Wednesday, December 30, 2015

From My Vicarious Life to Reality

Since the day in 1981, when I packed the last box from my dorm room into my 1975 Gremlin and drove out of Charleston, I dreamed of moving back. Since 2004, I have lived, off and on, vicariously there, on the peninsula, paying rent for charming abodes on quaint streets for our daughters as they attended the College of Charleston. Unlike my college experience, when we lived in dorms for 4 years, CofC has grown  so much that only freshman are guaranteed on-campus housing.

There was the incredible large apartment on Society street, with its 12 foot ceilings, wide wood plank floors, floor to ceiling windows, and huge back porch that overlooked the brick court yard. Then the charming carriage house behind the southern mansion on Moultrie that had recently been redone with its granite kitchen counters, hardwood floors, and paladin windows. After that there were the 19th century homes on Queen and Logan Streets. Each of these were on the carriage tour routes. (A point that reminded me- if the carriage comes by the house, it is out of my price range).

So when I learned I was finally moving to Charleston and needed housing, my thoughts went to the quaint cobblestone streets, tight one way alleys among 18th and 19th century homes, carriage houses down hidden drives, apartments in one of the old homes - to name a few possible abodes. I wanted nothing fancy. 

In Charleston one realistically expects to deal with on the street parking which is a nightmare, old plumbing, uneven floors, and odd floor plans where bathrooms have been retrofitted into closets or at the end of halls. The paint is usually scarred, kitchen outdated, and bedrooms very small. However, you are living in the Holy City and this is a small price to pay for the experience.

Now that I have survived running the gauntlet of the housing market, I think I have a place to live. Finally I can turn to packing and preparing to move. But my new address will not be a quaint carriage house, or the floor of one of the ten's of thousands of the 18th, 19th, or even early 20th century homes. No, I am moving into the corner of an old iron foundry (the Miller and Kelley Foundry and Machine Shop) that dates back to the 1880's. Instead of paladin windows, piazzas, and fountains, I have exposed brick walls, open spaces, and an industrial facade. And most of all, I am not on a carriage tour. I am not close to their tour route. Being in an area of "gentrification", this is not exactly the part of the city the Chamber of Commerce wants to showcase. 

When I was in school, this was the part of town you avoided, and God forbid you have to drive through you did so fairly quickly making sure all the doors were locked and you had an able bodied male companion or two and were in a reliable vehicle that was not likely to break down any where in that area. It was an area of falling down, albeit Charleston homes, filled with bums and prostitutes. In fact I doubt some of my college friends even went through the area, or if they did would never admit to it.

So when I give my friends my new address, they pause and ask, "Isn't that part of upper Meeting Street, the East Side, that is down and out?"

Being the eternal optimist, and seeing what they have not seen in 25 -30 years, I can easily answer, "No, it is more of the up and coming."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Better Off or Worse?

Finding housing in Charleston is not for the faint of heart. It is more like joining a professional parlor game as a mere amateur without the rules. 

I spent five or six days reaching out to all my Charleston contacts, sorority sisters, cousins, and even in one case, a relative's ex-husband. I scoured classified ads, all the rentals websites, Craigslist, and even joined neighborhood association Facebook pages. After a day or two I realized several things, taking Ellie (my pup) was going to narrow my options and staying in my price range was going to put me in some old maid's attic.

My first choice location was the area around the Citadel. Unfortunately, this is where everyone wants to live these days. If and when a place comes available, it is usually rented before anyone knows about it. Second choice was a place in the middle of the peninsula - safe but newly gentrified therefore affordable. My search continued.

After a myriad of emails and calls, most of which were never acknowledged, I adjusted my price range and made what appointments I could. So yesterday, armed with a camera, a notebook, patience, and optimism I headed to the Holy City. By the time I arrived, several of the properties I was interested in were already off the market. I stopped before I got to my first meeting and checked online to see if anything else had come open - no such luck.

My first stop was ideal. It was close to my orginal price range, in the ideal neighborhood around the The CItadel, and very large. This could be it. One stop, done. The young lady was very friendly. The apartment was huge, over 1100 square feet, hard wood floors throughout, great shape, large bedrooms, off street parking. Then it all came to a screaming halt. 

I asked the young lady why she was moving. She said she wanted a dog and the landlord did not allow any pets. In fact she had lived there for several years, loved the location, and was having to move to West Ashley (across the river and into commuting traffic hell) in order to find a place of equal size where she could have a dog. This did not bode well. If she could not find a suitable place and she lived in the neighborhood, my chances were like - nil. The perfect place was off my list.

The next "best" place was a circa 1900's single house on an oak lined street in the Eastside neighborhood. The house had a view (glimpse) of the Cooper River and the Ravenel Bridge. The upstairs apartment had the wonderful porch that ran along the side of the house. The front apartment was a 1 bedroom with a new kitchen and lots of light. The high ceilings, hard wood floors and old features of a traditional Charleston house made me feel warm and fuzzy. But it was one bedroom.

Then the young man showed me the two bedroom apartment on the back of the second story. It had the same old features, same nice kitchen. And it had two bedrooms, both the same size. That was the good news. The bad news - neither room had enough room in them to change your mind. Forget a king or queen bed, getting a double bed in there and being able to walk around it would be nearly impossible. But it was a beautiful place, on a pretty street, with a porch.

Next stop, an old iron foundry that had been restored into upscale apartments. This was located just one block from Meeting (and a nice grocery store) and just two blocks from King and all the new bars and restaurants. The unit I was looking at was two bedrooms and had never been lived in. It had exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and a kitchen. The bedrooms were not huge but they accommodated beds, additional furniture and had closets. And - Ellie could come.

So here was the quandary - the "perfect" place, large, less expensive, ideal location? No pets - deal killer. The Charleston single house, personal piazza, Charleston charm, interesting location, tree lined street, but bedrooms only bunk bedrooms would fit in. An industrial looking building, new unit, not huge, but decent sized bedrooms, located near shopping, bars, and restaurants?

After an hour or so of gnashing my teeth, wringing my hands, playing pros and cons until I was exhausted, the larger bedrooms trumped the Charleston charm. I called the landlord and told him I would take it.

He responded, "Great, let me call the couple who have a contract on it."

Seriously? What the  . .. . .?

He continued, "Oh, I don't think there will be an issue because they badly wanted a one bedroom and at the time I did not have one open, and since they signed their lease, a one bedroom has come open. I think they will be thrilled to change to the one bedroom."

I explained (very politely, as calmly as I could) that I was in a situation that I needed to know since time was the essence. If this was not going to fly, there were some other properties I was looking at that were going to be gone if I did not get back to them ASAP. He assured me he understood and would get back to me.

When I returned home, my DH asked, "Well did you make up your mind?"

I told him I had decided on the newer property.

Then he asked,"Did you sign a lease?"

"Not exactly."

"What? You mean, you went down, spent a day, finally found a place you liked, and did not sign a lease."

