Sunday, August 20, 2017

North Carolina July Visit

Blogging and Bananas
What do blogging and bananas have in common, other than alliteration? I have always been a fan of humorist Erma Bombeck. A particular story of hers has always stuck with me. One day Erma realized she was never eating bananas at the ripeness that she liked for them. She would buy fresh bananas at the grocery store. Once home however, so as not to be wasteful, she would eat the ones she had that were going to go bad first. By the time she had consumed those, the ones she'd just bought were a bit overripe for her taste. It eventually occurred to her that if she could be wasteful, just once, the vicious cycle would be broken. Why do I relate this story?

This is my third – and final – post about my OK/NC trip last month, July 6th - July 19th. I got behind in my blogging (see why in my post for 8/15/17) and since I am committed to obsessed with posting in the chronological order of my life, I have a list of post topics waiting to be presented that become less fresh in my memory and staler by the day as I instead use my time to detail the tales of this trip. Erma Bombeck could not throw out that banana. I am incapable of omitted a trip blog. So let me forge on ahead, finish this post, and then develop a catch up scheme for my other draft topics waiting in the wings, fading in my mind, withering away in their increasing irrelevance.

Saturday, July 15th - drive to Dean's
Maxine and I began our drive westward to her son Dean's home near Charlotte about 10:00 am. It is typically about a 3 hour drive but we were in no hurry and planned to stop at a fabric store I had read about on the internet.

Maxine commented about how when she and her husband Bob drove, he rarely wanted to stop en route. About midway to Dean's I saw a billboard advertising an antique store in Asheboro. We decided to detour a bit and take a peek at the store and its neighbors.  We found the downtown area of Asheboro to be quaint, steeped in history. 

The store was inviting and quite large. Its owners describe it as
Collector's Antique Mall is 35,000 square feet with almost 100 dealers. We have an array of antiques and collectibles, ranging from toys to primitives to fine wood furniture, as well as mid-century housewares, books, linens, costume and fine jewelry, and other vintage goodies. We also have a wide selection of North Carolina pottery, with collectible works from antique and some modern artisans.

We did enjoy browsing for a little while, but the day was oppressively hot. After ducking briefly into a few more non-air conditioned shops, we had had enough antiquing and wanted to get back on the road to Dean's – except we were turned around and could not agree on which direction to head to do that. We stumbled upon a McDonald's during our wandering and decided that a gourmet meal would fill our tummies and clear our minds. We ate and asked directions and were soon on our way. Maxine assured me that our longer-that intended off-road adventure had satisfied her curiosity of the area. We made no purchases but perhaps our sisterly bond had been strengthened. Then again, perhaps not...

Surely a trip to a fabric store would be uplifting and encouraging. I had read about Mary Jo's Cloth Store on the internet, the description stating:
Massive fabric store since 1951 with drapery, notions & supplies, plus a sewing center with classes

Mary Jo Cloninger started with a $500 loan and a few scraps of cloth in the back of a barber shop and spun it into a world-famous destination for fabric and sewing that drew customers to Gastonia from all over the Southeast... Cloninger started the store in 1951 when she was 19 and newly married. She had limited education and had never learned to read above a third-grade level. In her 30s, she learned she had dyslexia. But her knowledge of sewing and what customers needed helped her turn the store into an empire, with a mail-order business that filled orders from around the world.

Surely Maxine and I had to stop and visit such a unique fabric haven and slice of sewing history.

The store was large, I will give it that. Its wares however, were not to my liking. There was a heavy emphasis on bridal and upholstery fabrics and, in my opinion, not enough focus on quilting cottons. My purchases were sparse – only a small Christmas tree pattern and an end-of bolt remnant of a novelty runner/jogger print. This small quantity was certainly not much for having traveled about 3000 miles from California to get there. I fear Mary Jo's Cloth Store had better press than products. I was glad, though, that I could check the box on having visited this iconic fabric store of the United States. 

Before arriving at Dean's, I'd asked Maxine to make a brief stop at Walmart's so I could pick up a few gifts for her granddaughters, my great nieces. I did that in short order and we left the store, dodging raindrops on our mad dash to the car in the parking lot. Come to think of it, parts of our journey Saturday had been plagued with periodic downpours of torrential rain. After having been on the road for close to six hours, double our expected time, we finally reached Dean's and had a chance to kick off our shoes and relax... aaahh ... in air-conditioned comfort. Dean, his wife Nishaan, and daughters Camilla and Carmen arrived later that evening from their day's outing.

Sunday, July 16th – games with kids, reunion with cousin
One of the novelty toys I'd picked up at Walmart were two ribbon streamers for rhythmic dance. The girls loved them; they were a big hit. It was fun to watch them leaping about singing and dancing and waving those wands with the long strip of pink or red satin at the end.

