Thursday, September 2, 2010

AWOL and Air Conditioners

This is what fall looks like in my neck of the woods and I will be exceedingly glad when the view from my porch once again looks like this instead of the searing heat we are currently experiencing. I do not remember a summer quite this miserable for heat. I do believe there was one in the '90's that was perhaps equal to it, but memory diminishes pain so can't be relied upon to be accurate.
When the weather is this appalling, I tend to hunker down and wait it out in silence; with as little  movement as possible, thus, I have been AWOL for some time. Apologies. No excuse.
I have also been fighting a losing battle to keep my aged air conditioner on life support. It is 25 years old and has fought the good fight, but it is now time to face is on its last crippled legs. This insufferable summer has killed it.
So, I have a call in to my faithful Wilkerson & Sons Heating and Air Conditioning people to come and give me an estimate on a new unit. This is not the most agreeable time to have to be purchasing a new central air unit, as the State government for whom I work has decided in their infinite wisdom to furlough the entire workforce for six days. Oh well, better than being laid off I suppose.
But! It is September! Can October's Bright Blue weather be far behind. And could be worse, I could live in the Carolina's. Not a happy time for those dear isles at the present...I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Old Country

For the one who "talks to me". The one who has been my friend for so long, for so little. Thanks Old Country, thanks for always being there.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time Waits for No One

I have just come from my gym, where it is my habit to lift weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As I was getting dressed to come back to work, I apparently shocked and amused two young ladies of no more than sixteen years of age by simply taking off my gym clothes to put my street clothes back on. I was naked in the lady's locker room. I am not sure where they thought I should dress...the shower stall perhaps, or maybe the toilet stall? But as they made their retreat, they laughed audibly to each other in the certain knowledge that I could hear them.
I am well aware that I am not a beauty queen; I am well aware that I never was. I am a fifty-six year old woman who makes an effort to take care of herself. To eat and drink in moderation and to exercise in order to stay fit.
I wanted to say to these young women, "Enjoy yourselves at my expense if you must, but be aware that if you live long enough, your time is coming. You too will be a fifty-six year old woman who's waist has thickened and whose butt has sagged; your lips will thin and the skin on your neck will lose that tautness that you thought would last forever and start to more closely resemble a turkey waddle. Your eye sight will desert you and you will need glasses to see the number on your locker. And you will lose other things that seem eternal to you now; your sex appeal and the very desire for it. All these things will come to you in your time and you will no longer snicker. You can hold your hand up to the mirror and tell time to stop, but unless you are willing to spend thousands of dollars and many hours under the knife of a surgeon, you can not hope to stop time. As Mick Jagger says in his song, 'Time Waits for No One..."
I wanted to say these things, but I did not. Why spoil their fun? They will find out soon enough, and probably sooner than they expect.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday Morning Market

Tutt and I went to the farmer's market before coffee this morning. That is how bad the man is jonesing for a fresh tomato.  The farmers market is such a pleasant place. Saturday morning, early, still misty from the night, it has a scent all its own. Fruity with an underlying aroma of earth and grass. The people you meet there are invariably smiling and friendly; swapping comments on the weather, the heat, the rain, or the lack of it. And the sheer volume of good, fresh produce is enough to lighten the lowest heart.
Food speaks to us all. The sustenance of life. Plump blackberries, dark and glistening in their baskets. Fat ripe tomatoes, and bushels of firm brown pototoes. Dark green melons, and cucumbers and zuccinies.  And the peaches. Ah...the sweet golden heavenly peaches, so fragrant and juicey they would make you slap your grandmother.  Yes, food speaks to us all. 
The farmer's market is not my grandfather's store. I doesn't have the old men sitting on the bench out front, whittling and spitting on the sidewalk, it doesn't have the feed sacks and the salt blocks in the back, which gave off an aroma of safety and love. It doesn't have the worn counter tops or the hugh old cash register, but it has the same feeling of small town togetherness that touches a place in me that is very old and dear.
Go to your farmer's market, and share in the feeling of "wholeness".

