Thursday, February 28, 2008

Long And Lasting Love

Love is in the air in the Hula family. My middle brother is getting married in a couple of weeks. This is the second marriage for him and his fiancé, so they don’t want a big wedding. It will be simple but special, kind of like Mama and Daddy’s wedding 45 years ago. A month from now my parents will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. They don’t have any big plans for marking the occasion, but perhaps we can fix that. It’s certainly worth celebrating.

As I was digging around in old photos this past week, I found this one. I love this picture.

It captures their relationship, then and now, perfectly. For as long as they’ve been together, Daddy has been laughing and teasing Mama, and Mama has been rolling her eyes at him. Sometimes the roll is accompanied by an elbow to the ribs or a light smack on his arm. She probably rolls her eyes at him more than Teen Angel rolls hers at me, and that’s saying a lot. They are quite the pair, kind of opposite, but quite alike.

They’ve weathered a lot over the years and have really been perfect partners for each other. As a kid growing up, I thought everyone came from the same Beaver Clever kind of family I did. Mama didn’t wear dresses and pumps around the house, but she stayed at home with us kids, shuttled us to school functions, clapped at our musicals and held an office in the PTO. Daddy was the breadwinner, working swing shift but squeezing in time for each of us in between fixing our cars and mowing the yard. We ate dinner together and took summer vacations. I saw my parents bicker but never saw them argue. They never made financial decisions without discussing them. They showed each other affection and always treated each other with respect. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized how rare and special that was.

In their silver years, they still treat each other with respect, still laugh at their mistakes and still take vacations together. They have very part time jobs to give themselves a few hours away from each other during the week but enjoy each other’s company the rest of the time. He makes her laugh, and she loves to laugh. Daddy is still teasing Mama, and there are days when she wants to throttle him, but she usually just rolls her eyes, makes some kind of half-hearted attempt at trying to keep him in line and moves on. As I watch their marriage and mine mature, I am struck by how much marriage is really about taking care of each other. I was backing out of the driveway the other morning when Hubby flagged me down to bring me my gloves. Earlier I had scratched his back. Taking care of each other. That’s what it’s all about. The romance is still there, but it flickers and smolders more than it flames. That’s okay. It’s really just a part of the whole equation. Super Cop is still in that white hot flaming part of his relationship. I wish him a world of happiness with this marriage, but most of all, I’m glad he has someone to take care of…and someone to take care of him. We all need that, especially in our Harvest Moon years.

Is it April Yet?


Alrighty, that's out of my system.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My New Favorite Number

Well, there’s no backing out now. I sent in my registration for the Trail Run. Can you believe I’d pay $65 to torture myself? I don’t want to think about the amount of crazy in that decision. I bought the shoes (another $100) and have been breaking them in, and I blogged about it, so I’m committed right? The race is March 8th, and as that day inches closer, it’s all I can think about as I go about my daily business.

14.25 miles. I hear it in my ears. It pops up in my dreams. I think about it when I’m driving down the road and singing along with Fergie. 14. 25 miles. It bounces around in my brain when I’m taking a shower, cooking dinner and ironing clothes. 14.25 miles…..over dirt paths…up and down hills…dodging puddles and jumping over roots and rocks. March in Kentucky is unpredictable. It could be warm. It could snow. It could be wet and cool. It will definitely be muddy, and I will definitely get dirty. This is what one guy looked like when he finished two years ago.

Hmmm. I guess I shouldn’t count on my white shoes staying white. I’m trying not to be nervous about this thing, but I really am. I’ve thought about it so much that I’m ready to tackle it and get it over.…all 14.25 miles. Fourteen miles is nothing to a serious runner, but remember, I’m a pokey, 40-something woman who never ran for anything other than Italian Crème Cake until a year ago. I won’t be winning any medals next weekend. This race is all about beating myself.

Since I’m a Trail Run virgin I’ve tried to set realistic goals. Most importantly, I don’t want to fall and hurt myself. I’ve already taken one tumble this past year. I don’t need another. Besides, there are two to three miles between every aid station. That’s a long way to hobble. I want to run as much of the race as I can. I want to finish and to cross the finish line running. I’m guessing it will take me about three hours, but I’m not going to worry about time….much….I don’t think. At the end of the day I just want to be able to say that I ran my first half marathon…all 14.25 stinkin’ miles.

The other thing I’m looking forward to is being exposed to some seriously strong runners. This race also has a full marathon (26 miles), a 60K (36 miles) and a 50 mile run. 50 miles. That’s right. 50 miles. It will take them anywhere from seven to eleven hours to finish. I can’t imagine. I want to imagine, but I can’t. Therefore, I shall watch, and hopefully, get a little inspiration for the season. Oh, and did I mention that the average age of the runners is 42 years old? How about that? This race is for mature folks, most of who are like me, running from old age. Old age…the other thing that runs through my mind almost as much as that 14.25 miles.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hillybilly Style

As much time as I spend defending the image of Kentuckians and refuting our reputation for being a big bunch of toothless rednecks, I have to admit we have more than our fair share of hillbilly attitude about clothing and teeth in this part of the country. I’ve just read that Kentucky ranks 2nd in the nation behind West Virginia in adults over 65 who have had all of their teeth pulled, and 37% of Kentuckians are missing at least six teeth. Add that to our love for camouflage, and there are days when I scratch my head and wonder what some of my fellow Kentuckians were thinking when they got dressed that morning. To boost our image, I’m proposing the following fashion guidelines for my fellow rednecks when visiting Wal-Mart or running around town.

1. Winter camo should be worn after Memorial Day but not after Easter. If the snow is on the ground, wear the brown.

2. False teeth should be worn EVERY time you leave the house, not just on special occasions such as the Ducks Unlimited banquet.

3. If you must wear flip-flops in the winter, choose subdued colors such as brown or black that are more likely to match your winter coat. Again, if the snow is on the ground…..

4. House shoes should be worn only in the house. They are not acceptable footwear for trips to the Piggly Wiggly, the Dollar Store or Pancake Days at IHOP.

5. Scrubs are not considered formal wear and should be avoided unless you really work in the medical field.

6. Nail art should be limited to two acrylic nails at any given time. It shouldn’t be worn at all if your nails are longer than 1 inch and painted Cha-Ching Cherry red.

7. Mud and animal excrement should be removed from boots (this means you too, ladies) before entering a place of business.

8. U.K. attire should be limited to no more than three articles at any given time. As Coco Chanel said, when you are finished dressing, take off your last accessory, and you will be just right.

9. And remember, your best accessory is a toothbrush.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Time After Time

Time is important. It’s a precious commodity that we hoard, stretch, waste and pilfer. The older I get the more precious it becomes and the more I start to realize how much of it I frittered away in my youth. It bothers me if I think about it too long.

There are all kinds of statistics about how we use our time. For instance, we spend roughly one third of our lives sleeping. I think that’s a little inaccurate for women since we tend to be the first ones up and the last ones to bed in any given household. We’re not as good as men at napping either. There are statistics about the time we spend eating, working and driving. And facts on how much time we use reading, watching TV and being intimate with each other. Those are all interesting, but they don’t really address the burning questions I have. I want to know about the stuff that is wasting my time. Stuff that is wasting away extra minutes I could put to use visiting the Eiffel Tower, swimming in the Caribbean or advising the President. It all adds up folks, and it matters more and more to me as the sand in my hourglass starts to get a little thin. I’ve given this some thought, and here are the estimates I’ve developed. Just don’t ask me about my scientific methods.

