Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking into the Future

No, I didn't get a crystal ball for Christmas. Besides, it probably would've needed batteries, been made in China and only spoken Mandarin.

No, like most humans I'm considering the advancing year 2010. Already experts are arguing about what to call it. "Twenty ten" seems simple enough, unless one is writing a history lesson. Life is complicated enough without arguing over syllables.

It's also too complicated for New Year's resolutions. I don't do those. It seems like setting myself up somehow, all those grandiose promises to go farther, higher, faster. Given the current political climate, I'm pretty sure they'd manage to tax all that. Individually. No, I tend to face the new year with a smile and, "Okay, maybe THIS will be the best year ever."

And that's how I'm going into the future. Eyes open, optimism still in tact. I won't be making a Top 10 review list. Actually, if I see one more sentence containing, "hiking, Appalachian Trail, Argentina, Let me apologize or You lie!", I'm canceling my newspaper subscription. Okay, I've already considered that anyhow. For two months our local paper has sported a weekly column written by one of their new hires, which doesn't mean young and wet behind the ears. I'm guessing her experience might be more apparent to someone like say...our Governor. No, that wasn't catty. It's my understanding that's the general consensus of the newsroom. How else do you explain why an Op Ed piece is featured on the front page, week after week, written by a divorced, former lawyer who'd had a fling with Theology school but must've discovered her condescending attitude, posing as biting wit towards the locals, wasn't God-like?

Sorry, I digress.

This is exactly why I'm looking ahead. Reviewing the year has it's merits, but I don't want it to turn into an exercise where I re-visit all my mistakes, short comings and an incomplete To Do list. I don't need me to nag me.

No, I'm looking 2010 in the eye and thinking, "YOU are the future. I'd like to order a happy future, complete with a new line of employment which will allow me to cheerfully arrive home, rather than crawl through the front door like an exhausted survivor. Hubby deserves more than that. And so do I.

10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1...Ready or not 2010, here I come!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wow! Would you look at that!

Evidently I was good. Or at least good enough. Santa brought me a new monitor, so I must say you're all looking well. Rather stylish in those new Christmas outfits.

I, on the other hand, am looking like the victim of too much Christmas cheer. Did I eat too much? No. I kept that under control. I seemed to have purchased gifts that everyone enjoyed. Or at least I didn't witness anyone rolling their eyes when they opened a package. Jet lag? No, our route went by car. Snow storm? No, we had a TORNADO watch half the day and it rained so hard our yard is spotting a couple of small ponds.

So why am I looking a little worse for wear?

Because I have a very enthusiastic 10 year old nephew. He's my "Elf in Training", meaning I finally don't have to be the one who hands out the gifts while everyone else sits. Why am I still an elf? I didn't grow very tall, so I fit under the tree and I don't have to lean too far down. Nephew will make a good replacement....for about a year or two. You see, he's already as tall as I am and I fear that next year I'll be back to being the only one short enough to reach beneath the tree without a body part giving out.

Until then, however, I need to temper Nephew's enthusiasm a little. You see, I like to sit on the floor to open packages while all the other adults sit in chairs. So Nephew and I shared floor space. Which was fine. For a while. You see, when he opens a gift, it's like a whirling dervish has been brought in for a performance. Paper flies, sometimes gift parts get caught up in the thrill of it all and go flying. And on occasion, he hops up enthusiastically and swings around to show off his new bounty. Like he did yesterday. Running past me he suddenly swung back around, new toy clinched inside his fist.....and caught me right in the eye. Actually rocked me backwards a bit, causing all the adults to warn him to slow down before he hurt his Aunt Elf.

Too late.

Yes. Today I have a partial black eye.

Ho, Ho, Ho.

So I'm going to turn my attention back to you, with your bright shiny selves all sparkly in my new monitor. You all look marvelous.

And not a black eye amongst you.

[Note to self: do NOT celebrate New Year's with the nephew. You might not survive the sugar high].

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ho Ho Ho!

I know many of you are walking away from the computer for the holidays and into the loving arms of a confused family who wonders...."Who are you again?"

No, we're not permanently attached to our keyboards. We just like the invisible people on the other side of the screen. After all, they don't point out that we need a haircut, wardrobe update or to lose a few pounds. Really...during the holidays?

In a few minutes I will attend the mandatory office party, which this year is a Brunch. Then our employer releases us into the wild just after Noon. And I will not return to my desk until Jan. 4th....vacation is my gift to ME. Yeah, I'll probably check in, just to see who survived the merriment.

So to catch up before I get caught up in the whirl of activity, or as my brother put it last night, before I go out into the crowd of stupid people not paying attention, here's my report.

Monday night was Christmas Tea with the British Wives senior group. This year they decided to celebrate not only Christmas, but England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and South Carolina. So I got to see a "River Dance Line Dance", followed by three of the Brits tap dancing [yes, TAP dancing] to "Carolina in the Morning". Just for the fun of it, we were asked to sing along when we got to the second verse. Let me tell you, for women in their late 60s to mid 70s, it was impressive. And to think we're suppose to worry about falling and breaking hips at that age.

This was followed by toasts...sort of. I was asked to provide toasts from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. When their President stood, my sheet in hand, she lamented that they had no proper English toast. [Because they told me THEY were going to provide one!] One of the ladies in the group had scribbled one down, so it went first. This was followed by Scotland and Shug, you will get a kick out of this. I included the Selkirk Grace you provided for me. The English ladies couldn't pronounce it and the Scottish lass said she had a hard time with it because since no one seemed to understand her, she found it difficult to "read Scottish".


Their President came up with one, but I swear it was Irish...and sounded like the one Map stew had offered.

They used both of the ones Susan provided for the Irish and, although they had insisted I find one for Wales, they merely discussed how the Welsh had their own language which was so difficult, no one could pronounce it. Hmmm, I handed them a toast written in English. They got so carried away talking about the entertainers Wales had given to the world [starting with Tom Jones] that the toast got overlooked. We sang a few pub songs, half of which I'd never heard of, the other half I only knew from this annual shindig. They tried to provide one for each country, although we sang more than one for some countries. We finished with Auld Lang Syne to represent Scotland. And what's the song which has been stuck in my head ever since?

"You take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland afore ye. For me and my true love will never meet again on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond."

This morning hubby caught me singing it out loud.

However, the most fun I've had at any Christmas party this year was the one on Dan's blog. He's a clever and charming host. And he always has nothing but nice things to say about how you look. Thank you Dan. It was a lovely party.

So as you all head your separate ways to spend time with family and friends, I'll be headed to the Mother-in-law's house on Christmas Eve....because it's her birthday. In fact, she gave birth to her first child the day after Christmas....and that daughter married a man born on...yes, Christmas Day.

Here's wishing all of my invisible friends, who mean a lot to me for a variety of reasons, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Microfiction Monday

Welcome to Microfiction Monday, where a picture paints 140 characters...or even fewer. Below is this week's picture. Make sure you tell Susan if you play along!

Believing he actually did ALL the work for Christmas,
Santa was shocked to find
yet another Mom sprawled in a chair
clutching a wine bottle.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Breathtaking tribute

When I was 12, I traveled with a group of five little girls and a YWCA counselor to Washington, D.C. over the weekend. We'd earned the trip by raising money for the Y's teen group. Imagine 5 little girls, three white and two black, on a trip which was probably the first time most of us had ever left home without a parent. I'm no poet, but I tried to explain the emotion of it all back here in "Lessons Learned".

