Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ohhhhhh America: You're my friend, now gimme stuff!

Happy Tuesday LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I find that getting four hours of sleep and then working for thirteen hours straight makes me slightly BIATCHY.  Which is not a good thing when people around me start losing it.

One of my close friends, Pookie St. Claire and I often discuss how it seems like many people were not given an etiquette manual at birth.  

I had to have a conversation with a colleague that basically went like this: "So Person X offered to help you because you were complaining that you were drowning in a sea of work and then you stabbed Person X in the back?  How is that productive?  Was that maybe not the best choice you could have made in that situation?"  

I'll never fully understand why it seems like "normal" human nature to take for granted the people closest to us.  Or worse, treat strangers better than the people closest to us.  But many of us do.  I know I have, on too many occasions I care to admit.  But yet it still floors me when I see people throw others "under the bus," as many times the person they are throwing is the one who has helped them the most.  

"Thanks for all the friendship and support and in return, let me kick you as the 3:47 p.m. Metro bus is coming up the road." 

In keeping with the "Ohhhhhh America" theme, I wonder if it's just Americans who seem to take so much for granted.  (I suspect not.)  It does cause me to ponder and muse about the subject however.  I find that some of the people I have helped the most and have been the most generous with are the ones first lining up to play Brutus to my Julius.  And shockingly I don't say that with sadness, bitterness or rage - it's become more of a named known factor.  And that's truly sad.

One of the things I like to do to distract myself from these shallow "deep" thoughts is watch the Jerry Seinfeld web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."  This is a terrific show for both comedy lovers and car lovers.  I was so excited to see that since the last time I had watched that a Jon Stewart and an Aziz Ansari episode had been uploaded. My lucky day!  (The simple things make me the happiest!)

As I watched the Jon Stewart-Jerry Seinfeld episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,  I watched Jon make himself and Jerry an iced latte with a Nespresso machine.  I suddenly remembered that Pookie St. Claire had offered to give me his Nespresso machine.  Pookie St. Claire likes to spend basically the gross national product of some third world country on nicer and nicer coffee machines.  I think he is getting rid of the Nespresso in favor of the Jumbo Coffee-tron 3000 Mega Deluxe Professional.  I also think Pookie St. Claire could afford a small Starbucks franchise for the cost of all the coffee makers he has had over the years.

Pookie St. Claire also names his coffee makers.  I think the Nespresso that he is generously giving me is named Bethuselah Boffey.  (And if it's not, IT IS NOW.  And that's Baw-FAY, not BOFF-fee.)

Now I could say that the comedy web series reminder about the Nespresso machine should have made me pause for a moment and thank my lucky stars that I have such a good friend as Pookie St. Claire ... and not just because he's giving me his fancy caffeinated miracle machine.  But because in general, although I hate to admit it; he's a pretty darn good friend who has stuck by me for 896 years.  (Did I mention he is really, really old?)

BUT did I do that?  Nope.  I grabbed my cell phone, texted Pookie St. Claire and said "Remember to gimme that coffee machine!"

Ahhhh ... maybe I need an etiquette guide too.  HAHAHAHHAHA!

But Pookie St. Claire subtly (with a megaphone) mentioned he would like to be in LilyOnTheLam.com again.  So Pookie St. Claire is giving me a high end coffee maker and in return he gets my lack of appreciation and a mention on a BLOG.  May not be the best exchange, he's ever made ... I'll have to reconsider my shocking lack of gratitude over a large latte.

Thank you, Pookie St. Claire! 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ohhhhhh America! Own Your Salaciousness!

Happy Saturday, LilyOnTheLam.com Readers!

I started out this wonderful day being treated to an early birthday breakfast by Ms. Wrigleyville.  I'm doing this new trend (yes happening 2 times in one month constitutes a trend!) where Ms. Wrigleyville buys me free breakfasts!

