Monday, January 31, 2011

Just Trying to Get Home

Flying home, no problem. Back to the mild south. Sounds easy, right? Well it would have been with the exception of one small issue - to get from Richmond to Charleston, the airline decided I needed to connect through New York city. Now granted I was never good in geography and all those states above the Mason-Dixon line tend to run together. However, even I was aware that the north eastern corridor of the United States was dealing with a winter storm. But who was I? - just the lowly traveler.

However, when I went to check in on-line, just above my flight information, in red, it warned "winter storm advisory" and the second line explained how the airline had relaxed it policies and was waiving its change fee, "Houston, we have a problem."

I called and learned that the flights were being cancelled in New York. Perhaps I needed to change my itinerary (if I wanted to get home anytime soon). The new itinerary took me through Charlotte, my normal connection. And, better yet, I was upgraded to first class. Life was good - for now.

Then the email came saying my new flight was delayed but, no worries, I would still make my connection. It was snowing and sleeting by the time I got to airport in Richmond. When I checked my luggage, the lady at the counter looked concerned as she printed my ticket. "Perhaps we should reroute you through Philadelphia." "But that's going north, not south." "Yes, but I fear you are going to miss your connection since this flight continues to be delayed." So much for first class. Once again, I was rerouted north of the Mason- Dixon line, to avoid the snow delays - go figure.

I got to the gate only to learn that my latest flight was also delayed, a concurring theme for the morning. I did finally make it to Philadelphia and made my connection to Charleston. For the first time I was on a plane headed in the right direction - south. The plane was delayed once again in taking off because the two stewards were having trouble counting heads. Were there 78 or 79 passengers on board? Well, now add employee mathematical challenge issues to weather, mechanical, and cancellation as another delay in my getting home.

Someone on the plane asked me what my itinerary was. "The first, second, or third one?" I replied. They gave me a quizzical look. I was headed South, right? I was on the correct plane headed in the correct direction, yes? What if I was not paying attention and instead of boarding the plane at B28 to Charleston and, by mistake, I had boarded the plane at B30 and was on my way to Poughkeepsie, New York, or some such place? Surely not.

I have been known for my imagination getting the best of me. The electronic scanners at the gate would have caught that error - or maybe not? Was I the mystery passenger number 79. Well, I've heard Poughkeepsie is nice this time of year - frigid but nice. I guess we'll find out.

Friday, January 28, 2011

All Roads Meet at the Salon

I'm getting my hair cut, minding my own business, when from across the room I hear, "Why he has all of Facebook tied up. I just can't do a thing on it." Somehow, I just don't think one of Mark Zuckerberg's few Facebook friends is sitting in this particular hair salon. Then her next comment confirms my suspicion. "He just hogs it all the time. It's just puppy love. I don't want to comment on something like that. It's their business."

Then her hair dresser responded as she started teasing her customer's newly bleached tresses, "Oh, I know, it's down right pitiful. Does he think she's com'in back?" "Pitiful? It's downright disgusting." "Did you see those pictures?" "Oh my God, they were so tacky." "And, what they said about each other." "But, I wasn't really looking at his page." "Oh, neither was I," the hair dresser said as she went back to perfecting the "Big" hair.

While this conversation was going on a very large "lady" wearing (what looked like) her pajama bottoms, a large bright green tee shirt, and converse basketball shoes with fizzy purple socks was seated across the aisle from me. From what I could glean from the conversation between her and her stylist, she wanted her curly red locks trimmed. This is when you want to inquire, "Excuse me, but did you realize what you were wearing when you left your house this morning?" I'm not sure what part of the outfit I was questioning - the PJ bottoms, the over sized chartreuse shirt, or the purple fuzzy socks.

As her stylist starting trimming her hair, the fashionista, commented, "I think I would like my hair colored." "What color?" "Red." "A different shade?" "No, just red." Having the same question I did, the stylist left and came back with a sample book of hair colors. When she showed it to her customer, with no hesitation, the customer chose red - as in fire engine red. "OK, red it is." Well, now the ensemble will be complete.

