Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Impatient Minotaur

I got lost on the Internet this morning. Really lost -- as in pushing the little blue arrow at the top of my screen didn't help kind of lost.


I ended up here:

I found the impatient minotaur -- since it reminded me of all my 'phews, I emailed this cartoon to them.


Well, I thought it was funny.


Thursday, May 27, 2010


When a book begins in 1961, in George County, Mississippi, with a description of poor, white sixteen-year old Hezeikiah Sheehand carrying his five year old mentally and physically crippled brother named Yellababy strapped on his back and headed for "Chalktown," I was pretty much guaranteed that what I was about to read was not gonna be pretty --- but was definitely gonna be a good read.

Melinda Haynes's Chalktown resonates with memorable characters, singular occurrences, and a setting delivering a story dictated by poverty, ignorance, and boredom.

Chalktown, a small community in George County, Mississippi, sits off the highway and its inhabitants live in shabby houses and make their meager livings sharecropping. A few of the residents eek it out by salvaging old clothes, or in one case, leftover furniture from a burned out schoolhouse -- bent,rusted school desks and tables and broken chalkboards.

After an itinerant preacher spent a few days serving the good word (including God's promise to an unmarried and very pregnant teenage girl that "the man she lay with" would return -- as he said, "'cause them is not my words, but His'") and sitting nightly at a table for a home cooked meal, several residents of Chalktown, encouraged by salvation and redemption, believed their lives would be changed: "Maybe darkness is not forever ... maybe there's somethin out there that is bigger than darkness."

When the preacher left with "His" promises in the air, not a week passes before a brutal murder occurs. The town goes silent, and each resident sets up a salvaged chalk board and communication between them, scrawled in chalk ...the messages as cryptic and as varied as the residents who write them:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"

"You wuz sleepwalkin again. Round 2 in the am"

"I will"

"and a little child shall leed them"

"Nobody seen it but me"

"Go in and let it pass"

As Hezeikiah and Yellababy head for Chalktown, their father, Fairy, riddled with cancer, their mother, Susan Blair, crazy with guilt and boredom, worry about daughter Arena who has just spent the night out with a "city" man.


In addition to these characters are many others, well crafted and believable, but another stronger aspect holds this book together -- Haynes's language - as one critic put it "devastatingly beautiful."

Marion Calhuon, neighbor of the Sheehans, develops a familial concern for both Hezeikiah and Yellababy, and spends a lot of time watching the Sheehans make a mess of their lives. Called upon more than once to rescue them from one debacle or another, he tries to live aloof and unmoved by them since he learned a hard and bitter lesson fifteen years before. Calhoun wished to ask a local girl to marry him :

"He had thrown open the wide doors to the barn, chugged inside on his tractor, leaving time and obligation and routine waiting outside in the sun, stunned by being preempted by a thing as precarious as love."

When his dream was thwarted by her love for another, Calhoun muses, "There had been expectation and hope and longing and love. Precarious entanglements would shadow him forever."

Haynes's characters are large -- each of them unique, afflicted, and fighting their demons... and as the novel reaches its end, together --- with a violence worthy of Faulkner and comments on spirituality reminiscent of O'Connor.

I liked it, but it's an English teacher's book. :)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Overdue books?

One more thing -- short.

I met my friend Celia for lunch today, and like the reading nerds we are, while we were out and close to the library, we went over to peruse the stacks and check out some books.

Celia: I have a limit to the number I can check out.
Me: LOL -- me too -- I can only check out five.

Anyway, Celia and I went our separate ways after that, but as I was exiting the library, there were two Marietta cop cars pulled up in the circular drive at the front and three policeman rushing in the front doors.

As I was walking past them, I encountered one of the policeman, walking slower.

Me: Overdue books?
Cop: LOL

I entertain for free.



I think I have it.


Cuz, I've started working in the yard like an indentured servant.

About four weeks ago, I came home from walking with a friend of mine who is a yard nut. I mean certifiable.When we walk, we talk yard. Her yard. Her flowers. Her annuals. Her perennials.Her dirt. Her trees. I feel like I'm walking with Walter Reeves. Since late March, when I ask her what she's been doing, she says, "working in the yard."

Me: Doing what?
Her: I take it you don't work in the yard?
Me: No. HOUSEwife. I do the inside; HUSBANDry -- works in the yard or with animals.
Her: I think that's slightly archaic.
Me: Doesn't make it wrong.

