Sunday, December 23, 2012

McBride and the Ride

Most of you don't know this but Mac and I have spent most of December in one hospital or another,( first Baptist Hospital, for 10 days, then Carolina Pines for 7 days and now Richland Memorial 4 day and holding) Mac as the patient, me as the fierce protector. He has a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. It means his heart beats much faster at times than it should, causing him to feel light headed and faint. And here I thought that was just love. Seems living with me all these years may have earned him a medal after all (can you hear me Kenny?) So we thought we had it under control with medicine, when suddenly, the first of December , he went into full flutter and passed out for a few seconds. It so happened that I was on the phone with Carol, Dr Grainger's Nurse Practitioner at the exact time. She told me to call 911 and she would call Baptist Hospital and get him a room. The ambulance pulled up and Marty Horton stepped out. Marty has been a friend for years and just knowing that he and Steve were in control of the situation made me feel a huge relief. So, we spent 8 days in Baptist where he was prepared for a cardio conversion...his second one in as many weeks. The medicine he was on had to wash out before they started him on a new one to use with the conversion. This is where they use the paddles to shock your heart back into a normal sinus rhyme. It hadn't worked before and I wondered why they thought it might work this time, but they were hopeful. So, it shocked him into the correct rhythm and Dr Grainger told us we could go home on Wednesday. On Friday, same situation only I drove and we went to Carolina Pines where Dr Grainger has a practice, too. No shock this time, but more medicine changes. We stayed there until Tuesday. Mac no longer likes to ride with me. We always end up in a doctor's office or in the hospital. It's Thursday. We are languishing in Richland Memorial Hospital. We are hopeful of an ablation. But it will probably be more meds....I drove us here, the sun in my face all the way. We arrived with Mac a nervous wreck (a good passenger he is not) and I with a blinding headache. Everyone in the practice knows us by sight and name. We may go home Christmas Day. I am now telling everyone we are the new musical group and are on our Hospital Tour. He's McBride. I'm the Ride.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

they never listen to their elders...

It was a few Tuesday's past and Sonny, the little Russian Blue kitten had an appointment for Wednesday morning with Dr. Taylor , our beloved Vet. He was going to have a little, well shall we say procedure? We hadn't yet broached the subject with him, I just planned to pick his little highness up and place him in the pet taxi without much ado. Placing the Pet Taxi to the side of the bookshelf, I left it open so that the cats could explore it's innards and figure out that there was nothing inside to hurt them. Pyewackit and Hound being the most recent passengers avoided that open door like the plague. They tried to warn Sonny and Cher, but they're kittens and they don't listen to their elders any more than any other teenager. They romped around inside it, chasing each other in and out of it and all the while the two adults just sat back and watched. They were cringing. I remembered when I had taken Pyewackit for the same procedure sixteen years ago. He talked to me all the way to Hartsville, we sang and laughed and he was Mama's boy and all was fine in his world.

On the trip home the next day, Pye presented me with his back. He did not speak. He did not sing. He was no longer Mama's boy...he was just angry. As I drove I talked to him, promised him shrimp when we got home, promised him it was going to be alright. He turned and hissed at me. He didn't speak to me for two weeks.

Hound, being a little lady, had a different procedure, but a procedure she did have. When we took her in, she was a sweet little baby who, having been raised by us before her eyes were even open, thought we were the biggest cats she had ever seen. She would curl up on my shoulder to sleep and purr like a proper princess. After her little op she changed gradually. She got bigger, not fat, just tall. She became very bossy and demanding. A few weeks ago Sonny got out by accident and spent all night under the porch. The next morning he showed up at the patio doors asking to be allowed back in. I opened the door and he ran to Hound who proceeded to beat him to within an inch of his life. She had not given him permission to stay out all night, and was asserting her authority over him.  She treats us much the same. 

So the next Thursday we went to pick up Sonny  and bring him home. He was so glad to see us, he purred and chattered all the way home. I was reading the post-op instructions about using paper litter etc. etc. I looked over at Mac and told him that I had just thought of something. "What?" he asked. "I hope Hound doesn't jump on him for having another overnighter." He laughed and said that when Hound saw him come out of the pet taxi, she would take pity on him. He was right.

When we got home, his sister Cher was all over him, asking where he had been and that she had been worried about him. She was giving him a good bath and Sonny was enjoying the attention. They were so glad to see each other. Cher pointed to Sonny and asked "what happened there?"  Hound rolled her eyes when Sonny, in mid bath stopped and stared at himself..."dunno, they were there when I left home." Since neither of them particularly cared that a change had indeed been accomplished, I felt good about Cher's little trip in two weeks time. I haven't told her about her appointment yet. It seems to work better when you keep it a secret.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Wedding

October 28th dawned cool and clear.  We had been anticipating this wedding for months.  The Bride and Groom were so secretive about the details that I hesitated buying my dress till the last minute.  I am so glad that I did.  It seems that the children (tongue in cheek here) had decided to have a Halloween Wedding in Black and White.  The rehearsal party on the 27th was thrown open to all invited guests and turned into a Halloween Costume party.  All of the women in our family came dressed as witches.  Some would say it wasn't a far stretch.  The Groom (our son Wallace) was dressed as Frankenstein's Monster and the Bride (Sara Shiver) as Bride of the Monster.  There was Adam and Eve the Village People, Mitt and Ann Romney, and the Father of the Bride dressed in overalls and plaid shirt with a shotgun open with shells in plain sight lying on a table before
 him.  A lovely Egyptian Queen held court before aliens from Outer Space.  Food was generously served and an open bar insured no one went home thirsty (hey, I left sober, had only diet soda...honest.)
So the wedding day was frantic with hair styling and makeup partying for the ladies of the wedding party.  The gentlemen were being dressed in their tuxes and getting the prewedding jitters under control.  Finally at 5:30 I was allowed to dress, careful not to muss makeup or hair.  Since it was a black and white wedding (old black and white movies from the 20's played on the back wall of the reception room and the wedding cake mimicking an old Harold Lloyd movie) I had chosen a long black dress with a white seeded pearl and rhinestone jacket.  Talk about bling!  The wedding itself was lovely and the music was original.  Somewhere in the proceedings it was announced that the happy couple were having a Quaker wedding.  Hats off to all the guests who refrained from asking out loud in front of God and the chosen assembly which one of them was the Quaker.  The Grooms family looked at each other with looks like "say what???" and the Bride's family had much the same epression.  Taken aback.  I have heard it all my life.  Now I know what it means.
The Bride

The Bride and Groom

Mr and Mrs Wallace McBride

The Halloween Rehearsal Dinner Mother of the Groom, the Groom as Frankensteins Monster, Father of the Groom

Sara the Cake Bride

Rushing to the Wedding (the wedding cake)

Wallace the Cake Groom
After the wedding as we stood in the receiving line the question was on every one's lips and occasionally fell right off into the conversation.  One gentleman on the Bride's side said (and he really acted as if he wanted details of this thing ) "so, you're Quakers then?"  I looked him in the eye and told him that I was a hybrid Catholic/Baptist the father of the groom was a hybrid Methodist/Mormon (mutts we are)and was not really sure where the Quakers came into it.  We agreed it had been a lovely ceremony, what with every guest signing the Marriage Contract, in the Quaker tradition (something of which I had never heard.)  Later, while having the first dance with my son (as Sunrise Sunset played in the background) I asked him about the Quaker ceremony.  He laughed and told  me that they had wanted something different from the norm, hence the black and white wedding, the old movies on the back wall and the lovely Quaker traditional service.  Thanks to the minister and our own John Davis of Chesterfield it all came off without a hitch.  Here's to the Bride and Groom, Mr and Mrs Wallace and Sara here!

