Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To all my friends on shore...

I really have to say thank you to all my pals who have been concerned about me and to tell you that I'm alive and kicking out here, but I did something really stupid...I allowed my blood sugar to climb without check on Christmas Eve and it's taken me this long to feel like sitting at the computer and trying to explain myself. When I say it was stupid, it really was...I needed my butt kicked and kicked it was. And let me tell you today, that small piece of rum cake that threw me wayyyyy over the top, was not worth it. Not one tiny sliver of it was worth what I put myself through! So, I'm back...and I'm about to go visit my friends and catch up and I'm not making a New Year's resolution here, they are made to be broken, I'm making myself a promise...I shall watch over my health with abandon! I will partake of fewer carbs and more proteins...MUCH fewer! I shall take Christmas Eve into my heart and eat sugar free Jello from now on...no more rum cake. Shame, that.

I want to thank you all for being concerned, you are truly my friends and I will be back with a genuine post soon!~

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five will get you Twenty


Five will Get you Twenty



How quickly the days slipped away. The decision to take a working vacation this early had not come easily. His wife had insisted. She harped on about how hard he had worked over the years and insisted that an early trip was an excellent idea. "You take Humphries with you, I can always contact him if anything comes up that needs your attention. You just have to take a break. Or a break is going to take you! And the funds need to be replenished. You may as well enjoy yourself as you take care of that piece of business." She was adamant that the "vacation" started soon. He almost became suspicious about her persistence but knew that she loved him, in fact adored him. She insisted that he go along with Humphries that she would occupy her time with the hobbies she had taken up. "In fact, I'll enjoy it more since I won't have you underfoot and demanding my attention." She smiled at him lovingly and he shrugged. "Okay, I'll get Humphries to make all the arrangements."

It was the climate difference that he always noticed most. The air was dry and warm. Warm, it was downright hot. He had immediately broken out what his wife called his "Hawaiian Look" wardrobe. The shorts did little to conceal his knobby knees and the shirt was just a canvas pulled taut over his belly. Before he had left home, he had gone to his bureau drawer and removed the flashy chip with the empty space where the name of the casino it chose to play at would go. He held it in his hand and casually flipped it skyward with the confidant air of a winner. Humphries, his diminutive traveling companion and bank keeper was dressed impeccably in a tailored pinstripe suit and highly polished Italian made shoes. He wrinkled his nose in the general direction of his boss. His boss looked at the expression on his face and said, "tacky is as tacky does, Humphries. Now be a good sport and stop casting aspersions on my outerwear." He picked up his golf hat, motioned for Humphries to take the briefcase lying on the end of the bed and they were off.

After they had arrived in Vegas, Nick and Humpries took some time to explore the various offerings of Vegas. Nick held the lucky chip in his hand and as they drove down Vegas Blvd, waited to see which would be the hotel of choice. The tingle began as they approached the Bellagio Casino and Hotel. "This is the one," Nick told Humphries. Humphries leaned forward and got the driver's attention. "We'll stop at the Bellagio, driver," he said.

"Yes, sir!" the driver answered, whipping into the hotel drive and pulling up to the front of the hotel. Like magic the Bellmen appeared out of nowhere and began to load Nick and Humphries bags onto the luggage trolley. "Follow me sirs, right this way," were tossed out as Nick paid the cabby, giving him a healthy tip in addition to the fare. "THANK YOU, SIR!" he called out to Nick's retreating back. "Nice Gentleman," he murmured, "nice Gentleman." He waved as he drove away to collect another fare.

Nick and Humphries approached the desk, deep in discussion. Humphries was still on about Nick's clothing, but Nick quickly pointed out that the shirt was silk the shorts linen and offered to let his young employee guess what it had cost. "The earth, I'm sure sir," smirked Humphries, " but it's not the cost, it's the appearance." Removing the expensive pair of sunglasses he had needed to block the burning rays of the sun from his eyes, Nick brushed him off as they arrived at check in. The clerk behind the desk was all smiles and very polite as he asked for the name the registration would be under. Nick still held on tight to his one chip, a smile teasing his lips.

"Snow, Nick Snow," he smiled to the clerk. The clerk glanced up and down the list of expected visitors on the computer screen. Looking up over the rim of his reading glasses, he spoke softly. "I'm sorry sir, I don't see your name registered here." The chip grew warm in Nick's hand. "Check again, son...it's there, " Nick replied. The clerk, eyes running down the list saw it immediately.

"I don't know how I missed it the first time, Sir. I do beg your pardon Mr. Snow. And I see you've been with us before, I'm terribly sorry for any inconvenience." He began to ring the bell sharply, to get a bellman to take the luggage and guests to Nick's suite. Nick waved away any mention that he was upset and he and Humphries approached the elevator with the bellman.

The two bedroom suite was luxurious, no doubt. Not that Nick would be spending much time inside it. He intended to lie down and take a nap, call his wife Gloria and let her know that he had arrived and then grab a shower. He would dress for dinner and the nights play at the roulette wheel. He sat down on the side of the satin topped bed and took out his cell phone. It burbled twice and suddenly his beloved Gloria was on the line. "Hello Darling, " she trilled. "I see you arrived all in one piece. No problem with the flight?"
"No, Sweets, no problem at all. We have the conveyance parked and everything in hand. We'll be going down to dinner shortly and then after that, I'll be at play in the Casino." He took the chip and turned it over and saw the word "Bellagio" emblazoned on the front. He smiled. "Yes, playtime will start soon. I wish you would come with me sometime, they have some excellent shops."
She giggled sweetly. "What need have I of shops?" she said. "You behave and don't be to sharp with Humphries. I don't think he quite approves of your play clothes."
Nick laughed out loud and the room trembled. "I'll knock his socks off tonight, my dear. I've brought my tux." A warm glow enveloped Gloria Snow as she imagined her Nick in his tux...he was a totally different man in that suit. "Good night Darling...I'll be seeing you soon?" Nick, imagining her dressed in her flowing silk nightgown, whispered to her. "Sooner than you may expect my Angel. Keep the candle in the window."


Dinner was superb. Nick enjoyed the tender sweetness of the fillet Mignon, the avocado salad was pure heaven. Humphries had enjoyed Trout Almondine and a green salad and now they were both awaiting a dessert that they had never had. The description read "Try the chocolate raspberry Decadence, a flourless chocolate raspberry cake served on top of two Florentine cookies and filled with raspberry mousse. The dome-shaped cake is rich and fudgy, while the lattice cookies and fluffy raspberry mousse are gentle by comparison." Nick took a good healthy drink of water to cleanse his palate and leaning back in his chair, looked at Humphries. "What, no harsh words about my evening attire, Humphries?" Humphries, himself dressed in a smaller version of Nick's tux, had the good grace to blush. Looking at his employer, dressed in a very classy black tux, the cumberbund a deep rose yellow and the tie the same color, Humphries looked appropriately impressed.
"You look quite dashing, Sir. I'm sure Mrs. Snow would approve." Nick laughed to himself, and the look on his face was blatant, causing Humphries to flush red. "Ahemmm," he said, clearing his throat, "I believe dessert is arriving." Dessert had indeed arrived and lived up to the high praise on the menu. Not the simple fare of milk and cookies he had become accustomed to, it was pure heart attack on a plate. Finishing up, Humphries took care of the bill while Nick excused himself and started towards the Casino and the Roulette Wheel.


