Monday, August 31, 2009

A Brief Intermission

Since the Labor Day weekend
is coming up,
I've decided to take some
much needed time away
from the computer
and try to concentrate on
some fall cleaning,
canning veggies,
and doing some
all-out soul searching.

I'll be back on September 8.

Hopefully with clean closets,
quarts and quarts of pickles
and tomatoes put away
for the winter,
and a better sense
of direction in my life.

Sorry to all of my favorite bloggers-
as I may or may not
take the time to visit and
comment on your sites.
But know that I'm thinking of you all
and hoping your days are all
bright and creative.

And to all of my faithful readers-
you are the foundation of my days
and I appreciate that you
take the time to visit.

I'll fill you all in next time
on the 61 miles of yard sales,
the start of my new diet,
and other things that
I think about
when I'm not napping...

Please come back and see me.
Thanks for sharing!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Precious Memories

Family vacations can provide
a lifetime of memories.
Later in life, when the kids are grown-
photographs and special moments
are fondly shared
of those sentimental road trips.


Maybe not.

One particular summer
we packed up the three kids
and decided to take a few days off
to visit Big Spring in Van Buren, Mo.

It was a wonderful drive
through hills and valleys
and everything was so green and lush.
My husband had spent some time
in Missouri as a child and teenager
and he always commented that
someday he would like to live there.
And there are lots of "kinfolk"
still hanging out in those hills.

Well, we still don't know if
it was accidental or on purpose,
but we got lost going home.

My husband's driving got us
maneuvering down dry, rutted roads
that curled past an occasional rusty mailbox
and old barns.
The kids were freaking out.
I had to pee.
And the gas gauge was creeping
quickly toward E.

Green turned to brown-
lush turned to lousy-
and those dirt roads made riding a camel
seem like a magic carpet.

I was sure the movie Deliverance
was about to make a sequel,
when after an hour of mazes,
we came out onto a hard road
and a gas station.

"Hooray!" said the kids.
"Finally!" I chimed in.

Then my husband got out of the car
and said, "Well, I'll be. We're in Briar.
And there's my cousin Sharon!'

There she was behind the counter.
And I had just enough time to meet her
and grab the bathroom key.

" 'Taint no key," she drawled.
"'Sout back, thar," she motioned.

An outhouse.

"Thar's a stick in thar
to knock down the spiders," she instructed.

At this point,
I was going to have to dance
the next fourteen miles to
the nearest town,
or take my chances with the spiders.

It wasn't easy getting to the outhouse.
I had to pass through a blackberry patch,
trip over a couple of old car batteries,
and go through the goat pen.

There it was.
Leaning a little to the right-
smelling not so great,
but a sigh of relief ran through me.

"Come on, kids", I yelled to them
from the stack of one million old tires.

They shook their heads "no"
and continued sipping their
Mountain Dews.
No way.
No time.
Not ever were they going to use an outhouse.

Oh, they would have jumped at the chance
if they had known that we were going
to spend the entire day in Briar.
That we would meet kinfolk
and grannies
and flea bitten hound dogs.
That we would feast on
fried carp, tater salad,
baked beans
and sodie.

That we would make pit stops
to every known relative
that side of the sawmill
and that we would all have an accent
before leaving there.

That night we stayed at the Northwald.
A quaint little motel just
outside Briar.
It had an old noisy air conditioner,
red quilted bedspreads
and green shag carpet.
The kids were devastated.

But I was happy.
There was a real toilet.

We still talk about that vacation.

After that day, we took lots of trips to Briar.
We built a bond with the kinfolks,
learned to pick off ticks,
and swung that 'ol stick through
spider webs as big as Oprah.

The kids loved the river
and the forest-
and even the little gas station
where Aunt Sharon worked.

The Northwald burned down
a few years after that.
The kids still speak fondly of
that place.

We miss those days.
Of family time.
Of growing up.
Of exploring new territory.

Of getting lost
but finding our roots.
Of making memories that
no one can ever take away from us.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

From Soup To Nuts

Sometimes I like to think
that there is a pattern to my mess.
That perhaps, in some strange way
there is actually a method to my madness-
an organization to my
seemingly unorganized life.

I can usually find what I'm looking for-
(Given a week or so of frantic cursing
and demolition of every closet, drawer
and nook and cranny.)

After weeks of tiptoeing through my
laundry room to avoid obstacles,
yesterday I decided to attack the problem
head on and begin the cleaning process.

It wasn't dirty- just messy.
A product of being hurried and rushed
and of having no better place to
store an item when company was coming.

I admit I am lucky to have a laundry room.
I can shut the door on it all and pretend
I'm like Kelly Rippa on those commercials-
(flitting around with a huge wicker basket
full of fresh towels three inches thick-
polishing my washing machine with
a whoosh of my hip bone-
and then baking cookies for the kids-
never once having spilled the sugar
or dribbled egg snot across the counter).

