This Halloween season, plenty of families are
sitting down together, watching It's the
Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and laying out the newspaper getting ready to
carve up their holiday jack-o'-lanterns.As a child, my mother wasn't too fond of the mess of pumpkin guts so all
my brother and I ever got to do was use magic markers to decorate our
pumpkins.Our pumpkins lasted a lot
longer than the carved ones, but I never felt like they were as pretty.And probably because they only color magic
marker we had was black.
As my husband and I prepped our first New York
pumpkin for surgery it got me wondering why we feel the urge to massacre a perfectly
good piece of produce.Basically, we rip
it open, tear out it's guts and carve it up...and just for decorative purposes?
I had to sit down and look into it.Turns out the jack-o'-lantern is part of an old Irish myth.
Here's the story:"Stingy Jack" had a drink with the Devil and
didn't feel like paying the tab.This
scam man got the Devil to turn into a coin which he said he would use to settle
the bill with.Well, he didn't.Rather pocketing the change in his wallet,
next to a silver cross that kept the Devil from changing back into his fiery,
horned self. The Devil struck a deal
with Jack and said that if he let him change from the coin, he wouldn't take
Jack's soul.All was good until "Stingy Jack"
died and was forced to wonder the Earth forever with only a carved out turnip
lantern to light his way.
These veggie lanterns have been used for
centuries by folks as ways to frighten away wandering spirits.When immigrants came to the United States, they
brought the traditions with them and the pumpkin became incorporated into the
available produce during harvest time.We may not be worried about keeping ghosts or spirits away today with
our jack-o'-lanterns, but my husband loves baking the pumpkin seeds!He wasted no time cutting, carving and
creating our pumpkin art.
As an adult, I realize you have to go through
some pumpkin guts to get the glory, but in the end, it's probably worth
it.After all, what if "Stingy Jack"
turns up on our doorstep? Actually, he'd probably be scared to death considering the front porch looks like Halloween threw up on it.
Ok...I can safely say that I am certain I am not the last person
on Earth to see a 3D movie.I know for a
fact that my husband hasn't been to one yet either.I've heard they're super cool and all, but
for some reason we just haven't jumped on the bandwagon with those goofy
glasses.Plus, it doesn't seem like
there's been a movie we've wanted to see that was actually in 3D.But when the chance to catch an advanced
screening of Dream Works 3D animated flick Megamind
came up, I jumped...even though it meant hitting the theater again by myself.(Brett was
still out of town at a business meeting)
I planned ahead and packed a book to kill time while waiting for
the previews to start.I was not as
savvy as the people in front of me who packed Ziploc bags to pour their endless
bucket of refilled popcorn into...my stomach actually hurt as I watched the four
adults and two children go through six buckets of popcorn before the movie even started!
As soon as I put on my super uncool 3D glasses, I have to say it
was like being in a whole different world!What have I been missing?? Seriously, what a fun experience...and things
jump out at you off the screen!
Megamind is a superhero vs. super villain story based on the premise
"what if Lex Luthor defeated Superman?" The flick features the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. FYI:Brad Pitt and I go way back...he's MO boy.As in, he is "Missouri" boy.Raised in Springfield, Missouri (where I went
to college) he came back there for the premier of Meet Joe Black in 1998.Incidentally,
that was when I was writing for SMS's college newspaper, The Southwest Standard and got to cover the press conference.Brad and I had a special moment when I asked
him if he would ever go back to college to finish his degree.He answered no, he'd left the University of
Missouri just weeks before graduating with a journalism degree to head to
Hollywood and had never looked back.Then he looked me dead in the eye and asked "why do you ask?"I totally froze and all I could squeak out was
"I don't know, I was just wondering."It
was his piercing blue eyes that got me....
Anyway, back to Megamind.
Super villain Megamind (Ferrell) spends his life trying to overcome his
archenemy & superhero Metro Man (Pitt) and conquer Metro City, never
quiet succeeding.It looks like things might
have finally turned his way during one of his botched hostage plots involving
Metro Man's girlfriend, news reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Fey). But it doesn't
take long before Megamind realizes that every yin needs a yang. He
decides to make Roxanne's cameraman Hal (Hill) into Titan, Metro City's next
big superhero...except Titan is more interested in being bad.
