Monday, December 30, 2013

Accessorizing Youthfully

Just before Christmas, we took the grands and their parents downtown on the train to see the musical bears in the Bank of America building. 

When I took Grayson's coat off, I realized he was wearing a bell necklace.  So was I.  It's official then!  I accessorize exactly like an 18-month old.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


2013 was a traveling year and our final plane trip was the first weekend of December when we were Salt Lake City bound.  Every airport visit has a story and this one is no exception. 
Snowy Salt Lake 

My husband sailed through airport security in the new TSA Pre-check Lane; he didn't have to take his shoes off or empty his pockets and he got to keep his jacket on.  Their line was short and soon he was on the other side, waiting for me to finish going through the scanner and put my shoes and coat back on. 

The x-ray machine was slow.  Finally my bag caught up to me and just as I was reaching for it, an airport employee swooped in and grabbed it.  As he carried it to the end of the table he said, "There's something in your bag.  I'm going to have to open it."

Panic washed over me.  Then dread.

Did you know that David Letterman used to be a grocery-store bag boy?  One late-night I saw him pack a brown bag and then cut away the sack.  When he removed it, the groceries retained the shape of the bag.  It was amazing.  Clearly he was not just a bag boy.  He was an exceptional bag boy.

Well I don't mean to brag but I'm the David Letterman of luggage; no space is unused.  When the suitcase is opened, the contents mushroom out like lava erupting from a volcano - or one of those magic sponges that grows when you put it into water.  I had visions of being unable to replace the contents of the bag after the security guard was finished with it.  

And there were Christmas gifts in my luggage. Wrapped Christmas gifts.  Worse, they were to my son from his "Secret Santa" and I had no idea what was in them.  I felt guilty.

The man was very gentle.  He gingerly felt all around the perimeter of the bag.  "The underwire in my bras!"  I thought.  "Those pieces of metal are big enough to be ninja weapons." In my mind I had already solved the puzzle when the guard passed over my bras and took out a present.  

I steeled myself for the question that never came.  Instead of asking me what was in the box, the guy just put the package in a bin.  Then he sent the bag and the bin through x-ray again.

That did not do it.

For a second time, he carried my bag to the table and felt through it.  He added two beautifully wrapped books to the bin.  (Secret Santa may not want to pay postage on his [or her] gifts, but she [or he] doesn't scrimp on wrapping paper.)  For the third time, my suitcase and the bin went through the x-ray machine.

For the third time, my suitcase failed.

As he carried my luggage back to the table again, we both knew that my beautiful packing job was about to be destroyed.  Frankly, I was surprised it had held up this long.  "I'm so sorry," he said, "but there's a mask in this bag."  (A mask?  Huh?)

"It's near the bottom of the suitcase and it's covering what might be under it."   He felt through the suitcase and dragged out the final wrapped gift.  X-ray again.  Back to the table again.

The guy couldn't have been any sweeter.  He was apologizing over and over.  "It's in the bottom of the bag."  He said.  I sensed that he was afraid to dive into the final frontier so, like Little Jack Horner, I just plunged my hand in and  pulled out…..

….a bag of Geechie Boy Grits!

Our kids are foodies and what says southern better than a bag of grits?  It was
the perfect hostess gift.  As soon as my uniformed friend saw what I was holding, he smiled.  "That'll do it,"  he said.

This time my bag sailed through the x-ray machine.  My BFF tried to help me stuff the wrapped gifts into the bag and then we crammed the clothing back on top.  We muscled the zipper closed.  We said our good-byes, he went back to work and I wandered away to find Jerry.

As we walked to our departure gate, Jerry wondered aloud how much time the pre-check lane had actually saved him, considering he had to wait for me anyway.  I wondered if the grits were still edible.  

Does sending grits through an x-ray machine five times classify them as irradiated food?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Visit from the Grands

Here are three ways you can tell our Grands have been visiting:

There is artwork on the wall,

The car vent is now a piggybank,

                                                        and finally...

                                                                   Cheerios in the vacuum.

Once again I will say it: Being a grandparent is the best job I've ever had.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Late Night at the Grocery Store

Although I had a fridge full of food, there was just one little thing I needed so I made a quick late-night trip to the grocery store.  I arrived just a few minutes before closing time and was pretty much the only customer there.

I walked up and down the aisles searching for the random item until finally I got to the potato chip aisle where there was a fellow doing stocking.  He was busy and I hated to bother him but finally I did.

"Do you stock everything in the store or just Pringles?" I asked.
Adorable bag courtesy of Jan and Steve Miller

"Everything."  He kept right on working.

"Could you tell me where the apple cider vinegar is?"


"I thought so."

"How?"  As he asked, he turned and looked at me.

"You have the look of a smart man about ya."  I said.

The guy froze.  His face broke out into this gigantic grin.  He put down the can of Pringles, came over and gave me a hug.  Then he said, "I'm going to personally walk you across the store to the vinegar."  As he started to walk, he turned around and said, "...and we're going to hold hands."

And that's just what we did.

As he left me looking at the selection of vinegars, I thought maybe I'd improved his evening.  I knew he had improved mine.

I love my life.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Yesterday morning, the grands were quietly playing with Jerry's phone and one of them, unbeknownst to any us, stealthily changed the clock to "world time."  Who even knows what that means?