Then I explained the situation to him. He just shook his head, "So basically, you are the same place you were when you left this morning?"

Actually worse off, I thought.

Friday, December 25, 2015

My Christmas Letter - Grab That Brass Ring

We all have our holiday traditions. My father had his Christmas Eve Drugstore drop in for years. My brother and I had assigned wing chairs in the den where Santa deposited our gifts. Our family Christmas, as a child, was a four day whirlwind trip to visit both sets of grandparents starting mid-day on Christmas. Santa filled my stocking every year with oranges, whole walnuts, and fireworks - go figure. I was clueless then, as I still am. (That was one of the mysteries my mother took to her grave. But I digress.)

What ever the tradition, I have always been blessed with family and fond memories of the holidays. I realize now that I had what few in this world have - a safe and secure life, the love of generations of a family, and a life style I took for granted.  I was always told this growing up, but as a child I thought of this as toys and a warm home. After going through these past years with this wretched economy, the wars, famine, and world poverty, I realize that the material items were the least of my wealth - it was the security of a family who loved me and the holidays together with loved ones, who are no longer here.

If I could make one wish for everyone in my world, it would be to enjoy your friends and loved ones every day, especially over the holidays. Make memories. Take time to remember those special times of your youth. And, I am not being negative, I am being positive - Enjoy, revel, contribute, join in, attend, stay home with family and friends, go out with family and friends. Get 150% out of life. Grab that brass ring on the carousel of life and be thankful you have a ride. (And stay safe so the joy can continue!)

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Family Traditions

As I celebrate my 56th Christmas I think back on the past ones (I remember) and wonder how many more I will have.

Christmases when I was little, ages 2 or 3 until 13 or so, were always the same. Daddy had his Christmas Eve drop in (and fall out) at the drug store. Christmas morning, my brother and I would go down stairs and open our stockings by ourselves but we knew not to "touch" what Santa had brought us until Mama and Daddy joined us.

Our Santa practiced the unwrapped delivery method. My brother and I each had an assigned wing chair. And on Christmas morning all our loot would be distributed in the correct chair. We would stand and stare with wonder and joy at what the jolly ol' elf had left in those chairs. Finally, after what seemed 2 days, Mama and Daddy would descend.

Dad would have his fancy movie camera with its 2 foot long light bar mounted atop, ready to film. So we had to back up to the stairs and make another entrance, so he could film our "initial" surprise when we saw what Santa had brought.We were very good at showing total joy. Looking at the camera was impossible unless you had sunglasses on. The three flood lamp size bulbs would blind you. And should something go wrong, either technically or poor acting on our parts- the gifts would be returned to their places and we would have take two.

Opening our gifts under the tree was always a surprise - in many ways. It was not unusual for gifts not to be tagged, or worse yet, to have the incorrect name on them. This was in the years of Mama's proclivity for the bottle. I distinctly remember one year being a little puzzled when I opened a gift with my name on it only to find a pellet gun. Of course not so much as my brother when his gift was a Raggedy Ann doll. But such was life around our house.

But we had no time to dawdle. We had to get dressed, select one gift, and get in the car. We had our agenda. First stop was Aunt Kat and Granny's home (my father's family) in Wagram. NC (pop 418). It was a good 3 to 4 hour drive. We would arrive there just in time to help Aunt Kat put the finishing touches on her Christmas supper. My great aunt and uncle, Auntie and Make, would join us for supper then presents, which usually equaled or topped Santa.

We would spend the night and the next afternoon it was  back in the car off to Blenheim, SC (yes, where they make the world famous ginger ale). Actually Granddaddy's farm was somewhere between Blenheim and Bennettsville,  Here we would be at my Mama's home with my grandparents, Aunt J'Nelle, Uncle Jimmy, and his children.

Unlike our Christmas at Aunt Kat and Granny's where the two of us as the only grandchildren were fawned over and granted our every wish, at Grandmama's there were 5 grandchildren. But it was great fun to play with the cousins we usually only saw once a year. And Grandmother and Granddaddy did not mind the havoc we all created as we turned their home into a palace, a fort, or a set for some secret mission. Of course there was another Christmas supper and another round of gifts.

Three or four days after Christmas we would return home to find the gifts we originally received Christmas morning awaiting. I can remember those whirlwind trips like they were yesterday. The funny thing is I can remember so many details about Christmases at my Grandparents, but not so much about those at home. But then, we were only home on Christmas morning for a few hours.

In my early teens, my Grandparents were older and not up to the visits and we were spending more and more time at High Acres, the family farm in North Carolina. There would be the Christmas trips but often they were scheduled the week before Christmas because my aunt and uncle were working around their children's schedule as were my parents.

Our new "norm" was to get to High Acres as soon after Christmas as possible and stay through the New Year. That started a new tradition that was a 'hole new ball game.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I'm Not Manic, I'm Your Mama

This is the time each year when the instead of the Christmas spirit descending upon me and filling me with joy and glee, I take on a "Bah Humbug" attitude. I am organized, have lists, and start planning (and executing - thank you very much) months in advance, yet still I get down to the final 24 hours and find that there is still more to do.

We always run out of tape. Even though I bought 3 rolls the Monday after Thanksgiving thinking I had that one checked off. My DH decided we would have steaks for our family Christmas dinner. That suited me, until he returned from Costco, sans steaks and on Christmas Eve I found myself knowing I would be on the way to the store with the hoards of "Merry Makers" full of "Cheer". I had my list, my shopping bags, and was out early. Not as early as I had hoped but early enough. I knew Aldi would not be too packed and I could get in and out - savings time, money, and aggravation. A glimmer of hope shown through the clouds of despair floating over me like Joe Btfsplk (out of Li'l Abner).

Suddenly I felt as if I was overwhelmed. I found three gifts that still had to be wrapped. And, naturally, we were out of tape. In the kitchen I was trying to clean off the counter and my DH was asking why I had changed my mind about going to Charleston this morning to look at apartments. (Did I need to remind him that women can change their minds and their hair color?) 

Our dear Airedale had managed to get water all around her water bowl, then walk in it with her dirty feet all on the clean white kitchen floor. As I turned to get a rag to clean that up. My DH asked what I had planned for meals while the kids were here.I went to the pantry to see if we had pancake mix, checked the 'fridge for sausage, and was looking in the crisper for salad makings when the phone rang. "Can you get it," I screamed.

It was my daughter and I could hear my DH say, "Your mother is manic."

Soon my DH came in the kitchen. "You realize you are being unpleasant."

"No, I'm not. I'm just trying to get things done. I thought I had it all done but I it never seems to end. And now I have to go to the grocery store." He just looked at me and walked out of the room.

So off to the dreaded Bi Lo I went. The store where all the procrastinators would be slowly parking, blocking the aisles as they tried to make decisions over the turkey that was on sale or the ham that Uncle Buddy always enjoyed, and never being to prepared to pay when the cashier told them the total amount of their groceries. Mother of God bless my because I have sinned with the ugly thoughts I have about these people.

