Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We Are The Barones

Is it just me or is this a little eerie?
Debra/ Me
Marie/ Mama J.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dueling Banjos

Each region of this great country has its own flavor and characters. It’s what makes us us. The southwest has an Hispanic influence. The Midwest if full of corn fed folks. The northeast has an immigrant Yankee twist, and the south has the country touch. Where I live is the upper edge of the south, so we’re kind of a blend, but we’re more like the folks south of us than the folks north of us. I suspect every region thinks their folks are the most colorful, and we’re no different. Around here we like to mangle the English language, give folks crazy nicknames like “Tater” and “Toots” and wear big hair. We have a lot of “characters”, or as Daddy says, “some real doozies”. I think that’s why I like Fannie Flagg’s books so much. I recognize the people in them as my neighbors, friends and relatives. Idgies, Evelyns and Daisy Fays cross my path on a regular basis, making me smile and sometimes laugh so hard I snort sweet tea through my nose. Real people are funnier than fiction. You just can’t make up people that are any more interesting than the real thing. Like the boy Papa T. went to school with whose name was Sherman Herman Isaiah Tweet so his initials were S-H-I-T. There’s Boss Thweat, the colorful moonshine runnin’ partner of Hubby’s grandpa. And there’s my Aunt Mabel who liked to faint every time she went to the funeral home and looked inside a casket…right after she had snapped a picture of the corpse. In the interest of giving you folks who live outside the fried tater belt a real sense of what it’s like here, I feel obligated to share with you a few of these characters from time to time. Today I’m going to introduce you to Vicki and Wilma. See if you don’t recognize them in someone you know.

These two ladies are pushing 70 years old, and they are on the rim of Mama’s and Daddy’s musical circle. Mama and Daddy started taking guitar and singing lessons several years ago. It’s something they always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for when they were raising us kids. In their retirement years they found the time to indulge those whims, and I think that’s pretty cool. Several of Daddy’s 16,327 relatives play instruments, too, and eventually they starting playing together. They often have potlucks at each other’s houses and jam together after dinner on a variety of guitars, banjos, mandolins and dobros. As often happens when two or more guitars are gathered, they formed a garage band (or barn band in this case) and started playing at nursing homes, senior citizen centers and Dolly’s Restaurant. Their big gig is at the Veteran’s Hospital. I jokingly referred to it as their jug band until they whipped out their instruments at the family reunion a few years ago and started to play. I dropped my tater salad and said, “Hey, that’s my mama playing guitar!” and then, “Hey, that’s my Daddy playing guitar.” The old jug band wasn’t too bad. Others must think so, too because they get invited to play at several places. While they’re on tour, they meet other musicians and singers. Vicki and Wilma are two of the singers.

Wilma has had a bit of a hard life, and it shows. Daddy says she’s rougher than a chapped alligator. It seems she’s always expecting some man in the audience to fall in love with her and sweep her off her feet. “Oh, she’s always trying to get a man fan,” says Mama. Wilma is jealous of Vicki because Vicki is just a little bit younger and sings better. Wilma is always trying to out-do Vicki. They started getting sideways when Vicki showed up at Dolly’s to sing one night in a pink cowboy hat and pink cowboy boots. Not to be outdone, Wilma found a hat and boots for the next show. Then Vicki showed up in some kind of fancy schmancy outfit, forcing Wilma to dig deep in the closet for that big red dress with shoulder pads that she thinks makes her look like Loretta Lynn. This nonsense went on for a while, much to the amusement of Mama and Daddy and their band buddies. It all came to a head when Vicki got a crowd request one night to sing Barbara Fairchild’s Teddy Bear. Well, Teddy Bear is Wilma’s favorite song, her signature song, the song that she likes to belt out best. Vicki won the crowd over, and Wilma was fit to be tied as Daddy says and has been looking for a way to settle the score ever since. She got her chance this past weekend.

Mama and Daddy went to a small town parade in a rural area not too far from here. We used to pick peaches there when I was a kid, and the people who owned the orchards owned the corner store. The store is still there. It’s the kind of place where you can buy a gallon of milk, a ring bologna sandwich and a washer for your kitchen faucet and the fellow behind the counter knows your grandpa’s name. The kind of place with a screen door and a Bunny Bread sign out front. Mama and Daddy sat in front of the store in the lawn chairs and watched the parade go by and then headed up the street to listen to live music. Lo and Behold, Miss Wilma was there singing. And Miss Vicki was not. Miss Wilma got to sing Teddy Bear to a big crowd, bigger than the crowd at Dolly’s, and was dee-lighted to get all of the attention. Mama and Daddy got a big chuckle out of the whole thing and can’t wait until the next gig to see what happens. If I hear something I’ll let cha’ know.

Ain’t that just like two women? I’ll bet no matter where you live in this great country or the world for that matter, no matter the cultural flavor of your community or way you cook your taters, you know of a similar situation. It just cracks me up that no matter how different we may appear to be on the outside, we really are alike on the inside. Some of us just like to wear our hair a little bigger.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fun Monday-My Closet. Yikes!!

RDHMom is hosting this week and what a scary assignment this is.

I want to see the inside of your closet!! I want to see if your closet is as messy as mine!!! You can't organize it before you take the picture!!

Can I just tell you that it's probably as messy as yours and skip the pictures? No? Well, okay. This is going to be humbling. Before I show you the pictures though, let me fill you in on a little secret. Our house looks neat a as a pin when you walk through it on any given day, but open a drawer or a closet door without wearing a hard hat, and you're in trouble. It's kind of the compromise Hubby and I have worked out over eighteen years of marriage. He's a neat freak, as in he used to alphabetize his canned goods before I came into his life. Yeah, scary, I know. I'm not a complete slob, and I don't like dirt, but I don't get worked up about a few things out of place. Over the years, we've figured out that we can live in peace if things are neat in appearance but not necessarily neat behind cupboard doors. So please, if you come to a dinner party at my house, don't snoop in the cabinets.

