Friday, February 29, 2008

Le Chats and Diabolical Plans for the takeover of the world

Sometimes I think my life is now controlled by the Abbot Labs and their compatriots in the making of medicines. I hadn't paid much attention to my dreams till just lately. The other night I dreamt I was chasing squirrels. Pretty ones, big bushy tails, sweet little faces with chip monk teeth. I was telling Mac, "I'm so tired, I dreamed I was chasing squirrels all night...even my little black squirrel that lives at the end of the road...why, do you think?" Take a sip of coffee, look at him expectantly...he with the answers. "I don't know, you're nuts?" Perfectly straight face, aware I am holding a cup of hot coffee in my hand, and he grins like a mule eating briers. I give him the Douglas Evil Eye (it's powerful I tell you) and take a bite of my dry toast and another sip of coffee. I began to relate some of the dreams that I've had the past few months (since the beginning of the RA meds) like when I was the captain on a Japanese Destroyer. I spoke in Japanese. And I understood what I was saying. I was on the space station...I was the house keeper and they called me Rosie...I complained bitterly about no dishwasher. He looked at me, nodding pleasantly. "Like I said, nuts." Well, I had another dream last night (or early this morning). The cats, Arial (the black one) and Batgirl (the Calico) were the ring leaders and Pyewackit, Peanut and George (the guys) were taking orders and answering "yes Mistress" in a Peter Lorre voice. They spoke in French. It was so eerie and I understood not a word of the hideous plan that had been laid out. But there was much gesturing going on and I noticed that Mindy, the poor blind dog, was tied up and gagged in the corner. Her imploring eyes followed me as I walked out on the porch to break up this happy little group. I flipped on the porch light and demanded to know "just what's going on here?" That's when I suddenly awakened, and realized I was only dreaming. I promised myself to look up the contraindications on the bottles of medicine that have become my life. I came in and turned on the computer. And realized that my banner has changed. I look at Mac who has every appearance of innocence. And it hits me. He and the cats are against me. The only plausible explanation is it's gaslight. With me as the victim. But how did the cats learn to speak French?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Look Out...I'm back...well Sort of

They call it a flare up. I call it hell. It started out on Sunday when I opened my eyes. When even your eyelids hurt, yes, that's hell. But it reminds me why I'm taking this medicine, a mini chemo treatment each week. And while the medicine makes me feel green (it isn't easy being green) a couple of days a week, I'd rather be green than in the pain I've been in this week! I had one finger that could go in and comment on posts. It's taking me a little longer to do this post, but rest assured, I've been in checking on you. That one finger that the Rheumatoid Arthritis has left fairly unhindered has had quite a workout this week~! But I feel the medicine beating it back and hopefully by tomorrow I'll be my normal abrasive self. So, it's not quite over, but I'm getting there. I hate a whiner, so I'm going to stop now. See you all're all in my thoughts. And just a quick addition here...Kat (at Just a Beach Kat) has awarded her pals a special award...I just love it and I am passing this on to all my bloggy pals who visit. Bare with me, the typing is slow and I can't type out everyone, you know who you're my buds, my friends, my company my family....and I love you *** *** this much! Pardon me while my mind takes a walk on the lovely sands of Myrtle Beach...wish we were all there. And thank you David for offering the choice of parties...think I'll settle for a Spirit party. I like champagne on days like this...but a wee dram of sherry does wonders!

