Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fun Monday-Neighbors

This week's host is Ari_1965, and this week's topic is neighbors. This should be interesting. I can't wait to read everyone's posts. Here is the specific assignment:

Tell us about your all-time worst Neighbors from Hell. You know, the family of Irish clog dancers who once lived in the flat/apartment above you? Mrs. Nextdoor and her banshee-like multiple orgasms? Mr. and Mrs. Hard-of-Hearing with their television on full blast? The guys across the street who set off 4th of July fireworks starting in March and didn't stop until the first real snowfall?

I have to say, I've always been lucky with neighbors. Oh, there was the occasional dud when I was young and single and living in apartments. I had a woman who lived above me who was quite amorous and didn't mind letting everyone hear it. There was the family who lived in an apartment below me and Hubby when we first got married who had a pack of dogs they allowed to crap everywhere, including our doorstep. Nice. But overall, we've had great neighbors. We love our current neighbors. In fact, we make homemade goodies that we hand deliver to them at Christmas. The most interesting of these neighbors is a gentleman who is in his upper 80's, and has been married three times. His first wife died of cancer, and let's just say the two wives that followed were doozies. Both were mail order brides. One came from China, and they didn't get along very well. He ended up shipping her home at her request. The other one was an elderly woman who seemed okay at first, and then became kind of a gold digger. They parted company, and she got a nice settlement out of the mess. Soon after she moved away I was sifting through some old books she gave me when she left, and discovered check stubs from several previous husbands she had received settlements from. Me thinks she made this a habit. Despite his bad luck, this particular neighbor hasn't lost his yearn for affection. Currently, he has a girlfriend that he travels with and dates.

He still likes to party every now and then, too. Several months ago, we kept seeing a cab in his driveway on Friday evenings. Hubby finally got curious and asked him about it. Come to find out, he was using the cab to get back and forth to a regular party with friends because he didn't want to get a DUI. He was spending a ton of money on the cabs even though the party was only a few minutes away from his house. Hubby told him he'd take him to and from his parties. So, every now and then he calls Hubby for his ride. Hubby picks up him and his grocery sack of beverages and bar supplies, drops him off at precisely 5:30pm and brings him and the sack home at exactly 10:30pm. Hubby is neighborly that way, and besides, we figure at age 86 he's entitled to party if he wants to, especially if he avoids driving.

He is full of life, and I love him to death. He had become somewhat weak in the last year, but he still rides his bicycle every day, still likes the women and wine and knows how to have a good time. I hope I'm lucky enough to feel that way when I'm his age. Thanks for stopping by. Now, trot on over to Ari_1965 and meet everyone else's neighbors.

We Interrupt The Regularly Scheduled Blogging For...Thanksgiving Vacation

Not that we went anywhere, other than a forty minute drive to Mama's house for ham (because we roll with the ham) and dressing, one or two desserts and a whole mess of sides. Somehow the last few days have slipped away, and suddenly I've gone three days without posting. And since I still have to pull dinner out of and wash a load of clothes, here's a quick round of catch-up. Ready, set, go!

Thursday-delicious meal, good company, quality new baby holding time.
Friday-Errands, errands, errands! Beginning with the dog groomer and ending with three hours of work related to the community holiday lighting display. Oh, and 8pm leftovers of ham, and dressing and cranberry relish.
Saturday-6 mile run (Speaking of pulling stuff out of my ear), shopping and a great lunch that included a darned good tangerine grapefruit margarita and chocolate macaroon cake. Quiet time at home followed with popcorn and a good book.
Today-Church, lunch and more quiet time with a book. Sweet.

No time to comment on your sites but..... Jason-I'm so sorry you're struggling with strep and good luck with the manscaping. Oreneta-I'm terribly sorry about your uncle. Happy birthday Kelly With Amy's Angels, and I know exactly what you mean about the Racers. Amy-love the photo of you and your husband on your sidebar. janjanmom-So glad to hear that the daughter is coming along so nicely with her pie making skills. Lew-I am a football idiot, so I have no input on the Tennessee thing. Sorry. Mia-glad the Thanksgiving holiday was great. Trailboss-that granddaughter of yours is cute as a bug's ear, and aren't you a lucky gal for getting out of cooking. Debbie-those flamingo pajamas are the bomb, and I so want those on my Christmas list. Swampy-love the marshmallow caterpillars. There are more, but I have to run. The washer is calling me. And the stove.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Day Before Thanksgiving at the Grocery Store

Whereas the parking lot equals this:
And making it down the spice aisle without injury requires this:While doing a little of that:
And the bread aisle is all whuh:
And the frozen roll freezer is all nuh uh:
Oh, and never mind the tired clerk who's all :when you politely ask if there is any more sage in the back.
Which equals I'm a big fat loser for failing to get everything I need ahead of time so I don't have to visit the grocery on the day before Thanksgiving yet another year in a row.
Blessings to each and every one of you, my friends on this holiday.
*Images courtesy of:,, and

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Phoning it In

Because I am behind at work, juggling three major projects, haven't EVEN started the cornbread for the dressing or checked on whether or not any of the Hula-gen's have clean underwear, I'm taking the easy way out today. I lifted this from Jason who lifted it from Pumpkin Delight. Enjoy, and if anybody needs me I'll be eating bon bons and watching the Dancing With The Stars finale...I mean doing laundry.