The chip was so hot it nearly burned Nick's hand. He place the chip on 20 red and stood back as the Croupier valued the chip at 1000 dollars. He watched in fascination as the ball went one way and the wheel the other. It began to slow and the ball landed in 10 black then hopped out, jumped around trying to find a stopping point and landed on 20 red. "Well done, Sir ," said the Croupier and he pushed a pile of chips in front of Nick. "Let it ride," said Nick softly.

As the earned chips piled up in front of him, Humphries would remove half the stacks and take them to the window to be cashed in. He had all the paper work he needed in the briefcase. In several hours, the play went on and the eyes in the sky were trying to figure out how the well dressed gentleman at the Roulette table was cheating. Nick had managed to amass over a half million dollars. He had attracted a crowd and people were muttering amongst themselves and wondering why the Man in Charge hadn't shut the table down. Finally, at one Million dollars, he did just that. Mr. Big wanted his people to talk to this wizard of the Roulette Wheel but when they turned to talk to him, they discovered that Nick Snow was no where to be found.

Nick tucked the now cooling chip into his breast pocket and then tucked the silk kerchief back in the pocket. Humphries had gone up to the room and packed their bags. He stood at the waiting taxi, door open and nodded to Nick as he stooped to get in the back seat. "All taken care of Mr. Snow, " Humphries smiled.
"Excellent, Humphries, excellent." He gave the cabby an address out near the airport and they were off. "How much did we make, Humphries?" Nick asked.
Well over a million, Sir. We're well in the black and there should be no problems with supply this year or the next. We've done well, and the orders are in and they only await our return."

The cabby pulled into an alleyway, let the two gentlemen out and was pleased with the hefty tip he had received. He tried hard not to stare at the little gentleman's ears. They had a Mr. Spock look, sharply pointed. Funny, he didn't remember them being that way when they had entered the cab. "Thank you sirs, this tip will come in handy, this time of year. I was wondering what I was going to do about my kids. Christmas seems to get tighter every year."
Nick cocked his head and smiled warmly at the driver. "Don't you worry, John. Their wishes will be taken into account. I can promise you that." For some reason John the cabby didn't wonder how the handsome older Gentleman had known his name. He thought he already knew. He turned back to the wheel and as he drove off heard the bells of a sleigh. And smiled.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And it all began with a party line

When my grandmother became one of the first people in the western half of the county to have telephone service, it was absolutely nothing like our phone service of today. On your phone line would be at least five other patrons. If one of the other patrons was on the line, you of course were out of luck. No making calls till the line was clear. It was also an excellent way to gather news and "gossip" from around the area. They didn't hear it on the grape vine...they heard it on the party line. I remember once when my older sister wanted to make a call and our cousin Mary was on the phone at her house talking to her boyfriend. Holly kept picking up the phone to see if it was clear and the "click" it made when the receiver was lifted alerted Mary to the fact that someone else was on the line. This of course meant that she was reluctant to let go the line. There was a bit of small talk going on and the boyfriend was asking "where do you want to go tonight?" (Like there was a wealth of entertainment back in the late fifties...a movie theater and a skating rink.) "I don't know, where do you want to go?" Mary would ask back. After about three minutes of this back and forth, Holly says (disguising her voice a little...a very little) "you're going to hell if you don't get off this phone." I believe there was hell to pay after that little incident, too.

It was an important thing to have a phone in your home. You were really something if someone asked for your phone number and you actually had one to give. I remember when Mac and I married in 1968 how wonderful I felt when the phone company allowed as how we could have a phone...and there would be no party line. It would be our very own phone and we'd have our very own number that was totally different from my neighbors, not just off 1 or2 or 3 or 4...indicating party line service. I made sure to mail my family our phone number so that I didn't run up a high long distance charge on the bill. Being newly married, we were very careful about things like that. One night the phone rang and I answered it "McBride residence" as I always did. Mac sat across from me, watching the news. From the other end of the phone came the most vile language and vulgar suggestions that I held the phone by two fingers since it was the source of the filth. As I handed the phone across to Mac, I said "it's for you." He listened for half a tick and then he stated so coldly that I could hear the ice crackling in his voice. "If you ever call this number again you'll be sorry." As far as I know, he never did.

The next time we were home, I was telling my mother about my phone call and she laughed. She had worked for Ma Bell as a telephone operator when we lived in Washington DC when I was a baby. She told me about all the calls that she had heard (of course they didn't listen in!) and some of the perfectly wonderful responses that I might want to keep in mind, since Mac was away from home so much. I listened.

When we were stationed in Norfolk, Virginia I received a call one night. The young fellow on the other end was saying some pretty vile things. "Hold on a minute, sonny and let me get a cup of coffee and a cigarette." Click. It's no fun harassing a willing victim. I received a call from a phone molester when we lived in England and he had quite a repertoire of stuff to share with me. He got annoyed though when I kept saying things like "knickers? What are knickers?" And then turned to Bubbles (Violet Loxley Green) my neighbor and said, "he's asking about knickers, what's he talking about?" She looked at me and smiled and said, "hang up, darling it's only a tiny pervert who is definitely not going to be getting any jollies at this end of the line."

One night after we had gone to bed, the phone rang. Our house in England only had one line and it was downstairs in the entry way. I figured that people didn't talk as much on the phone as we did in the states since there was no line in the lounge (den or living room for my American audience). So anyway, the phone rang, I got up and went downstairs and answered it. A gentleman on the other end of the line asked if Janice were there. I had to tell him that I knew of no Janice and that he had probably misdialed. He agreed he probably had and then asked what part of the States I was from and we ended up talking about absolutely nothing for forty five minutes. After I rang off, I slipped back into bed and Mac asked sleepily, "who was it?"
I mumbled, just as sleepily, "oh, it was a wrong number."

So now here we are and everyone has a cell phone. Except me. I don't have one, don't want one...can't see a need for one. I heard on the news night before last that parents are in an uproar because their kids are taking pictures of themselves in their underwear and less WITH THEIR TELEPHONES and sending them to their friends, male and female. And male and female are doing this. So, the parents want to know what can be done. WHAT CAN BE DONE? For crying out loud, take the phone away from the child, you blithering idiot. Who pays the bills in that household? Who's rearing who? I see parents who are afraid of their own children and it's a frightening situation. Makes me long for the party line.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

GrayC, the Christmas Cat

Do you have any friends that are as close to you as sisters, that would do anything for you (and vice versa) and not even question why? I count myself so very blessed in that I have two such sisters. One is Evil Sister (Jacqui) and the other is Good Sister (Maureen). Today we will be introducing Evil Sister's cat, GrayC to you. GrayC could only belong to Evil Sister, being an Evil Cat. Evil Sister has no need of a watch dog as long as GrayC is around. This cat actually snarls. And growls. And I believe she may bite. My first introduction to the rotound Miss G was after Evil Sister and hubby moved here from New Jersey. (I like to say it was because their daughter had moved here, but it was really because she couldn't stand being away from her "sister".) I had been warned about Miss G's bad habits. I was ill prepared for the actuality that is GrayC. She had been, as I understand it, an orphaned little kitten that had to be bottle fed (such as our Hound). I know first hand how spoiled a human raised kitten can become...yes, GrayC is spoiled.

