Sunday, April 30, 2006

Isn't Mother Nature grand?

Thought you might enjoy this gardenia picture that my younger daughter snapped in my backyard yesterday. The blossoms smell even more wonderful than they look, and the bush is full of them. I was afraid last night’s storm, which turned the yard into a pond for several hours, would wash away all the blooms, but that didn’t happen. Lovely Lucy, who has decided that gardenias are the tastiest treats ever, will be delighted.

Today I'm keeping my shirt on

This morning, sleeping late, I dreamed another version of a dream I’ve had several times before: the finding-yourself-topless-in-public dream. This time I was in the backseat of my younger daughter’s car, going to lunch with her and her friend from work, when I glanced down and discovered that I’d overlooked putting on either a bra or a blouse before I left home that morning. This was all highly shocking and distressing to me, though not totally inconceivable, given some of my past fashion lapses.

Nobody else seemed to have noticed, thank goodness, but I worried that it was just a matter of time. We passed a little strip mall (no pun intended), and I suggested that we pop into a clothing store there to check the sales before we ate lunch. Fortunately, my companions agreed, and I tried to cover myself with my big purse as we left the car and went into the store.

Wouldn’t you know it? This was a children’s clothing store--nothing to fit me--and there were lots of moms and kids in there who passed by me as I hid behind a rack of Osh Kosh B’Gosh. My daughter and her friend were taking their time, excited about the good sale prices, but I just wanted to get the heck out of there. Still, though, nobody in the store gave me a second look.

In the dream, I was thinking to my anguished and embarrassed self, “I’ve dreamed about this, but I can’t believe it’s actually happening.” Isn’t that weird? My dream self was aware of having dreamed this experience previously, which only served to make this dream seem all the more real.

I can’t tell you how glad I was when my real-life phone rang and woke me up. The fact that this is apparently a very common dream theme did little to diminish the vestiges of anxiety that lingered until well after breakfast.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dumb-brained Melody

As sung by the Righteous Bloggers


Oh, my head is trying
to conjure up a post
that's clever and smart.
My brain cells are dying,
my blog is surely toast,
I can't seem to start.
I need ideas,
I need ideas,
God speed ideas to me.


Only stupid thoughts
cross my mind, cross my mind,
only stupid thoughts I won't write.
Where's that good idea
I can't find, I can't find?
Where's that good idea for tonight?


I could post more photos
of flowers or my dog,
I've done that before.
Those posts got no comments,
the folks who read my blog
are easy to bore.
I need ideas,
I need ideas,
God speed ideas to me.


Only stupid thoughts
cross my mind, cross my mind,
only stupid thoughts I won't write.
Where's that good idea
I can't find, I can't find?
Where's that good idea for tonight?


Oh, I know what I'll do,
I'll write a silly verse
to fill up some space.
Might not entertain you
but I have posted worse
and kept a straight face.
I nee-ee-eed ideas,
I-I-I-I nee-ee-eed ideas,
Go-o-od speeeeeeed ideas to-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo me-ee-ee-ee-ee.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

South Louisiana's teeth: grittin', grindin' and gnashin'

The drive from home to my dentist's office in Baton Rouge used to take 30-35 minutes. Today it took an hour and 25 minutes. The rain may have caused part of the problem, but the larger issue was traffic generated by the post-Katrina population explosion. The increased traffic is still depressing, but it's no longer unexpected. Because I'd started out 50 minutes earlier than normal, I was only five minutes late for my appointment. Fortunately, everybody else was late, too, so I didn't keep my dentist waiting.

When I finally got in the chair, the dental assistant commented on the changes in the office since I'd been there last summer. She said they have almost twice the number of appointments now as they did a year ago. As a result, the sole practitioner I've been seeing for the past 24 years has had to add another dentist to the staff.

I asked the assistant if most of the extra appointments are people who moved here because of Hurricane Katrina, and she said almost none of the increase is due to new patients. Instead, she told me, what they're seeing is an alarming number of stress injuries in their old patients. She said they've never before seen so many broken teeth, cracked teeth, and crowns dislodged--almost entirely due to tension and stress.

