Thursday, September 29, 2005

Love Is.......

Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion...That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. [We] had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.
This is a quote by Louis de Bernieres, and I found it at If you don't read Helen everyday, you are missing out on some of the best writing in blogdom.

"You Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine"

When I was about six or seven, I walked home from school most everyday by myself. Sometimes kids would walk with me part of the way, and on one occasion, a boy I didn't know, who was 2 years older than I, fell in beside me on the 12 block trek. Just before we got to my street, he said: "You show me yours and I'll show you mine". I had been forewarned by my mom not to fall for this trick, so I said to him: " You go first".
He unzipped his pants and showed me his wares - and I ran off home. He tried to follow me, but his pants fell down around his ankles and he gave up. Can you just imagine how good I felt at outwitting him? I told my mom about it and she was livid, and wanted to find him and tell his parents. But we never figured out who he was or where he lived.
I didn't see this guy again until I was sixteen. I didn't recall him at first, but eventually that memory surfaced. I asked him if he remembered doing that. Of course, he would not admit it, but I was certain it was him. And would you believe? He gave me a chance to outwit him all over again!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Remarkable Obituary

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Mr. Common Sense. MrSense had been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm and that life isn't always fair.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge). His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition. Mr. Sense declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student; but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Finally, Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, she spilled a bit in her lap, and was awarded a huge financial settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by two stepbrothers; My Rights and Ima Whiner. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on; if not, join the majority and do nothing.

Another email jewel!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Before You Do Anything Else............

Before you do anything else today, go see this post and do what Kim tells you. This should be required reading for anyone who might ever need to go to a hospital emergency room!

Uh-Oh, You've Been Tagged by a Meme

I found this meme at This could be interesting!

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag some other people to do the same.

My 23rd post, fifth line reads "I always imagine these names being pronounced by Barney Fife and that makes me laugh a whole lot".

I have been keeping a record of names that sound funny to me since about 1963. I was working in a hospital at that time, and one of my chores was to go through some old record books to find the percentages of cancer found in our laboratory. Some of the names sent me into fits of giggles, and since then I have found scads more of them. If you want to read some of them, go to:

You know what could be interesting? If enough people do this meme and someone compiles all our lines into a story. I'm not volunteering for it, you understand, but I think it could be fun. Before my computer crashed in July, I remember reading a story created by a blogger who sought lines from each commenter to her site, which she then compiled into a very interesting short story. I have no clue now as to who she was. If you remember, please let me know.

For Those With a Philosophical Bent

If you are in the mood for it, run over to read this post by an introspective young woman named Lorianne. Time indeed flies when you are having fun, but there is nothing wrong with stopping to watch it pass either.

Then pop over to read all about the life and times of Peter's father in Australia; a wonderful ongoing story with good insight for those of us on other continents as to life in that part of the world:

Monday, September 26, 2005

~~Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep~~

From BBC News - Sleep position gives personality clue:

If you want an insight into somebody's true personality, then try to catch a glimpse of the way they sleep. Scientists believe the position in which a person goes to sleep provides an important clue about the kind of person they are.
Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, has analysed six common sleeping positions - and found that each is linked to a particular personality type.
"We are all aware of our body language when we are awake but this is the first time we have been able to see what our subconscious posture says about us.
"What's interesting is that the profile behind the posture is often very different from what we would expect."

To see the six positions studied by Professor Idzikowski
click here.

The Foetus: Those who curl up in the foetus position are described as tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. They may be shy when they first meet somebody, but soon relax. This is the most common sleeping position, adopted by 41% of the 1,000 people who took part in the survey. More than twice as many women as men tend to adopt this position.

Log (15%): Lying on your side with both arms down by your side. These sleepers are easy going, social people who like being part of the in-crowd, and who are trusting of strangers. However, they may be gullible.

The yearner (13%): People who sleep on their side with both arms out in front are said to have an open nature, but can be suspicious, cynical. They are slow to make up their minds, but once they have taken a decision, they are unlikely ever to change it.

Soldier (8%): Lying on your back with both arms pinned to your sides. People who sleep in this position are generally quiet and reserved. They don't like a fuss, but set themselves and others high standards.

Freefall (7%): Lying on your front with your hands around the pillow, and your head turned to one side. Often gregarious and brash people, but can be nervy and thin-skinned underneath, and don't like criticism, or extreme situations.

Starfish (5%): Lying on your back with both arms up around the pillow. These sleepers make good friends because they are always ready to listen to others, and offer help when needed. They generally don't like to be the centre of attention. The remainder of those in the poll said the position they fell asleep varied or did not know.

Health effect:
Professor Idzikowski also examined the effect of various sleeping positions on health.
He concluded that the freefall position was good for digestion, while the starfish and soldier positions were more likely to lead to snoring and a bad night's sleep.
Professor Idzikowski said: "Lying down flat means that stomach contents can more readily be worked back up into the mouth, while those who lie on their back may end up snoring and breathing less well during the night.
"Both these postures may not necessarily awaken the sleeper but could cause a less refreshing night's sleep."
The research also found that most people are unlikely to change their sleeping position. Just 5% said they sleep in a different position every night.
Duvet position:
Professor Idzikowski also found that one arm or leg sticking out of the duvet is Britain's most common position, followed by both feet poking out the end.
One in ten people like to cover themselves entirely with the duvet.

Where do you fit in this study? Do you sleep in the most common position? I usually go to sleep on my side, but I often wake on my back with both arms up over my head, curled around the pillow. Speaking of pillows, have you seen the new "Mooshi" or "Cooshie" pillows? They are made by various firms (and have different names), but all of them have tiny microfiber beads inside a stretchy cover. They are absolutely the best for sleeping; they don't put wrinkles or creases on your face, and they support your head and neck like no other pillow I've ever used.

Have you ever awakened from a deep sleep with your ear hurting and feeling like it has been permanently glued back to your skull? Then when you raise your head off the pillow for a minute that ear hurts even worse? I don't know why it happens, but I speculate that it is because we stay too long in one position; putting too much pressure on that ear. Since I began sleeping on my Mooshie, that has not happened to me. That company should hire me as their spokesperson since I am so gung-ho for them!

What I wonder is how Professor Idzikowski came up with his analysis of each position? How would he know that people who sleep in the "Log" position are gullible? Or that "Freefall" sleepers hate criticism? I just don't see the connection.

Mothers Throughout History....What They Might Have Said

After all the money your father and I spent on braces, that's the biggest smile you can give us?

I don't care what you've discovered, you still could have written!

Can't you paint on walls like other children? Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that junk off the ceiling?

All right, if you aren't hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out and show me.

The next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!

Of course I'm proud that you invented the electric light bulb. Now turn it off and get to bed!

I don't care where you think you have to go, young man; midnight is past your curfew.

That's a nice story. Now tell me where you've really been for the last forty years.

Can't you do something about your hair?

