Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Perils of the Pool - Vacation Ailments to Avoid

Vacation is over and I'm back at work again.  How I long for those lazy days of last week.

We were a little dubious about visiting Galveston, Texas amid reports of beach lice, shark attacks and the flesh eating virus.  So, we stayed out of the water - the ocean water that is.  We did have a few walks on the beach to collect sea shells and we did sit on the balcony of our condo and gaze out at the ocean, enjoying the sound of the waves - and the sound of the cars whizzing by on San Luis Pass behind us.  Our condo was on the beach, past the seawall.  It's a great place with a big pool, two jacuzzis and even a kiddie pool for the very young.  We spent most of our time in the jacuzzi or in the pool with a couple of forays into Galveston's Historic District.

I managed to avoid the perils of the ocean but I did not take into account the perils of the pool.
  • Ear Infection - you can call it swimmer's ear if you like but once I got home, the hurt got worse.  One expensive trip to Urgent Care revealed an infection in both ears, requiring a tiny bottle of prescription ear drops that retails for $250.  Thank you insurance.  
  • Sun Burn - Honey Bunch and I both discovered the hard way that the can of spray-on sunscreen from last year just doesn't cut it in the blazing mid-day sun.
Add to that the following, little-known conditions you can pick up at any Gulf Coast vacation destination.  Beware of these ailments, there is no known cure.  
  • Redneck-itis - Part of relaxing for me is not having to talk to people.  I just want to sit quietly and enjoy the rushing water, or read my book.  We met one young woman that was bound and determined to be our friend, whether we liked it or not.  Honey Bunch and I are too polite for our own good.  In under five minutes I knew where this woman lived, several personal details of her family life, all about her debilitating calcium deficiency, her television viewing preferences, her religious affiliation, her favorite songs, her family's plans for the next few days and where her Aunt worked.  All of this before she even told me her name.  Yep, TMI.
    It's okay though.  She was a nice girl (I say girl because she was 24-years-old) and we were able to break away after awhile.  Plus, it gave me something to complain about, which is always a bonus.
  • Redneck Noise Virus - This is probably worse than over-friendly rednecks.  This is all the loud hooting and hollering and carrying on that rednecks do when you get two or more of them together and add alcohol.  Or, sometimes no alcohol is required.  Once the sun dips below the rooftops and it starts to get pleasantly cool by the pool, the redneck teens and pre-teens begin a raucous game of Marco-Polo.  What, I ask is the age limit for hollering out, "Marco!"  I think it should be 10.  
  • Tattoo Putty Affliction - Every day at the pool was like an art show I didn't want to attend.  I can't un-see those tattoos.  Plenty of people have too many tattoos.  Tattoo Putty Affliction is worse than that.  Imagine the old commercial for silly putty.  Remember when the kid presses it on the comics page in the newspaper and the image gets on the silly putty.  Then the kid stretches the image out a little, making it look weirdly misshapen.  So, like that, only the silly putty is somebody's back or stomach and it's a leathery reddish, brown and the image isn't Dick Tracy, it's something like a dragon or a demon that used to be an angel.  Am I the only person on the planet that doesn't have tattoos?  I know I sound like an old lady, but I do not get it.  For what people spend on tattoos, they could get some really nice jewelry, which they can take off when they get tired of it.  
  • Little Kid Infestation - They gather at the steps, making it impossible to use the steps for getting in and out of the pool.  They swim into you while you are standing in your corner of the pool, minding your own business.  Worst of all, they are unaware of your presence and will jump in right next to you, splashing water all over your paperback.  (yes, I read in the pool, doesn't everybody?)  But, I suppose if I didn't want to get wet, I wouldn't be in the pool.
  • Wet Paperback Malady - Splashing aside, most of the damage came to my paperback when I dropped it into the jacuzzi my own self.  It's okay, the words were still intact.

All that aside, we had a very fun time.  Mom and Dad came and took us out for lunch, we played some board games when it got too hot to be outside and I finished reading the entire book!!  (the aforementioned paperback)  Granted, it was an old Agatha Christie novel with less than 300 pages, but still.  For me, having time to read is a precious thing.  And I would gladly trade in my working week for another week at the condo...  once my ear heals up that is.  

Wicked Awesome!

So, we went to see Wicked at the Hobby Center and it was - Ah May Zing!!  Buffy and I went with our friends Ginger and MaryAnn.  We had a blast.  My face hurt from smiling so much.

