It’s the Little Things

Like…

Finding an episode of Criminal Minds that you’ve not seen before

Having fresh guacamole made to your taste right at your table

Opening up a fresh loaf of soft bread

Discovering a new author whose books speak to your soul

Listening to a song that lifts your spirits

Identifying with a character in a novel

Having that aha! moment when working on a project

Completing a less than fun task in a fun way (you should see my toilet cleaning technique)

Singing in the shower and sounding like a pop star

Clicking through the channels and finding “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” already in progress

Getting an old-fashioned letter in the mail

Snuggling with a kitten

Kayaking with my Studly on the lake behind our home

Getting surprise calls from my youngest and oldest grandchildren on the same day (thank you D and Ninibelle)

Having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine on the patio with a good friend

Dancing

Finding peace within myself if only for a moment

Having a good dream about loved ones I’ve lost (Mom, thanks for your “visit” last night)

Hearing the words, “I love you, Nana!”

What are your little things?

Peace, People!

Only The Lonely

Last week I gave out my email address to a complete stranger. Oh, we’d stood next to one another in the checkout line at Publix, but I don’t even know her first name. It started with a D. Dianne? Denise? Desiderata? Surely I’d have remembered that one.

Lonely people do odd things, like speaking to ourselves and answering our own questions out loud. “What do you think of this shirt?” “Nice, but it might be a little tight.” “You think so?” “Yea.” All me. All true.

We say odd things to waiters: “Is this the only menu you have?” “I really like your Muzak!” “Yeehaw, this is good!” Ok, I made that last one up.

We make odd observations aloud: “Hey, you have really cool ankles!” “I wish I had your cowlick!” “Today’s gonna be a good day!”

We try to make eye contact with people who look to be in our general age range, give or take 30 years. Yesterday I got into a meaningful conversation with a nice lady over a shoe sale at Dillards. I really think we could’ve been best friends, but then the woman’s great-great granddaughter gave me a look of pity before wheeling her out of my range.

Now, I’ve always been odd. Being lonely just amplifies it. Honestly, I like my own company, but it would be nice to have someone to hang out with at the beach or to go shopping with while Studly plays golf.

That’s all for now. I think myself and I will go to Goodwill. Lots of nice people there.

Peace, People

Shopping Lust

I’ve heard it said that in the heat of battle a warrior falls prey to battle lust, ignoring injuries and damning consequences. This intense involvement in the fight allows him to soldier on until the adrenaline fades and he has either won, or lost, the day. Shopping can be a lot like that. Really.

You see, we’ve needed bedding for awhile now, and every time I’m in a department store I venture into the rows of pretty comforters and quilts hoping to find just the right thing, in the right color, at the right price. We have one of those huge king beds that requires oversize bedding. When one purchases a comforter, bed skirt, decorative pillows, and shams the cost can be considerable. Some I looked at cost more than my first car. No joke.

Today I found a sale. A glorious bedding sale at Macy’s. Fifty percent off select styles. Note the word “select.” Now, I’m not one for buying a matched set when it comes to bedding. I like to mix it up. The sales lady and I were running around her department like Vikings caught up in our glorious battle. Soon I’d found a great coverlet in an extra large size. She spotted some shams and pillows and I scored the bed skirt. We laid them out and and gloated over our finds, reveling in our shopping prowess. I might have raised my hands in drunken victory. It was all so darned pretty!

We chatted merrily as Melva (we became quite good friends) rang it all up. I paid with my credit card. We congratulated ourselves some more. Then I carried all of my purchases out of the mall and to my car. Happily I began driving away.

That’s when the shopping lust faded and reality set in. I’d spent how much? I pulled over at the Sonic drive in and ordered a large diet cherry limeade to calm me down. I dug through my purse to find my receipt. Of all the things I’d bought, only one, the deep purple decorative pillow, was “select.” Blinded by shopping lust I forgot to look for “select.” Damn “select!”

So, what do I do? Drive home and explain to Studly that I was overcome by lust and it’ll never, ever happen again? Return everything and look for “select” styles? Maybe I should sleep on it. After all, I have new bedding.

Peace, People!

Now That’s One Fine Looking Zombie

If you could see my Kindle library you might note a significant number of books totally devoted to the macabre, and a large subset dealing with the subject of Zombies. Zombies are the new black. They’re everywhere–in literature, movies, television, behind shrubbery, probably lurking around the next corner ready to eat whatever brains I have left.