{actually it's obsolete, it originally meant --
domestic management, thrift, or frugality, but she doesn't need to know that -- I'm a word nerd, you know.}

Anyway, she and I walk three times a week, and she is always working in the yard, going to Home Depot or Lowe's, picking up manure, or asking me if I want this or that plant. Some mornings she went to one of those places before we walked.


Anyway, after walking with her about four weeks this spring, I came home inspired to "put on some gloves" and a "straw hat" and do something in the yard.

So, I weeded the flower bed by the driveway.

BTW: Weeds are tenacious devils.. and there are more of them than us. They hold on for dear life while I hack away at them. I'm like Pearl in The Scarlet Letter who pretended weeds were Puritan children. Ha. Ha. I like to decimate them with a brick trowel. It's violent but effective.


The weather was gorgeous --- cool, mild, and sunny.

So, I spent three hours weeding the yard.

I liked it except for the getting up and down. Man, I thought I was crippled when I was done, but there is some satisfaction in putting the hands in the dirt, the smell of rich soil, kind of loamy, minus the sand, and the quiet of outside.... except for a few quacking black ducks [crows], and the occasional barking of my neighbor's dogs who hallucinate about intruders... it was a fulfilling experience.


I am officially old. Certified. I got the insect bites to prove it.

Apparently, while I was "in the yard" that day, David had tried to call me several times.

David: Where are you? What are you doing?

Aside: Since I retired, I seem to need more accountability than when I worked. David likes to check on me to see if I am ...... productively occupied? Taking a nap? Talking on the phone? Watching Friday Night Lights Season 1? Reading? Eating lunch out?

He also asks about Tallulah and Keats like they've been told to clean the house while he was gone or something. I always say something smart alecky like ---"Tallulah just finished War and Peace and Keats has been playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 with a cat from Sweden."

Needless to say, he finds me pretty unfunny.

Go figure.

Where were we? Oh yeah, pick up conversation after "what are you doing?"

Me: You're not goinna believe it.
David: You're been out applying for a job?
Me: Funny. Only not.
David: You walked extra?
Me: Uh, no.
David: You ordered fries with lunch?
Me: No. No. No. I've been working in the yard.
David: Whose yard?
Me: Very funny. Our yard. I weeded the flower bed by the driveway.


Me: David? David? You still there?

I have never liked working in the yard. David couldn't get me outside unless it was to hold the ladder while he cleaned the gutters [cause I worried when he got on the ladder] and threw disgusting muck from them to the ground -- ultimately, I got gutter do do on me in some ways. I would scream and squeal like a thirteen year old.

It's weird the things I am motivated to do since I retired.. sit on the deck and identify birds by their sound, check up on the neighbors going and comings, talk to the postman about health care, and NOW, work in the yard?


What am I thinking?

I am a hard-working yard woman complete with gloves, hat, worn out tennis shoes, and vicious new weapons -- the snippers, the shears, and the stool -- and I tackle the yard. The only thing that would improve them is if my weapons were red.

*tee hee*

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Last night I went out to eat with my two brothers, my sister, my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and two of my nephews. That's exactly 1/3 of my nephews.

David begged off ... he'd seen 'em Christmas.


We went downtown. Two days in a row -- I was in the big city. Since we don't get together like this often, I took my camera -- you know, you have to take advantage of great photo ops before everyone in the photos are OLD -- and since I am a professional blogger -- I never know what might spur me to blog -- after all, it can be "sketchy" down there.

So, we ate an unbloggable dinner, but we stepped outside to the courtyard to finish beverages and watch a little of the Braves' game.

I asked my two nephews if I could take their picture.

Here's what I got. <-----------------

*smacks 'em on the back of their smart alecky heads*

Wait. Wait. This is better than Fakebook -- all my single female blog readers are gonna wanna go out with them.


And the nephew on the right -- is a member of a cult. Look at his feet. I mean -- who would deliberately buy those?

Me: Are they comfortable?
Him: Not on gravel.

Ya think?

And he goes to Georgia Tech????

*shakes the hand of the other nephew and congratulates him on choosing Auburn*

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Elizabeth Berg

As Marilyn and I crossed the street heading to Margaret Mitchell to hear Elizabeth Berg, Marilyn says, "I feel all literary."

Well, you know, I do too. Going to hear these authors has been a great addition to my retirement portfolio and listening to them read from and talk about their works -- inspiring.

