Friday, April 1, 2022

The Ages of Life

I realized yesterday that I am older than some of the women I thought years ago to be ancient. I'm not sure if that is more frightening or more sobering. Thinking back on it, if I thought someone in their 60's was timeworn, then someone in their 70's must have been archaic. I shutter to think how immature I must have seemed. 

Today (at least in my mind) the 60's are now the new 40's? Amazing how my attitude changes.

Suddenly "sensible shoes" make sense. A sweater set is practical.  Dining out earlier is a no brainer. After all the prices are better and there is rarely a wait for a table. Why would someone not check the weather first thing in the morning and always carry a coat?  One never knows. I check my mail box daily for the "snail mail" and I usually have stamps on hand.

I haven't yet reached the age of Bingo. My land line is long gone. I'm not into "house shoes" (however the fact that I even know the term makes me shudder). I never have the exact change - often because I never have cash. I have yet to watch reruns of Matlock or Murder She Wrote. My grandchildren will not find hard candy in my purse (although there may be a cough drop in there left over from last winter's bad cold.)

In reality, the Middle Ages is the name of historic period of time that ended in the late 15th century. In today's parlance, it is defined as the population aged 45 to 65. Now anyone over the age of 65, according to 'those who know', is referred to as  in"Late Adulthood". No doubt 'those who know' are in their late 20's. In reality, what do they know.

Age is just a number. Unless one has 'Doc' Brown and his 1981 Delorean, one is left to their own devices to make their way through time day to day.  Life is truly a state of mind. To be trite, it is what each of us makes of it. As the French would say "vivre la vie au maximum" and "carpe diem". If you are not sure of the translations, hopefully you will seek Google rather than your World Book Encyclopedia for help. Just saying! 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Curse of the Southerner

I need to purge. I have too much stuff. As I have said before, my stuff has stuff. As a southerner I am cursed with the idea we are the keepers of our past, as in the "past" 3 generations. Sure I can do without the extra phone cords stuffed in many drawers and boxes around my place. After all, all but 2 no longer fit my phone or any device I currently own. 

My past favorite shoes that are worn - so much so I no longer wear them public, can probably go. But can I really throw out these shoes? In reality yes, I'll no longer wear them and they went out of style several years ago. Those 2 purses that have broken straps. Come to think about it, I bought them on clearance and never cared for them anyway.

All those items I can justify. They were purchased in the past 10 years or so. The problem starts with my Grandmother's wash stand. If I remember correctly, it was passed down to her from her grandmother. I don't care for it, don't have room for it, and my children have made it clear they have no desire to be saddled with it. Sure, I can sell it. But, can I? Aren't I the generation tasked as the care taker?

There are the 3 coffee tables. One I bought at Good Will made of solid wood that I have in the corner of my den, another stored in a closet, and an old worn one I currently use that it the right size and design for me. The fact the finish is worn and scratched and the leather top is coming up in several places doesn't make it the most attractive piece. But it was such a good deal. 

Then there are the 2 matching Empire sofas my Mama had just covered in matching green damask shortly  before her death. How many people have matching Empire style sofas? Confidentially, I admit I am not a fan of the Empire style. What makes me hesitate parting with them? Personally I'm not sure which I fear more - the wrath of Mama's ghost or the guilt of letting it go.

More examples include the 4 large red wine glasses I found at a yard sale - the ones I have never used in the 2 years I have had them. The collection of colored glass I have displayed on shelves, none of which I paid more than a few dollars for, that I hate to dust. My collection of coffee table books? Whoa, they are not going anywhere. I don't care if I do not have room for them - I will some day. The large wing chair, the extra set of dishes I never use? The 3 lamps I have no place for? The 3 sets of shams that came with the last 3 comforters I bought? (I never use shams and 2 of those comforters I am proud to say have been thrown out.)

Let's face it, I am cursed. I am a weighed down with the "wealth" of unused, many useless, things I have strewn about my small abode. Each family piece comes with the ghost of some relative past. Seriously? I do not believe in ghosts. Maybe spirits of longed pass family members. Come to think of it, perhaps what I need is a Ouija Board to reach out and beg for permission and forgiveness to part with things I do not need, cannot use, and should not keep.

I am haunted by ghosts of the past - the burden to keep the "heirlooms" and pass them on, ghosts of the present - the lack of space or practical use, and the ghosts of the future - regret years from now that I parted with such valuable family history. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Resurrection of a Disappointment

 For something that is supposed be enjoyable and a stress reliever, art can be a pain in the ass. In my mind I envision a painting - the colors, the size, the design. At my table I assemble  the appropriate colors, prepare the canvas, and then I start putting color to canvas.

As the design starts to appear - albeit slowly- I am enthused. I think to myself - 'This may be my greatest piece yet'. Then the main subject is too big. The colors are not as vibrant as I imagined. The placement on the canvas is crowded. I begin to see that the streak of (supposedly dried) black paint in the background has leaked  turning the bright green color into shades of muddled gray. While trying to fix this the image gets  distorted. After a while I throw in the brush. At this point I ask - why I put myself through this? 

Sitting back and looking at the canvas I do not recognize the original design I had in mind. It now looks like a piece of art a 5 year old child would create with their hand paints, only not as good. Now what?

Given the muddle of gray and dull brown paint over the bright white, I doubt this is salvageable. Who wants a painting of a mud, in various shades of brown, gray, and olive? So I do what any inspiring artist (I use that term loosely) would do. Taking the spatula, I normally use to even paint on the canvas, I scrape all the paint off.

Now there is a blank canvas and a pool of paint. To my surprise, unlike the muddle mess that was on the canvas, the pool has striations of the bright green, red, and turquoise orginally in the painting. In a move of total frustration and curiosity, I spoon the discarded paint onto a smaller clean canvas. This creates a painting that resembles a work by Sydney Pollack that has melted and spread across the canvas. 

Comments from my posting of this work, that I call  "Resurrection of a Disappointment", are very positive. In fact they are more numerous and positive than other paintings I have shared. This begs to ask: Does my talent lie more with random remnants of a failed painting "spooned" onto a new canvas, rather than the original design I thought was a great idea? Does this mean my "talent" is in starting a painting, failing, then randomly reclaiming the discarded paint onto another canvas?

Perhaps I should take up stamp collecting.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Am I Blue??

Yes, I am blue.  Well, it's more like I am blue about one of my blues.

As children we all learned ROYGBIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet). And if one is sticking to the Original Crayola box of 8 (which is more like more like ROYGBBBV) you can add Black and Brown and skip Indigo. But, I digress.

In my palette of paints, I have 6 "Blues". There is Baby Blue, True Blue, Cobalt Blue, Turquoise, Phthalo Blue, and Deep Blue. I use a lot of blue in my paintings. And, I was happy with the Blues until this morning.

A little background here, it takes anywhere from 10 to 20 days for an acrylic painting to completely dry. The time depends on how thick the applied paint is.  So when I finish a painting, I put it on a table upstairs until it dries. When it is completely dry, I apply a polycrylic coating to seal the canvas. This takes 3 to 4 coats, then another 72 hours (at least) for that to dry.

This morning, I went to get a painting I knew should be dry to start the polycrylic process. I was dumbfounded to see that the "Blue" had bled over part of the painting. Turning the canvas over I could see where the blue had spread. The painting was all but ruined. Reviewing several other pieces with blues in them, I found 2 that also had "Blue" issues, but others with blues in them seemed fine. The question was: which "Blue" had bled. I needed to identify it so I would not use it again.  