My laundry room is also my pantry.
The place for canned goods and
cereal boxes and all matters of
sneaky snacks.
And the resting place for pots and pans
and trays and ladles.
It's the home of my gigantic crock pot
and enormous counter top grill.
And a huge assortment of little
plastic bowls that have somehow
lost their lids.

Who knew I had so many cans of soup?
Once I organized them,
I was surprised.
And what's with the seven different
kinds of microwave popcorn?

Four umbrellas.
Disco party napkins.
Halloween costumes.
Rugs whose rubber backing
flakes off in pieces as large as Texas.
A can of peanuts from
Thanksgiving 2008-
or was it the year before?

it was time to take charge.

I mean, who else in the whole
entire world
has bills in a bowl?

Yep- that's where I stashed them
after I got the mail for three months or so.
Right there in that blue plastic bowl
(with the missing lid, or course).
I'd fish around to pay the ones that were due
and let the rest take up space
in my laundry room.

I had to climb up on my
little step ladder to reach the higher shelves
and I guess I wasn't paying attention at one point.
I stepped off backwards
and fell into the doorway-
twisting my foot a little,
but luckily landing on my big bootie-
where I lay stunned for a moment-
trying to figure out why I did
a triple sow cow in mid air.

Good thing I wasn't injured-
or worse.
I could have been killed.

And after I was gone,
who would ever think to look
in the blue bowl for the electric bill?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm A Second-Hand Girl

Yesterday was Second-Hand Wardrobe Day.

And I suspect my mom
was the queen of utilizing
that special day-
only year round.

I know that most of my
childhood was spent
in second-hand clothes.
from my older sisters,
cast-offs from the church family,
and I suppose an occasional
yard sale find.

If you happen to study
our old school photos,
you'll find that the dress
Linda was wearing in her
fifth grade picture
was the same one I wore
in mine.

And I wouldn't doubt that
our little sister Tina
had a go at that same dress
somewhere along the line.

But, it didn't bother us then.
We didn't know that not every
family shared cast offs like we did.

Hey- there were nine of us!
Can you imagine getting us
ready for school in the fall?
And I can proudly say
that my parents never got
any financial assistance
or charity back then.

Why not recycle clothes?

I still do it today.
I'll buy a jacket or jeans
at a yard sale
or resale shop.
Most times they're like new.

Of course, when we were kids
we might have to doctor
our hand-me-downs up a bit
with patches and pins-
but they got us through
those tough years of school.

I still remember a time in
high school
when I was wearing Linda's
old loafers and I had a bit
of tissue stuffed in the toe
because they were too big.
I also had a rubber band
snapped around the
leather tongue because
it was loose.

I was in the gym
waiting for first bell to ring
and I unconsciously propped
my feet up on the bleacher seat
in front of me.

Then I suddenly looked down the line
and saw all the other girls
in their new shoes -
nice, white canvas sneakers
and shiny leather sandals-
and immediately my feet
rolled under the seat
like the Wicked Witch legs
under Dorothy's house.

I think that's the first time
I was embarrassed
and I went home that day
and cried.

But the experience of having a
second-hand wardrobe
has humbled me.

I appreciate all that I have.

I can go buy new clothes now
if I want.
I can have the coolest jeans
and best shoes
and all kinds of fashionable
bags and coats and

But that's just not me.

I can't see buying $50 jeans
when the $20 WalMart ones
will do just fine.
Or some that I unearth
at a garage sale.

I don't spend money on lots of
or jewelry,
or snazzy things for my house.

I'm a Second-Hand-Girl.

And today I'm celebrating that
liberation from peer-pressure,
fashion divas and
overpriced merchandise.

I'm a better person
for having shared
and cared for my clothing.
I'm a better person
because I don't judge others
who might have their
loafers wrapped in
a rubber band.
Or a skirt safety-pinned
at the waist.

I never thought I'd say it,
but, "Thanks, Mom."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Favorite Finds

Hear that?

Well, it's the sound of
my change purse
rattling with lots of coins.

I've been dumping over drawers
and ashtrays
and car seats
and sofa cushions
and looking under beds,
and rugs-
to scavenge any loose change.

Why? you may ask.

Because next week
is Sister Weekend
and the four of us are
headed out to Highway 61-
and a hundred miles of

I'm getting anxious
and so is my husband.

In a different kind of way,
of course.

He's worrying about what kind
of junk I'll haul home-
fearful I'll take up precious
garage space.

But, in perspective,
I have done quite well
on my scavenger hunts
to sales and resale shops and
Looking around my house,
I realize I have a thing
for art and oddities.

