Sunday, February 28, 2010

Crazy Steve's Fireworks

David and I saw a billboard for "Crazy Steve's Fireworks" on our way to visit our friends in North Carolina.

Crazy Steve's Fireworks Superstore is Exit 2 off I-85 in South Carolina.

Billboard claims that Crazy Steve's has billions and billions of TNT.

Me: David?
David: Whut?
Me: Crazy Steve's has billions and billions of TNT power.
David: I'll drive a little faster.

Me: Do you wonder what Crazy Steve looks like?
David: No. I don't wonder.
Me: I do.
David: And it's usually not very far.
Me: That's WANDER.
David: Same thing.


BTW: Apparently "Crazy Steve's" is a franchise.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pebbles and Swat! Swat!

You guys are thinking -- Fred Flintstone -- aren't you? But, yo, Gilham? The other kid's name is Bam! Bam!

I'm not talking about Fred; I'm talking 'bout Tallulah and Keats, the Royal Cats of Gillham, aka. the owners of the house.

From the beginning of her kitten hood, Tallulah fetched. She retrieved stuffed mice, stuffed birds that go "peep" when she touched or squeezed them , and wads of paper.

Indefatigable. The Energizer Cat. Cat Favre.

We threw them; she'd go get them and bring them back. Sometimes she would get so stupid with the game that she would bang into the baseboards, the chair legs, and the coffee table trying to get at 'em. Then she, shaking her head to get the small concussion out, would bring them back and drop them for you to throw once again. That's totally Cat Favre.

David swears he has a rotator cuff injury.


Tallulah: Look!!!! *salivate, salivate* Paper wads! *pant, pant, pant* Let me at 'em. *purr, purr*

Then all of a sudden. Eh.

She quit.

Tallulah decided that -- "hey, fetching is dumb -- I think I will just carry and drop. Much more advanced cat. More quality points."

She began to just carry them and leave them odd places -- under the dining room table, by her food bowl, under the bed, and in the tub -- yes, furry stuffed things, but inanimate, and paper wads ...... all kinds of places in the house.

Sometimes I would step on them and panic for just a second that it was live, but then my heart rate would slow, and I would go "whew."

Then last week, Tallulah discovered rocks.

Blog readers: I thought Tallulah was an inside cat.
Me: The rocks that we have on the top of the dirt in our houseplants .. those rocks.
Blog Readers: Uh, why do you have rocks there?
Me: To keep the indoor cats from digging ... I know, you think it's a dog thing, but no, Keats and Tallulah have both been known to dig.

What for?

Just to be annoying... and to let us know what they do while we are gone or asleep. Evidence of the adage .... "while the owners are away[or asleep], the cats shall play."

Not only does Tallulah get in the plants, but she now has taken to picking the rocks up in her mouth and carrying them around the house and dropping them.

Some of these are pebbles -- but some of these are small rocks --- and yes, they are throughout the house.

Guess what?

Not only does she drop them places, but she likes to drop them where they make noise -- ie. the tub, the hardwood floors, and now her favorite -- the tile in the bathroom.

Monday, 2:45 am.

*ping, ping, ping*

Me: David. {pushes him} What's that noise?

*ping, ping, kaplonk, ping, kaplonk*

David: Pfft.. snort.....ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Me: I think Tallulah is dropping pebbles on the bathroom floor.
David: ZZZZZZZZ...

So, I get up to go remove her and her rock from the bathroom, and she picks up the rock in her mouth and runs under the bed.

Tallulah: Oh goodie. Night Games! I love games. I also love bird meat!!! Here comes my human! Chase me!!!!! Look a hand under the bed!!!! I can move. Rocks. I love rocks. Look another hand. YOU can't get me!!!!! Wait. There's Keats. Yay! More fun!

So, this is Tallulah's new game. Rock dropping.

And Keats, what is she doing?
Swatting and hissing at Tallulah every time she passes by....

Thus, my new names for my cats.... Pebbles and Swat! Swat!

BTW: Tallulah has done this every night this week --- and she does it more than once.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


In Stephen Lovely's debut novel, Irreplaceable, Alex loses his young, athletic wife in a horrific biking accident in which she is hit by a truck, and when Isabel is declared brain dead, Alex and his mother-in-law attend to the dispensing of her organs, as specified by Isabel on her "organ donor" card. They both struggle with the barbaric nature of the extraction, but the reality of what Isabel has done to her grieving family becomes even more difficult when the heart recipient initiates a relationship with Alex and Isabel's mom, Beatrice.

