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Category: kansas city (page 1 of 10)

A Midwestern Musing

Tonight’s World Series game is of utmost importance. In order for the Royals to stay in it and to have a chance to win it, we must win tonight. Game 6. We’re nauseous.

Plenty of people around town are filled with excitement, enthusiasm and yes, even a little queasiness. Because we’re from the Midwest. Yes, we’ve trumpeted and written and shouted, “TAKE THE CROWN!” with all the gusto you’d expect from a drunken NFL fan. But what it really comes down to is this: we just don’t “take” things. We’re too damned polite.

Growing up in Iowa and my post-college years in Minnesota, I observed the humorous behavior around offering dinner guests dessert: It actually requires offering said dessert three times before it becomes ok for the guest to accept.

“Piece of pie?” your hostess trills.

“Oh gosh no, I couldn’t,” you politely respond. (We don’t want to create more dishes to wash, overstay our welcome, or in any other way inconvenience you more than our presence already has.)

“No, no, come now, you have to try a slice!” your hostess then will exclaim.

“Oh no, I am so stuffed on that amazing dinner! I can’t imagine another bite right now,” you murmur, because the second offering means the first one was genuine, and now you’re shifting in your chair and wondering if there’s whipped cream.

“I insist. Just a small slice? Say you will!” she says, and you then acquiesce, because now you are actually helping out, you have been offered pie three times now, so you know the sentiment is genuine, and you are ready and excited for pie, and sure you’ll have a cup of coffee if you’re making more.

This is us. This is Kansas City. We are proud of our city, proud of our roots in agriculture and industry, proud we finally got an IKEA and proud of our teams. But never TOO proud. Of course we recognize injustice and bias. We rant and rave and rage at the Joe Bucks of the world, the announcers who seem to equally marvel at and ridicule our cowtown baseball team, and seemingly heap adoring praise on the other team’s players. The sportscasters who mildly mix up Alex Gordon with Eric Hosmer (HOZ!) but don’t bat an eye while they recite reams of statistics about Madison Bumgarner’s history and pitches. But we’re nervous. If we don’t win, will all these people who seemingly look down their noses at us, for being less “Cosmopolitan”, for being less “Coastal”, will this just prove them right? Well, no, but it won’t help us prove them wrong, either.

And we WANT this. We want it so badly. We don’t want to wait and we don’t want to lose. We want to win. Because we exist in flyover country every single day, we know the metropolises on either side of the country don’t think about us and our contributions, that our fields provide food for the world, the fact our hustle and bustle doesn’t have high-speed trains or subway systems. Oh sure, we’ve got our foodie spots and our microbrews and we even have sushi. But we’re used to not hearing a lot of ringing praise, and truth be told, a whole lot of praise can make us look at our shoes and shuffle a little bit in embarrassment. And this is why we’re queasy. Because underneath all of this, we WANT THIS. We want it so BADLY. It’s attention but it’s also redemption and it’s validation of all the things WE know to be true and believe in.

So maybe we won’t TAKE the crown, in the sense we ride up on an Arabian horse, snatch it & gallop away, but we sure as hell want to EARN the crown, because our pride knows no bounds when it comes to our team and our city. GO ROYALS!

Tales of the Crazy Cat Lady

So as you know, we’ve got a Crazy Cat Lady in the neighborhood. As in, across the street. This past spring she had what we could only guess was yet another small unfortunate fire, as random burnt objects starting showing up on her curb. (She is not familiar with the 3-1-1 Action Line for bulky pickup, either, so we get lots of opportunities to eyeball the assorted flotsam that resides on the curb for days on end.) One of the piles got dubbed “Crazy Cat Lady’s Rugs and Remnants” because it appeared to be some hideous ’70’s carpet, a carpet pad and god knows what else.
ANYhoo.
She is, sadly, mentally ill, enhanced and distorted by alcohol and prescription medications. Gaunt as a skeleton and severely aged by the ravages of her abuse, she is hard to look at, and she can’t make eye contact. She also pretty much detests us, as we are mean and don’t bend to her requests like, “Give me a phone,” or, “I need to come in your house,” or, “Give me three cents.” (I’m still struggling to puzzle out that last one.) Sometimes they are just statements: “I lost my cell phone.” Ohhkay. Sorry?