Where is your cell phone - purse
Your hair color - San Tropez
Your mother - silly
Favorite thing - laughter
Your dream last night - nightmare
Your dream goal -novel
The room you're in -bedroom
Your hobby - writing
Your fear - SNAKES!
Where do you want to be in 6 years - content
Where were you last night - home
What you're not - quiet
One of your wish list items-serenity
Where you grew up - country
The last thing you did - ran
What are you wearing - jammies
Your TV-McDreamy
Your pet- loving
Your computer -full
Your mood - nostalgic
Missing someone - Grandma
Your car - sporty
Something you're not wearing - makeup
Favorite shop - impossible
Your summer - short
Love someone - family
Favorite color - Red!
When you last laughed - today
When you last cried - today

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fun Monday-High Times

The lovely Mariposa is this week's hostess, again. God Bless her for doing it more than once this year. She wants to hear about those high moments of our life, specifically:

If you could share with us 3-5 high moments in your lives...this could be funny moments...the you can't believe you did it moments...the "I told you so" moments...or the times we asked the ground to go open and eat us moments! You need not write a book to explain them, the highlights will do.

When I think about the times in my life that have given me a natural "high" I tend to think about those monumental life changing moments, such as marriage and childbirth, but I don't think that's what she's looking for. I think she wants to hear something a little more interesting, something a little more revealing about us. So I've chosen some times that aren't necessarily the most important or the biggest, but they were certainly unforgettable, and each came with a very important lesson.

1. Age 12-Deciding that riding down a really tall gravel covered hill on my bicycle was the quickest way home and realizing within the first ten feet that it was a mistake. My feet flew off the pedals, I crashed and burned and had scabbed over knees for nearly the entire summer. Lesson- The shortest path is not always the best path to take, and sometimes the road that looks the easiest, isn't.

2. Age 16-Insisting on driving my little Chevette "to town" on an icy Friday night not fit for man or beast because I was afraid I'd miss some teenage excitement despite my dad's warnings that I needed to stay home. I slid right into the ditch as I left the driveway and had to walk back to the house and ask him to pull me out of the ditch. Lesson-Sometimes you should just shut up and listen.

3. Age 7-Jumping on the bed so high that I bounced off and hit the wall with my head, practically knocking myself out. Lesson-Too much of a good thing can be bad.

4. Age 38-Trying to add water to the water bed when the hose popped off the nozzle and started dancing around the bedroom, spraying water all over the place. Neat freak Hubby found me sitting in the floor laughing hysterically with water dripping from the ceiling. Lesson-Sh*t happens, and life is messy. Laughter helps you to get through it.

5. Age 41-Wiping out at the bottom of a water slide, wiping the water out of my eyes and realizing that I was standing in front of roughly sixty people with my swimsuit top wrapped around my waist and the girls hanging out. Lesson-Sometimes you're left standing naked in the middle of the field, and you just have to yank up your pride- er straps-and mooooove on.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Out of the North

I stand in the dark waiting for the dog to finish his business and look to the stars to see if any are winking at me tonight. No. Only clouds. A harsh wind whips my face and takes me by surprise. Where did that come from? I wasn't expecting it. It drives through my coat and chills me. It's gusty. Maybe 18-20 miles an hour. I shiver in the shadow of the tall pine tree and realize the wind is a metaphor for the storm brewing with my alcoholic friend in the past twenty four hours. Like a bitter wind this latest chaos struck when I least expected it and settled into my bones, making it hard to breathe. The ripples from this storm are only beginning to spread across this sea of insanity. The wind is bitter, and it's not done blowing yet. Is this what they mean by Winter of Discontent? How long will this one blow and what kind of damage will it leave in its wake? I pull my coat tighter around my chest and head for the door...for shelter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


What do you get the guy who has everything, doesn’t really want anything and won’t give you any idea about what to buy him for his 70th birthday? A surprise party because he hasn’t had one since he was a little boy, and that was a long, long time ago. And because he’s the kind of guy who loves to surprise other people and pull jokes on them, and the whole world would love to get him for a change. So we did. Me and Super Cop and HandyMan…with a little help from mama, whom we’ve decided could never be a spy or a world champion poker player because she stinks at playing secret squirrel games. That woman can’t lie worth a hoot, which is a good thing I guess, unless you’re trying to lure daddy to a surprise party.