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nice Holiday

The Fourth turned out to be a nice holiday. Nothing spectacular, but relaxing for a change. I went out on the river with my friends. They have a pontoon and it makes way quietly. The day was bright and blue and blazing hot with big white clouds painting the sky. The water was green and cool and the banks of the river spoke to me of times past when Daniel Boone and company canoed down the same river and saw the same palisades. Lush and green and mysterious. I wondered what it as like to be Meriwether Lewis, exploring the Missouri. I love the river. I grew up on it. Spent many happy hours floating in its current. Its voice in the night is soothing.
Yes, it was a good day. We had ribs and cheese potatoes and cold slaw for supper on their porch under the ceiling fan as the Kentucky rolled on by; the late boaters tooting their horns at us as we waved to them.  Ice cream and blue berries for dessert.
America had a good birthday.
Life is good, but some days, its excellent.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Let Freedom Ring

Happy Independence Day everyone.  I hope you will  all have a safe, fun, eventful or relaxing day depending upon what your wants and needs happen to be.
I am headed to the Kentucky river for a day with friends with boats.  It is always better to have friends with boats than to be the one with the boat.
I am asking myself why I am doing this as it is going to be in the 90's here today. But then I remember all the laughter and the cool water and the feeling of belonging that comes with friends and I know why I am doing it.

So here is to friends and belonging and the Freedom to enjoy Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Let Freedom ring for all the world, there is still time.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nest of Vipers

I have been reading the most interesting books by Sharon Kaye Penman. They are about the reign and family of  Henry II of England and his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine.  My word! To have been such good monarchs, they were dreadful parents! These two produced eight children and I suppose the girls turned out okay since they didn't have much choice in the matter as they were married off and shipped out of the country before they were old enough to protest, but the boys! Whew! Talk about a nest of vipers! Lord God, Henry would have done better to have pinched their little hissing heads off at birth...except for the fact that he was only present for the birth of one of his children; Richard who later became "The Lionheart".

I guess that speaks volumes right there...the absent parent literally and figuratively.  The oldest son, William, died at age three, so like the girls, he didn't get much chance to act out. But the other four sure made up for it. Hal, Richard, Geoffrey, and John, the runt of the litter were in rebellion from the time they were teenagers. Not just your normal teen rebellious acts like getting a tattoo or taking up, we're talking taking castles, sacking towns, and generally trying to overthrow their father the king.  These were Teenagers!! And when they weren't fighting old dad, they were at each others' throats...with lances and swords no less.

It didn't sort itself out until all but one of them was dead. John was the only one still standing. He out lived them all so I guess you could say he "won". But in a family like that, it is difficult to see any winners.  So sad to read about people who had it all; beauty, wealth, talent, power and brains, and they squandered it all pulling each other apart instead of pulling together as a a family.

There is a lesson in there for us all. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome back Friends!

I am doing the happy dance because so many of my friends are back in my life. Here is a little something to get your day going in the right direction. Have a great day!  Heee YaH!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gladys, a quietly remarkable woman

This is Gladys Botkin O'Banion, my grandmother; my mother's mother.

I have been reading a series of wonderful books by Sharon Kaye Penman about the reign of Henry II of England and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine.  As I read about Eleanor, I kept seeing my grandmother's face; strong, proud, beautiful and brave, above all...brave.  That was Mommaw alright, beautiful and brave. 

I started thinking about her, and remembering things that I took for granted about her.

She grew up poor, as so many in her time did, but she had brains and talent and pluck. Can you see the "Pluck" in these two photographs? Yep, she was a piece of work as they say. She also had a fairy Godfather who sent her to beauty school .  He was a doctor named Barton. I am named after him, as is my mother, Lenora Barton O'Banion Spicer.  She worked hard and learned a trade. She because a beautician.  Being the wily, practical woman that she was, she did not balk at being whatever here customers saw her to be. Due to her Native American heritage (her father was one quarter Cherokee) she had an "ethnic" look to her. Some thought she was Jewish, so when the Jewish ladies needed their hair done, she was "Jewish". When the nice Italian ladies needed a permanent, she became Italian.  She got a lot of work that way.  Did I mention she was smart?

