The Dance of My People

Friday morning I decided to drive Studly’s car. My car was almost out of gas and the windshield was covered in lovebug guts, so it just made sense to put his car to use. Besides, I wanted to listen to Howard Stern, and my car doesn’t have Sirius/XM radio.

We still haven’t quite gotten our garage sorted out. One side is completely filled with four motorcycles, a riding lawn mower, a couple of large tool boxes, assorted crap, and more assorted crap. The other side houses my car. So both Studly’s personal car and his company car sit outside.

I had an early morning chiropractic appointment in Tallahassee, so the sun wasn’t up when I walked outside. The old saying about it always being darkest before the dawn popped into my head as I stepped into the humid Florida morning. The light emanating from the open garage door didn’t penetrate very far, so I clicked the car remote to provide a little more illumination. Darkness still prevailed.

My imagination instantly kicked into high gear, conjuring up all sorts of monsters lurking in the pitch black between the car and me: snakes, gators, wolves, bears, chainsaw wielding serial killers. I began inching forward, speaking in no-nonsense tones to anything with evil intentions, “You better not mess with me, whatever you are,” and, “I come in peace, please don’t eat me,” were among my choice words.

The passenger door was closest, so I went for it and threw my purse and work bag in the front seat. I considered just climbing over the center console, but I had on a skirt, and I looked kind of nice, so I decided to suck it up and walk around the front of the car. And right into a massive spider web.

The full blown spider dance was on. You know that dance–the one where you flap and slap, and stomp about, but no matter what you do the web continues clinging to your hair, your face, your hands. And you know, you just know that spider is doing it’s best to attack, bite, and possibly kill, the person who ruined its magnificent web. Even reliving the event now I imagine a family of spiders scrabbling around in my hair looking for a place to nest.

I battled through the web, but all the way to Tallahassee I wrestled with the probable presence of spiders, periodically slapping at my neck, and when I arrived at Dr. Verrier’s office I had him do an arachnid check. To his credit, he took my request seriously, but I have a feeling that service isn’t covered by my insurance. I am pleased to report no spiders were discovered. Nevertheless, I could still feel that spidey tingle.

I told Studly about my web encounter of the worst kind when he called from Pensacola that evening. “That’s what you get for driving my car,” he said. No sympathy, but I have to admit, spiders are a pretty good deterrent to future car borrowing.

Peace, People!

Love (Bugs) in the Air

North Florida is under attack, and I don’t think anyone is doing a damned thing about it. All week long this part of the sunshine state has been swarmed by “lovebugs,” scientifically known as Plecia nearctica. Apparently these bugs are members of the family of march flies and go by the cutesie names of honeymoon fly, kissingbug, and double-headed bug. The darned things fly around coupled together during and after they mate for up to several days.

And they do it everywhere. I had to wade through a storm of the nasty little buggers yesterday to get into my vehicle outside of an elementary school. I was slapping and flapping and waving my bag at them, but a host of the entangled insects still managed to make it into my car. This morning I found two in my purse. Ew. Just ew! While I admire their tenacity and endurance, the whole idea of me carting around a pair of cavorting lovers is kind of low brow. Does this make me a pimp? A madame? Is my handbag now a mobile bug brothel?

The lovebugs aren’t all bad, though. The birds are enjoying a moveable feast with all of the distracted, romantically involved bugs in the air, and lovebug larvae are lauded as one of nature’s best organic recyclers. The adult lovebugs are great pollinators, as well. But the pair I found copulating in my handbag won’t be pollinating anything. Ever again.

Peace, People!

Do You Want Fries With That?

Saginaw, Michigan, now has a drive through funeral home. Seriously. I heard this on NPR. Now, instead of having to go into the funeral home one has the option of pulling up to a curtained window at the mortuary and pressing a button to view the deceased while appropriate music plays from an overhead speaker.

According to the proprietor the drive through is aimed at those who have a fear of funeral homes. I have a fear of colonoscopies. Could my next one be done as a drive through procedure? Many people fear the dentist’s office. How about drive through root canals? Drive through proctologist, anyone?