I easily eliminated "Baby Blue" and "Phthalo Blue". That still left 4. I pulled out a blank small white canvas. Taking the 4 suspect blues, I squirted a circle of each on the canvas. To make sure there was no confusion, I placed each bottle next to its sample. It didn't take but an hour or so to find the guilty color. "True" Blue was the culprit. The sample of that one color at leaked through the canvas.

Lesson learned - The dependable blues are not true!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Pink Carpet, Bad Genes, and a Resurrection

 Do you ever see "that" someone coming toward you that makes you want to don your invisible cloak? Well, in this case, I saw her walking toward me, decked out in her white leather like jacket, matching peach blouse, peach mask, and peach colored head band. But not having a place to hide or Harry Potter's magic cloak, I knew I was dead in the water. Panic almost ensued when I realized that we were in the check out line together. I was doomed to be a captive audience. 

The lady I am speaking of shops in the same grocery store I do. Now, why I am so lucky to be blessed to run into her - often, Lord only knows? Perhaps this is comeuppance by the gods for that night in 1976 when we stole Miss Ella's garden gnome. But I digress. (How did we know it was the last gift from her dear late Herman?)

I knew before she approached there would be details about her death (and resurrection), she would explain in adnauseam  how she was doomed by bad genes. There would be the recounting of how she gave all her things to Goodwill, thinking she was moving to Florida, only to learn the following week that was not the case. (I dared not ask why.) Speaking of Florida, there would be a monologue about the pretty pink carpet she had in the bedroom in her Florida house (40 years ago). And, how the aqua and pink custom drapes matched the carpet and made the room "perfect". 

She approached and her eyes lit up. "Well, hello. I think I saw you here a week or so ago."

Before I could comment, she started, "You know they have wonderful fresh vegetables here. And since I had my heart attack, I try to eat healthy foods". She rattled on, "You know I was doomed by genes. My sister died 6 months before I did."  

She smiled, "You know I died - twice." I nodded (carefully, not wanting to encourage anything.) She continued, "The doctors said it was a miracle I came through it."

She picked up a cloth napkin she had found on the 'aisle of random stuff' in the store and showed it to me. The pink and aqua Lily Pulitzer pattern gave me a foreboding of what was to come. I was not to be disappointed.

"You know, when I lived in Florida I had the most elegant bedroom with pink carpet and these pink and aqua drapes . . ." This is where the confliction of my southern upbringing came in. I smiled just enough to let her know I was listening but not enough to encourage anything. There is the southern guilt that I should be politely paying more attention to her. After all she had been through, her death (and resurrection), and given her age, my Aunt Kat would remind me to respect my elders.

However, on my other shoulder was my dark psyche asking me why the Hell I didn't run fast and far away when I saw her. 

Just as I thought my ordeal was over, she turned back to me. "I just cannot find that same perfect pink colored carpet. You know since I gave all my belongings to Good Will. I planned to move to Florida, but that didn't work out." 

I was saved by the cashier asking, "Mam, are you paying with card or cash?"

Then the cashier made the fatal mistake of commenting about the napkin, "What a lovely pattern. I just love pink and aqua."

With this I looked at my phone to check my email. Perhaps, if I looked busy, and fate was on my side, this nightmare would pass and I could safely resume my life. Mentally, I could picture the pink carpet and the aqua and pink drapes. I wondered what happened with the aborted move to Florida? But, not enough to ask.

And, Now I Am God?

 I don't think so. However, there is a lady in Indiana who must be under that illusion.

As many of you know, I have an Etsy shop that started as a store front for my photography. These days it has morphed into a showcase for my art. But, I digress.

This Hoosier purchased a needle point pattern of a picture of a "Sharry Baby Orchid". As soon as the purchase went through I sent her a digital file (via the email listed on her invoice). This file included the pattern of the image, the image itself, and a list of color threads that would be needed. I did not hear from her for over a week. And, I didn't think anything of it.

Well, that was until I received an email from her today. "Hi Ann, I bought it wrong. Can I return it?" I replied asking what the issue was. Did she intend to buy a copy of the photograph? Did she want a painting of the photograph? Did she select the wrong image?

Imagine my surprise when she replied: "[When I] Search for the name of the plant and think it shows that it is a living plant."

I went back to reread the listing to make sure there was no confusion in the description. There is no reference to a live plant. There is nothing that would lead someone to infer that I was selling a plant. On the list of "Item Overview", the first line reads "Handmade Item". It continues to list it as a painting, a photograph, an original piece of art work, a needle work pattern. I was confused.

When I replied to the customer that the description was very clear and no where in it was a reference to a living plant, etc. the customer sent an email back stating, "I didn't pay attention to shopping on this website for the first time."

It went back and forth, with each message from the customer asking for a refund. Finally I granted the refund, stating that I did not think I was required to do so, since the description was clear and the customer plainly stated that she didn't pay attention, but I would do so anyway.

As I read through the thread of emails, I came to the conclusion that since the customer commented that the listing appeared to be a living orchid plant and it is clear in the item overview that it is a "Handmade Item", I must be God, the creator of heaven and Earth. Well, at least on the third day when God created the dry land, seas, plants, and trees. 

However, since I am a mere mortal, unable to create any carbon based item, the world must settle for my art. The world goes on and the customer received her full refund, which was much a do over $8.95. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Infamous Green Party

 Do you remember where you were on this day in 1978? I certainly do. 

On this morning, 44 years ago, I was arriving at South West Louisiana State University in Lafayette, Louisiana. Some friends and I had driven through the night from Charleston to attend a fraternity party. (Why else would one get in a car and travel that far? - 873 miles and 13 and a half hours?)

My freshman year in college I became great friends with a group of fraternity guys on campus. I wasn't dating any of them, we were just good pals, always game for anything. One of these guys stopped me on my way to class one morning asking if I was up for a road trip. Needless to say I was all ears.

Seems the chapter of their fraternity at SWLSU sponsored an event, the Green Party, every St Patrick's Day at their campus for all their fraternity brothers nationwide. It was legendary. Two and a half days of jambalaya, crawfish, zydeco music, and a tremendous amount of beer. Now who could turn that down.

By the time of the trip there were 15 of us going - 3 girls and 12 guys. I soon learned that everyone was not going together. There would be 3 groups. The first was going to leave early and spend a night on the road, the second was taking the I-20 route through Atlanta, and the third heading dead west on I-10. I was in the third group - me and 7 guys in 2 cars. 

Traveling across the bowels of the south through the night is interesting enough, but going with 7 guys was truly a trip. Even though I was up for anything, they were all very protective of me. There were several places we stopped where they would not let me out of the car. Or if they did there was one or two by my side at all times. They knew my Daddy and knew it was their responsibility to get me there and back safely. 

Thinking back on it, I'm not sure that one place we stopped in Mississippi around 4 am wasn't a brothel. Two of the guys ran in, got drinks for all of us, and we were off again. There were several other shady spots where we stopped but it was all part of the fun.

We arrived in Lafayette around 10 the following morning. My first hint that this was going to be a wild time was the sofa on top of the fraternity house with 2 guys and a keg of beer welcoming everyone. When we finally met up with the rest of our group, we learned that one car had taken the scenic route and stopped for lunch and the sights in New Orleans. The other car had missed several turns and arrived late. (This seemed an odd story when their route was a straight shot on I-20.) Given our experience, their stories sounded lame.

