Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Failure to Launch

I am sitting at the computer terminals at the Mississippi branch of the library around the apartment that we rent so that Joe can work and keep his sanity. Because of the terrible market, we have decided to keep the house in Indiana and just rent down here. Both he and I spend out time traveling back and forth a great deal.

Now that the time has come that it is imperative that I find a job! I have taken a couple and quit both of them, much to Joe's chagrin. Now that I absolutely must have a job, they are very hard to find.

Especially if you are middle aged. And I mean, really middle aged.

Joe and I were sitting on the "couch" and I asked if 40 were the new 30 was 50 the new 40 and I didn't really look my age did I? Didn't I look like I was cool when I was younger?

I'm pathetic.

So I am going to resurrect Alphawoman. She rises from the ashes. A long time ago I created another jnl. on Blogger and I guess I will continue to keep up both. Alpha is my first attempt and my first true love.

I am rambling.

I went and saw the latest Brad Pitt movie, the Curious Case (?) of Ben. Button.

It made me cry and every so once in a while I would think, this is a long movie....but I still really liked it.

happy New Year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nightmare on AOL Street

I woke up a little while ago almost worn out from the dream I was having. It was one of my three reoccurring nightmares. The theme to this one is I am back at school because I have failed to complete all the credits required to graduate. It is usually college where I wander around some unfamiliar campus looking for some obscure building that I have never seen before!

This time I was a rotten teenager. Or rather I was 20 years old. I know this because as I slipped on my ten ton back pack, my half ton purse loaded with all my essentials, my lunch which was a sandwich crammed into a tiny plastic Tupperware thing and the top didn't fit and my sandwich got wet because it was raining I calculated how I was too old for 20. I decided to skip school and was farting around looking for the text books thinking that "Dad" would leave to go to work and I would be home free. Only Dad was Gabriel Byrne (wow!) and was on to my tricks, reluctantly I struggled into that damn back pack when this witch arrives on the scene and says she is Gabriel's fiance and that erupts into a shouting match of some magnitude. Then I wake up and go "Wow!" and I was exhausted.

This is one of those many times when I really miss Joe (who is on assignment). He always listens patiently to my rambles about the dream and inevitably the questions, "What do you think it means?" or "What do you think about that?" and the usual one, "What brought that on?"

I suppose I was just unsettled because of the forced evacuation of AOL Journals. Yesterday I began to back up my journal by engaging in the laborious task of copying and pasting into Microsoft Word. In a way it was soothing to revisit many of those entries. Some I had sought out, like the one about the Jesuit who told about the possessions of people and places, but most were tiny gems of the necklace of my AOL Journal. I was prolific at the beginning and I breath a sigh of relief knowing that I slowed down in time!

I am lucky because I have been blogging on both AOL and Blogger since the beginning, so the majority of my entries are also parked in that journal, which has assumed many names. The beauty of Blogger, you can change your name!!

And as many of my AOL friends will find out, Blogger is a safe haven. And as they become more comfortable they will marvel at the tools available to them to continue the community outside the confines of AOL.

Among the nany advantage, your counters will always work!! You can manipulate your pictures to insert them into different areas of your text. You can write an entry and save it rather than publish it right away. You can link up to Flickr and Slideshow and a multitude of other fun stuff that was unavailable on AOL. You can take on advertising yourself and reap the benefits rather than AOL using us and our journals for gain.

The list goes on and on, but I have not had my coffee yet.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Who Moved My Velveeta?

As of late I do not go into a grocery store very often. Since finding ALDI, I run in and grab a gallon of milk and a bag of chicken and that's it. I wanted to join one of those farm community things earlier this spring, but the cost was prohibitive considering it was only me (with the Memphis situation looming large). So I realized that I could shun the Walmart and Kroger produce aisle and with a conscience free of guilt shop with abandon at the Farmers market and Paul's Fruit Market.

Yet, I still must go to Walmart and grab the essentials.  Usually I'll keep a running list of things I need and I always fail to grab it on the way out the door. What that means is as I run through the store I am trying to recreate that absent list! Bottled water, laundry detergent, Crystal light etc. etc. etc.

Heading towards the check out counter, after three (three!!!) return trips down the aisles I realized I had forgotten cheese! Damn!! I must have cheese.

And there it was in the, piled high in "action alley" calling to my inner child with a yellow comforting beacon.


I tossed the two pound brick into the jumble of items in my basket and felt a surge of pleasure at the sheer recklessness of my decision! I remembered those oozing cheesey margarine soaked artery clogging grilled sandwiches my Mom use to make for us kids on those days when school was called off due to snow. I love my Mother dearly, but that woman can not cook! And her grill cheese sandwiches, usually burnt on one side and undercooked on the flip were delicious.

Ah, Velveeta! How I've missed you.

Hometown Closing it's Doors?

Does this mean the AOL Journals are going away?

Bummer and double bummer. I just commented to someone not to long ago that I feared the Journals were on the chopping block!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ode to Pancakes

I have searched and searched for the quote from the late Mitch Hedberg about pancakes. But, it went something like this....

                "Pancakes, all thrilling and exciting at the begining, sickening as s*** at the end."

Kind of like keeping a weblog for five years! Good Lord, five years. Things feel forced and stilted when I sit down and try and write an entry. The first year, and in truth, for a long time, it was easy. Stuff just flowed from my fingers. Of course, it was new , thrilling and exciting! Now it feels that my writing is out of practice, or I am out of practice.

So, I should just do it write the sickening s*** daily.

Thank God Maksie is back on Dancing With The Stars. I did not even watch it last season because he was taking a break. Tonight he danced the Pasa Doble with his new partner. Nothing could compare when he and  Mel B set the dance floor on fire dancing the Pasa Doble! Mel B was robbed by the way.

I have it bad for Maksie.




Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Crying in Baseball

Around these parts you would have to be living in a cave (as some of us just may be due to the wind storm event Mother Nature and Hurricane Ike presented to us)  to not know that the Ryder Cup was held in Louisville this past weekend.

300,000 homes may have been knocked out of electricity when the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through here but the Valhalla Golf Course was put back on line within moments. The Show must go on.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against golf. I just had to be educated that the Ryder Cup is Super Bowl to their fans. I know lots of people who worship at the alter of the Golf Links. I even tried it once, was horrible at it and quite frankly, did not like it much.

I have endured the golf metaphor for years. My boss once developed a "score card" complete with a boogie and a birdie and all that jazz that had to be explained to me. "Now a boogie means its good?"

It has even spread to the sermon I sat through at church this week end. First a video was show of the pastor participating in the Ryder Cup (this church has remarkable editing staff!) that was hokey and too long....but I got it, I am in the minority when it comes to my boredom with golf. Then we were delivered the sermon which was good, but still the golf metaphor began to get on my nerves.

I did like the part about a Mulligan. I did not know those existed in golf! Every body deserves a Mulligan now and then (which is a do-over) and I certainly agree with that.

Yesterday I was in conversation with two guys. Two golfers, don't you know.

"Golf is like life, a metaphor for life." one said the the other.

I interjected, "I though Baseball was a metaphor for life."

They turned to me and shook their heads, "No, it's golf." Like I was really asking a question!! I was making a statement.

I prefer baseball. You keep swinging until you get it right. If it's a foul you keep swinging until you get it in the ball park. Sometimes you strike out, sometimes you hit a home run. You work as a team and everyone plays their part. You run really really fast to be safe! You get your manager to go nose to nose with the authority if they think you have been done wrong. Then at the seventh inning everyone gets to stand up and stretch and sing! You get to eat hot dogs and throw back beer!

Yup, baseball sure seems more like real life than that golf game.

Later: Oh, its Bogey not Boogie! lol!! (I told you I know nothing about golf)...but, later today he expounded further about the golf metaphor and I have to admit, it sounded pretty good...all about living by rules, trying to better yourself, only you know you are cheating.

(I still like beer better than golf!).

Monday, September 15, 2008

What's A Little Wind?

I was listening to the weather report yesterday morning before making a drive to Cincinnati. Or maybe I just overheard the report. But I did hear that we were going to have some high winds from around 10am until 8pm that night. Courtesy of Hurricane Ike.

I was on the way back from the trip and about 20 miles into I-71 I realized the wind was blowing kind of hard. The gusts were pretty strong. Another few miles and the leaves and debris began swirling all about and the gusts were becoming stronger.