I did not write this; it came to me in email.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Armchair Travelogue ~ Arizona

In 1999, my daughter and I flew to Phoenix, picked-up a rental car, drove to Flagstaff,
checked in to our hotel, jumped back in the car and drove to the Grand Canyon. I left home early in the morning and by the time we got back to our hotel, I had been up for about 22 hours straight. My husband refers to it as the mile a minute trip. The problem was we only had 3 1/2 days for a vacation, and we wanted to pack as much into it as possible.

The top two photos are of Taliesen West, the compound of Frank Lloyd Wright. I doubt there is anyone reading this who doesn't know he was one of the greatest architects who ever lived. Taliesen is in Scottsdale, AZ, very close to Phoenix. You can see much better photos than mine at: and read about it at:

The bottom two photos were taken at Sunset Crater, located just outside of Flagstaff, AZ. This crater last erupted in approximately 1,000 AD. Read about it, and view photos at:

The bottom photo is of petrified tree roots which were burned and blown out of the ground when the volcano erupted. Can you imagine standing next to something from nature which has been around that long? I cannot imagine that the wood didn't disintegrate over time.

After we toured the grounds of Sunset Crater, we drove through Oak Creek Canyon, to Sedona. That is a lovely area of the country and I enjoyed it a great deal. The only problem we had was a flat tire; it happened on the back roads where we had gone to get a good view of the Red Rocks. A cactus spine was driven in sideways in the tire and it lost air rapidly. Being Sunday, we couldn't find a gas station open that had a replacement tire, so we had to put on the spare and drive all the way back to Flagstaff's airport, to trade our rental car for another one. Later, we returned to Phoenix and checked into our hotel, The Camelback Inn. Using that as our base, we toured Phoenix and the surrounding areas, including Scottsdale. It was a good three-day vacation, but if I ever go back there, I'd want more time, especially in Flagstaff and Sedona. Read about Sedona and the canyon here:

Friday, September 23, 2005

Golden Oldies #6, Good Memories and a Rant!

Top row:
L. My grandmother Cora Fidelia, her husband, Clarence, aka Bucky, a judge and the mayor of our town sometime in the 30's or 40's.
M. My grandmother again, all tricked out in her Sunday best! This is sometime in the 20's.
R. My mom and dad. Don't you love the hats men used to wear? Hombergs were the fashion of the day, and no self-respecting man went out without one.

Middle row:
L. Mom and Dad (were bras out of fashion then, Mom?) before they were married.
M. Bucky, surveying his domain.
R. Mom wheeling me down the main street in 1941. There were roving photographers back then who would snap a photo and then attempt to sell it to you. The back of it is printed as a post card. Obviously she bought it and I suppose most mothers wouldn't be able to resist. I don't know how much it cost back then, but I suspect it was no more than 5-10 cents.

Bottom Row:
L. my mom, in her flapper hat, circa 1920-25
M. I think it's my uncles' daughter with his first wife. I guess Mary Jane's will never go completely out of style.
R. My mom and her sister

Speaking of men's hats, in my home town there was a wonderful store - The Fife Street Shoe Shop - where in addition to repairing shoes, purses and luggage, they steamed and blocked hats that had gotten stretched or had sustained water damage. I loved the smells in that store: leather, polish, steam, wet felt. Of course those wonderful aromas had to compete with the odors of feet and sweaty socks, because this was a "repair while you wait" store. They had small cubicles you could go into, take off your shoes, hand them to the clerk who would bring them back to you in a few minutes with new taps, or heels, or a repaired strap, what ever they needed. Only the most intricate repairs required a longer stay in the shop, and most repairs could be accomplished in a short time. Why is it nowadays, when you take shoes or purses into the shop for repair they have to keep them at least a week? I think the repairmen want us to think that it is a lot more difficult than it really is so they can charge exhorbitant amounts for the repairs. I had a small piece of luggage with a zipper off track not long ago, and when I took it in for repair, they wanted $17.50 to LOOK at it. That was their minimum charge! I had gotten the luggage on sale for no more than $25-30, so a charge of $17.50 was hardly warranted for something with a little age on it.

Maybe they charge so much because most of us don't have our shoes or anything else repaired any more. If they break - we toss them. We have truly become a throwaway society, and nearly everything we buy has "planned obsolescence". Some of us are convinced that we must have the lastest toy, the strongest technology, the largest gas-guzzler, the newest model of everything. Some appliance repair stores around have closed for lack of business (except for warranty repairs). I have a beloved old word processor which is going bad; the monitor is rapidly darkening. The two closest places I can get it repaired (assuming they can fix it) are more than 200 miles from here. I really want to get it repaired, but they don't make it easy, since I have to ship it and pay a minimum, whether it can be repaired or not. So I may be forced to throw it away and learn to do my proposals and letters on the computer. My children have been warning me that one day I would have to learn how to do it, and sadly, they were right!

Forty Things You'll Never Hear a Southerner Say

40. Oh I just couldn't. Hell, she's only sixteen.
39. I'll take Shakespeare for 1000, Alex.
38. Duct tape won't fix that.
37. Lisa Marie was lucky to catch Michael.
36. Come to think of it, I'll have a Heineken.
35. We don't keep firearms in this house.
34. Has anybody seen the sideburns trimmer?
33. You can't feed that to the dog.
32. I thought Graceland was tacky.
31. No kids in the back of the pickup, it's just not safe.
30. Wrasslin's fake.
29. Honey, did you mail that donation to Greenpeace?
28. We're vegetarians.
27. Do you think my gut is too big?
26. I'll have grapefruit and grapes instead of biscuits and gravy.
25. Honey, we don't need another dog.
24. Who's Richard Petty?
23. Give me the small bag of pork rinds.
22. Too many deer heads detract from the decor.
21. Spittin is such a nasty habit.
20. I just couldn't find a thing at Walmart today.
19. Trim the fat off that steak.
18. Cappuccino tastes better than espresso.
17. The tires on that truck are too big.
16. I'll have the arugula and radicchio salad.
15. I've got it all on the C drive.
14. Unsweetened tea tastes better.
13. Would you like your salmon poached or broiled?
12. My fiancé, Bobbie Jo, is registered at Tiffany's.
11. I've got two cases of Zima for the Super Bowl.
10. Little Debbie snack cakes have too many fat grams.
09. Checkmate.
08. She's too young to be wearing a bikini.
07. Does the salad bar have bean sprouts?
06. Hey, here's an episode of "Hee Haw" that we haven't seen.
05. I don't have a favorite college team.
04. Be sure to bring my salad dressing on the side.
03. I believe you cooked those green beans too long.
02. Those shorts ought to be a little longer, Darla.
01. Nope, no more for me. I'm drivin tonight.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Science Test answers

Children's Science Exam Answers. These are real answers given by children.

