My Life a Bit South of Normal

My Life a Bit South of Normal

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tomorrowland - A Movie Review

The film Tomorrowland had mixed reviews at best. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 49%  and said, "Ambitious and visually stunning, Tomorrowland is unfortunately weighted down by uneven storytelling." A.O. Scott of the New York Times, the self appointed reviewer for the gods said, "What Tomorrowland isn’t is in any way convincing or enchanting." While Kofi Outlaw of Screen Rant said, " 'Tomorrowland' is a fun adventure with big ideas and a lot of heart, but somehow winds up lacking in both."

Well, as someone who goes to the multiplex to escape reality, I beg to differ. I found the film to remind me of something akin to a tale created by Jules Verne, produced by George Lucas, and on a set Walt Disney designed in his mind in the 1960's. And all of this wound around a Pollyanna story without the sap and Aunt Polly starring George Clooney.

OK, I lost you. Basically this is a science fiction story about the present and the future, about hope and despair, about destiny and possibility. It also concerns a whole lot of science and physics Mrs. Rast did not teach me in 7th grade Physical Science and I missed by dropping Physics in college. The best way to get most out of this film is to forget the critics and once the film starts follow the story, experience the incredible effects, suspend reality, and enjoy the ride. 

Academy award winner Brad Bird directed and co-wrote the screen play. Clooney is very good in his part as the jaded inventor who has given up on the future. Britt Robinson (also know for her roles in The Longest Ride 2015 and Dan in Real Life 2007) carries the film as the extremely bright teenager who is recruited "to the future". Tim McGraw plays her father. However the most fascinating role to me was that of Athena, a young Autotron who never ages, played by Raffy Cassidy. This 12 year old  actress had to play the role of a child her true age as well as someone who looked 12 but was in fact 35 or 40 years older. She pulled it off with style, her brilliant blue eyes never flinching.

Needless to say, I enjoyed the film. I found the extravagant special effects to be so well done. There is a part in the film that takes place in the future that should be nominated for costume. The pace is steady so you can follow and the script never drags. The story is not predictable and the characters are as well developed as they need to be for the 130 minutes of the movie.


My Unemployment Sabbatical

One would think I am preparing for death. I am working on my "Bucket List". Seriously, I am checking things off my list - vowing to spend as much time as possible with my granddaughter, not worry about the little things, clean up all the photography mess in my office, read that book that has been sitting on  my bedside table, finally write back to my friend's mother who sent me the nicest Christmas card (I have wanted to send her a nice long letter and never seem to have enough time), travel as much as possible, learn how to make biscuits, find my Grandmother's coconut cake recipe,  . . . really nothing spectacular.

However now that I realize (hopefully) my unemployment sabbatical may end (no, I do not have a job - just feel more optimistic) my free time is getting ready to come to a grinding halt. Everything that I have had the liberty of doing for the past several years will be no more. Oh, I will have 2 days each week, but I am sure that time will meted out to chores and other commitments. i.e. my world as I have come to know it is "fixing ready" (as they say down here) to end.

As most of my friends are retiring (well except for those who married doctors and their only care in the world for the past 35 years has been getting court time at the racket club, the dilemma of red or white wine for lunch, and the stress of carpool lanes) I am getting back to the rat race. 

My DH said I would be bored out of my mind at home. Wrong! I have been busier than ever. He questioned what I would spend my time doing. I can present him with a list. He feared I would miss the companionship of my co-workers. I have found the camaraderie of my retired friends more than enough fun. 

The only thing I am missing is benefits and living expenses (in the style in which I have become accustomed). Contrary to what some may say - those are not over rated. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rough Weather and a Change in Plans

Ah, the Red Neck Riviera - one place I was truly under dressed. I was part of the 5% not sporting a serious tattoo. And I am not referring to a small rainbow on your leg or daisy on your shoulder. We are talking copious quantities of ink covering the real estate on the skins of people's arms and backs. But I digress.

The week was going swimmingly when it came to an end and the party was over. It was time to pack up and go home. Try as we might we were unable to consume all the adult beverages we had with us. Instead of throwing them away, we decided we would leave them in the cabinets of the condo as a nice surprise for the next guest, assuming it was not going to  be a card carrying Baptist minister and his family. In that case I feel certain an exorcism and a prayer chain would be involved, but that was their problem, bless their hearts.

When I checked in at the kiosk at the Delta counter I saw that foreboding message on the screen, short of the blue screen of death, something no one wishes to see; "Please check with the ticket agent, your flight itinerary has changed." All four of us were flying on the same flight to Atlanta but the other three were heading on to Richmond as I would be on my way to Charleston. I looked up to see they had received the same news but were able to check in.  They were not blessed with the message. Best case scenario I was being upgraded to First Class - in my dreams.