About 10 miles outside of Louisville I was very concerned and driving as fast as I could to beat it home. I didn't know what I was beating, or if I just wanted to get home.

But first, I had to go to a birthday party. In the Highlands, which is a very mature neighborhood in the Loo. Beautiful trees line the roads, beautiful big old trees. And as I exited off the interstate and headed into the city I realized it was very bad.

Was this a hurricane or what? Wait, I have lived through a category 4 hurricane...this is just some high wind, I reassured myself, keeping a sharp eye for flying foreign objects.

It was slow going and it required many detours to arrive at my destination because of this...


....and this



And oh yes, this...


Taking care, I pulled my car in a parking lot without a lot of trees about. It was very windy!

Very windy. I flew into my brothers house. Literally!


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reveals and Reviews

Oh yes, its time. Time to go out and find a job. Almost down to the wire in terms of the well has run dry. So much for "retirement". It was fun taking a year off, (actually a lot more than a year)and I must admit, I liked it. But, something inside of me has shifted. Maybe its a loneliness, or boredom, or just that life has become a little empty.
That signals that it is time.
And just like when it was time to settle down and do my homework (while attending college at night school) I would begin to find every little thing outstanding that needed to be finished and put to bed before I would finally begin studying!
So, I find I am blogging a lot and spending inordinate amounts of time picking fallen leaves and rose petals from the mulch under the rose bushes.
Being home alone all summer has entitled me to watch a lot of Netflix movies. Unlike the years before, I am in charge of the queue and it has been less men style movies and has emerged as kinder and softer.
Take the movie "we" watched this week-end. SON OF RAMBOW. Now at first you may think, man movie. But wait, Rambo is spelled incorrectly! I have waited several months for this foreign film and put into the queue the moment I became aware of its existence and impatiently awaited its availability and immediately moved it to the number one spot the week it was released.
And I was not disappointed. It was sweet and a slight tear jerker. Very entertaining and you never lost interest in the characters. Which, mainly, were all children.
As my buddy in grammar school would conclude his book reports, "Read (rent) the book (movie) and find out what happens!"
A very welcome surprise because it is not uncommon for me to rip open a movie sleeve and think "WTH?", is a movie called "Under the Same Moon". Foreign (there is a pattern here) and in sub-titles I loved this movie. It was full of sentimental b.s. and as the film progressed you could feel the conclusion building, but I just loved it.
Rent the movie and find out what I'm talking about.
Oh crap, guess it's time to go to Walmart and buy some hair dye.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Once Upon A Time


I worked for the J. Peterman Company.

Actually it was part time, on week ends and some evenings during the week around Christmas. It was short lived and in the height of the J. Peterman popularity. Before Seinfield, yes, there really was a J. Peterman. It is not that guy that pranced around on Dancing With the Stars. But, we all know that, don't we?


J. Peterman somehow ended up in Lexington, Ky. Not sure why or how, but he did. His empire blossomed on the North side of town, pre-Internet. It's funny to think that anything was before the Internet! It has become so much a part of our lives and infiltrated every aspect of it! I know that I have altered how I spend my hard earned bucks.

Back in the day, there was a large building that housed the J Peterman warehouse. UPS loved the J.P. company. The US Post Office loved J.P. No telling how many catalogues he mailed out all over the world. For years.  All over the world!

Before having a part time job for J.P. (call me Elaine Jr.) I ran across him in the back pages of a magazine I was reading in the mid to late 80's. It was an advertisement for the Duster. It was how he got started, selling the Duster because whereever and when ever he wore it he was stopped and questioned. The question always was the same.... "Where can I get one?".

And the J. Peterman Company was born.


I rummaged around in my closet for a hat to shield my head from the death inducing rays thrown down from the relentless heavens that was frying my brain. I found this...

My Panama hat, or as I like to think of it, my Miss Blue Hat. (it was called several names depending). And when I placed it on my head and was into the mind numbing process of picking out yellow black spot leaves I remembered the Peterman Empire and my little part in it.

First of all, I was young! And everyone working there was young. We were all so young I guess that would answer the question of why we would work for such low wages and have such high standards demanded of us! The J. Peterman company was noted and praised for being the BEST in the business, whichwas mail order. Any given night, 100 customer service reps manned the telephones and were placed in the cue. There was no telling who might call on any given evening/night as the phones remained open till 1am. Celebrities called all the time. I never caught a celebrity call, but when it happened THAT person always stood up attracting the attention of everyone in the room and would gesture wildly towards the phone and mouth the name of the caller.

Standing up was common, as it hurt the ass to sit all the time through out an eight hour shift. I would love to ask the customer on the line, "Would you like me to get the garment so I can describe it better for you?" and with that, would un-plug and trudge around the "show room" and pick out the item. J.P. was great about having all the merchandise available for the CSR's to have at their disposal. And it was quite an affair, for he had thousands of items. I would gather the garment and go sit in my chair and begin to describe it to the person on the other end of the phone. Description was essential and we were coached and thoroughly refreshed through out our tenure with the company. He was not the BEST for nothing.

It was fun. But it did not last for long, just that one Christmas season and into the spring of the next year. I remember this vividly because it was 1996 and UK won the NCAA Title that year. We listened to the games much to the despair of the customers calling in! The final four...that Saturday night I'm certain J.P. got more complaints than ever before. I remember it as if it were yesterday (doesn't every Cat fan?)



"Okay, do you have a tape measure, now bend over to the right .... that's your waist, measure it. (a pause) Okay, what does it say?" The customer replies with his/her waist measurement and UK hits a 3 pointer against U-Mass in the final four and you forget you have not muted the mouth piece and you yell out loud, "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!"

Truly, it was fun and I was shocked when he went bankrupt and exhilarated when he got his company back!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Bus Stops Here

The school bus for this side of the neighborhood stops right across the street from our house, at the stop sign. Around 730am the High School kids are picked up and then about a half hour later the younger kids. There is screaming from the younger kids, much running around and playing while waiting for the bus to arrive. The High School crowd is silent and sullen.

Which reminds me of my school bus days. We had to walk to the end of the street, also by the stop sign, to catch the big yellow machine driven by Shorty.

Did I say walk? Oh no, I do not remember too many walks towards the stop. It usually was making a mad dash across five yards to hop on the crowed sweaty screaming mass of Baby Boomers.

The bus had a route that entered our subdivision on the street that ran behind our house. One of us kids would be stationed at the end of the kitchen table as the look out. When he (as it was always one of my brothers, never me) spotted it making its first stop he would stand, grab his book bag, his lunch and yell out to the rest of us.......


And then the mad dash would begin.

If you missed the bus? If you were dragging your heels and could not participate in the running of the procrastinators, well you just had to walk to school! (No worries, it only took 10 minutes if you went as slow as possible).

Which reminds me of another story.

My Brother-in-Law's family owns a piece of property on a TVA lake. In February about 10 to 15 men (no women) make the pilgrimage to participate in their version of an Iron Man competition. It is a long week-end of drinking beer and a horse shoe competition where only the winners do not have to jump into the frigid gray waters of a late winter lake.

It is about a three hour drive to reach the Lake House. As they approached their destination this past winter, they saw a bar open along the way. It was around 3pm and the place was packed!

"Wow", they thought as they ordered their beers, "this place is really hopping for so early in the afternoon." Just about this time someone jumped up and yelled.........


And the entire place cleared out as the bus unloaded its cargo and they clamored into the waiting pick-ups for the ride home.

Somethings never change.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Alphawoman's Garden of Grass

Sometimes I just have to fill up an entry with help from a visual narrative. Yesterday I was working in my garden aka the back yard

Usually I am out there in the mornings as the heat of the day has not yet hit. Anyone living in this area knows we have had a very hot summer and little rain. At least little rain as of late. My roses have suffered from a multitude of circumstances including but not limited to the heat, the Jap beetles, and the dreaded yellow spot. I have inherited approximately 21 rose bushes/plants and have not, to date, killed any of them! As a matter of fact, since the heat has broken, and the Jap beetles have died off for the season, the roses are looking very spiffy!

Please do not point out the black spot disease (as I  am a slow study). I have learned how it happens and how to treat it. The other day I spent hours picking out the dropped leaves from the mulch. Mindless work that allows deep cracks in the brain to appear.

