Saturday, January 29, 2011

Conquering the Hill

For Jared

Some people

have to climb

the highest heights

to achieve a summit

in their minds.

"You don't conquer the hill; You conquer yourself"

But I can conquer myself

just as well

at the base camp

When I've at last


that the hurdle

is Myself

Every mountain peak

Appears to be,

In contrast,

Far too


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The Real Message

He walked into the chapel

Ebony among so much ivory

He sat alone, and that bothered me

I was getting ready to suggest

that my husband leave our family

to befriend this man sitting alone.

The congregation prayed together.

When I opened my eyes, a tiny towhead

had made his way to our new friend's row

and greeted him

far better than any of us could have.

The little boy reached for his face, wanting to touch

and be touched by this man

Who turned back to the toddler's mother as if to say

"Is this okay?"

Then scooped him up and had a buddy for the rest of the service.

There they sat

Dark and light

Old and young

Unaware of any differences,

One because of his innocence; the other because of his wisdom.

I did not hear one word the pastor said; the real message was

right before my eyes,

impossible to ignore.

Amy Larson

See the other 999 posts at

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Theres is no

such thing

as feeling


Numb is



One Small Day

Who knows

but that

this one tiny


won't change the course

of your



and that of

those who


Panama, I Presume?

I am an official Word Nerd.

This has its roots in my early education, at a very forward-thinking grade school in Pennsylvania. We were not permitted to say 'ain't', or to use poor English at all, for that matter. For this we were severely and publicly reprimanded. The students of Grandview Elementary took pride in their mastering of the Language. So I am picky, when it comes to the written or the spoken word. I like it to be right.

When I hear something pronounced incorrectly, I cringe. When I discovered that I had been saying the word 'commute' with the emphasis on the wrong syllable for YEARS, and no one had bothered to tell me; well, let's just say that I was horrified.

My older sister, Lauren, went to the same school as I; but it appeared that she may have missed a few small items. When she says a word incorrectly, I can't help but call her on it. She, being well aware of our privileged education, and not wanting to appear in error, tries to pull the old, "Well, I only pronounce it that way because that is the CORRECT way. OUR way is different than other people's out's because we're from Pennsylvania...we speak much better English." While this method might ring true for words like 'creek' and 'crick', or 'roof' and 'ruff', or 'syrup' (sirrup) or 'syrup' (seerup'), it just never did jive for whichever word she would be slaughtering at the moment.

I tried not to get after her too often; I'm well aware of my O.C.D. that way, and that it could be obnoxious...but when we got to the late 80's, I was subjected to the worst sort of verbal torture. The band Van Halen came out with a song called 'Panama'....(pronounced 'pan-em-maw'). THEY sang it correctly (Thank you, Van Halen.) Lauren did not.

"Panemuh...." she'd sing. "Panemuh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh, PAN-EM-MUH!"

I thought my head was going to burst. Over the music I would be yelling like a crazed English professor, "PanamAH! It's PanamAH, not PanemUH!"

And she would argue with me that SHE had the correct pronunciation, because SHE was from Pennsylvania. And besides, when we lived there, she'd been in the grade above me, not below me, and she'd always been the straight A student and I wasn't, so that, of course meant that she'd retained more. That also meant that the word, my Dear Younger Sister, was 'PanemUh.'

Every time I heard her sing that song, I was in my own private little pronunciation hell.

Years later I was minding my own business, watching the news, when a newscaster from one of the networks dropped the same bomb on me. 'PanemUH', he'd said, plain as day. Suddenly I was doubting; could I possibly have been wrong all of these years? I ran for a dictionary. Nope. Pan-em-maw....I was still right, phwew.

But it made me feel badly about getting after Lauren for all of those years, and just not letting it slide whenever she made a language faux paux...this word stuff isn't for everyone, after all...So I called her just to tell her that a newscaster had said 'Pan-em-mUH', and that perhaps there might have been differing, yet equally correct ways to say the word. (Hey, I can at least give her that concession). We chatted for a while, it was a pleasant conversation. I was glad that I had called. When it was time to go, she asked me what I'd been doing before I called her. I told her I'd just been watching some tv. She thought that she would try out her newly esteemed vocabulary.

"All right, then," she said airily, " You may return to your former activity.....You may.... 'presume.'

The Bathroom Battle

I came home from my class at the community college, anxious to use the facilities... and attempted to use the kids' bathroom. I could not bring myself to do so. Worse than the public restroom at the park after the Fourth of July; I was apalled. Wastebasket overflowing. Toilet bowl growing algae. Seventeen almost-empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the shower. Also of note was the fact that whoever used the hairspray in there appeared to have been missing their actual head, and for quite some time now. I had to draw the line at the sticky goo buildup reaching a third of an inch in thickness on the floor.

Hey, the Health Department would have shut it down, had it been in a restaurant or hotel. Why not do the same? I locked the door from the inside, closed it from the outside, hid the key in my husband's desk and posted a sign that said, 'THIS BATHROOM IS CLOSED. GO OUT BACK. FACILITY WILL NOT REOPEN FOR USAGE UNTIL CLEAN. - MANAGEMENT.'

One by one they came home from their various locations of employment or education, bladders bulging, and were more than a little disappointed.

We were happy to allow the three teenagers the use of our master bathroom; for a small fee. Our oldest son,the Passive Agressive Rebel, just walked out the door and drove downtown to the library to use the restroom and grab a book. The two younger teens didn't fare so well; they picked the lock and cleaned the offending areas; while they did so I could hear them whispering back and forth to each other, 'what's the deal with Mom, she's never done this before...?' and, 'Don't know. She's crazy.' Nevertheless, crazy Mom or not, I once again have a spotless master bathroom. There is indeed a method to my madness.

My mother used to say, an exhausted tone, 'just wait until you're the mom'....followed by a pitiful sigh. Once again, she was right. Except for the sighing. This is actually turning out to be a lot of fun...

Change Your Plates!

My Mr. and I are avid license plate readers. We are constantly trying to figure out what L84DNR or some such thing might mean. Being the Word Nerd that I am, I usually solve the puzzle first, much to my satisfaction.

Yesterday we had a car driving ahead of us, that was switching back and forth from one lane to the other, thus cutting us off and making my Mr. have to step on the brakes. He exclaimed in an irritated manner that the driver did not know if he was going east or west!

We had to laugh as we passed them; we both saw their license plate at the same time. It read, 'MAPS'.

A Cut Above the Rest

Hope Broomhill needed a lawn boy.

Hope Broomhill needed a lot of things; she was a Church Lady...not quite a widow, but getting there. Her fourth husband, Blade, was in the nursing home these days, suffering from dementia....and she was very lonely.

Hope was an interesting character. She demanded attention, and got a lot of it from my sister-in-law, who lived just down the street. Breck was the type to jump at the chance to give service to others. Her deceased mother was also that way; I'm sure that's where she learned it. She put a lot of time into seeing to Hope's never-ending needs. Inevitably at a family dinner, her phone would ring and she would try not to roll her eyes while saying, "It's Hope, " to the rest of us. She would then try to explain to Hope that it was not a convenient time for her to talk at the moment. Frequently we'd hear Breck saying, "Well, Hope, I've got to family's all here." And then, "Okay, we'll see you later then, Hope," and later, "Listen, it's been nice chatting, could I call you back later?"

Most of these large hints were ignored by Hope, who simply wanted company and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. Eventually Breck took to inviting her to the family parties, also....since she interrupted them so often, she might as well attend.

Husband and I made the wrong move of walking past her house once while she was out in the yard. It cost us a good forty-five minutes. Our fatal mistake was entering her home to 'see something'....what we'd later find was a trap of sorts. Hope stood in the hallway between us and the door and made it very technical for us to try to escape.

I get the impression that Hope was quite the looker in her day. She still stands with the posture of one who had it and knew it. A one-time Joy Bra saleslady, she related stories about fitting the most difficult of shapes...and living to tell. It doesn't ever matter if she's in mixed company; the bra adventures are told far and wide...even when there are youth about. It's comical yet unnerving, all at the same time.

Hope still tries to apply makeup like she did way back when....large amounts of lipstick on lips that are not longer pouty...these have turned rather thin, if not non-existent. But not to worry; they can be drawn in the way they were before. The only 'draw back' is that later on in the day, that orange-red lipcolor bled into the deep cracks of her lips, taking it nearly up to her nose and down to her chin.

"Just try to guess how old I am," Hope would say to anyone niaiive enough to bite, "Go on, just guess."

None of us were brave enough to try. We just waited until she couldn't stand it any longer.

"I'm eighty-six!" she'd announce proudly, "Don't look like it, do I?"

We would all shake our heads no. And she didn't, really. Good for her.

We went through the same thing every time we saw her. Guessing her age. Stories of her father being related to Pancho Villa. Her work as a Rosey the Riveter type. All of the Very Important People that she'd met. Same thing. Every time.

Not long ago she asked us to pass out the 'Neighborhood Newsletter' in her subdivision, which was adjacent to our's. My husband volunteered us. I wouldn't have done it otherwise. Usually, Hope said, she'd do it herself, but she was going to be out of town that day and it HAD to be passed out that weekend....(or something terrible was going to happen, I guess, like in the chain emails?)

So, we passed out the cheerful-looking flyers. Yellow in color; flowers here and there all around the wording. But as we walked along, Sis and I began to read that wording.




---Things like this. I looked at Sis and Sis looked at me, and we realized that we were accomplices of Hope's...she was sending out hate letters. As the President of the Home Owner's Association...she was the equivalent to that show 'Bewitched'....their 'Mrs. Kravitz'...! And now WE were guilty by association! Thanks, Hope!

It became more apparent as we'd see neighbors in the yard and would hand them thier happy little letter.

