Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Odds and Ends

Need a book to read?  Our book club has selected "Too Rich: The Secret Life of Doris Duke" for our January meeting. I am reading it now, since I might be unable to read it over the next 2 months. Talk about a surprise!! Doris may have been the richest girl in the world, but she was the raunchiest too, and she had many partners! Since we live so close to Duke University, the ties of the Duke Family to that institution are of interest, and Doris does not disappoint. She surprises - she amazes - and her exploits make one read and re-read the tales, just to make certain you actually read what you thought you saw. I one minute I can sympathize with poor little Doris;  her father and mother secluded her in a multi-story mansion in New York City and she had few playmates. She grew up knowing that most people would want to be her friend only to get close to her money and I can imagine what a horrible piece of knowledge that is, especially for a child, who is ill equipped to discern who has good motives. The book is fascinating; sometimes in an odd way.

The book is being read now because I will be having heart surgery sometime soon and I don't know if I will be able to or feel like reading for a while. I may have to re-read parts of it before the January meeting (assuming I will be able to attend.)

We saw the surgeon last week. He mentioned doing two different procedures and at the time I didn't challenge it, as it was a lot to take in at one time. Later, a family member questioned the need for the second procedure mentioned, as out of the five cardiologists I have seen since last April, he is the only one who has ever mentioned that he thinks I might need that done. My family member is undoubtedly correct, and now I am waiting to speak to the cardiologist to find out if I can wear a heart monitor for a week or so, to prove or disprove that I have a need for a second procedure. That family member  (who is in the medical profession) also says that the procedure mentioned is not the go-to method for curing that symptom anyway - so we have to clear that up as well. I understand the need for the caution, but I am so ready to feel better!!

Someone mentioned after my post on The Chorus Line that I had seen more in the past year than he had in his life. Actually many of the ones I mentioned go back 25 years or more. I didn't mean to give the impression that I'd see all those recently. I am blessed to have seen any of them, though, and will remain grateful, even if I never see another show.

Tonight we are going out to dinner with a group of couples from T.A.P.S  (Triangle Area Pipe Smokers). My husband was one of the founders the group many years ago. They started a tradition last year; the men who did the most to help produce their local pipe and tobacco show (and their wives) will go out to dinner each year, and part of each check is covered by the club. The venue is The Angus Barn, a local restaurant of great fame, which I have written about before. I am considering lobster tails or surf and turf, but that may change after I peruse the menu. I have plans for photos, but as you may know, I often forget to take them while in the heat of the moment, so to speak. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


was my baby's birthday. Due to an unavoidable twist of fate  (the death of her BBF's mother), she and her husband were not able to use the tickets he had bought for "A Chorus Line" at the NC Theater. I was the lucky recipient of the tickets and my youngest granddaughter and I were treated to a wonderful show, full of great singing and terrific dancing. 

I don't often get to see shows like this, although in year's past we had season tickets for a series, and we saw "The Lion King", "Annie", "Rent", "Barnum" and a few more. I've also seen "The Color Purple" and "The Drowsy Chaperone" on Broadway. Three of my grandchildren have been in theater productions; "Pippin", "The Music Man" and another that I cannot remember the name of, in Greensboro. 

I love live music, live theater and all kinds of dancing so I am considering myself very lucky to have been able to see the shows I have. I have read that A Chorus Line is one of a very few shows which has no scenery other than mirrors and no costume changes until the very last scene, and in spite of that, it held our interest. The scenery changes in "The Lion King" and in "The Color Purple" were fairly elaborate, and very interesting to see, and along with the terrific acting, singing and dancing, they made for excellent performances. 

This production of A Chorus Line is terrific and I thank my daughter and son-in-law for sharing it with me. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Another Rant.......LOL

All day long, every time I have logged onto Facebook, I have seen the name of a person  in the upper right-hand corner where birthdays are reported. He died this year.  The first time I saw his name, it gave me a bit of a jolt and after that, I just was a wee bit shaken at seeing it all day. It seems to me that after a person is deceased, his birthday announcement should be removed from Facebook. 

I expect that some of you will disagree with that opinion and I'd like to hear why you do. If you don't agree, what is your plan for your Facebook page after you die?  Have you directed someone, a family member perhaps, to delete your page?  Why? Why not? 

NOTE:  for those of you who are not on Facebook......move along.....there's nothing to see here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

And So it Begins....

Two memorial services this week......too many.