1. Trying on clothes that don’t fit-23 hours in the last year alone.

2. Sitting in traffic next to someone playing really loud, obnoxious music-1.5 days, all in thirty second intervals. The up side is that I can name the top three gangsta’ rap songs at any given time of the year.

3. Holding the end of a leash while the dog decides where he’s going to poop-56 hours over the course of the last six years.

4. Waiting on a doctor who is so overbooked that he’s way behind schedule-8.6 days or in other words, too freakin’ long!

5. Searching for my keys and/or cell phone-a mind numbing 12.2 hours because I’m too stupid to put them in the same place every day.

6. Wading through voicemail in search of a real human who can help me with a billing/insurance/financial question-16 years if you count that time J.C. Penney’s screwed up a charge on my credit card, and it took three months and two rounds of anger management classes to resolve.

7. Cooling my heels in the driveway waiting on Teen Angel to finish getting ready-2 hours per day multiplied by seven days a week divided by the number of matching accessories and multiplied by the number of times I have to honk my horn minus the amount of times she will roll her eyes at me…or roughly 7.2 days per year.

8. Watching America’s Most Wanted and Cops because they are Hubby’s favorite shows-2.4 looooong years. I hum “Bad Boys” in my sleep.

9. Driving Mama J. back and forth to the beauty shop-30 hours per year, all on Saturday mornings. Add a little extra beauty shop time for funerals that pop up in the middle of the week. Some people have the nerve to die on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when her hairdo is a little ragged.

10. Piddling on the internet-Well, look. I have to go. I’ll come back to this one later. After I’ve surfed the new Spring collection at Newport News and scanned TicketMaster for summer concerts. I’d like to stay, really I would, but I don’t have the time.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Now We're Cookin'

I love to cook. I really do. For more than thirty years, I've been stirring, mixing and experimenting in the kitchen. I get excited about things like Santoku knives, fresh herbs and colorful Kitchen Aid mixers. My cookbook collection is well over a hundred volumes, and I've been known to DVR Iron Chef America. I did pause this morning in church and wonder if I'm not watching too much Food TV when I disposed of my gum in a piece of paper torn from the bulletin and realized I was shaping it like a perfect piece of homemade ravioli.

I got an early start on cooking because Mama had a series of ear surgeries when I was about twelve that laid her up in bed for a while. Fast food was not common in those days, and we had to eat. Daddy had his hands full trying to work, take care of three kids and a sick wife, so we all had to chip in and help any way we could. I would sit beside Mama on the bed while she made out a grocery list and explained how to make stuff, then Daddy would drop me off at the grocery store with a $100 bill and the list. He ran other errands while I bought a week's worth of groceries. I felt really important. My family was very patient with my early attempts at supreme cuisine like runny spaghetti sauce and chili that made you sweat bullets. Then there was my cake decorating phase. I bought cake decorating tubes and made enough roses and swag borders to cover cakes for just about every relative within a thirty miles radius one year. I still have about 200 decorating tubes and if pressed into service could whip out a decent decorated cake. It's a disease, I'm tellin' ya. Teen Angel has caught it, too. I came home the other day, and she had whipped up a wonderful chocolate cake from scratch. I was so proud.

I've always been fond of making desserts, and one of the earliest that I learned to make was apple crisp. During Mama's recuperation, I found a recipe for apple crisp in her worn Betty Crocker cookbook and whipped up a batch or two...or three. Even though I've moved on to much more difficult desserts, I still have a soft spot in my heart for apple crisp (and chocolate no bake cookies). It's perfect on winter days when you're in the mood for comfort food. I made up a big batch to take to church tonight and thought I'd share the recipe with you for several reasons. First of all, it tastes good. Anything with three sticks of butter can't be bad, right? Also, this recipe is easy to make, and it's very kid friendly. It's a hands on recipe that's great for making some memories in the kitchen with your kids or grand kids. It's versatile, too. You can use any kind of canned pie filling for this recipe. It feeds a crowd. If you double this recipe and use one of those big silver disposable pans they sell at Sam's Club, you can feed thirty people with this dessert. Here we go.


2 cans sweetened apple pie filling
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups quick oats
2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 sticks melted butter
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and crumble them until they're well mixed. It should look like this.

Next comes the melted butter. Is there anything more lovely? I think not. Look at all of that milky goodness. You can use margarine instead of real butter, and it will taste fine. Once you've made it with the real stuff though, you'll never go back.

Add the melted butter and mix. This is the part where Paula Deen would recommend that you throw away the spoon and mix with your hands. She would be right. I suggest taking off your big diamond rings first.

It will look like this when it's properly mixed. You will be tempted to stop right here and eat this with a spoon until it's gone. Whatever makes you happy. You'd miss out on the really good stuff, the apples....and ice cream. Did I mention we're going to eat this with ice cream when it's done?

Take about two-thirds of the mixture and press it into the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Don't press it too firmly though.

Pour your pie filling on top of this. Mmmmm. If you want to get really crazy you can sprinkle some cinnamon on the apples.

Now, crumble the rest of the oat mixture onto the apples. The finished product will look like this.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the top is golden brown.

Don't you love it when gooey stuff oozes over the sides? And if you make it in a glass dish, you can see the layers.

Now, this dessert is fine standing alone on a plate, but it's really nice when it's served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and if you're feeling really over the top, a little caramel sauce. There you go. Go forth and make apple crisp. You won't regret it. Your hips will, but your taste buds won't. And hang in there, Oreneta, one of these days we'll make fried potatoes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Up in Smoke

I went into the convenience store to pay for gas. Okay, I really paid at the pump with a credit card and went inside because I had a bad craving for a big, Chewy SweeTart. A craving so bad my skin itched. As I was digging around the shelves for some dextrose, maltodextrin crack, I found this.

Holy corn syrup Batman! Aren’t those candy cigarettes? They’re labeled candy sticks, but anyone over the age of 35 recognizes this red box as candy cigarettes. The sticks inside even had the red tips that are supposed to simulate the glow of burning tobacco. I thought they quit making those years ago because it made smoking seem cool to little kids. It sure made it cool to me when I was young. I posed and puffed with many a candy cigarette, making sure to hang the end with the red tip out of my mouth. Didn’t want to burn my lip, you know. At about age seven I yearned for a long, black cigarette holder and elbow length satin gloves for my dress up box. I thought they would look great with the fur collar my grandpa gave me and the satin pajamas Uncle D. sent me from Vietnam. I wanted to be Bette Davis. Heck, I thought I WAS Bette Davis. Never mind that I didn’t have big, round blue eyes. Living out in the middle of the sticks with no swimming pool didn’t stop me from believing I was Esther Williams for about two years either. Anyway, without the holder, I was relegated to perfecting my cigarette hold with pointer and middle man. Thumbkin was artfully arched to the side as I pursed my lips into a perfect “O” to blow imaginary smoke rings across our back porch. I was divine, dahling. Divine….and oh so full of myself.