The dental assistant also told me about driving with her husband this weekend out to the area where I live. She said that in that short trip on the interstate they were astonished at the chances other drivers were taking, the speed and recklessness they saw over and over. My daughter and I have spoken frequently about that same phenomenon. It's scary out there these days.

I feel so sorry for the people whose homes and families were devastated, and I'll be eternally grateful that my loved ones weren't counted in that number. But the wind and water damage was only the beginning. Even we fortunate ones have lost our community as we knew it.

It's a good thing our homes are intact, because we don't go out nearly as often as we used to. It's just too much of a hassle. There aren't enough restaurants, supermarkets, drugstores, to accommodate all the extra people. There aren't enough roads, schools, teachers, doctors, dentists. Everybody is under stress.

But just in case you wondered, my teeth are in no worse shape than they were last time they were checked; no stress injuries to be found. You want to know my secret? Instead of gritting my teeth and holding all that tension in my mouth, I keep my jaws loose and limber. My method for doing that is to mutter "asshole" under my breath at least every three minutes while I'm driving.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Rainy nights, dead batteries, and fame at the Western Sizzlin'

Wouldn't you know, after weeks on end of dry weather, the sky opened up about the time I got off work, and for the next three hours we had a dazzling display of lightning, accompanied, of course, by the Heavenly Thunder Orchestra, featuring drums and cymbals. In the middle of it all, my daughter and I had to use jumper cables to breathe enough life into her dead battery to get us to the Wal-Mart automotive department, the only place we knew of to get a battery replaced after hours.

They told us at Wal-Mart that we'd have to wait for up to three hours, so we decided to grab a bite to eat. My daughter's doing the low-carb thing right now (doing it splendidly, I might add--or "Splenda-ly"), so we opted to duck across the street to the Western Sizzlin'. We knew the steak wouldn't be memorable, but we also knew we wouldn't feel too conspicuous in our rain-dampened clothes and hairdos.

While we were eating dinner and drying out in the rope-and-saddle ambience, I remembered a family story about the "color-the-cow" contest the local Western Sizzlin' used to have. They'd give the kids a couple of crayons and a coloring-book-style picture of a cow, and the kids could then turn in their colored pictures at the cash register. Once a week, the restaurant would randomly choose a winner. The prize? A free meal for the child, when accompanied by a paying adult, of course.

Well, there's a pretty little teenager in our family who won that color-the-cow contest when she was about seven years old. Her daddy told us about taking her back to the restaurant a couple of weeks later to claim her prize. He said she was a happy little girl as they walked across the parking lot. She held his hand, smiled sweetly, and said, "You know, I bet they're in there looking out the window and saying, 'Ohhhhh, there's that girl that won the coloring contest. We've been wondering when she was gonna come in.'"

Monday, April 24, 2006

It all depends on how you look at it

On Saturday I took this picture of the sky over my rooftop. I'd been in the backyard photographing the dogs and snapped this shot on my way into the house because I thought the light was pretty.

Henry Miller said, "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

I loaded the picture onto my computer and, as I paid close attention, I thought I saw more than the light. I rotated the image to look at it from a different angle, and that's when this majestic, ethereal horse appeared.

John Lubbock said, "What we see depends mainly on what we look for."

So I looked again and saw the shadowy figure of a man, a man in a cape to be precise, standing to the immediate right of the great white horse, his head at the base of the horse's neck. I've increased the contrast here to help you see him better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus."

Like I said, it all depends on how you look at it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lola was once a working girl

This photo of my maternal grandmother is one of my most treasured possessions. It was taken at the telephone exchange in Waynesville, Missouri in 1917, two years before she met my grandfather. In 1984 she wrote to my older daughter about work and marriage:

"I was so happy to get your letter, and lets keep it up through the year.
I'm glad you have a good job, and I think any job or any thing you do gets boreing at times, but when you think of the people out of work and hungry. Usualy when I get bored I count my blessings and most of the time they are the most.

