Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?

I visited New Orleans in the 90's, attending a convention of people involved in the party industry. We had five wonderful days in the city, enjoying all that it had to offer: good food, great scenery, partying heartily, a ride on the Delta Queen Paddleboat, fabulous antique stores, Hurricanes (the drink), beignets dripping powdered sugar, and coffee with chickory!

These are various postcards and pics from that trip. One of the most interesting places we saw was the warehouse where they keep most of the Mardi Gras floats. In fact, they had a party for us in that warehouse, and it was an excellent experience. If you have never attended Mardi Gras, you can have no idea of the size of the floats, most of which are huge. Imagine how fun it was to stroll, drinks and hors d'oeuvres in hand, between the floats and large puppets, imagining what it would be like to participate in the Mardi Gras parades. I could picture myself standing on a float, throwing beads and candy to the by-standers, or being a by-stander and yelling "Throw me something, Mister!" to the guys on the floats. (I would not, however, be showing them anything!).

Speaking of the foods, we ate alligator sausage that night (andouille, I think) and crayfish (crawdads) were found in abundance, as were shrimp and other seafood. The buffet tables were replete with delicacies of nearly every description and the floral decor was to die for; such as tall palm trees whose trunks were made from the hulls of pineapples. It was very creative. Of course, when you are putting on a party for people who put on parties nearly every day of the year - you have to be creative and over the top with your decor!

New Orleans bent over backwards to welcome us - as well as all the other tourists who came there each year. I mourn the loss of this very special city with its distinctive architecture, no less than I mourn the loss of its people, who practiced a brand of hospitality not found everywhere. I cannot imagine how it feels to be one of the displaced, and I hope they can find peace and understanding at some point. Vaya con Dios.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Advice for Both Northerners and Southerners

If you are from the northern states and planning on visiting or moving to the South, there are a few things you should know that will help you adapt to the difference in lifestyles:
The North has coffee houses, The South has Waffle Houses
The North has dating services, The South has family reunions.
The North has switchblade knives, The South has Lee Press-on Nails.
The North has double last names, The South has double first names.
The North has Indy car races, The South has stock car races.
The North has Cream of Wheat, The South has grits.
The North has green salads, The South has collard greens
The North has lobsters, The South has crawdads.
The North has the rust belt, The South has the Bible Belt..
In the South: --If you run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in a four-wheel drive pickup truck with a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them, just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.
Don't be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same not buy food at this store.
Remember, "y'all" is singular, "all y'all" is plural, and "all y'all's" is plural possessive.
Get used to hearing "You ain't from round here, are ya?"
Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later on how to use it.
Don't be worried at not understanding what people are saying. They can't understand you either. The first Southern statement to creep into a transplanted Northerner's vocabulary is the adjective "big'ol," truck or "big'ol" boy. Most Northerners begin their Southern-influenced dialect this way. All of them are in denial about it.
The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper.
Be advised that "He needed killin" is a valid defense here.
If you hear a Southerner exclaim, "Hey, y'all, watch this," you should stay out of the way. These are likely to be the last words he'l ever say.

If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the smallest accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It doesn't matter whether you need anything or not. You just have to go there.
Do not be surprised to find that 10-year-olds own their own shotguns, they are proficient marksmen, and their mammas taught them how to aim.
In the South, we have found that the best way to grow a lush green lawn is to pour gravel on it and call it a driveway.
If you do settle in the South and bear children, don't think we will accept them as Southerners. After all, if
the cat had kittens in the oven, we wouldn't call 'em biscuits.
Have a good day! Send this to four people that ain't related to you, and I reckon your life will turn into a country music song 'fore you know it.

This is another gem from my email; I didn't write it and I don't know who did.

Is This The Little Bugger?

Is this the hawk moth responsible for the tomato horn worms I wrote about on August 17th?

I found this one hanging around my kitchen window recently, probably on her way to lay eggs (or whatever it is they do) on my tomato plants. That was before I knew she was responsible for the damage to my tomato plants, otherwise, I might have sent her off to her great reward in the sky instead of taking her picture. What an odd-looking cuss!

I am trying to imagine what possible purpose they have in nature. All I can see is that they wreak havoc on vegetation. I wouldn't mind if they ate kudzu, but my tomato plants are off-limits to anyone but me.

I harvested the first tomato yesterday and there are 2 more small ones in progress. I sure hope I get to eat them before the first frost sets in!

Monday, August 29, 2005

More Golden Oldies

More golden oldies to see; the top left is a pic of some of my family members at one of the summer reunions we used to have at my great-grandmother's house. I am the child on the left (about age 6), the girl to my left is the cousin I recently visited in Tennessee and her brother is on her left. All of the adults are deceased; my mom on the left, her dad beside her, my uncle and aunt on the right.

The top right is a photo of the farm house, from the opposite side of the creek, and a good shot of the rickety swinging bridge we had to cross to get to the house. Scary stuff, that bridge, especially when my older cousins thought it was a hoot to wait until I was in the middle and then shake the heck out of the bridge by running onto it. I imagine it to be like walking near the epicenter of an earthquake. I died a thousand deaths there!

