Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow Stories

This week's cold weather (almost over) produced lots of ice but no snow. The mere possibility of snow, however, was enough to bring back memories of my childhood winters in Missouri:


In the 1950s Missouri schools didn't close because of snow, and when it did snow, those of us who usually walked to school put on our rubber boots and walked in it--uphill both ways, of course. I remember one day walking past a thigh-high drift of snow and deciding to test its actual depth by plunging one booted foot into the drift. Unfortunately, when I pulled my leg out, the snow held on to the boot, and the boot held on to both my shoe and sock. To reach the buried boot I had to stick my arm down into the drift and feel around with my mittened hand, which meant leaning far enough forward that my chin was in the snow. At the same time I had to balance on one leg to keep the other, barefooted one as high and dry as possible. You might think this would have ended my curiosity about snow, but it didn't.


Following one winter storm, I set out from home mid-afternoon to walk about eight blocks to a friend's birthday party. The sidewalk, which was broken in several places, had a thick coating of ice over it. Several inches of snow on the ground had leveled out the appearance of the sidewalk so that the broken places weren't obvious, and each time I happened to step on one of those tilted pieces of concrete, I slipped, tossing the cheerfully wrapped present into the air as I fell. Falling on concrete hurt, even if it was covered by fluffy snow. After several hard falls, I started to cry. I arrived at the party with tears frozen on my face, a scraped knee inside my leggings, and the most bedraggled gift I've ever personally delivered. Happy birthday, my derriere.


One year it snowed on Halloween night, but the big, wet flakes didn't stop us from trick-or-treating. My little sister was about three or four at the time and low to the ground. As the snow fell and piled higher and higher, it eventually reached her low-hanging, brown-paper Halloween bag, gradually wetting and weakening it until all her candy fell through the bottom and sank into the snow. My sister sobbed, and Mother walked us straight home after that. I didn't make a habit of empathizing with my sister in those days, but even my own hard heart could relate to the trauma of losing candy, so as soon as we got home, I willingly divided my candy and gave Judy half.

Okay, all the best stuff probably stayed in my half, but still...


Back to that curiosity thing: Walking home from school one afternoon, swinging my book bag and happy that the sun was out for a change, I noticed a patch of yellow snow near a bush in a neighbor's yard. I'd seen those yellow places from time to time but hadn't given the matter much thought until that very moment. We made snow ice cream all the time that winter and must have made some in the recent past, because my first thought was not, as you might expect, why is the snow yellow? It was what does yellow snow taste like? 

I was happy to report to my family that evening that yellow snow tasted a little bit like pineapple. And not so happy after they explained the reason for the yellow snow. Today, sixty-some-odd years later, I'm glad to be able to tell you that yellow snow won't kill you.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


The thermostat in the hall tells me it's a cozy seventy degrees in the center of the house. I wish that thermostat could take a walk into the den and sit where I'm sitting, near a couple of windows and a door, and reassess the situation. Even the keyboard I'm typing on is cold to the touch.

I'm wearing an old fleece "jogging suit" (the quotation marks are because I've never jogged in it even once) with a sleeveless T-shirt under the top to keep out the draft, and I have a big plush throw wrapped around my shoulders. Heavy socks on my feet, of course. I'm still chilled to the bone.

The predicted "wintry mix" at our house contained sleet, not snow, with just enough moisture mixed in to turn it into solid sheets of ice.

Most of the driveway is coated in ice.

At the fence line there are pileups with leaves
and other things frozen inside. Is that a worm
in the bottom right-hand corner?

The patio chairs are all stuck in place.

wonder if heat loss from the house is responsible
for that unfrozen path on the right side of this photo.

With temperatures in the low-twenties and wind chill temperatures nearing single digits, we've had to leave a faucet dripping for the last three nights and two days. It seems impossible to me that the forecast calls for temps in the mid-seventies on Saturday--three days from now. Say what? I'll believe it when I feel it on my skin.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Last Trick Up My Sleeve (and on the Kitchen Counter)

Look at Gimpy's face:

From any angle it's a sweet face. That's because he's so sweet.

