Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Happy Sunday

I love Sundays. They just might be my favorite day of the week. Things just seem sunnier on Sundays. During the school year, Sunday is often my only day off of the week. My Saturdays are frequently taken up during the school year either at school working on sets for an upcoming production or at a speech tournament. I love those Saturdays spent building and painting with my students or at tournaments with my team, don't get me wrong, but there's something about having a whole day that's all yours. Sunday is the day that I sleep in (during the school year, I'm up at 5:30) until 8:00. I'll wake up and watch Meet the Press with my cat Tela happily curled up beside me. (Neither of us is quite sure how we're feeling about Tom Brokaw filling in since the passing of Tim Russert, but we're willing to give him a chance.) Sunday is the day that I make a big breakfast -- whether it's omelettes (which I've finally mastered the creation of) or pancakes or just scrambled eggs. I'll go pick up the Sunday paper and check out the sales at Target. It's a day to run errands during the school year or curl up on the couch and watch old movies during the summer. The past couple weeks, Sundays have included time out working in my yard. Today, my sis and I went out and de-vegged the crop circle and put in a seed blanket so that the crop circle will, in a few weeks time, be full of lovely flowers. Sunday is the night when I often cook a fine dinner feast -- even if it's just putting a good soup in the crockpot (as I've done today -- see the recipe below). (Again, not much serious cooking gets done during the school year because I often don't get home until 6:00 when I'm directing or coaching and am usually too tired to then stand over a hot stove cooking dinner). Sunday nights are often spent getting ready for the week ahead, curling up in bed a little earlier than usual to read. It's a day of endless possibilities. I can understand why God chose it as his day of rest. It's the perfect day to do just that.

As promised, here's the recipe for the soup currently brewing in my crockpot.

Italian Peasant Stew
Italian Sausage Links (I usually do one link per person. You can use regular Italian sausage, turkey Italian sausage, or Boca makes a really excellent vegetarian "sausage" that's terrific to work with. I do recommend browning the sausage first if it's not precooked)
1 cup of pasta (I like radiatorre) or a couple chopped potatoes (Again, I usually do one potato per person)
1 can of white beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic (depending on how much you love garlic. I always use 2)
1/2 teaspoon basil
2-3 cups of water

Put it all in the crockpot and cook it on low for 4-5 hours. It's great to serve with a tasty crusty bread on the side if you're so inclined. It's also a great recipe to experiment with, adding different things or substituting different things. The pasta is a recent brainstorm I had when I made radiatorre with my usual pasta sauce and commented, "This would be great in soup!")

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Channel Surfing Adventures

One of the things I love about summer is the fact that it gives me the time to explore -- whether it's reading more books or renting more videos or finding interesting things to watch on television. Typically, each summer I re-discover (or newly discover) some television show and watch it obsessively all summer long. One summer it was Happy Days; another it was A Different World. This summer, I've found myself getting sucked into crime procedural shows like Without a Trace and Cold Case in addition to my already strong addition to Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

This summer, I've also found a great gem, That Mitchell and Webb Look. For those of you that get BBC America, check it out. It airs on Friday nights and is a great 40 minutes of bizarre, random sketch comedy. David Mitchell and Robert Webb create a series of bizarre characters, including the drunken hobo Sir Digby Chicken Caesar , as well as some hilarious one-off sketches such as Heroin Addict Christmas or Bawdy 70's Hospital . Not every sketch is a home run, but enough of them are that it makes it worth a watch.

Save Big Money at Menards

I'm getting a little concerned about my developing Menards addiction. I mean, it's bordering on a problem when you've made a Menards trip three times in the past 24 hours, isn't it?