Last night was one of those lovely spring nights in the South. As we drove downtown, the light was fading to pink, and with the sun-roof back, the Volvo at seventy and little traffic, we made it in twenty minutes -- until we got off at 10th street -- then it was another fifteen minutes to go twelve blocks.

The crowd at Margaret Mitchell was small -- not quite as Buckhead as the crowds for the other writers we had heard.

As we waited for Berg, Marilyn and I did a shoe inventory of the other members of the audience -- well, Marilyn did, I call shoes archaic things like slings, pumps, and flats -- Marilyn is more hip with terminology like wedges, Mou Mous, gladiators, and flip flops.

Marilyn: Look at those Grasshoppers.
Me: Where?
Marilyn: Her shoes -- my momma wears those.
Me: Oh, I was looking for insects.

It was a younger crowd -- women in their twenties seemed interested in Elizabeth Berg. When Berg approached the stage, dressed in a black suit with a crisp white shirt and black pumps (tee hee), she quipped, "I was back there with Scarlett and Rhett."


Then she proceeds to tell how she has read Gone with the Wind eight times. The first time was when she was seven years old, living in Germany, and managed to score a painful sunburn the first day of summer at the beach. She spent the next two days devouring her cousin's copy of GWTW.

BTW: I have read GWTW a whopping one time; unlike most Atlantans, I didn't see the movie as a child even though it played at Lowe's Grand for years. In fact, I think GWTW was always playing at a theater somewhere in Atlanta. My parents did not think it was a necessity to view the film -- LOL -- you know my mom and tv -- not sure that she felt any differently about film -- and therefore, they never took me to see it or encourage me too.

They weren't real Atlantans, my parents; they were transplants from other places. In 1974, I saw the movie for the first time in West Point, Alabama, in a theater with a tin roof, and it rained. In 1976, Metro-Goldwyn -Mayer released GWTW to cable, and then NBC showed it for the first time on regular television. Whew. I barely made that curve -- to be an Atlantan and not see GWTW at the theater! Oh no.

When the city of Atlanta decided to demolish Lowe's Grand, several friends of mine and I went downtown and took a brick. I have no idea what year that was --- or why I wanted a brick. Peer pressure?

I have it around her somewhere.

*looks for brick*

Blog readers: No one says "regular television."
Me: You got that right -- nothing "regular" about it any more.
Blog readers: I assume you stole that brick.
Me: Don't assume.


Berg's new novel, The Last Time I Saw You, is, as she puts it: "about reunions even though I have never been to a high school reunion since I am an Army brat."

Berg attended an American high school in Germany, but she said it was a place of transients -- students may attend six months, two years, or one year -- but no one completed all four years at this school.

At one point in the 1980s, some alumni from the American school organized a type of reunion that included thirty years of high school attendance at this school. The festivities held in, of all places, Texas, and she said, "I went in order to see a guy on whom I had a huge crush. I bought a dress, had my hair done, and then when I met up with him, he was a huge bore. It was like a nose dive into an open pool."

More laughter.

She also told us about another crush she had in college on a guy "that made [her] mad he was so good-looking." She said she finally got up the nerve to pass him a note in class full of "pithy Bob Dylan lyrics" since she knew he was a fan. He passed them back to her "corrected" since she got some of the lyrics wrong. She said, "I nourished this crush through college," and then met up with him again -- and he was "old, bald, and fat," but had "changed a lot on the inside and outside --- he had become a different man."

This is how Berg handled her audience -- with little glimpses into her before she launched into reading from The Last Time I Saw You.

After the reading, she took questions.

Why does she write?

"For different reasons -- sometimes to explore, understand, or celebrate an issue -- but other times, characters walk into her head and start yakking."

"Writers are empathetic. They understand how something might feel and they wonder about it."

How does she write?

"I write with characters. I don't like to know what's gonna happen -- I just like to follow them where they lead me. I have tried to have a certain ending, but it never works."

"I write linear."

"Some of my characters never leave me. The other day I passed a duplex that I used in a novel as a model of the house I wanted for my character to live. I fully expected to see her there."


How long does it take her to write a novel?

"On average, one a year -- I'm not on a timetable."

What is her approach to a writing day?

"I write as long as I feel like it. I write in a gray chair, facing a blank wall. If I look out the window, I may be distracted by a good-looking dog."

"I write when I feel like it -- and I am a lazy boss."

Who are her favorite writers?

"Alice Munro -- a woman who writes with a deep human understanding -- and E.B. White for his humor, his clarity, and his politics."