He's my go-to dog for hugs and kisses, the most affectionate dog I've ever had. He'll cuddle with anyone who'll sit still long enough, bestow kisses on anyone who'll allow it. He's smart, friendly, funny--a wonderful dog, really. The only problem with Gimpy is, he's a...well, there's no use trying to put a polite name on it...he's a thief. A repeat offender.

He's been stealing things since his first days here. He seems to have a fetish for soft things: towels and washcloths (freshly laundered and folded or, better yet, used), small blankets or throws, and the occasional paper towel or tissue someone has accidentally left where he can find it. His favorites are dishtowels and dishcloths. He can and does (several times a day) snitch them from way back on the kitchen counter, which means he's stretching up and putting his front paws on the counter. His criminal acts are increasing my towel-washing and counter-wiping chores.

It's annoying when I reach for the dishtowel I used half an hour earlier and it isn't there, but I know right where to look for it. Gimpy hides things in the same places all the time. The missing item will be in the den (either on the futon or in his crate), in my bedroom on Levi's bed (go figure), or on the living room rug on the far side of the coffee table. Often I'll find Gimpy right there with the booty, lying on top of it or holding it lovingly between his paws.

I know he knows he's doing something wrong when he steals, because he's sneaky about it. He never ever takes anything in front of us, and the fact that we can't catch him in the act makes it difficult to correct the behavior. It's the stealing we want to stop; nobody cares if he snuggles with things as long as they aren't our things.

Even if he does seem to know he's doing a bad thing, it's clear that he hates being thought of as a bad dog. He practically turns himself inside out with shame when we confront him with the stolen goods, and I'm sure he'd avoid going through that embarrassment if he could. Maybe he's a kleptomaniac.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I had an idea: a booby-trap. I gathered the supplies...

...then put the pennies in the can and taped over the top:

I wrapped the can of pennies in one end of a dishtowel, then laid it on its side with the rest of the towel just on the edge of the kitchen counter. It must have looked like easy pickings, because it probably wasn't twenty minutes before we heard a crash and Gimpy came bounding into the living room with eyes as big as saucers. We made a fuss, of course, loudly scolding while quietly hoping his brain synapses were firing and making a connection between the noise and the towel.

We immediately set up the booby-trap again, of course, and another couple of days passed (something of a record) before he stole again. When he did, he took a different towel, one with a different pattern and one that was harder for him to reach than the towel with the can in it. (I was actually kind of proud of his thought process and problem-solving skills when he avoided the trap.) This time I wrapped the can of pennies in a third towel, another different pattern, and set it up again. He fell for the trap the next day, bringing the can crashing to the floor and harsh words raining down on his spirit.

Once again I wrapped up the can of pennies, setting it well within his reach in a different place on the counter. That was about a week ago. He hasn't touched it yet, nor has he stolen anything from anywhere else in the house. At this point we're beginning to feel some cautious optimism.

My next challenge is to figure out what kind of cuddly thing I can give Gimpy that he'll like as much as a towel but won't confuse with one. The soft things he presently "owns" don't seem to meet his cuddling needs. Except for Lucy.

Gimpy (right) on the futon in the den with Lucy, a dog bed stolen from
the bedroom, a towel stolen from the dirty clothes, a stuffed-animal carcass
and a tennis ball. Gimpy does the stealing and willingly shares with Lucy.

He's a good dog, really, with a great big heart and a bad habit.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Louisiana Ice

After yesterday's sub-freezing temperatures and "frozen precipitation," I stepped out onto the patio first thing this morning to take a picture of these tiny icicles hanging from the patio table:

I was back inside, taking my coat off, when Kim called, "Mom, I think you need to bring your camera out again and take a look at the back of the house." So I did. I've lived in this house nearly seventeen years, and it's the first time I've ever seen anything like this:

They looked ever bigger when I stood right under them:

Frankly, I was impressed. Lucy, however, couldn't have cared less.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Great Duck Rescue

We're experiencing another cold spell today, nothing like the so-called polar vortex that's wreaking havoc on much of the nation, but still very cold for us. Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder. Local news outlets are, of course, issuing warnings to protect  "the four P's--people, pets, plants and pipes," so we're doing that. I didn't realize there had even been a discussion about the possibility of a rare Louisiana snowfall until I watched TV last night and heard the evening news crew groan in disappointment when the weatherman told them that, no, conditions aren't quite right, it won't be snowing here after all.