By the time I reached the counter my friends were behind me - esprit de corp. I was told there was a delay in the flight to Atlanta that was going to cause me to miss my connection to Charleston and the next flight to Charleston was overbooked. The agent was frantically typing trying to find me a way home ( I assume) when I saw the board above him change and show that our flight to Atlanta had been cancelled. "Ooh," he said. "Now the flight's been cancelled." 

That one sentence put all four of us in the same boat (and without a plane). Seems rough weather at Hartsfield (the Atlanta airport) was causing most flights in and out to be delayed or cancelled. "I don't think I can get you in there tonight. It will be tomorrow morning at best."

"Well, then I am assuming Delta will give us vouchers for dinner and a hotel tonight."

"No, I'm afraid not. Since it is a weather related problem we don't do that."

The young man could not answer our next three or four questions so he found a supervisor, an older gentleman who immediately went to work on our problem. I have traveled enough to know this is part of the game and one has to roll with it. 

I can remember being on the last flight before they closed National (the airport out of Washington DC) one evening in a bad snow storm.  They had to de-ice the plane twice before we could take off. (That was when you questioned how much experience a Washington DC ground crew had with the de-icing equipment and wished you were flying out of Fargo where they could do it in their sleep.) Or the night in Atlanta when a mechanical issue followed by the inability for USAir to get a fresh flight crew in sent all the passengers to a hotel with only vouchers for dinner and hotel stay as well as toothbrushes issued by the airline since our luggage could not be located. 

Looking at the long line impatiently forming behind us I was reminded why I have this insane habit of always arriving at the airport early. This was not my first rodeo. Any who, long story short, we were booked on a 4 pm flight the following day, went back to Hertz to get another rental car, and left the airport in search of accommodations.

As we contemplated a plan, one of my friends lamented that it was a shame we had left all of our adult beverages in the condo. I thought for a moment. "Wait, check in for the condo was not until  4 pm, it is only 3 pm now. If the maid service is cleaning I bet we can go in and get it."

"And what explanation would you give them?"

"We left it by mistake?"

"What if the next guests have already moved in?"

"Then I'll act as if I am at the wrong condo, step back look at the number and say something like, 'Oh, I am so sorry I am at the wrong condo this is 109, I thought I was at 110. I did not mean to disturb you.' "

It was worth a try. The condo complex did not use keys, but rather combinations. However, the units had timers and no doubt the timer changed at check out time. Our condo happened to be on the bottom floor (of a large complex) with the door facing the parking lot.

As we drove up, we saw the door was open and the maid's cart was in front. There was a God. I got out of the car and casually walked up to the unit. As I got to the door the maid, a middle aged Hispanic lady, was coming out. I casually explained that we had checked out earlier that morning but realized we had left some liquor in a cabinet in the kitchen and wondered if it was still there.

"Yes, eet is in the cabinet. I left eet there. But, I took the beer, eggs, and butter from the refrigerator," she said hesitantly. "Do you need those also?"

Having forgot all about those items, I quickly smiled and said, "No, I did not even realize we left all that,  you are more than welcome to those."

"Oh, thank you so much.  I can use them."

With that I walked in, retrieved our goods from the cabinet, wished the maid a good day, and got back in the car as the hero of the day. 

Now we just had to find an affordable place to stay. But we had our priorities straight.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Amazing Red Solo Cup

We all should find joy in the simple things in life. Toby Keith puts it well:

Red solo cup, you're more than just plastic
More than amazing, you're more than fantastic
And believe me that I'm not the least bit sarcastic
When I look at you and say

Red solo cup, you're not just a cup. 
No, no, God no
You're my, you're my life long friend


Thank you for being my friend.


"Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound." Carolina Herrera

So there you have it!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Man! I feel Like a Woman

I'm not a big Shania Twain fan but one of her best lines is:


The best thing about being a woman
Is the prerogative to have a little fun.


Today is the first full day of our girls trip to Destin, Florida - the red neck Riviera. And this is one trip all four of us needed badly. I'll spare you the details but it involved four husbands, a wedding, a boat, and a career, among other stress related issues.

Which brings to mind the words from a favorite Sawyer Brown song:


Well don't go tellin' don't go rattin'
Hey baby baby we're out goin' cattin'
Juke joint jammin' tit for tat
And mama don't wait up, wait up
We're out goin' cattin'

But I don't think any one at home has to worry too much about us getting into trouble. It is going to take us a day or two on the beach with a cooler and some colorful drinks with little umbrellas to relax. Then we'll go from there.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Red Neck Riviera

Ah, the Red Neck Riviera, nirvana for a southerner with little taste but desperate to get to the beach for a few days.  I consider my self better than Myrtle Beach, hey a girl has to maintain some standards. The Red Neck Riviera, also known as the Emerald Coast, stretches from Pensacola to Panama City. With stops along the way like Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, WaterColor, Panama City Beach, Destin, and Seaside to name a few. It sounds like a string of beaches from the 1950's.

