Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

The Soap Sliver Dilemma

I keep forgetting to replace my old bar of soap when it gets down to being a little sliver of its formal self.  This morning I cursed when I had to use the thin, wafer-like bar.  The new bar of Dove was sitting on my sink counter, laughing at me.    So, I slid it into my hand and then noticed wafer #1 and wafer #2 were also on the chrome slotted shelf hanging under my shower head. Those were  older bars which I never bothered to throw away.  I decided to make a soap sandwich and piled them on top of each other.  That should do the trick.

Big fail.

I should have known that wouldn’t work. They slid off of my body and fell into the pool of water that rises every morning when I take a shower.  Over time my lovely fallen hair clogs the drain and I wait until the water is ankle-high before I bother to use Draino on the obvious hairy clog.  I had to play Marco Polo in order to find the wafers under the soapy water. One of these days I am going to slip in the shower  and hit my head, which will render me unconscious, and I will drown, just because I don’t know the rules for shower safety. I should wear a life vest.

But, the bigger picture is not the thought of floating naked in a bathtub with soap wafers  bumping into me until the paramedics find my body, but the thought of why I don’t keep an extra bar sitting on the chrome slotted shelf, waiting like a relief pitcher to be called into the game when the bar I have been using needs to retire.

I bet I am the only person who uses a baseball analogy for a bar of soap.

Anyway, as I was using the wafer,  I thought of Grandma Orpha. She  had a jar of soap slivers on a shelf in her bathroom above the towels. I thought maybe she was just a cheapskate. When I would stay overnight with them when I was young I was lucky I would get two inches of water when she ran water for my bath.

So, I wondered, “Are other people soap hoarders like some hoard  toilet paper tubes?  (My elementary school teacher friends can relate to that one).

Do people actually get creative with slivers of soap?”

I am not a frugal person, as I just toss the soap in the garbage when I get around to it. Maybe I should be frugal. I want to retire in four years, so maybe I should tighten my purse strings and learn how to “waste not want not.”

And so began my research.

I typed recycle soap into the Google search field and was sort of shocked with all the links to creative uses for old soap. There is no graveyard for soap slivers on these sites.  I think of myself as a creative person, but would I go to these lengths just to use up a bar of soap?

Oh, hell no.

I’m lucky I make my bed in the morning or put the dishes in the dishwasher right away after dinner.  I can’t imagine spending any time shaving soap slivers to use in another venue. But, I admired some of the creative ways people found for using soap slivers.

And I bet some of them were able to retire early.  I admire their tenacity and I admire myself for admiring their tenacity.

1.  Make a loofah- I’m not a loofah gal, but if you go down to your local dollar store and purchase a mesh bag, you are on your way to Loofah-ville. Place the slivers of soap in the mesh bag and use it in the shower  to exfoliate your skin.

2. Create soap balls- Use a cheese grater on the little slivers (remember to wash it after using it or your provolone will taste a bit different)  and then soak in warm water to make it easier to manipulate into little balls. It takes a few weeks to dry completely, but you will have pretty soap balls for your guests to use when they come visit you. They will be impressed with your creation and may even offer to buy you dinner the next time you meet out somewhere. (They may think you must be strapped for cash).

3. Liquid Soap-  I really don’t want to use my blender for soap slivers. It was bad enough I would have to use a cheese grater on the other idea. But, get about 6 slivers of soap, put them in a blender (ew) with a little water, and blend for about 25 seconds until you have the creamy texture you deserve. Voila! Liquid soap. Just fill, using one of the 3 almost empty liquid soap bottles sitting under the sink in the bathroom cabinet. (I don’t save them, but you know there are people who do).

4. Fresh as a Daisy- If you are one of those people who store out-of -seasons clothing and wish you could prevent that awful musty smell from permeating your clothes, stick a sliver of soap in with your clothes. You won’t smell musty,  but you will smell like you washed with soap and forgot to rinse off.

5. Soap on a rope- This is awesome because it brings together old pantyhose with a run in it and slivers of soap. This is a marriage made in heaven. Cut off the panty hose and place the soap down in the toe of the pantyhose and just tie a knot and you have yourself soap on a rope.  I can’t imagine getting in the shower and finding one leg of pantyhose with soap slivers hanging out in toe area. It would just depress me, knowing that I must be poor to be doing this.

6. Make a beautiful sachet- Make a sachet by wrapping a soap sliver  in a used fabric softener sheet (See how they never throw anything away?) Tie the top with a pretty ribbon, and place it anywhere you want a soapy scent, such as your car, or beside the kitty litter box.  (That one was my idea. Yeah, put it by the cat litter box or in a kid’s stinky tennis shoe (when they aren’t wearing them, of course).

7.  Put it in your toilet tank- Now, I would try this one to see if it would work.  This is supposed to keep your toilet bowl clean. I’m thinking slivers of Irish Spring soap would be awesome to use. Well, awesome makes it sound like I’m eager and chipper about this possibility. I’m not. But, I will try this.

Here are some links for those of you who would like to find a better home for your thin wafer-like soap urchins.

How to make a new bar of soap from old bars of soap. This is actually pretty good.

Howcast: Make a new bar of soap from soap slivers– They add oatmeal and some lemon in this recipe. Do I want to wash my face with oatmeal? Maybe.

And here is a message board where other soap aficoanados go to discuss their thrifty fun uses for soap slivers.

 

Here are my ideas for using soap slivers:

1. Practice your whittling. (Notice my whittling knife in the background) This actually helps the earth by not whittling on tree branches. I think. And your hands will smell nice and you won’t get any slivers in your hand….you know, the real kind of  wood slivers. I hate when that happens.

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2.  Shower with a friend.  I realize this is the same soap sliver from above, but I didn’t want to wasteful. 🙂

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3. Photography- Slivers of soap make for a pretty picture.  I could enter this in a photo contest. I am sure no one else would think of this.

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In the end, I have spent too much time researching soap slivers.

I’m not going to change. I’m going to leave the little fellows up on the chrome shelf until they get so thin they will either fall through the slots into the bathtub, or I actually pick them up and put them in the trash.

Or in a jar.

 

 

Bluey

We have been having quite the winter here in north central West Virginia.  Right now the wind chill is -15 and I have to go to Walmart. I hate the cold….and I hate Walmart, so I’m not looking forward to venturing out in this Siberian express of a mess. It just takes me back to when I was a child.

I might as well just get to the point. The neighborhood kids called me Bluey.  Oh, not all the kids, just the older boys who went sled riding down our backyard hill without permission. We lived in a subdivision on a corner lot with a decent hill with a nice bump in the middle which could make your sled jump in the air. It was hard to keep the neighborhood thugs away. And I call them thugs because they called me Bluey. 

You have to understand I looked like a poster child for anorexia, except for the fact  I really did eat. I loved homemade bread and ketchup sandwiches. Of course that has nothing to do why I was called Bluey, but everything to do with the fact I probably did just enough to keep a bird alive. I had to hear that idiom all the time.

“She is so skinny.  I bet she doesn’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.” I have yet to see a starving bird sitting on a sidewalk… Will fly for food.

So, yeah, I was quite skinny and my lips would turn blue when I got cold. My fingernails would also turn blue, but they were usually hidden under my mittens I was wearing at the time. I had mittens with the long connecting string that my mom would weave through the sleeves of my coat so I wouldn’t lose them. Of course, I did lose them at times, which even I have no idea how I accomplished that feat.

So, my mom would bundle us up while smoking a Salem cigarette in one hand until she had to zipper our coats, and that’s when she would put the cigarette in her mouth and try to talk out of  the corner of her mouth at the same time.

“Vickie, quit squirming.”

I was squirming because the smoke from the Salem cigarette was entering my nose and heading down to visit my weak, naive lungs. Well, I also didn’t want to go outside…… I really didn’t want to go outside.

But, it was a chance for my mom to sit at the table, drinking her Maxwell House coffee and smoking her beloved Salem cigarettes in peace as she had one child who was nicknamed Cricket  because she was so hyperactive, (and sometimes nicknamed Bluey by neighborhood thugs) and another child who could move objects with her mind in the middle of  a multitude of daily temper tantrums. The only normal child, my brother, couldn’t wait to get outside and sled ride all day long.  I can’t even tell you how many times he walked back up that hill after flying through the air down the hill. No, I can’t even tell you because I didn’t stay out there long enough to count past 3.

Yes, Bluey  here had a self- imposed time limit of outdoor winter fun: approximately 15 minutes or the time it takes to roll the bottom layer of a snowman. I never got to put a damn carrot into a snowman’s head. I always asked for a carrot, but would usually pass it to my sister or my friends who came up the street to play with me. They knew the routine all to well. Plus, I also had to pee as soon as I put on my snow suit.

And what really sucked is the fact that my mom,  now calm after being separated from a hyper Mexican jumping bean and a destructive screaming meemie for a little bit, would make us hot chocolate when we came in. I hated hot chocolate. I hated chocolate milk. She knew this.

“Vickie, don’t wrinkle up your nose, it will stick like that one day.”  (I’m 58 and it hasn’t stuck yet, Mom.)

“Vickie, just try the hot chocolate. It will warm you up.”   Uh, I don’t see that happening……See, this is why I was hyperactive. My mom was constantly enabling my active nature with more sugar.

So, I would just grab a handful of those little tiny marshmallows that for some reason are put in a cup of hot chocolate like a garnish, I guess. I never did understand how the hell hot chocolate and marshmallows went together. Does it remind people of tiny snowman parts floating in a hot chocolate bath? I didn’t get it.

In the end, I guess some people just love the snow and cold and learn how to ski and snow board and become  outdoor winter enthusiasts for the rest of their lives. I ain’t one of those people. I apologize for using bad grammar, but it seemed appropriate as I was writing.  I ain’t one of those people.

If I were smart, which apparently, I am not, I would own one of those fancy remote starters so I could start my car from the school building I teach in.  I am also not smart enough to own a scraper/brush and I have to use my $.99 Walmart gloves to wipe the snow off of my windows.  I don’t buy expensive gloves because, like sock monsters, there is something stealing just one of my gloves on all occasions. I need connecting mittens. I  also wish I could hire one of the kids who wait for the last bus to scrape my windows, but I am sure there are child labor laws for that kind of thing.

So, sitting here today, under a quilt and wearing a sweater on top of a sweater, I notice my fingernails are a little blue. Ok, that’s a lie. I have the heat cranked up to 72 degrees. My townhouse is three levels and my living room is directly above the garage, and seeing that heat rises, it is a sauna on the bedroom floor, and chilly on the living room level.  It’s cold.

So, this Bluey has decided to let the mail pile up for a few days. I will open the sliding door to my deck in order to fling bread out to the waiting crows, but that’s about it. We are under a winter storm warning tomorrow with a forecast of 5-8 inches of snow headed this way. You won’t see me heading to Snowshoe with skis strapped on the top of my car. No sir re Bob.

I hate the cold.

I hate snow.

And I still hate those thugs who called me Bluey……  I can hold a grudge.

snowman

 

I may not like to build snowmen, but I pass judgement on them. This guy has no nose. This kid gets a B-.

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This is about what my snowmen looked like, minus the head.

 

 

What The Hell, Seagull?

I saw a seagull today. I realize that is not an unusual observation for many. People always see them at the beach. After all, that’s where they belong. So, why the hell are they flying around my local Walmart’s parking lot? In West Virginia.

I came to Fairmont to go to college in 1974 and there were a few seagulls in the Middletown Mall parking lot. I was confused then and I am confused now. They have no business being in the mountains of West Virginia. That is against the laws of nature. Why, that would be like seeing a polar bear on a Miami beach, a rattle snake crawling along in the Arctic, or a moose hanging out in Central Park. So, after going through more “animals out of their element” scenarios, I decided I needed to learn more about seagulls and why they are in Fairmont, West Virginia. We only have streams and rivers. And they aren’t even cool rivers, like the Columbia…..or the mighty Mississippi. No, my seagulls are near the Tygart and the West Fork Rivers. There is no sand, no waves, no crabs to peck at. Why, oh why, are they flying above me in the freaking Walmart parking lot? The search was on.

