Neon Light Adventures Pt. I

I wrote a bit about our trip to Nashville in an earlier post.  Here’s more of a tourist’s guide… akin to sitting with Great Uncle So and So while he projects his pictures of his latest vacation onto the wall.

Reminds me of the one time when, at 12 years old, I walked in on my great uncle scrolling through pictures of his kids, who were all grown up and gone.  I scarce wanted to disrupt… it was such a sentimental moment.  I finally got brave enough to quietly ask, “which one of your children is that?” as he scrolled through a roll of pictures featuring an adorable newborn.

“Hell if I know, they all look the same…” he said and kept scrolling.  It was a defining moment in my life.  I think Uncle Floyd taught me more about men in that moment than I’d learned my entire life up to that point.


Nashville was a truly memorable city.  It’s really growing rapidly right now, and I can see why.  The city is so friendly and welcoming.  San Francisco had a beauty and charm all it’s own, but it really lacked the friendly atmosphere Nashville had.  I guess you could say that we felt right at home in Nashville -I think everyone there did.

The resort and convention center we stayed at was incredible.  I’ve never seen anything like it!  There were gardens, restaurants, rooms, shops, a spa, a car rental!  There was even a Dr’s office a stone’s throw from the motel rooms.  Across the street was a restaurant serving all kinds of wildlife and we could make a 5 minute brisk walk to The Grand Ole Opry (and nearby mall).  It was really fun!  It was a bit cut off from the heart of Nashville, but I rented a car one day and we made great use of it.  I went to Loretta Lynn’s Ranch while Danny was in training (which means I can die and feel okay about it) and then we ate dinner at The Loveless Cafe… the best southern food I’ve ever had!  Even the catfish tasted like dessert.

Danny enjoyed his training, and I enjoyed curling my hair everyday.  I felt like a normal person!  Visiting The Country Music Hall of Fame was interesting, but not as much fun solo.  I love music, and Danny does as well -I only wish he could have been there with me.  That said, I was more than okay flying solo at Loretta’s Ranch… because I nerded out big time, and I didn’t really want anyone I knew in my personal life seeing it.


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The gardens inside the resort are breathtaking.  The resort has it’s own map because you get so lost!20160829_114906 20160829_161150 20160829_161159

Can you believe this is all indoors?  I just kept taking pictures!  I couldn’t stop.  The picture below really looks like it is outside, but it isn’t.  Incredible!


Monday night, we took an Uber downtown to check out the Johnny Cash museum.  It was a real highlight of our trip.  It was so well organized and presented -it was inspiring!  It wasn’t too big or overwhelming.
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There’s garden pictures thrown in the middle of all of my pictures.  I make no apologies.


Here’s Danny with some fried pickles.  We were on the second floor of a bar downtown.  They had one band playing downstairs and one upstairs.  It was less crowded upstairs, and the balcony opened up so we could see the lights of downtown.  We could even see the CMT building, and I was pretty excited about that.  I used to watch that channel for hours as a kid.  Crystal Gayle was my idol. 20160829_210914 20160830_094927 20160830_094932

Here’s a few shops -some of my favorites!  Below them is a beautiful river with tour boats.
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Tuesday night, I fulfilled a dream!  We went to The Grand Ole Opry!  Josh Turner, Scotty McCreery, Craig Morgan, Dustin Lynch, Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels!  It was a stellar line up!
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Before the concert started, they honored all military and law enforcement.  Danny stood up and I was so proud of him.20160830_184156 20160830_194304 20160830_204134 20160830_211214 20160830_211322 20160830_212513

I cried while Scotty Mcreery sang, “Five More Minutes.”  And I sang along with all of Craig Morgan’s songs and wondered how his wife was doing since they lost their son.  Danny has been itching to see Josh Turner in concert for years, so it was really amazing how it all played out for us.  For the last song, Charlie Daniels brought out, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and the entire crowd was on their feet!  It was the best -just the best!  We really lucked out with a great line-up on a Tuesday night.

Danny and I walked back to the resort with an extra bounce in our step and grabbed a root beer float on our way back to bed.  This root beer is the best I’ve ever had!
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We wanted to tour backstage, but tickets were sold out for Tuesday night.  I’m glad they were!  We were able to tour backstage the next day and we had the place almost to ourselves (we had to share with one other couple).  Those pictures are really fun to revisit, so I’ll save them for my next post save two:20160831_175807 20160831_180652

Wednesday morning, I took another Uber downtown and spent a few hours in The Country Music Hall of Fame.  Like I said, it wasn’t the most fun place to be alone.  I really wanted to share it with someone who would appreciate it like I did: the history, the quotes, the walls covered in records!20160831_135347 20160831_142431 20160831_142721

Elvis’ Caddy came with a tiny (but also huge and boxy) television.


