Not too long ago I saw a story linked through Facebook from one of the Wyoming pages I follow about Buford, which is well-known throughout Wyoming and beyond for being the smallest town in the U.S. (population 1). It's about halfway between Cheyenne and Laramie; I've always been kind of in awe of it ever since the first fall we lived in Wyoming back in 2000 and the wind was clocked at just over 100 mph one day in October. In some places that's called a hurricane, but in Wyoming it's just... really windy. The owner and sole resident put the town up for auction in 2011 and someone from Vietnam of all places bought it—but instead of immediately reopening under new management, it was boarded up for a long time. I stopped to get gas and a drink on the way back from UT in March and it was still closed down. Gah.
In September, Buford reopened with a slightly new name: PhinDeli Town Buford. It's an interesting story, which you can read here. It's one of those stories that is almost too weird to be believed, but very touching—especially the part about how the former owner Don Sammons, a Vietnam war veteran, now has an entirely different relationship with the country due to this unexpected new development in his life. That kind of story is always among my favorite kind because it serves as a reminder that you just never know how things will turn out.
So now Buford is the smallest town, a restored gas station/convenience stop, and a coffee shop/sole physical presence for PhinDeli coffee, which was the whole point of why the new owner Nguyen Dinh Pham purchased it in the first place. Of course I had to buy some from Amazon, the only other place it's currently available.
I ordered a 7 oz. box of the Espresso whole bean variety recently as an add-on item from Amazon; it's a little expensive ($8.25) but still waaaaay cheaper than if we had a Starbucks habit, as it will last the two of us more than a week. I have the coffee maker set to turn on at 5:53 am (oddly specific) and when I dragged myself out of bed this morning at 5:55 am (terribly unfortunate) the kitchen definitely smelled better than it normally does. Neither of us drinks black coffee as we like to ruin it (well, coffee purists would say we're ruining it) with flavored creamer, but even underneath the creamer I could tell it was very good. I am happy to occasionally add on our support of this Wyoming/Vietnam connection that is so peculiar but also pretty brave. Can you even imagine the leap of faith it would take to buy a town in a foreign country where sometimes the wind blows at 100 mph? Right.
So back at open house in August (seriously, it still makes me shake my head that the girls started school on August 8) Bridget's teacher announced to the parents in attendance that we needed to be ready for the First Grade 1950s Day in October. As we had already spent enough on school supplies and uniforms to practically put someone through a semester of college, I decided I would NOT be buying a 1950s outfit but would make one myself. And then I promptly didn't do that until a week before she needed it. Unless you count the butterfly wings, I have never made anything that someone is supposed to wear. And I certainly have never made anything that someone has to wear that is intended to cover up her lower half. No pressure or anything.
Armed with Pinterest and resolve, I read through lots of tutorials and settled upon this one, which is based on another one, but looked relatively doable. I still had to have Matt double-check my work with some of the pattern stuff (when you read the tutorial you will wonder exactly how slow I really am, to which I will say: you have no idea when it comes to pattern stuff). Really, though, it's a pretty easy thing to do in hindsight. The whole idea revolves around having a cheap-to-make skirt with no seams. It was originally created by Juli Lynne Charlot in 1947 for a Christmas party—felt was the only material big enough to cut a skirt with no seams—and had Christmas appliqués on it. She later created a dog-themed skirt, and the rest is 1950s history. My mama had a poodle skirt (I wore it once for a costume party in middle school, I think) as did Matt's aunts Dianne and Judy. Bridget thought this was all very cool.
She picked out the poodle appliqué at Hobby Lobby; I think the solid black ones are cooler, but I am a.) not 6.5 and b.) not the one who would be wearing it. The tutorial I followed said to iron the appliqué on according to package directions, but Bridget immediately ripped into it after we bought it (about five days before I made the skirt) so the package directions were missing when I needed them. I just looked it up generally online. If you use felt for something like this, though, be careful to use a thin cotton cloth in between or else the felt will melt a little.
The tutorial I followed also said to "sew on the ribbon or sequin rope" which wasn't as much direction as I would have liked. However, I came up with a good way to do it:
I pinned the ribbon down, taking care to turn it over and pin down to create the loops. Then I sewed over it on either edge; this not only kept it from flapping up on either side, but it made the loops flat. I added a little pre-made black binding strip to the bottom of the skirt too; I don't know how historically accurate that is, but it's one of the few skills I possess when it comes to sewing so I decided to add it. I did not pin the binding strip, because I am impatient—I just sewed a little at a time. It was way faster to do it that way. Even when you factor in the second trip to Shreveport to buy another package of binding tape to finish the last six inches.