Meanwhile back in the corner of big hair, "Did I tell you I was driving out west next week? Well I am." "Where are you going?" "To the Grand Canyon." "All the way to Texas?" "Noooo, the Grand Canyon is in Arizona." "Well, that's right next door." "Well, to tell you the truth, I thought it was in California, but Butch showed me a map, and it's in Arizona." "Are you going to Las Vegas. I've always wanted to go there." "No, Butch said this was an educational trip for the kids, since the only place we've ever taken them was Dollywood." "Well, I hope they like it. You know, I don't think there any rides in the Grand Canyon."

About that time, a lady in her seventies with her nice Sunday dress came and sat in a chair in the reception area. The way she gently folded her hands on the purse in her lap and smiled reminded me of my Aunt Kat. All I could think was - what's a nice lady like you doing in a place like this? My stylist finished my hair. I paid her and as I was gathering my coat and bag, she waived the lady over to the chair. "Why Miss Virginia, you look lovely today. Are we going to do the usual, a cut and perm?" "Yes, please. Isn't the weather just awful out there. I've never been so cold in my life."

OK, within 400 square feet, I have experienced red neck/big hair hell as well as some looney character dressed like Sponge Bob, then in walks Miss Virginia, the church lady for her cut and perm.  I just wanted to escape with my sanity and without my hair being bleached blonde, died red, or with a blue rinse. This truly was a red, white, and blue place - only in America.  Well, with for some of us, only in the south.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

To Hell and Back

If you have ever been to Grand Cayman, no doubt you have been to Hell and back, and maybe even sent a card or two from the post office there. Hell, it turns out is an outpost at the eastern end of the island. (I can only imagine how disappointed the Baptists would be to realize all this time they have been living their lives to avoid Hell, only to learn it is located on Grand Cayman Island!)

In our tootling around the island, we paid the obligatory visit to Hell (well you know, when in Rome). On our way there we noticed a dog in the road, just walking along. A pretty smart dog, avoiding traffic, on a mission. Of course we also saw the tour buses hauling the tourists from the cruise ships. (I wondered if they were offering food in Hell?) As we drove into the parking lot there was the post office (I failed to get the postal code for Hell - that could be useful in the future) and the gift shop (trinkets from Hell?).

About that time, a local man rolled into the parking area peddling a cart full of coconuts with a thatched top. The handmade sign on the front of his cart read "Fresh coconut water (good for your kidneys and stones) and good for everything else like this and that, perfect for diabetics, high blood pressure, better than Viagra and Ciallus". He was followed by the brown dog we had seen earlier who preceded to just lie down and take a nap under his cart. (Perhaps he was waiting for handouts of this promising elixir.)

Well, as far as I was as concerned, I had made it to Hell, found it was in paradise, and located the miracle "cure all" to boot. What more could one ask for in one day?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Sun, the Sand, and Zoltan

Paradise - Day Two.  Since the beach outside our condo was breathtaking but, due to the coral in the water not somewhere conducive to swimming,  we made the executive decision to head over to the Marriott and use their beach. After all, we had each stayed there before so technically we were "returning guests" . The doorman welcomed us accordingly, so life was good. 

As we exited the back of the hotel, there it was - the white fine sand, the rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas and that azure blue water. So this is how the rich live. We settled our belongings into some vacant chairs and headed for the water, after all the Caribbean sun and 80 degree weather was quite warm. And, I was so excited about swimming in this clear blue water. As I waded into the surf, I was reminded - what are you thinking? It is January. 79 degree water is not warm, some may call it "tepid" at best. I call it cool. 

Plan two. Back at the lounge chairs and the warm Caribbean sun. Then Zoltan, our waiter, appeared. "You ladies, you need something to drink, a nice cocktail?" he said in a heavy eastern European accent. "We have Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and Bellinis - all two for one," he continued with a smile. "You can have many!" After some discussion among us, not over whether to order, but what to order, we settled on Mimosas and Bellinis. "That be four for price of two. Good, no?" he said with a smile and scurried off.

Soon the drinks arrived. What is it with cold drinks and the beach? - a toxic combination. When Zoltan reappeared, we ordered another round and offered to pay. "No worry right now. Just remember Zoltan. I take good care of you." And, that he did.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Whale Watching

OK, strike dealing with day long flights, rough seas, and possible pirates, several months ago I planned a trip to Grand Cayman with some dear friends of mine. Little did I know at the time how I would need the trip. Another fact I did not know at the time was that the trip to the warm British West Indies would come during one of the coldest winters I can remember us having.