First off, for those of you that didn't grow up with the ubiquitous commercials starring the very freaky Menards Man , Menards is a Midwestern-based home improvement chain akin to Hope Depot or Lowe's. One just opened about six months ago here in Galesburg as part of the ginormous Super Wal-Mart complex that was supposed to be the savior of the Galesburg economy but which has about 75% of its stores vacant. My first trip to Menards came on moving day when I had to go get some converters since most of our electrical outlets were 2-prong and we needed some 3-prong outlets for the computer and Menards is closer to my house than Lowe's. I have subsequently fallen in love with this store which seems somehow softer and more friendly than Lowe's. Maybe it's just that Midwestern hospitality I'm sensing.

My addiction really hit full force last weekend when I made my trip there to buy petunias for my front lawn (they're doing well, by the way). A couple days later, I was back to buy some impatiens that are also growing quite nicely around the tree that sits at the front of my property. The problem really began yesterday when I headed over to Menards to buy some edging stones to help protect my new flowers from the lawn mower. I bought what I thought would be enough along with a rake to help loosen the soil in the crop circle so I can get the seed blanket in, a watering can, and a hose. Well, I didn't buy enough stones, so I had to go back today and buy more. While I was there this morning, I also found some other edging stones to use by the front sidewalk where the petunias are growing -- also an attempt to protect them from the mower. Well, I didn't buy enough of these new stones, so I had to go back a couple hours later (after I had mowed my lawn) to buy more of those and while I was there I also bought some Miracle Gro for my flowers, an attachment for my hose so that I can spray it a little more evenly, and a box of Pop Ice that were a total impulse buy since they were right by the cash register. (That's part of the wonder of Menards -- you can seriously get anything there!) Now, granted, in these three adventures over the past 24 hours, I don't think I've even cracked $50 in expenditures, but I have to admit there was also a little shame in my heart as I walked into the garden center for the third time in 24 hours today -- and a huge wave of relief when I saw it was a different person running the cash register.

And here's the thing -- I think I need to go back tomorrow. I was one edging stone short.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Further Adventures of Nature Girl

So I ventured back into nature today. I had a couple items on my agenda and accomplished most of them.

My first goal for today was to do something about what I call the "crack weeds." You know those weeds, the ones that grow in the cracks of a sidewalk or driveway or (in my case) the cracks of my concrete patio. I tried pulling them when I tackled the crop circle in my backyard, but I could tell that just wouldn't be as successful since I couldn't really get at the roots as easily because of the concrete. I had resigned myself that I was going to have to fight these things chemically, which I was not thrilled about. I hated the idea of using chemicals that could damage my lawn or get into the ground water or hurt the rabbits I often see hanging out in my backyard. So I did what anyone does nowadays -- I went online and did some research. I found recipes for several natural weed killers. My concern with a lot of them was that they involved using salt. I took Latin. I remember how the ground of Carhage was salted so that nothing could ever grow there again. One errant spray, and I could be destroying future gardening attempts! I finally settled on a recipe that involved 1 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of dish soap (which makes the vinegar adhere to the leaves of the weed), and then filling the rest of the spray bottle with water. I doused the crack weeds with this mixture this morning, so we'll see how it goes.

My next goal was to plant some more flowers. On my shopping expedition to my new beloved Menards yesterday, I found some beautiful impatiens plants that would grow around the tree in my front yard. Luckily, it rained last night, so the ground was a lot easier to dig into than it had been when I planted the petunias Sunday morning. I planted two rows of impatiens around this tree, but the really remarkable moment (for me anyway) came as I was digging and came across a worm. A WORM. And do you know what I did? I picked it up and tossed it into the yard but away from where I was working -- WITH MY BARE HANDS. I mean, seriously, a worm is like a tiny snake and there I was picking it up and not even cringing or screaming or anything. What has happened to me?!?!?!?

My last goal for the day did not come to fruition. Also at Menards, I had bought one of those seed blankets that promise to be a quick and easy way to cover a large area with wildflowers -- perfect for the crop circle! "Quick and easy" is a big old lie! Once I read the directions, I realized that it would take a ton of work, including completely clearing the crop circle of all vegetation, even grass (and there is some of that growing in the crop circle), and raking the area and moistening the area and I just didn't have it in me to tackle that today when I also had a lot of stuff I wanted to accomplish inside the house. So that might be a project for this weekend. Harumph!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

In case you missed it . . .