She was also single-mindedly determined.  When she was a freshman in high school, she saw a skinny, red-haired boy named Louis and she turned to her friend and said, "That is the boy I am going to marry." 

And she did.  And she loved him fiercely and protectively all the rest of their life together.  He was everything to her.  She loved her children and her grandchildren and all of her family and friends, but Elmer Louis O'Banion was the center of her universe.  

She was always much stronger than he was, but she never let him know that. She was the master of making him feel that he was the king of the world, and to her, he was.

When he went Europe in World War II, she was the one who worked to make a living, took care of their three children and anyone else in the family who needed a hand. She was forever taking in strays until they could "get back on their feet".  It would never have occurred to her to say no.  They were "did" for family; that's just he way it was. 

 She made sure that Poppaw had letters and pictures of the kids while he was "over there".  I still have the photographs she sent to him with the notes written on the backs. "We love you Daddy." "We miss you Daddy." 

She was a terrific grandmother.  Not your typical cookies and milk sort of grandmother, but sort of glamorous and elegant.  She could always be counted on for a coke and a good yarn. She treated you like a "person" not a kid.  And she could always make you feel special.

She was "different".  I believe she would have preformed surgery on her kitchen table if need be.  She had us believing that she was a witch with special powers.  If you asked her a question you always got an answer even if she had to make one up. 

Things I rememer about her: She liked strong iced tea with lemon.  She liked Kraft Mayonnaise and bologna sandwiches.  She liked to savor her coffee and cigarette after dinner without being concerned about the dishes; she'd get to them later so "leave them the hell alone." 

She was the kind of woman who could wear a feathered tiara and make it work. God I loved her!
 She never gave up.

She worked from the time she was a teenager until she was 79 years old.  She finally had to start going to the nursing home to "do hair" because some of her customers had gotten so old they couldn't come to the shop any more, so she went to them.

And she didn't abandon them even when they died. She went to the funeral home to do their hair that one last time.

There is one story about Gladys that sort of sums her up.  She had a lady who cleaned for her who had a son.  He was going to quit school to work because they didn't have much money. But Mommaw talked him into staying in school and I am sure, helped them out with money so he could stay in school.  When it came time for the boy to graduate,  he was embarassed because he didn't have very nice clothes to wear to the ceremony, so Mommaw went out an bought him a good shirt to wear to graduation. She gave it to his mother to give to him. I don't know if the boy ever knew; I doubt it. She wouldn't have wanted him too. But that was who she was, a quietly remarkable woman.

She died peacefully in bed at my mother's home two days before her 94th birthday.

(Baby Gladys with her mother, Ellen Links

Friday, June 25, 2010

Same Ole Same Ole...

I have been rather remiss in my writing lately. I put it down to the "summer doldrums".  That no man's land that sets in right after vaction when every day follows the other and every day is the same, "Hazy, Hot, and Humid...chance of thunder storms in the afternoon." Even the weather is boring. I mean, when helping a terrapin across the road is an "event" in your day, you know you are boring.
Remember that movie with Bill Murray, Ground Hog Day?  Well, that is my life right now.

I get up at 4 in the morning, put on the coffee, take a shower, dry my hair, put on the clothes that I picked out the night before, drink the coffee, tell my cat, "It's time for Mommy to go to work and make money to buy cat food. See ya later alligator. Mommy loves you." (same words every day so she knows I'm coming back.) And then I drive to work. Same route every day. Same CD's in the CD player. Get to work, turn on the machines, take 35 minute walk, process and print film, go to the gym, work some more until 4:30. Drive home, have gin and tonic while cooking dinner and watching DVR'ed TV show. Go to bed. Start all over again the next day at 4 o'clock.

If you got bored reading it, think how bored I get doing it day after day. *sigh* I need to change something up in my life.