"I hope you and your boyfriend are doing fine go with him and get really acquianted. But that was not my case. I was going to bussiness college in another city from my home town a girl friend ask me to doubledate with a boy just home from the army (WWI) and we went to a show, that was on the 10th of July and the 1st of Oct. we were married 47 yrs. (or until death did we part) and it wasn't always a bed of roses, we had our ups and downs."

I'm sure Mammaw and Packy did have their ups and downs, because everybody does, but they made sure that the grandkids never saw anything but the ups. What I remember most about their home, the home where I grew up, is the sense of love and security. It was a warm, safe place to be. Mammaw made it that way and Packy let it be. Ups and downs or not, they were good together.

Lazy Day in Dogville

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The monster under my computer desk

I just had the silliest experience, but for a tiny moment I was frightened enough that a chill ran down my spine.

Since I finished my last post, I've been sitting at the computer doing "next blog" searches for something interesting to read. I'd been at it a while when I shifted in my chair, and all of a sudden, my mouse jerked away from me. I grabbed it and held on tightly to keep it from being pulled off the backside of the keyboard tray, but it seemed as if it had come to life and was fighting against my hand. I rolled back in my chair, trying to look under the desk, but the struggle kept getting worse and worse. Finally, I spotted the "culprit." Apparently, while I'd had my legs stretched out under the desk earlier, the mouse cord had become entangled in the buckle on my sandal, so the farther I moved the chair back, the harder the mouse "fought" to move in the opposite direction.

Whew! Now I feel better.

Seduction gone wrong

This morning I was catching up on reading other blogs I enjoy, one of which is Mandajuice. In her post for April 18, 2006, she included a list of things her husband does that annoy her. The whole list was funny, but when I hit No. 13, a memory popped into my head that sent me into a fit of giggles.

In 1971, we were about halfway through what would turn out to be an 18-month stint of living in Miami, Florida. My husband worked second shift at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant. We'd only been married two years at that time, so the romance was still in full bloom, and I made it a point to be awake every night when he got home from work about one a.m. Even though he ate supper at the plant, I always cooked some kind of hot snack for him when he came home and sat with him so he could relax and unwind before going to bed. My daughters were in elementary school and were always sound asleep at that time of night.

On the day that Mandajuice's post reminded me of, I'd been shopping and had made an impulse purchase of some brightly colored, sheer, sexy lingerie. In those days I was slim and trim and comfortable showing skin, so I planned to make a grand entrance and surprise my husband that night.

The magic hour arrived, and I, wrapped in my bathrobe (which covered up the new undies), greeted my husband with a hug and a kiss, fixed him a drink and a plate of something good, and settled him onto the sofa to watch "The Dick Cavett Show," another part of our routine. I waited until he had almost finished eating, then excused myself and went into the bathroom. I gave my hair and makeup a quick, final inspection, practiced my come-hither pout in the mirror, then tossed off the robe and began slinking seductively back into the living room, one hand on my hip in my best runway-model manner. I had big plans that night.

What I didn't know was that in the couple of minutes I'd been in the bathroom, my husband had taken off his big, clunky workboots and left them sitting right in front of the sofa. As I rounded the corner into the living room, he looked up and smiled in delight, and I gave him my sexiest smile right back. Maintaining "full-of-promises" eye contact, I moved towards him with my arms outstretched...and tripped over his boots, took three giant steps, and leaped over the coffee table.

I don't even remember what happened after that.

Friday, April 21, 2006


My granddaughter said something really funny when she was little, but I've been hesitant to write about it because I didn't want to even peripherally perpetuate a stereotype. But it was funny, no hidden meaning was intended, and Mike broke the ice on his hilarious blog, so I'm gonna go for it.

I was taking my granddaughter to my house for the weekend. She was three years old, strapped in her carseat in the back of my car, and we were stopped at the drive-thru window of a Popeye's fried chicken restaurant. The Popeye's lady took our order and closed her window, and my granddaughter piped up, "I used to wook daow."

"You did?" I asked. "You used to work there?"

"Mmm-hmm," she said matter-of-factly. "Dat's when I was black."

Gal, Friday

That's me, today. And it's been a pretty good day.

