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 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 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 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 because although I know a good bit about her, I'd still like to know more.

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

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

4. Sandy from who shares love and laughs everyday...or everyday that she can.

5. Imerie from and I love a blog that treats family and family life so face on.

6. And last but certainly not least, RBK from a single Mom who is now an empty 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'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.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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,


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.