Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Yesterday we buried our female lizard. I noticed last week that her spine was protruding and she had stopped eating. I knew, at over eight years of age, that she was failing. I did not want to deal with this and hoped that she was having a simple minor set back. This was not to be the case.

These two lizards were not our first. Our first bearded dragon was stolen from the place we boarded him while we were on vacation. He belonged to our son who was a child at the time. This lizard was a giant of his species and very pretty (as lizards go.)
We came home from a week at Virginia Beach to a phone call telling us that someone had entered their lizard room, took our lizard from his cage, stuffed it under their jacket and run out the door. Of course, we were a devastated.

The store replaced the stolen lizard and John purchased another to keep it company. These two were a mere half inch in length and were adorable. We called them 'our babies.'

We had them sexed and found out we had a male and a female and sure enough, within the next couple of years, she became loaded with eggs. I read up on them and filled a little five gallon tank with dirt, added a bit of water and formed a cave. I placed her in there and she backed into the cave and laid a dozen eggs.

I made an incubator and carefully spooned out each egg and laid it in the incubator, all the while my female lizard protectively watching. (anyone who thinks reptiles do not have maternal instincts is just plain wrong; this little mama was nervous and did not leave her perch from where she watched everything I did with her eggs.

In her lifetime, she laid five 'clutches' of eggs, each between 12 and 14 eggs but somehow I never mastered the proper formula of humidity/temperature etc, and none of the eggs ever hatched.

She had an least to me..feature of an underbite. Sometimes she had difficulty holding on to a wiggling cricket and had to be helped getting it into her mouth and down her throat. She was worth the effort it took to help her; I truly loved her.

This breed of lizards is from Australia, gets to be over a foot in length and are known as the felines of the lizard world. They are slow moving, calm, and bond with their owners. She was always interested when we turned on her light in the morning, and watched us with curiosity.

The male seems to be grieving. I hope he doesn't waste away, missing his mate.

I cried when she died, but also I was glad we had her for so long. I know she had a good life and she earned her name..

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Gift

This is what I've decided: Folks just have too much time on their hands. I came to this conclusion because I am, of late, just way too busy to fret over life's BIG questions or to worry about what other people are doing wrong.

Both of my kids have moved back home, which is fine. I work retail in a little bookstore which is in the tail end of a busy Christmas shopping frenzy. I am busy, way too busy, to do much else other than work, cook, shop for my own family and friends and keep this house running somewhat smoothly.

In all this I think I have stumbled upon a little truism about life; if you spend any serious amount of time fretting over much of anything, then you are not busy enough just living.

I fall into bed each night too exhausted to do as much as open a book to read a bit. And I fall into that bed really early, sometimes before 7pm.

Every now and then, life hands me a little reward, like yesterday. In fact it happened twice to me yesterday. First, our local tv weatherman, Vernon Connor (no relation to me), stopped in the store.

"Hey Beej,"he said. "Watch the 10 o'clock news tonight. I'm going to pull on my ear like Carol Burnett used to do, to give you a little greeting over the air."

Rest assured, I was deep into la-la land by 10pm, but I am confident that while I was asleep, Vernon Connor was tugging at his ear lobe. I missed it but I know thousands of folks witnessed it.

The other little reward truly touched my heart. An elderly gentleman approached me at the store.

"Can you do a favor for me?" he asked. "There's a little lady back in the kids' books section. She's pushing a stroller and has five other little kids with her..."

He reached out his hand and gave me five $20 bills.

"Can you give this to her and tell her Santa says Merry Christmas?"

"Of course I can." and off I went.

She wasn't difficult to find. Pregnant and pushing a stroller, she was surrounded by five other little ones. They were all extraordinarily well behaved. I gave her 'Santa's' message and she protested. I assured her the gentleman had left the store and she meekly took the cash. she was, of course, unbelievably touched.

Of course, she was touched, but so was I. It was a gift for me, too, to witness this.

This is Christmas. This is the spirit that was intended. This is the selfless thought behind the gesture of giving, the gesture of caring, the many gestures of loving.

Yes, I believe there is a Santa after all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Day

Here it is after 5pm on my day off and I have accomplished NOTHING. In fact I did something I very rarely do; I stayed in my robe until mid afternoon. It was relaxing, of course, but I feel like I've wasted the entire day.

The doctor's visit; First, I lost six lbs in the past week which left me a bit bewildered because I've been eating like a horse, including a wonderful Thanksgiving day meal. But the doctor was amazed at how much better I looked even though he kept me on restricted work for another week. He gave me a refill for pain meds because my left arm is very sore and he told me my teeth, which still hurt, can take a few more weeks to 'settle.' After I left, I went right back to work.

We've been in the throes of a cold snap. I am not used to cold weather but
living in south Alabama, winter will come and go in a matter of weeks and then we should be blessed with another typically beautiful early Spring.

Right now, all is peaceful in our household. John is playing wii with our son and our daughter is making chicken fettuccini alfredo (my recipe, of course!)

Life is one big roller coaster.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Follow Up

It has been a week since my fall. I have a doctor's appointment this morning to see what residual damage is still lurking. My left arm is so sore that it keeps me awake at night. My eye teeth still hurt. The swelling on my upper lip has subsided quite a bit (or as my daughter so eloquently stated, I "don't look like Marge Simpson now, but more like Elvis Presley and his sneer.")

This has been a lesson that despite what happens, life goes on. Unless we die. But then it still goes on for those who outlive us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Always An Event About To Happen.

