A Simple Book

Posted: April 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve tried very hard to remember the first book I read that truly made me fall in love with the magic of writing. A book that was so good, when you got to the end of the first chapter, you realized you had really been in love with it from the first page.

I think that first book was one I did not read myself, but instead was read to me.

It was in elementary school, at the end of the year and summer was looming ahead. We were restless and bored. Enough lessons, homework and tests. Mostly, we just wanted to play outside. We would come in from recess, hot and red-faced making a bee line for the water fountain. Shuffle into the classroom like kids being ushered into a cage.

Our school was old and didn’t have air, so our teacher would throw up the windows and pull the metal slatted blinds to half mast. An occasional summer breeze would blow in and ruffle the blinds. They would billow out and then smack back against the glass.

The warm sun slanted in and it would be really hard not to gaze out those windows and dream about summer.

She would pull out a chair to the center of the room and sit with a book. A signal to settle in and get quiet for listening. We would squirm and fidget trying to get comfortable. Then finally a hush would fall over us and she would begin to speak.

“Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls,” she said.

On those days we left the classroom behind.

We would go on adventures to the Ozark mountains with a boy and a pair of hounds and smell the woods and hear the bawling of the dogs. The smell of chalk dust would disappear and the familiar smack, smack of the blinds buffeting against the glass would be a murmuring sound far off in the distance.

She had read the book before and knew exactly when to inflect certain emotions. If the prose called for humor – you could hear the teasing smile in her voice (and everyone would laugh). If the prose had to have anger or disbelief, she would raise her voice an octave and say it so we felt chastised.

Somehow hearing the story out loud was better. She made it better. We cared for the boy because she cared for the boy. You could hear it in her voice.

It wasn’t a book she wanted to read for discussion. She wanted us to hear the story for pleasure. It was a treat.

The bell would ring at the end of the day and it would be startling. It would be like snapping awake from a pleasant dream where you’re not sure if you want to leave because you are already yearning for more. It’s the magic of believing.

It’s the power of the storyteller.

I had a pretty good grasp of vocabulary as a young kid. If someone would have asked a young me what does ominous mean? I would have said it was the day the teacher pulled her chair out to the middle of the room and had a box of Kleenex in her lap.

She had a hard, bruised look on her face and set up straighter in the chair. Her posture said she had something hard to do and she was determined to be brave and go on through with it.

She looked down at the book and started reading. We sat back and avoided each others eyes. The box of Kleenex had come in between her and our story and we were all trying to pretend it wasn’t there. It meant something bad was going to happen to the boy or his dogs.

When she got to the tragic part of the story her voiced hitched. You could feel the struggle of how hard it was to read the words to us. No one wanted her to go on, but no one wanted her to stop either.

She dabbed at the corner of her eyes and paused briefly to look at us. She gasped for a moment and hastily got up from her chair. She held the book with one hand and walked around the room reading it, offering her box of Kleenex up and down the rows.

I think it was one of the first times I experienced the pull of writing and how words could give you a push and you went free-falling into the pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you get really lucky with your co-workers.

Trisha came right after Christmas and during a second bout of stomach virus. She had confessed to me that she was squeamish when it came to puke. The smell. Understandable. I can see how being surrounded by a bunch of kids hurling up their breakfast cereal or hot dog lunch could induce a gagging reaction. (and were missing a nurse)

She would get out a face mask, arm herself with Germ-X and drown me in a fog of Lysol. But you kinda bond over those days. You get a sense of we weathered the storm and made it to another day. A greater appreciation for the person comes about.

Trisha’s genuine and really cares for kids.

One day she asked me to go to this store that sells food in bulk and buy the kids a couple of cases of pretzels and crackers (I spend the school’s budget). I was wary about this..

“Trisha, you know if you get this started, every kid that doesn’t like whats for lunch or forgets their snack for the day is going to be lined up at your door?”

I got an indignant,

“But sometimes they have headaches and need some crackers, or they didn’t get enough supper, or they don’t want to be the only one without a snack. It’s the right thing to do!”