Here are some of my favorite
"found" goodies!
(None of these items were over $5)
Most were $1-$2)

Little lamp and retro dial phone
($6 total)

Linda found this lady as a joke
at a Sister Weekend yard sale-
and I love it!

So- Hey-
go out and do some salvaging of your own!
Route 61
Here We Come!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm A Not Ready For Prime Time Player

My family keeps asking me why
I'm not on FaceBook, My Space, or Twitter.
Granted, I spend three-fourths
of my life at the computer,
but those social sites just don't
interest me.

Maybe because I'm anti-social.

Maybe because I'm still having
problems learning to use
my cell phone.
Because text-ing for me is like
learning Chinese Algebra-
and I still can't figure out
how to get to those
78 voice mails.

To try and understand
stuff about posting to a wall
or conveying my mood
or slathering big fat photos
of my life where everyone
can have a good laugh-
is just a bit much for me right now.

I'm more concerned about
what I'm going to do with the
rotten chicken in my fridge
that I thawed and forgot about
than I am about that gal I
rode the bus with my Freshman year
that "hearts" horses.

My Space sounds so egotistical-
so paranoid.

My Space-
Hey-don't step over the line!

My Space-
So much better than Your Space.

My Space-
Aren't I special?

And Face Book-
Sounds like something you'd
study in the plastic surgeons office.

Or downtown at the police station.

Don't even get me started on Twitter.

When an old friend of mine
told me she Twittered,
I advised her it might be
a good idea too keep that
to herself-
or get some marriage counseling.

I guess I'll just stay safe in Blog Land.
Sounds like a place you might
get stuck in.
Like quicksand.

And, I guess I am.
But I'm perfectly happy here.

I "heart" blogging!

(Thanks to M.A. Fat Woman for
today's blog inspiration!)

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Say Toe-may-toe. They Say Ta-maa-toe.

There is this sick place inside us all
that is curious about celebrities
and the kind of lifestyle
that they live.

Unless you are a hermit
living in a cave,
you know most of the popular
movie stars by name.

Perhaps it is the stark differences
between them and ordinary people
that makes it so interesting.

And, believe me,
we are different.

I'm a different kind of human altogether.

For example, here's the difference
in the way we pamper ourselves:

Satin Sheets / Clean sheets

Pedicure /Wash cloth between toes

Manicure /Udder cream

Expensive meal /Denny's Grand Slam

Trip to Italy / Trip to WalMart

Wear fine diamonds /Wear best KMart ring

Facial/ Oil of Olay

Electrolysis/ Tweezers

Day at Spa/ Day at Target

Boob job/ New bra

Zoom whitening/ Buy Crest Strips

Sip expensive wine /Boone's Farm, baby!

Tummy tuck / Girdle

Go to Opera/ Watch CMT

Build a new home/ Build a new doghouse

Yachting /Tubing

Hummer /4-Wheeler

Sushi /Tuna cakes

Water Polo / Marco Polo

Breakfast in bed /Yesterday's pizza on night stand

Ferrari /Forget it

Mink coat /Pleather jacket

Rodeo Drive /Goodwill

French lessons /Polka lessons

Steel Vault / Piggy Bank

I love my simple life
and wouldn't give it up-
even for a star on Hollywood Blvd.

That's just how I roll.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tree Hugger Heaven

I just read somewhere that the great
Ponderosa Pine-
(You know- the tree on Bonanza)-
has a bark that smells like
baking cookies.
Some even say it resembles vanilla,
coconut, and even butterscotch!

Can you imagine?

I can.....

"What 'cha planting?"
my husband asks, as he comes upon me
in the back yard while I am digging
holes four foot deep by four foot wide.

I stand up straight, wipe my brow,
and know without a doubt that I am in trouble.

First of all-
I am planting Ponderosa Pines
which have only a 35% survival rate
and mature in 75-250 years.

Plus the fact that I've already dug
two dozen holes
which took out a good portion of
my husband's future work shop
and most of his archery target range.

"I'm doing my part to preserve nature,"
I say quickly,
knowing quite well that
Al Gore's face is tacked to the bulls eye
on his deer target.

But I feel that you really don't
become a tree-hugger until you've
wrapped your arms around a giant
vanilla-scented pine tree.

"Besides that," I add,
"they smell like cookies."

I imagine myself lying in the shade
of one of these big beauties-
Sipping a pina colada and
breathing in the coconut smell of
some exotic beach.

Or having an outdoor party
where the whole yard
smells like a butterscotch factory
and no body wants to leave
until their skin wreaks of
gooey sweetness.

"You can stop now."
My husband's voice
suddenly interrupts my daydream.

"You know good and well,"
he continues,
"that you would have the bark
eaten off every single one
of those damn trees!"

He's got a point there.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Magic Bus

Summer is officially over.
School has started.