I went straight to the meat counter, found that they had whole pieces of New York strip (there is a Santa after all Virginia). Then I figured, when in Rome (or Bi Lo as the case may be) I may as well finish my shopping. They had everything on my list with the acceptation of fresh french bread that I needed for paninies - they would not be out of the oven for an hour. Surprisingly, the lines were short, the total cash was astronomical, but I escaped with all but a few things on my list in less time than I feared. I loaded my bags in the car and headed to my second stop - Aldi.

I found everything I needed my list. Total relief as I loaded my car and pulled out of the lot. I sat at the light. The red and green stop light finally brought about a smile and some relief. I took a deep breath. Maybe I was being a little frantic, on edge. But, someone had to do it. Or did they? Deep breath. Why am I so uptight? This is not worth it. I need to remember my old mantra and get back to my roots. MWDH "Martha (Stewart) Would Die Here."

Scotch tape, jeez, I forgot about the tape. Deep breaths . . . 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I Am but He's Not

Along the route of my great job hunt when I made the decision that I would expand my reach far and wide. My DH and I talked and decided should the stars and moon align, the angels sing, and a job come through that was out of commuting range, I would relocate and my DH would stay home. He was not too cotton on moving and even if he were, preparing our house for the market may take a wee bit longer than the average American home. OK, it would be a massive undertaking.

The job came through and sure enough it is out of town. So the plan goes into place. 23 months has given me time to prepare. I have spreadsheets made up of various salaries and budgets a given salary would allow. Looking at different markets, what would apartments cost? Going to sleep at night, I no longer counted sleep, rather in my mind, I arranged my Mama's beautiful furniture in imagined rooms in my mind.

  • What I wasn't prepared for was the third question. The first being (after I told someone I now had a job) was, "Wonderful, doing what?". When I told them what and where, their second question was, "Are you going move?" Then comes the third question which is, "What about your DH?" I politely explain what we have planned. Then their countenance changes. I can see it in their eyes, going through their head is the obvious question, "Are you leaving him?" My answer to their unasked question depends on where I am, who it is, or how much time I have. Usually I quickly smile, and add to my last answer, "And yes, my DH and I are fine. This is the only way we can work this out. We are in and out Charleston every week or so as it is to shop, dine, or see a movie. This just gives him a place to stay."
  • Several times I have not been paying attention and have said something like, "We have just reached that time in life when we can do this." Then I spend the next several minutes trying to explain the inarticulate flippant statement that somehow lost any clear meaning as it tumbled from my mind to my mouth was - that since we were empty nesters and no longer had so many responsibilities with the children,  etc.  . . .
  • If it is a nosy someone I know I can play with their mind I don't comment.
Saturday night when I returned from celebrating Christmas at my Step Mother's, my DH's question (he opted out of the event) was, "Did you tell them about your new job?" I told him I did. Then he asked, "Did they think we were getting divorce?"  I just laughed and said, "Yes, they did." 

I hesitated for a while. Then added, "Of course I explained we weren't."  In my mind I thought, at the same time time, I am sure my explanation is totally juxtaposed with his absence that night.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Laws of Murphy, Yhprum, and Drucker

Murphy's law always applies. Who was Murphy after all and what made him so smart? Maybe if he had never been born our lives would have been much simpler. 

I have been job hunting for 23 months. During this time, I have been a lady of leisure. My time has been relatively free. I have sampled retirement (without the pension and benefits) and learned that retirement is not overrated. The Hell of it was knowing how the other side lives and then having to go back through the looking glass.

Finally I find myself with a job that will start next month. Suddenly I am trying to juggle the holidays (last minute cooking and baking, the 4 "Christmases" we have with the family (the in-laws, outlaws, and significant others), finding a place to live in Charleston (that I can afford), and packing (which I cannot do until I know where I am going to live and how much space I will have). 

Mathematician Augustus De Morgan wrote on June 23, 1866: "The first experiment already illustrates a truth of the theory, well confirmed by practice, what-ever can happen will happen if we make trials enough."  In later publications the phrases "whatever can happen will happen" and "whatever can go wrong, will", refer to De Mogan's statement was termed "Murphy's law". The irony here is that De Morgan's theory, given that "Murphy" is "De Morgan" misremembered.

But, on the glass half full side, there is always Yhprums law (Murphys spelled backwards) that states "anything that can go right, will go right" — the optimistic application of Murphy's law in reverse.

"Drucker's Law"  (named after Peter Drucker) in dealing with complexity of management: "If one thing goes wrong, everything else will, and at the same time."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Survey says - The Holy City

The envelope has been opened and I have been offered (and accepted) a position in Charleston - the Holy City. In four weeks I will be living in the city I dearly love, in the city I spent as an undergrad many many years ago. Unfortunately, the secret is out and everyone wants to live there, so finding a place to rent is almost impossible.

The job I have taken is going to be incredibly interesting. I will be at The Citadel as General Rosa's Executive Assistant. This will be a new chapter in an old girl's life. But, I shall eat my Wheaties and be prepared.

After 23 months of searching for a job, now I find myself in search of affordable housing. Knowing the Charleston traffic, I do not want to commute. It may take a while but I hope to find something in town. I have pulled out all stops, contacting everyone and their brother and third cousin if I think they may know someone who knows someone else who may be aware of a place that is possibly available.

There are plenty of opportunities to live with someone. Many people are looking for roommates or folks to shares houses with. But at my age, I want my own place. It doesn't have to be big or fancy. 

So the next phase begins - the realty phase, the search for housing and it is on. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No Trouble with a Trifle

 One of the items I decided to make for Thanksgiving was a German Chocolate Pound cake. Since I was going to be at my daughter's, I packed up all my ingredients so I could make it there. A fresh pound cake is always better. One thing I forgot was my pan, but that was not an issue since my daughter has a well stocked kitchen. She produced a Teflon bunt cake pan for me to use. 

The recipe was rich with lots of butter and 5 eggs. The butter cream chocolate icing was going to be even richer. The cake went into the oven with great promise. After checking it several times - with the ever reliable toothpick - it was done and I took it out and left it on the cooling rack. The top was perfect  with the crispy part everyone wants to pick off. It was shame I wanted to ice it - but that was the plan.

When I went to take it out of the pan it would not budge. The sides had receded from the edge of the pan but the cake was firmly secured to the bottom. For an hour or so, I would try to remove it, attempt another method, let sit, then try again - to no avail. Finally I deemed it a disaster.

Then my daughter said, "You could always make a trifle, using the butter cream icing and whipped cream."

The only thing that made me mad about that was that I had not had that idea first. I carefully pulled the cake, chunk by chunk, from the pan, Then I made the icing and whipped the cream. I layered it all in a trifle bowl. Voila! A rich rather elegant looking dessert that looks as if I spent hours in the kitchen. The family was impressed.

