Mad Skills

When Studly Doright and I returned home from our brief trip to northeastern Georgia we were faced immediately with two issues. 1) Our refrigerator/freezer had stopped doing its job, and many of the contents inside were rendered inedible. 2) Our television developed the odd habit of turning off after ten to fifteen minutes of viewing. The sound continued operating, but there was no picture.

Our first inclination was to call repair companies for both issues, so we googled the appropriate service providers and soon had repairmen scheduled. Neither could come quickly, though, and that was frustrating.

As we sat contemplating our situation Studly looked at me and said, “I think I can fix that refrigerator.”

Not to be outdone I said, “I think I can fix the television.”

Truly I was kidding, but once Studly began exploring the fridge and gathering tools, I decided to see what Google could tell me about our television’s problem. The hard part was in figuring out how to word my question, but after only three tries I hit pay dirt.

It took Studly about three hours to get the refrigerator cooling properly—and that included two trips into town for supplies. It took me approximately five minutes total to fix the telly and to call the tv repairman to cancel our appointment. Yep, I won. Studly just won’t acknowledge that there was ever a competition.

Peace, people!

Helen and Home

Studly Doright and I took a couple of days and drove north through Georgia. We’d planned on going to Dillard, but at the last moment decided to stop in Helen instead.

Helen, GA

“Nestled in the hills of northeast Georgia, lies the German Alpine city of Helen. … The city leaders decided to resurrect their community as a Bavarian alpine town, which became mandated through a change in zoning. Beginning in 1969, Helen adopted a classic south-German style, that today is present on most buildings.”—wanderingtrader.com

Helen is a charming tourist destination with plenty of good restaurants and drinking establishments. There’s a water park and an alpine coaster, carriage rides and lots of little shops. Studly and I walked a bazillion miles exploring the town before checking into a cabin on the banks of the Chattahoochie River. Then we walked a bazillion miles more.

Studly tried on a Peaky Blinders style hat. He wouldn’t buy it even though I thought he looked quite handsome.
The view from our cabin.
My lovely mother-in-law’s name is Helen. We sent her this photo.
Who are those masked folks?
The Chattahoochie gurgles along merrily through the downtown area.

We’d still planned on driving to Dillard to stay Thursday night and drive home on Friday, but the cat sitter related that our new kitty, Gracie, hadn’t made an appearance during his last two visits. We became worried, and returned home on Thursday.

The minute I walked through the door and called her name, Gracie came running, meowing and needing to be held. She’s barely left my side since we got home.

We’ll have other opportunities to visit Dillard, Georgia. Our kitty needed us more right now.

Peace, people!

Drinking Wine from a Paper Cup

I’m in a hotel room somewhere in Georgia. I believe the town is named Milledgeville. Why am I in Milledgeville? Because Studly Doright came home from work this afternoon and said, “Let’s go somewhere that’s not here,” so I called a pet sitter to watch over Gracie and we got into our car and drove north for five hours or so.

COVID messed with all of our vacation plans this year, so Studly had several days he needed to take off before the end of 2020. Hence, the road trip.

Tomorrow we’ll push further north to Dillard, Georgia. He visited there last year on a motorcycle trip with our now deceased, and much loved friend, Jim, and it’s held a special place in his heart ever since.

I packed in a hurry, so there is no telling what essentials I left behind. I packed the wine, though. I never forget the wine.

Peace, people!

Peaky Blinders

When Studly Doright and I finished watching the series, “Dexter,” we were conflicted about what to watch next. I was rooting for “Weeds “ while Studly really wanted to watch “Peaky Blinders.” Since I’d chosen “Dexter” I gave in to him this go around.

Now, we’re seven episodes in, and if I could understand all of the dialogue I believe I’d really like “Peaky Blinders.” Even so, I comprehend well enough to keep watching.

Set in Birmingham, England, in 1919, the series centers on the Shelby family, and their gang, for which the series is named. I won’t reveal why the gang has such an odd name; that’s something one has to see to believe.

Thomas Shelby, the protagonist, is seriously flawed. He’s struggling with PTSD from his service in World War I; although, they didn’t call it that back then. He’s cruel and ruthless, and somehow we find ourselves rooting for him against our better judgement. Played beautifully by Cillian Murphy, one wants to alternately kiss him or knock some sense into him. Maybe that’s just my reaction. He is rather delicious.

His love interest, the barmaid, Grace Burgess, played by the stunning Annabelle Wallis, is a match for Thomas in every way. She’s not who he thinks she is, and that could cost him everything.