The buff guy on the lower left was one of my mom's three brothers. This photo was taken in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. He always thought he was a lady-killer! A policeman when young and a master electrician later, he died shoveling snow to help some people whose car was trapped in an icy ditch. When he died, my grandmother was 90. She mourned his death terribly and it was my first noted lesson in parenting. No matter how old your child is or how old you are, it hurts horribly when they die. She kept wailing...."A mother is not supposed to outlive her child".

The matinee idol in the middle was my dad, circa 1930-35. He wore Homberg hats until the 1970's, when men's hats became passe. He and my mom eloped after only six weeks of dating, and she was buried on their fiftieth anniversary.

On the right is my mother's mother, standing in front of her rooming house. This was in the 1940's, as you can see from the old jalopy on the street. She swept the sidewalk in front of her house nearly every day of her life. After she left her first husband - he of the flicking chalk fame - (see the first golden oldies post) - she married a man called Bucky, who became a judge and later was the mayor of their city. I knew him much better than my real grandfather. He was not very good with children, but he tolerated me and her many other grandkids. When I was visiting at their house, and he came home from the office, he would stomp into the front hall and shout..."Fee,fi,fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he live or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread." Now you may think a small child would be terrified of those words, but I must not have realized what they meant because I thought it was great fun, and I would run and hide (under the big four-poster bed) and he would always find me and give me a big kiss. The other thing I remember about him is that he would always read the funny pages to me whenever I asked. I hope you have rested in peace, Bucky.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Golden Oldies

Some "Golden Oldies" from my past:

#1. My great-grandparents on the occasion of their 71st wedding anniversary (no, it's not a misprint). They married very young, and stayed married for 72 years, and then died within 6 months of each other.

#2. My father is the young baby, and the girl is his older sister. Dad was born in 1904, so this photo has to be in either '04 or '05.

#3. My mom, at the age of 16, in 1924. If she were still alive, she'd be blown away by her photo being on the web.

My great-grandparents lived on a farm about 100 miles from my home as a child. We didn't get to see them often, but every summer we would have a family reunion, and all their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would gather for a huge outdoor picnic. The children would wade in the creek, bedevil the chickens, pet the horses, play hide and seek in the hay lofts and trample what was left of the corn and other vegetables in the fields. Their old farmhouse had a tin roof: it was great to spend the night in their upstairs bedrooms, atop a feather bed and under a down quilt, listening to the rain beating a tattoo on the tin roof. It wasn't so great if you had to relieve yourself, as they had only outhouses until I was about 10, when they had a bathroom installed in the house. In the winter, it was as cold as the proverbial brass monkey. The only heat was derived from the large, coal-burning fireplaces in each room. My great-grandmother cooked all her meals on a wood burning stove; huge meals, in which she fed her family and all their farm hands. You might have been amazed at the quality of the food that came out of that old kitchen, and they grew all the food they ate and usually raised all the animals they needed for food. I don't think I have ever known two kinder people than they; I never heard them raise their voices at anyone. My great-grandmother never left her bedroom in the morning (usually by 6:00 a.m.) without fully dressing, with stockings and jewelry, and with her hair "put up" in a bun. They died when I was 12 and 13, and I still miss them.

I never met my dad's sister in this photo; she died before I was born. Daddy had two sisters and two brothers; one of each sex were half-siblings. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was five years old and his dad remarried a few years later. Having written quite a bit about my dad before, I will not reiterate here. I did not know his family as well as I knew my mom's.

My mom was born on a farm near where my great-grandparents lived. It was a working farm, with many acres of crops and many animals to care for. She told me lots of stories about the baby animals (mostly lambs) she raised every year - only to have to give them up for slaughter. It shattered her every time it happened, and I am glad I was not raised on a farm, as I could not have taken that! Her mother also had to cook huge meals, as they fed their farm hands twice a day too. They would start the wood fire to bake biscuits at 5:00 am, then move on to bacon, ham, sausages, eggs, fried apples, all types of homemade jams and jellies, and fruits in season. As soon as they cleaned up from breakfast and washed all the dishes, they had to start preparing lunch! It makes me tired just thinking about it. I used to think that no one lived like that anymore, until I read a series of books about Amish life in Pennsylvania and Ohio. A lot of Amish still live like my great-grandparents did, and have just as few conveniences as they did. My grandfather, in addition to running this farm, was a school teacher and principal of a one-room school, in which he taught all his own children, as well as a good many more. My mom told a story about when she would talk too much in school, her dad would flick a piece of chalk and hit her squarely across the bridge of the nose. She developed a small bump on that spot, and she always said it was from the chalk. Of course, if that was done nowadays, he'd be fired and probably taken into custody for child abuse.

When my mom was about 18, her parents divorced. That did not happen often in those days, and my mom was always embarrassed about it and felt stigmatized. My grandmother, along with her six children, moved to the "big city". She lived in a large house and took in "roomers". I am betting that some of you have no idea what I mean by that. She ran a rooming house for young working women; most of whom had come to the city to work or for school and needed a safe, clean place to live. Visiting her was fun, as there were always people around to talk to. Some of them became like older sisters to me and we kept in touch until they married and had children of their own.