My boss is a fisherman first and a lawyer second. Today he and his wife were in Grand Isle buying a new fishing camp (to replace the one Hurricane Katrina blew away), so I had the office all to myself. I love that once in a while. I wore my comfy old jeans and a T-shirt, the phones were quiet, and I used the day to rearrange furniture and "reclaim my desk."

I'd swear that the minute I turn out the lights and lock the door each afternoon, the documents on my desk are all over each other, mating and reproducing like rabbits. Sometimes they get piled so high I almost have to raise my chair to work on top of the stack. Today I moved an extra table into my work area and stacked a bookcase on top of it, which gives me extra storage and plenty of elbow room--for now, at least.

We were supposed to have thunderstorms (or "thunderthorms" as the automated weather voice says), but all the angry clouds could muster up was about 15 minutes' worth, and the rest of the day was gorgeous.

The cherry on top of my delicious day was a package from a long-lost, recently found cousin. She sent pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents on my father's side of the family, some of them faces I never expected to see, and I was moved to happy tears.

In fact, I was so excited to get these pictures that it made me stop for a minute and reflect on the fact that my thrills are much, much quieter and gentler these days than they used to be. What does it say about me that my idea of a sensual experience is driving on new, smooth blacktop? And getting new pictures of the dearly departed??? OOOoooohhhhHHHH, maaaannnnn!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ace Young was getting old... he had to go. Sorry for any of you who watched American Idol just so you could see him, but if you're being honest with yourself, don't you think a nice still photo of Ace would be an improvement somehow?

Tuesday night's show was outstanding--the best ever--but I'm worried about next week. I could listen to Andrea Bocelli sing for hours and hours, but I'm concerned that two weeks in a row of love songs will put Chris Daughtry in danger. He did a wonderful job on Tuesday and still ended up in the bottom three. And can you imagine Taylor Hicks, who absodamnlutely nailed it this week, singing anything that Andrea Bocelli would choose for him? It'll be interesting!

(If you've read this post, you may have figured out that I treat my blog exactly the way I treat my body: Sometimes I feed it something of substance, and sometimes I just stuff in some junk food and call that good enough. Sorry!)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Old Step Stone

This lady was my great grandmother. I don't know very much about her and, what's worse, I waited too late to ask. I know she had six children, all of whom lived relatively long lives and all of whom have been gone for many years. From U.S. Census records, I know she was born in Missouri about 1856 and was still living in 1930. And I know one more thing: At least once in her life, she used poetry to express her emotions.

She wrote this poem when she was 41 years old, three years before her husband died. She lived at least 33 more years after she wrote these words:

The Old Stepstone

As the south wind sighs thro. the leafy boughs
And the whipporwill calls to her mate
And the moonlight silvers the sleeping scene
I lift the latch of the gate.

I go thro. the shadowy path of the house
That once was my dear old home
And as the redbird stirs in her leafy nest
I pause at the old step stone.

But what means this silence the house is all dark
No dear familiar form
Comes with a smile to greet me now
Oh, where can they all have gone.

I enter & go from room to room
I call, and call again
But the echo is all that comes back to me now
For I listen and call in vain.

Loves instinct leads me further on
Where marble slabs gleam in the night.
And I wander about midst the tall green grass
Beneath the moons pale light.

Till at length I pause by a sod grown mound
Bedecked with the midnight dew
Ah! this solves the mystery for me at last.
This tells a tale so true.

Tells why I'm left here all alone
Adrift on the ocean of time.
The death angel beckoned, he answered the call
The call of the master divine.

And thats why the old homes dark tonight
Why Mother and all are gone.
Ah! the birds sing sweetly & the sun shines bright
But I'm left sad and alone.

Ah well! in that haven of infinite rest
We are gathering one by one.
May the family circle be all complete
When earths trials & troubles are done.

By Lida N. Saunders

Nov. 12th 1897 God Knows Best
Otterville, MO

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'm tellin'!

This photo was taken in the summer of 1950. I'm the girl on the left, the one with the stupid hat and the really dirty feet. The small girl on the right is my little sister. The dog, named Wiggles, was ours. That leaves the older girl in the middle, and she's the one I want to talk about.