Perhaps my favorite character is the matriarch of the Shelby family played by Helen McCrory. She’s tough as nails and you don’t want to mess with her family.

As much as I hate to admit it, Studly chose a great series. If I could just get him to let me use closed captioning, it might be my favorite series so far.

Peace, people!

Crazy Gracie

Our new cat, Gracie, all but ignores her name. When I call her she flicks those outsized ears then turns her head away, determined not to answer to this construct of human language.

Studly Doright calls her Pretty Girl. She doesn’t answer to that either. After watching her make thirty-nine non-stop trips around the island in our kitchen, I began referring to her as Crazy Gracie. Still no reaction.

Crazy Gracie fits, doesn’t it?

I wonder if she has a name she likes better? She meows conversationally all the time. Maybe she’s trying to tell me her real name.

Oh, occasionally she makes a sound that sounds very much like a bark. Studly thought I was imagining things until he heard it, too. Maybe she’s a German Shepherd trapped in a cat’s body. I could try calling her Heidi or perhaps Gretchen.

Until she provides additional information, she’ll just be Gracie. I know she calls me “Meow, meow?” I answer to it every time.

Peace, people.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Lately I’ve felt overwhelmed. Between our crazy political situation, the virus that never ends, being separated for way too long from my children and grandchildren, and the heartbreaking loss of our beloved kitty, Scout, I’ve been tempted to just go to bed and not get up until life feels worth living again.

Studly Doright has always been a “glass that’s more than half full” kind of guy, but he has been devastated by Scout’s death—so much so that he seriously considered dropping out of a golf tournament. That’s just unheard of, and he finally decided he’d go ahead and play.

Yesterday morning, before he left for the tournament he kissed me goodbye and said, “We really don’t want to live in a house without a cat, do we?”

I could only shake my head.

“Go find a cat who needs us,” he said.

And so I did. Meet Gracie:

Gracie

This precious rescue kitty was languishing in a showcase at PetCo when we first met. When I spoke to her she stuck her nose through one of the holes and said “hi!”

Now, she’s keeping me company on the sofa.

Gracie is just over a year old and came to a local shelter as a pregnant feral cat. After her kittens were weaned, each one found a home, leaving Gracie on her own in the shelter.

She’d been adopted twice, and returned both times. The first family discovered that their child was allergic to cats, the other family had a dog who felt threatened by her. We’re her lucky third chance.

Gracie is doing well here at Doright Manor, but we can tell she’s a bit reluctant to go all in. And who could blame her? She really likes our screened-in back porch, and spent much of the evening perched on the cat tree Studly made for Scout.

When we turned in for the night she sat at the foot of the bed watching us for a long time. Studly tried to coax her to come closer, but she snubbed his efforts. I thought maybe in a week or so she’d feel comfortable enough to snuggle with us.

But I woke up around one a.m. and her sweet little face was just inches from mine. She’d curled up next to my head and was so deeply asleep that she didn’t even twitch when I extricated myself from the covers to make a trip to the bathroom. When I returned and slid back into bed she opened one eye as if to say, “Make up your mind, lady.”

I must admit to feeling like we rushed into adopting a new cat so soon after losing Scout. There was a moment of panic after I’d paid the adoption fee and realized I was now in a committed relationship with this little girl. But, Studly was right. I really don’t want to live in a house without a cat. And magically, I feel like I have a reason to get out of bed again.

Peace, people!

So Lucky

We are missing our Scout, but my blogging friend at Savoring Sixty and Beyond savoringsixty.com reminded me of this A.A. Milne quote.

We really were so lucky to have known this special cat who never met a stranger. If you were a guest in our home, you were a recipient of her affections.

She enjoyed playing endless games of fetch. Her favorite activity was “helping” me make the bed, making that activity last at least twice as long as was necessary.

She felt she needed to be present when either David or I took a shower, and she loved being wrapped up in a towel. She danced with me and gave me kitty kisses. For much of her life she thought my left ear was something to suckle on. Even after she’d outgrown that need to nurse, every now and then she’d nudge my earlobe as if to say, “Remember, Mommy?” She loved to lay across my neck and massage my shoulders. Her purrs were epic.

Studly Doright was the recipient of many head butts (aka, kitty kisses). Scout had to help him any time his computer was being used. She often made him choose between her and work. He always chose her. During Hurricane Michael, when I was in Texas, she kept Studly company. The two of them patrolled the grounds, watching trees fall and hunkering down like good Floridians. She slept beside him while I was gone.

