipe sometimes and it’s good when I do it but not as good as hers. I’m not so secretly convinced that this is because she hasn’t given me the REAL recipe. I think that at some point she sneaks a healthy dose of black tar heroin into the mix and that’s why I can’t stop eating it. Once, years ago, she gave me this huge container of her homemade deliciousness to take home after Thanksgiving, so I could serve it at a Christmas party. But it didn't make it to the party. In fact, it didn't even survive November. My friend Eric and I ate through the entire batch in one afternoon…and I mean we chowed on it until we were lying on the couch, sick to our stomachs, muttering “This is my last piece, I mean it this time."

It’s probably hard to see the connection between toffee and skin cancer. And I admit it is a bit tenuous until you realize that I've been reading back through my old emails and blog posts from the last time I had skin cancer. I was single then and my mom was with me through it all (and you can see how amazing she was here) A few minutes after that, I saw something online about it being English Toffee Day. Which made me think of my resolution...I decided that I’m going to try to be strong too.  The surgery isn't until March and in the meantime, I’m going to celebrate all the things I can and laugh as much as possible…I'm probably still going to bombard Opie with awkward questions and brief bouts of hysteria but I'm also going to shove English Toffee in my face with reckless abandon.

So, in the spirit of this determination and in honor of National English Toffee Day, here is my mom’s recipe for English Toffee (minus the black tar heroin!)

2 sticks of salted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of water
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3 Hershey Bars

Put the butter, sugar and water in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over low to medium heat. Stir often until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage (approximately 300 degrees). Remove from heat an stir in baking soda and vanilla (be careful as this sometimes splatters). Pour into a cake pan –use a thin sheet cake for thinner pieces or an 9x13 for thicker.  Put the candy bars on top of the candy while it’s still hot and spread to cover.

It won't be as good as when my mom makes it but I bet it's still pretty good!


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Holy Vermin, Batgirl!

Well, once again, we're dealing with a very disturbing VERMIN problem here in the wild wilderness of Oklahoma.

Which means a lot of you are thinking "Aww, geez, Kimberly is getting ridiculously worked up because there's a snake in the yard."

First of all, I don't think I like this attitude. Second, you're horribly wrong. There was no snake.

"Aha!" you’re saying to yourselves, "Selves," you all are saying, "Then it’s a mouse. There’s a mouse in the house."

Wrong again!

And now you’re just throwing out guesses in a wild, devil-may-care fashion: Disgusting camel cricket? Armadillo? Feral pig? ALLIGATOR?!

Don’t be ridiculous, people. We don't live in Florida.

What we dealt with is much, much worse: a dead bat!!

There was a dead bat on the patio!

Here's what happened: One day last week, I went out to lunch with a friend. As soon as I got home, I took the ridiculous mongrels outside, picked a few tomatoes, and then happened to glance over at the area where we keep the grill and some yard tools.

And I saw something brown and furry lying there... something that clearly had once been alive.

"What the heck is that?" I muttered (and the interest of keeping this PG rated let’s pretend I actually said heck)

So I did what any normal person would do in this situation: I poked the lump with the handle of the rake, which rolled the lump over and revealed a leathery wing.

I’m not even going to try to pretend that my subsequent yells were PG rated. They weren’t. I may owe neighbors an apology.

But I digress… I was going to tell you all about the mongrel hounds. Namely, the Bub who, once I began yelling, wandered over to see what all the fuss was about. And then somewhat indicated that he has heard that bat  is a great delicacy in some areas of the world and allowed as how he would like to have a little nibble.

I’m not gonna lie, I panicked. “Get back get back, get back, you ridiculous dog!" I shouted, brandishing the rake like a weapon. "Do you want rabies, Bub? Do you?!”

At which point, it occurred to me that I was holding the implement that had just touched the possibly rabies infested vermin and flung it to the ground -- terrifying Bub enough that I was able to drag him in the house, thus saving both of us from any bat related illnesses.

Unfortunately, that left Sassy chained up outside. And the minute she lost sight of me, she began barking like a maniac and desperately yanking at the chain and basically convincing anyone within earshot that she was being horribly abused. At which point the ridiculous dogs next door decided to come to her defense and began barking at the top of their stupid lungs...

It is interesting to note that running outside screaming at everyone to SHUT UP RIGHT NOW! SHUT UP BEFORE I FREAKING LOSE MY MIND! does little to calm hysterical hounds.

It was, in a word, complete mayhem.

