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.