Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Attn: smartplanethome.com

Ref: The Original Personal Pie Maker

Okay, so the mini pie baker that I ordered from Cook.com arrived yesterday. I spent this morning sipping coffee made by my Keurig coffee maker and munching on a doughnut from my mini doughnut baker. All in all a pretty fair morning between me and my gadgets. I was reading the hand book on the pie baker and discovered something fairly important...you don't even have to be fairly bright to figure out THAT the recipes in this handy dandy little hand book simply won't fly. Okay so I understand not to touch the hot plates because they are (duh) hot. I learned that at an early age, you know, more than fifty years ago. I understand that not all people who order this product are the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I understand the safety issues, okay? I also agree that you really shouldn't immerse the unit into water in order to clean it. Again, "duh". I am pretty sure I know not to use it while otherwise occupied (like say going to the grocers in the next town to buy the pie filling that might work in this thing...explanation following:)

I have read each and every recipe in my handbook provided by your company. I read them two or three times, in fact. I kept looking for the part where you actually cook the filling. I mean really people...just as it is important to tell some folks not to touch the hot plates or immerse in water or go off and leave the thing plugged in while you are in the next town over, it is equally important to tell the self same folk that pie fillings are to be cooked. I kept waiting to see the instructions to mix and put in pan and cook til thickened, then cool ... you know, every canned pie filling (fruit anyway) has one thing in common.  It has been cooked...but I could read this handbook from now till doomsday and I would never see those instructions...and since when would I freeze a pumpkin pie before eating?   It actually says this:  1. In a bowl mix combine all pie filling ingredients and mix until well blended.  2.  place baked pies in the freezer and allow to harden prior to eating.  Who writes these manuals? And more importantly, what country are they written in? I should pay more attention to where the things I buy come from, so I have only myself to blame. I only bring this to your attention because I am bringing it to my readers' attention at the same time. My readers are blogging friends and subscribers to The Cheraw Chronicle Newspaper, (a weekly paper in our county for many years for whom I am a columnist)...and all of them are smart enough to know that you would need to cook pie filling before putting it into the raw pie rounds as this calls for. And since pumpkin pie shouldn't be consumed frozen they disregard that bit of info immediately. I, in fact, believe that any or all of them could improve on your lousy little handbook in about five minutes...so, what I found from the handbook provided me with a good laugh and the instinct to throw it directly into the garbage...the handbook, not the pie maker...I'll reserve that option for after I've actually used it. Come to think of it, the only thing I'd keep the handbook for would be a coaster for my coffee cup...the coffee made by my Keurig...and my blog address is http://sandimcbride.blogspot.com/

I only resort to this because I've tried clicking on the Contact Us bar as shown on your site and it simply brings me back to the Google screen...just hoping this email address of info@smartplanethome.com works...I won't hold my breath. I'll just have another cup of coffee and a doughnut.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dear Santa, May I have a Word?

So if you recall, last week I was talking about the big book of computer info called "The Complete Book of Computer for the Complete Idiot."  And as you recall it's main use is as a door stop.  A $69.99 door stop.  Well, after I had learned what I needed from it, I sort of wore out my EMachine.  Everyone was after me to get a laptop.  I am not sure what I had against it, but I was not a happy camper with a laptop.  I wanted what I was accustomed to, that tall tower and big a** monitor that took a special computer desk to sustain its' weight.  So in 2008 Santa did the unthinkable.  He brought me a laptop and I sort of pouted about it.  Okay, so I just out and out refused to even try it for the first week it took up residence.  Then, when the EMachine refused to cooperate at all, I opened the laptop and began to try it out.  I hated the little pad that replaced the mouse and Mac heard me all the way down in the garden..."I HATE THIS THING!!"
It's a lucky girl I am, because Mac knows a good bit about computers, he's built his fair share, including all the ones we have used.  He built my EMachine.  He came in and went into his office and came back with a mouse.  He plugged it into the USB port (now I have to be honest and tell you that I had written down UBS till Mac corrected me...it stands for Universal Serial Bus).  The computer picked it up as new hardware and installed it.  I hesitantly approached the computer, and placing fingers on keyboard, began to type.  I used the mouse for the things the mouse has to do and was in love.  Oh yes, I love my laptop.  I was on that laptop hours at a time.  By the end of it, I had written a book, and had it published. Also, I was not the only one who loved that laptop...Sonny our Russian Blue loved it too.  When I wasn't on it, I'm afraid he was.    And then something awful happened.  Sonny and I loved my laptop so much that we actually loved it to death.  Yes, we killed my laptop.  I don't know how we killed it, but suffice it to say that it became overheated and decided to blow itself up.  Sigh.  I handed it over to son Michael who had it for several weeks.  "Exactly what did you do to it," he finally asked.  That was when he returned it to me as being a hopeless case.  I think it should be purrfectly clear that Sonny has denied all culpability in this.  He claims he was in his cola box, and has the proof.   So right now I am using Mac's laptop and he has ordered me to keep it closed and turned off and Sonny's presence is not needed upon the case.  Poor Sonny. 

So, this is going to be my letter to Santa.  I'm sure he reads the Chronicle...after all, he has letters to him published in it every year.  So here goes...Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a new laptop with cat repellent implied...I've been pretty good all year if you don't count the mornings and evenings...thanking you in advance...Sandi  So, what do you think?  I'll let you know if he agrees that a new laptop is in my future.  Cross your fingers for me, will you?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mother-in-Law (mother-in-lawwwww...)

Once I wanted to be the best mother, ever.  I'm not sure if I ever quite attained the lofty level of BME, but it sure wasn't for want of trying.  I learned the differences between what they wanted, what they needed and what they just absolutely had to have no matter the sacrifice.  Okay, so the last thing didn't rear it's ugly head quite as often as they insisted on it, but I did eventually level the playing field and work through the problems.  When they were little, it was much easier.  I could simply tell them no or get the object of their affection on the qt and surprise them.  As they got older, that became harder to do.  Just this weekend we were looking at some pictures of them at the age of 8 and 9 just after Santa had made his stop.  It showed the boys with their creatures of selection (transformer creatures of the day) and Wallace says, "oh yeah, I remember those...I was poking around in your closet to see what I could find and there they were...I hated I had done it, there were no surprises."  I never knew that.  It cured him of snooping, I think, but it sort of messed that Christmas up for him.  As they attained teen hood, it was so much harder to do what was best for them and harder to say no.  Since I was a LEO with the Sheriff's Department, I knew every cop in every department in every town including the Highway Patrol.  They couldn't get away with anything that I didn't hear about...eventually.  One of the SCHP patrolmen  had a nickname for Michael...Road Warrior.   He slipped up and called him that when he didn't know I was anywhere around.  I got the story of how he came to get the nickname...two stops in as many nights by the same trooper...and no consequences.  I can't say I agreed with it and told him so.  Of course I had to confront Michael with it as soon as we were both home at the same time...and it slowed his little Chevy down for a time.  Wallace had already taken care of his own speed problem by nearly losing control of his , just trying to see how fast the Trans Am would go.  I learned of this after he was married the first time.  I wished he'd kept it to himself.  Being a semi-believer in the string theory, I sometimes wondered what had happened to them in those alternate lives the true string theory believers often speak of.