I’ll never be the person who argues with the bottom line of it’s the right thing to do.

And she’s funny, too.

A dad comes in with a baby in a carrier, another one about two that is bound and determined to crawl under the lobby sofa and his other child. Dad looks frazzled. They’re really late. His son says, “Today is my birthday!”

Trisha beams a smile and says,

“Well, Happy Birthday! Are you late because dad let you sleep in and made you some birthday pancakes?”

The kid stares blankly at her and replies,

“Nah, I just didn’t have any clean pants this morning…”

We don’t have big salaries. Days come roaring in leaving you spent and stressed. We often joke with each other.

“Miss Whitelady, what are you doing this weekend?”

“As soon as I get off  – I’m heading to the liquor store.”

Trisha tells me that she had way too many glasses of wine the night before working on her newsletter. I had forgotten she did free-lance work for her friend’s advertising business. (just a little something to help pay the bills)

Now, I’m curious.

“I love to write! What kinda newsletter do you do?”

She hesitates a mere second and tells me she would e-mail me a link to the web-site, but it’s not work appropriate. She does a newsletter for Cutie’s Lingerie (not the real name) when a sale is going on. She had to do their Easter newsletter.

I’ve heard of the place. They have late night sixty-second commercials on any channel showing an action movie. The models wear rated R undies and talk sultry. (kinda like if Hustler married Playboy and made sleepwear)

“Hhmmm….you do a newsletter for the naughty underwear store?”

I’m totally caught off-guard by this. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I just always saw Trisha in a more sweet and innocent light.

She whips out her fancy phone and pushes buttons and hands it over to me.

“Check it out.”

Logo.

A picture of a chick in a bra, panties, garter belt and of course bunny ears. (it’s Easter n all)

I keep scrolling down. Everything is sell! sell! sell!

Then I come to this one picture and I’m thinking what in the hell is this? It’s a white feather duster with a short handle (what I’m going with) I stare at it a few more minutes..Oh, okay, I get it, it’s a “tickler.” You get naked and tickle each others erogenous zones.

I scroll down.

It’s a bunny tail butt plug.

Yes,…

There’s all this info about how to use lube, anal tears, washing in between orifices. A literal How To section on how to keep your tail safe and sanitary.

“Trisha, you write this?”

“No! I just design the newsletter.”

I’m thinking this sure as hell beats our newsletter. The one about early pick up and don’t forget to check the Lost n Found for your child’s missing jacket.

I slide her phone back to her before I see a bunch of people lined up wearing tails for Easter.

and I’m immature, so of course, I’m laughing, but not in a mean way – I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ray the Red Devil

Posted: April 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

I hated Ray and Ray hated me. It was a mutual hate born within the first few minutes of our meeting.

I was young and had been working at a grocery when my little brother’s best friend came into the store and told me about the printing company he worked for. I was frustrated at the nickel raises I had been getting and tired of working six days a week to get thirty-five hours (still considered part-time, so no benefits).

I went to an interview and got hired.

Ray was in his fifties, married late in life, had a son even later in life, and had spent over twenty years in the marines. He had a black bushy uni-brow, graying in the middle, and wore hard framed Buddy Holly glasses.

The printing company was housed in a giant warehouse with no central air. There were industrial sized fans that were strategically placed around to keep you cool. Everyone spent the summers sweating. Ray would sweat and his glasses would slip down. He was constantly pushing his glasses back up to the center of his nose.

It was an eternal fight. Sweat. Slip. Furiously shove back into place.

I had given my two-week notice, and remembered vaguely that my new boss had told me he was taking a vacation day on that Monday.

“Just find Ray when you come in. He’ll show you what to do.”

I had zero experience. I was clueless as to what went on in a printing company and I was nervous. Really nervous.

I’m taken to Ray.

Ray ran a machine that folded things and stapled. One of their biggest customers was Singer Sewing Machine. Ray made the instruction manuals which were printed on flat pieces of paper and then fed into his machine. They would hit all these right angles and get folded into a booklet and get three staples down the spine.

I meet Ray for the first time.