I'd say it's probably the best Will Ferrell I've seen
in a long time. There were lots of laughs from the audience and the CGI
special effects prompted "oohs" and "aahhs" from the kids
(and me!). Not having attended a lot of children's movies, I learned a
valuable lesson: don't sit near the end of the row...apparently kids can't
make it through a movie without having to go the bathroom...a lot. The
makers of Megamind also didShrek and
the same subtle adult humor mixed with the kid comedy hit the mark here.
The soundtrack had me tapping my feet, gotta love it when movies use
music you've actually heard before! My only complaint is how Tina Fey's
character was drawn...doeseveryfemale cartoon have to have a waist barely wider than
her neck and a bustline that should topple her?
Overall I would say a fun family film...one that
you would enjoy even if you saw it by yourself, wearing dorky glasses.
With the Garrett grandparents in town and my husband out of town
for a business meeting, I was on my own for entertaining.Thankfully, we haven't had a lack of things
to do since moving to Upstate New York in May.I'm still always surprised when I come across something in a tourism
book or online that I haven't heard of yet....y'all are busting at the seams with
Brett's grandparents live in Abilene, Texas and a good friend
there has relatives in Kingston.His
grandmother Peggy knew she wanted to say hi while she was up in their neck of the
woods and I knew it would make a good day trip for the two of us.(We had worn Brett's grandfather Don out by
this time)After spending the afternoon having
lunch (and dessert) in Kingston, Peggy and I headed down to Poughkeepsie to
burn off those calories.
We made our way to the Walkway over the Hudson New York State
Park.The amazing bridge is a sight to
see!Blessed with beautiful weather, we
caught breathtaking views of the leaves during the peak season. Seeing
the Hudson River from a bird's eye view was amazing! The walkway was
filled with tons of folks walking their dogs, bikes, strollers, kids on
scooters, joggers and plain ol' sightseers like us. And what a walk we
had...touted as the tallest pedestrian bridge in the world at 212
feet above the Hudson, it's also one of the longest at 6,767 feet from end to
The bridge has protective screens that keep people from tossing
stuff over the rails into the streets below and volunteers are on the bridge to
help folks with questions. We thought it was interesting that there was
also a 'mental health button' you could push on an emergency box that would put
you straight in touch with someone who could literally talk you off the ledge.
It looked a lot like OnStar.
The bridge has an interesting history...in 1855 an engineer
proposed that a railroad bridge be built across the Hudson River at
Poughkeepsie. Folks thought he was just plain nuts and tossed the idea
aside. It wasn't until 1871 travelers started to think crossing the river
probably was a good idea and efforts began to get passage across. Finally,
in late 1888, the first train went "cho-cho" over the bridge! Things
were going good for the bridge until the 1960s. Then along came the
Interstate Highway System and a decline in manufacturing in the Northeast.Suddenly, the Poughkeepsie Bridge was just
another out-of-the-way, uneconomical hunk of steel & concrete. The
final nail was placed in the coffin in 1974 when a fire damaged 700 feet of
bridge decking. She sat abandoned and alone for years.
The bridge was deeded to a nonprofit organization called Walkway
over the Hudson in 1998. The gung-ho group raised more than $30 million
to restore the bridge and make it part of the New York Parks Department.
The bridge opened to the public in October 2009. That year, nearly
a million people crossed the bridge!
walked waaaaay over the Hudson and think if you're ever in the area, you should
too. You won't be disappointed!
When my husband's 80-year-old grandparents announced they were
flying from Abilene, Texas to visit us in Albany, I started racking my brain
for what they might be interested in seeing while they were here.When I came across the information about FDR's
Presidential Library and Museum in Poughkeepsie, my husband and I knew they
would love it.
I have to admit, my first memories of the image of Franklin
Delano Roosevelt weren't from a classroom or a history book.I will never be able to get out of my head
the scene in Annie when FDR and
Little Orphan Annie sing "Tomorrow" together...I loved that movie so much I was
Annie for Halloween three years in a row and I named my cat (our family didn't
do dogs) Sandy!