But I have not told all of her stories here – and there are some doozies. We are coming up on the year anniversary (Halloween), when she went completely batshit crazy and laid down in the middle of the street, barefoot and wrapped in two acrylic blankets. I was still at work, JWo had called the police, and a cheerful kind woman in a brightly colored caftan and sneakers had pulled her van over and was directing traffic around CCL, who was now curled up by our telephone pole. I came up over the rise in the street to see this montage of crazy in front of me and was boggled by the insanity of it all.

According to CCL, she was having a “surge”, and we should look it up on the computer. (JWo’s fast-witted reply? “I don’t think they make that soda anymore.”) She lurched back to her house just before the police arrived, and refused to let them in. We thought if she had stayed in place, we’d certainly have the scariest trick-or-treat house on the whole street, because her rising up out of the dark would scare the piss out of grown adults, let alone 8-year-old kiddos!

She really has become such a fixture among the fire department, paramedic team, and hospital that a couple strapping firemen came by a few weeks ago and asked us if we’d seen her, as they hadn’t gotten called out for a couple weeks and they were just checking in. It’s a strange blend of funny and sad, to be that reliant on public servants for help that they notice when you stop surfacing; it’s tragic to lose your existence into that pit, and it’s kind of funny because we’re all sort of thrown in on this same “team” whether it’s geographic or service based, so you can literally strike up a conversation – even with the 911 operator – about her, because everybody knows her. The veritable female version of Norm from Cheers, but less robust and certainly no match to his snappy wit.

Pretty sure the house will have to be razed when she finally departs this world (though there’s something about a certain breed of alcoholics – tough as nails and somehow bionically fueled by their diluted bloodstream, and she could be around for decades to come.) Right now there’s a hodge-podge of refuse by the curb, with more random piles and a large barrel for burning out back.

People keep pointing me to the Crazy Cat Lady action figure that’s out there -but what can I say? We’ve already got our own version!

CCL

Won’t You Take Me To…

Oh my. Funky Town, the dance club melting pot, located in glamorous Raytown, MO has long been a destination for people in KC. I remember seeing it when I first moved here, from an errant exit onto 350 Highway instead of remaining on 435. I knew people went for the disco, and to party in large groups, but I’d never made it there myself, until last night.

That place is something else. I think I had a goofy grin on my face at least the first 20 minutes, because it was a feast to gaze upon. Talk about a cross-section of life! I’d say the average age was around 40, so at least I didn’t feel awkward or -cough- old, and you could not have gotten a greater mix of types of people – races, heights, weights, ages, dress, fashion-sense, all mixing it up on the dance floor, or in a dance cage, or on a light-up dance box. Granted, it was still predominantly white, but it definitely felt like a representative population slice of the entire city. I think I got most mesmerized by the group sitting front and center to the dance floor, and it quickly became clear to me these were Regulars, with a capital R. The motley assortment tended to line dance to most of the music, all eyes upon their leader, a skinny, middle-aged man in baggy jeans (not sagging, just 80’s bagging) and a 2013 Tate Stevens t-shirt who determined which line dance they would do and began each dance with an emphatic flourish and a clap. The others fell into place around him, and then even others, not part of the head table, would jump in and out, swinging a right leg forward and back, a little Saturday Night Live disco jab to the sky upon completion of one set.

Then there was Disco Stu. The name was suggested by my friend John, there with his NOW fiancee, Heather, and another couple. (John told me last night that he was going to propose today! I won an Oscar for disguising my happiness while still conveying it, and while it would have really been epic had he done it at Funky Town, perhaps they will have their reception there.) Anyway, back to Disco Stu. He had a glorious smile on his face, joining the line dancing to some of the songs, dancing to his own drummer on others. At one point, he got up on the light-up box, and as I watched, the gravitational pull of his fellow line dancers turned his freeform steps into a synchronized, albeit elevated, line dance all on his own. Later, I saw him dancing rather suggestively with a middle-aged blonde woman, and all I could think was, “Heeeey, get it!”

