A Turkey Tale

At a White Elephant party a few years ago, we were fortunate enough to win a dear, fairly large, stuffed-animal turkey. He looked like he’d been dressed by Vera Bradley. We quite admired him and felt we’d gotten a real prize. We put him on a high shelf, in the hall closet for the reasons cited below. When we returned from a brief out-of-town trip, we discovered he was gone. Shortly after that, his original “parents” called and said he had returned home with the accompanying letter.

We miss him but he is with his rightful family. Clearly, he had a few things to say about us that were not entirely flattering. They were, however, correct. I share his letter to his family with you, not without some level of shame.

THOMAS T. TURKEY

HILTON HEAD, SC.

November, 2013

Dear Mommy and Daddy:

 Just exactly what the hell you were you thinking when you auctioned me off as a “white elephant” at that silly party? I felt betrayed, and to be honest, a little dirty….as something with a mere price on my head. All our years together I’ve been your Thanksgiving centerpiece. Have you no respect? No affection? No memories of all our good times together?

Anyway, that family stuck me on a top shelf in a closet…ostensibly because they have cats and were afraid they might rip up my outsides and tear out my stuffing. That’s all well and good except they put me the closet where one of the cats tosses its favorite toy named “Baby”.

All day long, those people say:

”Oh, Felix, did you put Baby in the closet again”?

“Oh, let’s go look, Felix”.

 ”Oh, look , Felix, there she is, in the closet….just where you put her.”

And on and on. Nauseating. Truly.

Life in this house, as they say, is not exactly a bowl of cherries,… or cranberries…for which I long. I am, after all, born to celebrate Thanksgiving and from what I can see of these people’s kitchen, there’s not a whit of cooking going on. I know she keeps sweaters in one of the ovens.   What does that tell you?

As it turns out, they were gone for a couple of days in October. They had a cat sitter who left the closet open where “Baby” lives and I snuck out. 

I jumped down from the shelf, waddled into the kitchen, knowing that I would never be discovered there and found this sack in which I am coming home.

 Please don’t ever give me away again.

 I love you.

 Tommy.

 

We join Tommy in wishing you and yours…all creatures large and small…a very happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

To Flea or Not To Flea?

That was the question we pondered recently at our weekly play and say, dish and deal card game. One of our regulars had arrived in distress, singing that well-known ditty: “My Dog Has Fleas.”

Since we’re a dog-owning, dog-loving group, many helpful anti-infestation tips were offered. One especially appealed to our friend….the one I’ll call Dawn-Dipping. It’s simple. You fill a sink with lots of warm water, dribble in a few drops of Dawn detergent, stir gently ‘til blended, dip the dog in and out a few times, rinse him off and voila!   No more fleas.

Marvy, said our friend.

She stopped at the store, bought some Dawn, went home, put the dog in the sink, slathered a bunch of Dawn all over him, and rubbed it in real good.

That’s when the trouble started.

You….smart readers that you are….realize that, in her zeal to make her puppy happy, she missed a step. Or two. Yes, those all important “few drops of Dawn” and “lots of water” steps.

Of course the fleas disappeared. So did the dog. Bubbles. Bubbles everywhere. The more she rubbed and rinsed, the more the bubbles grew and grew.

So, this week when she came to the game, it was no surprise that she was singing another well-known ditty: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

And so is the dog.

Who is now, understandably, terrified to go outside in the rain.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to www.buzzillions.com for the image of bubbles

Shall I Take an Umbrella?

 

Two years ago, our sons gave my husband a weather station kit for Christmas. I must tell you that there were some snickers and inappropriate twitters from the distaff side of the family. In retrospect, it was most unkind, and, ultimately wrong of us, to have treated the gift, and the givers, that way.

In fact, it was a wonderful present. He loves it.

It came in many pieces, much assembly required, directions printed in several foreign languages and just exactly what my husband needed….even though he didn’t know it at the time.

Things that come in many pieces, by their very nature, require trips to Lowe’s. And, in this house, a day without a trip to Lowe’s is, well, a day without sunshine or purpose.

I’ve been told that the weather station lives on our dock. I prefer the accu-window style of forecasting but, apparently, there are better, more up-to-date and precise ways to determine the weather.