With 13 Presidential Libraries across the country, Brett and I've
knocked three off the list with this visit.We learned on our tour that FDR was the one who started the whole idea
of Presidential Libraries in the first place.He decided Presidential papers were an important part of the national
heritage and should be accessible to the public.His library in Hyde Park sits close to his
home near the Hudson River.
Brett, Peggy & Don at Franklin's house
As a kid, I grew up thinking FDR was Teddy's cousin, the guy in
the wheelchair and a great singer (the whole Annie perception).I really
didn't remember that he was a New Yorker and a former governor of the
state.We learned that he was the first
president to speak on television, the first president to have his own
presidential aircraft and the first president whose mother was allowed to vote
for him!Although he was buried in the backyard
(always reminds me of Elvis at Graceland) it was a beautiful property with a
rich history. His museum was filled with tons of cool stuff like his Oval Office desk, but then they had a huge lock of his hair that his mom had saved from his childhood that was just creepy!
My husband is notoriously a slow and methodical reader when it
comes to places like this.He reads
EVERYTHING!I can finish looking at an
entire museum and he will still be on the first exhibit.It didn't take long for me to figure out
which side of the family that trait came from!The Garrett Grandparents loved the FDR library and no one even noticed
that I hummed "Tomorrow" in the car all the way home.
When it comes to big rivers, we've seen it. Sorry, folks but you're gonna' have to put up or shut up to
impress us. Don't forget these small town Southerners have pretty close
ties to the mighty Mississippi, so unless you're boasting the Nile or Amazon or
something, we're not easily swayed. Our new home in upstate New York puts
us pretty close to some decent "little streams," as we like to call
them. We cross the Mohawk and the Hudson Rivers almost daily, but we
hadn't had a chance to really check them out until recently.
When my husband finagled tickets to a Dutch Apple Cruisefor a
great price off of craigslist (basically two for one) I said "Heck ya! Let's
go! The Dutch Apple Cruise company has a variety of Hudson River tours, everything
from sightseeing tours to Sunday brunches to even booze cruises. We
figured we better go before the weather got cold.
The two of us headed to downtown Albany and hopped on board the
Dutch Apple II right next to the U.S.S. Slater.How
cool is that big ship?The
retired WWII war vessel is the only destroyer escort that remains afloat in the
United States! It was pretty neat to see such a huge battleship up close!
We learned that our 65' cruising boat was built in 1986 as a take-off of
the popular Hudson River day liners. Apparently, back in the day, the day
liners would cruise up and down the Hudson ferrying passengers between ports in
Albany and NYC. Our tour was two hours long and we saw plenty of
the tour was narrated, otherwise we would have had no idea what we were
looking at.The tour took us right by
downtown Albany, which sits on the western bank, and it was neat to see the big,
beautiful buildings from the river's perspective! I had no idea that Albany
is the oldest surviving settlement from the original thirteen colonies and the
longest continuously chartered city in the United States, all thanks to the
& I picked up lots of facts on our ride. I'm sure most Yankees know
that the Hudson River is 315 miles long (small potatoes to the Mississippi
River's 2,320 miles) and is named after Henry Hudson, who explored it in 1609
while sailing for the Dutch East India Company. In 1825, the
original Erie Canal opened to connect the Hudson with Lake Erie. (This is where the lyrics to "15 Years on the
Erie Canal" song always pops into my head from grade school!)
Ok, so there was one disturbing thing we saw on the tour: there were huge mounds covered by black tarps. Our tour guide told us that was salt...for road crews to spread during winter storms. Yikes! Our moods perked up when we actually saw nests of
bald eagles in the trees alongside the riverbanks! Seriously...how cool is that? Once listed as an
endangered species, today there are nearly 10,000 pairs of nesting bald eagles
in the American wild.Y'all trumped us on the wildlife up here,
With all the rich history the Hudson offers, it's almost as
impressive as the Mississippi River.Almost.