In the first home we bought here in Raleigh, our back door neighbors had a garden. We had one too, and we used to share produce:  they gave me corn, beans and beets and I supplied tomatoes, cukes and squash. It was a perfect arrangement, and while we were never bosom-buddies - in that we didn't visit in each other's homes - we all talked often over the back fence. 

Their two daughters were older than my children and the younger one used to babysit our three. They were a lovely family. Sometime in the late 70's they got a beautiful white Persian kitten for their younger daughter. They never let him in the house  (due to shedding and claw marks); he lived in the boat in their carport. He didn't like the lack of attention from the family. As the daughter entered high school and got busier with after-school activities, the cat suffered for companionship. He started coming to our yard, where our kids played often, and he would dash into our house whenever the door opened and go straight to our cat's food, which he apparently liked better than what he was given at home. I always put him back outside immediately, but after so many times of having him come frantically into the house for food, I stopped putting him out. But he would go out every evening around 5 pm and head back to his home. 

Snowball was solid white, and prone to roll in the red clay that was in the edges of our yard. I found him lying on our redwood picnic table one day, and it was hard to tell where he stopped and the table started - they were nearly the same color. I sat down and had a talk with him. I told him that he was loved and since he was, he needed to take better care of his fur. I asked him to groom himself everyday. And I could hardly believe it, but after that time, we hardly ever saw him dirty.  Like magic, he began to bathe himself often. 

He loved being in our house, where he could always have affection. Eventually he stayed with us most of the time. One day I got a call from Marie (the mom), asking me to come to the back fence. When I did, she handed Snowball to me with a "Proclamation" that he was now MY cat and they would no longer put food out for him. I hadn't meant to steal him away, but I couldn't stand to see such a beautiful cat neglected. He lived to be 14 and was a wonderful pet the whole time. 

Marie died a few days ago. She was a lovely woman whom I had only seen once since 1982, when we moved from that neighborhood. It was nice to see her girls today, and once again I thought how sad it is that we let time slip away and don't keep up with old friends and neighbors. We always think we have time - but we may not. 

Another friend passed this week. Lois was the mother of my younger daughter's best friend, and we had become acquainted over the years; first as a floral and decor client and then bonded by our daughters friendship and close ties. I mentioned her here recently; saying she was a woman whom I had always admired and wanted to get to know better. But she was away at the beach often and I was busy with my business, so it was hard to find a time suitable to us both. When we did get together, she never failed to make me laugh. Her wit and intelligence often combined to bring about huge belly laughs and you truly never knew what would come out of her mouth. I was pleased to be invited to her 75th birthday party a few years ago; which was held at a local city club and featured about 100 of her closest friends. Many of them stood to regale the crowd with stories about the guest of honor; all of them funny, some were astounding and some were poignant. I count myself lucky to have known her and to have been included in her birthday party and their 50th anniversary party a few years ago.

Lois, I'm sorry I didn't get to know you much better, and I know that Heaven is a funnier place now that you are there. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fifty-two Things About Me....

A re-post from the distant past  (2005), slightly updated:

