Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zyzzyva

Zyzzyva noun, a South African weevil.

 No, I don’t actually have any stories related to South African weevils. I picked zyzzva because it’s the last word in the dictionary and this is my last A-Z post!

It was fun and I met a lot of new bloggers but it was harder than I thought—next year I need to plan ahead and get a few posts ready before the month begins.

Oh, and not get an ulcer!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who visited and commented!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

U Is For Ulcuscle

Today’s word is actually also an explanation for why I’m so far behind on the A-Z challenge.

Ulcuscle – noun, a small ulcer.

Which I, apparently, might have…although, not sure it’s a small one.

Here’s what happened:

Earlier in the week I was getting ready to go teach my evening class when I got a terrible, incapacitating pain in the middle of my chest/upper abdomen. It was like a gallstone attack, only worse. I started sweating, I couldn’t breathe…and I certainly couldn’t call Opie as this has happened twice before and he kept telling me to “GO TO THE DOCTOR!”

And I had put it off, saying “It’s probably nothing; it goes away after ten minutes or so.”

Which probably makes me sound like an idiot. 

But the truth is, I’m not an idiot, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac.

And, yes, I know that this is a condition that normally makes people run to the doctor’s office.
But I’m a hypochondriac who knows she’s a hypochondriac.  So, even when I have something serious going on, I assume I’m overreacting in hypochondriac fashion and put off going to the doctor until it’s the last possible choice.

So, when the incredible abdominal/chest pains lasted for over half an hour, I did what any sane, normal person would do…I called my mom.

“I’m in Illinois!” My mom reminded me. “I can’t do much from here.  You need to call your doctor!”

“But what if it’s something stupid like gas pains?” I protested. “Then I’ll feel like an idiot.”

Then she reminded me of what my dad always says in these situations, that there are a lot of people in the cemetery who didn’t want to feel stupid.

Which kind of put things in perspective.

So I was going to call my doctor but I couldn’t seem to find her direct line, only the scheduling line. Which meant I had to call Opie at work after all.

And since I’m always completely calm in the face of an emergency and since I was now convinced that I was dying, I very calmly shrieked that I was having some unexplained attack, that I was probably seconds from death and could he spare a few minutes to look up our doctor’s number before I collapsed unconscious on the floor?

I bet he looks back on all those years he was single and alone and just weeps thinking about how interminably dull his life was then.

Anyway, since he IS calm in the face of an emergency, he got the number, gave me the number and as soon as he hung up, began making arrangements to leave work and called the neighbors to get me some help until he got here.

In the meantime, I called the doctor’s office and explained things to the nurse who said “Kimberly, I’ll ask the doctor what to do…but if you’re having severe pain IN YOUR CHEST, we both know what she’s going to say.”

“Take an aspirin and lie down until it goes away?” I suggested.

Oddly, no, that’s not what she thought the doctor was going to say.  And she was right. The doctor said I needed to go to the Emergency Room IMMEDIATELY and get an EKG in case I was having a heart attack.

Though, in my defense, I was pretty sure it wasn’t a heart attack since if it had been some sort of cardiac event, I already would have been dead.

Wait, that doesn’t sound like a defense at all!

Anyway, everyone else apparently suspected all along that I needed to go to the ER as the neighbors were on their way over to drive me and Opie was already planning to meet me there, and my mom sounded not one bit surprised when I called her back.


However, I would like to take this moment to point out that I was right, I wasn’t having a heart attack. The EKG was totally normal.

Which was relief largely because once they ruled out heart trouble they could give me the good drugs and the pain finally started to subside.

Unfortunately for Opie, I was still nestled in the sweet embrace of the dilaudid when he and my mom started a texting conversation and he mentioned to her that this has happened twice before.

“Don’t tell her that!” I yelled.  “Next thing you know I’ll be grounded and won’t be able to go to the big dance.”

I have the feeling I would make a very annoying drug addict.

Anyway, the most frustrating thing is that they still don’t know what’s wrong. All they know is what’s not wrong…no heart attack, no gallbladder attack (which I already knew since I had it removed a few years ago) and no kidney stones. 

Possibly a hiatal hernia, maybe liver trouble, most likely an ulcer that was causing stomach and/or diaphragm spasms…

“It can’t be an ulcer,” I said. “I’m too easy-going.”

“Stop saying that!” Opie said. “You are NOT easy-going. No one thinks you’re easy-going! I’m the calm one in this relationship--you freak out about everything!”

Sometimes I feel like he doesn’t know me at all.

In any case, I have an appointment with a GI specialist in 2 weeks…and I guess I have to go because when I suggested to Opie that in two weeks I’ll probably be totally fine and there was really no reason to waste everyone’s time, his head almost popped right off.

Which, pardon me for pointing out, just doesn’t seem easygoing at all.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T Is For Telaesthesia

Today's word is telaesthesia.

Telaesthia - noun the perception of objects or events not actually visible or present.

Which, of course, reminds me of yet another vacation story!  This one was back in 2009 when Eric and I decided to go to New Orleans for our annual trip.

Now, I can actually hear some of your shocked gasps…New Orleans, you are saying, a place of culture and cuisine, of good music and history…what in the world are Eric and Kimberly doing going somewhere so, well, normal?

See, what you people have forgotten (or never knew) is that New Orleans is also the home of American voodoo, that it is reputedly the most psychically charged city in America, not to mention the most haunted.

And it’s the only place I know that offers PSYCHIC BOOT CAMP….yes, that’s right a training ground to test and train potential psychics….

But I get ahead of myself!

The trip began early Monday morning and as always, it seemed half our trouble rested not in the location itself but in getting to the location…a task that should have been made simpler by the fact that Eric and I made the rare decision to fly instead of drive.

However we forgot to check in with the airline the night before…which meant that in spite of the fact that the plane we were in was the size of a shoebox, Eric and my seats were NOT next to each other.