I also made a little black scarf of my own creation (read: I couldn't find something premade that would work). The tutorial I followed mentioned using tulle, but I wanted it to look a little more substantial; I ended up hacking up a solid black bandana from Hobby Lobby into one longer strip, then finishing the sides by hemming (or what I imagine hemming to be, as I don't really know how to hem). The first one I made looked a little too bolo-tie for my taste, so I hacked up some more of the bandana and made a slightly wider one. It looks great from a slight distance, and very scary up close. Bridget couldn't have cared less!
We ran a dress rehearsal on Thursday night so Matt could see how it all went together since I would be long gone on an over-the-road bus full of middle schoolers headed for Houston by the time Bee woke up on Friday, and he would be responsible for making sure all pieces were in place. She forgot to wear the sunglasses (picked up years ago in Colorado Springs at this event, ha!) but I'm not sure that would have been all that great an idea during the actual school day anyway. They were good for some post-50s Day photos, at least!
1. I cannot seem to time a Ten on Tuesday with an actual Tuesday to save my life these days.
2. I am working on about 80 million disparate projects all at once: photo editing, LA business research so I can revive my photography business, trying to figure out how to make Bridget a poodle skirt for her 50s Day on October 18, overseeing Maddie's Egyptian necklace made out of pasta (it's a long story—but I swear she is going to learn something while she makes it even if her teacher isn't making her), finishing up a few unfinished layouts for my class, getting ready to take a short class myself on Skillshare, making another registration video for BPC and listening to 8000 stock Christmas songs until I get the perfect one, trying to stay three steps ahead on the piano lesson teaching, making some projects for Cosmo Cricket, etc. etc. etc. My poor little notebook looks like a crazy person owns it. Oh wait.
3. Are glockenspiels too hipster? I don't know. My top two favorite stock Christmas songs in the running for the video have glockenspiels in them. I googled this question and came up with a funny picture I cannot share here. I might just forge ahead anyway, since it is cut with other instruments.
4. Who googles that, anyway? Someone with a crazy notebook, is who.
5. It's the sixth annual Scott Kelby Photo Walk this weekend! You should sign up. It'll be fun.
6. It has been so humid in the mornings with such a high dew point that I a.) actually read an article about dew point and b.) imagine myself running in a terrarium in the mornings. A neighborhood-sized one, but a terrarium all the same.
7. I finally got this done last week:
Nana and Papa will be here next week—there is nothing like company-on-the-way to light a fire on the rest of the undone stuff around here! I am thinking of adding this to my sorely neglected 52 Projects list, even though we did it once before. But this time I did it by myself! Only three stray nail holes thankyouverymuch.
8. Another evil thing to add to the list of evil things lurking in our centipede grass: mushrooms. More mushroom shapes/colors/varieties than I have ever seen. There are above-grass level mushrooms and underneath-grass level mushrooms. Matt is the best and most wonderful husband ever for not making me mow (a job we've always shared)(that was for his benefit).
9. The Red River Revel is coming up here, and we're excited to check it out (something big to do!). Arrested Development will be performing on one of the stages! I love Arrested Development! Matt isn't sure we're the target demographic for that show here. Whatevs. Maddie and Gracie will also be performing on one of the stages with their gymnastics team, which means they're listed on the same peformance page as Arrested Development. Tee hee.
10. It's MLB playoffs time. We are most excited. Go Cleveland!!! There is nothing redeeming about Florida baseball teams. (Sorry Florida baseball fans)(OK not really)
Matt and I both love tennis. Neither of us has ever played formally, but we have played a lot—though not a lot in recent years—and so we went ahead and signed Gracie and Bridget up for the short six-week long tennis intro at their elementary school, sponsored by the Bossier Tennis Center. We can't really fit in other sports for real because of gymnastics, but we also hate for gymnastics to be the only sport they know; the length and timing of this worked out. Plus, we are of the belief that tennis is just a good thing to know how to do. Like driving a stick shift. You just never know when it'll come in handy.
The big feature event was the jamboree play day, held at the Bossier Tennis Center this weekend. There must be a LOT of tennis going on in this town because I have never seen such a facility anywhere. The other part of the class has been held in the gym after school, and it was way more fun to be on actual courts.
As you might guess, Bee is a very dramatic, gymnastic kind of tennis player.
She also LOVES SERENA WILLIAMS. She watched the U.S. Open with great intensity a few weeks ago, and put her observations to good use:
Gracie is very, very athletic no matter what the sport...