What a walk down the proverbial memory lane! To be continued... (sometime).

Friday, August 26, 2005

Michele asks: "Was Jeremiah Really a Bullfrog?"

Michele, at asks in her latest "All About You" test: "Do you think Jeremiah really was a bullfrog?"

The Jeremiah we knew and loved was indeed a bullfrog - a very large bullfrog. He appeared to be about 12" long from nose to toes (when fully extended). The first summer we lived in our house, we used the pool at all hours. Discovering that a large frog swam in our pool every night, we tried to swim with him. My son would dive in, and the frog would go to the very deepest part of the pool and hover there, pretending to be dead. After a few days, the frog realized that we were not going to harm him, so he would swim around with us, taking long, long strokes and nearly swimming the full length of the pool with 1-2 strokes. That frog stayed around our pool the entire summer, and we miss him even after all this time.

We have lived here 23 years. In the first 10 -15 years or so, we had frogs around the pool nearly every night. In the spring mating season, the chirps of the small tree frogs would be almost deafening every evening. They would sit on the tiled edge of the pool; mating as though their very lives depended on it. The next morning, I would see large gelatinous mats of small black specks all over the top of the water surface. Most of them got skimmed off into the filtration system; some got scooped out with our leaf net. But occasionally, some must have survived, because we would get a new crop of tiny frogs in the pool. Small tree frogs used to climb up the brick wall onto my kitchen window, and "hang" there overnight; their little suction-cup feet visible from inside. It was a good science lesson for the children.

What I am wondering now is "where have all the frogs gone?" I heard once that if you have frogs nearby, you can rest asured there are no snakes around. We see a few frogs now and then; trapped overnight in the skimmer basket. We release them into the woods, but the huge numbers of frogs we once saw do not exist anymore, at least not here. Perhaps the little frogs have all met the fate of the one in the photo above - caught by a black snake. I had barely enough time to get the camera, but I made it back outside before the snake swallowed the poor little frog. I hate to see that happen, even though I know it is all part of the "survival of the fittest" thing.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Our Governor's Mansion Has Mold - Boo Hoo

The North Carolina Governor's
Mansion is one of the places I am privileged to decorate sometimes. I am part of a team of people who all work together, and we have done it for the last 3 years.

This year, we are informed that the Mansion has mold which has to be eradicated, so they have closed it for the forseeable future in order to repair the damages and shoo the mold away.

This makes me very sad; the mansion is a wonderful place to work. As soon as you arrive in the morning, they set out coffee, tea, fresh lemonade, water, ice, still warm muffins and some of the best freshly baked cookies you could ever have (especially the white chunk macadamia nut cookies!).

A crew of men trustees from Central Prison are at your beck and call; if you need anything you will receive it pronto. The greenery and flowers we use in the decor are provided by the mansion gardeners and once again, if you need it, you have only to ask and they will go somewhere and cut it if it doesn't grow on the grounds of the mansion.

When lunch time rolls around, we are called to the kitchen, where a veritable smorgasboard is laid, including several types of desserts. We eat around a beautiful table in the main state dining room, pretending we are dignitaries (though we are dressed in jeans and sneakers). This goes on for 3-4 days, until we complete the decor.

The capper of our decorating season is the Governor's party for NC State employees; and while we are not strictly employees, we are included in this party, to thank us for our labors. I am missing it already!

Note: the temporary mansion will not need to be prefessionally decorated because it will not be open to the public for tours. The Governor and his family go to their private home for the holidays.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Familiar

Finally! A decent photo of my black cat. Storm is my ever-present companion. She follows me from room to room without complaint, no matter how many times I move. At night, she curls up in my lap as I sit to watch TV or read. When I need a snack, rousting her out of "her spot" is not easy and the look she gives me is calculated to kill - or maybe just to say - hurry back mom, so I can nestle in again.

Vicki, at has recently posted a photo of one of her cats, which is almost a dead ringer for Storm. I was happy to get this relatively good photo so I could show Vicki how close they are in looks. It isn't very clear in this photo, but Storm has a small white patch on her chest, which we call a "cloud". Vicki's cat has that too. Small world.

Consider the Lilies.......

SRP, at posted a good photo of yellow lilies today, and it prompted me to find this photo from several years ago. It is a detail of the flowers attached to an arch used during a wedding ceremony. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Hands of the Future: What Will They Build?

My nine-year-old grandson holds the future in the palms of his hands. Six and 1/4" from the tip to the wrist, what will they build in the future?

His current ambition is to build the world's largest library. This boy is a reader! He devours books about dinosaurs and Star Wars. His newest book, one he has been wanting for a long time, is "Dragonology". He has already read it from cover to cover.

His library will have many floors, he vows, and they will have books on every subject known to man. I suspect this is his idea of Heaven on Earth, so he is building it in his mind. Who is to say he may not one day accomplish that dream in reality?

He and I went to see "March of the Penguins" yesterday. I had already seen it, but it is worthwhile enough to see twice, and I recommend you take your little loved ones to see it too. It is a story of love and sacrifice, as much as anything. He said afterward that it was sad in places, but kind of happy too.

His mother gave permission for his photo to appear here, and I am sure he will be happy when he sees it. We love you, Grandson, and we really enjoyed your visit.