Daddy turned 70 Sunday, so we invited 75 of his friends and family members to join us in surprising him at the local community center for a little cake and ice cream, and dinner. And we darn near pulled it off. He said he didn’t catch on until he and mama were about fifteen minutes away from the community center where mama had told him they were attending a potluck for which she had baked cookies. Things just didn’t add up, and by the time he pulled into the parking lot, he had figured it out. I figure if we managed to keep him in the dark until the last minute we did good because there are a whole lot of blathering windy people in our family, including me, which is why I didn’t call mama and daddy in the week before the party, because I just didn’t trust myself. Apparently, Aunt Betty did the same thing because she didn’t trust herself either. Big Aunt Betty, not little Aunt Betty. There are two, and one is big and the other is little, and we have called them that for years, and they don’t mind. Really. HandyMan grilled some burgers and dogs on that honkin’ big grill he has. We had two kinds of cake, chocolate and white. We had a lot of laughs and someone went home with a gallon and a half of pickles because she can’t read and someone else went home with a bunch of sodas because he can’t do math. Here are a few pictures:
We have the arrival.
Or as I like to call it: Hula is a piss poor photographer.

There were hugs.
And guess who grabbed the baby right away. As in before his glasses adjusted to the inside light.Hello! Other family in the house, too! Hey, dad! Over here. Remember us? The people you raised? The people who THREW this party for you? Yeah, when you get a minute you might greet your guests.
He wasn't the only one who wanted to get his hands on the little fella. I'm not naming any names(MAMA!) but SOMEBODY wouldn't turn loose of Special Delivery once she wrestled him away from daddy.As in put the death grip on him and walked away with him "to show him to someone else" when I tried to take him from her three hours into the event. Uh-huh, oh yes she did, girlfriends. I snapped this photo during the 1.3 seconds she was NOT holding Special D.

Some of daddy's guitar pickin' friends came. And lots of family. Did I mention daddy had eight brothers and sisters? These two sisters came.The woman in the middle? That's little Betty. And here's Big Betty. I love her. She's the one who laid a big 'ol hug on Hubby during his first family reunion with this bunch and sent him into a Holy mother of Elmo my family isn't into touching what did you just do seizure. I really love her.
See this table? There was enough hot air there to raise the Hindenburg. Those are daddy's work buddies. Well, now they're retirement buddies. Boy, did they have some fun times when they worked together. More fun than should be allowed at a plant where they handle radioactive materials.
HandyMan did all of the cooking. Hubby helped by smashing his finger in the grill. This is the "Enough With the Camera Already" picture. I threatened to give baby brother a swirly AND a noogie if he didn't smile nice and pretty like his big sister said right now, dang it. And I told Hubby to get the heck out of the way because we weren't making friend egg sandwiches with pickles and mayonnaise for 75 people so his cooking skills were not needed.

He eventually got around to blowing out the candles.And as I looked around I realized that what's going on in front of the camera isn't always as interesting as what's going on behind it.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Advantage to Being Messy and not Putting Things Back Where They Belong Is:

You’re constantly surprised by the things you find in unexpected places, like old Halloween pictures in between some Christmas tablecloths. This had to have been about six years ago because Teen Angel was still growing into her Chic-let teeth. (Note the pager on my waistband.) Have I mentioned how much I love Carmen Miranda? Or how hard it is to balance ten bucks worth of plastic fruit on your head?

Monday, November 17, 2008

'Tis the Season

Here ye, here ye! The lady from the fine pollen and mold laden state of Kentucky would like to declare the following:

Whereas: The eye boogers have begun to develop in the inside corners of my eyes, making it nearly impossible to open them without a warm rag at the unholy hour of 5:30am.

And whereas: The timpani section of the Boston Pops Orchestra has set up a pounding residence inside my head for the next six months much like the Minnesota snowbirds’ trek to Florida.

And whereas: The uncontrollable high speed drip out of my nostrils (always the left first) has reached DEFCON 4 stage requiring a tissue at all times.

And whereas: The chapping of the skin between my nostrils and my upper lip has reached a shade similar to OPI’s Pinking of You.

And whereas: A cappuccino with two Splenda’s, one creamer and a shot of amaretto syrup is necessary to scrape off the layer of crud that accumulates in my throat overnight and gives me that smoky Lauren Bacall voice .

And whereas: A stiff shot of whiskey becomes necessary if the crud hasn’t dissipated by 7pm.

And whereas: I cannot leave the house for even a trip to the Piggly Wiggly without a box of Puffs Plus With Lotion, a half dozen Ricola cough drops and two, count ‘em two kinds of sinus medicine (drowsy and non drowsy).

