Algebra is Such a Lonely Word

In response to the Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion. Which subject in school did you find impossible to master? Did math give you hives? Did English make you scream? Do tell!

I was a smart kid. Not motivated, and certainly not well-directed in my educational goals, but I had a talent for learning and for taking tests. 

My family wasn’t particularly concerned with my academic performance. They were pleased that I earned good grades, but there really weren’t any expectations that I’d go on to college. 

For the first eight years of my formal education all the subjects were ridiculously easy for me: English grammar and literature, Social Studies, even Science and Mathematics. Seldom did I need to study, even though had I done so on a regular basis I might have ended up near the top of my class. 

In ninth grade my good grades landed me in an accelerated algebra class and my educational wheels fell off. I worked my butt off in that class, but the concepts were so abstract that my brain was unable to process them. 

I literally thought that I must have missed the lesson explaining what “n” and “x” were, so night after night I’d reread my algebra text from the beginning trying to unlock the code. Surely, I thought, if I could just figure out their values I’d be okay. The concept of a variable just made no sense.

With the help of a good and brilliant friend I managed to stay afloat, even though she occasionally became exasperated and annoyed with my questions. It seemed simple to her, why couldn’t everyone “get it?”

Our accelerated class churned through one and a half years of algebra in one school year, then we moved on to Geometry. Holy crap. If I’d been merely struggling in algebra, geometry put me down for the count. I lasted half the year and then dropped the class since it wasn’t required to graduate. 

I can’t even remember what replaced Geometry in my schedule, I just know that for the first time in my academic life I doubted myself. It was a lowdown, crummy feeling.

Following my junior year my family moved to a slightly larger town. I met my future husband (Studly Doright was so cute back then) and even though I went to junior college for a year my heart wasn’t in it, and I was petrified by the idea that I wouldn’t be able to conquer college algebra. So I married my Studly and we settled into our lives together.

When our children were in elementary school we decided that I should go back to college, and with a totally new focus I rocked that scene. To my surprise and delight I was still a smart kid. With trepidation I faced my college algebra class. What was once too abstract for my 14-year-old brain now made sense. Amazing!

It was the only class I didn’t earn an “A” in, though, preventing me from graduating college with a perfect 4.0. But, that “B” felt like a victory after all those years, and summa cum laude looked great on my transcript.

Take that, algebra!   

Peace, people!

Potty Time

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: What’s the household task you most despise doing? That’s too easy.

Scrubbing toilets, ugh!
an onerous job, no doubt
deliver me please!

Surely scientists
who’ve put humans on the moon
could solve this problem.

A self-cleaning john
for every domicile
let this be our goal!

A Day for Jason and Jackson

May 12 is an important day in our family. On this day in 1978 our first child, Jason, was born. It was a pretty big deal. That Jason survived having a neurotic mother was an even a bigger deal. Thank goodness Studly Doright was around to hold us together.

Not only was our son born on May 12, but his son, Jackson, was also born on this date in 2006. That makes it so easy to remember at least one grand child’s birthday. Trust me, the older we get the more important this becomes.

Our Jackson is a cool dude. He’s athletic, witty, and handsome. I can’t even express how much we love this kid who reminds us so much of his dad. And, since I’m not a Nana who makes things for her grandchildren I try to compensate by writing stories for them.  This is one I’ve written for Jackson.

Lumber Jack

There once was a legendary lumber man. The greatest man to ever wield an axe. This man’s name was Jackson. 

Jackson was no ordinary boy. Born with an axe in his hand, he used a chainsaw as a rattle and cut his teeth on a big old knotty pine. He learned to climb a tree before he could walk, and he could beat any grown man at log rolling before his first birthday. 

When he was nine he could grow a full beard, so he left home and headed out to make his fortune.

“Bye Ma! Bye Pa!” Jackson called as he headed out with just his saw and his axe. 

“Goodbye, son!” said his Ma.

 “Make us all proud,” said his Pa. 

Now even with his skills those first months on his own were not without peril. Once, Jackson came across a mountain lion fighting a grizzly bear. Mid-fight the grizzly bear was distracted by Jackson and the mountain lion got in a nasty swipe at the bear’s nose. Jackson felt responsible for the bear’s injury, so he jumped into the fray and put the mountain lion in a headlock.

 “Stop that, you two!” Jackson commanded. “Life’s too short to be fightin’!”

He patched up the bear’s nose and made him shake paws with the mountain lion. “I could use some help out here on my own, and I sure am lonely,” said Jackson. “How’d you like to come along?” 