A "Fire in the Belly" or a Burning Desire to Excel

Do you have "fire in the belly"?

Some of us, at least when we are younger, have a fierce desire to excel at something, be it a career or sports or music. Someone in my family was a basketball nut growing up and he definitely had "FITB" to play well and gain recognition for it. He achieved a degree of success, and was well known in some circles for his prowess. His son was taught everything he (the dad) knew about basketball, but the son lacked the "FITB" necessary to excel, even though he had all the physical requirements necessary to be a good player. He still plays ball occasionally, but it is pick-up ball and he mainly enjoys the exercise and camraderie. His basketball playing is not about competition. He never did light that fire, even though his dad stacked up those logs, placed the kindling just so, and proffered the matches.

How about you? Did you ever have a fire in the belly for something?
What did you to to make that dream come true?
Did you succeed?
Has the fire gone out?
If so, what could (or would) you do to light that fire again?

Sing to the Tune of.....What Kind of Fool Am I?

What kind of tree is this? I like the leaves, but the nuts on this tree make my life a living hell in the summer.

They are small, fig-shaped nuts with a wonderful aroma. At night, the squirrels open the nuts and leave the residue on my deck. The pieces are sharp as tacks, so if you walk on the deck barefoot, you think you have stumbled onto a bed of nails.

I sweep it all away, only to be confronted with a new mess in the morning. What's a girl to do? I've pondered having the tree cut down, but it leans out so gracefully over the deck, providing a nice canopy of leaves and shade. I guess I'll have to learn to live with it - but I'd like to know what it is I am living with! Any botanists want to weigh in with a diagnosis?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Vioxx - Shmioxx!

***Update below:
Merck Pharmaceuticals is being held liable for the death of a man who had a fatal attack while on the medication. Here is my experience with it:
I took Vioxx in 2004 for plantar fascitis and some pain in my back. Thank God I had enough sense to stop it after 45 days.

When I went to the doc for a physical in Feb. 2004, he offered me some samples of Vioxx, enough for 10-12 days and a prescription for a month's supply. I had barely heard of it, but it was supposed to be a good medicine to try because it had less of a probability for stomach upset than some others. I took the samples and had half of the prescription filled. Except for the package inserts (they of the unreadably fine print) I was not given any warning of possible side effects.

It did help the pain in my back and it seemed to be helping with the pain in my arches, so I had the second half of the prescription filled. Around the 30th day, I noticed that running up the stairs caused me to be short of breath. I am not in the greatest shape, but I had previously been able to go up the stairs fairly quickly without a problem. About the same time (or possibly earlier) my feet and ankles began to swell, and I noticed a drop in urine production. Internal upsets had become frequent, along with a nagging ache in my stomach. I stopped the pills with one left in the bottle, and called the doctor's office to ask what else I might need to do. They had me come in immediately for urinalysis, blood pressure and some other blood stats. My blood pressure was elevated much higher than ever before in my life, even when I was pregnant.

The doc put me on a weak generic diuretic, which did nothing to relieve the symptoms that I could tell. Two weeks later, I was placed on a stronger diuretic - along with potassium - and that seemed to help. My blood pressure went down gradually and the swelling eventually stopped. I was fine for about 5-6 months, and then it all started up again.

In the time between the Vioxx and the second set of symptoms, I had taken arthritis-strength acetominiphen for back pain, 4 pills a day for 4-5 weeks. There had never been any publicized research to show that it is harmful (unless you consume more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day) but now, it is being reported that acetominiphen can cause effects which are similar to those caused by the Cox-2 inhibitors (as was Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra, and who knows what else)! It is getting so that I hesitate to take ANY medication, even aspirin, although I think of all the medications ever invented for pain, aspirin is probably the best and the least problematic.

After Vioxx was taken off the market and we bagan to be flooded with information about all the heart attacks, strokes and deaths its use had possibly caused, I contacted several attorney's offices about being included in the class action lawsuits being mounted. But I guess they are only looking for people who died from it - because no one ever returned my calls. I may have to be on diuretics and potassium for the rest of my life (at my expense) all because I tried samples and a prescription proffered by my doctor. Is that fair?

***I took the advice given by one of my commenters, and I emailed a local law firm today with the information above. I received a call from one of their representatives, who explained that as of now, the symptoms I experienced have not been found to be caused by Vioxx (at least not officially), so there is nothing I can do at this point. However, if in the future, that should change, I should contact them again.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Permit Me Some Excitement

As of a few minutes ago, 10:45 pm to be exact, my stat counter hit the lovely, round number of:

6,000 !!

I am amazed that this many people have seen - or at least clicked on - my blog since June 3rd at midnight. Thanks to all of you who have been one of those 6,000. Please come back soon and often, and I will try to return the favor to each and every person.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

General Hospital - or - Has ABC Gone Mad?

Caveat: if you are not a regular viewer of General Hospital, this may bore you to tears.
Earlier this summer, ABC had a dancing contest wherein some celebrities, paired with ballroom dance competitors, participated in a reality dance contest over a series of weeks. Nearly everyone who watched this show thought that John O'Hurley would win, but Kelly Monaco (an actress on General Hospital) was the surprise winner.