Friday, February 22, 2008

History...Digging for the truth

I have always had a fascination with history. Having gone to Catholic schools most of my life, I still have quite a few of my old school books (we had to purchase them) and going through them now can be as startling as the story they try to sell. That's not a typo, I didn't mean tell...much of what lies within the covers has as much to do with History as to a book of Fables. I learned long ago through reading history that history was doing something astounding. It was changing. History lessons of the 50's and 60's have no resemblance to the history being taught today. It was as much hype as Hollywood's version of history. It makes me sad to know that in the 16 and 17 hundreds, we were no better than the governments we were trying to escape. In some cases, we were worse. We had little or no regard for the peoples of North America, taking their land with little or no recompense. I don't know why I didn't recognize that from the beginning. So anyway, I am addicted to the History Channel. I love The Naked Archaeologist, and wanted to be either an Archaeologist or a Teaching Sister (I did tell you I'm Catholic, right?) when I grew up. The other night we were watching the History Channel and the theme was Kit Carson. Now, I knew that Christopher Carson was a hero of Mac's and I also already knew some things about Colonel Carson that I knew for a fact Mac would find, shall we say, unsavory. It wasn't that he (Kit) was almost single handedly responsible for leading the way west, people would have found their way there eventually. It was for one thing and one thing only. It was for how he turned to killing and scalping the Indians he encountered who really were not that eager to leave their ancestral lands. I don't think he was the first soldier (yes, I said soldier, he was in the US Army, not through choice but by circumstance) to have used the old excuse "I was just following orders." Anyway, as the history of one of Mac's heroes kept unfolding, and the tale became more bleak, more agredious I noticed he was very uncomfortable. He finally got up and left the room. I went to see if he was okay and found him on the porch looking at the night sky. From the look on his face I knew that had he been five or six years old, he would now be throwing things and kicking chairs and having a tantrum. He told me that he had frankly not put any faith in the facts as I had presented them to him several years ago. He couldn't believe that someone he had been led to believe was a great American Hero was nothing more than a thug. Unfortunately thugs are everywhere to be found, no matter whose history you study. It's just funny that the ones who suffer the most always seem to be the ones we were told were at fault. My advice is to dig deep, exhumate the story, find the truth. And then tell it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Shopping Gene and the Enabler

So the other day when we were in Florence for doctor appointments (seems that's about it for a day on the town anymore) I had the dubious pleasure of visiting the Magnolia Mall. We walked in at 9:45 only to find that the mall was, you won't believe this, closed. Well, the mall itself was open, just no shops. Kirkland's was closed, Belks and JC Penny's had yet to roll up the wire door...just no one. Banker's don't get those hours. And for the love of all that's Holy, even Barnes and Noble had not opened their sleepy eyes. I had fifteen minutes to kill before Mac had to go in to get his eye exam (I'm telling you people, you know you are old when you schedule everything on the same day) and unable to browse in B$N we walked (walking is good for you) from one end of the one story mall to the other. On our return I stood in front of B$N like a puppy at the back door of a restaurant. Finally, 10 AM arrived and as Mac went in for his exam, I went for the books. You know, I'm like a drunk...I can stop anytime I want. I just don't want yet. There are so many new things out that it's hard to choose. I saw Fanny Flagg had a new book out and so as not to have wasted my trip, I bought it. I went back over to Lenscrafters and found Mac patiently waiting for me. He ordered his new spectacles and out we headed to Mall Central. After walking around a bit, Mac decided he was going to sit in the chair area for awhile. I left him happily talking to another unfortunate male who had been dragged to the mall. Fishing was the topic of conversation (color me surprised?) as I walked over to Belks. I wandered though the ladies junk as my sons always called it. Dresses, skirts, blouses, slacks and lingerie. I was absolutely gobsmacked at the prices. Now my shopping gene is as strong as it ever was, but apparently my inability to get to the "real" Department Stores (such grand prices must have grand titles) had blinded me to how much it cost to make some of these apparent treasures. I went from rack to rack seeing prices like $125 and $119. I found one shirt hanging over a pair of jeans the price tag was $74. It was just for the shirt. I left hurriedly and went to where Mac was sitting with the other fella. "Find anything?" he asked. I told him I couldn't believe the prices. They were marked down from 'You've got to be kidding' to ' Expensive'. I told him I was going over to JC Penny's and off I went. It was the same story inside. Everything was so high you'd need a second job to pay for it and they thought so much of themselves they had one of those set ups like in the bank, a fence to keep you moving by the cashier...only problem was there were no customers to take advantage of this "stay in line" mechanism. I left there and wandered over to a gift shop to see if I could find an Old English Sheepdog in their porcelain section. A prissy little man with an honest to heaven monocle on followed me around as though I might slip something up my sleeve. Now, I don't think I looked like a thief, but I didn't tarry. As I was leaving I heard him say, "Please come again, Madam". I almost turned around to tell him not to call me Madam...hell, I'm not that old. Nor is that my occupation, whatever he was inferring! So I rejoined Mac at the center of the mall, he and his new friend were talking about stripers...that's a fish. He raised his eyebrows at my empty arms. I shook my head. "Everything is so expensive, and the worst part of it is, most of it was ugly," I complained. As we headed off to pick up his glasses, he put his arm around me and said, "that's alright Baby, we'll stop at Wal-Marts on the way home."
God, I love that man!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Baby you can drive my car (truck)