And whereas: Bending over to tie my shoes brings on a dizzy spell that rivals anything consumed by the Grateful Dead.

And whereas: My cheeks feel like they went ten rounds with George Foreman’s fists.

And whereas: My taste buds go on vacation until the spring thaw and the only thing that tastes good is Chinese hot mustard because it opens up my head thank you Jesus I’ll never sin again if you just let one nostril stay clear.

Let me hereby declare on this seventeenth day of November in the year of our Lord 2008 that allergy and sinus season is in full bloom! (To be followed shortly by sinus infection/bronchitis season.) Boo-yah!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fun Monday-Talisman

Our host this week, the misanthrope (Do you know what that means? If not, you should look it up.) has given us a very intriguing assignment:

Do you have a piece of jewelry or other item that holds great personal significance for you, and that you wear or keep with you every day? Show us a photo of your talisman, and tell us why it is so important to you.

Hints: Your talisman could be your wedding ring…or your lack thereof! Maybe it’s a bracelet or watch that belonged to a beloved relative or friend. Perhaps your item is significant in your faith, if you are of a religious persuasion, or maybe it is a proud symbol of your ethnicity. Maybe it’s something silly, that makes you smile every time you look at it! Maybe your talisman is actually part of you - perhaps you got a tattoo to mark a significant event in your life. I’m also thinking about our recent observation of Veterans’ Day here in the USA: Perhaps you have a loved one who is far away - in the military or otherwise - and you carry a memento of him or her with you every day.
Hmmm. I've never really thought about this before, but I am a creature of habit in some ways, especially when it comes to jewelry. I love jewelry, but I'm kind of a no fuss gal, so I tend to wear the same old pieces over and over, and they are pieces I really enjoy. I have a couple of necklaces featuring blown glass made by local artists, four silver bracelets, a gold bracelet, gold hoop earrings and silver hoops that I rotate. In pondering this assignment though, I realized there are two pieces I'm never without, and they are special to me. So I grabbed the camera, gave my best effort at a hand model pose and snapped away. Try not to notice how dry and chapped my hands are this early in the cold season. Here we go:

A few things to get out of the way first.
A-Scrawniest hands evah! If you've ever wanted to be a skinny girl, let me warn you, besides bird legs that never fit snugly into boots, you will have gnarly, bony hands that show every vein because they have no meat on them. Rejoice if you carry any weight at all in your hands.

B-OPI's Cha-Ching Cherry. Quite possibly the closest thing I have to a signature nail polish, and it's not really that close because I tend to change colors as often as the wind blows. The manicure is courtesy of my nail tech Cindy, who makes me look as if I know how to polish my nails..and file them...and have any sort of semblance of the girly girl gene. Too bad she can't do my makeup every morning. Or my hair.

C-This is my favorite Geoffrey Beene long sleeve 100% cotton shirt. I loved this shirt so much that I bought six of them last year in various colors and wore them to a nub. I had planned to buy more this year. I went into a panic last month when I heard that the Geoffrey Beene stores were going out of business, and I called around the country trying to locate more of these shirts to stockpile. Alas, they were gone since they were last year's item, and after wailing for ten minutes in the ear of the nice gentleman who answered the phone at the Gatlinburg, Tennessee store, I gathered up my dignity, quietly said "thank you" and hung up defeated. If you find these shirts, call me.

Now, on to the important stuff. I am never without my wedding ring. This is the beautiful diamond and band Hubby surprised me with last Christmas. Oh, how I love this ring. I never take it off because I believe if you're married you should wear your ring. It is a symbol. It tells the world something about you, and it keeps you honest. I had to leave mine at the jeweler's last month to have it resized, and I felt completely naked without it. I wear my original wedding rings on my right hand.

The ring is important, but the item I especially want to focus on is this bracelet. It is probably the one thing that comes closest to being a talisman.
I wear it nearly every day. I bought it from the Margaritaville catalog back before everyone had a piece of jewelry with a flip-flop on it. It's my little reminder each day to live life to the fullest. To dance, even when no one else is. To sing out loud, even though I can't carry a tune, and to look for paradise no matter where I am. I bought this not too long after my nephew died and I had promised myself to not take life for granted anymore. This little silver bracelet is a gentle nudge at the end of my arm to keep that promise. And as odd as it sounds, it also helps me to remember during the long dreary winter months that summer is always around the corner. It keeps me hanging on until warm weather returns. It also helps me to dream that maybe one day I'll be able to afford a little cottage in Aruba where I can retire and live out my senior years on the my flip flops. Now then, I've rattled on enought. Trot over to misanthrope's and check out what everyone else is baring...I mean sharing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hula's Theory of Stupidity

Theory #1-The number of stupid people asking stupid questions and doing stupid things correlates directly with the visible size of the moon.
Anyone who works directly with the public knows exactly what I’m talking about because they can tell when there’s a full moon without ever looking at the sky.

