Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Graceland Baby!!!!

Did you guys know that Elvis was a twin??? Unfortunately, his brother died at birth. That's just one of the little Elvis trivia tidbits that we learned on our trip to Graceland.

It was just a spur of the moment decision to go to Memphis after our trip to Atlanta. In fact, we thought Graceland would maybe be kinda cheesy, but it's just one of those little things that was on my "top 100 things I wanna do before I die" list. So we figured, what the heck. We were already down south, and it was only a few hours out of our way, so off we went!!!

We headed to memphis on Sunday morning, and got there around 4:00 Sunday afternoon. We were starving when we got to our hotel, so the first thing on our agenda was FOOD!!! I picked up a brochure in our room that had a picture of BB king's Blues bar, and it gave the address. So, we decided to head down to Beale street where this place was, because it said "food and live music 24 hours a day." I thought that would be great because it was Sunday, and if you live around here, you know the world shuts down after about 5:00 PM on Sundays. Apparently, that's not how they do things in Memphis. That place was hoppin'!!!

They had Beale street blocked off like a block party, and you could carry your drinks out on the streets from bar to bar. They even had street bars where you could walk up to a window and order a drink. I guess they do that every day after 4:00. I had no idea Memphis was going to be so much fun.

There was live music pouring over the street from spaekers outside nearly every bar. There were a few really cool record stores that Ryan and I browsed through, and lots of different novelty stores. We never even made it into BB King's bar, because we were so enthralled by all the bright lights and everything. We wanted to check out as much as we could in the two days we had. The first place we stopped had a live jazz band that was pretty cool. We ate some good southern cookin' there and went over to a piano bar across the street. The piano bar was awesome. There were two guys at two baby grand pianos facing eachother. They were battling eachother with lots of good ol' songs. One guy would play for awhile, and then the other guy would play, or they would play together and just try to outplay the other one. They also took requests, and could play nearly everything the audience requested....except for our request. We aksed for "Caravan" by Van Morrison, but they didn't know it. So, they played "And it Stoned me " instead. I'm always happy to hear anything by Van Morrison.

On Monday, after Graceland, we went back to Beale street to get a bite to eat before we hit the road. We picked a cajun resaurant, and oh my gosh, was it good!!!! We ate red beans and rice, jambalaya, and some gator gumbo. Yep, I have officially eaten alligator....and it was delicious!!!! I was a little leary at first, but once the smell hit me, I couldn't resist. I just tried not to think about what I was eating until I was done. Then, I was proud of myself :-)

This is a picture Ryan took of us at Rum Boogie. That's the cajun restaurant. It was also set up for live music like all the other bars aroun there, but we were there during the day, so we didn't get to hear anything that day. They had autographed guitars of nearly every guitarist I could think of besides Jerry Garcia hanging all over the ceilings in this place. I could have been there all day just looking at guitars!!! it was like a museum!!!

Sunday evening before we went to bed, we watched an Elvis movie on one of the channels that played them 24 hours a day. I have never been a huge fan of his movies, but we watched one just in spirit of why we were there...and it wasn't all that bad!!! Our hotel was all decked out in Elvis gear.....it was fun. There was a pool shaped like a guitar. Too bad it was too cold to use it!!!

Graceland was amazing. The house didn't look that big from the outside, but there are lower levels that are underground that you can't see from outside. It was actually huge inside, and we didn't even get to see the upper level. That's where Elvis' bedroom is, and they don't display that to the public out of respect. I thought that was fine.

When you first walk in, there is a room that has beautiful stained glass windows and just on the other side of the windows is a georgeous grand piano. I couldn't get a picture of the piano because people never got their bigs heads out of my way. The pictures I took are just mediocre because you are not able to use your flash, due to the light fading material and other things over time.

The dining room was beautiful. You only see a small prtion of it in the picture I got. My favorite room was the "Jungle Room." It was covered in green shag carpet....even on the ceilings!!! The furniture was all custom made and was covered in different types of animal fur. There was a chair that Lisa Marie used to play in when she was little that was round, probably close to the size of a trampoline, and also covered in fur. I couldn't get a good picture of it because it was pretty dark in there.

This picture of Pricilla and Lisa Marie was hanging in the dining room. I thought it was beautiful!!!

There were several bars throughout the house. Some of which were very ritsy, and others, just looked like something someone would have in their home around here. He also had a game room with a couple pool table that was covered from floor to ceiling in gathered material that matched all the furniture. It was pretty busy!!

One of the hallways in the lowest level was just covered ffrom one end to the other with gold and silver records. Elvis also converted his raquet ball court into a huge display of gold records. They had a few of his flashy outfits in glass cases in that room as well. The bling on that stuff could put your eyes out!!!!!

There was also a room full of old furniture that Elvis had replaced, but kept, because it was all custom made just for him. Who wouldn't want to sleep in a bed like that??? I also liked the red velvet couch!!! I'm on the hunt for some orange velvet chairs, and Elvis made me feel a little cooler about the whole thing!!! If he can do it, and it's cool, then so can I!!!!!