He’s half buried under this ten foot long contraption, lying on the floor, scrunched up against the wall with a hammer. Every few minutes he yells out

“Sonofabitchin’ Whore!”

and bangs around at places with his hammer.

The guy who had walked me over to Ray, pushes this three-sided bin on wheels up to me and says I’m to use this for stacking the manuals in. It’s a wooden bin and someone has taken a red Sharpie marker and drawn a caricature of the Devil.

It’s a great cartoonish Red Devil with a mouth full of shark teeth, snake-tail, long pointy horns, it’s even holding a pitch fork and wearing glasses. Someone else had come along with a black ball-point pen and had given the devil a pair of thick black Buddy Holly glasses. (and a uni-brow)

There is a huge arrow pointing at the devil with the words, “Ray the Red Devil.”

He finally crawls out and gives me the once over. He furiously shoves his glasses up (I learn soon that Ray does everything furiously.) Looks at the Devil look-alike and mumbles a string of “not-funny-good-for-nothing-bastards…” then turns on me and yells,

“Who in the hell are you and what are you doing just standing there?”

I say, “I’m the new girl!”

(flash my winning smile)

Ray throws his arms up into the air in a last ditch effort to ask Jesus H Christ what he did to deserve all this bullshit?

“Do you know how to jog paper?”

“No sir.”

“Are you being funny?”

I’m pretty sure I’m not..so I just decide to be very quiet.

He stomps down to the end of the machine and shows me where the paper is fed. Shoves his glasses. Furiously grabs a stack of paper and whips it back and forth and taps it on the table. (I later learn that jogging paper means that each piece has to lay perfectly on top of one another. You jog to send air in between and when it gets fed into the machine, it folds it in an exact spot so everything comes out neat and square and none of the pages get dog-ears in them.)

Of course, in the ten minutes that I’ve been there…this eludes me. I have no freaking idea what I’m supposed to be doing. I start tapping paper and shoving it in there.

Things start going crazy. I can’t keep the paper loaded fast enough. It starts jamming and stapling books that aren’t even there yet. The paper that I do manage to get shoved in, send out booklets folded at wrong angles, pages are bent, some might have two staples and some might have ten.

Ray hits the big RED button.

and grabs his hammer.

It seems I’ve caused a jammed. This requires a few blows and a lot of cuss words to fix. I kinda wander around contemplating if I’ve made a mistake in my career change while Ray bangs out his frustration.

It’s really hot. I’m really nervous. I decide to turn on one of the giant fans….I’ve never seen a fan this big. There is a table with stacks of paper on it. (Ya’ know, the paper I was supposed to jog and feed…)

It never occurs to me that this fan would be so powerful that it might actually blow the stacks of paper off the table. That I might should’ve angled it away from the paper before I turned it on…It takes a few seconds for the blades to start spinning good. When that sucker got to humming – it could really produce some wind.

Paper started flying off the table at an incredulous speed. I am shocked. Instead of trying to turn OFF the fan, I try to catch the paper.

This was not a good decision.

I glanced nervously over my shoulder at Ray. He had been squatted down with his hammer. He is now encompassed in a gale force of flying paper (trying to keep his glasses shoved up.)

I’ve pissed him off so bad now, he won’t even cuss. Instead he hurls the hammer at his machine.

He tells me at the end of the day,

“Don’t come back tomorrow.”

I tell MJ’s friend on the way home, I think Ray fired me.

He thinks this is hilarious. He assures me Ray is just a crotchety son of a bitch and he is not the boss and doesn’t have the authority to fire me.

Needless to say, when I do show up the next day he confronts me!

“Did I not tell you to don’t come back?”

I’m humiliated and pissed off and feel the tears wanting to sting my eyes. I wheel around so fast and start heading toward the door. If I had made it out – I guarantee, I would have not stepped foot in that place again.

Fate has a funny way.

As I’m flying out of the door my boss is walking in. He takes one look at my face -

“Whoa! What’s happened?”

“Ray fired me! What kinda place is this? I guess I’m going to go beg for my old job back…at least they don’t fire you after the first day!”