Alex, defiant that he can't deal with the heart recipient, shuts her out, but Beatrice begins an email correspondence with her mother. Complications ensue as both mother and husband try to deal with the grief of their loss and the developing relationship with the heart recipient. Alex tells Beatrice that he can't deal with "the laying on of the hands. I'm supposed to forgive and heal. I'm not ready to forgive and heal. I don't have the inclination or the power. And it's not my responsibility. I don't owe them. If anything, they owe me."

To further add to the complexities of relationships is the man responsible for Isabel's death. Even though he was acquitted of any wrong doing in the accident, he hides a secret, and his need to be noticed becomes a bizarre twist in the story. He says at one point: "Donors. Donors are amazing, generous folks. But let's fact it, donors are just people with cards in their pockets. You need more than a donor. You need an agent of destruction ... the American Automobile Death System."

Lovely's fictional approach to this controversial issue is a page turner. Not only does Lovely invite you into the lives of the characters involved -- but he spares no details as he outlines the process of taking the organ from the body. Then he equally illustrates the surgery on the other end --- as the medical team preps the recipient for the organ. Lovely gives it in all its rawness and savagery --- it was compelling as well as a moment of "oh, yowser."

Lovely vividly describes his characters -- their sufferings, their insecurities, their less than noble intentions, and he uncovers how putting donors and recipients together to deal with the grief of loss and the celebration of life makes for interesting human relationships. Really.

As Alex thinks about the time that has passed since he lost his wife Isabel, he notes, "[I] have to work harder, concentrate more intently to conjure visions of her, to pull in each gauzy, tenuous memory and hold it down long enough to recall what she looked like or said...."

Anyone who has dealt with the sudden loss of a loved one will know that Lovely nailed this ... but add to it -- the eerie, yet surreal, knowledge that the heart of that loved one beats somewhere else....

Yeah. Good stuff.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Yeah, I am still watching the Winter Olympics. The USA beat Finland to move to the semi-finals. As the announcer just said, "The USA won -- not on finesse, but on sheer will and heart."

I am feeling nostalgic -- I know a bogus emotion.
{See Blog dated 2/15/10.}

Thirty years ago this month, I lived in an apartment on the north side of Atlanta and taught at Douglas County High School.

February, 1980. ........I was twenty-six years old -- and living the single life in a swinger singles' apartment complex. Only not really.

I was single, but not much of a swinger -- I had to get up early five days a week to face the unwashed masses and teach them to identify the parts of speech, diagram sentences, and if I was lucky, we might write a sentence or two. It was the days of a course called Grammar and Composition -- the anchor of the 9th grade English curriculum.

It was Douglas County -- these folks had only been reading for fifty years.

*tee hee*

I'm kidding. They were good kids ..... when they weren't muddin' or deer huntin'.

*apologizes to Mike, Eddie, and John for throwing them under the DC bus*

The second week of the Winter Olympics of 1980, I had the flu.

The winter flu kept me running a fever, hacking and coughing, and pushed my roommate Catherine to staying back twenty feet. She'd bring me a glass of water, a box of Kleenex, or turn up the heat -- but she was having none of my contagion.

Huddled under an afghan, I did little other than lie on the scratchy and nappy, green couch.

Because of the flu and only being able to concentrate on Night Rider or other such offerings from television of the time, I became addicted to the Winter Olympics and the US hockey team -- who grew to be the darlings of America by winning the gold.

As I lay on the sofa, fever of 102, and downing aspirin after aspirin, I became a fan of hockey.

I had never watched it before, much less understood it -- but the "miraculous" American hockey team became my team, as I, delirious, memorized the player's names and watched their matches -- sometimes late into the night ----and ABC who broadcasted the games -- saw they had a ratings gold mine.

No pun intended.

The crowds chanted "USA, USA, USA." I think this was the first time I had ever heard it so raucous, so loud, so interminable -- that it became signature with that team and that year.

Held in Lake Placid, NY, the American team, made up of amateurs and collegiate players, won the gold by beating Finland, but before that had beaten the Soviets, considered the best team in the world.

I was in love with every player --- but the one who captured my single woman looking for a man loving heart, and really the hearts of all Americans, was Jim Craig.

When the USA beat Finland, the team exploded, and Craig skated the ice wearing an American flag.