Needless to say, a large time was had by all. We ate and drank and danced. By the time the big party itself started, we found ourselves celebrities having driven further than anyone else.  Our group was especially popular when the guys started telling stories about going through Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi in the dead of night. There was some embellishment, although the truth was interesting enough. 

That summer when the movie Animal House was released, we all found the "Road Trip" scene humorous, but we knew our experience had been more fun. The Delta Tau Chi house in the movie closely resembled what we found when we arrived in Lafayette earlier that year. No doubt Pinto and Flounder were among the brothers we met. If not, there were characters there just as outrageous.

Throughout your life there are always "bonding" experiences. And this was one for me. These 7 guys have been life long friends. They were all fun, loyal, and extremely smart. Of the group, 3 would become doctors, 1 a pharmacist, 2 attorneys, and 1 a diplomat. 5 of the 7 were at my wedding years later. Since that time 2 have passed on.

Every year on March 17th I always think of that trip and remember what it felt to be young and free. Carefree enough to get in a car and drive 13 hours to a place you have never been, to see people you have never met, simply because you got an invitation that was too good to turn down. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

My One and Only

 Not that I ever even dare to think I am remotely close to one of the Masters, I often wonder if all painters face similar challenges. Did Da Vinci attempt to paint a "Geovanna" or a "Bella" but found himself frustrated. Seems, he never could reproduce the mysterious smile or beauty that he captured in his "Mona Lisa". 

Did Van Gogh ever find himself at his kitchen table trying to remember how he painted "Sunflowers". After many attempts, his "Daisies" and "Marigolds" never seemed to have the same strength and color of his earlier masterpiece.

Last week I produced a painting that was probably the best I have ever done, and it may very well be the only such one I ever create. When I finished the piece and sat back, I was astounded by the beauty. (And I am extremely hard on myself.) The colors, the variations of shades of pink, peach, rose, and orange, were both subtle and striking. Looking closely there were clear edges of color as well as muted shades. 

So yesterday I sat down with a blank canvas and started working on a second piece in the same style. My first attempt was nowhere close. The colors were mixed and the lines heavy, unlike the delicate ones in my earlier piece. The paint spread into large pools of a single color rather than small slivers of a myriad of colors. My next attempt was worst than the previous one.

I was stumped. How did I create the initial piece? I vaguely remember while working on that painting being frustrated with what I had and changing my method to save whatever could be saved. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall how I painted the first attempt or how I "saved" it by a second attempt. I was truly stumped. Even this morning after 24 hours of racking my brain, I am clueless. I hoped it would come to me out of the blue, but it was not to be. 

So I find myself thwarted and miserable. Perhaps if I continue to try, there will be a moment of clarity when the gods will look down upon me and bless me with knowledge of how I created the initial piece. Or not! Perhaps the painting will be both my debut and my swan song. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Just 2 Generations Later

 All of us studied the US Civil War that started in 1861 - when our great democratic experiment was truly tested. After 4 bloody years and the loss of 620,000 souls, the country had survived and lived to see another day.

In 1914 (3 generations later) the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand brought on the First World War. At that time it was referred to as the “The Great War”, given the assumption that lessons were learned and such an atrocity would never happen again. 

But it was not be. I can remember my father telling me about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 (2 generations later) when he was 11 years old. He remembered listening to Roosevelt on the radio calming the fears of the nation. 

My mother often referred to the Cuban Missile crisis (yet another 2 generations later in 1961) as bringing us to the edge of the abyss. She said that the country felt it could be the end of the world. Grainy black and white pictures on the TV covered the events of those 13 days. The effect of this incident was so ingrained in her that 50 years later she was fearful for my safety when I visited Cuba in 2011. 

The first international crisis I experienced was 9/11 (in 2001, just 2 generations down the road from the missile crisis). Who can forget the TV coverage of twin towers collapsing in the perfectly clear blue skies of that September morning?

Now in 2022, (yet another 2 generations later) we find ourselves (hopefully not) on the brink of another possible international conflict. This time heightened by the fear of a nuclear holocaust. As of the writing of this missive, the jury is still out as to the outcome of this latest world threat.

All this begs the question, does our pain and memory only last several generations? How quickly can the population as a whole forget? There will always be international struggles, narcissistic autocrats, and those nations who feel personally aggrieved and are willing to rise up and fight for their cause.

Meanwhile so many are overlooking the cry in the wilderness of the environmentalist that the sky is truly falling. And this Earthly disaster will effect civilization as a whole. This frightening reality is not confined by geographical borders, limited to petulant rulers, or the obliteration of certain ethnicities. Unless we all face this reality and make changes, what will be left for future generations, if there are any? 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Down the Google Rabbit Hole

I awoke yesterday and found myself in something akin to a Steven King movie, just without the popcorn, the large Diet Coke, and an Exit door. Meanwhile my pups were jumping about on the bed, enthusiastically, as if exclaiming "Good Morning, It's another wonderful day! Can we go for a walk now? Can we? Can we?" However, before I gave in to their demands, my first action was to get my phone, turn my 5:30 alarm off before the obnoxiously merry tune started, and then check my email. Well, I TRIED to check my email. I could not open it. Phones can be temperamental so I dismissed that, climbed out of bed, and took the pups on their morning constitutional.

After that was done, they were fed, and I had made my first cup of iced cappuccino, I sat down at my laptop to start my morning pre-shower ritual. First - check email. This is where the White Rabbit appeared. A blue and white Google screen came up and simply said, "We have detected an issue with your Google Account and it has been deleted."  I immediately went to a clean Google search screen, typed in the Gmail url and entered my username. It said, "No account found with that email address. Please try again."  

I "Googled" 'Deleted Gmail account'.  Not only was my email gone, so were my contacts, my blog, my pictures, and anything else I had connected with Google. In other words I no longer existed. Now I was down the hole with the Cheshire Cat. And, to matters worse, I only had, at most, 48 hours, to figure out how to recover it before the Lords at Google deleted it forever and there was no going back through the Looking Glass.

Quickly, I logged into my Blog, it no longer existed. There was no link to my picture, no way to access Photos, nor my contacts that were attached to my email. To add to this madness, one of my laptops is a Chromebook that only works off my Google Cloud account so the morning was now officially a Mad Tea Party and the Croquet field was in sight.

Next I "Googled" 'How do I recover my Google account?' Basically I saw entry after entry of horror stories from folks like me who found themselves greeted with that ominous message. To make it worse, the Google forum, started, "This will not be easy, but there is a 15 step process. Start with this url . . . "  (Hell, AA only has 12 steps!)

So, I entered the url, prayed to the gods of the internet, and waited. The first question: Your username - done. It moved to No. 2 (this was encouraging). Second question: Last exact date you were able to log into your account: - done, yesterday before. On to No.3 (I finally breathed - there was hope.) Then the Queen of Hearts appeared - 'What was the date you first opened your Google account?'

Are they sh*%%*$3 me? Going back to the forum they suggested I go back to earlier email accounts and check for the initial email from Google congratulating me on my new account. No problem - except there was a problem - both my old Yahoo and Hotmail accounts had gone through changes and only retained the past 24 months of emails. 

Best I could come up with was that I got my Gmail account before Google went "live" with the program. In other words, I was one of their first users (among many millions I am sure). Best guess was summer of 2005. Great - the summer has three months in it.

I took a deep breath and entered "August 2005". It accepted my answer and I moved on. 12 questions to go. The forum went on to say one of these would be - the 3 addresses you email most often, and other questions only the account holder could answer. This not bode well.