In any case, I have since done research into bats and it is actually rather unlikely that it actually has rabies and even if it did, the virus would have died shortly after the bat did...but it still needed to be removed with gloves and extreme care.... and it wouldn't hurt to wipe the rake handle down with Clorox wipes.

So, obviously, my next step was to email Opie and let him know that as soon as he got home there was a dead bat on the patio that needed to be removed and a rake that needed to be cloroxed post haste because NO ONE was going back in the yard until those tasks were complete.

He seemed a little unsure if this was his job, but I was quick to advise him to refer to Section 4 Paragraph 3, Sub Point B in our marital contract which very clearly states that vermin removal is a husbandly obligation.

I did, however, get the Clorox wipes out for him.

I also let him know in advance that cracking any jokes in the “Holy rabies Bat Girl” family would absolutely not be tolerated and could well result in him spending the rest of the night in the yard with the corpse of the aforementioned vermin.

But here's the real problem, the thing that made me spend a lot of the day lying on the couch with a cold compress on my head, is the following question: WHAT KIND OF HORRIFYING CREATURE IS NOW LIVING IN THE YARD, KILLING BATS WITH RECKLESS ABANDON?

I have no idea...and I don't much like to think about it!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Nature Photography

It’s been ages since I’ve written any kind of blog entry. Mostly because, as I mentioned in the last blog post, I’ve been focusing on my photography and my Etsy Shop. And, OC devotee that I am, I really only have time for one obsession at a time.

Which is also because nature photography can be a pain.


Because the subjects are notorious drama queens and often completely uncooperative.
Take ladybugs for example…you might think this is an easy or fun picture to capture:

And I am kind of proud of it.  But that overlooks the fact that I have waaayyyy more pictures like this in which the Ladybug decides if it can’t see me, then I can’t see it and it scampers to the underside of the flower stalk to hide:

And, seriously, who wants a picture of the bottom of a ladybug? No one, that’s who.

 Or you stalk a gorgeous Tiger Swallowtail all through your lily garden, braving mosquitoes and loudly complaining dogs, to get the perfect shot and the butterfly is so hopped up on pollen, that it basically flings itself head first into the flower like some sort of addict having a fit.

Even worse is the problem that the places you go are often populated by creatures that you weren’t actually wanting to photograph. Like, when you are trying with all your might to get a shot of a monarch butterfly dancing around a button bush and all of a sudden you shout “Holy crap, is that a SNAKE?”

Or—far worst of all—you go someplace called the Osage Forest of Peace only to find that it should be called the Osage Bastion of Bloodsucking Beasts. Or the Horrendous Hideout of Horrifying Hematomaniacs. Or the Pernicious Purview of Pustulating Parasites.

Basically, what I’m saying is that the name should mention the fact that teeming hordes of TICKS roam this allegedly peaceful forest in a decidedly unpeaceful manner.

A fact we sadly became aware of as we were hiking the trails, looking for wildlife to photograph, when out of nowhere Opie said “There’s a tick on my leg.” Which is upsetting in any circumstance but was quickly compounded by the fact that there were multiple ticks on his legs…and his shoes and his shirt. I wanted to be sympathetic but this was impossible because I was very busy brushing ticks off my own clothes with reckless abandon.

“What the heck is going on?” I shouted (in the interest of keeping this blog family friendly, we’ll pretend I actually said heck). “We need to get the heck out of here!”

So we ran for it as best we could over narrow trails and uneven ground…but part of the problem with these insect infestations is that as soon as you notice one on your body, you instantly imagine a teeming horde of the monsters, scampering through your hair, running up and down your back, baring their fangs and clamping on like miniscule pitbulls.

So the running was punctuated by us slapping ourselves hysterically, shaking our arms and legs like we were in some forest-inspired dance ritual, and shouting like maniacs.

It is interesting to note that the Forest of Peace clearly does NOT have security cameras on their trails or we would have been apprehended at the trail head and taken in for psychiatric evaluation.

After we made it out of the forest and drove home, we decided,  in the interest of the continued good health of the ridiculous mongrels that share our home, to get undressed in the washroom and throw our clothes immediately in the washing machine.

“I’ve got one embedded in my leg.” Opie said ruefully.

And I would again have been sympathetic except, at just that moment, I slipped out of my yoga pants and watched 2 humongous, monster-sized tick beasts dart across the front of my underwear.

Let me repeat that for maximum effect:


I would like to report what happened then but, I’m not going to lie, the next few minutes are a bit of a blur of screams, tears, and hysterical stripping.

