Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Support your local lions

Every day on my way home from work I pass the sign for the Lion Habitat Ranch on St. Rose Parkway just east of the M Casino, and always wondered what it's all about.  Then last week I had dinner with a former client who raved over it, so on Sunday Mike and I took the kids to check it out.

I loved it!  According to one of the handlers, there are 49 lions on site and one white tiger. (Wouldn't you think the tiger would be kind of lonely?)  The ranch is very low key and you can get really close to the animals. 

I'm not an animal person; if James Lipton of The Actor's Studio ever asked what my least favorite job would be, I'd say it's a tie between zookeeper and pedicurist. But I am fascinated by animals.  As long as they don't touch me. 

The staff was very nice and happy to answer all our questions.  Of course, I was a absolutely mortified when, as one of the attendants was showing us the little baby cubs, Mike said, "My wife wanted me to ask you if they make warm slippers."  OMG!  And until the lady realized he was kidding, you should have seen the look she shot me.

That reminded me of the time when B.H. and I were hiking outside Boulder, Colorado.  We passed a hippie family on the trail proudly walking their pet llama and then B.H. says within their earshot, "I bet the meat is delicious."  Another moment when I wanted to melt into the ground.   

Anyway, according to their brochure, the Lion Habitat Ranch supplied the lions for the MGM Grand for 15 years, until they had to leave the hotel in February of 2012 to make room for another nightclub or whatever (dumb move, MGM).  In December 2012 the habitat opened to the public.

The hours are limited; they're open only Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  It cost $40 for the four of us ($20 for each adult, kids were free), which is not bad, but not necessarily affordable for everyone.  There were only a handful of us roaming around the place last Sunday and it doesn't seem to be thriving, which is a shame because it really is cool.  If I were queen, this is what I would do:
  • Offer a season's pass for $30.  This would encourage people to keep coming back and would keep the place in the forefront of their minds.  We would definitely stop in there every so often to see how the lions are doing, but not at $40 a pop.
  • Spruce up the grounds a bit.  Add benches and places to sit and relax.  Make it a park-like atmosphere where people could come and hang.  
  • Add a cool gift shop and a food concession. A Starbuck's at the entrance would be fine with me and would increase awareness.  Hey, if people can spend four bucks for a coffee, they'd probably be willing to spring for a season's pass to check out the animals.
  • Set the place up as a non-profit. Recruit volunteers, create fundraising events. 
 Yep, I'm definitely the kind of person who would tell the pope how to say Mass...

So check this place out.  It really looks like it could use some community support.  Look how cute this one is:

Awwww... are you surprised that I'm so into these lions?  You shouldn't be--remember my creation in my backyard?

And I said would hate to be a pedicurist..

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Snooping around Liberace's Las Vegas mansion

Last week Mike and I watched Beyond the Candelabra, the HBO movie about the last 10 years of Liberace's life, based on the autobiographical novel by Scott Thorson, his much younger lover.  Okay, Mike watched only the beginning of it--nothing will make a heterosexual dude run from a room faster than a depiction of man-on-man action in the sack.  Am I right?  Even if one of the guys is Matt Damon.

I held out, mainly because the Emmy Awards are Sunday night and I wanted to see it so I'll know who to root for.  Michael Douglas and Matt Damon each give truly amazing performances, no doubt about that.  But other than the acting, I can't recommend the movie. It seems like something that just didn't need to be made.  It was sad and icky, and it sure as hell wasn't entertaining.  Liberace is not at all portrayed in a favorable light; he comes across as little more than a demented old, controlling queen.  I can't imagine a fan appreciating this film too much.  I could be wrong.

Anyway, last Sunday Mike took me to see Liberace's mansion at 4982 Shirley St. here in Las Vegas, not far from McCarran Airport.  Mike has lived in Las Vegas since 1966 and remembers riding his bike past Liberace's house when he was a kid.  He couldn't recall exactly where it was, but with the help of my trust iPhone, we found it.

According to this article, the property was purchased at the end of August for $500,000 by a British fan living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in honor of his 50th birthday.  In 2006, during the Vegas housing boom, the house sold for $3.7 million (ouch!) and went into foreclosure in 2010.  It sits on a corner lot with no land around it and is obviously in a state of disrepair.

Look beyond the dead tree and imagine Liberace himself, covered in jewels, under the canopied walkway.

Check out the Ls on the front door.

The place looks deceptively small, but in fact, it's a two-story structure with almost 15,000 square feet.  Interestingly, there are ten bathrooms but only two bedrooms. Lots of room for entertaining, but no place for overnight guests.

I looked in the windows and took a few pictures of the inside.


Here's a video I took as we walked around the property.

Sad when you think of how opulent the mansion once was, but it looks like the new owner will restore the house to its former glory.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of it.

Did you see Beyond the Candelabra?  What did you think?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Woo-hoo! I'm Miss September!

No, I didn't lose 25 pounds and pose for a Playboy calendar.  I wish!  Oh, how I wish...  But I am on a calendar. Kind of, not really.

Here's the scoop.  Seems that two of my beloved family members got themselves a "12 Months of Dachshunds" calendar last Christmas. Why? I don't know.  Even though we had a dog in the house when we were growing up, none of my siblings or kids have animals. We're not animal people.  So go figure.

Anyway, sometime during last Christmas' holiday season, these two beloved family members--undoubtedly aided by some sort of alcoholic inspiration--decided to name each month's featured dachshund after the real-life person the dog resembled.

Need I say more? 

They named the September dachshund "Linda" because of its beautiful hair. Of course.

How lucky was I to be at a party in Albany during my featured month so I could pose with my canine look-alike?  (To the first person who comments, "I can totally see the resemblance":  I will kick your ass.) 

But in real life, I can kind of see it myself...

Evidently, 2013 was the third year these two beloved family members got themselves a dachshund calendar, but the first where they named the dogs.  Actually, I'm kind of honored.  And thankful that it wasn't "12 Months of Birds." Now, that would be crossing the line.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Does it seem like all I do is travel and go on vacation?

I'm on vacation in Albany until next Sunday.  So glad to be here!  I have a few pictures to share.  (Sorry if you've already seen some of these on Facebook.)

Here I am with my little angel, Hazel.

It is SO hard to get that kid to look into the camera.  I don't know how Courtney ever took this one of her a few weeks ago. And she's smiling!

Is that not the most perfect picture?  That hair!  I could eat her up.

Today there were close to 20 of us at the racetrack in Saratoga.  I love the ponies! I didn't cash in one ticket, but who cares?  It's such a fun place to hang out.

Hey, I lightened my hair again.  The dark brown was way too harsh.  Much better like this!

No Vegas blue sky here; it was overcast all day. There was a 100% chance of rain, but thankfully we didn't get a drop.

Here's my son, Christopher, taking Hazel for a little walk. 

 My daughter-in-law, Ketti, Chris, and Connor doing some serious handicapping.

Connor and my nephew Andy--the next generation of bettors.

Aw....  My boy Connor loves his Granny! 

Hard to believe Connor starts high school on Monday.

Speaking of high school, yesterday I caught up with my high school boyfriend from 40 freakin' years ago!!!  Here we are with my sister Lori.


Like I said, it's great to be here with my family.  And as you can see, it's green in these parts!

Hope you all had an enjoyable holiday weekend, too!