Do you take ideas about stories from others?

"Nope. I don't' wanna be sued -- but I did write a story inspired by a girl I met who told me about her mother who raised three children --- after being diagnosed with polio when she was nine months pregnant. Her husband left her -- and she lived the rest of her life in an iron lung."

What was your first vocation?

"I was a nurse. I learned a lot about human nature from observing the ill. The ill don't play games-- they are unguarded -- they know what matters. Nursing was my writing school."

Elizabeth Berg was a delight to listen to. I have read several of her novels -- Durable Goods, Talk Before Sleep, and What We Keep.

She's worth the time, if you got it.

BTW: You know I got it. Right? Time.


Marilyn: That was a long one. I nodded off.
Me: *twirls* You gotta read to the end -- you just never know whose name might pop up.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What's Not to Like?

*looks around*

I think I need to blog.

*flips through the mail*

Graduation announcements.
Georgia Tech.
University of South Florida.
University of North Carolina.
Kennesaw Mountain High School.

More graduates. Darn.

Just more people out loose in the world without classes to go to and in front of me in line at the Chick-Fil-a.


David and I just got back from visiting our friends in Florida. This was one of those great trips -- easy drive down and back (I-75 only had thirty miles of construction instead of hundred and thirty), beautiful weather -- low humidity -- highs in the lower 80s, and of course, a golden retriever. Life doesn't get much better than the beach -- unless it's the beach with the USC men's beach volleyball team.


I had David and a kite.
All is good.

What's not to like?


I have read many books in the last week or two. The beach allows that.

*shakes sand from book bag*

Here is the list of what I have read:

Schooled -- Anisha La Khani
Letters from Point Clear by Dennis McFarland
Nothing to Declare -- Mary Morris
The Book of Lost Things -- John Connolly
One Foot in Eden -- Ron Rash
The Believers - Zoe Heller

Of those books, only the last one was a library one -- the others had been loaned to me.

Schooled -- simply written but fictional book [based on experience] about being a tutor to the privately schooled upper class in New York City. Bottom line -- they are all cheaters -- including the tutors.
The English teacher protagonist of the novel couldn't make ends meet with her private school teacher salary {surprise, surprise}, so she joined the ranks of the unethical and sank into the cesspool of greed -- as a tutor who did the work for the students she was tutoring -- sometimes at 200 dollars an hour. Not only was what she did stupid, but she came across shallow and naive. Ya think? I can't remember being 23, so I don't know how deep my waters flowed, but she was totally buffaloed about designer stuff - [a New York thing, I guess] --- purses, clothes, shoes, and eight dollar lattes. I can't imagine paying 1200 dollars for a Chanel clutch, but then again, I don't have 1200 dollars for a purse. In fact, I don't have 1200 dollars.

Letters from Point Clear -- Southern unchurched debutante marries preacher -- family all a flutter - family intervention. ...funny moments but mostly predictable and unrealistic.

Nothing to Declare -- young woman travels to Latin America by herself and lives for two years ... takes twenty hour bus rides around cliff roads --- has amazing luck with befriending the locals... and at one point rides horseback fifty miles deep into the jungle with a guide she just met. She paid him 10 dollars. I'm thinking she's never watched CNN.
The guide uses a machete to cut back the growth as well as hack in two a large snake. Whole story made me wanna bathe and drink bottled water. Yo, the girl was so whacked.

The Book of Lost Things --- during WW2, 12 year old boy mourns the death of his mother and his father's new family -- complete with baby brother --- when the books on his shelf begin to whisper to him, the boy escapes into his imagination and into a world of myth, folklore, and fairy tales. Graphic and violent, the heroes and monsters met by this twelve-year old meld together in a story that was a little like a bedtime story on crack.

One Foot in Eden --- my nephew read this book in his college freshman English class and handed it over for my opinion.

Me: Great pacing to this story -- high interest. How did your classmates like it?
Nephew: They didn't.
Me: Why? It had sex, witches, cussing, violence, a flood, and a fire -- what's not to like?
Nephew: Reading. It's college.
Me: Oh.

Rash's first novel -- this tale told of a small South Carolina town whose way of life changes when a big company's has a need for their land. Told from five points of view, the story covers a twenty year time period beginning in the early 1950s. Good read -- but I don't know if it was literature. The students should have loved it. My nephew did, and he doesn't like much.