Here as Frankenstein's Monster and the Bride of the Monster

Sara Jean Shiver and Milton Wallace McBride Jr., were married Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 701 Whaley. The 6 p.m. ceremony was officiated by Rev. Robyn Garrison McMullen and John Davis. The reception immediately followed at the same location.
The bride is the daughter of Roy and Gerry Shiver of Columbia, S.C. She is the granddaughter of the late Joseph and Eugenia Doman of Pittsburgh, Pa. and the late William and Vera Shiver of Camilla, Ga. She graduated from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. with a BA degree in History and received her Masters Degree in Library and Information Sciences from the University of South Carolina. She is a Periodicals Librarian at the Richland County Public Library.
The Groom is the son of Milton and Sandra McBride of Jefferson, S.C. He is the grandson of the late Lewey and Evelyn McBride of Selma, AL and Michael A. Valverde, MD and the late Grace Valverde of Ruby, S.C. He graduated from Lander University and is a writer with the Fort Jackson Leader.
Judith Barnes and Dorothy Copeland, friends of the Bride, were matrons of honor. Bridesmaids were Rachel Thomason and Abigail Thames, friends of the bride, and Ashley Shiver, niece of the bride. Wade Shiver, cousin of the bride, also stood for the bride.
Mark Wood, friend of the groom, was best man. Groomsmen were Milton W. McBride Sr., father of the groom and John Davis, friend of the groom. The ushers were Jonathan Shiver and Jacob Shiver, nephews of the bride.
After a honeymoon in Eastern Europe, the couple will reside in Columbia, S.C.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ooday ooya eekspay igpay attinlay?/first published in The Cheraw Chronicle

As most of you who read my articles and my blog "Holding Patterns" ( know, I grew up spending every summer with my grandparents.  It was our grandmother (Mammy) who taught us the fun stuff of life along with work ethics.  As a teacher she encouraged us to learn new things and practiced what she preached.  On stormy days when we kids were stuck inside the house, she taught us to make paper mache items and tents from chairs and sheets where we could sit inside reading or telling stories of adventure.  It was during just such a storm that she first introduced us to a new and exciting world of linguistics that is now a nearly lost art.  It is called Pig Latin. 
We were sitting around the kitchen table, having given up our chair tents for notebook paper and pencils.  I don't know why we loved that combo, but we did and often spent what little money we had on them.  Mammy was busy making iced tea and sudddenly  asked us (sister Toni and me) if we knew how to speak Pig Latin.  We told her no but our curiosity was piqued, and she promised to teach us.  We spent the next hour learning the trick of it then practicing the language.  The key to the whole thing lies in the title above.  Study how the first letter of the word is moved to the end as ood then then aye is is now ooday.  The same with you...ooyae.  Now say speak...eekspay...and latin...attinlay.  Sort of like the riddle songs of the 60's, you now have a language to speak when you don't want your parents to know what you are saying.  Toni and I being quick studies were soon chatting away like no body's business.  We can still do it.
I remember when I took my kids to see the movie Goonies.  At some point during the movie the kids were speaking in pig latin and I started to laugh as I translated for my boys.  They looked at me in awe and demanded to be taught to speak this cool "new" language.  Thinking back to those days of their childhood  I find myself  longing for the time when I was the coolest mom in the theater...ouldnway ooyae?

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Anniversary Waltz

I met him in February of 1968, it was just before his 28th birthday. I had just turned 19. He was tall and handsome, he had an easy laugh and his eyes were alive with compassion. It was a blind date that could have turned out either way for both of us. My pal Pat had kept insisting that I met her beau's shipmate. When I finally gave in it turned out to be an adventure neither one of us would ever regret.
He was in MineLant at the time. Their motto was "Iron Men on Wooden Ships". That was not only a catchy motto, it was what the kids today would term "hot". He already had ten years in the Navy. I was still trying to find out who I was and what I wanted to be. If that sounds a bit "hippyish", remember, it was 1968. You do the math.
The 60's were turbulent times filled with excitement and misgivings, violence and great heroics.  Men were still going to war, even as today.  I knew the day would come when the ship would no longer be sitting port side.  And so it was.

The ship went to sea soon after we met and there was much exchanging of letters and dreams between us. On his return Stateside, we discovered that the attraction was still as strong. He proposed, I accepted. I can hardly believe that it was 44 years ago October 15. It seems like yesterday, but then I can hardly keep up with time the way it flies by. No marriage is perfect, I've heard it said. But ours has come pretty darned close. During our marriage we have traveled the world and seen the sites.  We reared our children to be bold and honest, with themselves and others.  All in all it has been a great success, wouldn't you agree?     So, to beloved...I love you every bit as much as I did the night we, that's wrong. I love you so much more for so many reasons it would take 44 more years to tell you exactly what they are.  So, Happy still make me laugh and cry, so all in all it has been quite a dance.  Here's to another 44 years if you think you can handle it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

This isn't the Piggly Wiggly, More like the Hoggly Woggly

I have come to the conclusion that you can find anything on the Internet.  All you have to do is go to Google and the world starts spinning and spitting out anything that has to do with what ever you typed into the search engine's vast memory.  It is almost scary.  And don't even get me started about YouTube.  If you can't find it on YouTube you very possibly only imagined you had heard a certain song or seen a certain show.  But back to Google land.  Let me tell you my story.

We took the pups out early for their walk as usual on Friday morning.  I start one way with Cricket and Mac goes the opposite direction with Chase.  We meet up in the middle and continue our walk back to the house.  Friday morning Mac told me to walk back to the garden with him, he had something to show me.  We walked over to the raised beds where we had planted collards, cabbages, brussel sprouts and broccoli.  At the end of each bed were tall wires upon which is growing masses of green bean vines.  I saw the vines, all seemed well.  Then I turned the corner.  Where once huge plants of broccoli and tall sprout stakes had stood were nothing but exposed roots.  Over at the other beds it was the same story.  My lovely dutch head cabbage were history and bell pepper plants lay haphazardly on their sides, breathing their last.  The only thing left were the beans.  And some radish...and a few tomato plants.  The wire fences had been torn down and dragged across the yard, bent and torn.  We took the pups in and came back out for a good look . We found the tracks and an odd pile of what I will politely call animal scat.  It was a small flat like a cow patty, but smaller, like I said.  The prints where the plants had been violently ripped out the earth and consumed on the spot seemed to be a split type foot or hoof.