The day turned into night and we all retired for the evening.  When Jerry's alarm rang today, he was groggy but dragged himself out of bed just like every other day.  He threw himself into the shower to help wake up, dressed and then went to the kitchen to get a tea.  (Iced, sweet.)

It was as he was chugging down his pre-dawn caffeine fix that he chanced to glance at the clock on the stove.  At first, he thought the power must have gone out in the night.  He went into the living room, just to check.  It was 3:30.

When it dawned upon him what had happened, he went back to bed.  He struggled to get back to sleep but eventually he drifted off.  He must have finally entered that deep-sleep phase when his alarm rang because he says he didn't even hear it.  He woke up a half-an-hour later than normal and rushed around like a Tasmanian Devil.  He departed the house mere minutes after awakening.  Being "on time" is very important to Jerry and he was on time, even today.  As a matter of fact, he arrived early.

To review, he got up thirty minutes later than usual and was still able to arrive early to work.  To me that would be a green light to sleeping 30 minutes later every day.  To him it's just a good story.  As long as I live, I swear, I will never understand the workings of the male mind.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


One of my favorite guest stars on the stage of my life is my grandson Brody, who just turned three.

It's fun to listen to what he has to say and imagine what goes on at his house behind closed doors.  The best comments began occurring a few months after his little brother Grayson appeared on the scene.

During a visit when the baby was about three months old, Brody admonished me (time and time again) to "Be nice!" (I was.)  

Six months later, he had a new, more interesting phrase.  "Don't bite me, Grammy!"  (I didn't.)

This visit Brody delivered my favorite line so far and he did it with great conviction, right after I suggested he complete a task he obviously had no intention of doing:

"Nooooo, Grammy!!!  TIME OUT." 

I knew officers in the Air Force that hadn't mastered the art of commanding as well as this three-year-old.  Obviously, he's a genius.  Maybe he's even destined for a high-level career in the military.  

Until then, he can just order me around.  Clearly, I take directions well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Just Another Day

This morning as I was waking up, I mentally made my to-do list:  Dip raspberries in chocolate, clean tile grout in the master bathroom and shower, scrub the tub, go to lunch with Katie, paint the kitchen walls, put a second coat of red paint on the rocking chair, work-out, clean my craft room, do laundry, shorten the sleeves on Jer's jacket, shred papers.

What I really did: put a load of laundry in the washer, walked with Maryann, answered a few e-mails, took the clean sheets out of the wet load and put them in the dryer, got the raspberries out of the fridge and washed them.

Then the phone rang.  That's when things fell apart.

Jerry called to tell me a friend is in the hospital.  I wanted to send her flowers so I called the hospital, got her room number and asked to be connected with their gift shop.  I was put on hold and waited ten minutes.  No one answered. I hung up and called again.  The operator transferred my call a second time and this time while I waited, I attempted to clean about six inches of bathroom grout using an electric toothbrush and a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.  About twenty minutes later, I realized that this was a flat-out waste of time, just like holding for the gift shop was turning out to be.  I hung up and called back again.  I told the operator that I'd called twice before and spent a combined time of over thirty minutes waiting for someone to answer.  She told me that was because the gift shop wasn't open.  Hard to argue with that logic.

After I found a florist and placed my order, I was back on track and dipped the dry raspberries in dark chocolate.  By the time I'd completed that messy but delicious chore, it was time to leave to go to lunch with my daughter.

Whenever I go out to lunch, it takes the whole afternoon.  I never think it will but it always does.  Today was no exception.  We ate lunch, visited Starbucks, said our good-byes and I drove off in the direction of home.  I had a handful of quick stops to make while I was out:  the bank, the market and to buy a gallon of color-matched paint (which turned out not to be.)   Then home.

As I arrived, I stopped at the top of the driveway to check for mail.  Our postman always comes ridiculously late and there was no mail yet but as I was walking back to the car, I saw our neighbor Dave bringing his Corgis to play outside.  I wondered why he wasn't working, so I walked over and asked.   (The ominous background music you hear is not playing for Dave, but for me.  With every step I take toward his house, I'm walking one step away from my to-do's.)

Dave and I got into an interesting discussion as he was answering e-mails (I'm not the only one in the neighborhood who multi-tasks.)  It was a lovely day and we were sitting outside talking when who should drive up in his snazzy maroon Miata but our neighbor Denny (AKA Cappy from my post "Daring Rescue at Sea.")  Now I've always wanted a ride in this little gem when its top was down so I seized the opportunity to ask him if he'd drive me home.  Both men laughed because my driveway is mere seconds by foot from where we were now standing.  Cappy cheerfully agreed to give me a lift though and, as a bonus, he even drove me the entire length of our street while I yelled, "YeeeeHaaaaa" with my arms over my head like I was on a roller coaster.  Wild ride!  (Well, the speed limit is 25, but I was still grateful to be wearing my seat belt.)

On our return trip, we saw our friend Joyce and stopped the car to talk.  (People driving convertibles do that.)  Then Denny parked in front of his house and I left for home, now farther away than I was when I'd asked for the ride.  

Susan, Denny's next-door-neighbor, was outside and she recently got an adorable new haircut so I stopped for a while to discuss her cuteness.  I am, as they say, easily distracted.  Eventually back at my own driveway, I checked the mail once again (still nothing) and drove down the hill to the house.  By the time I got inside, it was 4:45.  That's how it always is when I go out to lunch.  Leave at 11:30; return around 5:00.  That's my normal.