My back patio area is nothing short of a Sahara-like heat bowl. The southern sun beats down all day long! Nothing survives on the patio of white concrete and sand colored wall. Since I have been traveling back and forth from Memphis all summer and relied on the daughter to water .... well, there were horrible deaths of many hardy plants.

As I said, I am a slow study. It took a while to realize succulents were the answer! They come from the desert, right? So, I was spending yesterday afternoon replanting the resilient remarkable succulents when my back neighbor comes across the yard.

He was so nice. He brought along a bucket of potting soil as a gift. We chatted a bit about the things neighbors chat about when he suddenly changed the subject and waved his arm towards a corner of my yard and bluntly asked, "Is that a marijuana plant you're growing up there?"


As if!!! How funny! It does sort of look like one if you never have seen it before! So I assured him it was a bamboo plant that a very nice person in west Tennessee had given me and I was trying to get it to thrive in southern Indiana. And behold! It is throwing off a baby shoot.

A little later my next door neighbor came over and we chatted about my tomatoes.

And my roses.

And I assured him I was not growing marijuana and he laughed. He was more in the know because he told me I would have been busted long ago if that was the case.

It was only when I went inside I realized I was not wearing a bra under my t-shirt. (No picture!!)

No wonder I had so many male visitors!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Living on the Edge

It has long been a running joke between Joe and myself that I am indifferent to the dangers of having low gas levels in the car. When I drive he is constantly checking the fuel gage and making comments about gas stations. He has been known to break out in a cold sweat on Interstate 55.

When the refuel light comes on and I see his tension rising I always say, and I mean always, "I'm good for 20 miles".

And then I looked it up in the vehicle manual and found out I had an extra gallon adding another 30+ miles I could now say, "I'm good for 50 miles", but I do not want to give him a coronary.

On my way home the other day the refuel light came on and I felt that touch of annoyance rush over me. I hate to fill up with the gas prices being where they are now! Who would have thought that finding gas under $3.80 would be cause for celebration? While in Memphis over the week-end I gassed up at $3.31 and loved the feeling of not feeding over $50 into the proverbial black hole. The prices in Louisville are much higher than in Tennessee. A lot higher. So I fired up the computer and found the lowest gas prices in the metro area, which was $3.51 at the station located at Bashford Manor Mall.

I'll be damned! I was heading over to my brothers for dinner and the Mall was fairly close by! I could save big money by heading over there! And by big money, I mean approximately $3!!!!

And with my new found discovery that the reserve was around 50 miles, I was confidant that I could make it.

After my visit I flipped the trip and began to pay attention to the mileage thinking that I had not actually looked and the gage was **gasp** under the E.

4.9 miles to the Mall and I felt a rush of what must have been relief as I pulled up to a gas pump.

But only momentarily.

I turned my purse upside down and poured out all the contents on the passenger seat. Horrors and double horrors I had no wallet!! I could see it plain as day sitting next to the computer as I had ordered something on line for my mothers birthday before leaving.

Now I was in a cold sweat.

I had two one dollar bills on me. In the ash tray was another $1.25 and checking under the seat and in the trunk I found another 75 cents.

Enough for a little over one gallon. Needless to say, the needle did not move very much and kept its secure little home under the bigger than life E.

50 milesdid not seem like much of a life line on the drive home.

This story ends well, as I made it and the trip says it was only a 26 mile gamble from my bro's house, a little gas added, to the comfort of my drive way. A huge sigh of relief escaped from my clamped lips, my hands relaxed from their death grip on the steering wheel and the paralyzing fear of running out of gas on the I-65 Spaghetti Junction Bridge becoming a faint memory I sashayed triumphantly into the house.

I guess Joe wins this one, but don't tell him.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Use to Be Such A Sweet Sweet Thing...

...Until they got a hold of me. ( Alice Cooper, No More Mister Nice Guy)

I have no idea where I heard this, but it stuck in my head because Joe threw out all my unframed prints I had stored in an old, old, old trash bag. Like from the 1970's it was that old. And it looked like something important was in it, laid up against the kitchen wall. Oh well, ...oh well....I heard something that went like this, "You forgave them for throwing away your concert ticket collection".

Which made me check on my collection, which I have spread out in several places. (so that if he can only throw out part of it)and I fingered the Alice Cooper ticket from the mid-70's and remembered. (which is exactly why you hang on to stuff, for the memory bomb).

I was living in Mayberry* while I was waiting out an academic suspension from college and working at some minimum wage job (that should have convinced me to straighten up and fly right...but that is another story) and Alice Cooper was the hottest thing on the concert circuit.

It was when he was chopping off his head in a guillotine. Rock theater. I think he invented it, didn't he?

Naturally we had to drive to Louisville to catch the show. I am thinking Rupp Arena was not yet built. (damn I'm old) (but younger than Alice). I say "we" because I had talked Bad Bob into going with me.

Bad Bob.

Bad Bob.

How I hooked up with BB I do not remember. More than likely I just drove around Mayberry* determined to find someone to make the trip with me because someone else had bailed on me (?) and found him. More than likely smoking cigarettes by the convenient store and trying to pick up chicks.

I met Bad Bob at the swimming pool years before. The swimming pool was the place for summer fun and everyone went to idyll away the summer heat. Bad Bob was from the wrong side of the tracks to put it politely. I'm not certain if he/his family had a membership to the pool, but who was going to stop him? He did not earn the name Bad Bob for nothing!

Joe has known Bad Bob since elementary school. Bob was held back, much to the horror of Joe's class. Joe had gotten a brand new knife, (I know I know, this is boy stuff from long ago) as a gift, maybe a birthday gift. Anyway, Joe was at his locker when Bad Bob comes up and tells Joe he is going to swap him a girlie magazine for his new knife. And that was all there was to it. Joe was in no position to disagree. He handed over the knife and received an girlie magazine from the 1950's (or so he says) that was so looked over the cover was gone and most the pages were missing. The new knife is gone but Joe is left with his teeth (he would have had to fight Bad Bob to keep the knife and Joe is no dummy).

Anyway, for some unfathomable reason, Bad Bob and I were friends back in the pool day. We played chess while I was watching the front desk (oh yea, I was a lifeguard) and stuff like that. He hung out with the most popular kids in Mayberry* High! We drove around, which was about our only form of entertainment when the pool closed, and drank bourbon straight from the bottle. (I think this was the summer of Easy Rider, nick, nick)

I once ran across Bad Bob, who had become a respected (of sorts) builder in Mayberry* at the church carnival. He was with his wife and children. We smiled and acknowledged each other, but the eyes, his eyes told me this was no time to have a conversation. His blond beautiful wife looked on, blowing smoke from a lit cigarette. As I said, we nodded.

The last time I saw Bob was at a small bar. We were tossing back beers and arm wrestling, of all stupid crazy things. We ended up in my car and he was driving me somewhere and we were pulled over by the police. High School all over again. The police drove me to where I wanted to go and Bad Bob went to jail.

(This is the strange weird part)....There is this noon mass that is held at a church in Lexington that I use to go to when I felt the need. I was sitting in the back and realized that out of the 15 or so people there I knew one of them. A guy from Mayberry! During the mass it is asked if anyone has a request for prayer and my friend asked for prayers for Bad Bob.

He took my hand after mass and told me Bob was dead, had killed himself. He had put a paper bag over his head and shot himself.

Alice Cooper's show in Louisville. Bad Bob tolerating it for me, his friend.

I have a small collection of old concert tickets.



*Ficticious name for a place that could have been Mayberry back in the day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Alphawoman's Guide to the Universe

(My Moleskine)

I have a  moleskine notebook I keep in my purse dedicated to mundane things as shopping lists, addresses and the name of songs that take me by surprise. It is a treasure trove of interesting things such as the title of books to read, movies to rent, over heard conversations, places to go, brilliant observations, a cache for newspaper clippings, postcards, snapshots and a holding cell of quotes from a variety of sources. It also serves as a collection of off the wall thoughts usually scribbled as I drive down the highway. Those, my friends, are very difficult to read!

While flipping through the pages yesterday, looking for an obscure tidbit I knew I had jotted down sometime, somewhere when I found a list of ideas to write about. Obviously I had been traveling down a highway and written in large block letters, that indicated I was traveling at a high rate of speed, HITCHHIKING.