Back then, no one batted an eye when kids pretended to smoke. All of the adults smoked, and no one (except the tobacco industry) knew yet just how bad smoking was for us. Daddy smoked. He puffed on Camels, keeping a pack in his shirt pocket at all times and politely flicking his ashes into the cuff of his pants if he was indoors and didn’t have an ashtray. I watched him, studying the hold, how he inhaled and exhaled, wanting to be ready for the day when I could light up the real thing. But then he quit when I was about ten, and I lost interest in it. I didn’t have a desire to smoke, even when I became a teenager. Even then it was pretty common for young people to smoke. We had a smoking section at our high school. Oh, I tried it a time or two when I was about eighteen, but I didn’t like it, for two reasons. One, I looked really stupid at it. Despite all of my candy cigarette practice, I looked like an idiot holding the real thing, and I knew it. I couldn’t inhale without coughing, and I couldn’t blow a smoke ring to save my life. Two, it made my mouth taste bad. I hate having bad breath, and immediately after the second time I tried smoking I was asked to slow dance by someone I really had the hots for. I knew if we got on the dance floor, he would probably kiss me, and he did. The whole time I kept thinking, “T. is kissing me! T. is kissing me! God, I must taste like an ashtray.” That put an end to my attempts at smoking.

I’m very glad I never started. Heart disease runs heavily in my family, and smoking is the last thing I need. I like being able to breathe well, and I’m healthier because I don’t smoke. We’re smarter now than we were back then. Parents didn’t know back then to be appalled at candy cigarettes. Not like we are today. I can’t believe I found these things on the shelf of my local convenience store. I’d be lying though, if I didn’t admit that a small part of me enjoyed buying the box for old time’s sake and holding that candy stick between my fingers. Just one though. I’m saving the rest for this weekend. I have What Ever Happened to Baby Jane stored in my DVR, dahling.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sweet Temptation

This is the box of candy Teen Angel got for Valentine's Day from her grandma.

Now, thankfully, she's a share girl, so let's open it up and root around for something tasty, say a strawberry bon bon or a coconut cluster. Certainly not one of those stinkin' orange things that I uncontrollably expel from my mouth the second it touches my tongue. Looky here. What's this? Strange writing? I don't remember this the last time I filched a chocolate covered filbert.

Let's look a little closer.

Woops! It appears someone is having a little trouble with his diet this week. Either that or we have a mouse in our house. A 6' 4" mouse with long, shaggy hair. I hope he likes the orange filled ones.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Have You Ever....

Most of us are taught from an early age to be good, to love our neighbor and to try our best to get along. And we do. Well, most of us do. There are some real doozies out there who muck up the works with their screwed up attitudes and bad choices. Those are the people my husband used to supervise when he was a parole officer. Most of the population, though, does not fall into that category. Now, we all have moments of failure when we lose our temper, say hurtful things or act like a three year old because we didn’t get our way, but usually we bump around this planet trying to love and be loved. I fall into that category, but I really do wonder sometimes if I’m trying hard enough.

I always joke that the Hula-gen’s have to go to church just about every time the doors open because we have so much to improve upon. It’s not that we’re slow learners. We’re just stubborn. Most days I really try to apply what I learn in church, but honestly, there are days when my thoughts are not very Christian like. That’s because there are people who drive me out of my ever lovin’ mind. They leave me asking certain questions, questions I’m going to pose to you, dear readers. I should probably be embarrassed to admit these things cross my mind, but I’m going to anyway because I suspect someone of you feel the same way, even if you don’t admit it. Also, I’m getting older and just don’t embarrass much anymore. I really think I could walk down Main Street wearing just a gunny sack and never bat an eye… in the interest of keeping it real…here we go. I call this game “Have You Ever?”

Have you ever:

1. Become acquainted with perfectly nice people that you just don’t like, and you can’t explain why you don’t like them? In fact, their mere presence just ticks you off?

2. Made up a lie to get away from the people mentioned in Question #1 because you don’t want to be rude to them but wished you just had the guts to tell them they annoy you?

3. Wanted to shout your thoughts at perfect strangers even though those thoughts were pretty ugly? Like, “For Pete’s sake, get a new hairdo. Mullets went out twenty years ago.” Or “Who the h@*% did your makeup, Marilyn Manson?”

4. Bumped into a very old friend you haven’t seen in years and neither one of you acknowledged the other because you were up to no good the last time you were together?

5. Asked someone how they were doing even though you didn’t give a diddly toot how they were feeling that day? Even after they told you how sick they were?

6. Run into a really old flame that dumped you, and you felt really good because you were fifty pounds lighter than the woman he married after he dumped you?

7. Gotten tired of being someone’s friend and you’re not sure why?

8. Wanted to punch someone who says stupid things all the time because he won’t pick up a newspaper or read a book? For example, “Why would I want to watch the news?” Pow! To the moon, Alice.

I could go on and on. I’m not proud to admit this, and I really feel bad when these thoughts cross my mind. I don’t want to be the person who has these thoughts. I want to be better than that. As much as it makes me wince, I think it’s important to be honest about it. Putting it in writing forces me to work on it. But tell me, is it just me? Have you ever……

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ready, Aim, Fire

Super Cop sent me some old family photos so I can put together a video/slide show for his upcoming wedding reception. Now giving your blogger big sister old family pictures is a little like handing the enemy a truckload of ammunition don’t you think? What was that fool thinking? He had to have known I would share a few of these with you. I can’t resist because I just about wet my pants every time I look at those pictures. We were some scary looking people back in the 70’s and 80’s mostly, because we all had a lot of hair then. Secondly, because we lacked good fashion sense. Let’s stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Circa 1971, both of us brimming with mischief. Quick quiz. What has the loudest pattern in this picture, the sofa, the afghan or my jumper?

This one was taken on one of my birthdays, probably age nine or ten. I am holding a shirt I got as a gift, and Super Cop is stylin’ and profilin’ in his cut-offs and Converse tennis shoes. Isn’t he too cute for words there? Hey, what’s with the hands on the hips? I thought that was supposed to be my job. This was during my shag hair cut phase. This was during his shaggy pants phase.

This was taken during my freshman year in high school. I had to use so much hairspray to get my hair to stay that way that I had to stay away from open flames. How on earth I ever got a date with that hair, I’ll never know. Oh, wait. I didn’t. Check out Zeke’s sideburns. It appears we were into brown that year.

Just a few years later, we posed as a family again and look pretty much the same. Well, I got a slightly better hairdo. We’re into blue this time, but Zeke hasn’t changed at all. In fact, he looks the same in every family photo he’s taken in the last forty years. This was during Handy Man's chapped lips phase.

And finally, this little gem from Super Cop’s 8th grade graduation day.

Again, more brown. Mama plopped him and Handy Man in front of the house to capture the occasion with her Polaroid One Step. These outlaws look really happy about the situation. Hmm. This picture reminds me of something. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hmm. Oh yeah. Frank and Jesse.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wing Beneath My Wings

It was a blustery day in the forty acre woods, Pooh fans. Thirty-six degrees and wind gusts of 27 miles per hour. That would have been a good thing to check before I ran today. Bluh! Running around the deck of a fishing ship in the north Atlantic would have been easier. Anyone behind me probably thought I’d had a two finger tequila breakfast, the way I was drifting on the sidewalk. It was brutal. Note to self: Running with the wind BEHIND you most of the time is easier than running INTO the wind. Trust me, I reeeeeally needed the wind behind me today.

I last ran ten days ago. Ouch. I worked overtime all last week, including a half day on Saturday. Saturday afternoon and evening, we had a birthday celebration for Hubby and Mama J., and yesterday afternoon was spent curled up in the fetal position trying to catch up on sleep and watching 100 One hit Wonders on VH1 Classic. With the exception of one aerobics class Thursday night, I didn’t exercise at all last week, and I felt it today. I also ate a lot of meals on the run last week, things like pizza and candy bars. I felt like a lazy old slug oozing down the street today. I kept slogging away, though. I have just nineteen days until the trail run. Nineteen measly days to get my shoes broken in and log enough miles to feel as if my pokey butt can withstand the 14.5 mile test.

