Tuesday, May 31, 2011

58,271

Today's post was written by my brother, Jim.  He sent me this via email and told me if I was having writer's block, I was welcome to use it.  I remember the Vietnam draft clearly and my mom clutching a piece of paper with all my brother's birthdays and their draft number next to it.  A low number would certainly mean they could leave us, and though my mom tried to act like it was no big deal, you could feel the fear.   You should also know that the need to write seems to be a family trait and most importantly, this isn't the first time a brother has bailed me out.  Gracias Friar Jim............


That is the number of United States armed forces personnel listed on “the wall” of the Vietnam Memorial. That is a football stadium of people, five small towns, or twenty high schools worth of human lives lost in this conflict.
            
The moving wall memorial came to our town this weekend and was erected at our local American Legion.  Mom and I were at the arrival on Thursday morning in weather more fit for the end of March (cold, windy, damp and overcast) but as I watched the fire trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles escort the wall I couldn’t help but think that this is nothing compared to what they went through.  We stayed for a while and watched as the parts were unloaded and prepared for erection; not one person complained about the conditions.
           
I know one person whose name is on the wall, Robert George Carr, the older brother of a grade school classmate.  I still remember the headlines of the local newspaper on the day they published his death.  I checked the wall website and found out he was in Vietnam for five weeks when he was killed, he was only 19 years old.  I looked around at more names and saddened to find out most were 19 to 22 years old when they died, old enough to give their lives for their country but not old enough to have a drink in their home state.
          
Having lived through that era as a teenager I saw how the war veterans were treated and realize now that it was probably worse than what they had to go through in some rice paddy half a world away.  Our country will always lose young men and women to war; I just hope we never have to erect another wall to remind ourselves of this fact, point to a name and say, “I knew that person…”

Extreme Sewing

Unless you're a crafter you might not know that injuries frequently happen while working on a project.  I've been cut, stuck with pins, burnt hundreds of times by a glue gun, stapled my fingers and nearly passed out from paint fumes.  One time I was shaking a can of spray paint and hit my knee so hard that I fell over in the driveway and laid there making little animal sounds.  By the time Big Daddy came along, all I could say was, "Un gaa, gaa, gaa....." or something like that while pointing to my knee.

Today I was making pillows.  I needed the iron but decided to skip the ironing board because I was too lazy to put it up. I ironed on the living room floor.  Doesn't everybody?  While trying to get a fold mark out of the fabric, I cranked up the temperature and hit the steam.  Thing is, I had my legs spread out with the fabric between 'em and dang near steamed my vajayjay.  Another few seconds and I'd have had to call the fire department to put out my crotch.

It was a close call and I could have been injured, injured bad. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cat Fight


This would be our cat.  Up in a tree.  Hiding from the big, black cat that ruled the hood until Beemer came on the scene and decided he wanted to hang out in his own yard.  Well, he can but he has to do it in a tree.

BD and I had just finished dinner on the patio when there was one hell of a cat fight in the backyard.  BD sprang up to investigate.  I sprang up because I noticed my pot of petunias needed some water and I had an empty glass after finishing off a refreshing gin and tonic.  There I was at the spigot when a big, black cat comes running by.  I flung my glass of water at him which scared the bejeezus out of him and he hid behind the grill so I refilled and did it again.  Oh Lordy, he was FREAKING OUT and took off right back into our yard again when BD gave chase and then noticed something........

The big black cat was not the neighborhood menace, but our next-door neighbor's cat.  Dora the Explorer.  Sweet Dora.  Wouldn't hurt a flea Dora.  No front claws Dora.  Who let the Ginger into the hood and why is that crazy bitch dousing me with water Dora.

Oh, geez, we felt like complete morons.  Dora got the hell out of Dodge and probably had a nervous breakdown behind the wood pile.  We hidey-hoed the neighbors a little while later, commented on the lovely nite and didn't let on that we waterboarded their cat.  We're invited over for dinner in a few days.  Steak dinner.  Maybe some sangria.  If Dora gets a look-see at us coming in the front door, it's gonna get real awkward, real fast.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another Will

My Boy Child is named Will.  He was named after my father who died three weeks before his birth.  It is a name that suits him to a T, and over the years I've met many boys named Will.  I tend to instantly like them, but I'm prejudiced when it comes to that name.