Many people are perplexed as well. A woman wrote from Iowa about seeing seagulls in her Kmart parking lot. Many other land-locked puzzled people were wondering the same thing. Is it a migration route? And if so, where the hell are they coming from or going to in Iowa? That makes no sense at all. Iowa is too far away. And a blogging friend informed me that the seagull is the state bird of Utah. Utah!  Seems that years and years ago locusts were eating a lot of crops and all of a sudden seagulls appeared and ate the locust. The Mormons saw that as a sign and the next thing you know, they’ve got a state bird. Apparently, the seagulls in that state like the brine in the Great Salt Lake.

Maybe the seagulls think West Virginia is part of Virginia. They, afterall, have Virginia Beach, seagull capital of a small stretch of beach. There are a lot of geographically challenged people out there who think West Virginia is western Virginia. Maybe the seagulls think the same.

Years ago, near Point Pleasant, West Virginia, people thought they saw a strange flying “thing” that was dubbed Mothman. Hysteria reigned in that small Ohio River town for many years afterwards. Mothman supposedly had red eyes, a large wingspan and could pick up a German Shephard and carry it off. There is even a statue to Mothman and a Mothman festival. But, a wildlife biologist said all along it was a sandhill crane,  a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven foot wingspan featuring red circles around its eyes. He said  the bird may have wandered out of its migration route.

I guess not all birds know what the hell they are doing. Sure, Canadian geese flaunt their knowledge of their ABC’s by flying in a V formation. They fly south for the winter. Well, they used to until they decided that since these silly Americans are  feeding them, they’d just stay all year long. We can’t get rid of them or their trail of slimy algae green poop.

So, maybe my Walmart seagull got lost on his way to Bora Bora or Aruba or where ever they fly on their migration route. I had no idea there were so many varieties of gulls. All I know is that they can attack. I know this because I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Tippi Hedren got pecked in the forehead by one.

In the end, I guess I feel sorry for the seagull who is living at the Walmart parking lot. Where does he sleep at night? Sitting on a light pole can’t be fun. Doesn’t he miss the sound of the ocean waves lulling him to sleep?  And if he doesn’t leave, will the crows let him hang out with them? They are usually a tight group, not making friends easily.

I did just read that we may be confused by their name, as it implies the “sea.” Someone wrote there is no such thing as a “sea” gull.  Gulls can adapt inland. Well, then maybe their name should change. Canadian geese are no longer Canadian….. Hermit crabs are quite social……a teddy bear hamster is not a damn teddy bear……

and a jumbo shrimp is not a big little thing. Whoever is naming animals is on drugs.

Daylight Saving Time Ends….Again

For those of you who have been following my blog for several years now, you know it is time for my Daylight Saving Time rant. Yes, it is time for all of us to take down our  clocks and turn them all back an hour tonight. Well, it ends at 2 a.m. I am sure there are some people out there who are OCD enough to wait until exactly 2 a.m. to turn them back. The rest of us will change them before we go to bed tonight. I shall be mumbling and cursing as I change each time machine.

I just re-read my Daylight Saving Time posts from the past and it is clear I have issues with the stupid time change. And it is stupid. My economics professor son told me once there is a savings. I say “No way, Jose!”  It messes up the workings of my inner clock and that’s all I care about. It takes me almost two weeks to feel normal again. Well, as close to normal as one can feel.

All I know is that it will now get dark earlier until Daylight Saving Time begins again on March 10, 2013, when we spring forward yet again. I find this yearly thing a little monontonous, especially when there are problems associated with this procedure…. My beside alarm clock adjusts itself. Well, my former clock adjusted itself and it is now in a landfill somewhere nearby. It decided to change back an hour on a Wednesday in the middle of October. I woke up an hour later than reality and barely made it to work on time. Damn Daylight Savings Time. I got to school and realized that I only put mascara on one eye. Maybelline hates Daylight Saving Time too, I imagine.

I think the only good thing about Daylight Saving Time is that it is also known to be a time to change the batteries in your smoke detector to make sure they work. The Energizer battery company endorses that, you know. So, you will be reaching and dusting and changing clocks and changing batteries tonight. Life just sucks.

Arizona, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not observe Daylight Savings Time. These are the smartest people on the face of the earth. There are also 75 countries that do not observe the time change. Again, smart people. The rest of us should rise up against the machine. I have no idea what the hell that means.

Here are my Daylight Saving Time rants. I would write more today, but how many times can one beat a dead horse?  Apparently, I try more than three times. See you in March for my next rant. I am not a happy camper when that one enters the picture.

Peace be with you, Daylight Saving Time people.

Spring Forward into the River   Hello Circadian Dysrhythmia    Go Fly a Kite, Benjamin Franklin

You know, this is all George W. Bush’s fault. Yes, I realize he has enough blame on his plate, but he is the one that changed it to the first Sunday in November. I remember the day well:

On Monday August 8, 2005, then President Bush signed into law an energy bill that extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks beginning in 2007. Since 1986 the United States had observed Daylight Saving Time from the first Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October. The new bill calls for Daylight Saving Time to begin three weeks earlier on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. Why? Why can’t this madness just end? No, Georgie wanted three more weeks of Daylight Savings Time….so we all could save what? I don’t know.

The mastermind behind Daylight Saving Time is Benjamin Franklin…. inventor, statesman, and someone who played out in lightning storms one time too many. He wanted to save candle burn time. Well, guess what? We now have freaking electricity.

In the end,  I’m not saving a damn thing that I can tell.  I’m wasting. I’m wasting time writing about Daylight Saving Time when I could be doing something more productive……like changing the batteries in my clock or something.

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Enjoy this story? Jumping in Mud Puddles is now an ebook  that you can download on your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon will let you download their Kindle app FREE…Yes, free.  Have a look see.  :)  My literary debut….. Amazon.com for $3.99. It’s sort of funny.

Jumping in Mud Puddles: A Memoir of a Picky, Hyper, Big Fat Liar

Feeling Mousey (Part One)

  When I decided that I wanted to take a solo trip somewhere, I thought hard about the places I wanted to go. My ultimate adventure is to take a train across Canada. To get ready for such a solo venture, I needed to pull up my big girl pants and journey on, alone. At first I thought I would go to the beach.  The relaxation would be nice, but it wasn’t how I wanted to test myself.

 Yes, I guess I felt the need to test myself. You have to understand that I was married for 25 years and really didn’t have to do anything by myself. I was a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to take out the garbage, although I was the weekly “house gatherer.”  I didn’t have to fiddle when my car started making noises like a mechanic was traveling under the hood of the car, banging on something that would soon smoke.  I didn’t do anything that inconvenienced me. I guess I pretended to be a princess. I made my husband check the air pressure in my tires about once a week because I have issues with my tires looking low. Everyone has issues. Mine are pronounced, however.

 Well, fairy tales don’t always come true, and next thing you know, you’re divorced after 25 years of marriage, you no longer can get by acting like a princess. I mean, there are limits to how long one can get away with that. (imagine Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane). One day, you wake up and actually have to work for a living, and make your own appointment to get your car fixed. And I think I’ve done well. Well, I still whine about garbage night, but really, I honestly don’t think I should do that one. But, someone has to, right?

 Ok, so I felt the need to scratch the beach trip off of my list. I needed to go somewhere that was filled with families, with couples ogling each other, and friends laughing and pointing. If I could get by a few days of being inundated by this test, I could go anywhere by myself.  Remember in Sex and the City, when Carrie went off to Paris to be with the Russian? She saw four girls walking by and immediately called home, lonely. And she was only there for like a day.  I didn’t want to be Carrie Bradshaw. I didn’t want to phone home and cry..in the middle of a train trip across Canada. No, I had to make sure this solo travel is for me. And so that is why I chose a harsh environment for a single traveler. I chose…Disney World.

 Say what? Yes, the one place where people don’t go by themselves. Disney World. I thought that if I had many “boo-hoo” moments, then solo travel would not be for me. So, I made my reservation, and decided to embark on a quest to celebrate my independence, to acknowledge that I had fortitude and perserverance to sit by myself at an eatery, and to leave and return still inflated. That was my goal.

 So, I made my flight and hotel reservation through Orbitz. Now mind you, I haven’t flown in 30 years. I have inner ear problems. But, I was ready. I had my gum to chomp on, my ear plugs and yawning techniques so the descent wouldn’t make me grimace in pain. After all, there would be no one there to listen to me whine.  I had to…..(worst phrase EVER)…..”Buck up.” 

Well, I did fine. I’ve been to Pittsburgh Airport plenty of times. I just never had to park all the way in section 19E in the extended lot. I could have hopped on the shuttle, but I was trying to toughen up, right? So, I strolled with my two bags and my lead laden purse all the way in my “clompy” shoes to the terminal…only to find that the People Mover was not moving..More walking. No problem, I can walk.

 Checking in was a breeze. Disney had sent me a voucher book called Disney’s Magical Express. And magical it was. They also sent me a yellow tag to put on my checked suitcase. Once in Orlando, I could bypass baggage claim and just hop on the Magical Express bus to my resort. How easy does that sound?  I was feeling pretty princess-like once again. Once at the resort, my bag would be in my room, waiting on me, or there shortly after my arrival.  Well, up to 3 hours perhaps. So, I packed things I needed in my carry-0n.

 My flight to Orlando left on time. I liked Air Tran. They are ranked the safest airline in the United States. I was feeling pretty safe.I sat wedge in between a man who was with his family, who were seated across the aisle, and a dermotologist from Ohio. We talked most of the way. The descent was pretty bad on my ears, and although this is funny now, I couldn’t hear a damn thing for a few hours after the flight. It was like the ear plugs were still in my ear. I am sure I was shouting to people. Poor Helen Keller.

 The Orlando airport was easy to manuever and great that I got to bypass the baggage claim. I could walk straight to my waiting Disney Magical Express. What efficiency. People from three resorts were jammed into a very comfortable thirty minute bus ride to the resort. For those of you who do not know this, Disney World is actually located in Kissimmee, Florida, not Orlando. Which is nice, because Orlando is the 3rd. most dangerous city in the United States. Really. I’m glad I was staying on Disney property.

 By the time I go to the resort, it was about 9:45pm. That was probably a stupid move on my part. I should have arrived early early to take advantage of the day. But, hey, you live and learn. But, it was a cheap flight with a safe airline, so I booked it. The check-in was quick and easy. The one thing that I couldn’t believe is that there was no wi-fi in the resort. AND there was a $9.99 fee for 24 “contiguous” hours. I thought that was a loop hole, because I had no idea what contiguous meant.  But, yeah, I want internet. Put it on my charge. Sure, two days at the Disney parks. Just put it on my charge.

 The Port Orleans French Quarter resort is inspired by New Orleans. The man holding the door open reminded me of the Mayor of Munchkinland, only a tad bit taller.  After check-in, they gave put beads around my neck, Mardi Gras fashion.   I got to my room and my suitcase was not there, smiling at me. Not to worry. They said it may take up to three hours to get my luggage.  I was surprised to see a fully refurbished ugrade. I was supposed to have a room with 2 double beds overlooking the parking lot. When I got to my room, it had a king sized bed and was beside the Sassagoula River, which was quite pretty. Upgrade. Yay!  There was also a greeting on my bed, created by the lady who had my room spotless each day. I’m talking spotless. Immaculate. Never in my life have I seen a room so clean. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that the room was totally re-done in March. I loved my comfy room.