So when I first clapped eyes on her all I could say was, "my GOD that cat is fat!" I know now that Miss G and I shall never have an "aunt/niece" relationship because I stumbled in on the wrong foot from the beginning. You never tell an Up and Coming young debutante that she is on the, shall we say husky side , of petite. Jacqui says she can't figure out why GrayC is so er...plump. She only eats regular cat food. And apricots...and marshmallows...she loves those little yellow chicks. No, really. Apricots. And marshmallows. Yellow chicks.

Her "daddy" bought her a Christmas suit the other day. Seems he wanted her to be able to get into the spirit. As luck would have it, she could barely get into the suit. Jaq was telling me about how the velcro closures would barely make it around her girth and GrayC has no idea how to "suck it in" if it isn't a marshmallow. I told her she could add a piece of velcro to the closures and make a gusset, as it were. And then I fell into hysterical laughter at the thought of a gusset in the cat suit. Now, you'd think that the mention of a cat suit on a cat would set me off, but no. Nothing odd in dressing your sweetums in human attire. Is there?

So, they finally managed to stuff...I mean clothe Miss G in her Santa suit. They sent me a picture. Actually they sent two.


This is Miss G doing her Jim Carey impersonation of the Grinch. And meanwhile here at home, I can't get mine out of the Christmas tree.

This link will explain why I call her Evil Sister. http://sandimcbride.blogspot.com/2007/10/happy-halloween.html

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gonna rope a deer

By now you all know that I am a bunny hugging, tree sitting, arm the animals type of person. I lay curses on deer hunters that use dogs and put that charm on so strong that long after deer season is over, the dogs are still shivering and refusing to leave their boxes. Their owners are having nightmares that mean they have to lay down in the afternoon and take a nap. I received this letter from a friend today and being that I love to share good news, I decided that I just had to share it with all my friends.

Roping A Deer - - - - - ( Names have been removed to protect the Stupid! )

Dear Family
I had this idea that I was going to rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it.

The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope.

The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it.

After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up (actually 3 of them) I picked out a likely looking one,then stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me.

I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold. The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation.

I took a step towards it...it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope and then received an education.

The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED.

The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity.

A deer-- no chance.

That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined.

The only up side is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.

A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.

I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual.

Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer's momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in, so I didn't want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder - a little trap I had set before hand...kind of like a squeeze chute.

I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist.

Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head --almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.

The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective. It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds.

I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it.

While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose. That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp. I learned a long time ago that, when an animal -- like a horse --strikes at you with their hooves and you can't get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run.

The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away.

So now I know that when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope to sort of even the odds.
Y'all be good now, ya hear?

PS
I had planned on going duck hunting for Christmas but I'm still blind in my right eye and my trigger finger appears to be missing.



Now you know why I hate hunting...it's that part of the family that I try to avoid at all costs...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Let's just keep this between the two of us...

I have been a Christmas junkie since I was a child. I start looking forward to it the day after it is over. I would love to have one room in the house I could keep decorated all year long. I have a doll's house that I used just for that purpose. It entertained me. It kept me joyful. I don't know how many of you are grandparents, but I tell you truly, I am so enthralled with my Angel Girl that it's lucky for us that her father survived childhood. I'm not sure to this day how that happened...he was the accident looking for a place to happen since he learned to walk. He learned to walk at eleven months of age. He has gone down hill out of control on a bike, fallen through a greenhouse roof, chased a cat up a Christmas tree, bringing down tree cat and all, cleared the kudzu from a downtown lot (with his car) and offered to send the Mayor a bill for his efforts. Yes, this is the father of our Arianna. She is my heart. I saw a bumper sticker once that said "My Grandchildren are so much fun, I wish I'd had them first". Yes, I want that cockamamie bumper sticker. I receive emails and calls from her and they delight me. Tonight she sent me an e-mail that read "Dear Grandma, I'm going to send Santa a letter to ask him for a kitten and a collar for my kitten. I want to ask him if his name is really Chris Cringle." Her spelling. She's nine. All this after her phone call from the other night when she told me she was so mad at her best friend. In fact, her best friend is no longer a best. I asked her what had happened, had they had a falling out? And she told me that her friend had told her there was no such thing as Santa Claus. My heart stopped. My eyes filled with tears. And I was mad at her best friend, too. All I could think of was my boys when they were little and someone older and hateful had spilled the beans. I told them the simple truth. When you stop believing in Santa, he stops believing in you. It's the socks and underwear Christmas, no more toys, no more games...no more Rudolph. No more Red Rider cap guns or RockemSockem Robots. No more "get to sleep early so Santa can come put out your gifts and you can wake us at three in the morning and Mommy can sleep on the sofa all day especially if Daddy has the duty (or the ship is at sea..and Daddy isn't home for Christmas again)." So, my boys still believe in Santa, and Santa continues to bring the toys and games and fun things. They swear to me that they hear the sleigh up on the rooftop. I know exactly what Santa has in his bag for the boys and the girls they've provided me with. So, what do I say to my wonderful sweet Angel Princess Granddaughter? Why, exactly what I had told my boys. But I added an addendum.
"Don't tell your Daddy," I whispered.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Black Friday and Maxine wants a word with you

I am the "stuffed like a Thanksgiving Turkey" remark, personified. No, I am not going out to the shops to help bring the economy under control. I do that enough already. Or so Mac tells me. Do I want to? Hell, no. No person in their right mind would be out shopping today when they can stay in the comfort of their own home, decorating their Christmas tree. Of course with our new addition to the family, Hound (the kitten) I'll have to decorate that in stages. First, bring in the tree. Let tree occupy corner for several days, being unobtrusive. Pluck Hound from the tree 30 times the first day, 15 times the second day and hopefully by the end of the fourth day, she will no longer find a tree in the house as being all that interesting. On Day four , put one ornament on tree. Allow Hound to knock it off. Replace said ornament. Repeat. Endlessly. By Christmas Eve, one of us will be so tired that no more lessons need to be taught. But, speaking of Black Friday, there will be so many cars on the road today that they will be sending out 10-51's to 10-50's for the next twelve hours. I pray the 10-52's will be left in their bays. (wreckers, wrecks, ambulances). So, I thought I'd let you enjoy Maxine, a few are new, some are old and need repeating...I hope your Thanksgiving was a marvel and that like me, you don't intend to be the goose on anyone's highway, but taking it easy, loving the day. Black Friday my foot! Now, as I said, Maxine needs a word!






Monday, November 24, 2008

It's a MEME Tag and Awards Day!