People in their 60’s showed some magical dance moves while others seemed to do no more than shuffle from side-to-side. Most people shout-sang along to the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s tunes, forming large circles that shifted back to their smaller group sizes. One young man, I imagined to be an IT professional by day, writing code and pushing his square black glasses up on his nose, demonstrated some fancy foot work, attracting the attention of two women (my age) who gyrated and sandwiched him repeatedly, perhaps viewing him as a veritable fountain of youth. He did not appear to mind one bit.

The bonus part of the evening? A full-on Michael-Jackson inspired floor show (EVERYONE GET OFF THE DANCE FLOOR) to Thriller and then some. Zombified dancers hit the floor and performed some awesome, choreographed moves (I confess, I looked around to see if Tate the Line Dance Leader might have transformed into Michael, and I still can’t confirm they are two separate people.) Everyone shouted and cheered, and returned to the dance floor with gusto when it was over. (Now through the end of October, and apparently they have a mega costume contest on the 24th, and I kind of want to go. I can create a killer costume!)

I think the best part about the entire experience was that the place is without any pretense. Nobody cares. Everyone’s having fun. It pretty much doesn’t matter if you can or can’t dance, if you look a certain way or weigh a certain amount or dress a certain way (though I did get very confused and thought a woman was not wearing any pants; the black lights do a number on certain colors, and her shrimp-colored leggings were transformed and seemingly disappeared!) As John put it, “Out there (in the rest of the world), I’m like a 7. In here? I’m an ELEVEN!” It’s not that there aren’t gorgeous beautiful people there (there are! I was terribly envious of the 6’+ blonde with legs that probably ended at my shoulder height, in her heels and short black shorts.) It’s just that – again – nobody really cares. For once, a place where your attitude counts – and outweighs – the superficial.

Written Saturday, publishing late late late so no beans get spilled on the proposal. ūüôā
Funky Town
8300 Blue Pkwy
Kansas City, MO 64133

As The Grocery Turns

This is week 2 with a grocery store story. Last week, a woman walked up while I was unloading my cart and inappropriately squeezed the 10-lb. tube of hamburger I’d purchased, commenting, “Nice package!” I was a bit dumbfounded, but I cheerfully informed her it was on sale, and wondered how on earth I attract crazy, interesting people. I assume it’s because I also am a boundary pusher/crosser and I will easily talk to strangers myself.

So now we’re on to this week’s shopping adventure. I have taken to meal planning out the week, including Crock Pot Mondays, since I detest cooking on Monday nights, and coming home to a meal that’s made itself all day? Magical! The weather today is bleary, dreary and blah (the rejected dwarves of Disney) and as I exited my car, sleet came down in droves. I had even paused before leaving, thinking I should wear my Kangol hat, but -I actually thought these very words- ah, nah, I’m not going to run into anyone I know, so it doesn’t matter what I look like. OMINOUS FORESHADOWING!

When I got in the first set of doors & went for my cart, I realized my hair was full of these tiny ice pellets, so as I’m brushing all this stuff off my head, I feel someone approaching me and by god, if it’s not my client. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, UNIVERSE? We chit-chatted briefly, and off we went, he with his son, me with my list and completely no-makeup face not even lipstick what the HELLLLL and then continued to “bump” into each other as I got a bit discombobulated and just sailed by several aisles, eventually having to circle back to finish my shopping. While not as funny as the previous week’s meat-pinching incident, it certainly has me wondering what in the hell will happen next week!

Shopping…Like Childbirth?

Because apparently if you don’t go out during the crazy for a few years, the mind blurs and the memories fade and you think, “It can’t be that bad!” I hear this phenomena applies to childbirth, so why not post-Thanksgiving shopping?

