Monday, November 28, 2011


Naughty, Naughty Erik and Me!
I have three children and one of them even reads my blog, thank you very much Miss Kate. Her friend Naughty, Naughty Erik does too, so it was a pleasure to meet him during our last visit.  He's such a cutie but if you look closely, you can see a glint of fire in his eyes. Although he can be a man of mischief -- which we already know from my post aptly entitled "Naughty, Naughty Erik" --mostly he's just a nice guy. The world could use more of those.

Yes, it's true that I will drive (well, technically, ride) for over eight hours just to get a good meal at somebody else's house.  I will even stay with two other families in a one-bedroom apartment, as long as there's at least one grandbaby to play with. (Since at this writing I only have one, that will do for now.)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days; eating great food with people you love is right up there at the top of my list of happy things.

Two of my favorite guys
Kate had to work both the day before and the day after Thanksgiving this year so we decided she didn't have enough going on in her life and we'd let her host the holiday.  So we loaded up the car with card table and chairs, air mattresses, sheets, blankets, pillows, games, books, knitting, food, silverware, luggage and the food processor.  By the time we were finished we could have strapped a rocking chair on top and called ourselves the Clampetts we had crammed so much stuff in there. (Too bad I forgot the camera.)

The trip up was mercifully uneventful and it was weird not to be responsible for the cooking.  Weird, but I could get used to it!  Kate bought a fresh turkey, so the thawing business was no issue which simplified the process significantly. She also used her sister's crock pot to cook the green beans which was sheer genius. 

Everything was done at the same time and it was the first year in a decade that we didn't have to eat burned corn.  The food was delicious, the pies were phenomenal (thank you, Wendy!) and when it was over, I went for a walk.  When I got back, the dishes were done.  It was like an adult fairytale.  Not "adult" like porn, "adult" like a grown-up lady's fantasy.  Moms' ideas of happiness often center around having household help....if a man really wants to please a woman, he should try mopping the kitchen floor.  It would certainly work for me!
We played games and talked late into the night.  It was a pleasant, quiet day.  The next morning, it was back to normal and I had brought a spaghetti squash for lunch, knowing that Kate would be at work.  I'd zapped it in the microwave for about ten minutes but it still seemed a little hard, so I was adding a couple more minutes when my son-in-law said, "Won't it blow up in there?"  As I was answering him "no," the squash made a liar out of me by exploding in there.  The force of it caused the door to fly open and the entire inside was sticky with stringy goo hanging from everywhere. 

From this I surmised that the squash was cooked, so I put spaghetti sauce and cheese on what was left of it and served it with left-over green beans.  It wasn't an amazing meal like Thursday's, but every day isn't Thanksgiving either.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Harvest

My Grandmother could grow anything.  Green thumb?  More like her whole hand was green!  She tended a massive garden, canned and froze their food from it and had exceptional luck with houseplants, too.  How it got there is lost to history, but one spring a banana tree appeared in her living room.  Gran was especially fond of that particular plant and it clearly returned the feeling because it grew so high that eventually the leaves touched the ceiling.  Even then it didn't stop.  Grandpa built a two-story greenhouse onto the front of their house, they moved the tree in there and it just kept on growing, growing and growing. 

I mention this for two reasons:  First, it's fun to remember things about my childhood and my grandparents.  Second, it proves that genetically, I should be endowed with at least a smidgen of gardening ability.  Should be. 

Friday evening Mary Ann brought down a handful of delicious cherry tomatoes and said, "It's the last of the harvest."  Last of the harvest?  You're kidding me, right?  My neighbor had a harvest! 

Last winter, I made Jerry rig me up grow lights because I was determined to grow everything from seed.  Much to my surprise, seeds actually germinated and I planted them in tiny pots and loved them, just like my Grandma used to do. 

After everything but the coleus died, I bought and planted fourteen tomato plants, four green peppers and so much basil that, by rights, I ought to be able to make pesto for our entire county about now.  I even brought three mint plants back from Ohio.  Mint, as you may know, is considered invasive and professional gardeners suggest that you plant it in a pot to contain it.  I did not do that because I was hoping it would spread across the hillside and I would have unlimited mint to cook with.  Well, one plant is still living - barely - and one cup of mint tea would decimate it.  I have never seen such tiny leaves on a grown-up mint plant before.

We do live in the woods and we do have the red clay soil that is so distinctive in the south.  To figure out the sunniest spots, I took golf balls and set them in the sun in the morning.  Every hour I looked out and if a golf ball was in the shade, I picked it up.  At the end of the day, there were only a few golf balls left, but I figured that these were the places with the sunniest places to plant.  That is how I chose our planting sites. 