Mindy with one of her Mob members...Peanut















My newest Bloggin' Buddy, the Butterfly Gardner has tagged me with a meme...I'm supposed to first tell you the rules. Yes, that makes sense to me...tell you the rules first.
Here goes.

1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Now, if I can think of six things about me that I haven't already blabbed about (and I blab about everything) this is going to be a snap. I think someone should make up a meme about six things you wish you had done...now that could be interesting. Might break up a few relationships, but as a dear friend of ours always says , you rolls the dice you takes your chances... Okay okay, I'm dragging my feet, I know...but here goes nothing.

1. I'm married to the only man I've ever loved and the secret to 40 years of marriage is simple. I like him, too.

2. I love to talk. I'd talk to a face on a brick wall if no else was around.

3. Hmm...I'm not quite sure how to put this...I'm bossy. I mean, really bossy. I don't mean to be that way, but I think it may be genetic. My Grandmother was bossy and so was my Mother. I learned from the best. When Mac tells me I'm getting more like my Mother every day, he really isn't giving me the compliment I take it for.

4. I don't suffer fools gladly. Ohhh, don't get me started about fools!

5. I have a Lab mix who is blind. She had a stroke when she was three months old during her little operation for spaying. The Vet suggested we put her to sleep and I get a new puppy. I kept the old puppy and got a new Vet. The cats adore her, we call them her Seeing Eye Cat's...these are cats that were living wild when we moved to the new house. Of course her own cats adored her, that the new mob would was nothing short of amazing.

6. I believe in Spirits...you might call them ghosts...

Okay, that's six! And here are the ones I'm tagging to do the same. Five of my new friends and one Sweet friend that I've known from the beginning...we'll start with her

1. The Beach Kat http://justabeachkat.blogspot.com/ because although I know a good bit about her, I'd still like to know more.

2. The Coffee Bean at http://righteousbuzz.blogspot.com/ Since the Coffee Bean is so sassy I'd like to know how she got that way...genetics or life?

3. Moannie from http://theviewfromthisend.blogspot.com/ Her blog is always an interesting one to read, she will happy to tell you her opinion on things...you don't even have to ask. My kind of Lady!

4. Sandy from http://spiritifelici.blogspot.com/ who shares love and laughs everyday...or everyday that she can.

5. Imerie from http://thegreengrassgrowsallaround.blogspot.com/ and I love a blog that treats family and family life so face on.

6. And last but certainly not least, RBK from http://rbksrealm.blogspot.com/ a single Mom who is now an empty nester...like a lot of us...I want to know more about her. She is intriguing.

Now, on to the awards. The sweet Cheshire Wife gave me the Kreative Blog award and I'm very happy to accept it. I especially love the name of her blog,The Cheshire Wife...it's so English, and I miss our life there so much. Beach Kat gave me three! Count 'em THREE and since they are awards I've never gotten before, they too, are special to me. They are at the top. And now for an Edit to the post! Pat, at Back Porch Musings has honored me with yet another terrific award. It is of her own creation and I accept the Comfort and Joy award with awe for her talents. If you haven't been to see her, you owe yourself a trip. In case my links aren't working she's on my list of Bloggers I visit frequently...In fact, everyone I've mentioned is a special friend, please, go check out their blogs.

I can't begin to tell you how long I've worked on this. I started last night. It was difficult, I kept losing my links...I tried to think of something interesting about me, but believe me, since I retired, I'm quite boring. Well, maybe a little boring. I am going to share out these awards, but I think I'll do it on another day. I'm just to tired to be magnanimous, so I'll just be Sleepy, instead. If you all don't see your link, blame Blogger, I've worked hard enough to get them in here!


Friday, November 21, 2008

When in doubt, blame the cat

I'm not sure what is going on in the world of television these days, but it seems a lot of the commercials are funnier than the actual show they host. I've been known to lay in wait for my favorites. Do you remember the one about the dog, who on seeing the sandwich his Master had prepared, sitting beside it a bottle of soda (Pepsi, coke one of those) eats the sandwich, drinks the drink, then taking the cat by the scruff of the neck, sits him next to the empty plate, bottle by...this teaches us what? When in doubt, blame the cat. The cat is good for all kinds of blame. I've seen Mac look Pyewackit directly in his blue eyes and say "did you do that?" I can guarantee you that if he had done "that" (which usually involves a foul odor moving in my direction) he would proudly own up to it by doing a mad run around the house, climbing up woodwork and sliding into the kitchen sideways on the rag rug. My usual response to this is "now that's mature. Blame a poor defenseless cat." Having grown up in a household of girls, I had to learn the "pull my finger" game from Mac. And he couldn't wait to teach it to his sons. My mother tried to warn me that boys were disgusting, but would I listen? So anyway, the cat and the sandwich is my favorite of all time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLPNhsjsC2M
To see the commercial, just cut and paste if it doesn't work.

Then some ads are so irresponsible that it makes me want to look for a lawyer. These are of course from the Auto Industry. We spend our lives instructing our children on the proper way to drive, to insure that they get home safe and sound, and these bozos are out there talking about "vroom vroom". VROOM VROOM? I do not want my children to go from 0 to 60 in 7 seconds. I don't really want them going 60 at all, since the speed limit for most places is 55. The double nickle. Of course, when my boys first got out there driving they had lots of eyes on them, my brother and sister officers told all. My younger son, Michael, was nicknamed "the Road Warrior" by one of the Highway Patrol officers. Eventually, he realized that he was in a no win situation and slowed down. But the Auto Industry has so much to answer for. Speeding down a highway is only one of the ads that get me hyped up. There is another one that is much worse, in fact borders on Child Endangerment.

Dad is out in the back yard building Junior a treehouse. It's a warm day. Dad is sweating. He goes over to the family van, and pulling back the sliding door (it's closed!) tells his son the tree house is ready. Now, this is a "tear that little ass out of the frame" moment. The kid looks at his father and wants to know if the tree house has a television. NO? Well, does it have leather seats? NO? Then I'll just stay in here with my little friend. I'LL JUST STAY INSIDE THIS OVEN THAT CAN GO FROM 78 TO 140 (NOT IN 7 SECONDS BUT CLOSE) AND KILL ME. That is irresponsible advertising, no redeeming features in this one at all. I actually wrote to a couple of networks to complain about the ad content, and I encourage anyone who sees it (it still runs, though the brat is probably in high school giving his teachers a hard time, now) to do the same. I'm afraid it may take a disaster to get this one off the air. I can't even put words to the disaster, it chills me.