He won’t even let me get down the steps. He turns me around and marches me right back in. My boss is only a few years older than me and we went to high school together. He was a jock type, but one of the non-asshole ones. This is the only thing that allows my feet to keep walking.

He gives Ray a good long lecture, though I do notice there is an impish grin that keeps pulling at his face as he tells Ray he cannot fire me…

I ban myself from Ray. I won’t go near the bastard. We work in a mutual I-hate-you-silence at opposite sides of the warehouse.

I start to learn things and I get better. I refuse to give up. I resolved myself to not fail, just to piss Ray off.

One day I’m trying to get a box off a shelf and I’m too short to reach it. I can get my fingertips on it, but can’t slide it. Ray walks by and gives me a smirk and then miraculously comes back and takes it down for me.

“You’re kinda short ya’ know?”

I crinkled up my eyes and gave him a go to hell look.

“You know what you are?”

“What? The daughter you always wanted, but never had?”

I say it with the meanest voice I have, but end up laughing.

This catches him totally off guard and an even stranger thing happened.

He smiled at me. His whole face smiled. It cracked into a million places full of laugh lines and his eyes took on a twinkly look. The forever scowl disappeared. He thumbed his glasses.

“Well, other than a smartass, I was going to say you have become a pretty good helper. “

He digs in his back pocket and pulls out an old worn wallet and shows me a picture of his son, who was about nine. He tells me how he never thought he would marry or have children, but got lucky that someone would take pity on a mean old sonofawhore like him.

His voice is tempered with kindness and softness and a sense of pride for his family. He lets me flick through the other pictures. One of his son as a baby, his wife when they were dating, a stern looking man so much younger in his uniform.

I felt kinda bad about the daughter remark.

I stopped trying to do my job better just to piss off Ray. I started trying to do my job better to make him happy. Having his respect meant something to a young me and it felt a hell of a lot better than spite.

When other new people would come in and remark what an asshole he was, I would come to his defense.

“He’s not an asshole, he is just Ray the Red Devil…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of Old Man Winter

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

For my friend, El Guapo, who has a heavily burdened heart.

The sage has been lit. The peace pipe has been packed. The peyote has been prepared. I shall call upon my Cherokee ancestors to invoke the spirit of the Deer, the Wolf, and the Owl. We will take a magical trip and journey far away to the mystical hunting grounds of the Great White North. (Canada)

“….Old Man Winter is dying. He feels his strength ebbing away and his icy grip on the imprisoned earth slipping from his grasp.

He cycled into his season as a powerful warrior, riding the Arctic winds of the polar vortex on a mighty stallion. He shook his staff at the heavens and they opened up and rained down insurmountable amounts of snow and sleet. Lakes and rivers froze over, trees were glazed with ice, many car batteries were put to death.

But he knew his time was fleeting and his demise would be swift, as prophesied by our Mother Earth, ruler of Nature. The ending of life was upon him and he was banished to the Great White hunting grounds of the North.

and a trap was set.

Deer materializing out of the frozen fog races across the snow. He snorts a plume of fiery steam and shakes his crown of antlers. He entices the Old Man into the forest and leads him deeper into the woods.

Deer enters the open glade and makes his last stand. He is to be the sacrifice.

Old Man creates a pine tree bow and shoots a bolt of Thunder Ice, straight and true, piercing Deer’s heart. The Old Man exults a victorious war cry and feels his strength being renewed.

There will be six more weeks of winter.

The stalking Wolf bounds out of the timber to avenge the death of the majestic Deer. Wolf fiercely growls and bares his fangs as the epic battle for Spring ensues.

Sub-zero temperatures, blizzard-like conditions, snow showers rage on and on.

But Old Man is growing tired and weaker with each passing day and finally succumbs his throat to the Wolf and gives a final death rattle.

Mother Earth opens the land and Wolf drags him down to the depths of hell and lays him to rest in his grave. Old Man will sleep undisturbed until you feel his icy breath on your back again.