I have several more social events today, so this is going to be a quickie "Ohhhhhh America!" post.  I live in a building with many many elderly residents.  I live in Florida, after all.  Most places you go in Florida are a visit to God's Waiting Room.

There are both pros and cons to being surrounded by elderly people.  One neighbor sincerely tells me she loves me every time she sees me.  Talk about positive energy.  

But I have to say that many of my elderly neighbors are stereotypical older folks - lots to complain about, eating dinner at 4 p.m. and have an overall crotchety personality even if everything in the world is going right.  

We have a "lending library" in our lobby.  A place you can leave books you have already read for others to take.  I noticed that someone had donated a bunch of new books.  There was a chick lit book with a possibly sort of salacious title, sitting on the shelf.  I picked it up and I noticed that someone had taken a small piece of wrapping paper and taped it across the book's title.

I was at first confused and then I started laughing when I realized what was going on in here.  Someone didn't want the title to be seen as they read the book in public!  They had actually taken a piece of gift wrap - that was similar to the book cover's colors, cut it to perfectly fit the title and generously scotch-taped the paper on the cover so that there was zero chance that the paper would fall off.  That's some serious wanting to hide what you're doing (or reading, in this case.)

I don't know if other countries/cultures have this - I find it to be particularly American - wanting to hide your naughtiness and trying to cover up who you really are.  I think life is too short - own who you are, own your salaciousness!  Let everyone see your freak flag fly!  Read those naughty books and don't let yourself be defined or judged for doing it!  Stop taping book covers!

God bless my elderly neighbors and their sense of decorum though!  (Except for my next door elderly neighbors who loudly, loudly, loudly have sex.  They need a greater sense of decorum!)

Have a wonderful Saturday!

      

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ohhhhhh America: Put That Pig In A Tutu and Let's Read British Tabloids!

Hi LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I wrote today's post on Wednesday night, but Thursday night I wanted to add an additional paragraph which turned into many paragraphs.  So consider this blog post - two posts for the price of one.  One sad and one wacky, which is a good metaphor for events in my life.

On Thursday, I started my work day at 5:45 a.m.  It was a hellish day and my first break was not until 8:30 p.m.!  (Talk about exhaustion.)  I am giving reviews to my employees and my first one at 6 a.m. did not go well.  I spent the rest of the day trying to recover emotionally.    

So finally at 8:30 p.m., it was the first chance I had to look at the news BEFORE my 9 p.m. conference call.  Talk about working around the clock!

I went to CNN.com and I saw a headline about a missile and a Malaysia Airlines flight.  I first thought they were talking about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and I said a prayer of relief that finally they had found the plane.  But then I realized no, this was another Malaysia Airlines flight - reportedly shot down by a missile.  I couldn't believe I had gone the whole day without hearing any news.  Work has been so insanely busy it is easy to forget there is a world outside my window.

If you're a regular reader of LilyOnTheLam.Com (or if you know me personally), you may recall that I spent almost five weeks living in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on an assignment.  I had never been to Malaysia and to tell you the truth when I heard I was going there I had to look it up on a map to see where it was.  (Public school education!)  I also somehow didn't know Kuala Lumpur was in Malaysia and I didn't know Borneo was Malaysia.  (Frankly, I'm lucky if I know where New Hampshire is ... ummm somewhere on the East Coast!  But hey, I am super good at pop culture trivia!)

I took Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu.  The flight attendants were some of the nicest I have met in a very long time (and I travel A LOT.)  Malaysia quickly became one of my favorite places in the world, which is a true compliment because I have been to many foreign cities (even if my map skills/geographic knowledge are questionable!)  Kota Kinabalu to me is like Florida, Hawaii and Taiwan all rolled up into one.  It is one of the most gorgeous places on this Earth.  The people are so friendly and open-hearted.  And THE FOOD!  So delicious - consistently terrific.  When I returned home, I made a Malaysian feast for my friends.    (Read about my adventures in Sandakan, Malaysia here.)

When Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, I felt sorrow on many levels-- the overall tragedy and ongoing grief because no wreckage has been found and no answers have been given.  The sadness for the flight crew who most likely died in service to their passengers.  I work with people who travel all over the world - in fact two people who worked for my company were on Flt. 370.  The thought of traveling for business and losing one's life ... I can't even express the gut-punch I feel.  

I grieved for all the passengers and their families.  How torturous it must be to not have a final answer on what happened.  Most of the people on Flight 370 were Malaysian or Chinese.  I have traveled in both countries and have been treated so well by both nationalities.

Just the other day, I had been discussing with co-workers an upcoming workshop in Kuala Lumpur and who from my team would get to fly in for the event.  I knew it would not be me and I was jealous of whomever on our team would get to go to Malaysia.    

But now to hear that yet another full Malaysia Airlines flight has suffered an inexplicable tragedy ... I have no words to adequately express the sadness and sorrow for the lives lost from so many different countries and their family members who are left behind.

It is shocking and I am sure more answers will come - although probably more speculation and misdirection too as news tends to spiral out on every detail, whether true fact or rumor.  Knowing the full details will not change what has already happened.  How can you make sense of a senseless tragedy?

I had such a wonderful experience living in Malaysia.  I have so many wonderful memories that I cherish to this day.  It breaks my heart that yet another horrific tragedy has befallen a Malaysia Airlines flight.  It also makes me sad that for people who have never been to Malaysia, they may solely associate the country with these two tragedies.  This would be a shame because there is so much beauty in the country and in its proud, generous, kind people.  

I don't know why two tragedies like this have befallen Malaysia Airlines in a relatively short period of time.  What are the odds?  I pray for the families of passengers on Flight 370 and Flight 17.

P.S. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush says it much better than I ever could in his Huffington Post blog: "How Do We Respond To This Really Horrible Day?"

*****************************
Now on to my previously written Friday blog post ... a much less sad post about pigs, vegans and secret shameful love.  Sometimes the only thing we can do during times of sorrow is be grateful for what we have and try to laugh instead of cry.  I hope the following post makes you laugh and forget the world's problems, even if for a minute.

Happy Friday, LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

Another hellacious work week has come to an end - and the merriment of the weekend has begun!  After driving back and forth to Orlando twice last weekend, I am looking forward to staying closer to home and just relaxing.  How about you?

It is Day Five of "Ohhhhhh America!" week, where I shake my head at things shameful, disappointing or really awesome but I am ashamed to admit I think it is really awesome!

Today's post is all about Secret Shameful Love.  

It all happened when three straight girls went to St. Pete Pride Festival - basically a block party of food stands and information booths in honor of the wonderful gays and lesbians in Florida and beyond.  

One of my fellow attendees will forever be known as "Miss Freebie" because she was grabbing everything and anything that was given for free at the event.  Pens, canvas/mesh bags, paper fans, hand sanitizer, lollipops ... It was swag-a-rrific.  Watching Miss Freebie grab fistfuls of freebies made me miss my Mother - the original "Mrs. Freebie."

I had had a delectably spicy Bloody Mary at The Queens Head Restaurant and Euro Bar in St. Pete.  I'm not really sure what a Euro Bar is.  It sounds like a candy bar.  Or a bar of soap made out of colorful European money.  Or a euphemism for what a European tourist is smuggling in his scarily too tight Speedos.   

There were no Europeans sitting at The Queens Head's bar.  This "Euro Bar" sounds like false advertising to me!  But it is very worth it to go to The Queens Head to visit "the loo."  

(Look, I can speak British.  Or even Swiss British!)  

The Queens Head's Loo is wallpapered with British tabloids.  I seriously wanted to stay in there and read awhile ... but there was a long line of people waiting.  Perhaps next time!

The incredible heat, the rockin' DJ, an Atlantan soul singer who looked like a drag queen but was anatomically female, the Euro Bar Bloody Mary and a cup of super crazy good Tropiccool pineapple sorbet were all adding up to a relaxed, mellow, incredibly sweaty LilyOnTheLam.  I was slowly moving like I was crawling through pudding.  