In all the grieving at the loss of George Carlin yesterday, the passing of the great comic actress Dody Goodman probably flew under the radar for most people. A lot of people probably don't even remember her anymore despite the decades she spent doing films, television, and theatre. (I, personally, had no idea she had been such a prolific stage actor until I read her obit.) So in honor of her (and to help jog your memory in case you still can't quite figure out who she was), here's one of her classic scenes from Grease .

Monday, June 23, 2008

R.I.P., George

I woke up this morning and turned on CNN as I usually do and discovered that one of my favorite comedians, George Carlin, had died. Sad news. Like many people my age, I grew up listening to George. My mother was a huge Carlin fan and I can remember listening to his albums and watching his HBO specials often. Even with the "blue" language (as my dad would say), he was always a big hit in our household, even with my more conservative father. I often think that Carlin is where my own political consciousness began to develop -- and maybe that's what my more liberal mother was trying to accomplish all along. Who knows? I just know that he was a funny, funny motherfucker.

Here is George performing one of my all-time favorite monologues, one which I think of almost daily (especially as I continue to recover from my recent move) as I deal with my stuff .

BREAKING NEWS: I just read in the New York Times that HBO will be re-airing eleven of the fourteen Carlin specials that have aired on the network over the past 30 years. (Why only eleven and not all fourteen is beyond me.) Set your DVRs and TIVOs now, folks!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Close Encounters of the Odd Kind

I've had a couple odd encounters this weekend, and I just had to share the tale.
1. Yesterday, I went to Mecca (that's Target for you uninitiated). While there I bought some bandanas from the dollar section and a couple bottles of the special edition Mountain Dews. I don't know if you've seen the commercials for these, but they are basically Mountain Dew with berry flavoring and ginseng added and they have cool names like Mountain Dew Voltage and Mountain Dew SuperNova. I'm not a huge fan of the Dew anymore, but I was a little curious as to what these were all about. So I went through the checkout with my three bandanas and my three bottles of Mountain Dew. My checker was seriously the Target Lady. First, she scans my bandanas, one of which is the previously mentioned "Pinkalicious" bandana. (It's very cute -- pink with "pinkalicious" written all over it in red in various fonts. I can't stand how cute it is!) Checker, whom we will call T.L. from here on out, picks up the "Pinkalicous" bandana and says, "Ooooh, pinkalicious!" I smile and nod. (You know, I'm not big on idle, polite chit chat with strangers.) Then, she gets to my Mountain Dew. The conversation goes something like this.
T.L.: Oh, do we have these?
Me: Yes
My internal monologue: No, I brought those over from Wal-Mart but I'll pay for them here.
T.L.: Where are they?
Me: Over on one of those endcaps by the chocolate section.
My internal monologue: Mmmmm . . . chocolate.
T.L.: Do we have more?
Me: Yeah, some, but not a ton.
T.L.: Ooh, I'll have to go get some.
Me: Yup.

Now, if I worked at Target (and I probably shouldn't even joke about that -- the joy of it would be overwhelming!), I think that I would probably daily play Target Lady with people because to me it would be an homage to the only person on this earth who loves Target more than I (albeit she is a fictional character and therefore I win by default since I actually exist). It would be an homage and a way to amuse myself. This exchange, however, was clearly not meant as an homage or in any ironic way. This chick just really liked my bandana and wanted some Mountain Dew SuperNova. (One more note about if I worked at Target: I would know that place's inventory like the back of my hand and would know EXACTLY where the Mountain Dew SuperNova was located, how much it cost, and how much we had left in stock. But that's just how devoted I would be!)