Actually it sounds like what Myrtle Beach was when I was a little girl. Well without the sugar white fine sand and crystal clear emerald green water, but those minor details aside, Myrtle Beach in the 60's and 70's was a string of small family beaches. To the north was Little River, Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive, Crescent Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Windy Hill. And to the south was Surfside and Garden City.

My grandparents had a home they had built in Windy Hill. Several of the big farmers from the Pee Dee region had built summer homes for their families. Granddaddy's was one of the only ones to survive hurricane Hazel in 1954. I spent many a week during my childhood summers at that house in Windy Hill. But I digress.

Now Myrtle Beach is just one long line of condos, chain restaurants, t-shirt stores, and rubber snake emporiums stretching from Little River on the North Carolina line south to Murrell's Inlet.

But back to the subject at hand, Tom T. Hall had a great song about the Red Neck Riviera in which he talked about drinking beer, and "Chillin' with the motel door wide open, Hopin' somethin' good will come along" He also said, "They got beaches of the whitest sand, Nobody cares if gramma's got a tattoo, Or Bubba's got a hot wing in his hand."

Right now that sounds like my kind of place. I'll take the white sands, the clear green water, and whatever adult beverage is available. The rest should just be pure entertainment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

More Gone with the Wind Quotes

A couple more memorable quotes from GWTW.

I need to keep these in mind when I start to worry about what people think and just keep it all in perspective.

"With enough courage, you can do without a reputation."

and

“Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.”


Probably the most misquoted line from the book or the movie, it was not 'Frankly my dear I do not give a damn' but rather:

“I wish I could care what you do or where you go but I can't... My dear, I don't give a damn.”



And one quote that only true southerners will see the humor in:

“[Yankees] are pretty much like southerners except with worse manners, of course, and terrible accents.”








Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Most Astute Margaret Mitchell

I often refer back to the second religious manual of southern women after the Bible- well maybe third after Emily Post's Etiquette - Margaret Mitchell's epic novel Gone with the Wind. No, my heart does not hearken back to our most recent unpleasantness but I find Ms. Mitchell's text and dialogue often full of wit and brilliant prose.

I'm not sure from what part of the book the following came from, but it is spot on for southern women.

             “It was this feminine conspiracy which made Southern society so pleasant.Women knew that a land where men were contented, uncontradicted and safe in possession of unpunctured vanity was likely to be a very pleasant place for women to live. So, from the cradle to the grave, women strove to make men pleased with themselves, and the satisfied men repaid lavishly with gallantry and adoration. In fact, men willingly gave ladies everything  in the world except credit for having intelligence.”

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Well Lemurs and Cavies and Parottlets and Australian Singing Dogs, but anyone who knows my household realizes this is tame (no pun intended) compared to what has come through our backyard and den over the years. So when my DH announced that our plans for Sunday afternoon included a nice 45 minute drive south to a small town (population 27) for an exotic animal auction I was wary - needless to say. 

To give you some perspective here, I have had the luxury of celebrating my wedding anniversary each August in Daytona Beach, FL home of Harley Davidson, NASCAR, and the National Reptile Exposition. If that doesn't say "I love you", I can't image what else one could expect.

Anyhoo - I was assured no cages, boxes, or purchases were involved during yesterday's trip. This was strictly for the curiosity of it. After all, who in the Hell would have thought that every 3 months an exotic animal auction would be held in our neck of the woods. And, even more amazing than that was - how in the dickens had that been going on and my DH not know about it until now. Thank God for small favors. But I digress.

We drove up to a nondescript lot around a white concrete and wood building.  The first hint was the small sign that said "Exotic Animal Auction" on the side of the road. The rest of the signage was a combination of black stencil work and that commissioned by the Chick Fil A cows. The pickup trucks with coon dog boxes, vehicles with NASCAR stickers, and old SUVs gave me some idea of the folks attending. 

As we made our way in, I had no fear of the exotic animals, it was the local species I found both more scary and more entertaining. The "auction house" was a small room which wooden bleachers lining two walls, one wall with chairs, and a fourth with the auctioneer. In the middle were tables covered with assorted boxes, cages, carriers, and tubs of critters. From our view from the top row of the bleachers I fully expected someone to clear the floor at anytime and start taking wages for a cock fight.

The room filled and the assortment of morbidly obese and stick thin folks probably evened the mean weight out, with maybe the obese having a slight edge. There seemed to be no middle ground. We always questioned where the crowd of folks who only came out on Sunday nights and who looked even a bit different than the rest of  the "normal" Walmart shoppers came from. Well here they were - alive and in color. 

The  auction started with produce that was sold by the bag - onions, apples, squash, and sweet potatoes. Then they moved onto eggs. They described each carton of eggs - packed by the dozen. They were Guinea, Pheasant, Red and Gold Pheasant, and other kinds I was unfamiliar with. My DH and I were amazed at the prices these eggs were going for. Who would pay $12 for a dozen Pheasant eggs, how good could they be? Then it dawned on us - these were eggs for breeders. Yep, we were out of our element.