Our last snow was about five years ago. I have pictures of Butch and Kadi playing in it. Oh, wait--I probably wrote about it at the time--yes, here's the post. I remember that day well, especially the concerned phone calls I kept getting from my daughter Kim as the day wore on. The more I've thought about it this morning, the more tickled I've gotten, so I asked Kim for permission to repost what she wrote on her own website about that day. Here's her story (the beautiful photo is hers, too):


by Kim Neely

Believe it or not, this is what we woke up to here on Thursday morning:

To say that we were all excited would definitely be an understatement. We hardly ever get to see snow in these parts, so when we do, it's reason to celebrate. People were calling all their friends, running around with their cameras getting proof for posterity, and it seemed as though every other house had a snowman in front of it. Very cool, except for one episode that my friends and family aren't going to let me forget about any time soon.

There was a duck in the lake, about 4 feet from the bank on the other side, that kept swimming in the same place for hours. I had been seeing him there from 6:30 in the morning until around 10 AM, every time I passed by my window, before I realized that he was just swimming in the same spot and that I had never seen a duck do that for so long before. He looked OK, not like he was injured or anything, but there was snow accumulating on his back. Wasn't he cold? I just thought it odd that he wasn't off somewhere with the other ducks. I became convinced that he must have snagged one of his feet in something beneath the water and gotten stuck there. I worried about him for another long while, even soliciting advice about the situation from a few friends on the phone, before I finally broke down and drove to the management office of my apartment complex. My plan was to borrow the pool skimmer to try and rescue the duck, but they wouldn't let me use the skimmer - some nonsense about "possible liability issues." (I refrained from telling the nice management lady that if I wanted to go stand at the edge of the lake and help the duck, I was damned well going to do it, whether it was with the building's skimmer or the one I was about to go buy at the hardware store.) Anyway, she said she'd get the property manager and one of the maintenance guys to go check out the duck and see if they could help it, so I came back to my apartment and waited. After about an hour, when the duck was still there and I hadn't seen anyone out by the lake trying to help get it unstuck, I called Management Lady again to see what she'd found out.

There was kind of an awkward silence, and then she says, "Ms. Neely, the property manager did go out to see about the duck, and he says it's a decoy."

"Is he sure?" I asked. She said he was, and I wanted to argue with her for a minute, but instead, I apologized for the inconvenience and hung up. I still wasn't convinced, but not long afterward, the sun came out and the surface of the water calmed, and I could see very clearly that the duck in distress was, indeed, faux. Even as I write this, 3 days later, it's still out there, "swimming" in the same spot.

I am choosing not to be embarrassed about this.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When I Was "Little Susie"

While I was writing about the Everly Brothers the other day, I recalled an event that happened when I was 18 years old. It won't do any good to tell you about it unless you remember this portion of the lyrics to the Everly Brothers' song, "Wake Up Little Susie":

"Wake up little Susie, wake up
Wake up little susie, wake up
We both fell sound asleep
Wake up little Susie and weep
The movie's over, it's four o'clock
And we're in trouble deep"

It was the spring of 1961, three months after I'd broken up with a man I'd end up marrying later that same year. At the law office where I'd worked since the previous spring, we had a new girl, Jude, who became a good friend. Jude was determined I would not sit around and mope after the breakup. She'd gone to a different high school than I did and immediately set about introducing me to a few boys she knew from school. They were nice boys, and I enjoyed meeting them and spending time with them. Most of them were a little on the country side compared to my own classmates, not that that was a problem. Except for Sidney.

Sidney was a greaser. He was Danny Zuko from Grease and Fonzie from Happy Days long before I ever heard of those characters. He wore the jeans, the black leather jacket and the motorcycle boots, and he slicked his hair back in the same ducktail hairstyle. There were no gangs in our East Texas town; the only other person I ever saw there who dressed like Sidney was a recent transplant from the Bronx.

