Saturday, April 25, 2009

When Henry Met Shelly

I was getting dressed upstairs today when I heard Henry going out of his mind barking out in the backyard. That's not unusual. If a squirrel dares to set paw on his property, he's on it: "Bark! Get out! Bark! This is my house!"

But usually the tirade ends when the squirrel disappears over the fence. I've seen Henry bark persistently at a new lawn chair or a plastic bag, so I knew that kind of thing was a possibility.

The thing is, my husband was downstairs. He wasn't feeling well. Still, I knew he was well enough to get up and bring the dog into the house. He worries about annoying the neighbors.

When I got downstairs, Greg told me that Henry had found a turtle out in the grass. He said when he tried to pick up Henry to bring him inside, he snarled at him. Greg wasn't in any mood to deal with a canine attitude, so he told me I'd have to deal with the situation.

We live near two small ponds. Every now and then a little critter from down that-away will wind up in somebody's yard. When we first moved here, the 'little' critter was a 500 pound alligator who found it's way on to our neighbor's property!!

The alligators have pretty much moved on since all the lots now have houses on them, but we'll get a duck or a snake on occasion. Today it was this poor little turtle that I named Shelly.

I scooped Shelly up into a Tupperware container, clicked Henry's leash on to his collar and off we went to the pond. I was worried that Henry might go after Shelly when I put the turtle down by the water, but he completely forgot about that hard-shelled elusive prey when he saw the ducks.

Those ducks never knew what hit 'em. No, actually, Henry's the one who got a little surprise. He took off after them, forgetting that he was on a leash. The ducks simply took to the air, flying off to safety while Henry flew into the air at the end of his leash.

Meanwhile, Shelly quietly slipped into the water:

Somehow, I coaxed the crazy dog home, where he insisted on going back into the yard. Moments later, he barked to be let in. In his mouth he carried a dead bird.

*sigh* He didn't get in.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Beads! Glorious Beads!

I've been going through my old columns from the paper I wrote for and thought I'd share one here:

By Caryl

Hi, my name is Caryl and I'm a beadaholic.

It all started out innocently enough. I was visiting my sister and her family, looking forward to helping with my niece's slumber party. "What can I do?" I offered. I was handed a big bowl of assorted beads and asked to pick out the tiny pins that had somehow gotten mixed in.

And so it began. Little did I know that simple task would develop into an obsession. Beads! Glorious beads!

As I sat that night, scooping up handfuls of the tiny, colorful spheres, noticing the way some caught the light and how various shades of color worked together, it became almost hypnotic. I separated out the pins, but found myself putting aside favorite beads as well, wondering what I could make with them.

When I finally looked up, the girls were asleep all around me in their sleeping bags and my sister was cleaning the kitchen. Oh, Devil Beads! I had been lured away by their beauty and I was theirs.

Back home, I began visiting craft stores, comparing prices and learning about jewelry making. I scored some exceptional supplies online. As I got deeper into the process of stringing and gluing, wayward beads showed up in my car, between the cushions of the couch and in my husband's lunch. The carpets had to be inspected before I vacuumed to prevent sucking up one of my precious little beauties.

Finally I had a thought that maybe I could sell some of this stuff. I was making more bracelets, earrings, necklaces, key chains, ornaments and beaded dog bowls than I could use in my lifetime. So, I took a deep breath and signed up for my church's annual Arts and Crafts Bazaar.

I must admit I'm a little scared. This is no rummage sale. The New Hope Bazaar has vendors who do this kind of thing for a living. I don't want to become a laughing stock at the next bell choir rehearsal. Despite my worries, I'm plodding on. It's something me and my beads have got to do.

So now that I've made this leap from closet beader to entrepreneur, I need a name. No biggie, I'm a writer, after all. I closed my eyes and allowed years of word play to fly into action!