They say bad things happen in threes. I guess my three bad things had stockpiled because they all came rushing unexpectedly into my life recently. First, my sister became ill and we almost lost her. Then, my 23 year old daughter became ill and was hospitalized. Lastly, I fell at the bookstore.

When I say I fell, I do not mean that I simply slipped and got knocked down on my bum. One of the kids who works at the store left a large plastic tote on a walkway, one I did not see until it was too late. I went over it, meeting the floor with my two eye teeth and face, just about knocking myself out. (It's debatable as to whether I actually did lose consciousness, tho I believe I did not.) I ended up with a fat lip which made me look in profile a lot like Marge Simpson.

Even if I did not lose consciousness, I did shake my brain and could not even gather my senses enough to call for help. After about five seconds, i was able to make a noise and folks came to my rescue and I was taken to the doctor.

After many many xrays, they determined that I had a cervical sprain and a couple loose teeth (they still hurt.) I have road rash on my face but I'm glad to say that the extreme swelling on my upper lip is beginning to go away.

I am sore. I feel foolish but I got back up on the saddle and went to the bookstore the next day, tho I did not need to do this.

My sister is recuperating as is my daughter. My pain is slowly lessening and all seems to be righting itself.

I am tired of being a event about to happen. But you know what? Thursday my family and I prepared the usual huge Thanksgiving dinner and sincerely expressed gratitude for all the good things in our life. Even tho this trio of bad events happened, we are so blessed that there were optimum outcomes all the way around.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paul the Arsonist (or, Why I love Vinnie.)

In my younger life, there were several milk toast men who had become enamored with me. They were all pleasant, sweet, compliant young men, men who would have tried to move the earth and the heavens if they believed it would have made me happy. Most SMART young women would have felt blessed with these Charles Bovary types. Not I. Not at all. I would have rather run into the abyss upon their exclamations of love. I preferred the passionate sort, the ones who exhibited a lust for life. The ones who made my father shudder.

My first 'luster for life' was a brooding teenage boy named Paul. Paul had that bad boy brooding look. In my fifteen year old mind, I thought he was beautiful. Troubled, sure, but nonetheless, beautiful.

Paul was a neighborhood boy. I had decided that my life legacy would be as a 'SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.' At least that was my excuse for going through a long period in my mid teens as being 'SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.' I would be akin to the saints, a lover of the unlovable, a healer of the troubled. And Paul was troubled.

Beej, Savior of the World.

I first felt affection for him after he was released from some juvenile institute to which he had been 'assigned' after he burned a couple of abandoned buildings to the ground. Yup. Paul was an arsonist. He was my first attempt at 'saving.' Of course, I did not save Paul. He eventually dissolved into a black hole of my feelings and I'm sure I moved on to my next venture as, 'SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.'

Having said all that, and probably revealing more to you about myself than I would ever want to reveal, I am using that story as an example of my basic nature to explain why I love Vincent Van Gogh as much as I do. If any person had ever lived a troubled life, it was Vincent. Of course his art expressed his 'lust for life' (which is, of course, the title of a book by Irving Stone about Van Gogh, a book I have just finished reading.) I love his art but it is the man behind the art that truly enthralls me.

Take his ear, or more accurately, his ear lobe. why did Vinnie lop off his ear lobe? Because an underage prostitute asked him for it! Now, that's passion! (I must tell you tho, that this hooker, upon unwrapping the paper holding the lobe, passed out cold on the foyer floor. It was this act of ultimate generosity that landed our dear artist in the insane asylum.)

I am not a fan of physical mutilation. I do not find that attractive. But it was the passion behind the act that captured my heart.

A lust for life is not the same as a love for life. We all love life, whether we want to admit it. it's the lust, the LUST for life that is so very attractive to me. It's a passion to feel all of life, to see colors brighter, to have the energy, both physically and emotionally, to go for the gusto.

Okay, maybe Van Gogh was more than passionate. He was a genius. Smart and passionate?

Oh yes. Now that's the magical mix.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Potato Eaters

We have all seen Van Gogh's painting, 'Irises:'

and 'Starry Night:'

But this one is a bit different:

This is called 'The Potato Eaters' and was painted not long before his introduction to the Impressionists, the likes of Gauguin, Lautrec, Monet, Manet, Degas. This one was painted in dark hues, hues he used to capture the colors of the potatoes, the soil and the dismal life of the potato pickers whom he described as caught in the dregs of darkness, every bit as much as the coal miners he painted while living in the Borinage area of Belgium.

I have a special love for this painting because it was done prior to his move to Paris, prior to the influences of the artists he met there. This is pure, raw Van Gogh. These are the people he knew, and knew well. This particular family was not simply one he paid to pose. These were his closest friends, especially the young girl in the foreground. She was very close to him, close enough where, when she, at the age of seventeen, became pregnant, Vincent was almost forced to wed her under the priest's incorrect presumption that he was the father.

I wonder how different Van Gogh's art would have been had he wed this young thing and stayed in Nuenen. Would he, without the influence if the Impressionists, have continued to paint in dark hues and straight lines? Would the world have never known the beauty of the lightness of his colors?