So, I wanted to be best mother ever...not quite there...and now trying attain BMilE or Best Mother in law Ever status.  It's an uphill climb.  My son Michael is married to the lovely Anna and they have our only grandchild, Arianna...I do not poke my nose in their business even when they invite it.  I never liked either my parents or Mac's trying to mind our business and I promised myself that I would not do it to them.  When it comes to holidays,  I remember how often I wished I could be with my family during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but usually we were to far away to be with either.  We spent two Thanksgiving's with his family because he was a Navy Recruiter in their home town and we were there.  We spent two with my family because we were in Charleston which isn't far from my family.  It all worked out.  But I remember how I felt as a daughter and I realize that my daughters-in-law must feel the same way.  Therefore, we have Thanksgiving on Saturday so we can all be together.  It's a compromise, but one which I am willing to make.  My older son Wallace presented us with our future daughter -in-law over this holiday season.   We were quite pleased with his choice.  She seemed pleased with our situation of Thanksgiving on Saturday and we all had a great time, especially Arianna (who was looking forward to having a new Aunt in the family...though she is not so sure she wants any cousins any time soon...she's sort of used to being the ONLY grandchild.)

So, I'm going to be a Mother-In-Law again and I couldn't be any happier...I just hope that this song doesn't end up as ring tone for either of my girls!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Over the River and Through the Woods

Over the River and Through the Woods
If you ask, most people would probably say that Christmas is their favorite holiday of all.  Not me, though.  Thanksgiving has always been my favorite and I know it is because of my Grandmother.  We all adored Mammy. She could do no wrong in our eyes.  Her approval was all we craved and her understanding was all we wanted.  No matter where we were living when we were children, Mama always made sure that we were in Chesterfield at Mammy and Daddy Dwight's house for Thanksgiving.  We would drive all day and half the night, roll out of that car and race to the screen porch where we would be gathered up in the loving arms of our Grandmother.  She would quickly hustle us off to bed upstairs with blankets warmed by the little pot bellied stove in the kitchen.  It was the most marvelous feeling in the world to snuggle down in one of the big old double beds upstairs, toasty warm under the covers, but our noses would be chilled by the artic like cold of the unheated bedroom we loved. 
The next morning all the cousins would arrive to hugs from their Aunt Deferris and Uncle Mike and we'd race around outside and play like there was no tomorrow. Inside the Aunts and Mammy would be catching up on all the news, the Uncles would be talking about world events and President Eisenhower...I think Daddy Dwight was always secretly proud that he and the great man shared a first name.  After a full day of catching up, the adults planned the next day's big meal.  The turkey was sitting stuffed and ready on the freezer on the screened porch.  His day in the oven would come early.  The shelves were lined with Pecan pies, caramel cakes, fruit cakes and a 12 layer cake that defied gravity by remaining upright.  Once again, the baths would be had, the blankets warmed and we were bundled off to bed to dream of the coming feast. 
We heard the business of the day long before we beheld it with our very own eyes.  I could hear the rustling of aprons on dress skirts, hear the pans clanking against the oven racks as the tom turkey was slid into its depths. The water was running into the sink to begin the seemingly never ending washing up of pans and utensils.  We would lie in bed listening to Mammy and Mama while they talked and compared recipes.  Their laughter was pure music, the melodic notes climbing up the stairs and around the corner then race to the bed where we lay, warming us with the sound.  Soon we would all be up, the rest of the family would arrive and the Aunts would lay the tables...one for the adults and then the children's table.  I always thought how exciting it would be to eat with the adults in the dining room, the conversation washing over me like honey.. .  But today I would give anything to go back to the childrens table with the cousins who were like sisers and brothers, to the laughter that filled those two rooms to the rafters.   I would love to see again the cranberry colored plates and the stemmed glassware sitting on pristene white starched tablecloths, the silver very properly placed by each plate.  But most of all, I'd love to feel my grandmother's arms around me again.  Now that would truly be a Thanksgiving to remember.

The recipe for Pumpkin Dump Cake...easy peasy...

1 (18.25 ounce) Betty Crocker Supermoist yellow cake mix
1 (20 ounce) can pure pumpkin
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
3 whole eggs
1 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon until well blended. Spread pumpkin mixture in prepared baking dish.
3. Sprinkle cake mix evenly on top of the batter. Pour melted butter over the top of the cake mix. Bake 50 minutes.
4. Cool. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.
I use sugar substitutes like Splenda and sugar free kool whip as a topping...great for the dieters and the diabetic members of our family....
Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Family Reunions

Family Reunions

Here in the South (you'll notice that the South is capitalized due to her importance) while we may not have a monopoly on Family Reunions, we certainly make a big deal of them.  I've often thought it was because of all the Scots/Irish bloodlines in our history that makes it so important.  Our family clans feel the need to get together and touch base on what everyone is doing, who they've married (thus bringing in new blood into the clan) and to ramble through the Family Cemetary to speak to all our forefathers and foremothers, let them know we're still here and they still matter.  I've had a fascination with our family cemetary since I've had recallable memory. WHen I was a child I liked nothing better than to ramble through the graves and listen as my Grandmother told me the history of those who rested here. 
 This past October 15th, not only did Mac and I celebrate our 43rd wedding annivesary, we attended the Douglas Family Reunion along with younger son Michael and wife Anna.  Most importantly, our Grand Daughter, Arianna, was attending her first ever reunion of our family.  Dinner, which is always wonderful and no one goes away hungry from these things, was followed by the adult family members recalling reunions past at Big Granny Douglas's wonderful home on Douglas Ranch Road.  We've held them at the Church for a number of years now, but they always included the trek to the Douglas Family Cemetary even back then.  I saw that Arianna and some of the younger cousins had made their way to the cemetary, so I joined them.  Arianna was standing at her Grandmother Grace's (Douglas Valverde) gravesite and asked who else she was related to (and who now resided )in this wooded glen.  I pointed out her Great and Great Great Grandparents, her great great Aunts and Uncles, cousins and all the other relatives she would never know except by the stories we could tell her.  I've never found our family cemetary to be spooky in the least.  It's simply a place where the sleeping lie in another dimension, listening for voices in another room.  I look forward to seeing all the family members as they take their younger generations through and point out who lies where and share memories of their own past with these family members of yesterday.  Yes, we certainly make a big deal of our Family Reunions...and it's not always about the food.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Salute

They say that the newspapers of the world will soon be a thing of the past, that with the internet news so available to breaking news there will be no need for the printed page.  You have Kindle to read books, no smell of ink and tree to feed your senses.  But The Cheraw Chronicle and Chesterfield Advertiser will continue to do what they do best...bring you news of today and yesterday and yesteryear...one thing they do well is honor our Veterans.  For all of you who aren't really sure when we began this holiday, here is a short blurb on the why and wherefore.
Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world and falls on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.) Courtesy of my History Teacher Mr. Phil Chewning.
Look at some of the pictures that we have here honoring the Veterans of Chesterfield County.  Most of them served during a time of war...WWI, WW II, Korea, Vietnam, and both of the Middle East conflicts one over one still going on.  Most of them were mere children when they entered the service of our country.  They were as young as fifteen some of them.  Or they were seventeen like my husband Mac.  I remember my grandmother making the statement that it is always the young who rise up to protect the country of old men and women.  Never is that more evident than today.  The pictures of those so young that we have lost recently make me want to weep.  At a time in their lives when they should be playing football, going to college, dancing the night away or just living their lives without worry of gunfire or explosion, instead we are bombarded with the news of the dead and injured.  So, this is not a day for sales or merriment but a time of celebration, celebration of the unselfish men and women who gladly serve our nation and in turn, us.  Thank you, all you brave young men and women, those who are now no longer young those who are no longer with us and those who will show up at the recruiters offices and offer their services and their lives to protect the this land we love.  Thank you!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Going Home Hungry

Wednesday afternoon Mac and I went to see Daddy and take him some Bojangles chicken for a late lunch.  I rang the bell several times, but got  no answer.  Mac looked in the car port off the garage and told me the car was there.  I got my key out and after a perfunctory knock, I unlocked the dead bolt and entered.  I guess we were about to interrupt his afternoon nap, because there he was, sound asleep!  I turned the tv down and he woke up instantly.  He was surprised to see me standing there and asked if Mac were with me.  I told him that Mac was busy eating figs off the tree, but would be in soon.   Daddy was looking at me intently and then announced that I should eat some of the chicken or go make a sandwich that I was too skinny.  I laughed at that and told him I intended to lose another ten pounds.  That got a reaction!  I yelled for Mac to come in, that Daddy was fussing at me.  We had a nice visit and left him happy and content. 