I mulled over the words that describe what I'll be selling and tried a little word-play. "Caryl's Crafts", "One Crafty Mother," "Bling", "Bling Yourself," "Beads, Beading, Beadier," "Beader's Digest", "Bead My Love", "Refried Beads". Wait. What?

Not as easy as I thought it would be. So here I am, days away from the big bazaar and still no name. I'll think of something, but in the meantime I'm beading for my life. It's all I can think of as I rush to be ready.

The other day my son asked what was for dinner as I slid a soccer ball bead onto the black imitation leather cording I pinched in my fingers. I answered, "Franks and beads." Maybe I should look for a twelve-step program.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Springsteen Concert Epilogue

Photo by Frank Casimiro Apr. 8, 2009 - Houston, TX, USA - Bruce Springsteen performs in concert with the E Street Band at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, April 8, 2009. Houston is the fifth stop during the first leg of the 2009 Working On A Dream Tour.

When I wrote my recap of the Bruce Springsteen concert, I went into google images to find some photos from the show to include. I came across a few shots which were amazing visually, but which also helped me tell the story.

I got an e-mail from the photographer, politely asking me to remove them due to copyright infringements. I did. I understood and was fine with it. (OK, there was a twinge of sadness as I deleted them! They were great shots.)

Yesterday, he wrote me again apologizing in case he had been too harsh (he wasn't) and offering the same three photos for my blog with his name imprinted on them. I thought that was pretty generous of him.

Image © Frank Casimiro Apr. 8, 2009

He also wrote that he shot the Texas leg of the tour for Backstreets magazine and Bruce Springsteen. His images are currently on on the setlist page and on Bruce's site at

Image © Frank Casimiro Apr. 8, 2009

I told my husband that that sounds like the coolest job on the planet but he won't let me run off and do it. (Never mind the fact that I can barely take photos with my camera phone.)

Check out some of Frank's other concert imagery at: But please, if you go to any of the links I provided here, don't post his photos anywhere without permission. :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bruuuuuuuce Springsteen and the E Street Band

photo by Daniel Kramer

Growing up on Long Island, going to a Bruce Springsteen concert was a right of passage, like going to the prom or getting a bad perm. It was part of being a teenager. But I was a pathetic outcast because I went off to college without having had that experience. (The concert thing, I mean. I went to the prom WITH a bad perm.)

I was like that strict catholic girl who still hadn't enjoyed her first beer. Well, I popped the tab on that brewski last night! I finally got to see The Boss live and in concert at the Toyota Center in Houston.

The second that tickets went on sale (literally!), I clicked in online and got two of the "best available" seats. They were described as "Floor, general admission." I didn't know exactly what that meant. Would there be chairs? Would we be in some mad scramble to be up front? Were we in a mosh pit? (haha)

I found out right before we left that our tickets were on the floor, general admission and STANDING ROOM ONLY. I wasn't too crazy about that, but there was nothing we could do at that point. I pictured us being pushed and shoved in some sweaty, drunken crowd. (Maybe I've been to too many Taylor Hicks concerts?)

When we got to the Toyota Center, there were different lines for different types of tickets. Even though we were early, one line was especially long and curved around the front of the arena. Of course, that was our's. By the looks of it, I assumed we'd be standing in the back for the show.

We were swept away into the Toyota Center, asked to show our tickets in exchange for a wristband and found ourselves walking on to the cement floor of the arena. We walked past the sound engineers and right up to a barrier, which separated us from VIP.

This photo was taken looking back from where we came. You're looking at the sound guys and some security walking around. The VIP section and the stage is behind me. By showtime this whole area was full of people:

The "X" in the gray area below is where we were standing:

We waited impatiently for an hour for the show to start. Finally, at 8:15, the lights dimmed. I heard a woman behind me say, "Why are they booing?" Actually the crowd was yelling, "Bruuuuuuuuuce!!!"