I want GPS. No, I demand GPS if Mac insists on getting behind the wheel of MY truck when we take a trip that is 1. outside the county or 2. you have to make more than three turns or 3. I'm in the truck with him. No, I refuse to ride anywhere else with him, especially when he refuses to listen to my directions and then in the middle of making yet another wrong turn he looks at me and says "I'm firing the Navigator" Fine. Some of the conversation from yesterday while returning home. He ... "Where are we?" ...Me..."I have no earthly idea, you fired me remember?" He..."does any of this look familiar?" ...Me..."Nothing has looked familiar to me since you took that last turn I told you not to take. And if you remember correctly, you fired me. ". He..."Didn't we already go through Darlington?" (Sign for Darlington reads Darlington 8 miles.) Me..."Yes, we went through it thirty minutes ago." (Beginning to go lalalalalalalalalalalala in my head to prevent swearing.) and you FIRED ME QUIT ASKING ME WHERE WE ARE. I DON'T KNOW." This on top of the fact that I find Dr. Um, the best Poditrist in the world, had left for parts unknown , making this less than a spectacular day. So, I want GPS. And those are my reasons. I feel I have a legitimate case. Now on to the important stuff.
I told you that Mima at Mima's Doings (okay, her blog site is on my sidebar listing my favorite blogging buddies. I hope you have gone to see her...I'm telling you, she is worth the trip...but just in case looking at the sidebar is to painful, here is her address again... Now, I want to pass this award on to a few of you...I think I'm supposed to pick's going to be hard to limit it to ten, but here goes...

Kari over at and Kijsa too, cause she's standing next to Kari and heaven knows I don't wish to be rude and leave her out!!!
Now, an especially big hug and kiss to Teresa and her Lovin' Hubbin on their 31st anniversary! Please go tell "T" happy happy...

Okay, so I seem to over overstepped the sue me...I think I'll have to blow kisses back to 14 more this weekend till I've gotten everyone covered with hot pink lipstick. See you tomorrow my friends!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hiho Hiho it's off to Doc's I go

Mima, over at Mima's Doing's (please go visit with her, she's a sweetie, you'll love her!) presented me with this MWAH big kiss award...I love hot pink lipstick. How did she know? You'll find our Mima at As I'm off to the Doc's this morning, I'm intending to pass it on too several of my buds upon my return, untill then, please accept Maxine as my replacement. Yeah, Maxine and me...we're tight~

Friday, February 15, 2008

A MEME with a Twist...