The closer I get to the date, the more nervous I get. I was so afraid last week that I’d talk myself out of it, that I went to the store and bought trail shoes. I’m too tight to spend that kind of money on something and not use it, so I kind of forced my own hand…er feet… by buying the shoes. Now I have to get back on track, building up my mileage and eating right. Poor nutrition can lead to a lot of, shall we say gastric distress, during a long run. I’d rather not have to cop a squat in the middle of the woods. I’ve got to clean up my diet pronto, or I’ll be toting the Sears catalog in my pit stop bag. I also have to get my mind right or I’ll start wavering the first time I get a side ache or a little winded on the big day.

And that’s what I was trying to do today when I hit the street, get my mind right. I wasn’t doing a very good job of it. The wind was pounding down my spirit, and the sunshine disappeared behind the clouds as soon as I started running. My energy level was low, and I ended up running on fumes. About two-thirds of the way into the run, I was feeling pooped and starting to act like a big ol’ quitter, when a little blessing dropped out of the sky. As I crossed a street, I spied a woman sitting on her front porch in her housecoat with her head wrapped in a towel. Obviously, she had just showered and for some reason was sitting out in the cold, having a very loud phone conversation. She didn’t look like the exercising kind, but apparently, she appreciates the effort. As I passed in front of her house, she paused long enough in her phone call to shout out to me, “You go girl!”, and immediately went back to her phone call. I didn’t know that woman, but I sure am glad she took 1.2 seconds to holler out those three little words of encouragement. It made me feel good. Like I’m not a quitter. And that I need to quit thinking like one. It put enough wind beneath my feet to get me through the last mile, and I actually ended the run with a pretty good sprint. Isn’t it amazing what a little comment or word of encouragement can do for a body? I wish I could remember to do that every day for someone. You never know when it’s the words they need to keep them hanging in there. I may just run by that woman’s house every day during the next nineteen days, in hopes of getting a little push here or there. Better yet, I’ll see if she can plop herself on every third mile of the trail run. I don’t care if she brings her phone, as long as she remembers to holler at me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

In The Pink

Roses are red
Violets are neat
I got a Valentine
with pretty pink feet

I feel pretty certain I received a Valentine's Day gift that no one else received. While everyone else got candy and flowers, I got these.....

I absolutely love them. They're a great addition to my collection of tacky, tropical stuff. And I love that my husband knows me so well that he picked something I would appreciate and enjoy much more than flowers or candy. Kind of like those shoes Teen Angel bought me for Christmas.

As they say at Hooter's....delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tough Love

We've had a little tough love around here lately with Papa T.. He's always been very independent, so we knew it would be difficult for him to accept help when his vision was almost gone. Knowing it didn't really make it any easier to deal with when it actually happened. Combined with the early stages of dementia and severe hearing loss, his blindness has made him especially hard to deal with sometimes. Who am I kidding? I'd be a cranky old poop if I were in his shoes.

At times during the day, he has a little vision, but for all practical purposes, he is blind. The other day I opened the front door to let him into his house, and he couldn't see that the door was already open. He often mistakes me for Teen Angel because we look and sound alike. He can't see his food when he eats. After months of experiemental surgeries and visits to specialists, he recently began to accept that his vision will never return. He asked us to remove him as a driver from his car insurance. He stopped searching the country for new doctors, and he agreed to talk with the Bureau for the Blind to see if they could help him learn how to get around without holding onto one of us. For months now, we've been taking his arm and leading him around when we go out, giving him instructions about steps and such when we walk and cutting up his food. We don't mind doing that, but we're not really helping him in the long run. What if we're not with him? He needs to be able to find his way around the house in the middle of the night, and right now he's not doing such a great job at that.

The educator from the Bureau for The Blind has been fabulous. He has spent long sessions with Papa T., showing him things that help him around the house, like a device he clipped on a cup to help Papa T. pour his own drink. Sissy's been taking the classes too, so she can help Papa T. practice. He's been very good in the classes, and practices at home, but he hasn't overcome one big challenge....using the cane. The long, white cane. A symbol to the world that he cannot see. That's he is less than whole. He is embarrassed to use the cane. I would be too. Heck, I was embarrassed just to wear glasses when I was a high school freshman. I stumbled around the hallways every day, putting on my glasses only when I needed to see the chalkboard. I was afraid some stinkin' boy would think I was ugly in my big, brown frames. That went on for more than a year until I finally convinced my parents to buy me contact lenses for my birthday. What a day of rejoicing that was.

Because we ALL understand, we've been very patient with Papa T., but at some point we had to force him to use the cane, because he was never going to do it himself. Here comes the tough love. As we headed out the door to (where else) Cracker Barrell the other night, Sissy plopped his hat on him, handed him his cane and said, "Here you go, Daddy. See you in the car." She walked away from him and let him find his way to the van by himself. Whew! He was ticked off. He fell into the seat, slammed the door and began to pout like a toddler. He let us know he didn't appreciate the the lack of help and gave us the silent treatment for the fifteen minute drive to the restaurant. Sissy made him use his cane again when we got to the restaurant and that really fired him up. We all fought over the seats on the side of the table opposite him. He sat with his arms crossed and his face screwed up during our wait for the food, and he didn't speak through dinner until he asked for a spoon near the end of the meal. Sissy wasn't going to push the issue when we got ready to leave. We'd had enough distress for one night. However, Papa T. stood up and mumbled, "Where's my thing"? He used the cane to get back to the van.

He softened up pretty quickly when we got home, admitting his embarrassment and asking if he could use the cane only when one of us wasn't around to hold onto. As painful as it was to say no, Sissy and Hubby did. Mama J. talked to him about how embarrassed she was the first few times she used her walker, but that she knew she didn't have a choice. We also pointed out that friends who saw him in the restaurant made a point to introduce themselves to him and speak directly to him because they saw the cane. Strangers didn't get mad at him when he stood in their way and blocked the aisles. I think he slowly started to realize that the long cane is not just a symbol of his blindess, it's a cue for people to be more understanding and patient with him. He also got from the front door to the van quicker than he had in months. Of course, that could have been because he was stomping mad. It will take some time to completely overcome his embarrassment over the cane. He'll do it though. He's always managed to endure and overcome hardships. Then look out. We'll have to be careful with the tough love 'cause he'll have a long reaching weapon he can wack us with.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Here Comes The Sun

This is what we woke up to this morning.

What a difference a fews days can make. I'm sure Mother Nature is of the female persuasion. How else can you explain how harsh and angry she can appear one day and soft and soothing the next? Today she was generous, lavishing us with sunshine that melted this layer of ice we've been fighting all week and warming our souls. She gave us a dazzling crystal light show this morning that left the trees weeping as they shed their icey coats. It gives this summer baby hope that spring will arrive after time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Roughing It

I'm sooo over winter. Have I said that yet? Oh, hmm. Well, I'll say it again because I'm a big fat whiner when it comes to winter, and it's my blog so I'll whine if I want to. The ice is lingering, although temperatures are expected to hit 50 degrees tomorrow so hopefully, this mess will melt away, and things can get back to normal.