Our house is forty years old and is short on closet space. We struggled for years for a way to maximize the space. One day, I jokingly said, "We should turn that spare bedroom we never use into one big walk-in closet." Then we looked at each other and said, "You don't suppose...." After fiddling with the idea for about a year, we finally did it. We stripped it down, installed a whole bunch of closet stuff and voila! We ended up with a great big room that holds five hanging racks, 17 drawers, 72 shoe slots, fourteen cubbies and a whole slew of nooks and crannies in which to shove things. It is glorious. It went from the least used room in the house to the most effective use of space in our humble abode. I keep the laundry hamper in there, and since the laundry room is right across the hall, everything is washed, folded, ironed and put away within the same general area. The regular closet that was in there to begin with holds the off season stuff, and I simply rotate summer and winter shirts when the seasons change. That task takes about fifteen minutes. At any time of the year we can have all of our clothing at our fingertips. It's really one of the best remodels we've done in our house. Let me show you around, but I must warn you, it's kinda' messy. (In fact, I was a little embarrassed when I downloaded the pictures and looked at them closely. And not just because of the mess. It's obvious I'm addicted to clothing. I mean when it takes a whole room to hold it all, you know? There are two distinct areas, Hubby's and the one Teen Angel and I share. Here's our side.
This rack holds dresses. At the top you'll notice the purse parking. To the left of the dresses is her shoe bin and her drawers. To the right is that disaster of bins that holds my exercise clothes at the top, accessories in the middle, jeans down below and spare towels. The basket at the bottom holds dog toys. Rotten mutt doesn't have anything to play with. To the far right is a rack of suits and jackets and a rack of pants, skirts and shorts.

Oh, and lots of boots on the top shelf. Here's another section.
It contains my shoe bin, my drawers, a rack of my shirts and sweaters and a rack of Teen Angel's shirts and sweaters. Those baskets on top hold winter stuff like gloves and hats. Those bins on the right hold hats , accessories and my Parrothead paraphernalia. Those drawers on the right hold swimsuits and other odds and ends. It is pretty messy in here...EXCEPT for the next section, which is Hubby's. How can you tell it apart? Well, what do you think?Yeah, it's the neat side. The side where the shirts are sorted by color and sleeve length. See? The white long sleeved ones are all on one side. His pants are organized by color and style as well. Can I tell you how much this drives me insane? How much I long to just shuffle that stuff around? I resist for the sake of our marriage. But let me tell ya' I nipped that alphabetized canned good crap in the bud a long time ago. There's only so much a girl can take. Now shuffle on over to RDHMom's and check out everyone else's drawers.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Forgive me Father for I have sinned. I have fallen victim to the evil BBQ Festival. I have been gluttonous.

Day 1-BBQ sandwich, chips, slaw, baked beans, cookie (Just for lunch-Don't ask about dinner. I'm too ashamed). Day 2-BBQ sandwich, 1/4 rack of ribs, iced tea, cheesecake on a stick, several bites of Dippin' dots (just for lunch-Again, don't ask about dinner).

I am guilty of the sin of lust, lusting after my friend's big fat plate of ribbon fries. Lusting after those BBQed shrimp, the fudge brownie sundae, the fried ice cream and the cajun corn. Oh, and the fried pies.

I am guilty of envy, envious of my friend's polish dog and BBQed chicken. Envious of another friend's fried Oreo and that foot long corndog.

Forgive me Father. What shall I do? What's that? Six Hail Mary's and three miles of running at the United Way 5k tomorrow? Sigh. Okay, and while I'm at it, I'm just going to tack on another three miles 'cause we still have one more day of this doggone festival. Just in case.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Mommy Chronicles

The pregnancy post yesterday made me think a lot about how our appearance is affected by motherhood. Pregnancy changes your body in ways that can never be fully reversed, but the day to day stuff that comes with motherhood changes it, too. You just don’t have time to doll yourself up like you used to. Rushing to get everyone dressed and out the door reasonably on time means sacrificing a check in the mirror to make sure everything is okay and in place. This has resulted in fashion disasters over the years.

For the first two years of my daughter’s life, my work suits all had a big spit ring on the left shoulder from cuddling a slobbering baby before work. My solution? Slapping a big dressy pin over the stain as I zipped into my cubicle. I’ve arrived at work wearing two different shoes. I showed up one time with a big hole in the calf of my black pantyhose. Very noticeable to everyone but me for oh, about four hours. One time my skirt was inside out, seams and tag visible to even the severely nearsighted. Recently, on two different occasions I’ve gone to the potty and discovered that I put my underwear on wrong side out that particular morning. That’s one you just live with until you get home. My most embarrassing moment happened right after I returned to work from maternity leave. I was still breast feeding, and I worked in a busy TV newsroom. During a particularly hectic afternoon I looked down and saw that in all my running around, I had jostled a breast pad out of my bra and into the floor, smack dab in the middle of the room for everyone to see. Breaking news! Nasty breast pad in the floor! I wanted to crawl under my desk. Hoping that no one was looking, I kicked it under a credenza that hadn’t been moved in 20 years, hoping it wouldn’t be moved for another 20. Ten years later I held my breath when we remodeled the newsroom, hoping it wouldn’t turn up. It didn’t. Thank God.

My mother’s most embarrassing “mommy fashion flub” still makes me laugh. It happened when I was about eleven. She left me and my two brothers in the car while she went into the grocery store. This was back when you could leave children in a hot car and be comfortable that they wouldn’t be kidnapped by some freak. We might have killed each other, but we were safe from marauding kidnappers in our small town. Besides, she just couldn’t shop with three rowdy kids. After she had paraded up and down just about every aisle in the busy store, a woman approached and said, “Honey, you have kids don’t you”. “Well, yes. Why do you ask?” “Because you have a sucker stuck to your butt”. There it was, dangling from her backside like a badge, screaming “mother of three” (soon to be two when she found out who it was). One of us had laid a barely eaten sucker on the seat of the car just before mom sat in the driver’s seat. She was steamed when she got back to the car, especially since none of us owned up to it. Sucker? What sucker? I didn’t have a sucker? Did you? Nope. No sucker here. Through gritted teeth, she issued one of those mommy voodoo curses, “Just wait ‘til you have kids some day”. It worked.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oh Baby!

