Saturday, April 18, 2009

schedules, vacations and mayhem...

Easter vacation. Spring Break. These are words that used to bring a smile to my face. A time to relax, soak up some sun, catch up on your reading and chillax. Now it gets me all wigged out trying to fit everything in, please everyone and make sure everybody is having a great time. All the while getting myself all stressed out....

My daughter's school follows Easter for it's spring break. Not a bad idea, except to plan any vacation time. You have to think and make reservations way in advance. One year I didn't do that and got totally shut out. Try to explain that to your daughter..."Sorry honey, mommy couldn't get her shit together in time to make the damn phone call.....". Not good. This year I chose not to do the big "let's go to Disney!" route and do something closer to home. (And slightly more wallet friendly.) Fun. AND a little more convenient.

So I packed the car and we went to Sandusky to Kalahari....

I had not been there before. It's truly is an amazing 173,000 sq. ft.of indoor water mayhem. It's so loud in there that in some areas it's hard to hear what someone is saying right in front of you. But the squeals of delight are contagious. And there really is something there for everyone. With each water slide, you feel a few years younger. By the time I left, I think my age was 9. Every time that the wave pool would give it's little whistle alarm to let people know the sequence is starting, all those that were waiting would start to scream. The sound would fill the cavernous building in a way that only makes you wish you had remembered to pack earplugs.

There is a water slide called the Swahili Swirl, which we renamed the Toilet Bowl. You can do this in a raft with 2-4 people. (For the daring, there is an identical one that is a singular body slide.) The idea is that you go through these dark tunnels on the raft and it dumps you out into this large toilet bowl type vortex contraption. Once you've entered the toilet bowl, you go round and round and round until it drops you out of the bottom. All while those waiting in line can watch as you get flushed. It's hysterical!

On our first trip on the Toilet Bowl, we were waiting patiently in line. (Yes, lines exist here...bah.) We were next up! The excitement was building! The girls were all but jumping for joy! And as we waited for these two young girls, probably sixteen at the most, donned in their smallest string bikinis for their waterpark of them while still standing there, leaned forward ever so gracefully and puked green stuff all over the loading area.

I mean, this stuff that came out of her mouth was GREEN. We all stared, rather amazed. The lifeguard was pretty quick, got a couple of towels to spread over the foreign matter and the girl said, "I feel better now!" in her best chipmunk voice, they got in the raft and into the tube they went. Our first reaction was to try to figure out what could come out of a body that was that color of green. Was it a young girl puking up some alcohol based Margarita? Or what the girls thought, some mint dipping dots? It was vibrant....and it was rather late in the evening, so I think it was alcohol.

My next thought was is she going to vomit again IN the tunnel that we are now going to travel through in complete darkness? Is something going to drop off the sides and into my lap where unknowingly at the bottom I'll look down to figure out if it was indeed those damn ice cream dots of the future? I surely hope not....

But we managed getting flushed without too much further ado.

There is also a water fun area called the Leopards Lair. It is mainly for children, but all can go in there. There are water canons, slides, buckets that can be filled and dumped on unsuspecting people climbing through the mazes. On some of the rides at Kalahari, you can sometimes remain relatively dry. In this area, there is no way you will return to the entrance without being totally soaked. I have to admit though, it really was quite fun. And of course the girls loved trying to get me with the water canons!

The highlight of this area is there is a gynormous bucket on the very top of this multi level playground...and when the bell starts to ring, the bucket is almost full. Once it's full it tips and dumps thousands of gallons of water on those standing below.

(I apologize for the sometimes sideways video editor won't allow me to rotate the image! Figures.)

One thing about waterparks. It is no fashion show. But in an indoor waterpark when there is always motion? Wouldn't you wear something that would stay in place? We lost count adding up the amount of butt cracks that were exposed. And exactly why do you wear a string bikini for water slides? First off, you're going to lose them. Secondly, most of those wearing said bikinis shouldn't be. My mind kept saying, "cover that shit up!" On the one hand maybe I should commend these people for having such body confidence to go in public wearing little more than a hanky on a less than toned body. I was walking with the girls and we were behind a woman with a Brazilian tanga bottom on. She was sashaying her ass all over the place whilst wearing high wedge heels. High a pool? Even the girls couldn't confine their giggles at this utter display of wrongness....