And I didn't care.

But then I saw the most glorious sight.

It was like a syringe of adrenaline to my heart.

It was ...


     
A pig.

In a tutu.

Named Penelope.

At Pride.

The children's book practically writes itself here, people!

A young woman took a piglet, put it into a tutu and on a leash and took her to St. Pete Pride.  Probably the most amazing thing in the world.

In comparison, I realized that I lead the most boring life ever.  

How come I am not dressing up pigs and bringing them to social events?  I don't even own a tutu - adult-size or pig-size!  Suddenly my cats seemed very boring and oh so not colorful.  

"Hello LilyOnTheLam, this is your midlife crisis knocking on your door."

Ohhhhhh America, where we dress up bacon in ballet tutus.

Speaking of bacon, I saw this at Fresh Market ... 

WHAT THE WHAT ...



Vegan coconut bacon.  Bacon substitute made out of coconut.

Seriously - what the what?  AND WHY? 

I know readers, you want me to actually try coconut bacon and let you know how it is in one of my nifty product reviews. 

BUT I JUST CAN'T.  

I can't be the girl who eats coconut bacon. 

Seriously, I can't. 

If I can't be the girl with a pig in a tutu on a leash, I certainly CANNOT be the girl who eats coconut bacon either!  

Will someone please try this product and let me know how it is?  In the meantime, I'll be eating real bacon.  But not Penelope.

And in another porcine-related note, when I was real estate shopping with Mr. Cardamom Monroe I saw this beauty in a staged condo.



Whomever decorated this condo for open house viewing is a mighty super genius.  How can it get better than a graffitied paint splattered piggy on a table?

I nudged Mr. Cardamom Monroe and said "In the offer, make sure they throw in the pig.  I want that pig."

Mr. Cardamom Monroe pretended not to hear me.

"THE PIG!  THE PIG!" I hissed intently.  "MAKE SURE THEY THROW IN THE PIG IF YOU BUY THIS PLACE!"  I was NOT going to be ignored.

Mr. Cardamom Monroe pretended not to know me as he walked to the other end of the unit and discussed ways to spruce up the ugly track lighting with his realtor.

I looked at the paint splattered pig with my eyebrows arched.  "You will be mine, little piggy.  Oh yes, you will be mine."  I whispered.  

I don't care if Mr. Cardamom Monroe has to pay twice the asking price for this condo, I AM GETTING THAT PIG.  

It's important for a girl to have dreams.  

Ohhhhhh America!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ohhhhhh America: Get Your Broccoli Out Of My Cookies

Happy Thursday, LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

It is Day Four of "Ohhhhhh America" week - places and things that make me shake my head in shame, sorrow or disappointment (and an occasional thing that makes me smile - like yesterday's post on FOAMHENGE.)  I am shaking it up by having a "New Product Wednesday" product review on a THURSDAY instead of a Wednesday.  (Can you handle it?)

I am crazy exhausted from my new job.  I feel like I am running my own personal sleep deprivation study.  I was supposed to start conference calls at 5:30 a.m. today and I just could not do it.  I got up and rescheduled the call with my European counterparts and then went back to bed.  I had hit the wall and I needed sleep.

Tuesday night, I met Ms. Wrigleyville for yet another awesome restaurant she had recommended to me - The Green Mint Asian Grill in Clearwater.  I will write a post about this super terrific place to get a Bahn Mi sandwich another time.  It is in the same strip mall as "The Fresh Market" grocery store.  This is important to note for the following reason ...

On Sunday, I had made the absolute sacrifice and woke up early (on a weekend!) to drive to Orlando to meet Mr. Cardamom Monroe for breakfast.  Mr. CM's realtor had mentioned that the Las Vegas restaurant Hash House A Go Go had opened in Orlando.  I convinced Mr. CM that we needed to go there and see just how big "monster portions" is ("Ohhhhhhhh America").  I will be blogging about this restaurant in a post I will title "Hash House A NO NO."  