Now they have announced that there will be a "dance off" between Kelly and John in September, which will be judged by viewer phone calls instead of judges. Concurrently, General Hospital has introduced a story line that strains credulity even more than their usual plots. Kelly, in dual roles, is playing (on the one hand) a woman who is being coerced into marrying a man who does not know that she is a "stand-in" for his former fiancee. This guy is a good dancer, and so Kelly has to know how to dance for their wedding. It is a gratuitous attempt to cash in on her presumed popularity on the dance show, in my opinion. I heard last night on TV that Kelly will also appear in an episode of "Desperate Housewives". Wanna' bet they have her dancing on that show too?

Are There Kooks in Blogland?

Have you met any real kooks in blogland? Some people in my family seem to think I am selling my soul to the devil by blogging, and opening up my computer (and perhaps my person) to all manner of horrible afflictions. I am frequently admonished not to post any photos of them, or use their real names or tell too many identifying tales, lest they be the victims of identity theft or something worse. Now, one of them thinks I might leave her father and go off to see someone I have "met" on the blog and end up a missing person (or worse) with my life story splashed all over TV and the tabloids.

As luck would have it, the one who is most concerned with my NOT writing about her, was "found out" on my blog by one of her co-workers. I had posted a story about my children and how proud I was of them all, and a person emailed me saying "I think I know your daughter" . Since my daughter lives a good many miles away from me, and I had not used her name or firm (only her career) it was sort of eerie to get that message, but it turns out that they both work for the same firm. The co-worker writes a blog and had read mine - and the rest is history. Of course now, my daughter uses this illustration to point out how easy it is for someone to discover who you are - even if you write anonymously.

Now, what you don't know is that this particular kid has what we call in our family her own personal "Six Degrees of Separation". She never goes anywhere that she doesn't meet someone she knew in school, or someone she worked with before, or someone who knows someone who knows her. Her trips all over the continent are legendary because of whom she meets on the trip. And it never fails, no matter where she goes, there will be a story to tell about it. For example, in 2001 we were standing in Pearl Harbor awaiting our time to enter the theater and tour the Arizona Memorial. I saw a man wearing a cap from her university. I spoke to him, mentioning that 2 of my children had graduated from there, and when she talked to him about his son who had attended that school - it turned out that they had graduated the same year - and we were all in the football stadium for the graduation on the same day! Now, here we were 9-10 years later standing in Pearl Harbor together. Blows my mind!

This same child is one who was told, as she boarded a plane for the Barcelona Olympics years ago, not to announce her destination to anyone on the plane. She was just out of school; young and vulnerable, and we wanted her to be careful not to divulge any information which might lead to a problem, especially not any that might result in the loss of her Passport. She had to travel to Chicago and then on to NY, London and Paris. Darned if she didn't get into a conversation with some passengers about their shared destinations, and by the time she arrived in Chicago, everyone on the plane knew where she was going! Luckily, none of them had any malice in mind, and her trip was completed easily and well.

I would like to dispel her fears here and now: I promise not to run off and set up housekeeping with any of my blog readers (sorry Hoss). I will do my best to prevent anyone finding out who you are or where you work or what your income is; I will not delve into my bank account and send off chunks of money to indigents on the streets or guys in foreign countries who are looking for places to launder their money or TV evangelists who promise eternal salvation for greasing their palms.

So you see, baby, Mama is not nearly as naive as you seem to think. Quit worrying about me and my blog. We will both be just fine!

Note: I have no idea why there is a color change in this post - I didn't mean for that to happen , and in the preview - the whole post is the same color. Go figure?!

Friday, August 19, 2005

How I Know the Economy is Bad

Yesterday, as I exited my car in the Post Office parking lot, I realized it has been ages and ages since I have found any money on the ground. No one is dropping change anymore and leaving it; they are picking up even the most insignificant and crusty penny.

I used to find change all the time, at least once or twice a week, in the Post Office lot and in restaurants or malls, but no more. I feel cheated. It is always a lucky day when I find change, be it a lowly penny tails up - or a shiny dime - kind of like the universe is rewarding me for some good deed unremembered. But nowadays, I am saddened by the lack of those rewards, so could I ask a favor? Next time you see a coin in the street, leave it there for me to find, please?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Caller ID - The Greatest Invention Since the Telephone

NOTE: from now on, the majority of my responses/thanks will be found in my comments section.

I truly believe that caller ID is one of the best inventions of this century. Being able to see who is calling - and deciding whether to answer or let voicemail take a message - is a boon to society in general, and me in particular. If there is no message at all, I am doubly justified in not having answered that call, as it was obviously not important.

However, we need the same kind of invention for our front doors. This morning, just as I was receiving the refrigerator repairman into my kitchen, a woman approached the house. My husband let her in, and she was a bride-to-be who suddenly realized her appointment was for Tuesday the 23rd, instead of today, as she had thought.