The girl in the middle lived six houses up the street--not down the street, toward the drugstore/soda fountain, but the other direction. She was enough older than we were that she wasn't a frequent playmate, but I remember her quite clearly.

She looks a little bit like Laura Ingalls in this picture. In truth, she was our Nellie Oleson. We played with her when she wanted to play, and we played what she wanted to play. She struck fear in our hearts until the day she moved away.

This photo was taken on our front steps, but on the day that sticks out in my mind, she and I were playing on the back steps. She sat a couple of steps higher than I did, and at one point she picked up her big foot in its sturdy leather sandal and stomped it down on my fingers--on purpose! I started crying and stood up to go in the house, and that's when she grabbed me by my collar, got right in my face, and said, "You'd better sit back down if you know what's good for you, and if you ever tell anybody about this, I'll do it again!"

Well, guess what, Miss Priss: I'm tellin'! Brave soul that I am, it's only taken me 56 years to get up the courage to spill the beans about your dirty little, dark-sided secret, but today's the day the truth comes out!

Yes, I remember her well. If you ask me, I'll whisper her name to you. I won't write it here, though, in case she's still the meanest girl on the block.

P.S. to my little sister: I learned a lot from that girl.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Eggcellent answer!

Easter seems like a good time for an egg story, so I'll tell one that's related to the beautiful egg pictured here. My stepson, a talented artist, carved this egg from a block of plaster of Paris, then painted it, when he was 16 years old. I've always loved it and kept it prominently displayed in my home.

Sometime in the early 80s, my mother, my sister, and my two nieces came from Texas to Baton Rouge to visit me. I'm not by nature a neat person, but when you have advance notice that your mother is coming, you're obligated to clean until everything's spotless.

As we visited around the dining room table, my younger niece, who was about 5 or 6 at the time, picked up a deck of cards and began playing with them. After a while, she started absent-mindedly folding down the corners of the cards, and that's when my mom stopped her. Mother pulled the little one onto her lap and said, "Don't mess up Aunt [Velvet's] cards. Don't you see how nice her apartment is and how well she takes care of her things?"

My niece was embarrassed and a little angry at being corrected. She ducked her head, tucked her chin tightly into her chest, and looked out the corner of her eye as she responded in a barely audible voice, "Mmm-hmm. Except for that egg."

Happy Easter...resurrecting memories

This photo of my brother and his playmate was taken at Easter time 45 years ago. Seems like yesterday. He called last night and e-mailed me pictures of his own son, who's growing faster than I can believe, and it was so good to talk with him for a few minutes.

I was 15 when he was born, not a happy teen, and he brought joy to our household. The one thing all of us had in common was our love of that baby boy.

When I was 18, days after my brother turned three years old, I married and moved out of town. I had grown up in a home with no father, but with grandparents who made it a peaceful, happy place to live, and I wanted that kind of loving environment for him. For years and years, I felt guilty about abandoning that small boy to parents whose machine-gun bickering nearly drove me insane.

I was in my 50s before I realized that the bickering was simply a communication style that my mother and stepfather somehow fell into early on, not a measure of their love for one another. They were married almost 39 years, until my stepfather's death, and I didn't understand until after he was gone how much my mother had loved him.

My brother, you'll be pleased to know, seems to have turned out just fine. We've lived in different states for the past 35 years, so I don't see him often, but each time I do see him or talk to him, I'm struck by his intelligence and his sense of humor. He has a terrific wife, and their son brings them the same kind of joy that my baby brother brought to us.

To them, to my wonderful sister and her family in Texas, to my California siblings and their lovely mom, to the long-lost family members I've recently found again, and especially to my daughters, my son-in-law and my grandchildren--in fact, to all of you who read this--I wish you all the love, beauty, and happiness that are held in the promise of Springtime.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Trying to photograph Lucy...

Lucy? Lucy, come here, girl!

Lucy, that's good. Stay, Lucy!
Hey, where'd she go?
Ohhh, here's Lucy!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Feeding my spirit

Much like the tortoise who only comes out of his shell to meet his basic needs for food, water and, once in a while,
the companionship of other tortoises, I am an introvert. By the middle of the work week, I literally ache for solitude and serenity, and I'm enormously grateful to come home and find it.