Monday, October 25, 2010

On the Uptake

Ever since my sister became ill, I've been lax about both writing here and reading all my favorite blogs. I don't know why; I sort of feel like an inflated bag thats been popped. I seem to want to only wrap myself in the basic, little mundane things in life, working, cleaning, sleeping, reading etc. But it's time to come out of it. Jeanne's doing fine and should even be dismissed from rehab within the next week or two. The only things we can see that have been affected is her ability to walk (she needs a walker because her physical strength has been zapped, but she is improving every day.) And her memory is somewhat slow. Outside of that, she is doing remarkably well and I thank God each and every morning.

And with that having been said, I will again be a regular at your blogs. You can count on that.


Phone conversation with my son tonight. Please note..HE PHONED ME!

Me: "Hello?"
Son: "Hi, mom. Whatcha doing.I mean, are you cooking dinner tonight?"
Me: "No, honey. We had sandwiches about an hour ago."
Son: "Oh. Okay. well I can't talk right now. I'm driving."
Love you. Bye."
Me: "love you too."


Sunday, October 24, 2010

WORRY, worryworryworryworry

You just gotta love this commercial:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Florida Caverns State Park

John and I both took this week off, originally to go to Melbourne, Florida on a house hunting venture. That venture has been put on hold until we can get the house here in Alabama spruced up adequately enough to put on the market, but we decided to still take the week's vacation and just do, well, whatever we want to do.

Today we went down across the border to Florida and on to Florida Caverns State Park, a two time National gold medal winner.

This is a 1300 acre state park whose main attraction is the caverns, but there is such an abundance of wildflowers and greenery that visitors come for a myriad of reasons, including the Blue Hole Natural Spring, where folks are also permitted to swim.

The cave's geological history began over 38 million years ago when the U.S southeast coastal plain was covered with water. Coral, shells and the like fell to the ocean's floor and as the water receded, this material was left behind and became limestone. Over the last million years, acidic water dissolved the limestone and create crevices large enough to walk through. And the caverns were slowly..very very slowly..born.

Over time, both pioneers and Native Americans..though during different periods..have lived around these caves. Lots of pottery shards dating back centuries and centuries have been unearthed, telling archaeologists the history of the local Chert tribe that lived there, letting us know their diet and their main occupation as farmers.

During the 1800's, the caves were used by the Confederate soldiers as a refuge from the Union soldiers. The Seminole Indians hid in these caverns as well, during the Seminole Wars, led by Andrew Jackson.

In the mid 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) labored to clear the caverns of tons of rock and debris to open the caves' interior and to install lighting.

Here is a monument erected to honor the men of the CCC and what they did for the state parks:

Now, on to the caverns, themselves.

The scenic walk leading to the cavern entrance:

stalactites and art:

It looks like this lady is touching the formation but she is not. To do so is highly forbidden because the oil on fingerprints left behind prevents limestone from adhering to it and causes it to 'die.'

This is our guard, Paul. He's holding a lantern that was used by the CCC workers while clearing out the rocks and debris:

See that very handsome devil in the light blue shirt who has his arms crossed, the one in the left hand background? That is John:

The CCC workers realized that a reflector held behind the kerosene lamps increased the amount of light. They realized that their dinner bowls were of the right material to work as reflectors and so they permanently adhered these bowls to the ceiling of the caverns behind where they hung these lanterns. That circular object is one of those bowls:

See that big vertical formation on the right? Notice how it looks different? The path leads right by it and at that point, the walk becomes wet and slick. So many folks had lost their footing and instinctively reached out to grab it rather than fall, that it did indeed 'die.' This was the only formation we were permitted to touch:

This round ball is a natural formation that the CCC workers used as a directional tool when they lost their way. They knew that this ball sat just outside of the turn that led them to the exit:

These formations hanging from the ceiling are called 'sipping straws.' They are hollow and the water drips down from the inside, increasing their length over time:

After we were done with the tour, we headed down to our favorite eatery in that part of Florida, a scenic diner set on a big river. Here is the view from our seats, to show you the beautiful hanging Spanish moss which decorates a good many of the trees around here:

Tomorrow we plan on heading back down just across the state line to Florida, to attend a community days celebration and local art show in Graceville Florida.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Sisters

I have been gone for a little while, mostly because I just haven't been 'moved' to write anything due in large part to my desire to get my emotional feet on a strong foothold after going through the trauma of almost losing my sister. But I am feeling better now and so is she.

I talked to her about an hour ago. she sounded wonderful. I talk to her daily and today there seemed to be a marked improvement. I think I know why.

You would need to know Jeanne. Of the three of us girls, she was always the most rebellious. She still has that rebellious streak, much to my delight. She had heard someone she knows is also in the rehab so she, who now has trouble staying steady on her feet, sneaked down to her acquaintance's room to visit. Jeanne was happy to still have spunk . I asked her if she told anyone she was going there. She played dumb.

"I think i told someone. But maybe I forgot."

Yuh, right. You forgot. Sorta like when you were 14 and you 'forgot' mom didn't know you smoked, Jeanne. I still have a vivid memory of you sauntering into the backyard where mom and I were busy doing stuff.

"Hi momma." you said as you leaned against the clothes line pole and took a long drag off a cigarette. It took mom a few seconds to believe her eyes, less time for you to fling that cigarette and run like a bat out of hell around the side of the house, mom in hot pursuit. Whatever were you thinking, Jeanne? Did you think she was going to go inside to get you an ashtray?

You, the forever rebel, even in rehab.

Today Jeanne had therapy for her memory and her now limited small motor abilities. She played solitaire, not on the computer but with an honest to pete deck of cards. She's proud of herself, tho she said it was difficult to shuffle the cards. But she did it. I'm proud of her, too.