And if you think that was upsetting for US, imagine the poor passengers in the seats between and around us as we continued chattering back and forth as if there were no impediment…particularly when Eric began a long and disturbingly detailed discussion of his underwear.

Though, to be fair, Eric felt it was probably MORE disconcerting to the other passengers when the pilot said “If you’re wondering why the mechanic was on board the plane it was because the motor wasn’t working. We think it’s fine now.” And I began moaning out loud and predicting our fiery deaths.

However, against all odds, we made it to New Orleans relatively intact.

So, our first afternoon/evening was supposed to be all about reconnaissance. I mean, we had to find the Voodoo Museum, the Voodoo Cultural Center, Madame Laveau’s Voodoo Shop, and the Boutique du Vampyre (the only vampire shop in the US!).

Which, by the way, was the biggest disappointment of the whole trip.

We didn’t even make it inside until the 3rd day because it was closed every time we went by…closed but with tantalizing little signs on the door that said “Be right back” or “Back in ten minutes” or “Back at 1:30” which indicated that someone had, at least, been in the store long enough to change signs.

And then, when we did finally make it inside, it was the lamest display of vampire merchandise I have ever seen…I’m not even sure why it was considered a VAMPIRE store since it seemed to focus much more on homemade scented candles…although, to be fair, the woman did offer us a press on tattoo of bite marks we could put on our necks.


However, as I said, we didn’t even discover that until later…because of their bizarre hours but also because, in our first ten minutes of recon, we found this little bar that made the strongest yet cheapest vodka and lemonade I have ever had the good fortune to consume.

The long and the short of it is, we kind of forgot about recon for the rest of the night.

Day Two we were a little more focused…in fact, we decided to completely eschew alcohol until we had completed our psychic missions…and, to get ourselves in the mood, we meandered through every Voodoo shop we could find, where they actually sold things like “eye of newt” and voodoo dolls and magic candles…all the while assuring us that voodoo is a “life affirming practice that encourages its participants to better understand the natural processes of life and their own spiritual natures.” It actually has bizarre ties to Catholicism and has all these correlations between Voodoo spirits and our saints.

I’m not going to lie, some of the altars creeped me out.

Hoodoo, on the other hand, is all about magic spells and curses and the like. Those spirits are also supposed to be tied to Christian ideas but correspond with demons and devils.

Which also creeped me out.

However, it was armed with this knowledge that we marched ourselves to Madame Laveau’s Voodoo shop and got our palms read and our fortunes told.

And I won’t bore you with everything she predicted (though I did write it all down in my journal for future reference) but I will tell you that she said she could tell I’m a little bit psychic, a “sender.” This means I can send my thoughts to others and force them to think of me, etc.

Which I thought was perfect, since our next spot was Psychic Boot Camp.

Eric was hesitant to participate at first…not because he didn’t want to go but because he was a touch worried about my inherently competitive nature. While I am not considered competitive by my family’s standards (My dad used to beat us at CANDYLAND! And don’t even get me started on Hungry, Hungry Hippos, that experience is a blog entry of its own!), I’m still just about twice as competitive as the normal person.

Which makes me approximately six times as competitive as Eric.

And in a psychic flash, he had some vision of me cackling like a loon and chanting “I’m more psychic than you are!”

But after I vowed not to do such a thing (at least not OUT LOUD)., we made reservations and off we went.

And it was AMAZING!

Apparently, there are about 17 different types of psychic ability and all people have some sort of gift.

With this in mind the expert, noted parapsychologist Dr. Larry Montz, taught us how to “ground ourselves” to become more in touch with our psychic natures, he told us about the difference between being an empath (a person who can feel psychic vibrations) a medium (a person who can communicate with spirits) and a channeler (a person who can let the spirits enter their psychic space).

Then he showed us he showed us how to focus our energy and “zap” other people to get their attention…

How many of you are think that I spent a disproportionate amount of time in the next few weeks running around yelling “ZAP!” and poking people in the back of the head?

But I digress…

He also tested us on our telepathic abilities by looking at these things called Zener cards and seeing if we could determine which one he was looking at.

Eric did amazing! He got about 1/3 to ½ of the cards right, which even impressed Dr. Montz.
I, on the other hand, sucked out loud…I didn’t even get ONE card right. Not because I’m LESS psychic, you understand but because I’m a SENDER not a RECEIVER, just ask the voodoo priestess (Competitive?  Me? Don’t be ridiculous!)

Finally, they took us on a tour of all the haunted areas in the French Quarter, led us into dark rooms and the like and asked us for our psychic impressions of the places.

This, of course, led to a lot of giggling, a few incidences of me attempting to “zap” Eric, and a shocking amount of very bad guesses.

However, pardon me for sounding like some sort of hippie dippy freak, but there were 2 places that had such bad energy I about ran out screaming. In the first place, I actually started to cry and talk about how much I wanted/needed my mom…which is when Dr. Montz told us that the building had been an orphanage.

The second place, I just got really scared and refused to even stand near the entryway. That place, we found out later, was where this freaky doctor had performed a bunch of horrible medical experiments on different people.

In any case, we were suitably and deliciously freaked out by the whole thing…which makes this vacation an overwhelming success!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S Is For Sawder

Sawder - Verb, To Flatter

Let's be honest, a little bit of flattery goes a long way. As long as it's done the right the email below that I got from one of my best students this semester.

Hi Professor,

I have a very big problem. Our revised essays were due this morning and my car broke down on the way to class.  I spent the next 2 hours waiting at a gas station for my stepmom to pick me up but because she was on her lunch break, she took me to wait at her house. (I live with my uncle.) I'm probably stuck here until about 3pm at my stepmom's house until my uncle can pick me up and use his AAA to tow it to a mechanic.

All I have is my printed copy with me so I can't access the essay on my laptop to send with this email. Is there any chance you would take partial credit on it? It's our biggest assignment so far, I've basically written it twice now, and I would really, really appreciate getting some sort of credit so I don't fail the class for having a terrible car.