As an aside, I’ll admit to a bit of jealousy here. That weather station sometimes gets over 8,000 hits a month. 8,000! I, Dear Reader, don’t get that many. Not even close. Can you feel my angst?

In defense of the weather station, it’s fun to learn that you’re going to get a pop-up shower at 2:15 in the afternoon. On the other hand, it’s also fun to be surprised by the dark rain clouds forming in the west, bringing a cooling storm our way. It’s a little like knowing….or not knowing… the sex of your unborn child. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic but still. You get my drift.

One of my daughters-in-law, who lives near us and shall remain nameless, said she has her own weather station and has had for years. Do tell, we asked. It’s simple, she said.

She hangs a piece of rope from a tree in the back yard.

If it’s dry, it hasn’t rained.

If it’s wet, it has.

And if it’s gone, we’ve had a hurricane.

I just love the way she thinks.

 

P.S. For the curious and those who may want more than a rope, just click here

 

 

 

More Angels

Version 2

On the heels of my (supposed) success in creating little angels, made from Magnolia tree seed pods, I decided to participate in our neighborhood craft sale. One of us makes fabulous lamps from unique objects; one of us makes artistic and whimsical Christmas trees out of driftwood and I….well, I make little angels. Or, should I say, MADE little angels?

I gathered up lots of pods, conquered the glue gun thing, figured out a way to make the wire ribbon look pretty and off I went.   Probably made 45 of those little suckers.

I did not know that crafty people could quickly become competitive. Murmurs of “How many have you sold?” and “What did you get for that?” were heard.

My prices were reasonable, I thought. One angel for three dollars and two for five and I was giving my proceeds to the Hilton Head Humane Society which meant I wasn’t really competing with the others. Or making any money.

I’d sold four and was feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

Then a nice looking lady showed up and was carefully looking at my angels so I went over to my little table and pointed out that the all the proceeds of my sales would go to help the homeless cats and dogs of the Island.

She thought for a moment and then she said…..and I quote directly as I am still seriously wounded from her words and may never pick up another glue gun:

“If I make a contribution to the Humane Society, do I have to take an angel?”

I’m glad I haven’t given up my day job.

Or I would be glad if I had one to give up.

A Small Transition

I don’t much like crowds. I don’t like being told where to sit, and I really hate to be strapped in.

Ergo, I don’t like airplanes. Especially airplanes with that three-seats-across thing.

The mister likes the window seat. I naturally get the middle and then there’s that awful suspense about who will sit on the aisle and hog the arm rest. None of this equates to happy.

I was middle-seating it recently on a trip home, nerves on edge waiting to see who’d be intimately sharing the next three hours with me.

I saw him get on the plane.  I knew the minute he walked through that door that he was The One! Clearly a New Yorker, dressed in black from head to toe, not a teenager, but not an old geezer like us.

The minute he walks through that door onto the plane everything erupts. He’s greeted by nearly everyone, kissed, hugged, congratulated. They’re all happy to see him. Has the whole plane done Red Bull? This early in the morning?   Clearly, there’s electricity in the air and we are not plugged in.

My seat mate is now chatting with everyone in sight. We offer to move so he can be with his friends. He demurs and says that most of people on the plane are his friends and one seat change won’t matter.

At this point, I’m longing for a crying baby. At least it might drink some warm milk and go to sleep. This could be a long trip. How will my grumpy self handle all of this energy, this obscene level of cheerfulness?

I try to figure out what’s going on. Finally, I hear the word “wedding.” When I can get a word in with him, I quietly say: ”Oh, off to a wedding?” Yes, he says, and I am the father of the bride.

I’ll cut to the chase. As I listen happily to all the details of the wedding, I soon realize that I’m sitting next to an extraordinary man. A generous, kind, open and, above all, happy, man.

No wonder all the people who were going to the wedding were so excited. They were going to spend the weekend with this man and his family.  I’d have been happy too. It was a destination wedding….in Savannah….and people had flown in from all over the world to be there. It was going to be a joyful occasion.