Back on track:  I checked on the laundry.  The sheets were dry but the rest of the wet load, mainly dishrags, had soured.  Into a bucket to soak they went.  I folded the sheets and put them away then searched the abyss (our garage) for sandpaper, found it, sanded the rocker and threw the dishrags into the washer.  I began hunting for the paintbrushes that we'd purchased last night.  Three times I scoured the entire house, garage and car, looking.  After an intense search, they turned up -- hidden in plain sight -- just as the washing machine buzzed.  I put the laundry in the dryer and and as I picked up the paintbrush, the phone rang.

It was Jerry.  He was two hours away.  I thought that would give me enough time to coat the rocker and paint the kitchen walls.  How foolishly optimistic of me.

My heart tells me that painting should be easy, fun and the results will be gratifying, but my mind tells me otherwise.  It flashes memories of other botched paint jobs onto my internal movie screen and asks me what I'm going to do differently this time.  I tell it forcefully that I am going to go slowly and stop often to check for drips.  (I would like to underscore how much I dislike drips.  They just make a paint job look so amateurish.)  This particular rocking chair was rescued from a trip to the dump and this is not its first rodeo.  It arrived here with paint drips painted on top of paint drips.  I had sanded it well though and my heart secretly harbored high hopes.  The paint is ultra-glossy and I have visions of seeing my reflection in it when I'm done.

I paint like a 5-year-old.
I paint slowly.  I check for drips (and find them) often.  I drip paint onto myself, onto the deck, and onto the rocker - a lot.  I also sit on the dripped paint and various exposed body parts have accidental encounters with wet paint.  I even drop the paintbrush onto myself, not once but twice.  I am officially a mess.  The rocker itself isn't faring much better.  Occasionally I have to dig off drying drips as well as gnats and other unidentifiable grit.   Finally I stop, not because I'm done but because I'm painting outside and it is now dark out.  As I get up to go inside, I hear the garage door opening.

List: 13
Finished: 5

That's almost half.  Impressive. Well done, Chris.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Friends with Funny Accents

Jan Miller saved my life yesterday.  Twice.  Without her scream of "Stop!" who knows if I'd have backed into the side of the big, yellow bus?  I'm also fairly certain I'd have run the red light if she hadn't yelled, "Red light!"  Succinctly put - and it did the trick.  Then again, I might have noticed that light change on my own if her husband hadn't been entertaining me by singing the words of "Hey, Jude" to fit our situation.  "Hey, Jude.  Don't be afraid, take a bad driver and make her betterrrrr..."  His name is Steve after all.  Steve Miller.  And, I kid you not, he has a brother named Roger.  I could never make this stuff up.  

I have Joyce Clark and Vistaprint to thank for meeting my fun new friends.  When I moved south and met Joyce, she gave me a business card with all her info printed on it.  "Vistaprint," she said.  Turned out the first 250 cards were free AND I could get a pretty blue background with a sailboat on it. 

While I was ordering my own cards, I had a minor drama.  There was a line that read "occupation."  Realizing that I could be anything I wanted to be, I considered writing in "Neurosurgeon" but then didn't like the hours I would have to work in my imaginary new job. I settled on "writer," which technically I am since I have been paid for writing in the past.  At the last minute I changed my career to "humor writer" because it sounded like more fun.

I met Steve while we both were waiting in line for the restroom at an upscale
gas station in Savannah.  He was "on holiday" from Great Britain.  I gave him a card because I have 250 of them and I'm not getting any younger.  Apparently later he actually looked at the card and somehow he had the impression that I was a writer so he began reading this blog.  Upon learning that he liked what he read, I officially made him my personal pen-pal and Sunday had the pleasure of hosting him and his wife on their final day of the 2013 vacation. (That's correct.  I invited someone I met in a restroom line to come stay in my home.  And, yes, they actually accepted.  Pretty funny, right?)

We really hit it off and I was lobbying for more time during their 2014 tour of the USA when, through no fault of my own, I found myself driving them from downtown Charlotte (officially uptown) to the airport.  Thank GOD Steve can read a map and therefore we only made two minor wrong turns on the trip.  The point is that we made it there in time, in one piece and with no visible damage to my husband's vehicle.    

My hope is that the fabulous handcrafted, artisanal chocolate from barCHOCOLATE in the Seventh Street Market helped them erase the frightening memories of that wild ride and settle back into an enjoyable trans-Atlantic flight.

Come back, Millers!  We can ride the train to town next time.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


It's no secret that I'm a thrift shop Mama and it was no surprise when my daughter handed me a bag of clothes and said, "Look through this and then donate what you don't want."  Yesterday I gathered a bunch of dishes to take to the animal shelter resale shop and finally looked into the bag.  It contained four tee-shirts.
Three of the four new tee-shirts

I eyed the first tee-shirt.  It was striped and the dominant color was neon pink.  So far I liked it.  Then I tried it on.  I liked it a lot.  It was in perfect shape!  I got kind of excited.  It fit better than if I'd have purchased it myself and it was preshrunk, soft and light.  Perfect!  The other tees were more subdued but not less delightful.  They all felt luxurious.  In my closet, they'd found their new home.

I called Kate and I was babbling with delight, going on and on about how much I liked the castoffs.  Finally she interrupted:  "Mom," she said.  "I sent those for Dad.  They were Jason's."