And just like that the grizzly became Jackson’s watch bear and the mountain lion became his pet. The trio made a mighty fine sight as they traveled the back country helping out settlers and felling trees. 

One fall morning, Jackson, Grizz, and Kitty wandered into a lumber camp looking for work. Jackson asked to speak to the foreman and was directed to a huge tent. He instructed his companions to wait outside.

 “You two stay out of trouble. I’ll be right back.” 

Inside the tent was a big man. The biggest man Jackson had ever seen, at least eight feet tall, weighing close to 300 pounds. 

“What can I do for you young man?” the man boomed. 

“I’m looking for work,” said Jackson. “Folks tell me this is the best camp in the country.” 

“We don’t hire youngsters,” said the man. “Run along now, son.” 

“Sir, just give me a chance to…” 

Just then a mighty roar erupted outside the tent. Jackson and the foreman ran outside to see what was causing the ruckus. There in the clearing stood a giant blue ox. Grizz was on one side and Kitty on the other trying to herd that ox away from the tent. The ox bellowed, Grizz and Kitty roared. 

“Down, Grizz! Down, Kitty!” shouted Jackson. 

“Babe, sit!” yelled the foreman. 

The animals complied. 

“Dang, if that wasn’t something,” laughed the foreman, “I see that you aren’t an ordinary youngster. I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a test and if you pass it I’ll hire you.” 

“You have a deal, sir.” 

“Call me Mr, Bunyan,” said the foreman. 

“Call me Jack,” said Jackson. 

That very afternoon the test was arranged. All the men in camp gathered to watch Mr. Bunyan explain the rules.

“Son, my best man can cut down a tree in five minutes and eight seconds. My slowest man can do it in seven minutes flat. All you have to do is beat the slowest man, and you can have his job.” 

Jackson nodded his understanding and hefted his axe. 

“I’m ready, Mr. Bunyan.” he said. 

“Go!” exclaimed the boss. The crowd roared. 

“He’s just a kid!” yelled one man. 

“You’re going down!” hollered another. 

Grizz and Kitty roared their support for Jackson. Amid the noise, Jackson remained calm. Then, he took careful aim and with three mighty chops he cut that tree down in less than a minute. 

The crowd went silent. Then they began to chant. “JACK! JACK! JACK!” 

Mr. Bunyan clapped Jackson on the back.

“Son, you have a job. And a nickname. From now on, you’ll be known as Lumber Jack!” 

And from that day forward all lumber men were referred to as lumberjacks, but there has only ever been one “Lumber Jack.”

Mayhaw Festival

I’m a big fan of festivals. All festivals. I don’t care what’s being celebrated or honored or paraded, if there’s a festival within easy driving distance I’m there. After all, every festival needs a queen. I’d love to be queen.

This past Saturday while Studly was playing golf I drove about 35 miles east to the Mayhaw Festival held at Golden Acres ranch just outside of Monticello, Florida.  I had no idea what a Mayhaw was, but it sounded vaguely Southern so I couldn’t wait to see what this festival was all about. 

In my excitement I failed to check event times and arrived just about the same time that the various exhibitors were setting up. Oops. I wandered around and visited with folks, but there wasn’t a lot going on. 

However, the morning weather was absolutely gorgeous without the heavy humidity and heat that would set in later in the morning. Maybe early was better after all. My chances of being named Queen increased significantly with me being one of the few women present. 

This gorgeous rooster and I kind of bonded. He followed me around like a little lamb. But My name isn’t Mary and he was no lamb. I think he wanted me to join his harem. I respectfully declined. I did ask him if I could be Queen of the Mayhaw Festival. He just said, “cockahahaha!”

This baby Pygmy goat was three weeks old. Her name was Daisy and she was a big hit with the few children in attendance. When I asked Daisy what my chances of being named Mayhaw Queen were she said, “baaaaaad” 

I bought a couple of items. On the left is a jar of salsa. I’m opening it tonight. On the right is a jar of Mayhaw jelly. I asked what a Mayhaw was before making my purchase, after all I’m not a complete idiot. Mayhaws are small red berries that resemble cranberries. The sample taste was pleasant–tart and rich. 

As festivals go this one was pretty laid back. Maybe if I’d stuck around the activity might have increased. But, the temps were headed up into the 90’s on Saturday, and I’m such a delicate little flower that I headed home for a nice long (three hour!) nap.