So when I had to prepare a dessert for my garden club this week I pondered my old standbys - a cheesecake, iced Christmas cookies, pralines, sour cream apple pie, etc. Then it dawned me, you idiot, the trifle, the silk purse from the sow's ear.

So I gathered the ingredients and baked the cake. Naturally this time the cake came out perfectly from the pan, not a crumb missing. But I still tore it apart and assembled the trifle. Then the cloud of doubt came over me, What if the secret of my prior success was the way the cake stuck to the pan? What if the chemical reaction of the Teflon coating (which my pan at home does not have) together with my daughter's electric oven (I have a gas convection oven) created the special effect that bonded the cake to pan causing a molecular change in the cake that best suited it for a trifle? Where as my pan in my oven just produced a regular cake. Or maybe I am over thinking this.

Which ever the case it is a win win. If the cake comes out of the pan - I have a cake. If it sticks - then I have a trifle. Lemons you make into lemonade and an obstinate cake you make into a trifle.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Star Light Star Bright

Just when I thought the Christmas tree was done, finished, settled, complete, I came home from a trip to find a new addition. The over sized angel that dominated the top of tree had been replaced. Sitting atop the tree was a bright star. Not a pretty white star but a multi colored star that I'm sure the magi would have not have recognized. It is more like a relic from the Saturday Night Fever movie set.

The next morning I found my DH carefully placing his glass ice cicles on the tree branch by branch. This made me rethink my tree decorating skills. In previous years I had put lights on the tree, added the ornaments, and carefully placed the skirt underneath it, all in one day. At the time I was pretty proud of my work. By that evening the tree was up and the empty boxes of decorations were safely back in the attic.

I could sit and rest on my laurels. Of course the lights were not spaced exactly the same distance apart from one another making sure from no matter which side you viewed the tree the color pattern did not repeat. And, there were no icicles. I avoided those, unlike this year where my DH carefully placed each glass icicle, starting with the shorter ones at the top. He carefully added each to the end of a branch, giving it that perfect effect. Each glass crystal placed just so it will pick the colored lights behind it and prism the rainbow.

And, the star is placed atop the tree like some beacon to Santa that sends messages to the North Pole via that special SCGSO (Santa Claus Geo Synchronous Orbital) Satellite. Any time I sin or think some unkind thought, I swear that star blinks several times like it is transmitting data to the Naughty and Nice server up North.

For years my DH did not care whether or not the tree was turned on. This year is a different story. Just yesterday he came home early in the afternoon to find the tree dark. He commented he could not believe we would have the tree off that time of day. Maybe I am being paranoid and he is filled with the  Christmas Spirit. After 33 years of marriage, why should I question his volunteering to decorate the tree all by himself for the first time, taking 15 days to do so, and topping it with a disco star?  

I have no complaints. The tree is lovely. It is colorful - very, very colorful with the large colored lights and the "magic" star. It is sparkly with the many glass icicles that adorn it. It is festive as a Christmas tree should be. Most of all, for once, someone else did it and I get to sit back and enjoy it. 

Hopefully we have started a new family tradition, if only the SCGSOS will transmit that nugget of information to jolly old elf to make it be. I can always wish.

Monday, December 14, 2015

My Loyal Cappuccino Maker

Twenty two years ago my DH gave me a wonderful, state of the art (at the time) cappuccino maker. I so enjoyed my mugs of rich coffee with thick frothy milk. Then we moved, the cappuccino maker was put on the kitchen counter, and used, maybe, three or four times. Since then it was abandoned to gather dust and get moved further and further to the back of the counter behind bread boxes, canisters of pasta, and crocks of utensils.

Several weeks ago, I noticed the machine sitting there as I cleaned the counter. I moved it out of its corner, cleaned it up, filled it with water, and voila - it still worked. So I gathered coffee, chocolate, and milk and made a cup of cappuccino. How could I have I forgotten the joy I got from these cups of rich joy? How could I have abandoned such a dedicated machine? After several days, the steamer failed. I searched online and found that there were no replacement parts. Krups had quit making the model - years ago.

Since it still made a great cup of coffee and I had an emotional attachment (guilty conscience over total abandonment) to the machine, I realized I could get a small gizmo that would allow me to arriate heated milk to a rich froth. Voila! For $10 all was well.

I mentioned this to my DH. Naturally, the next thing I knew he was asking what I would replace it with. In total mindlessness, I name a machine I had seen that would meet my needs. Next thing I know he was on Amazon researching the perfect cappuccino maker. The jeanne was out of the bottle and was not going back in. Meanwhile, each morning, I enjoying my cups of joy.

Just last week a box arrived from Amazon, of a certain size - suspiciously that of a coffee maker addressed to my DH. Just saying, in time for Christmas no less. Although a shiny new model would be fun and easier to use, how could I explain to my older one that it is being replaced and sent to the island of unwanted appliances.  Yes, I am loyal to friends, to causes, and appliances.

Of course I'm not the only one with skin in this game. Several times I have found when I leave my cup of cappuccino on the coffee table  I return to find Ellie "innocently" sitting next to it. Looking at her I realize that perhaps she has been up to something. Her reaction is something akin to, "Why are you looking at me?"

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Light at the End of the Tunnel? Maybe . . .

The reason I have not been loyally posting as I have for many years is that my job hunt has suddenly picked up speed.

It only took twenty three months, tens of thousands of emails, false leads, a couple rabbit holes, and several bizarre interviews for my hunt to possibly bear fruit. Naturally two prospects have come at once. And, I have made the short list for both positions. One would put me in Charleston - my dream location, but with little pay - a pauper in paradise. The other would put me Richmond, a city I have spent much time in, close to many of my good friends, at a much more comfortable salary. 

Of course neither of these jobs have been offered to me. In the next few days I could find myself with a lump of coal and back to square one - still unemployed. The waiting is painful. The waiting is stressful. The kicker is that both jobs start January 2 and either would require relocation. And we have the holidays thrown in there. Do I get excited over a move to a new place of my own? Do I start dreaming of where in the my new living room do I place my mother's antiques that I never thought I would get to enjoy? Or, am I to be a kill joy and assume neither will be offered to me?

For once I will live in a dream world and enjoy the fantasy. If both fall through I will resort, as I always have, to drugs and therapy. As Dusty Springfield sang so well, "Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying, planning and dreaming . . ."

Meanwhile, I am sure you have the first question everyone else has, "Is your DH moving with you?" The answer is no. And the second question, "Is there a problem?" The answer is no, we decided a while back that since I could not find a suitable position close by and we desperately needed benefits, that I would expand my job search far and wide. Should something become available in another location, so be it, I would relocate. We would just have a long distance marriage. Who knows, distance may make the heart grow fonder.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree.