When I set off to drive from Tampa Bay to Orlando, I was sniffling like crazy.  When I don't get enough sleep, my nose starts running.  (LilyOnTheLam Fun Fact!)  I knew it was a bad idea, but I popped a blue Benadryl to combat my nasal drip.  (In Australia, Benadryl is only cough syrup not allergy pills.  I learned this while traveling around Turkey with a bunch of Aussies.  Australian Fun Fact!)

Benadryl makes me very groggy.  

Do you know what's not smart to take when you're driving?  Something that makes you groggy!  (Not So Fun Fact!)  

I met up with Mr. Cardamom Monroe and we "a-went went" to Hash House A Go Go.  The portions were basically 900 pounds of food each.  ("Ohhhhhh America!")  I picked at the carb-tastic platter, but it was overly spicy and not so good ... although I am quite sure I probably still ate 2000 calories worth before I put down the fork.

Then Mr. CM and I walked around Lake Ivanhoe, trying to burn off the caloric gluttony.  It was very hot.  I was feeling bloated, stuffed and sweaty.  Sooooo not sexy!

Mr. CM then had to head to the airport and I was back in the car to head home to Tampa Bay.  The combination of Benadryl, fatty food and the hot sun was NOT good.  When I had about 35 minutes left of my drive to go, my eyes started fluttering.  

I was literally falling asleep behind the wheel in the middle of the day.  

If I had more than 35 minutes to go, I would have pulled over and slept in my teeny tiny backseat.

Frankly, I should have pulled over anyway.  The last leg of the drive was the slowest, most painful part!  I kept slapping my face.  I am sure I was quite the crazy sight for other people on the road.

What was worse was that not only was I falling asleep while driving but I was also intensely craving brownie pillow cookies.  

Like my blog post about cake in a pie crust, The Fresh Market grocery store sells sugar cookies that have a layer of brownie inside.  (Ohhhhhh America!)  I hadn't had a brownie pillow cookie in years, but as I was close to driving off the road I was seriously jonesin' for some cookies.

Need for sleep outweighed need for cookies however.  I drove straight home and it was immediately nap time for LilyOnTheLam.  

So on Tuesday night after having a lovely dinner with Ms. Wrigleyville, I couldn't just drive home when I was steps away from The Fresh Market grocery store.  

Nooooo .... I needed to buy some BROWNIE PILLOW COOKIES.  

Well karma smacked me in the face for wanting some sweet, sweet, brownie inside a cookie, sugar cookies.  

While I was in the grocery store, a four car accident happened down the road.  So by the time I was driving home, I was at a dead stop in traffic.  I drove three blocks in 45 minutes.  I was getting road rage!  

I had an evening conference call scheduled with my China team member and I just watched the clock slowly tick by.  Luckily some cops started directing traffic and I off-roaded over a median (probably not a good idea in a low convertible!).  I made it home right before my conference call started.  Success!  

I paid a high price for wanting cookies!  (And between you and me, they weren't as good as I remembered!  I still ate some anyway!)

The lesson to be learned here is "stay away from cookies!"  If being stuck in traffic for want of cookies did not teach me this lesson, this following horrific tale will.

I was shopping at Whole Foods grocery store for ingredients for a cooking contest/Bourbon party.  (Did I happen to mention I won second place?)  I loaded up my cart with all the fancy ingredients but then I spotted something surprising on the shelf ...

Lemon Broccoli cookies.  

What the what?  

Bitsy's Brainfood Lemon Broccoli Smart Cookies.  

Um, they don't sound so smart to me.  

Lemon BROCCOLI cookies?  I like lemon.  I like broccoli.  I like cookies.  I like lemon cookies.  I like lemon and broccoli.  But Lemon Broccoli Cookies?    