And the guys? They were no better. Ill fitting shorts so when they stood up they all but fell off. Or the best...light colored or white. I was standing behind this guy in the wave pool and he had on Corona swim shorts. A nice yellow, white and blue number. Except can you guess where the white stripe was? Yes. Across the butt and crotch. Just what I needed to see...that he needed a little trim and that he had a hairy ass. Thank you. No charge.

All in all it was a trip worth taking. But there was no sun soaking, no book reading, no relaxation. That will have to happen on my NEXT vacation (which starts this Friday! woohoo). That's the one where there are no children, no waterpark, no worries. I'll be packing the sunscreen and extra books for that one.

Yes. I promise I will give you the highlights of that vacation too. Hopefully, I won't witness anyone puking....
Especially me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Leavittsburg, Ohio......where happy endings still exist.

My dad's family grew up in the Girard/Niles area in Northern Ohio. At one time this was a thriving, bustling area filled with big Union jobs at the Steel Mills. There was a main drag through town where you'd find all the best restaurants and shopping. In 1977 there came a day called "Black Monday". It was the first closing of Cambell Works, of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube company. No notice was given to the workers, no programs for unemployment put in place. They just , closed up shop and left the carcass to rust. All the mills in the area had closed by 1982, which was responsible for over 93,000 jobs. Youngstown had the highest unemployment rate, skyrocketing to an overwhelming 38%. People started to move. Between the years of 1970 and 1990, Youngstown and the surrounding areas lost over 40,000 residents.

After the mills closed, "suspicious" home, business and auto fires started. On an average of 2.3 per day. The crime rate rose and Youngstown earned the dubious title of "Murder Capitol" in 1990 when it's crime rate surpassed Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The change in Youngstown is quite evident with it's closed businesses, dilapidated homes and boarded up churches.

The reason I shared this history lesson with you is some of my extended family still lives in the Trumbull County area. My cousin works in Warren, but lives in Austintown. He had asked for some of my serving plates and dishes as he is hosting an Easter dinner this year. He's a Italian cook and if you've ever had the pleasure of attending one of his He needs alot of extra plates, there is SO much food! For this years meal; He slaughtered his own lamb, made his own ravioli's, makes his own wine and has prosciutto hanging in his basement. It's one of those events that you try hard to get the nod of invitation to. So when he asks for plates? You bring him plates!

His trade was, "You bring me the plates, I'll take you out to dinner." Super. So on Sunday afternoon (to make sure he got all the extra dishware in time) I drove over to Warren to meet my cousin to deliver the goods and get fed in the process. I plugged in the address of the restaurant I was meeting him at in the Navigation system of my Jeep. I don't know that area of Ohio at all, so had never been where we were meeting before.

I take the Ohio turnpike there and after I exit I'm double checking the address. I'm sure that I didn't correctly plug in the correct info. There is no possible way that my cousin would be meeting me anywhere near here. And by my Navigation map displayed information, I'm just 3.2 miles from my destination. Depressed? That is an understatement for this area. One little town was called Leavittsburg. I'm positive the correct pronunciation was not how we pronounced it: Leave-It's-burg. It should be changed to Get-the-hell-out-of-town-burg....

In the few miles we drove through this little area I saw 6 "spas", 12 bars, and 20 closed down restaurants. There were abandoned houses with boarded up windows and burnt out cars on the side streets. There were restaurants with names like "the Chat-and-Chew", which might make sense if there was a railway nearby...but there weren't any. There was a restaurant that looked like a house turned into a restaurant called Millies Cooking. That had a sign that was hand painted and misspelled. No winner in English class there. Most of the bars had neon beer signs in the windows that were only partially lit. Apparently the beer distributors don't feel new signs would be a good investment there. And the "spas"? Hmmm. I guess it just goes to show that even in a dilapidated area....all people need a "happy ending".

Oh. And yes, I did get the invitation to dinner at my cousin's house for Easter dinner. Now I just need to find those stretch pants....

Footnote: If you look closely to the photograph, the sign in front of the boarded up building says', "Facing Foreclosure?" How ironic.

Friday, April 3, 2009

sunny blue skies and warm spring days...any day now!

Does the barometric pressure really effect your mood? Does the amount of sunlight change how you feel? Is it going to snow on Easter...again? Do I really need to live in Cleveland?
Unfortunately, the answer to all of these questions is, "yes"...