And not to let the Auto Industry off the hot seat to quickly, lord knows they need their feet held to the fire as long as possible (till they develop crispy toes at the very least) but I really don't know any women who put their makeup on in the car mirror. I know, there are a few...I just don't know nor have ever known, any. Not even a passenger who has ever ridden with me has done that. What do I feel? I feel they, the Auto Industry (dimwits) are poking fun at the wrong thing. I have a new commercial in mind...man or woman, riding down the highway...cell phone to their ear, mind on the conversation when suddenly they are wearing the road they were just driving on. Cut to scene at the hospital. Driver/patient is lying on a gurney when suddenly a phone begins to ring. The ring is coming from somewhere in the vicinity of the driver/patient's butt. Because that's where it is well and truly wedged. I may be the last person in the world to not own a cell. When I go shopping, if I want company I take a friend with me. I don't want my phone ringing and interrupting my shopping high. I don't even like to answer the phone at home, so why is answering the one in your purse or that ridiculous little head set stuck in your ear so exciting? When I'm driving I like to listen to the radio or the cd player. I don't want to talk. When I'm driving, I don't talk all that much to my passenger. I'm keeping my mind on more important things. Like my life and the life of the others on the road with me at the time. So, no cell phone. I have an emergency 911 phone for the truck, but I've found that 911 Dispatchers don't have a lot of time to chat. They're sort of busy. Usually sending an ambulance to the scene of a 10-50 (cop speak for wreck) and a surgical team to remove the cell phone from the driver's behind. But then, it was probably a deer that ran out in front of them...yeah, either that or a cat. Probably Pyewackit. He'll take the blame for almost anything.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Lady of the Lake

It's time for November's Portrait of Words challenge and I'm happy to participate once again. Please click on the link and go to Jeff's site to learn the rules and see the posted portrait credits. He works hard to give our minds a workout! I hope you enjoy my contribution...The Lady of the Lake.



It was so late into fall he worried that after all his promises they had left a trip to the lake to late. Snow would be flying soon, but he had promised her they'd make the trip as soon as business slowed down. Well, it had slowed down, no doubt about that. Their talks of retirement had ground to a halt, but now that scheme was wrapping itself around his brain again. It was no longer when, but how soon. He worried about her lately. He was home more and could see that she just wasn't the pep squad girl he'd claimed as his own thirty years ago. She wasn't depressed, he decided, just disappearing little by little. Day by day. She wasn't her normal effervescent laughing self. When had that changed? Why was he just noticing it now? He walked into the kitchen where she was doing the mundane...clipping coupons, storing them in the little nylon wallet made for that purpose. She had that little frown on her face that meant she was concentrating, tip of her tongue caught between her teeth. He remembered how after they had first married she loved to sit on the edge of the bathtub and watch him shave. It entranced her no end, and her bubbly self would overflow with questions about what they were going to do each day because it would map the rest of their lives. That was at the lake, he remembered. She had wanted to live there, it was after all where she had grown up. She was the "townie" and he was one of the "summer people". He had dragged her kicking and screaming into his world and he had thought she'd settled. Maybe that was the problem. She had settled. Settled for him, his way of life. Walking up behind her, he put his arms around her, clasped them at her waist and breathed into her ear..."pack a bag, we're heading for the lake. Today." He felt her relax against him and if possible he felt the joy fill her body. Turning into him, she laughed like a little girl. "Oh goody," she said. And her eyes were brimming with a sparkle of tears.

It had taken her all of half an hour to pack a bag. She had packed this bag so many times in her mind that it was just rote work now. Granted it was a large bag and half was filled with her clothes and half with his. In her nightmares it only contained room for hers. She had packed his shaving kit and her makeup bag, grabbed shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and brushes and put those into a separate carrier. Food they could shop for at the lake. She felt years lift off her shoulders, knowing that they would be at the lake soon. They never spent that much time up there these days. Maybe a weekend or two in some distant summer, but other than that the cabin was rented out to "summer people." Wasn't that what she herself was, now? A Summer Person. She had chosen to follow Matt into his world. She had thought she could be happy there, as long as she was with him. For the most part she was, but sometimes, in the depths of winter, her soul longed for the woods and the water, the wind and the fire. A shiver went through her body and she hugged her sweater around her. Taking a deep breath, she opened her lingerie drawer and reaching into the froth pulled out the key to the cabin and tied the ribbon holding it around her neck.

The old Mercedes convertible hummed up the highway and Sheila was humming along with it. He looked over at her, sunglasses on, scarf covering her hair a smile teasing the corner of her lips. The car began to climb the mountain roadway, and she sat on her heels and spent a great deal of time watching the scenery. Her scarf was whipping in the wind and she grinned, pulling it from her hair and holding it with the tips of two fingers, let the road current drag it from her and fly along the wind stream. He couldn't believe the change in her. She seemed years younger, but then happiness had a way of wiping the fatigue of age away like an eraser on a chalk board. At the top of the peak, he pulled over and they sat in the curve of the Scenic View and watched the most spectacular sunset he'd ever seen. He felt her fingers along his jaw line. She was smiling. "I think you're actually happy to be back," she said, in wonderment. He didn't know if he was happy or not, but he kept that bit of information to himself.














They pulled back onto the highway and finally took the turn on Valentine Road. That had been her maiden name and he took it as an omen the first time he had met her. Sheila Valentine. He had even asked her on their first date if she'd be his Valentine. Corny. But he meant for life. He unloaded the car while she took the old key and unlocked the door. She glided happily through the house, the one she had grown up in, and walked out onto the large deck. She could see the lake from there, the huge expanse of water, the boathouse. She stretched out her arms, as if to capture the entire view and hold it close and never let it go. It had been three years since they'd been here. In Matt's mind, it had only been yesterday, but she had died a little each year they stayed away. She had to come here to revitalize herself, to embrace the compromise her life had become. Wandering back inside, she went into kitchen and opened the pantry door. Her eyes caught the blue tinted glass of the canning jars her mother had used. Pickled peaches...the memory of the taste caused her mouth to water and she smilingly grimaced and swallowed. She could taste them.
















They had slept like two contented cats, the window lakeside open and the cool breeze blowing through. He reached across and discovered that her side of the bed was empty. Not bothering with a robe, pulling his pajama bottoms more snugly about his waist he grabbed the shirt he had worn the night before. He wandered through the cabin looking for her. Going out onto the deck, as his eyes wandered to the lake, and he saw her. She was dancing. Twirling. Barefooted. She still had on her old blue flannel nightgown. She looked about eighteen. Surely she was cold. He called her name and started down the steps to the path. She saw him, raised her hand in welcome and ran to him. Throwing herself into his arms, she kissed him like she had when they were in love. When had they fallen out of love, he wondered. He didn't wonder long, he was just to glad to fall back in.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Harlan Coben, The Mystery lovers Mystery Writer

The other day I came across a Harlan Coben book I hadn't read. I was surprised, because I thought I had drained the well. I found this one at the flea market and since the books were only a dime (even the hard backs) I knew I couldn't go wrong. I figured if by some chance I had already read it , it would be easy to pass on to a neighbor or my son...if it's a book, some deals are just to hard to let pass. So, the other night after going through the books I had purchased (and when I tell you that every room in my house has a book shelf of some sort, you can take it to the bank) I picked up "Tell No One". You know, even the title gave me a bit of a chill. I felt it work across my shoulders and then slither to my spine and it pushed a rod of cold straight down. I was reading the "biopsy" of the book. "For Dr. David Beck, the loss of his wife was shattering. And everyday for the past 8 years he has relived the horror of that happening." Hmm...see what I mean? Now do you think I could wait to turn to page one? Even though dinner was on the stove, the table needed setting, and company due to walk in the door any second, I sat on the edge of the sofa and read the first three pages. I was enthralled immediately.