I was somewhat frustrated about her untimely arrival, coming as it did while the repairman was ripping the guts out of the back of my fridge (exposing the mountains of dirt underneath it and setting free another cascade of water). After rushing upstairs to get yet another stack of towels, I decided it would be silly to turn her away - so I put on the coffee and invited her to my office for our consultation. Her explanation was that she had written "Flo" on the Thursday square in her calendar, and realized too late that "Flo" is the name of her physical therapist - and did not stand for florist.
Now I ask you: am I wrong to suspect that this wedding might be more trouble than it is worth? Should I forgive and forget her ditzyness? Some people are "labor intensive", and I might be better off in the long run if I don't book this one. And on second thought - that seems harsh, since I am certainly not perfect (although I never mess up appointments like that!) I suppose I will do her proposal and see what happens.
In case you are interested in the refrigerator repair; the latest in the saga of water troubles in our house, it is now working well. Seems there is nothing that cannot be repaired if you are willing to throw money at it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Short Stories and Other Ways to Make a Pile

I am currently reading a book by David Sedaris. He is originally from Raleigh, and his books are usually peppered with references to his home town, so I read them with relish. I would read them even if he was from Timbuktu, because he is a wickedly funny writer. You may have heard of his books "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim ".

In Barrel Fever (1994), a collection of short stories, one of his characters decides to apply to a dirty magazine for a position writing letters and descriptions of giantesses growing out of their clothing. This got me to thinking that maybe Hoss ( and I could both make our piles ($$$) making up "letters" wherein people describe their "experiences". I expect he'd be better at it, since he's older and has had more experience than I (at least I hope he has). Please don't ask me how I know about those letters in those magazines; no, don't beg.....I won't cave. I know you are dying to find out how I learned about such seedy stuff. You pulled it out of me at last....(you knew I can't keep a secret; after all, the blog IS named "justask....").

Hubster and I went to Florida years ago for a conference. When we checked into the hotel, they gave us a room with one bed and a pull-out couch. Later that night, when the couch was pulled out, lo and behold, on the floor under the couch lay two really nasty magazines. Never having seen anything like that before, I was interested in what important information they might contain (just research, you understand), so I read them from cover to cover in one sitting. The letters, puportedly written by common, average people such and you and I, described almost every possible form of sexual activity known to mankind - and some I was unaware of before! I found it hard to believe that people signed their names to the letters; if I had done what they were writing about, I sure wouldn't want the whole world to know it. Later, I learned that those letters are not really written by readers, but people are paid to write those stories in letter form. Supposedly, it is more titillating to some people if they think that real people engaged in those affairs. So, do you think Hoss and I could make a pile writing them, or maybe just a half-a-pile. What do you think? Should we try it? Which magazines do you think pay the most? (And just how is it that you come to be so familiar with those magazines, anyway?)

As an aside, you might be interested to know that the next morning, when we complained to the front desk about what we found under the couch, they gave us a refund for that night. Maybe that was the beginning of my pile, and I just didn't know it!

Can Anyone Tell Me How This Happens?

How do tomato horn worms - ugly cusses they are - get onto potted tomato plants which sit on a raised deck at least 40 feet from other vegetation (except a forsythia) in any direction?

This morning I took the third one off the plant; telltale signs lead me to it, such as top stems with no foliage. It infuriates me! How dare they infiltrate MY plants - the first I have grown in many years?! The plants I lovingly water, fertilize and remove the suckers often.

I googled the worms and found a photo, but I could not copy and paste it into the blog. It's just as well, it might make you toss your cookies if you see it. As I said, they are UGLY! They are almost the color of this print, which makes me want to rethink the color green as my favorite.

Do any of you know a natural repellant I could use? Or should I be resigned to searching for them everyday, scissors in hand?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Riddle Me This, Catman......(with apologies)

Why in heaven's name do cats like to bake in 100* heat when they could be in a nice air-conditioned house and have quick access to fresh water and food?

For the last month or so, we have been under an extreme heat wave (as have a lot of you) and my cats have asked (nay begged) to go outside and lie in the garage all day long, where the temperature hovers around 90* and the water dish does too. I cannot understand it, especially since they are black. When they lie in the sun, their fur feels like it might spontaneously erupt in flames.

The Solitude of Mr. Powers

The Solitude of Mr. Powers (by Ogden Nash)

Once there was a lovely man named Mr. Powers.
He was lonely because his wife fixed flowers.
Mr. Powers was a gallant husband, but whenever
he wished to demonstrate his gallantry
His beloved was always out with six vases and a
bunch of something in the pantry.
He got no conversation while they ate
Because she was always snipping dead blossoms
off the centerpiece and piling them on her plate.

Finally, he said "Hey!"
I might as well be alone with myself
as alone with a lot of vases that have to be
replenished everyday,
and he walked off into the dawn,
And his wife just kept on refilling vases -
never noticed he was gone.

Beware of floral arrangements;
They lead to marital dis-arrangements.
I don't think hubster is ready to "walk off into the dawn", but I have heard (rather loudly) several times here lately about how I am never around - or if I am - I am on the phone - or working - or engrossed in a TV show or crossword - or on the computer. Clearly he imagines himself to be forgotten and needs massive amounts of attention. That can be a problem when one person in a marriage still has a job and the other is retired and has few hobbies other than pipe smoking and geneaology. What is to be done? Between flowers, clients, blogs, cooking, cleaning, laundry, my cats, friends and family, reading and TV, there is little time to indulge in much of anything else.