Okay, to say I've worked hard on this today is the understatement of all time. Most of the time I just type and words flow, but actually figuring out how to do this required real brain heat. This is the second time that I've worked on it and to the five people I afflict, no no, I pass this tag onto, I wish you should have come with a list of instructions...or maybe I'm just so new at this it made me feel stupid...but anyway, here is the deal. Carol over at Katherines Dream started this, or continued it, I might it's her fault that some of you find yourself in the soup...I did say Carol at Katherine's Dream did I not???? So, according to Carol, this is how it works:

Archieve Instructions: Go back through your archieves and post links (worked for an hour on figuring that one out...) your five favorite blogs posts that you've written. But here's the catch (and Lord knows I was expecting that)
Link 1 must be about family
Link 2 must be about friends
Link 3 must be about you yourself
Link 4 must be about something you love
Link 5 can be about anyone or anything you choose.
This is good fun and gives us all a chance to read the archieve posts and leave more comments. So, here goes
Link 1: about how a simple job with family involvement can be unnerving
Link 2: about how friends are valued
Link 3: How I came to be a cat lover
Link 4 about how things become possessions then obsessions
Link 5: about the murder of my former partner and Brother in Blue, John Crawley...still loved, still missed

Okay, there are my links and now I must choose five of my friends to do the same. Two of them must be new blogging friends. Here are ones I've chosen, and they are all in my sidebar under Best Blogging Buddies...there is not a one I wouldn't recommend to you...that's why they are over there in the sidebar...they're the best. It's a hard choice to make, but here goes:
Kathy (Just a Beachkat) whom I admire for her strength and determination and humor. She's a riot!
Teresa at Living the Life who thinks that just because she's building a house she gets to go away for a no no...we want a blow by blow description of what's going on!
Jeanne of Life or Something Like It, who is a most interesting know that's a term of endearment now Jeanne...and always has the most interesting photos to share...
and now for two new blogging friends:
Mari-Nanci at Smilensigh, I have come to look forward to her site everyday to see what interesting things (like life as a personal favorite) she can come up with.
Lee, at Chrysalis Dreams who you will find to be straight forward and warm.
And I'd like to mention here David McMahon at Authorblog who spends his time introducing bloggers to each other, is a fantastic blogger and photographer. I'd like to tag him and leave it at "when you find the time." Well, there it is...have a good time with this, don't make it a lot of work like I did...if you are as computer illiterate as I am finding I am, please don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail, maybe I can make it easier for you!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day to all my friends in Blogland, a wonderful place to visit! Come, kick your shoes off, stay awhile and I'll put on the tea...Yorkshire, of course

Monday, February 11, 2008

This and That

You know you are a blogging addict when you feel as though your head is about to explode, not even the nausea and just plain ickiness caused by medicines being used to treat RA can keep you away from the keyboard. So I am about to enter the rooms of my friends to catch up their weekends. Just wanted to let you know I spent three hours in heaven at Barnes and Nobles on Saturday spending my birthday money from the Darling Mac. Pure bliss. And a new Scrabble board. Could a girl ask for more? No, she couldn't. Will be back blogging tomorrow, surely I'll feel better. For now I'm going to spend a while with my friends. I am surely an addict...I should really be in bed...


I just came from Theresa's Life and found she had given me an award...I really don't feel worthy, but I am so honored at the same time. It makes you feel as though you're on top of the world when someone does something like this! I am always so glad if I can make someone laugh or think about a situation in a different light. Thank you Theresa!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Is it just me or are we lost?