Work was fast-paced and hectic today. Any feelings of accomplishment I might have enjoyed on another day were overshadowed by the bruising and battering of unnecessary chatter and the noise of office machines, ringing phones, and traffic.

It's comforting, when I feel like this, to spend some time with Max Ehrmann's Desiderata, which is about as close to a religion as I have. My first exposure to this poem was at my daughter's sixth-grade graduation, when her whole class recited it. It's framed in my home and ingrained in my heart.

As I read about going "placidly amid the noise and haste," I feel myself getting calmer, and by the time I read for the thousandth time that I am "a child of the universe," I feel relaxed, at peace.

Certain music also soothes my frayed nerves, especially "A Whiter Shade of Pale," which is my all-time favorite song. Can you imagine my joy, then, as I Googled to find you a Desiderata link and found THIS?

That, my friends, is nourishment!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

What do you mean I'm not detail oriented?

In a recent conversation where stories were being shared on the topic of "Really Stupid Things I've Done," one of mine had to do with wearing mismatched shoes--not once, but four--count 'em, four--different times in my life. I blame this on two habits in particular:

1. If I find a "triple-threat" shoe, i.e. comfortable, attractive, and affordable, I usually buy it in several colors.

2. At the end of the day, I'm inclined to kick my shoes off into a little pile rather than line them up neatly on the shoe-organizer shelves in my closet.

The first time I wore mismatched shoes was in 1972, when I hurriedly pulled on knee-high go-go boots, one black and one brown, and wore them to the grocery store. This was in a tiny town in Georgia, and my sweet neighbor, bless her heart, said not to worry about it, that anybody who'd noticed would be wantin' to get a pair just like 'em.

The second time involved high-heeled pumps, both black, one with a subtle leaf design on the toe and one plain, and one with a heel that was a half-inch higher than the other. I wore those shoes to work, and I remember that for the first hour or so of that day, one foot was sort of dragging when I walked.

The third time, I wore one black loafer and one navy blue one, identical except for the color, and didn't notice it until well after I got back from running errands on my lunch hour.

You'd think there couldn't be a worst-case scenario involving mismatched shoes, but on the fourth occasion, I managed to top the first three. That time, too, it was one black shoe and one navy blue one, and I remember thinking as I drove to work that the shoe on my right foot was painful. I couldn't imagine why, since I wore those shoes frequently and they were well broken in. By the time I got to work, I was too busy to pay attention to it. Once more, hours passed before I noticed I was wearing shoes of different colors. It was while I was slapping my forehead and laughing about how I couldn't believe I'd done it again that I noticed one more thing: Both the black one and the blue one were left shoes.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Catching up

On Friday, the phone was ringing when I walked in the door from work. My daughter was calling to tell me she was leaving to take Winston and Lucy to the vet, so I went with her to help her handle the two wiggly pups. Lucy had been vomiting occasionally since last weekend, but every time my daughter thought about taking her to the vet, she’d seem to get over it. She was eating well and her behavior was normal. When she threw up on Friday afternoon, Winston immediately did, too. That was the second time that had happened.

All their tests were normal, so the vet asked about their environment: “Anything different in the backyard?” In unison, my daughter and I responded, “Caterpillars!”

Lucy’s motto is “eat first and ask questions later,” and we’ve been inundated with forest tent caterpillars for the past week or so. We’re also seeing a few buck moth caterpillars, the fuzzy black ones that sting like a sonofabitch. The vet said he’s seeing a ton of small pets whose stomachs are upset by the acid inside the tasty little caterpillars, and he’s pretty sure that’s what’s going on with Lucy. We can’t figure out if Winston has been eating them, too, or if he’s just barfing because it grosses him out when Lucy does.

Saturday was a gorgeous, windy day and we decided to go back to the zoo to take pictures of all the things we missed on our last trip. It was a successful trip from a photography standpoint, and I’ll share more photos later in the week.