We also got the tour of Elvis' custom made planes. They were unbelievable. The largest of the two was named the "Lisa Marie." it had couches and recliners, much unlike the normal little seats we're all used to. There was a kitchen, two bathrooms, a bedroom, a conference room, and a couple different areas to just lounge in. The bathrooms both had 24 carat gold coating the sinks and stools, and Elvis' personal bathroom was bigger than the one in my house.

We also got to go into the Elvis Presly Automobile Museum. It had a bunch of Elvis' old vehicles. One that caught my attention was called a "Stutz." I had never heard of it, or seen anything like it. Apparently, the one Elvis bought was the first on e that was ever shipped to the United States. It was black and very sleek. It didn't turn out in the pictures I tried to get....I was disappointed!!!

This was one of many living areas in Graceland. What made this room so special is the fact that this is where Elvis spent his last morning playing the guitar and singing before he passed away. He sang "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain" and "Unchained Melody." The room felt very cozy and homey.

Elvis burial site is in the area of Graceland called the meditation garden. He is buried there with his parents and his twin brother.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving having just passed, we have all been a little more aware of the things we are thankful for. I try to be thankful for something very day. It helps keep me sane and helps me keep my priorities straight. Along with all the things such as my family, friends, my home, my puppies, I have one very important thing to be thankful for today.

I hadn't mentioned this to anyone in the family, just because I didn't want anyone to worry. I felt like it would be better if I could just tell you all good news instead of telling you about the possobility of bad news, if that were the case. So before I get into this further, I'll say now that there is nothing to worry about, and everything is fine.

About a week or so ago, I found a lump in my left breast. It was tender to touch, and obviously abnormal. Not very big, but definately abnormal. It was hard to get the ball rolling with our vacation scheduled, and the holiday coming up, but the mammography girls managed to squeeze me in right before we left last week. I tried my best not to worry myself to death while we were on our trip, but I couldn't get the thought out of my head that this may be the last trip we'd be going on for awhile. When these things happen, your mind runs wild. I had it all planned out how I would manage my life and my relationship if and when I had to start being treated for cancer. Yeah, that's how I was thinking for a good majority of the trip. In fact, I even thought about what I would like to have in my obituary if necessary......I'm sorry, I know that sounds so pessamistic, but that's honestly what was going on in my mind.

When we got back on Tuesday, the radiologist who had looked at my mammo was concerned because it was abnormal and recommended that I have a breast ultrasound. Once again, I couldn't get in right away due to time restrictions on the techs, and my work schedule, so we finally did the ultrasound today. The lump is definately just a cyst, but it has a little calcification around it. That's what showed up abnormal on the mammo. It is not considered a simple cyst since it is calcified, but it's a cyst nonetheless. I don't care what kind of cyst it is, as long as it's not malignant. Basically, all this means for me now is that I have to have a follow up mammo in 6 months, and every six months until I'm 35. If nothing changes between now and then, I will get one once a year just like everyone else. If the cyst changes, or becomes larger or more tender, they may go in and drain it, which is a pretty common procedure. If it doesn't change or bother me, we do nothing.

So today, I am thankful that my prayers were answered, and I know the family all prays for eachother all the time, and even if you didn't know that's what you were praying for, God knew. He has answered this family's prayers more than once, and I feel very fortunate to be part of that equation.

Atlanta, GA

Holy cow....what a weekend!!!! I can't believe it's Friday again already. We were on the road to Atlanta this time last week. And oh my , did we have fun!!!!!

We got lucky enough to get involved in a pretty special occasion with the band we follow, Ekoostik Hookah. As some of you may remember, last year at about this time, I was freaking out because the lead singer had left the band. Fortunaltely for all us "Hookah heads," the original lead singer came back. His name is John Mullins, and he had been gone from the band since about 1994. What they did this weekend was re-record their very first album that included John, and they recorded a new CD and filmed for a DVD. It was all done at Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta, GA. I wasn't familiar with this place, butI was familiar with a lot of the artist that have recorded there. There were several gold records on the walls from artists that had recorded there such as Elton John, Usher, Outkast, Eric Clapton, and several others.

The whole atmosphere there was awesome. There was a lot of excitement in the air. And the studio was georgeous. We had free food and drinks all night both Friday and Saturday, and Ryan and I got involved in interviewing the band for the DVD. I have no idea if they will use any of the stuff that we asked, but it will be cool if they do!!!

We got to see lots of friends from Ohio and Indy that we only see at these shows. It's always great to catch up with the friends we don't see often enough. We also got to watch the Ohio State vs. Michigan game with the band on Saturday. They had reserved a theater room in the Hilton where we stayed so we could all watch the game together. Since most of these folks are from Ohio, it got pretty crazy in there because this was such a big game. Hookah even played the Ohio State fight song at the beginning of the show Saturday because they won...it was kinda funny.

Anyway, I won't bore you with too many pictures of the band....they would proably be the same to you guys as all the rest, but I'll post a few of us and our friends................