Since we've retired to God's country (or at least our little section of it) we don't travel that much anymore, it seems. The longest trips we make are to the doctor's visits (too many) and my son and daughter(in-law) in Florence. Where once we were world travelers, we are now rather sedate. Oddly enough, we both grew up in traveling families. I'm not sure how it went for Mac, but I can remember how it went at our house. Mama would start packing the suitcases two nights before we were to leave. The night before was reserved for preparing the driving directions and for that she needed her "navigator's bag" . In it were the pencils, sundry maps, a notepad , a pack of peanuts (?) and her sunglasses. She was always excited to get on the road. I remember when we lived in Cleveland and the summer trip was being planned. Mama had the map stretched out on the table, her red pencil in hand and was trying to find the quickest route to Chesterfield, South Carolina. Now this was before there was an arterial spray of Interstate Highways crisscrossed across the paper. No MapQuest. No GPS systems to tell you when to make each and every turn We had Mama. We were all hanging onto the table watching with interest and chattering about our trip the excitement like a bubble of water headed for the surface .Daddy came over to where she was studying the map, her lower lip caught between her teeth and that little scowl between her eyebrows, her eyes in serious study. He allowed as to how she was making too much work out of it, took the red pencil from her grasp and locating Cleveland (or an approxcimity of where he thought Cleveland might be) and then finding Chesterfield (or somewhere in the vicinity of that one, too) he drew a straight line from one to the other in a broad red stroke. Mama looked at the map then looked up at him. We were all standing in a circle around her, our eyes glued to his face. "And just what is that supposed to be?" she asked him. "It's as the crow flies," Daddy said. I have to hand it to him, he said it with a straight face. "Well, that would all be well and good if anyone had thought to build any roads there," was Mama's reply. Then she looked at us and with the utmost solemnity said, "and this," indicating her now desacrated map, "is why the Children of the Lord wandered in the desert for forty years. Moses drew the map."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Wicked Witch of the Flea Market meets Snow Stupid

Okay, as everyone knows I am a lover of signs. I especially like the tacky little signs handpainted on old pieces of barndoor wood. The rattier the wood the better the sign. My all time favorite sign hangs in my kitchen. Next to my roosters. It is of course my "raising children is like being pecked to death by chickens" sign. And a truer statement was never made. I found this sign at a flea market some time ago and paid the grand sum of fifty cents for it, although I believe the old gentleman might have paid me to take it off his hands had I not been bent double with laughter and pointing it out to Mac who completely ignored my insanity and simply walked away from me. Another sign I found at the flea market is also on old wood...hewn fencepost, or I miss my guess. It reads "Dogs have Masters. Cats Have Staff". The wood is, well it's old wood colored...the dogs part is painted in some sort of blue...teal? The cats part is painted in, of course, gold. No, really, I think it may have been gold...they wanted ten dollars for it. Now, in comparison to my chickens sign, which I love not only for it's truth in backwoods folklore type witticism, it's no fact it's rather plain except for the gold paint. I walked by it and admired it's truth in concept, not it's attractiveness. It had none. For this they wanted ten American dollars. I stopped. I picked it up. I held it in my hands and promptly got a splinter. I put it down to suck on my finger (that danged splinter hurt like 40 hells). Mac gave me the eye roll and started to walk away. The old lady behind the booth, whom I suspect drives a Beamer, says "you like that don't you?" It was said in one of those voices that if she had been a he I would have thought she was coming on to me. Well, she was coming on to my wallet. "I'll let you have it for nine dollars." The whisper had an oily texture, and a gypsy spell. Oh Lord help me, it was the old "I'll do you one better" game, and will I fall for it? Well, we shall see. I stopped and turned on my heel and walked back to where she was sitting half hidden from view. I looked for a microphone, because I wasn't sure how I had heard her unless she had been shouting. It hadn't sounded like a shout. It had sounded like a sultry whisper. I picked up the sign and, careful not to collect another splinter, looked it over again. The old woman stood up, leaning gingerly on an old cane she carried in her left hand. Heck, all she needed was a shawl over her head and an apple in her hand and she could have passed for the wicked old witch in Snow White. You know, the hag with the apple who was really the Wicked Queen. I looked at the wooden sign and smiled, thinking of those at home who actually knock on the door to be let in and out and expect the butler to be Johnny on the spot. "Seven's an antique." She rubbed her hands together either in pain or expectation. The thing measured about 8 inches high by 5 inches wide and was about 2 inches thick. "Six dollars and your kitties will be so proud you thought of them." Her eyes were twinkling and I was becoming more and more enthralled with the little wooden piece of what I was beginning to think of as art. Art? I turned to look for Mac, and he was off playing with his friends and looking at the fishing poles. I looked back at the sweet little old lady and she was holding up 2 fingers. "A steal at twice the price." I found myself digging in my pockets for the two dollars I knew I would find there. It was as though I were in a trance as I handed over the well worn bills that had been riding cozily in my jeans pocket for just such an emergency . She thanked me and I swear I heard her cackle. I didn't put the little piece of wood into my shopping bag, but carried it gingerly over to where Mac was busy dickering with a man over a fishing pole. I was turning the hateful little block of wood over in my hands when I got another splinter. As I switched it to the other hand I looked up and Mac was standing there, shaking his head. He mouthed to me "I can't leave you alone for a minute." I made an impolite gesture towards him and when I looked down at this weapon of lass destruction, happened to see the little round piece of paper. It read "50 cents". Man, Barnum & Bailey were right. There's one born every minute.