My cousin Crystal came over to visit and suggested it might  be wild hogs.  Though we have never been bothered with them in the seven years we've been here, it bore looking into to.  We went inside for coffee and computer and I googled  wild hog scat.  Low and behold there was the odd pile of poop and the strange animal tracks.  I had tried this once before with Coyote scat and the next day a neighbor shot a coyote in his back yard.  It's getting to where I feel like I need to be packing heat just to go into my yard.  Yes, I could shoot one.  Of course hunting one down would come with problems.  For instance, should I only wing it, there would be the problem of getting Larry to the Vets (yes, I have already named the wild beastie in my mind).  Then there would be the housing of said giant hog with an electrified fence.  See?  For now I only hope that the hungry beasties  have moved on and don't return for my beans and tomatoes and radishes.  And that Big Foot isn't on the trail of some well fed wild hogs.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cell phones...

First of all, let me say right up front that this is not an's a grievance, pure and simple.  Or perhaps it's simply an Aesop fable turned on its' ear and then shaken like a snow globe.  I  never really wanted a cell phone.  It would irritate me no end to watch people walking around with those bluetooth (teeth?) contraptions glued in their ears and talking a mile a minute to someone I couldn't see.  I can't tell you how often I've nearly given myself whiplash jerking my head up to see who was talking to me only to discover them with a phone in hand or ear and not speaking to me at all.  And watching people driving down the highway with a phone in one hand and the steering wheel in another always gave  me the heebiejeebies.  Talk about a wreck looking for a place to happen!

But I bowed to convention and allowed my younger son and dil to give me my first and only cell phone.  It's a nice little Motorola with a few apps (  I later learned this meant applications,  not a sleep disorder).  It took me about a week to figure out how to answer it.  I still haven't mastered how to take a photo.  And the other day in a fit of boredom while Mac was in with the Doc I opened a music file to listen to some tunes...and then couldn't figure out how to turn it off.  I finally did learn to pause it so that the others in the room didn't have to be annoyed by Lady Gaga...I did tell you my son and dil gave me the phone?
So my older son got a new phone last week.  It's a Droid.  I think I have that right,  I know it's made by Verizon.  So, he's spent the week learning  about all it does.  It does plenty.  I keep hearing little shouts of "wow...look at what it does here!"  So, it does things like showing fast food  restaurant menus and nutrition values of each item; you can scan a bar code in a store and it tells you the price...but wait a minute...then it tells you where you can get it cheaper!  It takes pictures that rival his professional camera and can find obscure music (complete with song name and artist) and then it plays  it for you.  You take your finger and move over to new pages and its GPS will show you where you are and a satelite picture of the exact spot. It gives you the weather and the temperature where you are standing. It plays a game with you when you are out walking.  I think he said it was Escape the Zombies.  It shows where zombies might be lurking and which route to take to avoid them.    This is not something I would do, I don't do dark walking.  This phone even hooks up to the internet and does things my computer can't do.  Who knew?
I'm sure that when I next see him, I'll be hearing about yet another thing that his  phone can do that my own phone  can't.  I hear from a reliable source that I have a wienie phone that I need to learn to master before considering a new model.  But I'm telling you, when he comes in and tells me that there is a "load the dishwasher app"  I'm going to be suitably impressed.  Oh, and headed for the Droid store.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Rerun...Papa Loved Mama

I'm not sure yet what the title of this post should be. It will have to come to me as I tell the story. I often tell you that I was brought up by Ricky and Lucy Ricardo. That's because they were not dissimilar from that famous TV couple. Daddy, the hot blooded Latin (from Quito , Ecuador) and Mama, the zany red head (and only her hairdresser knew for sure) from the Carolina's. The accents meshed somehow, as did the personalities. Their love and devotion often clashed with their tempers, but it always worked out somehow.

Yes, I'll be the first to admit that while their love carried them all over the world, their spats were never dull and often accompanied them along with their luggage. When the green eyed monster reared his ugly head, the luggage became baggage and the fight would be on. My mother, a beautiful woman, often caught the eye of men and it killed my father, while it simply tickled my mother. I can hear him even now..."that man was looking at you." My mother, smiling at him would simply say, "it's a free world. Looking costs nothing." Glares all around would be the order of the day.

Daddy never talked about himself. He would only talk about Mama and what all she had accomplished in her life, as though she had done it without his help. He would tell about the missions of mercy she often found herself embroiled in, providing medicine in South America for those who could not afford it or were unable to obtain it. Her many acts of kindness and generosity while she and he worked their behinds off in the Valverde Clinic. After losing her in death (of Ovarian Cancer) several years back, we were sure that we would lose him, too. They had rarely spent a night away from each other in over fifty years. We didn't know how this man, who didn't even know how to operate a microwave (but could diagnose a disease often with an exam only) could get along on his own. He refused to move in with any of us, it was just him and his cat.

What we came to call "the Mama Stories" still poured out of him, as though just talking about her brought her close to him. I suppose it does. But we kept urging him to tell us something about himself, and he would haltingly tell us of working in Havana as a Doctor while Batista was still in power, then going to Panama to work, gradually working his way up to the United States. We would be all agog, never having heard these stories before. We came to suspect that he had been hiding his light under Mama's bushel. But in my mind, I could still hear their heated quarrels over minor things, the heated quarrels that made up their life as surely as their love did. If there was some problem that we really didn't want Daddy involved in, I could hear Mama telling us, never mind, let me handle your father. And we knew she could. And would. You see, even I do it...Mama has once again taken over and Daddy is the man standing just behind her, peering over her shoulder. I blame him. He's the one who taught us.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

At Wits End

For the second time in a week we have been, dare I say, blessed with thunderstorms rolling across the county.  Hail fell in various areas,  power outages were the usual for some, and while we hated the damage done by wind ,hail and electrical bolts crossing the sky willy nilly, we really needed the rain.  The heat has been so horrendous that most of us just spend  the afternoons inside with the a/c and fans. 
     Now this is not a story just about a thunder storm.  It is also about a dog.  Our little cocker mix, Chase, loves to run.  She loves to run until she is near collapse and so whenever we go out with her we make her wear her leash.  We have only had to chase her (notice her name, that's how she got it) three times since we have known her and never since we have been owned by her.  And so begins our story.
    I have noticed that we are more apt to get bad weather when the the weatherman fails to mention our existence.  Is it just me?  I don't think so.  Yesterday afternoon (Thursday past) I noticed that the sky outside the heated afternoon window, was darker than usual and thought I heard low rumbles of thunder.  Mac went to the front door and opened  it to look out. Not noticing Chase standing at his feet as he held the door cracked I heard him start yelling " CHASE STAY..."  Then he began to say other things as he flew out the door hot on her trail.  I grabbed the walker (still recovering from foot surgery here) and stumbled out the door yelling "bacon Chase, BACON"  ( but on she ran paying no attention to the treat bag I was waving over my head.)  As I stood in the center of the yard the wind was threatening to remove the walker from my tight grip to wrap around the truck.  Chase was no where in sight.  We were like cartoon characters muttering "which way did she go which way did she go"  to each other.  Then suddenly she appeared in front of me and once again I started waving the treat bag.  But she had a guinea fowl in her sight and on she ran.  Mac, promising a beating, ran after the dog who ran after the guinea who ran for the woods as fast as her short little legs could carry her...I lost sight of all of them.  I  stood there for  five minutes before  I saw Mac returning from the woods with Chase firmly attached to her leash looking none the worse for wear except maybe tired.  Both of them   Asking after the guinea, all I got was a grunt in reply.  We went into the house where I fully expected the beating to begin.  Announcing I had been promised to witness a beating  and that the beating should commence, they both looked at me like I'd lost my mind.  Well that was a given.  It was about then that the power went out.   And with it any hope that  I would recover what was left of my wits .  It's enough to drive me back to smoking...and maybe drinking...