When I boarded the plane it was 37 degrees. I stepped off in balmy breezes, sunshine, and 80 degrees. Punish me, I may never return. Suddenly, I was beginning to truly understand the lore of being an ex-pat and I hadn't even gotten my luggage. There is something to be said about visiting two bars before lunch. (Hey, when life is slow, one doesn't want to rush a decision such as "Where do you want to eat?) And, we needed to take time to contemplate those poor souls still struggling in the cold. It was a very selfish way looking at the world, but humor me, how often am I on this side of that equation?

The ones I truly felt sorry for were the poor folks coming in off the cruise ships. Every day we would see two, three, sometimes four ships moored off shore. And, about ten o'clock the herds of passengers would start flooding the streets of George Town, ready to buy their tee shirts, beaded necklaces, and other trinkets. Mixed among the rubber snake emporiums are the high end stores featuring Cartier, Rolex, Lalique, to name a few, since the Cayman Islands are tax and duty free.

Never having been on a cruise ship before, I was not aware of the different levels of "cruising" . But after several days of observing the masses, it was not hard to figure this out. There was the lower level, which consists of those who go for the midnight buffets and the lure of Margaritaville. They were easy to recognize, usually they had to walk single file down the sidewalk. (It wasn't wide enough for two of their "biggie" sizes to waddle side by side.)

One day we were visiting the rum cake factory where you can sample different flavors of their baked goods, well that was unless the good ship of Bozos was not in town. I had to politely remind them that this was not the Captain's Buffet, as they snarfed down trays of the bite size samples. All I wanted was one taste, but I feared reaching for one less I lose part of a hand in the process. God forbid the establishment offer free liquor, then I realized they were offering samples of rum. It was all over now but the crying.

But that was OK, I had come for the weather, a little R&R, and maybe a few adult beverages - whale watching was never on my agenda.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Possible Adventures on the High Seas

Once again I find myself part of a group planning a possible trip to the Aldabra Islands in eighteen months. Now, we had to abort a similar trip a year or so ago because none of us had a hankering to deal with pirates who were frequenting the waters in the area. However, our friend who plans these trips, has learned that we can travel safely and avoid encounters with the pirates if we go during certain months. That's the good news. The bad news is the pirates stay home during these months due to incredibly rough seas. 

Another "small" issue is that the mode of transportation allowed into the islands that time of year are several luxury yachts (as in not cheap). Given that in order to reach Mahe, where the boats depart, one has to leave the states and either fly through Europe or Asia to east Africa then out to Mahe, (which is 1800 miles east of Kenya) you have already invested a small chunk of change in airfare before you even see the "luxury yacht". Generally, short of hot water, the term "luxury" never describes any part of our adventures.

So when we reach our final destination, we are over 1000 miles east of Africa, 265 miles north of Madagascar, and 700 miles west of Mahe (basically the nearest major airport). If you look on a map you do not even see the group of islands I am referring to, much less this atoll, which is 34 by 14 km. (You have to do the math, I never learned the metric system.) 

And, one may ask why we would want to spend a lot of money, to be in rough seas (to avoid pirates), in order to travel to a minute atoll in the Indian Ocean? Easy, to see the the place the Aldabra tortoise originated. Isn't that what everyone wants to do on their vacation? Of course, I also failed to mention that the Seychelle Islands are said to be some of the most beautiful islands in the world, with beaches and lagoons to die for. So all is not for naught - just a little off the beaten path. OK, way off the beaten path and they always say the "trip" is getting there. In this case, if we ever go, I think this will prove very true.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oh, She's Harmless

I have come to the conclusion I am the last member of my garden club who has a full time job. Let me correct that - who has a job period. And, those who worked at one time obviously have no memory whatsoever about the trials and tribulations of trying to balance a career and any sense of life. This all came to mind last week.

A member of our club was obessessing over our monthly meeting. Now, let me give you some background on our garden club. We gave up being a member of the National Federation of Garden Clubs years ago - we found there were way too many guidelines. 

Next we stopped having flower shows. We found these fairly stressful and, personally, we liked the way we arranged flowers and found the "official" judges difficult.  Why go to the trouble to make an arrangement only to be told (in detail) how it failed to meet the "artistic requirements" of a perfect arrangement?  If it looks good on my dining room table - so be it. (Not that I have a dining room anymore anyway.) Basically we are a group of ladies who enjoy getting together once a month and a garden club is as good an excuse as any.