I was starving. So, I changed out of my “It’s damn cold in West Virginia” clothing, and threw on some shorts and flip flops. I went to hunt for something to eat. The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory is a warehouse where old Mardi Gras float props are hung. It was 10:30pm and luckily the place stays open until midnight. I decided to go with a meatball hoagie. Well, the meatballs were huge and one actually fell out of my bun and onto the floor. I sat and stared at it, looking back at me. Well, the whole thing was a mess and so I ate as much as I could with my 25 napkins, and gave up on the mess.  Time to get back to the room and plan my next day. I was heading to Epcot Center.

Oh, did I forgot to mention that someone knocked on my door with my suitcase at 2:29a.m.? Yeah, that’s what I thought. What’s worse, is that I was half-asleep and opened the door without looking  in the peephole. Just glad I had on my long buttoned down sleep shirt, because I obviously didn’t reach for a robe that I didn’t bring with me. I was half asleep. Glad the 3rd dangerous city in the United States robbers didn’t pretend to bring people their luggage at 2:29 in the morning.

 (See Feeling Mousey (Part Two)

Eavesdropping 101

 It’s a given that kids like to play with their toys. They will drag them out, play until their little hearts content, and then put them away at the end of the day. Well, some children put their toys away. My son, Adam, didn’t.

 I was a stay-at-home mom, so we played all day. It was like a little day care center. We would make crafts and paint, build with blocks and Lego’s, and color the day away.   Adam liked taking his books and making a road with them. All of the downstairs rooms were open, so he could ride his little Hot wheels car from the kitchen through the living room, the dining room and back into the kitchen. It was at the end of the day, that Adam just didn’t want to pick up all of those books.

 Every time I would ask Adam to pick up his toys, he would ignore me and go about his business. So, I would ask him again. “It’s tooooo much.” he would always reply.

His next line was, “My back hurts.”  He would hold his back like he was in pain, and just couldn’t possibly pick up all of those books. The bending over was just killing him.

 I thought I was being a nice mom by helping him pick up his toys, but I soon realized that he had to learn to do this all by himself. New mothers need to learn a lot too. Trial and error.  So, I told him he had a choice, pick up his toys, or I would put them in a bag for a day and he would not be able to play with them the next day. I don’t think he believed me and off he went.

 So, I got out a black trash bag and started picking up his toys. I walked into the living room and held the bag up. “You can have this back on Tuesday.” Well, that didn’t go well. But, I stuck to my guns and I thought that that would work. It didn’t.

 The next day, Adam decided to place his books on the floor as a road. He and Alex jumped on his little car and away they went. So, when it was time for him to pick up his books, he told me that his back was hurting. Oh, he thought he was a good little actor. But, I was better. He had no idea who he was dealing with.

“You know, Adam, your back has been hurting a lot lately. Almost every day. I think that I am going to have to make an appointment with Dr. Dev. to take a look at your back. I’m really worried about you.”  I stuck a Pee Wee’s Playhouse tape in the tape player, and said on my way to the kitchen, ” Now, you guys please sit and watch this while I make a private phone call to the doctor’s office. I will be back in a few minutes.”

 Well, I knew that Adam was going to eavesdrop. He’s my son. I picked up the phone, with its long cord, and went around the corner, peeking back around like I was going to make a private phone call. He watched my every move. I knew that in a minute, he would be at the corner, eavesdropping on my conversation with the doctor’s office. This was going to be good.

 I dialed the phone. ” Hello, yes. I need to make an appointment for my son to get his back checked.” I went on to tell the receptionist about how his back hurt when he bent over to pick up his toys and how it seemed to be getting worse. They put the doctor on the phone for me. I was whispering, in a loud sort of way.

“Hi, yes, Dr. Dev…………why can’t he just have an x-ray?………………Oh, are you serious?………………….He’ll have to have an operation?……………………..I had no idea…………..I mean, how long will he have to stay in the hospital?………….Oh my gosh, he will not be able to get out of bed for how long?………………..Summer will almost be over by then?…………………Why can’t he go swimming after the operation?……………..Well, is there any way at all I can just watch him for the next week or so to see if his back feels any better. I would hate for him to have a back operation. He’s so young………We are going on vacation in a few weeks.He would have to stay with his Grandma Georgie…….. I hope it is just a muscle hurting or something. I will watch and see, Doctor.”

 I finished my fake conversation, hung up the phone. I could hear Adam run back to his place in front of the tv. I walked in the room, wiping a pretend tear from my eye, and said nothing. His eyes were wide, but he knew he couldn’t tell me he heard the rest of the conversation. “What’s wrong, Mommy? he asked.  “Nothing, sweetie. I just have a piece of dust or something in my eye.”

 That evening Adam came up to me as I was picking up his toys and said “Mommy, I think my back is feeling better. Look.” He bent over 3 or 4 times. “I’m going to try to pick up my toys.”

 “Well, ok, Adam.”  I hugged him like I was never going to see him again. “Thanks, Adam. Mommy loves you.”

 Adam always picked up his toys after that. 

 And he thought HE was a good actor.

Guinea Pig Children

With Christmas just around the corner, it reminds me of  the toys and games I received for Christmas when I was young.  The 1960’s and early 197o’s were the decades of  “The Misfit Toys.”

I don’t think they had testers back then. If someone invented a toy or game, perhaps the toy manufacturers just packaged it and put it on the shelves. I really think that  if there were toy testers back then, some of them surely would have died. I’m thinking specifically of  my first chemistry set. I can’t find any research on “toy tester deaths.”  I did look. If they would not have perished,  toy testers  would have received brain damage,  an amputated finger, or if not injuries, than stains on their clothing. And on the carpet. And on the couch.  Which piss mothers off to no end. Probably worse than the brain damage. This mother hates glitter. Just thought I would add that because if glitter gets in your eye, you WILL  go blind. For that reason, it is banned in my house.  I know I read that somewhere. You can’t dispute facts. Especially if you make them up.

Anywho,  children got to be “guinea pigs” when the product actually game out.  And of course you know that a “guinea pig”

is a person  is a person who is subjected to experimental or other observational procedures.  Like children of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. That would include me. I very well may have been one of the “Guinea PigChildren.”   I was, after all, hit in the temple by flying clackers.

I loved my Clackers…. until  THE incident. Clackers were popular in the early seventies, when I was about 13-16 years old, perhaps.  Clackers  were  two hard plastic  marbles, (if marbles can be plastic), each about two inches in diameter. They are attached to a ring with a sturdy string. A person  puts their index finger in the ring, allowing the marbles (or balls) to hang below. Through an up-and-down  motion, the two balls swing apart and together, making the clacking noise that give the crazy toy its name. With practice, it is possible to get the marbles swinging so that they “clack” together above and  below the hand.

Clackers were discontinued because children were being injured. I continuously hurt my fingers while honing my clacker craft. Not all children follow rules. They also made an excellent weapon. If you swing them over your head, and let them go, they could fly across the room and either hit or strangle a kid…. Or a poodle. I read that cave men used Clackers. Or bola’s, as the South American gaucho called them. (See, I do research). I heard that if struck too hard, the acrylic balls could shatter, with flying consequences. I became really good at clackers. I could hit them above and below. I was the Crystal Lane Clacker Queen.  Self-imposed title, perhaps, but queen, nontheless.

One day, several of us were “clacking”, and mine flew across the room and knocked over a glass of water that was on the coffee table, which in turn, spilled the water, which then flowed  into my mom’s pack of Salem cigarettes. I guess water-logged cigarettes aren’t easy to light. I tried to get one out of the pack and it just wilted in half. So, I put it back in there. We were done clacking for the day. My sister told on me and off to my room I went. When I came out, my Clackers were gone.  Damn….

 

I really don’t know what the fascination was with Clackers. You didn’t win anything. You didn’t have a high score. But, you could be timed to see how long you could “clack.”  Time clackers, so to speak.  Maybe it was a lesson in eye-hand coordination.

I really think that I could have been a ninja assassin with my clacking skills. But, I preferred to grow up and become a teacher.

Same thing.

______________________________________________________

Hello, Circadian Dysrhythmia

Benjamin Franklin was a very wise man, but I still curse him twice a year, nontheless. He was credited for coming up with the idea of Daylight Saving Time.  Ben thought that we should go to bed early and rise early so we could be healthy, wealthy and intelligent. I don’t think it works that way.  He thought that more daylight meant saving wax for all the candles. Maybe he was tired of reading his almanac by candlelight.

All I know is that I physically change all the clocks in my house, but my  biological, circadian clock won’t budge. We SPRING forward and FALL behind.  Sure, I gain an hour in the fall, but the time change messes with me for a good week. I am not looking forward to this at all. Sunday marks the end of Daylight Saving Time and the beginning of my moaning and complaining.

If you have ever suffered from jet lag, then perhaps you can understand what a shift in time can do to a person. I am tired. Circadian dyshrythmia. I have lost my rhythm. I become awkward in oh, so many ways.

So, who else can I blame for this? Surely not Arizona, the only state that will not buckle to the pressure to lose and gain time. Arizona has more sunshine than Florida, the Sunny Sunshine state. They don’t need a time shift.

In 1918, the United States adopted  Daylight Saving Time for the duration of  World War I. This allowed  people to spend more time hanging out in daylight, thus saving costs on fuel for lighting. It was abolished, brought back, abolished and then in 2005, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act, which changed Daylight Saving Time dates again. As of March 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday of November. It just sucks. Daylight Saving Time stays around now  past Halloween, where some little trick-or-treaters were getting hit by cars at night. Well, that is what reflective tape is for, my little munchkins. Trick or treating during daylight is just wrong. But, no one listens to me.
I would really like to know what the hell is saved? I know that it is a reminder to change the batteries in your smoked detector and Arm &Hammer let’s us know that it is time to change the box of baking soda in your refrigerator, but hey, that is just to strum up some business. The energizer bunny doesn’t suffer from the time shift. I bet more batteries are purchased around this time than at Christmas. Well, maybe not, but it’s a gimmick to change your smoke detector. But, as most of you know, the smoke detector will let you know when it is time. It will freakin beep at 3 minute intervals until you change the damn thing.
  The only thing that was fun about the time change was accidentally sleeping through church when we were small. Oops, Mom and Dad, you forgot to spring forward. Aw, shucks, we missed church. Looks like we can think about God from our warm beds.  I did convince a college roommate that it was against the law to change the clocks before 2a.m. I told her that it was a law enforcement thing. If the police were called to a residence for anything after 11pm and they wrote down the wrong time, it might be a critical mistake, so a law was enacted in West Virginia that stated that all clocks could not be turned back before 2a.m. or a $500 fine would be imposed on anyone who turned their clocks back earlier. She believed me and set her alarm for 2am to set her clock back. She was so easy.
  In the end, I still haven’t found anything that is saved.  All the deer in the United States live in West Virginia and cross the road on my way to work.  Do they suffer from circadian dysrhythmia? I bet they do.  Daylight Deer Time. Will they now operate an hour earlier or hour later?   School children will be standing at the bus stop in the dark, wrapped in reflective tape. Or wait. Won’t it be daylight if we turn back our clocks? That means they are wrapped in reflective tape just because. See, now I am confused about when it will be dark and when it will be light. This just sucks. I don’t need to be anymore confused than I already am.
I guess there is some good to Daylight Saving Time. Raccoons will have more time to pillage through garbage cans.  Robbers can eat breakfast at the home they are robbing.
I really can’t stress how much I hate the time change.
Damn you, Ben Franklin.

When Grandpa Falls Asleep

Every parent has a “puke and poop” story about their kids.  You just think that yours tops them all. Well, I don’t think this is the puke story of the century, but it rates.

When my two children were very young, they would head to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for the evening every once in a while. My husband and I had to go to one of his work parties, so my in-laws told us to bring them on over. We picked them up around ten and back to the house we went. I got the kids ready to go to bed, and all was right with the world. Or so I thought.