I hate to be a stickler for protocol, but it seems like actually getting out of one’s car and going in to view a deceased friend or loved one is the very least one could do to show respect. The drive through option is more about voyeurism than anything.

“Dang, Aunt Lou sure looks good through my double-tinted window.”
“Is that a mole on her chin or bug juice on the window?”

When I pass on (I.e. die, kick the bucket, cast off this mortal coil, start pushing up daisies, breathe my last, expire, etc.) I want to be cremated, so I doubt that anyone would drive through just to view my urn. However, if they’d let folks view the bonfire, well that might draw a few spectators. We could throw in some sparklers and make it a big party! Heck, I wouldn’t even mind if sticks and marshmallows were available just as long as folks show up.

I have a real fear that since we’ve moved all over the country that upon my demise no one except a few family members will attend my funeral. I don’t know why this bothers me, since death itself is something I do not fear. So, if my funeral becomes a big party maybe it will attract a crowd. I hope everyone sings “Thanks for the Memories,” “Thank God and Greyhound She’s Gone,” and “Happy.” Then I want them to sit around the crematory bonfire and roast their marshmallows. Is that too much to ask?

Peace, People!

Lies I Tell Myself

Below is a list of the top ten lies I tell myself. Please add any lies of your own. We’ll share and compare.

1. I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it.

2. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.

3. I’m only going to eat 10 chips.

4. Just one more chapter….

5. I can handle one more glass of wine.

6. The cats aren’t sleeping with me tonight.

7. I can quit watching “Criminal Minds” any time I want to.

8. This week I’m going to stay on top of the laundry.

9. Tomorrow I’ll get organized.

10. I will never use sarcasm again.

Peace (like that’s gonna happen), People

A Country Song

Falling asleep last night these words popped into my head:

I’ve lost Faith
Can’t find Hope
But I’ve still got Jane

If that doesn’t sound like lyrics to a country song, I don’t know what does.

I have a cousin, Effron White, who makes his living as a singer/song writer in Nashville. He’s quite talented. Maybe he’ll use my lyrics in a future song. Hey Effron, let’s negotiate!

Peace, People.

Sometimes Handsome Just Ain’t Enough

When one has been married for 38 years one gleans a great deal of information about a spouse’s intentions from subtle verbal and nonverbal cues. How we work those cues to our benefit is up to us.

Case in point: Yesterday after golf Studly came in and immediately sat in his recliner. I knew from his posture that he intended to take a nap.

When he awoke he leaned over and gave me a kiss and informed me he was going to take a shower. I knew that was code for “meet me in the bedroom in 15 minutes for some mushy, married stuff.” Nailed it.

After said mushy stuff I knew he’d take another nap. Batting a thousand.
The nap was a short one. I knew he’d be hungry for lunch, so I wasn’t surprised when he opened the refrigerator and stared blindly into its depths as men often do. “I made chicken salad,” I said.” It’s right in front of you.”

He turned as if to ask a question. Before he could say anything I said, “Yes, I bought fresh bread.” Another question crept into his eyes, “and Cheetos.” I finished. He smiled.

Later that afternoon he asked if I wanted to do something. Now this one was tricky. He had on a ratty blue Indianapolis Colts t-shirt and old black golf shorts, so I knew he was thinking about working on our motorcycles or taking the car in for an oil change, but I wanted to go out for dinner and perhaps see a movie. I told him as much.

“Yeah, we can do that,” he said. “But I wanted to get the oil changed on my car first.” Ha, I knew it!

“Well, we can do that, too,” I smiled charmingly. “But you’ll need to change clothes first.”

“What?” He asked in that special innocent non-innocent way he has.

“Yep. If we leave the house with you dressed as you are we’ll end up eating at Whataburger and going to the $3 theater. I want a nice dinner and a first run movie.”

He gestured at his middle-aged face and body, ‘Don’t you think I look handsome anymore?”

I responded in my best Texas sweetheart twang, “Honey, sometimes handsome just ain’t enough.”