Then there was a light at the end of the tunnel - a Log In screen appeared with my username asking me to create a new password. I carefully did so, and I was back among the living. I checked my contacts, pictures, saved folders, blog, etc. It was all there, as if it had been a bad dream. 

Being anal about my photography, I back up my regular laptop redundantly to 2 external hard drives, as well as the cloud. Lesson learned, now I will also back up my email and contacts. Google is the best thing since sliced bread and Google is the worse thing since mankind discovered sugar. Can we live without it? Not very well. A bit of advice from the Caterpillar - back it up and, for God's sake, find out the date (month/year) you first opened your account and you should be OK. If you can get to step 3, you will be home.

I also learned that there should have been a notification sent via text to my phone or emailed to a third party (in this case my daughter) advising of this issue. At that point I would have been given the chance to change my password and the meeting with the Queen would have been avoided. However, in my case, I never got the warning and the account went down in 18 hours.

Off the grid is one thing, off Google is a nightmare - like it or not.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Laugh Lines and Sweater Sets

 I'm not old. I'm young at heart. You're as young as you feel.

Who said anything about feelings? Certainly that is a reference to a state of mind not the physical state of my body. I can handle the former because I am in denial. As for the later, the aches and pains are catching up with me. I find myself lingering in front of the anti-aging cream section of the face cream shelf. Although, I doubt seriously these very expensive bottles of miracle potion can change one's life. Seriously, most likely they are concocted of monkey dust. But, I digress.

Age is a state of mind. If that is so, then I am in a state of confusion. In my mind I try to dress in a very stylish way. However, when I look through my closet, I realize that "stylish" is a vague term, one up for interpretation. I am in style, if one's taste is that of June Cleaver, complete with sweater sets, a string of pearls, and nice pumps.

Well, scrap the heels, they are now safely stored in boxes on the top shelf of the closet. Why not wear sweater sets, they are comfortable and practical. Except the paisley one -  every time I wear it, a family member (who's name I will not give) states that "It looks like you". A comment I realize is the kiss of death.

I like clothes that are in style - today. Well except for the pants they are now wearing with bell bottoms. Who looks good in bell bottoms? Never mind the pictures of me in 7th grade. I'll spare you my other thoughts. You know you are old when "Retro" fashions refer to what you wore in junior high school.

Those lines around my mouth (referred to as nasolabial folds in medical journals) , commonly known as "smile lines" or "laugh lines", the creases by my eyes, and the discolored spots on my face are just signs of experience. So they say. No doubt "they" are in their late 20's. These days I am comfortable in my clothes unless there is a full length mirror, a current copy of vogue, or a swim suit involved. 

All that said, there are some bright moments. Last week while wearing a traditional pair of Weejuns (aka Penny Loafers) a young lady commented that she had seen those in a fashion magazine and wanted a pair. Silently I was thrilled - I'm ahead of my time, I thought. But, then I'm assuming that it was a current fashion magazine and not one she found in an old books store.

Friday, February 25, 2022

What Should be Easy Isn't

 Sometimes I have great expectations of my ability. I have always been optimistic, which has served me well until now.

When I paint, I never know exactly what is going to be the final product. Usually, I'm happy with the outcome, with a few exceptions. But, I digress.

A week or two ago, I created a painting I was very enthused about. When I posted it online I received many (very appreciated) positive comments. I also received several emails, texts, and IMs asking to purchase the painting. I was thrilled. Certainly I could reproduce it (at least, one like it). After all, I created it, no doubt, I could create other works very similar.

So I sat down at the same table with the same paints, same colors, and same canvas. Inspiration was not the problem. Recreation was the problem. My first attempt was too pink. My second too orange. I was totally disillusioned by my third attempt. Now I was second guessing my ability. How could I not recreate something I did just a week or so ago?

The answer apparently was: easily. 

I paint as a way to relax. I find it is an avenue of expression. However, in cases like this, it is an endeavor of total frustration and humility. What I thought was raw talent, what was true aptitude, ability, and technique, is simply just me and my ego being pretentious, smug, arrogant, grandiose, egotistical, and pompous. It all boils down to pure damn luck.

If you build it they will come, miracles happen to those who believe in them, believe you can and you’re halfway there. None of those who spoke these (so called) words of encouragement were ever a creator of original inspirational visual expression. I justify my work as personal expression in color. Talent is a 'hole 'nuther ball game.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Leave Well Enough Alone . . .

 . . . for me, not so much. Last night I finished a small (8x8) painting that I was very happy with. Then this morning as I was looking over the piece, I saw a small, minute, minuscule, single piece of sand in the bottom left hand corner. With my little finger, I gently touched the speck. However, I did not realize the painting was still wet. Instead of removing the grain of sand, I left a fingerprint size mess.

The paint was smudged. The good news is that it was in the bottom corner and not that large. The bad news was the smudge was in the middle of a complex swirl that matched 2 or 3 other swirls in that corner. Naturally, it did not occur in an area of solid color. Of course not!

I added a bit of purple into the mess to (hopefully) match the surrounding area. The new paint was too thick and instead of blending in, it made the mess darker and larger. So I added a half drop of water hoping it would diffuse the purple and coordinate with the interrupted swirl. 

No so much. Now the watered down purple paint had spread and occupied even more of the corner. Using a wet brush, I attempted to save the spot. The true blue was now a baby blue color that matched nothing around it.

Then, Eureka! I found a small puddle of wet paint on the paper below the painting that still contained striations of the colors in the swirl. Carefully (very carefully) I picked up a bit of the puddled paint with a tooth pick and dropped it into the wet purple mess. The gods were with me, 2 drops of the new paint mixed with the debacle on the corner of the canvas turned into a colorful swirl that somewhat matched the original spot. 

I surveyed my miracle. Smugly I gave myself credit for saving the painting. (. . . well myself and a Hell of a lot luck). As I turned to put away the toothpick, I noticed a bit of blue paint on the side of my finger. Looking back at the painting, I saw that I had somehow, once again, smeared the corner. I sat back and justified the mess. Perhaps, this is how masterpieces are created. OK, maybe not. For this debacle I will claim creative license and, if questioned, explain the "diffused" spot as the making of a master piece. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Southern Women and Nervous Breakdowns

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all have at least one such kin among us. Right? The beauty of being southern is that we don't hide the skeletons in our closets. No, we open the doors and let them dance on the front porch. It is not the dancing skeletons one should fear, rather it is the scorned southern women in their rooms seeking retribution. 

Even when we feel we deserve one and are even entitled to one, who has time these days for a nervous breakdown. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Mama's Way of Saying It

 My dear mother had many sayings. Some I had heard before, some made sense, a few were funny, and there were also some head scratchers.

She commented once, referring to a handsome man, that, "[He] is so good looking, he could put his shoes under my bed anytime."

"He's tighter than Dick's hat band". Never knew what this meant until I stumbled across the definition. This refers to Dick Tracy's Hat. He could jump out of a flying plane or ride on the to of a moving train and his hat never came off (as in his hat band had to be tight enough to hold it in place under any circumstance.) Who knew? I seriously doubt Mama did.

"That lasted about long as Pat stayed in  the Navy" 

"Heaven's to Betsy", which I have learned is just a southern way of saying, "Oh, for heaven's sake." (Only in the south would we use "Betsy".)

"Well that's the cat's meow."

"Katy bar the door." Who knew this originated from a Scottish ballad called 'Get Up and Bar the Door' published in 1776.

"That's Jim Dandy" (originated form baseball??)