On Sunday, we drove Will and his friend to the airport for three weeks in London for a summer class to study architecture.  On the way there, my husband pointed out the thunderheads and said somebody was going to get a hell of a storm.

That night, we learned the storm we saw brewing in the afternoon unleashed its fury on Joplin, Missouri which is about two hours from here.  Joplin High School was having their graduation ceremony and another boy named Will and his dad were headed home.  The rest of the family left before them and when they were a mile from home, the dad called to say they could see the tornado and to keep the garage door open so they could run for cover in the house as soon as they arrived.

They never made it to the garage and the dad is in the hospital.  Will was ripped from the car (which happened to be a Hummer), seatbelt and all through the sun roof.  He has not been seen since and his aunts are wandering around showing his picture to everyone, with hopes that he's out there somewhere and hasn't been able to call his family.

The day they celebrated his graduation from high school and the future that lay before him was the last time he was seen, and I don't know what a family is to do when they can't find their Will.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mr. G.

When you live in Mayberry, you get to know most of its citizens.   One of our more famous is the Mr. Goodcents man.  Mr. G. did not own a car and every day when I took #1 child and then #2 child to the high school, we'd see him walking to work in the early hours, presumably to start baking bread.  All sorts of weather, nearly every day and usually in shorts.

His demeanor always seemed content, like walking to a sandwich shop every day was about as good as it gets in life.  I wondered why he didn't own a car, why making turkey sandwiches was all he ever seemed to want to do and thanked God I had kids with ambition and goals in life.

When the kids would come home for breaks during college, they'd meet a friend who shared their love of Mr. G. and go to the shop for lunch.  They'd happily report back to me that he was there, like they'd spotted a celebrity who also happened to not be a jerk.   And then last summer Mr. G. was gone.  Moved on without even a goodbye.

Mr. Goodcents real name was Aaron.  He was from Vermont.  His mama had cancer and he gave up the life he made here to move back home to take care of her.  He is fondly remembered and if you mention him, people will say that they miss seeing him around town.  It was his absence that made me realize that during all those years of watching him, he had the highest of goals.  Living a simple life, being kind, feeding the hungry and tending the sick.  In the big picture that really matters, Aaron happened to be a very successful man and wouldn't we all be proud to have a kid turn out like him?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Patio Thrift Built

This is the patio we put in last summer.  The space was awkward and when you mowed it, you'd be engulfed in a cloud of dust since no more than ten blades of grass grew there.  I looked at that space forevah and said to Big Daddy. "That's gotta go."

A friend was moving and offered us a huge stack of pavers if we were interested.  Say no more.  If it weren't midnight when she told us, we'd have gone right then and there to load 'em up.  The table was free from my next-door neighbor.  The iron chairs were $5.00 each at an estate sale in the dead of winter (when nobody but an idiot would venture outside to have a look) and can I tell you how many times somebody has offered to buy them from me?  The tub is from a yard sale and is now a koi pond.  I bought the lounger from a guy who told me his uncle used to farm his fields then sit in it, have a glass of lemonade and take a nap when he was done.  The lightening rod was bought at a flea market and BD nearly killed the deal I was making when he started cracking on Glen Beck right there at the booth.  I gave the hubs the death stare, poured the charm on and waved cash under Mr. Conservative Dealer's nose and money's money even if the buyer is some hippie, liberal, atheist commie.

Now we sit out there all the time like we're at some French cafe watching the world go by and I tell the kids at least once a week that we hit the jackpot on funding this project.  All right all ready, they say and roll their eyes because they know that besides loving a good deal, I crazy love the stuff we live with to have a good story.

Martha Martha Martha

I was perusing my favorite blogs and got the craptacular idea to make some candles after seeing a photo from Martha Stewart.  Shell candles.  Melt some wax, pour them into seashells, stick a wick in there and voila.......a little seashore ambiance.  Just what we need here in Kansas when we're surrounded by dirt, dirt and some dirt.