I’m amazed at how quickly my mood can swing. No, really. Yesterday I was all holy cow it’s been eight years since my nephew died and it still hurts so try to stumble through the day without remembering the sights and sounds of that day and breaking down whew. Today I’m all hey Super Cop’s baby is going to be here right away oh my god it’s a baby to love and cuddle that I didn’t have to squeeze out of my own womb thank goodness yea! Amazing. Is this what menopause is going be like? Wild mood swings and a daily craving for white sheet cake with strawberry filling and white icing? Hmm. Perhaps, it’s not me. Perhaps, it’s just the wonderful way the world turns, tragic one day, happy the next. And we are certainly happy about this baby.

The countdown to the birth of the newest Hula-gen is on. Technically, we’re about three or so weeks away from the due date, but at the rate this baby is growing, I don’t think Mrs. Scrubs is going to last that long. There are signs that the little fellow may be a big guy. As in let’s do another ultra sound Monday to see just how big he is. He’s been an early achiever so far on this growth, and it appears that all systems are go if he decides to chuck his due date and join us a little early. Word is the doctor won’t throw on the brakes if things start to roll. And Mrs. Scrubs is ready to roll. She’s at that stage where she just wants it to be over. Those of you who have given birth know what I’m talking about. It’s those final days where you don’t want to be the cute pregnant lady any more. The glow of pregnancy has worn off. Your face is puffy. Your feet are swollen. Nothing tastes good. Only one pair of stretchy pants fits, and that baby feels like it’s about to fall out. You walk around with your hand underneath your belly just waiting to smack the next person who asks, “Haven’t you had that baby yet” and resisting the urge to scream, “Yes, B****. This is just a bad case of gas!” Oh, those last few weeks are miserable. I was an emotional wreck near the end of my pregnancy. I couldn’t turn off the tears. I cried in the bathroom before Christmas dinner at Baby Ruth’s house because she greeted me at the door with, “Oh, honey you ARE big.” I cried when I overheard Hubby tell the cat as I walked by, “Back up. Wide load coming through.” And I cried crocodile tears in the doctor’s office during my last appointment after she told me I hadn’t dilated any since the previous week. My wracking sobs surprised her, and she asked me if I felt bad or hurt anywhere. I wiped a big wad of snot off the bottom of my nose and babbled about “just wanting to have this d*** baby.” I must have been pretty pitiful because she laid me back down on the table, did a little sumpin’ sumpin’ and six hours later I was in labor. God bless her. I might have stuck my head in the oven if she hadn’t.

I feel for Mrs. Scrubs. The next few weeks will be tough, but it will be over before she knows it, and then the real fun begins. The 2am feedings, the spit up on your clothes, the inconsolable crying. Ah, yes. I don’t miss those days, and that’s why I’m going to enjoy this baby. I get to have all the cuddly cooing fun I want and then hand him back to his parents for the messy stuff. It’s been fifteen years since we had a baby in this family, and I intend to enjoy every minute of it. And I’ll be praying for the new parents because as some of us know, giving birth is really the easy part of parenting.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumn's Angel

I penned this poem in memory of my nephew who died on this date eight years ago.

Autumn's Angel

The smell of fall reminds me of you
And the day that you left us; the day three became two.
You slipped from our hands like the leaves from the trees
Yanked loose from their limbs in a crisp autumn breeze.

We weren’t quite ready to let you go.
We wanted more time. We needed you so.
I can’t believe it’s been eight years.
I still miss your face. I still shed tears.

I try to be strong but the loss tests my faith.
I have to believe you’re in a much better place.
What’s it like to walk on gold;
To never be sick and never grow old?

To dance without worry, trouble or care;
To sing His praises as long as you dare?
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
His touch so warm; His love divine.

Is the sky so blue it hurts your eyes?
Are the stars so bright they dazzle the skies?
Do the hungry have food? Do the homeless have shoes?
Are the children all loved? Do the sick never lose?

Have you seen some old friends whose work doesn’t cease;
The healers, the teachers, the keepers of peace?
Martin and Lincoln, Theresa and John.
Tell them we work so their memory lives on.

Save me a seat at the table of grace.
Put me near Jesus so I can see His face.
Wrap me in love every day.
Give me wisdom when I lose my way.

Keep me safe. Please walk with me.
Be my angel. Set my worries free.
Help me be strong ‘til I see you again.
I haven’t forgotten. I love you, my friend.
Myrtle Beach, 1995 with his dad. They are together again
as his dad died two years ago.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Little Help For My Friends

I know three families, including ours that had an elderly relative fall and make a trip to the hospital last week. Fortunately, none of those folks was seriously hurt. Mama J. ended up bruised in several spots and has a lingering case of Neosporin hair because she needed three stitches to the back of the head. And won’t we ALL be glad when she gets back to the beauty shop for a wash and set so she’ll quit worrying about her hair and nails thank you Jesus. She was in and out of the ER that morning in a record two hours, so that little spill didn’t seem nearly as bad as some others. We’ve actually had three ER visits in our immediate family in the last month. It’s just something that happens when folks get old. Janjanmom’s step dad fell the same day as Mama J., and she posted about how she thinks it’s probably a good idea to get showered and dressed early each day in order to be prepared for those potential trips to the ER. She’s right. We’ve learned over the last couple of years that the Boy Scouts had the right idea when they declared “Be Prepared” their motto. It does pay off. We’ve made all sorts of trips to the hospital in various states of undress and filth. We’ve learned to shower as soon as possible, to keep decent clothes within arms reach and to keep our underwear on because you just never know when you’re going to get a call. And while we are no experts, we’ve picked up a couple of other tips along the way that I’ll share with you here in case you are caring for a senior citizen, too.

1. The list of medications for Mama J. and Papa T. is long. So is their surgical history and they have trouble remembering all of those numbers and dates. Every so often I type up cards for each one of them that list their medications and dosages on one side and their surgical history on the other. They’re the size of a credit card, and I laminate them so they can carry them in their billfolds. In an emergency we can whip them out and hand them to a nurse without having to worry about forgetting something or screwing up the names or dosages of their medications. They’re also handy when going to a new doctor’s office that requests that information. It’s easy and accurate.