Anyway, one of the sites I will never forget visiting was Arlington National Cemetery, a place of eternal rest for those who served in the military. It was the military precision of all those stones lined up, for what seemed like MILES, that got to me. As we walked away to visit the eternal flame of President Kennedy's grave, I got so choked with emotion I didn't know what to do. I'd never felt so much for people I'd never met. As the rest of the group cheerfully raced to the van, I stood there at Kennedy's grave, remembering. Remembering being a little kid who asked her Mom, "Will he be all right?" Remembering her tears when she had to tell me he was no more.

About the time I thought my little heart would burst from this foreign concept of memorials which almost seemed like an homage to the senseless taking of life, I felt a hand on my shoulder. One of the soldiers we'd watched during the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was standing beside me. It was so cold that day the warmth of his hand was unexpected. I usually would have jumped out of my skin to have someone suddenly touch my shoulder. Especially a stranger. But there was silent understanding in that touch. An acknowledgement that the world can be filled with horror, yet people still care. That there's always hope. The lump in my throat begin to slide away.

He never spoke, just stood with me until I guess he'd decided I'd be all right. Before I could say thank you, he gave me a nod of the head and strode off with a confidence I wondered if I'd ever possess. This gentle stranger became my mental stand in for the "Unknown Soldier".

Today I saw a story about a man who, every year since 1992, lays 5,000 wreaths on the headstones at Arlington. The picture is breathtaking for many reasons.

{NOTE: Sorry, evidently doesn't like to share their pictures and the photo I'd posted was replaced by a ridiculous cartoon face I found offensive, so I removed it. You can see the original photo at the link below. }

If you want to read more about this gentleman who personally donates these wreaths, visit this link, where you can find a 7 minute video explaining it all.

Merry Christmas to those who serve, to those who have served and to my Unknown Soldier who will always remain steadfast and caring in my memory.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday 55

What? A gift for myself? Yes, I'm practicing scheduling a 55 in advance so I don't miss any fun during the holiday season! So be kind and let the G-Man know if you played this write a story in 55 words game.

It was the perfect gift. No worries about size or color. No standing in line to return. It was love personified. The best part was he understood it’s truly the simple things which count.

“Thanks,” she smiled as her husband cooked dinner. “You’re the only one who’s ever given me time for myself. Guilt free.”

Ah yes, here's my little Christmas angel
who is no doubt wishing for something to aid in capturing alligators,
not for a girl who will one day appreciate him as a husband.
Hey, if you had three sisters,
you'd probably do an angelic pose too,
just in case Santa was watching.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Memories

This towering example of kitchen wizardry was one of my grandmothers: "Memaw". No, you're not suppose to have a favorite Grandma, but she was mine. Besides, she was the only person in the family over the age of twelve that I was taller than.

The joke is that I "channel" her in the summer, putting up corn in the freezer that we'll eat in winter soups and stews. In the shadow of her own mother's framed picture of peaches falling out of a basket, once a year I bake Peach Cobbler using Memaw's recipe. She was 98 when she died and even though she's no longer in the kitchen, she's in least in spirit.

So in the spirit of the season, here's one of her cookie recipes that always makes me think of her this time of year. {Susan, it's what I make instead of fruit cake}.

Ambrosia Cookies

Preheat oven to 375/ Makes 14 dozen cookies
(Yeah, if you use a really tiny spoon... and I don't)

1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 ½ cup rolled oats [meaning uncooked regular oatmeal]
1 cup nuts
1 pound container of mixed candied fruit
1 cup chopped dates

Cream butter, sugars and eggs. Add flour, spices and salt. Stir in fruit and nuts by hand. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Microfiction Monday

With all the holiday rushing around, what could be easier than coming up with a 140 character story? Especially when Susan provides the picture. Make sure you let her know that you played. Here's this week's mental launchpad.

Not willing to jump through hoops for the holidays,
Rudolph the Red ran away from the circus his family became at Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friday 55

Yes, time to take a moment away from shopping, wrapping, mailing and all that other fa-la-la-la-la stuff to write a story in 55 words. With that short of a count, you can make time too. Just make sure you tell the G-man that you played along.

She was in holiday mode.
Baking cookies, wrapping gifts, singing carols.
And then, right on schedule, it struck.

Somebody had to schedule the exchange of gifts.

Everybody believed her name was Somebody.

Unfortunately, no one wanted to compromise.

Following the annual tradition… she caved.

“Peace on Earth,” she sighed. “But not at the dinner table.”

Ah, the only time I was ever
Ho, Ho, Ho!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Microfiction Monday

Welcome to Microfiction Monday,
where a picture paints 140 characters...or even fewer.

Be sure to share yours with Susan. Below is this week's photo:

The dryer belonged to Stephen King
so Sue should've known better than
to seek where socks vacationed.
But pink always made her feel brave.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

THAT would teach 'em!

My best friend works in a hospital's billing department and often sends me jokes featuring "Maxine". If you're not familiar with her, she's not Hallmark's standard hearts and flowers card character. No, Maxine is a tell-it-like-it-is senior citizen. Some of the funniest e-mails I've ever gotten had some pearls of wisdom from Maxine. Here's another one, courtesy of my best bud, pertaining to how messing with America's Health Care System might not work out the way Congress intends.

Maxine's Perfect Solution to Senior Health Care

You’ve probably heard the idea that if you're a senior, you need to suck it up and give up the idea that you need any health care. A new hip? Unheard of. We simply can't afford to take care of you anymore. You don't need any medications for your high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, etc. Let's take care of the young people. After all, they will be ruling the world very soon.

So here is the solution. When you turn 70, you get a gun and 3 bullets. You are allowed to shoot one Senator and 2 Representatives. Of course, you'll be sent to prison where you'll get 3 meals a day, a roof over your head and all the health care you need! New teeth...great! Need glasses? No problem! New hip, knee, kidney, lung, heart? Well bring it on. And, since you're a prisoner, you don't have to pay any income tax.

And who will be paying for all of this?

The same government that just told you that you’re too old for health care.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cheers! Um quick... I need a toast or three

Once a year my senior citizens get together with the British Wives Club, who utilize our building for their monthly meetings. For those of you who haven't been here before, our "British Wives" are English ladies who married American servicemen and range in age from 26-86.

Each year the British Wives hold a Christmas Tea for us. [Okay, so it's held at night but tea and English goodies are served].

We usually sing carols and an occasional pub song. But, wanting to do something new this year, the ladies have asked me to help them find Toasts from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The only request, besides the obvious "mixed company grandparent" rule, is that toasts be funny and in the spirit of the Christmas season.

So, my lovely fellow bloggers, got any you can share? Thanks.

Excuse me as I go perform their other request: to print the words for Auld Lang Syne...their tribute to Scotland and Burns. I'm guessing by the end of the week, they'll have added more Ireland and Wales to my list.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friday 55: dedicated to Dr. John

What better way to be fiscally responsible in these economically challenged times than to write a story using only 55 words? [Bet politicians can't do that!] Once you're done, make sure you visit the G-Man and tell him how you're helping to make the world smile, 55 words at a time.

Now this 55 comes with a Confession. Lots of weird things from my childhood have stuck in the corners of my mind, including jokes which were real groaners. This one, pared down to a 55, is lovingly dedicated to Dr. John. I bow at your feet, Master Punster and Guardian of the Groaner. (And I apologize in advance to me Irish'll understand why).

The old, red bearded Russian known as Rudolph the Red stared out the window at the grey skies. As tiny drops of moisture hit the icy window pane he sighed, “Rain.”

“No,” corrected his wife. “Snow.”