Perhaps the moral of this story is to develop interests, hobbies and friends of your own (who are available when you require them), so that when your significant other is busy, you can find something amusing to do until he or she is free to indulge your whims.

Additionally, I was told recently that "You are not the person you present yourself to be on your blog". I am, apparently, a banshee in person (the very word used), while on the blog I pretend to be witty and observant. I submit that the banshee assessment is incorrect, and that the real me is somewhere in-between the two extremes. One thing is certain; I do not suffer fools easily, and perhaps that is where the trouble lies. I certainly do not suffer easily a smart person playing the fool for his own amusement at my expense, which happens all too frequently.
Any advice for me?

Ray Kept Me Awake Last Night.....

No, I haven't taken up with someone new; I am referring to Jamie Fox in the movie "Ray". It was on HBO last night and I started watching it with the idea that if it was boring, I'd stop and do the computer updating.

Almost three hours later, I was still glued to the TV. Ray is an excellent movie (if you can get past the depiction of heroine addiction and adultery) and Jamie Fox is a great actor. He was channeling Ray Charles throughout the film, plus the music is wonderful. I grew up with Ray Charles' music and since I do not have a CD of his songs, I had forgotten some of them. That will be remedied today, as I plan to go to Borders and find a "greatest hits" CD, if they have one.

If you haven't seen this movie I recommend you check out the HBO listings or visit Blockbuster or Netflix soon!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Guess Who is Back in Business?

There is a God; I am certain of it. The new computer works! I am back on-line and here's hoping I can stay that way for a long time to come. The library will soon become a rapidly fading memory - at least for computer usage. Oh, lucky, lucky me!

Somehow I was able to set it all up and get my ISP hooked up and everything is working just fine. Are you as surprised as I am? The last time we had to go through this process, my daughter did it all, so I was sort of a novice. I had confidence in my ability to do it - but not everyone who lives here did. HA! Guess I showed him!

Perhaps I can get a proper post written tomorrow. Tonight will be spent re-configuring my email addresses, options and favorites lists, etc. (that is after Big Brother goes off, of course). I have a long road ahead, trying to remember how I get to all of you whose blogs I read daily. If you are not listed in Michele Agnew's blogroll, I may not be able to find you. Please leave a comment for me so I will have the active link to your homepage, and can click you into my favorites.
I am very much looking forward to reading as much as possible of what I missed since July 19th. If you had a post you think I should read, please leave me a link to it or I might miss it. Thanks for hanging with me during the hiatus.

Friday, August 12, 2005

OOOOOHHHHHH, I have a big, brown box at home......

Hubby says that there is a big, brown box on the porch! Is it my new computer? Will it work when I set it up? Can I actually set it up properly, so it WILL work?

Tune in tomorrow - I may have a new post for you - one that is actually well-thought out and interesting. If not, there'll be a rant about a computer mfg. (or Fed Ex) or lightning or the devil, etc.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

If you are not getting messages from me.......

If you are not getting any messages from me (email or otherwise) be aware that some of the messages I have sent from the library computers are being returned as undeliverable. Carol, I sent one to you 3-4 days ago, and I just got it back. Same for Hoss and a few others. Naturally, I cannot remember what I was trying to say to we will just have to wait until I get my new computer or until my memory returns (which will probably be during my next life).

Recommndation: Go see "The March of the Penguins" immediately! It is a spectacular film; the scenery is gorgeous (who knew that ice and snow could be so beautiful?) and the penguins give us all a lesson in survival and what it takes to be a good mate to your spouse. Take tissues...........

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Nothing in my brain.......

Nothing comes to mind today that will make an interesting post. Hoss mentioned not knowing that lightning can take out a phone. In the same storm in which we lost all our stuff, my neighbor had her phone line completely melted! The repairmen were not too astonished by it - so it must be fairly common.
Regarding ebay: my daughter is not going to leave any feedback at all until we hear from the mfg. of the computer and what they will do about the problem. As soon as we hear from them, she will leave negative feedback on the seller. I am almost certain that he knew if I called tech support it would absolve him and ebay from any responsibility; that must be why he was adamant that I call them immediately.
Rug Designer: No, I am not a Vol, in fact that was my first trip to TN. I was pleasantly surprised, though; the scenery was gorgeous in that area. My cousin's son just moved to Nashville; his wife is a singer and wants to try to make it in the bigtime, as they say. I may have reason to make a trip to Nashville in the future - and I will let you know if that happens.
Duty calls, I must buy supplies for the next wedding. Take care and I'll try to return tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tennessee was Terrific!

Our trip to Tennessee was a very good respite from humdrum daily life - and I could get used to living there very easily. My cousin and her husband are consummate hosts and I could not have felt more welcome. They live on a beautiful lake in the TVA system, and they have all the toys necessary to enjoying life on the lake: boats, jet skis, waterslide, etc.

In the past, I have been known to turn down a swim if the water is less than 82 degrees (yes, I AM a wuss), but the lake was perfect for me to enjoy splashing around a while. We went out on the pontoon boat at least 5 times in 2 1/2 days and I could not have had a better time. I guess I am ready to retire after all.