2. We keep copies of their house keys and car keys on a key rack near the back door of our house. That way we don’t have to fumble or search for their keys in an emergency. We also installed a keypad on their garage door and memorized the code.

3. Mama J. is prone to falls. Our house is next door but too far away for an intercom system. Papa T. sleeps like the dead and is almost deaf without his hearing aids. He never heard Mama J. fall or us come into the house, pick her up and load her into the van last week. He is of no help in an emergency, so Mama J. has a small cell phone that she pins to her nightgown within arms reach every night. That’s what she called us on last week and prevented her from laying in the floor for a few hours without help.

4. We keep enough gas to get to the hospital and back in the cars at all times. Who wants to stop at the Shell station on the way to the hospital with a bleeding cut or a broken bone?

5. I haven’t used this one yet but probably will in a few months as Papa T.’s dementia gets worse. I read somewhere about a lady who printed business cards that stated “My father suffers from Alzheimer’s. Please be patient with him and us.” She handed them discreetly to waiters and others when taking her father out to eat or to an appointment. She said it made a big difference in how they were treated in public, and she didn’t have to embarrass her dad by telling people out loud that he suffered from Alzheimer’s. I think this is a swell idea.

6. We keep copies of their living wills and powers of attorney papers in the glove box of our vehicles. You just never know when you’ll need them, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had an ER visit that occurred during regular banking hours when I could get into the safety deposit box. Our local hospitals have copies of these papers on file, too.

7. Develop a good relationship with your pharmacist. We do not use the big box pharmacy for our prescriptions. We use the corner drug store, and it has paid off time and time again. Like the time Papa T. got all the way to Cincinnati on a Sunday night and discovered that he had left ALL of his medicine at home. It is critical that he take some of his medications on time. Meekly, I called our pharmacist at her house. She was out but her husband called her on her cell phone. She called me back and agreed to stop by the drug store on the way home and fax his prescriptions to the closest 24 hour Walgreen’s. Within an hour and a half he had all of his medication in hand and was getting ready for bed. You just don’t get that kind of service with Wal-Mart or another big name. Also, that pharmacist has been instrumental in heading off mix-ups and complications with their medicines, except for that time they both had colonoscopies in one week and their preps got mixed up. Yee haw. That was fun. We love our pharmacist.

8. Get used to seeing them naked. The sooner you get over this hurdle the better because there are going to be times when they need help getting dressed, undressed or ready for a particular medical test. And sometimes they just like to lift their shirt or drop their pants and say, “Would you take a look at this” or “Does that look swollen to you?”

9. Finally, when headed out the door to the ER grab a piece of fruit or some snack crackers and a bottled water or soda. You never know how long you’re going to be there, and often you don’t want to leave the room in case the doctor comes in. Somebody in the group is going to have a Barney Fife sugar low before the night is over, and it’s probably going to be me, so I take snacks.

If you have any ideas you’d like to share, please do so here. I’d love to hear them. We need all the help we can get, and based on last week’s fall count, we’re not the only ones who could use the tips.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fun Monday-Sports

The lovely Heather over at Heather's Recipes is this week's Fun Monday host, and she wants to know about sports, specifically:

I want to hear about whatever sports team(s) that make you cry tears of joy when they win and tears of sorrow when they lose. And on the flip side, I also want to hear about the teams you love to hate and why you hate them so much.

Well, this one's a little tough for me, because I watch absolutely no sports whatsoever. Oh, I'm glued to every event at the Olympics every couple of years and not just because of Michael Phelps' abs. I just love seeing the world's best athletes come together for some of the most intense competition in all of athletics. And I'll watch a chick sport like ice skating when I stumble across it in winter, but other than that I watch zip. Nadda. Nothing. Zilch. Hubby's the same way. It's one of the reason's I married him. Pre-Hubby I dated a man who was intense about his football, and I decided right then and there I was not going to be a football widow for the rest of my life.

It's tough being a non sports fan in Kentucky. Apparently, the eleventh commandment is Thou Shalt Root For The Wildcats because just about everyone in this state bleeds Wildcat blue...except for me, the two University of Tennessee fans at church and the llone brave University of Louisville fan at work. Even if you didn't graduate from U.K. you are expected to Go Big Blue from November to March. My favorite time to go to a restaurant in the winter is during a U.K. game. That's because everyone else is at home watching TV. You can get any table you want at Red Lobster, no waiting, during a Kentucky game. It is bliss for those of us who like a garlic biscuit better than a rebound. I must say I do enjoy the NCAA tournament because there are so many upsets and Cinderella wins. And oddly enough, I'm pretty decent at picking the tournament winners. I won the office pool a couple of years ago. What is it they say? Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn.

So what teams do I cheer for? Any team that involves a child I know. While I don't give two figs for most televised sports, I love watching live games that involve my kid or someone else's. This athlete is my passion. I've cheered through a year of T-ball, two years of softball and three years of competitive cheer leading. I'm the loudest fan in the stands when she's playing...or my friends' kids are playing....or my favorite special Olympian S. is playing. Heck, I love it when the church volleyball team plays. If it's live and I know you, I'm there for you. However, if it's a Saturday in December and Red Lobster is having a ShrimpFest, well, you'll have to look elsewhere. I'll be at the corner table eating a garlic biscuit..or two.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pin Up Pooch

Our dog is officially on a diet, Weight Woofers they call it at the vet's office. I'm not naming any names but someone in our house with gray curly hair and size 13 shoes keeps feeding that pampered pooch too many treats...and bananas..and green beans. And let's not even get into the whole licking the ice cream bowl debacle. At age 7, Jumpin' Jack Flash has entered the senior citizens club with about seven pounds too many on his miniature schnauzer frame. He's not so miniature anymore. He's had one too many trips through the drive-thru. The bank drive-thru, where he gets a treat. The drug store drive-thru where he gets a treat. AND the liquor store drive-thru where he gets TWO treats. His eating is out of control, and it's time to nip it in the bud as Barney Fife says. Oh, and he's going to get more exercise, too. After sifting through pictures of him for a local pet calendar contest, I noticed something. That dog has gotten lazy. In every picture I have of him he's lying down. See?Look at this.And this. He takes more naps than a kindergarten class. By golly, he's getting up and out of the house more these days. He doesn't really care for his new food, but he likes being outside more. He was fine with the new program to improve his appearance until we pushed the envelope and did this.
And this.
Do you think he'll forgive us if he's chosen as Mr. October?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Crack of Dawn Derby

4:50am-The phone rings.