"Have his cake and eat it too." According to Wikipedia - this refers to a phrase found "in a letter on 14 March 1538 from Thomas, the Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Cromwell as 'a man can not have his cake and eat his cake'. This begs to ask - why does someone still have a copy of this letter from 1538? 

“That thing is all catawampus.” (Of course Mama pronounced it 'catiwampus')  or put that 'Cati-cornered from the other.'

"Well, if that's not the cat's pajamas!"

"I'm plumb tuckered out." (or 'He's plumb crazy')

"Hill of Beans", 

"Lord knows"

"I'm fixin to . . ." 

"I  recon",

"Well, she's got gumption."

"Well, I swanee" or "I'll swanny". Some research says this originated with the Old English term “I shall warrant.”

"More problems that Carter's Liver pills" (of course this was Mama's version of "Carter HAS Liver pills."

She never asked for a "Coke", it was always a "Coke-a-Cola"

"Taking her sweet time . . ."

"High on the Hog"

" 'Till the cows come home."

"Too big for his britches."

"Three sheets to the wind."

"Hissy fit"

I realize that none of these are unique. We have all heard most of them, well that is if you are southern, Like it or not, this is just part of our culture. But, each of these reminds me of my mother. No doubt everyone has such memories. Reading through the list, they sound silly. But, in context, they all make sense to me. I knew exactly what she meant.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

My Anxiety with Tardiness

 I hate to be late.  I am forgiving to others who are late. That is unless their tardiness delays my being at a particular place at a particular time for a particular reason - such as attending a movie, meeting someone for dinner (ie being there on time for a reservation) or arriving at someone's house when there is a set time. (A caveat being when the invitation is for "some time around ...") The former situations or tardiness on my part, honestly, makes me anxious.

Personally I feel it is rude to make someone wait. In my opinion, even calling ahead to say one is late (although it advises the other party of the delay) is still an inconvenience for those who are waiting. We all have friends we know are habitually tardy. In those cases we often take that into consideration. "Well we will plan to eat at noon, but since we all know Harry is going to be 30 minutes late, it will be 12:30 at the earliest before lunch will be served."

I am an early riser, a morning person, and have been most of my life. I usually get up around 5:30 in the morning and by 8:30 in the evening, unless I have other plans, I am in bed reading. (In full disclosure I actually do not fall asleep until 9:30 or 10.)

As many of you know, I have 2 pups  - Marshall , a full size Yorkie, and Ellie, a 'Norwhat' (A Norwich terrier, who thanks to DNA we learned is actually a Norwich/ Cairn mix).  Honest to God, Ellie's little internal Mickey Mouse watch alarms around 5:25 every morning, usually before my alarm clock rings. If I am not already awake, she makes it very clear that I should be. With her consistent whining and/or standing next to my face staring at me, I am awake, whether I want to be or not. However at that time on these cold mornings ,when the temperatures are in the 30's at best, the idea of crawling out of bed to bundle up and go for our morning constitutional, is anything but inviting. Tell me who really enjoys walking their dogs when one can see their breath in the cold dark air and the frost on the ground is 'crunchy'. 

On these mornings or those when I am not working, I am not given to enthusiastically jump out of bed and hurry outside. Often I find myself negotiating with Ellie. "We really do not need to get up this early, please go back to sleep." I will cover my face (to avoid the guilt her pleading visage evokes). I will offer enticements. "Just 30 minutes more and you'll get a treat if you go back to sleep." This may get me 15 additional minutes at best, but rarely much more. With her tough Scottish breeding, cold mornings are not an issue. 

Perhaps our Harrys should have such a companion, with an internal watch and the persistence of a terrier, to keep them on time. Just saying.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

To Resin or Not

 One reads about artists and their inspirations, their muses. Sometimes it is just sitting in front of the canvas and letting my imagination flow. Other times, I have an idea I hope I can articulate with the paints. In both cases, sometimes I am successful, other times I am not.

Over the years I have read more about painting and taken advantage of advice offered from successful artists. I have accumulated supplies that I think I need, trying to balance the best quality for the money, keeping in mind the idea that "professional" products will not make one a professional.

In reading articles, I learned that you prep your canvases days ahead of putting paint to cloth.Then the art of mixing paints and how to clean up my mess. In looking at the works of other artists, I saw that there final products were bright, with a glass like finish, and spectacular colors. As I watched my paintings dry, the colors become darker and more dull. Obviously I was missing something.

It didn't take me long to find the "something". It was resin or varnish applied to the painting 3 or 4 weeks after the painting completely dries and airs out. Reading further I saw that there were multiple types of medium to use, and naturally, there is much controversy and differences of opinion over the best to use. Reading through the pros and cons of the process and different products I found myself overwhelmed by both the number of choices as well as the process involved. Little did I know that the creation of the work is the easy part.

There were articles about the number of layers of resin needed. You need to mix the resin and the hardener in exact proportion. The mixer needs to be stirred for exactly 3 minutes. The canvas has to be exactly level. After applying the resin mixture it is necessary that all bubbles be removed. Then the canvas needs to be covered so no dust or hair get into the resin coat.

Reading further says that additional coats are up to the artist, according to their preference. It take 8 hours to reach the "tacky" stage, 12 hours before it can be touched, and then 24 hours to completely harden. However, should one want to apply an additional coat (naturally 2 or 3 are recommended), that needs to be done 3 hours after the initial application. Oh, and did I mention that one needs to be sure the resin mixture does not get on any unwanted surface.

I was exhausted just thinking about all this. There had to be an easier way. Then, eureka! There is a spray varnish that is easy to apply as well as any additional applications one wants. I purchased a can. In reading more (which I should have never done) I found that the use of "spray" resins is frowned upon. The result is not  nearly as effective as using traditional resin. Back to the drawing board, and Amazon to order some traditional resin.

The package arrived. I read the instructions that were intimidating at best, confusing at most. But I soldiered on, carefully following the steps. I will spare you the details of the application. Needless to say by the time I was finished, I was totally frustrated with the process. There were places on the canvas where the resin refused to adhere, bubbles in the finish, and cleaning up was almost impossible.

How bad could the spray be after all? Perhaps a true resin coating is over rated. . . . But then that thick glass like finish is hard (no pun intended) to resist.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Circling Hell with the Cellular Carrier

 I understand why the American public despises 2 entities - the Cable Company and their Cellular Phone service. My issue today is the later. Dealing with the Cellular carrier makes me feel as if I am falling into Dante's Inferno.

We changed mobile carriers 9 months ago for reasons I will not go into. Then I found myself descended into the First Circle of Hell (Limbo).  I continued to get billed for service I do not have and a device that was completely paid for.

The lines being very busy, there was often a wait or they had a call back service. The wait times averaged around 5 hours.  Initially I was told that there was still an active line even though all the numbers had been ported and devices returned. The issue was taken care of, so I was told - the line was cancelled, and a refund was being sent in a check. 

However my bubble of satisfaction was burst when, the following month, I received a bill that showed a credit being issued (in lieu of the promised check) and a monthly billing amount being taken from that credit. At this point I felt as if I were in the Sixth Circle of Hell - Heresy. The question then - was it worth the time and aggravation to call the carrier? Given the amount I was owed, I decided to try. (Ah, the optimist.)

Same song, second verse. I was promised that NOW the line was cancelled and a refund check was to be issued. Once again my happiness was dashed when I received a bill from the carrier, and the amount once again, taken out of my "credit". Was the idea that if they made it difficult enough to get a matter handled, disgruntled customers would stop trying and just accept their fate. Now, I was certainly in the Fourth Circle (Greed).