When I win the lottery, I'm going to hire that boy as my own personal shopper.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Daring Rescue at Sea

Sunday was our "Second Annual Neighborhood Pontoon Party" and we all had high hopes for a day of fun. Like the fateful trip the passengers took on the Minnow, ours was to be a three-hour tour. (A three-hour tour.)

As you may recall on their voyage, "The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed..."  In our case, it began gently sprinkling and gradually turned into a light rain.  The weather didn't dampen our spirits though - largely because our spirits were in coolers.

Then...disaster!  Overboard and into the murky waters of Lake Wylie!  Tension was high.  Someone turned off the party music.  Our Skipper (brave and sure) maneuvered the behemoth boat around with precision and speed - which is difficult in a pontoon - and, just at the perfect moment, The Mate (a mighty sailing man) leaned far, far out over the water, reaching farther than he'd ever reached before. He finally grasped ...

...Keith's hat.  Waterlogged, but otherwise okay. 

The men were jubilant!  The Captain and The First Mate high fived each other.

The Captain and The First Mate
Music blared again, spirits lifted, the women danced, the men smiled.  And then...the unthinkable.  The angry wind whipped and Mary's yellow ball cap was airborne.

If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the yellow cap would be lost.  (The yellow cap would be lost.)  The men ignored Sweet Mary's protests and, with a battle cry of "No hats left behind," they sprang into action.  Again, for the second time in mere minutes, they executed another successful rescue mission.
Jerry, the HERO!

The big reach

During the debriefing, someone remembered hearing Jerry remark, "We train for this all year but we hope we never have to use it."

If any ship I'm ever on "sets ground on an unchartered desert isle," I could do worse than having these guys with me.    

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Best Year

On Wednesday mornings I travel to the city to attend a class called "Living your Best Year."  This is a big deal for me.  My mind doesn't function at its peak in the morning and I don't enjoy driving in commuter traffic.  Nonetheless, yesterday I got up, got dressed, and started to drag myself out to the street where my car was parked.  Halfway up the hill, I realized I'd left my book behind so I went back and fetched it.  Then, as I entered the car, a button on my shirt got entangled in the seat belt latch.  The clock was ticking as I attempted to free myself and ultimately succeeded.  As I pulled out onto the street, I looked at the dashboard and saw a light pop on.  The illuminated icon looked like a laurel wreath surrounding an exclamation mark.

Of course I had no idea what the light meant, so I pulled over, got out my owner's manual and looked it up.  It took a while but I found out that this is the symbol for low tire pressure.  It seems like there could have been a more obvious icon for that, but the people who design dashboards don't appear to be concerned about being user-friendly any more than those who write owners' manuals care about clarity.

What to do?  I walked around the car and looked at the tires.  None was flat, but they all looked low,
especially the front ones.  I kicked them for good measure.  I'm not sure what I expected to happen but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  I decided it would be safe to drive to the closest gas station and put air in them.

At the gas station, I found the air machine and it cost a dollar. "Quarters only." There's something annoying about the concept of paying for air, but I went inside and got change.  Back at the car, I sat inside, reading the manual trying to figure out how much pressure the tires needed.  After extensive reading, all I found was that the pressure should be indicated on the tire.  I crawled around, looking. [Did I mention I was wearing white pants? My mom always said white pants after Labor Day are a poor wardrobe choice and I see now that she was right.]  The tire pressure was, indeed, embedded on the side of the tire.  It was then that I realized how handy a tire gauge might have been.

By now, I was truly hoping a guy would come to my rescue.  As soon the thought materialized, I told myself that this sounded pretty sexist.  Although, in my experience, guys are generally more knowledgeable than gals on car-related issues, I decided to amend my wish anyway.  I didn't really care the gender of my rescuer.  A man, a women -- if a magical goat came along with an air pressure gauge, I'd take it.

No knight in shining armor arrived.  No powder-puff mechanic materialized.  No pixies, car fairies, no unicorns.  It was going to be up to me.  I crawled around some more, unscrewed the little nozzle caps, inserted the quarters into the air machine and blindly put air into each tire.  Nothing exploded so I took that as a good sign.  I turned the car on, saw that the light was still lit up and formed Plan B.

Plan B:  Drive my car to a nearby auto repair shop where the guys are professional, knowledgeable and, best of all, nice.  Go inside and throw myself on their mercy.

The young guy behind the desk got up, went out and put air in my tires.  He said that on cool days the air pressure goes down a little and that there probably wasn't even anything wrong.  Furthermore, you have to drive a little while for the dashboard light to go off.  All great information that I could use on the spot.  It was a wonderful experience and I was grateful.

When I asked him what I owed him, he said, "Nothing.  Air is free."

I finally arrived at my class.  My white pants were grimy and I was almost an hour late but I was floating on air.  Turns out,  I had learned a valuable lesson:  We don't have to live our best lives alone.  We can call in the A-Team to give us a hand whenever we want.  And, when you figure out who the good guys are, air is free.  I like that.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Brody and his Grampy are best buds and they started playing as soon as their family arrived at our house for the weekend.  When mid-afternoon came, our daughter asked her father if he'd put her son down for a nap. Brody was clearly tired and we thought he'd fall asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. 