Now the landscape is filled
with yellow buses and
cool backpacks
and musty old textbooks.

I remember the torn feelings
that I had when my kids
started school.

I struggled with trying to
fill the list of required items-
the three of them all needing
crayons and glue
and scissors and notebooks
and gym shoes and lunch money
and new sweaters and jeans.

Yet, the peace and quiet that
filled the house
after the magic bus kicked up
it's final dust trail,
was absolutely priceless.

My ears rested.
My feet rested.
My brain went into sleep mode.

All of a sudden, I was a woman again.
Not a mom, or nurse,
or cook, or referee.
Just me.
With eight hours of perfect peace
that I could squander if I chose to.

My favorite thing to do
was sit in front of the open window
with a cup of hot coffee.
The morning air was crisp and cool
and the dew lay on the grass
like glitter gone wild.

I watched the birds
and the clouds
and admired the shape of the trees
and the smell of the breeze.

I finally had the chance
to see again.

-Without three little heads
bobbing up and down in front of me-
or three voices shouting loudly-
or three hungry mouths gaping open
or three bored children moaning...

Don't get me wrong.
I love my children.
It's just that even a seasoned mother
needs that special time apart.

She needs to breathe
and dream
and be selfish for a little while.

Now days, every morning is quiet.
I drink my coffee by the open window
and admire the gifts of nature.

And sometimes-
I wish there were crayons
and cookies
and cartoons
and competition
and confusion
to clutter up my life again.

Well- on second thought-
maybe not!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cupcake Tuesday

Tomorrow is Cupcake Day
and I am always ready to celebrate
anything that has to do with sweets.

So, believe me,
cupcakes will most certainly be
on tomorrow's menu.
And maybe even tonight-
(just to prepare early, you understand).

The fantastic thing about cupcakes
is that they are already portioned out
for the perfect dessert.
No cutting, slicing, or dividing.
Just roll down the cute little
cupcake paper,
and it's ready to devour!

My niece Lyndsey is
a cupcake baker.
And she reminds me of a cupcake.
Little, sweet and colorful.
She has created cupcakes for every occasion.
(check out her website at

And that's another great thing
about cupcakes-
you can get creative with them
and make them all different-
dozens and dozens of them-
all lined up
with confetti and sparkles
and rolls of cream cheese frosting and
little plastic smiley faces
and delicate flowers
and chocolate flakes.

Personally, I like the
cream cheese frosting.
I would eat anything topped with
cream cheese frosting.
Oh, yeah, cardboard is good-
as long as it has
a thick layer of creamy icing!

The first memory I have of
eating a cupcake is when I was
in third grade.
A fellow student, Susan Weidigar,
had a birthday and her mom
baked cupcakes and brought them
to school.

We were all excited!
Cupcakes were so much better
than the stewed apples,
floppy canned peaches,
and runny chocolate pudding
that they served in the school cafeteria.

But, our smiles wilted immediately
when Susan announced that they were
carrot cupcakes.
Who in their right mind would
make those sugary little delights
with stupid carrots?

Well, I think all of us third graders
learned a lesson that day.
We discovered that we liked
carrot cupcakes and
that we should always try new things.

I still blame Susan
for my intense love of carrot cake.
It's all her fault that I drool
over the snacks at the
convenience store
and am drawn into bakeries
like a zombie after flesh.

(I hate you, Susan.
Just thought I'd let you know).

It's just a good thing that I
don't live close to Lyndsey.
I'm afraid she might get tired
of me begging to lick the beaters,
sample the product,
or rummaging through the garbage
for the experiments gone wrong.

But no matter how you celebrate,
please do so in moderation,
but with a admiration for those
cute little cakes
that made third grade
my favorite year of all!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cycle Of Life

It is hard to believe that
August is half over.
I lay awake last night
and wondered to myself
where the days had gone.
Surely I did not waste them!

Then I got to thinking
about how time -
and the seasons-
are like a big mansion.

In Spring,
I was at the top floor.

I was high on the prospect
of new beginnings
and fresh promises-
I grasped the clarity and excitement
of each new morning.
I could look out
and see
in all directions
and everything was beautiful.

By Summer
I had moved to the next floor
where the windows
let in sunshine and the heat of the day.
I got lazy and complacent.
My daily view became
familiar and routine
to the point that
I no longer paid much attention
to how fast time was passing.

Autumn comes now
and I'm on the ground floor.
The windows are dirty
and the scenery a bit obscure.
I pull the drapes
and gather sweaters
and spend my days
planning rich stews
and short evenings.

There is a large door
that leads outside,
but most times I'm quite
comfortable just to stay inside.

Winter will follow
and push me to the basement
where there is no vision
and no warmth-
where things rot and mildew
and grow darker.

Then, I will wait.