Owl soars down from the great sky and plucks a sprig of greenery from the sacred burial ground and is flying to Jersey with it, so Guapo will know, in four sunsets, the promise of spring will awaken upon the face of earth….”

So it is written. So it is true.

****

No hallucinatory animals were harmed in the making of this tale.

****

As I write this, we have rain falling and a 50/50 shot of snow showers for this evening. (It was sixty something degrees this morning)

****

In the event we have snow for Easter, none of the parties involved in whiteladyinthehood can be held liable (mainly just me). Do not take a shot at the Owl messenger, he is under protection by the laws set forth from the 1949 Owl Geneva Convention and is also a member of the Actors Guild for Owls, due to his bit part as a mail deliverer in the Harry Potter series…(he’s a union man and cannot be touched.)

and p.s. I wrote this for Guapington because I wanted to send him a smile and because he has always been a great friend, in fact, all you guys are. I have a lot of turmoil in my life right now and I can’t seem to shake this ‘down in the dumps’ mood that seems to follow me around like a black cloud. This is not good-bye, but more of a thank you friends, I wish you guys all the best!

Broken Treasure

Posted: March 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Sometimes words carry the weight of the world. They are heavy and strap to your shoulders and back.

They wake you up at 2:00 a.m. and you can’t go back to sleep because the words are whispering. They have wormed there way inside you and started gnawing at your gut. You try and push them away, but they keep creeping back in.

I toss and turn on these nights and then start the next day bleary-eyed and weary. I tell myself, “Things are going to be okay,” but those words seem empty and hollow.

I hear her words and see her face light up when the donated coats come in. She knows she will be a recipient of one. We dig through the bags, me pulling out coats way too big for her, but wanting her to have something she can grow into. She refuses them all.

In the bottom of the last trash bag, I pull out an old worn looking white sweater with a fur-trimmed hood. Foolishly, I point out the thread-bare places, the not so little hole in the back. The small red stain on the sleeve.

Her eyes have seen none of this.

She puts it on and sheepishly steps into being a vogue model. Her shyness melts away for the briefest of moments as she struts around the room.

To her it is treasure.

My little friend lives in a project across town. One morning it is frigid and the kids come piling off the bus soaking wet. The pipes burst and most of the apartments got flooded. She brings me her younger brother.

He has literally walked the soles of his shoes off. The only thing holding the shoe together is a few stitches across the toes. His feet are freezing cold, his socks are dripping. I find a pair of hiking boots, two sizes too big and some wool socks to dress him in.

She is so happy because she knew I could fix things. I am, after all, the bearer of treasure.

I watch her with a close eye. She always comes to tell me, “Good Morning!” but today she is wearing a veil of sadness. Her clothes are dirty, her hair is unkempt. I can see where the tears have dried and streaked her face.

The inevitable question is asked.

He won’t leave.

He tells her she’s stupid, ugly, and won’t ever amount to anything in her life. He pinches, pushes and pulls her hair. She shows an example of how he doesn’t hit her with his fist, but slaps her on the back of the head.

Then she has an unaccustomed moment of fierce rage that wells up out of her. She is almost screaming that she just wishes he’d go away and never come back. Her momma tells her just to stay away from him and he’ll leave her alone, but she just wants us to know that when he’s gone they (her other siblings) pray he won’t come back because when he is not there – it is the best day there ever was.

Then she is spent and weeping. The fiery rage is extinguished just as quickly as it was lit. She comes back several times throughout the day to get counseling.

Finally, she is so distraught we let her lie down in the nurse’s station and try to sleep. She goes in between sobbing fits and hand-wringing until she nods off from exhaustion.

When it’s time to go home, I tell her to go get her things the buses will be here soon. She pleads and begs with me to not have to get on the bus. I tell her she has to go home.

In a moment of guilty clarity she accepts her fate and agrees. She has to go home, who will take care of her brothers and feed the baby?

Back Porch

Posted: February 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

I bought my house from Miss Katherine, who was a widow and my neighbor for about eight years.