Obediently both guys went to the bedroom and lay down.  Fortunately, they left the door open just a crack so I was able to observe them.  A short time later I heard a thumping noise.  I looked in.  The guys were lying side-by-side and Brody just kind of rhythmically kicking Jerry's shoulder.  

A few minutes later, I heard the sweet sound of a two-year old singing.  I couldn't resist taking another quick peek.  Brody was sitting up but Jerry hadn't moved a muscle since the last time I'd seen him. 

The third time I checked on the guys, Brody was riding his Grandfather like a horse.  

Somebody had fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.  It just wasn't Brody. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

As long as I live, I will never understand how men think.  As Jerry and Brody were going in to bed, I told Jerry to remember to take the shams off the pillows.  As you can see, he did.

Finally, they're BOTH napping!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A High-Altitude Revelation

We were in Salt Lake City.  We'd ridden the train to the heart of the downtown. Now we are hiking up the canyon to the foothills of the mountains.  Our destination is a couple of miles away.  It's high altitude.  I'm looking down, watching my step, sweating, panting.  Then I look up, see the back of my husband, and break out in a huge smile.

 Jerry, carrying his backpack and dragging my suitcase.
It has just occurred to me that I have my own personal sherpa.  Just like all those climbers who "do Everest," I could never have done it without him. (I still could have used a canister of supplemental oxygen though...)

Here's a couple of other photos of a day in the life of my sherpa:

My Shopping Sherpa  (Great legs, right?)

My Garden Sherpa at work
From now on whenever people wonder why I am forever and always trying to pair up my single friends, explaining will be simple:  Every girl needs a sherpa.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The New Guy

At a party last week, I met a charming fellow who told me he was in his late '80s.  He was interesting, intelligent and an excellent conversationalist, a real pleasure to talk to. 

We were chatting away, thoroughly enjoying ourselves in our own little world when he said, "I'm blind, you know."

Well, I didn't know but I figured since he brought it up, he must want to talk about it, so I said, "Macular degeneration?"

"Yes." He responded.

Did it come on suddenly or was it gradual?" I asked.


"Do you have any vision left?"

"About fifteen percent."

"Can you see me at all?" I asked.

"I can see your outline." he said.

I touched his arm as I leaned in a little.  "I have something important to tell you." I said and I paused for effect.  "I'm very, very attractive."

"I thought so." he replied.

We both laughed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Mantra

"My mantra for the month," I told Jerry, "is 'Don't put it down, put it away.'"

"Really?" he smiled. "Because..."

"A place for everything and everything in its place," I interrupted.

"...because I noticed that you just put your hat on the upstairs landing."  He grinned.

"That's because my hat belongs on the landing -- that's where I want it to be, on the landing," I said defensively. "I'm surprised you didn't know that.  And the bag of newspapers behind the hat?  It belongs there, too."

The books belong on the stairs.  Really.
Wouldn't it be nice if I actually lived the life that I already think I'm living?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Sharp Shooter

Three of our neighbors just finished a mandatory gun safety course.  Then if they pass a test they can "concealed carry" as they call it.  As grateful as I am that I am friends with all of these men, I feel better being on good terms with my own husband.   Here's why...

Christmas two years ago we were in Michigan and, on a whim (or high from the eggnog), I made one of those stupid pronouncements that later I come to regret.  This one was along the lines of, "It would be fun to learn to shoot a gun."  What was I thinking?  Yeah, that it was one of my more moronic statements, I admit.  My son-in-law who, as it turns out, has more guns than I have silverware, hopped on that idiotic idea like a flea onto a very hairy dog and he ran with it.  Before the words had even finished tumbling out of my mouth, he had called and scheduled us a time for the next morning.  Turns out he had a friend who owned a rifle range.  (Gun gallery?) My husband Jerry decided to come along just for the fun factor.

I'll admit I was kind of excited. When I was a kid I used to shoot tin cans with BB guns and as an adult I enjoyed playing "Duck Hunter" on Nintendo, too.  I smugly thought I was a pretty good aim and was ready to prove it.  I didn't even try to worm out of the deal.  I just got up the next morning and got in the car with the guys.

The owner of the operation was there and brought me out a pretty little gun like a woman might carry in her purse.  He was very professional and gave me detailed instructions on how to stand, how to hold my arms and was teaching me all about gun safety when the place opened up for business.  People were pouring in and suddenly I realized I was surrounded by muggers-in-training.  (Did I mention we were in Detroit?)

It was about now that the owner realized the delicate gun I'd been practicing with was malfunctioning.  He went to fetch me another weapon but became distressed with the selection.  He toyed with the idea of giving me a much bigger gun but said it had "a much larger kick and you're gonna need to be prepared for that."  The more he thought about it, the more concerned he got and the more concerned he got, the less enthusiast I got.  Ultimately we jointly decided that I should postpone my debut as Annie Oakley.

Instead, I went into the shooting arena (which was like a bowling alley with targets hanging above where the pins would be) to watch Jerry and Brent shoot.  As soon as we got in there, I realized I was standing next to a very short person - a very short person with a gun in his hand.  I'm a very short person myself but, unlike me, this short person didn't look like he had achieved double digits yet.  There was a child standing next to me. The child was holding a gun.

I left.

When the guys were finished they picked me up in the lobby.   Brent was saying what a "badass" Jerry was.  (His word, not mine.)  Brent showed me Jerry's paper target.  Jer had fired three times and the shots had hit dead center of the bullseye yet I only saw two holes.   Brent had to spell it out for me.  "Two bullets went through the same hole, Chris."  He said.