When Spring comes,
I'll climb the stairs
to the top floor-
take a deep breath
of new, sweet air-
start another year.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Avon Calling!

When I was growing up,
there weren't iPod's and
video games and
cool boy-bands to follow.

Basically, we just had
to stretch our imaginations
to keep us occupied
and out of trouble.

My sister Linda and I
loved to play Barbies-
but when your doll
is looking a bit bald-
when her wardrobe inventory
is limited to a bathing suit
and a ball gown-
and when she's suddenly handicapped
due to a stupid brother
ripping off an arm-
the fun runs out quickly.

Tag was great till
we got tired of running.
Hide and Seek was okay
till we ran out of hiding places.
"School" or "House"
was too much reality for us.
And television was limited
to black and white
baseball games
and "I've Got a Secret".

Luckily, there was someone
who stepped into our lives one day
and brought us great joy.

It was the Avon Lady.

I can't remember her name,
but I do remember her
sitting on the edge of the
couch cushion in her dress-
smelling like flowers-
and pulling all sorts of
colorful tubes and bottles
from her big blue bag.

Looking back,
I don't know why she came.

Mom wasn't one to wear makeup-
the bubble bath was too expensive-
and perfume was a luxury.

I think now that maybe it was
simply a link to the outside world-
an adult female that Mom could talk to -
and a glamorous palette of color
that she could dream about.

We watched intently as the
Avon Lady gave out samples-
and I'm sure we were probably
hanging over the entire conversation
like two vultures over road kill.

That's when the Avon Lady
went to the car
and brought back her old blue bag.
It was lined with little perfume pads
and tiny lipsticks
and thumb-sized samples of lotions.
There were Avon booklets
and an old compact
and things that made
Linda and I dizzy with excitement.

She wanted us to have it, she said.


Our days were then filled with
playing Avon Lady.

The only thing that could have
made it better was if we had
a doorbell.
But, we could say "ding dong"
pretty durn good after a few
rounds of play.

I'm sure we looked a sight
after painting ourselves up
with our new cosmetics!

But we were happy-
and surely Mom was happy
that we gave her some free time.

I don't know what ever happened
to that old blue bag.
I suppose, just like our dolls,
we outgrew it and went on
the other things.

The Avon Lady probably never knew
what an impact she had on our lives.

But her kindness and unselfish gift
was a memory we treasured-
long after the colors faded
and the perfume drifted away.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Every Picture Tells A Story

I had never heard the term
"vernacular photography"
until I picked up
a magazine article this week.

Vernacular photography
refers to the creation of
photographs by amateur
or unknown photographers
who take pictures of every day life
and common subjects.

It is sad that many of these include
family photos that have been discarded.

Most end up in albums and boxes
that end up at garage sales
or flea markets
and then become images
of unknown people, places, and

Once unearthed,
it's up to the new owners to
supply a story behind the pictures.

John and Teenah Foster of St. Louis
have spent several years
searching flea markets, estate sales,
basements and attics
for what they consider vernacular art.

"Ninety-nine percent of what we find
is kind of boring, " states John,
"But once in awhile we get lucky
and stumble onto greatness.
That's what keeps us searching
through all those dusty boxes."

They are writing a book titled
"Accidental Mysteries"
that showcase their finds.

It is strange to think that
something as simple as a photograph
can communicate emotions
long after it has been taken.

Another collector-
(or "savior") of old photos-
Deanna Dahlsad-
says that:

"We often do not think of ourselves as ‘collecting’; rather, we are rescuing these ‘discards’ from “uncaring hands”.

We not only claim what others forfeit; we adopt. These people we don’t know become our brethren, our clan; they are our kindred, if only in spirit. But we have seen them now, and these people become ‘ours’. Their faces are known, if their fates are not."

I have a black and white photograph
of a Victorian bride
hanging in my bedroom.
I bought it at Goodwill for $2.
The frame is ornate
and it is developed on platinum paper.

I don't know this woman,
but I do know that she had to be
very happy at the moment that
the picture was snapped.
I try to imagine the wedding party
and what the groom looked like
and if her relatives
wonder where the photograph went to.

I adopted it.
But I'd love to be able
to return it to the family-
if only there was some
way to determine who they are.

take special care of your photos.
Label them,
preserve them-
write their story.
And don't carelessly discard them.

I hope mine are never pulled from a
dumpster somewhere.

But if they are,
I hope some caring person adopts them
and tells wonderful, colorful,
fanciful stories
about who I was.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Making The Best Of a Bad Situation

I read today that Cuba
is running short on toilet paper.

Don't you just hate when that happens?

There is nothing worse than
sitting down for a long, restful
intestinal elimination-
(politically correct for "a big crap".),
and find
all that's hanging on the holder
is a flimsy cardboard tube.