Jude assured me that Sidney was a nice guy in spite of his cool, tough guy image, and when he asked me to go with him to the drive-in movie one night, I agreed. Jude was right: Sidney was nice. He had good manners. He opened the car door for me, offered popcorn and a soft drink from the concession stand, and, when the movie started, he stayed on his side of the car.

I don't remember what movie was playing, but it wasn't interesting enough to keep me awake. I didn't get enough sleep in those days and had a habit of falling asleep as soon as I relaxed in a semi-dark place. Sidney must have had the same issues.

The next thing I knew, he was waking me up. It was two o'clock in the morning. We were the only car in the parking lot, and the only lights we could see came from the moon and the stars. I knew my mother would be angry and doubted seriously that she would believe my true story about what had happened. Sidney apologized and said he'd have me home in five minutes.

But his car wouldn't start. The battery was dead, and there was no one around to jump us off. I could have walked to my house--we could see the movie screen from our front yard--but I wasn't about to take a walk at that time of night. So, Sidney took off walking while I sat in his car alone in the drive-in parking lot. I don't know where he went, the hospital across the highway maybe, but he walked somewhere to make a phone call. He called his mother.

Poor Sidney. Something is wrong in the universe when a guy in a black leather jacket has to call his mother to jump off his ride in the middle of the night. Especially when he's on a date. That is not cool. He knew it, and I knew the embarrassment was killing him.

His mother came, and the two of them drove me home in her car. If I remember correctly, she did have enough compassion to let Sidney drive it. Sidney walked me to the door--his shoulders slumped all the way--apologized again, and politely said goodnight. I assume they went back to the drive-in after that and got his car started. (My mother slept through the whole thing--never had any idea how late I got home.)

Sidney never asked me out again. I didn't blame him. Once or twice in the months that followed before I married and moved away, Sidney and I would spot one another among the throngs of teenagers circling the parking lot at Zack's. We would acknowledge each other with a subtle wave and a sympathetic expression, then go our separate ways.

Those tough guys? Sometimes they're the tenderest inside.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Traces of Everly

My friend Annette, in a lovely tribute to the late Phil Everly the other day, referred to "the sweet beauty of harmony" that the Everly Brothers introduced to the world of rock and roll in the late 1950s, inspiring countless vocal artists to follow them along the path of harmony ever since. I was a young teen in Springfield, Missouri when "Bye Bye Love" hit the airwaves in 1956, followed by "Wake Up Little Susie" in the first part of 1957. Those songs caught my ear but not my heart; it's ballads I love. The B-side of "Wake Up Little Susie," "Maybe Tomorrow," was more my kind of music.

The song that secured my everlasting fandom came out in 1958: "All I Have to Do Is Dream." I bought that one with my babysitting money. By that time my family had moved from Southwest Missouri to East Texas, I had a new stepfather and stepsister, a new school, and a few new friends. I loved music then as much as I do now. At home my sisters and I harmonized while we washed the supper dishes, and Everly Brothers songs made up a large part of our repertoire. At school I was the tall, skinny alto in both the girls' chorus and the mixed chorus, safe places where I felt I belonged, and my love of singing harmony grew in leaps and bounds. To this day I can't sing a Christmas carol without slipping into the alto part.

I've always been able to carry a tune, but my voice, never anything special, is tighter now than it used to be. Many notes are no longer reachable. But still I sing. I turn up the music and sing along, old songs, new ones, songs recorded in harmony and others that should have been. I do it when I'm alone so I can sing as loudly as I want, and let me tell you, blowing all that air out of my lungs is one of the best things I do for myself these days. There is joy in harmony.

So many popular songs I've heard over the past half century are reminiscent of Everly Brothers tunes, and today's Saturday Song Selection is one of them. As I've listened to it this week, I've even found myself adding a third part to the two-part harmony of these talented Swedish sisters. Why don't you sing along with them, too? The lyrics are right there, and you know you want to.