1. I was born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia.
2. I am adopted, and I have no siblings.
3. I met my birth mother in 1997.
4. I am a graduate of the University of Charleston (but when I attended, it was called Morris Harvey College).
5. I have lived in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
6. I have been married to the same man for 50 years.
7. I have three children.
8. I have 6 bio grandchildren and 2 step-grandchildren (and yes, they are the prettiest, the handsomest, and the smartest grandchildren in the universe!)
9. I am privileged to have been a wedding and party florist.
10. I owned my business for 28 years (and I love being my own boss).
11. In a past life, I was a Cytotechnologist (I screened Pap smears).
12. I have traveled to Hawaii twice, Bermuda, Barbados, Mexico twice, Canada, Nassau, Costa Rica, Italy, France and Switzerland, and many of our other 50 United States.
13. I hope to travel to Egypt and tour the Pyramids. I once wanted to climb them, but now my aspirations lie a bit lower to the ground.
14. I am a life member of the Association for Research and Enlightenment in Va. Beach, VA.
15. I am a book lover and I usually read two books simultaneously, by keeping one in my car and reading at lunch time. (Half my books have grease spots from Bojangle's biscuits).
16. I am a neat-freak and I'm very organized. I can handle some dust, as long as it is neatly arranged!!
17. I once ran away from home and flew for the first time to NYC (I was scared to death, not of flying - but of my mother, when she discovered I was gone.)
18. I am addicted to some reality TV shows, such as American Idol, Survivor and Big Brother. Sometimes a person needs to watch something that doesn't require much brain power.
19. I am a Scorpio (sun, moon and ascendant, though there's some question about the ascendant) and I love being in most forms of water: pool, ocean, lake, hot tub, river, bathtub, shower, sprinkler system, and rain, if the temperature is warm.
20. I enjoy reading about Quantum Psychics and Astronomy, even though I understand only a very little bit of it. Steven Hawking is one of my heroes.
21. I used to love dancing and if my school had offered it as a major, I might have graduated summa cum laude. (not ballet - the jitterbug!)
22. I love Scrabble, though I seldom have anyone to play it with, except online. I also use to love Bridge, but have not played it since the 70's.
23. I love animals, and have owned many dogs and cats (and 2 handicapped birds). I had two black cats, sisters, named Storm and Eclipse (Clipsie). They believe themselves to be Egyptian Queens transmigrated into cat bodies, who must be granted every wish, as soon as they wish it! (Having said that, I'm thinking maybe my husband is a reincarnated Egyptian queen, since he wants what he wants, when....etc.)
24. I began college as an art major, and ended with a degree in English Lit.
25. I always wanted to become an architect.
26. I used to be 5'10"; I have lost one inch in height.
27. I am extremely proud of my children's accomplishments and who they have become in this lifetime.
28. I am very healthy (Thank God and good DNA), except for that little problem of a mitral valve prolapse.
29. I am addicted to biscuits and coffee.
30. I was born a Methodist, was Baptized a Catholic and attended a non-denominational church, which met in a movie theater, and whose Pastor was a former Prosecuting Attorney. Is that as weird as it looks to me in print?
31. I drive a 2005 Chrysler van with over 100K miles on it. (New or gently used donations graciously accepted).
32. I hate to carry umbrellas; I'd rather get wet.
33. I am often funnier in person than I am in writing (as some people tell me).
34. I remained friends with a woman I attended dance classes with in 3rd grade until she passed away a few years back. 
35. I was on television in 1963; answering telephones for a fund raiser telethon for WV's centennial.
36. I met Dave Garroway and the Four Freshmen, as well as Paul Anka and Duane Eddy. I also met Dizzy Gillespie and Jack Teagarden at the Metropole in NYC in 1961. I have Dizzy's autograph.
37. I am a lover of jazz music and all types of art. Touring museums is something I love to do.
38. I also love reading blogs and writing mine.
39. I hate to get into a friend's car and have to move a lot of junk out of the way so I can sit down. The way I see it, your car is a metaphor for your life. If it is messy, then your mind and life are messy too.
40. Our first house cost less than my current car.
41. I used to read the dictionary in my spare time.
42. I like to do crossword puzzles in ink (as does my birth mom).
43. As most English majors, I harbor a desire to write the "great American" novel, but I will content myself with a (sometimes) funny blog.
44. I love getting comments on the blog (as I am sure most of you do).
45. Bobby McFerrin sat on the back of my seat at a concert on the campus of NCSU, as he sang "Happy Birthday" to a young boy. "Don't Worry - Be Happy" notwithstanding, he is a musical genius.
46. I am part of a team that decorates the North Carolina Governor's Mansion at Christmas; plus for two years, I decorated Christmas trees in the Raleigh home of the now infamous Senator John Edwards. I have also done flowers at events for President Gerald Ford,Vice-President Al Gore, Cliff Robertson, Dr. Joyce Brothers and Mary Lou Retton.
47. I wish my favorite English professor was still alive and could read and critique my blog everyday. Dr. James McNally, may you rest in peace. 
48. If I had a motto, it would be "live and let live". I try not to be judgmental.
49. The arts and crafts I have done during my life (few of which I have time for lately): drawing, painting, decoupage, stained glass and weaving.
50. I play ( and I use the term loosely) piano and organ. I once played the flute for about 5 months, until the orchestra teacher realized I was faking the fingering. LOL
51. How could I forget? I once shook hands with John F. Kennedy, when he was running for Prez. He spoke at my college and stood at the door to meet students after his talk. He was shorter than I am.
52. The actress Susan Strasborg once rode in my van; she mistook it for a hotel shuttle and got in and sat down. My husband was picking me up after a seminar in Va. Beach and had pulled in front of the venue and opened the doors. Susan was attending the same seminar, and staying at a nearby hotel, so we took her there. Oddly enough, it was June - and she had on a mink coat! She kissed hubby on the cheek as she exited, and he was on cloud nine for weeks afterward. Too bad she didn't give him a tip! I heard from a friend many years later, who was picking Susan up and taking her to the airport, that Susan answered her door completely topless. My husband was sooooo sorry he was not the driver then!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Maternal Memories

While writing a short post on Facebook today, I found myself deep in memories of my maternal grandmother. I know I have written about her before  (but maybe you won't remember it.) In the photo at left, my grandmother is front row, middle, and Bucky is back row, left. Tillie is on the front row, right and I do not know the others. Mammaw looks stern in this photo, but she always had a smile on her face and a ready laugh.