I have electricity at my house. The rest of my family is not so lucky. Mama, daddy, Super Cop and Handy Man are a few of the thousands of people in this area who have been without electricity since Monday evening. It could be a few more days before they get electricity again. They are managing okay, though. Super Cop and his fiance are staying with his future mother-in-law. Have I mentioned that he's getting married? No? Well, he is, and it's a good thing or he'd be sitting alone with a flashlight and a bowl of dry cereal in a cold, dark house right now. Mama and daddy are taking it all in stride. They are using a propane heater to take the chill off the house. They don't run it all of the time because they don't want to die in the middle of the night or in the middle of a nap of carbon monoxide poisoning. As the food in their refrigerator thaws and warms, they are grilling it on Handy Man's grill. He lives next door to them. I know. It's a trend in our family. He has a kerosene heater at his house, and he has plenty of bottled water to tide them all over until they can use their wells again. After years of living waaaay out in the country, they aren't ruffled by power outages. Whenever something like this happens, you can always pick out the folks who have roughed it a few times. Hubby's grandma was one of those folks.

Miss Hinda was widowed at an early age and lived alone on a large farm for years. She toted a pistol and wasn't afraid to use it on would be prowlers. In fact, she often carried it in her purse when she trekked to the store. She lived off the land and raised most of her food. She was a tough old bird as we say in these parts. A few years before she died, a severe ice storm rolled through her community, which is about an hour south of here. Traffic was stalled. Power was out for several days, and the phones were down. No one could reach her. It took two days for the roads to clear enough for Papa T. and his siblings to get to her house. By this time, they were worried sick about that frail 83-year old woman who was all alone. When they arrived, she didn't come to the door. They went in, searched the house frantically and finally found her in the basement. She was toasty warm thanks to the fire she had built in the fireplace. She had a makeshift bed set up and was eating food she had canned in the summer. She was rocking in her rocking chair beside the fire, reading her bible and old issues of the Reader's Digest. She didn't understand what all of the fuss was about and sent them home. After all, she survived for years without electricity and indoor plumbing. A little ice was nothing. They sheepishly tucked their tails and drove away from the farm, scratching their heads and laughing. I think of her every time we get an ice storm and laugh at what a candy butt I can be when my electricity goes out for an hour, even though I grew up in the sticks. My generation just doesn't compare to her's. I don't care what anyone says.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ice, Ice Baby

This is what folks in this area woke up to today.

I work in the utility business. Mmmmhmmm. Gotta go. I have to get back to eating bon bons and filing my nails.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Return to Sender

Well, I got on the wrong list somehow. I received a Victoria’s Secret catalog, and I don’t know why. I’m too cheap to spend any money in that store, and haven’t given them my name or address that I can recall. I took a little gander at the catalog though, just in case I get a wild urge to blow $200 on a pair of undies. It confirmed my suspicions that there was nothing in there for me.

The bikini bottoms wouldn’t cover up my old pregnancy stretch marks below my belly button. In fact, they would barely cover my bottom. None of the suits is made for folks with figure flaws. The one swimsuit top that mentions extra support only goes up to a size 38 B-C. That’s not support. That’s a liner. The blue satin baseball hat that says “Sexy Little Thing” is on sale for $5.99, but I couldn’t wear that in public without laughing. The long pink satin gloves with sparkles are just $9.99 and the matching faux fur mini skirt is just $6.99 but those seem a little over the top, don’t cha’ think? The winter pajamas are on sale, too but they all seem a little brief for winter weather. We have mild winters in Kentucky, but I would still freeze my patookus off in that stuff. Besides, they would clash with my fuzzy bed socks and chenille robe. That leaves a few tanks and turtlenecks, but what’s the point of wearing a turtleneck is it has a big hole in the back? Won’t that be a little cold? Oh, there was a lovely sweater dress that I would actually wear, but it’s on sale for $75, and that’s still not cheap enough for me. When it gets to $40, we’ll talk. Hey, is that a pair of over the knee leopard print boots? Oh wait. Halloween isn’t for another ten months.

Sigh. I knew better than to look at that book. I knew it would just make me feel old and confused. I need to trade with Teen Angel. She got an offer on cemetery lots and funeral preplanning. She’s on the wrong list, too.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling

Brothers and sisters, if you are not right with the Lord you need to get right. The end is coming soon. Of this I am sure. How do I know? Yesterday I came home from work to find that my darling 15-year daughter, without any prompting by an adult, had cleaned out and organized one of my kitchen cabinets. I kid you not. If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'. See?

By the way, those Dove chocolates are NOT mine. I promise. I don't like dark chocolate. Not one tiny bit. Now, milk chocolate is an entirely different thing. I can't tell you why I have two bags of lentils, either. And can you tell we are mandarin orange freaks? Anyway, she cleaned, sorted, tossed and organized until it looked all neat and tidy. She even thought about alphabetizing the canned goods but knew that system wouldn't last with me, so she refrained from doing so. Whew! Thank goodness I dodged that bullet.
She says she was looking for something, couldn't find it because of all the clutter and started cleaning out of frustration, which is the only way I'm ever prompted to clean a cabinet, so I completely understand her reasoning. I just can't believe it. That's why I'm a little concerned that the rapture is near. Let's face it. It has to be one of these reasons:
A. The end is near as I just mentioned

B. She inherited her father's annoying OCD tidy gene and it is just now surfacing

C. She wants something and she's buttering me up

D. We are not complete failures as parents and she is maturing nicely
Well, she hasn't asked for anything yet and she is incredibly sloppy in other ways, so I don't think the answer is B or C. D doesn't seem plausible either since we screw up in our parental duties on a regular basis. It has to be A. So get down on your knees, brothers and sisters, and repent of your sins. Say some Hail Mary's, summon the Dahli Lama, rub Buddah's belly or do whatever you need to do to get ready. Ice crystals are forming at Satan's palace as we speak.
By the way, Teen Angel got a big hug and kiss over this one. I love that child. Have I mentioned that lately?

Friday, February 8, 2008

My Friend Cindy

Today’s post is for Cindy. You don’t know Cindy, but I wish you could meet her. She’s my nail technician, and she’s my friend, too. She’s been doing my nails for nearly four years because I was not born with the girly girl gene and can’t file or paint my fingernails worth spit. It’s probably because I chewed them to nubs for 38 years and didn’t get any nail painting practice. Since I sit in meetings with elected officials and business leaders, it’s important that my hands be presentable, so I’ve handed off that task to someone who’s much better at it than I, Miss Cindy. Left to my own devices, my hands would look like gerbil toes. Cindy is waaaay too shy to let me post her photo here, but trust me, she’s a lovely Asian lady with wavy brown hair, glittering eyes and a Mona Lisa smile. She’s also the focus of my favorite love story, and I feel compelled to share it since we’re so close to Valentine’s Day.

Cindy is 45 and was born into poverty in Vietnam. She didn’t come to the United States until a few years ago. Ever since she landed in this country she has been going to school, first to become a nail tech. Then she opened her shop and worked afternoons and evenings so she could attend cosmetology school fulltime during the day, on top of being a mother and wife. She has an unbelievable work ethic and spent every spare minute studying. She took a little break on Sundays to clean house and do laundry. She did this for two years and passed her boards this past summer with nearly perfect scores. She has expanded her shop and is supervising other hair dressers. Her next step is to obtain U.S. citizenship. She has no idea she is an example of how immigration is supposed to work in this country. She’s just trying to better herself.