I remember her as being very soft-spoken and also kind. She had to be in her late eighties, but her face wasn’t gaunt or wrinkly, it was full and round with a set of smiling blue eyes, and a splattering of freckles. She always wore bright red lipstick.

I saw a picture of Tornado-Girl’s grandmother once, taken from the fifties. A group of ladies all gathered together on the front stoop. They had pony tails pulled up with scarves, penny loafers with bobby socks, and even though the picture was taken in black n white – there was no doubt, they were all wearing identical matching red lipstick.

I could easily imagine Miss Katherine growing up from that time.

The backyard, overgrown with wildness from years of neglect, due to her aging, has always been my favorite thing about living here. In spring, I have a solid wall of miniature white roses attached to one part of the fence. It mingles in with the honeysuckle that threatens to take over every year. Patches of baby’s breath, irises, lilies, and the occasional tulip that pops up in the oddest of places.

Dogwood, magnolia, a ginormous pink azalea, gardenia bush, and my favorite, the oak tree in the middle of the yard. It’s the biggest damn tree I have ever seen.

Every spring, I make a resolution to landscape the yard proper…and every year the plants and bushes are content to grow where they please.

I sit out on my back porch at night sometimes and know spring is close. The dreariness of winter won’t last long and my backyard will bloom to life like a secret garden.

Pictures for Archon:

Crazy Chicken

Crazy Chicken

Back Porch

Back Porch

Indian Head Nickel

Indian Head Nickel

She doesn’t Remember

Posted: February 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

My dad died on February 16th. His birthday was the 28th. For years after his death, I would get a phone call from my mom on one of those days.

She would call me at night, not wanting to upset me with her grief while I was at work. Her voice would be strained and hoarse from crying. That first year, she called me on the 16th and asked me if I knew what day it was? I did. She told me she had spent the day carrying around her favorite framed picture of him and talking to it…did I think she was crazy?

The second year anniversary came as well as the phone call. She could barely get out, How are you? before the tears came rushing out. I tried to be strong for her and consoling, but hearing the pain and hurt in her voice would end up making me cry, too.

The minute my voice would crack, she would launch into a spill about how she was the worst mother in the world to unburden her grief on me, but she just couldn’t seem to help it. I assured her as much as I could that it was okay. I didn’t want her to be lonely or scared and if I could do anything for her, all she had to do was ask.

So, when February would roll around, I not only got used to these phone calls – I expected them. It would be a day of remembering my dad and feeling his loss and then taking a deep breath and going on with life.

When he died, I took all the pictures I had of him and locked them away. People told me I wasn’t grieving in a normal way. I mostly didn’t give a damn what they thought, I just knew it was too painful to look at them. I had to lock them away so the pain would go away.

The phone calls still came every year and they would be tearful ones, but then suddenly there was laughter, too. My mom and I would reminisce about the time your dad…

Wore the set of reindeer antlers at Christmas that year…

Left me at Kmart that time he was trying to get your grandma to sit down in the store cafeteria and drink a cup of coffee with him, while I shopped. She got upset and started hitting him with her purse and the store security thought he was a purse snatcher! I didn’t know what to think when I couldn’t find your dad in the store…

He took a can of gasoline and poured all over the cedar tree in the front yard and set it on fire because you had gotten so badly stung by a nest of yellow jackets.. Lucky he didn’t burn the house down…

Little snatches of long ago memories that don’t mean anything to anybody, but me and my mom. We shared the burden of grief together.

An enlarged black and white photo from their wedding sits on my mantle today. A hesitant friend gave me a picture of my dad from her wedding that she thought I would like. It was one of the last pictures taken of him. It has a home near my desk.

The phone calls came like clockwork for so many years and then last year they just stopped.

I called her on the 16th and asked her if she was doing okay? Fine as a fiddle, she said. She told me about her usual aches and pains, a story about one of her dogs she thought was particularly funny and that was it.

Why did I want to ask her, don’t you know what today is?