I love a mystery. I love the ones that make you look over your shoulder. The ones that ensure that you get up out of a warm bed, breaking off the doze you were slipping into, to make sure that you locked the doors. And the windows...and checked the showers, pulling the curtains back to reveal...nothing. I love Stephen King, but Mr. Coben holds my mystery loving heart. What have I learned from Mr. Coben? Well, I have learned that just because someone tells a character who they are, usually that is a lie. Especially if the person is supposed to be someone in authority. Look again...nothing and no one is what or who they seem. If a character walks into a room and feels plastic under their feet, you can bet your bottom dollar that there is no painting going on...this is minimum cleanup of what is hardest to clean up in a crime scene...blood. No matter how hard you scrub, there's always that minuscule drop of blood that worked it's way down into a floor board or behind a piece of paneling. You can bet on it. Hence the large rubber sheeting on the floor, the spill catcher. If someone is supposed to be dead, keep reading...because chances are they are going to pop up at some inconvenient moment and scare the beejeebers out of you. Ah, Mr. Coben, you enthrall me no end. And you tie the ends up so cleverly. You never kill a really REALLY bad guy off till you've used him in a couple, maybe three books. Eric Wu is the scariest bad guy I've ever encountered. Even the description of him is soul shattering. And what he can do to the unsuspecting victim makes you want to skip ahead to the part where the victim is finally, hopefully mercifully dead...because you really can't take anymore of their terror. Or the torture that ensues. Mr. Coben's books are almost painful to read. It's like the old horror movies where you find yourself sitting in the theatre talking to the girl up on the screen, she of the white raincoat and high heels. You're begging her "don't go in the house" and when she does and encounters the monster, you begin begging her to kick off those damned shoes so she can get some traction to run the hell out of that house. Of course, she never does.

Mr. Coben is not known for his happy endings. You may want to think so, but even as you're coming up to the last page, Eric Wu has beaten you there...and he's most likely waiting for you.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ah, the Joys of getting older...WHAT???

I remember my mother saying one day, "do you know what the advantages to getting older are?" Expecting pearls of wisdom to fall from the lips of the woman who had taught me everything I know about life, in my ignorance, I waited for the answer. Then she spoke. "Nothing. There is no advantage to getting older at all. Now all I do is wait to get old. End of lesson, grasshopper." Oh my, and now I find that they were pearls of wisdom after all.

I don't know if you've noticed, but I haven't been posting quite as often as I once was. It was because my shoulder was bothering me so badly, that just moving my left fingers was painful. I type fairly fast (67cwpm) and it's hard to slow down just because of a little (OWWW) pain. I was attributing the pain to the RA I suffer from. I have flares, and assumed this was one of them. Since I am right handed, the pain didn't interfere to badly at first. But as the days wore on, it got worse and worse. I never once associated it with a fall I had taken a few weeks before. It had been raining and we had been out on date night. While he was putting the truck away, I came in with the "kitty bag" of shrimp. Wearing my Crocs, I stepped on the kitchen floor and was immediately lying flat of my back. Now, I worry about falling more than the average person, since I had broken my neck a few years ago and had been paralysed. So, I lay there, wriggling fingers, toes and lifting my head...the trouble is I'm like a turtle on it's back...I have trouble getting up. I really didn't want Mac to find me like this, and was struggling to get up off the floor. Well, he came in and immediately began yelling, "what happened? Are you alright?" There I lay with shrimp everywhere, cats ignoring the person lying in the middle of the floor...all they wanted was the food. Damn them...no help there. So anyway, Mac helped me up, I seemed to be fine, all my parts were working that were working before the fall. And now comes the rest of the story...

We had a car theft in the neighborhood night before last. What does this have to do with my shoulder? Well, I'll tell you...someone stole our neighbor's car, driving it right through their Christmas decorated yard, into the ditch and up on to the road. This occurred about three a.m. (the time that their pit bulls (OMG PIT BULLS) were barking loudly enough to wake the dead...and them. Assuming (there goes that word again) they were barking at an animal, they simply turned over and went back to sleep. So, yesterday morning Rene asked me if we happened to be up at about 3 a.m. I mean, really people, I know I get up with the chickens, but even the chickens have better sense than to get up before sunrise. So, my answer was no. That's when I learned about the car theft. So anyway...yesterday evening I was on the phone with my other neighbor, Joanne. We discussed the car theft, the need to lock cars, because even if we do live back of beyond, thieves do manage to find their way here. We live so far back in the woods that they have to pipe in sunshine...and so we get careless. So Joanne and I are yakking, I'm cooking supper and holding the phone on my shoulder (the good one) head tipped to the side to hold it in place, and putting the black beans on to simmer when suddenly the phone fell, I jerked to grab it with my left hand and I heard a distinct pop...it was loud enough that Pyewackit (the recently defeated Presidential Candidate) looked at me as if to ask, "did you fire that gun?" I think I may have screamed, because suddenly Joanne was asking me if I was alright. I could only speak through clenched teeth as the pain subsided, got off the phone and bent double. Mac came in and started asking if I was alright. I stood up, the pain gone now. All the pain. Even the pain from before. I looked at him and giggled. I reached my arm out, straight up, then rotated it without screaming. "Remember when I fell a few weeks ago?" I asked him. "I think maybe I might have dislocated my shoulder...I heard it when it popped back in." He grimaced. And then he asked the million dollar question. "You did throw those damned rubber shoes in the trash, right?" Errr...yeah, right...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall Rerun, The Horse Race

I've got a busy weekend ahead of me and I want to be able to catch up with all my blogging friends, so I am posting a rerun. Recently I had mentioned to David McMahon the fact that I almost won big betting the ponies. He asked me to post about it. I already had. Here it is, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


I have always loved horses and horse racing. The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont...I read everything I could get my hands on about Seabiscuit, that magnificent runner and descendant of some of the greatest champions known to man. When we arrived in England I was surprised (I don't know why I was surprised, but I was) to find horse racing nearly every day. They raced at Haymarket, they raced at Brighton, they were running at Yarmouth and Ayr...they ran on flat and they had steeple racing...it was a horse lovers heaven. We hadn't been settled in our new home too awfully long when I learned how to place a bet. I never bet too much, usually no more than a pound, sometimes only 50p. But like the lottery over here, I played a ticket every Saturday. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. Every so often I would play the ITV7, which was based on 7 races in a row... the races were held on Saturday morning. The boys would usually be out playing and Mac and I would be filling out our tickets then one of us would run down to the OTB (Off Track Betting) shop and place the bet. This one morning after we both filled out our separate tickets, it would be me going in to place the bets. Mac had worked all night (in London) and was planning on going straight up to bed after the tickets had been filled in. Now, you can bet the tickets Win Place and Show and doing it this way you have a better chance of getting some return on your money. If there are more than, say 7 horses in the race, and your horse comes in third, you get a bit back on him and your ticket is still viable. So anyway, I had my system of how I chose my horses. If I liked the name, or the horse was pretty, it didn't have to have blinkers...you know, very scientifically calculated...then that's who I bet on. If the odds were long, well that was a plus. Okay, so I have my ticket ready, Mac has his ticket filled out but now I'm marking the Win Place or Show when Mac glances over and does what men do when women are perfectly content to go on their merry way as they were. "I'd play it win only." I looked over at him and asked him to explain himself. "Well, that third race only has 3 horses in it, if your horse comes in 2nd, it won't pay out place or show. You have two races like that. I'd just play it Win only. Why waste money?" Well, it sort of made sense to me. I don't know now why I listened to him, it's not something I'm known for doing. But listen I did and win only was how I paid the ticket. Now, in the ITV7 you have to keep the ticket going, you have to win (or place and show if that's how you mark the ticket) all the races in order to collect on any. And this is how I almost became rich. You note I said almost, which only counts in horseshoes, not horse races...