5, 1979, my grandfather James Flanigan was flying his crop duster when he unexpectedly
crash landed in a field in Clay County, Arkansas.His plane instantly burst into flames.Witnesses reported seeing something fall from
the plane, but the cause of the crash was never determined.My grandfather survived the initial impact
and was immediately taken to the Piggott Hospital ten minutes away.He was then transfered to the Methodist Hospital
in Memphis, Tennessee.He suffered
severe burns on his arms and face and had a broken jaw.There, my grandfather received more
than 165 units of blood in an attempt to save his life.He passed away from an infection just weeks
later on June 8th, leaving behind his wife, son and three daughters.
My grandfather, James Flanigan, in 1970
never heard the details of that story until I was an adult and my younger brother
Jim (James actually...named for my father & grandfather) was working on a
persuasive speech for his college public speaking class.While researching the project, my mom told us
about how our grandfather had needed blood transfusions.Jim used my grandfather's story to get his
classmates to donate blood.
television reporter, I covered tons of blood drives!But I never had the courage to donate until I
felt the need to impress my future husband.(Brett's desk was right next to mine in the KAIT newsroom so we became
quick pals once we were forced to share a computer.)He had been donating blood since high school
and talked me into doing it for the first time when a blood drive came to the station.Even though I was leery of needles, it turned
out fine.The workers made you feel like
a hero for volunteering and then you got to eat all the Little Debbie snack
cakes you wanted afterwards!Being a poor
member of the press, I'll admit there was more than one occasion where free Sonic
burgers or Chic-Fil-A sandwiches were all the motivation I needed to roll up
the sleeve.It was almost better than those samples at
to the American Red Cross, there are more than 16 million blood donations every
year!Sounds like a ton right?It is, but it's very likely the same folks
giving over and over again.Around 38%
of Americans are eligible to donate blood, but less than 8% actually do.Translation:only 3 out of 100 people who can, will donate blood.
and I donate as often as we can.This
weekend I did a double red cell donation for the first time.A special machine allowed me to donate two
units of red blood cells while returning my plasma and platelets back to
me.You have to meet certain height,
weight and blood requirements to qualify and the process takes a little longer
than a regular donation. We figure any Yankees that get our blood will probably want to eat fried chicken or grits right off the bat. Gotta sneak in the South where you can, right?
decide to donate, you should do it for your own reasons.At first, I was just trying to impress a guy,
then I realized there were 165+ people who cared enough to donate blood that
helped my grandfather when he needed it.I know it's unlikely that I will ever be able to donate that much blood back, but also I think
it's not a bad way to put some good karma back out there (plus I just realized
that I've been accidently parking in the handicap spot at the Clifton Park Post
Office the other day...in my defense, it's not very well marked!).With every donation I make, I know I'm
helping at least three people.
Give, give, give...
And one of the best parts about this donation...we
scored free Subway sandwiches and fresh home baked bread! Yum!
my biggest worry since coming to Upstate New York has been how to prepare for
winter.Moving from Tupelo, Mississippi
(where it is practically 100°+ year round) we know we are going to be in for a
shock when we experience our first "real" winter this year.During winter of 2009, Tupelo got hit with a
whopping .25" of snow.That 'blanket'
shut down the entire northern part of the state and you couldn't find bread,
milk or eggs at the ransacked Wal-Mart to save your life.
Tupelo, MS: Serious Southern Snowfall!
in the South, we've never had a need for a snow shovel, snow boots or even a
heavy coat.Gloves and scarfs are just
cute little accessories that you don't really need.I've never even seen a snowmobile before we
came up here.When our apartment lease
offered free snow removal, we had to ask what that meant. So when we made our first little recon trip to
Albany in early March, we were amazed at the snow piles...they were taller than
Albany, NY: The most snow I've ever seen!
alleges that the Capital Region gets more than 60" of snow annually and that often
temperatures will drop below 0 °F at night. Apparently, Albany is close
enough to the Atlantic coast to get hit with heavy snow from Nor'easters and the
area occasionally receives Alberta clippers (and yes, I had to look up what
that was). Fan-freakin-tastic!