To counteract the clay soil, when we planted (and by "we" I mean "Jerry") we added a mixture of topsoil, vermiculite and sphagnum moss.  We watered with miracle grow, too.  Throughout the brutal heat of summer, we watered faithfully.  We even hired a neighbor kid to water whenever we went out of town for the weekend.

And now it's fall, harvest time.  So far our loving efforts have yielded:  zero green peppers, one early tomato (from a blossom that was on the plant when we bought it) and  a week's worth of really good caprese salads, featuring tomatoes we bought and basil from our yard. 

Two of the basil plants actually grew!  Herb lore says that herbs prefer crummy soil so it's poetic that the ones that did well here were the ones I put in a container of potting soil.  The others look like dwarfs they are so small.  The bottom leaves have turned yellow and the top leaves are holey.

Things are looking up though.  About the time that it started to frost, one of the tomato plants decided to bear fruit, which I immediately picked.  We have nine small green tomatoes in our kitchen. 

So maybe our "harvest" this year will be in the form of fried green tomatoes.  If you want to be cruel, you could calculate the cost of the plants, the soil amendments, the teenager's watering fees, the time and the effort invested in that side-dish of (organic) fried green tomatoes.  You would tell me that next year I ought to save that money and buy the tomatoes at the farmer's market down the street.

I can't do that though. That Grandma gardening gene will tell me that next year will be different.  Or maybe it's not the gardening gene talking at all.  I inherited a pretty strong optimistic streak, too.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Things aren't always what they seem

I was vacuuming in our basement when out of the corner of my eye, I saw what appeared to be a four-inch-long string bean.  That seemed oddly out of place, especially since now there are but two people living in this house and one of them is me.  The other is Felix Unger, so there's no way that bean came from him.  I admit to being a mess-maker (I have to because it's obvious now that the children are grown and the place is still messy) but I generally do follow my own rule about dining at the table.  That is to say, I don't wander around the house eating off a dainty plate like I'm the only guest at a cocktail party.  Has this green bean been on the floor since the last neighborhood barbecue in early October?

Things aren't always what they seem.  As I bend down to pick it up I can see that it's not a green bean at all.   It's a slender leaf from an aloe plant which lives happily on a nearby window sill.  I'm still not sure how it got here, but it doesn't disturb me like the thought of a green bean on the floor.  My day has improved -  I'm not a bigger slob than I imagine myself to be and I am remembering another time I bent to pick up something that wasn't what I thought it was either. 

I was a wedding coordinator at the Romeo United Methodist Church in Michigan, a job that I relished - in part because it was tons of fun and I was good at it and in part because the church was a half a block away so I could walk there.  This historic church was not air conditioned and summers can be scorchers, even in Michigan.  To remedy this, I'd go over at night, open all the windows in the sanctuary and then return at dawn to close them again in an effort to keep the building as cool as possible.  It was never truly cool, but it also wasn't as hot as it might have been, at least that's what I told myself.

Now I'm not a morning person, but this was a small sacrifice and I was willing to make it.   Not having an attendant faint from the heat was the goal here, so I'd do my part by dragging myself out of bed, sleep-walking next door, closing the windows, returning home and crawling back into bed again.  The whole process was maybe 15 minutes from opening my eyes to closing them again.  It was a minor thing, no big deal.

This particular wedding was in August and in the middle of a brutal heat wave.  I opened all the windows that night, just like normal.  At the break of dawn I went over to close them. Since this was far from my first rodeo, I didn't even bother to turn the lights on.  The sanctuary was in semi-darkness but I was just closing the windows and I wanted to stay in that drowsy state so I could go back to sleep easily.  As I was turning to leave, I saw what appeared to be a black washcloth on the floor, directly in front of the altar.  I was thinking evil thoughts about who might have left it as I bent over to pick it up and realized that it wasn't a washcloth at all, but sleeping bat. 

Since removing rodents with wings wasn't in my job description, I called Reverend Gary and asked him to do it.  He said he would be over shortly and hung up.  He lived next door, so I expected him in a flash but when he didn't arrive quickly I sat down to wait.  I looked over and  saw a second bat snoozing in the pew beside me.  That creeped me out - and woke me up. 