Q: Name the four seasons.
A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.
Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.
Q: How is dew formed?
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.
Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?
A: Keep it in the cow.
Q: What causes the tides in the oceans?
A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends
to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature hates a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.
Q: What are steroids?
A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.
Q: What happens to your body as you age?
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.
Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A: He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.
Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes.
A: Premature death.
Q: What is artificial insemination?
A: When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow.
Q: How are the main parts of the body categorized? (e.g., abdomen.)
A: The body is consisted into three parts - the brainium, the borax and
the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain; the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels,A, E, I, O, and U.
Q: What is the fibula?
A: A small lie.
Q: What does "varicose" mean?
A: Nearby.
Q: Give the meaning of the term "Caesarean Section"
A: The Caesarean Section is a district in Rome.
Q: What does the word "benign" mean?'
A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Crab Nebula ~ Art in the Universe

If this photo of the Crab Nebula rings your chimes, hightail it over to this site for a similar photo every day, along with an explanation of what you are seeing. In this case, it is what happens when a star explodes. Read all about it in the site below:

.....Till the Cows Come Home.....

What a dedicated bovine mother will do to reach her calf!

Evaporated Milk by Charlotte Ferrell Smith

Charleston Daily Mail ............. Tuesday September 20, 2005

MILTON, WV: As she rode to her new home, Winnie watched through the holes of a trailer pulled by a Dodge truck. A couple of months earlier, she had given birth. Some might speculate that she needed to remember the route so she could go back for the baby. Winnie, a 1,050-pound Charolais, was purchased for $550 Sept. 10 by Windell and Linda Shull, who live on Barker's Ridge. They bought her along with an Angus named Blackie for another $600. They wanted cows to clear their nine acres of land. Windell was tired of mowing and weed eating. However, they decided they didn't need Winnie's calf, Beauty.
They bought the two cows from Windell's brother, Jennings Shull, who lives about 20 miles away on Mud River Road. The two cows seemed to fit nicely with their menagerie of cats, dogs and horses. But when Windell went to feed the cows the following morning, Winnie was gone. An inspection of the fence revealed a tree had fallen on a section, leaving a hole big enough for a cow to squeeze through. At first, the Shulls figured she was grazing in a neighbor's pasture. Then they started getting calls. Winnie had been spotted in several areas. There was even a 911 call regarding a cow in the road in Milton.
However, the elusive Winnie managed to keep meandering along. "She went down Barker's Ridge and was seen going down Dudley Gap Road to Milton," Linda said. "She traveled through woods and through people's yards. Altogether, she went a little over 20 miles." Windell continued to follow leads regarding Winnie's whereabouts. Finally, she was seen a quarter of a mile from the home of Jennings Shull. However, she was on the wrong side of Mud River. With an instinctive tracker like a global positioning satellite, it's not inconceivable a cow could navigate her way back to where she started, said Joe Starcher, the state veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture. Out west, cattle that are taken miles away from home to graze are left to their own devices to find their way back to the ranch, Starcher noted.

Winnie, a cow drawn by motherly impulse, would have had to navigate even more difficult obstacles such as highway bridges, Starcher said. "If she could cross interstate bridges and everything, I think it's a realistic story," he said. "To find her way back to the spot where she was originally within a 20 mile area is plausible."
Wayward Winnie finally was retrieved when Windell -- assisted by two brothers and a nephew -- managed to capture her by tying a rope around the calf and leading Beauty in the direction he wanted the mother to go.
"The calf bawled, and she followed it to the truck," Windell said.
Winnie and Beauty were so happy to be reunited that Linda and Windell reconsidered how many cows they needed to graze in their pasture.
"I felt sorry for the calf and the cow," Linda said. "I wanted the calf, too."
So, they shelled out another $200 for the 250-pound baby.

Winnie's two-day journey was not without mishap. Barbed wire fences and brush left cuts on her sides and scratches on her sack. But she couldn't be happier. Winnie and Beauty now graze side by side swishing happy cow tales.
"They're going to stay together," Linda said.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

From Favorites to Life Lessons.....

My favorites list is burgeoning! After counting my list of blog links recently, I was amazed to discover that it has grown to NINETY-ONE! Since then I have added even more. That does not include other types of links, only blogs. No wonder it takes me so long to read through all the posts. Thank Heaven that you do not all write new posts everyday, or I'd never get any sleep!

It has reached the point that I ought to delete one for every new one added. Problem is, I hardly ever want to delete any - unless you go weeks without adding a new post - and then you are in danger of being erased from my memory bank. So get busy (and consider youself forewarned!)
My cat Storm has taken to laying on her back beside my desk chair, with all her tender underparts exposed, in hopes I will take pity and rub her big fat belly. It works, of course, I always do it. There is something about a fat, fuzzy cat's belly that fairly begs to be rubbed. I've even buried my face in them sometimes, though I probably shouldn't admit
That adult-onset dyslexia I wrote about before is alive and well this morning. When I typed "big" and "fat" above, it came out as "gib fta". Maybe my fingers are getting too fast for my mind? I have never had a typing course; learned all I know about it through the typical hunt and peck system. I am getting pretty fast now that I blog so much. Perhaps I should shoot for accuracy as well.
I went to the nail salon yesterday and treated myself to a manicure and a pedicure, which I don't do often. The salon is run by a family of people from Vietnam, who chatter incessantly in their native tongue while they are working on you. The wife was doing my hands, while the husband was working on my feet and she ran on and on about something, and he never said a word the whole time (probably 20 minutes). I really wish I knew some Vietnamese words so I could interject a few into the conversation. Can you imagine their surprise if I suddenly began talking to them in their language?
I've been thinking that I should go to another salon; one where English is the native tongue, so that I can really understand what they are asking me - and I won't inadvertantly agree to some treatment that might remove my toenails and cost me a fortune for the privilege. I do think I need to ask her to shut up when he is doing my feet; he bore down on my right big toe with the file and nicked my skin in the process. I just know it was because he wanted to verbally slap her out of her harangue, but refrained from doing so in front of me. Those Asian men are so polite!
I'm off to the hair salon today (this is a take-care-of-Judy week, you might say) for a cut n' color. The guy who has been cutting my hair for 25 years has had a lot of physical problems lately, such as heart attacks, Rocky Mt. spotted fever and a host of other things, many of which I fear are fueled by prodigious alcohol consumption. In 3 out of the last 6 months, he has cancelled my appointment at the last minute., like calling at 8 am for a 9 am appointment. So, while I am sometimes a patient woman - I am rapidly losing my patience with this man - and I have decided to switch to the owner of the salon for my hair needs. It may be that the old stylist will be there today, and see me with the competition, and I am not looking forward to the possible confrontation or having to explain why I am "beating him while he is down" (as he is sure to see it). ***update below.
***Luckily my old stylist was not at the shop today, so the confrontation I thought may happen was all a figment of my imagination. The salon owner told me he has not seen my guy in almost 3 months, nor has he been paying the rent on his space. It will be given to someone new at the first of October. See what happens when you let depression drive you to alcoholism? I like a good drink as much as anyone, but I don't understand people who let it (or drugs) take over their lives and ruin them. This guy has been a first class hair stylist for 35 years; he studied in London with Vidal Sassoon when Sassoon was at his peak. He could have really gone far in his life, but he let two failed marriages be his downfall. It is so sad to witness a life thrown away, especially at a time when he should have been looking forward to retirement and leisure. File this one under "life lessons for the rest of us".