Yesterday I watched an awful B movie called “Diary of a Zombie.” Did I mention it was awful? Yet, I watched every minute with my feet tucked up in my chair to prevent any skulking members of the walking dead from feasting on my prettily painted toenails. I once watched 45 minutes of an exercise infomercial because without my glasses on I mistook the title “Zumba!” for “Zombie!”

Presently I’m reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a reworking of Jane Austen’s classic tale with a liberal sprinkling of zombies added in. A die-hard Austen fan might be horrified to find the sisters of the Longbourn family as accomplished in warfare against the “unfortunate scourge” as they are in the arts of needlepoint and the playing of the pianoforte, but I am delighted. Author Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel is soon to be made into a movie, and I cannot wait to watch Elizabeth Bennet singlehandedly dispatch a variety of zombies including the caroling Hellford family who have become “unmentionables” due to some unfortunate circumstance.

Three of my favorite books in the zombie genre (zombre?) are World War Z by Max Brooks, a much more satisfying read than the movie might lead one to believe; Scott Kenemore’s Zombie, Ohio: A Tale of the Undead; and Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry. Have a desire to mix tales of zombies and superheroes? Then try the Ex-Heroes series by Peter Clines. Google, “Zombie Books List” for more titles than any zombie loving geek (should we be “zeeks”?) can read in a year.

No brief discussion of zombies in current pop culture would be complete without a mention of “The Walking Dead.” Even my non-zeek spouse is into the popular AMC series. I’ve almost convinced him we need to plant pointy stakes around the perimeter of our home, but he has no intention of buying me a crossbow.

Chances are I will never encounter an actual zombie. And that’s a really good thing. So, why am I, and so many like me, fascinated by the walking dead? I’ve read some research that points to an increased interest in zombie literature during times of widespread financial depression. In a way, this makes sense. After all, what lifts one spirits more than fantasizing about the dead rising from the grave in order to stalk and devour the living? Truly, an “it could always be worse” mentality. Maybe zombie stories are a way of dealing with our own mortality. “Hey, being dead could be fun! Come eat some nice intestines!”

In any case, I’m ready for zombies should they ever become a reality. My brains are filled with all sorts of nutritious grey matter and my best run is more of a fast limp. They’ll love me almost as much as I love them.

Peace, People!

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Gorenado

Imagine, if you will, the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Suddenly, a storm of epic proportions descends on the cobble stone streets. Encased within, the makings of a mighty funnel cloud barreling along and scooping up everything in its path. Angry bulls, frightened runners, petrified spectators, toreadors, picadors, and matadors enveloped in a…Gorenado!

Several days later and thousands of miles away, in Great Bend, Kansas, a group of students enjoy their after lunch recess on the playground of a small elementary school. On duty staff notice a shift in the winds and begin calling the students to wrap up their play. Darkness rapidly descends and rain drops the size of mushrooms speed the children on their way to safety.

A lone librarian rushes to assist a kindergartener who has fallen in the rush when from the sky drops a raging bull, head lowered, ready to charge. The librarian places the child behind her and they begin backing away from the bovine. The bull snorts and paws the earth. There is no way for the librarian to get the child to safety in time. Death seems imminent. Until a mighty matador descends from the cloud, waving his cape and diverting attention from the woman and her charge.

With the bull’s focus on the brave matador, the librarian scoops the frightened child into a protective embrace and runs for safety. The students and staff have gathered at the cafeteria windows to watch wide-eyed as the matador sweeps the bull under his cape of crimson. The librarian especially cannot take her eyes from the skilled Spaniard. When the bull is calmed and subdued through a variety of humanitarian maneuvers, the matador secures the now docile animal to a basketball goal.

The librarian rushes out to thank her savior, her emerald green eyes glistening with unshed tears of gratitude.

“Thank you, sir. You surely saved my life and the life of the child.”

“Que?”

Realizing the handsome matador knew no English, the librarian said the only thing she could, “Gracias! Gracias, seƱor!”

He bowed and took her small, white hand into his large tan one, planting a gentle kiss on her dainty knuckles. In the background, the bull snorted contentedly.

Would love follow for our librarian and her matador? Would more bulls drop onto the Kansas plains wreaking havoc and spurring desire? Would gorenados supplant sharknados as the new scourge of the earth? Questions that can be answered only in “Gorenado 2; It Only Hurts When I Sneeze.”