"Oh, GREAT!" they'd moan, "Another one from the Nazi!"

Sentiments like this were common among the residents. We would openly apologize and say we were just roped into doing a favor for an old lady friend. I don't know that this softened the blow any. No one appreciates the messengers. Who could blame them.

And now Hope had her eye on my son Jordan to mow and care for her lawn.

"Run, Jordan, run!" was my comment to him. I advised him not to take the job. Or, if he did, not to feel obligated in any way, and to quit whenever he'd had enough.

But Jordan grinned with that characteristic slow smile and said he'd be fine. He thought she was a nice old lady. Nevertheless, I was worried about him. Nice old ladies have a way of crushing egos.

He signed on, and did his usual meticulous job. Hope's lawn looked glorious. However, many a time we'd have to rescue him from a four-hour-stint. When Jordan went out the door, I'd glance at my watch and begin to call him from the two-hour mark, on. He would need a rescuing, I'd imagined. Hope could talk a person's ear right off. I didn't want Jordan to be trapped.

"It's okay, Mom," he'd tell me when he finally would get home, "She's all right. I don't mind talking to her."

That put a lump in my throat for my son. He really is a nice kid.

Three or four different times we tried to cut his visits short with Hope, to be helpful. We waited an extra hour for him at one family party at Breck's, just down the street. He wouldn't be rescued, though...he didn't want to be rude to Hope.

The trouble started when he tried to switch days on her. He told her he could show up each Monday evening. But every Saturday around 7:45 a.m. Hope would call Jordan's phone and ask him if he would be 'showing up'. Jordan would then explain that he would be there on Monday, as agreed upon. Then Hope would hang up on him, without saying goodbye.

Monday would come, Jordan would mow Hope's lawn, stay for a multitude of hours, tell her he'd see her next Monday, and all would be well....until Saturday morning, when Hope would call, bright and early, asking Jordan if he still wanted a job or not. He would then tell her he would see her on Monday, as planned. She would again hang up on him.

This happened three weeks in a row. Jordan assumed that she was just getting old and forgetful; that she meant no harm. On the third Saturday she called very early in the morning, and cackled to Jordan, "Do you want to work or don't you?"

He was polite and thought he once again worked it out with her to come and help on Monday. But Sunday rolled around and there sat Hope on her traditional pew at church, wearing her usual little smirk with the orange-red lipstick embedded in it.

"I hired your replacement yesterday," she said to Jordan, while still smirking, "I didn't want to do it, but I had to. Sorry." She said, still wearing that impish little smile.

Jordan came around the pew to where I was sitting and told me that Hope Broomhill had just fired him. He was grinning from ear to ear.

Somehow I don't think he's too 'cut up' about was a very high maintainence job, after all.

I Love A Parade

I love a parade. There is one in our town every year that I don't miss. The American Parade.

We didn't get to town early enough, so we had to drive down Main Street right before they blocked off the road. Crowds were already lining the streets, in their red, white and blue attire and sunglasses. I saw a lot of shorts and white legged folk; it being the first true warm weekend of the season. At last that blasted wind has stopped blowing, the one that had been making everyone crazy for the past several weeks. Today we had calm breezes and blue skies.

I saw Deal's head, towering above the other people. My brother in law is well over six feet tall. Sure enough, there were his two little sons, and my sister in law #4 with the curly red hair. I could spot that hair anywhere. We hung a right and parked on an side road, hauling canvas chairs and a canvas bag full of snacks and cold water. Deal and Sister #4 were happy see us, and introduced us to all of their friends from the new church they were trying out. They seemed like very nice people.

Once seated, we coached the nephews on how to gather candy for us. I'd brought a big bag, too, so I practiced how I would hold it out to the candy throwers passing by. Older Nephew thought this was a great idea. Husband tried not to feel embarassed.

The parade was starting. The colorguard that contained the American flag stopped right in front of us. I felt that it was wrong for us to be seated while our country's flag was right there before us, so I stood. I noticed that the nephews and their little friends were standing, too. One nice little boy put his hand on his heart. I did, too. Other people around us began to stand up, and one by one old and young alike had their hands on their hearts. It was the right thing to do, after all. It put a lump in my throat to think that 'a little child shall lead them'. Indeed this one did. Any shred of decency would suggest that we honor what we have left of our patriotism...and for the noble men and women that have fought and are still fighting for our freedom. In God We Trust.

I looked around and saw a few, very visibly refusing to put their hands on their hearts. That made me sad. They, undoubtedly, were disillusioned with our country and our government.

What I salute is the original ideas. The Constitution. The Founding Fathers. The Promised Land. The sacrifices that went into preserving it for this long. I pray that it might be preserved for years to come, for my children to enjoy.

This was a solemn moment.

When the Veterans car went by, we stood again and applauded. Talk about a lump in the throat.

Then the bands from our three different high schools, followed by the politicians, most of which I've met with recently through the paper's editorial board. I have my own opinions on these candidates, and for the record I think I'm a great judge of character. I have my favorites. But when the gynormous motor home, the one that we've been seeing all over the state for the past couple of the point of pure nauseum--this is including right smack dab in our parking lots at our places of worship (parked by the road, for all to see), the one with HIS face and name plastered all over creation went by....I lost my cool (if there ever was any to begin with).

Surprising even myself, who had never so much as booed at a sports game, I put my thumbs downward as he passed by. Then, not being able to stand the spectacle of it, I stood up, turned around, and put my hands over my eyes. I realized that my heart rate was up, even. Such a strange reaction to one small person.

This guy comes from Big money. Big family name in the small town I grew up in, on the other side of the state. Big heads. Entitlement. Generally rude, the lot of them. And now HE wants to be the governor. I could hardly stand it. So much so that I acted without a shred of manners. Shall we say this struck a.... chord? I hate that it did; and am actually contemplating writing an anonymous letter of apology...just to clear my conscience.

On with the parade. Right after the politicians came the horses...and the manure. Lots and lots of it. I counted the seconds before the nephews took their minds off the candy long enough to notice and to say the inevitable...."EWWWW! LOOK AT THE POOP!" But Sister #4 beat them to it, and loudly pronounced that the manure on the street was DISGUSTING! That amused me so much more than if the kids would've said it. Sister #4 is a that made it even funnier. She was truly uncomfortable, having those mounds front and center, as it were. She no longer knew where to look.

I wondered who planned for the politicians to be followed by the manure....and if the parade committee perhaps had a great sense of humor this year.

Dave and Ann went by in their white 1960's Suburban. Ann is always involved in some community something or other. I yelled hello to her, and she waved back with her pretty, squinty smiling eyes. She's looked that way for years....smiling and happy and full of mischief. She yelled back at me, "WE RAISED EIGHT KIDS IN THIS CAR!" I loudly replied, "Wow, does Health and Welfare know about that?"

She didn't hear me....a shame. Ann would've enjoyed such a joke.

The nephews were doing a great job keeping us in candy. Husband and I discovered that we preferred the Tootsie Rolls over other offerings. The older nephew, a well-trained child, said a sincere 'thank you' to every candy thrower that contributed to his growing stash. That kid makes my heart melt.

Many sunburns and a couple of hours later, thousands of weary parade-goers made their way back to their cars on side roads, and inched their way through stop-and-go traffic to return to whatever it was they were doing that day. Soccer games. Grocery shopping. Yard work.

But for a couple of hours, our community came together to eyeball some creative floats, singing puppets, Elvis impersonators, beauty queens atop borrowed cars, manure-dropping dancing stallions, lying (sorry can't help it) politicians, and one stellar couple within the community that raised eight children in one white Suburban. And the majority of us stood together, with our hands on our hearts....for the flag.

I love a parade.

The Legend of the Last Day of School

The last day of school. The stuff legends are made least, many of our's were.

These Westerners, I thought, really knew how to celebrate such an event; it bordered on barbaric. Once we left the school grounds, we were a walking target for water balloons. As we got older, we made sure to either be driving our own car or to catch a ride with a friend on that day, just to be on the safe side. An attack was inevitable.

No one could have been more surprised than I on that first year after we moved Out Perfectville. I had my little yearbook and my backpack with me while I walked my usual route up the hill to my home. Main street was teeming with pickup trucks, with their beds filled with water to create their own portable swimming pools. The passengers (all in the back) were either dousing each other, or taking aim at unsuspecting pedestrians. Being previously drenched did not spare a person; it was only an invitation for more. If you looked like a drowned sixth-grader it was all the better for the festivities. I, initially, was furious. Did they not see my yearbook? Did they not see my backpack with important papers? Had these people no compassion?

There were, however, no boundaries; for this was a day of freedom in all its various forms. I was rather startled at the apparent loss of mind the natives were displaying. I had never seen such things where I'd come from. We'd been taught proper English, to mind our manners, and not to throw projectiles.

They were serious about their weapons, too. I never knew that a surgical hose could be used as a regular yet portable hose for water. The natives went to the local pharmacy and bought it by the yard, filling them with a special nozzle and then wrapping them around their arms, waist, and necks. That small town pharmacist must have been joyous once this was discovered; he was making a killing on product. I have to admit I bought my share of surgical tube down the line. A word to the wise; the wrapping of a filled surgical hose around your neck is NOT a great idea.

My sister Lauren discovered this on another last day of school. We were once again being cornered by the same neighborhood group of boys that drowned us out every year. Lauren was on the ground in our backyard where Jeff Parker had her trapped. As he sprayed her with water from his surgical tube, which was wrapped several times around his neck, she was choking and screaming for mercy, which was not granted. Until.....she heard a strange gurgling and realized that Jeff had emptied most of his tube, forgetting in the excitement to remove the shrinking surgical tube from around his head as it collapsed. Purple-faced, Jeff staggered off, jerking at the tube as he went, and eventually succeeded in freeing himself from certain strangulation. As I said; bad idea. But Lauren said it was one of the funnier things she'd ever seen, peril or no peril.