The Believers --- a dysfunctional, and radically liberal New York family has to work together when lawyer dad succumbs to a stroke during a high profile trial -- the crazy family -- pot-smoking, foul mouth mom; two daughters, the oldest trying to be an Orthodox Jew, the other unhappy and preoccupied with her obesity; and the adopted son -- constantly rehabbing from one thing or another -- come together to deal with "dear old" dad's coma and their inability to agree on anything. In the midst of this tragedy, daddy's "other" family shows up and throws all of them into the blender of WTH????? The problem with it all is --none of the characters are likable, which just might be the author's intent. Heh. There are some funny scenes, some hilarious conversations, but at one point or another, they all needed to be pushed off a cliff.

Speaking of pushing someone off a cliff, what have you guys been doing?

Friday, May 7, 2010

I have that shirt.

Cathy: I have that shirt. J.C.Penny, right?

That was the greeting I got from The Book Exchange owner, Cathy Blanco, as I headed in to her book store for another night of listening to an author. This time -- two.

The Book Exchange hosted Wendy Wax and Karen White; I have only read one book, White's The Lost Hours, even though these two had published eighteen novels between them.

Thankfully, you don't have to have read the writers to go see them. That would be too much like school.


Both Wax and White are local writers, and actually real local -- as they both are East Cobbers.

As usual, I spent the first minutes perusing and tasting the goodies in the back of the store: seven layer Mexican dip, fruit, pimento cheese sandwiches, and petite cupcakes. A man, serving beverages from a cooler, offered me a mimosa, but I declined and took his offer of a Diet Coke.

I moseyed back to the front where Cathy told me there were two other bloggers there.

Me: Two other bloggers?
Cathy: Yes. [points to one and head nods the other]
Me: Yikes. Competition.
Cathy: Free press for me.
Me: Those guys are professionals?
Cathy: [nods] I'll introduce you.
Me: Nah, that's okay -- I'll just sip my Diet and eat my goodies.

I checked out one of the press -- a gal from the Marietta Daily Journal's Cobb Magazine.

Young, tan, eh, maybe twenty-five, she sported a black ensemble, very chic, with designer red sun glasses tucked in her sun-streaked hair, and finished the outfit with a cute pair of purple tennis shoes.

She smiled as she was introduced to Wendy Wax, and she pulled out a professional camera and began to snap photos of Wax and Cathy.

Me: Nice camera. She's got a distinct advantage.


I sat down on row four of about eight rows to get settled and eat my goodies, and of course, that always allows me to eavesdrop since my friend Marilyn always shows up at the last minute. That's a nice way of saying "late."

In front of me two suburban types sat, both in black -- one in linen with long bright pink nails, the other a long knit dress, and discussed Dean Koontz.

Suburban Type 1: Look. Dean Koontz books on tape.
Suburban Type 2: [inaudible response] He turned me on to Koontz.
Me: *thinks* Ugh.
ST 1: He [Koontz, I assume] writes one book for pleasure and one book for the public.
ST 2: Problem is figuring out which one is which.
Me: *thinks* Does it matter?
ST 1: So, tell me about these books. [runs long nails over paperbacks of the two featured writers]
ST 2: Well, this one is set in..... blah, blah, blah...

My mind drifted to the other blogger -- resplendent in purple -- nice expensive sweater set, tall, perfect silver hair, and cute little readers propped on her nose...

Eh. Probably a PHD in something.


Marilyn arrives and pulls me from my seat behind the Koontz fans to the back of the seating. and tells me she's not staying long and will have to sneak out since her daughter and boyfriend are in town and they want "her to go out with them."

Me: Okay. I'll be fine by myself. The only thing that might happen to me here is that I eat more than my share of cupcakes. Man. One petite cupcake is not enough. Who thought of making such tiny muffin tins? What kind of spoon would you use?

As we settle in, the girl from Cobb Magazine asks if she could take our picture.

Me: Sure if you make me look good.
Marilyn: What magazine?
Me: Cobb.
Marilyn: Who?

I spell our names for the journalist as both Marilyn and I have last names that need to be spelled or they will be misspelled. {see comment at end from Cathy, the bookstore owner}

I am also happy when I spell Marilyn's last name correctly -- she married this Miami boy with this exotic, Lithuanian name.

Aside: I remember stories from Marilyn's thirty year stint as an elementary teacher that it would take her kindergartners weeks to learn to pronounce her name and all year to learn to spell it.


Of course, some of her kindergartners spent all year spelling their own names.