Peace, People!

(Un)Reality TV

So-called reality tv might just be the end of civilization as we know it. Who comes up with these ideas and why haven’t I been approached to star in one? I thought it might be fun to brainstorm some truly realistic programming. Feel free to add your own.

1) Real Couch Potatoes of North Florida
In this gripping show we’ll follow several middle aged women as they trek between bedroom and den and back again while simultaneously surfing the internet for shoe bargains. Look for spinoffs in places such as North Texas and North Dakota.

2) American Cat People
Assorted cat lovers will go through a series of auditions demonstrating their extreme interest in felines. Once the field has been whittled to 12 participants, viewers will vote each week until a winner is declared. First place gets a million dollar’s worth of catnip and an industrial strength pet hair removal tool.

3) Honey Muumuu
Follow the hilarious exploits of hula prodigy Honey Muumuu and her wacky family as they travel from one luau to another in a quest for fame based on an absolute dearth of talent and good taste.

4) American Tickers
Two guys with pacemakers go door to door looking for old microwave ovens.

5) Pawn Bars
Set in Las Vegas, New Mexico, this show highlights a pawn shop owning family in The Land of Enchantment as they drown their sorrows in a variety of local drinking establishments. Underling Bum Lee is especially captivating as the lovable loser with the wit and wisdom of a discarded gum wrapper.

6) Millionaire Matchmaker
I know, there’s already a show with this title, but in this iteration folks with a net worth in excess of a million dollars will actually be forced to work in a factory and learn to make matches.

7) Gassed and Proud
A group of strangers, all suffering from excessive flatulence will drive cross country in a 60’s era Volkswagon van to publicize, and potentially eradicate, the stigma of farting in public. At the end of their journey, the van will be auctioned off for charity.

8) Undercover Boss
In this version of the popular tv show, randomly selected employees discover that they’ve actually been sleeping with their employer for one entire pay period. Performance reviews take on a whole new meaning.

9) Judge Moody
Litigants will face off in a courtroom presided over by a judge suffering from extreme PMS. Expect judgements favoring decapitation and death by strangulation for even the pettiest of crimes.

10) Celebrity Knife Swap
D list celebrities feign interest in all things knife-related in this blatant attempt to jump start their dormant careers. Knife throwing and sharpening contests liven up this rather dull offering.

If any of these get picked up by a major network I’d like to volunteer for numbers 1 and 2 and to nominate Studly for #7. He’s a shoe-in.

Peace, People!

Twirling Queen

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I was born with the natural grace of a three-legged bull moose and the athletic prowess of a potholder, sad truths I learned at the tender age of six when my parents enrolled me in a baton twirling class.

Back in the day, baton twirling was a big deal, at least in Floydada, Texas. One of my earliest role models was Suzanne, the head twirler in the Floydada Whirlwind marching band. She looked like a blonde goddess in her short spangled green and white outfit, and my Uncle Jack was married to her older sister which almost made us relatives.

Each and every Friday night during football season mini-me waited expectantly for the twirlers to make their halftime appearance. I copied Suzanne’s every move with my imaginary baton. Twist, spin, toss, twirl, march, mega toss, catch. I was breathtaking.

So captivated with the art of twirling was I that I convinced my parents that twirling was the most important thing in my life. When the high school twirlers started a workshop for potential twirlers I was the first in line. Fortunately, the initial investment was minimal. Batons were cheap and as I recall lessons were fifteen dollars.

I remember vividly my first class. Suzanne and the other high school twirlers lined all of the participants up on the out of bounds lines in the gym. Even at six I was among the tallest, so I was placed at the very end of the line.

First, they showed us how to stand at attention with our batons. And then we got to march around the perimeter of the gym, heads held high, knees snapping up and down, left, right, left, at 90 degree angles. I couldn’t quite get the hang of marching. This was all much easier with my imaginary baton.

Then we stopped and learned the figure eight move. I twisted my wrist and magically the baton moved as I willed it. Faster, faster, I twirled. I was a regular twirling dervish. Next we tried to march and twirl the figure eight. I could do one, but not the other, at least not simultaneously. Twirl or march, twirl or march, which was it to be? Still at the end of the line I would stand stock still and twirl, then quickly march to catch up, stop and twirl again.