I didn’t go out on Black Friday. Or Black Thursday. I mean, sure, I’d love a set of $35 king-size, 600-threadcount sheets, but if that’s the only thing that appeals to me, I don’t see getting trampled, shoved or waiting for an hour worth the savings. I did, however, venture out on Saturday, primarily to go to The Olive Tree, to celebrate Small Business Saturday, and then… because it’s been months and months and months…. Joann’s.¬† My BFF Beth even screeched at me on the phone when I said I was headed there. “Don’t you remember your blog post?! That’s crazy!” Yes, I remembered it… vaguely. But I needed a few crafty things, and Joann’s was the destination, what with three coupons, one for 25% off my entire purchase. WHY NOT?! WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!

Well, I’m surprised I made it into the store, because the fun started in the parking lot. If a car has stopped, with its turn signal on, and is waiting for the oncoming car to pass so they can turn? Should the oncoming car just pull right in, turning in front of them? NOT IN MY WORLD, MOTHERFUCKERS.¬† So that set the tone.

Once I got in, I knew that there would be no fabric purchasing. Not that I’d planned on it, but fabric purchasing at Joann’s is certainly one of the inner rings of hell. They’ve rearranged to make a central place (outsmarting my old trick of “go to the home dec fabric department!”) but everyone stands around with their tickets and their 8 million fucking bolts of polar fleece, and the clerks announce the numbers…repeatedly, because some people just wander off because the universe, apparently, revolves around them. So no fabric. I needed some ribbon, thread, crafty things, beads, and a glue gun. I impulse-purchased some silicone molds because they’ll be useful for jello shots AND my upcoming cookie exchange, and found myself wandering the bead section for most of my time there. I almost (ALMOST) cut a bitch who thought she’d hang out in the notions aisle (by the thread) (and by the fabric cutting area, already jammed) and TEXT MESSAGE.¬† BITCH YOU IS IN THE WAY! She was also one of the passengers in the aforementioned car, so residual rage was at work. I ended up helping a lady in jewelry supplies, because she didn’t realize there was more than one aisle (good luck to her and her journey in life), and then I got in line. Fortunately, they were heavily-staffed, and the line moved quickly, so I got out of there with only a fraction of the surly I expected to have by the time I’d paid.

As for The Olive Tree, I would encourage anyone with a foodie in their life to give them a visit – they’re in Hawthorne Plaza (parking there is always entertaining, I got a great spot but when I was leaving, some old man almost took out my back end because even though I was halfway backed out, by god, he had to GIT SOMEWHERE NAO). They’ve got amazing flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars¬† (I got Rosemary-Lavender Olive Oil and Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar), smoked & flavored salts, lots of other local food purveyors sell their goods (I nabbed a bag of some of THE best toffee I’ve ever had), and they even do bonuses, like if you spend $50, you get to pick from a basket of small-size oils/vinegars to sample. (Persian Lime olive oil!)¬† We know the owners of the store through the ever-burgeoning foodie/gardener scene here in Kansas City, and they do great corporate gifts, gift boxes for the chef in your life, and are a font of knowledge on using all of their products. I can also safely say that I’ve NEVER wanted to cut a bitch while shopping there, which is like, the greatest ringing endorsement I can give during this crazy holiday season! (Seriously, though, they’re awesome. They need to stick around and be here 10 years from now. Go! Online order if you’re not local!)

 

Stove Shopping

As duck season approaches, the need to furnish the “Duck Club” becomes more necessary. One of the agreements we had when we got this little house in S. Missouri was that the appliances in our house here would move down there, and I would get to pick out a new stove and refrigerator.¬† (Ice Maker! Power Burner! The foodie and cook in me has been studying all the Consumer Reports reviews and making lists and perusing sales.)¬† Now is the time for the stove…. (the fridge will come later, the ones I want are not cheapo.) So I went out to Lowe’s last night, having identified the top CR pick lined up with the one I wanted – and it was on sale.