The horses were lining up in race 1 and Mac had already gone up to sleep. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, jumping up and down and urging my horse on and he came in for me at 25 to1. The second race lined up and Clouded Vision, a vision at 37-1 was running his heart out and when he won (after I had been warned he was a dog by the fella at the Betting Parlor) I nearly fainted. The races proceeded and I won both the races that had only 3 or four horses and was feeling good and had one race to go. My horse was a shoo in, I was assured by all and sundry that all this horse had to do was show up. He was picked for me by Mac, who also had him on his ticket. I had figured up that so far I had 198,000 pounds in the bag and my heart was pounding as they lined up. I saw something that disturbed me so much, I stood up to watch the race. The horse had blinkers on. This boded ill, and I watched as the horses walked down from the paddock to the track and he was so beautiful and arrogant, his jockey so calm and sure, I relaxed when I watched him gallop sideways and try to reach back and bite his jockey, he was full of p*ss and vinegar, all black and glistening looking like the biggest hobbyhorse I had ever seen on any carousel...I loved this horse. This horse was going to make me rich. I began spending the money in my mind, imagined the beautiful red leather heels with matching purse I would purchase to take my trip into the city to collect my winnings. I'm telling you, this horse looked at me and said "it's in the bag". The bell went, the wire went up and they were off! There were nine horses in the race, and they all started out in the lead then gradually, most of them fell to the back of the pack. Now it was a three horse race and my horse was in the lead. On they galloped and my horse decided to stop and wait for the other two horses to catch up. I began to scream at the tv set for him to RUN DAMN YOU RUN, and when the other two caught up, they were off again. The race came to a photo finish end between the three lead horses . My horse, my beloved horse, came in second. SECOND. I sat straight up on the sofa and my eyes narrowed. My gaze went towards the stairs where someone lay sleeping, someone who had told me "I'd play it win only." Someone who had told me that all my last horse had to do was show up! I picked up a pillow off the sofa and slowly mounted the stairs. I wasn't sure what I was going to do when I went into the bedroom, kill him or merely maim him. Kill him was high on the list. I satisfied myself with beating him with the pillow, thus bringing him up out of a sound sleep. He never slept that soundly again before a race. Nor did he offer me any advice on how to play my tickets. At least not untill the second time I did the unthinkable and took his advice. More fool I.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What to do when one Holiday bleeds into another

We just finished up with Halloween and my Jack'o'lanterns are still sitting firmly in place, refusing to be moved as though I was going to kick them out. Well, I do have plans to move them to their new home, the compost bins. But I'm keeping that to myself for the time being. In September, when I was looking for two likely fellows who'd like to be decorations by the pond, we went to Lowe's. I wandered around in the gardening area for a few minutes. Okay, for an hour but you know this is when they've allowed everything to get to the near death experience. This is when you get some great plants for cheap, all you have to do is nurse them back to health. Would you believe I got three Clematis plants for fifty cents each? So anyway, after I had finished loading my buggy with all the things that looked like they might have a fairly good chance of making it in my Intensive Care Unit , Mac and I went inside. I actually stopped in my tracks, my mouth hanging open like a fish out of water. On one side was a Halloween section, on the other they were putting up Christmas trees. And decorating them. On September 10th. I grabbed Mac's arm and said in a whisper (yeah yeah, you were there, I shouted it out) "OH MY GOD. HAVE THEY LOST THEIR MINDS?" It appears they had not, because the next store we went to, WalMart, was doing the very same thing. Look, if they changed the name to Super WalMart, doesn't that mean they should keep at least a few garden supplies front and center, rather than shoved up against fences and walls so you have to get Indiana Jones to find the lost treasures? Every aisle in the garden section was filled with Christmas ornaments and trees and lights, cards and snow globes, giant air filled Claus's and Snowmen...even one with carollers held prisoner inside. When you went through the double doors to go inside the rest of the store, that's where we found Halloween.

Now normally I don't begin decorating for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. It's just how we have always done it. Christmas seems to go by so fast and it's hard work decorating...you have to take down other decorations and box them up so you can put the sparkly stuff up. The day after Thanksgiving gives you a good six weeks of respite before the tear down has to begin on January 8th. These is no particular reason I take the Christmas gaudery down on Elvis's birthday. It's just coincidence. The day before is my birthday and I refuse to work that hard then. See? So yesterday, I notice that the neighbors in front of us already have their deer out on the lawn. And their two lighted palm trees...oh come on now, lighted palm trees this close to the North Carolina line? Are you KIDDING me? It always gave us a good laugh when we came down our drive to see those tropic island runaways blinking on and off whenever we came home, so I guess they serve a purpose. Then late yesterday evening, Mac came in and said "you're not going to believe this. Junior (neighbor's son) is up on the roof hanging lights." Because, as he said, I wasn't going to believe it, I went outside so that I could see for myself. I had to walk up to the treeline, but yes, there he was. And doing a bang up job of it, too. I swear the thought ran through my mind, how much will he want for pay to do ours. It just sneaked in there. Like a thief.

This morning I wandered around in the living room sizing up the dust catchers (that's what Mac calls them) and wondering how many boxes I was going to need. Then I went out to my shed. (yes I have a shed of my own...don't know why half of it is filled with Mac's crap.) I was pretty sure I knew which box it was in. The one thing that spells "time to decorate." I was looking for my horse shoe. The one from the horse that ran in the money at a Melbourne Cup Race in Australia. My sweetest friend, Jenny, sent it to me and I treasure it. It'll be the first thing to go up, just like last year. I once had a horseshoe from a horse that ran in the money at a Steeplechase in England. My sweet friend Bubbles (West End actress Violet Loxley) had given it to me. It never made it home, it was in one of the many boxes "misplaced" by the movers. So, there I am, digging in the shed and Mac comes up behind me (nearly giving me a heart attack). "What are you looking for?" My head jerked up and I turned to look at him, defiance in every muscle. "I'm looking for my Horseshoe." He shook his head in disbelief. "Oh no, you're not! It's only the first week in November!" You know I used to be able to say "I pouted prettily" but these days its more of a scowl...but anyway, I found it. Is it hanging over the door yet? Well, we compromised. I promised not to hang it till November 15th and he promised to stop shaking his head in disbelief.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Gifts from the Heart