Turns out my husband is a sharp shooter.  He knows it. Our son-in-law knows it.  All those mugger wanna-be's in Detroit know it.  You know it - and I know it too.

Mild-mannered Grampy or sharp-shooter?
Yes, I'm gonna try to stay on the best possible terms with my husband.  Oh, and I think I might take up archery.  


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

THAT Woman

The lottery jackpot was $141 million dollars Saturday night and I'm pretty sure I've won.  If so, in addition to buying my friends Linda and Dave a lakefront home (as I promised them I'd do), and giving my hairdresser Doreatha the best tip she's ever had in her life (because she's THAT good), I'm gonna find someone with excellent taste to buy my clothes for me.  I tend to make bad garment choices so I could truly use professional guidance in this area of my life.

Earlier today I went to JC Penney because they are having a clearance sale on their summer merchandise.  To me this makes no sense at all.  Living east of Hell as I do, in my mind July is actually summer and so are August, September, October and a big slice of November too.  It appears to me that Penney's is getting rid of the lightweight stuff way, way too soon but I was armed with a 10% discount coupon and the sale/coupon combo is difficult to resist, even for me.

What treasure did I find on the sale rack?  A long-sleeved red tee-shirt that would be perfect to wear during the Christmas holidays.  It was marked $.97.  I asked the clerk if it was a pricing error and she assured me it was not.  She said, "This is really old.  It's from last winter." to which I (mentally) responded, "The newest stuff in my winter wardrobe is from last winter.  The oldest stuff is from when I was in sixth grade.  THAT is really old.  THIS is really new.  In fact, it's brand new.  New doesn't get any newer than that."

I bought the tee-shirt, and yes, I used my 10% off coupon.  I purchased an item that was under a dollar and I asked them to give me a ten-percent discount.  I'm THAT woman.

I am having a fabulous life!  I'm just not sure that winning all that lottery money is going to make my life that much better - but I've graciously decided I am willing to find out.  If South Carolina is a state where you can collect your winnings anonymously, then you will never even know I won.   Unless, of course, Linda and Dave invite you to their housewarming party.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Running Late

According to my husband, we were running late.  He'd planned to leave our house at 3:45 a.m. and it was now 3:55.  I had wanted to blow dry my hair.  Was that really so wrong?

I was surprised at how many people were on the road this early in the morning.  Surprised, largely, because I never am.  Jerry travels more than I do so he was unfazed.  ("Unglazed," according to Autocorrect.)

Jerry parked our car and we rushed to the shuttle bus.  I could feel the tension.  "What time is our flight?" I asked even though I had zero idea what the current time was anyway.  "Six." was the curt reply.

The line for security was massive and there was a huge group of people wearing teal ("real" according to Autocorrect) tee-shirts in it.  I wondered what their story was but Jerry grabbed me by the hand and steered me out of the line just as I was opening my mouth to ask.  

We walked the length of the airport to Checkpoint B where there was no line at all.  Not one person was in front of us.  None.  Zilch.  It was eerie.  I wasn't even sure this security point was open but, in fact, it was.  As we walked through what appeared to be our own personal security line, Jerry's tension dissipated.  We looked at the monitor to locate our gate.  When we got there, imagine my surprise to see this:

Just in case you don't understand what you're seeing here, don't feel like the Lone Ranger.  I didn't get it at first either.  Later became obvious.  It's not what you are seeing that's important, it's what you aren't seeing.  You aren't seeing a scrolling display that says "Detroit" with the flight number on it.  Instead you're seeing an advertisement for Delta Airlines.  Why?  Why is a valid question and I do know that answer.  There is no flight information being displayed because they haven't opened for the morning yet.  

And now I look up and I see I'm surrounded by people wearing teal tee-shirts.  I guess I have time to hear that story after all.

* * * * *

P.S.  It turns out that I had even more time than I thought.  When Delta finally opened for business, our flight was delayed.  After the delay, the flight was canceled.  (Apparently our assigned aircraft had been struck by lightning and damaged as it landed in Charlotte the night before.  Why this was not discovered until fifteen minutes prior to our boarding is beyond me.)

                                                * * * * *

For the curious ~ the story of the folks in teal:

The wearers of the teal tee-shirts are a friendly bunch of seventeen volunteers (varying in age from teens to grandparents) from Morning Star Lutheran Church in Matthews, N.C.  These happy people are affiliated with Pray America and their destination is Chichicastenego, Guatemala where the group will be building shelter for widows and their children.

A few of the Lutheran volunteers headed for Guatemala
This is not their first rodeo.  Morning Star Lutherans have made similar trips for six years now and one of those years they even went twice.  (They can build a dwelling in two-and-a-half hours.  Seems to me their crew would make great Habitat for Humanity volunteers, too...)

This group, and countless others like them, is just another in a long list of reasons to be ("robe" according to Autocorrect) proud to be an American.
And I am.  (Grateful, too.)  I've gotta say though, I'm not that crazy about Autocorrect.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Tomato

Today, I am a happy woman.  Very happy.

Simple pleasures tickle me and today I just ate my favorite summer lunch:  a fresh tomato with cucumber slices.  Yum!