That’s the bell….and they’re off! Hula takes an early lead out of the shoot, grabbing the phone on the second ring. Oh no! It’s a fall at Mama J.’s! Hubby gains some traction, lengthens his stride and pulls ahead of Hula by a nose. Both of them are out of the house and next door at rare speed. Man! Look at ‘em go! It’s Hubby in first, Hula in second and no other racers in sight. Hubby holds onto his lead, but Hula stays with him. In the first turn, Hubby pulls farther into the lead, picking Mama J. up off the bathroom floor with a smooth two handed move and plopping her onto the toilet seat. Hula edges closer and rips apart the Aqua Net helmet to find a one inch gash on the back of Mama J.’s head and blood, lots of blood. We have an injury folks! And it looks like it’s going to need stitches. Both racers are moving fast now. They are neck and neck as Hubby charges out the back door and into his house for clothes. Man! That’s the fastest we’ve seen that animal move in a long time. He’s in fine form this morning, despite the early hour. In no time at all he’s headed around the second turn in yesterday’s shorts and t-shirt, making his way to the van in what could be record time. Hula is making a move though. She’s applying direct pressure and pulling on Mama J.’s polyester pants and sweater in a manner you only see in a well trained caregiver, folks. It takes a lot of practice to dress a senior citizen that fast. It looks like she’s losing a little steam, though. Those slip on shoe are slowing her down. No, wait! Here she comes again around the second turn regaining her stride. She’s got Mama J. in the van with her walker AND her purse. We’ve got ourselves a real horse race this morning folks. These two are giving it their all this time.

Hubby is looking good. He’s got the van on the highway and headed to the hospital, all before the sun comes up. Hula is keeping stride. She’s got to get ready, wake up Papa T. and medicate him and get Teen Angel to school before she goes to work. She’s got her work cut out for her before she enters the third turn. Fortunately for her, Teen Angel is cooperating this morning. You never know about that one. She’s a wild card. Hula pounds down the backside with a curling iron in one hand and Papa T.’s Nexium in another. She’s got the eye drops in. She’s got the hearing aids in AND her clothes are on with just a little less than a quarter mile to go. Hubby is keeping pace, though. The ER is remarkably empty and Mama J. is in X-ray before you know it. It’s anybody’s race at this point. Here we go around the final turn. It’s Hubby by a length! Hubby by a length and Hula right behind him. Look out! She’s making her move. Here she comes! She’s pouring it on strong now. She’s got Papa T. medicated, Teen Angel is in the car and they’re backing down the driveway. It’s Hubby by a half length and Hula on the move. Hubby is losing steam. The stitches are taking longer than expected. He’s got an ER handicap. They’re in the stretch. Hubby by a nose and Hula right behind him. Watch out! They’re neck and neck. Hula is in the school parking lot. She’s dropping off Teen Angel and squealing down the street. She’s pulling ahead folks. I think she’s going to do it. Yes! She is! She’s pulling ahead!! Hubby is giving it all he’s got, but he just can’t seem to check out of the ER quick enough. She’s got him! Yes, she does! She is at work just in time! They are across the line, folks. It’s Hula by a nose. Hula takes the win and Hubby takes a very close second. What a race we had today, folks. A fabulous race. It’s always a fun race when these two go at it, but Hula was just a little stronger today. Don’t worry though. I’m sure we’ll see these two at it again soon. There are plenty more races left in this geriatric season, and this won’t be the last time we see those two run for the title. Be sure to join us in two weeks for the Milk of Magnesia run. That’s always an entertaining race..and fast, very fast folks. You won’t want to miss it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy 75th Birthday!!

Guess who likes cake as much as I do.And guess who likes opening presents as much as Papa T. does.That little princess on the right is Little Miss Priss, and if you ask her where she's from she'll tell you she was "made in China". Hubby's niece adopted her two years ago, and she is so stinkin' sweet it hurts your teeth just to look at her. She loves to have her picture taken. I think she knows how cute she is in this picture, but I don't think Papa T. knows how cute he is.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On The Bright Side

Going without electricity for 23 hours was a bummer. First there was the internet withdrawal. Going to work with wet hair and eye shadow that’s darker on one eye than the other because you applied it by candlelight was a little embarrassing. And let’s not even talk about wearing wrinkled clothes because someone in our household never irons anything until right before she puts it on. It WAS a bummer, but really that’s all it was for the Hula-gen’s. We take that kind of thing in stride. Well, not Teen Angel. I had forgotten until yesterday morning how emotionally debilitating it is for a teenaged girl to properly get ready for school without electricity. I think her words were something like, “Thank goodness it’s pajama day because of Homecoming week.” Really though, it was just an inconvenience. We certainly weren’t holding onto our rooftop amid floodwaters or standing in line for six hours for a Red Cross sandwich and a roll of toilet paper. God bless the people in Texas. If you haven’t seen any of the photos go to the Houston Chronicle, sift through the pictures and then thank the Good Lord for the roof over your head and the Hamburger Helper on your plate.

The outage was more of a distraction than anything. Hubby was preoccupied most of the outage by chasing down AWOL patio furniture and closing on the loan needed to pay the tree trimmer, and I was at work most of the time. Besides, I grew up in the sticks where the power went off every time the wind blew. I learned early on that an old fashioned can opener and the Coleman lantern can be your best friends.