Just once before I die, I'd like to know what it feels like to be sitting on the terrace of a villa in Tuscany sipping red wine with a dark smoldering Italian man who doesn't even speak English but understands every move I make.
I'm just sayin'....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pawleys: A Homecoming

This is the sight that greets you as you come up the boardwalk to Nod, a small, "quaint" beach house on Pawleys Island, SC.  This is a sight that never fails to take my breath away, and make my eyes tear up, and fill my lungs with sweet, warm, salt air.  Pawleys Island, as welcoming as a grandmother's hug.

Tutt and I have been coming here for ten years. Two weeks a year. Two weeks of wonder and magic, sun and fun and memories. Each year has new adventures. On year, it was the launching of baby turtles into the sea. There is a Turtle Patrol here on the island, and they are serious as a heart attack about protecting the Loggerhead Turtle. They put huge orange plastic nets over the turtle nests and dare anyone, man, woman, child or dog to go near them. Then, when they hatch, they are "helped" along to the ocean. One year in September, I was honored on my 50th birthday to be one of the "helpers". You mostly just watch them go and marvel at the beginning of a 200 years life.

We eat lunch and look out on the tops of dancing beach umbrellas and sometimes catch a glimpse of pods of black dolphins doing a graceful water ballet.  And always to the accompaniment of the gently surging ocean. Music beyond price.

In the late afternoon, we mosey over to the creek dock to share laughter, conversation and the sunset with our friends from the house next door, The Wooden Shoe.
Over the years, we have each lost people in our lives, and together, we have celebrated them and mourned them each in our turn with our friends here at Pawleys. A unique and beautiful tribe.

The first year we came here, I wrote these words in the "House Journal" that the owners liked to keep. Guest were encouraged to jot down a little something in Nod's diary. This is what I wrote in our first year:
Thurs. May 31, '01
Once, the door sills were painted gunmetal gray; now they have been warn smooth by the bare, sandy feet of legions of reverent visitors who cherish the slanting floors, and wooden planking walls as much as we do. "We" being Ann Spicer and Dan Tuttle.  We have had a lovely week. Nod is all we had hoped for and more--we even remarked on that fact while we had coffee on the screened porch last year, while we were staying in a very nice, impersonal condo at Gulf Shores, we longed for a "little house right on the beach".
Thank you Nod...we're home at last.  Ann Spicer, Monterey, Ky.

And as we were gathering up to leave...

Friday, June 1, '01
Time to think about folding our beach umbrella and starting the long drive home.  But I have a secret...on some future trip, probably a business trip to some cold, impersonal hotel, I will open my suitcase and find the fine, white sand of Pawleys and I will remember...

It is a love affair that continues. Age does not dim the magic.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You know how when you were a kid and it was a week before Christmas and you thought the days would never end and that Christmas would never "get here!"?   Well, that is how I always feel the week before we leave for the beach.
Are we there yet!!?
This is the view from our deck at the little house we rent every year. Yes, it really is that beautiful. The stress goes right out with the tide...first day. Heaven on earth.

We have been going to the same island and the same house for ten years and it never gets old.  It's like "coming home".  If a place can steal your heart, Pawleys Island has done just that to me. It has a magic about it that makes you smile in spite of yourself and slows your heartbeat down to "island time".
The rule of the day is always,  "It's 5 o'clock somewhere!" 
We walk on the beach picking up shells, looking at the lovely beach houses, scan the ocean for pods of black dolphins, sit under the umbrella in the sand and let the world drift away. We read books and doze. Ah yes, island time, bliss indeed.
Every evening, we make our way to the "creek side" to share a cocktail and the sunset with our neighbors in the house next door, The Wooden Shoe. We are Nod. The two houses behind us are Winkin and Blinkin.  (Are you seeing a theme here?)
In the ten years we have been enjoying Pawleys hospitality, we have become friends with the most delightful people one could ever hope to meet; the gang in the Wooden Shoe. We have shared laughter, sorrow, hugs aplenty, and more food and "beverages" than any six people should indulge in, but it's the beach...what can I tell you? 
I am that kid on Christmas Eve, that kid in the back seat of the car...