Nancy is the proud owner of hundreds of shells so I went to her house to check them out.  We chatted about THE BIG SALE COMING JUNE 4TH (shameless shouted plug) while picking out shells.  I left with a nice stash and got to work.  It was warm and muggy out, but I hovered over the stove watching my wax melt because it happens to be highly flammable and I didn't need to burn down da howse.  Anyhoodle, Martha says to put your shells in a baking dish filled with sand as to keep them from tipping.  Martha thinks of everything.  Oh me, oh my, they were so cute until Boy Child came sniffing around the crap project and said, "How are you going to keep the wax from running out the sides when you start to burn it?"  Martha already thought of that.  Doesn't she always?  You glue small shells to the bottom like little feet to level your shell.  They no sticky, Martha.

There I was massaging another cluster when Boy Child says, "Maybe you should put them in something."  Oh, he's so smart right out of year two of university.  Off he went and I got a vase to try out my new grand plan to float the candles.  I filled the vase with water, dropped my little shell of wax into it and it sank right to the bottom.  Me, not so smart.  Me need more university

Final Assessment of the Hot Mess of a Bad Idea:  Shells weren't big enough.  Didn't have underlings like Martha has to stand over a hot stove on a hot night.  Spent $10.00 at the Hob Lob and God knows I hate giving those cranky people any of my money.  Realized Hob Lob employees are cranky due to being around crafts all day.  Had a beer.  Called it a night.  Shells, sand and wax all over the counter mocking me.  Mocking me real bad.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Job Hunting On Craigslist

 If I were only younger, I could have such a bright future..........

 Girls age 18-28 Needed for a Promotional Event

The job can pay up to $100-$500 a day, and we guarantee at least $50
The event will be an all day event, 8 AM to 6 PM
You are promoting a Natural Male Enhancement Product
Your job is to stand at our booth, look pretty, flirt with men, and sell our product
You make money for each pill you sell.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Curb Trunk

When you shop on the curb you never know for sure if your vision is going to come to fruition, but with a little cleaning and waxing, goodness can make an appearance.  Big sale June 4th?  Ummmm......this hunka, hunka burnin love will not be in it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Luck of the Irish

Every morning I walk the dog.  Two different dogs, same route, 18 years.  Over that time, I've met a few people along the way.   

Around the corner from my street is a retired plumber who raised eight kids in a cape cod that was a better fit for a family of four.  With the weather being warmer, he's out a bit more and so we often visit  before we both move on to the tasks of the day.  Last year I found out he has early Alzheimer's.  I wouldn't have known that then, but this year when he drew a blank right in the middle of a conversation, he told me that he sometimes has trouble finding the right words.  He no longer drives a car and gets around the neighborhood on his bike, which has made him fit everywhere but in his mind.

The other day he was outside puttering with his lawnmower.  We talked for a few minutes and then he looked at me and said, "You and me, we've got the luck of the Irish don't we?"  Oh yes we do, kind man.  I told him I'd let him get back to work, but before I left he said, "Isn't this a beautiful day?  This is the day the Lord has made."  True on both accounts.

This dog of mine and I walked the last block home, and on that lovely spring morning, the wind was at our back, the sun shone warm upon our face and I said a prayer for the friend who always rises to meet me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Is What It Would Look Like



Fancy Nancy and I always daydream about the shop we'll have one day.  It will be full of vintage goodness that we've uncovered, cleaned up and made fresh.  It will smell lovely when you walk in, there will be music playing and you'll be able to help yourself to a cup of coffee while you spend a few stolen moments away from the business of life.

It will look like this from the street and if it ever comes to be, I think I will have died and gone to heaven.

Spring Goodness

When you talk nice to them, they talk nice back..........

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Christmas in May

With Big Daddy out of town and large item pickup going on in the hood, I enlisted Boy Child to help me with some roadside shopping.  I live for this weekend and out of three children, he's the only one who would be caught dead picking up stuff from the curb.  Lucky for me, his semester was over this week and since he's moving into an apartment in August, I had my own little Jethro to heft our goods into the car.