She ran a boarding house on Dunbar Street in Charleston, WV for young, single working women during the 30's and 40's. As a divorcee in the 1920's, charged with making her own way while raising five children, life wasn't easy. She knew all about cooking, cleaning, making beds and keeping house, so she started a rooming house. She had strict rules; ladies could not entertain gentlemen in their rooms, and had to confine their visits to the parlor (with my grandmother looking in from time to time to make sure nothing untoward was happening.) It was a large room with flowered wallpaper, flowered couches, flowered chairs and a flowered rug. 

Some of my fondest memories are of her standing at her stove, stirring a pot of something that smelled so good my mouth would water, while singing a hymn at the top of her lungs. Her specialty was chicken and dumplings, but beef stew and fried chicken ran close behind as everyone's favorites. She always cooked enough for twenty; having been a farm wife, she had to cook for the whole family and all the farm hands. At every meal there were two meats, four or five vegetables, hot biscuits and rolls and apple pie or spice cake for dessert. Those varied, of course, but they were my choices. 

She often sang "I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses....." and other hymns. She wasn't a good singer, but she was loud and she always put her own twist to the song, changing its tempo or tune.  The ice box gave way to a new refrigerator when I was about five and I remember her excitement at having the new appliance. I recall it had a big round contraption on top (either a motor or fan, I don't know.)  I loved sitting on her porch swing. On a string trellis growing up the side of the porch there were morning glories of such a piercing blue they took your breath away to see them. Hollyhocks lined the side of the house and the driveway, and they have always reminded me of my grandmother. I love seeing them, but that doesn't happen much lately, as they seem to have fallen out of favor with gardeners. 

Sometime before I was born in 1940 to her youngest daughter, Mammaw married a Charleston judge whom we called Bucky. As a very young child I was confused about who he was. I knew he was married to my grandmother, but he was not my grandfather. Eventually I learned who my real grandfather was (a farmer and school teacher/principal) in Wyoming Co. WV. But the reason for their divorce was not told to me until after she passed away in 1971. That's a whole 'nother story, as they say...

Bucky's mother  (or sister, I'm not sure now),  Lizbeth Rand Burlew lived on Kanawha Boulevard in Charleston, the wide street paralleling the river. The house on Dunbar Street was behind it, around the corner. They had a large garden of both foods and flowers and I was always allowed to visit it and pick violets and tulips in the spring. I loved walking through the flower stalks, many of which were much taller than I at the time. I'm sure my love of flowers stems from that time. Bucky's family owned the Burlew Opera House which was long a staple of entertainment in that area. I inherited Lizzie's silver hand mirror, adorned with her initials, LRB. It was one thing of my grandmothers that I had always coveted, along with some antiques, which I now proudly own. 

The young women who roomed at my grandmother's house were special friends of mine. I was born nearby and most of those girls knew me from birth until they married and left Mammaw's home to start their own married lives. We remained friends with a few of them, however, and visited each other until I was out of college and moved away. One funny story about Tillie:   she was nearly 40 (maybe older) and didn't date much. I considered her my best friend. She was only 4'10" tall and wore size 4 shoes. When I was 8-9, I could fit into her clothing and shoes very well, and I loved to play dress up in her closet. She allowed that to happen whenever I was visiting, and once, when she was entertaining her beau (as she called him) I went down to the parlor dressed in her skirt, her heels and her bra (with no top) and proceeded to prance around the room singing "I dreamt I went dancing in my Maidenform Bra...." which was a popular radio and magazine commercial of the day. Poor Tillie was mortified, my grandmother was hopping mad and Alfred, the beau, was bemused and could hardly hold his laughter.  They later married and I was so jealous; knowing I wouldn't get to see Tillie as often after she married and moved away to Belle, which wasn't far but seemed so to me. 

Mammaw lived until 1971, dying shortly after her 92nd birthday. She suffered a stroke nine months earlier. I went to visit her and she said my name - the first word she had spoken since the stroke six months before. 

In college I wrote an essay about her titled "The Most Interesting Person I Know" and after all these years, she remains that for me. 

Monday, October 06, 2014



                                                    My sentiments exactly!!