Example: From the mouth of the gang banger wannabe in line behind me at Long John Silver’s today—“Dude, I bet it’s hard workin’ here cookin’ fish AND chicken.”

*Image courtesy of

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Greetings from Mexico

The Hula-gen's love mail, good mail that is. Letters, cards, catalogs, a free shipping coupon from J.C. Penney's. We especially love postcards. We rarely get them, so it's exciting when we do. Lo and behold Teen Angel got one yesterday from her buddy Cheryl. Cheryl took a trip to Cozumel and took time to jot T.A. a note.
Cheryl's having a great time. According to her message, she's soaking up the sun and dodging water spouts. Wish we were there with her. That way we could figure out who the heck she is, 'cause even though it was mailed to Teen Angel with the correct name and address, T.A. doesn't know a Cheryl. But we're glad she wrote 'cause it sure did add a little fun to OUR the mailbox.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What the Smell?

What do you do when your house smells like poo? For a couple of weeks our house has had a faint, stinky smell. Not the knock you down good Lord what died in there did your father go to the bathroom can we get a courtesy spray of Glade kind of smell. More of a musty wet can’t quite put my finger on it what IS that smell. It definitely has a robust bouquet and a poo piquant aftertaste. The first thing we did was blame the dog. Isn’t that what everybody does when there’s a stink in the house? Our poor pooch gets blamed for everything from rotten produce left in the crisper too long to every poot expelled where two or more Hula-gen’s are gathered. He’s an easy scapegoat, especially for that flatulence thing, because no one can prove it WASN’T him. Naturally, he was the first source we looked to for this particular smell.

I’ve always tried hard to keep our house from smelling like a dog, but I figured we’ve had a dog long enough that it was bound to happen sometime. The scent seemed strong in the areas where Jack lays every day. This theory earned poor Jack a trip to the groomer for a good scrubbing and haircut and a visit to the vet for that lovely maintenance procedure called “anal gland expression” or as we like to call it “poppin’ the poop glands”. I’m sorry, were you eating breakfast? Well, that didn’t change a thing. I cleaned out the refrigerator. Nothing in there aside from a soggy cucumber and some leftover pasta with marinara cream sauce. “Are you sure it’s not the dog,” I asked. He got a squirt of doggie perfume. We decided that perhaps the area rugs needed cleaning. We doused the rugs in that fragrance in the vacuum cleaner stuff and looked up the number for the Rug Doctor but didn’t call because we weren’t convinced the smell was coming from the rugs, and I’m not paying out the wazoo for rug cleaning unless I’m absolutely sure they need it. Jack got another squirt of perfume. I checked the dishwasher for sour water. Nothing there. “Are you SURE it’s not the dog,” I asked. Jack got his ears cleaned and his bedding washed, much to his annoyance. He hates it when his peeps mess with his bedding. He’s pretty attached to it. See? We were starting to panic when Teen Angel made a breakthrough Sunday and realized she only smelled the stench whenever the heat came on. Aha! It must be in the heating and air system, we thought. We called the heating and air company, and while their guy suspected algae in the drip pan, it was dry as a bone. Nothing, nada, zip. He searched for an hour and a half and found nothing. Back to square one.

Hubby crawled under the house (only because the snakes are probably in hibernation) and searched at length today and found no moisture, no water leaks, no dead animals. Nothing. But still. It smells. He called his plumber friend who suggested a backup of sewer gasses, so now we’re waiting on the sewer folks to come check us. For gas.

In the meantime, we’ve taken to avoiding company. No one is invited inside until we figure this out. Sorry neighbors. Sorry band kids selling fruit. Sorry Mama J.. Everybody is banished to the front porch until we figure out why it smells in our house. And if somebody slips in on us, well, I’ll just have to blame it on the dog. Sorry Jack.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pass me a Tissue

Y'all know I'm a sap who will shed a tear at anything sentimental, including a good Hallmark commercial or a toddler's hug. Well, you know what makes me smile and tear up, all at the same time? Fifty school kids who take a forty minute bus ride to stand in the cold rainy weather, line the block and shout "thank you" and "we love you" to veterans marching in a Veteran's Day parade.With their homemade signs.
And you know what made two tears slide down my cheek? When the veteran in this Jeepwho thought I was with those school kids, slowed down and said solemnly, "Thank you for bringing the kids." Lord help me, it's a good thing no one played Taps or I would have puddled up and slid right down the storm drain.