Monday, September 19, 2005

~Disorder in the Courts~

These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.
ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

This, Ladies and Gentlemen, concludes my 200th post!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

In Retrospect ~ Summers in Ohio

My mother's sister lived in Warren, Ohio during the 40's to the 60's and we used to go to visit her for a week in the summer. She and my Uncle Joe had a dog named Pooch, a water spaniel who had a "liver spot" coat. Pooch was a wonderful dog and my favorite Ohio companion. I had a playmate named Norma Gipp, who lived around the corner. She had a huge cherry tree in her back yard and it was always in full fruit when we visited. Shaking the tree would bring down showers of fresh cherries and I would come back to my aunt's home with my face, hands and clothes smeared with red cherry juice, oh - and a very full stomach!

Norma had one thing she used to say to everyone; she would ask us to spell her name and add the word funny. I was amused to see that it was "G-I-P-P funny.
(Remember, I was 8-12 years old.) At the time, I wished I had such a neat name! One year while we were there, Norma's school had not let out for the summer, so she took me to school with her. The kids in her class wanted to know if I grew cotton and peanuts "way down there in WV". I asked them if they had ever studied geography - or looked at a map. I could not believe that they really thought WV was that far south! They teased me for saying "you all" and I had nothing but scorn for those who said "youse guys".

My aunt was a world-class cook, and I have written about her prowess before. She and my uncle Joe loved to fish, and they always cooked whatever they caught and she made it taste like manna from Heaven. She took me on my first fishing trip at age six to Lake Pamatuning (it might be Pymatuning) which is in or near PA, not far from where she lived. I had beginner's luck; catching several sunfish that first time. I was so proud.

We used to go to Lake Erie to swim and have amazing picnics, which had to be the forerunners of modern-day tailgaiting for all their elaborateness. I think I may have already written about them too. I loved going to the lake; I had not been to see the ocean, but I didn't see how it could be any bigger than Lake Erie. The water was clear back then (I understand it is not so clean now) and it was fun to wade out for what seemed like a mile on the clean, soft sandy bottom. When we tired of swimming, we would walk out onto the long rock jetties which jutted out into the lake, and pretend we were going to catch a cruise ship to far-away lands.
My aunt's house had a big, wide front porch. The house was built in the craftsman-style, a bungalow. I loved to sit after dinner in her cushioned glider or in the swing, talking and asking questions about the "olden days". All the children on the block came out at night to catch lightning bugs in vented mayonnaise jars. Those bugs were so plentiful back then you could catch 10 every minute without even trying. That was before the advent of DDT, whih I suppose was a good chemical for some things, but it also killed many beneficial or harmless bugs.

Across the street from my aunt's house, there was a huge parking lot used by the employees of a business that eventually became Hewlett-Packard, if I remember correctly. On weekends, when it was empty, we could ride bikes to our heart's content without our parents worrying we would get hit. Of course, I always had to borrow a bike from someone nice enough to share, but nice people were not in short supply back then.
Sometimes we would play croquet in the back yard. One particularly nice Fourth of July, my uncle was grilling Italian sausages and hot dogs on the "new built-in barbecue grill" and I was helping to set up the croquet game. Barefoot as usual, I stepped on a bee in the grass. I howled; it hurt soooo bad. He stung me on the arch, in a tender spot. I was grounded for several days, as I could not put foot to floor without wincing in pain. That didn't dissuade me from going barefoot, though, which I did nearly everyday (at least in the house) until I cut my toe in the lawn mowing accident. After that, I had to wear shoes to protect that delicate digit, which I would invariably hit on the base of the kitchen counters. Talk about pain! But I digress.
My summers in Ohio were a wonderful part of my growing up and learning how people who lived in other places differed from my family. I thought at the time they were very different, but I came to realize that we were alike in the ways that mattered most, and the ways we differed just made us more interesting to each other. I learned tolerance for those differences, and for that, I am grateful.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Warning.....The Consumption of Alcohol May........


Liquor manufacturers have accepted the Government's suggestion that the following warning labels be placed immediately on all varieties of alcohol containers:

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell happened to your bra and panties.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol is a major factor in dancing like a retard.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause! you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can sing.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause pregnancy.
WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may be a major factor in getting your ass kicked.
WARNING: The crumsumpten of alcohol may Mack you tink you kan tpye reel gode.

No Pain? Thank Your Lucky Stars!

I read in the most recent AARP magazine about natural opiates the body produces when we have severe trauma. Katherine Greider writes:

"Why don't some of the most traumatic injuries hurt at first? Possibly because a marijuana-like compound made by the body kicks in and dulls the pain, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Georgia found.

The discovery could lead to new drugs that boost the effect of the pot-like chemicals, called cannabinoids, without the side effects of existing pain medications, says a report in the June 23 issue of Nature."

NEWS FLASH: I have been well aware of this since 1974! If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to read further. That summer, our lawn mower was on the fritz so I borrowed one from my dad and mom, who were living in Raleigh at the time. The mower was very old, one of the first gas mowers on the market, and it had an unprotected exhaust at the rear. I was trying to mow a hilly area in our yard, which sloped down into a drainage ditch beside the road. The grass was still wet from dew and stupid me had on old-fashioned Keds, with little to no traction on the soles. My foot slipped under the back of the mower and it cut my toes. At that moment I had no idea how much damage had occurred. I screamed over the noise of the mower for my husband; who ran to turn off the mower and help me up. Blood immediately spread all over the white shoes, but there was no pain. No pain at all. I was afraid to take off my shoe, so I left it on and wrapped my foot in a thick towel.

We called a neighbor to stay with my children so Hub could take me to the emergency room. I was immediately put in bed and they took off my shoe and placed my foot into a bath of warm water with disinfectant. Even though I have a fairly strong stomach, I didn't look at it. It still was not hurting. After the doctor examined me, he called an orthopedic surgeon, who put 22 stitches into my big toe. Of course they shot anesthetic into the toe before they did the stitches, but I felt no pain even then. I learned later on how thankful I ought to be for those cannabis-like compounds my body had produced, because when the pain did kick in, it was excruciating and unrelenting. The doctor had given me a prescription for a painkiller I had not had before - Percodan. I took it according to instructions and lay with my feet elevated above my head, but I hurt so badly I could hardly speak. That went on all day Saturday, all of Sunday and into Monday morning, and by that time I was biting into the corners of a feather pillow in order not to scream with the pain. I called the doc's office and heard the nurse say " Well, you are one of those 1 in 20". I asked what she meant and she told me that 1 in 20 people cannot take Percodan and get any relief; that it is a man-made compound and some people are not affected by it. Now they tell me! After that, they phoned in another prescription for pain and thankfully, that took care of most of it. One lesson I learned through this is that if you are taking a pain medication and it is ineffectual, or you think it might be, do not wait 3 days to call the doc about it! (They will not think you are a wuss!) If your pain was caused by trauma, thank your lucky stars for the compound your own body produces to alleviate it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hospital Chart Bloopers