The song is "Emmylou," performed by First Aid Kit.
Thanks to jamiecroft23 for posting the video and lyrics on YouTube.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Seeking Warmth

The Internet's "Hourly Weather Forecast" says it's supposed to be 60°F outside at noon today in this zip code, which is quite nice for outdoors at this time of year. It's ten degrees warmer than that in the house, but I swear I'm chilled to the bone. Do you think getting older makes one colder-natured?

At night I try to remember to turn on the electric blanket a few minutes early so the bed will be nice and warm when I get into it. Then, when I do go to bed, I take my bathrobe with me. Once I've crawled in and pulled up the covers, I spread the bathrobe over me like a Snuggie to keep my arms warm while I read. I always get too warm sometime during the night and wake up just enough to turn off the electric blanket, but still, after all that heat, the perfectly reasonable house temperature feels shockingly cold.

While I'm talking temperature (which I promise to stop doing any day now), I forgot to tell you how we kept the dogs warm last week when the wind chill temperature was 10°F. Three of our four dogs have winter coats; Lucy has outgrown hers. It's quite a challenge to put four dogs into coats at the same time, which we did over and over for a couple of days. Gimpy didn't like his much at all. Levi didn't seem to mind the coat itself but was impatient while I was fastening the straps and repeatedly inched away toward the door. Oliver strutted around like a proud peacock the instant Kim put the coat on him, just like he did last year. And Lucy, bless her heart, was amiable and cooperative as we rigged her up with a folded towel and two headbands.

Here's how Levi and Gimpy looked this time last year, when they tried on their new coats for the first time:

And here's the best shot I got of the two of them last week, after they'd figured out that coats are highly grabbable:

Here is Ollie in his coat of many colors, with Lucy, who resembled a fat burrito:

You know I'll complain endlessly about the Louisiana heat this summer, but right now I'm thankful we live this far south.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bright Sprig of Hopefulness

This was the view that greeted me when I stepped out onto the patio about seven-thirty yesterday morning:

Look at that sun, low in the sky, touching up the frosted lawns, adding golden highlights to cover the gray. See how it brightened my neighbor's garden shed...

 ...and her old oak tree that sits next to my driveway?

The sunlight felt like nourishment at the breast of Mother Nature, and the temperature rose into the mid-sixties. What a blessing.

I'd show you a picture of our view at seven-thirty this morning, but taking photos in the rain would have ruined my camera. Yes, it's gray and drizzly again, but yesterday's sunshine was enough to feed my spirit for at least another day or two.

The good thing about rain is that the dogs don't like it much. They go outside when they have to, finish their business quickly, and come right back inside. When it isn't raining, they do their business then race around the backyard, their feet sinking into the swampy ground, kicking up mud onto their legs and underbellies. Levi even got mud on his face yesterday afternoon, probably kicked up there while he was chasing Gimpy.

That mud gets tracked in, of course, gets shaken off their coats and slung onto open doors. I was looking at the back doorway yesterday, thinking all the parts of it need to be scrubbed, when I spotted another living thing that's trying to grow and, like me, needs sunshine to thrive:

Bless its little heart. I question its judgment but have to admire its boldness. Wish us both luck, okay?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow. It Will, Right?

If you ask me, 2014 hasn't gotten off to a very good start. I hope the first ten days weren't representative of what's to come for the rest of the year. It isn't that anything terrible has happened, just that nothing much has happened at all. That's my problem.

I had ideas and projects for the new year, things to do, goals to accomplish. I expected to get started on them the morning after the ball dropped in Times Square. Instead, I've done nothing. I dropped the ball. There are still gift bows on the dining room table. The bar area of the kitchen counter is covered with mail, mostly advertising flyers that could be dumped into the trash can with one sweep of an arm if I didn't know there are other things buried between the pages and the ripped-open envelopes. A receipt I might need is in that pile. A couple of dollars and a few coins, change from a take-out dinner. A recipe we tried and liked. Nope, it'll all need to be sorted.

I'm eight days behind in my "You Can Draw in 30 Days" workbook. I haven't registered for February classes because I can't remember my membership password and haven't felt like digging around to find the slip of paper I wrote it on. Besides, if I've done virtually nothing in the first ten days of January, why would I think I'll have the energy to take a couple of classes in February? I will, though.