Studly changed clothes. We got the oil changed. We had a nice dinner at a Japanese grill–his choice, but I okay’d it. All was going according to plan. Right up until I realized we were mere blocks from the $3 theater. Well played, Studly. Well played.

Peace, People.

World One

Last night’s dream:

I trained for living on an alien world for many months (years?). Videos of a flooded, forested planet were studied in great detail. I was told our housing had been erected among the trees–durable, functional tree cubes.

The journey to our new world was a long one, so we (myself and three fellow anonymous travelers) were placed into a state of suspended animation aboard a craft capable of traveling at speeds faster than that of light. My education continued while I slept, in the form of dreams within my dreams. I wondered if I’d recognize being awake when I woke.

In the middle of a cautionary tale about massive, carnivorous turtles our interstellar journey ended. Fortunately I had dreamt of these turtles before, so I knew to give them a wide berth.

We had landed in a marsh near our new abode, and our ship easily converted into a water craft to deliver us safely. I don’t recall climbing the tree, but I must have because soon I was exploring my cozy little dwelling.

Basically each of us had our own little cube with built in cots and storage units. Our cubes were connected to one another’s by a covered walkway with a shared living/cooking space in the middle. There were hammocks hanging outside of our cubes for off hours relaxation. I also remember laughing about the shared privy at the end of a long walkway. One of our first decisions as a team was to agree on rules for the use and care of this toilet.

We quickly fell into our routines as explorers and researchers. I was tasked with learning as much as I could about the flora of our new home. What was edible? What was toxic? What plants might benefit mankind back on earth? Every day I ventured farther from our home tree to gather specimens and conduct tests.

One day I saw a craft similar to the one we’d arrived in land just a mile or so from our tree. I alerted my co-workers and we gathered to observe the new arrivals. Imagine our delight when two dogs emerged from the pod. One was a Golden Labrador puppy and the other was a small brown and white mixed breed dog.

The Lab jumped into the water and began swimming toward us. Soon we were hugging and petting this charming addition to our lives. The little mutt stood shaking in the pod. One of my companions rowed out to get him, but the little dog panicked and jumped into the water. We all laughed as he realized he could swim and began paddling happily to his new home. Then, I saw a huge turtle heading toward him underwater.

We began urging our coworker to paddle faster, faster, but the turtle was faster yet and devoured the little guy. I woke up in tears.

Interpretations welcomed.

Peace, People

Test Anxiety

Test and anxiety. For many, those two words are inseparable. I don’t mind tests; in fact, I’ve always welcomed the challenge, but as a former classroom teacher I know I’m in the minority.

Perhaps, I thought, folks could benefit from my tips to reduce or even alleviate test anxiety. Here are my top five:

1. Don’t sleep the night before a big test. Instead, stay up all night watching a “Criminal Minds” or “CSI” marathon. There’s something about the combination of sleeplessness and competent police work performed by abnormally attractive people that helps one put things in proper perspective: There aren’t any serial killers after you? Relax! It’s just a test!

2. Skip breakfast if it’s a morning test, or lunch for an afternoon test. When your stomach begins rumbling you’ll be so embarrassed that you’ll forget to be nervous about the test. It might also annoy others around you thus potentially affecting the curve.

3. Imbibe large quantities of alcohol just before taking your test. Watch your test anxiety fade into the background as your blood alcohol level increases.

4. Wear your Jammies on test day and bring your favorite stuffed animal. It’s almost impossible to be anxious while wearing one’s softest pair of flannel p.j.’s and cuddling Teddy Bear.

5. Carry your favorite handbag and/or wear killer shoes, then imagine that everyone else is in Kmart couture. You’ll feel superior and confident. Obviously this tip shouldn’t be paired with #4.

Disclaimer: These tips are good only for relieving test anxiety. They do not, I repeat DO NOT have any positive effects on test results, and indeed could lead to just the opposite. Positive results generally derive from a healthy mix of studying and test preparation.

Peace, People!

Notes to Self

One of the best things about writing a blog? I pay attention to each of my random musings hoping to snatch a topic from their midst.

One of the worst things about writing a blog? I pay attention to each of my random musings hoping to snatch a topic from their midst.