This particular member, however, took her job as hostess to an excess. I received email after email with lists and memos of assignments of duties starting five months prior to the meeting. I kept assuring her that everything would be OK, I would get my part done, and she needed to settle down. Then she started calling my mother when she couldn't get in touch with me. Mama thought it was funny. (Easy for her to say, she was just an observer to this circus.) 

While we were setting up (five days in advance) she looked at me and said, "I just don't understand how you can just be so nonchalant about hosting this. There are so many things that can go wrong." "I can assure you everything will be OK. If there is some issue, we can just deal with it." "Easy for you to say. I just worry about every detail." No duh! "Well, let's put it this way, I'm willing to have a dinner party, try a new recipe, and if I burn it, just let that be the talk at the dinner table." She looked at me in horror. I realized at that point she would most likely not be able to sleep that night thinking about my serving  that burned dinner.

My mother continued to laugh at me. "She's harmless. Don't let her get to you. She just doesn't have anything else to do with her time."  So I tried to lie low, check my assigned duties off the list, and remember my mother's wise words.

As I continued to get calls, "Are you sure all the members were contacted about the meeting?" "Have you checked with the speaker to make sure he is coming?" I just appealed to my mother for consolation. Her answer was always, "Don't mind her, she's harmless." So I forged ahead, knowing I had done my part and that the show would go on.

Then my mother called. "You will not believe what she has done." (Referring to our fellow garden club member.) "She had the gall to call me and ask if I had enough heat." " Do what?" "She said she had ridden through our neighborhood and just thought since I lived in such a small house, I might not have adequate heat, so she was going to call you to make sure you were aware of the situation." "Oh, don't worry about her, she's harmless." "Oh, you're funny." "Besides, if she calls me, I'll tell her I don't have time to worry about you and your heat because of my responsibilities hosting the garden club,and suggest she call the welfare department.  Maybe that will occupy her attention so she'll me alone."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Is it Really Worth It?

As I've said before, I don't fry chicken (just can't do it). But, I do take pride in my culinary skills. Not only have I managed to pull off some incredible and complicated meals, no one (that I am aware of) has died or been severely disabled by the ingestion of a dish I prepared.

Italian cooking is one area I have shied away from. It seemed way too difficult, I don't particularly like pasta, and there is the language issue. However, many years ago, I decided to make homemade lasagna starting with a tomato sauce from scratch. I pulled out my cook books and found an authentic sauce recipe that started with fresh tomatoes and included fourteen herbs and spices. After hours of peeling, chopping, cooking, sauteing, mixing, and simmering I finally, if I must say so myself, had this incredible tasty tomato sauce.

Now I could brown the meat and Italian sausage, cook the pasta, and prepare the cheeses. Soon it was time to put my masterpiece together and place it in the oven. After fifty five minutes at three hundred fifty degrees and then thirty minutes of "resting", my Pièce de résistance was ready for presentation. My family was most impressed. I was thrilled with the accolades. After dinner when I returned to the kitchen to survey the mess, all I could have said was it should have been a success based on the collateral damage left on the counters. If one counts the number of bowls, pots, pans, and utensils left in the wake of a triumphal meal as a measure of the success, this was a masterpiece.

For years, I toiled with pride making this recipe, every time basking in the compliments I received. Even the mess it left in the kitchen was worth it. This was the "Italian" portion of my culinary portfolio. True, I wasn't much of an Italian cook, but I can make one Heck of a tomato sauce.

Well, that was until the night when one of my daughters had specifically requested my Lasagna for dinner. After work, I ran by the grocery store to pick up the remaining fresh ingredients I needed for the dish. It had been a long day at the office and ,as much as I love to cook, the idea of spending an hour and a half preparing this dish tonight did not thrill me.

As I reached to pick up the box of lasagna noodles (No, I do not make fresh noodles - I have a life) my eyes stopped, there it was - perhaps an answer to my prayers, a jar of Prego Spaghetti sauce. Surely I could "spice" it up. Could they really tell a difference? At this point, I didn't care. I'd apologize later. What the Heck, they would really appreciate all the work I put into my homemade sauce now.