What's special about this tomato is that it's homegrown.  From my garden to my mouth in under five minutes, and that includes peeling and slicing the cucumber as well.  (A big thanks to Mr. Clif for sharing his homegrown cukes, by the way.)  I love, love, love fresh produce and this is as fresh as it gets. 

It's a minor miracle that I have a tomato to harvest.  First, I live in deep woods and little sunshine filters through.  Second, we have a large deer population that is defoliating plants down to the stems right now.  But not my tomatoes.    

This spring our friends Jack and Shirley were visiting from the East Coast.  Shirl and I like to get the guys involved in a project so that we can converse in peace.  This trip, she conceived window boxes that would sit on the ledge of our driveway instead of below a window.  The guys got right to work.  By the time the weekend was over, I had had fun talking with my friend PLUS had three lovely flower boxes AND the guys got to feel productive.  Win, win, win as I see it.

The driveway boxes were perfect!  I chose to paint them purple (and by "paint them purple" I mean I chose to have Jerry paint them purple.)  Jerry baulked. He said the color I picked was "garish."  Garish means obtrusively bright and showy; lurid.  It's synonyms are: gaudy, showy, loud, glaring, flashy.  Lurid means ghastly.  I know; I looked it up.  Clearly Jerry wasn't complimenting my taste.  Undaunted by this negativity, I persisted.  Unbeknownst to him, I had already watered down my color choice at the paint counter and I was adamant.     

"When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."  Jerry understands this folk wisdom at a gut level.  We have, after all, been married for decades so he's had plenty of first-hand experience in picking his battles.  Wisely, he relented and painted the boxes.  

In the center of every box of flowers I planted a tomato.  Imagine my surprise when they actually flowered?  I was beside myself with joy when fruit appeared and giddy with delight when I beheld the first streaks of pink!  I almost picked all the tomatoes at this stage as a strategic move to foil the deer, so certain was I that they would share my sentiments and chomp down all ten tomatoes before I could even taste one.  

Pictures lie.  The flower boxes are not really this garish color.

Apparently deer either don't like tomatoes or they, too, think the planters are garish because they've left them totally alone while at the same time demolishing the bulk of my peach crop which was growing mere feet away.  (They left two tiny peaches.  Why?  Is there something wrong with them or were the deer being polite?  Who answers these types of questions?)

Lunch was everything I imagined.  You just can't duplicate the taste of a freshly picked tomato, warm and juicy.

Today I am a very happy woman, indeed.  Oh, and Jerry says the color is "growing on him."

                       *  *  *  *  *  *                                         

P.S.  If you happen to have seen the boxes and actually liked the color, you are encouraged to post a comment.  Hint, hint.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


When I picked up a new prescription, I noticed on the side of the bottle is a neon yellow label that says, "WARNING:  This medication should be taken with with PLENTY of WATER."  The words "plenty" and "water" are in bold print and are capitalized.  Clearly, this information is IMPORTANT!  
Proof that I don't make this stuff up!

While I'm grateful for the eye-catching caution, I am left wondering how much water I need to drink with my little pink pills.  How much, exactly, is plenty?  Doesn't the very word seem out of place on a medicine bottle?  It's airy-fairy instead of precise and measurable. Come on, guys!  Couldn't we be a wee bit more specific here?  

My husband's beverage of choice is sweet tea and his consumption of it is legendary.  He has been known to drink endless gigantic glasses with lunch, then ask for a "to-go" cup for the road.  He drinks plenty.  By virtue of contrast, I'm never thirsty. I order water, drink a sip or two and I'm done.  I've had plenty.  

Sixty-four ounces then, or two?  Your guess is as good as mine.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Wedding

Satan's Mistress (aka my yoga instructor Mary Ann) married Jason the Giant Friday and the wedding was fabulous! FABULOUS!!!!!!!!  

Why?  Because the bride and groom had the foresight to rent a photo booth to entertain the masses during lulls in the action.  Since I knew a total of three other guests, it was easy for me to corral them all into the booth before they really even realized what was happening.  Sadly, the pictures had kind of a "deer in the headlights" look to them and I just knew we could do better.

I'm an overachiever and that boring, normal, sub-par photo strip just didn't sit well with me.  How to spice things up?  Hmmm... Immediately after we received our photo strip, the woman who'd been behind us in line emerged from the photo booth with a little red feather on her shoulder.  Hey!  There were props in there that we hadn't noticed.  Jackpot!

I was only able to convince two of the original three ladies to get back in line with me for a "do over."  We piled back into the photo booth, this time grabbing boas, hats and a mask.  We were much happier with our photo strip results this time.  We were so happy, in fact, that we began arguing about who got to keep it.  Never the shy one, I asked the photo booth attendant (yes, that appears to be a legitimate job opportunity) if he could make us copies.  He said no, but we could go back in again.  Since he gave us official permission, it was a done deal.  

Luckily, there was now only a short line.  The other adults were off doing whatever ~ listening to toasts, watching the bride and groom cut the cake ~ something along those lines.  There were few kids in attendance so nobody was really competing with us for booth time.  

By now, we were feeling like silver fox models. This time as we were squeezing in, Mary grabbed an adorable flamingo hat and plopped it on her head, Diane donned sunglasses and I grabbed the best prop of all: a tall, attractive man that none of us knew.  I threw a purple boa on him just as the flashing commenced.  At first he was stunned and looked bit confused but soon we were all laughing so hard that the first set of pictures we took were pretty goofy.  We just stayed in the booth, laughing even harder.  We took a second, then a third set of pictures.
And that's how we met Srini, Mary Ann's boot camp buddy and a genuine good sport.  I'm pretty sure that during the ensuing conversation I invited myself to visit his parents in India and I'm certain he volunteered to teach me (and a few of my closest friends) how to cook authentic Indian food.  If that doesn't have potential for a future post, what does?  