Large item pickup is THE biggest holiday in town.  It is a chance to clean crap out of your garage and basement and then fill it again with other people's cooler crap.  We struck out days ahead of time, cruising curbs.  Our early acquisitions included a rusty wagon that made me want to cry when I saw it cast away on the street, a mid-century cabinet for BC's new apartment, a stash of frames, a plant stand and some wood boxes. 

By Friday afternoon, everything had ramped up and the curbs starting filling up.  My neighbor directed BC to 69th St. for chairs and me to 70th St. for fencing.  A friend called to say her neighbor just put stuff out and I needed to get to 64th St. ASAP for the good stuff.  Another neighbor called to say there was a door with my name on it on 72nd St.  Traffic was crazy here in Mayberry with scavengers hunting for retro/vintage stuff, metal and building materials.  Between perusing the curb, watching for parked cars and avoiding pickups, it got a little dangerous.

All afternoon I kept an eye on my neighbor's curb because last year was the jackpot.  Sure enough, out it came and out I went.  I got a tour of the junk piled at the curb then a tour of the house and came home with an old trunk that they hadn't even bothered to empty of an old wool blanket, photos and books.

It was a good haul and not to brag, but somebody must have been a good girl this year because Santa delivered.  Big time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Technical Difficulties

For the last two days, blogger has been shut down, so even though you could read the blog, I couldn't access it to post anything, which is o.k. because I didn't have anything to write.  However, after a day of digging through trash and thinking, thinking, thinking, next week looks to have a couple of good stories.

Enjoy the weekend.  It's time for Happy Hour in KC.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Tide Has Turned

After about the 10th night of sleeping like CRAP, I told Big Daddy that I was a mess - a physical, emotional, flailing, sleep-deprived, basket case.  No plans, no goals, no energy, no nothing.  Then I checked my email.

The Lucky Monkey Deal of the Day happened to be 50% off hair removal.  Sometimes, fortune falls into your lap for no reason at all and before you know it, your mood and upper lip start looking better.  Much better.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Comma

My first writing class in high school was with Mrs. Watts.  When she read about eating a cold piece of watermelon on a hot summer day, I said to myself hmmmm.....I want me some of that creative writing.  I loved her liked worshiped the ground she walked on.  She was fun, she was inspiring, she was the best class I had during those four years.

Maybe she taught this and I don't remember or maybe I'm chronically stupid, but oh these commas make me craaaaaaaazy as in the loco.  I add them, read it over, delete them, put them back in.  I read my stuff out loud.  Did I pause?  Pause means comma, right?  It could also mean that I just remembered it's 10:00 and I haven't checked Garnet Hill's Sale of the Day yet.  Big pause, quit writing, check out sale.  Sometimes, I read the paper and say hmmmmm........I should put my commas there like they do.  And for awhile I do.  Then I forget, which happens when you make shit up as you go.  I'm perplexed. 

Perplexed?  Maybe I don't need commas, after all.  Maybe I'm gonna get by on confidence, commitment and kick-ass vocab.

Pretty

Mallie Bee has introduced me to poetry slams.  They're interesting messages, often pretty enraging and I'm always blown away by the delivery.  I came across this one and she certainly nails our obsession with the outer layer.........

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Don't Even Think About It

Suppose you have a skin ailment that is annoying and after two trips to the doctor, two different prescription ointments and many home remedies, you still have an itchy patch on your shin that Will. Not. Go. Away.  Suppose summer is coming, you're getting pissed and you decide to do some Dr. Googling and figure this out once and for all.  Suppose you come up with a variety of possible diagnosis but aren't quite sure.

Suppose you hit images.

You will see a screen filled with oozing, pus-filled, bumpy, red, scaly skin that will cause you to jump out of your chair and knock your coffee over.  Then you will throw up a little lot in your mouth.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mom

I love my mom for many things.  She is calm and cheerful, loves wine before dinner and Bailey's before bed.   At eighty three years old, she never tells you how she's feeling, how her bowels are performing or what her cholesterol is.  She once told a joke at the dinner table and laughed until she cried about a guy whose nuts were too high.  The look on my dad's face was priceless, seeing as how he was spending a lot of money on Catholic school so his kids wouldn't be exposed to talk of nuts. 