We sat on the tarmac for an hour with not so much as a wiggle towards the runway and finally learned that one of the engines had an oopsie. We had to find another plane and were seriously delayed. Nobody lost their cool. The wedding party’s positive energy prevailed and no one cared…..including us.

They had absorbed us into their joy, their excitement and we were, at long last, plugged in and part of the happy.

A three hour trip turned into five and the time flew by.

After a Bloody Mary or two, it occurred to me that there was one little detail they might not have thought of…..their being from New York and all.

My advice: “ On the way to your destination, stop at a Walgreens and buy every single can of bug spray you can get your hands on. Human beings aren’t the only creatures in the south who like this beautiful weather.”

He gets it. Makes a note in his phone and says: “How many cans???? Six dozen???? No, we said, a couple of dozen should do it. Think of us when you press the nozzle.

We sat on our porch during the wedding, knowing exactly what time they’d be walking down the aisle, having cocktails and eating dinner, and I saw some bugs start to flit about.

Barry, I thought, let me count the ways I enjoyed meeting you and your friends and I hope that perhaps, just perhaps, one of those little cans of bug spray came in handy.

Nothing, certainly not a single mosquito, or ten thousand, should be allowed to get in the way of what was destined to be a beautiful occasion.

 

 

 

Thanks to Ponderweasel.com for the airplane interior image above.

My Name is Basil.

I met my family at the Humane Society four years ago. It was love at first sight. Licenses were obtained; promises were made; vows were taken. Our lives together began at that moment.

Let me say at the outset that they are essentially good people. And I am a superb cat if I say so myself. A real catch.  Everyone agrees.

They are well intentioned. But there are issues. Aren’t there always issues?

I’ve been keeping a diary. I’ll share.

 

Dear Diary:

I prefer warm food. Most days, my first meal of the day comes directly from the fridge. The cold offends my tender nose.

I like to join them on the breakfast table while they have their cereal. They know I’ll sit only on the front page of the newspaper. Those colorful photo shots enhance my unique markings and lustrous fur.

Regretfully, one of them frequently chooses to reads that section. What am I to do?

Issues…so many issues.

 

Dear Diary:

They put things on the kitchen counters that don’t belong. It’s my job to tidy up. Some of those unwelcome items may break when they hit the floor; others may be only slightly damaged.

Still, they don’t learn.

Issues. Endless issues.

 

Dear Diary:

I thought we’d agreed on the number of snick-snacks that were to be served at cocktail time.   Five at the first pour; eight at the second (when they’ve loosened up a bit and are feeling generous.)

I’ve noticed a reduction in those numbers recently.

Yes, it’s possible I’m a little bigger than I was before the whole snick-snack thing began but I’m not THAT large.

Issues.  Clearly. Many issues.

 

Dear Diary:

I don’t know where the fleas come from…I really don’t. I don’t go outside and we have a pesticide service. I hate the flea treatment. They call it a flea shot….just like their flu shot, they say.  Intended to protect us.

I’m nauseous and lethargic for at least two days after the treatment.

Issues….so, so many issues.

 

Dear Diary:

In re-reading my entries, I believe that it comes down to this. They obviously love me. Oh, some of the things they do in the name of love are difficult to take…the flea treatment, the holding back on treats. Those things are hard, but in the end, it’s all about love.

So, issues, schmissues. We’re all crazy about each other and we plan to keep it that way.

 

 

Meanderings

So I read a really great book on writing the other day. It’s called Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamotte. She’s a beautiful writer. I was perking along, appreciating her thoughts and her elegant style.

Then apparently, her editor said to her: “You have made the mistake of thinking that everything that has happened to you is interesting.”

Wow. That was a zinger for her.

And a real head twister for me.

Now, I’m the first to admit that I use the “I” word more than I’d like to. (See, there I go again.)

My problem is that I don’t have any other resources. It’s just me. All by myself. I know Anne Lamotte’s editor’s remark is wise and astute but it leaves me way out in left field. Not even sitting in the stands. I’m parked in a car many moons away from the action.

It seems that all I’m doing is scribbling, little bits and pieces, about the stuff that I’ve seen, enjoyed, laugh about, worry about, think about.

But, I said in the beginning of this venture that I would be writing about nothing. So then, nothing has changed except I read a book that was beautifully written and shook me up a little.