Sunday we locked down the refrigerator and freezer, waited it out patiently and felt thankful that we got electricity back as soon as we did. In fact, upon reflection I think there are several positive aspects of a long power outage. It seems to spur your ingenuity, brings you closer together as a family and forces you to do things you’ve been putting off. Such as:

1. You finally eat that can of chick peas that’s been lingering in the cabinet for eight months.
2. There’s nothing on TV so you don’t fight with your husband over the remote control.
3. It breeds intimacy and family conversation since everyone has to sit around the same oil lamp in order to see anything after 8pm.
4. You get some extra use out of those party votives you’ve been saving from the 4th of July get together.
5. You learn precisely how long the batteries in the flashlights last.
6. You figure out how to make a dessert with a can of sweetened condensed milk, half a box of stale graham cracker crumbs and the grill.
7. Everyone is well rested because you go to bed when the sun goes down.
8. It’s a good time to make a list of disaster kit items because it’s obvious what you DON’T have.
9. Family game night is reinstated because you found a pack of Uno cards while digging for more flashlight batteries. By the way, I understand why there’s a baby boom nine months after this kind of thing. Eventually, you run out of things to do.
10. And most importantly, it forces you to finally, once and for all, clean out the refrigerator.

The outage may have been worth it just for number 10.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fun Monday-Not so Much

This was supposed to be a Fun Monday post about things you collect and just can’t get rid of. I had big plans to show you my shoe closet and all of those old shoes I hoard long after they’re useful. You know, the worn out summer sandals that smell and should be tossed but stay. Or the sixteen pairs of flip flops I have in various states of disrepair. And the dress shoes that I never wear because they don’t fit well but I bought them at the time because I was desperate for (insert color here) pumps that matched a suit or dress. Yes, I was going to bare my soul, open my shoe closet and reveal it all in a soul cleansing effort to motivate myself to throw that mess away. And then Ike hit.

Ike? But you’re thinking Hula lives in Kentucky, right? She’s nowhere near the hurricane belt. Yes siree. You are correct, but apparently Ike decided to roll his bad a** across more than the gulf. As he curled around the Midwest he ran into a cold front in our neck of the woods yesterday morning and wreaked a little havoc on our end of the state with 70 mile an hour winds. There are trees broken or downed in just about every yard, and the lights went out for thousands of people, including the Hula-gen’s. Our electricity was off for about 24 hours. While we certainly aren’t struggling with anything like the good folks in Texas, we got a little more holy spirit than we expected yesterday morning. This is the view from Mama J.’s and Papa T.’s front porch. Hello!
The thirty year old pine tree that sits between their driveway and ours cracked near the bottom and fell with a glorious thud.
Thankfully, it barely missed their house and Papa T.’s old pick up truck. We couldn’t have laid it on the ground any more perfectly if we had tried. See.
We called a tree trimmer and asked him to come out right away, and after he picked himself up off the floor from laughter said he’d get to us as soon as possible. It’s looking like he might be here in time for Thanksgiving. We faired rather well compared to most. The big maple in our front yard, the one I desperately love, survived but lost a few limbs. The wind turned over our deck furniture, where just twelve hours before some twenty people ate grilled hamburgers and partied to eighties tunes.Eventually, the wind blew the table, chairs and umbrella into the yard, destroying our fourth patio umbrella in three years. That’s FOUR! FOUR stinkin' umbrellas in three years! For the love of Pete, someone please tell me who put a voodoo curse on our patio umbrellas. Two walnut trees sit near the deck, and those walnuts were flying off like missiles when the wind was blowing. More than once Hubby almost got whacked in the head while he was trying to deal with the downed tree downed cable line flying patio furniture mess. Now they’re just sitting there waiting for us to turn an ankle or two when walking in the yard. Our neighbors are dealing with their own messes, too. This tree sits….um it used to….near our side yard. It will have to go because the limb that fell ripped the heart right out of it. So dear folks, my shoes will have to wait another day. We have limbs to haul off, a tree to cut up and candles to collect. Oh, and I’ll have to work up the nerve to open the refrigerator to see how it faired. Don’t worry though. Those shoes aren’t going anywhere.

Friday, September 12, 2008

And Now I Know

The last few weeks have been interesting because I've made so many reconnections with folks from my childhood. It's been great, but a couple of times I've wondered if this is what it feels like when you're dying of some disease and you try to make up for lost time. I wrote recently about our elementary school reunion, which was a hoot. And before that I wrote about my old school buddy Ramona, who I haven't seen since our 8th grade graduation. Many times over the last thirty (gulp) years, I've wondered where she was and what she was up to. Well, my friend Madd Maxx..remember him? He's the one who laughs like this.....He went home to Louisiana after our reunion in, as Hubby's grandma used to say, a swivet, hell bent on finding Ramona for me. He is some kind of genealogy buff/super sleuth who has a real knack for finding folks, and earlier this week blessed me with a location and phone number for Ramona. Last night, I took a shower, grabbed a tall glass of iced tea and dialed her number. And she was home. And we talked...and talked..and talked. For 69 minutes.

Now, she was kind enough not to squeal because I wrote about her AND posted an old picture of her on the web without her knowing, so I won't go into detail about our conversation last night. In fact, I'm only giving you this update because some of you have asked me several times since that original post if I've had any luck finding her. I will tell you though that it was a great conversation. Her laugh is still as infectious as ever, and I could have talked all night. She is a few hundred miles away from me and doing very, well and I hope one day soon when she comes home to see her mother we can hook up for that piece of pie, some face to face girl talk and a big hug. We have so much to talk about.

If you're reading this Ramona, thanks for the chat last night and for not passing out when you saw yourself on the World Wide Web. It was so good to connect with you again. Oh, and thanks Madd Maxx for your detective work.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Frankly Speaking....

Is it wrong to be 44 years old and still get excited by this?Or to giggle like a 7th grader because it says this?Look ma! I saw the Wienermobile today! I wanted to tell the guy working the Wienermobile that he had nice buns, but I refrained. Occasionally, I manage to keep my foot out of my mouth.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Time Out

Do you ever look at someone and think, “When did he get so old”? I walked into the den at Papa T.’s house last week and stopped in the doorway, suddenly taken aback. He was kicked back in his recliner wearing his headphones and sweatpants, listening to yet another book on tape. For some reason he seemed so much older on that Wednesday than he did the Wednesday before. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve been so busy keeping my head down and plowing through life recently that I hadn’t stopped long enough to take a good long look at him. Once I did, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Since he can’t see all the way across the room and doesn’t hear well, he didn’t know I was there. I just stood there for a minute and allowed myself to soak up the moment. I allowed myself to think about the fact that his time with us is growing shorter.