I like to call Jeanne the 'Oomph' sister. everything she does, everything she did as a kid, was done with a superb amount of 'Oomph.' A good example was the time as a kid she kicked her clogs off her feet. We've all done this with our footwear. However, with the additional Oomph, Jeanne's shoe went flying high into the air, hit the light fixture and broke it. No surprise. We all could have counted on that happening.

I've noticed another little thing about Jeanne since all this happened; She, who would complain whenever I or our other sister would let loose with a swear word, has developed a 'potty mouth.' Today, she dropped the phone while we were talking.

"Oh shit."

Wow, That took me a little aback. A few minutes later..
"Oh shit, I did it again."


"Jeanne, why are you swearing?"

"I keep dropping the fucking phone."

"Jean! You are swearing! I don't think I've ever heard you say the F word before!"

"Well, guess what? I've been a closet curser for years!" She said.

"Well, back atcha." I said, " Fucking A!!!!!"

We both laughed.

"I love you, Beej."

"I love you, too, Jean-A-Bean."

It was a good conversation.


I've been writing about my one sister but there are actually three of us and we are all equally as close to one another. I'll write about my other sister eventually. She's had the most interesting life of all of us.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday John Lennon

You would have been 70 years old today. That makes 30 years of music that the world lost with a single shot fired from the gun of a lunatic.

There is nothing we can do about that..nothing except to celebrate your birth because we may have lost years of music but for 40 years we had you among us, making a difference, teaching us that all we really need, is love.

Happy birthday John.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Life Song; My Nephew, the Bonecarver.

My nephew is a professional artist. He slices and carves deer antlers, the 'new ivory,' sometimes so miniscule that he carves under a microscope.
His work has been published in art books and is periodically displayed in New York museums. We are so proud of him.

About the last half of this video; that is my family's property in beautiful upstate NY, about 250 acres of totally undeveloped land. Okay, this is the you watch this I would like you to think about what I am about to tell you and realize the significance of the song and the second half of the video. Here goes:

Monday morning at about 5:30am, I received a phone call from my nearly incoherent brother in law. I have two sisters. Our parents are gone. And we three are incredibly close, because for a while, we were all we had. My brother-in-law called to tell me that my sister Jeanne, mom of this talented artist, was rushed to the hospital a few hours before, with a 108 degree temp. She was in a coma, the doctors recommended last rites and told us her chances for survival were negligible.

Tuesday, we were told we had a choice to turn off all machines and let her go peacefully. Her brain was inflamed and infected and they didn't know why. Or we could transfer her to a top notch hospital as a 'last ditch' effort to save her life. Her husband and children opted for the latter choice.

Wednesday evening, her fever broke. Thursday, she opened her eyes. Yesterday, Friday, my phone rang. It was Jeanne calling from icu on her cell phone, which my bro in law had dialed for her. If there was brain damage, it seemed to have effected only her speech. In a weak, shaky, tearful voice, she slowly told me she almost died. I told her how much I love her. This has been a week of true hell and true heaven.

She is not out of the woods, but it appears she will make it. She will remain in icu for at least another week, and then go to rehab.

Life Song. Indeed. I am singing it well.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shrimp and Cheese Rotol (or how I came to say the f word at the dinner table.)

See these little guys?

These are shrimp. They died for no good reason and I sincerely feel bad about that. This is a pound or so of shrimpers and I used them to make dinner tonight. I'm going to share the recipe and I'm going to post photos but let me tell you, this was one of those dishes where you want to say something out loud that you shouldn't say out loud. Especially at the dinner table. something like "Oh fuck."

Sorry, friends, but there it is and that's what I said after slaving in the kitchen for two hours!! Yup, two hours from the time these buggers were taken out of the fridge until they entered my face. One bite and the F word came out of me.

This sounded sooooo good when I found it in a cookbook yesterday. And it had such an impressive title:


You gotta admit, that sounds wonderfully impressive, doesn't it? Reading through the recipe, it honestly does call for 'many cloves' of garlic...25 cloves to be exact. But more about the sauce later.

Sooo, there I was at about 4pm, cleaning a whole bunch of shrimp, steaming them, shelling them, de-veining them, and cutting off the tails. Now all those little pink bodies needed to be minced, so mince I did. (okay, okay, I cheated and used my food processor, tossing 3 cloves of garlic into the mix.)

After that, the pink stuff that resulted from the mincing business was mixed with ricotta cheese, a half tablespoon of marjoram and thyme leaves added as well as a quarter tsp of pepper.

As soon as that was all mixed together, I put 12 lasagna noodles into a pot of boiling water and proceeded to peel over 2 dozen cloves of garlic. This took time. Yes it sure did, even using my big chopping knife to mash down on each clove, splitting the skin and making it easier to slip out the pungent insides. These were placed in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and heated, covered, for ten minutes, until they were soft enough to mash slightly with a fork.

While the garlic was cooking, I drained the pasta, spread the shrimp and ricotta mixture on each noodle, and roll it up, placing each seam down, in a roasting pan.

I added one and a half cups of chicken broth and some snipped fresh parsley to the garlic and then tempered 2 tablespoons of flour with a bit of broth in a little bowl, and added it to the pot, stirring it over low heat until it thickened.

I poured it on to the rolled lasagna noodles. covered it all loosely, and baked it for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let me tell you, all that garlic, simmered in chicken broth, all that shrimp...the smell w as heavenly. Oh, be still my heart, but that set me to almost weeping with anticipation. It made the mess that was my kitchen just an unimportant sidenote, even tho there was not a spot in my rather large kitchen that was not covered with some dirty dish or another.