When we first met, she could barely communicate with me because her English was so bad. It still needs some work, but she’s come a long way and has even picked up some southern slang. While she files and clips and paints my nails every few weeks, we talk about life and family, and she answers my many questions about Vietnam and her life there. She has shared with me the trials of growing up desperately poor in a harsh country. She didn’t have a toothbrush until she was twelve. The dental care she received prior to coming here was done with little pain medication. She began working on farms when she was a child to help earn money to put food in her family’s mouths. She and her two sisters shared one pair of dress pants that was used for special occasions. Her first marriage resulted in her essentially being a slave to her mother in law and her husband’s family. The quality of medical care in Vietnam, according to Cindy, was based upon your ability to pay extra money to hospital staff. During one hospital stay, her husband paid extra so she wouldn’t have to share a bed with another patient. Yes, I said bed. He also paid a nurse to change Cindy’s sheets after she had lain for several hours in her own pee because no one had taken her a bed pan and she was too sick to get up on her own. Her stories always make me feel grateful for what I have and for being born in a country that affords so many opportunities. Cindy is extremely grateful for those opportunities now. As much as I have enjoyed hearing about her struggles in life, my favorite story is about her struggle with love.

She says she knew on her wedding day she was making a mistake. Her sister tried to talk her out of it, but Cindy was an old maid in her country, 25 years old, and her father was embarrassed that she was still single. She said “I do” and tried to make the best of it but hated living with her in laws and doing all of their housework as was the tradition at the time. After several years with a man she didn’t love and the birth of a daughter that couldn’t keep them together, they divorced. Well into her thirties, she started a new life and began looking for a new love. She had never forgotten the dimpled faced young man she had met years before in the farm fields near her childhood home. She was twelve years old when she first met Andrew and immediately developed a crush on him, but he was a little older than she and didn’t have time for little girls. He was saving money for engineering school.

It had been years since she had seen Andrew, but she longed to connect with him again. Cindy had a sister living in Australia who was friends with Andrew’s sister. Cindy called her up, found out where Andrew was and took the bold step of calling him. Apparently, he had been smitten with the tiny dark haired girl in the fields all those years ago and was quite pleased that she had tracked him down. He was still single. It wasn’t long before they began dating and married months later. Soon after the wedding, they headed to the United States where Andrew lined up a great engineering job. By the way, all of his numerous brothers and sisters are doctors. They’ve come a long way from their poor beginnings.

While I could leave you with that happy ending, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this little tidbit, which demonstrates the depth of Andrew’s love for Cindy. When she got to the U.S. she wanted to get her nail tech certification but knew she’d never make it through the classes and the exams because she spoke such little English. So Andrew signed up too and went to nail school with her. He learned how to do nails, so he could teach her. He basically taught her English and helped her through long tedious hours of translation and study. She passed her tests and became a certified tech. So did Andrew. He can do nails, too, but he’s not very good at it. I won't let him polish my fingernails, cause he's kind of messy in a really sweet way. He sticks to the simple stuff, helping out only in a jam, but he’s there whenever she needs him, like he was in the beginning. She is Americanized to the point that she calls him “honey” all the time now, and she seems as grateful for his love as she does the chance to be in the land of the opportunity. Now that, my friends, is a romantic story.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Just Keep Waving

Automatic-Made so that certain parts act in a desired manner at the proper time.
Webster’s Dictionary

I think Webster’s has made a mistake. I am surrounded by automation these days, and none of it operates like it’s supposed to when I want it to. I am especially challenged when it comes to making the automated equipment in public restrooms work. I can’t get out of the bathroom without a wave, a stomp, two twists and a thumbs up. I liked it much better when I was responsible for my own flushing, washing and drying. I’m glad all that automation is there to help the disabled and handicapped, but if they have as much trouble operating it as I do, it’s not helping them much.

There is the dispenser that shoots paper towels at you when you wave your hands in front of the sensor. Only, the paper never comes out for me. I wave like the Queen of England in front of that little light but nothing happens. I wave close up, then waaaay back and along the sides, hoping for one little piece of paper towel. Yet, I get nothing. During a full moon on the second Sunday of a month starting with the letter “Q” in a leap year it starts to come out but then jams up, revealing about an inch of paper. Just enough to grasp and yank out more paper….in pieces about the size of a quarter, all of which have to be wadded together in order to form a bundle barely large enough to dry my thumbs. The air dryers aren’t much better. The ones I come in contact with usually don’t work when you push the big silver button. You have to give it a Sugar Ray Leanord whack in order to jumpstart the dadgum thing. By the time you’ve finished drying your hands, your movie has already started.

I have the same problem with the motion sensor faucets. Once again, I wave like Miss America but get….nothing. After trying several sinks I usually yield enough water to wet one hand but not the other. They’re certainly a fine water conservation tool. I’ll give ‘em that.

My latest nemesis is the automatic soap dispenser. Suddenly, they are everywhere I go, and I can’t get the knack of them. They give me soap all right. I just can’t catch it. I pull my hand back too fast, leaving a wad of foamy soap on the bathroom counter. Every…single…time. It takes me two, sometimes three tries to catch the soap. This my friends, is why I don’t play basketball. Can you say lack of hand-eye coordination?

My ineptness reached an all time high this week when I was attending a fundraiser for the local hospital. Sissy and I went to the bathroom and came out laughing hysterically because, well, that’s what we do when we’re together. No, actually it was because I couldn’t get the toilet to flush. It flushed when I stepped into the stall but wouldn’t flush when I was finished. I waved. I moved. I looked for a button. There was none. I stepped back from the commode. I stepped toward it. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I thought perhaps the motion sensor was waiting for some kind of movement from my lower half, so I waved my backside at it. Nothing. I waved a little more vigorously, and then realized what I was doing and got tickled. Out of control tickled. I KNOW my fanny is big enough to catch that tiny beam of light. I opened the door to explain the problem to Sissy, and as we were standing there debating my next move, the darn toilet flushed on its own. Hubby doesn’t understand why it takes me so long in a public restroom. It’s because I have a college degree but can’t figure out how to flush a toilet. I hope they don’t get a wild idea to install automatic toilet paper dispensers any time soon. I'll never get out of there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

After The Storm

While tornadoes bounced around our part of the country last night, they didn’t touch this little corner of Kentucky. It appears we got really lucky. Daylight brought word of dozens of deaths and devastating damage in the nation’s midsection. The news coming out of Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama and other parts of Kentucky is horrible and will probably get a little worse before it gets better. It’s at times like these that I don’t miss being in the news business. This region has suffered the wrath of twisters a few times, and it is no fun to be in the middle of such devastation and pain. I’ve stood beside folks who have lost everything, watched people pick through the rubble of their homes and witnessed the strength of beaten up communities. Despite the public perception of reporters, I can tell you they do not enjoy witnessing tragedy.

Journalism has changed a lot since I became a part of it twenty four years ago. (Geez, that number makes me feel old.) I’m old school, and while I find fault with most aspects of television news these days, I do think TV stations are usually at their best when providing warnings during severe storms. They’re helping to save lives, for goodness sake and sometimes putting their own lives at risk in the process. Some of the work I’m most proud of during my time as News Director of our local TV station came during a tornado outbreak five years ago. It was also a turning point in my decision to change careers.