year, our Christmas wish list is suddenly sporting wool socks and long
johns.However, we can't wait for Ole Saint
Nick to deliver winter warmness and realized there were some things we were
gonna' have to score on our own.Sadly,
neither me nor my husband owned a 'real' winter coat!We have plenty of jackets but nothing in the 'fight
frostbite' caliber.The last few weeks
have been research ridden!Learning
about the latest in clothing technology, we knew to look for something waterproof,
lined, hooded, able to withstand "arctic" temperatures and cute (if
it wasn't too much trouble).Easier said
immersing ourselves in product reviews and trying on every jacket in Saratoga
County we still came up short.It wasn't
until we came across the Spyder outlet store at the Woodbury Common Premium
Outlet Mall that we found what we were looking for.(BTW-that outlet mall was insane!)And we figured if it was good enough for the
U.S. Olympic Ski Team, then it would work for us.
duds may just be one small step towards surviving the Yankee cold. If we freeze
to death this winter, at least we'lllooklike we
tried. Now we just gotta find some winter-appropriate shoes....
I mentioned earlier in this blog that my husband and I are still
sticking with our New Year's resolution of doing a 5K every month for
2010.Now that we are up north, we've
faced some different challenges than when we were running down south.Our biggest test has been adapting to the
terrain and the climate changes.
We searched online for our October race and came up with the "Race
to the Summit" run in Stratton, Vermont.The event was to promote the opening of a new North Face store and all
participants got a free North Face shirt.Well, that was enough reason for us!Race to the Summit was actually shorter than a traditional 5K, but was
probably the hardest distance we've had to go yet this year.
There were less than 100 people in this adventure...and I'm
pretty sure they were all probably better prepared than we were. The steep
course had us climbing 1757 feet with a 17.4% uphill grade! The good news
is that it only ran 2.04 miles, because we probably would have died if it had
been a full 5K! Breathing was like a knife to the lungs. Again, we found that it was like we ran out of oxygen
about halfway up...seriously, Vermont should do something about that.
I had several Mid-Western friends running the Chicago Marathon on 10-10-10, so I realize we could have had it worse. (Those
guys had to fight unexpected heat and humidity...plus all those miles!)All we had to worry about on Stratton Mountain
was 36 degree temperatures, wind that could blow you off the mountain and ice
patches on the course!The course had
volunteers all over the mountain warning of ice dangers...that was certainly a
first for us!
To say this race was a "run" is sort of a lie...it was
really more of a hike! But y'all, the view from the top was worth the
trip! You could see for hundreds of miles!If it hadn't been so dang cold up there, we
probably would have just hung out for a while.
Thankfully, getting down the mountain was a lot easier than
going up. It was the first time I had ever ridden in a gondola! Plus,
it wasexhaustingamazing to see how much ground we had covered from the sky.
For two Southerners who stick to surfaces not much higher than sea level,
it was a huge accomplishment. Brett and I both finished in less than an
hour, and this time I was only three minutes behind my husband. Those
killer times didn't win us a North Face backpack like the clown runner who
did it in 24 minutes, but we were pleased to snag some North Facechap
stick as a consolation prize.
Now that we're pseudo-Yankees, I still haven't figured out why
we continue to torture ourselves at snowless ski mountains? My personal theory
is that it's because we don't have big mountains of land like this in
the South. The closest we get is the Crowley's Ridge in Arkansas and
their elevation comes in at 550 feet.Pretty small potatoes compared to Stratton Mountain's 3,940 feet!These Yankee mountains are a sight to see and
torture to get up!
We only have two more races to go this year before we fulfill our New
Year's resolution...hopefully we're done with snow-less ski mountains for a while!
the doctor away, right?If that's really
the case, then I'm probably about to become the healthiest person I know.Spending fall in upstate New York feels like
something out of the movies!The
countryside is stunning with the changing leaves and it seems that every corner
is full of signs pointing the way to local orchards.
from in southeastern Missouri, we have lots of peach orchards.Come late July and early August, folks are
often at roadside stands picking up bags of peaches.The town of Campbell, Missouri celebrates
every peach season with their annual "Peach Festival."To win Miss Peach Fair queen is a big crown
and a big deal!I never could do better
than first runner up (the girl I lost to went on to win Miss Teen Arkansas-so I
don't feel too bad!)