What had caused the 'freak out' in Perfectiville that was the last day of school? I think, personally, it was way too much inbreeding among the locals. But that's another story. More than likely, it was the weather.

Weather, you may ask? Yes, the weather. Inbred or not, these were a hearty breed of folk. The first winter we spent in Perfectville, it dropped to minus forty degrees. That's forty below zero. Which is pretty darn cold. Unluckily for us, the only time the school district would cancel school was when it was forty below; at that point, the diesel fuel in the busses froze and the busses would not start up to ship the students to and fro. But in twenty below weather, we still had to attend class.

Many a time as I was walking to school in the morning would my damp hair freeze solid. Many a time I had to peel a top eyelid from a bottom one, because my eyes, in the blinding wind, had teared up and frozen together as if it were crazy glued. Oh; and that's another thing...the wind there is impossible. It never, never, ever lets up. Even in the summertime, there is a gentle breeze. It's always a-moving, though.

I read in Alex Haley's 'Roots' about how the wind had affected the village he wrote of. There was a 'wind season' there in Africa; it lasted for a few months. Suddenly the wind would kick up, and it wouldn't stop. It made people crabby. Husbands and wives were seen moving out of their huts, to go back to their parents' places. Siblings fought. All of the village inhabitants were downright irritable. Then, months later, when the wind ceased just as suddenly as it had begun, husbands moved back in with their wives, siblings began to play together, and everyone once again got along.

The wind never went away in Perfectville. It never stopped, it never died down, and it never took a holiday. It was always there; as much a part of our everyday lives as breathing. When I was much older and moved to another town in an area with a milder climate, I was stunned my first winter to see snow falling vertically. I could not remember seeing it fall that way before. It had been horizontal or, on a particularly vicious day, horizontal.

I'm willing to give the natives the benefit of the doubt; if it wasn't the fact that cousins had married cousins, it was undoubtedly the wind that made them a little......nuts...from time to time.

If anyone deserved a rowdy party at the end of the school year, they did. In time, I joined in and became a vicious thrower of water bombs myself. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


The Green House

Our worship congregation was changing.

What used to be country and farm houses with several acres was fast becoming suburbia; farmers were selling their fields in exchange for big money from real estate developers. It was either struggle for the rest of their days to make ends meet, or take frequent vacations and live in a big house. The latter often won out.

Such was the case with Appleside Park. I watched the plowed fields go to weeds, then get re-worked into smaller sections, then become distinct lots.

Right in the middle of the real estate party, it seemed everyone with money wanted in on the well-marketed, prestigious subdivision.

I walked by each day, starting from my country cottage a mile down the road, pushing a double stroller containing my two sons. I observed every phase of the new neighborhood's process.

Homes emerged one by one, each one more upscale and intricate than the next. Eaves, gables, false windows, bric-a-brac and ornate stonework were abundant. The only thing I thought was lacking, being an artist-type, was color. They'd certainly missed it on the color.

Here were over a hundred homes, each built for a specific buyer. Yet when they had a golden chance to give it the crowning touch of tasteful hue, each had defaulted to beige or gray. It left something to be desired. The intricate landscaping helped, but in my mind wasn't any real substitute for what might have been.

People moved in. Our nearby church was soon bulging with folks from the new neighborhood. They all seemed like very nice people. I went to dinner with some, attended cultural events, made friends. Our children played together. I'd been a little concerned that they would be a problem blending country and city cultures, but for the most part, those fears were unfounded.

Until the paint episode.

We didn't have Home Owner's Associations out in the country. If you wanted to park your ancient Chevy out back, go right ahead, it's your land. Your nearest neighbor is acres away, and from that distance can hardly see it. If you have a few weeds here and there, join the club. So what.

But life's different in a posh, new subdivision. There are rules. Rules that must be followed to the strictest degree. The homeowners are paying hefty dues each year to make sure everyone gets kept within the ordered bounds.

The President of the Association is around to enforce these rules. I'd heard of extreme cases where some will actually measure the length of the residents' grass, checking to see if it's within regulation guidelines. If not, there could be a citation. Rules were rules, after all.

Appleside Park had a little problem.

It seemed that one of the residents had chosen an 'unauthorized' color for the trim of their home. Who knows, something might had gone awry at the paint store and gotten mixed incorrectly. Not knowing anything was amiss, the painters did what they were hired to do and applied the paint.

It was a much brighter green than was planned. Think leprechauns and St. Patty's Day plastic hats.

The owner loved it.

Perhaps there was a bit of a rebel in her. Perhaps she was tired of being told by others what she could and could not do with her trim, or her house, or her life. One might never know. At any rate, she decided the green would stay.

That got the neighbors talking. It wasn't like they didn't talk before, but now they were all talking about that hideously-colored trim on the lot in their midst.

Some of these were the professed Christians that had begun to attend our church.

In the months to come, sometimes when I went for a walk with some of them, we'd round the bend and see the green house. There were frequently comments on how the color either gave them a headache or made them slightly nauseous.

"What is her problem?" They'd say, "Why can't she just paint her trim and get it over with?"

I secretly admired the woman's spunk, whoever she was. That the trim color and all it represented was growing on me more each day.

The unhappy neighbors' outcry grew to ridiculous proportions. They had the HOA President send a notice of non-compliance to the 'green' trim lady. When a few weeks later there were no visible changes, they sent a warning. Still nothing. Weeks later they sent an even more stern warning.

No response.

Residents gathered to discuss this very serious problem of 'non-compliance'. The 'green' house lady was not invited to the meeting. Hours were spent trying to determine their next method of attack, discussing how they could get this rebel woman to conform to their beige and gray world. It was making the HOA Committee crazy.

All the while, the church-going HOA members continued to say hello to her, brought her cookies, and behaved in a cordial manner. I'm sure neither party was naive.

The episode escalated to the point of a petition, which the cordial, cookie-bearing neighbors signed, demanding that the woman change her trim, once and for all. The message was fairly clear: We, your neighbors, are bugged by you, your trim, and your outward rebellion.

One woman in that subdivision spoke out. Refusing to sign what she called the 'silly petition', she knew only a little of the green house lady's history. She said the woman had saved to build what had been her dream house, and that the woman had worked hard all her life, and deserved every square foot of it, green or not.

"If she likes her trim color," said the dissenter, "Then I say more power to her!"

This didn't sit well with the rest of the group, when shared. There was a momentary pause in the gossip, then the griping continued.

Months later, the HOA filed an actual lawsuit against this woman.  After what must have been an exhausting ordeal, she very simply sold her dream home and moved to another location. Probably one that allowed for some creativity when it came to the selection of her trim. Who could blame her?

The infamous Appleside Park HOA had succeeded in driving another human being out of their midst. Now, that's worth the dues they paid, isn't it.

The Green House Lady story taught me more than just how to choose my trim color. It taught me how to choose my battles.

*For ideas on how to be a great neighbor, click here. 

Just Say No

My mother would never approve of this one. Which is exactly why I'm writing it.

I have a one-hour bladder.

Try having numerous kids, being only 5' plus a couple of inches, and bearing entire human beings out of a tiny frame...and just see what happens to your innards, why dontcha. They get mooshed, that's what. Mooshed.

Once you're mooshed, you're pretty much toast for good. Oh, sure, surgeries and things can remedy the situation for a while...but after a couple of years gravity takes its toll, and you're right back to square one, minus a few grand for the procedures.

So, you make friends with the Ladies' Room. When you enter a place, you are scoping out the lay of the search of that little door with the bald lady in the skirt in silhouette on it....Your salvation.

This is exactly what I did when I was meeting Lillian and John for dinner one lovely evening. Husband and I exchanged greetings, Husband got himself seated at our table, and I excused myself to go to the 'Jane'.

Now it needs to be said that I was heavily medicated that night. Not because I am typically medicated, but because I'd just had surgery a few days before and was taking some pain pills....the good kind.

I dizzily made my way to the louvre and quickly did what people do there. Then I found my way back to our table. I'm sure that I would not have passed a sobriety walking test.

We had an eventful meal; it always is with Lillian and John and the Husband. They are each colorful people and can tell a story like nobody's business. We laughed a lot and gossiped a lot and ate a lot, too. About a third of the way through the meal (sixty minutes into it on the dot, I'm sure), I felt the urge to visit my favorite room again, and excused myself once more.

Once in the ladies' room, however, I began to realize how incapacitated I truly was. I could've sworn that room had stalls on the other side....not where I was located at present. I had no recollection of having ever been in that particular restroom before....creepy.

I noticed that I was not alone when I saw a pair of rather large, sporty-looking tennis shoes in the stall next to me. Just an awareness, nothing that really registered.

When I emerged from the stall, I was surprised to witness a poor older fellow coming into the Ladies' Room. I smiled kindly and explained to him that he was, in fact, in the wrong bathroom. He smiled kindly back and pointed to the urinals on the wall next to where I was standing.

I fled.

Frazzled, I hurriedly weaved my way back to our table and noticed one horrifying thing right away; John was gone. I guessed that shortly after I'd left to use the restroom, he had decided that was a good idea for himself, as well. I shrunk to think that I was going to have to face him in mere moments. No sooner did I have that thought, than John came around the corner, shaking his head in disbelief and grinning.

"Where you the MEN'S ROOM???" He asked, unsure,"...I thought I heard your voice in there!"

He had....he'd heard me telling some poor man that he was in the Ladies room...where I should have been.

I started to confirm that yes, it had indeed been me, when he threw his head back in uproarious laughter.