Odd Encounter #2: Today as I was driving to go buy the petunias I planted, I was stopped at a stop light. I was in the middle lane of three. I looked to my left to see an older man (probably late 50s) clearly grooving to something on the radio. His window was up so I couldn't confirm that he was grooving to what I was grooving to on my radio (which would be the theme from Ghostbusters). I had a little chuckle and then turned to my right. In the turn lane was one of Galesburg's finest. First of all, by finest I mean finest. This was the most attractive police officer I've seen outside of television -- and maybe even more attractive since television cops tend to be gritty and this guy was beautiful. I sort of smiled and looked ahead of me again . . . and then what I had just seen kind of clicked into place. Yes, there was a handsome, blonde cop in the car next to me, more handsome than any tv cop. But wait, no . . . I've seen a tv cop that attractive before, but it's been awhile. I'm thinking of a certain tv cop by the name of Officer Stacy. Anyone out there remember Officer Stacy . . . from a little show called TJ Hooker . . . . Officer Stacy as played by the soon-to-be-legendary Heather Locklear. Now, why did Handsome Cop in the car next to me make me think of Officer Stacy? Maybe it was just the fact that he was good looking. Maybe it was the fact that he had blonde hair. Or maybe it was the fact that he was rocking a feathered haircut that I haven't seen in person since about 1982 (although it occasionally shows up in my dreams when Parker Stevenson circa The Hardy Boys Mysteries makes a cameo appearance). That's right. It was 2008 and the car next to me contained a cop who had clearly traveled from the past to nail some time traveling perp. Or maybe he was on his way to strip at a bachelorette party before getting his glamour shot taken at the mall. Very surreal indeed.

Adventures of Nature Girl

As most of you (or at least many of you) know, I moved into a house about a month ago after 8 years of apartment dwelling. Having a house has been a huge adjustment -- more space to clean and caare for, a yard to mow, et cetera. The past several weeks since I moved in have been mostly about unpacking and settling in -- a job that's still in progress as evidenced by the boxes still piled up beside me as I type here in my den (yes, I have a den!!). The job is at a point, though, where I could start over the past few days to do what I'd really been wanting to do since I moved in -- get out into my yard.

Now, I've never been a particularly outdoorsy person. I've camped but always with the wish that I was waking up in a comfy hotel bed rather than an air mattress in a hot tent. I've never had a yard that I could go out and work in. Well, I mean, I grew up in a house with a big yard, but that was my dad's domain and I was never the type of kid who saw the fun in doing something like digging in dirt. (That's where worms live!)

As I've gotten older, though, I've found myself wishing I were more of a nature girl. Specifically, I've wanted to garden in some fashion. I've just not had the means to do it (ie -- the yard). My few attempts at exercising a green thumb have not gone particularly well -- the window herb garden I tried to grow and which ended up just being little cups of mud in my window stand out in my memory. I should probably also confess that there is also this part of me that has always feared that if I did attempt gardening, I would discover that it was horrible and disgusting and I'd just hate it -- forver "losing" that part of myself that wants to be Nature Girl.

Now that I have a house, though, I've realized my chance has arrived! It started out on the small side Friday afternoon when I spent about an hour outside trimming the bushes that border my property. They were severely overgrown onto my side of the property line and it was a rather daunting challenge when I first started, but I was amazed at how much I was able to get done and how nice it looked when I was finished.

This morning, I took this urge a step further. I woke up rather early and took off for my local Menards (which is quickly becoming my new Mecca -- Target, look out!). There, I found some quite lovely petunias ready to hit the dirt. I bought a flat of them (about 36 individual plants, although a couple of them were dead) and headed home. I tied on my "pinkalicious" bandana ($1 at Target -- okay, Target, you still have my heart!), slathered on some sunscreen, strapped on my mp3 player, and headed outside -- resolute in my determination to become Nature Girl. A little over an hour later, the front sidewalk leading up to my front door is now bordered by a row of very lovely pink petunias. And here's the thing -- that was freakin' fun! There was something very primal about digging through the dirt and putting "new life" into it. There was something very peaceful about it, even if my mp3 provided a sountrack of The Clash, Nirvana, and Guns-n-Roses (my "workout" mix since I can't find the cable to connect my mp3 player to the computer to add some new music!). There was something satisfying about coming back inside with dirt under my nails and knowing I'd accomplished something. It makes me excited to tackle some more gardening, perhaps with the "crop circle" that sits in my backyard (clearly evidence of the fact that the previous residents had a pool but which is now a perfect circle filled with weeds and dirt and which is BEGGING for my love and attention).