Levi and Gimpy desperately need grooming. All that rolling around on wet grass may feel good in the moment, but it's taken a toll on their curly hair. Their coats are long, thick as wool, and tangled now to the point that combing them is impossible. They need to be shorn like sheep, but there are still too many cold days ahead of us to do that. Instead, I keep their scissors on the table next to my end of the sofa and snip out a tangle here, a mat there, when either of them lies next to me with his head in my lap.

Like everywhere else in the country, we've had record cold weather. Granted, our Southeast Louisiana broken records didn't see temperatures as low as those in the northern part of the nation, but most people here don't have outerwear for weather that hovers at the edge of the teens. It drives us indoors. It drives some of us back into bed, under our electric blankets.

My old, worn-out joints have been achier than ever, especially my right knee, which snap-locks into whatever position I put it in for more than two seconds, then protests vigorously when I try to straighten it or readjust its angle. It hurts like the dickens and makes me walk like Grandpappy Amos of The Real McCoys. That limping thing was a big problem earlier this week when a stomach virus felled me for a day or two. You think "the runs" are bad? Try "the hobbles."

Wah-Wah. (Debbie Downer noise.)

Okay, let's look on the positive side of things:

  • That stuff on the table and the bar? Nobody cares. I'll get to it when I get to it.
  • Those gift bows that need to be put away? I popped a few gold and silver ones into a round, stainless steel dog dish and took a picture of them. Shiny and pretty!
  • The "You Can Draw..." project? I could easily catch up in one day, and the house won't look noticeably worse if I spend a whole day drawing.
  • The classes? I love taking classes. They'll get me off my behind when nothing else will!
  • The matted dogs? They're happy. They're warm. We'll clip any tight places and get through this tangly season together.
  • The weather? It's much warmer today, and the sun peeked through a few minutes ago. It didn't stay, but it reminded me it's there.
  • The achy joints? I used to live with those constantly. They got better. They will again.
  • The stomach virus? Had it just long enough for Kim to cook me the best chicken soup I've ever tasted--with matzo balls, which I'd never tasted. Delicious.
  • Bonus positive item? I've lost eight pounds since January 2nd.
  • Second bonus positive item? Kim told me this week that she brought a 10x magnifying mirror with her when she moved in. Look out, ragged eyebrows!
Here comes the sun again. I'm gonna straighten out my leg, then get dressed and take the dogs outside for a good roll in the wet grass.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Chocolate Choices

While washing the dogs' dishes at the kitchen sink yesterday, I noticed a box of candy canes I'd stashed on a window shelf while Kim and I were making Christmas candies last week. I looked at them longingly, then tossed them in the trash. They aren't even close to being my favorite candy, but I knew I might break down and eat some if I didn't get rid of them.

It occurred to me this morning that giving up sugar and other carbs may not be a resolution, but it's clearly a re-solution--something that has solved a problem once and now must solve it all over again. I totally blew it over the past couple of months. I cheated big time at a Halloween party, overindulged at Thanksgiving, and didn't pay close attention to staying on program in between. Then came the Christmas holidays. We made cookies and candy, and Kim made a cannoli-filling dip (OH-EM-GEE!), and if you'd seen me stuffing all those sweets into my mouth, you'd have thought I was in training for some nationally recognized eatathon.

Anyway, candy is what I wanted to write about today, but the two paragraphs above are not what I intended to write about candy; you may disregard them if it's not too late.
What I wanted to discuss is store-bought candy, specifically, the kind of assorted chocolates that come in a box with a neatly labeled flavor diagram in the lid. A neighbor brought us a box of those this year, and they started me thinking.

When I was a kid and my mother worked at the stock exchange, the wealthy old men who visited her office daily to watch their investments were a rich source of boxed chocolates every Christmas. We're talking big boxes, most of them with more than one layer. Candy boxes didn't come with diagrams in those days, which is why Forrest Gump's mother was able to say, truthfully, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

That uncertainty was a problem at our house. I gagged at the thought of accidentally biting into a jelly-filled chocolate, and I don't know if the jelly or something else was my little sister's least favorite, but she and I both had our dislikes and preferences. We learned early on that we could pick a chocolate out of the box, plunge a small thumb far enough into the bottom of it to expose the filling, and, if we'd been careful, nobody could tell from the top that it had been disturbed. There would come a time in the life of each box when the only chocolates left in it were the broken-open rejects that even the adults didn't like.

