Halloween Eve

So we carved pumpkins.

And I tried a new method for roasting pumpkin seeds. Yum.


This is Tootie, pulling sees from the “pumpkin guts.”

For every 1/2 cup of seeds, add 2 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to your pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Baste cookie sheets with olive oil, about 1 tablespoon each. Spread seeds in a single layer.

Bake in oven at 400 degrees until done. (Put trays on top rack.) Add more salt if necessary. Then pour into bowl.


Then ask your photographer husband to take cool pics of the kids with their Jack-o-Lanterns.

Pretty cool, no? Don’t my wee ones look spooky?






A day at the Pumpkin Patch

This is one of our favorite early-fall traditions.

We usually go to either Motley’s or Schaefer’s.

These photos are from Shaefer’s, located in Mayflower.

Next up: The South Arkansas festivities that take place when gun season opens!

Picking the perfect pumpkin.
Lunch from the concession stand — fair food, yum!
This year, the kids went on a trail ride at the pumpkin patch.
A girl and her horse.
Saddled up and ready to go…
And they’re off!
Nice end to a fun day!



The E-man’s Day of Estrogen

Last weekend was typical for us in that Hubs had to work.

Translation: The E-man became an unenthusiastic participant in Race for the Cure.

“Mom,” my 7-year-old hissed, eying the sea of pink surrounding him. “There are no boys walking.”

Which was pretty much true. The boys his age were hanging with their dads along the Race route. Or they were in strollers and oblivious to all that pink.

But the E-man was a good sport. We zipped through the route and then headed to the Clinton Presidential Library for the Girl Scouts’ Our Journey to the Ballot Box event.

You see, in conjunction with snagging the 19th Amendment for an exhibit, the Library also helped the Council’s older Girl Scouts put together a program that illustrated just how much work it took for women to finally win the right to vote.

Again, the E-man was a good sport. He enjoyed his tour of the Library. He patiently watched as the girls fashioned sashes and suffragist pennants. At lunch, he raced across the library grounds with a swarm of Girl Scouts.

(Yes. The E-man was THE ONLY BOY present.)

Anyway, after several hours of learning about the 19th Amendment and prepping for their own suffragist parade, the girls gathered for a group portrait.

Getting ready to march…

As we paraded around the library, the girls chanted:

“Women fought for it! You should support it! Vote, vote vote!”

Our parade!

I was so proud of them!

However, as we marched, I noticed the E-man lagging behind.

By the time we passed the Cheese Dip Festival, which also took place Saturday at the Clinton Library, he not only was way, way in the back, but parallel to our little parade.

“E-man, what’s the problem?” I asked.

“Mom,” he whispered. “This is SO EMBARRASSING. I can’t keep marching with a bunch of girls.”

The E-man, it seems, had finally reached his limit.

And while, yes, I could understand his pain — not the pain of being surrounded by girls, but that which stems from a fear of performing in public — I was so, so happy to see my little man hanging tough last Saturday.

Because just as I am proud of Tootie for being one of only seven girls to sign up for basketball (along with 70 or so boys) I am proud that the E-man took an interest in such an important part of history for women.

And while he may not have enjoyed the suffragist parade, he now understands the kind of courage it took for women of that time to put themselves out there.



Stone-cold busted

I make it a practice NOT to tell Hubs when I’m getting my hair cut and colored.


Because this is a man who goes to the barber for a $9-haircut. Because the first time he found out what women will pay for what we call “maintenance” Hubs swooned.

Because it is better to just present him with the finished project — a blonder wife.

Yesterday, I headed to the salon for a little … rejuvenation.

Confession: My last haircut was sometime last spring. My root stripe went halfway down my head.

In other words, it was time.

So I headed to Vogue Salon (a shoutout to Courtney for reviving my limp-ass hair), where I happily chatted and gossiped as Courtney applied highlights and lowlights.

Suddenly, she paused, then said, “Well, hi! How are you doing?”

I looked at the door, expecting to see another customer.

But there stood Hubs — grinning maniacally.

And there I sat, with my head dotted with foil-wrapped chunks of hair.

“So,” Hubs said conversationally, peering at the tray of blue and brown blobs. “You’re going with … blue?”

“New look,” I said, even as Courtney explained, “Highlights.”

Mind you, “highlights” to my husband mean … well … something involving an inadequate bra and a wet T-shirt.

Oh. Wait. That would be “headlights.”


Apparently, Hubs stopped to fill up at a gas station near the salon. While pumping gas, he noticed what appeared to be my vehicle parked outside of the salon. Mind you, I had carefully scheduled this appointment during the lunch hour, so as to explain my absence if he turned up in the newsroom.

But oh no — Hubs just had to fill up at a gas station he normally avoids.

I’ll let Hubs explain what happened next.

Ohhhh, he thought, upon noticing my vehicle. There’s Cathy’s car. She’s getting her hair done. She didn’t tell me.

Apparently, Hubs had just driven by his barber, hoping to get a trim. Turns out, his barber has closed up shop. For good. So poor Hubs, who is a creature of habit, was feeling a little … shaken.

And after seeing my car at the salon, the temptation was just too great.

He parked, wandered into the salon and immediately noticed the foil glinting upon my head.

Ohhh, Hubs thought. So she’s not only getting it cut. She’s getting the highlight treatment. And here I am upset because my barber and my $9 haircut are … *sob* gone.

But look!

My hair is once again shiny and blonde. Without the stripe!

So much better.

And look! I offer a fun photo for comparison:

Hurricane hair, courtesy of Isaac.