With a huff the man turned toward his wife and declared, “Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's on Your Desktop?

Yesterday Susan took a nap for me, so today I'm returning the favor and pretending I'm in Ireland as the rain pours and smacks against my window. Such weather does make it hard to get into the holiday spirit, even if you try viewing rain as liquid sunshine or pre-melted snow. I've decorated my workplace, which is a second home for many of the senior citizens. This weekend I'll decorate my home.

All this decorating made me wonder: do people "decorate" their computers? Are desktop photos switched to scenes of snow or decorated trees? Hanukkah menorahs or Bah Humbug! labels? For those who are snowbound or tired of irritating weather, are there scenes of Hawaii instead of HoHoHo?

Here's what's on my Desktop.
This is Hubby at about 6 months. The second born, he would be the first and only son. I see the mischievous twinkle in his eye was present from day one. And I swear every time I see this photo, I hear him saying:

"I'm telling ya...when I grow up, I'm going to get a Bow & some Arrows. Then I'm going to go hunt deer and alligators. I'll probably get so good at it, I'll even open an archery shop. Heck, I'm even gonna get me a couple of dogs, name them Smokey & Boo. Then I'll become famous. A Legend even. And I'll have lots of stories so I can keep using this hand motion."

Yep, that's the cover for this year's shop calendar. It's a secret. Don't tell.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Microfiction Monday

What better way to start the week than a story utilizing as few as 140 characters? Below is this week's inspiring photo.

"Jr., just because your father overindulged on Thanksgiving
doesn't mean you can use his body
as a playground for your car," sighed his Mom.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tis Black Friday

Which means just about everyone in the U.S. but ME is out shopping. {Hi Mom..hope you got some deals and returned home in one piece}.

I'm skipping, much to my dismay, Friday 55 today as the oldest furry kid had to go to the Vet and have...never mind, you don't want to know. But for the record, it was his ear. No other body parts have been... neutralized.

Plus Hubby has tendinitis in his right hand, which is not only horrible for poor him, but makes working today virtually impossible. So I'll be checking in here but need to keep an eye on "My Boys". :)

Here's wishing all of you a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful for the usual stuff...and then some

It's tradition on so many blogs to list what one is thankful for and luckily for you it's simple.

Once you get past the explanation, of course.

When I was 13, I watched a movie called "Brian's Song". Yes it was a tear jerker and the theme song can still make a lump rise in my throat. But it was before television "Disease of the Week" movies became popular. This one was about two Chicago Bears football players who were friends: one black, one white. No big deal today, but back in their day it was. The white guy dies of cancer with his friend, Gale Sayers at his bedside. After football, Sayers went on to become a motivational speaker and author. When I was 14, I read his book "I am Third". It wasn't long before you discover the meaning behind the title. Sayers believed, "God is first. My friends/family are second and I am third." It was his way of putting life in prospective and never allowing fame to get in the way.

That Christmas I requested a medallion stamped with, "I am third". I envisioned a girl-like dog tag. Mom had it engraved on a more girlie golden disk. I wore it for a couple of years. And although it now resides in my jewelry box, the sentiment stayed with me. I still try to follow the original Golden Rule of doing unto others, rather than the more modern version of "sticking it to people before they can stick it to you." And although "Them that has the gold, makes the rules" does enter my brain while looking at politicians, I still try to take the high road.

It's not always easy.

The rest is easier. Sure, friends and family can drive you insane but for the most part, they're there for you when the going gets tough. It's Thanksgiving. Let's skip the exception to the rule clause. So as I spend the day with family on Thanksgiving and celebrate my Mom turning 29 [again] and my nephew's pride at hitting the grand age of 10, I'll be thankful. Being third in the room isn't so bad if you're surrounded by people who care.

Which brings me to you.

I suppose the only "fair" way to do this is to go alphabetical by blog. At least that's how blogger did it for my daily reads. So without further ado, here's why I'm THANKFUL for YOU.

{And I'll apologize in advance for not linking all of these...the work computer eats stuff. Yes, I'm suppose to be working! But it's my lunch hour.}

AbodeOneThree: home of Matthew the transplanted Brit who has found love and life in the Land of Oz. I'm grateful for all the lessons he's learned the hard way...which he eloquently shares with us.

Dark Mutterings from Drumsleet: Ah, professor. "Blogger Zero" as it were. Most of you know Shug, a.k.a. Scottish poet Hugh McMillan, is the reason I found this playground of Blog World. I thank him for his patience, kindness and sense of humor in sending me to the dictionary until I learn how to think in "Scots".

Ken Armstrong Writing Stuff: The illustrious Playwright of Ireland, whom I think of as the guy who likes movies even more than I do, {if that's possible}. His writing always moves me. My heart and brain thank him, whilst giving him a standing ovation.

Mapstew: The Irishman I yearn to hear sing. There are times I think he may be a long lost cousin because we have so much in common when it comes to matters of the heart. Is there an O'Blush clan in your area? xxx

More about the song-Rambling with Rachel: Rachel's was the first blog I read where rambling was viewed as a good thing, rather than an editor scolding me to "Keep it to 500 words!" I thank her for proving that poetry is not for the overly educated in ivory towers but for those of us who live and breathe.

Musings of Meggie: I admit it, Peggy makes me grin when life isn't fair. I don't know how she knows what kind of mood I'm in, but I'm thankful that she always manages to share something worthwhile and uplifting.

Notes from a Broken down Barman: I can see him grinning now, wondering which way I'll go with this. Life is a series of experiences, both good and bad. You can't appreciate the good if the road hasn't had a bump or two in it. I'm grateful that he allows me to see that which is foreign to me, yet still accepts me for who I am.

Poetikat's Blasts from the Past: In Kat I've found another soul who remembers being a little girl, watching silly t.v., trying to believe Barbie isn't the prettiest girl in the room and realizing in spite of adolescence, we grew up just fine. Thank you for being the humorous side of growing up.

Radgery: I'm thankful that Radge has taught me how to be succinct in commenting, even if I don't always stick to it. And for showing his sentimental side from time to time, which makes me want to give him a hug. Please tell MooDog I'd be thankful if he ever posted again. He's missed.

Ramblings of the Bearded One: I'm thankful that Kim mixes in some of the funniest photos I've ever seen amidst his more serious ones. Thank you for sharing the ups and downs, and always leaving us with a picture to rival a 1000 words.

Stony River: I really do believe Susan and I were separated at birth, even though there's an 8 year gap in our ages. [No Thom, I'm the....more mature, age wise]. Well, if we stick to our alternate universe theory, it works. Susan's is the first blog I read, the place I go for comfort after horrible days because I know she'll understand. I'm thankful that, despite a full plate herself, I'm still allowed to be ME on bad days...and my sense of humor is tolerated on good ones. Besides, she's made me a better writer, for which I can never thank her enough. AND she let me adopt her son as a nephew because I always wanted to have a guy in my life with his name. How cool is that?

The Golden Fish: Stephen's blog is my moment of Zen. I have never been to a blog where I feel peaceful just...reading. And he adds the most lovely photos, words and paintings. Thanks for offering that sense of calm which engulfs me just clicking on your link.

Titus the dog: First of all, Titus is no dog. She's a lovely poet named Joanne who thinks my knowledge of American trivia is actually useful. I thank her for challenging my brain, for allowing me to speak of God without wincing and for lending me "moon-kin" in Scotland. I've always had a soft spot for red heads.