What has happened to the art of Hitch Hiking? It was not that long ago that it was an acceptable form of trucking around. An easy way to get from here to there in a pinch. I'm not going to say everyone did it. I only did it several times usually when my car was broken down by the side of the road. But I knew tons of people who practiced it as their only form of transportation.

The times were different way back then. Our serial killers were limited to large cities, the major highway system we now take for granted was barely in its infancy. The youth of that time was represented by huge numbers, never seen in the history of the earth before and we felt we were invincible and could do whatever we pleased.

And we hitch hiked, criss crossed the world on a whim.

I have two really good stories, both happened to people I know, not to me.

My brother was hitch hiking to D.C. with a friend and on the way home on the outskirts of Somewhere USA were picked up by a large sedan with two very nervous, very scared guys. They traveled at a high rate of speed and crossed into West Virginia and began to slow down to kick out my brother and his friend.

"What's the deal?" they demanded.

"Man, we just robbed a bank back there and they were looking for two males in a dark car. We figured two more people couldn't hurt".

The second one involves a friend of mine who was hitching back home from Arizona. As was typical of the time, he met up with a couple of other guys on the side of the road and decided to stick together.

They were picked up and in a short time were driven off the major road onto a secluded side road.

"Give us your Money!" they were told as a knife was waved in their faces. The other kids argued and were taken out and smacked around until they coughed up their cash. My friend pulled his pockets out to indicate they were empty. His back pack was rifled through and nothing was found. "Man, that is why I'm hitching, I'm broke".

The robbers rode off leaving them in the middle of no where.

My friend had his money hidden in his boot. He bought them all a meal and then they split up.

Something else was also lost by the demise of Hitching a ride. The rich stories that were born of those more innocent less violent times.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Montage of Minutiae

And so he says, "You ever heard of Metropolis?"

And I say, "Superman's Metropolis?" And that is how we ended up at the River city across from Paducah on the banks of the mighty Ohio before entering the equally mighty Mississippi. I was not suprised that the area was over run with Super Hero fans. Lots of families and motorcycle gangs. Well, the type of gangs that are very established and everyone rides a very expensive bike with lots of expensive leather (ouch! it was 100 degrees at least) and lots of hot mama's (literally).

Why is it that it you become very successful on the Blogosphere that you are a BIG target for a snippy, mean spirited and down right ugly attacks (in the comments)? I like Pioneer Woman quit a bit. I don't care that she is obviously rich. I see that her Blog has become a "job" and that to have to sit at the computer and come up with something day after day can be exhausting. Hell, I use to post three times a week and it was killing me. Now it is all I can do to post once or twice a month! The attacks or actually attacks might be too strong a word.... The criticism of her site reminds me of High School. Oh hell, not even High School but Grammar School. Does anyone remember the notebooks that use to be passed around and people would write comments about each other for all to see? That's what it reminds me of. There is a lot of jealousy on this wide wide web and fueled by the cloak of anonymity makes it pretty vicious.

And it makes me realize I love the drama! As long as I am not involved. Believe me, I have had my share and it sucks and hurts.

My tomatoes are coming in like gang busters except for the variety I planted in the middle. They are cracked and creepy looking. I hesitate to eat them and as soon as they quit being so creepy I'm going to give those away.

On the way to the Paducah area I listened to a double CD I have of Dan Fogelberg and it reminded me of the time I saw him in concert...circa 1976....and I think it was at Bellamine University. Out of all the seats in the auditorium I happened to be sitting in the one that was in front of the guy who was so F-ed up he lost his balance and fell into me and cracked my head. I don't thing there was any blood, but I was in a bad mood that evening and then....I get bonged but good.

Also listening to Dan I realized that I did not feel the guilt and regret that usually accompanies the soft rock music I listened to from that era. That was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise!

Went to the tiny town in Extreme West Kentucky that I began my college career attending and left feeling violated and ....old. The town has totally changed and if I was shown pictures of it I would never be able to identify it. The old hang out where I would plunk down 99 cents and have a big breakfast has moved form one side of the street to the other and resembles a Waffle House. Then I could not find the old house I rented a room in and with horror realized the Waffle House clone actually sat on the spot!

I am saddened that my memories of my youth are slowly being erased!

Monday, July 21, 2008

It Was A Hot and Steamy Night


I never forgot, all those years living away from Louisville, about the summer Catholic Festivals. They are the absolute best and more fun than one would think. First of all, there is the cake booth. How can it get any better than winning a delicious confection made by a church lady covered in colored coconut. Yum yum. And what if it cost $10 to finally win? It goes for a good cause. And it's tax deducible...maybe, that is if you do creative tax reporting. Next there is the beer booth. Thank God Almighty, because it was 96 degrees during the day and not much relief at night. The beer went down easy.

And last of all, the gambling. This is not your Grandmothers gambling of yesteryear. No longer are there long lean tables of bingo cards and hard corn markers scattered about under the glow of dangling yellow lights. No, now it is "Beat the Dealer" (which I kind of still do not understand) and it is a form of craps played with over sized dice that somehow are fixed in favor of the house! I played with $10 and it was up and down for about 45 minutes and I left with one measly dollar still in my hot hand.

Or not so hot hand

Truly amazing was the wheel that had different colored horses, 1 through 10, that you could bet on up to $1.00 by choosing the winning number horse. If per chance your horse came in, the odds were paid by the number designated by the lip thingee. (can you tell I am not a gambler?) much like baseball cards we once attached to our bicycle wheels to get that sweet summer sound.

It was very hot and we sweated a lot. After dropping a lot of money, drinking several beers, and not winning a cake we dragged our sorry selves back to the car and headed to a pizza joint.

Because we were hungry.

Every week end there is a similar summer festival. But, lurking somewhere in the not too far away future, in the month of August is the grand daddy of them all The St. Joseph Orphan's Picnic.

I'm saving up my money right now, because you never know, $10 chance could win you a Mustang.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Things I hate about AOL

There was a really good reason I added the sitemeter counter on my AOL Journal. It works. Unlike the AOL counter. As I near five years in the AOL community I am proud it  includes a stint as the Editors Pick of the Week, a Guest Editor of the Week, a winner of a ViVi Award, a highlighted journal several times on various communities and my photographs appearing on the Journal Page numerous times when the Journal Page was interesting. Sadly, the hit counter barely has me cracking the 1000 mark.

That stupid counter has reset so many times, I have lost count. Unlike the Sitemeter, which is constant and delivers a realm of information. Such as, where the "visitors" are coming from and how they arrive. It is entertainment actually. You have no idea how many people type in "hippie gypsy" (my non AOL journal), bimbo-gypsies, TbarV, Hungry Bear, etc. etc. etc.

So, I take offensive that sitemeter has been eliminated as an Approved site from the AOL list.

I should not be works.

**** After thoughts........ I failed to establish the fact that sitemeter still works as a tracking device. It will not work as a hit counter not appear on my blog/journal in HTML code (i.e. a site meter visual). Though I see it appears on the journals of others in the, it is just me.

**** Even later. As I have checked my sitemeter tracking this blog is no longer being tracked as of around 10am this morning. I am perplexed. Why is it working for others and not for me?


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Happy Place #3

A Movie House! Any Movie House!

I remember the first movie I attended in my small home town. (Didn't everyone have a small movie theater in their home towns back in the 50's and 60's?) Our movie house, called The Bacon was located on the street that entered the heart of downtown. At the time we lived on Broadway which was only a quick walk away. It must have been the week-end, and the movie was Tom Sawyer (or some adaptation of the movie). One particular part of the movie scared me to death! I was only five years old and mortified that my four and three year old brothers were unaffected by the horror of scary life on a raft! My father walked me home. The walk of shame. That quick walk, a mere two block became the longest walk of my short life.

The Bacon is an icon for all of us who grew up in Smalltown, KY. Saturday afternoon all of us kids, and I mean all of us, would flock to the theater and plunk down our 25 cents for the matinee, a double feature with a cartoon. A bag of popcorn and a small coke, add another 15 cents. Being the era of segregation, the black kids sat in the balcony, which I though was so unfair! I wanted to sit up there with a driving passion!

At times we had to go into into the Big City for our Saturday afternoon fixes. There were three movie houses in the downtown area of Lexington! (only one remains today). It was our great joy that Dad loved going to the movies with us. Talking him into driving us the 12 miles into Lexington and then enduring a movie was easy.