I don’t like to think about that. I’ve always known that Hubby and I would spend a great deal of time taking care of Papa T. and Mama J. in their old age. It was one of several life issues we discussed and agreed upon before we got married. And when their health began to decline we just starting jumping in and doing what needed to be done. At first it was extra groceries, an occasional trip to the doctor’s office and a pick up at the drug store. Then came the hand rails on the front porch steps. Then we started making their weekly trip to the grocery store. It takes a while, but eventually you get used to paying for large bottles of FiberCon and the occasional bottle of Fleet. You get used to waiting while the foot doctor noisily sands down their toe nails. You even work through seeing them partially naked or very exposed during medical tests or the passage of a kidney stone in the bathroom floor. And you get used to picking someone up from the floor in the middle of the night.

The weekly trips to restaurants as a family become once a month outings. We’re a well oiled machine when we pull up to Cracker Barrel. Hubby pops open the hatch to the van. I grab Mama J.’s walker out of the back, unfold it and wheel it to her. Teen Angel or Sissy unfolds Papa T.’s cane and helps him into the restaurant and I hold the door and make the table reservation while Hubby gets Mama J. safely inside. He usually carries her purse, too. No matter where we are at, he is never too proud to hold her big old pocketbook, and I am always amazed at how much that makes me love him.

Hubby does most of the day to day stuff that needs to be done for his parents. He mows their yard, drives them to all of their doctor’s appointments, picks up medicine, arranges for repairs to their house and car and does just about anything that needs to be done. He is retired but is a fulltime son. It keeps him plenty busy. It keeps us all busy. Teen Angel pitches in, too. She gets it. She understands that they need the help and that everything she does to help them will help her to feel better about their passing when that time comes. She does laundry for them, puts away groceries and makes at least three trips next door every week to find something in the floor that clumsy hands dropped and weak eyes can’t find. The three of us spend so much time going in and out of their back door that some days it’s hard to tell where our schedule begins and their’s ends. We are…assisted living. And that’s okay.

We are used to it. What we haven’t gotten used to is how fast this journey seems to be moving. It is picking up speed at an alarming rate, and it seemed much more noticeable, to me anyway, last week. Papa T. seemed more tired, slower and much less motivated to fight his battle with aches and pains. He is 74, but he’s an old 74. His body and spirit seem 85 years old. I hope I’m being overly concerned, that that feeling in my gut is misplaced. I hope that he’s been really been this way for a while, and I’ve just been too busy to notice, that nothing has really changed in the last few weeks. I’ve decided that I have allowed myself to think about it long enough, and now it’s time to get busy again. There is too much work to be done. I will get back to plowing through the day to day and getting ready for Papa T’s 75th birthday next week. I want to make sure it’s a good one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Word of the Day-Justice

Main Entry: jus·tice
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French justise, from Latin justitia, from justus
Date: 12th century
1 a: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments

b: the administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity

Example: Pulling out of the high school parking lot before the teenage blonde hotness who brazenly tried to cut in front of me when she was so busy texting she didn’t realize there was a gap in the traffic. Ha! Tawanda!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fun Monday-A Love Story

Well, well, well, Woodland mama is hosting Fun Monday this week, and she's given us a very interesting assignment. It goes like this:

Write the beginning of an unusual love story (not a real one). I only want the first paragraph. You can add an illustration or a picture to spice it up if you are really daring.

This is an assignment I can sink my teeth into. I love a good love story. Not those sappy romances with heaving bosoms, ripped peasant blouses and swashbuckling heroes. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I went through a Barbara Cartland phase in about seventh grade, hiding paperbacks behind my propped up social studies book and reading victorian page after page during class. That phase passed when I discovered a box of my mom's old books and spent a summer secretly working my way through more adult material like Peyton Place and Valley of The Dolls. THAT was an eye opening summer. I still like a trashy Jackie Collins read every now and then, but these days I really like a more complex love story, something with depth, something kind of gritty, something more...hmmm...real. Humor doesn't hurt either. So after some thought, here ya' go Woodland mama, the beginning of something complex and something real with a hint of love.

Chapter 1

"So this is America," Karina thought as she slowly stepped out of the airport and onto the busy sidewalk. She lifted her weathered face to the sky and shaded her eyes from the bright sun. It was one of those autumn days when summer lingers a little too long, making the sky a vivid blue and the air crisp and clean. The kind of day that always sent Reenie's mind swimming back to the fall of 1944 and her unexpected rescue from the the Gross Roben camp in the Polish woods. As was her habit, she concentrated hard enough and long enough until she pushed aside the horrible snapshots of the camp until she was left with just the face of a handsome American soldier, a soldier who had changed her life with one brief moment, the soldier she had come to the United States to find forty years later.

I will resist the urge to break the rules and write more than one paragraph, but oh how I could go on and on. I'll pacify myself by reading everyone else's prose. Come on! Follow me over to Woodland mama's for more.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Exhibit A

In the unlikely case you are harboring any notions that I used to be shy and quiet spoken and didn't become a bossy conversation hogging jabber box until I grew up and out of my shell, I share with you this photo that my buddy M. sent me this week. I'm the one on the left.Looks like Billy Carter wasn't the only one with a big mouth in 1976.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Together Again-Part 2

Our grade school reunion was a blast. We spent four hours swapping memories, slapping our knees and having a rip roaring good time. It was waaay better than our high school reunion last year. Nobody was trying to impress anybody. Nobody was sucking in his gut, and everyone ordered steak instead of pretending that he preferred salad. I haven't laughed that much in years. And look, here's the picture to prove it. Remind me to get my teeth cleaned soon. And to wax my upper lip. The evening was rich with shared memories of childhood antics and classroom hi jinks. Spending year after year in the classroom with the same forty people built strong bonds that have stood the test of time. For me, it was if we had magically stepped back in time. Everybody looked a little older but seemed to be the same as they were thirty years ago. I feel fortunate to have grown up in the country with those folks. Those truly were the Wonder Years for me. My husband and some of my friends find that unique because they didn't have that kind of experience. They grew up in larger school districts where they were shuffled around each year and didn't get a chance to make more than just a few close friends. Only recently did I realize how unique our situation really was.