"I was in the stall next to you!"

(I somehow thought those tennis shoes had looked familiar!!!)

One more reason to 'Just Say No' to drugs.

Waste Not, Want Not

I've always been intrigued with the concept of picky eaters.

I was thinking about picky eaters yesterday as I was dining solo at one of my favorites, the Bamboo Garden Buffet. Tons of protein; hardly any carbs. That's my kind of food, being beef-deprived at home as we are (my husband could eat nothing but chicken every night for the rest of his life). Sometimes I just need some shrimp, pork, and most of all, beef. Mmmmm. Makes me want to revisit the place again today.

While I was dining, I was reading a little book I'd picked up from the Library entitled 'The Ultimate Personality Guide' by Jennifer Freed and Debra Birnbaum. The cover says, "Forget the shrinks. Forget the psychics. ANALYZE YOURSELF!" So....I did. Or I was, right there in that corner booth.

My particular profile declared that I was a picky eater. I laughed as I glanced at my plate....which would have been the ExMan's nightmare. Since I don't like to have to make two trips, I wedge everything onto the plate all together like one big happy family. The tastes blend pretty well, for the most part, and I don't mind. Some of you may be cringing right now, but may I remind you that this was MY lunch; not yours. So I guess the book was wrong. I'm not very picky at all.

I've always been fascinated, as I've said, at those of us that are very nit-picky about our food. When I was first married (the first time), I went to make ExMan a sandwich. I was generous with the mayo, as my mother had always been with our sandwiches. He, who unbeknownst to me was closely supervising the 'help', grabbed the spreading knife out of my hand and proceeded to re-do the masterpiece, sighing and shaking his head the for the duration.

"Like THIS," he said, lovingly yet sparingly spreading the mayonnaise. With wrinkled nose he removed the spread that had...well, spread...over the sides of the bread and made, I kid you not, the perfect square-like shape of mayo on the slice. I marvelled at such precision.

"THIS is how you spread it onto a sandwich," he declared. He let me know that he expected all of his sandwiches to be done in the same manner, from that moment on. And from that moment on, I made the sides look neat, and put a big blob of goo right smack in the middle for good measure, and he never knew the difference; he being such a fast eater, and all.

His sisters used to ask me with a giggle if I had to 'seperate' his food. The word was that when he was a child, up until about age thirteen (possibly older but they weren't going to tell me that), he had to have a special plate at all meals, to keep his food apart. He didn't like his food 'touching' each other. He understood the science of where it all went, but it was the presentation that he couldn't get past.

I found this to be rather curious. Funnier, still, that he married the girl that always mixed her peas with her mashed potatoes, poured gravy over the whole thing, stirred it up and ate it. The same girl that loved to stir up her ice cream, so that whatever was mixed in with it was even more mixed in, and it was more of a smoothie. Must be that 'Opposites Attract' deal. And how....!

Once when I was pregnant, I ordered a shrimp and pineapple pizza. The girl taking my order wrinkled her nose, and actually said the word, "Ewwww!" to me. I reminded her, as I did in a previous paragraph, that this was not, in fact, her meal. The combination sounded just right to me at the time....and as I recall, it was delicious.

My lovely Ex-Mom-In-Law was blessed in her lifetime with not one, but two picky eaters. She came by the second one in the form of a step-grandson, Junior. Junior, who was seven, had Papa John wrapped around his little finger. Whenever they had Junior on a Saturday, they had to make a stop at Dairy Queen to feed him. Why, you may ask? Because little Junior would only eat chicken strips from Dairy Queen, and nothing else would do. Even when he got said strips, he went through a ritual of touching it, poking with his finger to see if the tenderness level was acceptable. Then he picked it up, turning it over to make certain that the color was consistent. If not, that piece would get set aside. Then he smelled it, putting it up to his delicate nostrils to make sure it would suffice. If the texture, color, and aroma met with his approval, only then would it be considered for consumption. Items that actually made it to the stomach had to pass the taste test, as well. Chicken strips that were made an hour ago and kept under the heat lamps did not pass the test. Junior could TELL. Many a Saturday found ExMomInLaw and PapaJohn cruising to Dairy Queen, in an effort to feed Junior. Sometimes the venture was successful; sometimes not.

The argument still holds that no matter how the texture, color, or if one food item is touching any other food all ends up the same place, to turn into the same thing.

In my world, it was eat or starve. Those were the only two options my parents ever offered. I was not offered Dairy Queen. I would have fallen over if they'd offered me Dairy Queen. If I committed to eating whatever the Meal du Jour was, however, I was darn well going to eat the whole thing. They weren't into waste.

Speaking of waste...I am reminded of the bleary-eyed bakers that I used to work with in the local grocery store's bakery. Five a.m. found them slinging dough onto the baker's bench, sneezing and coughing from the flour dust. (My friend's son, who was a baker, had a dough ball removed once from within his sinuses that was said to have been as big as his thumb....but that's another story). At any rate, the guys weren't happy to be there. And it was inevitable that somewhere along the line this conversation had to happen. We were all thinking it, anyway. Someone just got the nerve to finally say it.

"Why are we doing this?" asked one of the bakers, "What is it all for?"

The others just nodded, still a bit numb from having to get up way too early, five or six days out of the week.

"I mean....think about it. We make these donuts, or cakes, or muffins....what happens to them? They get eaten, that's what..."

The rest of us nodded again, certain of what was coming next.

"....And THEN what happens? Where does it go? It turns into (waste), that's what. People eat it, it turns into (waste), and then they (waste) it right out."

More nodding, and a long, thoughtful pause.

"We are literally making (waste) right now. For people to (waste) right back out... And we're not paid (waste) to do it.....what is it all for, anyway?"

Smiles around the baker's bench, and more nodding. The theme was catching on.

"Hey, Hal...hand me that can of (waste), so that I can make this (waste)..."

"....So that someone can eat the (waste) and (waste) it out..."

A few got carried away and started calling each other (waste)-for-brains, etc. They were really getting creative.

All day long I could hear them saying, "Hey Bud, we need five dozen more loaves of that french bread, there..." and Bud, of course, would reply cheerfully, "What for? It's just going to turn right into (waste)!"

Later in the day, I was constructing a multi-tiered wedding cake for a customer. My manager, Terry, stopped to observe. With a little grin, he began, "Why are you spending so much time on that cake, anyway? It's just going to get eaten, you know. And do you know what's going to happen to it after that? You do, don't you....!" I already started shaking my head in an effort to ignore him...but he continued on..

"That fancy cake is going right down the toilet, that's what. Right down the old crapper, the sewer system, the...."

"...I see your point! All right, already! Go play elsewhere...Sheesh!"

"....Nice cake!" he said, in parting, "Too bad it's just going to be (waste) here in about the next twelve-to-twenty-four hours!"

You can see that this day had a very definite theme.

Strangely enough, there is a lesson to be learned here. Sometimes, no matter what we put in, or how carefully we prepare it, present it or display all winds up the same. We have the choice to be picky about it, or not. In the end (no pun intended), it makes no real difference. We are sure funny how we spend so much time on things that make no real the end, that is.

It's all the same (waste), after all.

I Used to Be!

Do you ever just.....struggle?

Is it just me?

I will never forget one of my youth that I led a group for looking over at me once and saying, "You need help." It was both an observation and a statement. Years before, while stumbling around at a fast food restaurant, trying to put an order together (my high school part time job), a manager, while leaning against a counter doing what he called 'supervising', made the comment that hiring people of my 'intellect' was very entertaining....they were fun to watch. He didnt' say it in precisely that way, but you get the idea. This, too, was not a compliment.

A few years ago, I was worried that this might be genetic. We had a set of four stairs in our former home, which was a multi-level establishment, that my children could not descend without tripping up them. That's right...UP them. They weren't falling down, they were falling up...and physically I'm not even sure that's posible, but they did it....almost daily. I would hear them running all the way up fourteen stairs from the basement perfectly, turn the corner and fall up the other four. Boom, boom, boom.....each time followed with either an, "OWW!" or a, "DANG IT!"

But it caused me to question...did they get this....from....ME?

I hoped not. But there is underlying evidence that they did. Take my wedding for example, the first one. Picture yours truly, dressed in white and looking for all the world like the perfect bride (even though my sleeves were way too puffy). The lovely room we were to be married in was packed with friends and family. I had but one small staircase to climb, and I entered the room. I could see faces of my future in-laws that I'd only seen in pictures, as they smiled encouragingly at me...."Here Comes the Bride", and what not. The last thing I remembered was thinking to myself, "Oh...that must be Cousin Rick and his wife, Lisa...." and then....Splatsville. I tripped UP the stairs. Oh, yes I did.

Moving out of that house seemed to solve that particular problem. Although we have other issues. Unexplained ketchup stains on the ceiling of the kitchen from, the kids say, when the ketchup bottle 'went flying out of someone's hands for no reason' as they were trying to pass the condiment during dinner to the person sitting right next to them....

We are so used to the sound of dishes breaking that we're not even worried if someone's mad anymore...and we're tired of clapping, like they do at all the fun Italian restaurants when someone drops a's old news. Tile floors were not a great choice for us in our eating area, either. Although I detest carpeting in either a kitchen or beneath a dining room table....we need it. The buffer would save a lot of glassware. Last Christmas my thoughtful son TJ bought me a set of twelve plexiglass tumblers...they can hit the floor at top speeds, and we won't have to sweep anything up afterwards. Great idea.

When I told a friend of mine that is somewhat of a mystic and a spiritualist my 'sign', she immediately asked if I was a 'klutz'. Seriously....? Even the alignment of the stars is against me, here? You've just gotta be kidding. Even my 'sign' won't give me a break.