When I go on to graduate, get a decent job, and I can afford a house and almost be able to pretend I can afford kids I would totally be willing to make it a Thanksgiving tradition to say,"Okay, before I cut this turkey, aren't we all thankful Professor Yates was so nice and let me turn in that paper for some credit so I didn't fail English and lose my ability to get Pell grants?" If you can't, I understand. I figure it couldn't hurt to ask.

Just enough flattery to make me laugh hysterically--and yes, I let him turn it in.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R Is For Rampallion

Rampallion: Noun, a scoundrel, a villain.

I have to be honest, when I lived in St. Louis, I worried a lot more abut rampallions than I do now. I was single, I lived alone and my chihuahua, the late great Peek-A-Boo, wasn't what you would call vigilant about protecting hearth and home (you can find kind of a funny story about that here).

When Opie and I married and moved here to a small town in Oklahoma, I worried even less. Because it's smaller, there's less crime, and Opie had a big dog.

This is our half-Rottweiler, half beagle, Bubba:

The only problem with Bubba is that he has decided that I am HIS human and that he should protect me at all costs. I appreciate this when the neighborhood crazy tries to get into the yard (long story, you can read about it here). The thing is, he's pretty sure any stranger in the neighborhood is a rampallion.

A lesson both the lawn guy and I learned the first month I lived here. See, the lawn care people are supposed to knock on the door and let me know they’re here before starting on the lawn. But sometimes they forget…and they don’t come on a regular schedule so I don’t know when they’re going to be out there. So, right after I moved here, the stars aligned and the lawn guy was trying to let himself in the backyard at the same moment that I'm letting the dogs out of the house.

Bubba did NOT not take this well.

Peek also did not take this well…but Peek was old, a little fat, and more than willing to wait and see if the guy had a treat before ripping his throat out. Bubba, on the other hand, charged the fence like the guy was made out of ham.

I, of course, went running out and over to the fence as fast as I could…and was relieved to see that the guy hadn’t actually come in the gate yet…but then I had to get Bubba calmed down in the face of this clear and present danger.

A task made more difficult by the fact that the lawn guy was standing right on the other side of the fence, chattering away nervously, apologizing and assuring me he won’t come in until I get Bubba back in the house. The problem was, Bubba couldn’t believe that this EVIL RAMPALLION was actually DARING to talk to me while he was on guard duty. So the more the guy talked, the more Bubba ran around me in wide circles, barking and growling at the guy like a maniac, and occasionally charging the fence.

If this happens with your Chihuahua, you pick him up, carry him inside, and praise his bravery. If this happens with your half-Rottweiler mix, you interrupt the lawn guy’s sixteenth apology and ask him to go stand by his car.

“Or better yet,” you say with a smile “actually get in it.”

“Are you serious?” The lawn guy then asks.

“This dog knows you’re here to kill me,” you explain. “And he’s not going to let you.”

On the one hand, I’m pretty sure THAT GUY will never forget to let me know he’s here before spraying the lawn…on the other hand, I’m also pretty sure he doesn’t think I’m funny AT ALL.

Q Is For Quackle

Ok, this challenge is definitely challenging--if I do it next year, I think I have to prepare a couple posts in advance! I can't believe how quickly I keep getting behind!.

In any case, to get caught up, Q is going to be rather quick.

Quackle - Verb, to choke or to suffocate.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the animals in this house have a plan for world domination--a plan that begins with getting Opie and I out of the picture through quackling.

This is Princeton P.Kitty attempting to quackle me:

And this is Princess Snowflake Sassypants attempting to quackle Opie just last night:

Personally, I think we'll be lucky to survive.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

P Is For Plantophilia

Plantophilia – Noun: The excessive love of or obsession with plants

Ok, I’m not going to lie, I made that one up. But after this weekend I’m pretty sure that it’s a real thing.

See, this weekend was the Jenks, Oklahoma Annual Plant and Herb Festival.

A little event I only became aware of on one of Opie and my weekly trip’s to George’s Pub in Jenks. I saw the banner last week and thought, “What the  heck, I need a few hanging plants for the back porch and a few more herbs for the garden. I’ll just run over to the plant sale first thing in the morning, beat the crowd and hope they have something I can use.”

Because I was thinking plant sale, like the plant sales churches and schools back home used to have as fundraisers.

Obviously, I hadn’t read the sign.

It was the Annual Plant and Herb Festival.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

First of all, I couldn’t get there right when they opened because, unbeknownst to me, Main Street was completely blocked off to accommodate all the vendors, and I had to detour all the way around the festival.
Then I couldn’t find a parking spot. There were so many people at the plant festival that I actually had to park two blocks away and walk back!

Then I had to wind my way through a mass of people for whom plants are clearly a religion, avoid the HANDCARTS and WAGONS that most of the people had brought to haul off their plant loot, and apologize over and over to people who couldn’t believe I hadn’t brought my own bag, much less a cart.

There were also actually 5 or 6 uniformed police officers walking up and down the street, weapons at the ready, primed to quell any plant-induced violence that might break out.

One woman even told me that last year her daughter made the rash decision to schedule her wedding before the festival’s date was announced and, sure enough, they ended up on the same day. However, never fear, the morning of the wedding, the woman made a quick side trip over to the Festival to get her plant fix for the year.

That’s right, the woman stopped at a plant sale on the way to her daughter’s wedding.

Excuse me, I mean plant festival.

Although, to be fair, I got a little carried away at the festival myself and greedily snatched this plant:

 Almost right out from under the nose of this older lady who was eyeballing it covetously.

Though, I did restrain myself and didn't horrify Opie by coming home with either of these:

But I am already trying to figure out where to get a cart for next year.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

O Is For Onychophorous

Today’s word is onychophorous.

Onychophorous: adjective, having nails or claws.

This word is totally relevant to my life because I have 3 onychophorous creatures of my own (2 dogs and a  cat) and I am constantly having long talks with them--a situation which makes Opie insist that I need to get out of the house more and socialize with grown ups.