only apples I've ever purchased have always come from a supermarket, so going
to pick your own sounded like it had potential.My husband and I set out Saturday looking for a pumpkin to accent our
front door and ended up at Bowman Orchards in Saratoga County. A line of
traffic waiting to get to the orchard made us figure we were in a good
spot!It took about 20 minutes just to
get parked.The veteran apple pickers
knew to bring their own bags, since we had nothing bigger than my purse, we
ended up springing $.50 cents for two plastic bags that came with a map of the
grounds...and no instruction on what to look for in picking a good apple.
than 40 varieties growing at the orchard, we literally had our pick!We ended up with two bags full of Braeburn, Cortland,
Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Red Delicious and Suncrisp apples.The best part was you could just eat them
right off the trees!Who doesn't love
a little carried away with the apple picking...and ended up with 22 pounds of the produce!(Rumor has it that they'll freeze well)
The orchard also served apple cider donuts
and we couldn't leave without trying some.Of course, we had to wash it down with a jug of apple cider too.I think we're still twitching from the sugar
google apple recipes online, I just realized we forgot to buy a pumpkin while
we were out.Maybe next weekend?
Ever had to go to the movies by yourself?It's a weird experience.Once when I was in college, I took a couple of intersession classes at Southeast Missouri State University right before the summer semester.It was too far to
commute back and forth daily from my parent's house, so I just shacked up in the
campus dorms for about three weeks.Turns out you can't get cable for only three weeks, so I spent a fair amount
of time at the $1 theatre at the local mall.It really wasn't that uncomfortable until I found myself alone at a
showing of Wild Things...then I felt like a total perv.
When my husband couldn't make it to the advanced
screening of Never Let Me Go, I decided I could brave it alone.Scheduled at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany,
it was about a 30 minute drive from our apartment and if it hadn't been for the
GPS, I would have never have found it.The trek took me down Albany's famed Lark Street, which was hopping!
Let Me Go is based off the 2005 novel by Japanese-born
British author Kazuo Ishiguro.Starring
Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and total new hot-thang Andrew Garfield, the
film centers around three characters Kathy, Ruth and Tommy.Previews of the movie led me to believe it
was a period piece (after all isn't that what Keira Knightley does best?) but I
didn't really catch much of what the plotline was supposed to be.As the movie develops audiences learn that the
world that Kathy, Ruth and Tommy live in is quite different than our own.The three spend their childhood at Hailsham,
an idyllic English boarding school.But
when they leave the school, they learn the terrible truth about their existence.
The three discover they are human clones, created
to provide donor organs for transplants.The film is divided in multiple parts, chronicling phases in the
lives of its main characters and spans the 1960s to 1994.Uh, it was weird.
To sum it up best:it was
sort of a period piece with a futuristic plotline.I
seriously might have bought into it had it
been set in a different time period.There
was great acting, but crazy depressing storyline.And have you ever been so distracted by a
character's hair that you couldn't see past it?Carey Mulligan's hair was so bad in
the middle of the movie, I just kept thinking "why didn't that weed wacker just finish the job?"
Fans of the book will know what they are in for, but for the rest
of us...this is one of those movies that is dark and depressing and wins every
film award possible.Certainly not a
blockbuster, the film has made only a fraction of it's $15 million budget and
was released in select theatres back in mid-September.Although set in England, the film is not scheduled to be released until January 2011 in the
United Kingdom.Maybe they'll like it
better?This was one of the first movies
I've sat through and watched people get up and leave...also pretty sure I heard
someone snoring a few rows behind me.
While I think the overall lesson of the film was to
live life while you can, I don't think this is going to be one that I Redbox in my future....
Ever wonder what ski mountains do during the off season?Turns out, there's one on the border of New
York and Massachusetts that takes to the trees while the weather is still good.
My husband is obsessed with craigslist and we he scored two $45 tickets
to the Catamount Adventure Park for only $20, we knew it was a great deal!
We quickly learned, at this adventure park...you are the ride.