Yesterday (Friday) Mac and I took a trip to Hartsville for some shopping and ended up at Applebees for dinner.  Now,  we usually eat at the Smokehouse on Friday night but since we weren't going to make it there in time, I decided to have babyback ribs.  Mac got crunchy fried shrimp.  Mac quite enjoyed his shrimp, but the ribs were inedible.  They had been cooked an hour past a fare thee well and had a sauce much to  sweet for human consumption not to  be dessert.  They had such a crowd that trying to get our server's attention was next to impossible. I promise you, we never have that problem at the Smokehouse!  Finally the server mosied over and I told her that the dinner was not what I expected.  She promised to get the manager and left.  Mac had now finished his meal and mine still rested nearly untouched in front of me.  The manager finally came over and took my complaint.  She offered to bring me another serving but I said thanks but no thanks, more of the same usually didn't work well for me.  She offered any other meal.  I told her that since Mac was now finished I would feel foolish eating while he sat and watched.  I had just spent a half hour shoving dried meat morsols around my plate, while he ate.  She offered dessert.  I asked if she had anything sugar free.  Well, of course not.  I told her to just take my meal off the ticket.  She was very nice and kept apologizing for the poor quality of the ribs and assured me she'd just finished (you'll pardon the expression) raking her cooks over the coals.  But the worst of it, even worse than going home hungry from Applebees is this, Daddy will not be happy about his perceived skinny baby not eating.  Maybe he still has some of that chicken left.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Back to Black

I often wonder what happens to talented young people when they hit their twenties.   They've been told all their lives how wonderful they are, their art, their music, their intellect is so far above the norm that they  stand out in the crowd. They not only stand out, they stand head and shoulders above it.   When does that constant idolization of family and then new made fans become not  enough?  It seems that suddenly the more bizarre the behaviour the more outrageous the appearance the less the  talent shines.  I first heard Amy Winehouse several years ago.  I can't remember what she was singing,  it may have been Back to Black or You Sent me Flying...but her smokey jazz voice brought a faraway feel to the heart.  You could listen to her, close  your eyes and imagine yourself in a speak easy of the 30's or or in a front row seat at a high class night club.  If you glanced behind you there would be other patrons dressed to the nines, band box bright.  And through it all, Amy's voice was the tenuous thread keeping you rooted to  the dream.  Hers was not a rock voice, it was mellow and liquid and had she not fallen on drug addiction we would be listening to her long into the century. 
There was another artist I admired, also not a country artist, not a jazz singer...a rock singer like almost no other.  Janice Joplin lived life high and hard from the beginning, it seems.  Of course the one I remember her for the most was Me and Bobby McGee...Janice could belt out a song like no body's business and when she was gone, there was no one like her ever again.   She too was twenty seven years old.  She too couldn't kick the habits of her youth.  She too was missed almost immediately, her record sales going up.  Like Amy's.  Amy's record sales have gone through the roof.  That's because there will be no more, no more smokey throated liquid lyrics sometimes emotional, sometimes slightly vulgar sometimes to vulgar for airplay, but no more all the same.  I wish that the love and adoration of family and fans had been enough.  I hope that lessons of her shattered life will serve as a warning for others in the same position.  Sadly, it won't be.


Monday, July 11, 2011

How many pecks in a bushel?

Last year, Mac said he wasn't going to plant so many tomatoes.  This was after our tomatoes were like zuchini in that we couldn't give them away.  I canned and froze tomatoes and wrapped green ones in newspaper and stored them in the pantry.  We were eating tomatoes at Thanksgiving.  He grows some really great ones in these things he call "growtainers".  They hold two plants each.  He has four of them.  The tomatoes get to be softball and bigger size.  They make great sink sandwiches.  He has the makings for four more of these growtainers out there.  Okay, so that's eight tomato plants already bearing.  But wait!  He has nearly an acre planted in melons, beans,  Armendian melons (a great cucumber), eggplant and peppers...we have strawberries (still putting on fruit) and YES we have TOMATOES.  There are Celebrity,  Mortgage Lifter (three different varieties) and lord knows what else.  He even has some grafting stock to try grafting.  Like we don't have enough already. 
I saw this little marvel  of a gadget on The Price is Right.  It was called a Tomato Press.  Okay, so lots of you already knew about this thing, but I didn't.  So this weekend, I used it for the second time.  I put on a big pan of boiling water and started blanching the baskets and baskets of tomatoes that were sitting on every available space in the kitchen and dining room.  I just plopped the tomatoes, skin and all, into the hopper and started turning the handle.  Out poured lovely tomato sauce.  I put the skin and seed back through and got more juice...I worked for nearly an hour and ended up with ten quarts of lovely tomato for use in sauces of all kinds.  And it made a pretty good juice, too. 
I have just spent the last two hours watering the garden.  I have watered the fruit trees and all the tomatoes, the strawberries and the eggplant. I watered the peppers (bell and HOT) and the flowers even got some attention for a change.  Done with the front, I turned the hose over to Mac and came inside for a cup of coffee!   Mac is down in the big garden watering now.  I went down to take him a cold drink and he was shaking his head.  "What's up?" I asked him.  He looked around at the forty+ tomato plants (including the three he had planted on Saturday) and said "I'm not going to plant so many tomatoes next year."  I nodded wisely, but a mental eye roll was what was going on in my head.  Yep, I've heard that before!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A 4th of July Tribute

I've often found it odd that almost every national holiday on our calendar is accompanied with a blow out sale.  It seems almost obscene to hear the commercials this year while we celebrate our Nation's birthday.  So many have died to protect our liberties and while I find parades and picnics, cookouts and family gatherings to be the very soul of the day, I have to ask.  What is it with the sales?  Today we celebrate our country's birth, her peoples contributions to the safety of others and we mourn the loss of all the men and women who shed their blood for her and for us.  I am including in todays a post an original poem I wrote several years ago.  Also, I am including a link to the song Arlington, by Trace Adkins.  You may not be a country music fan, but only a stone would be unmoved by this...no, on second thought, that stone would weep.  TO listen to it go here: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=arlington+trace+adkins&aq=0&oq=Arlington

She buried her son today
by Sandi McBride

She buried her son today,
That is why she sits in the dark with her cloak of grief pulled tightly around her.  That is why her eyes are empty, turned backward toward the past where he still plays , laughs...lives.

She buried her son today.
There is no consolement you can offer her that will lighten that grief and melt that capsule of ice that surrounds her heart and freezes her soul.  She means no disrespect in her failure to acknowledge your carefully chosen words, your outpouring of support.  At the moment she can not bring herself to reach out to you and accept your living warmth...she hugs her pain selfishly to herself separating herself from all but the one who was taken from her forever, the words God and Country an anathema for now.

She buried her son today.
And in her torment wonders had he lived, what great things he may have done to make a name for himself in this world, so that someone other than she remembers his name in years to come.  What beautiful flashing eyed girl would have captured his heart?  (His heart now beating in anther's chest, giving hope to some other woman who sits in some other room daring to smile because maybe, just maybe, her child would live to see another day.)

She buried her son today.
He was not her whole world, but a great portion of her world had revolved around him.  There will never come a day that her thoughts will not turn to memories of his birth, his first steps, his first ballgame, his first love.  She will forever see his sweet smile and clear unclouded eyes.  (Eyes now viewing the wonders of the world while looking out from a strangers face.)