We also did some quiet, indoor play with Camilla and Carmen. They are experts at the card game UNO.

I must admit, it has been several years since I played UNO. As I browsed Amazon to get a photo of the game I was amazed at how many versions there are out there: UNO Hot Wheels, UNO Ghostbusters, UNO Emoji, UNO Super Mario, UNO Despicable Me, UNO DC Super Heroes, even an UNO Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade edition. The version we played was UNO the Simpsons and I had a bit of a learning curve to catch on to what the stylized cards stood for. But I got it without too much difficulty and playing was fun.

Late morning my cousin Bruce and his wife Debbie arrived for a reunion visit. Bruce is one year younger than I am and I had not seen him in decades. When he walked in the door I said, "Bruce, I could walk right by you on the street and not recognize you". But as soon as he spoke and I observed his mannerisms it was like I had seen him just yesterday. We sat and talked, went out to lunch at a Chinese restaurant, and then came back to catch up some more on our kids and our lives since we'd last been together. We played Martian Dice and had a really good visit.

Debbie had baked and brought crescent shaped cookies covered in powder sugar from the Christmas recipe our Aunt Gert had used when we were children. They were excellent and just biting into them brought back a flood of memories.

Bruce and Debbie left late afternoon and Maxine and I were prepared to drive back as well. Dean and Nishaan convinced us to stay overnight instead. Since we had stayed, Nishaan, Maxine, and I were able to make a quick jaunt out to a local vintage home decor shop while Dean took the girls to the pool.

Here we are, two sisters just hanging out looking at "stuff". 

After dinner all five of us piled in the car to go out for ice cream. Carmen did not want to be in the picture so I told her I would hide her. She still smiled though as did her sister Camilla, happy to be out with their Grandma. 

Monday, July 17th - return to Maxine's
Maxine and I left in the morning. The drive back from Charlotte to Cary did not take us as long since we did not make as many stops. We got in just after lunchtime and ate at an IHOP before going to Maxine's house. We stopped by the lawyer to sign some papers regarding our dad's estate and then Maxine took me shopping at Steinmart. I often admire the sparkly tops she wears and I bought some for myself.

We were able to catch up with my nephew Eric for dinner after he finished his work day. He had just dyed his hair blond on an impulse and this surprised his mom, my sister. With his black horn rimmed glasses and new hair style, I told him he looked like Drew Carey.

Tuesday, July 18th and Wednesday, July 19th - restful and uneventful
Maxine had a doctors appointment, routine but it took up a good portion of the day, so I just relaxed at her place, did a bit of packing, talked with her husband Bob, and browsed through some of her many knitting books. Dinner and some TV in the evening pretty much rounded out the trip. I was flying back home to California the next day. I had been gone two weeks and, although I had packed in a lot and enjoyed myself, I was ready to go home.

And in Conclusion...
I started this post with bananas so I should come full circle and end it that way. Doing so also allows me to slip in a couple of cool photos of some educational signs we saw at the Science Museum in Oklahoma City.
"Knock, Knock."     "Who's there?"      "Banana, banana, banana!"
"Knock, Knock."     "Who's there?"      "Banana, banana, banana!"
"Knock, Knock."     "Who's there?"      "Banana, banana, banana!"

"Knock, Knock."    "Who's there?"
"Orange you glad I didn't say Banana, banana, banana!?"

With this three-part travel post completed, I can now allow myself to address those other bananas, I mean topics, poised in line to be pontificated upon.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Oklahoma City July Visit – Part 2

Wednesday, July 12th – music spectacular
The night after Maxine's arrival in Oklahoma City was planned to be Girls' Night Out. Robin, Autumn, Maxine, and I had tickets to see a Disney "musical spectacular" titled When You Wish.  The show has a loose plot of a young girl's journey through her imagination and storybook as she interacts with and sings beside a myriad of Disney characters. It is presented by Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma the state’s leading professional theatre company and we saw it performed at the grand, 2,477-seat Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City. Here are  my  sister, my daughter and my granddaughter posed outside before we went in.

Autumn wanted to wear makeup for the occasion so once we went in and before we were seated, her mom applied eye make up, much to Autumn's delight.

I took a selfie of Maxine and me. We were not so inspired as to don eye makeup. We wore glasses instead.

Here are mother and daughter seated and waiting for the show to begin.

The stage was very reminiscent of It's A Small World at theDisney parks.

The pink and purple lighting emitted a very fairy tale vibe, quite is keeping with a little girl's tastes.

The "music spectacular" was more than a "musical". It was heavily music laden, leaning more toward concert than play but with an abundance of impressive dance numbers, acrobatics, and flying. There were many, many familiar and beloved songs. The movie sources were listed in the program in alphabetical order. The performance order of the songs was different. 