As the World Volunteers, so go the Nations

Like most people with minds to busy to shut down even for sleep, I take my inspiration where I find it. Today I found it at Adla's place ( and she said this:

"Monica Magness from A girl thread wild initiated a project called ' The Pink Artist' . The pink artist is a community of artist joining together to create one joint art doll to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.When the doll is completed, it will be mailed into Art Doll Quarterly™, before finally being auctioned off on eBay at a later date.I've pitched in for this cause and joined The Pink Artist to create a few 2 by 2 patches for the dolls skirt. With a few denim cut outs and some beads, I was ready to stitch away. Here's a little preview of my bit for charity :) If you'd like to do your bit for this wonderful cause, you are invited to hop on and create your 2 by 2 patches and mail them out to Monica by the 1st of March 2008. Happy Creating! "

She impresses me. She has such beautifully creative ideas and her own business to run, and yet she volunteers her time for the common good of her world family. Yes, I said world family. I was going to do my post on the importance of Volunteers for our Nation today and luckily remembered that Adla is in Australia. Hmm. Not exactly my nation, yet one I could happily immigrate to were I to suddenly find things were not exactly to my liking here anymore. I used to get crazy when asking people (read women) what they do and I get "oh, I do a little volunteer work". I witnessed volunteer work first hand on Sunday when people came out of their homes and walked through woods and crossed creeks to try to locate the source of a cry for help on the word of one little girl. All plans put aside, Church services forgone, they gave of their time, therefore giving of themselves. I'm sure it was as uplifting to them as Church would have been. But wait now, look at the disasters all over the world, the earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and fires. Most of the people you see doing the rescue work are volunteers. They have no special training, just two hands and feet and a brain. Of course the regular forces are there doing their part, but they couldn't do half as much without the men and women who pour out of their homes to lend a hand. Quite frequently these volunteers travel many miles to get to their destination, all because they can. David McMahon at (I highly recommend his site) posed a community question for all this week entitled "do you have enough leisure time?" I thought about it all week, and I have come to this conclusion. No one has enough leisure time. There is always something pressing, something that needs doing, even when you are on vacation. Mama was always glad to get home from vacation so she could rest. I can hear her saying it. "Thank God. That trip about killed me." I sometimes think that volunteers use up their leisure time helping others. In that, we are all the same, worldwide. We all need the same things, food, shelter, clean water, clean clothing and medical assistance on occasion. All of us. Everyone of us. All the same, yet different. Instead of denouncing that difference, we should be celebrating the "sameness". It is after all, the human race. In the words of Rodney King, who was not a great American, just one person caught up in the circumstances of his day, why can't we all just get along? Maybe we need a few more Volunteers and a little less leisure time.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

For the BeachKat

All this talk about weight and I get these today. I just had to share , especially for the BeachKat...who gained 20 pounds and I'm still asking "WHERE?"