They also have Elvis’ gold piano.

20160831_151021All of the outfits from the different artists were fun to see. Most of them were fancy and decked out -or gaudy (I’m lookin’ at you, Shania), but King George kept it classy and casual.

And putting them all to shame, Patsy made her own!



We could have left the kids’ room alone -because it is, after all, spook alley season. We sat together Monday night and went over our week. We penciled in meetings, volunteering at the school, piano lessons, scouts… and then we penciled in, “clean kids’ room” on Friday. We stuck to our guns, I’m proud to say.
As I picked them up from school, I asked them “What would you like as a reward for cleaning your room today? It’s going to be a big job, so is there a special treat you’d like? A movie you want to rent?”
They were all in agreement, “TACO BELL!”

My kids are so weird and so easy to please.

The room cleaning was a true job. At one point, Trenton wasn’t visible under his bed, but stuff was flying out in every direction.
“Found my scout book!” (lost after only having it one little week, I might add)
Leggos, papers, cars, kitchen toys blocks, you-name-its… everything was flying out from under those bunk beds. He came out sweaty and grinning, “I needa drink.”
Alice lost motivation really fast, but could quickly be persuaded to clean with one question, “Do you want Taco Bell?”
And Lacy was hard at work -putting equal amounts of effort in cleaning and arguing with her folks about WHY it is important to keep everything.
Danny and I kept a large trash bag in motion between the two of us, and I will say that WE CONQUERED.

It took 3 hours.
And the living room which was clean before the room cleaning began is no longer clean.
Thus it ever was.


Also, Alice has had that outfit (pants with holes in their knees and a swimming suit top size 24 months) on for 4 days.  Prior to that, she changed her clothes 4 times a day.  Danny -the person who does most of the laundry in our house -got frustrated with this and said, “Alice.  Stop changing your clothes.”

Last night, Danny had had enough.  We were going out to A NICE PLACE for dinner and needed to dress appropriately.  He pulled out a fresh, clean pair of leggings (Alice calls them “easy pants”) and a new yellow shirt.

“Alice, let’s change for Taco Bell.”


“But these clothes are so nice and clean…”

“These clothes are so good!”

“Alice, come here.  We’re changing you out of those clothes.”


At this point, I mouthed, “I’m on her side” and Danny threw the leggings at yellow shirt at me.  Currently, Alice is wearing the same outfit.  You asked her not to change, you’ll get it.


We found this doll while cleaning.  That’s toothpaste on her head and a spike coming out of her head.  I wasn’t kidding about the spook alley stuff, friends.  And yes, that doll is now gone.  Mommy drove her to the farm.  She’ll be happy there with all the other… dolls.




You know that old anecdote about kids climbing the curtains? I think it probably came about because one of Trent’s ancestors did it so much it became a thing.



They were so excited with their spoils.  Soft tacos! Hard tacos! Burritos!  Mom didn’t have to cook!  Incidentally, Mom didn’t eat either…


After The Bell, Danny stopped off at the grocery store and bought ice cream bars.  He had to take Alice in with him because from where she sat in the car, she could see the taxi.  Incidentally, Mom did eat ice cream bars for dinner.20161014_204349

A Book and a Flarpy Rose: Episode 1

Folks and Friends!

Today I debut my newest baby: a podcast! A few months ago, I felt compelled/prompted to research podcast shtuff. I figured it was because the non-profit I work for might benefit from podcasting, but a few days ago, Heavenly Father let me know that I should be making my own.

Let’s see what He has in mind!

Today’s episode is about a book I read -a book I won’t tell you the name of because you might not listen to the podcast if I do, suffice to say it is clean.
And there were no vampires.
Or shades of grey.

I also toss in a story that takes place on the muggy, neon streets of downtown Nashville.

Secret Ingredients

Our story today starts almost a year ago -that time of year when grocery stores put things like canned cranberry on sale and offer free turkeys if you’ll spend a Benjamin or two with them. A friend of mine who hates turkey spent a Benjamin and gave her “free” turkey to me because she lives by me and sees all of the children running in and out of the trailer.
She’s intuitive.

I’ve held onto The Gift Turkey. It has lived (bad usage of the word “lived,” I’m afraid) in my freezer, waiting to come forth in “such a time as this” when we are
1) Out of food, even potatoes, because kids eat in a mind-boggling way: “revolving door” style.  I can’t keep up physically, financially or emotionally (“The dishes,” I tell my therapist, “I’m grateful, I try to be… but they just keep coming, and I’m not sure but I think I’m invisible and my purpose in life is to be the person DOING the stuff that the kids will UNDO… and I can’t… I just can’t…” -I’m 100% FOR paying someone to listen to this because they always says things like, “Alicia, your kids can do the dishes.” AH! Answers. Answers I can’t find when I’m in the trenches because I’m incredibly tired. She’s like Vanilla Ice -if you got a problem, yo she’ll solve it.)
2) Needing freezer space because our beef was slaughtered and waiting for a forever home. 20161004_100604 Picking up that meat from the butcher was so glorious. I felt like “The Taylor” from Fiddler on the Roof, “Wonder of Wonders, Miracle of Miracles!”