Yes, folks, I am Nature Girl!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How classic!

To celebrate its 1,000th issue, Entertainment Weekly has compiled lists of what it calls the "new classics" celebrating the best in pop culture of the past 25 years. It includes films, tv shows, albums, books, and theatre (although they only come up with 50 plays and musicals -- I guess 100 was pushing it a little). There are more lists beyond this, but these were the ones I found interesting.

For those of you who know me, you know I'm a sucker for lists like this and am in constant competition with myself to see how many items on these lists I've seen or experienced. Clearly, I've seen a lot of movies in the past 25 years since I've seen 87 of the 100 "new classics." I have not, however, spent much time reading, apparently, since I've only read 29 of the books on the list. (One note about the book list that sort of "bothered" me -- they mashed together fiction, non-fiction, adolescent lit, graphic novels, and satire all on one list. There were several books on the list that are currently sitting on my shelves waiting for me to get around to reading them and some that I just don't know I'm that keen to read -- like John Le Carre or Joyce Carol Oates (Joyce has just never really done anything for me).

Sure, there are glaring omissions (especially on the film list -- note the absence of Shawshank Redemption, JFK, Clerks, The Usual Suspects, Heathers, Resevoir Dogs, etc.) and some head scratchers (seriously -- Napoleon Dynamite? And Titanic is number 3??? I also have a hard time buying Purple Rain as the greatest album of the past 25 years when I've heard Achtung Baby, The Joshua Tree, Appetite for Destruction, Nevermind, Graceland, Odelay, etc -- and does it really count to include Bob Marley's Legend? It's a greatest hits package! Fine, then I nominate The Beatles 1!), but that adds to the fun of the lists, too, as you second guess the "experts" and put together your alternative list. What would be on YOUR alternative list?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Would you believe . . . .

It's really not that bad?

Yeah, I went this afternoon to see the new Get Smart movie. Normally, I'm a little dubious with these revamped-tv remakes or whatever you want to call them. For every one that's as smart and entertaining as, say, The Fugitive or The Brady Bunch Movie, there's awful junk like The Beverly Hillbillies. I went, however, for a couple reasons -- 1. I loved the original series so I was curious, 2. I love Steve Carrell, 3. The friend with whom I was going to see a movie really wanted to see this one and I knew it would be fun for the two of us to see it together, and 4. Whatever small contribution I can make to insuring that The Love Guru fails is worth it.

Is Get Smart a great film? Heavens, no. But it's a fun movie. It was a good way to spend a hot afternoon in a cool, air conditioned theatre, nursing the sunburn I unwittingly got today when my "I'm just going to mow this last little strip that I didn't get done last night" turned into a "And while I'm at it, I'll just trim these bushes here."

Steve Carrell is his usual enjoyable self. Yes, there were a couple times when I thought, "That's such a Michael Scott moment!" but when you think about it, isn't Michael Scott really a direct descendant of Maxwell Smart? Seriously, think about it. Bumbling but well-meaning guy who thinks he's the shizz? They even have the same initials! Anne Hathaway was charming even if she didn't quite have the same combination of spunk and sensuality that Barbara Feldon had. The supporting cast was fun and full of surprises -- Bill Murray in a funny cameo, David Koechner proving he's great comedic support, Patrick Warburton in a great cameo that really couldn't have been played by anyone else, that little Asian dude from Heroes who pretty much stole the movie for me. Everytime he came on, I seriously squealed with happiness because his stuff was always so funny -- and I don't even watch Heroes! And, um, The Rock, er, I'm sorry Dwayne Johnson (how can I take a movie star named Dwayne seriously? Dude, just call yourself Rock Johnson or something!) is really, really, really attractive (and I normally don't say that about guys like that. You know, conventionally attractive men. I like nerds.)