Not to be defeated, I cast myself into the Third Circle (Gluttony) and called once again. Once again I was put on hold, luckily for "only" and hour and a half this time. The unfortunate customer service rep who took my call had to listen to my wrath about what was going on with my account. He was most patient and asked a few pertinent questions. After being on the phone with him for a while, I was assured, once again, that the matter was handled. The account was closed and a refund was being issued by direct deposit.

Now, I just wait for the credit to be issued to my account. The question being  - will I be satisfied or once again find myself in the Divine Comedy.

Friday, January 28, 2022

More than Energizer's Bunny

 I often feel as if I am having a 'low energy day'. This can be due to bad karma, lack of sleep, or just plain laziness. But, in truth, in addition to my PF Flyers (which gave me energy to run faster and jump higher),  just what is energy?

According to the Chinese we all operate on "Energy".  Biologists have known for centuries that the human body runs on energy from the calories we consume. In America, unfortunately some of us consume more calories than we can use. In my case I blame this on a genetic disposition I inherited from extremely large great aunts I had on both sides of the family. No offense Auntie and Aunt Ginny - God rest your souls. But, I digress.

There is Cosmic Energy,  thought to be a vital source that animates all forms of life and maintains the balance of the entire cosmos. 'Cosmic' being the English translations of the Hindu term shakti.

The study of physics is based on the the Seven Forms of Energy: Mechanical, Heat, Chemical, Electrical Radiant, Nuclear, and Sound. Perhaps I could expound on these theories had I paid more attention in Mr. Hall's 8th grade Physics' class.

Then there is Esotericism, the belief that inner and secret forms of spirituality and alternative  medicine  that defy measurement are distinguished from the scientific form of energy." This is  exemplifed by Wicca's "Cone of Power,  Voodoo's belief of universal energy (that a soul that can leave the body during dreams and spirit possession), and the Christians' belief in the spiritual and healing powers from the energy of God.

So our world, as well as our souls, are at the mercy of energy, whether from Butter and Bacon, Shakti, Einstein, Minerva, Glenda, or God Almighty. 

May the Force be with you.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Drunks, Silver, and a Southern Mother

For loyal readers, bare with me, this tale was published 9 years ago. However, a new reader was curious about my mother so I thought I would share this.

As I have said before, a young woman's taste, sometimes her future, could be judged by her mere choice of silver patterns. "She chose Old Master" - "That is arrogant!" "Well don't hold it against her, it has been in her family and with the economy and all . . ." or "You know Missy chose Buttercup." - "Now wasn't that sweet." The kiss of death. "Mary Neal has registered for Bel Chateau." "Well, at least it is sterling. It is isn't it?"

I did not realize I had a choice in silver patterns when we got married. Due to both ignorance and the fact that the Hunt Brothers had cornered the silver market in 1981, few of our friends would be able to afford pieces of sterling for us, so I would be best hoping to inherit the patterns of my mother and grandmother. Therefore, my sterling pattern is Chantilly by default. (As it turned out, of the 350 guests at our wedding, I received a gravy ladle and one teaspoon - it was a wise decision on my part.)

My Mama insisted we use sterling flatware at every meal while I was growing up. In Mama's mind, the idea that my family was eating on stainless was just unfathomable. On the random birthday, anniversary, or Christmas (when she was functioning) she would give me a piece of sterling. Given it was hard for a family to eat with only a gravy ladle, one or two teaspoons, a two knives, and a fork, I found stainless the obvious choice.

Perhaps it was a good thing my childhood table was set with her Chantilly at each meal, otherwise we may have contracted some type of bungee bungee disease eating the meals she "prepared" that were semi cooked, burned to smithereens, or totally unrecognizable due to her affinity for the bottle. Maybe the alchemy of the sterling offset any affliction we may have contracted.

Given her state, at any given time while I was growing up, or the state of her kitchen for that matter, it is a testament to innate breeding of the southern woman in her, that she insisted we eat with sterling silver flatware. There were times there was no meal, but the table was always set with the silver. Often we gathered only to realize dinner was not going to be ready before bedtime so we opted for sandwiches. It would not be unusual to find a severely burnt piece of beef in the oven a day or two later. I found it easier to throw out the pan with whatever was left over from the extensive roasting. And, yes, God looks after drunks, fools, southern women, and various combinations of the former, because our home never burned down.

Years later when Mama sobered up, some things changed, but others did not. In her mind, whether one was enjoying a holiday meal with family, an everyday supper, or warmed up macaroni and cheese, it was always eaten with sterling silver.

I inherited my Mama's and my Grandmother's Chantilly flatware. If only it could talk - or not. The important thing is that it survived that generation and lived to serve another. And, although we enjoy eating our meals with sterling flatware, I can attest there is always a meal and I have yet to find a forgotten roast in the oven a day or two later - so far. But, then God looks after . . .

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Sage Advice of a Southern Mother

 My mother was always quick to give advice. Well, I say 'advice', it was more 'guidance' to ensure that I grew up as a proper southern lady and did not do anything to sully the family's reputation. 

When it came to young men, there were several rules one did not break. Such as, a young lady never called a young man, that was seen as way too forward. If Thursday morning broke and I had not been asked out by young man for a date that following weekend, I would be staying home Friday and Saturday night. The theory here being if a gentleman had not requested my company for Friday night by Wednesday evening either I was not his first choice or he was asking at the last minute. 

But should a young man ask me out prior to the Wednesday evening deadline, he would find I was never 'quite ready' when he arrived to pick me up. Instead he was required to 'visit' with my parents before I came downstairs, lest I be seen as too eager. 

As all young ladies of my generation, a nice lacy slip was required under any dress or skirt, as well as coordinating hose. (As a young child I was required to wear gloves to church.) 'High' heals and makeup were not even considered appropriate before I was 14 years old or so. (I would not want the reputation of a painted lady.) 

When it came to more domestic issues, every table should be set with sterling silver. We may starve but by God, when they found our wasted bodies, the table would have been properly set. 

She offered more sage advice. I will spare you for now. 

That said, of all the bits of counsel she offered there are three practical ones I have found most valuable throughout my life. Never buy cheap shoes, cheap linens, or cheap aluminium foil.  Oh, and remember the dessert spoon (or fork if cake were being served) is placed at the head of the plate with the handle to right.  And there is a difference between a Cocktail fork and an Oyster fork.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

In or Out the Closet

 Looking in my closet this morning, I pulled out a green sweater, one of my favorites. When I put it on the bed next to the pair of pants I had chosen, I wondered why I hadn't worn the sweater in a a while. Then it came to mind, I cannot wear that. It went out of style years ago. What was I thinking. Then I pulled out a blue sweater, one I just purchased a month or so ago. It wasn't as comfortable as my old green one but quite more stylist. 

This all brought to mind the question - what is "style" after all? Last week I watched a documentary on the Duchess of Windsor. In Britain, she was viled as the woman who caused a king to give up his throne and almost threw the empire into a constitutional crisis.While in America and on the continent, the Duchess was seen as one of the most stylish women of her time. Her clothes were cotoure - created for her by the greatest designers of the time -Saint Laurent, de Gichency, and de la Renta to name a few. She was a fashion plate, never seen in public unless dressed in the latest styles, with her jewelry, hair, and makeup perfect. Each season the fashion magazines waited with bated breath to see what she would be wearing.