I don’t think of myself as cruel, but I didn’t want her to forget. The 28th came and went and no phone call. I chalked it up to time and age, but I felt a great heaviness in my heart. I tried telling myself that when you reach a certain age, each day is so much like the one before they all run together. She’s come to a stage in her life where the days of the week get mixed up, so how am I supposed to expect her to remember a date on the calendar.

My mom has had tests and there are parts of her brain that are losing oxygen and dying. Natural with age progression, they say. They gave her some medicine in time-released patches to wear, it doesn’t stop the disease, but slows down the process of it.

They irritated her skin, so she threw them all in the trash.

As irrational as that sounds, I smile in spite of myself at her stubbornness. If time can erase painful memories of loss and grief then so be it. I’ll accept the fact that there will be no more phone calls and look at his picture and quietly do the remembering for both of us.

My View of Small Towns

Posted: January 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve always been a secret admirer of small town life. These little nowhere places tucked into the country side with miles and miles of open space and fields of grass.

When I take a trip to the lake, I drive through a good many of them.

Little hole in the wall places with odd names and tiny populations. They have roadside dairy bars and diners that sell home style fries and tall glasses of sweet iced tea. One stop-light towns with antique flea markets and gas stations with rusty Coca-Cola signs. Grocery stores named, “Piggly Wiggly” or “Big Joe’s Market” wedged against bait and tackle shops and Rexall drug stores.

These places are filled with mom n pop owners who still run lines of credit and do business with a hand-shake. They greet you at the door with a smile and say, “Come on in. How can I help you?”

The customers wear overalls and ball caps. They have a sunburned look and weathered calloused hands and they won’t leave the store until they’ve stopped and chewed the fat about the weather!

None of these places are flashy at all. In fact, most are plain and worn-looking, and a bit dusty from dirt roads. The only splash of color is bright red from the fire engine in town. The firehouse, ran by mostly volunteers, stands next to the combination courthouse/police department where there is a memorial statue with a dedicated plaque and an American flag.

The town sinks its money into the high school. It always looks brand new and has a state-of-the-art sign out front announcing the time, temperature, and when the next football game will be held. Every bank, feed store, and church in town sponsors the football team. They come in droves for Friday night lights and to watch the marching band play.

It’s a totally different world to me. These small communities built on hard work and hardships. They are prideful, respectful people, steeped in old traditions and southern politeness countered with a, “If you don’t like us, we don’t give a damn” attitude.

You blink your eye and the town is gone and you head on down the road to the next one.

I admire the houses along the way. Some are fancy fenced-in ranches neighboring with tin-roofed cabins built on overlooking hills. They both have accompanying wide front porches where two rockers sit and an old bird dog sleeps in the sun.

The land is dotted with bales of hay as far as the eye can see. Horses roam around pastures with duck ponds and cows. Everyone drives mud splattered pickups, riding mowers and tractors. They have grain silos, paint peeled barns and an oak tree adorned with a tire swing.

When I get to the top of the mountain, there is a curve in the road, and a clearing of forest where I get my first peek of the lake. My mood instantly brightens. Everything snaps into focus and I notice the details of the trees, the outline of the cliffs, the simple wonderment of unspoiled nature.

My heart beats faster because I know the next little town is mine. I cross the steel bridge and admire the view of the blue water. I pass through the town and head to a canyon where it’s five degrees cooler in the summer and the mosquitos don’t bite.

Sometimes I camp at this out of the way place called, Goat Island (but there are no goats). I love the peacefulness and watching the nocturnal life stir at dusk. I once saw a huge buck leap from shore and swim across to the island. He swam right up on the bank and trotted into a stand of trees and disappeared.

He was beautiful.

A lot of these small town hideaway places seem to spring up right out of the woods. The sky view is not blocked with concrete or pollution. You can sit back and really listen to the night and feel the warmth of a blanket of stars.

 

View from the Narrows Bridge

Happy Birthday Daile!

Posted: December 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

She wrote down a list of thirty fine things

to do before kicking the bucket.

Then a writer emerged from out of her words

and she said to hell with a list, it’s not worth it.

Tindering, speed dating and tweeting ’bout love -

while having a great deal of fun!