Monday, November 10, 2008

These Boots Were Made for Talkin'

Ya' know, we all have that one thing, that single thing that no matter how old we get or how confident we are, that is our Achilles Heel. We all have something, even if it's a small thing, that can take us back to a less confident time, say elementary school or high school, in a heartbeat. It's usually something simple that means nothing to someone else, but means everything to us. For's boots. Plain ole' boots. You can poke fun of my hair, question my choice of eye shadow or tell me I'm stupid, and it won't phase me a bit. But let me put on a pair of these, and my self confidence deflates like the burning Hindenburg. Why? Because one look at this in the mirror:
and suddenly I'm fifteen years old. It's the high school drill team all over again. Me yearning for thick sexy calves that stretch these boots to their limits, but getting stuck with bird legs that swim around in them like pencils in a cup. Me feeling like that little dandelion, waiting FOREVER to bloom into a beautiful rose that had the boys lined up asking me to prom. Geez. Will I ever grow out of this? Every fall I dust off my boots thinking this year will be different, that this is the year my legs have magically filled out, and I have overcome, once and for all, an old insecurity. And every year, I get the same result. I guess we all need something to remind us from where we came, so we can see how far we've come, but Lord, what I wouldn't give for some fatter calves.
So I want to know dear readers, what is your tender spot? What is that one thing that makes you feel like a gawky, insecure kid again?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fun Monday-Veteran's Day

Our hostess this week is the lovely janis. She wants us to wave the red, white and blue this week, and I will gladly do that. Here is the specific assignment:

Since Next Tuesday is Veterans Day, I thought it would be nice to salute our Veterans and show our appreciation. Photo requirement of something patriotic.

My salute is to my grandfather, mama's daddy. He's been dead for about twenty years now, but I always think of him on Veteran's Day because of the time he spent in World War II and how it affected him for the rest of his life. In some ways it was as if the war never really ended for him. I don't have a picture of him in his uniform, so this will have to do.

I don't know the year this was taken, but this picture is of him and grandma early in their marriage, so it had to be just prior to him going off to war. Mama was a baby during the war, so grandma was like a lot of other war brides at the time, praying for the good Lord to keep her husband safe while holding things down on the home front. It could not have been easy then, and I doubt it was easy when grandad came home and still had the war raging in his head. For the rest of his life, he lived as if he were still on the battlefield, drinking his coffee as black as tar, eating the greasiest friend eggs you've ever laid eyes on and barking out comments as if they were orders. He was an imposing figure who held court over a room. His recliner was his throne, and no one ever sat in his chair. Even after he died, that chair sat empty most of the time.

By the time I came along some twenty years after the war had ended, grandpa was retired but still telling war stories. He was a well decorated soldier with plenty of stories to share. Some soldiers hold in their war experiences and refuse to talk about them. Others talk about them a lot. Grandpa seemed to talk about them all the time. As a kid, I felt like all he did was talk about the war. I just didn't understand, and it would be years before I did. I usually half listened and went on playing with whatever toy I had at hand or wailing on my brothers. I feel so stupid now. I wish I had listened more. In fact, I wish I had recorded his stories, taken notes and preserved them for future generations. What's that saying? If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, everybody would be happy for Christmas.

There is one story of his heroics that I do remember. I'm fuzzy on the details, but apparently, during a pretty fierce battle in Germany, grandpa bravely climbed a flagpole and tore down the Nazi flag that flew above the city. He tucked it away and brought it home as a war souvenir like so many other veterans did with war relics. He was always proud of the fact that he brought down such a strong symbol of the enemy. Occasionally, he would pull out that flag and show it to us and talk about what he did. I was so young I didn't understand the Holocaust or its effects, but I knew in listening to his voice that he had done something very important and very brave.

That flag is still in our family. My uncle, a Vietnam veteran, has it now. I haven't seen it in years. That kind of relic can be misconstrued, so it has to be presented in the right context. I hope that its story, grandpa's story, is always told when that box is opened. I'm very proud now of what he did. I just regret that he died before I could tell him that I finally understood, that his words weren't in vain....nor his battle scars.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hanging on to Old Shoes

Over the last couple of days friends have relayed to me remarks they've heard from folks regarding the presidential election that are stunning in their prejudice and anger. I know I don't live in the most progressive part of the country, but these comments came from folks that surprised me and my friends with their deep seeded prejudices. It tells me that we climbed a big hurdle this week but still have so far to go. It also made me think about the responsibility we have when that kind of thing happens. While I strive to surround myself with diverse people and learn about other cultures, can I really say that I’m unprejudiced if I don’t call out someone on a racial slur or joke? No. Occasionally, I have spoken up, but sometimes I have bitten my tongue in order to avoid an argument. We are afflicted with politeness in the South. We often choose not to speak up rather than risk offending someone who has offended us. It’s this tolerance for ignorance that keeps us from making positive change, and we, I included, must muster the courage to speak up when we're confronted with the kind of comments I've heard about this week.