Yes, it is that time, the yuletide, time for the Christmas tree. As loyal readers of this blog know this is always a time of entertainment. After selecting the tree (day 1), it sat on the patio (days 2-3), came in the house (day 4), and lights went on (days 5 and 6). On the 7th day my DH rested. 

In the past I have put the lights on the tree. This year, however, my DH volunteered to put the lights on the tree. I should have known something was amiss. And, it was. The next thing I knew he was shopping for colored lights. Yes . . . we have gone back to the color/ white light debate. So, yes we have brand new colored LED lights for the tree the size of the lights I grew up with.

With the lights on the tree, I was left to finish the decorations. I spent a while putting as many glass balls, blown glass ornaments, and other baubles on it. Once it was laden, I stood back, admired my work, and rested on my laurels. My DH immediately came in and asked if I was finished. In his opinion the tree was not "full". I drew his attention to the remaining boxes of ornaments, smiled, and left the room. 

So we have a tree fully decorated and brightly lit with colored lights. We also have an attic with multiple boxes of strings of Christmas lights - regular white lights, LED white lights, old fashion colored lights (the kind that will heat your den or burn down your house), and now colored LED lights. I do not think my DH can add anything else.

Then my DH announced this morning, "The star comes today."

"What star?"

"The new one I ordered for the top of the tree."

Seriously? So in our attic we have an ancient blue angel we put on the top of our tree when we first were married, the gold angel we added next with feathered wings (that fit nicely on the top of tree), and also the oversized angel (with the porcelain face) my DH insisted on purchasing last year.  And now we will have a star. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thou Shalt Brine or Not

Ah, to brine or not to brine, that is the question. For the past five years this question arises. Personally I think brining makes all the difference in a turkey being edible or not. My DH slow roasts our turkeys and they are always tender and moist. In full disclosure here, turkey falls very low on my list of "Choices for my last meal " - just saying. But I digress.

The problem is not the brining per se, It is the details that cause the stir - so to speak. First there are the four recipes we have to "discuss" every year (simply because I forget to discard the three I think are inferior). Then there is the concept of timing (on my part). I often forget that not only does the brine need to simmer for a while but it also needs to cool. So I find myself making the brine, cooking the brine then cooling the brine by pouring the hot liquid from cold pot to cold pot (while my DH impatiently asks when the brine will be ready). 

By the time I finish I have a gallon of luke warm brine and a counter covered with every large cooking vessel I could find - not a pretty site. Naturally I have used all my Calphalon and Le Creuset, none of which go in the dishwasher so I spend the next thirty minutes washing large pots.

Next is the issue of timing. My DH never trusts a brine recipe,  his fear - the turkey will be too salty. I keep reminding him, this is not directions to salt cure a ham. So reluctantly he will tenderly put his 15 pound fresh organic turkey into the bag of brine, all the while muttering about the length of time the directions call for. Let's see an hour per pound, 15 hours . . . yes I think we need to do that on Wednesday. 

But the turkey is his deal. I just fix the brine and the rub for the turkey. I want nothing else to do with this palpable piece of poultry. My assignment is the fresh bread, pound cake, collards, and macaroni and cheese. My mac and cheese recipe calls for whole cream, half and half, butter, and three different cheeses, among other ingredients. However this year I have decided to be healthy, I am using whole grain pasta. I doubt anyone will notice that I slipped that one in there.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Geo-Politics of Teaspoons and Prairie Dogs

As some of you know I have a passion for sterling silver flatware and have been putting together a rather eclectic collection of place settings for some time. And some of you are aware that the room formerly known as my dining room has been commandeered by my DH as his office/closet, my lovely antique dining furniture sent to my older daughter's home, and new digs for a pair of prairie dogs now in place. Therefore, formal dining is long since gone - ". . .a civilization gone with the wind." (To quote Margaret Mitchell quoting Ben Hecht)

But so much for the dramatics. We still eat with "dead peoples" silver as our daughter refers to my sterling.  Each piece in my collection is of a different pattern, that holds a different story, comes from a different time, and brings delight to me. I believe in getting any joy I can in life.  I am appreciative of life's little treasures. Each time I set the table I delight in the art of each pie fork, gumbo spoon, and fruit knife. The Victorians never met a dish, food, or condiment that they did not have a special utensil for. 

Sterling silver was designed to be used - daily - not kept in a drawer to be pulled out on holidays and the occasional Sunday. My parents and grandparents used their sterling flatware every day, at every meal. Not that we were that well off or patrician, my family appreciated the utensils for what they were - utensils to make dining more enjoyable.  

Often dining at our house requires clearing a space on the kitchen table for our plates. In geo-political metaphors, my kitchen table is Greece or Turkey, taking in refugees fleeing from projects dreamed of and not started, remnants of those started and not finished, or the tools of either of the former. Through it all I am an ostrich with sand in my eyes. 

This morning as I stirred my cup of cappuccino, I admired the teaspoon I was using, with the engraving "Josephine, March 1889" on it. The pattern itself was introduced in 1885, but inscription dated this piece. I was holding a 127 year old designed teaspoon holding stories I could only imagine. Who was Josephine and what was significant about 1889? That was years before my grandparents were born. As I considered all this, I showed the teaspoon to my DH, pointing out the date. His immediate reaction was, "I cannot believe you are stirring your cappuccino with that sterling silver teaspoon."

Immediately, I started my defense of sterling and got on my soap box about how everyone needed to use their silver daily. Then I stopped. Maybe he was correct. I should not be using this spoon.  No one should be stirring their coffee with a "teaspoon", that is what "coffee spoons" or "five o'clock spoons" were designed for. What was I thinking? Next thing I will be confusing my pie fork with my cake fork.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Escape to a Snow Globe

I'll start off by saying only women will appreciate this post. Gentlemen, you may as well move along - nothing to see here, that you care about.

The holidays are upon us and with that comes the shopping lists, the angst of buying Christmas gifts. Do we get something for the McGoogles? We never have before. Then last year they showed up at our house with basket of wine and cheese. What's up with that? And I am not buying anything this year for the grandchildren of Mama's first cousin Henrietta. I don't care, we need to stop somewhere.

There is the calendar and trying to schedule the multiple "Christmases" we have. By last count we have four. My stepmother wants to have her Christmas family dinner on the Sunday before Christmas. That will work unless my son-in-law's family decides to have theirs that same night - they are waiting to hear from one of his sisters (who, naturally, first needs to find out when her new boyfriend's family is having their holiday dinner.) If all else fails we can meet at my stepmother's the Sunday after Christmas, but my DH's family had discussed that as a possible date for their family Christmas dinner. They are waiting for my nephew's wife to hear from her family . . .

The decorating - are we going with the traditional red and green or do we venture off into purple and gold? Should we stick with the Woodland theme we did last year or try something new? The way I am going I'll be lucky to get a tree, I don't know why I am discussing "decorating".  Then there are my plans to bake and menus that need to be planned - it just seems to go into infinity  . . . and beyond.