She buried her son today.
And just for a moment marvels that the things she loved about him still live on, beloved Country in the future.  Just not today.  Today she buried her son.that while they could not help her beloved boy maintain life, somewhere out there her darling's heart still beats, his eyes still see.  But her grief lifts just for a moment.  She knows that she will rejoice in his gift to mankind and his

Friday, June 17, 2011

In Simpler Times

We hear it all the time, "I'd love to go back to simpler times and live life the way it was intended". In fits of madness, I have said the same thing myself and I actually lived in those simpler times. Funny, they didn't seem so simple at the time. We had no microwave, our radios came from Japan and were called Transistors (and I loved mine even when it couldn't pick up a channel that was right down the road...Donnie Goodale was the disc jockey. Whatever happened to Donnie? I should google him and find out. Now that's not something I could do back in the simpler days. There were no cell phones. Our telephones had party lines and that's where a lot of folk got their news about their neighbors. It put a whole new spin on the term "eavesdropping". There was no a/c and when we had heat waves like we are in now, we kept every light in the house most determinedly in the OFF position, kept the drapes drawn to keep out the heat and the rooms with their high ceilings were actually cool. Well, coolish I suppose.

We ate our main meal at noon and called it dinner. We still call the noon meal dinner even though we eat far to much at what is supper and should be a light repast to get us through til breakfast. When did all that change? It probably didn't change for the farm families still out there, and I've tried to change us back to the old time way of eating. It's a hard job to change a generation of habit, I've found. We had no microwaves to make the preparations of meals a bit easier and faster, but we did have a toaster. It mainly burned the bread when you weren't looking and we all learned to spot the signs of scraped toast. We hated the taste of burnt toast at first then got used to it till I have to have mine so near burnt that it could use a bit of scraping. Where I once had to pile that homemade jelly on to give it an acceptable taste, I find that I now have to have that slightly scorched taste to make breakfast taste like breakfast.

Given all that, I can remember hearing my grandparents complain that times were changing to fast and they wished they could go back and live when times were simpler. Overhearing this, I would wonder how far they wanted to go back. No electricity, no cars, I mean how much more simple could life get than we had it in the 50's and 60's! I know one thing, I don't want to go back to simpler, I like my a/c, my fast truck, my cd's and dvd's, my microwave and dish that gets me 500 channels (but only shows three shows at one time that you'd admit to watching). No way would I go back to simple. That is proven to me every time we have a storm so severe that we lose power! For the first half hour we talk about how people used to live without power (this while we're looking for the nonexistent candles) for the next hour we're on the phone calling the power company to make sure they know what's going on...you know, power is out come fix it NOW. If it lasts for more than a couple of hours, boredom usually drives you to take a nap or fight. If the nap wins over the fighting everyone is glad that no one had to go to jail. That in itself is a good thing. So, simpler times anyone? Please Lord, NO.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Mailman by any other name

The mail has always fascinated me. From the time I was a small child, I wanted to be the recipient of mail I could hold in my hand, mail where my name appeared in the little glassine window proudly proclaiming that this piece of mail belonged to me and me alone. Once after coming upon a postage paid advert card in one of my grandmother's magazines, I carefully filled out the details, including my name and Mammy's address and phone number then popped it into the mail box. I didn't get mail from them, but my grandparents got some rather annoying calls for years from them trying to sell hearing aids to my perfectly hearing elders...and after all that, for me still no mail.

It seems that no matter what town you live in, your Post Office is one of the first places of which you want to know the location . You actively hunt down that (usually) brick facade, the familiar Eagle insignia posted on the wall with the words United States Post Office. The grounds are well kept and nice shrubs usually skirt the front of the building. The towns in our county are lucky to have some lovely examples of architecture. Chesterfield and Cheraw especially come to mind. It would be a pity to lose these buildings to progress. They have meant so much to so many people over the years, from the Mail Carriers to the workers behind the counter, always smiling always friendly and available to give information you might need. They've even helped with directions to unfamiliar places.

As a young Navy wife, the mail carrier was always someone I looked forward to seeing come up our walkway as he delivered mail from Mac who was often far from home aboard a ship. I wouldn't wait to get inside the house to open the letters that arrived but would rip them open and begin devouring the words right there on the porch before I turned to walk back into the house, mail still clutched in ever tightening fingers. This was my link with someone I loved and missed.

The singing group Alabama had a song out about the rigors of mail delivery that covered the history of America's mail service from the Pony Express right up thru delivery in space. At the time no one had heard of e-mail or even dreamed of it. In the cities I lived in here in the US they were Letter Carriers, in England they were Posties (and walked right in the front door to lay the mail on the entry hall table) and of course collectively they are mostly known as Mailmen, weather they are male or female. I was in awe of our Rural carriers who could sit in the middle of the front seat, drive the car while reaching for the mail bundle at their side as they pulled up to the mailbox without knocking it down. Here in the south we of course know our Postmen by name. In Chesterfield it was at first Scott then it was Bonnie...here we have Jimmy. Their cars are personal vehicles with many miles on the odometers. Sometimes we see the familiar mail Jeep, but not often. Don't get me wrong, the job is still hard the hours still long, the roads still rough and it's not one I'd want to take on myself. I had still much rather be the recipient than the deliverer. Do I appreciate our Postal Carriers? You're darned right I do...here's to all the Jimmy's out there, still doing the hard work.

Monday, May 9, 2011

All In the Merry Month of May

I am not sure why it is so, but the month of May is not one of, but my most favorite month of the year. I start looking forward to it in April when the words "April showers bring May flowers" is on every body's lips. It's the month when all the trees are fully clothed, blossoms have pretty much begun to turn to fruit and best of all the Strawberries are in season. I find myself in McBee at least four times during May, headed for the Strawberry stands...(you notice I did not say patch...I'm afraid if I picked my own I would eat far more than I deliver to the shed to be weighed and paid for). May is so lovely and cool in the mornings, you can get your yard work done without suffering heat stroke and so warm in the afternoon that a fit of lazies washes over you like honey from the comb. Sitting on the porch can bring on a case of the dozies for sure, a cat in my lap and a book in my hands, a tall glass of iced tea at my elbow. Even the word "May" gives you a warm feeling...yes you may, mother may I, which puts me in mind of the games we played in childhood that had nothing to do with a game of wii. Mother May I, Red Light Green Light, Red Rover Red Rover and best of all was "Coming to See".

How many of you remember the game of Coming to See...it was a game we played inside and out...we would build little houses under the elm trees at Mammy's house blocking out our little dirt wall bounderies. We'd set up little table and chairs made from stumps and pieces of tree limbs, describe our imaginary curtains to our neighbors who "came to see" us. Our little houses were always close together and extremely visible in our mind's eyes. As cousin Becky described her gingham curtains hanging at her kitchen window, I could see the blue in the check and knew that a white ribbon held them back for the sun to shine in. As cousins Kay and Crystal came to visit me I would proudly point out the new breakfront I had lately installed to hold the dishes that were made of leaf and pebbles in fact, but porcelain in imagination. We played all this under the canopy of Elms next to Mammy's house. But if it was raining, we played just as happily in the three bedrooms upstairs, only we had actual furniture to display, not the gossamer furniture designed and distributed totally from our imaginations.