It's okay if you're home alone.
You just hike your pants up far enough
to waddle to the closet
or stagger down the hallway
to fetch the Charmin.

But when the house is full of guests,
the only solution is to sit for awhile
and contemplate your situation.

Should you open the door and yell
"Toilet paper!"?

Hope someone will get worried and
finally come check on you?

Plot how you are going to get revenge
on the person who used the last
two-ply cottony-soft sheet?

Just pull 'er up
and deal with the stripes later?

Living a few miles in the country
has always been a challenge
when you run out of something.

Out of ketchup?
Use bbq sauce.

No sugar?
There's honey.

Beer gone?
Enjoy some wine tonight.

No toilet paper?

Well, I have personally
chosen a few alternatives
when the family is in a pinch.
My all time favorite is
paper towels.

I know that Mr. Bounty
didn't quite have that
kind of "quicker picker upper" in mind,
but, hey- it works.
Just make sure not to clog the stool
with those super absorbent
cloth-like towels.

A lot like toilet tissue
as far as weight and texture.
But don't make the same mistake I did
and accidentally use the
tissues that are infused
with Vicks Vapor Rub.

Another thrifty substitute
is coffee filters.
Cheap, eco-friendly
and easily disposable.
They can be a little rough,
but hands down better than
the local gas station's toilet paper.
(Which I suspect
once gave me splinters.)

If all else fails,
I have told my children
just to soak that cardboard tube
in water for awhile
and it should become pliable enough
to get the job done.

My kids hate me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekend Projects- Lifetime Memories

My weekend started out wonderfully.

All the kids and grandkids
were out of town on road trips,
so my husband and I were
actually alone for a change.

So, we took advantage of the situation
and did what every passionate couple does
on a free weekend-

We cleaned out the garage!!!!

The Bug Guys are coming to spray
this morning, so we prepared
by moving everything away from
the garage floor foundation.

Now, this wasn't some small task
like sweeping or moving shovels
or organizing screwdrivers.
This was an all out removal
of accumulated masses of
unneeded and unattractive things
that magically appeared somehow-
and no one wanted to take the blame.

Ice cream freezers, croquet sets,
party lights, canning jars,
paint cans, building supplies, tools,
cords, nails, brushes, rags,
and an occasional giant spider.

We plugged in the fan-
and the stereo-
and drank our way through
a case of beer-
and somehow we managed to
whip it all into shape-
at least till the Bug Guys leave.

But the whole incident reminded me
of several years ago
when we cleaned out the garage
at our first house.

We were just renting
and the landlords had left a garage
still full of their own mysterious junk.

It was a small block building
with a rusted tin roof
and a side door
that never shut right-
and all kinds of creepy things
lining the corners.

It was one of those weekends
that my husband thought would
be the perfect time
to clean out the mess.

You know-
a hundred degrees and
a hundred percent humidity-
no lunch breaks,
no great music,
and limited refreshments.

I have written before
about our chickens dying,
but apparently there were
a few renegade hens
that had roosted in
our dark garage
at some point-
unbeknown to us.

My husband and I were
sweating profusely,
attempting to move an
old coal stove
when we saw "it".

"It" was a gigantic pyramid
of chicken eggs
stacked in the corner.

I think time stopped.
We stared at the three foot
tall egg sculpture in awe
and disbelief.
We didn't move or say a word.

Then I started laughing hysterically.

Too bad my husband didn't
find it so funny.

"Okay- start hauling them 'outa here
and throw them over the back fence
into the bean field!" he growled-
the heat evidently overwhelming
his usually sweet demeanor.

I found an old bucket
and began filling it
with the fragile eggs-
ready to eradicate
the last memories of our
invisible egg-popping chickens.


The first egg exploded
with a green cloud of putrid,
vomit-inducing stench
that put my gag reflex into overtime.

"Pow! Pow! Pow!"

One after another,
the thin shelled, aged eggs
cracked like puke bombs
as I hurled them over the fence.

I was caught up in a fog
of rotting sulfur
and splattered with
a coating of poop-green yolk
that gelled on my skin
in the hot summer sun.


The garage got cleaned out that day
and I was permanently scarred for life.

I still have problems eating eggs today.

And I never laugh first.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Celebrate Simplicity!

Since I don't usually post on weekends,
I couldn't let Saturday go by
without letting you know that it is
officially Garage Sale Day.

To me, that ranks right up there
with Cheesecake Day and Nap Day.

Like I've said before,
I have practically furnished my house
with yard sale finds.
Not because I had to-
but because I wanted to.

I always like the thrill of
finding the weird, unusual,
quirky, or antique.
But I also love shiny
and glittery
and over-the-top items.
Mixed together-
they just somehow
reflect my inner personality.