An Interrupted Sunday

Sunday morning came in bright and sassy, nearly everyone was busy preparing for Church and the Superbowl, in that order. The quiet in our neighborhood was suddenly and shrilly shattered. We heard yelling and so Mac went to investigate as I was still pajamaed. He came back to tell me that one of the neighborhood kids thought she heard someone yelling for help in the woods. She thought it may have been a child. Her older sister allowed as to how she may have heard something, too. So 911 was dialed and my brothers in blue arrived enmasse. People in the neighborhood, including Mac, quickly formed a search team to go down into the woods to see if there was anything to the story. Now, it is a trick to get through that tangle of briars and roots, grapevines and tree limbs. Hunters are back there all the time, and why they haven't killed each other off yet is beyond me. The woods are deep and dark, and not my home. The furbies stay down in their depths most of the day, climbing and playing, hunting and stealthing. I was standing in the side yard talking to our neighbors when this

broke the silence that had finally fallen over the neighborhood again.

We watched as Batgirl, the Calico furby, tore up out of the woods as if her tail was on fire and hit the front porch door and actually pounded on it with her front paws for someone to let her in. Okay, and here comes the John Candy line from the Great Outdoors, yet again...Bird...hhhh...big bird...hhhh...big bird chase me....hhhh....(She hadn't been back outdoors till this morning, and then she went warily, as though that huge creature might still be hovering in the sky out there, just waiting on her.) I ran in and got my camera so I could get a few shots of my (former)people at work. There was no one found, and after hours of searching, all the gear was packed up, all the volunteers went home to prepare for the Giants trouncing of the Pats, Law Enforcement, who had gone to each and every home on three roads to get names and ask if anyone was not home that could be lost in the woods, went on to other calls and Sunday was once again quiet. Pointless waste of time I hear some of you saying. Well, actually, no. The neighborhood now knows that if something awful were to happen, or if someone lost needed locating, help is only a 911 call away. That's a comfort in and of itself.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Monster Unseen

I was about ten years old and we were driving down Clearwater Drive in Tampa (Florida). It was spring and Mama had the radio on and they were playing some country tunes and I was singing "I'm just here to get my baby out of Jail" at the top of my lungs. The news came on and the headline was about a missing boy in Lakeland, last seen delivering papers and he had only completed half of his route. His mother told police he left the house every morning at five, was home by six for breakfast and to get ready for school. She never saw her boy again after that lovely spring morning when he left on his bike . I'm sure Spring mornings were never the same to her after that, after losing her boy. I asked my mother, what made him go missing? Did a monster get him? I can still see her eyes in the rearview mirror, they were sad and startled. "I'm afraid so." She didn't whisper it. She didn't shout it. Her voice had a quality of what I now know is resignation. Years later she told me that it was a wicked world even then, and it never surprised her when she heard of the horrors going on, though it sickened her. She told me that later when I had asked had the boy on the bike been found, she told me yes. She just didn't tell me that he had been found dead and abused. I remember the warnings from my parents about accepting candy from strangers, about talking to people we didn't know. Having always been as friendly as a puppy in a butcher's shop, I spoke to everyone. My father would say, "don't be so quick to show your teeth". Don't smile at everyone, that was the warning. Hard to heed when you are happy by nature, when you make friends easily, love deeply, and trust everyone. But it doesn't take long in a wicked world to learn that you can't trust everyone, that simply being a stranger isn't all there is to it. Sometimes the monsters aren't strangers at all. While they seem to come out of the woodwork in movies, with bloodred eyes and sharp pointed teeth, those are make believe monsters. Their claws rip and tear and the harder you run, the closer he gets. If it were only that simple, our children would be so much safer. If monsters wore a face that showed them for what they are, our children would know to cross the street, to get home or some safe place away from the evil. If only. What's important to teach our children today? Don't speak to strangers or listen to them when they ask for your help (for what adult really asks the help of a child?) are certainly important things to teach them. Another important thing to teach them is that you don't have secrets from your parents. Teach them to scream, kick and run if they feel threatened in any way. Don't put their names on their clothes in plain sight. A stranger that knows your name, after all, is not a stranger at all in a child's mind. They never think about the fact that it says Tommy or Debbie right on the front or back of their shirt. Unfortunately for us all, monsters have faces exactly like our own. And we're hearing from them far too frequently these days. Have a little talk with your children. Let them know that you are there for them. No matter what. And warn them about secrets. Secrets can kill.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Fear Nothing