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Summer Rerun--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 huge 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 ten 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 his 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.

Mama and Daddy circa 1962

Sunday, June 17, 2012

a summer rerun...Build it and they will come

Chesterfield is such an amazing little town, the County Seat, only one street long with shops on either side, a bank at the corner by the Courthouse, the Western Auto Appliance Store directly across from the brick edifice we call the Courthouse...the old Courthouse, which is at the other end of the street actually looks like what it is. It has charm and character and stories to tell...but a couple of decades ago someone got it into their heads that building a new Courthouse and making it look like some large brick box with a flat roof might make Chesterfield seem an up and coming thriving town. So we have this nondescript brick building we call the courthouse, across the street is the Western Auto and next to the Western Auto a small grassy area that held...nothing. So the Town Council agreed to erect a lovely little Gazebo there, a place where perhaps lunches could be taken, or just a place to sit and rest and talk with friends. It was a wonderful concept. I tell you this to paint a picture for you....lets begin with my very own yard...

I love my yard, or as it was called in England, my garden. We have so much planted, areas laid out with broad swathes of color and texture that I think we can call the whole affair a garden and easily get by with it. I call our place Orchard Cottage, which is what our home in England was named, because of all the fruit trees and bushes that surround us here as it did there. Our place is not large, but cozy and very comfortable for the two of us and room for guests when they arrive. The front porch is large and shaded with hanging pots of broad leaf moss roses (Portulaca) petunias of every hue, mostly double and rose bushes all around. There's a Mandavillia vine curling it's way over the porch rail and a volunteer cantaloupe twining it's way alongside. There are cats sleeping on the porch rail, escaping the heat of the day, their sweet faces turned toward the front door in hopes someone will come out and sit with them. Looking over to the front drive the other day, Mac allowed as how a Gazebo would look fine up there, inviting us within it's cool depths on the way back from the mailbox. I had to laugh, he who is always accusing me of "having visions", was apparently having a few visions of his own. I told him I didn't think I wanted a Gazebo, though the idea was nice. He looked at me for a second, reached out and touched my face and smiled and said "Chesterfield's Gazebo get you spooked?" and suddenly laughed one of those laughs that only a man can manage, head thrown back, bellows of sound erupting like silly thunder. I nodded, oh yes...Chesterfield's Gazebo....

Now, Chesterfield is a small town, as I have said. But we have more than our share of, for lack of a more politically correct word, town drunks. This is no Mayberry where Otis comes in and takes the key off the wall and opens the door, locks himself in and goes off to sleep. While we have our share of those who go peacefully down the hall to the cell block, and even those who had family members drive their beloved drunk family member to the jail and unceremoniously boot them out the door into our loving arms, for the most part our drunks don't want to be locked up. They want to drink. They want to drink in peace and quiet. And one night they stumbled upon this lovely gingerbread construction, sort of an open air drinking spot...and they thought, (I can hear strains of "there's a plaaace for us...right here a place for us...") why how thoughtful. The town has erected us a gathering place. No more will we have to hide out in the back lots looking for concrete block upon which to rest our weary drunken bones. And a trash receptacle...don't know what that's for, bottles and cans belong littered upon the ground to prove that we were here...I was on my way home from work one night and saw my cousin (who was a town cop) sitting in her patrol car, parked where she had a clear view of the Gazebo. I pulled in next to her, my drivers side window next to her drivers side window (when you see cops parked like this along the highway, they're not trying to set the radar to work both already does that in one car alone...they're chatting...comparing calls, catching up on what's been going on) and asked her what was up. She had her reading glasses on and pushed them up on top of her head and laid the crossword puzzle book down on her lap. "We've been getting complaints that the Gazebo has turned into a gathering spot for every drunk in the far I count four...I looked over at where she indicated and named two "frequent flyers" from my own experience. I asked her what she was going to do. "Just waiting for them to get drunk enough to forget I'm here and start passing that bottle around...and they'll pass it around, believe me. Then that's when I'll go get them and take them off to the jail." We sat and talked for a couple of minutes and then it happened...happy hour in the Gazebo...she picked up her radio and called the jail. She told them she was about to be 10-67 four times and to meet her under the Sally port. This was a scene that was repeated every day. Sometimes several times a day...there were male and female drunks and the worst of them were the females. I'd rather have dealt with a drunk man than a drunk woman any time of the day. I don't remember how long the Gazebo stood on the little corner lot that was intended to be a park of sorts, but it wasn't long. Perhaps two years, maybe three. But the Council in all its wisdom deemed the Gazebo no longer a part of the beautification of Chesterfield, but an eyesore. And so they tore the little Gazebo down...nothing there now but sand and small tufts of Dallas grass. A few rocks to get stuck in the soles of your shoe if you walk that way towards the Western Auto. The drunks are now relegated out of sight mostly to the back lots, going to the red dot store (ABC Store, Liquor Store whatever you call it in your neck of the woods) and scurrying quickly away so that the Cops can't interfere with what they do best. And so as I stand gazing up towards the front drive where Mac was envisioning a Gazebo, I hear the words in my head just as they came in "Field of Dreams" it and they will come...". A chill went straight through me. I shook it off and muttered under my breath "oh no, not only no but HELL NO!"