Vacant Mind: Dan's brain is anything but vacant. It's filled with the most wonderful manner of stuff he shares with us. Useful information on how to survive zombies & alien attacks, where to find ninjas to clean up messes work and has shown me I'm not the only one who grocery shops and wishes people would just move out of the way and let me finish my mission. Most of all, thank you Dan for making me laugh out loud, so heartily for so long, that hubby actually comes in the room to find out what all the fuss is about. Now stop checking my comma placement and just ENJOY yourself for a moment. Or three or four. Whatever the OCD is telling you. ;)

Welcome to the Old Fart's Blog: I thank Bill for allowing me to call him "Bill" and not old fart. I'm older than he is and I don't feel like an old fart! I enjoy his photo contests and the fact that, no matter how difficult life got for him recently, he still believed good would win out, especially with God as his back up. Although the Canadians have already had Thanksgiving, I'm still wishing him a good one!

Don't feel bad if you didn't get a mention here. Thanks to "Friday 55s" and "Microfiction Mondays", my reading list is expanding to the point of explosion. Besides, I didn't think you'd want to read until NEXT Thanksgiving. If I've visited you and left a comment, you know I found you interesting and I thank you for enriching my life. I'll be back. No, that's not a threat, it's a warning.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a birthday cake to go bake. Here's wishing that Nov. 26th is a day you can be thankful for....just because.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Microfiction Monday

So Susan said, "Can you write a story in 140 characters?"
And I said, "No. I can't write less than 500 words."
That was before Friday 55s. And now this.
Man, my previous editor would be so proud of me. Or angry. Not sure which.

Here's this weeks' photo, followed by my story.

"Double rainbow," he sputtered breathlessly,
checks flushed as he pointed skyward.
"You ever try to catch two leprechauns at the same time?"

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Answers: Did you spot the lie?

Here are the answers to Thursday's post to spot "False" amongst the truth of me. If you're looking for my Friday 55, just back up one post. Thanks!

1. I have ridden an elephant.

When I was 12, I spent the night with a friend and her Dad promised to take us to play Putt-Putt (a.k.a. Carpet Golf or Kiddie Golf), then to a small circus. The Putt-Putt place was closed but "Dad" was a golfer. He took 2 putters/ golf balls out of the trunk and let us play. We went across the street to the circus but we were a day early and they were just setting up. Disappointed little girls must look pitiful. A worker put us atop a baby elephant, one at a time, and walked it around a huge parking lot. The man wouldn't accept any money from "Dad". It was one of the coolest moments of childhood. Thanks Mr. Ross, wherever you are!

2. I gave a speech accusing Lincoln of being superstitious & Jefferson of being weak.
As Director of Elections, I gave speeches to high school students before registering them to vote. To make a point, I said people often vote based on the information in a 30 second commercial. Without using names, I gave them 5 candidate “sound bites”, then had them vote for President. Yes, I manipulated the exercise, choosing bizarre trivia about "good" folks and career highlights for a "fallen" politician. It was fun watching their utter amazement at the good people they'd cast aside as "crazy". For the record, Lincoln wouldn’t sit at a table if it made him the 13th man. Thomas Jefferson had such a weak speaking voice he PAID someone to give his speeches as he watched. And who did they elect? Richard Nixon.

3. I worked with a temperamental illusionist known as "The Amazing Randi". (Sorry Titus, it's true).
My Jr. year in college, I was Chairman of the Entertainment Committee; the title went to the person who'd do the work instead of just hanging out with the bands. One act was "The Amazing Randi". You may know him as James Randi, psychic debunker, who offers a $1 million reward to anyone who can prove that ghosts, psychics, etc. are real. The money is still unclaimed. He continues to be a thorn in the side Uri Geller, the guy who claimed to bend spoons with his mind. At Randi’s show we all learned how to "bend spoons with our mind". Google him and you’ll find a white bearded imp. (Hmmm, I feel a blog post coming on).

4. I have hearing like a dog.
Weirdly true. I hear high pitches most folks can't. It’s actually annoying because it literally hurts my ears. I discovered this as a child. Entering a neighbor's Drug Store, a high pitched whine made me wince. The neighbor noticed, asked what was wrong, then got an odd look on his face. He sent an employee to see if they'd forgotten to turn off a “silent” alarm. They had. He advised only women & children heard it. Men appeared immune to it, corroborated by my Dad, who kept looking at me as if I was nuts, and the fact the pharmacist had been there over an hour and hadn’t heard it either. A routine hearing test for school confirmed my hearing range is um…different.

5. I've never been drunk.
Okay me Irish and Scottish pals, sit down. Tis true. Can’t get drunk if you don’t drink. Okay, I had one sip and it turned me against alcohol forever. A neighbor handed Dad a beer on a hot summer afternoon. He took a few sips and put it down. Hours later he remembered the beer and asked me to throw it away before baby Bro found it. I did, but not before tasting it. Seems warm, flat beer kills the taste buds. Never touched it again. Smell actually turns my stomach.

6. I've been serenaded by the Moroccan "Johnny Mathis".
He was one of hubby's archery customers and supposedly on his way to Las Vegas for a singing gig. I was convinced he and hubby were setting naive me up. The man asked for a request. The only thing I could think of to test him was "Chances Are". Apologizing for not having the music with him, he began to sing a cappella. Although he sounded like Mathis, he was actually BETTER. But it was odd having this man singing soulfully to me as my husband sat at his workbench, smirking and making arrows. Yes Map, I blushed. More than once.

7. A U.S. Senator whined to me that he had to pay for his own lunch.
I once wrote my Representative to politely inquire how he could vote to give himself a raise while the rest of the country struggled to get by. Pointing out that I too was a public servant, I noted my salary was less than half of a Senator's pay….in the 1950s. His terse reply was that I didn’t understand. He had living expenses and had to buy his own lunch. Gee, that doesn't make ALL of us politicians, does it?

8. A man tried to blackmail me, but it backfired.
He threatened to blackmail me. But not for money. No, the currency he was trading in was revenge. And he wanted to see me squirm. I had introduced a family buddy to a girl friend, who proceeded to pop up everywhere he went. Today, we call that stalking. Frustrated, he called to say he was bringing someone by my house. I hung up, washed my hair, then waved Mom off when the doorbell rang. I just knew the idiot was lying. So, painfully shy me snatched open the door wearing my worst pair of jeans, a ratty sweatshirt and waist length wet hair falling like strings around my freckled face. There he stood with a Cheshire cat grin and a guy I’d never seen before. Mortified doesn't come close. (Map, I nearly burst a blood vessel on that blush). The buddy introduced us, then began to treat me like an audience for [Insert insult comic of your choice]. The stranger said nothing. And he was cute. I went inside as soon as possible. The buddy phoned later to gloat. The next day the stranger showed up on my doorstep. Alone. More than once. And yes, I married him. The buddy claimed the last laugh because I was stuck with the guy for life. I disagreed and we referred to it as "the blackmail that backfired".

9. I got paid to tell police officers where to go.
If you've visited before, you know I was a Dispatcher for the Highway Patrol. But it was always fun to watch people's expressions when I told them that. With a straight face.

10. I am terrified of the ocean.
This one's false. I figured someone would think my past 55 about Dad nearly drowning me in the ocean would be proof. But going to the beach every summer was the highlight of childhood. Even now the sound of the ocean can lull me to sleep. As a kid I once asked Dad what I would find where the ocean touched the sky. Rather than explain about the horizon, he told me there were wonderful people and places on the other side. He'd been in the Navy, gone to amazing countries I'd only read about, so I believed him.

Seeing all of you here just proves that Dad was right.