Nuzzled in a five acre wooded setting at the base of the
mountain, the Catamount
Adventure Park is an
aerial forest challenge! The park features more than 130 platforms with arrangements
of cables, wood and zip lines that connect you through the forest. It seriously
looked like we had landed on Endor! The park looked as though it had been
designed by Ewoks, but really Swiss Alpine mountaineers helped build the park
to the standards of the American
Challenge Course Technology.It didn't take long before we were suited up with harnesses and
leather glove and after a quick lesson on how to stay hooked into the trees, officials
turned us loose.
The park featured nine courses in varying degrees of
difficulty that challenged our balance, agility, focus and strength. For
a while there, I was sure I had none of those things! The courses were
color coded for complexity: yellow, green, blue, black and double black. Everyone
had to start on a yellow course & work your way up...I'm guessing much like
the bunny hill on the ski slopes. It took a little while to get the hang
of it, but once we did-we were off! We dangled high in the air over the
tops of trees and zip lines shot us through the forest leaving our adrenaline working
over time! Just looking at the course was enough to work up a heart rate!
This park was not a good idea for anyone with a
fear of heights! By the time we made it to the blue level courses,
we were easily 30-40 feet off the ground. The self-guided tours took us
through obstacles that made you feel like you were a player onFear
Factor,minus the bug eating. It was hard to remember that
even if you did lose your balance, your safety harness would catch you.
For the true weenies, the course was littered with ladder wielding staff members that would rescue you...but
honestly, going down those ladders looked scarier than most of the obstacles.
This was the first time I had ever done anything like
this!I'm not a hiker, haven't been
camping since I was 6 (& successfully contracted the chicken pox) and am
not really an 'outdoorsy' type of girl.My
first thought was "This is what it's like to be onCircus
of the Stars!" I did have a huge worry that I wouldn't be able
to stop on the zip line and end up crashing into a tree.Luckily, that didn't happen & my screams
of excitement and fear just blended in with the other Ewoks folks on the
course.The ropes course was really a
ton of fun and just about wore us out! We spent three hours playing in
the trees and woke up super sore the next morning...my thighs were killing
me!Although I never made it to the
black levels, I was pretty happy with my progress. Who knew I had it in me? I'll tell you one thing though...there's nothing like
spending the day feeling like a flying squirrel!
With fall officially here, it means only one thing: its
football season! The temperatures have dropped, the pool is shut down and
we've officially added jeans to our wardrobe for the year wear.The St. Louis Cardinals wrapped up their
season on a high note, but it wasn't enough to make it to the playoffs...which
means it's time to retire their team flag and move in a new direction...hello, football
If you're south of the Mason-Dixon line you know good and well
that high school football rules the roost. And of course, those games are
on the local news.I cut my teeth in
television as the annoying voice on the other end of the phone line badgering
folks for scores so she could get a complete scoreboard into graphics for
KFVS's Heartland Football Friday.Brett
has spent countless Friday nights standing on a sidelinewaiting praying for someone to score so he could race to the next
game, then race to edit before pitching the hour long live show. So when football
season kicked off this year, it was a first that we could finally enjoy from
the luxury of our couch.
In case you weren't aware...college football is an institution in
the South! Living in the heart of the SEC put us within spitting distance
of several schools known more for their athletic lineup than anything else.
Smack dab in the middle of Mississippi made us targets to pledge our
allegiance to either Mississippi State or Ole Miss. And the rivalry is a
big thing down there...on more than once occasion, Brett was accused by
viewers of 'favoring' one school or another by showing a few seconds more of
highlights in his WTVA sports newscast. No one ever seemed to catch on
that Brett was from North Carolina by way of Arkansas. Since moving to
upstate New York, we haven't lost our loyalty to my Missouri State Bears and
Brett's East Carolina Pirates (ok, not real heavy contenders...but at least the Pirates made it to the Liberty Bowl last season) Up here, y'all don't seem real interested in college football?
Brett was such a hard worker he never even noticed those
Ole Miss Cheerleaders!
Maybe Yankees aren't too
smitten with high school or college football, but they sure are crazy about
professional pigskin! We were shocked when we realized that the NFL hasseventeams
in the New England area! There's plenty of professional grid iron glory
going on around here! Of course, we'll be sticking to our roots (well, Brett's anyway) and are cheering this season for Carolina Panthers (hopefully
they'll win a game or two). My husband's family are season ticket holders,
plus #34, running back DeAngelo Williams, is a from our neck of the
woods. Williams hails from Wynne, Arkansas and Brett got to cover him
during his college years at Memphis.