I have a few traumatic kindergarten stories myself about cursing my parents for giving me such a long name -- I longed to be Pat or Sue or Lynn --- I mean, H-A-R-R-I-E-T-T? You give a five-year old that name to write with that big, fat pencil on that paper?

Geez. My parents had great ambitions for me.

Gawd. It took all morning to write that on my paper. I think I remember missing recess to finish it.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. The Book Exchange.

After Marilyn and my photo op, the two writers took their places at the front to speak -- with Karen White (pictured left) going first and then Wendy Wax. They remained seated which from the back made it difficult for me to tell who was speaking when -- they sounded a great deal alike.

They look like two gals from an Alta Tennis team out of East Cobb.

I know that's a stereotypical observation -- but they did -- it was like they stopped by the Book Exchange on their way to play Bunko and sip Mohitos.

Karen White, dressed in a black and white sun dress, is fit and trim -- and has a million dollar smile.

Equally attractive, Wendy Wax has jet black hair which sets off her eyes , and she wore an electric blue jacket, black Capris, and black patent ballet slippers.

I call them ballet slippers. I'm sure they have some designer name that's tough for this Birkenstock wearing West Cobber to remember -- or should I say, care to know?

Is that too catty?

These gals just didn't look like writers, but as each talked about writing their books and their characters, I could tell that they were passionate for it -- and loved the opportunity they both had been given to make a living writing.

They mostly spoke about their current novels -- White's is On Folly Beach, and Wax's is Magnolia Wednesday.

I enjoyed listening to them summarize the stories, but what I found more interesting was their comments about titles and covers.

Apparently, titles are "a problem."

White: "My titles come early as I work my novels around themes. I don't have a lot of time to think on the titles since I am writing two books a year. There is little lag time."

Wax. "Some times the publisher will send you a cover and you have only written 80 pages."


White: "I get attached to a title I've thought of -- and then it will get changed. It's hard. On my last book, I needed title suggestions and it was down to the wire."

Wax: "You get desperate -- the cover and the title are so critical to what happens to your book. You may be consulted on your cover, but unless you are a pretty significant writer, you control very little. I want it to be about the story, but so many times, it's just not."

Interesting enough, as an English teacher and instructor of novels and short stories, I have always told students to pay attention to titles. Then these gals come in and make these comments. Of course, I'm not sure that their novels will be studied, but still --- I like to think about the titles.

White: "If I want a book to sell, it has to have 'beach' in the title."


White: "Seriously. It's the market I'm in."

Wax: "A cover of a book is like buying shampoo -- you don't want it in an old oil can."

Then Wax proceeded to tell how her publisher changed the title of her current book in such a way -- that details of the plot, setting, and character had to be changed to fit it.

I guess, if the book has to be marketed to sell, then it needs to have the right elements in the title and the cover. It's a business -- I guess.. I romantically thought it was more of an art.

*rolls eyes at self*

As I sat there, I remembered reading the letters that Fitzgerald exchanged with his editor Max Perkins about the title of his 1925 novel, and Fitzgerald was not that fond of the title that ended up being The Great Gatsby.

So why was I surprised? I dunno. I just was....

Even though I enjoyed White and Wax, I am usually more interested in their lives, their writing influences, or how they approach the writing process, but the folks gathered to hear White and Wax were more interested in their books.

Eh. I was the odd gal out in that...

As I left, Cathy looked at her friend who works at the bookstore with her and commented to both of us: "Hey, do you know I have that shirt."

Cathy cracks me up.

After my last visit there, I left her my blog address, and she read it.

She told me that it's "Cathy with a C" and that if I wanted to see a "sketchy" shopping center, I needed to see where her first store was.

I should know the importance of getting a name spelled correctly, but I dunno about learning the different levels of "sketchy."

BTW: It's a nice shirt.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Birthday Cards and the Jewelry Box

Today, I have spent some time marking off items on a to-do list.

The list is not that long, but it is full of little bitty nagging ... things that I need to do.

I mean, how silly is it to put "Mail Jane and Gloria's birthday cards" on a to do list?

Well, to answer my own question, if I don't, then Jane will turn, I dunno, 63, and she will not have received a birthday card from me. I send her one every year -- and as long as she can remember who I am, I will send her a card. I like sending cards. :)

Jane: Hare? Ladies don't tell their ages.
Me: Uh? I didn't tell my age -- I told yours. Bwhaha.
Jane: Totally not funny -- and btw, I'm only 62, and do I know you?