It was, I think (researching in IMDb) The Magic Sword, (1962). There is this one scene where the guy comes out of the cave and the sun hits his skin and his skin begins to turn into ulcers and sores and I leave the theater....again. There was no walking home this time, and I waited outside the theater.....with Dad, while my blood thirsty brothers, which may have included my three year old bro too(!), finished watching the atrocity on the screen. (which is really funny when I read the only review and understand how hokey it really was).

Can you tell I have never been a fan of the horror genre?

During the 1980's when Bridget was little, every Saturday afternoon we went to the Dollar Theater in J-town. They carried on the tradition of having family friendly films showing weekly. I love the memory of Bridget climbing into my lap and watching the films.

Can you believe there is aDollar Movie within a mile of our house right now? Such a lovely place to escape the heat, settle down in the well worn seats, the tiny thrill when the lights fade to dark and then....and then, a movie! Nothing compares to seeing a film on the big screen in the dark, with a bag of popcorn.

I find myself seeking the comfort of films to cure most everything, at least for a short time. Loneliness, sadness, frustration, boredom......

Good therapy for just one buck.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

As you may know, I have to get back into the working world. It is no longer possible for me to stay a Kept Woman. The jig is up! It is time. This morning I began in ernest picking up the telephone to campaign  an interview with my Old Company in a new position. A position that has been posted since March. Why? Not certain but it seems no one wants it. It's too hard. Shoot, I'll give it a shot, just give me an interview!

So, I'm on the phone calling everyone I know zooming in on someone and giving him a chance to contact me before I have to go to the Big Guns, my first boss who is now some sort of major player this side of the Mississippi.

Gosh, I hate having to go back to work, but that is life. While reading the Career Search section of the newspaper today I gobbled up the article about being thrown into the job market "at at certain age" and competing with all those young whipper snappers just graduated from college, all dewy eyed and full of vim and vigor. All your experience and wisdom does not add up to a hill of beans sometimes if you appear "out of date".

So, I went and had all my hair cut off!! What I have wanted to do for years. And I do mean years! I went to my friend, the Internet, and asked it (Mirror mirror on the wall....) "Louisville Best Of...." and sure enough I found last years list which included  hair salons. That is how I found him. He could fit me in at 230pm today. The place was on the hip Bardstown road and I was taken back when I entered and the place was empty. He made his entrance about five minutes later and I just loved him right away! He did not sing me Herman Hermits like my hairdresser in FW (the name that must be whispered) but he said something that convinced me I was in the right place. When I mentioned this fabulous hair dresser I had in the 1980's whose middle name is Magic I was pleased to hear that many of Mr. Magic's customers were now Mr. New Guy's customers. I closed my eyes and let him work.

When I openemy eyes, my hair was magnificent! Stunning! And I love it!

The visitation and funeral was totally overwhelming. I can not imagine the turn out if it had not been a Holiday Week-end.

Funny story. My SIL lives way out in the country in a gorgeous house, very secluded and vulnerable if anyone got ideas to "visit" while she was in town. So, her sister house sat that evening.

As SIL was preparing to leave she went back and pulled out a small 22 gun and tried to hand it to "Sissy". Sissy refused it and waved it away.

"Sis, you may need it. You never know." and she thrust it at her again and once again she shook her head no and pushed the gun away.

"I would feel so much better if you took it!" my SIL pleaded.

Sis reaches into her purse and pulls out a 38 and lays it  on the table, close at hand.

Sis was packing.



Friday, July 4, 2008

"Ones Past is what one is.

It is the only way by which people should be judged."   Oscar Wilde

My brother in law passed away several days ago. He was 57 years young. He was in the hospital for 70 days and those 70 days were a roller coaster ride. He told a friend who visited him during the first few days, before modern medicine took hold of him and ....well, when he was still coherent that he was dying. I felt very strongly at the beginning that he would survive, get better and resume his life.

But, it did not work out according to plan. He was too ill, past saving and if he has survived, I am certain would have been a semi-invalid at best. He is my husbands brother. We visited him the day before Fathers Day and for the first time in nearly six weeks he was not in a coma like state and actually communicated with us despite his trac with facial expressions and a raspy hoarse whisper. Except for closing his eyes to rest, he never took his eyes off my husband. They were to move him to a room on another floor (he had been in the ICU units for most the duration except for a brief stay at a rehabilitation hospital, but he suffered another set back and returned to the ICU unit) and that seemed encouraging.

Then he took a turn for the worst and because of a living will at 730 Monday night they took him off life support.

No one knew how long. A few hours, a few days. My husband drove the 400 miles from Memphis in record breaking time. He arrived in time.

The heart rate was very elevated. It was explained that the heart was in over drive compensating for the decreased intake of oxygen. Around 1am (I'm guessing, time was a blur) his heart rate plummeted. I was alone in the room with him, holding his hand and rubbing his arm because I am certain when we are in this state of leaving this plane and preparing to enter another, we are aware of those around us, when the nurse entered the room. She began to take off the many tubes still connecting him. Morphine drip and the such. She deflated the pressure bags on his legs. I have little understanding of medicine, but I suppose it was helping to keep his blood circulating.

She told me he was nearing the end and it would not be long.

Then they decided to move him out of ICU because they needed the cubicle/room and we were being transferred to a larger and much more comfortable room on another floor.

The transfer was horrendous. The bed from ICU would not go through the smaller entry door and they tried every which way to get him in, finally shuffling us off into a room and closing the door while they moved him into a smaller bed.

Several minutes later they took us into the room and one look at him we knew he was gone. He had two more heart beats over several minutes and then he left us.

A doctor has to sign the death certificate. We waited for 45 minutes for his arrival. He looked to be 16 years old. He stood over the bed and asked us, "Do you understand what has happened?"

We were stunned. What do you say? How do you answer such a question?

I don't know why I decided to write about this here in this public forum. I have dealt with medical facilities, doctors and hospital staff for many years now. The majority are dedicated caregivers who are answering a special calling to aid our sick and dying.

Yet, sometimes you wonder about it all. The bigger picture.

When Doogie Howser was paged from the room several moments later we all looked at each other and shook our heads.

"I wanted to say, "Doc I don't understand why he won't get up!", his son blurted out and we had a much need snicker about that.

"He went fast" my SIL said.

"Who? that doctor, he was kinda young wasn't he?" my husband responded and then we all snorted. It had been a long night.

We loved him very much.



Thursday, June 26, 2008

Happy Place #2


We all know where our Happy Places reside. That refuge of solitude (maybe) when things are going astray and we need a moment to catch our breaths, calm down, breath deeply. Even just anticipating the trip to such a place brings about a peace. And a happy place can be more than just a physical place, it can be a state of mind with our imagination being the vehicle of transport. And it does not necessarily have to be a place but a tangible item to grasp in both hands. It can be as simple as just being with someone. Or day dreaming.

The best thing about happy places is that they are just that, places of escape that make us happy. Bring a smile and feeling of well being.

The second happy place that I have decided to commit to this blog is The Library. As long as I can remember, since my Mother is a librarian, I have felt an awe of libraries. The first one brings to memory the smell of musty books, dark tomes that were hidden in the upstairs dusty high ceilings ancient building of down town. This place would never do for my Mom, so she organized and championed a renovation (some people more than likely cursed my Mom due to a library tax increase) that resulted in a comfortable refuge, a learning center, a place of gatherings and children's hour, open later and I dare say revitalized a little bit of downtown.

I found myself standing in an aisle of another downtown branch.  The Big City, with eyes closed trying to remember the name of an author my brother mentioned as an excellent writer of Civil war fiction. Try as I may to empty my mind so that the elusive name would just POP, I could not reel it in. I read a trick once that one was to think of a place and concentrate. I found myself laying on the front yard lawn of the first house my parents purchased. I had my hands behind my head and was staring at the blue sky and the white billowing clouds as they crossed over head making out images of elephants and faces. I could feel the soft grass under my arms and the smell, oh the smell of clover. I was astonished that I dragged this memory out of ....nowhere! So astonished that I could not complete the exercise which consists of climbing and counting up 30 stairs and throwing open a door. What you are looking for (trying to remember) will be on the other side of the door.