Next to these cookies were Orange Chocolate Beet "Smart" cookies.



And then Zucchini Gingerbread Carrot Smart Cookies.



I don't know what you're thinking, but I am thinking about a TASTE OFF COOKIE COMPETITION.  Tell Bitsy my brain is thinking a taste test is needed!

One particularly rough day at work, I decided to alleviate my stress with the smart cookie taste test.  I whipped out the lemon broccoli cookies first.  Might as well go big or go home.  Time to taste the scariest sounding one.  



The lemon broccoli cookies were beige-gray-brownish sadness in alphabet shapes.  I wanted to spell out "U-G-H."

I put one piece in my mouth and cried out "WHY GOD, WHY?" 

I seriously thought I had accidentally put a cat treat in my mouth.  It was dry.  It was mealy.  And it tasted like hell.  

The first bite was very lemony.  The after taste was pure dirt and broccoli.  If misery and shame had a flavor, this would be it.  I threw out the rest of the small bag.  I wouldn't wish these cookies on my worst frenemy.

I really didn't know if I could finish this three cookie taste test.  That was how bad the first bite of lemon broccoli cookies was ... it zapped my will to live (or even worse, my will to eat!)

I went next to the Orange Chocolate Beet cookies.  These were better but still had the "what the heck is wrong with these cookies?" aftertaste.  If stuck on a desert island with the choice of eating these cookies or sand, I would eat these cookies first.  

I still threw out the rest of the bag.  Blech.

On to cookie #3 - the zucchini gingerbread carrot cookies.  I actually had high hopes for these.  I like zucchini bread.  I like gingerbread.  I like carrot cake.  These are all good flavors.  Certainly cookie #3 had to be the winner, right?

Ohhhh how wrong, wrong, wrong I was.  These didn't taste like zucchini.  These didn't taste like gingerbread.  These didn't taste like carrot.  These tasted like betrayal, anger and insanity.  I wanted to spit them out.  They were not as noxious as the lemon broccoli cookies, but they still made me want to cry.

I'm all about trying to sneak in some health into a snack.  I love a Greek yogurt or cottage cheese based dip versus a fatty sour cream or mayo-laden one.  I like a turkey meatloaf chock full of grated vegetables.  But these darn cookies were hellishness in alphabet form!

So if you're keeping score, full sugar cookies caused me to get stuck in traffic and "smart" cookies made me want to hurl.  

Cookies are evil.  

Better to stick with pie.  

(Or my step-father would say stick with Trader Joe's Cat-shaped Cookies for People.)  

But avoid the cake in a pie crust.

These are the important life lessons I have learned while creating my "Ohhhhhh America" series of blog posts.  

I hope you enjoyed Day Four, there will be three more "Ohhhhhh America posts" for your head-shaking enjoyment this week!

As always, thank you for reading!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ohhhhhh America: The Joy of Foam

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

It is Day Three of "Ohhhhhh America" week - where I detail items that make me say "Ohhhhhh America" and make me shake my head in disbelief, sorrow, shame or all of the above.  I usually have "New Product Wednesday" posts on Wednesdays where I review a product that is new or at least new to me.  However since I have many product reviews this week, I am going to skip it for this week.  (Gasp!)

Instead, I have a tale about psychics, foam and friends who take you to see foam.

Over the last year or even longer, I have been re-evaluating various relationships.  Unfortunately there are some people in my life who make zero effort and are quite happy for me to carry the full load.  I'm not too keen on this situation, so I have been expending energy only on relationships with people who have not adopted this Lily 100%, them 0% philosophy.  

Last I checked, cell phones work both ways ... is it so hard to press H - I and then press "send" on a cell phone to text or email?  Or better yet, how about a phone call?  I think if someone has made zero effort to contact me, they have no right to complain about me not talking with them.  It's a two way street, people!  