Actual writings taken from from hospital charts:

1. The patient refused autopsy.
2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
4. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
6. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
9. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.
10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
12. She is numb from her toes down.
13. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
14. The skin was moist and dry.
15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
16. Patient was alert and unresponsive
17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
18 She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
21. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
23 Skin: somewhat pale but present.
24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

Nobody ever said that docs have to get A's in syntax, spelling and logic did they? Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lightning and Muffin

Lightning Among the Roses:

Lightning belonged to my daughter, and when she moved from an apartment to the dorm on campus, he had to come and live with me. She named him Lightning because he could run 100 feet in one second - or at least it seemed that way. He was so fast that sometimes you'd wonder if you really had 2 cats in the house. I grew to love Lightning in short order. Just when I was sitting down at my desk to do paper work, he would jump up on it and sprawl on whatever papers were there, purring loudly and switching his tail in pleasure. No amount of talking and removing him could convince him that I did not want him there. Up he jumped, over and over. I usually gave up - and waited until a time when he was outside before trying the paper work again. In spite of Lightning's quickness, he met an ignominious death. There was a band of 3 stray dogs roving the county at that time, and they caught Lightning before he could reach the safety of our fenced deck, breaking his back before I scared them away by screaming and hollering. He died at the emergency vet's ofc. I have always loved this photo of him walking the deck railings between the roses and it brings me solace when I think of him.

Muffin was both a blessing and a curse during the 15 years we had her. When we adopted her from the SPCA, she was less than 6 weeks old, and so tiny that I could hold her in one hand. We laughed at her attempting to walk through our grass; she was so small that she had a hard time navigating through a 3" tall lawn. The first few weeks were pure hell for me; she refused to sleep without a human nearby, and she howled everytime we left her alone. I tried hot water bottles, ticking clocks, warm blankets, etc., but nothing did the trick unless I was by her side. In order to keep peace in the house so everyone else could sleep, I started sleeping on the pull-out couch in the den with Muffin by my side. I assumed that she would settle down as she matured, but no such luck. That set a pattern I had to follow for years to come. Another pattern she set was that of eating everything in sight, especially couch upholstery, rug fringe, shoes, chair legs, fingers, etc. I kept a lot of her damage as secret as possible or I would have had to take her back to the SPCA, and I just couldn't bring myself to do that. The really bad thing about Muffin was she decided that my dining room floor was to be her only bathroom, and for the whole 15 years we had her, that remained so. I suppose most people would not have stood for that, but in spite of every problem she caused, she was so sweet and affectionate and cute that we all forgave her every sin. I loved her long and well and she brought all of us much joy, but I must admit I was not completely unhappy when she left us and I was finally able to clean up the dining room and make it habitable again. That doesn't mean I didn't cry, however, as I wailed like a banshee. Muffin was one in a million and I could never replace her. Won't even try.

Monday, September 12, 2005

HOORAY, I Knew Someone Would Come Through!

Blessed Jennifer at knew to whom I was referring in the last post!

It is Badaunt at ! I love most of what she posts and the way she writes, and sometimes it is a good lesson about life in Japan. Check her out.

Thanks, Jennifer, I knew someone would come through for me! Now I am going to go see what I have missed since July.

Almost Heaven ~ West Virginia

Ahhhhhh, take me home, country the place I belong.....WV...Mountain Mama.....

Left: The West Virginia State Capitol, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the U.S., is Italian Renaissance architecture and closely resembles our nation's capitol in D.C. It sits beside the Kanawha River.

Next: The New River Gorge Bridge, opened in 1977 and until 2003 it was the longest steel arch bridge in the world at 3030 1/2 feet. It was also the highest above water at 873 feet. The cost to erect this bridge was $34 million. See more about the bridge at

Dome: the dome of the capitol building is covered in real gold, and at present it is being re-done, so the capitol dome is shrouded in plastic, which the locals have named the "con-dome".

Bottom: the Governor's Mansion is a classic example of Georgian colonial architecture, and it overlooks the Kanawha River on U.S. Route 60, the Midland Trail of pioneer days.

On the top right: The Greenbrier is a resort without parallel in the U.S. Many Presidents, Governors and various members of European Royalty have stayed there since it opened in 1778. Check it out at:

The menu card is dated November 24, 1952, and was saved by my mom after she and my dad stayed there.

Bottom: a photo I took when my husband and I stayed there in the 80's. This is the loggia beside the indoor pool, which is fabulous! If you are looking for a new place to vacation, the Greenbrier is worthy of consideration. If you would be interested in a somewhat less fancy resort, check out for other options.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Modern Day Pen Pals ~ Duh!

You guys probably already made this connection a long time ago, but I am newer to the Land of Blog and slower than you. It dawned on me today that blogs are really letters. Used to be, you'd write a letter to someone and send it off and if you were lucky, you'd get an answer within a week or maybe a month. That letter went to one person (unless you were lazy enough to copy and send it to someone else, like the girls who had more than one guy on a string). Nowadays, we write a blog and hit publish, and the numbers of people who read (or might read) it are limitless; to say nothing of the speed with which we receive an answer or comment. Boggles the mind!

Did you ever have a pen pal? When I was in 5-6th grade, we were offered the chance to become a pen pal for a child of a similar age in some other, more exotic part of the world. The one I chose, was a girl named Crista Dietz, who lived in Hamburg, Germany. At least, I think it was Hamburg. I regret that I have not kept her letters, and the one photograph I had of her is lost somewhere in my many boxes of memorabilia. We kept up our correspondence for about 2 years. I harbored dreams of one day going to Germany to meet Crista, but that never happened. Crista, I hope you've had a nice life.

Along with the realization that blogs are the same as letters, I also think that some blog writers become our "pen pals" - or - "blog pals". We get instant comments and sometimes email. I see other bloggers mention getting together to meet each other, and feeling as though they have already met since they know so much of what the person is like. Isn't that what it would be like to meet a pen pal with whom you have been corresponding for a while?

The point of all this is that I have finally learned what I will say when someone asks me "What is a blog" or "Why do you write one?". I am writing letters to the world, and it is answering me. Blogdom is a collection of letter writers and e-pen pals, doing what they do best - writing. I am so glad I have it all figured out at last!

South Hills Country Day School (it hasn't been the same since)

At the age of four, my mom enrolled me in the South Hills Country Day School. I found my yearly report in an old box of childhood stuff and reading it, I realized that the teacher had me pegged pretty well even then, and I have not changed a whole lot since that time. For example:

"Does nice work in all types of constructive play. Very capable of doing delightful work with paint but is still too busy experimenting with all of our equipment to concentrate for long on one piece of work. " Could this have been ADD? I still exhibit signs of a short attention span with everything except flower arranging and blogging!

" Loves music time. Carries a melody delightfully". (That's twice already she used the word delightful). That has changed, as NO ONE would describe my singing that way now, but I do still love nearly all types of music.

"Judy has an excellent vocabulary and expresses herself well". I like to think I still do. Of course, I cuss every now and then, but I intersperse the cussing with some big words just to keep them fresh in my mind.