Battle with the tarantulas

When Hubs and I arrived at Big Bend National Park the last week of September, a park ranger enthusiastically told us that the tarantulas were “on the move” this year.

Translation: Big furry spiders had decided to temporarily inhabit the Chisos Basin campground.

As you’ll recall from my previous stories about our annual camping trip to Big Bend, Hubs and I have contended with javelinas, which were determined to root underneath our tent while we were sleeping in it. Last year, skunks invaded the campground and showed off their skills in unzipping tents. (Not ours, thankfully. But some of our neighbors got sprayed.) At one point, while using the solar shower, I looked down and discovered that I was bathing with a skunk.

I have a fondness for the javelina, which appear more comical than threatening. (Unless they’re trying to rip open a tent while you are in it.)

And I eventually decided that skunks, namely last year’s nightly visitor, Maxwell, were actually kind of cute.

But giant hairy spiders?

I would sooner take on a bear.

Normally we see maybe one or two tarantulas at the park. This year — they were everywhere.

Now I grew up out in the Texas countryside, where tarantulas, scorpions and rattlesnakes were common.

But at some point in my youth, I watched Kingdom of the Spiders, a 1970s horror movie about tarantulas that take over a farming town, where they swarm and kill people. *shudder*

(In real life, no, their bites don’t kill people. But as far as I’m concerned, just the sight of hairy spiders approaching en masse would likely cause many people to suffer a coronary.)

The first night, we watched a tarantula creep across our campsite. Hubs, who is equally NOT fond of spiders, trotted over to our unwanted guest and, crouching down, began taking its photo.

Here’s the photo Hubs took.

The tarantula objected, rising up on its back legs and waving the front ones at Hubs. Then it charged.

“Aaaiiiieee!” yelled my normally quite manly husband as he galloped backward. I about fell out of my camp chair laughing.

The next night, I regretted mocking my spouse.

At Big Bend, there’s no cell service. So in order to call my parents and check on the kids, I have to use an old pay phone by one of the campground bathrooms.

Now picture this scene:

I — already dressed in comfy PJs and clutching a Solo cup of bourbon and Coke — walked the brief distance from our campsite to the phone.

On the way, I encountered a tarantula, but simply veered left and kept going.

Minutes later, as I chatted with my mom, I happened to glance out of the phone booth and noticed that the tarantula had followed me.

“Um. Hang on a minute, Mom,” I said, giggling nervously.

I opened the door and tried to shoo the creepy thing away. My fear was that it would try to join me in the phone booth, via the nice gap between the walls and ground.

The spider, however, refused to budge.

Rather valiantly, I tried to ignore the nasty thing and continued talking to my mother.

When I glanced out again, it was gone.

But before I could finish breathing a sigh of relief, I noticed that it had merely moved to the other side of the phone booth.

“Hang on,” I said again.

This time, I opened the door and tossed a couple of pebbles just to the left of the tarantula, hoping to frighten it away.

Which is when it came closer.

At this point, I left the phone dangling and ran back down to the campsite, cussing and sloshing bourbon the entire way.

“I need you to come stand guard and keep an eye on a tarantula,” I informed my startled spouse.

Hubs accompanied me back to the phone booth, and I continued my conversation.

Which was rather difficult to do because by now, Hubs was offering a rather loud and detailed lecture on the habits of tarantulas to a group of campers who had gathered to help watch my tormentor.

Minutes later, the camp host arrived.

“What is going on?” he asked.

“I’m watching this tarantula while my wife uses the phone,” Hubs replied, as if this were a perfectly normal sort of spousal activity.

The camp host’s head swiveled in my direction. So did those of the other campers.

I waved sheepishly.

Hubs and I soon returned to our campsite.

I had just sat down with a fresh drink when Hubs jabbed me, laughed and pointed.

My furry friend had followed us back from the phone.

Tomorrow: More tales from the Big Bend…








Tales from the Big Bend … 2012

OK, so yeah.

This is just a teaser.

For those who have followed my Big Bend adventures over the years, you know that Hubs and I have battled javelina and skunks.

This year?

We were besieged by tarantulas. I’m just going to say here and now that big, furry spiders — especially those capable of rearing up on their hind legs or jumping — have no business hanging around my campground.


But more on that tomorrow.

Tonight, I’m going to tell you about how Hubs took photos of me as I was using the solar showers on our trip. I assure you, his subject had no idea this was happening.

Not only did he photograph me, the Hubster became aware that people driving on a nearby, adjacent highway probably saw more of me than they ever wanted to. Did he mention this rather important realization?

No. Because that would mean alerting me to his camera.

So embarrassing.

Never trust a photographer husband.

Meet American Girl Caroline (and enter a giveaway!)

Hey, Arkie Mama here!

My daughter, Tootie, loves American Girl books, especially those set in the 1970s up until today.

Still, she really enjoyed Meet Caroline — the latest book to be introduced by American Girl — because it’s one of the more action-packed stories.

The newest American Girl.

Caroline’s father owns a shipyard, and there’s nothing she loves more than sailing.

But one day, a British officer boards the ship and takes her father prisoner. (This book is set during the War of 1812.)  As the officer leads her father away, Caroline promises to help her mother run the shipyard.

Next comes a British attack on Caroline’s village, and it looks as though the Americans are in serious trouble.

Tootie found this book both exciting and also a little sad, mainly because of Caroline having to see her father taken prisoner. She liked the fact that Caroline’s dream is to one day captain her own ship.

Want your own copy for your daughter? I’m giving one away!

Leave a comment below, telling me which character is your daughter’s favorite and why. I’ll post a winner next week!