My mom was a giant yard sale fan.
She paved the way for my sisters and I-
and taught us the art of bargaining,
and imagining the possibilities
of some old dusty picture frame
or forsaken doll.

My sisters and I try to spend
at least two weekends together a year
just going to garage sales.
By now we have perfected our radar
and can usually tell with a simple glance
if it is just a drive-by (D.B.)-
or a Jump-Out-and Grab. (J.O.G.).

We like the J.O.G.'s.
But, we do get a lot of D.B.'s.
Yet, in the end, it's worth the look.

What is really the best part of
garage sales is that
we share some wonderful time together.
We are uninhibited,
and adventurous.
We eat till it ouches us,
laugh till we pee our pants,
and reminisce till the tears
start to flow.

And after we've come back home
and placed all our yard sale
treasures in their special places,
they become constant reminders
of our weekends.
Of stupid jokes
and ugly outfits
and snoring
and dying hair
and tall cool drinks
and dusty feet
and tired backs
and sudden stops
and sign language
and cool junk.

What more could a woman want?

So, if you aren't a garage sale person,
at least try it for one day.
Tomorrow is your chance to take
advantage of a special holiday.

You may not unearth a hidden
or find the matching gravy bowl
to your grandma's china-
but you just might find
that the morning air is sweet,
a dollar buys a lot,
and the simple things in life
are the very best things.

Happy Garage Sale Day, Mom!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Domestic Intervention

I wrote the following a while back and posted it to my family blog.
Thought I'd share it today since I'm trying to clean closets and
it's hard to do with a computer mouse in one hand and a broom
in the other!

It had been a while since I had visited my sister Tina.
Usually we had an unwritten rule that we would
call first before just dropping in without warning.
But last week I simply felt propelled to
stop by her house and catch up on
the latest family news and gossip.

I couldn't have picked a better time.
She desperately needed my help.
What I found when I walked into
the front door was totally shocking.
I rubbed my eyes and took a deep breath.
I couldn't believe it.

“What on earth are you doing ?”
I gasped in almost a whisper.

“Ironing,” she smiled,
looking at me as though
nothing was wrong.

I almost fainted.
Speechless, I watched her
press and slide the hot iron
over a variety of clothing,
lining up her white shirts
and blouses like stiff white soldiers,
steaming wrinkled dress pants
into pairs of pure perfection.

“How long has this been going on ?”
I asked, almost embarrassed.

She finally parked the iron upright
and looked at me, her pitiful hands
molded gracefully into the shape
of the Sunbeam Express Glide.

Still she pretended nothing was wrong
and asked me what I was talking about.

“The ironing, Tina. My gosh, I had no idea!
Nobody irons anymore.”
And then I added,
“It's a cry for help.”

“But what about the wrinkles ?” she blushed.

“You throw the whole mess into the dryer
for five or ten minutes, give 'em a quick shake,
and you're good to go.
Or buy some of that new wrinkle spray.
It works wonders,” I explained.

She continued to ignore the fact
that she had a problem.
But I could see it clearly.
It was definitely an ironing addiction.
Thank God I arrived when I did.

She picked up the iron once again
and started steaming and starching,
obviously trying to avoid the truth.
She began smiling and talking
about some movie she just saw
till finally I just couldn't take it any more.

“Stop it! Stop it!” I cried,
pulling her into tight hug under my chin.
“I'm here for you now
and I will make sure you get help.
We'll make certain that this never happens again.”

I was in tears as I pulled her aside.
I slapped the huge ironing board off its feet
and into the dumpster and carried
the warm iron to the back porch,
sailing it across the yard with a big lasso of its cord.

Seriously. This is for best.
You will thank me someday,” I assured her,
then immediately demanded that she
rid the house of spray starch,
clothes pins,
garment covers
and trouser guards.

“It's the only way, “ I whispered,
petting her head as I held her tightly
and rocked her ever so gently.

It was emotionally draining
to see my little sister have to suffer
the withdrawal, but a week later
she seemed to be doing better.

Or at least I thought so
until I made another surprise visit.

There was no trace of
the ironing paraphernalia,
but she was sitting cross-legged
on the floor in front of a
spread out newspaper
with five pair of shoes lined up before her.

“Oh, sweetie, what are you doing now?” I wept.

“Polishing shoes,”
she smiled up at me innocently...

And she never even realized
I was getting ready to save her life again.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Handyman Can

A few weeks ago
I wrote about the
mess my bathroom was in
because of a little
remodeling project
that was taking place.

I know that those of you
who have never had to
live with the chaos of
mass destruction
have no idea
what greeted me for
days and days-
every time
I walked into the bathroom.

It started here:

Progressed to here:

And it kept evolving:

I realized that sometimes
I do take for granted
the fact that
my husband is very handy
at almost every project
that presents itself.