I was awakened by Alex crying out for me, “Mommy!”  I ran into her room, turned on the light. “My tummy hurts real bad.”  I sat on her bed, and she sat up and promptly puked all over herself , the comforter, and me. It was black. I was scared because I had never seen black vomit before. I got her up out of bed, and she threw up again. She did the vomit walk all the way to the bathroom. No sooner than I got Alex to the bathroom, I heard Adam yell for me. “Mommy, I threw up!”

I yelled for my husband to help. Why should he get to sleep? He balked at changing dirty diapers and turned green when he saw blood or vomit. He was generally useless, but I needed help. Adam had at least tried to aim for  his wastepaper basket by his bed, but threw up all over the his nice light grey berber carpet. It was black vomit.

Oh, Dear God, they have some terrible virus, I thought. A black virus. Her carpeting was a very light pink and white berber and I knew I had to scrub fast before it really stained. Alex wanted to try to go back to bed, but as soon as she got in the hall, vomited again. She was a vomit walker. I ran and got the wastebasket in her room for her to hold while I took her bedding off and put new sheets on her bed. I should have just picked them both up and put them in the bathtub so they could just puke in an enclosed area.

I told my husband that their forehead didn’t feel warm. I was ready to rush them to the hospital. I’m telling you that the vomit was jet black. I was stunned. Jet propulsion vomit. Vomit splatter. CSI style. My babies probably had a rare, contagious disease I couldn’t pronounce.

Jay just looked at me and said, “They smell like oreo cookies.”

What?  Oreo cookies? That couldn’t be. How could kids vomit so much blackness from just an oreo cookie or two. “Well, that is probably the last thing they ate.” I replied. Then I thought that Grandpa probably gave them a couple cookies late, but that shouldn’t make them vomit, for goodness sake. I was pretty strict with the junk food. I never gave them pop and I limited their cookie eating every day. No, they must have that rare, 5-syllable disease I was thinking of before.

So, my husband started the  questioning. “Adam, did you and Alex eat oreo cookies at Grandpa’s?”

He nodded. “We had oreo cookies and root beer.”

“How many cookies do you think you ate?” my husband asked.

“Like 2 bags.” Adam said and then threw up again. I can’t stress the blackness enough.

I looked at Adam like he had three eyes. “You mean 2 cookies, right?”  And that’s when Alex chirped in. “Grandpa put the bag of Oreo’s on the table and gave us a Root Beer.”

“He let you eat more than 1 or 2?” I asked, my blood pressure slowly rising.

“Grandpa fell asleep in his chair. We ate the first bag. It didn’t have many cookies in it, and we threw it away.  He woke up and Adam told him we were out of Oreo cookies. So, he got us another bag. And poured us some more root beer.” Alex noted in detail.

Adam added, ” So, when he fell asleep again, we ate  the second bag.”  He looked at me like it was no big deal.

“YOU ATE A WHOLE BAG OF OREO COOKIES?…. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  I was ready to call my in-laws. I didnt’ care that it was 1:00a.m. My kids shared  more than a bag of Oreo cookies and had several cans of Root beer each. I was beyond furious.

“Mommy, it wasn’t Grandpa’s fault. He was sleeping.”   Yeah, that makes it better.

I scrubbed the vomit walk in both bedrooms and the hallway. I changed the sheets on their beds and put blankets on top of their sheets since their comforters were caressed with Oreo upchuck.

Yes, Oreo upchuck. That’s what I called it. Like it was an episode on tv- Oreo Upchuck, brought to you by Tide, when your whites can’t get white enough. When your children spew black Oreos on their pajamas. Let Tide bring the color back to life.

Needless to say, Oreo cookies could not be brought into my home. You couldn’t even say “Oreo cookies”, unless you wanted to see my death stare.

I still hate Oreo cookies. Not too fond of Root Beer either.

Let’s Bring Back Houdini

I have always been fascinated with seances. I think it had to do with my brand new Ouji board I received as a present one year for Christmas. Everyone had Ouji boards. In case you have been living in a box, an Ouji board is a board marked with letters and numbers, and other symbols so you can communicate directly with the dead. It has a moveable piece that players put the tips of their fingers on, letting the spirits guide them to the answers they have questions to.    I always wanted to bring back Houdini. Harry Houdini was the famous magician who died doing one of his magic tricks.

According to Wikipedia, Houdini spent years trying to debunk mediums and psychics. He didn’t believe that anyone could have powers of that nature.  He would often go to seances incognito and then jump up to show the people attending  how things were faked.

Before Houdini died, he and his wife, Bess, agreed that if Houdini’s spirit came back after death, he would say “Rosabelle believe” as a secret codeword to prove that it was actually him. This was a phrase from a play that his wife  performed in when the couple first met. His wife held yearly séances  for ten years after Houdini’s death, but “Houdini”‘s spirit never appeared. Bummer.

So, of course, in 1977, I thought I could bring him back. In college, I lived in a house with 4 sorority sisters. We had a lot of ceremonial candles lying about. I can’t tell you how many seances I had in that house. We would light candles, drink, and then conjure up Houdini’s spirit. I remember one specific time when my boyfriend (later husband) kept telling me to be careful. I was wearing a sweater with a cowl collar and was leaning into my candle as I was laughing while chanting, “Harry Houdini, we are calling on you to come visit us this Halloween eve……”  We would drink a little more and conjure up people and I would always have someone hiding in the kitchen to creep into the room at exactly the right moment. It was just another excuse to have a party.

The best seance I had included a little trick I learned from living in a house with uneven floorboards under the carpeting. If I stepped directly on one place in the living room, the nearby lamp would flicker on and off. I guess the lamp cord was sitting on the long board. Or the light wasn’t screwed in all the way. Regardless, it was something I could use, perhaps. Hmmmmm. That gave me an idea.

I gathered my friends and their friends in a little circle after a few rounds of drinks and had them stand, holding hands with the person next to them so there would be no shenanigans. I lit my ceremonial candles and shut off all of the lights, except for that lamp. I changed the bulb earlier to a 20 watt bulb, so it wasn’t too bright. I opened up the living room window a bit to increase the creep factor. I loved it when it was a bit windy.  I started conjuring up Harry Houdini. I called to him several times before I said, “If you are here with us, please give us a sign…and I would slowly shift my weight to one side on that uneven board under the carpet. The light flickered. A couple people nervously laughed. “Is that you, Harry Houdini?” Slowly shift my weight to make the light flicker on, then off. I was starting to freak people out after a few minutes of my questioning.

“Harry Houdini, are you standing in this room right now? If you are, turn the light on and then off. Wow, this  is just too perfect. Someone was getting scared, but was still suspect. “Vickie, are you doing this?”  Haha. The people on both my sides answered in unison, “She’s not. She is holding my hand.”  I decided to get to business.

“Harry Houdini, are you holding hands with someone in this circle? If you are, give us a sign.” The light went off.  Someone screamed. It was a guy! A guy who screamed like a girl. I wanted to crack up laughing, but I was just beginning. “Harry Houdini, if you are holding hands with someone, gently squeeze their hand. I KNEW one of the 9 would squeeze someone’s hand. Everyone started screaming, which meant, more than one person decided to be a funny guy. I then started shifting my weight back and forth and the light was going crazy and people were screaming. It was a fantastic evening. It also helped that people were intoxicated.

I then announced. “Someone has broken the chain. He has left the room.”  I never told anyone what I did. I had three more “drinking seances” after that.

I’d like to think that the famous escape artist paid a visit to us during one of those seances. Even if he didn’t, I hope  he was having a good laugh watching from above.

Did I mention that he died on Halloween?

Vincent Price…..Priceless

Halloween is approaching and it reminds me of the things that really scare me about this fun holiday. A lot of people would vote for the shower scene in “Pyscho” or Michael Myers in the backyard in “Halloween.” But for me, Vincent Price would be at the top of the list. I was afraid of him, but at the same time, I just had to watch his movies. His voice was menacing, but yet peaceful, soothing. I thought he could probably put people in trances. He had this look that would send shivers down my spine.

He was Hannibal Lecter of the 1950’s.  He could be the Pied Piper with that voice, making the children follow him out of town, hypnotized and ready to be eaten. Well, except I don’t think he was like Jeffrey Dahmer or anything in his films.  He was too sauve and cool to eat flesh. He smoked cigarettes, wore a suit most of the time in his movies, and was just crazy, again,in a suave and cool way.

I used to think “House on Haunted Hill” was the scariest thing ever. We would watch scary movies every Saturday night on Chiller Theater, before Saturday Night Live took over Saturday late night. Vincent Price starred in this movie, and gave me nightmares for days.

I remember staying overnight with Cindy, a friend who lived down the street, one night when “House on Haunted Hill” was on tv. We watched it. I was creeped out as usual, and went to her bedroom to go to sleep. Her closet door was open and Cindy asked me to close it. I guess she was scared also. But, of course, that wasn’t the case. Her mom was standing in the closet with a panty hose over her head.  Surprised I didn’t pee myself. I sure showed the neighbors I had healthy lungs, though. When I rented the movie when my children were tweens, I professed that this movie will scare them to death, they laughed at me. It was sort of 1950’s goofy-scary to them. I thought that a skeleton making a woman back into a vat of acid was pretty darn scary. I believe they used the word, “lame.”  The disappointed me so.

 

Vincent Price could have been in Heidi and I still would have been creeped out. It was his voice. There are many actors who are known for their voice, such as say, James Earl Jones, or Pee Wee Herman.. But, this guy left an impression. I loved it when Michael Jackson used him in “Thriller.”  It really added to the creep-factor. There was another movie that he was in called, “The House of Wax,”  which I thought was pretty scary too. I think Tim Burton used the scene of the burning dolls in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as a tribute to House of Wax. Don’t even get me started on his Oompah Loompah’s in that movie. I can get side-tracked talking about that creepy movie.

I don’t think there will be another scary movie that will affect me the way “House on Haunted Hill” did as a child. As I grew older, I found When a Stranger Calls and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be the next best thing.  But, in the end, no one can touch Vincent Price, the king of horror.

 

Playing Dead

When I was young, our family lived in a neighborhood. People and houses were all around us. We didn’t really have deer in our yard too often. The only thing we really had come into our yard were crazy hummingbirds.Hummingbirds need to go to anger management classes. I’m serious. Even if they aren’t hungry, they will buzz right back over to mess with the hungry hummingbirds. My mom had several feeders out on the back porch and we had all the hummingbirds in North America visiting the nectar in our yard.

But, that was the extent of the wildlife. When I got married and we moved to my husband’s  hometown, I remember hearing owls when it was almost dark. I loved it.  For weeks I heard the owls. Until my husband informed me that they were just mourning doves. “Just” mourning doves. I had no idea what a mourning dove was.  And why the hell was it coming in the evening.  Nobody told me it was spelled like a really sad dove. So, what I  thought was an owl was really a depressed pigeon. Welcome to wildlife.

Who knew that when we built our house out on 13 acres that I would become a wildlife whisperer. See https://dyingbraincells.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/elly-may-clampett/  I was a stay-at-home mom and took daily walks through the woods and was amazed at all the wildlife. I loved it. I could tame anything. I am surprised I never got bit, especially during, “the Episode.”

We went to the animal shelter and brought home an outside cat. We didn’t know that people dropped off cats in the countryside, so I guess we could have just waited for a stray to show up, as they regularly did. But, we rescued Tiger and he lived outside. One evening I went outside to sit on the front porch. It was almost dark and my babies were in bed for the night. We hadn’t purchased porch furniture yet, but had 2 folding lawn chairs out there on the corner of our long porch. In the darkness I could see that Tiger was sitting under one of them, so I plopped myself down and then tried to get Tiger to come out from under the chair.