May 12 is also Mama's birthday. And I remember the Strawberry pie that she made for us with the first batch of strawberries that came into the house. Mama was such a great cook, I don't think she ever made anything that wasn't perfect. For her birthday I'm going to give you a gift from her since she is no longer with us to receive a gift. I'm sure she'd be quite happy with this arrangement. So, here's Mama's recipe for Strawberry Pie. Keep in mind that you can substitute the sugar with any sugar substitute you like. I use Splenda, but whatever you prefer. Happy Birthday, Mama

Mama's Fresh Strawberry Pie

4 cups fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup sugar (or splenda works just as well)

1/2 tsp baking powder

Line a baked pie shell with 2 cups of fresh strawberries and take the remaining 2 cups of berries and cook with the cornstarch blended in with the sugar and baking powder until clear and thick. Pour the cooked berries over the fresh ones after it has cooled. Top with whipped cream. This will be the only Strawberry Pie recipe you'll ever crave!

Monday, May 2, 2011

If it's Spring, can Summer be far behind?

If it's Spring, can Summer be far behind?

I spent my Sunday afternoon doing something I've looked forward to for weeks now. I packed up the winter clothes to banish them to the back room closet for at least six months! Gone are the days of sweaters and scarves, coats and boots, earth tones and dingey grays. I checked each garment carefully for any repairs that may need doing, making sure they were pristine clean for their banishment. The ones who were candidates for the ragbag were tossed carelessly aside, no longer repairable or even wanted. I took down the button tin from the top shelf and prepared to cut the buttons from those ragbag frocks. I remembered Mammy's (my grandmother) button tin, a big old coffee can (Lousianne Coffee with Chicory) which we loved to plunder through as children. She had such beautiful buttons in the depths of that can, they were like minor works of art. I remember her going through the buttons to add to a blouse she or my mother might be making and she would match them in size and color though not in appearance and make a blah blouse a wow blouse. Very innovative, was our Mammy.

So, now the winter things are packed in a box and ready to be put into the back of the closet. Funny how my Spring clothes get hung on the rail, not packed into boxes. It would be like packing the sunshine away to hide those sweet pastels and bright yellows in a box. I drew out the first of them, a warm yellow blouse with soft pale yellow slacks. I pulled it to my face and smelled the lavendar and rosemary sachet that had kept them company all winter and fall. It made me smile. I don't suppose the youth of today think about making their own sachets when they can just go into the nearest store and buy them. Or can they? Do they even know what a sachet is? Do they know how to make that little envelop of linen, stuffing it with dried herbs and spices so to scent your delicates or your closet?

So there I was, bringing out the bright colors and hanging them on my side of the closet and in walks Mac.

"So, whatcha doing?" asks he.

"Packing up the winter stuff, bringing out the summer stuff, " I reply. Oh, I was doing so much more than that. He could never understand.

He looks at his side of the closet, the jeans, the khakis the dress pants and long sleeved shirts mixed with the short sleeved shirts, the belts and ties. He snorts a laugh and wonders aloud why HIS side of the closet never gets the attention that mine does.

"What's the point?" I ask. "You're sort of a guy for all seasons. A one size fits all..." Lets face it, I gave up on getting him to wear bright colors and yes, even pink, years ago. In the long run, his refusal to wear fashion gives me more time to play on my own side of the closet! I'm a selfish wench!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Baptisms

Week before last we held a Baptism at Douglas Mill Baptist Church. It was the first Baptism to which I've been witness since returning to my home Church. Actually, just walking in the front door door is forever a source of amazement to me. It is so very different from the Church of my childhood that it boggles my mind.

I spent every summer with my Grandparents, Dwight and Nancy Douglas, from a small child into my teens. I was a Summer Baptist, you understand. A Catholic girl when at home with my parents, a Baptist girl when with the elders during the summertime. The Douglas Mill of my childhood had broad planked wooden floors and hard backed pews, burned oil in a big old oil burner for warmth in winter and wooden window sticks for air conditioning to cool you in the summer...oh and those wonderful Miller Rivers Funeral Home fans on a stick for constant movement of said air. The pulpit was a simple wooden stand to hold Preacher Entzminger or Preacher Giffen's Bible, a simple wooden chair to rest in during singing. We had Deacons but they took up the offering and as far as I can remember never sat either side of the Preacher during the Sermon.

So, last Sunday I was witness to a Baptism that took place in the Baptismal water that is directly behind the Pulpit. Preacher Wayne had accepted that Harley and Will knew their hearts and had accepted Christ as their Savior and proceeded to make their knowledge Word. I watched them along with other family members as these two young people made their way into the water and Preacher Wayne took care of the rest. I couldn't help but remember the days when Baptisms only took place in late Spring and Summer. The entire congregation would walk down to Douglas Mill Pond and the Preacher would take the person down into the pond water to baptize them. In my mind I see them dressed in white sheets, but I'm sure it was Baptismal robes only worn for this special occasion. I can hear the singing as we walked down to the pond, the voices rising with pure joy as we went, I AM A POOR WAYFARING STRANGER.... listen to Trace Adkins bring it home...


So, now in our little church by the roadside (where everyone is someone) we have stained glass in the place of plain window glass, the carpet is appropriately red, the pews offer comfort rather than rigidity and the Pulpit is still plain but oddly lovely. There are three chairs behind the Pulpit, one for the Preacher and one each for the Deacons, though I've never seen a Deacon sit there. We have central air and heat and no longer can you raise a window to get a breeze. But that's okay, there are ceiling fans to keep that air moving. But still, I missed my little Miller Rivers Funeral Home fan of long ago. My grandparents and Uncle Gary and Aunt Edith (Douglas) would be so pleased to see the changes that a constant congregational offering has wrought. It's such a lovely little Church that anyone would be happy to attend the Services. But I can still see the original rough draft and can smell the honeysuckle scent that came through the upraised windows, held open with simple wooden sticks. I can see my grandmother on the second pew, fanning a grandbaby with that little fan. I can feel the texture of the religious tracts she kept in her Bible, the ones we would read when the Preacher's sermon became to long and complicated to keep our attention. My favorite was always the one about the man who wept because he had no shoes till he saw the man who had no feet. Yes, our little Church is lovely, but my memories of how she was are precious to me. Nostalgia causes lumps in throats and hitches in hearts. I wouldn't trade the way Douglas Mill Baptist Church is today for that church of long ago, but the memories, I wouldn't take a million dollars for a one of them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daddy and the Lady Banks Rose

We moved back to Chesterfield County in 1989 after Mac retired from the Navy. I had told him that since I had followed him all over the world for so many years, it was time for him to follow me, and that I was going to Chesterfield. Like any sensible man, he followed. My parents were happy that we were settling nearby and that they would get to be closer to their grandsons.

Mama, who was a master gardener in all but degree, was eager to share her plant knowledge with Mac and me. She took us all over their massive yard pointing out the beds of roses, the scattering of daffodils in the woods and in particular the Lady Banks Rose that was growing up the side of the garage. She had planted it as a stripling about 12 inches high and had pampered it and babied it for six years. Now in January, she was anxious to show us how she had placed brackets on the garage to secure it to so that it was 15 or so feet up and then swagging down. She told us the blooms this year would be spectacular and it would occur around Easter. I shared in her excitement and everytime I went to visit was greeted by the site of the bare limbed Lady Banks. I would go over and examine it for signs of first leaf.

Okay, now Daddy had a pair of loppers that he used to trim the trees to keep their branches from assaulting him when he was riding the mower or driving the car down the drive. He loved those loppers. They weren't much to look at as loppers go, but they were kept lovingly oiled and ready for action on a hook on the wall inside the garage.

Weekends starting in early spring were dedicated to neatening up flower beds, opening garden plots out back for the veggies that Mama grew with pride and aplomb and general yard work and weeding was carried out. Our younger son Michael enjoyed spending weekends at his "sweet little Grandma's". He didn't mind helping out there, though I couldn't get him to turn his hand in the yard at home. I would go to pick him up and take the chance to admire the Lady Banks and ooh and ahh over the new leaves it was putting on. It really was going to be glorious this year, I could tell. So one warm Saturday morning, I took Michael to spend the day at Grandma's. Daddy was out and about, no suit and tie but dressed in his yard work gear, a well worn pair of khaki shorts an old plaid shirt and faded green hat on his head. Oh, and loppers in hand. He had trimmed the magnolia tree limbs and was clearing the circle of dead branches and weeds that Mama and the kids had pulled. He waved at me as I dropped Michael off. I glanced at the beauty of the Lady Banks and dreamed of having one like it one day.