She adored her stuffed toys: mice, birds, candy canes, small bears, catnip pillows. But her favorite toy was a stick with feathers on the end. She loved “feathers” as we called it at one time. Over the years, the feathers fell out. Then we called it “feather” until finally, when every feather was gone, we just called it “stick”. She still loved it and up until her last couple of weeks of life Scout would bring “stick” to us for play time.

The day before she died she insisted on going out on the screened-in porch. She’d refused food for more than 24 hours, and could barely walk, but still she wanted to go out one last time to enjoy her favorite place. I’m certain she was remembering all of the lizards she’d chased in her lifetime.

And her last morning on earth, she found the strength to join Studly as he finished his shower. “See, Daddy, I remembered.”

We will miss this sweet kitty for the rest of our lives, but we were so lucky to have known her.

Peace, people.

TechnoRage

Does anyone other than me go off the deep end when it comes to adapting to new technology?

For my birthday Studly Doright bought me a lovely new Mac Book Air. Within ten minutes of opening it I was ready to throw it out the window.

My password didn’t work. I called Apple Support and got a guy who was brusque and not at all helpful. A Google search proved to be much more productive.

The new laptop doesn’t have Microsoft Word installed, so I’ll need to figure all that out if I’m to transfer my documents from my HP. And, how does one transfer files when the Mac Book doesn’t have a slot to insert a thumb drive? My manuscripts are all on the HP. Argh!

As of today, I’m 64 years old. I want things to be easy. New tech is never easy. Will there be a point when I say, “Enough!”? How will I know?

Pardon me now. I need to retrieve my new Mac Book from the trash heap.

Peace, people.

Do We Have Enough Shroom?

Studly Doright called me outside on Wednesday afternoon. “Come see what I found!”

Now, in the past when he’s beckoned me outside with those words I’ve encountered a great many scary things: huge banana spiders, an enormous black snake, and various oversized insects. He’s never called me to come see some cute and cuddly animal. I was prepared to run.

Fortunately, this time he’d found something I’d have no trouble outrunning—a big fat mushroom.

So how big is it? Here’s Studly Doright holding Mr. Shroom:

It’s smaller than our neighbors’ home….

Ever wonder what they look like in the inside?

The inside almost looked like the inside of a dinner roll, but we didn’t eat it. We’re easily amused, but not stupid.

Who knows what he’ll find outside next time? Princess Peach?

Peace, people!

Feeling Nostalgic for Apple Orchards and Corn Mazes

Studly Doright and I lived in Mahomet, Illinois, for eight years. We’d moved there, reluctantly, from our spot by the ocean in Melbourne, Florida. While we were no strangers to the Midwest, having lived in Kansas at one time, going back to the country’s midlands had not been part of our game plan.

I missed the Atlantic and the perpetual summer we’d enjoyed in Melbourne. In Illinois, we had to deal with a definite lack of beaches and a surplus of cold winters. It took me awhile to appreciate central Illinois.

When our daughter and her family moved to Illinois, just a couple of hours away from us, that helped immensely. Instead of seeing her a couple of times a year I could get in my car almost any time and have lunch with her and the grandkids. I do miss that.

Aside from their presence, though, I began to enjoy all that Illinois had to offer. We weren’t that far from Chicago, and I could ride Amtrak up to the Windy City for almost nothing. I only did that a couple of times, but they were both memorable.

We lived near the University of Illinois, in Champaign, and often went to college basketball and football games with friends, even doing the whole tailgating thing.

We had the best neighbors you could ask for in Mahomet. I think maybe that was the friendliest neighborhood we’ve ever lived in. Just across the road from our neighborhood was Studly’s golf course set in the beautifully wooded park, Lake of the Woods. Sometimes, he’d ride his bicycle to the course. And for Fourth of July fireworks we could sit in our front yard and enjoy most of the spectacle while fireflies flitted in the bushes.

Now, in the autumn, I find myself thinking about the apple orchard we’d visit at this time of year. It was the first place I’d tasted honey crisp apples, and we took the grandkids along so they could jump out of the hayloft (it was kid-sized) and feed baby goats, and wander through the corn maze.

Corn mazes are a big deal in central Illinois. Just between you and me, they freak me out. I have a lousy sense of direction and always fear I’ll become hopelessly lost. There’s a particularly difficult one at the Reindeer Ranch outside of Rantoul, Illinois, so after one failed attempt I opted to spend my time petting the reindeer. They are definitely worth the trip.

I wonder if these places will be open this fall. Covid has spoiled so much. The memories are lovely, though.

Peace, people!