I sat in the chair, saying his name like I was a nutcase. “Ti-ger…come here, baby…Ti-iiii-ger…”, all the while trying to put my hand under the chair to try to pet him. I couldn’t reach him. My hand was moving under the chair some more, calling to him. Cat’s sometimes don’t do what they are asked to do. So, I just sat there, quietly waving my right arm sort of under the chair.

All of a sudden, I saw Tiger jump up onto the porch. Uh-Oh….My dangling hand froze. If that was Tiger……what was under my chair? My eyes grew huge…like cartoon, out of the head eyes.  I slowly got out of my chair and ran out into the yard.

I turned around to see a oppossum. It must have been playing dead under my chair. I was ready to be dead for real out in the yard. My heart was racing.Dear God, the thing could have taken off my arm.

Well, after a while, I got very used to wildlife at my door. The oppossum came back almost every night to eat out of Tiger’s food bowl. I named him Poopy Butt. I think that is a fitting name for an oppossum.

I will never forget that evening. My eyes have never been right since.

Did I Unplug My Curlers?

Have you ever left your home, only to turn your car around and head back because you weren’t sure you unplugged your curlers?  Well, I mean, bald guys wouldn’t have this to worry about.  But, some women do.  Like  me. I worry that I don’t have things unplugged or turned off.  I am a “turner-arounder”.  That is a person who turns around and comes back home to double check. I guess you could call it a “Double checker”.  Or a “Go back homer”.  There are many things to call people like that.  But, do we have OCD?  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?   I don’t think I am OCD by any means. If I was OCD, I would first have to re-arrange the letters to CDO so they would be in alphabetical order.

I am going to share a few of the things that make me a “Go back homer” or a “Turner-arounder”, or a “Double checker.” I really like all of these phrases. I just don’t know which one to use. I will have to think about this for a few hours, OCD-like…But, read on and see if you can relate.  Maybe we have one or two in common.

1. “Did I close the garage door?”-This is really important, because if you left the garage door open, thieves could just walk in and take your…paint cans or wheelbarrow or tool (I am sure we had more than one). Better yet, raccoons could walk in and then fall asleep and then when you come home at night and drive your car into the garage, and shut the door, they would become trapped in your garage and poop all over your car and scratch, “LET ME OUT, YOU JERK” on the side of the car. Or, someone like Ted Bundy would be waiting in the dark, and when I would step out of my car,  kill me, well,  just because. Then he would leave a note like, “She really should have shut her garage door….Love, Ted.”

2. “Is my toilet running?”- Yeah, that gets me all the time. I always use the bathroom before I leave the house. Isn’t it great how I can share my “pee time stories” with strangers? Well, I have to drive 30 minutes to work and I drink a lot of water. Anywho, I usually wait by the front door until the toilet stops making that “I’m filling back up with water now” noise and then I shut and lock the door.And drive off. “But, wait. Did I wait this time? I can’t remember. Did I go to the bathroom before I left? What if my toilet ran all day? I wonder what the hell my water bill would be?… Shit…I better turn around.”

3. “Are my curlers unplugged?” This is the worst one, because I never can remember. I know in my mind that I unplug after I put the last curler in my hair. But, did I really unplug this time? My poor family would all pile in the car to go somewhere and we would get halfway down the driveway and I would say, “I am not sure I unplugged my curlers.” It got to be to the point where as soon as we would get in the car, my husband or kids would ask me. And I would ALWAYS go back. Now that I am divorced, and live by myself, I stare at the plug outlet and say to myself or sometimes out loud if I was really feeling like a loser, “Unplugged.” And I would wrap up my curlers and put them under my bathroom sink. But, my mind is not free. While driving, I would then think, “hmmmmmm, I wonder if I put those curlers away too warm? Could they start a fire?”

4. “Did I leave food for the cat?”- Well, this is important, because if I have a car accident and my head is wrapped in gauze, they won’t be able to hear me saying, “My poor cat has no food.” Therefore, it is imperative to leave her dish full of food and…just in case, the bag nearby. That way, she can knock the bag over when her dish is depleted of food and she can just eat out of the bag until I am released from the hospital. I do have one of those self-feeders, but my cat won’t eat out of it. I guess the food gets stale tasting if it is out too long and she sticks her nose up at it. Well, think about it. Would you eat a piece of toast with butter and jelly after 6 hours of being on the counter? I didn’t think so.

5. “Off, off, off…off..off..off..”-In OCD talk, that means, “Go make sure the oven knobs are all turned off.”  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have turned around to make sure my oven was turned off.  And as I touch each knob, I would say those words..”off, off, off, off, off, off.” And then I would stare at the oven, just one last time. Yes, they are off ….for sure. I would even ask the kids to check. I could hear them say, “off, off, off, off, off, off” in that mocking manner. They were probably thinking, “What the hell? We’ve eaten out for the past 2 nights.”

I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies. That word looks weird….I guess we are all weird in some way or another. I forgot to mention that I make sure that the match I use to light a candle stays in a little jar of water for at least an hour before I throw it away. I heard about a match being in a garbage bag and then smouldering and then burning down a house about a year ago..I like to burn my hazelnut cream candle about every day and don’t want to burn my apartment down. So, the match gets to drown to make sure it is not a fire hazard.

So, do I have OCD? Should a “turner-arounder” be labeled as having an obsessive behavior? I really don’t know the answer to that.

I do know that I have to stop writing this blog now because it is bed time. I have to go make sure my alarm clock is set. You never know when the electric will go off and you would then sleep in for work.

I am pretty sure I have it set… Maybe…..shit….maybe not….I will have to check after I make sure the tires on my car are not flat for the drive to work tomorrow.

Lightning Strikes Cows..and a Big Toe

I think most people enjoy watching a thunderstorm. I know a few who are afraid of the lightning.  I love watching them. Especially at the beach. I mean, I hate it when it rains when you are on vacation, but watching heat lightning over the ocean illuminates the night sky and it is just beautiful.

We built our house on a hill on a spot where an old dairy farm stood. The guy we bought the property from told my husband that the old dead tree on the property had been struck by lightning, and a couple of cows were killed by a lightning bolt, right where the house stood. Well, isn’t that lovely? I loved being out in the country, but when storms came through, it became ugly and menacing, yet beautiful at the same time. Well, not for the cows, I imagine. I think my kitchen is right over the spot where they were struck. Or maybe not.

One storm in particular scared me to death. We had a front porch that went along the front and then turned to join our side patio. We had a pavillion/gazebo on the back side. When we built the pavillion, we had it equipped with tv cable, electric and stereo speakers. Right beside it we had a water fountain, which I loved when the kids were young. We were wired for sure.

One  evening, a storm was brewing and I was watching the Weather Channel, as usual, because I am a weather dork. I love the weather and love watching a storm approach. I know all the names of the weather channel people. I’m sure that impresses so many people. It’s not like I say “Hey, guys, guess what? I know the names of all the meteorologists on the Weather Channel.”  Not a good way to win friends… or keep them for that matter.

My husband was watching tv in the family room, sitting reclined in a wing back chair. I decided to go outside on the front porch and watch the storm coming. The front came through with powerful wind, and then the rain began. I wasn’t getting wet because our porch was a tad bit wide, but I stood by the front door because I was a little scared, to be honest. The lightning bolts splintered off in many directions and the thunder was right above us. My outside cats jumped into the box I made into a cat house for them under a bench by the door. I was watching the water on the pond down in front of our house, and the cars coming around the corner, heading home before a tree came crashing down on their car. Well, we have a lot of trees on our road.

The storm was getting worse, and I was just thinking I better get indoors, when all of a sudden I heard a huge, unbelievably loud crack, and this rush of light seemed to wrap around from the back of the porch right to me. Oh my God, was I just struck by lightning? My hair stood up on my arms and my head felt weird. I ran in the house, intent on telling my husband that I think I was sort of struck by lightning, when I ran into him coming out to tell me the same thing.

My husband was struck by lightning. Well, his big toe was anyways. His big toe, you ask? Yep. It appears that lightning had struck the ground right by our gazebo and the lightning traveled with the wires under the ground and into the house, through the stereo speakers in our family room and out of the speaker and the first thing near that was his big toe, with the rest of him reclined.

He met me as I flung opened the front door. We both said at the same time, “I think I was just struck by lightning.”  As we were standing in the foyer, I happened to glance into our library and noticed that the desktop computer was looking pretty green. Oh Uh…The lightning had taken out our computer.

Well, lightning took out a lot of things that evening, besides zapping my husband’s big toe and enveloping me on the front porch like  the smoke monster on LOST, except in white light. The storm destroyed our stereo and speakers, our phones, our tv in the family room and the speakers out under the gazebo. The green screen computer survived, but didn’t didn’t last too long afterwards. Our doorbell sounded like something you would hear on the Adams Family show or maybe that dong sound on Law and Order.

I had been through storms before out on that property. There was another time when I was standing by the kitchen window looking out and lightning exploded in our backyard, and I swore that flash of lightning got me. I bet that’s where the cows were electrocuted.

I remember the first time I watched a movie where someone was struck by lightning. The Bad Seed was one of my all time favorite movies. The lead character, Rhoda, was a child who killed people who got in her way, and she was struck by lightning at the end of the movie. She had on a yellow slicker, and plastic boots, so I now associate yellow slickers with lightning…and death…. I don’t wear yellow slickers.

I think people should really heed the “if you hear thunder, get the hell inside.”

Because lightning is truly right around the corner. Trust me.

Alice (and Ducks) in Wonderland

When I was in college I majored in Speech Communication and Drama (the first time around) and had to participate in one-act plays and stage productions. One of the big productions put on was Alice in Wonderland. So, my good friend and roommate, Jeri, and I went to try out.  When the parts came out, we looked down the list to see what parts we got. We knew we would get a part, because it was a pretty big cast.  We were hoping for a big part. Jeri won the role of the Red Queen. I was very happy for her. I secretly wanted to be Alice. I looked for my name. Yeah, there it was………….Vickie Mendenhall…………..Duck/card

I was a duck. Yeah, a duck. And a card. Like in a deck of cards. Wow. This was….such great news. (I am being extremely sarcastic, in case you can’t tell.) I mean, what the hell?  A duck?  And then, I had to change out of my duck costume, and don a card costume, and then back into the duck costume.  Oh, and it gets better.

Our director wanted to use a real baby pig for the part where the baby turns into a pig. She said that she had made arrangements for a farmer to lend us a baby pig, but needed someone to be in charge of doing the switch behind the curtain when it was time. She called out people who were free during that time, and my name was called. Well, I loved baby pigs. I had a pig collection in high school. Some people collect Pez and baseball cards. I collected pigs..Go figure..

Anywho, I raised my hand and said that I would be willing to do the pig switch, despite the fact that I had to be a duck, then a card, and then a duck. I would try to find the time. But, oh my God, there were problems.

After my initial disappointment, of you know, being a duck in a play…in college, I decided to  embrace it and be the best damn duck anyone had ever seen…because, I was a professional, damnit…sigh

I had to have a costume made for me. A duck costume. At least my face would show and I wouldn’t be hidden behind a duck head. I did look  like a duck, with yellow chicken legs and big feet. The feet would pose a problem in every performance. Meanwhile, the director couldn’t find anyone to take the little piggie home each evening. She didn’t think about that. So, she decided to keep it in her office. Yeah, real smart. Her office smelled like hay and piggie poop.

So, the night of dress rehearsal went smoothly. I decided to ad lib something while on stage both times I was on as the duck and I thought the director would stop everything and yell at me, but I heard her laughing in the seats. Someone who was sitting by her told me she was crying she was laughing so hard. I had to be in a scene with a jury of animals, like a mouse, and I don’t know what other animals were jury members. Some one used pepper somehow and we all had to sneeze, just a little sneeze. But, I made mine last forever, like I was trying to sneeze, over and over, and sounding like a munchkin from munchkinland at the same time. (I really could have been a voice-over for cartoons.)