She’s challenged herself to step outta the box

in search for her one true love.

She’s funny and pretty and wacky and zany

and lets don’t forget that she’s smart -

I can’t wait to meet the lucky young man

who will steal away Daile’s heart!

She won’t be sad about turning thirty

just give her a nice glass of wine.

She’ll be the toast of the party with friends

having a really good time!

And on this adventure that we call life

I’m sure yours will be happily.

I’ll always remember the purple haired girl

and her adorable cat, Bixby!

Chucky and the Egg

Posted: December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Midgets and Eggs…..

We took two see-through plastic cups and put an egg in regular water and then one in salt water to see which one would float.

Chucky was kinda getting into this and quickly asked, What else you got?

I gave them all their own cup, told them to write their name on it and fill it about halfway up with vinegar. Then I passed out the eggs and told them to drop them into the vinegar. We were then going to put them on a shelf and check out what happened to the eggs the next day.

I asked Blonde Sally what she thought was going to happen.

Oh, a baby chicken will come out! It’ll be sweet and fluffy and I will hold her!

Brainiac says, No.No. Blonde Sally, everyone knows eggs have to be kept warm for the chickens to come out! That’s why the mother chicken, which is called a hen, sits on them. If the mother doesn’t keep them warm – you put them in an ink-a-bater.

Blonde Sally is very indignant with that answer.

Brainiac rolls on with, You put cucumbers in vinegar and they turn into pickles! I think the egg will turn green and turn into a pickle-egg.

Chucky, This crap stinks! If the egg turns green (cause they all know Brainiac is usually the closest) that means were making rotted eggs! That is so cool!

It’s getting close to time for lunch. We have our eggs on the shelf and were cleaning up our mess and Chucky asks me what am I going to do with the other carton of eggs? (they’ve been at room temperature for so long they can’t be used in cooking class)

Chucky gets the idea we should take the eggs outside and crack them open. (they all start screaming please.please.please.)

I know the gardening class has a compost outside the side door. It’s an old wooden box full of soil. I reason if I let them crack the eggs in it and we turn them in the soil, even though it’s 115 degrees outside, maybe no harm done. Regular school is not in session, if it gets a little stinky, no one will complain and because of the heat, no one will be outside anyway.

I say, Okay.

Chuckys pushing and shoving everybody outta the way to be the first in line. I’m standing at the door holding the eggs.

Chucky looks at me so angelic and says, Miss Whitelady as soon as we get out there can we throw them at you?

Ha! The first thing that enters the child’s mind!

Nooooo…

Followed closely with, Then can we throw them at the school?

Nooooo…Okay. Lets go over the rules…if you throw them at me, another person, or the school – big bad trouble….

I walk them over to the compost pile and let them toss their eggs in. They break. Big Whoop. Most exciting thing that has ever happened to them. We get some sticks and bury them really good.

Chucky is waiting to be the last one to throw his in. Before I can stop him he does this crazy ass wind-me-up baseball throw and hurls his egg as hard as he can into the box. But a funny thing happens. We’ve fluffed up the soil so good, his egg bounces around and comes to a stop and doesn’t break. He tries it again and the same exact thing happens. Now the kids are all giggling and snickering at him – he’s getting pissed.

My boss starts calling me on the radio, Where are you guys? It’s lunch time!

I don’t want to tell her were out in the heat cracking eggs..ya know..

I pick up a rock and toss into the box. I tell Chucky to just toss his egg up and let it drop on the rock and break. We gotta go!

The child flings it up into the air. He gave this fling so much momentum that I swear to you, I am not making this up for laughs. Were all standing there frozen with our faces looking up. The egg is white and it was noon, so you couldn’t see it for the sun. It would not come down!

It was like it had disappeared! Then gravity and karma both kicked in. Chucky leaned over the rock and got about as far as, What the hel~

Plop.

Nailed him right in the top of the head! He looked up at us….he had egg yolk running down his face, broken pieces of egg-shell stuck all in his hair.

I couldn’t stop the kids from laughing at him, because I was laughing too hard.

He hated me for a long time after that.