Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oregon Trail (of tears)

Our third-grade daughter has chosen the saddest book ever written from the library this week, Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie; a book that conjures up images of Laura and Mary running, bonnets in the wind, down a grassy hill under blue skies, but in its pages details Hattie Campbell's family journey from Boonville, MO to Oregon along the Oregon Trail in 1847.

The book opens with an unbelievable series of events that leads the Campbell family to head northwest...

In the first few pages, Hattie writes that her beloved uncle died while fixing the roof of the Campbell family's home. While carting him to his final resting place, the wagon hits a rock, causing it to bounce with such might that the coffin slides out of the back of the wagon and into the Missouri River.

Hattie's dad jumps into the river to try to retrieve the coffin, but the coffin gets sucked into the paddles of a riverboat. It emerges in pieces; Uncle Milton's body is nowhere to be found.

Feeling terrible about churning a corpse into the river, the riverboat captain makes amends by offering the extended Campbell family a ride on the very riverboat that lost Uncle Milton to Independence, where the family can join the Oregan Trail.

In a move that would inspire trial lawyers everywhere, the Campbells accept the offer and leave Missouri behind for Oregon.

Now 31 pages in, we have learned that some travelers resort to cannibalism when crossing snowy mountains, that one will not die eating pancakes speckled with dead mosquitos, and uncured bacon will eventually gather maggots.

I can't wait to see how this ends!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sing out loud, sing out strong!

Have you ever really, really, really wanted to be good at something but undeniably lacked the necessary talent? Little secret, I have always wanted to be able to sing. Like a Broadway star. Or even a chorus member. Or just blending well at church.

I would even pass on a helping of dance (also not a strength of mine) for just one scoop of vocal talent.

In my heart I am Lea Michele or Idina Menzel. But in reality I am more like Ellen DeGeneres, just not as good of a dancer.

None of this stops me from grabbing a mic at karaoke or jumping in on Dave's band when Violent Femmes or Elvis beckon.

And now none of this has stopped me from agreeing to perform at our local theater's fundraising event in February. Clearly the coordinators have mistaken "microphone hog" for "should absolutely sing in front of others."

As soon as this sunk in a little, though, I (justifiably) began to panic and called my high school choir director (I was the accompanist, not a singer) for help. She's running a "diagnostic" on me next week to determine if I have any pipes worth fine-tuning.

Better her than a paying audience, but I'm still waaayyyyy nervous about facing the music.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Say Cheese!

Maybe it was hitting 40, maybe it was the fullness that turned out to be October. More likely it was the fact that I can recall irrelevant information, like my old high school boyfriend's phone number, but not important things. Like pulling cookies out of the oven. Or moving clothes from the washer to the dryer.

Or renewing my driver's license.

Luckily, it was I, not an officer of the law, who discovered my lapse. And the kind lady at the DMV gave me zero trouble of any kind for my error.

Still I was beyond amused when watching comedian T.J. MIller on Comedy Central tackle the highly emotional subject of driver's license renewal in his stand-up routine. After attending a holiday party tonight where a girlfriend and I debated by what percentage one could get away with lying about one's weight, I decided reposting T.J.'s video was a fabulous idea.

I imagine they never questioned him on his weight.