Another time Alice was passing out candy to animals for some stupid reason and we were just supposed to take the candy and go stand back in the line. Well, I decided to stand there, fidgeting, holding out my hand each time , even though we were in a line, and then I looked at Alice with my eyes crossed and said thank you in my munchkin voice, and the girl playing Alice burst out laughing. Uh, Oh, I was going to get yelled at. But, the director told me to leave it in there for the performances. I was going to be a duck hit.

Well, the performance the next night was filled with some problems. Everything ran smoothly, but only because I am a professional, damnit. After I was onstage as a duck, I had to run downstairs and get the pig, in my duck outfit. And carry the thing upstairs. The farmer had showed me to hold the pig by its back feet with one hand and to put my other hand on its chest. He said hanging it upside down like that would pull on its vocal cords and it couldn’t squeal. Well, that part was true, and the pig did great. We made the exchange each time without a squealing pig behind stage before it was time. But, each time the pig had to run off stage and Vickie the duck had to run after it each time, catch it and take it back downstairs. Then I had to run back upstairs, and change into my card outfit.

Well, I tripped going up the stairs in my duck outfit and landed on my knee. The pain was unbelievable. It hurt so badly and I still had to be a card and a duck again. I was crying some real duck tears. Well, some older guy who was a community member who was some animal (I can’t remember), told me he had a pain pill and that I should take it. So, I did. Yeah, I am a stupid duck. I only weighed 100 pounds and I was loopy for the rest of the performance. I mean, very loopy. I didn’t really know what was going on. He probably gave me some LSD or something….Pyschedelic Duck….perhaps a Disco Duck…

The audience cracked up at my scene-stealing, but I was soo messed up. Then, Mr. Wallman, the old man that our theater building was named after, Wallman Hall, came looking for me. “Where’s that little girl duck?” he asked frantically. “I opened the door to Ms. Lough’s office, and the pig ran out.”  Yeah, the pig was on the loose.  We didn’t need the piglet anymore that night, and I had to change into a card, so poor Mr. Wallman had to hunt for the piggie on his own.

Well, they didn’t find the piglet for hours afterwards. They thought maybe someone stole it, but they found it sleeping in the costume room, all curled up in a hat. Weird, but not as weird as how I was feeling. I had no pain in my knee until I woke up the next morning. I woke up wearing a robe. I don’t even remember how I got home or how I got undressed. But, when I woke up, my leg was swollen and I was in pain. So, yeah, I took another pill that next performance, but cut it in half. I mean, no one else could fit in the outfit. I had the duck voice going on and people asking me afterwards what I had in my mouth to make me sound the way I did. I was like a Peter Frampton “How do you Feel?” voice changer duck..I had to perform. The show had to go on!

Some one filmed Alice in Wonderland and I wish I would have purchased a copy of it. My kids would see a high duck with ripped yellow hose (which the director loved) parading around on stage looking like….a duck.

I realized after that last performance that I could be an actress if I really wanted to.  But, no, I decided to stay in Fairmont, West Virginia, and become a dental assistant for the next four years. Yeah, that sounds much better.

What a lucky duck!

Circus Trauma

Years ago, people used to run away to join the circus.  I wonder how that worked. “Hey, where’s Ralph? I haven’t seen him in a while?”…..”Oh, haven’t you heard? He ran off and joined the circus.”  Seriously?  You could do that?   I would think that if you want to work with a bunch of clowns, many people wouldn’t have to go very far.

Since my dad was in the Clown Patrol with the Shriners, or whatever Osiris Temple is, we went to the circus a lot. I guess my dad felt a connection with the “real” clowns. They scared the hell out of me. They thought it was funny to sneak up behind you and honk that stupid giant-sized horn behind your head. What the hell is wrong with you, Bozo?  That is not funny. Probably why I have hearing loss in both my ears. Clown disorder. I also thought that they were a bit creepy, like sexually creepy. A couple of them would just stare at me. I was only around 12 at the time. They probably thought they could get away with creepy looks because they were basically hidden behind a mask. When I was little, we didnt’ know about “Stranger danger” and we didn’t have Amber Alerts,  but I am betting that  some of the clowns in the circus had some issues. So, they ran away and joined the circus so they could be with children. Yikes…

There seemed to be a lot of midget clowns. (We called them midgets back then because that’s what they were.)  Sort of made me mad that they got the really dirty jobs of walking behind the elepants with a pooper scooper, and smiling all the while like it was fun to clean up elephant poop. The elephants could have easily stepped on one. I worried about this.

I remember thinking that the circus was a dirty world. I felt so sorry for the animals and secretly wanted to see the lion bite off someone’s head. And I thought this when I was little.  They were kept in tiny cages and looked so unhappy. There were even little dogs that did tricks in one of the rings. Maybe they ran away and joined the circus too. Stray dogs put to work to earn their keep. Poor pooches. I decided very early on that if I was rich when I grew up that I would buy a huge piece of land and put all of the circus animals on it so they could just hang out and not have to do tricks every day. I was a wise child.

I noticed everything about the circus. Like how the girls wore fishnet hose with tears in them. First of all, why would they wear fishnet hose under their little costume?  They always had tears in them. Maybe swinging on the flying trapeze bars tore them up a lot. Which goes back to why they would wear them in the first place. I don’t know, I just thought everything was dirty. I knew then I had no desire to run away and join the circus.

My biggest concern with the circus was the tightrope walkers. The Flying Wallenda’s were a daredevil circus act famous for performing death-defying stunts without a safety net. They were also famous for being stupid. They had a 7 person pyramid with a chair and those long sticks to keep their balance, so they decided they didn’t need a safety net. Someone should have given them an IQ test. I knew that people came to the circus to see if they would fall. They did in 1962 at the Shrine Circus at the Detroit State Fair and two people died. They still didn’t feel the need for a safety net.  No one must have asked, “Hey, uh, Uncle Rufeo fell to his death last night. We gonna put up a net?”   More relatives fell and died. These people do not learn their lesson. I really had enough of the circus.

I remember my dad telling me about the Hartford Circus Fire. I think it happened in 1944. A fire broke out under the big top and 168 people died, along with many animals. I specifically remember him telling me about the fire while we were at the circus….sitting far away from the entrance…under a tent. Nice, Dad, scare the child even more. Most of the time we went to Wheeling Island Stadium, along the banks of the Ohio River. I bet the Flying Wallenda’s didn’t like the breeze from the river. But, back to the fire…I sat there listening to my dad tell me about the fire and I decided, once again, that we really shouldn’t go to another circus performance.

I don’t know how old I was when I went to my first circus. I do remember when I went to my last.

It was a flea circus. Yeah, a flea circus. A circus so small you have to look at it with a magnfying glass. I thought it was a joke. I was in college when I first heard about it. What is this world coming to? What are we going to have next, a cockroach rodeo?

Who the hell decided it would be a good idea to have a circus with fleas?

I’m thinking it must have been one of the Wallenda’s.

Old Lady Driver

When my kids were little, I ran them all over the place. It seemed like we were always in the car heading somewhere. And most of the time we were in a hurry. I was a stay-at-home-mom until my youngest was a junior in high school, so I chauffeured quite a bit. So, it wasn’t unusual for one of them to ask to stop to grab something to eat right after school, on their way to their sporting practice.

I picked up my son, Adam, after school, one day to drive him straight to football practice. We were running late, but he was hungry and wanted to stop at McDonald’s. I was driving my husband’s work car, a silverish Monte Carlo. It was a piece of junk, and I really don’t know why I had it that day.  Since we were in a hurry, he wanted me to just pull into a spot and he was going to run in and grab some food to go. I pulled into a parking spot and he jumped out.

It was pretty crowded, so I knew that this was going to make my son nervous. They would get in trouble if they were late for football practice. While we were waiting, another car pulled up beside me. My door was beside her driver’s door, so I got a good look at the driver. It was a silver car and I was amused to see a very old woman with purplish hair and she was wearing sun glasses that seemed to wrap around her face. They were black and huge and she barely could see over her steering wheel.

Well, she put her car in park, and was getting ready to get out of the car, when all of a sudden, her passenger door was flung opened, and my son hopped into her car and shut the door. He had his bag of McDonald food and a drink. The lady looked over at him, and didn’t say a word. She just looked at him. This all happened in less than 30 seconds, but I could see my son mouth ,”Let’s go!”  And then he looked over at her.

They just stared at each other.  They were both confused. I am sure he was thinking, “Who the hell are you and why are you in my mom’s car?” And she was probably thinking, “Let’s go? Are you kidnapping me?”  And I cracked up. He saw me through the window so I waved at him. He didn’t say a word to her, and hurriedly got out of the car.

When Adam got in the right car and shut the door, my daughter and I were already laughing so hard, we were crying. He was embarrassed. Then I happened to look at the old lady, thinking she already got out of the car to enter McDonald’s, but..and this is the best part..she was still looking at her passenger seat. She was staring with her purplish hair and her wrap-around sunglasses like he was still there.

I don’t know what it was, but I could not quit laughing. I had to pull over because the tears in my eyes were obscurring my vision while driving. Adam was not amused and was getting aggitated because we were running late. So, I tried to compose myself, and finally made it to the stadium without hitting anyone head on.

I guess I rank my best laughs.

And this was definitely in the Top Ten.

Groundhog Day

My fourth graders love it when I get off-topic. And believe me, I do it often.  I told them a story last week that probably took me ten minutes to tell. I really should have stayed with our Reading topic, but I just had to tell them what happened to me. I thought I would share it with my blog readers.

Two weeks ago I was driving home on Boothes Creek Road. It was a nice Sunday morning and I was shopping at Walmart because I don’t know any better. Boothes Creek Road runs along a creek..duh…and there is one straight stretch that has a open field on one side and the creek on the other. Well, I was on the straight stretch, when I saw something in the middle of the road. As I slowed down, I saw that it was a groundhog. He looked like he was licking the pavement, perhaps his search for some salt. I came to a halt and gave a little honk with my horn, and the groundhog did not move.

Come on, you Groundhog you, I thought to myself. I honked again, and the darn critter was bent on licking up the road, especially the yellow line that ran through the middle. There weren’t any other cars on the road, so I got out of my car and told the little fellow to get a move on. I had my door open and I got so close to the groundhog that I thought maybe he was deaf.  When he finally saw me, he didn’t run off to the side of the road,but under my car. Oh great, now I am going to run over him for sure. So, I went around to the right side of my car and leaned over, and told the groundhog to get the hell out of the road. (I didn’t talk like this in front of my fourth graders, just in case you were wondering.)

I could see that the groundhog was on the driver side of my car now, so I ran around back of the car to shoosh him off the road, and the damn thing went INTO my Sante Fe!!!  What the hell? I have seen groundhogs in my peach tree, so I know they can climb, but this thing hopped like a rabbit right into my  seat. Oh dear God! He was all over the inside of the car, acting like a crazy person, or I guess, crazy groundhog. He wouldn’t come out because I was blocking his exit, so I thought I should open the other door. Right about now I saw a car approaching.  The car stopped, because I had my door opened and was in front of the car looking like a guy with a gun was sitting in my back seat or something.

He got out of the car and the guy looked like he was on his way to church. Or Walmart, because you know everyone dresses up to go there. As he approached me, he shut my car door. I still don’t know why he did that. “Are you ok? he asked. As soon as he shut the door and before I could say anything, the damn groundhog started pawing at the drivers’ side door window. The guy looked at me like, “Lady, you can’t have a groundhog as a pet.” I started explaining what happened, and right about then, we heard a click.