It was too sweet a memory to let go of, so I began to browse the titles to the left of my head. I was in the "M" section and laid my hand on "At Play In the Fields of the Lord" by PeterMatthiessen. "I'll be damned" I though to myself, "He writes fiction too?". I added it to the small stack I was taking home.

I began to read the novel and halfway through it I realized this story, written in 1965, reminded me of the books that I would sneak (or so I thought) out of the library under the discriminating eye of my Mother. Actually, it was fairly easy, as she was confident that our Catholic upbringing and her unfaltering faith would lead us to the correct books for our young minds. This is how I was able to read Peyton Place, Joy in the Morning, Our Crowd etc. at a very tender age.

APITFOTL was much like those books. Well written, great story, characters that haunted your non-reading state, people you cared for and hoped that maybe you were a little bit like them. The prose was fabulous...."we were like butterflies pinned to the frames of our mortality...." (something like that) and there were missionaries and mercenaries, good and evil, nakedness and South American natives. How I would have loved this book at 12. Not quite understanding the human emotions, the driving hungers and searches for meaning and salvation, but I would look forward to the day when it would all make sense.

This is what I love about the library, always have and why I always carry a book around with me much to my husbands chagrin. I raise my eyes from the written page and respond to his criticisms of my inattentiveness of his channel surfacing!! I shake my head at him, for why would I ever compare re-runs of Combat and The Rifle Man with a masterpiece such as APITFOTL?

The library is my escape.

The library is a magic carpet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If it's Tuesday, it's Hamburger Night!

This afternoon I had to go to the Post Office (return Netflix) and I thought I would swing by Walmart and pick up some sulphur for the dreaded black spot's on my roses. I approached Walmart from the west, I usually swoop in from the east, I zoomed right past the entrance! So, off to Miejer I went because not only will they have the sulphur (could not find it) but they continue to carry the Yoplait Whipped Chocolate Mousse I am addicted to. I curse Walmart for dropping it because Miejer charges $.21 more for it. Damn you Walmart!

Then to ALDI for the $5.99 bag of 3lb frozen chicken and $1.99 gallon of milk vrs. the $6.79 and $3.89.  (Walmart)

My shopping habits have begun to change due to the rapidly climbing grocery prices! I now read the newspaper and chase the sales when I'm able and or in the vicinity. I can hardly afford my Coconut Rum anymore! It too has gone up in price forcing me to purchase the economy size 1.75 liter which in some ways is very very bad.

I happened to catch a television program in Memphis addressing the growing problems of limited income families making ends meet in regard to grocery shopping. That was where I was hipped to ALDI. I was also informed about a program called ANGEL FOOD that operated in and around Memphis. On a lark, I looked it up and found they have many locations in Kentucky and Indiana close to my home. Alas, I have not been able to take advantage of the great program, where you receive a truck load of food for $30.

It would be no problem for me to eat whatever is in the "box" for the month because of my Mother and our menu's while I was growing up and a captive in her house.

My Mom is a very educated person. Long story cut short, my Mom is the youngest of her siblings and very smart. She was the scholar of the family and her sister Maura did all the cooking cleaning etc. while Mom studied and did all sorts of astounding stuff like graduating from high school at 16, College at 19 and then received her Masters from Columbia after her mother whisked her off to Ireland for a year.

In other words, my Mom never learned to cook.

Our menu's never deviated from week to week, except when she was feeling anemic then we got the dreaded liver and onions.

Monday was Hot dog night. Hot dogs boiled in a sauce pan on the stove and served with buns and mashed potatoes, green beans from a can. Chocolate milk with raw egg for the boys, milk for me and jello for dessert.

Tuesday, hamburgers and french fries. The hamburgers were the frozen kind that came in a box that you took a knife to and separate. French fries were also the frozen string variety served in a wooden bowl. Maybe a can of corn or celery and carrots boiled together.

Wednesday night was meat loaf night. Greasy and made with egg and crushed crackers. Green beans from a can and mashed potatoes.

Thursday was left over night.

Friday was spaghetti night! And maybe some fried shrimp, which she also made in a beat up sauce pan and sometimes turned black but was still a delicacy to me! If there was no smoking shrimp, there was tuna fish. No garlic bread, maybe some toast with butter. No mashed potatoes, though there was jello for desert.

Saturday she worked at the library and Nana made dinner when she lived across the street from maybe 1967 - 1972. Then we had chicken! Yea Nana! She made Waldorf salad with apple cut up in the lettuce. And mashed potatoes. She also made apple turnovers and sometimes cherry. The new fangled kind that you purchased in the dairy section and included was a small bag of icing. Oh I still remember how we looked forward to Nana!

Sunday was always special and we would have something different like a stew or a pot roast. Mashed potatoes and more veggies from a can. And maybe fruit cocktail from the can. And if it was Easter or someones birthday that week, a cake.

We were all skinny kids. We all had to eat what was on our plates because there were starving children in China. Sometimes my brother T. had to be restrained in his chair, as was his habit to slide down his chair and try to escape under the table. He was caught every time. Unfortunately I had to sit across the table from him and I will never forget the faces he made eating mashed potatoes. Like he was going to barf.

Every night except Friday.

We laugh about it now. It is still a good joke among us kids.

Back to my point, if I get liver in the Angel Food Box I can handle it. Just like the old days.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Happy Place(s)

A thief in the night blog

I found this theme on a very famous blog, so I am stealing it. It  is not so unusual that it has not been done before, it is just that I discovered it there so it is not a bona fide original Mary thought. Oh well, what can I say....

Back in the past, when I was receiving a pay check, I received that check once a month! Talk about leaning (forced) to budget! Yet on that glorious day I would rush to my favorite stores and indulge myself. First would be Sam's Club, then Tuesday Morning and I would round out the day at Borders.

Alas, those days are gone and money is tight. At least the throwing away kind. The kind that is so much fun to spend on non essential materialistic crap that will eventually end up long forgotten and in a yard sale.

Deep inside of me is a need so forceful that when it is unleashed it brings me great joy and happiness.  The frivolous spending of money. When I find myself sad and blue, overwhelmed with things and circumstance I take myself to one of my Happy Places....

The Goodwill Store!

A cornucopia of discarded treasure that distracts me from the worries of living and coping. I indulge my love of books by digging through the large canvass hampers of books. So deep, that to get to the bottom your feet leave the ground. There is unbounded joy in me as I pull out Pride and Prejudice , The Diary of Anne Frank and a Field guide to recognizing birds.

How can anyone forget the box of doll hands and feet I found last year!

The games, Scrabble, Bingo, Monopoly. The Barbie dolls and toy dinosaurs and bags of slightly used crayons. Cookie tins and exquisite dishes and Bybee pottery. Hand painted Italian water pitchers. Picture frames and old magazines from the 1960's.

I take a $10 bill with me and always leave with a bag of goodies, some change and a huge smile on my face.

As I said, one of my Happy Places.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Hello! You're the Guest Editor and I'm Not!

Here are my pic's for the I'M NOT THE GUEST EDITOR this week....

Since I have been a member of the AOL-J-Land Happening (I think since the beginning 2003) I have been fascinated with the political musings, defiant opinions and sweet entries of this entrepreneur who never fails to amuse me with her stories about the Cafe...the one and only Lisa of Coming to Term with Middle Age.

Next is Jae who is as sweet as she is tenacious with dealing the hand life deals her and  beating the odds.Winning and prevailing is what she is all about. This is her newest  journal (since she closed her first some time ago) The Gag Order. I am especially giddy with happiness with all the fabulous photo's of her beautiful face since she remained a mystery for so long!

I adore Dan of Slapinions who never is at a loss for something to say or write about. I, for one, was rolling on the floor laughing (hahahah) several weeks ago when he wrote about a stop he made at a dollar store in a shopping center that was subsequently held up! He is the greatest Dad and the I look forward to reading each and every entry he makes.

The last is a non-AOL journal, one that I love because I love travelogues and is called Austin to Africa, Brazil to Bay. Ali is smart, witty, beautiful, talented and lives in Mozambique!

So, I'm not the Guest Editor and more than likely you are!

Friday, June 6, 2008

"Come On Baby Take A Ride With Me......"

"I'm up from Indiana , Down in Tennessee"   John Melencamp

That song made me laugh while listening to my MP3 player when I was walking around the track at the fabulous city park in the small city Joe has taken up residence. As a matter of fact, I really like this city.