Then they moved to the animals. There were cages of parakeets, doves, and parrotlets. There were 5 small containers of mice, 2 Prairie Dogs, a Chinchilla, and 3 bags of huge Koi. Looking around the room I was beginning to wonder if I had it all wrong - maybe the eggs were for breeding and the rest of it was for consumption.  

By the end of day, one man, thinner than Jack Sprat missing a front tooth, managed to buy 2 water turtles, 1 dove, 3 goats, and a Lemur. Of course this was in addition to a bag of onions and 2 dozen Guinea eggs.

An obese middle aged lady sitting on the first row, whose tank top showed her fully tattooed back and her rolled up jeans made sure we did not miss the flowers tattooed on her leg, bought 2 dozen eggs and 3 bags of tomatoes but was not going to pay a dime over $850 for one of the Lemurs.

After the cages and assorted boxes on top of the tables had been sold, they started pulling out crates from beneath the tables. This is when I feared it would get interesting. I did not know whether to expect Siamese cats and lop eared bunnies or baby Panthers, Emus, Llamas and an Ocelot. 

Before it was all over, in addition to the birds and fish and mammals I mentioned earlier they had sold 6 tortoises, 1 cavie, yellow eared sliders, a pot bellied pig, a tub of yellow rat snakes, a baby albino king snake, and 8 goats. No one was willing to pay enough for one of the Great Dane puppies or the Australian Singing  dogs - all who went back home with their sellers.

We left after the "exotic" part. Next they were moving outside for the household and farm equipment sale. 

Was it interesting? Of course. I saw a fat tattooed lady, a singing dog, and a skinny man with 3 goats, 2 turtles and a dove. The last time I observed that combination, I was 7 and they still had the side show at the county fair. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

To Dream The Impossible Dream

Perhaps I ask too much,


To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow . . 

Or is it too much to expect that our bathroom would be finished by now. Hell houses have been built in this amount of time. This renovation has now lasted longer than Kim Kardashian's marriage (as if I care about that fact).  We are so close.


To reach the unreachable star . . 

This is my quest: to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

Then last night the door was rehung. This is monumental progress. But it is a milestone in my mind. That leaves towel racks and hooks. Just minor details. But as I have often said before it is the damn devil in those details.

And, yes, like Man of La Mancha I feel as if I am fighting windmills. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Feed a Cold and Starve a Fever

Or is it "Starve a cold and feed a fever", I never can remember. I feel lousy and need to know if I can justify eating extra bon bons. This is one of those pieces of advice Mama used to tell me. Did she really know what she was talking about?

According to some research, not so much. Mama never came through with chicken noodle soup either. Now if my brother or I ever had some illness, ailment, or psychological issue she would produce a package of Nabs (cheese crackers). And, as best I remember this was a sure fire fix, well with the exception of the one time I managed to have a Roman candle explode in my hand (long story - short fuse). In that case it took the services of an ER doctor. But I digress.

"Bundle up or you'll catch cold" or as my Aunt Kat would say "Catch your death". I always wondered how I would "catch" something I did not want. And, please dear God explain why anyone would scare the bejesus out of a child by suggesting that death was being cariously thrown around. In any case, according to sources I found, "bundling up" will keep you more comfortable but not protect you from catching a cold.

"Don't go outside with wet hair," - my favorite of all time. My only way to figure this was the cold temperatures could freeze your hair, dropping your core temperature, thereby bringing about the dreaded "cold" - not so according to my sources. 

"You can't go 'round barefoot", once again, "you'll catch cold". Survey says - just a myth. Of course there is always the remote chance of contracting tetanus, ringworm, or worse any affliction which you can get from an animal bite, rusty nail, fungus or just dirt in a small scratch. But, in today's world we have medication and immunizations to take care of these issues.  As an aside to appease my Mama, Daddy had a "rule" that my brother and I could run shoe free outside as soon as the Dogwood trees budded. Neither of us ever worried about shoes in the house. 

So now that I debunked these myths I need to go back to bed with a bottle of cough syrup and a box of Kleenex. Maybe I should send for a package of Nabs, that seemed to solve all my ills when I was six. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I'm Not Dated, I Am Well Stocked

If a recipe calls for 1 tsp of oyster sauce and the smallest bottle of oyster sauce available is a 4 oz bottle, then one purchases a 4 oz bottle. When making a key lime pie one needs 6 oz of key lime juice, however a bottle of key lime juice is 16 oz. See where I am going here.

Fast forward; yesterday we had a small hiccup with our refrigerator that turned into something a little more serious - like the full blown flu. When I went to get my Diet Coke I found a thermometer sitting on top of the fridge with a thin wire going into the door. My DH informed me the fridge was not cold enough.