Congrats to Bill {the Old Fart} and Peggy for guessing correctly. See Susan, always go with your first choice. ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday 55

It's that time again. Write a story in 55 words...yes, you read that right. Only 55 words. Then tell the G-man so he can critique and wish you a great weekend!

Was it aiding and abetting or a truly an appreciated gift?
It was certainly a dangerous tradition.
Yet the woman insisted it was what she really wanted.

“All right Mom,” she sighed, handing her mother birthday spending money.
“If that’s what you want.
But you wouldn’t catch me shopping at the mall on Black Friday.”

It's true. Every year we give Mom "birthday money" because she loves launching herself into the "Black Friday" crowd, which is the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S..

You couldn't PAY me to get in that crowd of frenzied bargain hunters! But it appears it's Mom's favorite sport.

NOTE: for those of you awaiting my "True Confession" on yesterday's post. I promise to post it when I get home...because Susan wanted details. ;)

And sadly the work computer [yes, I'm suppose to be working] likes to eat things.

Confessions with Susan

I must declare right at the start that Susan is not paying me to keep showcasing her name in my blog. No, she just knows where fun can be found. And in today's bleak economical world, who doesn't need a little fun?

Blog world is full of memes, but occasionally they're worth repeating. So play along with me now as I offer you 10 statements about me; your job is to figure out which one is false. Tomorrow [after Flash 55 of course] I'll share the answers.

1. I have ridden an elephant.

2. I gave a speech accusing Lincoln of being superstitious and Thomas Jefferson of being weak.

3. I worked with a temperamental illusionist known as "The Amazing Randi".

4. I have hearing like a dog.

5. I've never been drunk.

6. I've been serenaded by the Moroccan "Johnny Mathis".

7. A U.S. Senator whined to me that he had to pay for his own lunch.

8. A man tried to blackmail me, but it backfired.

9. I got paid to tell police officers where to go.

10. I am terrified of the ocean.

So, in a tribute to Sesame Street and its 40th birthday, "One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong. Can you guess which thing is not like the others, before I finish this song?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Microfiction Monday

Susan made the rules simple...that is if you think writing a story in 140 characters is simple.

Take the photo below and write a story. Then let her know. This may cure me of run on sentences yet!

"When I said we're having a house warming, this isn't what I had in mind," she sighed.
And to think she'd spent hours cleaning the house.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting Into My Head

When I was in high school, I had a habit of sitting on my bed to do homework. Hey, my handwriting never was that great anyway so using my lap and a book for a desk might've actually helped out the penmanship. I would sit there, moving from subject to subject without a break, as if my brain might forget what it had learned mere hours before. Always started with Math, [because I truly hated it!] and ended with my beloved English assignments.

My favorite English teacher always gave us two grades: one for grammatical correctness and the other for content. Given my overactive imagination, the "content" grade was usually an A. Most of the time so was the "grammatical" portion, unless I'd used a run-on sentence or slipped in an extra comma. So I was surprised one day to find A-/A with the comment, "What were you thinking?"

Hmmm, he didn't usually make such... well...abrupt comments. So I went in search of the dreaded red ink which indicated the error of my ways. Smack in the middle of my essay was a "y", circled in red. I read the sentence, then burst out laughing. I'd been doing my Spanish homework prior to the essay and had used the Spanish "y" in place of my English "and" in the middle of a sentence. If nothing else, the man was fair. So I did stop by his desk on the way out of class the next day to confess. He asked for my paper, removed the "-", then burst out laughing. Confession is not only good for the soul, it's good for the grades.

The other day I was speaking to someone and realized I used the word "wee". The only person I've ever heard say that at work is one of the British Wives Club members...a woman from Scotland. She is floored by the fact that I love to hear her speak as she says hardly anyone in her "American family" can understand her. I'm guilty of making up questions to ask her, just to hear her talk. I didn't think any more about it until I was typing the other day and "wee" slipped in again. In the space of a week "lovely", "brilliant!" and "ta" had appeared. Often out of my mouth. When it was cold and misty, an awful sort of day last week, I heard myself whisper, "Dreich", while the head nodded in agreement. The day I began to type "But I cannae...", my old English teacher's face appeared before me. [He was sweet, but he looked like Ichabod Crane].

I was doing it again.

Hi, my name is hope. [Hi hope!] I am addicted...

... to dialects. My brain is wired to steal words I love from different languages. If I continue the confession truthfully, it will include the fact I actually HEAR the words in the dialect to whom they belong. And when no one is around to witness this behavior, I've been known to actually pronounce these words not of my homeland OUT LOUD. In their proper dialect.

Then again, I probably have Shug to thank for that. The moment I confessed my weakness for such words, he began slipping them into his replies to my blog. Made me reach for a dictionary...and LIKE IT. Then he shared a couple of his poems which, read aloud, are most wonderful for the addicted like myself. His "The Spider's Legend of Robert the Bruce" is like crack for the ears. Not to be mistaken for craic...oh man, stop me! If this keeps up, I'll have to be especially vigilant when I visit Jimmy B. .

I would, however, like to publicly thank my sponsor, Susan, who helps me with definitions I cannae find.

I will now go read your blogs to get my, learn what y'all are doing today. Please bear with me as my new addiction makes its way to your blogs: xxx

Take that Map! And a hug from me as well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

55 Time

“Let me get this straight,” he replied, eyeing her oddly. “You write for free and in return strangers you don’t know, never met, make comments. And this makes you feel good?”

“Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet,” she smiled.

Blog world.

Confusing place to the non-computer literate spouse.

Playground to those who understand.

If you write one of these 55 word stories, be sure to let the G-Man know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Although the concept of war should be outdated,
a subject for history books which reminds future generations
how backward society once was,
we still haven't gotten past violence as a solution.

And yet there are still those willing to step forward
and protect the home they love.

So to all the men and women who have served
and to those who serve today,
thank you for allowing me to sleep safely at home
while you protect us all.

Saluting you on Veteran's Day.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Glad to Know You

Every Tuesday for the past 15 years, a tall, (6'4") lean man walks into my kitchen and asks,"What you know good?" His nickname is "Bones". His Mama named him Reggie. He is as southern as they get, including the Rebel Flag in his front yard. But to him, that flag represented a symbol of southern pride, not the horrible racist rag it would one day come to symbolize to another generation. Reggie heads up the Kitchen Committee for my Senior Center, meaning he lets me think I am in charge. With a perpetual grin and a quick wit, you'd never suspect he turned 80 in August. He still rides a motorcycle for heavens sake. Someone ran a red light 3 years ago and tried to make him a hood ornament. Broke his collar bone but not his spirit. He may have shed a tear over the bike he loved, but he went out and got a new one. And STILL refused to wear a helmet. You'd think a man who was a Volunteer Fire Fighter for 40 years would be more safety conscious. But no, he like to feel the wind in "what little hair I have left."

If there was an award given for the ability to "Tease with Tongue Planted Firmly in Cheek", it would go to Reggie. I tease him that if he'd strap a coin changer to his belt, he could charge for those shoulder massages he offers to anyone willing to stand still. Stand still...they practically stand in line for his gentle, soothing touch. This Tuesday, however, will be different.

We buried him this afternoon.

It's still hard to think of Reggie in the past tense, as in "he was". Reggie was the kind of guy who walked into the room and it filled with good hearted kindness and joy. And laughter. LOTS of laughter. He'd gone to school with one of the ladies since they were about 8 or 9. Every week she walked in he'd yell, "Hey Buzzard!" and without missing a beat she'd yell back, "Hey ugly!" Then they'd hug heartily as the new people in the group looked to me for an explanation.