At a more pedestrian level, each year I try to "be in style". After all, no one wants to look frumpy, outdated, unfashionable. Even with a limited budget I had been able to "freshen" my wardrobe each season. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fashion plate, but not an embarrassment either.

Back to the issue at hand - what to wear today. The more I looked at the blue sweater, the more I questioned my choice. I love the green sweater. It has served me well for many years. Why can I not wear that sweater? Will the world end? Will friends and acquaintances stop, aghast that I was wearing a piece of clothing that went "out of style" years ago, perhaps a decade or so?  

In reality, why do I care? As long as I am wearing clothes that fit, and am neat, tidy, and clean, what difference does it make? Isn't my being comfortable and happy in my choice just that - my choice. After all I have found that clothes I chose years ago have gone "out" of style and back "in" style over the years. Take the classic sweater set. It was stylist in the 1950's. It went out, was seen as dated, all the while to return as the "newest" fashion years later. Then "out" again, and then back on the pages of fashion magazines several years later.

Truth be told, women do not wear clothes. We wear costumes. Who do we dress for? After all it is each of us who need to feel comfortable and confident in our clothes. Does it really matter that I am not wearing the latest fashions found in this season's Vogue? Who am I trying to please after all? 

I recall as a young mother, asking my daughters how the "new" outfit I was wearing looked. (I should have known better.) It was not unusual to a get a reply such as - "it looks like you". The kiss of death coming from a teenager. But, in retrospect shouldn't what I wear "look like me"? After all, I am the one who wearing the outfit.

In reality, if I wait long enough my wardrobe will be back in style. So rather than passe doesn't this make me ahead of my time, back to the future.

Monday, January 17, 2022

A Good Snow Day

 Oh, snow!! Such a novelty down here. So much so that we are clueless as to what to do. The world may as well come to an end when the weather prediction is snow. The children are thrilled - a winter wonderland. Parents are a bit more concerned about making sure there is enough food (and adult beverages) and other provisions. As soon as the little snow flakes appear on the weather forecast page, the grocery shelves are cleared of eggs, milk, bread, and chips. There is also the fear of power outrages. Unfortunately, in the south snow is often accompanied with ice.

So here we are. There is a winter wonderland outside. What is it about the ground covered with a blanket of white frozen precipitation? A snow storm is just short of a unicorn down here. It is a rare site. The children are in search of a hill. The parents are just hoping that schools will open tomorrow.

Ellie and Marshall, my pups, are not fans. Given that their legs are just short of 4 inches, 6 inches of snow is quite the challenge. After all how can you be expected to pee when the snow is up to your shoulders? 

Personally I am secretly thrilled at the site of snow. The child in me comes out. Even though I am too old to frolic about, the inner child in me delights in the site of the blanket of white. I think all of us, if we are true to ourselves, enjoy a good snow storm. 

Although we rarely had snow in my hometown, it was not unusual for it to snow on High Acres. Most of my childhood "snow" memories are from times on the farm. If there was a forecast of snow up there, if possible, Daddy would make sure we were there. Even at his age then (a good 20 years younger than I am today) he was game. I'm not sure if it is the romance of the Courier and Ives prints of horse drawn sleighs making their way their across the land or the beauty of the white winter wonderland. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, there is something about a "Snow Day"that soothes the soul.

Never mind, the impassible roads, the dangerous black ice, power outrages, and cold, let's face it - who doesn't secretly smile when snow is in the forecast? Either you can relate or you are in denial. Of course, we will all be glad when it is over and our world returns to normal. But for now, let's just enjoy when the world as we know it stops, and we can appreciate the silence of the snow falling. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Change in the Weather

 OMG... The world is going to end. Armageddon is in sight. The weather prediction for this coming weekend is snow (and ice). Say it’s not so!

The TV program I was watching was interrupted by that loud horn indicating an emergency situation. Rather than an announcement of impending war, the banner said (in bold type and all caps) : “Inclement weather is expected in your local area.” My program resumed, albeit with the crawler in red continuing to run across the bottom of the screen. “The National Weather Service is predicting a 20% chance of snow this weekend. Local residents are advised to prepare.”

Ten minutes later, the crawler continued, with the customary advisories to fuel your car, supply your pantry, have plenty of batteries on hand, take care of the animals, etc.  Temperatures are expected to dip into the high 20’s.

Needless to say the grocery stores were packed and very soon the shelves were empty. There were lines at the checkout with buggys filled with popcorn, chips, Little Debbies, bread, milk, eggs, bacon, and a good supply of wine and beer. I understand the chips and other snacks (and wine). I can only assume the milk, bread, and eggs is for French Toast? (Fun fact: the most popular food bought in preparation for foul weather- PopTarts. Who knew!)

The suggestion to get the car fueled, is followed by the warning: “With the chance of 2 inches of snow, Citizens should avoid driving.”  Now this part is true, folks down here have no business driving in snow. Only the large trucks with serious tires should be out there. Contrary to popular thought,  most SUVs do not fall in this category. Even though the advertisements show the car being safely driven on snowy roads, anyone paying close attention would have read in the very small print at the end of the commercial - "The previous exercise was on a closed track by professional drivers. Driving in frozen or inclement weather should not be done by amateur drivers.”

Weather radios are brought out, as well as Jigsaw puzzles and the Monopoly game.  Whatever “cold weather” clothes one may have are pulled out of the attic. For those lucky enough to still have it, the sled that was bought 7 years ago after the “The Once in a Century Snow Storm”, is still in the garage.

Now that everyone is prepared there is nothing left to do but wait for a change in the weather. Down here one of three things may happen. The temperatures will stay in the mid 30s making for a cold soggy mess. We will get a smattering of snow - just enough to barely cover the ground that will be gone by lunch. Or there will be an ungodly snow and ice storm that will block the roads, cause limbs to bring power lines down, and traumatize the area for a week or so. I'm not sure which scenario to wish for.

Time will tell. So much for snow in the south. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Go Away Little Bag, Before I Beg You to Stay

Ah, the Christmas gift of chocolate, that evil bag of crunchy and sweet and salty dark chocolate, caramel, and sea salt pretzels thought it had one over on me. 

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

But, no! I prevailed. I was not going to let it get the best of me. I would not succumb to his siren calls as he sat on the corner of my kitchen counter, all 24 oz and 17 servings. I am stronger than that, after all it's just a . bag of dark chocolate, rich dark.  

I know that your lips are sweet
but our lips must never meet

No, that bag of ostentatious pretzels will no longer sit on my counter whispering my name in that 'come hither' sexy voice. He must be vanquished, - never to return. 

It's hurting me more each minute that we delay
When you're near me like this
You're much too hard to resist

The bag thought he could sit there and tempt me with the lure of sumptuous dark chocolate, creamy caramel, and sea salt. What kind of girl did he think I was? Did he think I would fall for his sweet charms.

So go away little [bag]
Before I beg you to stay

I showed him. I took care of that issue and I never need to fear being tempted by his charms or falling victim to his spell. And I enjoyed every bite. 

Saturday, January 8, 2022


 Part of a new year, is a new look on life. I happened upon a documentary on minimalism. This was a true "Ah Ha" moment for me. That's what I needed - to simplify my life. 

There are some issues. Down here (in the south) we not only have our belongings but we have belongings from many past generations. I couldn't consider throwing out that small metal table because it was the one my Granny kept on her screened back porch. During the winter she would put desserts on it to chill before serving them at supper that evening. Personally it doesn't coordinate with anything I have. It is an odd size and not that attractive. But there is no way I can part with it, it was my Granny's.