I think he's jealous that he doesn't speak dog as well as I do.

In any case, onychophorous also makes me think of the neighborhood cats.

Not the neighbor’s cats, the neighborhood cats…the 4 stray cats that live in our neighborhood that a couple different older guys feed but don’t actually own and who have recently decided that my flower beds make an excellent litter box.

Yesterday I had a long chat with this one:

About the whole litter box misunderstanding and about the fact that he tries to dash into our crawl space every time the garage door is open.

He let me know that I really have no right to complain.  After all, he is graciously allowing Opie and I to live RENT FREE in the house above his crawl space. Then he mentioned that, although he appreciates all the bird feeders I’ve put up-thus drawing fun and interesting prey to his yard—he never gave us permission to let dogs roam around willy-nilly.

Then he climbed his onychophorous self up the tree in front of the house and turned his back on me.

I’m still trying to figure out how I lost control of this entire situation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N Is For Naturist

N Is For Naturist

Which probably sounds like a person who is interested in nature but is actually a person who embraces a nudist lifestyle.

That's right:

Naturist, a noun, a person who embraces the nudist lifestyle.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a naturist myself but I have no problem with them. Live and let live, I always say.

However, I do have one rule that I think applies to naturists:

When you run a bed and breakfast winery that is ALSO a naturist retreat, I think you should mention that on your website.

If you’re not going to mention it on your website, then, when a nice woman from Oklahoma calls to make reservations for a romantic weekend for her and her husband, you should probably find a way to slip it into the conversation.

True Story. Last summer I thought I was booking a romantic getaway for Opie and my anniversary and I was actually booking us a weekend at Club Nude…or Naturist.

No, the hosts didn’t (thank God!) greet us at the door in all their naked glory…but there were brochures exhorting the benefits of the Naturist lifestyle (with pictures!) liberally spread all over the entire building. And there was a big sign over the hot tub that said “No swimsuits allowed in the hot tub.” And every item of clothing the hostess did wear had some sort of slogan about being naked. And there were a bunch of nude decorations. And all of their wine names had some variation of the word naked in it (though to be fair, the Naked Cowboy was pretty tasty).  

And they kept assuring us we could take our clothes off anytime. "If you want," they said about 10 times. "Whatever you're comfortable with, whatever you want."

What I wanted was NOT to debate nudity with STRANGERS who were older than my parents.

"This,"said Opie as we were driving away, "was the weirdest vacation ever."

And call me a prude, it didn’t feel natural at all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M Is For Malacoid

Malacoid Adj. made of a soft or fleshy substances

If you thought the worms were bad, today’s word has me thinking of slugs.

That’s right, slugs.

We have one garden plot that is infested with crop-destroying, slime-leaving, hermaphrodite-being SLUGS. Last week, I went out one fine morning, fully intending to harvest some fresh baby spinach and what did I find? Devastation! A spinach wasteland of chewed plants and unearthed roots. All because a colony of slugs got there first and decided, in their evil little hearts that they wanted my spinach more than I did!

They're evil, I tell you, EVIL!

And for those of you who think I'm exaggerating their evilness, let me tell you that as the English research nerd that I am, (some things will never change), I immediately began looking up slugs and found that they can be an apophallating species. What is an apophallating species, you may wonder. A species in which the hermaphroditic creatures can become entangled during coitus and can only be separated when one chews off the penis of the other!

On an only slightly related note, I think this is the exact reason I should never research things on the internet. I always seem to find the most horrifying tidbit of information out there and also always feel compelled to share it....still, I think this proves my point about slugs being evil.

In any case, the rest of my research indicated that beer traps are a good start at slug removal. You take a little bowl, bury it to the rim in the affected area, fill it with beer and voila! The slugs slime their way in, get sluggish from drinking too much beer, and drown.

It seemed a little too good to be true but let's be honest, beer is a main staple of our kitchen. We may run out of bread, eggs, flour, or butter, but we ALWAYS have beer. Opie issued a few mild protests to the beer plan (Bud Light? You're feeding Bud Light to slugs?) but these were overcome with a much more impressive show of histrionics (Did you see the spinach? Did you? Do you think I can handle more of this devastation? DO YOU REALLY?). And a beer baiting we did go!

And I did catch 3 slugs...3 little slugs and one big Bub of a dog, drinking the beer and licking his chops.  Not exactly a screaming success.

Bub suggested that we should bait 10 or 12 beer traps and leave them all over the yard or, failing that, pour it directly in his bowl and he would knock the slugs into it later but that just didn’t seem appropriate. 

So, I headed back to the computer for more information. And, sadly. the best way to get rid of the little monsters is outright murder. Go out late at night and kill as many of them as you can, then turn over the soil the next day to kill their nasty little eggs.

So, now, every night Opie and I arm ourselves with flashlights, salt, and garden trowels and tiptoe around the entire yard looking for slugs (one of us with the unholy glee of a serial killer or die-hard vigilante intent on saving the poor defenseless spinach from the evil, gaping maws of the invading slug horde, the other with unenthusiastic acceptance that giving in to your new spouse's somewhat lunatic requests is less painful than logical resistance. I'll let you all guess which is which). We search under all the spinach leaves, along the rock border, and underneath the mulch. Whenever we find one, we dig it out with the garden trowel and--even now--I jump back and squeal in revulsion. We used to dump salt on top of them but I kept imagining them writhing in the throes of salt-induced agony and I couldn’t take it…I mean, sure they’re evil but torture is bad for my karma.  So now we chop their malacoid bodies in half. Which is a quicker death for them but is so revolting that it makes me squeal even more.