The food was excellent, and I loved eating out on the screened-in porch, overlooking the water. As soon as I have a working computer (and assuming that my scanner did not get fried in the storm too) I will post photos of the lake. It is too bad that I didn't take photos of the food we ate, as my cousin could probably open a bed and breakfast and have it be wildly successful in no time. ( Angie - you would love it!). Fresh tomatoes and cukes from her garden, fresh cherries, cantaloupe, blueberries, biscuits - I could go on and on!

We were given a tour of the town in which they lived before they retired (Kingsport), and it was interesting to see it all. We had dinner in a great Italian restaurant, but I have forgotten the name already. That's par for the course these days!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Due to Numerous Requests from Hoss....

Hoss wants to know what else happened in the storm that fried my computer, so I will try to resurrect the sequence of events, hoping not to bore you silly with minute details. In the same storm, we also lost a coffee pot and four (count 'em, four) telephones! Those of you who remember my coffee pot saga of a few months ago aare probably rolling your eyes about now. This pot was only 2 days old!! I did return it to the store for a replacement, though, so all is well on the coffee front. The new pot (a Hamilton Beach Brew Station) is a dilly; so if you are in the market for a new pot - I recommend this one! There is no carafe to break; you just stick your cup under the spout and press!

As to the telephones - we have too many anyway (8 at last count) so we have only replaced 2 of the ones we lost. I still don't know why 2 people need 8 phones.

We took the old computer to Best Buy so the Geek Squad could check it out. I didn't have much saved on it, but my husband had 3-4 years worth of Geneaology research that he had never backed up (don't ask me why) so he is inconsolable about the loss. While we were in TN, they called and said that the computer was useless, but the C-drive may still had our info on it. Since then, a friend has checked and he says that all our info is still intact, so we can retrieve it at will (we just have to install it into another computer and then back it up and/or print it.

I was all set to buy a new computer, but my daughter said she would order a new Dell and have it drop shipped to me and I could pay her back whenever. That sounded fine to me, but my other daughter decided to order one through ebay, and then she called and said it would be delivered last Sat., which it was. As I may have already told you, it would not work - no matter what I did. The person she bought it from suggested that I call tech support and they could have me perform a series of tests to determine what might be wrong. He, of course, didn't want to accept any responsibility for it, saying "I am not the kind of person who sends out bad computers; I have a good rating with ebay, yada, yada!" I called tech support, not realizing that by doing so, I was registering the computer with the mfg. and that would absolve both the seller and ebay from any responsibility.

The tech support guy determined that the unit was defective in some way and said he would send me a pre-paid mailing label so I could send the unit back to them in TX. I sent it last Friday, and I was told that it would be a minimum of 2 weeks before they either repair it or replace it. BUMMER!

My advice to you is never to order one through the mail from a 3rd party, so if you do have issues with it, you can just return it to the place of purchase and get a refund. It is so much easier!

I wanted to buy another one this past weekend, when NC had a sales tax holiday, but that didn't seem to be a good thing fro me to do;according to my children I should wait to see what will happen with the other one. Thank God for the library!

Do you think I can ever catch up on reading your posts? Probably not, but I will surely try.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Hurray! I've Discovered the Public Library....

This is the first time I've been in a library in about 6-7 years! Who knew they had public computers? I sure didn't; guess I should have spent more time reading their p.r. pamphlets. I have only six minutes left on my time, so I have to make this quick. Maybe I can come back tomorrow and give it a proper effort. Your emails give me a much needed shot in the arm (hope I didn't say that last time). I cannot tell you how much I miss reading all your blogs (sorry Hoss) - and it will take we weeks to catch up. I find myself referring to most of you, and something you said, or at least thinking about what you might be writing about. Hope you are all well and thanks for sticking by me.

I almost went out to buy another new computer this weekend (especially since the sales taxes are waived for 3 days) but family considerations have made me decide not to do that - and I will have to wait until the new one is repaired or replaced. I will explain it all as soon as I have online access at home again.

Meanwhile, you are sadly missed.......I'll be back tomorrow if the good Lord is willing and the creeks don't rise. Judy

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I'm Glad to Know You mIss Me!

I'm such an attention hound!! I just finished reading my email messages, and many of them were from you guys. It gives me a proverbial shot in the arm to know you are still checking back to see when I will be posting again. Hoss asked if I couldn't post from someone else's computer - and I can (as I am doing now) - but I don't want to wear out my welcome here - so I try to minimize the time spent using another's computer. Can you live on these short bursts of gratitude until I am back full-strength??

Take care and know that I am missing all of you with a passion! Judy

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Series of Unfortunate Events.......

A whole series of unfortunate events has left me computerless still. The new one arrived, but it was defective. I have to send it back to the mfg. and wait for a replacement - which may take 2-3 weeks. I am inconsolable, as you might imagine. I promise to be back as soon as possible. I am at the mercy of friends who will let me use theirs for checking email, but I can't post to the blog until I get mine back. I hope you will hang in there with me! Thanks for all the nice messages........back soon, I hope. Judy