Yeah, that’s right. The damn groundhog locked himself in my car, with the motor running. Church guy said he was running late, but that he would call 911 for me, since my phone was now with “Little Piggie”. Yeah, I named him.  Poor Piggie was going crazy in my car and the windows had muddy stuff on the window and I just knew he was probably scared and peeing all over the place. Nice…

So, here comes a cop. There were a few cars that had stopped and I had 2 people just standing around, laughing at my predicament. The cop was cracking up. I used a ladies phone and called my daughter to bring me the other set of keys to me. When she got there, I unlocked the car, and opened all four doors, hoping Little Piggie would finally hop out. She did.

About that time, a stupid idiot in a truck came by and you would think he would slow down with a cop car, and 3 other cars in the road. He didn’t. And little piggie, jumped out of my car and ran right into the path of the oncoming truck.

So, I guess you want to know what happened to Little Piggie? Well, I don’t know, because I made the whole thing up…to give my class an example of “Realistic fiction”, what we were studying when I broke off and started this story.

Are you ready to kill me?  My students were. 🙂

The English Composition

 I majored in English when I first came to college. I had great English teachers at my high school. I remember we had to diagram the Gettysburg Address and I loved every minute of it. Yes sir re Bob, I was going to make a great English teacher.  Brooke High  even offered a Word Study course that I absolutely loved.  And it  really came in handy in one of my English classes when I went off to college. Very handy.

I had some dandy English teachers in college. I had one who spit when he talked, so I tried to sit in the back in his class. I had one who spoke so softly I had to sit in front and still strain to hear.  I had one who invited us all to his farm for the winter and summer solstice. He sat on his desk, swinging his feet, clad in dirty shit-stomping boots, smoking a pipe. I think he was high a lot. And I had one who scared the hell out of me. I don’t know why.  But, he was a great English teacher and he loved poetry.  

One day he announced to the class that he wanted our next paper to amaze him. He said that he wanted us to write about a subject that he never heard about before. Something that would “emit shock, surprise, or bewilderment.” I remember those exact words. “People, I want you  to astound me. I have been teaching for many years, and I have had maybe 3 people who have received A’s for this assignment. I am a rough crowd.”

He gave us 2 weeks to write the paper. It was worth a lot of points and I worked very, very hard on it. Actually, I was able to write it fairly quickly. The polishing took a great while. I was a nervous wreck when I turned it in, because I was almost certain he never heard about my topic, and I was almost certain I could be kicked out of his class for what I wrote. I did read the final copy to my mom and asked her if I should turn it in. She thought that if I had to shock him, this would do it. So, I turned it in.

Several days later, he quietly passed back the papers. I didn’t get mine back.  As he returned to the podium, he just look blankly at me and said, “I need to see you, Miss Mendenhall, after class, if that is ok with you.” I sheepishly nodded  my head. I was in deep shit. I could just tell. My topic was going to get me an F, and I was going to be sent to the dean. I just knew it.

After class, I slowly walked to his office. I stopped and got a drink of water from the water fountain, went to the bathroom, because I felt like I was going to puke. I stopped at his doorway and I could see him sitting at his desk. He was looking at me, holding my paper. Dear God, he was waiting for me.

“So, Miss Mendenhall,” he began. He held up my paper. “Is this true?”  I nodded. “Yes, I learned about it in our Word Study class at Brooke High School.”  He seemed surprised.

He told me I was gutsy. That I had a fire inside me. (Ok, was this going to be good, or was it a bad fire inside me?) He asked me to sit down. “I have never had a student write ANYTHING like this before in my class. EVER.” He said that I was a risk-taker, and that he liked that. And that’s why he gave me an A.   Not just any old A, but an A+.  He asked if he could make a copy of my paper. He already had anywho, and handed mine back. Wow, I did get an A.  Who would think that a paper about fornication would awe someone. Yeah, fornication. Written by a college freshman who was naive and who had no first hand  knowledge at that time about what she wrote about. But, I think I was creative and knew how to put together sentences. (Unlike now. My grammar leaves much to be desired. But, hey, it’s blogging. There are no rules, right?)

In our word study class, way back in 1974, we learned that the word, F*ck, was actually  not a word, but an acronym.  It supposedly meant For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.  Jailers who brought in prostitutes or rapists, would record the arrest in a book, using the initials. (I just found out that it was never proved to be so, but in 1974 we didn’t have the internet, with snopes.com or Urban Myth to dispute this claim.)

I wrote about the different synonyums for f*ck over the years…Making love, having sex, fornication, “Doing it”, intercourse, screwing, copulation, coitus, sleeping with,  hump, bang, roll in the hay, get laid,and nooky, among others. I thought I did a great job with the whole beginning, middle and end of a composition.  Like I said, I did work hard on polishing it.  I remember asking my friends one night for the synonyms, and they were having fun talking about the different sayings.

When I walked out of my professor’s office, I felt like I could be a writer. I never once thought any less of myself for the topic I chose. I thought I was following directions for the assignment.  He wanted to be shocked.

Too bad I took my first grammar class the next semester and received a D- on the PRE-TEST  on the first day of class.  Seems that I didn’t really learn too much grammar in high school like I thought. Hell, I thought I was going to be the best English teacher in the world..or West Virginia…I went into  a mini-tailspin, and then dropped my English major to a minor and changed my major to Speech Communications and Drama. Yeah, that major hooks a job right after graduation. Not a bright move. But, I was a little bummed that Miss English here didn’t know shit about English. 

So, I am now a fourth grade teacher. I know you are wondering how I managed that out of a Speech Communication degree, but I shall save that for another day.

I know that I still have that English composition. It is somewhere in one of several boxes of old school materials in the attic of my former home. I specifically remember thinking that I needed to save this paper for when I get older.

I think I will just keep it up in the attic. I’ll let my kids find it when I am gone, so they will be surprised by their dear old mom.

Shock and awe…

Swallowing Goldfish

Ok, I have done a lot of stupid things in my lifetime, but nothing as stupid as swallowing goldfish. Yeah, I did. Three of them.  Why?   Who the hell knows why I do things.

Goldfish swallowing was a fad that first started in 1939 when a Harvard freshman did it on a bet. It received some local coverage, and in the next few weeks, students from all across the country were trying to top the previous feat. It was nothing for a student (mostly males) to swallow ten, twenty, and even 30 in one sitting. Many towns then passed ordinances making it illegal. The fad only lasted about two years. So, how the hell did it appear on the campus of Fairmont State in West Virginia in 1976?

I had a sorority sister who worked part time for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and some one (maybe the Greek association) sponsored a dance marathon titled, “Dance for Those Who Can’t.”  Proceeds were given to the Jerry Lewis people.  The dance was going to last through the night, with games and activities going on alongside the marathon. Plus, beer was sold in the Nickel, which was our student union, so that was also a plus.  So, we danced, we drank, and I apparently swallowed some goldfish.

There was a guy who swallowed one and the crowd went nuts. He was the first one to do it.  And it was pretty early, so I don’t think this guy was drunk. Just really stupid. And I think he had people placing bets and the proceeds were handed over to the MD.  So, we went back and danced alongside the marathoners and drank some more.  You could buy plastic glasses of beer for a nickel, so we had cafeteria trays full of beer for our group of friends. I usually started laughing after 1/2 a glass of beer, so I was laughing at anything that night. I had a sorority sister walk out of the bathroom with a long line of toilet paper walking behind her from one of her shoes. I don’t know why that made me laugh so hard, but she walked like she was all that, and here was that toilet paper following her around. Everyone knew she just peed, so I guess I found that amusing.

We came back after we heard that some guy in our brother fraternity (TKE) was going to swallow two goldfish to beat a rival fraternity’s goldfish record of 1. Everyone gathered around.  The person with the microphone stopped the music during a mandatory break for the dancer marathoners, and announced that they had a person that would swallow two goldfish if they could make $200 in the next 15 minutes. Well,  college kids usualy don’t have much money, but there were people from the community also there, so  the drunk donors  opened their wallet a lot that night, I can tell you that. They had $200 pretty quick. And the guy swallowed 2 goldfish. Wow..I was drunk impressed. So much better than watching a toilet paper walker.

Well, a little later, I saw a little boy being pushed into the dance room in a wheelchair. I thought it was pretty late for the kid to be up. It had to be 1:00a.m. He was about 12 and appeared bummed out that he just missed a college student swallow 2 goldfish. It was a Fairmont State college record. Well, maybe because it had never ever been done there before.  He sat quietly while his parents talked to the people in charge of the dance and in a few minutes another announcement came over the loud speaker. “Does anyone want to volunteer to swallow a  goldfish for our important guest here?” Come on up and lets’ see if we can make another quick $200.”

Well, I saw like 3 guys raise their hands and were coming up from three different directions at a pretty fast clip. I was right beside the little guy in the wheelchair ( I was drunk staring at him) and it was my sorority sister, who was employed by MD  who had the microphone this time.  Out of the blue, I raised my hand and said, “I will swallow 3 goldfish!”  Whaatttt did I just do?  No…didn’t even think that I must be demented. I saw the wheelchair kid and wanted to show him that anyone could do anything if they put their mind to it.  I was determined to show this kid that a drunk college girl could swallow some fish.

I don’t have any idea how much money was raised for Muscular Dystrophy for my swallowing 3 goldfish, but I had a crowd. I beat the record of 2 goldfish and no one else tried to swallow anymore. Why? Well, there were only 2 goldfish left in the bowl. No one else was going to swallow a goldfish unless a record could be beat. So, as far as I know, I hold the record for goldfish swallowing in Fairmont, West Virginia. If only the story ended right there. It didn’t.

When we got back from the dance, the phone rang. It was a sorority sister, Diane, who lived upstairs from me in our apartment complex, Garden Lane. She had some disturbing news for this drunk goldfish killer.

“Vickie, I don’t want to get you upset, but I think you need to hear this.” I can’t remember her exact words, but she informed me that she knew someone who had swallowed goldfish at Penn State (I’m not sure what college she used), and  got very sick when the goldfish didn’t die in the guys stomach. She went on to tell me that somehow the fish lived in the mucous membranes in the stomach lining and then mated. The guy had to get his stomach pumped because his stomach had expanded because the goldfish hatched and there were hundreds of tiny goldfish swimming around in this guys stomach and they kept getting bigger and it was just awful. And I drunkingly (if that is indeed a word) believed her.

I went into the bathroom and shoved my finger down my throat I have no idea how many times, to no avail. No goldfish babies. I was sick with worry. Drunk people obsess about things, and I was no different. But, of course, no one else had fornicating goldfish in their stomach.  I cried myself to sleep. I felt horrible for killing poor innocent goldfish. They didn’t do anything to anybody to deserve such a horrible death.  I was a crying drunk…I am sure I had raccoon eyes, because I really liked mascara.

When I woke up, we all put “scarves on head” (girls wore those big blue hankerchiefs on their head when they didn’t feel like washing their hair in the 70’s), hopped in my car and headed to McDonald’s. McDonald’s was our cure for a hangover. The greasy food did wonders. When we got back to the apartment complex, Diane and her roommates were coming out. She was smiling. “Almost had you last night, didn’t I?” She laughed.   Oh my God, she was messing with me!!  I was soo relieved. Now, I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital and ask them to stomach pump baby goldfish…”Oh, you sure did. I almost believed you. That was a good one.”  I was one gullible guppy.

I felt so much better.We walked into the apartment and I plopped myself down on the couch. I felt great….. Until on of my roommates spoke.

“I once swallowed a penny and it came out a day or two later……you know……(she pointed to her butt like I was too dumb to understand  the digestive system),so….

I wonder if all three goldfish skeletons will come out at the same time?”  That could really, really hurt.”

Skeletons?  Oh, that is just great….

Well, it will make for a good story when I get older, I thought.

And….I did it for Jerry’s kids…..

Ghosts in the House (Really)

You either believe in ghosts or you don’t.