But this time of year also brings another tradition, something that soothes the soul, provides a respite from the holiday chaos, and shows that there is a perfect world, even if it does only live in snow globes and on sound stages. The Hallmark Channel - God bless 'em. They call it their "Count Down to Christmas". I refer to it as my little helper. Every night 2 hour movies are run back to back - Calgon Take Me Away.

There are no car chases in these films. Rarely if ever do you see a weapon and no one is ever shot. The language is normal without profanity or slang. The villains are dastardly and never get their way. The star crossed lovers always find a way to get together despite the odds. Families are reunited. Small towns pull together. And often Santa himself, and even his family, are part of the story.

I know when all Hell is breaking loose, when I am exhausted and nothing has gone my way, when I am tired of looking at a list that gets longer and few items get checked off, that I can crawl up on the sofa or in bed and turn to the Hallmark Channel. There I can watch one of these feel good, don't have to think about the plot, you know all will be well, the guy will always get the girl, it is certain to snow on Christmas - movies and I can get lost in the mush and mediocrity of the story.

Meanwhile my DH says they are silly and he cannot believe I am wasting my time. I have never asked him to watch one with me and even gone as far as changing the channel when he comes into the den to watch something else.(There are other TV's in our house I can peacefully retreat to.) I think I heard the words "disgusting", "nauseating", and "worthless" come from his mouth in response to the anything on the Hallmark Channel. My friends have told me their husbands had very similar reactions.

Whatever! If catching one of these flicks soothes my soul and helps me handle the stress of the bedlam - so be it. The holidays should not be stressful anyway. But I cannot change that. What I can do is escape to Falls River with Jim and Trisha and for 2 hours live in the fantasy land of a snow globe. Thinking is optional.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It Is Not What Is on the Red Cup, but What Is In It.

There are some times I just want to yell, "Stop the world, I want to get off." This is one time of year I feel that way. The holidays are fast approaching. Anyone who knows me knows Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That is the one day we gather with family and friends for a meal. It is usually chaotic, memorable, often nontraditional. 

We can count on some political difference that will arise just as we sit down to eat along with some disagreement over football predictions. There are the in-laws, the out-laws, the folks being introduced to the family for the first time (God help them), and thank goodness for the neighbors who will keep us all fairly civilized less we embarrass ourselves in front of God and everybody. But all in all it is family, our family, gnarly tree and all, with its dysfunction, warts, and skeletons. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

No one (that I am aware of) protests Thanksgiving, having an issue with turkeys and dressing. Perhaps the most controversial thing has been the decision of late of some retailers to open their stores Thanksgiving afternoon. And I am sure somewhere there is group no doubt upset over the portrayal of the Indians Native Americans, although that is between them and the history books.   

Then less than a month later rolls around the grand kahuna - Christmas. This is where I start to have an issue. Our society has changed. As we have moved into this century and our population has become more diverse, the number of religions practiced in these united states has increased. At the same time, like it not, we have become more secular. This is not to say we have become devil worshipers or joined a Wicca cult. Life is just more complicated. 

I am tired of hearing "Keep the Christ in Christmas" just as I am weary of protests against the creche on the town square. Yes, the Christmas season was orginally the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the son of God and leader of the Christian faith. But Christianity is just one of many religions among us. In trying to keep Peace on Earth (or at least at home) and Goodwill Toward Men, perhaps we should look around and accept that we are a nation of many. Except for the Native Americans, we all arrived here from foreign soil bringing our many faiths and beliefs with us. My father's family came from Scotland only 4 generations ago. My mother's family was orginally from Wales and Scotland. 

Some people say, I just wish Christmas was like it was in the ol' days. You know like in Norman Rockwell or Courier and Ives. Well, it pretty much is - those scenes are of families gathering, festive outdoor scenes, sleighs in the snow - all the nostalgia we hold so dear. It is everyone's right to celebrate the holiday as they wish or not. It should also be everyone's place to respect those who do not share your values or norms. We have moved on, like it or not. 

No one is taking away the celebration of Christ's birth, the churches will still have their services. Yes, the commercial side is here to stay, thanks to Coca Cola's famous picture of Santa Claus in 1931 and Francis Pharcellus Church's answer to little Virginia O'Hallon's letter to the editor in 1897. Fighting among us to define the modern Christmas season is about as effective as asking 5 blind men to describe an elephant - everyone has their own personal take on it.

Rather fight for turf and declare what Christmas SHOULD be, perhaps we should realize that in this busy world when we never spend as much time as we should with one another, and never have as much time together to build memories for the future as we did years ago, let's be thankful for the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Years. Whether you are a devout Christian celebrating the birth of Christ, a member of the Jewish faith celebrating Hanukkah, an African American sharing Kwanza with your family, or just someone who wants to take the time to stop and celebrate life and the joy of those around us - this is the one time we can. 

I was reminded of this just this morning when I was reading about Starbucks taking the "Merry Christmas" and other Christmas motifs off their red coffee cups for the season for fear of offending some. The malls no longer put up "Christmas Trees" - they are now "Holiday Trees". And it is hard to find "Christmas Cards" in the Hallmark store. Shouldn't we drop the political correctness and embrace each other. I am not offended by the menora that I may see displayed or holiday lights in blue white of the Jewish faith. Kwanza decorations do not threaten me. Instead this all reminds me that of many we are one. We should embrace our beliefs and move forward.

A horrid correlation could be to the Third Reich in Germany as they ascended to power, Germans found everything for the people homogenized - just as the Fuhrer wanted. We don't want it all the same, we don't need any one group fussing that they "were first", it is "their holiday", no more than we want laws that say it is all just a "Holiday" versus what it is to you. As far as I'm concerned, you should be able to enjoy the holidays, celebrate them as you wish, and call them what you wish. Have we become a nation of wimps with tender feelings hurt by the threat of change and diversity? 

Yes, there is a reason for the season - to celebrate life, love, and family. To carry on whatever traditions you may have, crazy as they may be. But more than that, it is a time for us to respect our neighbors as they celebrate as they wish, call it what they may, and perhaps we can learn something along the way. 

As for Starbucks and their red cups. I know still what they stand for. I would like to see "Merry Christmas" and the traditional motifs return but that is their decision. After all it is not what is on the cup - it what is in it. As for the holidays - its not what they are called but how we choose to celebrate them and more importantly that we do have the right and freedom to choose as we wish.

As Toby Kieth said;

"Red solo cup you're more than just plastic
You're 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 [ ] you're not just a cup."

Monday, November 9, 2015

All the Time in the World or Not

I was checking out at a small grocery store yesterday. At the time only one checkout lane was open and there was a line. Of all days I was organized, knew what I needed, and had a list for the those few items.  Naturally this would be the time I was standing there carefully balancing all the items in my hands lamenting my arrogance in thinking I did not need a buggy.

The lady in front of me was obviously from the country and looking at her buggy that was loaded to the hilt, this must have been her bi-weekly shopping trip. When a cashier stepped forward and announced she was opening another lane, I smiled at the country lady and pointed out that a new line was open. 