Monday, June 11, 2012

Memories are made of this

Since I had surgery on my  foot April 17th, I've been confined to bed with my foot raised in the air  above my heart for at least  20 hours a day.  I've watched tv and read and just in general fought boredom tooth and nail.  Twice a week, on Monday and Friday my cousin Crystal comes to do the floors (vacuuming and mopping) laundry and housework in general...because that is what families do for each other.  I look forward to her visits so much that I fear I am wishing my life away, looking forward to the next time I see her   We mainly talk about our lives as children of summer.  We spent the summers with our grandparents working in tobacco and all that entailed.  This week VBS (Vacation Bible School) starts for Douglas Mill Baptist Church and many of the other churches in the county.  I remember the wonderful things that we did for our craft work, like making wallets and word burning Bible verses into planks of wood but most particularly the snow globes we made.  My Aunt Margaret (Kneece) collected baby food jars for weeks to form our globe.  In  the lid we put florist clay.  In the clay we placed a small artificial flower limb.  Then we filled the jar with mineral oil and moth ball flakes, carefully placed the lid on the jar and closed it tightly.  Shaking lightly, it snowed on our little flower garden.  I kept mine for years. Isn't it funny how something so easily done by small hands can leave such an impact on our lives.  We made   these little trinkets over 50 years ago and yet I can tell you that the lid was blue and the flowers made of plastic were lily of the valley.  I hope all the children involved in VBS this summer will look back in the year 2062 and remember the people who provided them with this wonderful time in their lives and tell you exactly what they crafted from inexpensive items.  To my Aunt Margaret....thanks for the memories.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day Rerun

It was May 5th in the year 1868 and by the ruling General Order 11 (General John Logan pictured above) Decoration Day was instituted to honor the fallen dead of a recent war. In the South it goes by many names, but Mama always called the Civil War "the Late Great Unpleasantness". It didn't change anything in her mind about the validity of the war (and BTW the war she missed by about 50 years) but the concept of brother fighting brother was unpleasant, you see. Southern women had begun to lay flowers and ribbons, nosegays and scraps of paper with words of love on the graves of their fallen loves. Husbands, brothers, sons...there was no official holiday, it was just something they did until there was an official holiday. General Logan apparently took notice of this allegiance to the fallen and so a holiday we still celebrate was born. Through the years Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day and every small town began to hold celebrations with parades and flags and marching men from every branch of the Military proudly walked in it...some old soldiers (with uniforms smelling of mothballs, taken from attics everywhere) current Military men and women, heroes from World War II up thru the current war in Iraq will be honored this year. Something I have noticed, being of the VietNam era, is that we honor our heroes more vigorously during war than peace. It's more than the typical barbecue holiday it usually is. War is at the forefront of everyone's minds and so we pray for our Troops...we pray for the war to be over and everyone to be home and safe with their loved ones. I don't say Happy Memorial Day, because when you think about it, there's nothing remotely happy about it. My grandmother, Nancy Douglas, read "In Flanders Fields" to us when we were little. She read it with much emotion and often had tears in her eyes. I am sure she was always thinking about her beloved Martus (Douglas) who had died on the soil of France after barely disembarking from the troop ship that had carried him there. The words are as moving and meaningful now as they were when first written by a young Canadian Officer named Lt John McCrae, MD. Of course it would be a Doctor who would take note of the carnage that war leaves behind. Take a moment to read it and feel its power. And remember all those who shed their blood to make us the great Nation we are and always will be, because of three simple words. We the People.

In Flanders Fields By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch;

be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep,

though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

And so we celebrate another Memorial Day in our future...God Bless our Vets

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Well Traveled Cat

Her mother was a fierce hunter who prowled the gardens like her panther ancestors.  She crawled on her belly after field mice and stalked snakes with stealthy finesse.  Until she didn't.  We found her lying in the garden with the dead snake nearby.  She had fulfilled her destiny and met it at the same instant.  We didn't know what to call her because she had been tossed out at our place several weeks before and she had not told us her name.  So she was buried  in the garden with a mound of stones to mark her passing.  That evening we heard a pitiful mewling coming from the garage.  Mac checked around and sure enough, there nestled in the hold of the cinderblock  ship lay a tiny barely week old kitten.

We at first called her Cinderella, for obvious reasons.  But she soon taught us her name.  I made her a formula that did not agree with her at all.  Calling Dr Lawhon I explained that we were fostering a new born and were experiencing projectile vomiting after each feeding.  He recommended we put her on Pedialyte immediately.  What a valuable piece of information this has proven to be over the years. 

Having planned a trip to Alabama that July 1996, we packed up the baby and all her supplies, portable litter pan included and headed off to Selma to be in time for the Olympic torch to pass through that historic city.  Gizmo as she was now known, was 9 weeks old and still taking her pedialyte straight up.  She was bossy and cantankerous, loving and dependent, agile and boneless in her acrobotics.  She was loved as we have loved all our feline companions and then some.  She made us laugh and she entertained Mac's family with her antics.  Even though we had brought her kennel with us, she was allowed the run of both the Grandparents and her Aunt Ginger's.  She had been from South Carolina through Georgia into Alabama.  She went as far as Mississipi and North Carolina.  All before she was a year old.  She loved to travel.

 She also loved her dogs, two shelties named Duffy and Ripley.  She tried to slip into the back yard with them every chance she got.  One night she was successful and we didn't know.  The next morning we discovered that she was missing.  We called and called her name both inside and out.  We scoured the fields and called the neighbors.  Mac haunted the pound, going there several  times a week for over a year.  We posted her as missing in the Chronicle for 3 months, put up posters of our Gizmo sitting in my dolls house and still searched the fields and woods.  One day a lady called me.  She told me that they had found Giz several months back and that her daugter was wrapped around her heart, and Giz was wrapped around hers.  She had no intention of returning her, just wanted to relieve our minds, to let us know that she was okay.
We cried.  Although knowing she was perfectly fine helped, it didn't cause us to miss her any less.  It pained us that Gizmo had taken yet another trip, this time without us.  I hope that she is still with her new family and that she is still the apple of her little mistresses eye.  Our little world traveler deserves only the best.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kindle Kindle Who has a Kindle

Everyone knows that I am an avid reader ( I nearly said rabid reader which is not far from the truth).  I love the ink and paper of books, the new smell of freshly printed paper and the tightness of the bound book.  I love the oldy moldy smell of books  long out of print but miraculously in my hands, sharing the story of men and women long gone told by an author now somewhere on another plane of life.  I fought the idea of a kindle every year since it's appearance on the scene.  This past Christmas, Mac ignored my every argument and ordered me one as a present.  Lucky girl, me. 
This past April 17th, I had a very serious operation on my foot called a Pantalar Fusion.  My left foot was so destroyed by RA and prior fractures that I was walking on the complete side of the outside of my foot and in pain so constant that I learned to live with it.  I didn't enjoy it, just learned to put up with it.  After seeing several doctors who could offer me no hope, I was finally seen by one who is visionary at worst, a miracle worker at best.  Dr Thomas Joseph of the Camden Bone and Joint office did not sugar coat it nor offer me false promises.  He told me he knew what was wrong, he thought he could fix it, but that I was still in danger of amputation.  Well.  I knew immediately that I had found the doctor for me and that I would put my trust in him absolutely.  Which brings me back to my kindle.  I find that I must lie on my back with my foot balanced on every pillow that I could find.  It must be above my heart and I am to put NO WEIGHT on said foot.  A boring life such as no human has ever been cast into.  I had ordered several books for my kindle (25) had checked a few out of the library (10) and gotten some for absolutely free (19).  I was set.  Already having read the library books I took delight in several of Dean Koontz's books....the Odd Thomas series has entertained me these past two weeks.  The new one is due out and I have preordered it.  I also reread The Dome by Stephen King.  Now the original book is well over a thousand pages and must have weighed at least five pounds.  I can not imagine holding that in my hands looking up at the printed page.  Had I dropped it I was sure to suffer a concussion.  But my sweet little Kindle only weighs a few ounces and I can read for hours.  I am content to lie with my foot above my heart and entertain my overactive brain.  I am trying not to think about the several nails and rod now holding my foot perfectly straight...I only think about what to read next.  Now I have been up to long and must go and assume the position.  I have a new Dean Koontz book to while away my hours called "A Big Little Life" about his and Gerda's beloved fur daughter, the late Miss is proving to be a delightful read .  I have not only my favorite author to thank for my sanity but also the aforementioned Dr Joseph, my new hero...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Holding Patterns: Hospital bound#links#links#links