And just in case anyone is worried that this story is about to take a weird erotic turn, let me assure you there is NOTHING appealing about a slightly chubby middle aged woman jumping around naked and checking her body for ticks!

Especially when she finds not one, not two, not even three or four, but NINE, that’s right NINE freaking ticks embedded in her body.

Pretty much the WORST HIKE EVER.

So, the long and the short of it is, nature photography is fraught with peril, I can feel Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever coursing through my tick-scarred veins, and the only good shot I got that day was the whipped cream vodka Opie very wisely added to my coffee.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Shot In The Park

As many of you know, I love to take pictures. My parents got me my first camera as a Christmas gift when I was a junior in high school. And I took that thing EVERYWHERE. If you knew me back then, I’m sure you remember me snapping away at dances, in school, at parties etc.

Also, if you knew me back then, you’re probably now nervously wondering if I still have all the party shots I took at places like Phil’s Camp or Andy’s Farm. The answer is yes, of course I do. I’m waiting for one of you to become incredibly famous so I can sell them to the National Enquirer and make a fortune.

I continued this tradition in college and beyond—though I’d like to take this moment to breathe a sigh of relief that Facebook, Instagram, etc. weren’t available then as I’m pretty sure I would have made some poor posting choices. “It’s not inappropriate, it’s funny!” I would have said, completely oblivious to the fact that I was ruining my and my friends' future employment opportunities for the sake of a quick laugh.

Anyway, I finally got my first digital camera around the same time that my first niece was born. I—and her grandparents—took so many pictures of her as a baby that even now she can sense a lens pointed in her direction and can freeze, pose, then continue on without even noticing the interruption.

Seriously, this is her at 12 stopping to pose ON A WATERSLIDE.

A few years after this picture was taken, Opie got me an amazing camera for Christmas. And immediately became my trusty assistant, lugging my camera equipment around the park, up and down mountains, and into the woods while I learned how to get the best shots.

He has since refused to participate in what I call “encouraging the wildlife into activity” and he calls “running through the woods like a lunatic.” But that’s possibly because the one time I did convince him to run through a flock of seagulls on the beach (so I could get one of those cheesy vacation photos of him with birds in the air all around him), the seagulls thought they were in a Seinfeld episode and didn’t move out of his way – except to lunge at him in a threatening manner, hissing and making other angry noises.

I'm not going to lie, it's really put the kibosh on further bird-startling adventures.

Anyway, for years people have asked me “What do you do with all your pictures?”

In the early days, the answer was “Print them out and stick them in a drawer.”  After the digital age dawned, the answer changed to “Post them on Facebook then stick them in a file on my computer.”

But this year the answer is changing in a more interesting manner. For Christmas this year, my parents took some of my pictures and turned them into handmade photo greeting cards – to encourage me to take the initiative to make more of my pics into handmade photo greeting cards.

And, since they are so much smarter now than they were when I was seventeen (weird how that happens!), I have decided to take their advice and try my hand at the handmade greeting card business.  

If you've liked my pictures over the years and would like to check out my online shop, Shot In The Park, I've included the Etsy address below.  If there's a picture I've taken that you like that isn't currently on a card but you'd like on a card, shoot me an email at and I'll see what I can do.

Unless, of course, the picture in question is one of my nieces or nephews and you're not related to me because, let's be honest, that's creepy.

In all seriousness, I'd love it if you'd check out the shop, check out my Facebook page, and tell your friends. I promise I won't bombard you with constant emails and updates or beg you to buy my stuff!

FYI, if you're one of the people now nervously wondering just how crazy you were in the Phil's Camp photos over the years and just how much it would cost you to get those negatives destroyed, you can shoot me an email too and we'll talk. 😝

Etsy Shop:  Shot In The Park
Facebook Page: Shot in the Park on Facebook  

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Undecorating and Unhinged

The first thing you need to know is that Opie's animals don’t listen. I have tried to train them, tried to mitigate the damage from his lackadaisical approach to discipline, have, in short, attempted to rule them with an iron fist.

But I have, thus far, been unsuccessful.

And I might be running out of time because the second thing you need to know is it’s entirely possible that all of us will not be alive when Opie gets home from work tonight.

It’s not because I don’t love these insane creatures as much as he does. It’s not because I wish them any harm. It is simply because I think we might be in one of those them or me type situations.

It all started when I began taking down the Christmas decorations. I went upstairs to get the boxes out of the closet, completely unaware that Bubba and Sassy had  determined that this was some sort of secret code for “I’m hiding treats in the closet.”