I picked up two jars and a box of noodles and headed home with my goods. I must admit, I did feel guilty as I poured the sauce into bowls (to make the preparation look authentic) before I put it in the pot to simmer. Then I put two clean pots, I normally would have needed, in the sink and added hot soapy water in them for them to soak, to recreate the normal scene. I chopped onions and garlic, added that to the sauce and went forward with the lasagna preparation. (To further hide any culpability, I shoved the sauce jars to the bottom of the trash can.)

Dinner was ready. I served it and sat down, ready to see how they were going to tell me that my dish wasn't "quite up to snuff" (as my dear Aunty would say). I was ready to tell them, "Now you can appreciate all the hard work I go to to create an authentic tomato sauce. I would never use a sauce from a jar - not for my family." But that comment never came. Instead, as always, I was lauded by my loving family about how delicious the dish was. My youngest daughter said,"I don't know how you do it, just don't ever change it."

As I cleared the table and went into the kitchen to survey the "mess", I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. All that work for years, slaving over the details and the fresh ingredients, making sure I got everything just right. And, all I needed to do was open a jar, added some fresh onions and garlic, heat and add meat, cheese, and pasta. And, Voila, perfect lasagna. Two pots, one cutting board, one baking dish. Then it got worse. My oldest daughter came into the kitchen. "Mama, next time you make your lasagna I want you to show me how you do it. I need to start now so I can get it right." Ah, the conundrum.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's Not the Weather that I Fear

When we have fowl weather forecast down here, that is there is a chance of sleet, freezing rain, or snow, we go into full scale alert and preparation. The world may end. Will we survive? My mother's sage advice - make sure you have milk and bread.

I have always found this puzzling. As far as I'm concerned milk is only good for one thing - White Russians. As far as I know (not that I have tried) you can only sustain yourself on White Russians for so long, and as tasty as they are, unfortunately, I don't think are truly nutritious. And, God forbid, white bread. Now, give me a multi-grain artisan loaf - well, that's a different story. But I digress.

So here we are with milk and bread - and most likely chips and Oreos (and, according to a national survey, Pop Tarts - the most popular food item bought at the time of a weather related disaster - who knew?.) Make sure we have plenty of wood and charcoal, because if we lose power for any length of time, we will be forced to cook the weakest among us. (Not really but it sounds drastic, especially after drinking a gallon of White Russians.) all the meat that will go bad in the freezer.

The sight of sleet and ice on the roads making travel treacherous is not a good thought. The idea of frozen tree limbs snapping electric lines and leaving us in the dark is bad enough. I can deal with the fears of running short of food and clean water. Even knowing I may go a day or two without a hot shower is tolerable. However, the idea that we will be confined in the house, together - for any length of time is down right frightening.

Anyone who looks at this as a time to bond and spend "quality time" with each other either spends way too much time watching Oprah, has been drinking Mama's White Russians, or (as my Aunty would say) is touched. Spare me, quality time with family members is way overrated. If you don't believe me, ask anyone down here who went through the last ice storm we had. There were folks so desperate to escape the confines of their "loved ones" that they volunteered to go out into the weather to find a store seeking more supplies. Often, they were not seen again until the crisis subsided.

Of course, they were smart, when they left, they took the milk, the Kahlua, and the Pop Tarts with them.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

And the Winner is . . .

For those of you sitting on the edge of your seats, your long wait is over, the results are in - Screaming War Bird, a female treeing walker from Indian Trail, North Carolina won the 2011 Grand American Coon Hunt with a score of 125 points. Besides taking home a cash prize of $1,000 in cash, a Tri-Tronics Trashbreaker, Wildlife Materials Tracking System, Regal Dog Box and a Bright Eyes Light, her owners no longer need to buy lottery tickets, War Bird will now be worth a fortune (at least in Coon dog pups!).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Is Anyone Home?

When you travel on business you stay in an array of establishments. Obviously, the goal is to find close accommodations, reasonably priced, safe, clean, etc. If it is a conference or symposium, then you usually stay where ever the conference is held. However, most of the time I am traveling alone so I am not staying in some grand hotel, but that is fine with me. As long as the property is safe and clean, I'm fairly easy to satisfy.

There are several things I have learned. One, interestingly enough, is the larger the hotel, the more likely they are to remember your name, which I found a little erie at first. With your generic Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Suites, Days Inn, etc. - you are just one more disposable road warrior.(Except for Motel 6, they'll leave the light on for you.) Most are polite and (usually) accommodating but I am just another body coming through the door.