....and to no one's surprise, she managed to operate the big fun tennis ball picker-upper while all the other kids in her group had baskets. Because if there's one thing we know about Gracie: she's always first, and she always holds the treat. It's uncanny.
It was a fun event, and I wish we had more hours and money to sign them up for lessons. We might get them rackets for now and just find some free courts to play on once in a while. No sport has surpassed gymnastics yet for any of them, no matter how fun it might be.
At the conclusion of the jamboree, there was a face painter. We had to wait A Very Long Time for said face painter; Matt and Maddie drove separately, so they missed the wait. But in the end, it was probably worth it:
[Ed. note: Gracie did not get shorted on paint, she actually requested just a small portion because she knows herself well enough to know that a face full of paint on a blistering hot and humid day after playing tennis might cause her to rip her face off within 2.9 seconds. Smart girl.]
Though Ellie is usually very good about sleeping through the night without needing to go outside, she occasionally wakes me up at some ridiculous hour to go out. (The worst is when she does this at 5:35 A.M., 15 minutes before I get up with the middle schooler). Last night she politely woke me up at 3 A.M., and I stumbled to the back door to let her out.
A few minutes later I opened the door to let her back in, except for that she wasn't there. Annoyed because this isn't our drill, I opened the door a little wider to look out and saw her: perfectly posed like a good bird hunting dog in the middle of the yard, tail straight back, one paw up, locked in and staring at something out of my field of vision. This is not a pose I have ever seen this dog assume. I hiss-pered for her to come in, and she ignored me. I hiss-pered again, she ignored me again. I stepped outside (barefoot) to make sure she knew I was standing there, annoyed, when she turned her head slightly and looked at me with the same kind of look that one might have if they're trying to direct your attention somewhere with only their eyes—like, "I don't want to alarm you but if you look slowly to your left there is a cottonmouth snake ready to bite" or similar. Now she is just being crazy, so I hiss-per one more time.
And then: she takes off at a million Kelpie miles per hour, snarling her most junkyard dog snarl, at the fence. At this point I've nearly died of fright, because WHAT. IS. IN. MY. YARD. at 3 A.M.? Nothing that I care to know about, that's for sure. And then I see it: perched on the 1/4" fence top is an opossum, with it's scary mouth and beady eyes frozen into open hissing position, hissing at my snarling, grumbling, junkyard dog.
It is 3 A.M. I am barefoot. Opossums are the thugs of the night, so notorious they get to drop a letter and be possums, because that is way more menacing. It is 3 A.M. and all I can think is that this hissing thing is going jump down and give my dog rabies in one fell swoop. I hiss-per at double-volume to tell Ellie to Get In The House Now and all that does is wake up the dogs who sleep outside (all the dogs must sleep outside around us, because suddenly there are four dogs barking at our little Kelpie-Possum spectacle).
You might wonder: why don't I just run over and pick my sweet dog up and run in the house and slam the door? After the run-in with the possum in Virginia, it is my life's goal to avoid run-ins with possums. And I don't really like to manhandle menacing junkyard dogs, either, which is exactly what Ellie resembled at this point. Because I am barefoot, I am only able to try and solve this increasingly loud and scary run-in from the little patio, and it doesn't occur to me to go inside and put shoes on because a.) 3 A.M. and b.) the moment I am not watching will be the moment the rabies bite happens, and then I won't be able to answer questions properly at the vet. NO ONE goes in our backyard barefoot even in the daytime, because we are a-scared of what lurks in the centipede grass; it is puffy and mossy and evil things like fireants and giant jumping spiders and toads live in it. I am not making this up.
At this point, I am actually panicking. I flail my arms and legs trying to get Ellie's attention, which is surprisingly completely ineffective. Then I am struck by inspiration: I will THROW something at it! Yes. This will work. I am good at throwing things. I open up the deck box and survey my options: a spray can of chalkboard paint for a project Maddie is working on, some plant food, three hula hoops, some wiffleballs, a multitude of jump ropes, and a few other things I cannot see because it is darker than dark outside. I grab a jump rope and heave it across the yard.
I challenge you to heave a jump rope across your yard and see how ridiculous it makes you feel. Because even if you are Omar Vizquel, it is not possible to hit a possum with a jump rope from any distance greater than five feet away.
I go for the wiffle balls next, now hiss-pering at Ellie like an utterly deranged person to get inside and also SHUT IT because now we're just building the neighborhoods' case for a noise disturbance when someone calls the police. Wiffleballs #1 and #2: fail. Throwing things is not going to work.