Are we there yet???

...To Be Continued...come join me in paradise.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

...and all is right with the world.

Once again, peace reigns on the Branch. The sun is shining, the trees are leafy and green and my satellite is friends with my computer again. Ahhh...Bliss!

After fighting the battle of the Titans with Hughesnet for weeks, I was finally able to get the illusive "Up Grade Order Number".  I immediately "texted" (I text dee dah, on my new Iphone. Welcome to the 21st Century Ann) my faithful Guardian Enterprise Tech (lovely young man with a work ethic that would make our grandfathers weep with pride) and handed off the baton to him.  He ran with it and by Saturday afternoon, all was well.
Out in the Boonies where I live, we pretty much have to pipe in daylight, so if you don't have satellite, you don't have TV or Internet service. You learn to take very good care of these puppies.  I am particularly happy that my computer satellite is now on the ground on a six foot pole so when it snows or ices over, I can go out and brush it off. (The satellite on the side of the house is for Directv.  Works GREAT!)  
In the midst of all this satellite drama, I discovered yet another invader at the gates...ants. I went behind the computer to unplug the modem so Steven the Tech would not get electrocuted, and discovered a colony of tiny black ants had taken up house keeping under the warm and humming connection box.  ACK!! Thousand of the little buggers!! Thank goodness for Raid! I am trying to work up the courage to look inside my warm and humming computer tower, but that will have to wait. For now, I am basking in the glow of new gutters, new computer satellite and happy roses and newly planted tomatoes.

Life is good...I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Iphone Anonymous: My name is Ann & I'm an addict

I bought a new phone yesterday.  I innocently went into the AT&T store in my middle class neighborhood and who knew it was actually a Crack House. 
I was given a taste of the glossy, colorful world-in-your-hand toy called The Iphone. pretty, so entertaining, so mesmerizing...
No, no...don't take it away...I want to play some more. 
Alas, only the first taste is free.  So I nearly broke my arm getting my credit card out. Yes! I want one! Sign me up! I'll sign anything! Just give me back that toy!  Ahhhhh...that's better. Mine! All Mine! My Precious!
( your heart out.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Satellite, cont.

The tree is down. The Tree Man would not allow me to pay him. He said I over paid him on the last job. Is this guy the stuff or what??! If I knew where he lived, I'd make him cookies.
Alas, Hughesnet is not nearly as efficient or easy to get along with.  Still no joy there. Even my technician called me at work wanting to know what the hold up is.  I offered to let him call them and see if he could light a fire under them.
Oh well, just another tricky day in Paradise.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Satellite Woes: The Continuing Saga I called as instructed after five o'clock to arrange for the satellite up grade to the 9000 series. Once again I got a very personable young woman (I think they are hiring the daughters of the Stepford Wives at Hughesnet...) who was So Sorry but there was still that pesky "open order" that needed to be closed out so that we could proceed with the satellite upgrade.  So Close it Out! already! Jeez! Just how did you guys send the "open order closure message" to "Some Where Else"?  Mule Train???? 

"Oh, that was supposed to have gone out yesterday afternoon, but I see here I didn't actually go out until this morning. I am SO Sorry..."


So, now I am waiting until 5 o'clock this afternoon to call "One More Time With Feeling!" to see if I can get the bloody up grade order.

Meanwhile, my faithful and might I add...Dependable! Tree Guy, Ron Bland, is out at my house even as I type cutting down and cutting up a tall skinny tree.  No need for me to be there, just mark it. I'll take care of it for you Darlin'.  I love it when men say "I'll take care of it and Darlin'" in the same breathe. If he wasn't already married, I'd propose.

Too be continued....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Take My Money, Please!