We waited. And Waited. A half hour. It looked lovely when it came out of the oven. It looked lovely sliced on the dinner plate. The entire house smelled with such a wonderful mix of aromas.

We sat down at the table, took a bite. And it popped out of my mouth.

"Oh fuck."

it had little flavor and what flavor WAS there, was plain awful.

John set down his fork and pushed his chair away from the table.

"Yup, sometimes you just gotta say it."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pig Tales

If you've been visiting in these parts for a while, you might have already gleaned that, tho I was a bright child, I was inquisitive and daring way past the point of common sense. Being a mother now myself, I know that's a fairly normal state of affairs for kids but I often fell short of 'normal.' The pig we purchased is an excellent example.

When I was about nine years old, my Italian mom decided we needed to get a pig. Not a living pig (if that were the case I would have probably begged for a horse too, which I truly trusted I could keep alive and well in our basement.) No, she did not want a living pig. She didn't even want a whole pig. She wanted half a dead pig. So off we went, mom and dad and I, to get half a dead pig.

We drove into the country and pulled onto a dirt driveway which ended at the opening of a pretty rough looking barn that had a huge opened double door. Mama and dad got out and went to the farmhouse which was next to the barn. I stayed in the back seat of the car. If my folks had known what I was about to witness, surely they would have taken me inside the house with them.

I sat in that car wondering how you get a half a pig when suddenly a man came to the opened double door of that barn. I do not remember what exactly led up to it, but there was also a huge pig on a huge chain. Some way or a nuther, that chain hoisted that pig into the air. Before I could say, "holy ham hocks, Robin!!" that pig gave one long and loud shriek as a big power tool thingy came down on him. He was rather quickly split in half from the middle of his ham ass end to his snout, the tail having been spared being split and, instead, hung there in its entirety on one of the sides.

They loaded our half pig into the trailer attached to the back of our car, mama and dad came out of the farmhouse, and off we went. But not before I noticed something delightful.
We got the half with the tail.

We pulled into our driveway, our half pig in tow, and a good dozen of our relatives standing there waiting to help unload the pig. It was taken into our basement (I was kind of glad at that point that I didn't have a horse down there. God only knows what those Italians would have done to it.) The women retreated to the kitchen and through the next few days, they boiled, chopped, steamed and stuffed various pig body parts that had been handed to them from the basement.

The men were a bloody mess, but happy. The women laughed as they did their culinary miracles. And I stood around making a promise to myself (one that I vigorously kept, much to my parents' dismay) that not one iota of that pig would enter my mouth.

But my real focus was on that tail. I wanted it. Badly. It was was not curled into a spiral the way I always believed a pig's tail to be. It was rather straight. No matter. I desired to own that pig's tail more than I had ever wanted anything in my life.

"Aunt Mary, can I have that tail?" I asked.

"You needa aska you mama."

"Ma!" I yelled as a ran up those stairs, taking them two at a time.

"Aunt Mary says to ask you if I can have that pig tail."

"What would you do with it? No, you can't have that. Besides, I'm going to use it to lard pans."

I went down the stairs to where the 'butchering' was taking place and saw that someone, probably Uncle Tony, had cut the tail off of the pig. It lay there on the table. Pink. Rather straight. Calling my name.

I grabbed it and slowly walked up the stairs and into hallway and took a washcloth from the linen closet. Once in my bedroom, I wrapped the tail in the cloth, opened my underwear drawer and stuck that tail as far back into there as I could, covering it with a bunch of panties after.

Of course, there were questions as to where the tail went. Of course I was staunchly accused of taking it. Of course I staunchly lied and said I did not, that the dog must have eaten it. (Poor dog, who was not allowed in the house during this entire process, got the blame for lots and lots of things I did back then.)

Eventually, they forgot about the tail. Only thing was, I forgot about it too.

Fast forward about two weeks or so. Sho'nuff, I'm digging through my drawer and what to I come upon? Yup. A rolled up washcloth with a pig's tail in it. It was no longer pink. In fact, it was no longer solid. It was hollow and empty. Except for the maggots inside.

There was no cry for mama to help me clean out the disgusting thing. The punishment for disobeying, stealing and lying about it would have been far worse than cleaning up a rotted, hollow, maggot infested pig's tail from my pantie drawer.

Did I learn a lesson from this? No, not really. I mean, how often does one get the opportunity to stuff a pig's tail in one's underwear drawer?

I think it may be a once in a lifetime event. And that's plenty enough.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Little Girl in the Road.

You're driving down the road, maybe faster than the 30 mph speed limit. It's a balmy day, kids are at school, and you are thinking about the sale at the local grocery market and wondering if you remembered to cut all the coupons you'll need out of Sunday's paper. Suddenly, a child runs out in front of you, chasing a ball. You slam on your breaks. The car behind you doesn't stop in time and crashes into your car. You take a deep breath, make sure you're not hurt, and get out of the car, cursing yourself, hoping the child is okay, as well as the driver behind you.

You get quite the surprise:

There isn't a child. There never was a child. What there is, is a sort of weird 3D optical illusion, of a disproportionally sized girl, projected onto the road. The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, will be using this device created by two Canadian safety organizations at the cost of $15,000, to train drivers to expect the unexpected.

It sounds good in theory but I'm not sure it won't cause more problems in the long run.