Holding Patterns: Hospital bound#links#links#links

Hospital bound

So here is what is happening to me these days.  Several years ago (as in 6) I stood up and felt something go terribly wrong in my left ankle.  The pain was excruciating and the company I was expecting (my sister Holly and my aunt Margaret) was the furthest thing from my mind.  It took me about an hour to walk with anything like comfort.  Sad to say, comfort has been far from my mind for that long.  I was diagnosed with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) about 4 years ago and tried the different meds that was offered.  They helped the pain not at all and made me so sick that I couldn't keep anything down.  So, back to the Aleve and the softening around the edges of pain that it brought.

I have been to several doctors from podiatrists to Orthopaedic surgeons only to be patted on the head and told the good news is it isn't I ever thought it was.  After a few times of feeling the bones in your foot crumble, you sort of know.  So, while I was having other health issues that put my life on the line, my foot problem was put on the back burner.  Then a couple of weeks ago I stood up and felt the bones crumble yet again.  I called my Primary Care Doc and demanded that I be seen by someone who specialized in this type of thing.  This is how I was put in touch with Dr Joseph.  He took one look at my foot, asked me to remove my sock and walk across the floor for him and announced on no uncertain terms that he knew what was wrong, what I needed and that the time to move was nearly long past.

So, here is the scoop.  He is doing something called a Pantalar Fusion.  He told me that with my foot in the condition it is in, that in the 80's amputation would have been my only answer.  He does not rule that out even now.  Healing with the double whammy of RA and diabetes mean that I will have to be diligent against infection.  But you know, I haven't worried.  I have such a strong faith in God bringing me through this, that I won't even lose any sleep over this.  He has brought me so far that I don't expect Him to drop me at this late stage of the game.  So, that is why my blogging has been sporadic to say the least, but I'm still out here, still visiting, still loving all my blog pals.  I hope to be back here with an update soon.  The surgery is tomorrow morning and I have hopes of at least wearing normal shoes once again, even though my fast dancing days may be over.  Keep me in your prayers.  Love to you all...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Here we go a googling...

I love my computer, let me count the see, like everyone else, when I first started writing I used pencil and paper.  I graduated to a fountain pen and took great pleasure in the rasp and pull of the pen nib on paper.  It gave me a sense of  accomplishment for some reason.  Then one day I found myself in possession of small manual Underwood typewriter.  It was a one owner machine (previously owned by a little grey haired old lady who only took it out of its case on the weekends.)  I was overjoyed with it at first.  Then came the hell of making corrections, changing ribbons and learning to clean the ink clogged letters.  I was soon back to my fountain pen.  It was far less trouble.

When the computer came along, I was overjoyed once I finally got the hang of Word Perfect.  That took a few weeks and a lot of blue air above my head, but I finally got the hang of it.  So, I began to write in earnest and to eventually take the time to learn the other great things about the computer.  The first time we went on line, it was an experimental event which entailed  my computer calling my  brother's computer.  I don't know that they had a lot to say to each other as I wasn't privy to their conversation.  But they did make contact and that event was rather like man's first landing on the moon.  We were shouting and laughing and I believe champagne was poured.  As they used to say, we've come a long way baby!

So, when Google came into play I was like a kid turned loose in a candy store.  I googled everything and everybody.  Some of the folks I googled couldn't understand why they had made computer news, as it were.  Neither could I.  But rather like on you-tube, everything that has ever been spoken of  or even thought about can be found if you google it.  And I google a lot.  Which brings me to the point of my story. 

While walking the dogs the other day (we keep our two on leashes even if we do live out in the point in  my pooches being an annoyance to my neighbors) Mac told me that he had seen some unusual animal poo just the other side of the neighbors farm fence.   Asking unusual in what way, he started describing it rather graphically.  Since it was to large to be rabbits but not big enough to belong to one of the horses or cows , and peculiarly undoglike, he was at a loss.  So last evening, as he went with Chase in one direction and I started out with Cricket in the other, I asked him to pinpoint where he had seen this odd poo pile.  I located it with very little trouble.  As soon as Cricket had accomplished his contribution to the scene of the crime, we went inside.  When Mac and Chase came in I was already on the computer.  He looked at what I was typing and just shook his head.  "Did you ever in your life dream that you would be sitting in front of a magic box and writing the words "coyote scat" into it?" he asked me.  I laughed manically and pointed proudly to my find.  "No, "  I answered, "I can't say that I did but look at this."  There under the caption "coyote scat" were several pictures of exactly what was located not a foot from our property line"  "I told you Google would have it, " I said.  He patted my shoulder and said, "I never doubted you for a second but exactly how do you plan to use this information?"  I hadn't had to think about it for a second.  "Let's just say you can learn to whistle Pistol Packing Mama."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Echo in the Elms

I recently posted a picture of my grandmother's tulip tree on Face book, entitled "this is what spring is all about".  The cousins all recognized it immediately using phrases like "I'd know that tree anywhere".  And well they should.  My grandmother loved trees.   She taught us all a love for the growing things in our world.  While the tulip tree brings back strong memories, its what I don't have a picture of that brings back more.  The only picture of the grove of elms that once stood behind the big old farmhouse are in my mind.  Their leaves formed a canopy over the simple dirt floor of our playground.  In the heat of summer it was like being in a cool glade, which is actually was.  The cousins, Becky, Patsy ,Cathy, Kay, Crystal and  and I often played a rousing game of "coming to see" beneath those  old branches.  We would take a limb and mark off  rooms and use rocks and old pieces of wood from the woodpile and make our furniture.  Broken dishes destined for the trash would be lovingly rescued and taken to the elms for our play things.  Any old pot that we came across was used as kitchen ware.  We would draw designs in the dirt to form our rugs and the stage was set.  Gathering our children (our doll babies) we would play at neighbors, visiting each other and discussing world events as seen through the eyes of children.
The 1/2 acre elm grove and the cedar tree were delights of my childhood.  The grove itself was a delight of my grandmother's.  We were admonished not to tear the leaves from the tender branches while making "vegetable soup" for our company visits when the game was on.  She told us they needed their leaves like we  need our skin.  I seem to remember the day that Daddy Dwight told her that the elms were all sick, they had something called Dutch Elm Disease.  I don't think I  had ever seen  her like that.  She had the look of someone about to take a dose of nasty tasting medicine.   Later that fall I wasn't there when they took the axes to our elms.  When the following summer came, it was to a bare place where not even  ragged stumps punctuated the ground where we had once played.  The cedar tree stood silent sentinel over our childhood, looking lonely yet strong.  But if I were to go back there and stand where once the gentle elms gathered us into cousins sisters friends...I  believe I  would hear our laughter and feel the cool of the glade echoing down through the years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This could be a Notecard...