Sadly, I was disappointed and shocked to learn that a couple people who I considered friends disappeared from sight when I was not the one driving 100% all communication.  People I had helped when they were sick, hospitalized or in trouble.  People I had bought gifts for and went out of my way to see.  People I had hosted parties for, at my expense.  But in the end, the clear knowledge of who is willing to put in effort and who is not is a gift.  No need to look back in anger.  Life is short.  Better to spend time and energy on those who spend time and energy in return.  No need to waste energy on those who do not appreciate or reciprocate.

I have decided that in the future, I need to put people/acquaintances/friends in one of two camps ... those who would drive me out to the middle of nowhere to look at foam and those who would not.  I am pretty sure this will become the new litmus tests for all friendships.  "The Lily/Foam Friendship Corollary" is sure to be the buzz term for all future psychology conferences from now until the end of time.

I was visiting FLL (the woman affectionately referred to as "The First Lady of Lynchburg, Virginia" in past LilyOnTheLam posts.)  FLL had taken me to a cute little shopping area in Charlottesville, Virginia.  I purchased a fabulous ring from a street vendor that I just adore, even though it quickly turned my finger a gray-green.  I heard if you paint the inside of a cheap metal ring with clear nail polish, this can help stop this from happening.  (Also buying better quality jewelry helps too!)



After much shopping, FLL and I sought refuge in a quaint coffeehouse.  Our last stop had been this mystical ethereal shop that sold tarot cards, crystals, etc. and had a cute male cashier.  I told FLL about a psychic I went to while on holiday in Portland, Maine (as it has become a vacation hobby to throw away money on silly pursuits like this).  The psychic had told me that I was an alien.  (My step-father will enjoy that he's been proven correct on this one.)  

Apparently I came to Earth to help "tune up" alien souls to survive here.  The psychic plucked at the air to demonstrate how I rearranged souls' molecules.  (Souls have molecules?)  Evidently I was like the TSA agent at Stonehenge telling the alien souls to make sure their shampoo was in three ounce bottles or less.  

I was not surprised to "learn" that even a millennia ago, I was working annoying jobs.  

Evidently my soul is really, really old.  (A fact that many people will concur on ...)  I sat across from this Earth Mama psychic, taking in her weirdness.  (She told me my aura is also supposedly a blue rose slowly opening in the light.  Whatever that means!)  Then the psychic told me she watched a fascinating special on TV about Stonehenge.  

At this point I had to hold back a snort.  Um yeah what are the odds that this "psychic" watches a TV show on Stonehenge and then surprise, surprise her next client was someone who was supposedly at Stonehenge?  Use a little imagination, woman!  And don't TELL ME about your inspiration for your bogus reading!  Try a little harder, Psychic Lady!  

I do feel like I am an old soul, but I have my doubts whether I was working "the gate" at Stonehenge.  As I told this story to FLL, she metaphorically slapped her head and said "Ohhh I forgot, I want to take you to FOAMHENGE!"

I just stared at FLL.  None of those words strung together seemed to make sense to me.  Evidently my hearing was going.  "Foamhenge???"

FLL said "Yes, there's a Stonehenge in Virginia made out of foam and I want to take you to it."

FLL said this with a perfectly straight face.

I did what any old soul/possible alien gatekeeper would do in my situation when faced upon hearing that someone wanted to drive me out to rural Virginia to show me foam.

I said:  "LET'S DO IT!"

I have never been to the real Stonehenge - the prehistoric monument located in England.  No one knows exactly how these gigantic stones were raised in a semi-circle or what it was used for.  Some think druid burial ground.  Some think alien portal.  Some just revel in the mysteries of the unknown.

Apparently back on April Fool's Day 2004, Mark Cline of Enchanted Castle Studios erected a Stonehenge like replica made entirely of foam near Natural Bridge, Virginia.  I'm not really sure why and I suspect the answer might be "Sounded like a good idea at the time!"

Now Natural Bridge, Virginia is known for its "natural bridge" rock formation.  So I think it is an interesting twist that it is now known for two items - one nature made and one man-made ... rock and foam.