I am in the library using the computer and naturally, as it has always been my experience, I am sitting next to a nut case. And I have a fly buzzing around my cubicle.

I finished the book "Year of Jubilo" and it was a real page turner at the end. I even spent a good 10 minutes retelling some of the story with great animation to Joe on Wednesday afternoon. I said that I hope someone makes a movie of it so that I can cry about how much better the book is! I never saw the end coming. Loved it. It was a Civil War book centered around two soldiers returning home after the end of the war and what awaits them in the fictictous town of Cumberland, MS.

Joe thinks that living around so much history and historic sites of the Civil War  has lit the fuse of my obsession with all things related.

Do not have much to say, if anything at all. I am just finding that if I write something, anything it is easier to stay connected.

Does anyone read Confessions of a Pioneer Woman? Recently she had a contest to give away some sort of new fandangled MP3 player if you were one of the three lucky chosen writers of "what songs take you back in time and why". I thought I was a shoo in for one of prizes until I see she had over 13,000 comments with entries.

That means even though my answer is the best (Black Water by the Doobie Bros and the best  summer of my life) I will never survive among the 13,000+ responses. I think she just randomly picked three. Or else I would have won.

No sour grapes, just fresh ones.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What's Not on Sunday Scribblings

Civil War Re-enactment Confederates at Perryville circa 1992

There is a  group participation website called Sunday Scribblings that throws out a word or phrase that you respond to by writing an essay then adding your link. It is a great site and I throw in my two cents every now and then. As of late I have not been moved to submit anything.

Oh, if only they would throw out "rain" and I could write about the drenching I took at 430am when the thunder and lightening awoke me and I thought, "My car windows" and sure enough, they were partially open.

Or "road trip", I could write a book on that one.

"Fragrance" would be another good one. The air is perfumed with the magnolia tree next door.  Memphis is so thick with Japanese Honeysuckle that the air should be tinted yellow.

What would really release me, unlease the beast of an essay I have boiling up inside of me would be "The Civil War".  I know, I is kind of unexpected and crazy but not if I explain.

I put my name on a waiting list at the library for the bestseller, "Rhett Butler's People". After about a two month wait I finally got my hands on it and read it in about two days (it was about 600 pages, don't you know). I think I began reading it thinking I was not going to like it because I was automatically going to compare it with "Gone with the Wind"....or the movie version because I read GWTW about 100 years ago. Anyway, I like it despite the fact he got several things wrong. Scarlett's waist was 17 inches, not 16 and he spelt Cynthiana incorrectly every time he mentioned it. Then, in the final chapters he called it Cynthiana Tennessee instead of Kentucky! I was outraged and could not find a website to contact him and alert him to his heinous mistakes!

When I returned the book I picked up "Jacob's Ladder".

Then I read "The Judas Field".

After that I picked up "The Killer Angels".

I'm now half way through "The Year of Jubilo".

I am becoming something of a Civil War buff. And I am astonished at how much I did not realize, how ignorant I actually am concerning the history of the war between the states. Did you know that over 600,000 soldiers lost their lives.  That is not counting civilians. The 600,000+  deaths are more than The Mexican-American War, WWI, WWII , the Korean War and Viet Nam added together. 

This piece is a WIP......I'm not quite sure where I am heading with this. Earlier this year I signed up to participate in a reading program that encouraged you to go outside your normal genres and comfort levels. I thought that history would be a good for me and it seemsI have immersed myself into the years of 1861 - 1865.

Like I said, a WIP.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Good Old Days

The week before this past one, Rebecca was our Guest Editor (a wonderful journal, the best writing in J-land) from In The Shadow of the Iris and she was mentioning how long she had been journaling and how things had changed from the beginning. She cited some differences between now and then. Several days later, my mind was a blank and thoughts drifting in and out like clouds across the blue summer sky, squeezing the remote areas of my brain for some small inspiration for a journal entry when I remembered that in the beginning we were limited to only 2500 words.

2500 small, measly, meager words. This entire entry thus far is close to half of that allotment. What fancy editing was demanded. A word here, an adjective there. Still, too long. Wipe out that entire sentence! Finally, it fits. But, it makes no sense!

How many of us are still left that survived those days and did not just throw up our hands and say, "Heck, this is crazy!" and move on to Blogger, or Moveable Type etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, I just think its funny.

Reading Rebecca's latest entry made me think realize that I am not alone. I could never ever so eloquently express the reasons why the entries are becoming harder and longer spaced. It is easy to write about interesting stuff. Each of us has a large bag full of inspiring and funny stories, histories that are pleasant in sharing. After spending years pounding them out, they begin to run thin. So thin that suddenly I feel the real person, the honest to goodness ME is beginning to appear on the pages. Not the person I want you all to see, but the real one. She manages to slip out and make her presence known.

And that scares me. I'm not sure why that is. After all these years there has never been a knock on the door and I am served with a "Cease and Desist" order. Or someone knocks and I open the door and they are waving a gun at me. I have not had a knock on the door and opened it and been embarrassed by the steady stare of someone I have written about on these pages. I try to keep most people shielded. Or I did in the beginning when it seemed so important. No one from my family knows, and if they do, they don't let me know they know. Several times a year I receive an e-mail from someone (someone I always know) asking "Who are you?" after reading my "web site" (that's what the latest called it.)

But I have fallen on hard times when it comes to writing material. I am stripped as thin as I have ever been and down to bare bone. My father has died, my Aunt has died, my husband hated his job that brought us close to family and subsequently took a job that takes him 400 miles away from me. This is not good. I feel I am in a life and death struggle with my daughter. I have gained weight and feel like I can not go out and find a job because I look so fat and middle aged. Invisible.

So, even though I have a rich, uncultivated steady stream of remarkable writing material, I can not bring myself to do it!

Yet, I just did.

And thank God I am not limited to 2500 words or this never would have been written.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Daddy Won't You Take Me Back To Muhlenberg Co.


While reading a review of Augusten Burrough's latest book I was taken back by the intensity of the attack against the memoir. How can anyone remember the exact words in a conversation that had taken place so many years ago? His brother came to the defense stating that Augusten suffers from some type of illness that allows this type of recall.

Others, such as his remaining family members,  claim it is fabricated.

Which made me think, aren't many of our memories from "long ago", at the least, slightly embellished?

Sometimes I will surprise myself with the intensity of a memory. For some odd reason I can recall with vivid clarity looking out a window on US 68 outside Hopkinsville while stopped for... (here comes the embellishment, because I can only surmise we were stopped for road work/traffic accident)...a delay. The day was bright, hot and the field was high yellow grass and the sound of bugs was like a symphony in the shimmering heat.

It is like a snap shot from 30 years ago.

This past week found me traveling down a thin ribbon of highway that transported me back those 30 years.

The scenery had changed drastically. Dramatically. I did not recognize much of anything. There were certain landmarks that I searched for that no longer exist. The worlds largest coal shovel sat on the southside of the Western Kentucky Parkway. A looming beast, primitive, hauling away Paradise, down by the Green River.

30 years certainly does have an extraordinary effect on the landscape. Let alone my own personal landscape.

The drive took me whizzing past a town, on one of the several new parkways in the area, that I had spent many a Saturday afternoon drinking beer in the small Tennessee town where the legal drinking age at that time was 18. It made me wonder if that small hole in the wall was still there.

On the way home, I had to look.

My memory was like this: small downtown, railroad tracks, always raining, bathroom outside the building in the back, a rotisserie that slowly cooked the meat in the window, a old wizened African American shop keeper.

My memories include a simple suggestion, "Let's go to the Keg!"

An hour later, on the champagne flight, we would have arrived. Our presence would fill the bar and I'm certain, annoy the locals. But, we loved it. The pork sandwiches, the white bean soup and corn bread. The mirror behind the bar, the small tv in the top corner, near the ceiling. Frosty beer mugs....?

The the long ride home.

I did find the Keg, but it was not the same. The name and the location remain the same. All else is changed. Not a hole in the wall, but a restaurant with a dining room, the small cramped bar area thrown out of the 19th century into the 21st.

And, I'll be damned, indoor bathrooms.

On the wall are two newspaper articles. The first announcing the retirement of the old Black owner, in 1991 at the ripe old age of 91! And a second one in 1994, when he passed at age 94.