We're invited by mydear blog friend Vee, at "A Haven For Vee",  to enter photos we think might make good note cards...I am not as good at photography as you all are, but am going to give it a whirl!  The first one I think would make  a nice note card is of my lovely Old English Sheepdog, Digby.  Born in Gerrards Cross (Bucks) England, she was my constant companion and beloved Furbaby.

Myrtle Beach, SC...white sands beaches inviting, yes?

                  Our back garden area with Mindy and her cat Peanut...I had entitled this on "walking to heaven"

And the last one is of the archway at the patio with the first blooms of spring from my Clematis vine which is now 14 years old...this was fun Vee...yes we will have to do it again! I can't wait to see how many join us.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Games Games Games Come Get Your Games..and Watch This Spot for a Giveaway coming soon

My mother did crossword puzzles for as long as I can remember.  She had special dictionaries to help her find the right word for the right spot...12down an eight legged web spinner 8 letters fourth letter is c.  I know you  were  thinking spiders but it doesn't call for a plural s, and there's that wicked c in there to muddy the water.  So what could it be?  Think about it, it will come to you by the end of this I'm sure.  We learned to like the solving of the word mysteries and so became addicted to them.  By the time I was in my forties, they had become a chore to be done with the morning coffee .  I was often on the phone with Mama trying to see if she had the answer to one that had escaped my brain.  I couldn't leave the paper's offering until every word had been placed.  It haunted me.

Scrabble is another of my favorite games.  When Mac and I were first married and with his Navy career we were often on the move, I carried my scrabble board in a large hand bag.  I have been known to play me, myself and I.  When we were moving into a new neighborhood, the first thing I wanted to know about the neighbors was who played Scrabble.  I  had my kids addicted to it by the time they were in third and fourth grade.  My granddaughter has played since the second grade.  We're wordaholics.  And then someone introduced me to Facebook.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.  That same someone challenged me to a game of Word With Friends.  I didn't know what it was exactly, but I went to check it out and accepted the challenge.  The first game went quickly and so we played another and then my Sister(in law) challenged me and we played and I was still playing with the first of my friend's  then my nephew and then my niece and then my cousin and then another cousin and then two more friends.  Well, by the end of the first month I had 27 games going simultaneously.  I wasn't sleeping because I had to keep up with the games between housework and gardening and  some of my friends got testy if I left making a play to long.   I began to long for the days of crossword puzzles and scrabble.  I did the only thing I could do in the circumstances.  I stopped.  Cold turkey.  I resigned every game and quit.

So now I play Gardens of Time, Hidden Chronicles and Blackwood and Bell.  But it isn't a problem.  I have lots of neighbors to help me get my little kingdoms completed.  I can quit whenever I want.  But just this morning I noticed that Cat Clark has challenged me to a game of Word With Friends and I feel that one game would clear my head and make me a better person.  I'll just keep it to one or two friends...maybe three.  But definitely no more than five games at once.  I'll have to be careful though, these games have a way of luring you in and  like the arachnid will wrap you in webs of games with promises of wealth and fame...and next thing you know you're in Farmville slopping the hogs that your neighbor gifted you with.  And they never gift you with fences, you know.  Did you notice I slipped the answer to the crossword question in there?  Maybe I'll just go dig my crossword book out of the closet.  I wonder where I put my crossword dictionary.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Great Egg Fight of 1960

   I was on the phone with my sister Toni the other day and we were talking about the times we spent at our Grandparents home every summer. I looked around as though someone might overhear me as I asked her if she remembered the egg fight. She laughed and said she remembered it well. This particular summer in 1960 we had taken the train from Washington, DC to the station in Hamlet, NC all on our own. It was an uneventful trip, but we grew more excited the closer we got to our destination. We couldn't wait to see Mammy and Daddy Dwight. We were also excited to see the cousins who were waiting on our arrival at the house. The first two or three weeks went well, tobacco season was well underway and we enjoyed being involved in the work. Every Saturday Daddy Dwight went to town to get things he needed for the farm. He always stopped at Hurst's Feed and Seed to pick up three to six dozen eggs. Just that week Mammy had read in the Readers Digest that the common practice of the time of buying what was called "cracked eggs" as an economy device was no longer considered safe. They recommended that people in the habit of this practice should stop immediately to avoid salmonella poisoning. Mammy had taught school for years and this made sense to her. She had worried about using the eggs that were already in the house and tried not to let Daddy Dwight know that she was disposing of as many as she could in the compost bucket.

One Saturday about midway through our visit she told Daddy Dwight that she needed him to pick up eggs. She explained to him about what the scientists were saying about the cracked eggs and asked him to get only good whole eggs. Something about the dependability of Scientists in general and the FDA in particular was muttered under his breath as he left the house. Mammy must have had a suspicion that her orders were going to be ignored, because on his return when he and the hired man brought in the eggs and placed the crates on the kitchen table, she immediately opened the box to take a look inside; Daddy Dwight had sat down in his chair at the table to read the newspaper. He never glanced one time at her to see what she was doing. What she was doing was examining each layer of eggs as she removed the trays from the box.
"Dwight, I thought I told you not to get cracked eggs. There's cracks in every one of these."
"Waste of money. There's nothing wrong with these eggs. Use them."

Now Mammy could get this look on her face that started in her eyes and moved down her face like a glow. A smile crossed her face and she picked up an egg in each hand. She looked down at the egg in her right hand. "Oh, I'll use them all right." I was never quite sure why I laughed. Was it the look of shock on Daddy Dwight's face as egg white and yolk mixed with shell dripped down his face or the sudden widening of his eyes as he realized that the second egg was headed in his direction? And as they say, that's when the fight started.
They threw eggs at each other saying not a word. No yelling no swearing (I don't believe I ever heard either one of them use a swear word as long as they lived.) They grabbed up cartons and moved through the screen porch still flinging eggs. The fight moved into the front yard the eggs still flying. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me to my Aunt Margaret's house to get help. It had ceased being funny when Daddy Dwight broke the egg on Mammy's head and ground it in with the heel of his hand. That just was not done! You know, I believe it may have been the quietest fight I've ever heard. The only sound was the whoosh of eggs as they flew through the air and landed splaatt on the intended target. Pretty soon Aunts Margaret and Pat were on the scene and got things under control. The fight was over, but the glaring continued for days. You know how when something perfectly awful happens that you say "we'll laugh about this one day"? They never did . Not ever. It was simply not talked about, the egg fight. It was as though it never happened. And Lord help any of us that brought it up.