So it's about 4:30 that afternoon when the phone rings. On the other end, Michael is breathless with something akin to fear. "Mom, you've got to come here quick, Grandma is going to kill Grandpa!"

Okay, now having heard Mama threaten to kill Daddy at least 100 times a year for most of my life, I'm not getting so excited over this piece of news. Stifling a yawn, I ask him casually "so, what did Grandpa do this time?" A tremble

was in voice, he couldn't hide it. "He lopped off Grandma's Lady Banks." I sat straight up, rigid with anger of my own.

"Go tell Grandma to hold on I'm on my way."

"So you're gonna stop her?" he wanted to know.

"Oh no, I'm going to help her!" I told him, a deadly calm in my voice. I heard him yelling "run Grandpa run!"

Okay, so we didn't kill him. But Mama took his loppers away. He was not allowed to use them without strict supervision and only when Mama saw the need of them. Funny, but she didn't feel the need of their use for many years after that...
oh and ps:
yes, I do have a Lady Banks Rose, she is 10 feet high and no one but no goes near her with anything sharper than a camera lens.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dudley Cock of the Walk

People who follow my blog all know about my cock eyed Rooster, Dudley. He came to live with us when his former owners' dogs tried to eat him sans dumplings. He showed up in the yard, tail feathers ripped out, one wing injured and just in a very sad way. Except for his voice, that is. His voice was as strong and vibrant as ever it had been. Mac very generously went to the feed store and bought cracked corn for bedraggled rooster, but he preferred to eat cat food with the cats. Yes, you read that correctly. Dudley (as in Dudley Doright) has a fan club of cats and and kittens. We haven't decided if he thinks he's a cat or they think they are roosters, but they get along together very well. The kittens will even cuddle up to him to sleep when Dudley calls his day done.

Dudley's tail feathers have grown in so thick and luscious in irridescent colors of green and purple that I feel sure he has a guardian angel in the late Mr Will Eddins. Mr Will raised some of the most beautiful roosters ever seen. And not for any reason other than the sure joy of their beauty. Our old boy never leaves the place, he's cock of the walk and sings all day long. He greets the sun before the sun even thinks about coming up, he hits the hay before Mr Sun says good night. I put out cat food twice a day and Dudley always races me to the food bowl, he and his favorite kitten, SuzieQ. Yes, he has a favorite kitten. The little black ball of fluff often gets her catnap next to Dudley out in the garden where he has scoouched out a warm nest of dirt. The cats are all very protective of their big odd brother. I've seen them gather around him, circling the wagons as it were, if they felt he might be in danger. I've never seen anything like it before, nor do I expect to see anything like it again. Sometimes I think God scatters little jokes amongst our lives to lighten us up. After all, I can't take anything to seriously as long as Dudley has his flock of cats.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Earthquakes and local disasters

I woke up this morning wearing a blanket of cats. JJ and Hound were wrapped around my head and Pyewackit and Caroline were clinging to my feet.  BatGirl had long since gone outside but I could hear her mourning her lack of thumbs to get the back door open to get in, so I got up.   I turned on the coffee pot (if you can legitimately call the Keurig machine a coffee pot) grabbed my cup and shooed the furrbies away all the while letting the yowling swearing BatGirl in.  I plopped some cat chow in their bowl and demanded they leave me alone.  Turning on the tv to catch the early news, I sat down with my coffee and had to swat the crazy cats off me yet again.  Mac was getting up, and I heard him telling JJ to get off his feet and leave him alone.  "What in the world is wrong with this kitten?" he was asking as he put his cup under the deliverer of wonderful brew.  "Couldn't say, they have been very clingy even before I got up.  I thought I had an electric blanket on my head, " I told  him.  The news came up and we sipped and watched.

Charlotte had their normal 2 or three shootings, the usual fire or three, the normal amount of burglaries and even mentioned an earthquake in Chesterfield County.  WHAT?!  Seems an earthquake of 2.9 hit our county this morning, causing a bit of a shake up, but nothing thank God of the sort that has hit Japan.  But still, we don't get earthquakes very often.  It's why we don't live in California, after all.  We don't want to live where the house shakes and walls tilt and books fly off shelves.  So now I know why the cats were so spooked.  They were not trying to protect us, I am sure...they wanted to know why we were not up and fleeing the scene.  I'm surprised I didn't find packed luggage by the door.  Of course there would only be Temptations Cat Snacks and Cat Chow inside...but still.  They're pretty smart these furrbies of ours. 

Understandably,  I wasn't surprised to hear my home county mentioned on national news.  Unfortunately it's beginning to be a pretty common occurance.  Chesterfield County has been undergoing a barrage of bad press because of some horrendous happenings at our Animal Shelter (tongue in cheek on calling it a shelter) and I will be writing more on the horrible things we have uncovered when SLED is finished with it's investigation of the Sheriff's Office and the officers involved in what can only be called a crime in anyone's book. I want to be able to write without crying.  Well, that's all for now, I'm headed out to plant flowers and enjoy this early summer weather.  I'm beginning  to think there may be something to this 2012 thing since it's only March and we've already had several days of 80+ weather and expect it to hit 84 today.  All in all, it's been a pretty exhausting month one way or the other.  Hope your day is a good one.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Love Hate relationship with Facebook

Everyone was doing it. I heard so many stories about the fantastic features of Facebook, I began to believe the hype. Bloggers were abandoning their blogs for the convenience of it. They were throwing away their marvelous stories to keep up with people they once knew, barely knew, thought they knew or regretted they knew. Heck, some of them they never knew. What's worse some of these new old friends knew things best left forgotten. Quite a few of them were losing their jobs, finding out that free speech isn't quite as free if you are out there talking trash about your employers worker bees. So why, I wanted to know, was everyone so lady gaga over this site. Okay, admitting my folly, I fell into the pool along with the rest, hoping I wouldn't drown, dog paddling like hell just trying to keep my head above water.

After signing up on Facebook, at the urging of blogging friends and family, I had over 90 friends the first day. Mac came along and looked at my screen and asked when I had signed up. "Today, " I admitted "And I haven't even done a lot with it yet." He shook his head and asking of no one in particular, " and how do you get 90 friends in one day of doing not a lot?" I had to admit I didn't know. I mean, yes, I knew a goodly number of these people that I had friended. Most of course were people who read my blog. Some were family. Others were friends of friends who because I knew their friend thought they might like to be my friend. Yes, I was confused too.

Of friends on Facebook, the most unforgiving are family. They will "unfriend" you the moment you disagree with anything they say about anyone also in your family. They are allowed to call your sister (their mother) any number of foul things, and if you try in the least to raise a hand of discipline, (via Facebook wall postings) Bob's your Uncle, you're unfriended! Many of my younger family members apparently missed out on the "airing your dirty laundry" lesson given by my Grandmother, Nancy Douglas. She always preached to us that if we made mistakes in life, they were a family matter and not to be aired in public like so much dirty laundry. Well, I have noticed a lot of dirty laundry wafting in the Facebook breezes. And I wish they would stop it. I have signed off the site twice now, and feeling the urge to sign off once more. I just have one bone to pick with a certain someone about they way they are talking about someone I happen to love dearly. If they don't like it, they can unfriend me. Please.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where is that lying little rodent hiding now?