I’m posting a column by Eugene Patterson that ran more than 40 years ago, immediately after the Birmingham church bombing that killed four little girls. Patterson was a journalist who always called out people on their prejudices, a brave trait in 1960s Georgia.

I’ve always loved this column. While it was written during a more tumultuous time, its message is still pertinent today. Doing nothing is doing the wrong thing. It’s a good reminder to look deep inside of ourselves before pointing the finger at someone else.

By Eugene Patterson
Atlanta Constitution, September 16, 1963

A Negro mother wept in the street Sunday morning in front of a Baptist Church in Birmingham. In her hand she held a shoe, one shoe, from the foot of her dead child. We hold that shoe with her.Every one of us in the white South holds that small shoe in his hand.It is too late to blame the sick criminals who handled the dynamite. The FBI and the police can deal with that kind. The charge against them is simple. They killed four children.

Only we can trace the truth, Southerner -- you and I. We broke those children’s bodies.We watched the stage set without staying it. We listened to the prologue unbestirred. We saw the curtain opening with disinterest. We have heard the play.

We -- who go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate.

We -- who raise no hand to silence the mean and little men who have their nigger jokes.We -- who stand aside in imagined rectitude and let the mad dogs that run in every society slide their leashes from our hand, and spring.

We -- the heirs of a proud South, who protest its worth and demand it recognition -- we are the ones who have ducked the difficult, skirted the uncomfortable, caviled at the challenge, resented the necessary, rationalized the unacceptable, and created the day surely when these children would die.

This is no time to load our anguish onto the murderous scapegoat who set the cap in dynamite of our own manufacture. He didn't know any better. Somewhere in the dim and fevered recess of an evil mind he feels right now that he has been a hero. He is only guilty of murder. He thinks he has pleased us.

We of the white South who know better are the ones who must take a harsher judgment.We, who know better, created a climate for child-killing by those who don't.

We hold that shoe in our hand, Southerner. Let us see it straight, and look at the blood on it. Let us compare it with the unworthy speeches of Southern public men who have traduced the Negro; match it with the spectacle of shrilling children whose parents and teachers turned them free to spit epithets at small huddles of Negro school children for a week before this Sunday in Birmingham; hold up the shoe and look beyond it to the state house in Montgomery where the official attitudes of Alabama have been spoken in heat and anger.

Let us not lay the blame on some brutal fool who didn't know any better. We know better. We created the day. We bear the judgment. May God have mercy on the poor South that has so been led. May what has happened hasten the day when the good South, which does live and has great being, will rise to this challenge of racial understanding and common humanity, and in the full power of its unasserted courage, assert itself.The Sunday school play at Birmingham is ended.

With a weeping Negro mother, we stand in the bitter smoke and hold a shoe. If our South is ever to be what we wish it to be, we will plant a flower of nobler resolve for the South now upon these four small graves that we dug.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Missing Piece

Yawn. It was a little tough sloughing through the day given the lack of sleep I had last night. The news junkie in me just couldn't go to bed. It was a fascinating election, and I knew we were in the middle of an historic moment. I was afraid to miss any of it. It was the first time in four years I missed working in the news business, and regardless of who you voted for, wouldn't it have been fun to be in Grant Park or in front of the White House or in Harlem last night witnessing the festivities? Oooh, I love witnessing history. I just don't think there will be another presidential race that interesting in my lifetime.

Kudos to President elect Obama for a skillful campaign and the ability to stir such emotion in so many people. John McCain gets a gold star for a good fight and a gracious and moving concession speech. Michelle Obama is one smart cookie, and I look forward to seeing what kind of first lady she is. And won't it be fun to have small children in the White House again? Things are certainly going to be interesting in the months to come, and last night's coverage was compelling for this old journalist. I had to laugh this morning at how glowing CNN was about the election and how doom and gloom Fox News was. The award for best props goes to NBC for that electoral map on ice and the blue and red electoral count up the side of the building. That was just downright cool. I flipped around from channel to channel soaking it all in and getting my political fix. While I was enjoying the pundits and the props and the pontificating I couldn't help but feel a tad sad because something was missing.
Oh Tim, I missed you so last night. It just wasn't the same without you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ho Ho Hoping for The Best

Dear Santa,
Now that Christmas is just around the bend, I’m writing to head off any repercussions for some of my actions this past week that may or may not be interpreted as naughty behavior. As for dressing up in that Michael Meyers mask and scaring neighborhood children who came to the door on Halloween, I was simply teaching them that things that often seem scary aren’t so bad underneath their exterior. I must say, it worked really well, too. Err, I feel obligated to point out that I was not in on that alone. Hubby was the one giving me the cue to pop up in front of the kiddies when they stepped onto the top step. Come to think of it, I think he was the one who came up with the idea. Yeah, I'm sure he was. Let me state for the record that I did not jump out at anyone who seemed to be under the age of five…or so. And squirting the toddler friend in the face with the water dispenser on the refrigerator when she went to get a drink that night was a complete and total accident. I swear. Besides, she thought it was funny.