She turned to me, smiled and said, "Oh honey I  have nothing else to do but wait. I have all the time in the world."

Meanwhile everyone behind me scurried to the open line. They could do the math. The shopper being checked out looked as if she were shopping for a family of 12 preparing for Armageddon, then this lady's buggy was filled to the brim. Meanwhile there I stood with only an arm full of items, but a little more than my arms could carry. 

As the country lady took her sweet time moving her items to the counter all the while talking to me about her philosophy on life, I was juggling groceries and asking myself, "If something hits the floor, which will make the bigger mess, the jar of olives, large jar of pesto or the glass container of garlic?"

Finally her items were on the counter just as I dropped the jar of pesto on the relatively soft conveyor belt. I carefully places the rest of my purchases on the counter.

The lady turned to me, "My dear you need to be careful, that could have broken."  Then she started on her theory that big business had put chemicals in the plastic food containers to keep everyone in line. It was a conspiracy you know. They wanted you "hooked" on their food. Personally she preferred glass but you had to be careful . . . 

Thankfully the cashier interrupted her impromptu informational dissertation and asked if she were paying with cash. The country lady immediately turned to her. "Of course, do you trust the banks these days? I only deal in cash." Only then did she start digging through her purse to find her wallet and start counting out her money. 

This cemented two things in my mind - no matter what is on my list, I always need a buggy and I prefer stores with self-check out lanes. I cannot wait for the day when I can look at someone in line and say, "Oh honey, I have nothing else to do but wait." Hopefully then I will also remember the days when maybe I didn't have so much time and consider the shopper behind me juggling the pesto and garlic. Just hopefully I will not be on a soapbox about not trusting banks or the conspiracy of big business with our plastics. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Handmade at Amazon, Perhaps Hard to See

The Oh Mighty Amazon hath brought upon this earth a new opportunity for artisans to sell their wares in the Bezo's Heralded Realm. The new part of Amazon is to be called "Handmade at Amazon".  This is not out of the kindness of Bezo's heart, he simply saw that Etsy had a lot of business and declared - "If they can do it, I can do it better".

Always trying to find a new venue for my work, I applied to be a vendor and was sent this long application that required me to give my business name, my name and address, grades I made on coloring in kindergarten, at what age did I learn to balance a checkbook, if I owned a Kindle, how often I shopped on Amazon, my shoe size, and much more - oh and what I was selling. Four weeks later I get an email that apparently all my initial information checked out and that I needed to complete the attached form, make sure my answers were thorough, and attach photos. Yes, this was the essay section.

Now remember I am a landscape photographer. I take pictures- a lot of them, edit them to find the 1 of 1000 I think is THE ONE, enhance it if I wish it make it look more like a watercolor, or an oil, or just make sure it is the best it can be. Then I send it off to be mounted on canvas. I have no loom with an alpaca in the backyard, no potter's wheel for my clay with a kiln in the basement, no wood shop with rare wood, nor area in the garage where I create works of art by soldering large pieces of metal together.  

The first 2 questions were fairly mundane. The third was Tell us why you think your products should be considered for Handmade at Amazon. In a very long polite paragraph I basically in other words said "Because my work is damn good, I think folks will buy it, and I need the money."

Describe in detail the setting of your studio or work space. Are you kidding? The world is my work space - I'm a landscape photographer. Everything else is done on my lap top. Of course I politely explained this and how after a shoot I came back to my home office where all my equipment was (which it is) and downloaded everything on my laptop (which I do) and worked from there. Once again, no loom, no kiln, no saw, no torch - just me, my camera, my computer, oh, an Ellie, my Norwich who is usually asleep under my feet as I work.

Provide detailed information about the roles of each person who works for you. Uhhh, I'm a lone landscape photographer. I went on to explain this politely in as many words as I could adding that the only other entity involved was the professional processor that did the final canvas.

Walk us step by step through your production process starting with materials to finished product. If your product process differs by product category, please list out by category. I carefully went through as much detail as possible what I did from soup to nuts making sure they understood it is a process, it does take time both in the field and back at my desk. That there is a lot effort that goes into making sure I have taken and selected the "best" shot, ect.

Describe the quality controls and inspection procedures you have put into place to ensure your products are of high quality. Here I went into full detail of how I found and selected the professional processor I use, how long I have been using them, their quality, ect. . . .

Provide up to 8 images that show your studio/work space, how you make your products, materials used, and finished products. Please group the pictures by product category and consolidate all pictures into one file to upload. File cannot be larger than 16MB.  Whoa, whoa, pictures? Of my studio? This was jumping the shark. There wasn't anything to see, just my desk, my computer, and of course Ellie's bed. Then I realized I had just put my extra canvases in storage and finally put up all my camera equipment that had been strewn about. So I brought the canvases back, pulled out of camera equipment and my office looked just like it did last week before I spent a good day cleaning it up. 

So I guess I do have a real "studio" even if I do not have an alpaca in the backyard. But then there are two prairie dogs in the room formerly known as my living room and flying squirrels in my den. Just saying. But I digress.

I photographed my studio/office. Even got a shot of Ellie in her regular spot, figured I needed to document she was real. Found pictures my DH had taken of me in the field taking pictures, adding one of those to show me in "the workplace".

After it was all done and sent it in I knew I had done my best. They said it would take 6 months before I would hear from them again. I doubt I will qualify. I think they are looking for very hands on artisans where they can showcase their studio and them hard at work over a potter's wheel, wearing a welder's mask, using a skill saw, or skillfully working on a loom. With photography, all one sees is the "product". Based on what Amazon has said, I think they want to sell the romance of the "process" as well.

Isn't that ironic, my work of all they are looking at doesn't photograph well. It is hard to SEE the process - so much for the final product.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Our Brand is Crisis - A Movie Review

Often times the snippets you see in movie trailers either show the only funny parts of a weak comedy or they turn out to be random scenes that really misconstrue the movie. The parts of Our Brand is Crisis I saw in the trailers show what the movie is about without giving away too much of the story. 

The movie has a strong cast anchored by Oscar winning actors Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thorton. These two are supported by broad talent such as Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Million Dollar Baby), Ann Dowd (Side Effects,Marley and Me, Garden State), Scoot McNairy (Twelve Years a Slave, Argo), and Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks, What If) just name a few. Together they take a well written screen play about a very plausible scenario, and run with it.

No spoiler here - Jane Bodine (Bullock) plays a burnt out political campaign consultant who has a reputation for being incredibly effective, but after loosing several races she is out of the game living on top of a mountain making pottery. When one the presidential candidates in Boliva needs a big gun, his staff convinces Jane to come out of retirement. 