First of all, let me get this out of the way. I thought Bruce looked great. Very fit, very masculine, very much like a rock icon. He and everyone on stage wore black. He's very intense- lots of power behind every belted-out note and every strum of the guitar. He often banged the floor with his boot heel as he worked at the mic.

photo by Daniel Kramer

The crowd ate it up. Most of them knew the parts Bruce wanted them to sing or when to throw their arms up in the air. The energy in the place was amazing!

photo by Daniel Kramer

Early on in the show Bruce said they were there to build a house: "We're gonna build a house right here, right now! We're gonna build a house of music, a house of noise, a house of joy! And we've got the tools right here on this stage! But we can't do it without you! We'll bring the music and you'll bring the NOISE!!"

And we certainly did.

There was lots and lots of interaction with the crowd-especially with those lucky folks up against the stage. He handed his harmonica to a young girl, he let some little boys strum his guitar, he held out the mic for various people to sing into and once he sat on the edge of the stage, turned round and leaned on the audience while he sang.

For those of us not close enough to touch him, he prompted us to sing along with wild waves of his arms and he strutted around smiling up at the very last rows of seats.

By the way, we weren't the only ones in the audience standing for the show. Everyone was up on their feet. He worked us like a master.

Maybe those of you more familiar with his shows know about this, but I was surprised by the amount of small signs people held up. Somewhere during the middle of the show, Bruce walked along the edge of the stage, reading them and grabbing some.

Then he riffled through the signs, picked one and propped it up against his mic stand. They were song requests.

By the time the band came back to do an encore, I was feeling like I needed to walk around a little. We'd been standing in one spot for hours. We headed for the back of the crowd where there was a wide open area. I turned around and took it all in.

There was the E-Street Band up ahead, bathed in light, still rocking the house. Rising up all around me was the appreciative crowd, on their feet and singing along. What a great moment. But it got even better.

When the first few notes of the last song filled the air, the arena exploded into applause. And then we all danced in the dark.

That's why you buy a ticket on the floor, standing room only. It felt like we were in a club. People danced, fell, laughed, got up and danced some more. But in this club (or House of Joy?) the music was provided by Bruce effing Springsteen!

When the lights came up, it was 10:45. Two and a half hours. Damn! they put on a good show. I want to go again! But-hey! How do you get those VIP tickets?

Outlaw Pete
No Surrender
Out in the Street
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Working on the Highway
Cadillac Ranch
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The Wrestler
Kingdom of Days
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
* * *
Hard Times
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Land of Hope and Dreams
American Land
Dancing in the Dark

Sunday, April 5, 2009

High School Senior Style Show

Last night the hubby and I went to a fund raiser for our son's senior class. On the schedule was dinner, a silent auction, a live auction and then a runway event showcasing some of the senior class wearing prom attire.

Our son, Jamie, signed up to participate with some of his best friends from the soccer team. Yeah, I know! Who woulda thunk these manly men would want to be models in a fashion show?

It all sounded mildly interesting to me and monumentally boring to my husband, but we wanted to support the seniors (and as my husband pointed out, we'd never have to do it again!). We weren't even sure we'd know any of the parents there, but we headed out like brave little soldiers.

To say we were pleasantly surprised is an under-statement. We wound up having a really good time. We sat with some of the parents of Jamie's soccer friends- good people we've known for years and years.

The fashion show was much more entertaining than we expected. They came out in groups of six or so and struck dramatic poses or acted out quick vignettes to songs like "Let's Get It Started," "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Hot Hot Hot."

When Jamie's group took the stage in their prom duds, I was struck by how mature they looked. These are young men now. We parents talked about the colleges they're going off to and one of the Dads remarked, "It just flies by." We all nodded in agreement.

My photos are terrible, but they give you a feel for the show:

I have no idea what happened with my camera here, but it's kind of a cool effect. (That's what I tell myself, anyway.)

The backbone of the soccer team:

It flies by, indeed.

Don'tcha Just Love John Denver?