Reggie loved to laugh and yet he had that southern gentleman thing going so that if he told a joke, it was one you could tell in mixed company with the preacher standing by. Sure, they were often corny but they were funny. Sometimes you'd groan, sometimes it was a good belly laugh. Always there was a twinkle in his eye.

A couple of months ago, Reggie had gone out to supper with friends that he and his wife ate with weekly. His wife hadn't been feeling well and stayed home. Reggie called me that Monday to let me know he was going to be late for lunch because he had a doctor's appointment. Asking if I had the time, he told me of his "odd episode." After eating dinner with his friends, he explained that he remembered stopping to get gas, but he didn't remember where. Feeling odd, he went inside and asked the Clerk, who was filling up a cigarette machine, where he was. The guy, without looking at Reggie, muttered the name of the city where he'd had dinner. Reggie's a laid back kind of guy so with a smile I'm sure, he admitted to the guy he was a little confused. Turned around. Wondered if he maybe had a mini-stroke. Could the man please tell him exactly where he was?

Without looking up, the man merely repeated the name of the city, as he continued his task. Reggie got disgusted and walked out. He said he didn't really panic until later on, when his truck's side view mirror broke. He was driving down a road which had one lane blocked due to construction. Because he wasn't sure where he was, Reggie was driving slow and the driver behind him began to angrily flash his lights. When he glanced in the rear view mirror, he swerved slightly and hit one of the large, orange parking cones marking the lane. It flew up, hit his rear view mirror and the glass flew inside the truck, across his lap and onto the seat. Reggie said it was as if someone had flipped on a switch in his head. He pulled off the road and looked at the shattered shards on the front seat. He'd said he never rode with his window down but that night he had. The light glinting off the flying glass had, woke him up, as he put it.

Looking around he found himself on an interstate highway, headed north. He lived south. And two hours had passed.

Reggie said he didn't remember even getting on the road but he found his way back home. The doctor wanted to run some tests and he'd try to get to lunch before it was over. I assured him everything was fine.

When he came to lunch the next day, I asked how he was and he replied fine. Then he started with, "The weirdest thing happened to me Sunday." Silly me, I butt in and offered, "Yeah and if we ever figure out what gas station you went to, I will go have a word with that idiot who ignored you!" He looked at me oddly, asking if his wife had told me the story. When I said he'd told me on the phone the day before, he didn't remember calling.

A chill ran down my spine.

Over the next few weeks he'd have one more mini-stroke that put him in the hospital for a couple of days. I'm thinking his crankiness at being in a bed for so long got him discharged early. He said there were no clots in his brain but that a carotid artery was being treated by medication. He grinned, saying he'd won at least one round with his doctor. "She told me I couldn't drive for 6 months. I told her fine, I'd just ride the motorcycle. She shook her head and said, 'No driving!' to which I looked at her and said, 'It's not driving, it's RIDING.'" With a wink, he left the room with me grinning ear to ear.

And last Tuesday he was in my kitchen. When he finished his prep work, he'd go and sit in the recliner in my office. We had a deal: he could "exercise" the recliner if he promised not to snore. He always kept up his end of the bargain. He asked what time to put in the biscuits as I tried to co-ordinate another event. I knew that if I wasn't finished by noon, he would carry the food out to our buffet table, say grace and get the troops moving. As always I thanked him and he thanked me for fixing such a good meal. "And anyone who doesn't appreciate your cooking or all you do for us can answer to me!" he added, just loud enough for the complainers to hear. I can honestly say Reggie has often been the reason I haven't thrown my hands up in the air and walked out the door. He was my weekly hug and encouragement. All he charged was a smile.

Friday afternoon there was message on my home answering machine,"Reggie's dead."

Unexpected deaths, even in older folks, are often shocking. In fact, it is THE worst part of my job; getting close to people that begin to feel like extended family, then losing them. Reggie was so full of life, always helping others, that I had to play the message again to make it even begin to feel real. And yet at his funeral there was lots of laughter. I think he planned that somehow, making us laugh so regularly that it's the only sound we associate with him. One lady spoke of all the pranks they'd played on each other over the years. "I loved Biker Week and would ride down when he went down there with his wife. My birthday's then. He bought me a pair of yellow underwear that 10 women could've gotten in at the same time. I took them and ran them up the flag pole in front of his daughter's house. The next year he got me a pink pair....and put my name on them so I couldn't give them away." And with that, she opened a box and pulled out the biggest pair of hot pink panties I've ever seen and the crowd roared with laughter, shaking the rafters of that country church. I swear I could see Reggie sitting in the rafters, smiling.

The kitchen won't seem the same tomorrow. I even went ahead and set the tables today so I won't have to think about him not being there to do that for me. And yet, I'll still hear that ghostly laugh and cheerful greeting,"What you know good?"

My answer will be, "You."

Reggie last year at our annual Halloween Costume Contest.
His mask is laying next to his plate.
The mug is a skeleton one I got him that year to reflect his nickname, "Bones".
He liked it so much he insisted on drinking out of it every week.
He even took it home and "doctored up the eyes" by adding red to them.
I think some of our newer members thought both of us were nuts, but he enjoyed the joke.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Flash Fiction Friday

You know the drill. Oh, new here? The drill is simple: write a story in only 55 words (yes, really). Then let the G-Man know all about it. Have a great weekend!

“Okay troops. Go!” chanted the leader.

The first one out laughed, “Geronimo!”

One by one they flung themselves into the autumn air.

“Looks fun,” sighed the pine tree as the leaves flew past.

“Yeah, until THEY arrive,” snickered the second pine.

Running toward the leaf pile,
the children flung themselves into the air yelling, “Geronimo!”

Learning Something New

The longest part of my day occurs at the tail end of the After School program. Homework is done. Snacks have been scarfed down, the world's most aggressive game of Hide 'n Go Seek has concluded and they're bored with board games. For the last 20-30 minutes of waiting on a ride to pick them up, they want to be entertained. Yes, when I am most weary my brain is suppose to come up with something "fun" to do to pass that time.

Some days I revert to simple games to mentally challenge their under utilized brains. I try to exercise that grey matter before they head home to computer games and too much Pay-Per-View television. One of their favorites is the "Deserted Island Game".

It's simple. Well, depending on how tired I am. I've been known to shorten up the story leading to HOW they end up on an island, all alone, because their boat was sinking and they had five minutes to grab 5 things. You don't know how long you'll be there, I always warn them. Choose carefully.

There was one kid left yesterday but the "Island" game doesn't need a special number of players. This kid, however, wasn't happy with a quick "and you have to grab stuff before the boat sinks." No, she needed to know WHY the boat was sinking. Wasn't the Captain paying attention? Why was there only one life raft? Where did everyone ELSE go, leaving her to go to the Island alone?


Finally, she compiled her list of five things. The were: a fancy dress, high heels, jewelry, make up, a boy and a bed. Trying not to laugh, I pointed out that was 6 things.

She dumped the bed.

Did I mention she's only SEVEN?!

We discussed what she was going to eat. Don't Deserted Islands have a McDonald's? she inquired. I had to define deserted. So where would she sleep if it rained? How would she make fire to cook any food she might find? Most of her answers boiled down to the boy would take care of things, she would merely sit there and "look good!"


We played again today. At her request. I thought this meant she'd been thinking about this. Today's list was: a fancy dress, high heels, jewelry and make up, but no boy. No, he'd been replaced by...