Now fully awake, I assessed the situation and as I looked around the bat count grew.  Bats were lying on pews, on the carpet under pews, one was even on the organ bench. There were seven in all.  The heat must have driven them to search for somewhere cool and the sanctuary must have seemed like a refrigerator in comparison to the attic where they probably normally hung out.  

Time ticked by and still no Gary.  I toyed with the idea of turning on the lights, but discarded the notion because I felt sleeping bats would be easier to address than flying ones.  Finally I heard someone fumbling around in the dark downstairs and then coming slowly up the back staircase.  I knew it wasn't the minister (because he was used to coming up that way) but lots of other people had keys to the building.  Then one person I didn't expect -- my husband Jerry -- stepped into the room, carrying a pool skimmer.  He had been called for back-up but he is a man of action so he scooped up one bat at a time and took each and every one outside. 

Just as he was finishing up, in walks Gary - wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, giant quilted kitchen mitts and, to top off his ensemble, he had on a pith helmet with netting over it.  Jerry and I both laughed out loud, which was the reaction he was going for.  Even though he'd given significant  thought to the question of what constituted proper bat-removal attire, I think he secretly was pleased that the bats, all seven of them, had already been removed by a man wearing nothing but pajama bottoms.  I know I sure was.

I've always wondered though, where do you get a netted pith helmet on such short notice?

Friday, November 18, 2011

That Awkward Stage

Whenever anyone says, "I'm having a bad hair day." I feel a twinge of envy - not because I wish to look worse than I do but because they are able to quantify their bad hair into days.  To say "I'm having a bad hair week ...or month ...or year" just doesn't sound as cute.  If I were honest, I'd have to say "I'm having a bad hair decade" which knocks me into the realm of the whiny now, doesn't it?  Whiny for sure but honest, too.

I first became aware of hair issues when I looked at my sixth-grade class picture.  Sixth grade is an awkward age anyway and this picture is painful to see.  My bangs sort of made this horrifying swoop across my forehead (and beyond) that caused me to want to swear off bangs forever.  (And the sparkly blue glasses?  Let's not go there either.)

I am blessed with thick, heavy hair.  The only time it looks good is on the day when I have it professionally cut.  When beauticians see me come through their door, they all either go on break or scurry to the back to try to look busy, hoping to avoid being the unlucky one to give me my haircut.  It is painfully obvious to them that this is going to be more than just a mere haircut - it's going to be a project.  It will take far too long for what they are going to be able to charge me.  (By simply glancing at me, they can see I'm the kind of patron who is carrying that $7.95 coupon wadded up in the pocket of my ratty blue jeans.) 

When I was a newlywed, my mother-in-law said, "I prefer your hair short, Chris." Because she was my mother-in-law, I ignored her and started growing my hair out.  It was the era of frazzled or stringy hair days.  Sometimes frazzled and stringy hair days.  Not my best look. 

Somewhere along the way to my 50s, I learned of Locks of Love, an organization that takes donated hair and makes wigs, primarily for children stricken with cancer or alopecia.  You grow your hair out to nine inches below the nape of your neck, put it in a pony tail, cut it off, put it in an envelope and mail it.  Simple.  Elegant.  Worthwhile.  I did that.  It felt really good, so I decided to start growing it again.  My hair grows really fast and it got to be mid-back length in only a couple of years. 

Around this time, our daughter Katie was a senior in high schol.  On her spring break all her friends went on exotic vacations and she was stuck at home, bored.  I have mentioned before in this blog that she has a Svengali-like effect on me and I am therefore powerless to exert my own will when under her spell (see the post entitled "I'm Being Dressed by Barbie" for further proof.)  When she suggested that she dye my hair red, I said, "Why not?"  Off to the drug store we went. 

There was an amazing array of products to choose from but our goal was specific.  We were not going for clown hair here, just something to add a little pizazz to my natural mouse brown.  We skipped burgundy and even auburn and settled "medium reddish brown." 

At home, we were giddy with excitement. Kate started working in the coloring foam when she realized that I had way too much hair or not enough dye, same diff.  She left me sitting there and went back to the store to get more.  Now I'm no Einstein but I do understand basic chemistry (not really) enough to know this was a recipe for disaster.  I ended up with circles of hair that didn't take the color and other parts that were super-saturated.  This was permanent hair coloring. What was I thinking? 