Can you imagine what the neighbors are thinking?  They see lights flashing around the yard, hear a loud thunk, then a girlish squeal….Kind of wondering how long it’s going to take them to call 911 to report a pair of lunatic intruders next door.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Liturgician

Liturgician  -- noun, a person who studies the church and church rituals

I am a church goer but I am NOT a Liturgician. I wish I was, though, because if I studied church rituals--heck if I'd studied last week's bulletin, I might have realized that at our new church, the entire congregation processes into the sanctuary on Palm Sunday. Everyone, that is, except the extremely old, the infirm, and--apparently--Opie and I who were alarmed at all the cars in the parking lot and rushed in to find a good seat.
We were so proud of ourselves...right until the moment all the singing started out in the vestibule.
"Are we supposed to be in here?" Opie demanded.
But it was too late.  The parade of congregants were already marching in, waving their palm fronds high in the air, using them to whip the heretic infidels who were already seated (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration), and generally causing a religious ruckus while Opie and I slunk down in our pew trying to become invisible.
Seriously, where is a liturgician when you need one??

Sunday, April 13, 2014

K Is For Kimbo

So looking up K words I came across Kimbo—which is a noun AND my nickname so it was an easy pick! 

Kimbo – Adj. bent, or crooked and twisted.

Bent or twisted is a pretty good description of my life.

And the thing is, when you’re Kimbo, life isn’t always easy.

See, when you’re Kimbo the things that you find funny aren’t necessarily the things that other people find funny. Like about 10 years ago when I was still single and out with my friend  Eric and his partner Paris. We went to this bar in a neighborhood where Paris was once mugged. This might make some people nervous. Others—like Eric and I—feel the appropriate response is to leap from the car and make an exaggerated dash for the door of the bar while pretending  to avoid a mugging.

Then, if you’re Kimbo, you think it would be even funnier to jump over the curb like a Ninja. And, little known fact. Kimbos make excellent leapers (OLYMPIC QUALITY LEAPING IS WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE!) and I soared over the sidewalk like a super hero only to land awkwardly on the gap between the sidewalk & the grass. And then, when you’re Kimbo your ankle rolls, the ligaments stretch, strain, tear slightly,  and snap back like a rubber band. Which, of course cracks your ankle bone.

In the version I shared with my colleagues, I sensibly went home and iced the ankle until deciding to go the ER in the morning.

In the version that more closely resembles the truth, I decided that no one is seriously injured in a little ankle roll (this in spite of the fact that I was ready to puke from the pain) and self-prescribed several glasses of vodka and 7 Up then limped around to 2 different bars and Steak and Shake before calling it a night.

The next morning my ankle was roughly the size of a softball.

So, if you’re Kimbo, you wake your friend Kelly, head to the ER, get yelled at  by the nurse for chewing bubble gum too loudly, get a splint and come home with instructions to stay off the foot as much as possible.

Luckily, if you’re Kimbo, you immediately call your friends and get countless offers of aid and assistance and your weird neighbor even brings over a cane because the doctor at the ER is no orthopedist (you have to see him later in the week) and you were not issued crutches.

Unfortunately, if you’re Kimbo, your dog sees any combination of cotton and polyester as a chew toy and spends the day lunging at your foot when you least expect it.

Again, It’s not easy being Kimbo, make no mistake.

J Is For Jabberwock

I'm cheating just a little bit because I'm behind in the challenge...not a big cheat, just recycling an older post that happens to match today's word.

Jabberwock - noun, nonsense, gibberish.

I wrote about the poem Jabberwocky just a few weeks ago as part of The Great Cupcake Search. Here it is:

I think it's time to face a bitter truth:

The Great Cupcake Search might be making me a little bit completely insane.

I came to this realization a week or so ago when I took the search on the road. I was in the Ozarks for the weekend and decided to check out a little local place called The Mad Hatter's Cupcakes.

I pulled up in front of the store, got out of the car, saw the closed sign in the window and asked a woman passing by if they were closed for the day or forever,

"Permanently," she said.

And I started to cry.

That's right, actual tears.

Don't judge me! Just keep in mind that emotional triggers are weird. See, the whole reason I wanted to go to The Mad Hatter's was the Alice in Wonderland connection.  I love Lewis Carroll's nonsense poem from the book, Jabberwocky. Especially the opening lines:

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son
   The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
   The frumious Bandersnatch!"

It always makes me think of my late, great Chihuahua, Peek-A-Boo because I used to call him the Frumious Peeker-Snatch.

Seriously, doesn't he LOOK frumious?

So I thought of him, got all weepy remembering what a great little dog he was for our 13 years together and started to cry.

And if you, dear reader, still think that was a little odd, you should have seen the poor woman I was talking to. I get the distinct feeling that not too many people walk around the Ozarks weeping over closed cupcakeries. A situation made infinitely more uncomfortable when I told her "Gone forever! Just like the  poor Peekersnatch!"

The thing is, as soon as those words flew out of my mouth, I knew they sounded weird (and in retrospect, probably a little dirty) so I wanted to explain--and reassure her that I wasn't a dangerous psycho--but I was still upset and not thinking clearly so instead of saying "I'm sorry, I named my dog after Alice in Wonderland." or something normal like that, I chose to sigh and tell her "He was so frumious!"

I think it's safe to say that woman thinks I'm crazy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I is For Ignotism

I’m a little behind with the A-Z Challenge – my classes were at the make-or-break point with grades, last day to withdraw without impacting next semester’s financial aid, so I had about 75 essays to grade.

And pretty much nothing else gets done when I have essays to grade.

Which, ironically, leads me to my word for I: ignotism.
Ignotism- noun. a mistake made from ignorance.

As a teacher this is a word I desperately need to know as I am dedicated to eradicating ignorance whenever it rears its uneducated head.

And why may not have known the actual word think I can say with 100% certainty that I am more than familiar with the application.

I see mistakes made from ignorance every day most of these are just pretty common everyday mistakes that I'm there to correct.

Some of them make me sad like a few years ago when I asked the question on a test to define simile and give an example. And one girl wrote "A simile is an expression you make when you're happy.  If I won the lottery, I would simile."

This after a week of lessons on similes and metaphors.

Other examples just make me shake my head. Like when we were writing about Jane Eyre and a student wrote "Rochester tried to blame Bertha for his problems but she was really just his escape goat."