Yes, the movie had its flaws. It is a bit on the long side, but what movie isn't nowadays? Seriously, when was the last time you saw a new movie that clocked in under 2 hours? What happened to the days of the 90-minute movie? The plot isn't particularly engaging and I saw the "twist shocker" coming a mile away. There are laughs that fall flat and jokes that feel forced. But what works in this movie is strong cast and a fun spirit that rises above these flaws. This is not groundbreaking, Oscar-oriented cinema. It's a summer popcorn flick intended to give people 2 hours of fun -- and that's what it does. Take it for what it is and have fun.

And when you see it, I hope you laugh as hard as I did at Alan Arkin's reaction to the swordfish. If you see it, you'll understand what I mean. I couldn't stop laughing for several minutes after it happened . . . and then I would think about it again and start laughing again.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2 Good 2B 4Gotten

My local paper is, well, charming. Sometimes, it likes to pretend it's a big city paper and do in-depth, investigative pieces examining corruption in local government. Sometimes, it likes to pretend it's a small town newspaper by covering things like Cupcake Festivals (yes, it exists!) and county fairs. It's a great paper to read for yard sales and local sports coverage, and I will say a lot of the stuff they've printed dealing with the flood has been good, thoughtful, informative journalism.

They went to Oquawka (where there is a lot of flooding and the home of our water plant!) and asked the people what they will remember most about the flood of 2008 . . . the flood that's still going on.

Um, how about the freakin' water submerging our houses? How are people IN THE MIDDLE OF A CRISIS supposed to respond to this? There's also a last day of school feel to the whole thing, too.
Imagine The Flood's yearbook: "Hey, Flood, I'll never forget that time you came rushing into my living room and destroyed my home. Keep it real, man! Love, Ricky."

Don't Drink the Water

An update on the saga of Flood '08 -- The Boil Order:

Today, I went out to lunch with a good friend of mine to Applebee's. We were seated and given packets of plastic silverware. Our choices for drinks were bottled water ($2 for a bottle of water that came from the Hy-Vee across the street!) or Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, or Sierra Mist from a 2-liter bottle (which they brought to the table to give refills) poured into plastic Solo cups. When our food came, my soup was in a styrofoam cup.

Here was my thought: how many pounds and pounds of extra trash is being loaded into our landfills over the course of these past few days and the day or so that is left on this boil order? (The rumor is that the plant where our water comes from is up and running and the boil order should be lifted tomorrow about noon once they finish all the flushing and tests and things) So on top of the economic impact (they pointed out today on CNN that the corn lost in this flood could even affect the cost of something like a bottle of Gatorade, which uses corn sweetener), now there's even more environmental impact. Had I known I'd be eating with plastic from styrofoam, I probably would have rescheduled this lunch until the flood drama was over -- if only to keep a little less trash from trashing our environment.

She's having a baby!

Actually, she's already had it. In case you haven't heard the blessed news, Jamie Lyn Spears added to the ignorance of the population today by bringing her teenaged-mom spawn into the world. It's a girl (a future breeder to carry on that illustrious Spears line!) named Maddie Brianna.

You know, it kind of makes you yearn for the old days when Hollywood was controlled by a couple powerful moguls who would just "handle" stuff like that. I mean, maybe the great teen stars (not that I'm calling Jamie Lyn a "great teen star" but she's a teen actor at least) of the past were all very virginal and weren't out there having underaged, unprotected sex, but isn't it nice to know that if they had, someone would have made sure it didn't become a part of our news cycle?

But then what would I have to post about?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

That sends me down to the river . . . .