I take comfort in the fact that not just limited to the human race. I would have never thought such a thing, had I not been treated to one of the funniest of observations. While recently taking a walk, a cat that ran across my path got spooked, reversed directions, and ran back.... right smack into a wooden fence. It acted a bit dazed for a second or two, then shook itself off and ran away. And I suddenly realized-- between fits of laughter-- that the animal kingdom had klutzes, too. It wasn't just us. How did they do, survival-wise? I had no way to tell right then, but that would be a rather interesting study. Although how to conduct it would be uncertain. Dead animals tell no tales. Flat squirrels on the roadways can't disclose to you if they were a klutz in their former life. I guess if you asked them, and it were true, (and if they could talk to you from the Great Beyond...or, I'm forgetting, if they could talk at all...) their answer would go like this: "I used to be....!"

I wish I could say that this phenomenon was limited to tripping and bumping into things, with the occasional dropping of good china on occasion....Alas, it is not. At least three times that I know of, I've gone out in public with something on inside-out. One of the worst instances was to discover that I'd done this with the pants I was wearing....during a formal concert.

I was thinking those inside-out years were all behind me the other day, laughing to myself about those 'good old times', as I strolled into the grocery store in my cute little white down vest. Something must have made me think of this, by way of a subconscious clue, because I looked down and guessed it.....Inside-Outsville. Meaning, I haven't outgrown it yet. And since I'm pretty much's not looking too good.

Although I can take heart in knowing that when I join my friend the squirrel in the Great Beyond, when someone asks me if I'm a 'klutz', I can say with a smile, "No....but I used to be.....!"

Think Harder

I worked for about ten years, off and on, at a grocery store chain, as a professional cake decorator.

For the most part, I liked it. I got to use my creativity, and I was usually stationed back in my own little corner, avoiding the hustle, bustle, and politics of the bakery folk. Every now and then I'd help them out when they were short-handed, but for the majority of the time, I could keep to myself and create works of art back in my own little part of the bakery.

But some of the ooze of bureaucracy still seeped over at times. They (who we all called the Big Wigs...or, the Big Bosses) were freaks about name tags. You had to have one on at all times. If not, there was some sort of punishment. They wanted to know what employee did this or that evil deed. Or, if you were rude to a customer,(even if they just THOUGHT you were rude, regardless if you actually were or not) they needed to make sure to have your name larger than life on your lapel, so they could give it to the manager.

Some days I forgot my tag; just plain left it at home. No excuse. Not to worry, Glenda, the other decorator, always left hers at the decorator's table on her days off. Some days I was me, some days I was 'Glenda'. A few times I've even been 'Robert', when he left his tag lying around. If they asked, I'd tell them the 'a' at the end dropped off. Or, I could say I was going through a 'change'...

I felt somewhat of an immunity in that job; I did not really need the money at that time. It was just play money that I was earning. So my attitude was different than that of my fellow employees. It made all the difference on whether or not I feared the 'bosses'....I didn't. One time the Big Wigs came in and one of them dared to ask me where my name tag was. (I'd forgotten to put one on that day, either mine or anyone else's). I just stopped and stared for a couple of uncomfortable seconds, and asked him where HIS was. He said nothing further. Not long after that, the bosses all began wearing these fancy golden name tags, wit their names and titles engraved on them. Clever.

I have to say, some of the dumbest ideas anyone ever came up with must have happened at their meeting tables. I could just picture them, the Big Wigs, sitting around in their fancy suits, drinking coffee and saying, "Hey! I KNOW! Let's make a rule that they have to have French Bread out every day by four p.m. at the stores, or they'll be in big trouble!" or, "Lets make them dress up like the Easter Bunny for Easter and sell personalized easter cakes out in the lobby!" or, "Lets pit them against each other and have a donut selling contest! On a Monday evening! Yeah!" see what I mean.

But the one that 'takes the cake' was the brilliant executive who came up with the bright idea for all of us to wear the tall, paper chef's hats. That's right. Now, just how dignified would you feel (granted that you're not a real chef) to A) have to wear a polyester uniform with the logo of the store emblazoned all over your chest, paired with polyester pants that are flaired to oblivion, and B) having to don an apron that has bakery goo all over it, because when you work with chocolate icing, that's unavoidable, and C) to be eight months pregnant, and D) to be wearing a 50 cent, paper chef's hat that was two feet tall?

Well, you wouldn't have a shred of dignity left, that's how you'd feel. All of us rebelled, begging the manager not to make us do it. But rules were rules, and he'd been threatened to comply...or 'else'.

Every time I went around the corner, off came the hat. When I decorated, I had to look DOWN at the cakes, and it went against the laws of gravity for that hat to stay put. It fell onto my smoothly iced surfaces. It fell onto my "Happy Birthday Bertha". It fell. All the time. So, every chance I got, I yanked it off. And every time the manager caught me, he made me put it back on. He was a really good boss, he left me to myself most of the time, and I liked him....and this was the only thing we ever butted heads on. Because it was stupid. I knew it and he knew it.

When the boss went home for the day, I still had a couple of hours left. It was just me in the back, and the bakery clerk out front. Who knew that the Big Wigs would make their appearance that day? When they did, my hat was off.

Two of them stood in their pretty suits, staring at me in disapproval. My hat was OFF, after all....and they'd commanded for all hats to be ON.

"Where is your hat?" one of them said, in a controlled voice. Ah, I got it...they were both showing off their 'power' each other.

"Oh, it's right over there," I said lightly, pointing my icing-laden spatula in that direction.

Long silence. Then they dove back in.

"....and why aren't you wearing it?"

I put my spatula down, and put my hands on my widening hips, displaying my eight-month pregnant belly.

"Because I am thirty years old. Because I am eight months pregnant. Because wearing a hat gives me a headache. Because when I tip my head downward, it falls off, and I've picked that thing out of the icing more than once today. And because whoever thought up this brilliant idea of these paper hats needed to think a little harder."

I expected another long silence. But what happened was even better than that. Acting like he'd seen something repugnant, the man's head quickly turned away, as if he were suddenly deciding to ignore me. He walked away, and the other man followed! Like it never happened!

I never had any fallout from that run-in with the infamous Big Wigs. But I hoped they'd remember my one little moment of input. I hoped the next time they thought it would be cute to dress their employees up as elves and approach people in the parking lot about buying our 'Christmas Donuts', or thinking it might be fun to attach bells to our hands or some such thing, that they would think again. Perhaps they would even think of the short, red-faced, hormonal pregnant woman telling them off in that dark corner of that one bakery they'd visited.....and then maybe they'd think again.'s almost four o'clock....could I interest you in some 'freshly baked' French Bread?

Welcome, Ski Season!

I woke up slowly, day! Son Two, who was to be my ski buddy for the day, awoke even more slowly. Seems like a growing body paired with exhaustion from staying out too late the night before with his brother overruled even skiing up at his favorite resort.

Seemed like it took forever to pack everything up, and make our way up there. I attempted to purchase some new tires for my 4x4, but couldn't find a price that made me happy and didn't want to go into debt, so I took my chances with the old tires, even though the worrier in me was having thoughts of sliding right off the mountainside...not pleasant.

By the time we were loaded up, the sun was out, and it was a cold 23 degrees. It was going to be a gorgeous day.

So nice to be able to talk with Jordan on the way up...he's a captive audience for an hour and a half up there, and then an hour and a half back down. Who gets three hours of one-on-one with a sixteen year old, these days? That makes the cost of the ski pass for us this year one of the best investments, relationship-wise. You can't put a price tag on that; it's invaluable.

When we arrived, there was NO WHERE to park. Every parking space within shuffling distance (because that's what you do in ski boots, after all) was filled. We settled on a lot high above our normal parking area. While Jordan skiied off, I was dubious. You had to ski down a steep slope to get to the lodge below; there was no other way from this spot. That would mean that to get back to it, I would have to go on a more advanced hill, just to ski back down to it, and have access to my car. So, I started up the car and went back down t the main parking area, where I'm used to. I don't take risks anymore...I'm beyond that. Hey, things break!

In the main parking area, there were several possible spaces that I wouldn't call....'official'...spaces. Just inadvertant, accidental spaces just BARELY large enough for a vehicle...if no one wants to open any doors, that is. I eyed several of them while the incoming cars in the line behind me waited patiently, or not so patiently...I finally found one that just might work...although everyone else was passing it by in their SUV's, not daring to risk door-ding damage. My rig is older, so maybe I wasn't so picky nowadays.

I wedged my way in, while other would-be parkers watched, a bit admiringly, I thought, but I could have been just imagining that. I am proud of my parking skills, it has to be said. I scare the kids all the time, who just know I am going to bump into the car next to me, but then never do. "How do you DO that?" they ask. The truth is that I've been driving this vehicle for several years, and I guess I'm just familiar with its boundaries and size. That's all. No magic.

Jordan called on the cell and wanted his face mask, so he found me in the new location. When he shuffled up to me, he was grinning and shaking his head, surveying my parking job. "There is NO WHERE to park!" I said, trying to defend myself. I set to the task of writing on a sticky note, "So Sorry! Parking is crazy! If you need me to move my car so that you can access your vehicle a bit better, please call........" and I left them my cell number. Jordan thought that was funny, too.

"I just can't stand parking like such a JERK," I said, as we shuffled away.