I was totally wiped out by the time we got home, so I ordered pizza and buffalo wings from Domino’s (couldn’t make up my mind, and I like leftovers) and spent the rest of the evening with my feet propped up. I read until midnight to finish Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner, the latest in her series of fun reads.

That brings us to today: Sunday. The Sunday newspaper here is big enough that it’s usually divided into two plastic bags that are both thrown at the end of my driveway. When I went out to get it this morning, somebody had very kindly picked it up and placed it right by my door–-except only one bag was there, so I got most of the news but none of the ads that I look forward to seeing. This hasn’t happened before, so I don’t know who to thank for this “favor.” Grrrrr.

I’ve spent the rest of the day scanning photos from my “pre-1940" file and looking for clues to identify people, places and dates. I'm hoping to get every photo I own scanned in the near future, and it's turning out to be quite a project.

Now it’s mid-afternoon and I still haven’t had lunch, so I’m gonna stop to eat some pizza. There's laundry to do for a few hours, then I’ll end the day with my usual weekend grand finale: Grey’s Anatomy. Good show! If you don't already watch it, check it out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I've posted a lot about my dogs, but I've never mentioned another strange little creature who lives in my home. I've been trying for a while now to get a picture of him to show you.

He's so cute and funny looking. I love to hold him, and when I do, he makes the silliest faces, and his big tongue snakes out and tries to lick my hand.

Sometimes, though, Butch just won't sit still long enough for me to play with Muzzleman.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The car wash blues

One thing I always include on my gratitude list is a healthy sense of humor. Some people might think I'm too easily amused, but I choose to think of it more as a deep and profound appreciation of the absurd. And today I saw an example of the kind of absurdity that cracks me up.

My boss invited me to lunch, something we rarely do, and we went in his pickup truck. As I climbed up into the cab, he apologized for the condition of the truck, which he'd used over the weekend to go turkey hunting in Mississippi. He had a pile of "necessities" in the middle of the front seat, and the outside of the truck had quite a bit of mud on it. Since I'm not a neat freak, none of that particularly bothered me.

We had a delicious lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and on the way back to the office, he asked if I'd mind if he ran his truck through an automatic car wash. Fine with me. He got his ticket and we waited in line until it was our turn. As the water coursed over the truck and the foamy soap covered all the windows, we laughed about how the movement of the car wash mechanism makes you feel as if your vehicle is rolling. As the rinse water rained down on us, we chatted about all sorts of other mundane stuff. What we didn't talk about or even think about was the pile of leaves, twigs and other debris that Nature had deposited in the bed of his pickup truck as it was parked at the hunting camp. And then the high-powered blow dryer kicked in.

All of a sudden, it looked like we were sitting in the midst of a whirlwind. For two or three minutes, leaves and twigs and clumps of wet dirt were picked up out of the truck bed, twirled around high in the air, and, as we watched in amazement, plastered right back against the freshly washed truck.

What a good laugh!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

For Patsy

Patsy of My Life and Times posted earlier today that her beloved pet, Penny, had been hit by a car and killed. I don't know how to leave a link in the comments section of her blog, but I wanted to send her this poem about the Rainbow Bridge. Someone sent this link to my daughter when her little Frankie died, and it comforted all of us.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Little brown socks

I've recently had the pleasure of exchanging e-mails with a first cousin whom I hadn't heard from in about 49 years. Of all the cousins on my dad's side, she's the one closest in age to me, and I remember how much fun we had playing together as children, before my family moved out of state.

One of the things my cousin mentioned in her e-mail is how tall and slim I used to be. "Skinny" is a more accurate word. I reached my full height at age 12, and it took about four more years for me to fill out enough to catch up with it. In this photo, I'm the tall girl with the long, twiglike arm, 14 years old, halfway through the filling out process, and on my first ever trip to the beach.

Anyway, discussing my formerly skinny self made me think of one of my most embarrassing moments, which happened at the swimming pool at Fassnight Park in Springfield, Missouri, the summer I was 12. Because of the recent growth spurt I'd had, my old bathing suit didn't fit anymore, so Mother suggested I wear one of hers. It was a pretty, shrimp-pink suit, and it fit well except in the chest area. In that area, it puckered and made my lack of anything resembling breasts all the more obvious.