Have you ever been put in the position of having to Beg a
company to take your money? Somehow, I have been maneuvered into just that place. When the monsoon came to Kay's Branch last Saturday, my Hughesnet satellite started taking on water like everything else on the place and shorted out.  Thankfully, it comes back as the weather dries out, but having a high tech hunk of metal connected to my computer that shorts out at the first rain drop is not my idea of efficient so I called Hughesnet, spoke to a very nice fellow in India named "Romeo" because being the Ugly American that I am I could not possibly pronounce his real name...but that is for another rant.
He did his diagnostic tests on my satellite and informed me that it needed re-pointing or new "parts". So, he very kindly set me up with a local company with whom I have had satisfactory dealings in the past and I assumed life would be good as soon as my repair guy showed up and worked his magic.  Wrong...
Allow me to insert here the reason I have a satellite for my computer in the first place. One Word: Boonies. That is where I live. AT&T calls every so often and tries to sell me new services. Each time they ask if I wish to sign up for new services I say, "Why yes, I would love to sign up for DSL." To which they reply, "Great! We'll get your hooked right up....oh, I'm so sorry Ms. Spicer, DSL is not available in your area."  Duhhhhhh.....Ya think!?
Thus the charter membership in the wonderful world of satellites.
Meanwhile, back in the Boonies waiting for the repair guy. And waiting...and, well, waiting. The Cable guy has nothing on these fellows. I finally had to call and cancel as I had! to get to work.
Call to re-schedule. Get a good time slot. Guy was even courteous enough to call me at work to tell me he was running late and gave me a time when he actually thought he could be there. Wonderful! We're cookin' with gas now.
I get there. I wait a little but not too much. He gets there and takes one look and I know this is not going to be the magic moment I was hoping for. "Ma'am...that satellite dish is out dated; I don't even have replacement parts for it."  (it is six years old people; technology these days has the shelf life of a med-fly!).
He says I need an upgrade to the 9000. Okay...I can deal with that. But...he can't put it on the roof; the roof is metal...not allowed. Okay...what can we do? He can put it on a pole in the has to be a ten foot pole, not the normal six. Okay...I can deal with that. But! It is going to be a booger to point,(he actually said that...Booger to point...I love this guy!) and that tree may have to go. Okay...I can deal with sacrificing one very tall skinny tree, I have the Tree Guy, remember? So, I am thinking we're making progress. My repair guy, whom I have dealt with before and whom I trust says to call Hughesnet to request the upgrade.
Okay...I do. The very nice little girl tells me that since I had the modem upgraded almost two years ago and it is still "on the books" that they will have to clear that upgrade before I can upgrade my dish.  Huh??? Whatever. So do it already. Nope. Not so fast. We don't do that in this department. They will have to do that "somewhere else"...mysterious place. It will take 24 hours.  
ACK! Okay, I'm calm. My computer is working as long as the weather stays dry. Don't panic. So, I just now called Hughesnet and requested the upgrade again. Another very sweet little girl informed me that it still has not "cleared". Well, when should I call back? To which she replied, "I don't know Ma'am. That is handled 'somewhere else."   (I really need to find out where "Somewhere Else" is and get their number!)
So, here I am. Waiting, wanting someone to take my money and bring me a new Hughesnet 9000 series satellite so I can go whizzing around in cyperspace at lightening speed.
Maybe I'll just read a book...that is a novel idea. Bahhh Haaaaa!!!! (yep! I'm losing it!) be continued.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Trial by Water

Having grown up in a river town, Monterey on the Kentucky, I am well used to Trial by Water, as I have been involved in quite a few floods.  But when I moved out of town, to a ridge well above the flood plain, I had the deluded idea that my water worries were over...NOT!
Going back a while, the very first disaster I had at my new abode was the cistern wall cracking and releasing 10,000 gallons of water into my basement; this was before I even got moved in! It has been like that ever since. Fighting water battles. Too much of the stuff, or not enough. If I can find it, I will re-run an old Window's Live blog of the Cistern Woes. What a nightmare that was. Leaky cisterns are not fun. You never have any water and rain is your only friend.(thank God and Peaks Mill we finally got water lines; it only took 25 years!).  But when your basement also leaks, rain in torrential amounts can also be the enemy.
Now, with the gutters coming in on the side of the leaky basement, I am out numbered!  We are experiencing a monsoon here in Kentucky at the moment. We have been way behind in rainfall for several months and now, we are trying to make up for it in one weekend.
I don't know if the photos show it, but there is a solid wall of water coming down. That is what it looked like from my upstairs porch.
The guttering is fast pulling away from the "long" side of the house, and as a result, the water is pouring down onto the ground as if from a faucet! And from there, it is finding its way into my basement through the garage. Oh the Joy...
If you look closely, you can see the water running out of the gutter. The gutter is coming off at the corner.