Monday, September 6, 2010


...I love EVERYTHING about this edgy, raw, very sexy Melissa Etheridge song:

Love; Part 3

The last two entries have been about love, but I am not done. I need to write one more. I have long believed that what we need, the way our lives work in a common and universal manner, all has to do with preservation of the species. We eat. We bathe. Fight or flight is still a basic instinct for survival. We have finger and toenails as a means of protection against damage and infection to our digits. We have body hair to either retain body heat and/or to keep the sun from scorching us. Even the tiny nose hairs help us to survive by filtering particles in the air. We sleep in order for our bodies to replenish. and it's not just mortal creatures that follow this preservation of the species thoughts. Fruit falls from branches, the seed inside nourished by the outer pulp of the fruit as it lies on the ground. Growth in plants all but halts while it flowers, focusing instead on the tiny seeds within.

But where does love fit in? How is it beneficial as a tool for preservation? I'm not talking sex. It's pretty obvious that sex is necessary in order to procreate. But love is not sex.

We all need love and we sometimes do some really strange things in the name of love. If it were just a case of love binding us to another person in order to better protect and care for our offspring, I could understand how it all fits in. But there has to be more to it.

A prime example would be the elderly, who fall in love just like their younger counterparts, without the possibility of procreation on the horizon. Love is a factor that we seek always, or that we depend on always. It doesn't seem to be limited to any age, any intelligence, or with any concern of health. Is it only a human condition? I don't know if animals fall in love, but I think it's entirely possible.

Lately I've been thinking a lot of Mrs. Brown. She was my older sister's mother-in-law. Her husband had passed away years before. She herself died a couple of years ago at the age of ninety three. Sadly, as she entered that latter years of her life, her mental condition suffered along with her body. In fact, for the last few years of her life, she suffered from dementia.

As her health deteriorated, her family decided it would be best for her if she moved in with my sister and my brother-in-law. (Mrs. Brown's son.) It was obvious that the end was not far ahead.

The family set up a pseudo hospital room in the house and rallied around the elderly woman whom they loved. One of her family members was my bro-in-law's nephew, a strapping, handsome young fellow, perhaps nineteen or twenty years old. One day he visited his grandmother who studied him for quite a while and in her confusion, decided he was one of her long ago 'beaus.'

She was in love, head over heels in love. She would awaken in the morning and immediately ask whoever was caretaking her, if 'HE' was coming to visit. Whenever the answer was in the affirmative, which was almost daily, she would ask for her hair to be 'fixed,' her nightgown to be changed, a pretty smelling lotion to be smoothed over her skin and sometimes even requested a little lipstick be applied.

This young man was extremely unomfortable with the situation. But he adored his grandmother, and simply held his discomfort at bay. He would sit for literally hours, holding and stroking her hand as she drifted in an out of sleep, gazing at him with adoration whenever she awakened. He certainly earned a star in his heavenly crown with the way he dealt with this.

She died a month or so after this 'affair' began. She died believing she was loved by a handsome young man whom she adored.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Love Letter

A man walked into my bookstore yesterday. He moved slowly, carefully feeling his way with his cane, an old military helmet on his head. He wasn't very old, maybe middle-aged, tho it was difficult to tell with any confidence. My guess was that the helmet was used as a means of protection, maybe after some sort of accident. It was obvious that something had happened to him, maybe a stroke or a brain hemorrhage, there was no way of really knowing without asking, which of course was out of the question. I even wondered, with Fort Rucker right up the road, if perhaps he was a veteran who had been injured overseas.

He made his way to me and smiled. He opened his mouth as if to speak, and I waited while he tried to form the words.

"I wa wa a boo on how do wrie a ledda." Tho he struggled, I finally determined that he wanted a book on letter writing. No problem. We have plenty of books on that.

"What kind of letter?" We have books that are pretty specific.

Again he struggled.

"A La,la, Lo Lo ledda."

(A love letter.)

Okay, I am a softie. I admit that. Any man who can walk up to a stranger in a store and ask for help on finding a book that will instruct him on the art of writing a love letter is one hell of a man, in my opinion.

"I nee do dell her how ah fee. Do you ha anah ide hau ah ca tell her?""

(I need to tell her how I feel. Do you have any ideas how I can tell her?)

I wanted to just reach out and hug him. How very very sweet.

"Can't you just tell her?" I ask.

"Ah don know wha she lis."

(I don't know where she lives.)

Well, this opened a lot of questions in my mind. Was she someone he met online? Perhaps in a chatroom dealing with those who might be stroke victims or otherwise handicapped? Was she a nurse who took care of him, perhaps overseas where his injury might have occured? I will never know, so either will you, my dear reader. And in reality, it doesn't matter. What matters is this gentleman, with his soldier's helmet and his cane, unable to clearly articulate, loved someone and wanted to let her know that in as beautiful a way as he could..through a love letter.

This still has not left my thoughts. It made me remember a time, years ago, when I was a child snooping through my parent's dresser, just to see what they had in there of interest. I had never done this before. In fact, we weren't allowed in their room. My mother had hung a painting of Christ on her bedroom wall, and if I did go into her room, His eyes in that painting would follow me.

(This is the painting that hung on her wall. You cannot keep His eyes off of you. It's impossible.)