I'm pretty sure I continued the chocolate-poking practice into adulthood, probably passing the technique along to my children, but it's been years and years since I've done that disgusting thing. Probably, I'd say, about as many years as it's been since candy companies started putting diagrams in the lids.

So, here's what I want to know from those of you old enough to remember when assorted chocolates didn't come with labels: Did you gratefully accept whatever flavor life imposed on you, or did you find a way to work around that?


In keeping with tradition, I wanted the first Saturday Song Selection of the new year to reflect the theme of the post, so I started looking for songs about sugar or candy. The best one I found, musically speaking, is good enough that it just this minute became the first song I've downloaded in the new year. If you like your music (and maybe your chocolate) on the dark side, you can click here to listen to The Grateful Dead sing "Candyman." That one doesn't fit the mood of the post, though, so I'll go with one that's super energetic, the way a good sugar high ought to be: 

The song is "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies.
Thanks to Todd S for posting the video and lyrics on YouTube.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


Aaaaand...the clock has started ticking down a brand new year. Whoopee!

I've written here before that the fallacious do-over concept makes New Year's Day my favorite holiday. This year will be better, I declare every year, and usually I feel that way the whole day long on January 1st.

This year I didn't. I had the familiar, warm, fuzzy sense of anticipation on New Year's Eve, but I woke up the next morning feeling distinctly...well...pissy. The weather was cold, and the sky was dull gray and drizzly (pissy, too) just like it's been for most of the last week. I wanted sunshine and sparkly blue skies with fluffy, optimistic clouds scooting across them. I wanted bluebirds singing and got only the raucous cawing of a couple of old crows.

My younger daughter and her husband had invited us over for a traditional New Year's Day meal, so we went, even though I didn't feel fit for company and was afraid I'd cast a pall over the whole event. Instead, the great company lifted my bad mood higher and higher as the day went on. The good food didn't hurt anything, either (the diet didn't start again until today).

There wasn't a big crowd like there was at Christmas, just four adults for the meal, plus two granddaughters and a great-grandson, Owen, who came later. When my daughter greeted Owen with a hug and asked him how he was doing, he announced somberly, "Bob died." Bob (named for Bob the Builder) is an iPad. The battery ran down.

At three-and-a-half, Owen can't read, but he's proficient with the iPad, and his scheming skills are highly developed for his age. His mother told us he brought the iPad to her the other night, pointed at the screen, and said, "See, Mama, it says right here it's okay to mix the Play-Doh colors." Heh-heh. Good try, little buddy.

He's beginning to like jokes, especially practical jokes, but he can't quite pull them off. The newest one he's learned is supposed to begin with the promise of a kiss on the cheek, but Owen botches it every time by saying, "Here, I'm gonna kiss you on your raspberry." Even though we know what's coming, the joke ends the way it's supposed to, with a big laugh that a small boy finds very gratifying.

Anyway, as I said, the bad mood lifted. Hope and optimism finally arrived this morning, albeit exhausted from the trip and missing some luggage. Tired as they are, they'll help me meet goals (not resolutions!) and challenges in 2014.

Right off the bat, the no-sugar lifestyle is back in effect (Kim threw out cookies this morning--be still my heart!), and after I finish writing this, I'll begin working my way through Mark Kistler's You Can Draw in 30 Days book. I know from experience that the sugar ban will help with everything, and I think the workbook will build some skills I'll need when I take another painting class in February.

Those two things are just the beginning. There's a long list of other projects I intend to tackle this year (too many to itemize here) and an equally long list of self-improvement goals (including becoming quicker to respond to emails and slower to anger when I see misleading Tea Party posts on Facebook). Looking around this room now, I see that better housekeeping should be on one of the lists, but...meh.

One can only do so much.