We have been living out here in the country, well off the beaten path going on three years now. Until we had actually moved in, we had never spent a night here. We had met a couple of our neighbors, there aren't that many of them, really. We have just over four acres and two of those acres are in trees. Not the kind of trees you would sell to make a profit, just plain old trees. A nice mixture of oak, pine, sycamore some birch, nothing to write home about, but awfully pretty when in full leaf (or needle) and in the fall the colors are so vibrant you'd think the woods were afire. Our place sits with woods on nearly three sides, so we are pretty much enclosed in our space. The most wooded area lies directly behind the house. We have a night light out to the side provided (for a charge of course) by Lynches River Co-Op Electric. Like I said, we had never spent the night out here before, so naturally assumed the night light worked to expectations. Our neighbors had all told us about the coyote population in Jefferson, that there were quite a few of them and when they weren't hunting for food, they killed cats. I have always said that I pitied the poor coyote, who much like the Native American, had had his habitat completely wiped out from under his feet...or paws, what have you. It seemed unfair for us not to set aside land for the displaced, be they people or animals. I once saw a Disney movie about a coyote in a concrete you remember that? Wasn't his name Charlie? So anyway, when we bought the place we hired a contractor to renovate the house inside and out and it took a few weeks before we could actually move in. Moving day was a busy one and our two sons and my older son's wife helped us move in. It was a two day job to just get our belongings in and one bed set up. Here we came with our blind Lab mix, Mindy and our three cats. We had to go back for the outdoor cats, who were not at all happy over being loaded in that cage and released in a strange place. I tried to explain to them that there was no highway of death here, where we had lost several of the siblings. Lots of trees to climb and woods to explore. Not convinced, at least two of them tried to make their way back to the old homeplace. They finally got tired of me running them down and bringing them back. The first thing I noticed after the move was that the night light we were paying to light up the yard at night, didn't work very well. The night I discovered it was the night that I found out there are things I am scared of. It's the things you can't see while you stand at the edge of a dark wood when the night light goes out. As I have mentioned before, Mindy (who has been blind since puppyhood) has a fanclub of cats. They all love her. Even the cats who already lived here when we moved here, love her. They follow her around the yard and to the woods and rub on her and call to her. We've decided they're her seeing eye cats, because if she gets lost down in the wood line, the cats go get her. Very weird. I understand about HER cats, she raised them...they are hers...but the cats who were abandoned here also love her. So this one night about a week after we had moved in, I walked with Mindy and her mob of cats down to the woods. Suddenly, the night light went out. Everyone came to a stand still, I began working my way back to the front porch where there was light. I still had a pronounced limp and had to use a cane to get about (from the neck fracture) so I wanted to be able to yell for Mac if I needed help. I was watching Mindy and the Mob when they all suddenly stopped still. They were looking towards the woods. It was almost as if one of the cats yelled "RUN!". They all turned as one and began running towards the when a blind dog and six cats can beat you back to the porch while you're still standing staring at the woods for whatever might be coming out, you're in trouble. I hadn't moved that fast since...well, I can't remember how long it had been since I had moved that fast...and when I say fast, picture a turtle. My heart was pounding and my voice was gone. I was put in mind of a film John Candy was in, The Great Outdoors. He ran back to the cabin and stood at the opened door screaming in this small tight little out of breath voice "bear" hhhhh "big bear" hhhhhh "big bear chase me" hhhh....that was about the condition I was in when Mac appeared miraculously at my side. We never did see what had so alarmed the furbies, but the howl of something I'd never heard before was still ringing in my ears. And it didn't sound like a Disney character. Oh, I take Mindy out for a romp at night, but I stand at the end of the porch with a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other. And Lynches River Co-Op and I have a deal...I change the light bulbs on the inside, they change the ones in the nightlight.