I turned around they were both sitting right outside the closet, blocking my exit and jumping around in the world famous "We Want A Treat Right Now!" dance.

I tried to explain that there were no treats in the closet but Bubba flopped down at the top of the stairs and refused to move, sure this was a ploy to see just how steadfast he was in his desire for a treat.

Sassy, on the other hand, decided her best course of action would be to EARN herself a treat by showing me how fast she could run up and down the steps—preferably after giving me a head start so, after I stepped over Bub and struggled down with my arms full of boxes, she could demonstrate both her speed and her ninja like agility, dashing between my legs without a care in the world.

I thought I yelled “Are you trying to kill me, you ridiculous dog?“ but she obviously heard "I love falling down the stairs! Do you think you could help make that happen, you adorable pooch?" Because as soon as I went back in the closet, she put both her and Bubba’s new toys in a place I couldn’t miss them : the middle of the steps.

Then, after my next trip down the stairs during which I stumbled and nearly broke my neck, stood at the top wagging her tail and suggesting a couple treats would go a long way to easing the tension in the room.

Not to be outdone, Prince wandered over a few minutes later and asked if I was at all interested in seeing how good he is at climbing storage shelves.

“No,” I told him. “What I want is for you to get out of the closet and out of my way!”

“I understand,” Prince agreed. “What you’re saying is, climb to the top and start knocking things off the shelves while you scream at me in an encouraging fashion.”
“That is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I’m saying, you looney cat!” I shouted.

But it was too late. He was already leaping from box to box like Spider-cat, swatting ornament boxes with reckless abandon.

As you can imagine, the subsequent shouting convinced Bubba that this was pretty much the most terrifying thing that had ever happened to any dog ever. "That's it!" He barked, flinging himself in front of my feet every time I tried to take a step. "No one should move an inch until the man gets home! The only thing that would make this worse would be--"

"THE MAILMAN!" Both dogs howled together.

Because, of course, that was the exact second that the unspeakably evil mailman snuck on the porch in his unspeakably evil way and, with malice oozing from every pore, THREW MAIL IN THE HOUSE.

Then both dogs charged over me (this time as I was trying to carry boxes up the stairs) and raced headlong to face the peril.

That's when I lost whatever tiny grip I still had on sanity and began shouting a series of threats at them that were so offensive that even the unspeakably evil mailman might or might not but definitely could report me to the humane society.

Ever aware of my fragile emotional state, I decided to take a break from undecorating and have a soothing cup of tea.

You know what tea doesn't soothe?  The sound of a man’s voice upstairs, yelling something in Spanish.

Let me say that again for maximum effect: I heard a MAN in the upstairs of OUR HOUSE yelling in Spanish.

I’m not going to lie, I about lost control of my bodily functions.  A situation not helped by the fact that the dogs ran back upstairs to investigate, barking hysterically.

“There can’t actually be someone up there,” I said to myself. “It defies reason to think someone scaled the side of the house, broke in and is now cavorting around our bedroom talking to himself.” 

Because of my fabulous ability to immediately imagine the worst possible outcome, it did occur to me that a homeless Hispanic hobo had been hibernating in the eaves of our home, been awakened by the hysterical hullabaloo, and was hopping out to say hello. But, even as beautifully alliterative as that is, I thought it was a long shot.

Besides I was trapped: the dogs were up there, after all, and I couldn’t just leave them to deal with any homeless hobos on their own.

Though, in retrospect, they may have just been going upstairs to see if the homeless hobo had any treats on his person.

In any case, I started up the stairs, phone in one hand with 9 and 1 already punched in, pepper spray in the other hand  yelling “Tengo una pistola!” (because I don’t know how to say pepper spray in Spanish) and “Fuera!” (Which, now that I think of it means go out, not get out but I bet a hobo would have taken my point) and “Estoy llamando la policia!” (Which I’m not at all sure is grammatically correct but again probably got my point across)

And found Opie's miserable ridiculous cat sitting on top of the clock radio, smacking at the buttons.

No, this isn't him on the clock radio -- I couldn't get a picture of that
 because I was busy hyperventilating and screaming every curse word I know

Anyway, I'm not sure why our radio is set to Spanish talk radio (but I’m sure it’s Opie's fault) And I don’t know why or even how Prince decided to turn it on.

But I am sure these animals are trying to kill me.

And it's entirely possible I'll kill them first.

Be afraid.