Well I'm over my first flu illness in more years than I care to count.  Something went wrong  after I retired. My body started working against me.  Where before I was like super woman, never getting sick, injuries healing  in record time , working  twelve hour shifts then coming home to work four more inside and out without batting an eye,  to this.   (I can hear Peggy Lee singing "I am woman, W O M A N" in the background.)  I refuse to let the weather changes make an invalid or a hostage of my spirit, whatever it may do to my body.  While my body may cringe at the thought of rain, my spirit knows we need to break the drought that has taken hold of our state.  We've started the planting and come wind (OMG the wind!) hell or high water, we're going to get some veggies out of this ground!  The peas have popped up, the garlic is doing well and the tomato plants are showing off their little green leaves .   I have a feeling that lying little rodent Pauxatauny Phil may be a liar, but we have a heater in the green house, so raspberry to you dear Phil. 

This has been the coldest and roughest winter in many of our memories, I'm sure.  We had more snow than usual, so much in fact that the only state left snowless was Hawaii.  I normally love snow.  But I love the magical snow, you know, here today gone tomorrow.  Not this here today gone next month stuff with which we've been damned   blessed.   Our peach trees, plum trees and pear trees are all blooming, the apple tree is holding tight buds, and we've had 32 degree temps three days this week.  Luckily the low temps don't last long, so I think we may be alright.  I can only hope and pray that we stay above 32 til Spring finally arrives for real.  It's a scary thought, but that Mayan Calendar thing might be on to something!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And the flu has gone all Egypt on my ass

I'm sick.  Funny, I got the flu shot when everyone was haranguing me over its benefits.  Yet, here I am.  Temp this morning 101.  Better than the last three days orf 103, but still.  I'm sick.  Mac spent a night in the hospital for rapid (excess of 180) heartbeat again.  We spent two full days and a night there with the sick and afflicted all around us.  He took his flu shot, too.  He's not sick.  Yet.  However our son Wallace and I are.  Sick that is.  We have Mac mostly straightened out and on blood thinners (he's doing lovenox right now, or at least I give him the injections twice a day for a week.  I crawl off my death bed and warn him I'm to weak to chase him down.  He hates needles.  He sees I'm sick.  He behaves. 

I'm sick.  I'm sure I got it at the hospital and wonder to whom I would complain about it.  It appears I have no recourse but to lie on the couch and attempt to recover.  Today is not as bad as Friday was.  Friday night was awful.  I spent more time in the bathroom than in bed for two days.   I did everything at a crawl.  Still do.  It's taken me 2 hours to write this. 

Yes, the flu has gone all Egypt on my ass, I'll be glad when the revolution is over.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Temper Temper!

The header is my new one for the winter.  This is what it looked like for nearly 2 weeks.  There was ten inches of snow then three or four inches of ice on top of that and when I looked out the back door I knew we weren't going anywhere.  Not anytime soon.  Or as my Bubbles (Violet Loxley) would say, if the snow is shiny, it will hurt your hiney. 

So we've sort of been stuck in here together for days, getting on each others nerves.  War broke out once or twice, but luckily older son was iced in with us and acted as referee.  It could have gotten bad, but at least we never lost power.  That in itself was a blessing from heaven.  We had to go rake snow off the satellite a couple of times but other than that, we kept each other entertained with tales of who had cabin fever to the nth degree, me or him. 

Funny how much I love snow.  I mean I love our kind of snow, the here today gone tomorrow kind of snow.  Then we got Jersey Snow.  The snow that is here today and here tomorrow and still here in April.  Yes, I've lived through snow where Evil Sister and I had to hack a path from her back door to mine so we could play hours of Scrabble.  That was called keeping ourselves sane.  And the kids never missed a day of school.  The snow was half way up the picture window and they had school.  Chesterfield County in 1987 had 1 inch and the school was closed for days.  The boys really hated that.  A lot.

So here we are, with Jersey Snow, and high winds on top of that.  Mac had a colonoscopy scheduled for last Friday, but we couldn't get out to get the solution and tab he had to take.  So, it's was rescheduled for tomorrow.

I looked forward to getting out of here on my own Monday.  I dressed in my best wool slacks with my cashmere sweater, the beautiful shawl my sister Toni gave me and my fur hat.  I looked pretty good,  if I  do say so myself ,it made my spirits hum.  Put on my lipstick, grabbed my bag and hit the porch.  Slid three feet to the gate, looking to be sure no one saw me, straighted my hat and walked gingerly to the truck.  I was in such good humor! 

Now, we have had one insurance company for years, Tricare...most of the meds are mail order, but we get things like this from CVS and have never ever had a  problem.  I waltzed into CVS Pharmacy, handed over the prescription and went to wander around the store while they filled it.  I heard someone calling my name, and got over to the counter as quickly as I could.  The lady behind the counter told me that the insurance company had declined to pay because we had other insurance.  I asked what DOB she had used.  It was the right one.  I asked if it was Tricare.  It was.  She said she would call them to see what might be the problem.

So, she gets someone on the line and begins to explain that the prescription was being turned down for payment and that the customer claimed no other insurance.  She was nodding and rolling her eyes and she looked at me and asked if I would like to talk to her.  I narrowed my eyes and held out my hand for the phone.

"Now, just what seems to be the problem here?"  I asked her. 
"Well, " she says, "it appears that you have another insurance that should cover this,  madam, and you should use that one before trying to make  the government pay."

Remember the little girl in The Exorcist, the one whose head spun around and she began to spit green soup?  Well, no, I didn't do all of that, but I did choose my words carefully.  "Now, you listen to me, I don't know where you are, but I can assure you that where ever you are, my husband spent a lot of time keeping you safe.  It's a pity that a man can put thirty years in the Navy and then you make a statement like that!  My husband's time in service has more than paid for any medication or medical treatment that this government, such as it is, provides.  We only have the insurance that we have had for the past 21 years the one that you are trying to represent.  I suggest you fix this error and quickly. And DON'T CALL ME MADAM!"  I handed the phone back to the lady behind the Pharmacy counter.  She was smiling from ear to ear.  She kept saying "yes, yes, of course.  No the customer is still here, we'll take care of it right now."

She hung up as I was straightening my hat again and looked out at me and told me that they had taken the red flag off the account and the order would be filled.  Then she started laughing outright.
"Mrs. McBride, I don't know when I've enjoyed a conversation with an insurance company more.  And might I say, you looked quite elegant up there on your high horse!"  I started to laugh with her, and told her I might need some help getting down from it to insure I didn't do myself an injury.  I don't know when I've enjoyed losing my temper more!