Apparently, this was not the desired outcome. After the lesson I saw Suzanne approach my dad. They looked at me, and Suzanne laughed and shook her head. On the ride home Daddy said Suzanne thought I should try learning another skill. I’d suspected as much, but it still crushed my little six year old heart.

I never looked at the twirlers in quite the same way after that; although, over the years I continued practicing the one skill I learned. I can still twirl the figure eight like nobody’s business. Just don’t expect me to march while I’m doing it.

Peace, People!

Cleaning Stalls and Taking Names

Summertime for the pre-teen set has always been a balance between excitement and boredom, and growing up in a small town often dips the scale towards the boredom end. I grew up in Floydada, Texas, a farming community, population 4,000, circa 1970, a very small town, indeed.

My brothers and I were “town kids” and spent summer days traipsing across Floydada in search of some activity to ease the boredom. At least once a week we walked to the county courthouse where the library was located. Before heading downtown, we would scrounge through the sofa cushions and dresser drawers in search of loose change so we could purchase “baby” soft drinks at Arwine’s Drugstore in downtown Floydada. The baby size cost a nickel and was always a welcome thirst quencher after our trek across town.

Not all of my summer was spent in the company of my siblings, though. Often I had the opportunity to hang around with LA (not her real name!) who I envied desperately due to her status as an only child. LA and I spent hours fantasizing about The Cowsills family singing group and how she was going to marry Barry and I was going to marry John and we would live next door to one another in Santa Monica, California. Happily ever after had our names all over it.

But, even our fantasies grew tiresome on occasion, so as we rode our bikes around Floydada we decided to do something to better our community. We had nothing specific in mind, but we continued to chat about the possibilities when we weren’t mentally picking out the swimsuits we’d be wearing when first meeting The Cowsills.

The idea for our service project came when we stopped at one of the gas stations on the main drag to use their restroom. Now, this was before the time of the convenience store, and the ladies’ room was outside, accessible only by key. The condition of the restroom was deplorable. The sink was a mess, paper towels were strewn about the floor, and the toilet–ugh!

Truly I cannot remember whether LA or I came up with the idea, but soon, we were cleaning that bathroom. We decided that folks passing through Floydada needed to see its good side, and that included nice bathrooms. So, for several weeks LA and I pedaled from service station to service station tidying up the bathrooms. Scandalously, we even ventured into the men’s rooms where we glimpsed our first urinals. Heavens! We were now mature women of the world.

Eventually summer ended as did our community service project. When we told our friends what we’d been up to they seemed more horrified than impressed. But there was something satisfying about doing a job no one else wanted, or even noticed. To heck with germs and dirt and potential disease! We were rebels without a clue, cleaning stalls and taking names.

Peace, People!

Inside the Director’s Studio: Alfred Finchcock’s, “The Words”

Good evening and welcome to Inside the Director’s Studio. I am your host, James Lipton Onion Soup Mix. (Polite applause)
My guest this evening is the esteemed director, Alfred Finchcock. (Applause)

James: Mr. Finchcock, welcome to our program. We are honored by your presence.

Alfred: As you should be. (Laughter)

J: Tonight we want to focus on one of your most controversial films to date, specifically, “The Words.”

For those who have not yet had the opportunity to attend a screening of this groundbreaking work would you provide a brief summary of the plot?

A: I would be happy to oblige; although, I find it most difficult to believe that any within the range of my voice have not yet viewed this masterpiece. (Polite laughter)

In this story we find a worldly woman…

J: Played by the lovely Tipsy Headroom.

A: …who purchases a pair of weighty tomes, specifically Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and Roget’s Thesaurus, as gifts for the sister of a handsome man she encounters in a San Francisco book store.

J: You cast Prod Trailer in the role of Mitch. Interesting choice.

A: Quite. I considered his dark good looks the perfect counterpoint to Miss Headroom’s blonde Melanie. Dark, light. Male/female. Tall/less tall.

J: So far, we have an endearing story about a pretty woman buying a nice gift for a little girl. Your genius is in turning the innocent into infamy.

A: When Melanie, an unmarried woman of a certain age delivers the books to Mitch’s island home the tension begins to build.

J: The special effects are so subtle, so subliminal in the beginning. For example, the word, “exacerbate” slips by in the water as Melanie rows herself and the books to Mitch’s home.