*le sigh*

Craig was an all American boy from Boston College -- shaggy hair, rugged good looks -- worthy of being a symbol of those Olympic games -- a golden boy.

In the Olympic games of 1980, as goalie for the American team, he made seemingly supernatural after supernatural saves at the goal.

That week --- is imprinted in my memory... with of all things -- a sporting event that I will never forget, and it's hockey? LOL

It's right up there as memorable with the 1992 Braves going to the World Series and not even winning it.


I haven't watched hockey since, but here again in 2010, I am as the USA hockey team is in the finals of the Olympics... but this time, I don't have the flu .. I have time.


The USA hockey teams may have have been in the finals again since 1980, I dunno, but even the 2010 Olympics can't create that excitement for me again --

it could have been the flu -- it could have been that 1980, in retrospect, seems a simpler time --

but there was something magical about that 1980 Olympics and the USA men's hockey team ....


before those Olympics, we had suffered a blow to our innocence with the ugly tragedy of the 1972 Olympics in Munich [the execution of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches]-- and it took us eight years to right ourselves --- to look terrorism in the face ---

to celebrate again the idealism of nations coming together in competition and national pride.... Munich briefly took that from us.

In 1976, yeah, we had Dorothy Hamill -- but we held our breath.... so 1980 brought us back to the high -- that only the Olympics can bring.

I've asked around this year to my friends:

Are you watching the Olympics?

The answers have been about 50 percent.....

but in 1980, many watched those games -- and I do think, it was the hockey team that did it --

I could be wrong.
I could just be sentimental, but I think I am right.

Blog readers out there --- all of you who were old enough..... did you watch those Olympics? Did you get caught up in the fun madness of those games?

I wanna know.

BTW: This should be dated Feb. 23, 2010 -- I had a rough draft of this, and just got back to finish it.

Hamlet's vest

Staying up to midnight to watch the Olympics has been an indulgent pleasure. I love the Winter Olympics even though I personally have never done one single one of them in my life.

I have lived in Georgia all of my life --- there just aren't that many luges, ice skating rinks, or high hills to ski down -- in fact, the Winter Olympics are as foreign to me as Japanese animation movies or wearing a size 4.

Not part of my realm.

*tee hee*

For the last three nights, I have stayed up to midnight to watch the men's moguls, the pair figure skating, the snowboard cross, and then last night I found myself watching the men's single figure skating.

I don't know why -- the outfits alone sent David to bed.

It had something to do with the Russian Plushenko and his arrogant, cold war stare at all the other contestants. I just wanted someone else to beat him.....

Then came the parade. It became like a parade.
First the Japanese Takahashi who was terrific -- but his Michael Jackson/Elvis/Dracula outfit made me go ... "huh"?

I applauded him because his score rivaled, but did not exceed the bloody Russian, but it did make Plushenko shift in his seat, the seat he had taken in the stands with his girlfriend.

I know that the little vignettes that NBC tells about the athletes humanizes them more, but I dunno, he was just too ....... above it all.

The cold war is over -- except on the ice.
No pun intended, of course.

When is it that the outfits became so distracting? I guess I have fallen asleep in years before the outfits became so ----- flamboyant, radical, and weird --- the pink tassel, the feathers, the zig- zag transparent up the arm, Hamlet's vest, see-through gloves, and then ....... lightning bolts?

I got the outfit kind of fits the music.
I get the artistic expression.

But, the two guys from the USA -- Weir (pictured to the left) and Lysacek (pictured above) -- I was like --- are the American male performers channeling Adam Lambert?

Gawd. No wonder David went to bed.

Meanwhile, the Russian is still ahead...

*sticks pin in Khrushchev voodoo doll*

I'm kidding I'm kidding.

Monday, February 15, 2010

That Old Cape Magic

Known for Empire Falls, Nobody's Fool, and Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo shows again in That Old Cape Magic that he is a writer to read.

Even though the novel begins with its main character heading to a wedding in Cape Cod, Russo takes Griffin, on his own journey -- a sojourn fraught with coming to terms with his own marriage, his wife's parents, and his own unsettled upbringing with parents who seemed at odds with not only their only child, him, but with the world itself. His wife Joy tells him that he's "congenitally unhappy," and notes himself that he's prone to "bogus emotions of self-pity and nostalgia."