The bottom line, for me, is if I’m lucky enough to conjure up a connection or a common experience, spark a thought, maybe a smile, well, then there’s nothing more to be said, is there?

We’re at the ball game together. How lovely.

Before, During, and After

They crash to the ground like hand grenades. Gnarly and unforgiving. Step on one and you’ll regret it.

They fall from heights reaching 70 feet…..depending on their source.

They are deeply southern in their heritage. Their birth mothers are considered to be integral to the beauty of the low-country.

Their origins, the magnificent Magnolia tree, can indeed be a thing of beauty but also an unwelcome addition to the yard. Sprawling limbs threaten roofs. Rubbery leaves destroy landscaping. And, yes, those voluminous seed pods fall. And fall. And fall.

But this year, through the intervention of a crafty neighbor, many trips to that money-pit known as Michaels, and the knot-making talent of one’s husband, those hand-grenades were transformed into angels.

During that time of transition I learned much.

First, the glue gun is a marvel and a critical instrument in the art of crafting.

Second, apparently, no matter how well intended one’s efforts are, one is not supposed to touch the hot glue. I am imagining that criminals already know this. It’s a cheap, if not painful, way to destroy those identifying swirls known as fingerprints.

Third, Michael’s is a world unto itself. Having never visited one before, I now stand in awe of the many things one never knew one needed until one wanders the aisles and determines that there are things there that one cannot live without….the reasons for which are not immediately apparent but will surely become so in time. One also must buy those cunning little containers in which to store one’s newly acquired bounty. One spent much more money than one should have. And one regrets not a single penny of it.

Even given all of that, those nasty pods became smiling angels. Some had lopsided haloes; others had smudged faces and frayed wings; many had globules of glue in the wrong places but, all in all, they were pretty good. And they were made with a certain degree of affection and love.

Most of them have flown away into the hands of friends.  Happily, I hope.

I’ve heard from one friend that her angel is standing guard over the computer. The angel’s mission? To stop the computer’s owner from pitching it out the window in a pique of frustration.

That’s a big order and I’ll cross my fingers for her.

‘Course that glue’s gotta let go first.  Should be any day now. I sure hope so.

 

Pay to Play

So, what happens when a friendly afternoon card game decides to kick it up a notch and put money in the pot?

A bunch of stuff happens.

We’ve always agreed to shuffle the cards seven times before we deal them but no one has ever counted. ‘Til now. Eagle eyes now imagine sleight of hand and the slipping of an ace to the bottom of the deck. Only the opening of a bottle of wine gets in the way of scrutiny.

The scorekeeper was, once upon a time, thanked for her duties. Now she’s the center of controversy. Calculators appear. iPhones tick. Her honesty and mathematical abilities are challenged. More wine is needed to keep tears at bay.

We play for a nickel a point. (My mother played for a dime a point but that was before the recession.) Ever seen a group of women divvying up a lunch bill? That pales in comparison to this. We struggle with percentages, multiplication, division. Is that three pennies or four? More wine, please.

A caring and thoughtful bit of instruction is often viewed as a means to a better score. That’s not new. It’s just that now there’s money at stake. The offender can atone for her transgression by… what else?… pouring a little more wine.

So, have we destroyed the friendly, chitty-chatty card game we once had? Tossed in a stressful element? Changed the tenor of the game? Perhaps.

Is it worth all that?

You bet your bippy it is. I have 64 cents in my pocket to prove it.

And a nice afternoon buzz to boot………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Imprints

To date, there are three major events (outside personal events, of course) that are indelibly imprinted in my brain. President Kennedy’s assassination, the Challenger disaster, and September 11th. I’m not alone in that. Ask anyone who lived through those days and they’ll tell you where they were and what they were doing when those things happened.  To a tee.

On September 11, 2001, we were living in Dayton, Ohio in a small condominium complex. Our garages were in the back of the houses and provided a natural place for daily greetings. We all knew each other.

On that terrible day, several of our neighbors had family members who were stranded in airports and faraway cities. I’m not sure why but our house became the central gathering point for many. It may have had something to do with the mugs of coffee we poured but I think it was more about comfort and friendship.