I’m sorry I hid the Halloween candy from my family until the night before Halloween, but it was for their own good. I was really just looking out for their teeth. On that same topic I’ll plead the fifth on that incident involving the consumption of a large quantity of Whoppers that may or may not have occurred while said candy was hidden.

As for throwing the front section of the newspaper at Hubby when he jokingly told me I looked a lot like Sarah Palin, well, I plead self defense. I mean, really. He knows how worked up I get about her. Surely, you can understand my lack of self control over THAT. And the tossing of the comics in his direction, too. And the knock down, drag out debate about politics that ensued afterward, mostly because I couldn’t shut up. Are you keeping a running tab on that whole can’t shut up thing? Yeah, I thought so. Hmmm...Do you give extra credit assignments?

Okay, well, that about does it for this week. I’m sure I’ll be in touch again…soon. There are 51 days until Christmas. I’ll try to be a good girl between now and then, and it should be a lot easier now that the election is over. Of course, there are a lot of family get-togethers between now and then, and Mama J. and Papa T. are probably going to have some surgeries, so the family stress level could be a little high. About that extra credit?



Hey Abe,

Guess what? I passed three polling places before 7am today. At the first, the parking lot was full and cars were parked at the barber shop and the car wash across the street. Traffic on the highway slowed for voters to dash across the road. In the twenty years I've lived in this part of my city I've never seen such a crowd at my neighborhood polls. If this keeps up, we could have the biggest turnout in years. It took an economic meltdown, $3 gas and some passionate local issues to get us off our butts and down to the polls in numbers, but we're doing it, and it makes me feel great. As someone who has voted in a nearly empty building more than once, it makes me feel really great. And guess what else? The tickets for president today include a biracial man and a woman. We're getting there, Abe, slowly but surely. I just hope our concern and our enthusiasm lasts pasts today........

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fun Monday-Blogging

Our Fun Monday host this week is Bee Dancing As Fast As I Can. Love that name, by the way. Here is the assignment she gave to us.

I'd really like to know WHY you blog. Tell me how you got started or why you got started and why you keep it up. Plus there's a photo requirement: Post a picture of the one person/place/thing that most symbolizes the town or area where you live.

I stumbled into the blogging world a couple of years ago by readings the blogs of friends like janjanmom. It didn't take long for me to get the bug to be really involved in this unique community. I started for two reasons. First of all, my job is in marketing, and I thought it was important for me to understand what this forum is all about and how it works in order to use it if necessary in my work for promotional and informational purposes. It's a medium whose power I believe, cannot and should not be ignored.

Secondly, I have always enjoyed writing and needed an outlet for my writing. Like 50% of the bloggers out there, I have dreams of writing a book one day. I've been taking notes and filing away ideas for a couple of years but needed to develop the habit of writing every day and eeking out time for my writing. I felt like blogging would be a good way to do that, and it has.

Now for the pictorial part of this assignment. I had a hard time sticking to one photo because my town is a bit of a contradiction. It's a river town of about 30,000 people, kind of a big small town. And there is no denying that the river has built and supported this city since its inception. This kind of traffic can be found here every day.

Our community has survived civil war trials and the great flood of 1937. In fact, this picture was taken on the river side of the flood wall built by the Army Corps of Engineers after that devastation. A lot of our community concerts and festival activities take place right here on these riverbanks. I would be remiss if I didn't show you the other side of this flood wall. In fact, my friend M. at the tourism center would whack me up the side of the head if I didn't show you this:

A few years ago, the city commissioned a New Orleans artist to paint scenes from the city's history onto our flood wall. These are a few of the panels. Each scene is from an actual photo or is the artist's interpretation of actual events in the city's history. You must believe me when I tell you this photo doesn't do them justice. They are absolutely beautiful in person.

So, we have a lot of river jobs, some manufacturing jobs and a whole lot of farming around here. There's a definite country feel to this region though. This kind of scene is everywhere you turn, and that's part of why I like it here so much.In fact, if I had to pick just ONE picture that sums up this region, this would be it. This kind of view is available outside just about everyone's back door around here. However, in the midst of all the country flavor we have these unique bright spots of diversity and big city ideas. We have a state of the art performing arts center that brings Broadway shows to our town. We have a symphony, and the historic homes that used to be falling apart have been remodeled into fabulous buildings that are used as homes and art galleries by artists who have moved here from all over the country in the past few years. Who knew they would pick this little rural part of the country to set up shop and bring us such cool businesses and people. This really is a special place to live, cornfields on one side of the road and painters on the other. Now toddle on over to Bee's place to see everybody else's Fun Monday contributions.