I was embarrassed to go to the pool like that, so at the last minute I reached into my sock drawer, pulled out a pair of little brown anklets, and tucked one neatly folded sock in each side of the bathing suit top. Turning from side to side in front of the mirror, I satisfied myself that the socks weren't detectable, then threw a blouse on over the bathing suit so Mother wouldn't notice what I had done.

I should also mention that I never really learned to swim. My swimming pool activity basically consisted of entering the pool at the shallow end and staying cool by walking leisurely toward the rope that marked the beginning of the deep end, then going back and forth until it was time to go home.

On that day, I made one trip to the rope, where the water was up to my neck, then turned around and started back. When the water level was about at my waist, I glanced down and nearly died as I saw two dark blobs splashed randomly on my abdomen, shining like beacons through the wet (and now semi-transparent) pink bathing suit. I crossed my arms over my belly, whirled around and walked as fast as I could back to the rope, then leaned into the side of the pool, hunched over, and fished out the socks.

I probably should have dropped the socks on the spot, but instead, I wadded them up, one in each fist, and carried them under the water for a few minutes while I tried to decide what to do. Fortunately, a woman who had been sitting on a towel right at the edge of the pool chose that moment to get in the water, and as she moved away from the poolside, I made a beeline for it and stuffed my socks under her towel. I still remember watching her later as she picked up the towel, looked around in confusion, and said to nobody in particular, "Heh-heh, looks like somebody lost their socks."

For the rest of the afternoon, I sat on the bottom of the pool at a corner of the shallow end, longing to go home, and very grateful that all the little-bitty kids crowded into that end of the pool wouldn't pay attention to my puckered bathing suit top.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

All that and a bag of popcorn

About once a month, my older daughter and I have a movie night sleepover, and last night was it. She picked up the movies, the hot wings, her dogs and her jammies, and I got off work a couple of hours early, so we were able to pull off a triple-feature moviethon and still get to sleep at a decent hour.

We couldn’t wait to see Memoirs of a Geisha because we both loved the book, so we watched it first. The beautiful Japanese scenery and costumes, along with a simple love story, might have been fine for someone who didn’t expect more than that, but we were both disappointed. The book was so rich and substantive, the characters so well detailed, that we couldn’t read it fast enough and then hated for it to end. The movie, on the other hand, seemed to drag on way too long. So, two thumbs up for the book, two thumbs down for the movie.

We didn’t have any preconceived ideas about the other two films, so we used the “hold-‘em-behind-your-back-and-shuffle-‘em-back-and-forth” method of choosing which one to watch next. The winner was
Good Night, and Good Luck. This was a much better movie, and it was interesting, not to mention enlightening, to see the parallels between 1950s government thinking and what’s happening in this country today. Kinda scary until you stop and think that we survived it then and got our nation back to a better place, so maybe there's hope for us yet. (We just can't vote for more of the same.)

The last–and best–movie of the evening was Capote, which was a masterpiece of a character study of the author, Truman Capote. Like faithful reader and new online friend Patsy commented recently, I, too, remember reading in the newspapers about the murders in Kansas that became the subject of Capote’s In Cold Blood. I read the book when it first came out and saw the movie, too (which starred Robert Blake before we knew how creepy he really was). What I never knew until we watched Capote was how the experience of writing that book changed his life. If you’re into action films or chick flicks, this won’t be your cup of tea, but if you can sit still and you like something thought provoking, this one will stay with you for a long, long time.

On a final note of this unsolicited movie review, I can’t say enough good things about Philip Seymour Hoffman, who starred in the role of Truman Capote. He’s been in so many movies that my daughter and I have joked about it for several years. One of us will ask, “Who’s in that movie?” and the other will answer with a list that always ends in “...and Philip Seymour Hoffman.” He hasn’t been blessed with leading-man looks, which may be why he’s had time to hone his talent in supporting actor roles, but I think he’s brilliant! It’s about time a movie came along that allowed him to shine.