For those of you who think there’s an explanation for those bumps in the night, you’re not alone. A poll by the Associated Press shows 34 percent of people believe in ghosts. Of those, 23 percent say they have proof ghosts exist because they’ve seen one, or been in the presence of one.  Maybe that is that cold chill that goes up your spine. And, for the politically minded, more liberals than conservatives are visited by ghosts, 31 to 18 percent.  My own poll states that 100% of  women over the age of 50 who have seen a ghost are highly intelligent, creative, humorous, and  very nice looking.

We used to go to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia a lot.  It was a great place for dead people. John Brown was hung nearby. He is probably really in his wax museum, hanging around. (literally)  We went to an antique shop that was at one time some generals headquarters, and the owner told me that she was always hearing soldiers walking up the steps and that the main ghost activity took place in the basement. So, she took us down there, because I was so excited. I would love to see a ghost. They even had a ghost tour of Harper’s Ferry.

I have always loved ghost stories. And I loved to scare people. I remember when I was in about 7th grade, I stayed with a neighbor girl and we stayed up to watch Chiller Theater and watched House on Haunted Hill with  Vincent Price. Scared me to death. When we went to her room to go to bed, the closet door was open, and her mom had put a hose over her face and was just standing in the closet. I screamed on top of screams. I had never been so scared. I loved it!!!

In high school, we used to go to a cemetery on Green Mist Road (Even has a spooky name) on Halloween and scare each other. So fun to hear guys scream. Halloween is my favorite time of year. So, yeah, I am all about ghosts. Just didn’t know that my wish was about to come true.

My ex-husband did not believe in ghosts. Such a left-brainer…”They don’t exist.” So, he wrote me off when I told him we had a ghost cat. Yes, a ghost cat. I told him, “I hope you see a ghost some day and you poop your pants  while you are screaming like a girl.”

We built our house on an old dairy farm’s barn. This barn was used to sell milk and other dairy products to neighbors in the small hill-top community. Our house was built in 1991, so many of you will probably think it would have to be an old house to be haunted. But, just give me a minute of your time before you send for the guys to put me in a white jacket.

We rescued a kitten from the animal shelter and gave it to Alex. We had an outside cat, Tiger, who died a bit earlier, and thought we would get an inside cat for her. My husband hated animals in the house, but I talked him into at least going into the animal shelter, just to look at the animals. Well, there was a kitten who fell in love with Jay. He said later it was like she did a top hat and cane routine for him. Ok, he said, we will take this one home for Alex.  As soon as we got her home, she turned on Jay. Hated him. She lives with me now. Still hates him. Such a smart, smart cat.

Anywho, Whiskers used to stare into the foyer all of the time. Her eyes would be wide and her tail fluffy at first. Then she would just stare. Like she got used to the thing she was staring at.  Sometimes this would happen right after I complained about it being cold. Sometimes when she would be sitting on my lap on the couch she would stare right behind me. Like someone was standing behind me. That used to freak me out. Then I would just start talking to it. Yeah, I am a  ghost talker.

But, about the ghost cat…I don’t know what you call it when a cat marches in place. Some people say they are kneading bread…Tap dancing….Making biscuits…I used to think they were just smoothing out someplace comfortable to lie. But, they all do it. Like how all human men scratch their butts. (Can’t think of anything else)

My husband would not let Whiskers on the bed. I had a cute little box in the hall, and she slept on that most of the time.  Well, one night I woke up because Whiskers was doing that kneading thing at the foot of my bed. Except when I woke up, she wasn’t there. This started happening almost every night. I never said anything until Alex told me that she thought Whiskers was in bed with her and when she looked, Whisker’s wasn’t there. “Mom, I think it’s Tiger. Tiger is a ghost now.”  Out of the mouths of babes.

I didn’t think it was Tiger. I thought it was a cat from the dairy barn that was built where our house now stood. And the foyer was a portal, that’s why Whiskers was always sitting in the foyer, looking up. Or maybe Whiskers had some issues.

Haunted chair?

Well, not too long after that, I began hearing a loud whisper, “MOM!”  when I was alone. I thought I’d better keep that to myself for awhile. My family knows I am into ghosts and ghost stories, they are just going to think that I WANT to have these things happening. But, then the music started, which my husband and daughter did hear.  It was usually around 5:30am. It was faint, and didn’t sound like a music box, and I couldn’t make out what genre it was. But it was music and I was sure of it. When Jay heard it, I told him, “See, I’m telling you we have ghosts.”  We would get up and follow the sound and it was in the foyer. We had a 2-story home with an open foyer, and that’s where the sound radiated from. We couldn’t figure out what kind of music was playing.  He tried to find a logical explanation. “Maybe it is some kind of interference from an airplane flying by.  I would always say. ” Oh, please. That is such a stupid explanation. Why can’t you just believe that we have ghosts in our house?”  That’s when I told him about the MOM voice.

One morning I was listening to Alex sing in the shower. She would always get up around 5:30am or so for school. She was in the Madrigals, which is an accapella singing group that wore medieval costumes and they were unbelievable. So, I enjoyed hearing her practice a song I had never heard yet. “I loved hearing you singing in the shower this morning, Alex. You need to sing more often. I enjoyed it.” She looked at me like I was nuts. “Mom, I wasn’t singing. I never sing in the shower,”  And she wasn’t messing with me. Oh great, now we have a ghost singer.

The “MOM!” continued off and on for several years. Sometimes, I would go see what Alex or Adam wanted, because it was a child’s voice. I also tried to figure out when kids began calling their mothers, Mom. Was it the 1950’s? 40’s?  I started making up scenario’s for the cat and the kid ghost.

I think that maybe the dairy farm guy came in early and turned on a small transistor radio, hence the music. The ghost cat came from just having a cat hanging around the dairy farm. Ok, I don’t know why we didn’t have ghost cows or ghost chickens. (Skeptics, just shut the hell up). But, I think that the child was maybe hurt and was calling for his/her mother, or maybe hiding and whispering out. I loved it when Jay finally heard the “Mom!”

Alex had taken the car someplace and Jay was in the hallway leading from the garage and I was sitting at our kitchen island, doing something. “MOM!” came the voice, after being gone for several months, and the whisper was pretty loud. I said, “Is Alex home, Jay?” He quickly entered our family room/kitchen and his face looked white. “You heard that?”  I smiled and jumped up. “YOU heard it? You, the left-brained goober-head, the “there’s no such thing as ghosts” guy? Finally!”  I loved it that he heard it.

Christmas of 2008 was my last Christmas in our house. We were divorcing and I was planning to move out of the house. (Too much house land for me to take care of, so he bought me out.) Adam and Alex had stayed up late talking in the Hearth room. I went to bed and heard a door slam. And then again. Sounded like a door. The kids told me they got a bit spooked while they were down there. Adam told me that he got a quick glimpse of something that appeared between a blink of his eye and that it was an older woman with a lantern in front of her face, wearing a scarf on her head (tied in front, like a babushka)  and that she was gone “in a blink of his eye.”   He later told me that he made that up. Yeah, he is a left-brainer too. My dairy farm ghost scenario was the right one.

A couple months after I moved out and I was out at the house getting some more stuff, I asked my ex-husband if  he ever heard the “MOM” voice or anything any more. He said, “She is gone.” He then told me that one night he woke up and it felt like there were hands around his neck, trying to strangle him and so he called someone to get rid of her. He smiled after he said it. But, I know this man. She probably missed me and took it out on him.  Well, that’s what I am going with.  I always wanted to have a seance, and he would never let me. The catholic boy always said, “You may conjure up the devil.”  I had seances in college. Lit a lot of our sorority ceremony candles and invited people over, drank, and tried to bring back Houdini. I loved those parties.

Are there ghosts? Yes. Have I seen one? No. But, something was going on in my house.

So, the next time you watch Ghost Whisperer, think of me. 🙂

MonkeyShines

Most, if not all of my adventures when I was growing up in Weirton, West Virginia, were with my best friend, Ramaine. She lived down the street from me, and we were attached at the hip.  We were in Camp Fire Girls together.  We rode the school bus together. We had a cabin in the woods together.  It seemed like we were laughing all day long.  My childhood was great because I had a best friend who was just like me. We lived outside the box, and had some very creative days.  And, boy, were we stylish… We even  bought white pants with pictures of the Monkees faces all over the pants.  We were weird, but knew how to laugh at ourselves.  We did that quite well. Sang the definition of “lima bean” into a tape recorder.  The word, “bored”, was not in our vocabulary. The only difference we had was that she was a gerbil person, and I was a hamster person.  Which lead us to the pet shop.

We used to visit the pet shop often.It was at the Weirton plaza, a little strip of stores near our homes. The guy had a lot of different animals at the pet shop.  One particular visit to the pet shop concluded in uncontrollable laughter, one that I can say  was the hardest I ever laughed in my whole life. Ramaine reminded me that we were in 8th grade when this happened. Dear God, she even remembers what she was wearing that day. Well, it was a day for the record books, that’s for sure.

The pet store was small, with a long counter with rows of animals in their little cages beneath it. The place was jammed with critters. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the snakes, though. There was even a mynah bird that cussed like you wouldn’t believe. It always amused me. But, on this particular day,  I was on my knees, looking at a mother hamster and newborns on the bottom row. Ramaine was standing, bent over a little, looking at something else, when all of a sudden she asked, “What’s on my head?”  I stood up, and my mouth dropped open.  I didn’t or couldn’t say a word. A spider monkey  had stepped off the top of the counter right onto her head. I really think I could have put my fist in my mouth.  “What’s on my head?” she repeated. Well, hell, I couldn’t answer. I mean, there was a monkey on her head. Just sitting there. Ramaine reached up to feel what was on her head, and the monkey swatted her hand away. “What’s on my head?”  She was expecting her bestest friend to give her an answer. She was panicking a little, starting to pace, and I  was not answering, but standing there with a big smile on my face. Ramaine tried to bend over, and that’s when the little fellow grabbed her hair with both little hands to hang on. That’s when I first started laughing.

“What’s on my head????”  Everytime her hand went up to feel what kind of creature was sitting there, he would release one hand from grasping onto her hair and slap it away. I couldn’t speak. I was laughing so hard. It was one of those silent, belly laughs, where you shake, but no sound comes out of your mouth. Now, Ramaine was pacing faster and moving her head, and bringing up her one leg for some reason, and that monkey was hanging on for dear life and I just couldn’t tell her that there was a monkey on her head.  It reminded me of  a little monkey jockey, riding something. I was in awe.  I had never seen a live monkey.  I did look around to see if a little old man with an organ grinder was standing nearby.

“VICKiE,  GET IT OFF!!  WHAT IS IT?  GET IT OFF!”  That monkey must have liked the view, because he had no intention of leaving Ramaine’s head.  She looked like she was having a seizure. Her arms and legs were flailing all about,  and the monkey was leaning to the left and then to the right, and would only take his hand off of the death grip on the her hair to swat at Ramaine.

I had to sit down on the floor. I started laughing so hard, I peed my pants. This is a recurring theme for me. Laugh. Pee. Repeat. “It’s a monkey….”  I finally was able to speak. “I peed my pants.”  Ramaine didn’t care. She had a monkey on her head.   The owner finally came over and had to pry the little monkeys fingers from her hair. It wasn’t working too well..  Finally, a banana (I think I am making this part up) was waved in front of  the monkey’s face and he left her head and went to sit on the owner’s shoulder. I found out later that the monkey’s name was Ginger. Ginger, I wish I had my camera that day.

I’m glad Ramaine was able to laugh about the whole thing on the way home. But, it was a nervous laugh, I could tell. I was sitting on a towel my mom brought for me and had to explain why, once again, I peed my pants. “I’m going to have to make an appointment for you to see Dr. Harper. There must be something wrong with your kidneys.”  No, did you not hear me?  There was a MONKEY on her head. I mean, come on.  Urination justification.

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