Upon reflection, why not? The table is not worth anything. Granny passed away over 45 years ago. And, the next generation, my Daddy and his sister, my Aunt Kat, have also passed away. What was she going to do, come back and haunt me? I am sure that neither of my daughters will see any sentimental value in it or use for it. I'll take my chances, let it go.

There is my collection of colored bottles, that can go. There are the old odd sheets,  worn towels, and wash cloths in my closet that I will never use. Gone. Looking at my buffet I note a set of 4 large Bordeaux wine glasses. I have never used them, They are so fragile, I fared they would break in my hand. Gone. There are 4 crystal liquor decanters also on the buffet. Whoa! Wait a minute, those are not going anywhere. There is a limit to this madness.

The minimalist experts say if something doesn't have a purpose then you do not need it. This gets down to the definition of "need". 

I made a plan, I would simplify my life. Of course, there would be exceptions - family heirlooms (that are not practical to keep), gifts from special people, books, etc. I can only go so far. The experts say start small, eliminate 1 item the first day, 2 items the second day, 3 item the third day . . .  and on and on. 

In the first day of my life of minimalism, I parted with 3 large trash bags full of useless junk. These went into the dumpster. I also managed to fill 5 king size pillow cases with clothes I had not worn in years, sets of old sheets (some I received as wedding presents 40 years ago), towels, several travel bags, etc. These I dropped off at Goodwill. I will consider this initial purge as my "1" Item the first day. 

This project is going to take a long long time. After all my stuff has stuff!

Friday, January 7, 2022

Escape from Reality

 Traditionally commercials after New Year's are about diets, exercise equipment, and vacations in the Caribbean.

I can remember years ago just after Christmas, Talbots would send out their "Resort Catalog". It was like a breath of sunshine and warmth to brighten the cold wet days of February. Were there really folks who could escape the wintry blahs to a tropical paradise? Or worse than that - were there really so many folks with perfect physiques, tanned bodies, having so much fun? Never in my life was I able to run on the beach, in the edge of the surf, wearing a flowing white dress, holding the obligatory straw hat.  

The catalogue was filled with pages of clothes in bright blues, sunny yellows, and festive pinks. I could look past the perfect size 2 models and the smart clothes. All I saw were pages of green grass, sandy white beaches, and palm trees. The locations for the photo shoots were traditionally exclusive private tropical resorts with colonnades of adobe walls, red tile roofs, and fountains. There were waiters in their smart khaki uniforms carrying trays of colorful drinks with little umbrellas in them.  

I will admit that several years ago, I did escape to the West Indies in January. It was like being thrown into a different universe with the warm air, the wide white beaches, and the clear turquoise water. And, yes, there was Juan, dressed in his khaki shorts and crisp white shirt carrying a tray of Bellinis complete with little umbrellas. As much as I enjoyed the trip, I never was that lithe beautiful young woman running through the surf, hat in hand. But, that didn't matter. There was the sun, the sand, the surf, and the Bellinis. This was truly paradise, an escape from reality. 

However that real world quickly returned when we landed in Richmond, Virginia. The weather was dreary and cold with temperatures in 20's and six inches of snow on the ground.  The brisk wind was truly a slap in the face. 

The following morning at work everyone was complaining about the cold. I shared in their misery. The weather was wretched. Thoughts of the warm air and white beaches filled my mind. Was my escape really that sublime? Yes, it was. Calgon, take me away (again). And by the way, where was Juan when I needed him. 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Fascination with Follies

 Of all things British, 2 things (as my Mother would say) slay me - follies and fascinators . 


a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park

Examples are those stone monuments that are scattered about at Downton Abbey - the one behind the house that resembles a Roman temple. 

And, if you were paying attention, there is one that looks like a rotunda that they run past while on the hunt. Basically they are what the well-to-do construct when they just want to spend money.


a woman's light, decorative headpiece consisting of feathers, flowers, beads, etc. attached to a comb or hair clip.

Fascinaters are another "invention" of the English. For centuries English women wore a hat every time they left the house, except when attending a ball or a dinner. These evolved over the years from fairly simple hats such as:

to the elaborate

The Queen Mother was known for her hats

Then the younger crowd in the 21st century decided they would wear as  little hat as they could get away with. The Fascinater became the choice for hat required events. Some remind me of a bird nest stuck on the side of a woman's head

Others, are just something a young women chose to wear to irritate the older ladies, as in "I'll show you, if I have to wear a hat then I will"

As a side note, the Queen made her thoughts known after Prince Harry's wedding that she was not fascinated by this new millinery  style.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

To Regift

On the 12th Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to me, Twelve Drummers Drumming - the 12 doctrines of the Apostles Creed.



verb - to
give (a gift one has received) to someone else.

My definition is a bit different: the art and science of finding a new home for an unwanted, useless, hideous gift one received 

Not that I would ever do such a thing. But, I have heard that this is a practice of some people.

From what I have read, the ideal scenario is a scarf you received from Mary that you found atrocious. When you opened it, Mary commented, "When I saw it, I just knew it was you." You politely thank her. 

At the next gift giving occasion, when you need to find a gift for someone (a) you really don't care about or (b) you think would enjoy the gift, or (c) you know has no taste, you present the scarf. The problem arises when you show up for the party for Jennifer with your (re)gift and find Mary is there also. When Jennifer opens the gift, looks at it, and genuinely thanks you. You quickly look at Mary and say,"I loved the one you gave me so much, I thought Jennifer would love one also." All along you are hoping the scarf was not some "one of kind" Mary found on Etsy.

Over the years I have found myself with several such gifts. The question is - is this something that is useful for someone else (and useless for you), for an odd gift giving occasion when you do not want to make a financial investment in a gift, or (my favorite) for someone you despise. Not that that would ever occur.

By the way, I love the pink plastic Ronco battery operated onion peeler, lemon juicer, and Julianne french fry combination appliance I received this year. It is just what I wanted!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Eleven Pipers, A Late Bloomer, and Back to Normal

 11 Pipers Piping  represents the eleven faithful apostles.

This morning I noticed that my "Christmas" Cactus was finally blooming. Not sure if the plant did not the get the memo, had lost track of time, or was a bit slow (as in "touched", "special", "challenged"). I have friends who have "Thanksgiving" cactuses - the variety that blooms a month or so earlier than Christmas. Perhaps there is a type that waits until New Year's Day to burst forth in colorful glory. Not so much for me. My plant waits until the 10th day after Christmas. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.

These days, I am struggling with the tiresome exercise of taking down and putting away the decorations I found so joyous in late November, re-configuring the living room furniture once the tree is removed, and dealing with the challenge of what to do with the strange gadgets I received as gifts. 

We have all made our declarations for the new year. There are the promises of benevolence, tolerance, self improvement, and the annual pledge to exercise more and eat less. The later that traditionally fails to last at most, until the end of January. Of course in 2 months, we can reconfirm these personal vows as sacrifices during the season of Lent, but I digress.

I am often accused of being cynical, a trait I find underrated. To paraphrase my favorite line from Macbeth: The Holidays are ". . . but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets [it's] hour upon the stage,  And then is heard no more. It is a [time of much a do endured] by idiots, full of sound and fury,  Signifying nothing.” Who knew Shakespeare would have a character so pessimistic?

We pickup where we were in late November and resume our normality. I cannot speak for everyone but I question what "normal" is anymore. At this stage of my life, I lack sound and the fury.  The Bard aside, I am hoping 2022 will be a good year for everyone.