Long story short, the internal temperature that should be in the high 30's was in the 50's. So we needed to move everything out and relocate it into our second fridge in the garage. Luckily the freezer was still working properly. As I started taking everything out of the fridge I knew what was coming and I was not disappointed.

"Why do we have all this stuff? Fish sauce? Balsamic glaze? Currents? 3 types of mustard? This is a good time to clean all this out."

Once again I had to defend my significant investment in condiments. When you need that obscure ingredient you do not have time to run to the store. Chances are you are not going to be able to find it any way in our fair town where the staples are fat back, white bread, and chicken necks and any condiments more exotic than ketchup, mayonnaise, and garlic salt would be some BBQ sauce endorsed by a NASCAR driver no doubt.

"And I bet half of this is out of date."

Since several weeks ago I had just gone through everything in the refrigerator, checked the dates, and discarded anything that was out of date, I was ahead of him on this one. Now I'm not saying there were not some mystery items in there and some dishes that resembled science projects gone astray.

Mindlessly I moved the milk and cartons of cream to the cooler to be relocated in the other fridge. My DH looked at me. "Do you want us all the die? You are just like your Mama."

This is where I take offense. Of course all the dairy products needed to be tossed.

What my DH was referring was Mama's reputation for her notorious kitchen in her early days when she was predisposed for a little nip here and there. In fact there is little doubt in my mind that my immune system was greatly enhanced by the antibiotics that were sometimes produced in our kitchen while I was growing up. My DH is quick to remind me of it, given his mother's kitchen looked like the poster for a Mr. Clean commercial. Her floor was so clean it squeaked when you walked on it but who is going to eat off the floor.

This is one more reason your best friend is the one when you die, you can count on to get to your house and clean out your refrigerator before the church ladies show up with food. Knowing you have that most important task taken care of will allow a lady to rest in peace. A husband could never discern between the perished pears and pickled ginger, the old cannoli and the can of oriental mustard, an expired jug of juice and an expensive jar of blackberry jam, or an old bottle of mustard and perfectly fine mason jar of hot sauce. 

There is a reason I can put together strange recipes on the fly - and it is not because I have bare refrigerator shelves. Show me a lady with a refrigerator free of condiments and I'll show you a lady who can only make reservations for supper.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Unfinished Works of Art and Our Bathroom (not to be confused)

OK Rome wasn't built in a day, but I imagine those infamous baths were completed early on. Whereas my infinitesimally small WC is still unfinished, under construction, not quite ready, still needs some final touches. Whatever, there is still construction material scattered about and the door has yet to be rehung. This begs the question: how long should this take?

"We", yes that is the imperial we, have been at this for 70 days. Yes, I have said Lord God created the world in 6 days and then he rested. However, biblical scholars will tell you that the definition of  the Hebrew word used for "day" in the original Old Testament text could be defined somewhere between 1000 and 3000 years.

 Speaking of God, heck, Jesus was only on earth for 40 days after he arose from the grave. Will it take such a miracle to complete my bathroom? Columbus made his way to the New World in only 60 days and he did not even know where he was going.

By now we could have birthed a litter of puppies given the gestation period for a cat is 63 days. We are nearing the time it took Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg (of Around the World in 80 Days) to complete his trip circumnavigating the globe. And that mission was only one day short of the 81 days it took the  Queen Mary 2 to make her around the world trip. Personally I would much rather cruise in style on the QM2 than participate in the madcap caper of Mr. Fogg. But I digress.

What if it is never completed? My backyard is littered with the remains of such great ideas gone astray when a new project took precedent. I realize many great works by some of the most talented artists of all time went unfinished. Chaucer never finished the Canterbury Tales (perhaps that is why I never did well on Professor Hunt's exam - how can one truly understand an uncompleted work?)

Beethoven left is Symphony No. 10 incomplete, as did Schubert with his Symphony No. 8 in B minor (which is more commonly known, The Unfinished Symphony).

Granted I am pleased with the new colors of the walls, the new faucets with their antique bronze finish, and the super duper commode. But it is a bathroom, a WC, a head, a john, a can, a washroom, an LBR, an LGR. Rose by an another name is still a rose. Whatever you want to call it, it is a bathroom not a work of art. And, currently it is an unfinished bathroom.



Sunday, May 10, 2015

We are Our Mothers' Daughters

Cokie Roberts said it so well in her book, We Are Our Mothers' Daughters. This is truly the most frightening thought. But the older I get the more I realize I cannot escape it. Like a moth being pulled to a flame or rather a star being pulled down a black hole, more and more I find myself saying and doing things that remind me of my mother.

But so far I don't seem to have the strengths she had. I haven't managed to get those qualities that I and so many admired in her.

Did I receive her genetic disposition to remember everyones birthday and anniversary and the obnoxious talent to always manage to have the US mail deliver the card on the appropriate day? No. I do well to remember the day at all, much less get a card, a stamp, and get it mailed. The idea of having all that coordinated in time for the thoughtful note to arrive on the proper day seems exhausting. Yet she remembered her family, her friends, members of her Sunday school class, her bridge club,current neighbors as well as those we had fifty years ago, etc. never missing an occasion.