And I had this vision of Rochester riding a goat off across the Moors.

Some examples of ignotism now make me laugh out loud. Like when I was teaching basic writing and I had the kids create a movie review for the movie The Princess Bride. One of my students, for whom English was a second language, was describing the scene when Buttercup was being captured by the pirates/kidnappers and she wrote the following:

"Buttercup was very scared when she saw the rubbers.  She knew the rubbers were dangerous and she just wanted to get away from the rubbers.  But the rubbers were all around her; there was no escaping the rubbers."

Best example of ignotism ever, I laughed until I cried.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H Is For Helminthology

Helminthology -- The study of worms

To be completely precise, it's the study of parasitic worms but that's gross. So I'm going to ignore the whole parasitic bit and focus on the plain old study of worms. A study that I happen to be terribly familiar with because two years ago Opie bought me a Worm Factory Composting Bin for my birthday.

And, since I have a feeling that most of you have no idea WHAT a Worm Factory Composting Bin is, let me explain. It is a 1.5' x 1.5' x 3'' sized plastic bin that you load with damp shredded newspaper, kitchen trash, starter compost and 1,000 red worms.

No, that's not a typo, WE HAVE ONE THOUSAND RED WORMS living in our washroom....and considering the incredibly speedy way they reproduce and the fact that our bin has 4 more stackable expandable levels, it's entirely possible that we will have TWO THOUSAND RED WORMS by the end of next month.

It's awesome!

And for those of you questioning the awesomeness of this worm abundance, I have one word. Compost, people, compost. And the environment....see, now instead of throwing away our kitchen trash and our old newspapers, we feed it all to the worms. Over time, they munch it all down and leave behind this amazingly rich, fertile compost that you can throw directly on your garden.

Yes, for those of you who don't remember basic high school biology and zoology, I'm talking about poop. Worm poop. I am sitting here, almost giddy with excitement over WORM POOP. I feel like I should be on that show "Strange Addictions" or "Intervention."

My name is Kimberly and I love me some worm poop.

Though, to be technical, we worm farmers prefer to call it "worm castings."

In any case, let me assure you that the worm farm has not completely eradicated my feelings about things that are slimy. I may love me some worm poop and I may have come up with endearing nicknames like "wormies" and I may spend a disturbing amount of time speculating on worm copulation, but this doesn't mean that I want to TOUCH the worms.

Because, you see, they're WORMS.

So, whenever it is time to tend the worms, I arm myself with elbow-length gloves and this little plastic trowel that I can use to stir the worms about. And on the rare occasion that one of the worms escapes or accidentally falls out or whatever, I go shrieking upstairs and demand that Opie take immediate action.

Married life is a constant joy for HIM, I can assure you.

But that's the way it goes when you live with an helminthologist.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G Is For Galeanthropy

Galeanthropy –noun, the belief that one is a cat.

What’s really amazing to me about this is the fact that we, apparently, need a word for this situation.  There are enough people out there who believe that they are cats that a word has been created for it.

What’s even worse is that, in spite of the fact that we have flocks of these faux felines floating around, I haven’t met a single one.

More to the point, I now can’t stop wondering if there’s a word for a cat’s belief that he is a dog. Because I’m pretty sure that’s just one of the many problems that my cat,  Princeton P. Kitty, is suffering from.

Not only does he think he’s a dog, but a dog of questionable moral character.

See, the cat, unfortunately, is a liar.

This was made abundantly clear when Opie and I first started to get serious about our relationship and made the all-too-critical step of introducing our animals.

The thing is, when 2 dogs meet for the first time, there is a little struggle to see which one is dominant.  The submissive one frequently drops onto his back and shows his belly, demonstrating his submissive nature.  So, upon meeting Opie’s Rottweiler mix, Bubba, Prince took a few cheerful swipes at his head, then dropped to the floor and showed his belly.

But, as I mentioned, the cat is a liar.

He was not showing his belly as an act of submission but to lull Bubba into a false sense of security.  Because the second that Bubba would scamper over, thinking he was in charge, and put his nose down on Prince’s belly, Prince would smack Bubba in the face.

Which would have been bad enough if Prince had done it once…but he did it about 16 times.  And Bubba fell for it EVERY SINGLE TIME.

What, I wonder, is the word for THAT?

Can't you just tell this cat is plotting SOMETHING?

Monday, April 7, 2014

F Is For Factotum

Factotum: A lackey, person who does a variety of jobs, a servant.

Today’s word reminded me of when I first moved to Oklahoma and I was looking for a job. I knew I didn’t want to teach high school anymore (largely because our community doesn’t pay high school teachers enough to keep a goldfish alive) but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. So lo and behold, one day on Craigslist (I know, I know, that's like looking for a job in Serial Killer Monthly but I couldn't help myself) I found an ad for cleaning and care of small dogs.

Hey, I thought, I love animals...perhaps dog grooming is just the career change I'm looking for.

Then I met the woman who posted the ad and I thought “Hey, it’s Miss Havisham!”

Because not only did this poor pumpkin LOOK like the crazy old lady from Great Expectations, she was every bit as nutty. I mean, no, she wasn’t wandering around in her wedding dress plotting revenge but she was definitely a few degrees right of center.

A situation not helped by the fact that she left two very important words out of the job description: “up after.”  The job involved cleaning UP AFTER small dogs.  15 small Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and Bichon Frises that roamed freely in this old office building that Miss Havisham had inherited from her mom.

“Well, kind of inherited” she said when we met at a local coffee shop for what I thought was going to be a job interview.  “Except my mother isn’t dead.  But she has Alzheimer’s so the building is basically mine.  And I also own the building behind it, the old jail.  That’s where I live, in the old jail.  It’s so interesting!”

“It sounds lovely,” I said sarcastically.

But she didn’t hear me because she was busy telling me about the cancer that she’s pretty sure she’s had for ten years or so that she’s managed to keep in check with Vitamin C—then she interrupted herself and said “Wow, are you dressed nicely to clean up after dogs!”