Under the category "Ability to play with others": "Is in the process of adjusting. Consideration of the group will grow." Hmmmm....maybe. Sometimes I still try try to control things, so maybe I have not grown much here.

In the category, "Ablity to face situations": " It is not easy for Judy to conform to group rules. She understands but disobeys in order to gain attention. This comes from being an only child and the constant center of attention at home. Sometimes sullen. Faces most situations squarely - sometimes fits her stories to suit the needs of the moment." LOL! My husband would often say I am sullen, I suspect, and he thinks I change my stories to fit the moment (but I don't), or that I cry on cue to make him sympathetic (which I don't).

And here is the kicker: "Disliking the job of cleaning up, she has no problem persuading others to do her tasks." LOL, again. I remember a kid in this class who was being mainstreamed. I don't think they called it that in 1945, but he was 5-6 years older than the rest of us and classified as learning disabled (yes, I know they called it retarded back then. Such a horrible term). Joe was especially eager to please, mainly as a way to be included in the group. He proved time and time again that he would do anything I asked of him; such as putting away the toys I had been playing with, rolling up my sleeping bag after nap time, and pushing me on the swings at recess. He even ate the snacks I deemed too putrid to consider.

Since then, I have learned how to put away my own messes and clean up after my family, but I often wish I had a "Joe" to help me now. I wonder what ever happened to him?

The thing I remember most about the time at this school was that during rest time, we had to remove our shoes and slip into quilted "napping bags". I always removed my socks too, which was a No-No, according to the teacher. The rationale was that bare feet would be unsanitary, but I could not stand to lie in that sleeping bag with my socks on. The feel of it was something akin to that horrible sound you get when you scrape your fingernails on the blackboard. I just couldn't take lying there, day after day, with my socks on. So every day, about 5 minutes into the "nap" I would slide my hands down into the bag and take off my socks - and everyday the teacher would yell at me and make me put them back on. I finally learned to do it so surreptitiously that she was unaware - and did it everyday for the rest of the year. I really do think she was very happy when it was time for me to move on to the first grade!

I am well aware that this is the fourth anniversary of 9/11. I was going to post photos of the WTC taken over the years on our trips to the city, but I decided not to, since you have all been bombarded with those images time and time again. The most important thing we can do today is remember those who died due to terrorism perpetrated by cowards and evil men. We must never forget, and we must do all we can to make certain it will not happen again.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Armchair Travelogue ~ Barbados

Top left:Bridgetown, the capital.

Bottom left: Sam Lord's Castle. Sam Lord was a pirate, and you may read about his house here: When we stayed there, it was a Marriott, but it has now changed hands. The grounds were beautiful, with mountains of bougainvillea and 6-10' tall hedges of hibiscus, and the beach, though rocky, had wonderful tidal pools of crystal clear water and white, white sand. They have a small casino, with only slot machines. My daughter and I frequented it every evening, always trying to get the machine closest to the door. We had heard that casinos always rig the machines closest to the entrance to pay out more often, drawing people in. She is always lucky at slots, and I prefer not to discuss my prowess (or lack therof). It is located on the Southeastern coast of the island. The Eastern coast, fronting on the Caribbean, is flat, much calmer and not as rocky. Most of the luxury resorts are located in this area, which is close to Bridgetown.

Top right: a Burmese couple we met in the hot tub at our hotel. They did the caverns tour with us and they invited us to have dinner with them one evening. Can you imagine sitting in a pizza restaurant on Barbados with a couple from Burma? They were on their honeymoon, so we were flattered to have been invited to share one of their evenings. Both of them were medical students in Chicago. I always wondered what had happened to them and whether they had returned to Burma (now called Myanmar; see after their residencies.

Second on right: a beautiful old stone church, mossy and dark with years of grime, and heavily attended that Sunday. We passed just as the parishioners were exiting; dressed in their finest frills (especially the children) and all the women wore large, beautiful, fancy hats. Their dresses were so brightly colored and lacy, I might have thought it was Easter, which is about the only time we here in the US dress up for church anymore.

The bottom photo was taken inside Harrison's Caves.
Tourists ride in small trams, much like the ones at Disney World, and go deep underground. The stalagmites and stalactites (**do you know how to tell the difference?) are plentiful and the water is so clear that depths of 30' appear to be no more than 3'.

**Stalagmites - the G stands for ground, so they are the ones building up on the ground.
Stalactites - the C stands for ceiling, so they are the ones hanging down from above; but I probably did not need to tell you that, did I?

Friday, September 09, 2005

And On a Lighter Note ~ Redneck Computer Terms

BACKUP - What you do when you run across a skunk in the woods.
BAR CODE - Them's the fight'n rules down at the local tavern.
BUG - The reason you give for calling in sick.
BYTE - What your pit bull dun to cusin Jethro.
CACHE - Needed when you run out of food stamps.
CHIP - Pasture muffins that you try not to step in.
TERMINAL - Time to call the undertaker.
CRASH - When you go to Junior's party uninvited.
DIGITAL - The art of counting on your fingers.
DISKETTE - Female Disco dancer.
FAX - What you lie about to the IRS.
HACKER - Uncle Leroy after 32 years of smoking.
HARDCOPY - Picture looked at when selecting tattoos.
INTERNET - Where cafeteria workers put their hair.
KEYBOARD - Where you hang the keys to the John Deere.
MAC - Big Bubba's favorite fast food.
MEGAHERTZ - How your head feels after 17 beers.
MODEM - What ya did when the grass and weeds got too tall.
MOUSE PAD - Where Mickey and Minnie live.
NETWORK - Scoop'n up a big fish before it breaks the line.
ONLINE - Where to stay when taking the sobriety test.
ROM - Where the pope lives.
SCREEN - Helps keep the skeeters off the porch.
SERIAL PORT - A red wine you drink with breakfast.
SUPERCONDUCTOR - Amtrak's Employee of the year.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Dad, the Man I hardly Knew Until.....

Edit: This is a re-post; I added this photo of Dad and a water color I made of him in 1959.
I barely knew my father until after my mom died. She was such a strong personality that he seldom voiced an opinion around her, unless it was to agree with her. I had grown up thinking that my dad didn't have opinions about anything. Imagine my surprise when shortly after she died, he began talking and didn't stop until he got very ill.

Daddy was a laborer; a jack of all trades and master of a few. For most of his life, he worked for Union Carbide, as a maintenance foreman, doing all sorts of repair jobs involving rivets, hammers, drills, screwdrivers, wiring, painting, plumbing, rigging, and you name it - he probably did it. He was always the first man to agree to work overtime, especially on holidays because it meant double time and a half pay. His goal was to make as much money as he could for my mom and me. I don't think he knew how much I would have liked him to be home on Christmas morning when we opened presents, or to be with us at church on Easter and Father's Day. He had a singular goal, and come hell or high water, he was going to do it.