While Jordan disappeared off the backside of the mountain, headed for the double-black-diamond runs, no doubt, I made my way to the more intermediate runs. The resort was packed, festive Christmas Vacation types everywhere. It gave me a warm, happy feeling. I also recalled that part of the sport for me was the people was a feast for the eyes...and people are so very, very funny. Everyone was having a great time...not a grouchy person in sight. The folks I had to share a ski lift with were ultimately entertaining. First there was the man that had the coolest Tennessee drawl. He was visiting a 'friend' that he pointed to in the chairlift ahead of attractive blonde. I felt sorry for him that he couldn't ride with her, but she was with a couple of children and the seating just hadn't worked out. That happens a lot at a crowded ski have strange seat-mates. After that I switched runs and rode on another lift, winding up with a strawberry blonde-haired, really... (with matching eyebrows) and his ten year old daughter who did not have orange hair. It was brown.

It was a rather long ride, lots of starts and stops. (Every time we got stopped, you could hear an audible sigh from the riders). The man told me that he used to come up to this resort while he was in high school, almost daily during the season. He talked about how good skiing had been for family relations, while growing up. Originally, his parents had taken them up, so that they could learn how to ski. They bought the kids passes, and said, "Good luck! You can figure this out!"...and, the kids did. He mused that it was really interesting that the parents themselves did not ski at all, but were determined to have that for their kids. But then, lo! In their fourties, they got the itching to learn for themselves, took lessons, and began to enjoy it with their children. He said they always stuck to the trails and never did anything extreme, but they were doing it, and that was wonderful for the kids to be able to share that with them. He shook his head in wonderment, telling me all about it, even this many years later. He was laughing to himself when he said, " I don't know what came over them; all of a sudden they wanted to ski."

What a memory for that man. And now his daughter was skiing. I asked her who beats who, going down the hill, and she just smiled.... so I had my answer. Of course she makes it to the bottom before her dad does; just like my kids plaster me in a race, each and every time. I don't even compete with them, anymore. What's the point?

On another run, where I had the lift to myself, I was contemplating the forest of pine trees we were in, surrounded by white snow. By chance, right about that time, the lift stopped; delayed again. The air was still and I could hear the people behind me talking. I heard a child's voice say, "I spy something.....GREEN!" I had to laugh, being in the woods as we were. 'Yeah, good luck with THAT one, Dad!' I thought. If he were smart, when it was his turn, he'd say, "I spy something ....WHITE!"

But the funniest part of the day, by far, were the French Fry kids. A little pack of skiiers, probably around three years old, on the average, being instructed by a ski coach. There were about a dozen of them. They zoomed past me like I was walking (always a humbling experience), that is, until the one bringing up the rear totally wiped out.

"STOP! STOP! STOP!" He yelled, fully expecting everyone in the group to halt for him. They didn't. And the other little boy that he'd been skiing with, actually turned around and smiled a great big smile right back at him. The more the kid yelled 'STOP', the more his friend skiied faster, away from the struggling student. His was not a mean was more....gleeful. He was gleefully skiing away.

On the next run, I caught up with our little class. The two boys were now both upright and continued to hang at the back of the line. The boy who had crashed was griping.

"You were supposed to WAIT for me, you... French Fry!" he yelled.

"YOU'RE a French Fry!" said the still-smiling other kid.

"Oh YEAH?" said the Falling Boy, "Well you're're a French Fry BUTTON HEAD!"

For a moment I wondered if I'd heard something much more crude, but he'd said 'button-head', all right, because he repeated it several more times. Possibly 'button-head' was as much as he dared say...for all I knew, that other kid could've been his brother...and brothers 'tell'. If so, I couldn't help but admire the clever twist by simply adding an 'on' to the intended word. Very clever, indeed.....

His friend had had enough and called him a 'French- Fry- Button- Head', right back. Then he began to sing about it, quite unexpectedly. I have to admit that I slowed down, just to listen to the exchange...

"French fry, french fry, french fry.....La la la.....French fries are good to eat....La la la....Keep your french fries UP!"

---I had no idea what this meant. Maybe the ski instructor had been calling their skis 'french fries'. Maybe the kid was hungry. Maybe he preferred french fries that were standing upright in the container they came in, as opposed to those mooshie ones that you find at the bottom.... Maybe their parents were biased against the French...who knows! But it was really, really funny.

I skiied the slope where Sis and I would always stop at sunset, overlooking the valley and would make a wish. I skiied down a trail that made me feel deliriously happy...I must've been thinking about very positive things in years past, while going around that particular hill. Funny how it all came back to me, that contented feeling, again and again yesterday, whenever I went on that trail. At one strange point, I could've sworn I smelled cleaning solution; the kind I had used last year for my cleaning business. Now THAT was a weird thing. I hadn't used that stuff for months, and I could smell it in my nostrils, just as plainly as if I had been wearing it on my person. Whoever says that sights and sounds can't take you back are just plain wrong. They can.

But I was back on My Mountain, and....gleeful. Yes, gleeful. I could've smiled (and probably did) just as brightly as that pesky little boy that left his friend lying flat on that trail.

Welcome, ski season!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life Lessons

So I'm sitting here, staring at the computer screen, thinking that for sure I have something profound to express. But to tell you the truth, I've got nothin', here. Not feeling the vibes.

I've wondered lately, in my somewhat overly-dramatic mind, if this rash of writing frenzy is going to be for a vast purpose. Such as, I might get hit by a van hauling thousands of pounds of chocolate this year, and kick the bucket. One never knows. And honestly, I can't think of a better way to go. Death by Chocolate has always sounded 'right' to me. But if that happened, would my children, desperate for anything that was Mom, (Or Mommie Dearest, as they affectionately refer to me), search for and unearth my writings, and absorb every last word? If so, my time will not have been spent in vain.

I'm making light of it, of course, but I've been compelled to write more lately than I have ever been at any other time in my life...even those crazy teen-aged, journalling years ("I think he likes me, Dear Diary, do YOU think he likes me?" ....Oh, brother!) No matter the reason, it's been a curious happenstance for me. This Write-A-Thon, of sorts.

If I did Kick the Bucket, Buy the Farm, Check In....sometime in the near future....what would I want my two sons and a daughter to know? What would I want to pass on to them? Those little tidbits that I love to call Life Lessons, that's what. I'll have to ponder for a moment to think of some....

The Best Cleaning Advice Ever: Hire a MAID.

Chocolate can cure anything: Cramps. Headache. Heartache. Annoyances. Loneliness. Math problems (or at least make you temporarily forget about them). Boredome. An inferiority complex(You'll suddenly feel you're able to do anything!) A superiority complex (makes you realize you're nothing in comparison). Multiple Personality Disorder (you both realized you love chocolate, you find that one thing in common and build on that until you've melded personalities. See?....cured!) Marital problems. (Shut up and eat this chocolate off my bottom lip, Harold!) Financial problems (start selling it and it will make you rich....who doesn't like chocolate, for crying out loud?) The quest for religion. (I BELIEVE!) Medical ailments. (Pain? WHAT pain? All I know is the heaven this is resting on my taste buds...) See?....the cure-all.... Amen!

Always Wear Your Eyebrows. If you don't, no one will ever take you seriously. That, and your expressions will be impossible to read with those invisible things that Nature gave you. Or should I say, forgot to give you...

Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street: Or, the freeway, as the case may be. If you don't, you could get run over by an eighteen-wheeler, flatten your first car, and have to ride a Huffy for a few months afterwards. And that hurts. Physically and financially... as well as socially.

Never Step Foot Out of Doors Without A Little Color: Even an old barn needs a bit of paint, from time to time. There are a seldom few that don't. Most of us aren't one of them.

Avoid People That Are Prone To Calling You 'Hon': Salesmen, Pastors, women your own age or younger, people that are taller than you. This is an act of aggression, meant to keep you as a subordinate. Do NOT, under any circumstances, publicly allow anyone to call you 'Hon'. This is different with friends and loved ones, of course, but those not within that privileged circle who dare utter the words should be immediately cast out. They probably think very little of you.

Run From Relationships that are Poison: Just like you know if you like a food, pretty much from the first bite....similarly, you know if it's going to be good or bad fairly early. If it's bad, for goodness sakes, don't keep breathing life into it! Be smarter than I was and don't stay in relationships for most of your golden youth that are not good for you. If they're mean, they're going to get meaner. If they're lazy, they're going to get lazier. If they have no respect for your kind, they'll have even less by the time you leave. Remember the old Yiddish proverb.."What starts badly, goes badly." Don't waste your youth! Make haste, child! Run!

Don't Forget To Play: I've heard from my brilliant son, TJ, who loves to share knowlege, that the most intelligent animals PLAY. You can tell who the smarties are, by whether they have the ability to play or not. When you're driving into the next town for that business meeting, pack a pair of Nikes with you and go for a hike up that hill right afterwards. Take a picnic with you and eat out of doors on a blanket or your jacket, like those in Europe do. Take a nap under a tree. Climb a tree. Dance in your living room and both frighten your children and delight your senses. Sit out on your front porch and greet every neighbor going by...offer them some lemonade. Teach a small child how to use a hula hoop. Sing at the top of your lungs in the car....and if you get caught by friends at a red light, just turn the music up so they can hear it, too! Eat ice cream out of a cone, no matter how old you are...make sure to order sprinkles on top. If you're a woman, wear your hair in pigtails sometimes around the will make you feel like a girl, again. Overeat sometimes, and have someone join you. Have a movie marathon night, stay up all night and sleep in all the next day. Play checkers with a five year old and let them win. Visit the zoo with red balloons in your hands. Challenge some kid to a vicious demolition derby in bumper cars. Rent the paddle boats with the big swan heads. Bob for apples.

There are more, but none I can think of right now. I think I need to find some song from my high school years and turn it up as loud as I can, and go dance in my living room.

And Kids: If you're reading this right now...It was the butler, in the study, with a chocolate bar....Death by Chocolate...what a way to go. Tell him I said, "Thanks."

Pick A Pet

Pets are good. Everyone should have one.