The Appliances section was empty, except for one worker, we’ll call him Bill. Names have been changed to protect the…guilty? In this day and age when you put something on the internet, it has so many ways of biting you in the ass… Anyway, Bill asks if I need help and remains glued to his computer while I wander around – note to Lowe’s, it would be sensible if you arranged all the stoves by electric and gas; I don’t know that many people walk in the door waffling between the two. Bottom line, I can’t find the model I want, even though it was listed as in-stock online. I finally circle back to Bill, and he agrees to look it up on the computer.

Now, because of where the monitor is, and complicated by what appears to be an extremely lazy eye, I suddenly become acutely aware that Bill may just be looking at the far right side of his screen, but instead, is actually ogling my boobs. Sigh. After I edge around to view his screen and change where I’m standing, that question gets answered pretty quickly.

Apparently, my tits are the primary shopper in the room.

So, on it goes, it would seem that Lowe’s does this little thing where they stock shit in a distribution center, and they can deliver within 7-10 days, which is not going to fit my schedule, as I can not imagine going without a stove for that long, not during Soup Weather! There’s only so much you can do with a crockpot. Bill discovers that there is one single location in the metro that has this stove in-stock (after I mention that Nebraska Furniture Mart has the same make/model at the same price point.) He tries to call them, gets caught in a circular loop, and throughout the entire fifteen minutes I’m waiting, all of this information is being conveyed to my general midsection , just below the neck. He does notice that I look at my watch somewhat impatiently (then I realized, duh, when you pull your arm up to see your watch, where does it stop? Right in line with the boobs.) and finally sent me off with his notes of the model & the phone number for the other store.¬† I walked away feeling like I needed a shower, and wondered if I could call Customer Service to get an additional “I’ve-Been-Somewhat-Violated” discount as part of my negotiations.

Instead, I got home, chatted with James during a break in his parent-teacher conferences, called the other store, got a very nice sales person who got it all taken care of over the phone, had numerous delivery options, and this weekend, I’ll have my new Frigidaire stove, with five burners and three oven racks and burners that will light themselves when you turn the knob and boil water in less than fifteen minutes.

James got home around 7:30, and as I was filling him in further, I noticed partway through my story that he was….staring at my boobs. Damned smartass. (He already knew that part of the story.) What is it with staring? I don’t get it. I think it would be so funny if women just started staring at men’s crotches. Like, blatantly, like this guy had done. Of course, I say that, and knowing some of the guys I’ve worked with, they’d see you staring and they’d take it further, gyrating and thrusting about like wild chimpanzees. WOOHOO SHE’S CHECKIN’ OUT MAH JUNK!¬† I once threatened, at a previous job, to really violate the employee handbook over boob-staring. The head of PR could not stop staring at all the women’s bewbs, and I got the notion that I would just come up behind him at the weekly agency Monday morning status, and essentially manually motorboat him from behind while shouting, “THERE BUDDY! HOW’S THAT? GOT IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM YET?” I’m not sure which was funnier, me shouting it to my audience of co-workers when we were out drinking or the fact I was grabbing my own boobs to emphasize my point. He was such a swarthy little pig. Unfortunately, he would have enjoyed it too much. Maybe that maneuver would have gotten me an extra discount on my stove? I didn’t feel like trying.

As my dad used to say, commenting on America’s over-obsession with the breast….”It’s just a gland, fer chrissakes!”

Reclaiming One’s Youthful Spirit

Yeah, that’s what it’s called. We went out to The Brick last night, had a blast – caught the tail end of Howard Iceberg & the Titanics, saw our friends Hillary & Tommy perform in their band, “The Hillary Watts Riot”, and then our friend Camry was in the last band, “The Sexy Accident”.¬† Since the first band was slated to start at 9:30, I knew we had plenty of time to get there, so we went out to dinner at The Beacon on the way there. It’s weird to go out to dinner at 9 pm in the Midwest, and while I’d been pining for Chai Shai, their kitchen closes at 9. In any event, we had a great meal, headed down to the Brick, saw people, were seen, made new friends, had a great time just listening to music, sipping a beverage, people-watching. I also did an amazeballs job of parallel parking, if we’re recounting ALL the wins of the evening.

At one point, I leaned over to James and said, “OK, wearing a kilt is cool. Very cool.”

pause.