With me navigating by iPhone GPS, FLL and I took off to see "Foamhenge."  I'd like to say there was a kicky theme song playing in the background as we traveled ... I'm thinking like Dolly Parton or Daft Punk.  But I actually don't even recall if we had music on, as we were so determined to see FOAM.

After what seemed like forever, we pulled up into a gravelly makeshift parking lot.  I had been reading Yelp reviews that had complained about the climb from the quasi parking lot to the actual "Henge of Foam."  I looked up the hill and was like "Yelpers, are you a bunch of wussies?"  (I kid, I kid - please don't send me hate mail!)  The climb did not seem bad at all - but if it had been winter, yes it probably would have been somewhat difficult or at least slippery.  (See Foamhenge in summer, people!)



There was actually a large branch to the side of the "entrance" of Foamhenge that I think was a walking stick for those who may have issues getting up the hill.

We met a very nice man at the base of "Foamhenge" who talked to us for awhile and gave us a preview of what we would see at the top of the hill.  (Um, foam?)  Large blocks of foam seem to inspire friendliness.




There was a sign with an ominous warning against defacing "Foamhenge."  Creator Mark Cline says that he is watching and will scratch up your car if you scratch up his foam.  I looked around me to see if I could spot Mark Cline hiding in the foliage, about to pounce.  I am paranoid by nature, I don't need to be told that someone is watching me!  I did appreciate that the sign said "I'm nuts enough to do it!"  I feel like all my work e-mails should have a similar sign-off.

Foamhenge was meant to be a one time April Fool's joke, but it's now been over ten years and people are still coming to see it.  Time and the elements have not been kind to the Henge o' Foam, but I think the exposed foam looks like aged rock from a distance.



In addition to the foam structure, there are signs with theories on how Stonehenge came to be constructed.  (So yes, you're not only looking at foam but learning some nifty fun theories while you're at it!)



The theory that makes me smile is the one where they propose that Merlin of King Arthur's court levitated the large stones into place.  To demonstrate the theory, there is a replica of Merlin (in foam, I think?) looking like he's commanding something or another.  His hand is missing, but his fierceness remains.  Mark Cline modeled the face of Merlin after a friend who has since passed away.  In my book that's a pretty cool piece of immortality - to be reigning over Foamhenge after one has passed.


There is something very Americana about stopping during a road trip to see the biggest ball of twine, a giant thermometer or a two-headed snake in a jar.  I'd like to pretend that I am "above" all this - but I have to admit, I revel in it.  There was no deep thought about "Do I really want to see some foam in the middle of nowhere?"  You just do it!  

On a gorgeous day in May with a very good friend, my eyes feasted upon foam resting in the Virginia countryside.  It was just as inexplicable as the real Stonehenge ... and perhaps may be the closest I get to the real one.  I didn't have any deja vu about "working the gate" at the henge, rearranging alien souls.  But hey, you never know ...

After FLL and I got our fill of the Henge o' Foam, we headed back down the hill.  I turned for one last look and saw a plane streaking the sky like a giant arrow pointing at the Merlin statue next to the Stonehenge replica.  I take this as a sign that of all the theories about how Stonehenge was created, we should put our "faith" in magic.   



When we returned to the car, a family of four were getting out of their car with such excitement to see the Henge o' Foam.  Now I tend to be a cynic who is dead inside (LOL), but I had to smile at just how excited this family was.  It was like they were going to meet Santa Claus, Jesus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy!  I stopped to think when was the last time I was THAT excited about anything?

For me, the "beauty" of Foamhenge was that it reminded me to experience joy in the weird, wacky and wonderful.  I never knew I needed to see some big slabs of foam on a hill, but I am glad that I did!  

I hope you all are filled with as much excitement as that family of four on their way to Foamhenge.  It's important to hold such happiness close to our hearts and be grateful for the moment.  Ohhhh America!