Today? It's a extremely ugly day today in Cleveland, Ohio. It's presently 43 degrees and dropping, with a wind blasting at 23 mph. That brings the temperature down to 35 degrees with the wind chill. There is a wind advisory in effect until 4am. And it doesn't help that it's raining. Not the kind of rain that washes away the gray of winter or makes you want to don rain boots and go out stomping in puddles. This is the kind of misting rain that makes the sky and ground all the same color, that gives you vertigo. The kind of rain that when added with the wind makes it feel like your being pelted...with paring knives.

I suppose it does have some good qualities. Instead of investing in that acid facial peel, I could just stand outside for 10 minutes and get the same sand blasting effects without the hole in my banking account. And it is naturally pressure washing the side of my house with damn good results.

But after the beautiful sunny day in the high 60's's weather is quite the let down. And the weather forecast says it's not going to let up! All through next week we are to be pummeled with rain and cold weather, high winds and we even have the 60 percent chance of SNOW on Monday. Yes, you heard me right...Snow.

Yesterday I started to do some of the spring clean-up yard work. Got some of the never ending leaves left behind by my big 80 year old pin oak tree. Pin oaks hang onto their leaves until the new buds push them off the it's a never ending barrage of dead falling leaves. This past year the acorns produced by this tree was so bountiful that if entertaining on the deck, I'd have to hand out pithe helmets to the guests so they wouldn't be harmed by the falling acorns. You might end up with one in your drink or salad if you weren't careful.

It felt great being outside without a coat on. I even saw people walking around in shorts. You can always tell the first days of spring in a northern town...people start baring their pale wintered skin early on because we want to shed all the layers we've had to don through the harsh winter months. I even put away all our winter coats, gloves and boots. I packed away the ski, skate and sledding gear for the year. What do we do now? Should I unpack everything? It's April! It's spring! I don't want to wear a winter coat! I don't want to have to wear a muffler or gloves!

They say April comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. We've all sang the song...but to have the teaser of such gorgeous weather and then have it like this? It's just not fair. We've been experiencing these up and down weather roller coasters now for over two months and I want it to stop. We had 3 days in March that was well into the 60's, one day in the 70's! Only to have it drop down to 20's the very next day. On St. Patrick's day it was 68 degrees....a fine day that was. But this is just...crap.

Enough already! I like the changing of the seasons as much as the next guy. But not all in one week! I don't want it to snow now that all the daffodils ready to bloom! The cherry tree has buds on it and the neighbors tree is starting to flower.

A few years ago we had a fluke snowstorm on Easter. We were going to go to my parents house in Toledo for Sunday church and dinner. I called my parents to let them know I might be a tad late in my arrival as the weather was so bad. They thought I was playing an Aprils Fools joke as the weather in their neck of the woods was as perfect as could be. So I took photos to prove it. They were amazed. We pulled up in their driveway with a pile of snow still on the roof of my was 60 there and 30 in Cleveland. Go figure.
I read that the amount of sunlight that enters through your eyes can directly effect your health in a positive fashion. It can raise your spirits and has other healthy side effects like improved digestion and stronger bones. A study said that if you get just 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight per day that your body will get enough natural Vitamin D to help detoxify your body.

And the barometric pressure? All I can tell you is that I've had a sinus headache all day...and yesterday I didn't. I'm crabby, my dogs are crabby...only the fish out in the pond are loving this weather. I'm blaming it all on the weather.

Calgon take me away.....please.

I hope it won't snow this Easter. But it looks like it might. Another Sunday morning with all the little girls in their spring dresses, covered up with heavy sweaters and coats. I actually have a vacation planned at the tail end of the month. Poor planning on my part. I'm sure that as soon as I leave town the weather will be perfect. It'll be a nice little lamb. Hopefully the lion won't follow me out of town. But knowing my luck as of late....I'm sure it will. It's like when I wash my rains. So if I leave for vacation, I'm sure it'll get absolutely gorgeous here at home. For all those staying in town? In advance let me say, "Your welcome...."

UPDATE: Monday April 6th.
The weather man was close, but not quite spot on. 33% accuracy. He said it was to rain all weekend and then snow on Monday. It IS snowing he was right about that. But the rain? Nothing. Nada. It was bright and sunny but cold as hell. AND we had 30-40m mph wind most of the weekend. Yikes. I've gotta check property down south somewhere.....