Monday, January 10, 2011

The Pie Chart

As I know a lot of you are aware, I recently celebrated a birthday (on the 7th as it happens).  When I got up that morning I felt rested and energetic enough to take the wild tail girlie (a mix of some ungodly breeds of dogs who are apparently site hounds and Heinz 57 doesn't even begin to cover it) for a walk in the early morning dew.  I felt 20 something.  I may walk with a limp, but my spirit is free of any such affliction.   So we walked down through the woods and up the other side and she picked up the scents of rabbits and squirrels, deer and maybe a lynx or two...and dragged me through brambles and wild berry bushes, around pines and between two cedars growing together.  When I finally made it back to the front porch, I was a bit winded but other than that in fine fettle.  But I felt about 30 something. I unhooked Chase's leash (she is aptly named, believe me) when we got inside and gave her the expected treat.  Faux bacon is her treat of choice barring a little  ginger mailman with dog safe ingredients baked inside.  I looked over at the Keurig and drooled.  My very favorite Christmas present, it offers me any blend of wonderful coffees, Doughnut Shop, Kona, Black Silk, French Vanilla...you name it.  So I went over to this little gem and putting my cup beneath it's spout, lifted the coffee tub holder and placed my coffee of choice in the slotted area.  Black Silk by Folgers.  Oh my.  Pulled down the handle and saw the red flashing light which read "add water".  Cursed the last person to make a cup and not check the water reservoir, and then drew up water from the Brita filter contraption that is attached to my faucet.  By this time I had run swiftly through my 30's and the 40's were almost in my rear view  mirror.  It was only 7:30 in the morning.  I brewed myself a cup of coffee without offering anyone else a cup, sat on the sofa with one leg tucked under me and watched the news of the morning and night before all the while  letting  that cup of coffee wash 10 years off my attitude.   Ah, pleasure, just pure coffee addiction pleasure.
I had decided that this was the birthday I would ignore.  After all, no one but me much ever remembered it anyway.  I decided years ago that it was no big deal that Mac could never remember when my birthday was or even when our Anniversary falls, so deciding that since I'd already hit the big 60, no need to worry about such trite things as birthdays anymore.  Then the Face book greetings started pouring in and I discovered that I really did care after all.  It was pleasing to see all those lovely comments, even from people who have known me 30+ years.  And a few who have known me 50+ whom I thought I'd   offended years ago had found my face book page and made mention of the day. When I saw all that, I felt 20 again.  Okay, so the afternoon approached quickly and we were trying to decide whether to run out to Roger's Smokehouse Restaurant for dinner or wait and take in breakfast with him the next morning.  I chose breakfast, because the 50's had slipped by me somehow and I was really too tired to think about doing much more than grabbing a hot bath and flannel Jammie's and warm socks and reading the book (The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters) I'd started just after Christmas. 
It was while I was preparing a quick supper of grits eggs and toast that it happened.  I had taken down the grit pot (all Southern cooks know that once you have found the perfect grit pot, nothing but grits ever gets cooked in it) and put the water on to boil.  I started looking for the lid to it (or led as I remember my Great Grandmother calling it).  I looked on the counter, no lid.  I looked in the pantry, no lid.  I knew I'd just had the dingdanged thing so where could it have gone?  I spent a good thirty minutes looking for the blamed thing. My mother always said that I was so high strung I could  thread a sewing machine needle with it running. I let things get to me sometimes.   Finally I just  turned off the water and we had turkey sandwiches for supper.  It really bothered me that I had misplaced the lid, and now I felt my 60+ years.  After supper I went over to the kitchen table and picked up the book I'd been reading.  And there it lay in shameless glory, the lid to the grit pot.  Right then I remembered the cute thing  that a friend had sent to me as a birthday joke  and realized the truth of it.  I spend way to much time these days looking for things that are always in the last place I look when I am no longer looking.  Being highstrung may have few advantages, but at least I can laugh at myself when the search is over!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Of Cabbages and Kings and Hospital Things

Okay, you all know Mac and how into his gardening he is, right?  You know we're early risers and out and about checking on the collards, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages.  We even pulled  a collard on Sunday and ate him right up with squash and field peas and cornbread.  Unless you're from the South you probably don't know collards from succotash, but it's very similar to kale.  Just better.  So Mac planted these lovely plants from seed in August and babied and pampered them and we've watched them grow into these lovely huge leafy beasties.  I was out there wandering amongst the beasties and choosing the one to "kill" for Thanksgiving.  Mac, who is King of the garden, caught me fondling the large leafy beauty that was going to grace my cook pot.  I had told him that since we'd had two frosts, I saw no reason to wait for Thanksgiving to have our first taste of heaven.  I'd cook this lovely right up and we'd freeze what was left for Thanksgiving dinner.  He fell for it hook line and garden shears. 

Yesterday Mac did nothing of his normal routine.  He got up early, sure.  But he didn't go out to check the garden or the trees, he didn't shuck corn for the guinea hens.  He said he didn't feel all that well and wrapped up in fleece blanket, lay back in his chair.  I took his temperature, it was 97.4.  He didn't have much of an appetite, in fact ate nothing all day, just nibbled.  He had one cup of coffee and the rest of the day drank lemonade.  I was concerned about him but whenever I asked how he was, he would only say that he felt some better.  At 9:30 he announced he thought he would go to bed.  At 10, I followed.  At 2 a.m. I felt him get up and sit on the edge of the bed.  I asked him if he was okay.  He asked for his nitro spray and I got it for him.  By 2:30 a.m. I had called 911 and gotten an ambulance on the way.  When he had gotten up to get a drink, he collapsed into unconsciousness on the living room floor.  I could not bring him around as hard as I tried.  After 911 I called for my son Wallace to come help me.  He finally came around but had no idea what had happened to him.  Wallace let the squad members in and within a few minutes they were on the way to the hospital with him.  Wallace, seeing I was in no shape to drive took over those duties. We made it to the ER seconds behind the ambulance.  While on the road he had been given two medications to bring his heart rate down from the 200+ beats per minute.  Having gotten him converted, he was awake and fully responsive by the time they let us back with him.  But suddenly, while the nurse was checking his vitals, he went into a full blown seizure that I knew was serious because she lost her calm and began yelling "I need help in here guys, send me a Doctor stat".  His face was grey, his eyes were wide open with pleading and his entire body was stretched out as if some unseen forces were trying to pull him apart.  To say that Wallace and I were now in a state of panic is an understatement.  I was  begging God to help and telling Mac at the same time, we're here we're here. 

Okay, this is where we were on November 18th,  2010.  Funny, it doesn't seem to have been that long ago.  I was sitting by his hospital bed after several harrowing hours in the ER and found I couldn't concentrate enough on anything but him.  Wallace  had brought me my laptop after he made a flying visit to the house to bring me clothes other than my night clothes.  I sat in the world's most uncomfortable recliner, laptop in front of me and determined to make some sense of the past few hours.  I failed miserably.  He moved, I stopped.  He groaned, I stopped.  He called my name, I froze.  So, putting the usually comforting laptop away and any idea of expressing my feelings about what was going on, I concentrated on his condition.  The Cardiologist came in and expressed complete puzzlement over what might have occurred but offered any manner of tests that might offer an answer.  By this time the children and grandchild and minister had arrived and Mac was converting to his John Wayne persona.  "I'm fine, nothing going on here, I have work to get back to, leave me alone blah blah blah".  The blah blah blah is where I quit listening to him and turned to the doctor and asked about the importance of having yet another catherazation even when he had passed a stress test with flying colors not three months previously.  "If he were a family member of mine, he wouldn't leave here without it" pretty much sewed it up for me.  Meanwhile, Mac was busy pulling the stitches out of my resolve.  Finally I looked at the drawn faces around me, my older son in particular (he had been in the ER with me at the time of the unexplained seizure and near death experience, after all.  "I need some help here, guys, " I demanded of them.  Wallace looked at his father, his face pale his voice determined.  "Dad, you don't understand, I thought we were watching you die."  That did it.  Mac simply laid back and gave in to our demands.

Where we stand now.  The catherazion found a previously thought closed graft wide open and flowing blood like a champ.  Why his heart rate went to over 200 we may never know, but he has had one episode of rapid heart rate since we returned home.  He will have to wear a heart monitor for several weeks to keep track of any episodes we aren't aware of.  The mystery may never be solved.  But here's the thing...I have been hesitant to write of this episode because so many of my friends have experienced some devastating events that make mine pale in comparison.  I have said so many prayers for them and their loved ones in the past few months, that I had put God on speed dial.  I think in particular of Anya who recently lost a similar battle for her dear husband's life.  I think I was suffering from survivor's guilt.  I didn't want to share and yet I needed to share.  I didn't want my friends who have been through such similar things and had a quite different outcome to think I was insensitive to their recent losses.  But, here I am, 2011 and making another resolve to get out there and visit my friends and continue to keep on keeping on.  After all, that's what life is all about, isn't it?