After dinner Friday night, we began telling stories on each other. Like the time our fourth grade teacher tied Madd Maxx to his chair with a jump rope because Maxx wouldn't stay in his seat. Or the time several of the boys got a spanking all at the same time. Or how about when L. was bragging about her monkey bar skills and E. and I laughed our butts off when she fell face forward in the sand and was knocked out cold..and then we thought she was dead and we'd get in trouble for laughing. Story after story rolled around the crowd, causing us to laugh uncontrollably (okay, some of us were in control. Not me.), hold our aching sides and wipe tears from our eyes. Eventually, we got around to asking where is SHE now or whatever happened to HIM, the folks who were a little odd, the folks who were on the lowest rung of the grade school social ladder, which in backwoods middle America was pretty low AND pretty ridiculous. While our group was unique in that we were so close, we weren't without a class system, and we didn't escape the urge to pick on the weakest members. I've always considered it to be normal teasing and probably pretty harmless. I mean, we all got ribbed or picked on about something every now and then, right? It just made us tougher, helped to shape us into stronger people who know the world isn't always fair. Right? But in the middle of all the ha ha ho ho hee heeing and giggling about the time F. stabbed me in the chest with a pencil and how weird F. always was, M. looked at me and said, "Do you remember what we called her?"
"Flea bag."
And suddenly I didn't feel like laughing because I remembered. Yes, we called her "flea bag", and for the first time ever I let myself think about how awful that must have been for her. Awful, because that's such a horrible thing to call someone. Awful, because in the immediate years after grade school I learned about her mother's suicidal tendencies, her poverty and her father's sexually abusive treatment of her. It's what made her behave so oddly when we were kids. It's why her clothes were often the wrong size or downright ratty. It's why she told scary stories in the restroom about whippings with belts that left marks. It's why she tried too hard to fit in. Somehow I had forgotten the nickname the class pinned on her. Hmm. Forgotten or suppressed? Did wiping out the memory of calling her "flea bag" make it easier for me to live with the knowledge of the abuse in her family and how badly I and three dozen other children treated her all those years ago?
Another funny story jarred me out of my somber moment Friday night, and I went on laughing at the next tale. I left the restaurant reminded of many old memories, but one in particular that I can't quite shake, the memory of F. No one seemed to know where she is now or what happened to her. The last thing I heard many years ago was that she was living in a nearby college town, prostituting herself. I don't know if that was true. I hope not. I hope somewhere along the way she found hope and peace and friends who treat her well. And wherever you are F. I'm sorry, really sorry for the way we all behaved. I'm sorry I ever called you..gulp..."flea bag". Very. Very. Sorry. And F. I won't let myself forget that again.

Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm sorry L. for laughing when you fell off the monkey bars. And I'm especially sorry for laughing and pulling that bandanna off your head that morning on the school bus when you overslept and were trying to hide the fact that your hair was all matted up. Really, I am.
Hey, maybe we're not EXACTLY the same as we used to be.

The Road Warrior

Occasionally, I like to take the opportunity to introduce a new luau character to you, dear readers. Today I'd like you to meet this guy.
Oh, how I was hoping I could work this picture into a post because he reads this blog all of the time, and well, if you were his mischievous old grade school buddy, wouldn't YOU want to post this picture on the World Wide Web? I thought so.

Anyway, previously on this site he has been referred to as G, but from now on he will be called Madd Maxx...as in this guy...only without the dark hair and rippling muscles.
That's because when last heard from he was deep in the bowels of Louisiana, in a crowd of 16 gazillion people trying to elbow his way into a Home Depot for more gas cans, so he could then wait in another line with 16 gazillion people at a gas station for more gasoline to run his generator while the utility companies try to restore electricity to the 16 gazillion people smacked around by some dude named Gustav. So far, this Road Warrior has managed to survive tarping his wind damaged roof, a potential body cavity search by local law enforcement and being stuck in the house with two bored children. Let's hope he still has a sense of humor by the time he gets around to reading this.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Long, long ago, in a far away land, a very rural land, a group of villagers sent their children to this place for an education. For nine years those 40 children spent their days together, learning how to read, write and play dodge ball. Some of the children were short. Some were tall. Some were smart, and some rode the short bus. Most fell somewhere in between, but they were always together. Each year they moved to a new classroom, got a new teacher and learned new things, but they were always together. They played games like kickball and H-O-R-S-E.
They got spankings. They wrote sentences. They played on the basketball teams and made cheerleader….together. They kissed each other behind the bleachers, shared each other’s lunches and smoked two, count ‘em two Kool cigarettes on the playground…together. They did the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge, learned their multiplication tables and had an RC Cola and Moon Pie party…together. They rode school buses and took field trips to gather leaves and eat Dairy Queen treats together. From Kindergarten through eighth grade these 40 boys and girls were side by side not realizing how close they had grown.

In the year 1978 these boys and girls donned prairie dresses and blue tuxedos and graduated together from the little learning place in the country. They danced the night away to songs by the Jackson 5 and Leo Sayer and promised to always stay together. They scattered like the four winds to big dangerous places called high schools but came back together in 1981.
Alas, it would be the last time many of them would see each other for many years. Life in the village was hard. The children, now grown, had responsibilities. Time slipped away and before they knew it, thirty years had passed.

Then one day, one classmate who lived in the far away village called Louisiana, emailed another classmate and said, “I’m coming home during Labor Day weekend. Let’s get together.” And that classmate said, “Hey, I’ll call a few old classmates and see if they can meet us.” And she did. And they did…get together. Eleven of the classmates gathered again…after thirty years. These folks came.
And now they look like this.
They laughed. And laughed.
And laughed. And it was like time stood still. Like they had never parted. After four hours of stories and laughter and pictures they hugged and promised to get together again soon. Because they realized what a special bond they had, a bond that most people don’t have. They realized that they had grown up in a very special place during a very special time and had forged very special friendships that have a fairy tale like quality. They realized they will always..in some way….be together.