Can I make my own clothes, design curtains for my den, paint in oils and acrylics? No. Nor can I play a piano or discuss the bible and its history from an academic point of view. A major in Religious Education and a minor in Music from Wake Forest served her well. Six years of piano lessons left me with the inability to even play the simplest verse of Red River Valley.

Mama could tell you at any given time during the fall how well any ACC football team was doing and probably most of the SEC teams, at least those in the Eastern Division. She knew baseball, the players, the rules, and the stats as well as any fan. 

I can remember when she was in CCU just a day or so before she died she had insisted her TV be turned on and tuned to a channel showing the Braves game one afternoon. The nurses did so mainly just to mollify her. By this point they felt they were just keeping her comfortable. I entered the room and  walked up to her bedside. 

"We're not doing so good," she said.

"You or the Braves?"

"The Braves, they can't get a man on base and the next man up is not one of our better runners."

"How do you know who's next?" I asked, not knowing much about baseball.


"They announce the lineup at the start of the game."

I just sat down to let her rest. A few minutes later, I was sure she was asleep by sound of her breathing. Then I heard from her bed, "Now, that boy is going places. They paid almost nothing for him and everyone said he would not amount to much but he can hit. He needs to work on his fielding, but he is coming along." There was a base hit and loud applause.

 The nurse came in to check on her. She looked at the monitor, adjusted Mama's covers, and made sure all her wires and tubes were not tangled. Then she came over to me, "She seems to be resting well, finally. Perhaps we should turn the TV off. I really don't want her to be bothered."

"I don't think that's the case."

About that time, from the bed, we heard, "Now Chipper Jones is up next. You know this is his last season."

"I thought he was long gone," I said. 

With that she started giving out his stats for past few years and when he had been on the disabled list and for what injuries.

Oh, I am my Mother's Daughter. Apparently I have every innate obnoxious character trait she had. My daughters are quick to remind me with an eye roll or some phrase like "Seriously" or "That is something ZeeZee would have said".  All those little quirks I grew up with that drove me nuts, I find myself doing today. Mannerisms and habits that I chided her for, just come naturally to me these days. 

I only wish she were here for one more Mother's Day so I could tell her how I never knew I would miss her so much. How I never told her I loved her enough. And how much being my Mother's Daughter means to me. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Southern Women and Nervous Break Downs

As Boz Scaggs (for you children of the 70's) so famously said, "Danger there's breakdown dead ahead."

Isn't everyone entitled to a nervous breakdown every once in a while. Now southern  women all know about pity parties. Oh you may deny it, but each one of you is guilty of throwing one of these in your honor. What woman hasn't gone to her bed for a day or two (with a pint of ice cream - or a box of chocolates in my case) and cried her eyes out over some (at the time) most horrible thing, that now seems almost frivolous?

Don't laugh. There is a time and place for these hysterics. A proper southern lady is one who knows when and where to pitch her fit, air her grievances. It is the ones who choose to have a hissy fit in public who give the female gender such a bad reputation.

Ladies retire to their rooms in moments of reflection - ie they are pissed as Hell, their feelings are hurt, and they are plotting revenge. The general female population, on the other hand, make sure God and everyone know who has wronged them and what they intend to do about it. The former find greater satisfaction in their retaliation since generally when the dust settles they are far above the fray, while the later find themselves bruised and battered but proud to wear the sash and crown of revenge.

But a nervous breakdown is a whole 'nuther ball game. This is a card carrying medical condition diagnosed by a physician requiring serious treatment  - far more than smelling salts and a good bath. A trip to Bob Ellis on King Street, with all its miraculous therapeutic powers cannot save one from  a "melt down".  Two pints of Godiva Double Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream will not soothe the "anxiety" or relieve the "depression" of a breakdown.

Every family has "that" relative that is spoken about in hushed tones. The one where tales of her "break down" are legendary, so much so it is hard to tell fact from fiction. Did she suffer more than one? How long was she "away"? Rumors of shock treatments, years of psychotic drugs, and idle gossip about whether or not she will ever be "right" are whispered at every family gathering.

We all have at least one such kin among us. Right? The beauty of being southern is that we don't hide the skeletons in our closets. No, we open the doors and let them dance. It is not the dancing skeletons one should fear, rather it is the scorned southern women in their rooms seeking retribution. Even when we feel we deserve one, are even entitled to one, we do not have time for nervous breakdowns. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Goose Chase, a Snipe Hunt, and Down a Rabbit Hole

Everyone these days talks about living in the "Rat Race", "Running in Circles", going on a "Goose Chase" or "Snipe Hunt",  falling down a "Rabbit Hole",  etc. My life is so crazy I am usually dizzy, feel as if I should have some geese and snipe to show for something, and am very wary of Rabbit Holes.