In the trunk of his car, Griffin carries the urn of his father's ashes and determines that he will strew them at the Cape -- the setting where his parents always longed for a vacation home -- and to come back to in their old age. Problem is -- Griffin can't quite let go of those ashes -- he tries, but each time, some circumstance keeps him from performing this task.

Delving into his childhood vacations to the Cape with his unhappy parents, who detested that they ended up teaching in colleges in the "freakin'" Midwest, Griffin and his parents return each summer to the Cape where they rented a series of houses and dined with "Al Fresco," a running joke between them.

One summer in particular stood out in the mind of Griffin -- the summer he met the Brownings, a family of four with a chuckling dad who took his kids to the beach, bought them fireworks, and cooked hamburger on the grille while the beautiful mother did all kinds of motherly things --- gave out hugs, made lunch, and seemed to enjoy her children --- a contrast to his erudite parents who read books, had cocktail hour, and were thrilled to leave Griffin in the care of the Brownings while they sneaked into the nearest town to dine alone.

This memory for Griffin, a college professor and former screen-writer, has the makings of a short story but he couldn't quite get his thoughts around how to write it. The story stalks Griffin .. should he focus on his parents, marriage, or childhood -- or some kind of combination of them all? He believes that the Browning story "probably just explained how he'd come to be the husband and father he was instead of the one he meant to be."

In addition, Griffin feels daunted by his wife Joy's big family --- six children and what he saw as rather, shallow parents -- even though he respects his smart, capable wife. When he married Joy, his mother quipped, "She hasn't done graduate work? Really? How pedestrian."

When his father-in-law remarries after the death of his wife, the new wife comments to Griffin that when she's around "those people [Joy's family] -- [I feel] like I'm being pummeled. Bludgeoned. Battered. Cudgeled." Griffin nods in agreement.

Griffin suffers with his mother's criticisms, his lack of love for his in-laws, and his awareness that at this moment, there is something much wrong with his own marriage... and how is all of this mixed up in his own relationship with his parents and with his in-laws as well as with his daughter's announcement that she is getting married?

That Old Cape Magic is a coming of age novel for the middle aged--- that perhaps what we think we want sometimes is not it at all -- that what we want is perhaps what we have. :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"That ain't no cat."

We were blessed with such a beautiful snow -- it's amazing how lovely it is -- as magnificent as it was yesterday -- this morning it's breathtaking.

Wingate used to say, "magnificent" all the time in regards to nature. It was always a right call.

As I sit here writing this blog, I hear the neighborhood sounds, muffled last night, coming awake.

My next door neighbor came out as I was taking pictures, and I could hear the "crunch, crunch, crunch" as he walked across his driveway -- but mostly I hear the "thump" of big clumps of snow falling from the trees, roofs, decks, and porches as it gives way to the morning sun.

The birds chirped in the rhododendron, the ducia, and crowded each other out at the feeders, gathered there like rednecks at the last boiled peanut stand in Georgia.

The dogs are barking again -- across the street the deep bass of the hound I never see, and behind me, Sabrina and Lannie, two border collies bark snappily at the snow in the yard -- to them, it must be a big WTH?

As the sun came up today, it was postcard perfect.

Now, as the sun gets higher -- it's blinding outside -- and only sunglasses will do to walk or drive in this now.

It's crisp; it's lovely; it's a rarity here -- I'm always glad to see it -- but as my friend Jules, who lives in Maryland said yesterday, "I'm sick of snow." Of course, she's had 12 feet. I hear ya, sister!

Another girlfriend, J, who lives in Vancouver said, "how often do you get snow like that?" I told her -- "I dunno.Once every ten years?"

I think she needs me to mail her some.

Speaking of Vancouver, I did think the opening ceremonies for the Olympics were well done, and in spite of the tragedy, held with the right amount of somberness and celebration.

What a tragedy --- and as I told David last night -- how awful to have your loved one's last seconds recorded on film like that.

That is a grief too big.

BTW: David and I had a discussion last night as to the tracks in the snow shown here in these pictures. David said "cat," and I said, "bigger." What do you guys think?

The tracks came out from under our front porch -- could be followed to the edge of our woods then to our deck near the bird feeder.

Let me know -- I think opossum or raccoon. Then, I'll tell David -- my blog readers said, "That ain't no cat."


Friday, February 12, 2010


I took this picture of the camellia bush outside my window today as the snow began -- here in Georgia on this Valentine/President's day weekend.