Which is when I expressed my own confusion about those two rather critical words “up after.”

“Well, cleaning the building,” she explained.  “I inherited it” she reminded me and launched into the whole story again. “Anyway, the city lets me sell my dogs out of it, isn’t that nice?”

It would have been nice if it had been a PET STORE but it wasn’t.  It was an office building and these little dogs run around there all day and night.

How do I know about the inside of the building?

Because I am a complete sucker for slightly broken people who are in clear need of help and when I told Miss Havisham I wasn’t interested in a POOP SCOOPING CAREER, she actually started to cry. 

“I just don’t know what to do,” she said.  “I need help with these dogs!”

And somehow—probably to stop her tears AND to check on the physical condition of the dogs in question and IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT I WAS WEARING MY GOOD SUEDE BOOTS—I heard myself agreeing to at least help her THAT day. And we went down to the office building and I spent 2 hours shuffling around trying to clean up while keeping my boots feces free.

(It is interesting to note that, when I was relating the story to Opie, this was the exact moment when he began surreptitiously looking around to see how many puppies I had snuck home.)

On the bright side, the place didn’t smell nearly as bad as I was imagining (though it didn’t smell GOOD) and the dogs were super cute and obviously happy and reasonably well cared for (why wouldn’t they be happy, they had the run of the whole building, the gated courtyard behind it, and, of course, the old jail!)

On a not so bright side, at some point Miss Havisham wandered away and the “helping” became a solo endeavor and when I went out into the courtyard to find her, the door locked behind me…and all the gates and doors out of the little courtyard were also locked so I was basically trapped between the building and the old jail.

And, because I'd been watching too much American Horror Story at the time, I immediately began imagining some rubbersuit wearing freak jumping out of the bushes with murder on his mind...I even had a plan in case that happened: I was going to dial 911 on my phone (let's be honest, I had 9 and 1 already dialed), then throw it over the fence and scream my location over and over...and just pray the 911 operator understood "Behind the old jail!" as a location.

Luckily, Miss Havisham shuffled out a few moments later and said “Ohh was that locked?”  And I managed to escape with my life.

And yes, fellow animal lovers, I have made several surreptitious trips back to check on the condition of the dogs and have placed a few discreet phone calls to animal control…

But thus ended my career as a factotum.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Great Cupcake Search -- Jilly's Cupcakes

Opie and I don't have any children.

It's not that we don't want kids of our own, it's just that we reconnected and married somewhat late in life and we haven't been blessed with kids.

We have pets instead.

Which means that, like all childless couples, we know exactly how other people should raise their kids.

But it also means that we don't always fully grasp the sacrifices parents make for their children.

Like not stealing their cupcakes. Even when they're Jilly's Cupcakes.

Jilly's is located in St. Louis but I didn't discover it until after I moved to Oklahoma---which is a little sad considering it's right down the street from my friend Martha's and I've probably driven by it about 4365 times.

But then I saw them on Cupcake Wars--which they won! A while after that, when I went back to St. Louis to visit Martha, she happened to have a fresh 4 pack because her daughter loves them.

I'd like to say that we were strong and resisted the urge to steal a toddler’s favorite dessert.

I’d like to say that but I don’t like to lie on my own blog .

The thing is, the whole reason I was in town was to see Martha's band play...which just naturally translates into a late night, little food, and lots of alcohol.

When we got back to her house at 2:30 a.m. and there they were on the counter. Just sitting there, taunting me with their chocolate and peanut butter goodness.

In the interest of holding on to some shred of self-respect, let’s all just acknowledge that fresh cupcakes were purchased the next day.  Not by me—I was on a plane back to Tulsa first thing in the morning—but they were purchased, that's the point here, and Martha’s daughter never knew the difference.

And don’t lie, most of you would have a hard time resisting their Reese's Chunkage:

First of all, they're HUGE. About twice the size of other cupcakes. We could have easily shared one.

The cake was great, light and moist and just the right amount of chocolate.

The icing is the extra fluffy style that I usually don’t like as much but stick that many pieces of Reese’s Peanut Butter cup on anything and it’s automatically fabulous.

Final Verdict:
Size: Enormous
Price: Free ,when stolen from a small child, Higher than average when actually purchased $4.75.
Cake: Good, moist and chocolatey.
Icing A little too much on the fluffy side of light and fluffy but packed with enough Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to compensate.

Overall, good enough to steal from a toddler...which is why it's probably a good thing Opie and I just have pets.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Eldritch

Today’s word was an easy choice…which is why I have inadvertently created a POUS (Post of Unusual Size – Feel free to skim!)

Eldritch – Adj. Weird or eerie

An easy choice because every year my friend Eric and I take a vacation to an eldritch destination. We’ve been to the NationalMuseum of Funeral History, to Roswell, New Mexico’s Annual UFO Festival, to the Villisca, Iowa  Axe Murder House and so many more!

It’s not for the faint of heart, let me assure you.

The year I got married (to Opie, not Eric) we had a little trouble planning our annual trip. though, oddly, NOT from my husband to be. It was my friend, Martha, who objected in the most strenuous terms.

Which—when considering all the other wacky destinations we’ve been to—has to have some of you questioning what on earth could cause this kind of reaction—or overreaction, if you will.

Nothing major…We were just going to Zorb.

Zorbing, for the uninitiated, is rolling down a mountain in a giant hamster ball.

For some strange reason, Martha found this disturbing. “Are you out of your damn mind?” She screamed (but she says that every year). And then “You’re getting MARRIED this summer!” (but I already knew that). “You could break an arm or a leg,” she finished dramatically. “Or your stupid neck!” (but I really think the Zorb waiver of liability is a formality…and probably an exaggeration of the dangers…)

“We’re going,” I told her. “And the night before we’re staying at the Indian Village Motel in a concrete teepee. And it’s going to be FULL ON AWESOME!!”