My mother was not a pet person. She would eye a creature, giving it one courtesy pat on the top of its head. After that, she'd quickly find a faucet in which to wash her hands. She was never known to bury her face into the fluffy fur of a puppy. She handled our various pets as one would handle a stinky, wet dishrag; with only two fingers and a wrinkled nose.

Our pet career began with Mitzi. She was a black and white mongrel, given to us by a woman my father knew, because she was a patient at the hospital. She had terminal cancer, and felt she was near the end...she wanted her pet to have a good home. Mitzi couldn't have been more loved...or should I say, 'over-loved'. There were times she was probably quite smothered by Lauren and I...we were fierce pet-huggers.... we loved those critters so much, we'd practically gag them.

I'll never forget the time Mitzi was riding in the car with us, and Father decided to go through the automatic carwash. This terrified our dog. She was medium-sized, but somehow she fit herself UNDERNEATH the front driver's seat; she was that scared. Even at age four or so, I remember thinking that it was not very cool to subject a dog to such excitement. Poor Mitzi probably thought that her world was coming to an end. I whined right along with her.

Not long afterwards; the former owner of Mitzi decided that she was getting better after all (she wasn't), and took Mitzi back. I don't know what became of her after that. Lauren and I were heartbroken; how could that lady give us a dog, and then not give us a dog? It seemed so wrong. But in hindsight; I'm glad Mitzi went back to her...she'd had one too many carwashes with us. Who knew what else awaited her, if she'd stuck around...perhaps the drive in movie, or a trip to the laundromat?

Next was "Chuckie", the orange cat. I loved Chuckie. The neighbors did not. Chuckie was a real ladies' man-cat, I later learned. He died of a bullet wound... from one of the neighbors, I suppose. So much for Chuckie.

A little while later, a flaming-red furred dog (I'm not kidding) made his way into our yard, and into our hearts. We searched for his owner, but to no avail. After two weeks, it was decided that we would keep him. When it came time to name the dog, Lauren and I kept forgetting that he was a 'he'. I was still in my "Princess" stage, where I thought the most wonderful names in the world were "Cinderella", "Snow White", and "Sleeping Beauty". Lauren and I decided that the dog's name would henceforth be...."Beauty".

'Beauty' was the butt of many a neighborhood joke. Imagine my father trying to control his dog, putting both hands up to his mouth and hollering, "BEAUTY! GET BACK HERE!" and still trying desperately to maintain his masculinity.... Or, my mother, calling the dog in her opera-like, extended soprano, "Beau........tyyyyyyyy!" (The neighbor boys really got a kick out of imitating this; and, to their credit, were actually quite good at it). The boys also liked to put a hand to their face and say, in a love-sick tone, "Ohhhhh.....Beautyyyyyyy!"

It all would've been very funny if it wouldn't have been OUR dog. Perhaps we should have had a bit more parental guidance in the choosing of his name, back in the earlier years. "Beau" might have been a far better choice....or, "Red", due to his color.

It almost seemed that Beauty knew he was a bit of an oddball....he exhibited rather strange behaviors...kind of a weird dog, he was.

I figured that dogs die and we could put the whole Beauty thing behind us, rest his soul. But he didn't. Not for a long time. Oh, no...Beauty stayed around for fifteen years....clear throughout my junior high, high school, and some of my college years. Most of the townspeople knew all about Beauty...he was somewhat legendary. Quite the lover-boy, too, as the stories go. Through the years, every now and then, we'd see a flaming orange-red colored younger dog, and we'd...wonder...

Beauty was followed by Cinnamon, a Maltese-Poodle mix that nervously wet herself if you so much as looked at her, and Snookums...a strange combination of dogdome that no one could quite figure out; and to add to the mystery that was Snookums, was the fact that she....smiled. Just like I'd smile at you, lips thinning, teeth showing, eyes was downright eerie...They say that the pets often imitate the masters...and admittedly, our family was a unique was no wonder that our pets throughout the years have been just as unique.

Years later, after I married and had our first child, TJ, I peeked outside in the yard and saw my son swinging what appeared to be a bread bag around his head, like one would a lasso. Stepping outside, I saw that there was something inside of the bread of four-year-old TJ's stuffed animals, perhaps. But alas, that was no stuffed was the black kitten we'd just adopted, named 'Lucky' he wasn't feeling so lucky at that precise moment. Of course I put a stop to it, and the feline wobbled away, out of TJ's evil grasp.

I shook my head to myself....we'd gotten the wrong name for our pet, once again....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don't Mess With A Woman

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat proud of myself for producing two sons right off the bat.

Sons for a husband's family that had mostly daughters. The ExMan was the youngest of five, and the only son, and yes, he got spoiled. ExMan was the only son of an only son, who was the son of an only son. A huge deal was made over him being the last of his line.

My father's first marriage had produced two daughters; his second marriage had produced five. No sons in sight. True to both Murphy's law and life, his younger brother got himself three sons right off the bat.

Living for years with a multitude of sisters wasn't always a great time; they stole clothes, hogged the mirror, and were overly dramatic. By the time I moved out of the house, I was ready for the break.

I liked having sons; they made nifty mouth noises and weren't high maintenance. If they were mad, instead of holding a grudge, they'd just bash each other over the head with something and be done with it. Quite frankly, I admired that. Let 'em know how you feel about 'em and move on.

But the time came when I began to wish for a little more estrogen in the household; my overdose from living back at the original family home had worn off. It was time; and I wished for a daughter in the worst way.

One day while I was standing at the sink doing dishes, I felt the strongest impression that I would have a daughter.

Nine months later almost to that day, I was giving birth to a child that had no use for 'waiting'. She shot into this world so fast, it took two doctors to deliver her (the one didn't get out of bed when he should have, and came running around the corner at top speed at the last moment, hair flying out from under the surgery cap and bug-eyed; I would have laughed out loud, if only I'd not been giving birth.)

---She even cried like a girl! Everything about this child was so feminine, so girly. I was back in my element again. Right ON.

Her father insisted that she was 'just like me.' Other than the fact that she was a female, I didn't see a resemblance. All features belonged to his side of the family. As I curled her hair and accessorized her to no end, he claimed that she was becoming more and more like me, and did so with a growing tone of disdain, insisting that she was developing my attitude. I thought, Hmmm.

I credited his comments to his history and left it at that.

ExMan began to point out what he thought were Sneaky Things about our daughter. It was true that when I told the kids to clean their rooms, the boys would moan and groan and eventually get the job done, while Sis would smile sweetly up at me with her round face and blue eyes, framed by her blonde locks and say, "Okay, Mommy! Anything to make you happy, Mommy!" Then she'd promptly go and stuff everything into her closets and under her bed.

As the ExMan pointed more and more things out, I became more and more defensive over this one and only daughter of mine. We sometimes argued about who knew her better; I felt that as her mother, that person was me.

One evening, as we were getting ready to lie down in our bed, the ExMan got a tiny shock. Lying on his pillow, practically smiling up at him, was a soaking wet washcloth. My words were feigning sympathy as I turned my head to laugh. What fresh evil was this?

I was sure there was a good explanation.

ExMan blamed Sis. I bawked at him. What looked like paranoia was now getting out of hand. To blame a little five year old for something so---well, weird---was strange in itself. When questioned, Sis very sweetly said that she loved her daddy, and asked why she would ever do such a thing. Exactly what I thought, too. Innocent.

For years afterwards ExMan would not let the 'Washcloth Incident' die. The story was brought up repeatedly through clenched jaws and pointed finger with the phrase, "You KNOW she's got it in her. She's your little apprentice, after all." I thought that was unkind. I knew my daughter, and from the bottom of my heart, I knew that she was capable of no such deed.

Time went by and many things changed. Eventually I took our children and moved out of the house. A divorce ensued.

We felt snug in our new little haven; no yelling, no discord; no more waiting for the other shoe to drop. We began to relax. Since all of the children had the need to debrief, we had some long talks about what had transpired over the period that we'd lived at the other house.

One day while talking to Sis,I said, "Remember that time you got accused of leaving a sopping wet washcloth on a pillow? That was the craziest thing I'd ever heard of!"

Sis was regarding me differently all of a sudden, wearing a curiously twisted-up face.

"I did it," she said. "It was me."

My mouth must have formed a perfect "O".

"...I remember I was five and he told me 'no' to something I thought he should have said 'yes' to, and he made me mad and so I put that soaking wet washcloth right there on his pillow."

I was stunned into silence. "W-What?" I croaked out. "I DEFENDED you all of this time, and you'd actually DONE that?"

"Yeah," Sis said quietly, putting her head down in what looked like shame.

"What on EARTH would possess you to DO something like that? How evil does a kid even have to BE to come up with something so---well, WEIRD---!?"

She kept her head down and we had a moment of silence as I allowed her some time to think about what she had done.

Then I started to laugh.
Like a madwoman.

"....GOOD JOB!"

Sis's head snapped up, and she appeared to be stunned.
Then we high-fived.

I was back with my kind, all right.
Bring on the estrogen, baby.

I just love having a daughter.

*Used as an article at

What's the Magic Word?

I'll admit it, I'm a swearer.
Swearing and I go way back.

My first 'profane' experience was at Evette's house. I'd been amazed to have obtained permission to stay overnight, since she lived in the projects and her mother wasn't married, regularly what would have been two strikes against the idea in my parental units' eyes. I later discovered her mother had begun attending our church, and that the folks hadn't wanted to offend her. They were okay with sacrificing me in order to see another worshiper on the pew.

Evette's 9-year-old brother Timmy knew all the words, yet they were new to me. She would just laugh at me and tell me I'd learn 'later'. So besides having a fun sleepover and wishing that my mother would let me have a poster of Shawn Cassidy in my room, like Evette's mom did, I also came back home with some newfound wisdom. I just didn't know exactly how to apply it.