... pajamas.

I don't know if that's progress or not. However she did inform me that if they kicked her off that boat again, she'd swim back, climb on and tell them who was really in charge. No doubt while reapplying her make up and checking her earrings.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Say What?!

Every morning I listen to the same two radio DJs I've tuned in to for the past 15 years. Or more. They're quite the pair, Brent and George. Brent, a.k.a. "the Boss", is a Georgia boy and son of a preacher man. George is a New Yorker who has an Irish-Italian heritage and possess the same warped sense of humor I hold dear to my own heart. Brent does the best impression I've ever heard of a VERY southern church lady who believes she knows everyone in every car that's had an accident. Well of course she wants to stop and get a good look, to tell the other ladies while they're at the Beauty Parlor. George is great with one liners and has the most contagious laugh! As Brent likes to mispronounce things to get under George's skin, think pronouncing Italian as I-talian, they have the comedic timing of a latter day Abbott and Costello. (And if you're too young to understand that, go look it up! Try "Who's on First". Yes, it's on YouTube).

Brent has a thing about lists; he always has a Top 10 Something or Other list. This morning's was an international polling of "Which Accent Women Find Most Attractive In a Man."

Oh yeah, this is an educational show. :)

The key here is knowing that science has proven men are moved [emotionally and otherwise] by what they see, while women are moved by what they HEAR. So here's as much of the list as I can recall....hey, someone was tailgating while I was driving, my concentration was split. And yes, some of the countries brought immediate men to mind.

1. Irish
Go Pierce Brosnan! 2nd best James Bond on record.

2. Italian
The DeLuise clan in Hollywood, from chubby Dom (RIP) to his actor and director sons.

3. Scottish
(Here the boys made a HORRIBLE mistake, wondering aloud if Irish & Scots were different. I rolled my eyes and yelled back, "YES!"). Well duh, Sean Connery! And in appreciation of my warped sense of humor, I added Craig Ferguson to the list. Although technically, he's switched teams & is now American. [No Susan, I didn't forget "Mr. Scott"].

4. French

5. Australian
[Thank you for the fine specimen which is Hugh Jackman. You may keep Russell Crowe].

6. British
[Hello Hugh Laurie...although I prefer his cranky "Dr. House" American accent].

Every thing's a blur until #10....although SWEDISH was in there somewhere! [And yes, the only Swedish "man" I could think of was the Muppet Cook].

American men, you are number 10. Personally, I think it's because you don't have a single accent. As Brent and George demonstrated. Brent did his version of a southern redneck trying to convince "Baby" that picking stuff up off the lawn was real work. George meanwhile, channeled De Niro in "You talking to me?"

So there is your unscientific study based on the science which is suppose to lend credence to what women like to hear.

Meanwhile, I'll stick to my American hubby, of Michigan lineage, born in Japan.

(Okay, his father was in the Air Force, thus the odd place of birth).

Go forth and have a listen. And ladies, report back. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Susan Started It!

Welcome to Microfiction Monday, where a picture only paints 140 characters.

Those are Susan's rules. And I thought 55 WORDS was hard.

Here's today's picture. Below is the story.

He was her last.
Watching tenderly, her eyes searched to see his future,
who he'd become.
Anything, she smiled.
Anything but a politician.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

As the weekend slides toward Monday
and we get even closer to the holiday season,
here's wishing all of you a good week.
Except Dan.
For he has told the truth and
we've all encouraged him to be grumpy out loud.
Hey Dan....
don't be surprised if some of us join you in a Grouch Fest.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Flash Fiction Time

You know the rules. Write a 55 word story and tell the G-Man all about it. It's fun. It's addictive. Hey, at least it's not fattening. Hey, that leaves room for some Halloween candy.

As the camera appeared, the subject attempted to slink away. Not because he wasn’t photogenic. In fact, he was handsome and quite noble. But he truly hated the whole process.

“Come on,” she coaxed gently. “I can’t help it the calendar became so popular. Besides, it’s only once a year.”

Disgusted, he refused to smile.

Meet "Mr. October".
Needless to say Smokey isn't fond of "calendar season".

It all started out as a joke for Christmas several years ago. Hubby's Archery Shop would not have the usual girlie calendar found in other men's shops. No, I Super Wife would create one just for the out of doors kinda guy. Every month would feature Smokey or Hubby and Smokey with whatever they had found in the field. I thought it was a one time thing.

In November of the following year hubby said, "I can't wait to see this year's calendar!"


So a tradition was born. In fact Hubby keeps all the calendars and new customers often ask to "review" them while they wait. I tried to help Smokey one year by featuring his laid back son Bou as "Mr. October." See for yourself.

He was sleeping when I put the horns on. He slept through the photo process. He was still sleeping when I took them off. I called his name to make sure he was alive. He wagged his tail enthusiastically, but never opened his eyes. Bou loves his naps! [Note: I'm sure Hubby would like me to point out that after this photo was taken, he personally refinished our hardwood floors, so they no longer look like this].

So rather than torture Smokey every year, I just reuse the October shot. I still add the occasional new ones and now I have Bou for a model as well. But I don't want to push my luck. After all, the look Smokey gave me when we finished that shot scared the devil out of me. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cure for Monday Blues

If you've been here before you know I'm not fond of Mondays. If it's your first time here, I won't scare you away. Let it suffice to say Work is not a happy place...I go in happy, but the smile falls off my face by five o'clock.

Today, Dan made sure he started my day off right and kept the smile on my face all day long. It worked. Because he gave me this.
Now I know I'm suppose to get jaded at some point, put all my nice little awards in a file and tell you good people to go peruse them at will. Sorry, not happening. It's not an ego thing. It's a GRATITUDE thing. Folks who have been nice enough to share should get a pat on their back as well. So THANK YOU DAN for ensuring today was a better way to start the week.

Now, a quick question....which would've been this post if Dan hadn't been so sweet first. Yesterday I watched a program about the "Shroud of Turin" which offered an interesting footnote past the usual, "It was faked". I'll try to go back and find the program link, but the bottom line was this: It was a custom work of art created for a rich

Leonardo da Vinci.

The program went on to say that daVinci was a student of human anatomy who constantly studied to see what composed the "perfect" face. [As in how far apart the eyes should be, etc.]. Using a computer generated image, an expert showed that the "Mona Lisa" is actually....

...yep, da Vinci.

It was amazing to watch how they put all this together. The "Mona Lisa" and da Vinci's self portrait as an older man were overlaid and it was a perfect match. The most interesting point came with the overlay of another painter's portrait of a young man that proved a perfect match with... the Shroud of Turin. The subject of the portrait? Say it with me...

da Vinci.

The portrait was of Leonardo as a very young man. In fact, that portrait made the experts go back and do one more overlay. It seems Christ in the "Last Supper" was once again the face of da Vinci. The program concluded that it was not known if da Vinci was thumbing his nose at religion in general or at the Church in particular for asking its followers to believe without question.

So, in your opinions, (humble or otherwise), do you think da Vinci faked this religious relic, or is the "Shroud of Turin" actually the shroud of Christ?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tightening up on Security

With the times we live in, you can't be too careful. Although Hubby's Archery Shop is small, it's insured and has an alarm system. We live out in the country and I've always felt safe here. But you never know what's lurking around the corner.

The other night Hubby walked in and said, "I think there's something you should know". With that, he handed me his camera. Now usually this means I am about to download and edit photos of him or his buddies as it's hunting season here. That usually entails lighting up shots taken way past daylight without use of a flash or cropping out whoever is holding the camera and casting a shadow. But this time, I was stunned. When I downloaded the photos, I discovered I was no longer Hubby's sole employee.