Everything he did at work, he also did at home. His weekends (if he was not at Carbide) consisted of him checking out the whole house and yard and doing or planning to do what needed doing. We never had to hire a company to fix the plumbing or replace an electrical outlet or paint the house or mow the lawn. If there was no maintenance needed at the house, he spent his time cleaning and rearranging his tools to ready them for the next job. He climbed onto my roof to vent my dryer when he was 78, and painted his 2-storey home when he was 80. He was about 85 years old when he finally had to admit he couldn't keep up the pace anymore. Union Carbide had a lot of asbestos fibers floating around in the air, and over the years they deposited in my dad's lungs. He also smoked unfiltered Camels for many years, so that took its toll as well. His lungs and eventually his heart gave out and he died at age 91. I was on my way to Charleston when he died. That was over 10 years ago, and I still feel cheated that I didn't get to see him one last time. I hope he knew that I was on my way, even if I didn't get there in time.

His funeral was a revelation to me. There were almost 500 people there; men he had worked with, former neighbors, his fellow Masons and Shriners and Eastern Stars and many people from our church. It seems funny now that as a child (and even as a young woman) I had no idea he had made that much of an impact on people. He used to joke that he was so old, there would be no one left to attend his funeral. He was so wrong about that. Person after person came up to tell me what a wonderful man my dad had been, and I was surprised. I knew he was wonderful - but I had no idea everyone else knew it too. He and mom adopted me at birth. Little did I know how lucky I was. You are sadly missed, Daddy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Christmas Past ~ I Never Got a Train

As a young child, the one thing I always wanted for Christmas - and never got - was a train. My mom "knew" that trains were for boys, so she would never buy one for me.
I thought then and still do, that it was the worst possible argument for not giving a child what they really want. I could have accepted it more easily if she had said "we can't afford a train" or "we don't have room in the house for a train". But the only answer I ever got was "Trains are for boys!"

Do you find yourself still adhering to these old stereotypes?
Have you denied your child a toy because you think it is more suited to the opposite sex?
Is there a toy or other present that you coveted when you were small and never received?
Do you STILL wish you had that toy?

Golden Oldies #5

Unfortunately, the only people I know on this page are the bottom 2 on the left. The baby is my Cousin Bill, circa 1942, who is still alive and kicking (as they say).

The Navy man was my cousin who died in a motorcycle accident in 1946, while home on leave. He had been stationed in Pearl Harbour, and upon his return, he brought me a grass skirt, grass top, leis and grass slippers. I was the envy of all my girl friends!

The photo on the bottom right is titled
"lover's leap". I hope that guy didn't!

The photo of the child on the upper left has writing on the back......."She's real sweet and growing fast....Dec. 1929". Too bad they didn't tell her name too.
There are seven good reasons here why you should name and date your photos. I am living proof that you will not remember years later, and your children will not know either. Save everyone a lot of trouble and do it NOW!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Cat Who Adopted Me

The people who used to live behind us (where we lived before moving here) got a beautiful tiny white fuzz-ball of a kitten one year; born of a farm cat from somewhere in western NC. Their daughter, who was in elementary school at the time, was the primary caretaker of this kitten. He was of Persian descent, and because he shed a lot of long white hair and scratched their drapes, they never let him in the house. He lived in their motor boat, on the carport. Everyday when the daughter got home from school, she would feed and play with the kitten, whom she named Snowball***. A year later, when the daughter got into middle school, she was busy with classes and friends and so she had little time for her cat. He began to venture out of their yard and into ours on a daily basis. We had a cat at the time, named Ping, and Snowball was very interested in the location of Ping's food bowl.

My children used to leave and enter the house through the garage all the time, and Snowball soon learned that if he timed it just right, he could make a beeline for our kitchen and Ping's food bowl, before the storm door closed on his tail. It got to be quite a chore to haul him out of the house, because every single time one of my kids would open the door - Snowball would shoot in like a bat out of hell, run straight to the kitchen and chow down as much as he could before I scooped him up and put him back in the yard. After several weeks of this, I tired of the game and let Snowball stay in the house as much as he wanted. He luxuriated on our beds and couches, he sprawled on the carpet wherever there was a patch of sunlight, he helped himself to food and water - and even Ping got used to him being there - though he was never happy about it. Every night I would put Snowball back outside so he could go home and sleep in the boat and every morning he was right back on our doorstep.

I realized that this cat was not happy at his old home and was choosing to live with us. It was so hard for me to understand why his owners didn't take better care of him; he was the most beautiful white Persian I had ever seen - except he had a few bad habits. He seldom groomed or bathed and so he was covered in North Carolina's ubiquitous red clay most of the time. He had tangles and burrs in his fur too. So one day I spotted him laying on our picnic table, and I decided to have a talk with him. I sat down on the bench, eye to eye with Snowball, and told him that he was too beautiful to be so slovenly, that if he wanted to live with us full time, he had to shape up and start cleaning himself every day; that no one would think he was loved if this was the way he presented himself to the world.

You will most likely not believe what happened, but I swear it is true. A short while later, he bathed and cleaned himself, and from that day forward he was very good about staying as clean as possible. I told his owners about our little talk and they laughed about it, but seemed uneasy at the time. About a month later, they called me to the fence between our yards, and very ceremoniously they handed Snowball over the fence to me and said that from that time on, he was my cat.

My first thought was "It's about time!". He was with us altogether for about 9 years, and while I have had cats for longer periods than that, none was ever loved more than Snowball; perhaps that was because he adopted me.

***Note: had I been naming this cat in the beginning, I would not have chosen "Snowball". With my perversity, I would have probably named him Pepper!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Why Isn't My Gravatar Working???

For months after I learned what they were, I resisted getting a Gravatar. They seemed a little too Big Brotherish for me, but I kept seeing more and more of them popping up nearly everywhere. Finally I gave in and visited the web-site to get signed up for one.

I chose a flower photo to use for my own logo, but when it started showing up, it was too dark and hard to decipher. I saw that I could change the picture - so I uploaded one of my cat photos. For a week or so, some blogs showed the flower photo and some showed the cat.

Now, I am lucky if anything shows up - and most frequently - there is nothing to show that I have a Gravatar, not even a blank square. The Gravatar web-site has no way for you to send an email directly to the company. They have an on-line forum for FAQ's, but nothing fit my problem exactly.

Do you have any advice for me?

Golden Oldies #4 ~ Bathing Beauties

Hastily titled Bathing Beauties - but maybe not so beauteous!
1. unknowns, circa 1900 or before. Check out the "bathing costumes". Can you imagine trying to swim with all that excess fabric?
2. My mom (left) with a woman who was one of the first to be Miss West Virginia.
3. unknown
4. yours truly, age 8, mugging for the camera on the day I almost drowned by stepping into a "hole" at Coal River. P.S. The lifeguard was very handsome!
5. and 6. Two of the girls who lived at my grandmother's rooming house.
7. unknown
8. My mom (seated) and her friend in 1924.