First let me say that I love the Hobby Center and their Access Team.  If anybody in your group has mobility issues, these wonderful volunteers in yellow shirts - they've got you.  They can provide a wheel chair and a volunteer to whisk you away to your seat - no problemo.  No charge either.  Without them, my arthritic knees and I would have had a tough time navigating the steps and crowds.

Anyhoo - back to Wicked.  It was truly awesome!  The production was stunning - visually a sight to behold.  The sets had a turn of the century industrial look, lots of gears and clockwork.  (Note:  I mean the turn of the Century from 1899 to 1900, not the year 2000).  The costumes were similarly Steam Punkish but with a bit of a Hunger Games Capital City vibe.  Amidst all that, the Emerald City did not miss out on the Art Deco feel of the classic Wizard of Oz movie.  All these styles combined to make the magical world of Oz come to life.

But what really brought it life was the performances.  The two leads were perfect in their roles.  Emily Koch as Elphaba has a powerful singing voice and gave an equally intense performance as everybody's favorite green witch.  She brought an inner strength to Elphaba, making her more complex than just a nervous college freshman who didn't fit in.

Glinda, or Gah-Linda with a Gah, as she kept correcting everyone, was adorable and funny but no less complex.  Expertly played by Amanda Jane Cooper, Glinda transformed from a "popular" blonde college cutie to a government official dealing with a myriad of contradictions.  She is a friend to Elphaba but also has a public persona in opposition to the "Wicked" witch.

Madam Morrible was delightfully horrible.  She looked like the original illustration in Alice in Wonderland of the Duchess.  This formidable villain was played by Wendy Worthington.  Jake Boyd played the dashing, handsome Fiyero, the subject of the main love triangle in the play.

Yes, there's a love triangle, actually two if you count Boq and Nessarose.  There's lots of other excitement, magic and flying monkeys - but the underlying theme is the unlikely friendship of these two powerful women, which grows stronger as the story unfolds.

Years ago I did read the book that this play is very loosely based on, Wicked:  The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire.  Let me just say, the Musical is better.  The plot is very different from book to play, a lot was changed.

Go see Wicked - it's in Houston through August 14.  You'll be glad you did.

PS - Prior to the start of the play, a voice will come over the sound system, advising you to turn off your phones etc.  You will also be given a verbal warning to unwrap your candy prior to the start of the performance.  I always get a kick out of these warnings.  I never realized that people unwrapping their candy during a play was such an annoyance for others.  If you were at the Alley Theatre - you would receive a written warning at the bottom of the program - like this:

Monday, July 11, 2016

Summer Vacation - it's not for the faint of heart

What should you do on your Summer vacation?  GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!!

When I said "Get out of the house" I meant it like the end of a ghost story told around a campfire - very intense, almost yelling - "GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!!" Because, ya know ... The call is coming from inside the house!!!!

The word vacation starts with "vacate," which means to LEAVE!  This means, no staycations, no working vacations.  Leave.  Tell everyone that you will be unavailable and then MEAN IT.  Don't check email, don't return phone calls from work.  You are on vacation - dammit!

Here is my name, written in the sand at the beach

Go, somewhere.  Anywhere.  Even if it's just the Holiday Inn Express in the next town.  Get out of your own house before you blow your entire vacation cleaning house and making repairs and laying around watching Netflix.  See new things, try new restaurants, take photos of your family posed in front of landmarks.  But, most of all, buy kitschy souvenirs and t-shirts.

So, having said that, we are planning a little family get-away of our own.  We were thinking a Texas beach, something not too expensive.  So, we shopped around on-line for a condo and made a decision that's not too far from home.  It's a nice, relaxing little condo where we have been before a few times.

No sooner had we put down our non-refundable deposit, than we began to hear news reports of a troubling nature.  Guess which one is a lie and which ones are true:
  • Beach Lice
  • Fatal Shark Attack
  • Flesh Eating Bacteria
It's a trick question.  They're all true.  So, now what do we do?  We can't walk on the beach.  Not without Hazmat suits.  And don't even think about getting in the water.  Did I mention the deposit is NON-REFUNDABLE.  Yeah, they're sticking to that policy.  

At least there's a pool and a jacuzzi at this condo.  (heavy sigh)  Chances are we will have it all to ourselves.

Maybe that staycation wasn't such a bad idea after all.