So, doing my Rube Goldberg impersonation, I jury-rigged this amazing gutter-funnel invention. It is a piece of old tin roofing bent into a 90 degree angle, a round tray, a plastic trash can lid, a photo developing tray and the metal slide from my dog door. Its not doing a perfect job, but it is helping. Meanwhile, I dug a small trench from the place where the water is running into the garage out to where the land starts to fall away hoping to divert the worst of the run off. That hose is attached to a sump pump in the basement so I can pump out the water that got past my efforts.

Yee-Ha...We're havin' fun now!
So...tonight, I am going to a birthday party down on the river. It may turn into a "move all our river rat friends out of their houses" party. Have duck boots, will travel. But, which ever it turns out to be, we will have fun, because that is the only option with this crowd. 
Life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I'm just sayin'....

Friday, April 30, 2010

Fearless Man

It is rare to find a truly fearless man...I think I watched one in action on Thursday.  That tiny figure above the roof line of a very tall house is Ron Bland...The Tree Man. I have a pair of oak trees that grow right next to my back deck and upper story porch. In the 25 years that the house has been there, they have grown considerably, due in part to the rain run off from the house. They have grown so much in fact that they seemed to want to come into the house with me.  So, I opted to give them a little "hair cut". 
Ron is an older fellow, who can climb a tree very much like a monkey. He had the limbs I pointed out cut off and lowered safely to the ground in less than an hour. The tree seems happy, I am happy and The Tree Man only wanted $75 for the job; I made him take $100 because good help if hard to find.
His slogan is: Don't Be a Fool...Hire One! 
Ron Bland is nobody's fool, but he is one hell of a Tree Man.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

There is a Picture I Still Keep

There is a song by Toby Keith called "We Were In Love". It is a very nice song, I don't know if he wrote it or not, but he sings it really well. There is one line in it that never fails to make me "tear up". "I can still see you when I sleep; there is a picture I still keep..." Those words: There is a picture I still keep.

It reminds me of a very kind, gentle, loving man, my father. I remember something he did for my mother once that touched me deeply. You see, my mother was and is a very pretty woman. And although she is also witty and smart and accomplished, she grew up being recognized for her "prettiness". She was a cheerleader, a "dish", a "looker", so she could hardly help feeling that her main reason for being valued was being pretty.

When she was about the age I am now, early 50's, she began to feel she was losing her looks, and though she didn't make a big deal of it, my father, being the sensitive man that he was, could tell it was bothering her. So one day, when I was there, and she was in the kitchen within hearing distance, he started talking to me. He said, "Ann, I think your mother thinks she isn't attractive to me anymore. But you know, she couldn't be more wrong. Because you see, when I look at her, this is what I see." And he pulled out his wallet and showed me a dog-eared old photograph of Mother when she was twenty-two years old, with the sun on her face and a dazzling smile.  That was what he saw when he looked at her. His heart looked beyond the age in her eyes, and the wrinkles, and the thicker waistline and saw that beautiful young girl that he had married.
She was standing in the doorway of the kitchen and looked at him with such love, I had to look away. It was their moment alone.

When he died, and we were going through his things, we looked in his wallet and there was that picture...still.

                                                  There is a picture I still keep..

Here is the link to the song...