So I live about 50 or so miles from the Mississippi River in Illinois (Galesburg to be specific -- home of Knox College, Carl Sandburg, and a swell Super Wal-Mart). The "River" has never really been a big part of my life -- that I knew of. I've never had to deal with the fear of floods because the closest body of water near me is a man-made lake on the outskirts of town (a lovely man-made lake, don't get me wrong, with several miles of gorgeous bike path perfect for walking or biking or whatever). All of that blissful ignorance changed this week. You see, while I've never really thought much about the Mississippi outside of how pretty it is when I drive over it on the occasions I've gone over to Iowa, the River has played a big part of my life for years, decades.

It's where my freakin' water comes from!

I heard stories over the course of the past few days about flooding in Iowa and thought, "Wow. Sucks to be them. I'm gonna go make some pink lemonade!" None of the reports said anything about Lake Storey, so it wasn't my problem.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday morning, I was chatting online with a friend of mine who said, "Did you hear Galesburg is under an order to conserve water?" I did a little online investigation (seriously, how did we function without the internet?) and found out that, yes, due to the flooding 50 miles away, we were being asked to conserve water because the plant where our water comes from was in danger of losing power due to the flooding. I honestly sort of shrugged my shoulders as I read the artible, though, because the order was "voluntary" and involved a request not to do stuff like water your lawn, wash your car, or fill your pool. I've never been a big lawn waterer (especially since we had a ton of rain last week which left our grass really green -- and kicked off this flooding!), I can live without washing my car, and I don't have a pool. No problemo!

Until last night.

That's when the boil order was issued. Because the power DID go out at our plant, Galesburg was having to dip into it's supply of well water which, while not contaminated per se, does not meet EPA standards. A boil order means boiling any water (and by "boiling," they mean a rolling boil for five minutes) you will be consuming from the tap or using bottled water. It means you have to use bottled water to brush your teeth. It means not rinsing your vegetables with tap water. I think the one that really got me was the part where it said you COULD shower, but not to open your mouth when showering and to wash your hands in bottled or boiled water when you were done. Do you know how hard it is to NOT open your mouth when you shower? I'm one of those people who, as soon as I step in the shower, the first thing I do is open my mouth. (Which will now always remind me of Charlotte's Mexican shower in the Sex and the City movie -- shudder!)

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Today, I went out to run some errands. I got thirsty. I decided to drive thru Taco Bell to try a reportedly delicious Fruitista Freeze ( -- the perfect thing for a warm, sunny Wednesday afternoon. I could hardly wait! I pull up to the speaker and there's a sign that says, "Due to the boil order, we are not serving any beverages." The same sign greeted me at my second choice, Dairy Queen. DQ was serving sodas but NOT Mr. Misty's or Moolattes, which is what I was looking for in lieu of the Fruitista Freeze.

WTF? Well, it seems that tap water is used to help power fountain beverages (which I "knew" but forgot). You can't buy a fountain beverage or coffee in town because everyplace uses tap water. Some places are selling cans of soda or pouring from 2-liter bottles, some are using bottled water to make their coffee, but some, like Taco Bell, have just given up the fight and aren't serving ANY beverages. (How can you go to Taco Bell and NOT have a drink??)

This is a nightmare, people! We're a disaster area -- literally! And we're an hour from any flooding!

The moral to this story is not that I'm a whiny brat who can't get a Fruitista Freeze and has to complain about it to the world (although, okay, that's sort of true . . . partially true . . . . totally true). The moral to the story really is just a reminder to all of us that things we DON'T think affect us totally can -- even if they're happening an hour away or a world away. This flooding may affect you down the road, too. Maybe not your water supply but how about the fact that acres and acres of corn and soybeans are destroyed? How about the fact that thousands of pigs and cows have lost their lives in this flooding? As if we're not dealing with soaring grocery prices now . . . get ready, folks. It's going to get worse. And for all of you who are doing the E-85 route to combat the $4-plus price of gas, guess what? E-85 is corn, people!