Spring Break Road Trip

Spring Break Road Trip



While most spring breakers head south for the week, RM and I drive north to visit friends and family along the way. RM is not Thelma but I am his Louise.  Our destination is McHenry, Illinois, to visit C2 for a few days. The overall journey was 2000 miles of interstate driving through Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas – traveling the heartland.

Any culinary connoisseur knows that the perfect dish is all about the pairing. One pair that’s always been in sync? Food and travel. The two passions go together like spaghetti and meatballs. Like chicken and curry or farmers’ markets and fresh produce. It’s a match made in heaven, and hardcore travelers will tell you that trying a destination’s cuisine is one of the most enhancing experiences of a trip.

RM and I drove through sunshine, fog, rain and sleet and temperatures varying greatly from highs in the 80’s in Missouri to below freezing at night in Illinois.  We drove through two cities hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (Des Moines and OKC), stopped to tour Lincoln’s home and tomb in Springfield, Ill and a quick visit with dear friends in Springfield, MO.

Food was a part of each and every experience. We sampled local food favorites like Chicago-style hot dogs with pickles, tomatoes and peppers on top, wet beef sandwich (dipped in juice) with a Pop (not Coke) and toasted ravioli, tree ways like in one, two, tree (it’s fried with reduced calories if they call it toasted — it’s my theory). We took long gusty walks with our daughter’s high energy dog, Atticus, to counterbalance our foodie treats and transferred the Transmogrifier to my nephew Todd for much needed repair work. Of course, we met him at a bistro specializing in local craft beer and we sampled Irish delights of corned beef and shepherd’s pie — it was St. Paddy’s day, dear readers. C2 and I made chili paired with cinnamon rolls from scratch; a family tradition served on Friday nights growing up in the Midwest.

We stopped in Topeka to catch up on family news, celebrate the matriarch of the Marshall clan’s 81st birthday with chocolate cake and gobbled up classic, lemon Madeleines baked by C3 — I call them French butter cookies.  On The Great British Baking Show, they call them sponge cookies.

On the last leg of the trip, we didn’t stop to eat anything but fasted all day except for a cheap cup of coffee from McDonald’s just to keep us awake through the beautiful, expansive Flint Hills of Kansas.  I pulled into our driveway, eight hours later, with a roaring headache due to severe butter withdraws, low blood sugar levels and eye strain from navigating down I-35 between the Red River and the Fort.  My demeanor was similar to a mama grizzly exiting her den in the spring. Not pretty but I was home.

Toasted Ravioli and Italian roast beef sandwiches



Transmogrifier Model 3020-15B

Transmogrifier Model 3020-15B

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I own the original Transmogrifier and have kept it stored away for safe keeping ever since we closed our indoor edutainment business called the Clubhouse for Kids only!  RM and I along with our partner family, the Lamberts, opened the business first in Bedford and then a second location in west Fort Worth. We ran both store fronts for about a decade and we hosted many families, over 500,000 visitors, for a day of indoor play, a celebration and themed birthday party or a fun school field trip.  We made a lot of kids happy which is a wonderful legacy for us here in the Fort.

My brother, Ed or “the boy genius” as my dad dubbed him early on, was one of our many investors that wanted to be more than just financially supportive but also wanted to use his creativity and inner genius to create an activity for kids visiting our play center.  And he just wanted to have fun, like all the kids that came to the Clubhouse. He was the inventor of the Transmogrifier Model 3020 – 15B. All of our many guests nearly wore this Big T out.

Ed’s day job was as an electrical engineer working in the semiconductor industry outside of Boulder, Colorado. After work he fathered and supported the interest and hobbies of his three young sons and tinkered in his garage.  For the creation of the transmogrifier, he applied his considerable electrical engineering skills combined with his devotion to science fiction literature and films.  He soaked up speculative fiction dealing with imaginative concepts in futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. And he applied it to building this machine.

As a kid, Ed was drawn to electricity like most of us lesser intellects were infatuated with our navel.  He couldn’t wait until our folks left us unsupervised, so that he could open the main electrical box in the basement and flip some switches just to see what happened.  He electrocuted himself frequently but without serious, permanent damage.  Usually he just got a good jolt to knock him to his knees. But he learned, through application, the concepts of electrical charge, current, and field and you can see his creativity when you play with all the switches, bells, and buttons on the transmogrifier.  Most of the dials and switches he found in old electrical shops or hardware stores around the Boulder area.

The transmogrifier, this week, is in route to Ed’s oldest son, for a much needed cleaning and fine tuning.  Many of the old features need adjusting and some rewiring.  My brother had a dry wit and he coined many of the attributes of the transmogrifier with names I am sure he drew from sci-fi and his own quirky sense of humor.  Titles like:

  • Interstellar language translator
  • Rotary Motivator
  • Hyper Cooler
  • Laser Power
  • Proximity Alarm
  • Cyclotron

My brother passed away too soon but my sweet memories of him remain as I switch on the transmogrifier and it hums to life.  I wish I could remember why he named this model 3020-15B?  There has to be a reason, a good back story, for why he chose those numerals and letter.  Anybody care to make a guess?


Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.”
– Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

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Low Maintenance Women

Low Maintenance Women



Billy Crystal in “When Harry Met Sally,” talked about relationships that require too much upkeep and never work out in the end. (And, yes, men fall into these categories, too.)

“You’ve got your high maintenance chicks and your low maintenance chicks,” he told Meg Ryan. “And you are definitely high maintenance.”

Low maintenance women are the ones who can take more than a few potholes. We don’t cry when our hair gets messed up or freak out because it’s raining. We don’t need 40 minutes to get ready for a 20 minute outing.  Clues you’re low maintenance.

  1. You gas your own vehicle up every time and take it in for maintenance checks.
  2. When you have a runny nose, you will use a piece of paper towel if a tissue isn’t handy.
  3. You skip the manicure because you need your hands for gardening and other chores. Dirt don’t hurt.
  4. You own your own dolly.
  5. You are not too proud, in a pinch, to get your hair done at a Super Cuts.
  6. You love it when he brings you flowers from Trader Joes — isn’t that sweet!?
  7. When he asks you how your day was at work, you say,”great” and move on from there.
  8. You are careful with your money and invest for your future.
  9. You save your tears for the really important moments.
  10. You cut people some slack most of the time.
  11. Your idea of a fun date is a muffeletta at Jason’s Deli and stroll in the Botanic Gardens.  He does need to hold your hand on several occasions or he is in deep SH–.
  12. You are ready to go when it is time to go.  You don’t want to miss out on the fun.
  13. You repeat outfits — black pants anyone?
  14. You have a panic attack if you are asked to enter a Sephora.
  15. Hair products? What are those?