He'd hired a security guard. Take a look for yourself.

Yep, it's Walter.

Some of you already know Walter...the grumpy old man Mockingbird which we jokingly refer to as our "Watch Bird". You see, Walter doesn't like other people on "his" lawn and swoops and squawks until the offender leaves, whether they are feathered or human. He's finally made peace with the dogs, Smokey and Bou, realizing they're not interested in anything more than marking the tree he covets on their daily rounds. Personally, I think they like having an "eye in the sky" to keep the premises safe for the people who drive the vehicles that take them on rides. And because I always talk to him, Walter only squawks at me once. I'd like to think he means "Morning!" rather than "Move!"

The other day Hubby said he'd opened the door to catch a nice breeze. In swooped Walter. Rather than look startled or confused, Walter made himself right at home. Hubby said Walter "talked" the whole time he was in the shop, which was for over half an hour.

Here Walter questions why Hubby needs arrow feathers more colorful than a Mockingbird's.

In a move I'm not sure that I [the Bookkeeper] likes,
Walter decides to man the register and wait on customers.
I don't think he'll win Employee of the Month as it was too early for customers.
I suspect he was merely checking to see what we are worth.

Walter is an interesting character.
Yet in spite of his ability to sing a variety of songs,
he still acts like an ancient curmudgeon.
I was almost shocked to see him looking so downright...
cheerful in these pictures.
Until I got to this one.

Ah yes, that's the little feathered grump I love.
What's that Walter?
Either buy something....or get off the lawn.
Got ya. Keep up the good work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Time to Flash...No, not like THAT!

It's Friday and amongst other things, it's time to play 55 Flash Fiction, a game which the G-man has used to mesmerize all of us. (So far, our bank account numbers are safe.) If you write one of these 55 word stories, be sure to let him know.

There was wailing and whining. Gnashing of teeth. A howl of frustration at the unfairness of it all. Of being left behind. Again.

The agitated pacing back and forth finally frayed my nerves, and I shouted angrily, “Oh for heavens sake boy, he doesn’t HAVE to take you everywhere!”

Smokey decided he'd simply drive himself.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Am...Honored

Mondays have recently become my least favorite day. Because it's time to go back to work. A sense of dread begins to kick in at say 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. No matter how I fight it, it's like having someone place a bag of disgust on your back, turning you into a hunchbacked drone. I work where they rearrange your schedule at the drop of a hat, usually with less than 24 hour notice, then complain when those who visit your Center don't seem enthused to be there.

Well gee, that's because the folks are never sure when they're ALLOWED to be there.

Needless to say, it was another one of those Mondays, where I was asked to cancel an event which will anger my folks and make it necessary to rearrange the speaker I had coming prior to lunch. I'll stop complaining now since I just finished reading Dan's blog and I'm trying to be grateful to be employed.

I am, however, grateful for the good folks in Blog World. I'll now proudly display the award I received from Bill [a.k.a. the Old Fart]. It's not just because I did well on a quiz he hosted. No, it's because of the title. See for yourself.
I can't remember the last time anyone praised me for being honest.
And for that, I'm truly grateful.
Thanks Bill!
You just made my Monday.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What Happens When You Share

Earlier this month, Titus shared with us an interesting art project she had "borrowed" from another blogger. I say borrowed because readers had been invited to share their creativity in this drawing exercise. You really need to go have a look and see what Titus and her Terrific Twins did.

The premise was simple. What belongs at the end of this string?

Now that seems like a simple concept, but the kids I work with in the afternoon aren't your "average" group, even in the low income neighborhood where we're located. Over half of them come from disadvantaged homes where "absentee parents" can often mean Mom and/or Dad is in the other room, but not interested. Sadly, I've met too many parents who believe "giving birth" was the last responsibility they had to that child. The crime rate continues to climb and gangs are invading our territory, offering to be the caring family a kid may not have at home. So anything I can to do let them know they're worth something and that childhood is suppose to be FUN every now and then, we try. So we took on Titus' art project.

A psychologist would have a field day with the results. Me? I just saw the usual personalities emerging, with an occasional new fact sneaking through.

Now to be fair there were 6 drawings in total. My scanner had a bad day and ate 3/4 of two of the drawings. What you missed was both "common" and "scary". The 11 year old girl who has a good family drew the typical hot air balloon, with lots of flowers, trees and bright colors. The little girl in Kindergarten, with the really rough mother I've met, made me somewhere between sad and shaken. She'd drawn a tree, a stump with a squirrel sitting on it and a colorful rocket in the air. She'd even drawn another smaller Granny. When I asked her what Granny was holding, she said cheerfully, "Oh, that's a gun." Before I could comment, she pointed at the smaller Granny and said, "So if she doesn't behave, the lady will shoot her." I think I'm even more scared of her mother now. This kid just turned six.

Thankfully, the majority were less horrifying versions. This was done by a boy who is 9. The rest of the kids gave him a hard time for doing something "easy". Part of that was because he found out I had additional coloring pages and he loves to color.

Before I could suggest they work on their own pictures, he said to me. "You know last week I didn't have enough air to blow up a balloon. You know how that feels, don't you?" He has asthma and once he found out I'd been recently diagnosed with the same, we compare notes. He says that if he ever has an attack coming on he'll tell me because he won't have to explain. He then added that he was worried that my recent cold would make me have an asthma attack. I thanked him for thinking of me, then handed him the next coloring sheet.

This drawing was done by his 6 year old sister. She tried to draw an arrow going through the balloon, then decided not to finish it because that would let all the air out. The * are suppose to be stars. Although her brother complained, all of the girls insisted on making the grass at the bottom stretch across the entire page.

With the older kids, the creativity kicked into a higher gear. This girl is 10 and we lovingly refer to her as our "Drama Queen". Yes, to her face. Now when she turns on those crocodile tears to get her way and we just look at her, she dramatically wipes them away before grinning and saying, "I know. I'm such a Drama Queen".

But she also listens. When I was explaining about this project I mentioned that Titus had twin sons who'd also finished this drawing. So she not only added to the picture, it had a story to go with it. This is a picture of Granny and her twin. The twin is stuck in a hot air balloon so BOTH of them are trying to burst the balloon with matching pins. I was impressed that she drew another lady and dressed her the same as the first. When one of the boys pointed out they weren't the same because their hair color was different, she rolled her eyes and huffed, "If I gave her dark hair it would clash with the balloon colors. Hello!"

The one which surprised me the most was our 11 year old boy who has no attention span and is way to old for his age. The kids are always hugging me, but they know the rule is "Hug and let go". This kid, who's almost taller than me, likes to hug and try to um...stay clamped against you longer than necessary. He was expelled last year...for dropping his pants at recess to, as he put it, "Show the ladies my stuff". Sigh. The parents at least had him home schooled so he wouldn't be left behind, but they still leave him watching way too much pay-per-view t.v. for his age.

And yet we've been working on his patience as much as his school work. The week before we did this art project, he and I had a heart-to-heart talk. He thinks he's stupid. I assured him he wasn't stupid, he just didn't understand math. I told him my own humiliating 4th grade math story and he laughed. Then he brightened when he realized I had managed to figure it out because I was helping him...with math. I just explained that everyone is different and goes at their own pace. I remember adding that the world would be a boring place if we were all alike. Which may be why he was the only one who didn't draw UP.....

No, his Granny went fishing and from the looks of it, things are going to add up great.