Typically my ideas come while I’m driving and either listening to NPR or a random music station. I don’t have access to satellite radio in my car, so I’m at the mercy of whatever turns up on my am/fm dials.

Since I can’t type a note during drive time, I have gotten in the habit of leaving myself voice notes through SIRI on my iPhone. This is a wonderful tool that I also implement for grocery lists and appointment reminders. I highly recommend it. Just be sure to speak slowly and distinctly.

Some of my notes have gone amusingly wrong. An idea for a blog post called “Swap Meet Saturday” went through the following permutations before I got it right:

Lock gate Saturday
Call me Saturday
Swamp Meat Saturday

I like the title “Swamp Meat Saturday” a lot, so it might be featured in a future post.

Similarly, I wanted to write a post about the amorous insects the locals call “love bugs,” those annoying little insects that hook together in some sort of in-flight mating ritual. I asked SIRI to take the note, “Love Bugs are in the Air.” Instead I got “Love Butter Beware!” Again, I have plans for writing about Love Butter in the future, perhaps on my adults only blog site.*

Just a few days ago I wrote a post called “Hypochondria and the Art of One Upmanship.” The voice reminder for that translated first as “Hypochondriac and One’s Up On the Ship,” then as “Hypochondria and the One on the Ship.” Both possible future titles!

I don’t think SIRI and I are in sync all the time, but we make it work. Kind of like a good marriage. She has some really great random thoughts. I just can’t figure out why she can’t understand me. Everyone else seems to. Right?

*I don’t really have an adults only site.

Peace, People.

Dominique’s Day

Twelve years ago today Studly Doright and I became grandparents for the first time when our son’s daughter, Dominique Grace, entered the world. She was incredibly beautiful, a perfectly round porcelain-like face with wide open blue eyes that seemed to say, “Hey, I know you!”

From the first moment I saw her, the moment I first held her, I felt love beyond any I’d ever experienced. This tiny human, this connection to the future made my life complete in ways it had never been before. Ok, I was smitten. I didn’t want to put her down. I guess I would still be holding her if someone else hadn’t insisted that they wanted a turn.

As an infant she gave her parents fits. She didn’t much like to sleep, so many hours were spent trying to find ways to soothe her. I didn’t live close enough to help, and I felt pretty helpless listening to their woes. We might chalk their troubles up to payback, though. Her dad wasn’t the easiest infant to care for either.

As she became more autonomous, there was nothing that didn’t interest our Dominique. She loved, and still loves art and animals and kind people. When she was three the highest compliment she could pay a person was that they were so nice they even liked ants. She’s become quite an avid reader, as well, (that makes her Nana incredibly happy) and she can run like the wind. Have I mentioned that Dominique is still quite beautiful?

I cannot believe that she is twelve and a sixth grader. It seems like just a heartbeat ago that I cradled her in my arms and told her how much I loved her. She doesn’t really go for that mushy stuff these days, and that’s okay. Grandmothers have really good memories.

Since I’m not a grandmother who knits or bakes or sews, I’ve written stories for my grandchildren. Here is Dominique’s. It’s all true, except maybe the last line. Happy birthday, Dominique Grace. We love you more every day.

“The Girl and the Butterfly”

One little butterfly, orange and black
Circled the flowers in the summer garden.

One little girl, in red, white, and blue
Danced around the flowers in the summer garden.

“Here, little butterfly!” called the girl.

But the butterfly flew higher than the girl could jump,
And faster than the girl could run.

“Please!” said the girl.

No matter how hard she tried, the girl could not catch the butterfly.

“You must let the butterfly come to you when he is ready,” said Mama.

“I don’t think he will ever be ready,” sighed the little girl.

“Here, sweetheart, I have an idea,” said Mama. “Hold out your hand.”

Mama poured a drop of orange juice into the girl’s hand.

“Now hold out your hand and stay very still.”

The girl did just that.

She waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And would you believe it? The butterfly landed ever so lightly onto the girl’s hand.

The girl smiled at the butterfly.

And after sipping the juice, the butterfly smiled back.

Peace, a People!