No need to ever call a
carpenter or plumber
or electrician.

Lay tile?
Fix a leaky faucet?
Build a doghouse?

My handyman can!

But one thing you've
got to realize is that
I am one darn good gopher!

I bet I made 2,198 trips to
the garage,
762 to town,
1500 to the fridge for beer,
sweat 16 tons of perspiration,
broke two nails,
resorted to mid-afternoon
margarita breaks,
and watched over
my handyman's
shoulder throughout
the entire project.

Group effort!
Team work!
That's our motto!

And now,
I'm finally reaping the rewards.

At last......

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Interview With Tarzan

Tomorrow is National Underwear Day.

Everyone is pretty excited about it-
except Tarzan.

I did a little interview with him this morning,
just to get his take on this important holiday.


We are seated in a grass nest-
far above the jungle floor-
the monkey and bird sounds
are deafening,
but I manage to have a conversation
with Mr. Tarzan-
whom many consider "the King".

Q. It's National Underwear Day.
Do you feel that it may finally be time
to give up your loincloth?
In fact, many civilized people might consider
your style a bit unsanitary.

A." Listen, Sweetie- I'll have you know that
I changed my loincloth at least
three times today.
Once after my daily swim
the alligator infested river-

A second time for my dinner date,

and a few hours ago
that lion came up behind me

and scared the crap out of me!"

Q. Many historians have credited you
as the designer of the first pair of underwear.
Your thoughts?

A. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. If it hadn't been for the giant leeches, monstrous mosquitoes, and a particular man-eating plant- I might still be sitting here completely naked. Like they say- necessity is the mother of invention and jungle rot isn't something that antifungal cream will soothe.

Q. There are so many options out there
for today's man.
Would you ever consider boxers, briefs,
or thongs?

A. Well, Missy- as a matter of fact, I have given all those a try. I found the boxers to be a bit constricting when I sprint across massive pools of quick sand. The briefs make me look like a chimpanzee, and once, when wearing a thong- I was mistaken for a baboon in heat.

Q. What does Jane think of your
fashion choices?
And by the way-
how is your family?

A. Boy ran off and joined the Boy Scouts, and Cheetah fell in love with some gorilla thug.
And if you must know, Jane is no longer living with me here in the jungle. Once upon a time she depended on me for food, shelter and protection. But since I bought her that GPS, the Hummer, and that Visa Card for Christmas, she just doesn't need me anymore.

Q. Would you accept my invitation
to return with me to the states
and celebrate National Underwear Day
in New York City?

A. Sorry, Babe. The local cannibals have invited me to some big barbecue or something they're having later. Thought I'd check it out. Raincheck?

Q. Not likely now, but thanks.
Any last words?

A. Awwww-Eeeee-Awwwwww!!

No matter how you decide
to celebrate National Underwear Day-
at least start with a fresh pair.

Even Tarzan knows that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kind of Semi-Homemade

When it comes to kitchen duty,
I'm usually pretty good
at keeping the sink clear of dishes
and the salt and pepper shakers filled.

But as I've mentioned before,
my culinary skills do lack
I like to think of myself
as a eccentric Sandra Lee-
creating a hodge-podge of
semi- homemade treats
that no one would ever guess
aren't from scratch.

I mean, who really bakes a
cake from scratch anymore?
I figure by the time you buy
your ingredients for a single cake,
you could have purchased
at least ten boxes of
Betty Crocker cake mix.

I honestly owe my life to
those many boxes in my cupboard
with the big red spoon on them.
They've been a life saver
when cookies had to be baked
for a school event,
company was coming suddenly,
or that sweet tooth flared up at midnight
and I couldn't possibly drive
all the way to Dunkin'Donuts.

I think us gals tend to forget
how easy General Mills
has made our lives.

But just who is Betty Crocker?

Well, according to history,
Betty didn't really exist.
It was simply a name made up
by the flour producer
to answer baking questions
posed by women back in 1921.
They thought it would give
the response a more personalized tone.

So they combined the name "Crocker"
from a company director-
and "Betty" because it was
considered cherry and friendly.
Thus, Betty Crocker was born. up, rather.

Eventually, an artist stepped in
and created a vision of what
they thought women might
imagine her looking like.

Then advertisers did
their magic.

After all these years,
Betty is still invited to our kitchens
without a single thought.

You can't say the same for
Wolfgang Puck,
Rachael Ray, or Paula Deen.
To me, their kind of cooking
is too detailed and laborious.

But with Betty,
if you've got eggs and oil-
you've got a party!

And the greatest thing about it
is that when my husband asks
who helped me
bake that delicious
German Chocolate cake-
I don't have to lie to him.

Since, in theory, Betty Crocker
didn't really exist-
I can say without a smidgen of guilt-

Would you like to lick the spoon?"