And so it was that I decided to cut my long hair again, only to find out that Locks of Love does not accept color-treated hair. I was disappointed but hair grows and in the blink of an eye it was shoulder length again but now there were strands of silver in it.  Locks of Love does not want gray hair, either.  Both colored and gray hair do not accept color the same as hair with natural coloring in it and, after all, they are making wigs for children.  I don't even want gray hair, why would they

This summer I was on my way to my class reunion and stopped in Cleveland to visit Kate, who took one look at me and dragged me off the the closest Cut and Curl.  She hovered over the stylist, telling her every hair to cut, how long to cut it and basically micromanaging the experience in every way she could.  They got to the front and I put my foot down.  "No bangs." I declared.  Katie thought I'd look good in bangs. "No."  I insisted.  She insisted.  I left with bangs.

Whenever I look in the mirror now, the awkward sixth-grade me peeks out through the wrinkles in the form of a weird swoop of bangs.  "I can kind of see what you mean." Katie admits.  The funny thing is, I don't mind it as much as I did the first time.  I think I've finally grown into being comfortable with who I am, no matter what I look like on the outside.  Considering that time is speeding by at an alarming rate, this is probably a very,very good thing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Red Doors

In times of economic uncertainty, women's magazines change the flavor of their articles from "Designing your New Home" to "Fixing up Your Current Home."  It was one of these "Add Pizazz to your Place" type articles that Mary Ann was reading when she stumbled upon the idea to add punch to her house by painting her front door.  Paint the front door?  Hmmm.... How hard can that be?  So she went off to Home Depot, brought back paint chips and chose one.

When she had the paint mixed, the color was electric pink, not the raspberry she'd been expecting.  "Don't worry," said the paint clerk, "It will dry darker."  So she went home and painted three coats on her door.  Of course, it didn't dry darker and now she had a hot pink door.  Electric pink.  So pink that it almost vibrates.  "It's like a big kiss." said our friend Dee.  Yeah - a big kiss by a girl whose color-blind boyfriend chose her shade of lipstick! 

Mary Ann asked me my opinion and I said, "Yick."  She so totally agreed that she took her paint back to have the clerk darken it.  He cheerfully did so which, I might add, was a nice surprise -  and she came back home and painted two more coats of the new color.  She still thought it was too pinky so she went back again and the clerk mixed her a new, darker color - gratis.  I think he knew how horrible that first color truly was and didn't want his conscience to bother him.  Back at home, she painted two more coats of the third color, then just stopped.  The thrill of a new colored door was gone.

One of her closest friends popped over and said, "I'm going to be blunt with you, this door needs another coat of paint."  I guess when they took the VOCs out of paint, they took some of the effectiveness out of it too because after seven coats, you can still see the original door color.  Mary Ann says she's finished for now and maybe she'll just buy a new door all together.

Meanwhile, Jerry was looking for a small project and I said, "Has this door ever been painted?" and that's how we ended up at Home Depot buying paint for our front door.  I wanted a royal purple because I love that color and also because I thought it would look good with our beige siding.  Jerry, whose mother always had a fire-engine red front door, wanted cranberry.  I deferred to him because a rich, dark cranberry sounded mighty appealing too.  I went off to look at bushes while Jer had the paint mixed.

When he met up with me he said, "The paint color looked almost fuchsia, but the clerk said not to worry because it will dry darker."  He could feel my nervousness so he whipped out the paint chip and showed me where the guy had painted part of it to prove it was the same color.  It was.  I still was a little antsy -- because, as we all know by now, paint is not refundable.

Back at home, Jerry had already painted two coats on the door when I looked at it.  It seemed strangely familiar.  While he was putting on coat number three, I snuck up the hill with the paint can lid.  Yep.  We have painted our front door the exact same color as our next-door-neighbor's.  Our cranberry door is actually the same as Mary Ann's raspberry door.  It's a cheerful color though and, like Mary Ann, I'm so done with it.

Choosing a paint color from a chip the size of a postage stamp - or even of an index card for that matter - is a risky business and it is not an activity I would recommend for the faint of heart.  On the other hand, I heartily recommend choosing a community, like ours, where you can paint your door any color you want, even if that color's raspberry.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jimmy Buffett and Me

Who doesn't like Jimmy Buffett?  His distinctive sound is happy and his lyrics are whimsical.  I've been a vegetarian for thirty-five years now and even I salivate when I listen to "Cheeseburger in Paradise."  Ya gotta love an artist who is able to make a song about a hamburger with a slice of cheese on it into a catchy tune.

Most of the time, I have an internal radio playing inside my head.  I don't know who makes the song selections, but generally I enjoy the playlist and when I wake up humming Jimmy Buffett, all's right with the world.  (The morning our dog died, I woke up hearing "Happy Trails to You" then got the phone call from the animal hospital.  Creepy, right?)