For the record I have hunted snipe - real snipe, not just the fool's game or joke often played on campers. My daddy belonged to a hunt club in the low country and one of their quarry was Snipe. Yes, they exist. They are actually not easy to hunt because when they are flushed they go straight up and then have an erratic flight pattern. (The term "Sniper" came from a Snipe hunter as in one with excellent hunting skills.) So now you know, but I digress.

This week I decided I would search out some very old churches in the upstate. After identifying the ones I wanted to see, I had to locate them on a map. This was no easy feat given many of them are located on small roads in cryptic locations. Any directions I could find may as well said something like, "When you get into town turn right by the old Piggly Wiggly. Then after the third blue house make a left. Go until you see farmer John's pond on the right and the church will be on your left." 

From experience I know the Piggly Wiggly probably closed several years ago so figuring out that landmark is a crapshoot at best. One of the blue houses burned down and the other two have now been painted white, and how in the Hell is someone supposed to know what pond belongs to farmer John? 

This is where I feel as if I am going down the rabbit hole -  following ambiguous directions to small towns that are now just a deserted general store to find the unmarked street down which a two hundred year old shuttered church sits among the kudzu. And why you ask? A photograph? Yes, I too, often question my sanity.

All that said, Monday morning I headed out with lists of vague directions to arcane places of worship. As I proceeded down Highway 25 I came upon a sign that said "Historic Cokesbury College". Having never heard of such, I decided to detour left and take a look see. It wasn't on my well prepared list but then proper planning is so overrated.

While visiting this spot, the gentleman showing me around asked what had brought me there. I explained I was on a photo tour of old churches. His face lit up. He mentioned several churches that were on my list. Then he asked me if Mt. Vernon on Hwy 61 was one I planned to see.

Not being familiar with that one, I inquired about it. He explained it was a beautiful old historic church that I could find off Highway 61 on Mt. Vernon Church road. A friend of his was trying to buy the church and move it. I made a mental note to add it to the list, thanked him, and made my exit.

When I got in my car, I pulled up the area of the state on Google maps. I could not find Highway 61 nor could I find a reference to a Mt. Vernon church. Whatever. I went on my way. 

I turned off Highway 25 unto Highway 10 had headed toward Troy (population 93) found the first church on my list. After a circuitous route over the river and through the woods I found the next church on my list. As I headed up Highway 81 toward Mt. Carmel (population 173) and the next church on my roll I noticed "Mt. Vernon Church Rd" to my left. Aha! Highway 81 not 61.

I turned around and turned off onto Mt Vernon Road. Sure enough a mile or so down the road on the left I saw the sign for the church. However, when the church itself came into view I was somewhat taken aback. Instead of an old wooden structures, a century old brick building, or historic masonry hall I had been expecting, what lay before me was a non-descript white squatty vinyl siding covered building that was twenty years old at most. This was of no historical significance. I looked behind it to see if there was a original structure but no.

Not to be deterred, I continued down the road a bit to see if perhaps the original church remained on another site. After several miles I gave up chasing that goose.

Back on Highway 81 I made my way to Mt. Carmel and found the small old church exactly where it was supposed to be. There was one more house of God on my list I wanted to find while I was in the area. The directions were even more fuzzy than the others. When I was researching the other churches I could not find a photograph or drawing of this one. I found several references to it, but no history per se. My curiosity was peaked.

After heading the wrong direction for several miles and making a few wrong turns I felt like I was pretty close. I drove down the country road through stands of pines and hay fields. Much of the land in this part of the world looks the same. Finally I saw the sign for the church.  Great. As I saw it I realized this was one of the first churches I had photographed that morning. When you start running in circles it is time to take your goose and go home.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie

Ann Margaret made the song famous in the 1963 movie musical of the same name. (Most folks these days just know it from a short scene in Mad Men).


Bye bye Birdie
I'm gonna miss you so
Bye bye Birdie
Why'd ya have to go?



My little orphan Cut Throat chick has no where to go. Such a sad tail of woe, given he was the chosen one (ie the only survivor of multiple clutches). Since I do not want incest among my Cut Throats, and I fear they being red necks that may not be an issue with them, I needed to find him a new home. So I was on a mission.

I had stopped by a pet store in Columbia I knew sold finches. They were interested in procuring him but first I needed to speak with the owner who would not be in until the following Tuesday. I got her name and phone number and went home. My DH and I discussed the situation and the pet store. I was not happy about the way they kept their cages - or rather didn't. They were filthy. My birds are used to an extremely clean cage. The final verdict was to move on to Plan B.

Plan B was a pet store in Charlotte we had visited a year ago that was immaculately clean and knew a lot about keeping finches. Going all the way to Charlotte to deliver one little finch seemed a bit much but I wanted to make sure he was taken care of. Money was not really the issue, a safe home for the chick was.