As the Cardinals flag comes down and the Panthers
flag flies high (ok, about waist level) at the Garrett homestead, we have high
hopes for this year's football season!
I'll be honest; loyalty is a big thing with
me.It probably stems from the sorority
days, but there are just some things I won't turn my back on.I honest-to-God believe there are two people
a woman should never cut the apron strings with:her OB/GYN and her hairdresser.Talk about the people who know you best!My hairdresser is in Arkansas, my doctor is
in Missouri and no matter what state I've lived in, I've never missed an
appointment with either woman.
For those of you who are not chemically
enhanced, bless your hearts!I was born
a blonde and just have "stayed that way" by magic!(Oh, alright...magic in a mixing bowl)I did have a particular nasty episode in
college where I thought it might be fun to be a brunette for about three
When I found myself days away from a job interview and looking like the shame-spiral version of Brittany Spears, I knew getting home for a touchup wasn't going to happen this time.(I'd flown home in June and made the rounds
then)I called my hairdresser in
Arkansas and asked what to do.Knowing that it was too late to get into a salon and having no idea where to go...she advised checking into the local beauty schools in the area.
Some online research led me to the Orlo
School of Hair Design and Cosmetology where they happily booked me for an
immediate appointment.I think I had my
first full blown NY panic attack just about then...all I could think of was the
lyrics to "Beauty School Drop-Out" from Grease.What was I about to do??
I was so stressed about having someone else touch my mop of hair that I seriously had to have an Ativan just to get through it.First of all, even with my hairdresser's blessing, I felt like I was cheating. Second, my Piggott, Arkansas hairdresser, Suzy Johnson (photo on left) is like another mother...she would fix me up on Sundays after church, she would let us use her other beauty shop chair as an editing station so I could work on my news stories while I was getting 'beautified' and she
even once gave me an emergency haircut between newscasts when I burnt off a
chunk of hair with a demon possessed curling iron.Sometimes you just have history with someone!
History was about to be made though when I
showed up at the Orlo School.Administrators put me with senior student Lana Cole:adorably cute, blonde and just weeks from
graduating.I'm not sure I could have
been in better hands!Lana was bubbly
and chatty and it was so nice to actually have a conversation with a New Yorker
in my age bracket.From Cobleskill, Lana
drives into Albany every day to attend beauty school.As a graduate of the City University of New
York, she defiantly has the brains to back up her next business step.This girl was one sharp cookie!She gave me a take on the Albany community
and some great Northern advice. She also could have been a Southerner any day...that girl could tease hair like a pro! But most
importantly, she was great at what she did!I was so pleased with the outcome I just wanted
to cry tears of joy!
After my initial visit to the Orlo School, I
came across a news article in the Albany Times
Union about a Orlo alumni.Graduate Gina Bonacquisti had just been nominated for two Emmy's for
her hairstyling on Glee.Well, I decided if an Orlo graduate could
work on those kid's hair then I was
probably in good hands!
I was able to get into have Lana do my hair
one more time (and it looks fabulous!) before she graduates this Wednesday.I wish her nothing but the best of luck and
hope our paths might cross again someday...y'all know my roots will need it!
Blondes really do have more fun!
Me & Lana Cole at the Orlo School of Hair Design and Cosmetology
When Heather Flanigan and her husband Brett Garrett packed
their bags and moved 1500 miles from Tupelo, Mississippi to upstate New York, they really had no idea what they
were in for! The newlyweds met in an Arkansas television newsroom before deciding to check out
things on this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Since then, they've cashed in their Southern
hoe cakes for some Yankee cannoli. Now in a land far, far away from their friends and family, these two are navigating
the waters of new opportunities, bracing for winter and still trying to figure
out the Yankee version of BBQ.
Albany.com's I Heart NY Y'all is written by Emmy winning former news reporter
Heather Flanigan and is based off of her personal blog. If you've got any
survival tips for these Southerners, pass 'em on to