It made me think of a poem that I taught for many years to my students, who sat with their eyes over-glazed, their stares blank, as I talked about the loveliness of this poem -- how Emerson captured the wonder of God.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I threw the pearls before swine -- it was my job -- -----

now as I reread this poem in the quiet of my house, all shutters open to the snow, I love it even more. I am "enclosed in a tumultuous privacy of [snow]."

The Snow Storm

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delated, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hiddden thorn;
Fills up the famer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

Blog Readers: Eh. I like it better when she makes fun of her family.

Former students: Man, who uses a word like "maugre" anyway? Emerson? Never heard of him -- and yo, Gillham? I did not stare.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Necessary Madness

C. S. Lewis wrote, "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."

In Necessary Madness by Jenn Crowell, Gloria Burgess lives fear. Married for eight years, her young, healthy husband Bill begins to lose weight and energy. Hesitant to see doctors, Bill finally has the tests run and finds out that he has leukemia. A two year battle ensues, a battle complete with the gritty details of cancer therapy and treatment. Crowell lets Gloria tell us all about it.

In a valiant attempt to leave a legacy, Bill, an amateur painter, paints like a madman and captures the ugliness of illness and the scary place that, for him, death is....and at his death, he leaves behind his young wife and son to wrestle with the emptiness left by their now absent husband and father. Her grief leaves her inept and unfunctioning -- to where her young son nudges her awake in the morning to go to her job of teaching English to students, who noting their teacher's grief, become soft toward her and no longer complain about her assignments, an eeriness in itself.

When one of the fellow painters approaches Gloria with a offer of an retrospective exhibit of Bill's work, Gloria faces the demons of her past -- including her parents' less than satisfactory marriage, her father's obsession with an old girl friend whose untimely death changed him forever -- a change that caused him to make a radical decision.

Crowell makes Gloria's story very real -- the descriptions of the ravaging nature of cancer, the exhausting nature of the caregiver, and the son, protected but all too aware, feel authentic. Gloria's fear - her grief -- and her reluctance to have her husband's pain propped like a type of side show for others to see...are palpable.

As Gloria examines one of Bill's paintings titled "Necessary Madness," she reveals, " Self preservation. When you are drowning, you'll clutch anything. Because you have to. You have no other choice."

As a friend says to her, "Even if it's madness? Even if your very effort to survive might make you lose your grip?"

Gloria responds, "Even then."

This novel was published in 1997; Crowell was seventeen years old when she wrote this novel. Even though the novel is simply written, Crowell has a lyrical advantage -- she writes like a professional.


Just wow. Very impressive.

Star, the French, and No Anna

The Star Teacher banquet was fun --- Caitlin and I yucked it up over various things we found amusing -- the food, the decorations, the mispronunciations of names --- you know, banquet kind of stuff.

The speaker was Miss Cobb Outstanding Teen -- complete with tiara, violin, and cocktail dress.

I thought it was a little weird having a teen talk to teens about being "all smart and everything," but this cute girl was charming and funny -- and her speech was less than 10 minutes.


She then played her violin --- not "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" -- but Mozart. I thought she was good. *shrugs*

Of course, my experience with the violin limits itself to 4th grade orchestra, but when Ced Gunter called me a name on the walk home from school, I clocked him with the violin, case and all.

I don't believe he called me any more names.

Whoops -- off topic -- man, good thing this is not a timed writing. Right, Dr. P.?

At the banquet each Star student and Star teacher walks to the front to receive their certificates, and the Star student tells the crowd why she or he chose this teacher.

Caitlin lied about how I inspired her, made her read and write or some such nonsense, and then after Caitlin relaxed [I mean who wants to talk in front of a lot of people?], we laughed at the range of personalities of the star students.

One start student said that her teacher "made French adulterous relationships" interesting.

Caitlin: {looks at me}
Me: {looks at Caitlin}
Us: Bwahahahahahaha.

*thanks God for Caitlin*

Another one chose his Star teacher cause -- "she's like ..... really intimidating.... I mean... like scary intimidating."

Caitlin: {looks at me}
Me: I'm not intimidating.
Caitlin rolls her eyes.

Oh, and Anna? -- She gets herself mono and misses the banquet.

Yo, Anna? That's what you get for all that kissin', you know?

Anyway -- Caitlin, thanks. It was special. You are special. I'm blessed.

Picture is of me, Caitlin, Anna's Star Student certificate, and Dr. Maffe.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Amy and Isabelle

Having a novel titled with characters names clearly tells that the novel will be character driven, and character drives Elizabeth Strout's 1998 novel, Amy and Isabelle.