I am currently into the habit of making my own cards [I have a "Happy Birthday" stamp and a box of Suicide Bunny cards] since Hallmark and those other makers of cards have lost their sense of humor -- or maybe getting old just ain't that funny.

*rubs arthritic knee*

Jane's birthday is the same day as my oldest friend Gloria's birthday. I have known Gloria since the fall of 1967 when I entered eighth grade.


Eighth grade?

After 43 years of birthday cards, I mean, are there any new jokes?
I'll answer this question too. Nada.

About ten years ago, I told Gloria that it was silly to buy new cards every year. Let's do this for Al Gore. Let's recycle.

So, we now buy about one birthday card a decade -- and mail it back and forth {I send it to her -- she sends it back to me} until the card turns yellow or there is no more room to write a little sentiment... which ever comes first.

The current card reads, " Life's short; enjoy the ride," [Ya think?], and we use the inside left white space to write a ditty like ---

"Uh, has another year passed? Happy Birthday."

"Damn. You're old. Happy Birthday."

"Wait. Didn't I just mail this card? Happy Birthday."

Gloria's birthday is the ninth of May -- mine is the third of July. There is ONE big downside to this....

Guess who has to keep up with the card for, uh, ten months?

You guessed it. Me.

So, I keep the card in my jewelry box.


Such a silly question...

Well, then I always know where it is.

On the inside lid of my jewelry box is a velvet pocket. Over the years, since I hardly open the box anymore, I have begun to keep sentimental notes [what is that the purpose of that pocket anyway? Should it be for dried roses, kept from all the bouquets given to me by my lovers? Was I supposed to hide Grandma Dunavant's Baroda pearls from the Yankees?] ... and it's also where I keep that recycled birthday card [for ten flippin' months] that I pull out the first week of May to send to Gloria.

Today, when I went to retrieve the card, I found a letter [I had forgotten about] that I had written my aunts in 1966 to thank them for my birthday money.

Little background info:

When I graduated from college in 1976, my Aunt Ava pulled me aside and said, "I have been busting to tell you this for four years."

Me: Tell me what? [I thought she was gonna drop the bomb that my college degree was paid for by Richard Nixon or that I was going straight from my graduation to a fabulous paid for Malibu beach house or that I was an alien baby she found out behind the tobacco shed that she handed to my mother to raise.]

Aunt Ava: I almost died laughing when I heard you were majoring in English.

Me: Really? Why?

Aunt Ava: Because you used to write us letters -- well, that made us think you might be "flicted."

Me: Flicted?

Aunt Ava: You know --- "touched."

Me: Ouch.

I can't remember what else was said after that, but I remember that it hurt my feelings .[You mean, I wasn't always a good writer with a decent command of the language?]

-- until --

I began to bury my family members one by one, and in sorting through their personal papers, I began to find letters I had written when I was young.

They are laugh out loud funny anyway, but considering what I spent my working career trying to change, one "touched starfish" at a time, so to speak, even funnier.


So, today, when I was looking for the annual birthday card to send to Gloria -- I came across a letter I had written on July 15 of 1966 -- I had just turned twelve.

Here is a taste of it -- and I did not edit -- at all:

"We have only 8 more days of summer school. You may think I'm glad but I am not. One reason is because I like it. Today, Lois, Kenneth, and I carried Kenneth's bike up to the shopping center to get it fix. We ate lunch up their because we had to wait.
For my birthday I had a hotdog roast. We went over to the park that is, Barry and Bill, Marcie, Stan, Ced, Carol, Dana, and every body in the family inculding one of Margaret's frenids. We had a nice time because we got to wade in the creek. We played some real fun games."


"Also, tonight Marcie and I pratice folding up each other in a deck chair. That is a lot of fun. Tonight we walk Margaret and Mike up the street. She always takes on a walk up to the school to swing. You may wonder who is Mike well he is Marcie's little brother. Margaret has taken a fancy to him. He is only 1 year old."

"Thank you for the dollar."

That was one dollar from two aunts.


And don't you just love that future English teacher's letter? You should read the whole thing.


Pictured above: November 1966 -- my brother Kenneth, in the lovely white knees socks -- me, and my sister Margaret.

Also: Brother Kenneth and I at my college graduation. :)

BTW: I think I understand now while I was a poor speller and an even worse math student --- Marcie and I were folding each other up in deck chairs for fun?