As the day went on and uncertainty reigned, we became increasingly concerned about the potential danger to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which is located in Dayton. We’d wrench ourselves from the television and wander into the back yards, listening, watching, worrying. There were jets, roaring overhead, constantly leaving and returning to the base and, of course, we had no idea why.

We were spared, as history reflects, but my mind still carries the pictures of friends and family, together. We needed each other and we had each other. The value of that bond stays with us today.

This week I received a brief note from one our dearest friends who happened to live next door to us at that time. She wrote: “Of all days, I so wanted to hear your voices but something is wrong with my phone.”

For a moment I wasn’t sure what she’d meant by “Of all days….” and then, scribbled at the very top of the note, I saw the date: September 11, 2015.

 

 

Reunions and all that

Thirty five years ago, we went to my husband’s 15th graduate school reunion. Most of those who returned were, naturally, still quite full of themselves. They were ambitious, testosterone-driven, titans-in-training. I understood that. They’d paid good money for their education and they were going to milk it every for every cent it was worth.

That’s not to say that many of them were any fun.

As a result, I promised myself I’d never attend another reunion. But then, promises are made to be broken.

We just returned from his 50th graduate school reunion. I agreed to go back, thinking that, at this point in our lives, people would have stopped talking about their possessions, acquisitions, status, homes (second and third), titles, positions,….in other words, their stuff, their things, their accomplishments, their resume material.

And that perhaps, just perhaps, they would enjoy laughing, even at themselves, at the foibles and mistakes we’ve all encountered, and, hopefully, learned from. That the joys of a simpler life might be in evidence. I hoped that would be the case.

I was wrong. Really, really wrong.

During the cocktail hour, I asked one of the gentlemen if he’d ever had any “bumps in the road” during his long and obviously successful career. He said that, yes, indeed he had and he’d made mega-bucks on each one of them. Hmmmm….not exactly the fodder for conversation I’d been seeking.

After we’d been seated, my dinner partner inquired a bit about our time during the school years. I told him I’d worked and had, in some small way, supported my husband’s education. He asked where I’d been employed.   I told him. He said he’d consulted with them over the years and they paid their employees very poorly. Well, it hardly took an advanced degree to know that. First hand experience is a great teacher. And a lot less expensive.

Later on, the dinner table conversation got even more stilted and pretentious. I was reminded of an old song. It’s from Annie Get Your Gun. You know it, too. “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.”

So to bring things down to my level, I decided to tell a joke. I’ll share it with you. It goes like this:

“A man walks into a…..”

Oops. I’ve just run out of space. Next week I’ll tell you the joke.

Maybe.

In the meantime, we’re home, gently, softly, on the river. The neighbor’s dog has joyfully bounded up to the porch for her share of our Cheezits, some paddle-boarders have given us high-fives and there’s a cool breeze. All is well.

 

 

Digital Distress

Version 3

I guess the question is who will kick the bucket first?  Those digital drama queens (aka digitally controlled devices) or the aging human beings who live here?

Will we be the cookers or the cook-ees? The doers or the done-ins? It’s a toss up, at best. Most days it feels like they’re winning.

We recently bought a new toaster oven. It was mis-delivered by Fed-Ex to the church next door and then graciously hand-delivered by the pastor to our doorstep. I made the assumption that the new toaster oven, by virtue of its circuitous route to our house, had been blessed and would be a joy to own. We had not counted on its being “digital.” Fifty-seven pages of instruction! We’re talking toaster here!   Bread, bagels, English muffins. Not spread sheets or power point presentations. Today’s toasters are, apparently, seeking to elevate their status in the world.

You are welcome to my printer. Just know that it comes with a deeply imbedded vocabulary which might be considered harsh and offensive by some. It also has a very low opinion of itself. Which is actually exactly what it should have given its level of disobedience.

My IPhone sits in a corner. All by itself. Siri doesn’t like me and I don’t like her either. She claims she can’t understand me. Well, right back at you, Siri. That’s okay. Two women in a household usually don’t get along very well anyway. Nothing new there.

The computer has a “systems preference” button. My preference is that its systems work. Period.