So we just didn't discuss it. Until now and I've waited a safe 20 to 25 years since they left us to bring it up. . I just hope I've waited long enough. But you know what? I've never laughed as hard as I've laughed this week as I've discussed it with Toni and cousin Crystal...and wondered why Daddy Dwight and Mammy couldn't see the humor in it. At least no one died of Salmonella poisoning...
Mammy and Daddy Dwight with my toddler mother at Winthrop University which my Grandmother attended

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trouble in Paradise Revisited

My sister Toni and her husband Tim celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary this weekend and took a trip to St. Augustine, Florida in celebration. It brought to mind a few years ago when they still had a young son at home (who I now in college) and needed a babysitter for the weekend. I have Toni to thank for saving this piece I wrote about that delightful experience. So, here goes.

It has been a long time I have cohabited with an 8 year old boy. Even when I did my boys did not talk to me all that much. Figuring that this was why they had friends, there was only parental communication between us. You know the drill, I gave orders they patently ignored. I would find myself giving the same order over a short period of time until it was ultimately obeyed. It was a war of wills between us, a war I usually won.

My sister Toni and brother in law Tim had a business meeting to attend in Boone. NC this particular weekend (or at least that was what I was told) and they figured my father would benefit from the company of his grandson for several days. He arrived on Saturday. It is now Monday and he is not with his grandfather, he is with us. My father, who likes the pleasant buzz of familial activity, likes it from behind his closed bedroom door. He was worried that Alex would fall in the pool and drown, that one of the dogs would bite him in his over exuberance or that he could not escape the endless chatter of said child. It turns out he didn't need to be the one worrying about any of those things. He simply took to his bed and called for back up.

So here I am with a very precocious 8 year old boy whose favorite activity is talking. He talks very well. If I could find one thing in common with a small boy this would be an outstanding situation. I like to talk, too. But as I have mentioned, my boys did not do much talking to me. I had no interest in Batman then and I find I have even less interest in him now. I am perfectly content on my day off to play in my garden until it gets to hot and then move my playtime to the computer. I have enough competition for computer time with Mac, and now I find this little person staying with us also likes the computer.

I also learned this little person is a picky eater. He doesn't much like vegetables of any color. He explained to me that his parental units were teaching him to eat vegetables, a lesson he should have learned in infancy, but he is a slow starter in that area. (I have to remember to tell the parental units they may have procrastinated to long on this one.) I found that the one vegetable he will eat is corn and then only on the cob or creamed. He likes chicken. I of course fixed Roast beef. He likes yellow rice, not white. Two guesses what color the rice was and the first one doesn't count. He will eat tomatoes if they're in spaghetti.

I had them sliced. Raw. When he saw the okra he very politely turned up his nose. This was after he had very cleverly asked what that green slimy stuff I was slicing was and if it was a vegetable. I should have told him it was a fruit and maybe he would have at least tried it.

Supper being a dismal failure, he continued his pursuit of the cat children. They, being of sound mind and good sense, hid from him. Duffy had long since pleaded guilty to a charge of child endangerment and was sentenced to the back yard.

The phone rang while I was cooking. Joyce wanted to know if I wanted to come in and work third shift for an officer who had called in sick. The answer was a resounding yes...I did want to but I simply could not. Mac, who had had even less experience with 8 year old boys than I have, would never have understood. I feared he would run off to Daddy's and lock himself in with him.

Toni called a little bit ago. She asked how it was going. I lied. I told her all was going well...great in fact. I told her if I was a bit sharp it was because I was in pain. My shoulder and neck had been been giving me a fit for about three days. I told her it wasn't that I didn't want to talk to Alex, I didn't want to talk to Mac either. In fact I wished that everyone would leave me to my own devices and let me suffer in peace. Alex came to speak with his mother and wanted to know when they were coming to pick him up. He said he thought he was making Aunt Sandi nervous. I suspect Toni now knows all is not well in paradise.

And  now our Alex has reached his majority...he his now 21...a college student with a bright future in front of him because he loves to talk... now I wonder which side of the family he gets that from...Happy Birthday darling boy...we love you...
Aunt Sandi and Uncle Mac

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sorry...Wrong Number

It was late one evening in Beaconsfield, England (the county of Bucks) and we had just retired for the evening.  I had my book in hand and Mac had brought up the Daily Mail.  He always read the paper in bed at night since he had to leave so early to "go up to town" to work.  "Up to town" was London, and it was an hour long train ride every day.  Both ways.  We had only been living in England for three months and I was still suffering from Jet Lag.  (I capitalize it because I am certain it must be the actual name for an actual disease.)  I don't think I overcame the symptoms of said disease for at least a year.  I found myself yawning at odd times during the day and wanting to curl up on the divan like a cat...why you may ask?  Because I simply was not resting well.  On this particular night, the phone was ringing.  Now, imagine watching a lovely British show on PBS and hearing the phone ring that peculiar "bringgggg brinnggg...bringgggg bringgg."  It still caused me to catch my breath every time I heard it in my own home.  There was something so foreign in the burr of the ring that you don't hear in our phones .  Of course now you hear everything from bagpipes to Ding Dong the Witch is Dead"  but that is now and I'm talking about then...1980.  Anyway, the phone was doing that thing that it does when it actually DEMANDS that you answer it.  Now, we only had one phone in the house, it was on the foyer table at the front door.  It had a lovely long cord so that if I wanted to carry on a conversation of any length it would easily travel into the lounge by the fire.  So the phone is ringing and Mac says, "now who  is that at this hour?"  I gave him the sideways look and told him the crystal ball was downstairs with the phone, but I'd certainly consult one or both of them to see who it might be.  I answered the phone in the accepted way by saying the phone number...Beaconsfield 4650.  A voice from the other end asked to speak to John.  I told him that I felt he may have the wrong number and he asks "are you American?"  I assured him that his wrong number was actually ringing in the UK and not the USA and he began to tell me about his dearest Aunt who was now living in Buffalo New York and asking me if I knew what it was like there.  We had a very nice conversation that lasted about forty five minutes.  I went back upstairs and climbed into bed and Mac roused himself enough to ask who had been calling.  He didn't bat an eye when I told him it had been a wrong number. 
Now, why this old story has come up is because something happened the other day that brought it to mind immediately.  Monday we were going into Hartsville and I called my friend Cathie from my cell phone to hers to see if she wanted to ride along.  The phone rang once then went to voice mail.  I left a quick message about why I was calling and thought no more about it.  I tried to call her again on Wednesday to firm up plans to go to the Smokehouse on Wednesday and the same thing, straight to voice mail.  Wednesday afternoon Cathie called me and asked if we were still on for dinner.  I assured her we were and would pick her up at 5:30.  So we're on the road and I told her about the calls going to voicemail and she said she had checked and that it didn't show my calls.  I  took out my phone and flipped it open and dialed her number and the same thing...but the phone in her hand didn't ring.  I hung up then opened it and called out the number that I had entered.  It was off by one number.  We laughed over the mistake and then suddenly my phone rang.  I answered and a lady said "you know you've called me several times this week and I just couldn't figure out who you are."  I explained to her that I had entered the wrong number in my phone and apologized for the bother.  She laughed and said, "well I was just going to say if you still want to go to WalMart's, I wouldn't mind."   Too bad she lives 193 miles away.  But I'll keep her number, her name is Gillian and she sounds a treat.  I make more friends this way...