Yesterday I had a couple of guys about our son's age here putting down wood flooring, so I popped on "Songs you Know by Heart."  They turned up their noses and groaned.  Turns out that Jimmy Buffett is old people music.  Who'd a guessed?  They wanted to hear a band called Gogol Bordello. 

This group includes a violin and an accordion and Jimmy Buffett is old people music?  People stopped taking accordion lessons before I was in junior high.  (No offense Dianne.)  I had never heard of this band before -- now there's a shocker! -- but I discovered that the lead singer, Eugene Hütz, has a fun energy and I couldn't help humming along the third time I played "Start Wearing Purple."  Eugene wears colorful clothes and has decorated his guitar in collage, so he's got that going for him, too.  Plus I saw a video with Madonna singing "La Isla Bonita, Lela Pala Tute" which was a blend of her song and one of theirs, so clearly they have achieved commercial success and good for them on that one; it's a difficult business to break into.  Their sound is distinctive and brooding - gypsy music is how Wikipedia aptly describes it.

Gypsy music is fun for a change, but I still prefer island music.  Josh used to sing along with "Volcano" when he was a little guy and I guess our family all just grew up listening to it. 

Maybe it isn't really old people music at all -- maybe Jimmy just has strong regional appeal.  We live in the south now and people take sunny days for granted here.  Maybe southerners, not having lived in climates where snow shovels outnumber golf clubs, just can't get the appeal of mentally going somewhere where you don't have to dress in layers -- as Jimmy says, "I gotta go where it's WARM."

Or, it could just be old people music.  Jimmy would probably be okay with that.  Guess what?  There are more of US than there are of THEM.  And, now that the last kid has moved out, we are finally in charge of our own music selections.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Random thoughts

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, "Rocky road ice cream sounds good."  Is it any wonder I have a weight problem?  Connect the dots here, Chris.  Connect the dots.

My next two thoughts were, "I could buy some unfinished bookshelves and paint them to match our room" followed closely by "When I go for my walk, I should collect some beautiful maple leaves, dip them in wax and make a stunning fall table arrangement out of them."

Who do I think I am, Martha Stewart?

I need to exercise a little tough love here, metaphorically slapping myself back onto the straight and narrow.  Scare myself silly, perhaps.  When I was shopping last Thursday, I picked up a bra that was a size 36H. That memory alone ought to be frightening enough to make me eat nothing but oatmeal and Melba toast for a season or two.

The highway of my life is littered with half-finished craft projects.  If I'd invested the money I've spent on those supplies, I could be wintering in Aruba.  I don't want to kick Creativity in the teeth, but I need to re-channel my urges from big, wild projects that have limited potential of success to activities with a higher likelihood of achieving full fruition. 

How about just eating an egg for breakfast then digging out my knitting needles and whipping up a quick dishcloth?  Maybe that would squelch these bizarre creative urges I'm feeling.  On second thought, an omelet sounds good - and a little hat with a huge pom pom on top would be easy enough. A fruit salad would be yummy, too - and I remember the cute pattern I ran across for  hand-knitted socks. Knocking out a couple pair of them would be satisfying.  Sliced avocados on the side and perhaps a cable knit sweater for Brody?

 Now I hear a little voice in my head saying, "Chris.  You are not Sigmund Freud.  What makes you think you are qualified to analyze your thoughts?  You are not a Victoria's Secret model-in-training either.  Eat the egg, then have the Rocky road ice cream and get on with your day!"

All parents know that scare tactics are ineffective and also that compromises can be so satisfying! What about painting unfinished bookshelves?  That thought must have migrated from Jerry's side of the bed to mine by accident because it belongs in his brain, not mine.  I've decided to skip the goofy leaf idea too.  Either creativity withers in the cold, hard light of day or dipping things in hot wax has disaster written all over it - you can ponder that one for yourself.

It's never wise for me to give too much weight to my random thoughts. By the way, does anybody know if you can eat ornamental kale?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Sixth Sense

That animals have a sixth sense is well documented.  Everybody has at least one friend whose pet pot-bellied pig has saved her life and the story of the dog that jumps between the family baby and the enormous rattlesnake is legendary.  This is why when I see something going on in the pet community, I take notice.