Amy Goodrow is a withdrawn high school student in a small mill town in Massachusetts who falls into a sexual relationship with a substitute math teacher.

Her best friend Stacy, daughter of a wealthy psychologist, has her own secrets including that she's pregnant by a washed up former high school football star. Every school day during lunch, the two sneak outside of school to smoke cigarettes and bemoan their boring lives and their unknowing and "out of it" parents who blindly live their lives not clued in to their children's activities.

Isabelle Goodrow, Amy's single mother, and secretary to a mill boss, secretly fantasies about how much better of a wife she would be to her boss, and deliberately rents a house on the outskirts of town because she didn't like the way the neighborhoods in town she could afford "looked."

She feels like had she had the opportunity she would have "made something of herself" -- and this attitude she carries around the other women who work with her, thus isolating her from friendships.

When Amy's affair with the math teacher is discovered by Isabelle's boss and brought to Isabelle's attention, the spiraling after effects include a furious backlash and then a paralyzing silence between them.

Isabelle thinks, " [this] wasn't any act of God. No you couldn't blame these things on God. It was people, just ordinary, regular people, who did this to each other. People ruined each others' lives. People simply took what they wanted."

Before the secret affair had been revealed, Amy had accepted a summer job where Isabelle works. With the "paralyzing silence" between Amy and Isabelle, the long days together throw mother and daughter under the scrutiny of Isabelle's boss and her co-workers, who note the pale faced Amy and the "waiting to crack" Isabelle. The tension filled time causes other cataclysmic events that send Isabelle to deal with her own past and secrets; however, before they can be dealt with -- Amy stumbles on a horrific scene -- a scene which brings mother and daughter full circle.

Since I am not a fan of fiction where teachers have affairs with students, I was glad Strout makes sure that it's not the focus of the novel -- instead the conflict is between mother and daughter, both lonely and desiring someone to love them -- someone other than each other. Isabelle notes, "All the love in the world couldn't' prevent the awful truth: you passed on who you were."

BTW: I don't necessarily recommend this novel -- as the teacher and student relationship was disturbing ... but I do think that Strout is a good writer.

When I went to google the cover to post, Argh! I see that this novel was a 2001 movie starring Elizabeth Shue and that some of the cast had been brought on Oprah's show.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mother, 1946

Since I have been writing about my mother a lot, here's a picture of her taken in 1946 when she was 28 .... cute little shirtwaist, bow in the hair, and high heels -- you gotta love the 1940s -- folks were dressing to hang out on the farm.

Photo taken on her parent's farm in Appomattox, Va.

She's doesn't look like a sergeant, now does she?


I have been trying to get my scanner to work consistently since I bought it -- it likes to war with my virus protector as well as insisting that I have "imaging" going on elsewhere.

Me: Where? Where?
Computer: [silence] *blinks error message*

So, while it's working, I thought I'd put this up....

More later.

Scanner is giving me the "error" button.


and here we are in 1986 -- forty years later --- and I must admit, I had a great hairdo.


Okay, no more scanning for me -- I want my readers to not be afraid of the blog....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Changing the Sheets

All of our friends think David and I are weird.

Okay, we are.

But, they think we are weird because we are "steady," "predictable," "organized," and I guess, downright boring... cause...

If you call us on a certain day at a certain hour, we are doing the same thing that we were doing last week on that day at that hour.

On Fridays, David and I clean house. When I worked, David did a lot of this for me, but now that I am retired, we do it together on Friday mornings.

Sister: You can't take a break from this to talk to me on the phone?
Me: Nope, it's what we do.
Sister: Man. Inflexible.
Me: Thanks, that's a nice word for it.

Phone rings. {Laura's cell}
Laura: What are you doing?
Me: Cleaning the bathroom.
Laura: That's right. It's Friday. I love that about you people.

We get up on Friday mornings, and we clean house. I clean the bathrooms, David vacuums the carpet and mops the hardwoods. Every other Saturday, I dust.

Well, I dust when I think about it or when I can write the Magna Carta with my finger in the dust on the top of my dresser.

I used to think dusting needed to be done every week -- now, not so much. The other -- I can't go a week without it -- I have to have a clean bathroom, and I have to have clean sheets.

We also change sheets on Fridays as well. I take them off, David puts them in the wash, I put them in the dryer and then back on the bed.