Thorton plays Pat Candy, the consultant for Jane's candidate's rival in Boliva. There is history, bad blood, and fireworks between these two. It goes beyond snarky. One begins to wonder if the goal is to win the election or better - outdo your opponent's consultant. Joaquim de Almeida plays Castillo, the candidate Jane is working for. He does an excellent job playing the character. 

There is a lot to this story, and I honestly was not sure how this was going to end. The character development is very good. One weak point was movie goers see that Bodine and Candy have issues with each other and obviously they have a past but you are never sure what the past was. There are vague allusions to a relationship, but that is never confirmed.

The humor is subtle and often under stated. Bullock uses her physical talent like most actors cannot. So much of her "dialogue" is in her facial expressions and actions. Often just the way she stands or sits conveys very clearly what she is thinking. Thorton's role suits him well since Candy is a snarky, arrogant, SOB who will say anything to Bodine to play with her mind. And he does that so well.

This is 107 minutes of your time that will be well spent. Once again we see Sandra Bullock stretch her talent into another character beyond the mother in The Blind Side, the goofy undercover officer in Miss Congeniality, the astronaut in Gravity, and the uptight executive in The Proposal to name a few.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Slips in Fashion and Ditching the Pantyhose

My Mama, my dear Grandmama, my holier than thou Aunt J'nelle, and my sweet Aunt Kat all counseled me from a young age - "Never leave home with dirty underwear - what happens if you are rushed to the hospital, what would the doctors think?" Of course they went further to drill in me that a young lady never wears a dress without a slip. I doubt young women these days even know what a "slip" is. But, I digress.

I remember when the teachers at our private school in the late 1970's requested, albeit very politely, to the board of trustees that they be allowed to wear proper "pant suits" to work in lieu of the required regime of dresses. After much ado behind closed doors, the board relented. No doubt the fact that some of the members were married to teachers and wished for peace at home may have had a bit to do with the concession. Life went on and the morals at the institution did not digress into a full "women's liberation" movement as was predicted by some of the old stalwarts.

Although I still enjoy dressing well,  am very comfortable in dresses and skirts, and even "high" heels don't bother me, two years ago I took a bold personal wardrobe step and quietly ditched all my pantyhose. In the winter I will wear tights, which I have always adored, however, the diabolical sadist who designed such a thing as pantyhose had it in for women. And women bought the itchy, uncomfortable, and ugly scheme with sheer (no pun intended) joy thinking they had been freed. 

My generation was born well after the hose and garter years. Well, long after that style was relegated to the bedroom and Victoria's Secret. So I have no skin in that game - so to speak. As long as I show up presentable - as in clean clothes (especially underwear) that coordinate (no red plaids with fushia polka dots and orange stripes) that fit correctly and are stylish but not too trendy who gives a damn if I shirk masochism and ditch the pantyhose?

All this aside my DH has one major fashion issue. He often asks, "Do these people have a mirror at Home?" Didn't someone want to stop them from making a fool of themselves or exposing us to their disgusting failure in fashion? One does not have to have money to dress in a way that does not make them look like buffoons. Or worse yet, thinking they are a Milan model in their size 24 body - it ain't pretty. Like my daddy used to say - you can't put two tons of fertilizer in a one ton truck.

A prime example of all this came to mind last week when I was attending the Celtic Festival and Highland Games. Many people were dressed in costume for the affair. There were colorful kilts and tartan scarves and wraps. Many of the outfits were down right elegant. Then there was this "lady" who either did not have a mirror at home, friends who cared about the impression she made, or she thought she still was that size 2, 16 year old girl she fondly remembered from years ago. And someone wants to castigate me for shucking my pantyhose. Seriously?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I'll Be Back - I Promise

Alas gentle readers, I have not abandoned you. It seems that I am too busy in my boring unemployed life to sit and write every day. Trust me it is not for loss of fodder. I am taking a sabbatical for a week or three and hope to be back in the saddle soon, Please bear with me and keep checking in. I'll be back. And, as always, thanks for taking the time to read the blog.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The World Did Not End on October 7th

For all those who wondered - we are high and dry. The "1000 Year Flood" did not effect us. Which brings me to ask, who was around in the year 1015 to record the last such fluid disaster in this area? But I digress.

For some reason the area we live in was spared the devastation many parts of our dear state received. Even thought we live less than a 1/4 mile from the Edisto river, a flooded driveway (which only needs a good rain to achieve that condition at anytime) and a soggy back yard (that enthused our dogs greatly) are all we have to show for it.

But we were prepared - sort of. I had gone to the store and bought groceries. Naturally most of what I brought home needed to be refrigerated or kept in the freezer. If we lost electricity we would be SOL. Cooking was no problem given our camping equipment. I had not thought of clean water. I had not gotten cash from the ATM's or filled my car with gas. My DH had gotten bags of dirt and stacked them 3 high on the side of the house that opened to the sun room and garage - the areas most prone to flooding. And all four of our vehicles were parked in our low lying driveway. 

During the night of the 3rd my phone went off three times at 11:11 pm. 3:15 am, and 4:14 am with system wide reverse 911 calls advising of area flash flood warnings. I feared when we awoke in the morning we would find the wicked witch dead and everything in color.

But, we were safe, the house was dry and there was no damage. However, when turned on the TV we saw that we were the lucky ones. Most of the state had been slammed with heavy rains and flooding. Streets had turned into rivers sweeping cars away and filling the lower parts on many homes with water.People were being rescued by boats. It looked like Armageddon. 

There had been a prophecy that the world would end on October 7, 2015. Well the rains came on the 4th and 5th. On the 6th the dams began to break. By the 7th the sun was shining but it was Hell on earth for many citizens in our state. The world did not end, but it was not a pretty sight and it will be years before the damage will be repaired. Memories of Hugo come back to the minds of everyone old enough to remember that storm and its violent swath across the state.

But we were spared and it's a good thing since this is a list of items the Emergency Preparedness Center suggests each household have done prior to any predicted weather emergency:

  • buy bottled water and fill bath tubs with water
  • buy non perishable foods, enough for several days
  • have cash on hand in case banks and ATMs are not accessible
  • fill all vehicles up with gas
  • move vehicles to a safe place (high ground away from trees and objects that can blow over)
  •  put sandbags in front of any parts of your home that are in low lying areas prone to flooding   
Well, out of that list, I had done, uhm - none. God looks out for fools, drunks, and idiots like me.

Monday morning I went to Walmart to pickup a few things. The shoppers were calm, going about their business. No one was frantic. The store was full and the shelves were emptying. I think folks realized that given many bridges and roads were closed it may be hard for vendors to get in and restock the store. As I was checking out, this older man with a stubbly beard was walking around saying, "You know the river is going to flood and wipe us out. That's what the weather people say. It's true." No one even paid attention to him.

I looked in my buggy. Perhaps I should go back and get some bottled water and non perishable food, fill my car up with gas, and stop by the ATM on the way home. Chicken Little may be saying the sky is falling, or in this case, some redneck may be mumbling that the river is rising, but I think I will play it safe this time.