There were probably only about two musical numbers I was not familiar with. I copied a complete list of about three dozen songs from the site

We enjoyed the show immensely! We asked a member of the audience to capture our smiles as we were leaving the theatre.

The Civic Center Music Hall is an impressive, classic-looking building, especially when lit up at night.

Autumn was exceedingly fascinated by the shooting blue water fountains out in front. We joked that those plumes of water impressed her more than the show itself.

Thursday July 13th – Science Museum
Elliott, Robin's cat, tried to show us how a day of relaxation is accomplished; but, I guess we did not pay close enough attention.

Isaiah is of the opinion that proper recreation involves a sword fight. At first Aunt Maxine was cringing in a cowardly pose.

But then she whirled around and fought back!

After the morning sword duel, four adults and two kids set out for the Oklahoma Science Museum. A 2:1 adult to kid ratio was very useful in a place this large and fascinating. It was Frank and my first time there and we were very impressed. We definitely want to return and explore it some more.

There is a huge hands-on area for kids of all ages off to the lower right section of the map as soon as you enter.

It is called Curio City and there was tons to absorb your time and attention there.

There are several signs inspirational signs at its entrance. Autumn could not quite get her legs up as high as this guy but she tried! She did better at striking the pose than I did getting a photo of her striking the pose.

I liked this quote.

Maxine liked the pencils. They are kind of cool so I think she has a "point". (groan)

Mundane, yes, but these huge boards of hardware tickled my fancy - and that of many of the visitors. I actually had to wait a while for crowds to clear to get an unobstructed photo. Interesting twanging sounds emanate from those spring stoppers when you thwacked them. From their bedraggled look I bet they have been thwacked many a time. I have a huge collection of keys that I do not know what they are for. I wonder if this museum will take them off my hands as a donation.

This mirror was a favorite of Maxine and mine. Look how strikingly slender we are!

After lunch Grandpa took Isaiah to see the trains and he positively, absolutely, unequivocally, loved them. Frank was in seventh heaven watching Isaiah's unbridled enthusiasm as he jumped up and down pointing and squealing "Trains! Trains!"

Which is better... up close, or perched high on Grandpa's shoulders? Is it sooo hard to decide!

There was a free form play area to stack, roll, or juggle large plastic containers. Autumn stacked, making tall towers, soon enlisting several nearby playmates to help her.

There is a difference between boys and girls. Isaiah worked alone. Isaiah destroyed.

Robin and I invented our own game of toss and catch. We all spent a fair amount of time having fun in this area.

There was a dedicated area where Frank and I could experience our first Segway ride. I was initially tentative, concentrating very hard.

But then I relaxed and had a ball! I am not so sure if the staff member was of the same opinion when I ran over her toe at the end of my ride.

Frank soon got the hang of it also.

We had some pretty tired kiddos at the end of the day, and some pretty tired adults, too, but it had all been worth it. Once home, in the evening,  Robin, Jeremy, Maxine, Frank and I all played a game of Sushi-Go before retiring for the night. Tomorrow would be a travel day.

Friday, July 14th – leaving
Midmorning, Frank, Maxine, and I left Robin and Jeremy's house – Frank to head back to California, and me to accompany Maxine back to North Carolina to visit her brood. First we took the requisite posed group shots to prove we had all been together. Maxine and I sat together with Isaiah and Autumn.

By the time Frank and I sat down with Isaiah and Autumn we had lost their attention to the TV. Oh, well, at least we all look happy even though not similarly focused.

About to put on her travel shoes, we had a good laugh at Maxine having a My Little Pony sticker stuck to the underside of her big toe. Depending on your point of view, that is one of the perks or perils of dwelling in a home with the co-existence of small children.

Frank's flight was to leave a couple hours after Maxine and mine so he dropped us off at the Southwest terminal and returned the rental car. After he'd taken shuttle back to the airport and gone through security, he figured he look for us and spend some time with us at our gate. Lo and behold, what a coincidence! His flight to Californian via Las Vegas was the very next one out of the same gate as our flight to North Carolina via Houston. 

After Maxine and I had boarded our flight, I laughed as I looked beneath the airline seats in front of us, down by our feet. I guess neither of us are the type for a matched set of classic black luggage. What a hodgepodge and colorful array of handbags and carryons we sported! We looked like caravan of gypsies prepared to make a trek across the countryside.

This was my first time in the Houston airport. Apparently their management is a belts and suspenders collection of personalities. They apparently wanted to be certain they were meeting the needs of a population of diverse heights. I do not think I have ever seen five water fountains in a row like that.

We reached our gate and waited for our next flight to North Carolina. The gypsies were on the move again. The remaining third of my OK/NC travel adventures was about to begin.