“But if you’re also drinking PBR when you’re wearing one, does it make you a hipster?”

He laughed, and while he couldn’t say if that particular formula was a hipster recipe, he did observe there were a number of hipsters around us. (In the wild! I felt like Jane Goodall.) I said, “Am I a hipster?” and he laughed even harder.

“No.”

“Why not? It’s because I’m fat, isn’t it. You can’t be fat and be a hipster, can you.”

Maybe part of being a hipster is caring a little too much about how you… present oneself, all the way down to what you drink and the brand of shoes? I dunno.¬† I did feel like I really needed about 3 large tattoos to “blend in”, that’s for sure. And the dogs were completely perplexed by our atypical hours – what is this, 2:30 a.m. and you’re just going to bed?

Well, they sure didn’t hold back at 6 am, 7 am, and finally I gave up around 8 am and hauled my un-hipster ass out of bed to let them out, make coffee & head to the garden to collect a basket of veggies to whip into a mega-breakfast scramble. Now, I bet on the cooking front, I can outpace any damned hipster there is. I sauteed home-grown garlic, onions, kale, peppers, tomatoes & tossed in some potato, eggs, spicy beef sausages & cheese for a smashingly flavorful, vitamin-packed breakfast.

Oh, and I had to take a two-hour nap before we could even go out. Definitely not a hipster.

Tomatoes in the News!

Our good friends, Todd & Julie, have photographed everything tomato-related, including plants, the finished product, James’ hands separating seedlings…. and this past Sunday, those photos were a major feature in the House + Home section of Sunday’s Kansas City Star! Along with an awesome interview with my husband, who doles out all the growing advice you can get regularly over on his blog.¬† Since the pictures aren’t online, I snapped the two full-pages with my phone:

 

As much as I detest sweating, I’m ready for some fresh, tangy, delicious, home-grown tomatoes!

Sure, Fern.

We went to a draft party last night at Arrowhead – had a great time, except I brilliantly put my (full) bottle of water into my purse, only to discover after I sat down that said bottle¬† had been opened and then semi-re-shut – so at least half of it poured into my bag. Fortunately, I’m vigilant about putting my phone in its little side pocket, so no iPhone died, and my iPod was in a case that soaked up the water before it reached the electronics.

It did make me think of this, though, one of my all-time favorites from classic SNL. And with some¬† of the things I see that get posted on the internet it’s certainly still germane today, in that we masterfully protect people’s rights to Extreme Stupidity. I’m just glad when my own doesn’t cost me money!

UDPATE: Guitar Obtained!

Kansas City Hospice needs your help – they have a patient, and her father would like to play the guitar for her during her final days. He discovered his was warped. A friend of mine & I were all set to go with a Yamaha guitar from Craigslist, but the douchecanoe has failed to follow through. (KARMA! It comes around!) Anyway, I will refrain from posting more identifying details but may a thousand stinging bees descend on his heart.
To that end, if you have a guitar in playable condition that you are willing to donate, PLEASE call KC Hospice (816.363.2600) and ask for Kenyon, who will make sure it finds its way into the hands of this dad. My heart breaks every time I think about this, on so many levels – first and foremost, I wish no parent ever has to witness their child’s passing, followed by the fact that despite our country’s reluctance to acknowledge death and even allow people suffering in pain a dignified choice to end their lives, people who work in hospice are angels on earth. They at least provide a level of grace to a painful situation.

If you can help, and need to get in touch with me, email me at plazajen – at the good ol’ gmail.com and I will do whatever possible.

 

Update: a guitar came in to hospice yesterday, so this has been taken care of. It hadn’t been confirmed when I posted this, and I didn’t want to lose any more time. I appreciate the support – within ten minutes we had two guitars being offered, and that means a ton. Balances out the struggles of yesterday/this morning, trying to get one. Most people are really, really good peeps. Love when that gets re-affirmed. BUT – if you still would like to donate a guitar to them, they’d love to have one around Hospice House, for families to use. Phone/Contact still the same as listed above.

 

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