This is a picture of the room we all hung out in together before the shows both nights. This just shows a tiny corner of the room. We managed to squeeze all 150 people in there at one point in time.

This is another part of the "hang out room" It's also the couch where the guys sat while we interviewed them.

Here's our friend Keegan and his girlfriend, whose name I forget, and my sweet baby Ryan!!!

There's the cutest couple at the show!!!!!!

These are our friends Angie and Kim. Never a dull moment with these girls!!!!

This is Steph, Jenni and Keegan's girlfriend....still don't remember her name :-)

On Sunday, we left Atlanta and headed to Memphis TN where we went to Graceland. I've got lots of pictures from that part of the trip, but not enough time at the moment. That will have to be another blog....................

Tuesday, November 14, 2006



Monday, November 13, 2006

Fun in St Louis!!!

Well, I have no pictures to share yet because I forgot to buy a battery for my camera.....dang it!!! Hopefully some friends will e-mail me some pictures I'll be able to share later!!

Anyway, Ryan, our friend Brook, and I all took a trip to St Louis this past weekend for a surprise party for our friend Jeff. Jeff's 30th birthday is December 23rd, so he was clueless that his wife, Karen, was throwing him a party at all. That always makes it fun when the surprise works out!!

Jeff lived in Indiana for a few years when he was in high school, and that's how he and Ryan know eachother. He and his wife have become very good friends of mine also since Ryan introduced us a couple years ago. Karen works in an art studio as a glass blower, so she had the party in an art studio. It was awesome!! She got Jeff there by telling him they were just going to see a display of someone that she works with. Needless to say, he was totally shocked when he saw a bunch of hoosiers pouring out from behind a wall!!! (By the way, NEVER admit to being a "Hoosier" in St Loius......it's their term for dumbass)

Karen did such a great job with everything. She had posted pictures of Jeff all over the walls of the studio from the time he was a baby up until recently. Ryan was in a ton of them...it was hilarious. She also had some fancy appetizers, and free beer and wine. You all know how I feel about wine!!!! There was music, and a small fire on the porch of the studio with a huge sculpture around it, and it was just warm enough to still enjoy the fire.

Before we had to be at the studio, we had a couple hours to burn, so we went on the Anheiser Busch brewery tour. I got to pet the beautiful Clydesdales....Holy cow...those horses are HUGE!!!! We also ate at Schlafley's where I ate a bison burger...yummy!!!

After the party, we all stayed at Jeff and Karen's house for the night. We had a blast. I got to hang out with an old friend from high school that also knows Jeff, so that was fun. (Rafael Vega...Jen, I think you probably know him) It's weird becuase he lives in Chicago now, and the only time I ever see him is in St Louis. We all hung out an listened to music and played the pinball machine Karen just bought for Jeff.....yeah, I said pinball machine. They are such fun people...you never know what they'll come up with next!!!

So, another weekend has passed, and next weekend is the big one. We've been waiting for our trip to Atlanta for months now, and it's only a few days away....I can't wait. In fact, on a spur of the moment decision, we decided to take an extra day and stop in Tennessee on the way home and go to Graceland.....I'll have a new battery for my camera by the time we take that trip for sure!!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A few words for Yellow Cat

When Yellow Cat first came around,
He never really made a sound.
He stayed mostly in our yard.
Sometimes ventured, never far.

Just a little skinny boy
Just a stray without a toy.
No food to spare, not a speck,
No owners to help protect.

Today I left and saw him there,
Laying cold with matted hair.
I hope life's better where he is now
In Kitty Heaven with lots of chow.

All the catnip he can stand,
And Pounce treats given out by hand.
Scratching posts on every street,
And cars that stop right at your feet.

Now I say goodbye to you
There's nothing else that I can do.
You were sweet, little Yellow Cat,
I hope you now get big and fat.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't expect THIS in your re-gift bag.........

My "Chicken-Head" costume was such a success, that I think I might have to keep this re-gift.

I had no idea how much joy I'd get from the chicken hat, so I'm just warning the family.....I may not be able to part with it this year. Oh, but believe me, I've got some real gems for the re-gift exchange this year :-)
.........I don't think anything will beat the picture of Roberta or Andrea's bra!!!!!

Let's take a trip back to last year's re-gift exchange................Oh the memories!!!!

I also have a few other Christmas pics...might as well share now while I'm on the subject....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hangin' out with my Ma

I'm really not looking forwward to this winter. Mom and I have been trying to get out and enjoy the days while it's still bearable. We went out to Northwest Park and took some pictures the other day. It was cold, but beautiful.

For some reason, these old tall bare trees always catch my eye. This one has a couple nests in it. It makes me wonder if the birds that lived there before have traveled to warmer places. I would if I could!!!

Doesn't my mom look happy here? It's so good to see her enjoying life.

Lovin' the fall sunsets......

There have been so many beautiful sunsets here lately. I finally saw one on an evening when I actually had my camera with me...........