The Gift Turkey was removed from the freezer and put into the fridge. It would fill the gap between the end of our paycheck and moment the beef arrived. It was blessed. I borrowed a turkey roaster from my Mom, and I felt confident. I’ve cooked a turkey once, so how different could it be?

I feel like the word “foreboding” would be appropriate at this point because I remember having the same feeling when my second child was born. Oh, how quickly I learned.

As the turkey thawed (so are the days of our lives…), I found out that a friend of mine had been spending her days at the hospital -her son had been admitted with pneumonia. They were headed home the morning I was roasting The Gift Turkey, so I offered them half of it.
I’m a big supporter of anonymous service, but for the story to make sense, you need to understand that I was giving some of this turkey away. It had to be delicious and cooked well. IT HAD TO BE.

I took the neck out of the bird, no fuss. But where was the rest of the innards? The ones that made me want to puke as a kid? The package said they were under the neck? Nope.
Maybe they forgot. It didn’t matter. I mean, it felt a little weird that The Gift Turkey was heartless, but whatever.
I wasn’t about to kick a Gift Turkey in the… well, if it had a mouth…

So I rinsed it and salted it and found all of the cuts in my hands (fun!), and then I slathered the whole bird in a really mouth-watering mixture of melted butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and chopped, fresh herbs. I stuffed her with all manner of citrus and herbs and garlic and onions!
When I turned to put it in the roaster, I found it NOT hot or even heating up. Google helped me with some very natural alternatives, like using an oven and a cake pan (novel!). But just as I was figuring out the best pan to use, I noticed that the roaster had taken pity and kicked on.
I put the turkey in it, put the lid on and then took a shower.
Because it was noon.

After washing off and eating lunch, I was a little bewildered that my house wasn’t filling with the aroma of roasting turkey… I checked on it only to find that the roaster had caused the breaker to flip! Not only was the turkey NOT COOKING but the melted butter was now UNMELTED.

I could flip the breaker, and I WOULD HAVE IF I HAD KNOWN WHICH ONE AND HOW AND EVEN WHERE. Usually the breakers flip when Danny has too much manly stuff on, so he flips them back and whatever! things work again!
But this?!

I went to the dining area, placed the cold roaster on a chair and plugged the turkey back in. If there’s one thing I really hate, it is playing chicken with salmonella. (Did you see what I did there?)

Forty five minutes later, the roaster oven was COLDER than it was before. Apparently the breaker flip was worse than originally thought. Time was of the essence, and suddenly everything I’m saying sounds like it was taken from an episode of E.R.

I cleared off my nightstand at the other end of the house and plugged the turkey in.
An hour later, it was sizzling.
TOO much. Because -I suddenly remembered -there’s supposed to be a RACK in the insert pan, and there was no rack. I’m resourceful and creative, so I wadded up tinfoil and placed it under the bird in a few places to raise it up. As I did so, the innards fell out the OTHER end of the turkey. The FRONT end.

When did they start putting them there, people?

No matter. What counted is that I FOUND THEM AND REMOVED THEM.

At this point, I felt like a lost/rejected re-run of The Dick van Dyke show. Three hours later, I had no idea what I was going to find in the roaster. I was ready to make a pizza run, if necessary.
But do you know what I found?
A beautiful, plump, golden Gift Turkey. I set the roaster lid down and sang out.
“Bless your beautiful hide!”

It was moist and luscious with hints of lemon, thyme and rosemary. Savory, delicious! Did it compare to the smoked turkeys my Dad makes every year for Thanksgiving? No. But was it dry? No! Was it raw? No! It was edible and I’m pretty sure I heard it begging to be devoured!
After my friend had eaten some, she texted me to tell me she liked it and ask what I did to it.
Folks, what’s the short answer? How do I fit it into text form?
“I pushed the bounds of bacterial poisoning and sang show tunes at it.”

But you know, and I know, why the turkey really tasted so good.
It was The Gift Turkey -given to me in love and given by me with love. That blessed bird was sanctified by God to turn out and taste okay. Surely, if it was up to me, that bird would burn. or never cook. or worse: poison us all.
Thank heavens for Gift Turkeys and secret ingredients (I’m lookin’ at you, Love. And Gershwin, natch).

And here I must put in a plug for The Art of Manliness *dot* com. That site is where I learned how to carve a turkey. And in case you’re interested, it will teach you how to wrestle an alligator. It’s like an online cub scout manual for grown-ups.