And then there’s the digital bathroom scale. Accurate to a fault. Once upon a time you could jiggle a little thingie on the scale until you were happy with what it told you. There’s no jiggle in digital.

I scream at those programmed objects but nothing happens. Except a spike in my blood pressure and heart rate.

I long for easy. For simple. Is it too late to ask for something with one little knob? One that controls the offs and ons, the louder, softer, warmer, cooler?

Yes.

It is.

Way too late.

So what are the odds? Them versus us. Your money, or your guess, is as good as ours.

Dress Codes

I love to be invited to things.   But as soon as I open the invitation I start worrying about what to wear.

Will I be over- or under-dressed?    Shall I make the leap to khakis or will jeans do?

Will I pile on too much bling?    That’s not possible. I don’t own enough to add up to too much.

Wear too many layers?   No way. I’m never warm enough.

Will I be up to date?   Who’s to know?   I don’t shop very much and no one delivers catalogues to my house anymore for the reason stated above so I have no idea what up to date is.

Country Club Casual?   Really?   Mr. and Mrs. Clueless live here.   Neither one of us knows what that means.

But I’m not going to worry about all that any more.   I saw the ultimate in good taste on the news last week.     The   a-listers at that gathering were dressed in an understated and simple fashion.   They obviously hadn’t felt the need to go on a shopping spree for the event.   They wore what was in their closets (or in this case in their suit cases) and they looked spectacular.

Especially with the French Legion d’Honneur pinned on their shirts.   Talk about Bling!   There’s not enough money in the world to buy one of those.   They earned theirs.   The hard way.

Those heroes….and they truly define the word by their actions….didn’t spend much time thinking about what to wear to the Elysee Palace.   They didn’t have to.   The clothes didn’t make those men.   They were complete as they were.

They, in their colorful polo shirts, showed the French fashionistas and coutouriers a thing or two.

No.

Wait.

They showed the world a thing or two.

Bravo, Gentlemen.   And thank you.

Shall we gather on the river?

Most definitely!

To the sounds of joyful music, families – young, old and in-between – gathered recently at the Church of the Cross on the banks of the May River for the grace of baptism and its special meaning to each of those who felt the water as it washed over them.

We, as a small and ecumenical group, watched with happiness and respect from a nearby dock. There were eight of us: we two, our two neighbors, two dogs and two of the sons of the pastors delivering the baptismal rites.

We felt the power of song, of scripture, of renewal, of birth and re-birth as each person to be baptized climbed down steep steps, walked gingerly across oyster shells, and joined their brethren in the river.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words….so with no further ado, I hope you’ll join us with a few special moments from that evening, as we gathered on the river.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo

Oh, Happy Day!

 

A Southern Icon

Well, goodness gracious, sake’s alive.

I recently read the July issue of Garden and Gun magazine and the advertisement that you see here just up and hit me smack-dab between my very eyes. (If you click on the image, you’ll see it full size).

When I was growing up, Duke’s Mayonnaise was just the cat’s meow. The bee’s knees. The ultimate in Southern yumminess. We couldn’t get it locally so when my family came south for vacation, we stocked up. We didn’t say: ”May I have some mayonnaise, please.”   We said: “Please pass the Duke’s.”   It made us feel grand and special and ever-so-in-the-know. And we slathered it on everything…eggs, greens, white bread, peanut butter.

Now, I confess, in my later (and apparently wanton) years, I strayed from the mother ship. I turned to Hellman’s but I now recognize the error of my ways and I’m going back. As fast as I can.

I have to go back. There’s no option. With that ad, how could I not? Six words. That’s all that ad was. And three of them were “Bless Your Heart.” Talk about Southern. And talk about three words that can mean a million different things, depending on the drawl, the emphasis, the situation.   I know you know what I mean.

As in: “Did y’all notice that Sarah-Jane’s slip was showin’ at brunch last week?   Bless her heart.”

Or: “Oh, sweetie pie, you did the very best you could. No one told you the forks were supposed to be on the left hand side of the plate. Bless your heart.”

Well, I got the message. That ad brought me back to my senses so I’m off to the Piggly-Wiggly for jars and jars of you-know-what.

Tomato sandwiches and sweet tea, anyone?