One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater



I've been thinking a lot lately about children. I've been reading about your children, your grandchildren, what life is like with them and how they changed your lives. It is amazing, isn't it, what the laughter of a child can do for your spirit. I look back at the pictures of my two sons when they were knee high to anybodies idea of a grasshopper, and I can't help but smile. Sure, there were times when I didn't think I was going to survive their childhood...the broken bones, the not knowing where they were...and believe me, that five minutes was the longest five minutes in my life, Michael. I remember the things they got up to that made me want to pound my head against the wall one minute and hug the bugs out of them the next. But you see, what brought me to this was something Arianna, my Granddaughter, said to me the other day. She saw "the Purple People Eater" in the China closet and asked who had made it, her daddy or her Uncle Wallace. I remembered that it was her Uncle Wallace,( her Daddy's brother ) because one day he had remarked that I had his ugly little sculpture piece in with the "good stuff". He didn't realize that what he called ugly I found wonderful, and it was as good as any "good" piece in the collection of "good stuff". At first glance it could look like a elephant, but but on second glance the horns coming out of the top of the piece and the swirls of color on the squat square little body identify it for what it is. It's a Flying Purple People Eater. With one big eye. I have hand prints in the shape of turkeys from both the boys and shelves they made in the third and fourth grades. I have the homemade Christmas cards they made in Sunday School, the Mother's Day cards and the papers they wrote. Because they are precious to me. These were the things they did for us as they grew into themselves.

My sister Toni was telling me about a poem her son Alex had written her and put into a card he had made. She said he kept saying it wasn't good enough but since he had no money, it was the best he could do. Here is the poem written by Alex Bush to his mother. It's beautiful.

A time to remember…by Alex Bush

The first steps,

The teething,

The years went by,

Calculated,

Like breathing,

The lessons went on,

Sown together, like weaving,

One day, I’ll

Get up and go,

But never really leaving….


When I first read it, it brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart. But then I laughed and told Toni that he gets this talent from his Aunt Sandi. I'm only half joking. It makes me so proud to see the young people in our family use their God given talent to make the ones who love them, and whom they love, happy. So, I urge you to keep that one chest available for the gifts from your children. They will mean even more to you when they're grown and on there own. You may have no idea what joy these little things can bring you years after the event. Just wait. The best is yet to come.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Ghost Story

Once there was a young man whose mother died while giving him life. He was a beautiful boy, but the family (for some unknown reason, even to this day) despised the boy's father. He was invited to leave as soon as the funeral was over. And he was to leave without his son. Like a Bedouin tribesman , he folded his tent and silently went away.

The boy was reared by his Maternal grandmother and that extended family. Everyone loved the boy and claimed him as their own. He worked hard for both his Uncles on their farms, and was pleased to do so. His cousins were like sisters and brothers to him, he wanted not for familial care, although he had no living mother. He grew to look like his lost mother, his eyes that clear sky blue, his hair a light brown, that had been blond at birth. Just as he had been a happy child, he was a happy young man.

There was a war going on. World War 2 raged and the draft was in full swing. Although he was one of his Uncle's sole help on the family farm, his number came up and there was no denying it, he was destined to go.

On a cold New Year's day in 1944 the family saw their "son" for the last time. They saw his last smile, heard his last laugh, heard his last words...his young cousin Margaret told him that she would write to him everyday. He smiled and told her, "I'll be watching for them." Though forced, it is that smile that she remembers today. Very soon after leaving he was sent to France. He died in the Battle of Urschenheim where he was buried in foreign soil for several years before being shipped home. No one could believe he was dead because he had been gone such a very short time. Their hearts were broken. The Grandmother, upon hearing the news, sat in the middle of the kitchen floor and pulled her apron over her head and began to cry. She felt a failure because first she had lost her daughter and now she had failed to protect that daughter's son. Misery was in the center of her soul for the rest of her life.

Martus's bible, which he had carried in his jacket pocket, had been found by a Russian Soldier who had shared his foxhole and he carried the bullet riddled, blood soaked book of solace for a couple of years, before giving it to his wife to return to Martus's family. It arrived with a letter written in French explaining the events of the battle and their kinsman's death. It would be two years before they found anyone to translate it.

The body of Martus Douglas, according to legend, was returned in the company of an Honor Guard. It was felt that the Honor Guard was there more to keep the families from opening the coffins , that families suspected was filled with stones, more than to honor the soldier they accompanied. That could be partially true.

Martus's Aunt Nancy was out in the back garden area while her nephew's body lay reposing in the front room. She had gone to the smoke house to get meat for dinner and the garden for greens. She looked up from her chore, as I was told, and saw a young soldier enter the kitchen through the screened porch. Thinking that one of the Honor Guard needed something, she hurried to the house and went in to ask. The two young soldiers both assured her that they were fine and that they had not left the front room or the body they had sworn to protect.

Nancy went into the kitchen where her daughter Patricia was reading a funny book, as they were called in the day. "Did you see a soldier come in here?" she asked. Pat, putting her comic on her knees, told her mother that she had seen one of the honor guard soldiers go up the narrow stairs to the rooms above. He had not returned. Nancy, who had reared her sister's son as her own, was breathless. She had seen him enter the house, Patricia had seen him go up the stairs where his room was located, and the Soldiers in the front room were both at their post. Patricia swore that the soldier had not returned. Nancy gathered her courage, looking from the front room to the stairway hall, she moved slowly to the alcove where the stairs lay. She climbed the stairs and searched all three bedrooms. No one was there. But she felt a lightness of spirit that she had not felt in a long time. In her heart she knew that Martus had returned, no matter a coffin with a body or a coffin filled with stones. Her boy was home.



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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween from me and Maxine

I've been sending out my Halloween greetings this morning and in one I included a short note. I said that I was wishing everyone a Happy Halloween, even those that don't celebrate this frankly American thrill of fun and love. Of course there is always someone ready to throw cold water on anyone attempting to enjoy life, so if you are here, please go away. No wet blankets needed here. I awaken each morning with a smile on my heart if not my face, and a joy of life only known by those who have stared death in the face and spat in his eye. This morning I want you to remember that in our celebration of Halloween, we are actually celebrating the Saints who have gone before us, it is after all All Hallowed Eve...or Halloween...(you know how we Americans are, we have to shortcut everything. Look on your desktop. Know what all those little icons are? They're shortcuts.) In these Saints I include my Mother, my Parent's in Law, my grandparents, all those who have gone on before. The Church (of which I am a member) hasn't declared them Saints, but never mind. I do. So this October 31st, please have the most fun you can have, enjoy the evening and celebrate the children. And tomorrow thank God for the Saints who have gone before us. I had a piece of news from Brenda at Country Romance from the Heart that she's set up a new etsey shop just in time for Halloween and winter with lots of things to offer us. It's a Country Gourmet Shop and you can reach her here http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5923879 so go on over and see her!
And now, no Halloween is complete without Maxine. She's the driving force behind the monsters, so let's let her have her say...