Edit: In response to SRP's comment about the lifeguard:

Shortly after that photo was snapped, my friend and I walked out a little further into the river. The swimming area was roped off so that you couldn't go too far away, but the sandy river bottom was uneven, due to eddys and rough currents. I stepped out a foot or two ahead of my friend, and into a hole that I later dicovered was only a foot deep. My head was below the surface, and my friend, who was floating on an inner tube, tried to pick me up by my ears, which served to remove my bathing cap, but not me. Had I been smart enough to just step up out of the hole, I would have been fine, but I stood there, paralyzed with fear. After a few minutes, my friend called for the lifeguard; a tall, comely boy of about 18, who came crashing through the river, pinned my arms tightly and lifted me up out of the water and back to shore. I was instantly smitten; after coughing and sputtering and shaking the water out of my ears. He, of course, was strutting around like the cock of the walk - having saved a young damsel in distress. His purpose was to impress all the teenage girls sitting around on the sand watching him be the hero, and I was soon forgotten in the waves of attention they were all too happy to give!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Calling All Mommies and Daddies

~~~~~" Little Eyes Upon You"~~~~~

There are little eyes upon you

and they're watching night and day.

There are little ears that quickly

take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager

to do anything you do;

and a little boy who's dreaming

of the day he'll be like you.

You're the little fellow's idol,

you're the wisest of the wise.

In his little mind about you

no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly,

holds all you say and do;

He will say and do in your way

when he's all grown up like you.

There's a wide-eyed little fellow

who believes you're always right,

and his eyes are always opened,

and he watches day and night.

You are setting an example

every day in all you do

for he will grow up to be like you!

(This goes for girls too, of course!)

Disclaimer: I did not write this poem. This is another email that came to me.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

This Takes the Cake!

Wouldn't you be upset if this had happened to your wedding cake five hours before the reception?

I was working with another florist some years ago for a wedding in Morehead City, NC. The reception was taking place in a medium-sized convention center. I was about 80 feet from the cake table when I saw the avalanche. I screamed bloody murder and then began thanking my lucky stars that I had been no where near it when it fell.

We called the home of woman who baked the cake; she was also a caterer and was at that moment delivering food to another wedding about 12 miles away. He husband got in touch with her and she advised him to come and pick up the portion of the cake that was still on the table. She rushed home and supposedly baked another set of layers. This cake was poppy-seed, with a buttery cream-cheese icing. The problem was that she had delivered it to us while it was still warm, and when she put the tiers together, it melted the icing and that's what made it fall.

The cake was supposed to be seven layers, stacked on each other. The bride had requested no supports, such as dowels which are ordinarily used with heavy, dense cakes, especially when they are tall. The reception was supposed to start at 7:00 pm, and the cake fell about 2:45 pm. At 6:45 pm, she walked in with 5 more tiers and also a sheet cake. As she began to assemble the cake again, I was watching - and holding my breath. The first three tiers went together well, but as she laid the fourth tier on top, the sides of the 3rd tier began to buckle. I screamed (once again) and she quickly removed that layer. As before, the cake was still warm.

What we ended up with consisted of one 6" layer atop an 18" layer. It looked more like a sun hat with a wide brim than a cake, especially after I decorated it with flowers around the "crown"! She left the other layers in the kitchen for the staff to cut and serve like the sheet cake.The bride and her mother were remarkably calm about it, and I found out later that the caterer/cake baker was distantly related to them. In my 24 year floral career, this is the only cake with a disaster attached to it!

Be forewarned: if you are ordering a wedding cake, especially one with a dense texture, allow the baker to use the necessary supports or you risk the avalanche above.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Costa Rica~ Rich Coast, Indeed!

The post below goes with this brochure.

"Zipping" Through Costa Rica

I didn't want to post this without photos - but I have scoured this house and I cannot find them anywhere. I am certain to locate them soon after I hit "post", so I will edit to include the photos, when possible.

Do you know about zip lines? Should you ever want to test your mettle, hop a plane to Costa Rica and sign up for a rainforest canopy tour. Several years ago, my daughter and I travelled there on vacation. Having watched nearly every documentary about rain forests that the Travel Channel or National Geographic had produced, I was very interested in doing the canopy tour. Little did I know what was in store! The ones I had seen before were people walking on wooden walkways, or being carted up into the trees in large wire buckets.

We reserved our spaces and were told to meet the tour vehicle in the front of the hotel at 10 am the next morning, wearing long pants and mosquito repellent. I was determined not to catch malaria or any other mosquito-borne disease, so I slathered Deep Woods Off all over me. We boarded a small bus with about 6 other people and set off on the 20 minute ride into the jungle, where we met up with tours from other hotels, totaling about 14 people altogether. The guides were 5-6 young Costa Rican men who all spoke English well enough, and they set about telling us what to expect on the tour and showing us the gear we would be donning shortly. The harnesses and zip-line connections looked like things I had seen on mountain climbers, so I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.
Eventually, after everyone was strapped into their harnesses, we began the climb up into the forest, headed for the first zip platform. We walked steadily upward for about 15 minutes; at some points our climb was almost straight up on stairs cut into the hillside. It was grueling for most of us, and for a woman my age - breathtaking. Literally breathtaking. I turned beet red and heaved my chest to get more air into my lungs. The heat and humidity did not help that cause, even though it was technically their winter, it was 85* or more, everyday.

As we reached the first platform, it dawned on all of us that this was no child's game; no jungle gym on the school playground at 6' off the ground. The platforms were 100' above the forest floor. At this point, one of the participants (a 14 year old) bowed out. Her dad had to escort her back down the mountain, and thus missed his chance to do the zips too. The guides asked for volunteers to go first and someone spoke up (not me). We watched as the guy was hooked onto the zip line and told what to do and more importantly - what NOT to do. His time came; he stepped off the platform and suddenly he was soaring across a great divide between us and the next platform. Some of the guides had already assembled on the 2nd platform to help get the guy onto it, in case he had a problem gettiing across. Momentum doesn't always carry you the full way, and if you drag your gloved hand on the zip line too hard, it will stop you in mid-zip, which is to be avoided like the plague.

Several more people took their turns, including my daughter and then it was fish-or-cut-bait time for me. Since my daughter had done it and suffered no ill effects, I decided I had to swallow my fears and "just do it". As they hooked me to the line and went over the instructions yet again, the pit of my stomach felt as if it were dropping to the ground without me. I had to do it, though, or I'd be holding up the people after me. So I paused at the edge and finally I let go. The rush of air going past as you begin the zip is surprising in its speed. Suddenly, you are soaring across the jungle with only a cotton harness and a hook or two holding you up. It was fantastic, amazing, exhilirating - and instantly - I wished I could do it everyday for the rest of my life. For the rest of the zips (about 10 in all), I was frustrated at having to wait for those in front of me to finish their zip before I could get back onto mine. The last one involved rapelling 90'down a tree to the forest floor. The guides showed us how to do it, and it was also an amazing experience. At the end of the tour, the one thing I kept thinking was how proud I was of myself for not chickening out. They told me that the oldest person to ever do it was an 84 year old man. There's no way he could have been prouder than I was!