It was enough to make me leave that room. It's one thing to have your parents see you do something you weren't supposed to do. It's far worse to feel Christ's eyes burrowing into your snooping, sneaking, evil body at every turn. But one day I hardened my heart to that painting and ventured into the most secretive place in that room, my parent's dresser drawers. There really wasn't anything that caught my eye until I reached way into the back and found an envelope, yellowed with age. I opened the envelop and pulled out a bunch of papers and began to read.

Oh My letters! From my Dad! To my Mom! They were IN LOVE!!! Oh crap, how embarrassing and fascinating they were, all at the same time. They were only dating, not married, no kids...and my dad is writing all these tender mushy words to my mother. I never knew! The closest thing to mush I ever heard coming from my dad's face was "Margie, good meal." or "Margie, the house looks nice" And I couldn't even confront either of them about the letters because I wasn't supposed to be in their room in the first place, much less snooping and reading love letters.

(Years later, after both parents had passed away, one of my sisters found the letters and gave a copy of them to me and our other sister, but even then, I didn't tell my siblings I had already read them.)

My point in telling y'all this is because it brings home a point that a love letter, written on paper and sent to someone special, often lives on. It's not like an email. Or a verbal affirmation of love. It's tangible and often cherished by the one held dear, a remembrance that they were, indeed, worthy of another's great love.

I hope that gentleman finds an address to which to mail that love letter. The object of his affection may not return his love (then again she just might, who knows?) But I would bet you anything, she will hold on to that letter for all her life.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In the Name of Love

Oh, what people will do for love. and not only that, even the brightest of the bright will sometimes do incredibly stupid things in the name of love.

Take this lady:

Her name is Jacquelyn Kotarac. This woman is beautiful, but she's not just beautiful. She's smart. Very smart. So smart that she's a doctor. But she's not just any doctor. She's an internist. And she graduated from medical school with honors. She's received many accolades locally, not only for being an internist par excellence, but also for treating those who had financial difficulties, free of charge. So we have a lady who is smart, beautiful, accomplished and on top of that, kind hearted and caring.

There was, however, one area where Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac struggled; she had no common sense in matters of love.

Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac had a long term 'on again, off again' relationship with her boyfriend, William Moodie. Last week they were in one of their 'off again' stages. Our dear doctor decided to resolve this and went over to Moodie's house with the intention of confronting him about their problems. He would not let her in. She tried to break in using a shovel, but it didnt work. In the meanwhile, and without Jacquelyn's knowledge, Moodie sneaked out the back door.

So what does a normal smart, successful, beautiful and accomplished woman do?? Usually not what Dr. Kotarac did..she climbed a ladder to the roof and went down the chimney. The only problem, once she got to within two feet of the fireplace opening, there was not enough room for her lungs to expand, and she died of aphyxiation.

They did not find her body for three days. It took the fire department over five hours to dig her out.

I cannot figure this out. Why would someone, with so much going for her, be so desperate over a man that she would go to such lengths to reach him about their relationship? I don't get it. I'm sure she could have her pick of fine gentleman.
She lost more than her life. she lost her dignity.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sweet Tea at the Birthday Bash

"I'm holding you to your offer."

This certainly made me sit up and focus. I looked over at "T."


"Well, Beej," T continued, "You told me a couple of months ago that you would arrange a lunch for my birthday. The day is coming up and I'm holding you to your offer."

"Ohh! Okay!"

Let me tell you about 'T.' Now, I call her 'Sweet Tea,' because that's what she is...sweet. I could have as easily nicknamed her bubbly, smart, charming, but Sweet Tea fits the best.

T is short for 'Taneisha.' (T I know you plan on coming in here and I know I slaughtered the spelling of your given name. Please forgive.)

T could easily be called 'Beautiful T.' She has the heighth, weight and facial structure of a top model:

Keep in mind; this photo was taken at noon. T, her SO Aaysha, and our mutual friend Kristen, had gone out the night before and partied hardy until 4am. This is T with a well earned (and deserved!) hangover. She is still drop dead gorgeous. even at her worst.

Let us look at that photo; T is a trend setter. For instance, see her tie? T does not go for the traditional cloth tie; Her tie is metal and hangs from a chain. very cool. Now, move up and look at her new cap. I asked her about this because I thought she had inadvertantly left the scan bar tag on the brim. No, it was intentional. its a new trend. And it's cool. T's cool. Very.

Here is the gang:

We were at the restaurant for almost two and a half hours. Good conversation was abundant. Some of the topics covered:
boyfriends babies husbands strippers alcohol clothes bars work books Lady Gaga Rolling Stone magazine houses dancing music bodies kids sleep sports food peppers roadkill oxtails phones pregnancy on and on, often two or three conversations going simultaneously.
Happy birthday Sweet Tea! I love having you as my friend.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. (or how Glenn Beck continues to make an ass out of himself.)