I got a call from our 10 o’clock newscast producer around 8:30pm. The projections from the National Weather Service sounded severe and it was my practice to head to the station if we were in for really severe weather. By 9:50pm the skies were in chaos, and the warnings were rolling in quickly. Minutes away from the start of the newscast, I took my producer by the shoulders, told him to throw out the newscast he had just spent four hours writing and be ready to wing it. I could hear his ulcer start to churn. I relayed the same message into the earpieces of our anchors and watched them frown. Thirty minutes without a script is nerve wracking. Thirty minutes ended up being two hours of non-stop coverage. Numerous tornadoes pummeled our area that night. At least one was an F-4. It cut a wide path from one side of my home county to the other side. We gave warning after warning, spoke live on the air to emergency services staff trying to get safety information to the public and heard from eyewitnesses who couldn’t believe what they had seen. The most touching moment came when a woman called us and asked for help in locating her husband. She was so desperate she gave out his cell phone number over the air. A little while later, a complete stranger to this woman called to say she had contacted the man, and he was okay. It was genuine and oh so raw.

On the scanner we could hear the desperate search for missing people and the calls for a coroner. Under my breath I muttered, “This is bad, really bad”. Very softly, the director said, “Yes”. We could also hear the warning sirens outside the station walls. The tornadoes were all around us and moving closer. At one point a funnel cloud was very near the station. The sirens outside our station were audible on the air as our meteorologist relayed to viewers how close the funnel cloud was to us. The producer looked at me, and said, “Where do WE go?” I said, “Nowhere. We’re supposed to stay right here.” The significance of that hit him, and I could see the fear in his eyes. I hoped he couldn’t see the fear in mine. I wanted so badly at that moment to be at home with my family. In the midst of barking out orders, I had managed a quick call home to tell my family to take cover. I wanted to be huddled in our hallway with them. Instead, I had to take care of our viewers. I didn't like putting them before my family.

The funnel cloud passed over us, but I barely had a chance to catch my breath because the damage reports started rolling in, and they were in places where my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived. It was really bad, and it was all around my friends and family. I wanted to throw up.

I managed another quick call, this time to my mother. She and my baby brother were okay. Daddy was okay, too. He had clocked out at his security job at the local college as the storm started but had stayed put to wait out the weather. Good thing. If he had driven home at his normal time, he would probably have driven right into the path of the tornado. Super Cop was fine, too. By morning we would learn that the tornado had destroyed the home of my aunt and uncle while they were camping at a local campground. They rode out the storm in the bathhouse of the campground while the twister was tearing up their house. It also destroyed my cousin’s daughter’s house. It blew away the homes of family friends. An old neighbor of ours and her husband went flying through the air in bathtubs when the tornado wiped out their house. They both ended up in the hospital. They never found their truck. We assumed it ended up at the bottom of the lake on their property. Another friend grabbed the leg of his son and barely managed to hold onto the boy as the suction of the storm tried to pull him away. Everywhere I turned I heard stories about someone I knew. This storm was personal.

Our coverage that night was superb. We didn’t sensationalize. We didn’t dramatize. We simply told real stories and worked to protect people. In the days that followed, we were sensitive to people’s pain and respectful in our story telling. I was very proud of our work, but I didn’t feel good. That’s because I knew I didn’t want to be in the middle of the chaos any more. It was getting too hard to tell stories about people I knew, a hazard of covering news in the area where you grew up, and I was tired of running toward storms instead of huddling with my family when there was a chance we might all get blown away. I was staring my 40th birthday in the eyes but feeling much older. The business was making me very old, very fast, and it was always pulling me away from my family. There was a twister of another kind brewing inside me, and it would take about a year for it to finally blow over. When it did, I had made a career change that lessened my stress, gave me the opportunity to be creative and allowed me to spend much more time with my family. I have never looked back. It always amazes me how bright the sun seems after a storm.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Name That Tune

We were rolling through the Rockies
We were up above the clouds
When a station out of Jackson played that song
And it seemed to fit the moment
And the moment seemed to freeze
When we turned the music up and sang along
The Song Remembers When/Trisha Yearwood

Have you ever had a moment when you were having such a great time or something important was happening to you and the music on the radio fit the moment so well that you knew you would always remember that blip in time? And now every time you hear that song, you automatically think of that moment, no matter how long ago it was? I love this Trisha Yearwood song because it captures those times so well. I have a handful of landmark songs from my younger days. I purposefully keep them out of my iPod, because I don’t want them at my fingertips. I’m afraid if I play them too often they won’t seem so special. I like stumbling across them on the radio when I least expect it. I hadn’t stumbled across one in a long time until this past Saturday. I was channeling through the stations on my way to the grocery store when I happened upon the Turtles and suddenly I was seventeen again and Happy Together with my friends.

May, 1982. A week after prom and two weeks before graduation. The die was cast, our grades were totaled, and we were all racing towards the finish line of our high school education. I, along with all of my buds, was suffering from senior-itis. We were done with the big tests. We had ordered our caps and gowns, and we were giddy with the anticipation of our last summer together before college scattered us to different corners of the country. We were bent on having a good time, and I was certainly having a good time on that particular Sunday afternoon. It was sunny and warm, perfect convertible weather. My friends, J. and G., had picked me up in a green Carmen Gia convertible, and we were cruising through the streets of my little hometown with the top down and the radio turned up. J. and G. were the kind of friends you have a good time with no matter what you’re doing. The kind of friends who never make you mad and always make you belly laugh when you’re together. The kind of friends who embrace your flaws and defend you even if you’re wrong. The kind of friends who are hard to find when you’re an adult. The three of us were in rare form that day, laughing and singing and soaking up the sun. Happy Together came on the radio and we automatically started singing it…together…loudly. We sang the whole song, and when it was over we were silent for a minute or two. All of us were deep in thought, no doubt reflecting on how perfect the moment was. I knew then that I would always remember that moment.

We were so innocent then. We had no idea how quickly our worlds would change. Within two years J. would be having her first baby and abandoning her basketball scholarship and college plans. Within eight years G. would be dead of AIDS. He was gay when it wasn’t cool to be gay in a small rural town. He suffered a lot of ridicule as he struggled with his sexuality. In fact, a year after our rendition of Happy Together he was beaten up by a group of rednecks as we left a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They didn’t like his Frank N. Furter costume.

The three of us drifted apart while J. and I were at different colleges and G. was trying to find his way. I haven’t seen J. in 23 years. I miss her. I miss G.. But I could hear them with me in the car last Saturday, singing with The Turtles as I sat in the parking lot of the Food Giant. The song really does remember when, doesn’t it?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Doggone It

I’ve decided that having a dog is a lot like having a child. They cost almost as much to feed and keep healthy and take as many attitude adjustments. Take our dog, Jack. He’s six years old. That’s 42 years old in people years, but he acts like a three year old. I’ve already established that we’re crazy dog people. I’ll admit it. It’s our fault for spoiling him, but he is so gosh darn cute it’s hard not to. Just like a child. We have to spell the words “bone” and “bye-bye” because he knows what these mean and will have a barking, jumping, hissy fit if he hears them. He will then drive us crazy begging for a car ride or a bone. He’s LOVES to ride in the car, but he really loves Hubby’s old Ford truck. When it leaves the garage, he waits patiently for the return of that loud, rumbling motor.

He sits right here, by the window. (Note the throne.) He will sit for hours, hoping Old Blue will pull up and take him for a ride so he can hang his head out the window and sniff the smorgasbord of a million smells that populate the highway. He also knows that he gets treats when he goes through the drive-thrus of the bank, the drug store and the liquor store. He hit the treat trifecta one day last summer when Hubby stopped at all three places. It took two days for the rotten mutt to come down off that Milk Bone high. I thought we were going to have to stage an intervention.