Every once in a while you get put in a grand hotel, like one I was in San Francisco. Or, the Hyatt in San Diego (on the water). Trust me, one notices a difference between one of those and a Holiday Inn Express (but was I smarter?). So this is how the rich folks live.

Then there was my most recent experience. The property was represented as a large luxury resort convention hotel. I didn't select the hotel, it was what was recommended and not being familiar with the area and traveling by myself, it was close by, so it met my needs.

When I drove up, I could tell, perhaps something was a little different. Now I always deal with my own bags, but as I parked my car out front and got out to go in and register, there was no one, as in no one in sight. And, this was a large convention hotel.

So, I got my luggage, left the car, and headed for the lobby. I noticed there were no brass luggage carts - not that I needed them. The lady at the desk was most helpful. I asked her about parking. She explained they had self parking, handed me a hand written note to go on the dash of my car, and directed me to drive around the side of the hotel, through the broken gate, and park in the lot. OK, sounded easy enough. Since there were only ten cars in the huge lot, finding a prime spot was not hard.

The rooms were large but dark with dark furniture. The entire time I was there, it was easy for them to know my name, with over three hundred rooms, there were maybe four guests. And, heck I thought having a theater to myself was a luxury, I could have had my own ballroom!

Long story short, the hotel reminded me of an old European hotel from the late 1970's - without the fresh croissants and butter. The only problem being, I wasn't in Europe and this was not 1979 .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Unimaginable Accomplishing the Unheard

Over Christmas, my Mother was telling this grand story about my Aunt J'Nelle being the Dean of Women at the most prestigious boarding school on the East Coast and how she was "removed" because she was caught buying beer one night while wearing a rain coat. Well, that was not quite the story. Yes, in the 1960s, my dear Aunt was the Dean of Women at a girl's boarding school in Virginia. And while, it was (and still is) very well thought of, I do not think the royal family sends their daughters there.

She was "seen" one evening by one of the professors purchasing beer off campus while dressed in a rain coat. The issue was more that of her attire than her purchase. And, her employment at the school was never threatened by that incident. Later, she left the school simply to get another degree (and most likely because being Dean of Women was a type of "employment" - something she shied away from most of her life, much to my grandparent's dismay.)

To say my mother has the flare for the dramatic is an understatement. Just as my father faithfully waited for the South to rise again, my mother pines for the old days of chivalry and calling cards, which is fairly ironic given she now prides herself on her independence - quite the conundrum. It is amazing that I managed to make it into this century without all that baggage (my love for Victorian silver aside). But I digress.

Whenever there is a lull in the conversation, my mother feels the need to fill it in with a story, that generally has just enough truths in it for my brother and I to vaguely identify the cast. However, once the tale starts to unfold, we are as rapt as everyone else, because rarely do we recognize the plot line, even when we are the main characters.

And, if we call her out on it, she gets irritated, so we have stopped commenting until the slight exaggeration becomes the ridiculous. Over time, we have just come to roll with the stories and only offer corrections when it is obvious that she has moved into another realm - that of the unimaginable about the unlikely accomplishing the unheard of. Then the madness needs to stop.

For example, she started a story (about my wedding) directed at my daughters, "You know that your mother had more bridesmaids in her wedding that they had ever had in the Presbyterian Church. In fact the ladies of the church were so upset about it that they went to the Deacons, but they were told," then her voice drops to a whisper, "that since we were a prominent family and your grandfather was a member of 'the medical' profession, that they were going to permit it. Then when they saw we had colored flowers in the church, well . . ."

Not only had she crossed the line of the absurd, the madness had to stop. "Mama, that is not true. First of all, I wouldn't call our family 'prominent', my friend, Linda got married in the same church the week before with the same size wedding party, I never remember 'colored flowers' being an issue, and I don't ever want to hear about Dad's being in the 'Medical Profession' again."

"Well, Linda's father was a surgeon, so I'm sure that explains everything. The ladies of the church were most upset over the affair." My brother chimed in, "Mama, I don't think the bridesmaids, the flowers, or Daddy's profession had anything to with it. If anything, it was the dancing bears and the three ring circus that caused the uproar."