What MLK said:

What Glenn Beck said:

1. "This president I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture....I'm not saying he doesn't like white people, I'm saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist." –on President Obama, sparking an advertiser exodus from his FOX News show, July 28, 2009 (Source)

2. "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. ... No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out. Is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus -- band -- Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, 'Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore,' and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, 'Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death.' And you know, well, I'm not sure." –responding to the question "What would people do for $50 million?", "The Glenn Beck Program," May 17, 2005 (Source)

3. "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining." –"The Glenn Beck Program," Sept. 9, 2005 (Source)

4. "The only [Katrina victims] we're seeing on television are the scumbags." –"The Glenn Beck Program," Sept. 9, 2005 (Source)

5. "I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today." –on why people who lost their homes in forest fires in California had it coming, "The Glenn Beck Program," Oct. 22, 2007 (Source)

6. "I have been nervous about this interview with you because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies. ... And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way." –interviewing Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim U.S. congressman, Glen Beck's show on CNN's Headline News, Nov. 14, 2006 (Source)

7. "Al Gore's not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization...And you must silence all dissenting voices. That's what Hitler did. That's what Al Gore, the U.N., and everybody on the global warming bandwagon [are doing]." –"The Glenn Beck Program," May 1, 2007 (Source)

8. "So here you have Barack Obama going in and spending the money on embryonic stem cell research. ... Eugenics. In case you don't know what Eugenics led us to: the Final Solution. A master race! A perfect person. ... The stuff that we are facing is absolutely frightening." –"The Glenn Beck Program," March 9, 2009 (Source)

9. "You have the artwork of Mussolini there, here in New York at Rockefeller Plaza." –analyzing the artwork decorating Rockefeller Plaza, which he said contained a hammer and sickle, Glenn Beck show on FOX News Channel, Sept. 2, 2009 (Source)

10. "O-L-I-G-A-R-H-Y." –misspelling "oligarchy" on his chalk board while claiming he had deciphered a secret code that he said was proof President Obama was trying to create an "Oligarhy," Aug. 27, 2009, Glenn Beck show on FOX News Channel (Source)

What I say:

Today is the anniversary of Martin Luther King's outstanding "I have a dream" speech. And today, that moron Glenn Beck is holding a rally at the same spot where MLK spoke his words.

Hey, Glennie boy..guess ain't no Martin. But unlike you, I believe you have the right to say what you choose to say. It's just too bad you don't know enough to keep your self serving mouth shut.

I know today is your special day in the sun, Glenn Beck, but I wish you could take a few minutes to come in here and discuss your beliefs with me. Or better yet, we could set up a day and time for you to come to my house for dinner, tho I can promise you, when my big mouth confronts your big mouth, you won't have much of an appetite left. I want to know what satisfaction you get out of your scare tactics that, as far as I can tell, lie unfounded.

Your rally will be remembered as just another self serving and dividing farce. However, this day will be far better remembered, for all of eternity, as the day that Martin Luther King Jr told us all what can be seen when people have the daring to look from the top of the mountain.



Thursday, August 26, 2010

He's Back~

Guess who has a new CD coming out in November.

A Blast From the Past:

He developed a little pizazz over time, didn't he?

And here, for a little bit of fun, is a demo he made in 1968:

He is the gift that keeps on giving. Sir Elton John.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Estrogen Adventures

Those of you who have been following me for a while are well aware that I do not generally shy away from topics that are not politically correct. This will be one of those. Guys, again, you might choose to skip this post. Unless you are interested in knowing more about the female body.

Some of you are too young to have experienced what I'm about to write about. Some of you are not. Regardless, those of you young 'uns might want a little heads up on what you might go through a few years down the road.

I am going to tell you about estrogen supplements.

There comes a time in the female life (you men are spoiled brats, I just want to tell you that...) when hormones change. In fact, they take a nose dive. There are many different symptoms. You will know when this has begun to occur.

Last week my gynecologist recommended the time had come for me to consider estrogen supplements. I considered it for maybe three seconds.

"Bring it on, Doctor!!" My heart was doing a big, soul stomping happy dance.

I wanted the oral stuff, the stuff that makes you feel like you're 21 again, the stuff that makes your skin glow and..and...and...well, a whole bunch of different wonderful 'things' begin to come 'alive' again.

"You still have a uterus." she said, shaking her head no.

She sat down in front of me and drew a chart about the negative effects of oral estrogen on women who still have a uterus; Strokes. Blood clots. Cancer. Heart attacks. On and on.

"What's a woman who is cursed with a uterus to do?" I lamented.

"No problem." she smiled. "We'll use a vaginal cream."

Okay, no problem; as far as my complexion goes, I'll do what my friend Lynn in Tallahassee does and just put a little dab on my face. Watch out crows feet, here we come!! har!

"Okay, Beej. This is potent stuff and is expensive. Sometimes insurance doesn't cover it. It can run over $100 for a tube. Having said that, it comes with an applicator. Throw it away. I only want you to use a pea sized amount, three times a week."

Off I go with my prescription and to the pharmacy. I hand the pharmacist the prescription for my 'wonder cream.' He takes it to his computer.

"Beej, this is expensive stuff."

"How expensive?"


Whoa, I think. $120 for a little tube. And here i've been making it for free all those years! I've been producing a gold mine with no way to excavate it!

"I'll take it."

And off I go to my house. I take it out of the box.

Liquid gold:

I pull out the applicator.

"Dr. told me to throw it away." I remember. I study it and decide, nah, I'm holding on to that..Just for, you know, an emergency..or something. I slip it back into the box.

I read all the warnings on the little instruction sheet and call my sister.

"Hey sis. Have you ever used estrogen cream?"

"Oh I can't use that but I use something similar."

I don't ask what. I'm afraid she'll tell me lard or something like that.

Why can't you use the regular stuff?" I do ask.

"Because I had a terrible, HORRIBLE allergic reaction."

"Oh damn! that musta hurt." I think to myself.

"What about Jeanne?" (Jeanne is our other sister.)

"Well she did use it but she stopped."


"Because her dog got hold of the tube and ate it."

"Her dog ate her estrogen?"

"Yup, that's what happened."

Oh dam! Big damn! Big doggone damn!

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