Since Halloween night, neighbors with indoor cats have been complaining that they are trying, and succeeding, to sneak outside.  Open the front door even a crack and the black cat will somehow jet between your legs and leap out into the great outdoors. Approach your house with armloads of groceries, you will enter while the cat simultaneously exits. You are packing up your family to go on vacation – and you plan to take the cat – when she jumps out of your arms and heads directly for the woods behind the house.  The scenarios are as varied as the animals themselves but they carry that common thread, feline freedom. 

What is behind these phenomena?  Clearly these kitties are sensing evil and trying to escape.  What are they attuned to that I’m missing?  Earthquakes?  Fires?  Floods?

Perhaps the answer is obvious.  Daylight savings time ends this weekend and here, on the edge of the Eastern Standard Zone, twilight already is occurring around 5:30. When we set our clocks back an hour, dark will speed at us like a freight train coming out of a tunnel.  Late afternoon will transition into early evening and then turn into night so fast that naptime will seamlessly blend into bedtime.  By 7:30 it will have been dark for so long that we will think it’s time for bed.  Nobody, not me, not a child, not even a cat likes to be tricked into going to bed early.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Candy, Dogs and Grandma

Usually I refuse to turn the heat on until November 1st, half as a matter of pride and half because I'm cheap and don't like to pay money to utilities.  This year though I broke down and cranked up the thermostat last night after we got in from passing out Halloween candies.

The number of little kids in costume was depressingly low and we had bought three bags of candy, two of chocolate candy bars and one of Nerds which all kids like but I don't.  The first bag of mini-Snickers didn't even make it to last weekend - willpower not being my strong suit.  The second and third bags, candy choices I would never pick for myself, made it into the pumpkin and up the hill.  The lack of munchkins created an excess of candy though so I ended up visiting my neighbors and trading my candy for good (chocolate) stuff, which I felt compelled to eat before Jerry found out.  He's the candy consumption police at our house.

After the end of official trick-or-treat, I pretty-well collapsed on my bed in a sugar coma.  When I woke up, I was chilly so I flipped on the heat.   One night more or less is no big deal, is it?  And I did turn the heat down to 60 this morning. 

I also don't normally wear my shoes inside but since the floor was still a little chilly, I slipped on my trusty crocs.  As I sat down to type this story, I smelled the telltale whiff of doggie dew.  Nice.  I've been walking all over the house in these things the entire morning.

Funny how the memory gets triggered -- as I sat thinking about what to do, I remembered my little dog Betsey which my parents got us when we were kids.  Truth be told, Mom didn't like animals all that much and to add to her joy, she starting sneezing about a second after the dog came into the house.  Betsey became an outdoor dog, which in our world meant she was chained to a doghouse in the back yard.  She grew to be somewhat snippy (who could blame her?) and ultimately bit a kid who was cutting through our yard on the way home from school so the parents shipped my dog off to my grandparents' farm.

This was okay by me because I spent a lot of my weekends at that farm.  My grands had a huge garden which contained unlimited strawberries, tomatoes and corn on the cob in season.  Good eating!  My grandma made not only world's best molasses cookies but also the best sugar cookies on earth, both without the benefit of recipes.  My grandpa hid pink candies in his night stand and every night before bed we'd both have a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with Vernor's ginger ale poured all over it.  Who wouldn't want to stay at a place like that?  Sugar heaven plus my own little dog! I'm there.

My grandpa was a true jack-of-all-trades and as well as being a carpenter and a farmer, kept a chicken coop.  My grandma made soft, soft pillows and mile-high feather mattresses that you'd sink into forever.  It was dreamy to sleep there!  (I didn't connect the dots with the Sunday fried chicken dinners until I was older.) I got to help collect the eggs too.  This sounds more fun than it was because sometimes you had to slide your hand under a very irate hen to steal her egg.  I understand the phrase "madder than a wet hen" from personal experience.

Grandma, too, had a rule about no shoes in the house which I generally observed.   This day though I went out by the chicken coop to play with the dog, rushed right inside, went upstairs and dived into the bed, coat, shoes and all.  I heaved a sigh of pure pleasure.  A few minutes later though my grandma was looming above me and to say she was unhappy was a dramatic understatement. 

Normally I could do no wrong in her eyes - which is a trait to be admired in a grandparent - but even she had her limits.  Tracking dog poop into her house, up the stairs and into her feather bed was too much for even her to bear.

She didn't even have to yell at me though because as soon as I saw her I burst into tears.  I'm sensitive like that.  Today, having just tracked poop through my own house, I am able to understand a bit better how my grandma must have felt that day so many years ago.

Crocs are washable though and my house has hardwood floors.  I think I got off easy.

Sorry Gran!