In the mean time I removed the chick from the flight cage and put him a smaller cage in my office next the Owl Finches who were still in quarantine until the end of May. At least I could get him out of the communal cage. He was not a happy camper. I'd give him a day to settle  down.

The following morning, I found him frantically flying from one side of the cage to the other trying to get to the Owls. Since he had never been alone, that made sense. After watching him  for a while, against my better judgement,  I moved him into the cage with the Owls. I would rather take a chance having him be exposed to any random disease they may have than beat himself to death in the smaller cage.

That seemed like a good idea until I checked back on the three of them and saw he was terrorizing the Owls. Every time the Owls tried to eat from a dish, drink, or bath the Cut Throat would swoop in and shoo them off.  It wasn't long before the two little Owls were huddled together on the end of a perch looking at me with this, "Please save us" look.

So Jr. was relocated back into the communal cage - back to square one.

Then my DH announced one morning he would be going to visit that pet store in Charlotte and would be glad to take the Cut Throat for me. I called the shop and spoke with someone. They indicated they were interested, but once again I needed to speak with their manager who would be in later. I packed my feathered chick in a carrying cage and sent him on with my DH, relieved he was going to a responsible shop that would take care of him and see that he went to a good home.

As my DH drove out of the drive, it suddenly dawned on me, why was my DH going to the pet store? Maybe I should start looking for books lying around the house on an exotic animal I was not familiar with. Or see if there was some new cage or critter compound stashed in a corner. Rather than all that, I just went into Ostrich mode and put my head into the sand. From years of experience I found it easier to adopt the "Ignorance is bliss policy". Then if I happened to walk in the kitchen and find a pygmy hippo soaking in the kitchen sink or a baby ocelot curled up on the couch life would go on. Don't laugh - stranger things have happened. 


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Rebirth of The Towel Nazi

So shoot me. I'll admit I have resumed my role as the "Towel Nazi". Let me explain.

Years ago when our daughters were in their teens I found that our nicer towels were wearing out much faster than they should have and our hand towels and wash clothes were getting trashed with makeup stains. We had a closet full of towels, yet I could not put a set together for our bathroom that matched without at least one having a stain or a ragged edge.

My standard procedure is to clean our bath and put out fresh linens once a week. Not so much for our daughters. They mistook their bathroom for one at the Hyatt - albeit without the maid. Towels were only good for one day. Every bath or shower deserved a clean towel. 

After much ado, lecturing on the wear and tear on linens, explaining how towels (if hung up after a bath) were good for several more, and some most unpleasant words, I did what any sane woman would do - I took my nice towels and removed them from the linen closet. 

"My" towels stayed in our room. We had just purchased two sets of nice heavy cotton spa towels and I figured now was as good a time as any to stop the madness. All was good until one of my daughters came in my room, spotted the towels, and asked, "Why are those in here? I wondered where they were?" I calmly explained that "those" were for our bath and were out of the "general" rotation of towels.

One would have thought I had declared from on high that our daughters would have to use burlap sacks to dry their fair bodies and dish rags to wash their faces. Oh, the inhumanity! That night this was brought up at supper. My DH was appalled that I would do such a thing (segregate the towels not force burlap sacks on the girls). The winning comment came from our oldest daughter who declared, "Yeah, Mom's the Towel Nazi".

I did this for a year and enjoyed fluffy towels with no stains or worn edges while the rest of the lot slowly disintegrated. Finally I threw the proverbial towel in and integrated the linens. My DH commented that he was glad I had finally done the "mature thing." Whatever.

Of course that attitude changed the morning he realized that the only wash cloth he could find had stains on it, there were none of his favorite bath sheets clean, and the  towel he was using was frayed on the end. "We need new towels," he stated.

"Oh, no. We have nice towels, but since the girls use a different towel every time they bath or wash their face and don't care about stains, all the towels are in the wash."

Fast forward ten years. I went this morning to get fresh towels for our bath (that is still being renovated) and could not find a clean set of our nicer towels. Instead I found a basket full of towels in the girls bath. Obviously some things have not changed.

Not wanting to fight this battle again, I simply gathered all the towels, separated the matching sets we use and headed for the washer. After laundering all the towels, I put them all back in the linen closet. Well, all of them except the ones we use. Those went back in our room. 

Once a Nazi, always a Nazi.  In my life there are few bright spots - knowing there is a fluffy stain free towel waiting when I finish my shower is one of them. My conscious is clean - as well as my towels.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Go Away Little Bag, Before I Beg You to Stay

That evil bag of crunchy and sweet and salty dark chocolate, caramel, and sea salt pretzels thought it had one over on me. 


Go away little [bag]
I'm not supposed to be alone with you

But, no! I prevailed. I was not going to let him get the best of me. I would not succumb to his siren calls as he sat on the corner of my desk, all 24 oz and 17 servings. I am stronger than that. I learned from that dastardly bag of dark chocolate covered almonds my DH gave me for Christmas.