If he doesn’t get a ride, he whimpers. Just like a kid. Then he pouts.

Like this. He sighs and sighs, showing us how annoyed he is that his peeps didn’t give in to his whims. And just like a child, he will ignore us if we try to talk to him.

See. I was inches away from his ear in this picture, and he wouldn’t even look at me. He wouldn’t acknowledge my existence. He banished me from his personal space, and refused to listen to anything I had to say. It made me want to pick him up by the scruff of the neck with my teeth and cart him off to the time out corner….and ground him from any treats. After all, I’m in charge, right? Right??

Saturday, February 2, 2008

I'm "It" Again

I got tagged again. This time it was by Jason. That's okay. I tagged him first and turnabout is fair play. I sure have been playing a lot of tag this week. That's okay. I love tag. I always did when I was a kid, especially when I played it in the dark with my buddies. My favorite tag memories are of playing with my cousins on sticky summer nights at grandma M's house. It didn't happen very often because they all lived several hours away from us and grandma. Occasionally, they came to visit during the summer though. Zeke had seven brothers and sisters and they all had lots of kids. That means I have a lot (and I mean a LOT) of cousins. They were all older than me, so I thought it was really cool when they let me play with them. We would cover half a block with our tag games, chasing each other silly until we collapsed on the front porch in need of a water break. I was so much younger than the rest of my cousins that I did pretty well during those games. It's hard to catch small, wirey people. When we got too tired to chase each other, we chased lightening bugs. I didn't get too many of those summers because my cousins all grew up before I did and turned to more mature interests like cars and dates. It was fun while it lasted.

I have digressed, but all of this talk about tag stirred up some old memories and they just came bubbling out. Thanks for your patience. Off to the real purpose of this post. I'm not tagging anyone with this one. I'm a little tired now and could use a tall glass of cold water. Anyone want to chase lightening bugs later? Oh yeah, I forgot. It's too cold for lightening bugs. Reason #998 that I don't like winter.

How long have you been blogging?
One year. I can't believe it's been a whole year. It feels like I just got in a groove with this blog thing about three months ago.

What inspired you to start your blog, and who are your mentors?
I was looking for a way to develop the habit of writing each day. I would like to write a novel and have a file full of various ideas, notes & newspaper clippings. I was searching for a way to get started and thought developing a daily writing habit would be the first step. After reading janjanmom's blog a few times, I started investigating the blogging world and decided it would be a good way to start writing on a regular basis. It has really fullfilled its purpose. Mentors? Hmmm. I have to give janjanmom credit for exposing me to this world and planting the seed. I read many blogs and am always looking for new ones. I find inspiration in reading posts from all kinds of folks from all over the world. Hearing about their daily struggles when it comes to relationships, child rearing and personal growth gives me insight, hope and and education. Some blogs, like the Pioneer Woman's, are just fun because of the recipes and name that photo contests. I don't know how long I will blog. At some point I will have to jump out there and start that novel, and I'm not sure I'll have time for both. I hope so, though.

Are you trying to make money online or are you doing it just for fun?
Heaven's no. I'm not savvy enough about personal webpages to make it pay for me. Besides, that would require more maintenance and time than I currently have.

What 3 things do you love about being online?
Meeting new friends from different places like Jason in California or Oreneta in Spain. I think it's pretty dadgum cool that someone living on the coast or in another country would take the time to stop by my little corner of the web to see what I'm up to. I love having a forum in which I can talk about anything I like. I'm a big lover of the First Amendment, and am grateful for the opportunity to use it. Also, I like that friends of mine who live many miles away (shout out to Louisiana and Cruise Mom) can stop by here and stay in touch with me.

Chat and IM?
Goodness, no. I just don't have the time. I barely have time to do this.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Coastal Confessions

If you recall I was tagged earlier this week by Swampy for a meme. See the rules in Tuesday’s post below. I opted to use song title and lyrics. I love a well written song. I’m an old rock n’ roller, but I like artists who pen a well turned phrase, even if I don’t care for their voice or their musical style. I have an appreciation for folks like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Alan Jackson, Rickie Lee Jones and Neil Young. Lordy, those folks can write good music. While most people tend to get lost in melodies, I lose myself in the lyrics. There is no denying I have a love affair with words.

I wrote a song last year and had a friend write the music for me. I loved hearing it come together and performed for me. One of my fantasies is to write a song and have it recorded by someone who sings professionally. Someday, maybe. So it was no surprise that song titles came to mind first when contemplating my approach to this meme. Since I’m a fan of Jimmy Buffett and all things tropical, I decided to go with a JB theme. After all, he’s one of the kings of songwriting. While many of his songs seem kind of silly at first, you’ll often find deep thoughts within the verses. The man is not just about cheeseburgers and cocktails. I’ve used one of Jimmy’s song titles for each category and some lyrics from that song to reflect something about me. I’m hopelessly, recklessly in love with his lyrics because they speak to my flip flop tappin’ feet and my Caribbean soul. So, sit back, grab a margarita and learn eight random things about me. Cue the steel drums, please.

1. Visual-Spatial-“A Pirate Looks at Forty”
Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters
since I was three feet tall.
You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all.
Have you figured out yet that I love the ocean and yearn to be near it more often?

2. Verbal-Linguistic-“Coastal Confessions
They say that time is like a river
and stories are the key to the past
but now I’m stuck in between
here at my typing machine
tryin’ to come up with some words that will last.
I’d like to write a book one day. For now I’ll scribble on these pages.

3. Musical-Rhythmical-“They Don’t Dance Like Carmen No More”
She had a big hat. My, it was high
Had bananas and mangos all piled to the sky
And how she could balance them, I wouldn’t dare
‘Cause they don’t dance like Carmen nowhere.
This is one of my favorite Halloween costumes.

4. Bodily-Kinesthetic-“Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”
According to my watch the time is now
Past is dead and gone
Don’t try to shake it just nod your head
Breathe in, Breathe out, move on.
My thoughts exactly. Shake it off and move forward.

5. Interpersonal-“The Wino and I Know”
Cause I’m livin’ on things that excite me,
Be they pastries or lobsters or love;
I’m just tryin’ to get by being quiet and shy,
In a world full of pushin’ and shove.
Well, I’m not quiet or shy, but I do search for quiet. I try to keep the pace easy in this hustle bustle world, while squeezing in a lot of excitement.

6. Intrapersonal-“Desperation Samba”
Don’t know where I’m going
Don’t like where I’ve been
There may be no exit
But hell I’m going in.
Life is too short to be afraid of trying new things, brothers and sisters. Join me in jumping in with both feet. For the list of things I have left to do, see my Bucket List.

7. Naturalistic-“Scarlet Begonias
She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes
and I knew without askin’ she was into the blues.
She wore scarlet begonias trucked into her curls.
I knew right away she was not like other girls, other girls.
I’m generally not like other girls, and at this stage in life, I’m content with my uniqueness. I just don’t care if people like me because I like myself, and that’s enough.

8. Logical-Mathematical-“Changes in Latitudes
Oh, yesterdays are over my shoulder,
So I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me,
And I know that I just can’t go wrong.
There’s so much I want to see and so little time. I try not to waste my time swimming in waters that are underneath the bridge.