A week later we were at the playground after-hours with some friends. Some neighbor kids encroached on our swingset, uninvited, and it created a conflict. The discussion became increasingly more abusive and one of my friends, Lori, began to use some bad words. This was the break I'd been waiting for. As the exchange escalated, I took a deep breath and blurted out, "You're a @#$%!"

It was as if time had stopped. Lori turned to me, somewhat admiringly, and said, "Amy" (The tone you'd use if someone did something kinda evil, but really amusing...) and Kimmie, the ringleader of the Others, said, "Ohohoh.....I'm gonna TELL!!!"

She and the Others ran off, leaving the four of us sitting there. Lori and her sister Lisa were saying, "Way to go, Amy! I didn't even know you knew how to talk like that!" and laughing... but Lauren was silent for some reason. Maybe she was just jealous; she'd always been competitive. Obviously what I'd said was an impressive enough word to make heads turn. Never before had I uttered a word that had such an impact. I loved the feeling of power associated with this 'magic' word. And you could be certain... I would be using it again in the near future. I wondered why everyone didn't know about this word, and why people didn't use it more often. I mentally patted myself on the back and we all went home to dinner.

Mother was still in the kitchen cooking dinner when the phone rang. I was upstairs in the attic room, reading, my favorite thing to do. It was so peaceful up there...

"AMY!" My mother screamed, "GET DOWN HERE, IMMEDIATELY!"

What ensued was like a scene right out of the Christmas Story Movie, if you've ever seen it. My mother kept closing her eyes, and shaking her head a little, trying, no doubt to make whatever it was she wanted to say to me...just... go away. I initially had no clue what on earth she was angry about, until I heard her say she'd just been on the phone with Mrs. Besnitt....Uh HUH! Kimmie's mom! She told, (what a brat) I steeled myself for a lecture on how to be kind to our neighbors...even when they're not kind to us. Instead, Mother kept closing her eyes, and rubbing her temples, as though she had a migraine. She then began to play somewhat of a word game with me...."Sounds like....." and she'd rhyme something that did not make ANY sense.... and in between clues, she'd shake her head vigorously, with her hands waving madly around her ears, as if to shoo away something bad, like a bee that wanted to sting her.... okay (deep breath) clue.... some bird that swims in the pond.....has feathers and goes 'quack'...."Starts with....." has four letters.....

"Oh, yeah, you mean @#$%!" I said, proudly. For once I knew the answer!...Most of the time I didn't understand Mother at all and the way she talked.... Instantly her eyes bugged out behind her glasses and her face turned the color of a ripe tomato. Five seconds later I was sucking soap. I wasn't exactly sure why, but it was slowly dawning on me that Evette's brother Timmy was very, very naughty. And those 'magic' words....not so magic after all.

The interesting part was that my mother did not believe that I had used that word unknowingly; she believed that I had a secret vocabulary for my 'private life' (and we all know that ten-year-olds have quite a life behind closed doors) that had, of course, shown through on that fateful playground day, as those things often will. I could not convince her that I had not one clue what they even meant.... because Evette wouldn't tell me, the skunk! If she'd only given me a definition, I could have avoided the Zest bar. We weren't friends anymore, I decided. She and her swearing brother could take a hike. I had the runs for days, thanks to them.

Once we moved to the small Western town that was 99.9% Christian, we heard very little swearing. But the funny thing is, where there's a will, there's a way...and leave it to kids to find the way. Lillian reported to me that her friends at school would often say "Teton Dam -it!", or "Shift!" And most of the kids would say "Gol!" as in short for 'Gol-ly!'....which I thought was dumb. Other popular phrases were "Dang it!" and "Oh my heck!", accompanied by lots of 'crap' and 'crud'. "Shoot!" was another one....but when we used it my mother freaked out, claiming we were making a reference to feces. We were not; she just needed to get her hearing checked more frequently. Not being allowed to say 'Shut Up' to each other was a handicap, as well....we began to just say, "Shut....!" and that made Mother go bullistic.

When we were a little older, we'd let the occasional profane word fly, right there inside the sacred walls of our home, just to test it out, see if we could get away with it. It was always downstairs, out of earshot of the parental units. If a sibling made you mad, you could make a suggestion on where they could go. If what they were wearing looked tacky, you could tell them that it looked just like where they could go, etc. If one of them asked you where their favorite sweater was, and what did you do with it you little creep, you could again reference where they could go, followed by an 'I don't know.' You get the idea. These words were very versatile, to be sure.

For the first ten years of their lives, my children never heard me utter one foul word. I had finally at long last,mastered my tongue. I was becoming quite the domestic, and a Church lady at that, and I figured it was time to be more mellow. But having a spouse that was a stinker, the construction of two houses, and a divorce later found me to be of a different mindset....something to the tune of 'if it helps, say it!'

I actually read an article the other day that praised the benefits of it decreases blood pressure and stress....added bonuses, all. I just knew it felt I know why. Now there is scientific proof.

I have never heard my children say a curse word. If reverse psychology is a true theory; here is living proof. They've all gone the other way. But that doesn't stop them in assisting me in my creative which they are half-exasperated, half-mildly amused. My daughter told me a couple of days ago that I could stop saying, "I'm sorry" whenever I'd let one fly....that she was now used to it; no need for apologies. I wasn't sure if I should be feeling terrible about it, or grateful to have reached somewhat of a milestone in our relationship....They've even been rather supportive of my habit...enablers, if you will... One of the boys has mentioned that the word 'damaged' sounds exactly like something else, and if said in a fit of anger, it might work just as well....! Clever fellow!

Recently my daughter asked me if I was ever going to stop swearing, to which of course I replied "(very warm location)! I don't know....Teton Dam-it, someday... I just might!"

Bambi the Hairdresser

I have to take a deep breath before I write this one, even after all of this time.

My husband has had a certain hairdresser longer than he's had any wife. Her name (which I will not mention) is akin to something similar to Bambi Bubbles; sounding suspiciously like a stripper alias. He really seemed to like the way she cut his hair and couldn't wait for me to meet her after we were married. So I agreed to go with him.

When 'Bambi' came around the corner, she shrieked my husband's name and all but ran up to maul him. He had to point out to her that a woman was standing beside him; she was that oblivious to me. I don't know about you; but when a woman who by all rights ought to notice you and chooses not to...that's never a good indication. When I shook her hand, it felt like a dead fish...not a great sign, either. I was not thrilled with her attire...quite revealing...I thought her choice of wardrobe that day was interesting, to say the least. Especially knowing that she was soon going to be leaning over a basin to wash my Husband's hair.

Her tiny station area (which had a large sign in it that said, 'CURL UP WITH YOUR HAIRDRESSER'; very tasteful...) was a remodeled former bathroom, since the salon was located in an old Victorian mansion. It was admittedly small; but when my husband asked if 'Bambi' could possibly locate a stool or chair so that I could sit in the room with them, she off-handedly said there weren't any to be found. (Really? In a three story house there was not one stool, chair or a bucket that could be turned upside down?) So I had to sit on the edge of a sofa that was outside of the room, in the hallway, and peer in to be a part of it all. I had to marvel that after the hundreds of dollars that my husband has spent at her station, she could not do us that one service of finding a chair for his wife.

Bambi started off the conversation with, " So why are you two together today?" (Uh, because we're MARRIED, perhaps...? And because I am checking you out to see if you're 'safe' and you know it, the way, you're currently getting a D-). And when she asked what we'd be doing for the upcoming Valentine's Day, my husband commented that it would be hard to beat last year's, where we went to get our marriage license. Bambi said, "Oh, yeah, I remember that day, you came in to get your hair cut!" (No, he didn't. He was with me all day.) And then she seemed to remember him getting his hair done on our wedding day, as well, which I am absolutely positive didn't happen. (He went on a hike with his son in the morning while I was primping, and then we spent the rest of that day together...getting married.... No haircut involved).

The owner of the salon came by,a very sweet lady, and was happy to meet me, the New Wife. She made a big deal out of me,(which I loved, who wouldn't!) commenting her disbelief that Husband could have such a 'pretty wife'. She asked "How'd YOU ever get her?" Bambi spoke up and said, "He must've met her at a bar and got her drunk enough to say 'yes'!" Then she laughed at her own wittiness. If he tipped her by this point, Husband and I were going to have a serious discussion.

As we were preparing to leave, my husband mentioned that he was taking me to sushi for lunch. Bambi actually (I kid you not) stuck her lower lip out, pouty-like, and said that all she was going to have for lunch was some yogurt and she wished SHE could go to sushi, too. (Was she trying to invite herself or get an invite? Wow!) There was this long, pregnant pause as she attempted to let that one soak in, and the two of us were speechless...

I wish that I could say this girl was young, to give her some type of an excuse for her 'silly' behavior; but she was in her mid forties!

When we got out to the car, Husband, oblivious, turned to me with a smile and said, "Well.... what did you think of her?"

There was never a more loaded question....

After two more trial hairdressers and over about a year's time, Husband now goes to 'Janet' (which, coincidentally, does NOT sound like a stripper name) down the street. She's in her late fifties, is extremely skilled in styling hair, is VERY married, and cuts hair for our entire family. She always has a place for me to sit, would rather hug me than shake my hand, has no tender memories of our's that she tries desperately to inject herself into.... and has NEVER tried to invite herself to any of our meals, (although she's such a lovely person, I would LOVE to have her over for a nice dinner sometime).

A month or two later, a friend of mine who also happens to go to Bambi to get her hair done, mentioned that the two of them were discussing my husband.

"He doesn't come to me anymore," Bambi had whined, "I wonder why...?"