Yep. Boring.


But, at least we change our sheets.

My parents grew up believing that all of their children needed to learn some basic skills to survive: yard work, grocery shopping, keeping a checkbook, and cleaning the house.

We cleaned house every, I mean, every Saturday morning.

We did not "sleep late" or "sleep in" on Saturdays -- we got up early and did housework and if needed, yard work. I did not learn to sleep late till I was in college. I learned other things too in college, but well, that's not for this blog.

*tee hee*

It was a painful upbringing; let me tell you.

We also did laundry on Saturday as well. Our washer ran all day long. Daddy would start the washer at 6 am with the sheets from my parent's bed, and then, we were awaken by 7:30 or 8:00 to do our "chores."

In the winter when we hung clothes on the line, my fingers would be so cold I couldn't move them. If it was too cold for the outside clothes line, my mother had a clothes line set up our attic that went from one side of the house to the other, or from eave to eave; we used that -- and a wooden drying rack that was placed over the floor heater in the hall.

I was excited when we got our dryer and quit having to hang laundry on the clothes line.

My dad consider himself on dryer duty. He loved that dryer.

When the buzzer sounded, he was yelling at us kids to take out that laundry so that the next load could be done. The buzzer of a dryer now can make me drool a little if I'm not careful.

Dryer buzzer: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Daddy: Harriett Sue? Is that your laundry?
Me: Yes sir.
Daddy: Get it out. What do you think? We got all day?
Me: [grumble, grumble, grrrrrrrrr]
Daddy: You talkin' to me?
Dryer: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Me: No sir.
Daddy: Is that thing still going off?

We all did our own laundry, and you really, really didn't want to be last.

We couldn't talk on the phone, make plans, do anything until the work was done.

We were assigned rooms of the house to clean.

The house was a three bedroom, one bath, living room, kitchen, and den set up --- since the children shared rooms [four of us -- two girls, two boys], one was assigned to clean the bedroom and the other assigned another room -- like the den or living room.

My mother was a drill sergeant. She wanted to make sure that we knew how to clean house. We were given strict lessons by her on the proper way to clean...

We moved all items from the surfaces before we dusted.

We washed aluminum blinds in the bathtub, but when that was done, every summer or spring or I don't know, it seemed like all the time --- when that wasn't done, we dusted them ... each individual blind.

We dusted baseboards and books on the bookshelves.

We swept floors, porches, sidewalks.

We changed the sheets on the bed, every week.

We moved furniture to clean behind them.

We vacuumed sofa cushions and removed them from the sofas, vacuumed under them and around them, and moved them about for "even" wearing. { If Daddy sat on the sofa a lot that week, we could pocket some coins that had fallen out of his pockets and down past the cushions.}

We gathered wastebaskets together and took out the garbage.

We vacuumed the shades on the lamps.

We gathered up a week's worth of newspapers and secured them with twine. {Yep, we recyled newspapers back then -- a place on our school grounds was called the Paper Hut -- and we took them there-- my school -- blog for another day.}


when we were done, she came behind us -- inspecting. Yep, inspecting. She was a formidable taskmaster, my mother, and she stood behind us, undaunted, indefatigable, until we finished to her level of satisfaction.

We were the only family whom I knew that lived this way.

When I went to college, I met people for the first time who did not change their sheets every week or clean their rooms.

I was like. Really?

A girl on our hallway, who was actually one of our resident assistants, did not change her sheets for a whole quarter.


Yep, according to her roommate, Wingate, this girl never changed her sheets. Her sheets were gray... and they were originally white.




Even though the laundromat was down two flights of stairs, across the commons area, and cost 25 cents to wash and 10 cents to dry for each 2o minutes, I, yes, I washed my sheets every week because that was all I knew. To fathom the idea of not doing so -- never crossed my mind.

Now, I will fudge on a little dusting.

I will fudge on moving the sofa to clean, vacuuming the cushions or moving them for wear, and dusting the shutters.

But, not washing the sheets?


and, this whole blog started because Tallulah, and really all cats I have ever owned, are all about changing the sheets.

When you shake the sheets out over the bed and it ripples.
Dr. Jim says it's because cats think there is an animal under there

Talluah says she likes to get her cat hair on the clean sheets cause she can.

I think it's because she knows she looks good on the finished product. Eh.

Meanwhile, I really hope you guys, change your sheets. Often.

You hear that, phews?