Festivals are common in this area during the spring and summer, and I’ve started looking for one to attend next weekend. I’d really like one willing to name me Queen over the proceedings. I’d ride in the parade in a lovely   gown of fuschia or purple or lime green and wave at all the little people.

Peace, little people!

Why I Like This Photo, Round 2

Sure, it doesn’t look like much now, but in a few weeks this is going to be Studly Doright’s long-anticipated man cave.

To hear Studly tell it he’s never, ever had a place to call his own. Now keep in mind, this is a guy who, after he spends 10 minutes in a bathroom, owns that bathroom, simply because no one else will venture inside.

Of course he did move directly from his parents’ home into our cozy little (read: crummy) rental house 38.75 years ago, so even though we’ve purchased progressively nicer homes every time we’ve moved, he really never has had a place of his very own.

Studly’s man cave is going to be part motorcycle garage/part workshop. I’ve even hinted that we could put a cot out there for those times when he snores so loudly that even the cats need earplugs.

I’m almost as excited for the man cave to be completed as Studly is. It means more space in my, I mean, our garage, less clutter in my, I mean, our home, and more opportunities for Studly to build stuff for me, I mean, us.

Who knew just how much I needed a man cave?

Peace, people!

Journey: Don’t Stop Believing

Today is Mother’s Day, and I really think all moms should get a break from trying to write a post on the Daily Post’s daily prompt. I am a mom; therefore, here is my take on the prompt: Journey.


If you need a good giggle, please read this post from my fellow blogger and all around good chap



An extract from The Duke of Edinburgh’s biography of Twatersley Fromage OBE

Rice University, Houston. September 12, 1962: Raising the stakes in the competition between Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in spaceflight capability President John F Kennedy gives a speech, broadcast worldwide stating unequivocally that the US will get a manned flight to the moon before the Soviets do.  At the Foreign Office in London two senior members of staff and their ‘secretary come dogsbody’ are tuned into the Home Service on the radio listening intently to what the President has to say.

“I say Carruthers that’s a hell of a good wheeze Kennedy has got there”

“Has he by Jove…although I must confess Twattersley personally I didn’t think he sounded bronchial at all…indeed I thought his voice was crystal clear throughout the whole speech.”

“No you fool…a good wheeze as in…

View original post 1,410 more words

When a Cowboy Dies

When a cowboy dies
the world sighs and God calls out
“come home son, and rest!”

“You’ve no more cattle
to brand, no roundups to ride,
come home son, and rest.”

“Your best horse awaits
ready for your gentle hand
ride home son, and rest.”

When a cowboy dies
loved ones cry, while angels sing,
“welcome home; now rest.”

Actor Fess Parker

I wrote this piece as a tribute to my husband’s Uncle, Frank Parker, who passed away this week. I didn’t have a photo of Uncle Frank, but actor Fess Parker (pictured above) was a cousin, and shared a lot of the same good genetic material. 

Uncle Frank was a true cowboy from his early teenaged years in Pie Town, New Mexico, until his body just couldn’t do the work anymore. Not too many years ago Frank suffered a broken neck in a horse-related incident.

No one expected Frank to live, but he did, recovering fully and continuing to ride the range out near Albuquerque, New Mexico, on into his 80’s.

Uncle Frank was one hell of a tough man, and a real cowboy. He’s ridden on home now. May he truly find rest.

Peace, people.

Mother’s Day

I have beautiful memories of Freida Hall, the woman who wiped my snotty nose, cleaned out my grungy ears, and made sure I always wore clean underwear. Glamorous roles, indeed.

Isn’t that what being a mother is about,  though? Taking on those tough jobs that nobody else wants to do: Getting up at midnight and two and four and six with a newborn who can’t settle into a schedule, or with a two year old who just wants to have a cuddle and a bit of comfort, or with a 16-year-old whose boyfriend had just broken up with her?

It’s about doing the tough love stuff when necessary–sniffing out the truth instead of believing every word her beloved child tells her. It’s about holding that child accountable for wrongdoing, and then holding her close and letting her know she’s still loved.

I’d love nothing more at this moment than to be able to tell my mom how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. I’d say:

Thanks Mommy for all of those unglamorous acts you performed, for all the wiped noses and bums, all the scrubbed faces and ears. 

Thanks for all the times you stayed up with me, cuddled me, held my hand, cooled my fevered brow, and listened to my teenaged angst. 

Thanks for teaching my brothers and me to be responsible adults through example and discipline and tough love.

Thanks, Mom. I love you and miss you every day.


Peace, people. Life’s too precious for anything else.