A: I am singularly surprised that you caught that. But, you are correct. It was my intention to slowly build word upon word until the audience was gasping at each verbal assault.

J: Please continue.

A: Melanie’s gift is well-received by Mitch’s sister, a budding young author entranced by words. And Melanie is urged to stay over for the weekend.

J: Perhaps this is what triggers the chaos?

A: I was not overly concerned by causation; however, the audience might very well construe the surge of suppressed hormonal urges as the basis for the initial attacks.

J: And, attacks are forthcoming.

A: Indeed. The evening of Melanie’s arrival a loud bump is heard outside the home. Upon investigation the word, “melancholia” is found lying broken in a puddle beside the porch.

In each successive scene the number and intensity of the attacks increase until there are too many to be discounted.

J: Mr. Finchcock, critics have said that your subject was too broad. That perhaps you should have focused on verbs or nouns or adjectives.

A: James, if one observed carefully one would note that I arranged each attack around a specific part of speech.

J: Please elaborate.

A: In the phone booth, Melanie was attacked by a host of nouns: “Umbrage!” “Castration!” “Misogyny!”

When the children in the schoolyard came under siege it was by adjectives: “Allegorical!” “Voluptuous!” “Incendiary!”

J: Oh, and the attack on the birthday! Those could all be verbs! “Manipulate, castigate, endeavor!”

My God! You pulled it all together!

A: Quite so. The climactic scene is one in which our heroine is rendered catatonic by battling a frenetic flock of adverbs. “Forcefully!” “Fanatically!” “Morbidly!” “Moribundly!”

But the denouement…

J: Leaves us with verbiage of all kinds, waiting in silence for…

A: Who knows? The trigger could be an exhalation or an obfuscation.

J: And that, sir, is why we worship your art.

A: As you should.

J: One more question before we must let you go. Tipsy Headroom, is she just another famous Finchcock blonde? Why couldn’t a brunette have played this role?

A: I do have a predilection for blondes, but in “The Words,” I intentionally wanted to dispel the stereotype of the dumb blonde. In order to have survived at all my leading lady had to have linguistic skills of the highest caliber.

J: Again, I tip my fictional fedora to you. Here’s to much success with “The Words.” Thank you again for allowing us to come Inside the Director’s Studio.

A: My pleasure. (Applause)

Praying for Eyebrowz: The Band

If you read my initial blog post, “Begin the Beguine” you know that the name of my blog stems from an encounter with an esthetician. She was a 60-something earth mother type with long frizzy red hair and clothes straight out of Woodstock. I don’t remember her name, so let’s call her Ditzy.

Ditzy accompanied me back to her treatment room and had me lie down on the table. She immediately got as close to my face as humanly possible without actually kissing me. My mind was thinking, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I didn’t sign up for this!” Then just as abruptly she tsk tsk’d and pulled away.

Tsk, tsk? No one had ever tsk tsk’d at my face. Maybe I should have let her kiss me.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, I hate to tell you this,” she began, “Your skin looks really great, but your eyebrows.” Again, she tsk’d. “You see, your eyebrows are just too sparse.”

“Oh. Um, sorry. Is there anything I can do about that?”

“Let me ask you something of a serious nature,” Ditzy said.

“Sure, Ditzy,” I nodded cautiously, certain now that my esthetician might not be operating on all six cylinders. “Ask away.”

“Do you believe in a higher power?”

“Why yes, yes I do,” I said, wondering where this was headed.

“Well, then just pray. Pray for eyebrows.”

Alrighty then.

Now, I’m a big believer in the power of prayer. I pray nightly for peace, for an end to world hunger, for the health and well-being of my family and friends, but I’d never really thought about praying for thicker eyebrows.

So as Ditzy stopped tsk-ing and began giving me a lovely, relaxing facial, I contemplated asking God to bestow this favor on me. The thought made me giggle.

“Please relax those facial muscles,” said Ditzy.

“Mmhm” I mumbled, drifting away.

I knew I couldn’t ask our Heavenly Father for something like eyebrows. I liked the thought, though. Praying for Eyebrows. Change the spelling to make it edgy. Praying for Eyebrowz. Ooh, I liked that. That sounded like the name of an alt rock indie band. “Praying for Eyebrowz” featuring Nana Noyz on lead vocals. Our first single: “Ditzy Tsk.” It’ll be a hit for sure.

Peace, People.

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