Luckily, at this point Ellie suddenly snaps out of her absolute crazy-pants junkyard dog schtick and bolts to the back door where we slam it and run to the bedroom, both of us panting and completely wired. Only at this point as I try to go back to sleep do I consider what has just transpired, and begin to get a case of the crazy giggles (a close cousin to this reaction, no doubt).
Feeling rested this morning, definitely.
Congratulations to commenters #9 and #5, who happen to be....
....Lisa and Nadine. You've won a spot in Design Challenges which begins September 26. Thanks for playing along!
1. It's going to RAIN tomorrow, ya'll. I mean, it's not like the Dillows have been keeping track of the days in the mid-high 90s since they got to Louisiana (all of them) like prisoners who tally their time on the cellblock wall or anything... if that were true, we'd know that today is Day #80. But oh, to have some different weather... of course, Maddie believed for a long time when she was little that the purpose of umbrellas was to keep oneself warm. We aren't really good at rain preparedness, so tomorrow might be a bit of a shocker.
2. Speaking of which: it is heartbreaking to watch the news from Colorado, especially as we've been yearning for some rain to break the heat wave here. We are very much attached to the Front Range, and the devastation is hard to witness. I had family that lived in Loveland during the Big Thompson Canyon Flooding in 1976, and I have vivid memories of looking at a book about that flood at my Grandma Watson's house (she kept it in the blue room) when I was little. If you want to help with flood relief, here is a good place to start.
3. If you say "the blue room" everyone in my family knows which room I'm talking about. It was the room with the air conditioner and all my grandma's fancy dance dresses.
4. Gymnastics is going very, very well here. Pictured: Bridget with an ICEE post-gym on Monday.
5. Matt and I are very excited to receive our Avett Brothers tickets for their Nov 9 performance TEN MINUTES FROM OUR HOUSE. I ordered the tickets vs. printing them myself, because concert tickets are important. Confession: I first heard the announcement on our local NPR affiliate, which I almost missed because they pronounced "Avett" incorrectly. In the last week we heard it pronounced incorrectly four different ways by multiple radio people, and yesterday I broke down and politely emailed the station to let them know that it's an emphasis on the long "A." Sigh.
6. I had to replace my nearly 20 year old/second favorite pair of Fiskars scissors (what, not everyone rank orders their scissors?) because one half of them went missing in the move. I have always believed these scissors were defective, and came apart because their mechanism wasn't working correctly, but this was also the same thing that made me love them so much: you'd be surprised how useful this feature is. Matt pointed out last week that they are designed to do this. I had no idea.
I mean, now that I see it and know this, it is very clear to me. Perhaps this should be filed in the category of "sometimes it's best not to say things out loud."
7. Matt and I took a whirlwind trip to Natchitoches on one of his use-or-lose leave days last week (which we think is pronounced Nack-a-tish but keep not quite catching it when people tell us). It was kind of a long drive for a school day adventure, and we had to come back early because leave is sometimes pronounced "schmeave" in the Air Force, but I still had fun. It is the town where Steel Magnolias was filmed, and there is a little star walk on one of the sidewalks. My favorite picture though: this one, which I snuck of this woman fishing while Matt was on the phone. He remembers hearing stories about his grandmother fishing with a cane pole, and cleaning up with it while everyone else was using something more advanced.
Another fact: Natchitoches is also the meat pie capital of Louisiana. I had a meat pie for lunch at Lasyone's Meat Pie Kitchen and Restaurant. I would eat meat pies all the time if only I could get away with it.
8. NPR did a "Dumpling Week" recently on Morning Edition and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the stories about dumpling-like foods like meat pies and pierogues and spring rolls and ravioli and whatnot. It is definitely one of my favorite categories of food, which is why I have always been so perplexed about Maddie's utter hatred of all foods of the world that are dumpling-like. I might have written to Morning Edition to comment on this. Heh.
9. Last weekend Gracie and Bridget went to a birthday party at a local party center for a little girl down the street that they know from the bus. This place had batting cages (!) so after the party, I turned in a few tokens so I could hit 90 pitches. After a kind of scary slow start (0-10) I immediately regained my ability to hit a fast-pitch. Gracie and Bridget could not have been more bored. But whatever. It was reaaaaaaalllly fun. Though five days later, my hands still hurt. The last time I batted for real (I am not counting the stupid slow-pitch league I played in for one summer in Montana) was 1991. Old lady.