Which is when she pulled out the big guns. “I will call your mom,” she threatened. “And tell her how dangerous it is, and how much you’ll be drinking and…and…EVERYTHING!”

Well played, Martha. Well played.

Back to the drawing board…or Ouija board…or, to be completely accurate, Travel Channel’s Most Haunted Destinations…which is where I found the Waverly Hills Sanotarium, a former hospital for tuberculosis victims—particularly those who were terminally ill and/or insane from the disease.

A place in which so many poor people died that they installed a “body chute” to get the bodies out quickly and discreetly (yes, like last season of American Horror Story, though no Leatherface in residence). It is, I’ll have you know, considered one of the top five most haunted places in America…and for a nominal fee, they let you explore the entire abandoned, electricity free, building ALL NIGHT.

It was awesome! (As awesome as rolling down a mountain in a giant hamster ball? Jury’s still out…guess we won’t know the answer to that until NEXT SUMMER).

In any case, the overnight excursion is truly an OVERNIGHT excursion; it starts at midnight and ends at 8AM. And the managers are brutal about punctuality…the building is huge and the managers wander through all night, making sure everyone is OK; they don’t have time to run back to the main gate and let in people who are so inconsiderate and stupid that they can’t arrive on time.

We basically flew into the building 1 minute before the lock down started.

Flew in and immediately realized that two giggling, ridiculous, amateur ghost hunters had NO BUSINESS in the group of freaks who routinely gather in the Waverly Hills Sanotarium.

First of all, everyone else had ghost hunting equipment…and REAL ghost hunting equipment, not just a little voice-activated tape recorder but Spirit Boxes and EMF meters and other things I’ve never seen before….and types of people I’ve never seen before, at least not in real life. There were several people with backpacks full of equipment and strap on headlights, there were a lot of grim, unsmiling people all in black, there was a couple who refused to leave each other’s sides for a second—even crowding into the single stall bathroom together, and there was this huge guy who looked like a bearded, bad ass biker dude—until I realized he was wearing a SKIRT and a rhinestone hair clip.

And then there was the jackass couple who arrived at the last minute, lost their entry pass in the confusion, laughed throughout, and actually brought a sleeping bag like there was going to be time for napping—

Wait, that was us!

But far worst of all were the people who LOOKED sane on the surface, and then they get in your face and start furiously telling you to stop laughing because the haunting of this place is REAL…it’s REAL! And you realize that they’re crazy too.

We had one of those couples in our group.

This woman and her husband (who’s a COP by the way and therefore licensed to carry a GUN), come to explore the sanitarium on the last day of EVERY SINGLE VACATION they take. And when they explore the place, they enjoy scampering around the top floor kicking a ball to the ghosts and waiting for them to kick it back.

“And you know what?” Officer Freak Show asked, pointing at his wife. “The ghosts love Jesse. They pull her hair, and push her, and one time we even took one home with us. IT’S REAL!”

I would like to repeat, this guy OWNS A GUN.

Later in the exploration, they very excitedly showed us a picture they took inside the building of a picture on the wall that, if you looked very closely and had:

A. Been experimenting with Hallucinogenic drugs
B. Suffered from a deep-seated psychosis

Then you could see the outline of an angel in one picture and an outline of a devil in the other.

Or, as I mentioned a little too loudly to Eric, the reflection of their flash on the plastic protecting the picture.

I think it’s safe to say, those people HATED us.

I think it all started when we were exploring the top floor where there had been several questionable deaths. Eric and I were hunkered down in the room where a suicide had taken place, trying to get in tune with the spirits (difficult with the amount of giggling and whispering we were doing) when I decided we needed to go out and make friends with the other 2 couples exploring the floor with us….largely because they had an EMF meter and other cool ghost hunting equipment that I was hoping they would share. As I was walking out into the hall, my iPhone burst into sudden life, playing 80’s music at full volume. At first I was just embarrassed because the music was freakishly loud and it did surprise the crap out of all of us…then, as I fumbled to turn it off, it occurred to me that there are a number of steps that have to occur for music to play:

Turn on the power. Slide the key lock to off. Choose the iPod function. Choose the playlist (we weren’t listening to 80’s in the car). Choose a song or hit shuffle.

I didn’t do any of those things, my phone was in my purse…and the odds of all of these happening by accident are pretty long.

Which I mentioned to the group, thinking this would be a bonding supernatural type experience. One couple agreed. The Freak Show cop and his wife looked at me like I was a moron and the guy snapped “Well, OF COURSE…look where you are!” and shook his head in disgust.

And EMF or no EMF, I can’t handle someone talking to me like I’m an idiot…so I spent A LOT of the rest of the night sarcastically yelling out “Look where you are!”

I think this is just one of the reasons that couple decided to switch groups at the half way point, sticking Eric and I with the annoying teenage girls who were exploring the place with their mom.

But this ended up working out fine because the thing about teenage girls is that most of them really want to be liked…so, sure, they were even gigglier and chattier than Eric and I but they had NO PROBLEM sharing their ghost hunting equipment…or leading the way on the trek to the bottom of the body chute…or climbing in morgue drawers…or asking the manager of the place to stay with us and try to call up ghosts, leading to some freaky temperature changes and strange sounds.

In any case, this is getting crazy long so I’ll wrap it up by saying yes, it was freaky. Not as freaky as the Axe Murder House in Iowa but freaky just the same. It could have been our imaginations, but we did see things moving in the shadows and heard strange whistling in the distance. Our borrowed EMF meter did go crazy in the morgue and that “energy” stayed with us until we got to the body chute…and then was gone when we returned to the morgue. The temperature in one of the patient rooms did drop two degrees in less than a minute and we did both get weird, icky feelings in the same places. In addition, there was the iPhone issue and the new batteries in both my video camera and the voice activated tape recorder went dead the first time we used them in the building.

So, while we won’t be storming up to strangers yelling “IT’S REAL!” we’re definitely checking the “successful vacation” box and considering getting an EMF meter of our own—though we’re still leaning toward Zorbing next year!