As a first grader, I was more than a little slow when it came to reading.  It was suggested that I repeat the 1st grade, but with a sister right behind me, my mom would have none of that.  I wasn't aware of that at the time, but I did figure out that staying under the the radar was a good way to get through the school day.  The summer before 4th grade, my mom took me to the local library and enrolled me in the Vacation Reading Program.  Each time you read a book, the librarian would put a point next to your name for all to see.  For someone who couldn't master reading, it seemed like a horrible idea until the day I discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Big Woods and Plum Creek.

Back in those days, we only had one car that my dad took to work every day, so my mom was home all day taking care of kids.  Six kids.  I am sure there were a hundred other places she would have liked to have gone once my dad got home, but instead she took me to the library and pushed me over my reading hurdles.

Now I love words, think long and hard about the way I use them and write every day.  That I owe to my mom, who found a way for me to spend that summer on a little house on the prairie while just a stone's throw from Chicago.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Try Try Again

I'm probably one of the last woman in the country to read The Help.  I  never got around to it until I read an article about the author, Kathryn Stockett.  It took her a year and a half to write the first version.  Following that was five more years of writing and 60 rejections.  #61 was the charm, more than two millions copies have been sold and the movie is coming out this summer.

At my writers group, we often discuss what the secret is to getting published.  When I wrote an essay on gardening, I sent it to a free, local magazine and didn't care if I'd make any money off of it as long as it had an audience.  They loved it and if I cut it in half they might consider it.   Half?  Might?  I was defeated.  I edited, changed and deleted some things, but not half of it and of all the things I've written, that one is still one of my favorites. 

This morning I woke up at 3:00 and tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't stop thinking about those black maids in Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights movement and the skinny, white girl who dared to write their stories.  Before the birds even thought about chirping, I got up and opened the book that sixty other editors thought would never sell by a writer who refused to give up on her baby.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Double Dream Hands

We've got a family wedding this summer.  I need to start practicing my dance moves now.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mercy

We were in bed when Mallie Bee came in and told us the breaking news that Osama Bin Laden was dead.  We turned the t.v. on and stayed up until President Obama had finished speaking.  This morning we watched more coverage, including impromptu gatherings across the country in celebration.

It is unsettling for me to witness cheering for someone's death, even for the most evil among us.  I don't know if that makes me a bleeding heart liberal or crazy, but like each of us, this man was born into a family that had the highest of hopes for him.  Instead, his path would break their hearts in three thousand places and surely they must have wondered when they heard the news, if his God would show him any mercy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Toast

About ten years ago, Big Daddy and I started hosting an Easter dinner for those of us who have no family in town to spend the holidays with.  Around year three, BD decided to relax with a glass (or many) of wine once the ham was in the oven.  When the ham was done, the guests had arrived and BD was carving, I told him that he should make some sort of toast before we ate.  I should have given him more notice to gather his thoughts, but until that moment it hadn't occurred to me either.

We gathered around the tables, BD announced that he'd like to make a toast and everyone picked up their glasses.  And, geez Louise, did he start toasting.  There would be a long pause, we'd all start to lower our glass thinking it was ending and he'd start right back up.  I'm giving him the what the Frank look let's end this thing before Memorial Day, but he's not making any eye contact whatsoever.  Finally, he says, "Hey this reminds me of a joke.  Do you know why birds fly upside down over Kansas?  Cuz it's not worth a shit."  Hardy, har, har.  That's when it dawns on me that he's three sheets to the wind and working a stand-up routine so I jump in and take control of the situation.  Cheers, Happy Easter, God bless us everyone and BD sit your ass down and eat some carbs to soak up that red wine you've been knocking back. 

Since then, BD has redeemed himself and every year delivers a lovely, little speech that he has prepared for the occasion.  Now that many Easters have come and gone, the rest of us fondly look back at the Year of the Toasted as well as the start and end of a career in show biz...........Thank you, thank you very much.  I'll be appearing all next week at the Holiday Inn located in beautiful downtown Decatur.   You've been a great audience and hey, don't forget to tip your waitresses.