The Band-Aid Cat

(Written some time ago; but will share again here)

                                                                                                      Winnie... 1986-April 25, 2005

I sometimes refer to Prissy as the Imperial cat, but in truth, she is a "Band-Aid Cat", the real Imperial Cat was named Winnie. She was my friend for 19, almost 20 years. She was that special pet who becomes more than a pet; the one who becomes a friend, a confidant, a part of your heart. And when they die, you feel as if a part of you has died with them and no amount of grief seems to make the emptiness go away. The silence they leave in your life is deafening.
That was Winnie, my friend who purred me to sleep and made sure I never read anything that might upset me in the newspaper because she was always lying on it. She tested the tuna to make sure it was tasty enough for me, and she kept my lap warm and cozy every time I read a book. And I was the only thing in the world that she loved...that is quite a gift.

So, when she died, she left an awful hole in my life. I said that I was not going to do it again, Never another cat, but that silence kept getting louder and louder until I had to have something to ease the pain. It was either get a kitten or turn to drugs. So I got online and started "just looking" at the shelter sites. "If I happen to see one that catches my eye...well, maybe." And there she was, this tiny, fluffy kitten so much like Winnie I could hardly believe it. I called the shelter and they said, yes, she was still there, "waiting for me to come for her." So that is what I did, I brought her home and she put a Band-Aid on my heart. Her bright eyes and soft fur gave me comfort. Her endless antics made me laugh out loud. She is the funniest cat I have ever met!                                           Miss Prissy! Yes, I'm fierce!

I thought for a while that she must have tiny concealed wings as she seemed able to get to the top of any obstacle. Leap tall sofas with a single bound, landing squarely on any passing creature, canine or human...didn't matter. We were all play things to her.

She is a treat. I came home one afternoon and she had attacked the stuffed teddy bear that was twice her size at the time and tried to drag him into the basement though the "mouse hole" (a hole I put in the door at the top of the basement stairs for Winnie).

She drowns her mice. She has about two dozen toy mice and she rounds them up and drowns them in her water bowl. I once found a real one in there. I am not sure whether she drown it, or it committed suicide to get away from her. I suspect the latter as she is not much of a mouser.

Now, I introduce you to my friend Tutt. Tutt has been my friend and companion for 16 years. We don't live together, but he spends and awful lot of time here. When we first started dating, I had a grand total of five cats, all indoor cats. Tutt is not a cat person. I would go so far as to say he was an 'anti-cat" person. But as he wanted to stay on the good side of Ann, he became a "Cat Tolerant" person. It was a bit of a stand off as the cats were not so Tutt Friendly either. And so it went until all the old cats were gone and the new star arrived on the horizon...Miss Prissy! Who expected the entire world to worship at her paws and adore her for the Imperial Cat she is. Picture Tutt with raised eye brows...

Prissy is crazy about water. She loves it. She loves to play in it. She loves the sound of it. She comes running if she hears water running. Always has, from the time she was very tiny.
I came home one afternoon from work to find Tutt sitting at the kitchen island with "a look" on his face. He said, "Well, the good news is...I didn't kill her." To which I replied, "Oh...?" as I waited for the other shoe to drop.

He proceeded to tell me about his experience with the water-loving kitten, Prissy. He had gone into the bathroom to relieve himself...ahem...okay, he had to pee, and being the "guy!" that he is, he didn't close the door. He said he had just started when he heard her coming down the hall at a dead run. He said she leapt full throttle, all four legs spread out like a cartoon cat into the toilet bowl...he was still peeing folks, guys generally can't stop once they start, consequently, he was peeing on the cat. But, having the super powers of an Imperial Cat, she levitated out of the toilet bowl and took off running though the house. Tutt explained that by the time he was able to "pull himself together" and get after her, she had managed to run across every piece of furniture in the house.

At this point my friends, I was hopelessly gasping for air on the floor of my kitchen as I was laughing so hard. Tutt was not amused...

He said, " I just dried her off with a towel. I didn't wash her off, I just dried her off. But I didn't kill her. She's kind of cute and she sort of grows on you."

                                                   How could you not love this cat?

So, in spite of himself and years of cat loathing...Tutt has become a subject of the Imperial Cat.