So, I had found a tiny piece of my past, my landscape, my memories. I can close my eyes and see Wild Bill tossing back the beer with all of us cheering him on. That man could down a brew in one gulp. I remember the glazed look in his eye after a couple of demonstrations.

And that silly grin. That silly happy early 70's goofy look.

And that's not a fabrication.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Leaves of three, leave them be.

...or, It use to be a lot easier to score drugs!

For over a week I have been battling a case of poison ivy. At first I thought it was a spider bite. That should have been my first clue. I actually blamed it on the apartment outside Memphis. I just know it has spiders! I should have known.

Two days later in horror I am watching it spread! I am naturally scratching it and complaining. My brother, N., takes one look at it and says those dreaded words, "That's poison ivy."

Oh hell no!! Please, hell no! The last time I had it I had spread it into my ear and had to call in to work because my face was so disfigured!

Immediately I began to be advised on what to do.

"Pour Clorex on it, that works. No, really, it works! I swear."

I can't imagine.

Next was Joe, "Once I had it on my back...." then I hear the whole story about how he and a friend rolled around in it while playing and ....." Baa, (his grandma, really, her name was Baa) told Mama to crush up some aspirin and mix it with alcohol and rub it on my back. It worked. Mama didn't grind up the aspirin very well and I had chunks of white stuck to my back, but it worked pretty well."

This sounded like a much better option. I bought BC powder (less grinding and chunk problems) and mixed it with rubbing alcohol. Oh sweet relief!! Joe took a basting brush and helped me get to those areas on my back.

Guess what? I spread it some more. Oh but that cold alcohol sure felt good on that burning rash.

So, off to the health store where I searched high and low for some Jewel-weed spray or dried herbs. They had not heard of it. Or course by that time I was close to pulling my skin off and was calling it Jewel-root. Finally I located a bar of Bert's Bees Poison Ivy Soap which contained (as the very last listed ingredient) "garden balsam leaf" aka jewelweed. But first I had to endure every horror story they had to tell about poison ivy.

"I had it for three and one half months."

Sweet Lord!!

Yesterday found me in the doctors office showing off my revolting skin. I could wait no longer. At least he did not recoil like the nurse did the last time I had it.

Like I said, it use to be easier to score drugs!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pardon Me Boys, Is That the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?

It's been asked in which industry my Hubs works that entails such drastic transferring. Why it's the dern Rail Road. He worked for a Class I company for over 30 years when they computerized his job and he was forced to go into management! That is how we at first ended up in Cincinnati in a 'hold over" job until he was hired on in FW (the town who's name must be whispered). We were there for approximately two years. He then transferred to Louisville to be closer to family. My father was gravely ill and we were acquiring Grand children.

But, he hated the Louisville job. He worked over 60 hours a week. At times he would cover a job for someone else so that they could have a day off! At one time he worked 14+ hour days for 12 days straight. I have never seen someone so unhappy before in my life.

So, he interviewed with a much smaller Class II carrier and now runs the show in the Memphis area. He works 40 hours and has week ends off! Yea!! And he is the boss!

I love my house in the Louisville area and leaving my family, a third move in three years, is not something I am thinking about at the moment. We have leased an apartment here and will take six months to figure out what we are going to do.

One day at a time.

It looks like I will have to find a job. I certainly have enjoyed this year of not working, though I am tired of the question, "What do you do all day?" I do a lot! I know that I will take to retirement when it comes like a duck to water.

In the meantime, I need to find a job.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Second Test

The Book Store

Thank heavens for MapQuest which got me to a used bookstore in a small part of mid-town known as Cooper-Young area. Nestled among ethnic restaurants, yoga store fronts, palm readers and an Irish Pub was this jewel of a book store.

As I was diving into the book cart of $1.00 bargains a yuppie enters (are they still called yuppies?) and spreads his arms and exclaims, "I've died and gone to book heaven!" That made me smile. "I'll start with photography and then on to philosophy!" he stated to the hippie looking shaggy gray haired book shepherd.

I thought he might be nuts, but I understood the emotion.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Are You Sirius?

I am a terrible blogger. In the beginning I was bubbling over with things to write about every day. I had to hold myself back! My days were spent composing entries about every single thing that happened in my day! It was preposterous! And then it all changed and I was reluctant to share. Possibly because I realized the banality of most of the blogs on the WEB, mine included. It did not feel right any longer.

Surprisingly all week I thought, "that would be good to blog about" and I proceeded to compose once again in my head! It felt good!

A lot has happened recently. The most important is that Joe has taken a job with another company. We were thrilled to move to Louisville, but the job sucked. Big time. So, he found a position with another company and that company wants him in Memphis. As in Tennessee.

Memphis Tennessee.

There are many ways to have first impressions about a new city/town. For me, as you drive into a new foreign land you first encounter their radio stations. It took several days for the "dial" to land on WUMR - Jazz Lovers.

One word, Wow. Who knew?

Now, Lexington (my adopted home town) has terrible radio that forced me to AM talk radio. At one time there was the coolest station out of a small private college in G-town tried to create a new genre called "World Radio". It lasted maybe three years until it was sold off and became a Christian Radio station. I almost cried.

Cinti has the greatest stations and I believe I wrote about them some time ago when we were living in two cities at once. They have one station that is broadcast from some tiny town close to the Sin City that sounds like it is in the basement of some house. Yet, it was wonderful!!

FW (because I learned my lesson about critising FW and dare not whisper the name) was as terrible as Lex and I had to Sirius. And then, I could not figure out how to get it installed in the car....the Company Car. So, we just listened at home. Sometimes. FW must have some sort of block, like a shield that surrounds the area that makes the satellite difficult to receive. No matter where I placed the receiver! I complained a lot, hoping to complain enough to get a refund, or a reduced rate.

Never happened.

But Memphis...that Jazz station is the greatest. And you can listen to it about 100 miles out.

I'm sirius.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I walked five miles to school in the snow!

Somethings just make you realize that you are turning into your parents. I find that I yammer on and on about things that as I hear the words ring in my ears, I know that I sound like an old fogey. For instance, I can not stand that all the trees in my hometown downtown have been chopped down! I realize that they are those Pear trees that have a relatively short life, but still the area looks so exposed and naked. Then, they decided to redo the sidewalks, the roads, tear down the old buildings that lined the once familiar streets to erect a modern style multi-retail building. Yuck and double yuck! I want back the old glass front "Mattress store" that old blind Bess L., who could barely see (and be seen) over the top of her steering wheel drove right into the show room after running the stop sign.

I miss having that memory rekindled every drive by.

I hate the Car dealership that now shines like a beacon on beautiful Lex. Rd. Did I say beautiful, the once beautiful Lex. road. It once boasted beautiful horse farms, gentle rolling hills with the tobacco bases, corn fields and stately mansions (at least they looked like mansions to me when I was a child) sitting behind white washed fences on expansive farms. In a rush to make a buck, the past is quickly being swallowed up as Dairy Queens and sub-divisions chop up the most coveted horse farm land in the world. The absolute worst is the farm that was sold by the heirs and leveled out for a Wal-Mart then went bankrupt. The ugly slash on our beautiful bluegrass sits undeveloped, as the preservationists slug it out with the visionaries, with a large weather beaten sign promising us a new shopping center "soon".

Ver/Lex Rd. will quickly become like the Lex/Nicholasville corridor. Nothing but ugly commercialism as the two towns attempt to merge into one.

I like stuff to stay the same so that I can count on it, look forward to it, and when it finally arrives know that it will be like it was before. Like strawberry season! And Keeneland Race Track being a 21 day event. And when Keeneland closes the spring meet they move to Churchill Downs and its Derby Week!

This year Derby week began yesterday. Let's see, Derby week use to be the lead up tothe Derby beginning with the Balloon Race on the Saturday morning before, the Chow Wagon on Main (which was as many people as possible squashed into a small fenced off area, drinking beer),  $1.00 Derby pins, the parade, the Riverboat race, a couple of local events thrown in and then the Oaks, and suddenly its Derby Day!! One week.

Now, it begins three weeks before Derby,starting with the Thunder Over Louisville firework show. The biggest, baddest spectacle of shooting showering color you will ever see!

That reminds me of another story, the one where I attended the very first Thunder! It will have to wait.

I must go make strawberry pancakes.