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Rickman!!

PS  Your cake was delicious.  I ate two-and-a-half pieces of it while no one was looking.  Was that wrong?    

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Wednesday night we were coming back from a trip to Georgia when we drove into a ferocious thunderstorm.  By the time it let up we were getting pretty hungry so we stopped in Greenville.  As we got out of the car, the air felt crisp, clean, cool.

Greenville is a charming city and we were strolling through it looking into the windows of artsy little shops and deciding which restaurant we wanted to try.  The longer we walked, the cooler the breeze seemed.  Finally, I remarked to Jerry that I was chilly and wished I had a sweater.

He replied.......

                         .....wait for it......

                                                      ......"It's 81 degrees out."

Slap me on the back and call me Bertha!  My transformation is complete - I'm a Southern Girl now, y'all.
Can you see goosebumps?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blood Pressure Rising

You know how you find a doctor that you really, really like and then she moves away?  That happened to me.  My doc told me I could follow her to her new practice, but it was in a different city and I'm just not a gifted driver.  Plus, I'm basically lazy.  

Everything changed when Suzy got bitten by a baby copperhead.  (For you snake non-phobics, the babies are the most dangerous so this was the scariest.)
When I saw Suzy on Memorial Day, her foot was deep purple and swollen.  We got to talking about doctors - specifically how much she liked hers - and it was then I realized that I was willing to make that drive after all.  The icing on the cake was that Suzy sees that same delightful doctor that I used to see.  So it was settled.  I called the next day and made an appointment.

The receptionist scheduled my visit for two days later at 8:00 am.  I was so excited to get in so fast that I ignored the warning sirens going off in my head.  Anyone who knows me is aware of my aversion to morning.  Because I tend to get lost easily, I would have to allow plenty of driving time, then add more for school buses.  That meant getting up during the dead of (my) night.

Two days later I dragged myself out of bed and threw myself into my vehicle. I plugged the address into my GPS.  Nothing happened.  I put in the zip code.  Nothing.  Apparently this city doesn't exist in the real world.  

Suzy had given me vague directions on how to get to the office.  I regretted only half-listening to her now but I did have the address and plenty of time, so I decided to just go.  Clarity, as it turns out, isn't one of the things I excel at when I'm sleep deprived.  A map would have been nice, too.

Weirdly, I made it to the city without incident and I even found the highway.  What I couldn't find was the 7000 block.  The numbering went from 8000 to 6000.  I was mystified.  I drove in the other direction long enough to satisfy myself that it went away from town.  Back in the right neighborhood, I kept driving slowly up and down this same stretch of busy highway, like I was Nancy Drew, girl detective, searching for a hidden driveway or some secret clue.  

After way too many passes as well as a bit of horn-honking from the impolite drivers all around me, I decided to pull off the road and call the office.  Nobody answered.  Then it clicked.  It wasn't eight o'clock yet.  I was the first appointment.  Ain't nobody gonna be answering those phones.  

I drove up and down the highway again a couple more times and then I got the inspired idea to wander down the road a bit further, even though it defies logic. (I was sleepy, not stupid.  My logical brain was functioning perfectly well, thank you very much.)  Sure enough, I stumbled onto the office.  This may be the only city in America where the blocks are numbered 8000, 6,000, 5,000 THEN 7,000.  Kudos to them!  I admire creativity wherever it is.  Frankly, I was just shocked to find it in the numeric system.  Life is full of surprises!  

I was ten minutes late.  The driving itself was stressful and the knowledge I was late added to my tension.  After I was ushered in, the first thing the nurse did was take my blood pressure with this fancy machine.  It was 138 over God- knows-what.  I was so freaked out about the 138 that I couldn't focus.  I asked the nurse to recheck it and she took it with her stethoscope so it would be more accurate.  The top number was now 130.   This was much, much higher than normal for me and I was obsessing that I might get diagnosed with hypertension.  

My doctor visit went well.  It was definitely worth the effort to get there.  As we were wrapping up our talk, my dear doc decided to give me a shingles vaccine and then she hugged me goodbye. (I love this woman!)  

I asked the nurse if she'd take my b/p again.  She said yes, she'd do it right before she gave me the shot.  I am one big bag of phobias stacked on top of another and perhaps a blood pressure reading right before a shot isn't the best timing, but I was willing to take that chance.  

The nurse left the room for about ten minutes and I took advantage of that time by doing a relaxation meditation.  I went on a quick trip to the beach.  When we both returned to the room, my blood pressure was 114/70. Yahoo!  

I got the vaccine.  They did not, however, give me a sucker.

AND there's even some exciting news from my doctor visit:  When the nurse measured my height, I was a half-an-inch taller than on my last visit.  If I keep growing at this pace, in a mere ten years my weight will finally be a perfect match for my height.

                                              *    *     *

P.S. Snakebite Suzy's much improved and grateful that she didn't need to get the anti-venom shot.  It cost six thousand dollars.  That's almost more frightening to me than the snakebite itself!  Almost.