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If You Don't Laugh, You'll Cry - Laughing's Better!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Weather and Wheels


Yesterday, Dee planned to take our kids and their friends to a new swimming hole. Great, I thought! I’ll use that time to do some really brilliant writing! You know, something with deep emotion, maybe some history, and even a little gentle humor. THEN THE POWER WENT OFF !!!

I ended up trying to find a window with enough light to read a new book Dee bought for herself, suggesting maybe I should read it first. Greg Iles is an author that we both like so she knew that would please me. I was fine at first but then the house got too hot; the dog was nervous and barky; rain and thunder made the house dark, kind of depressing. Nope, not very depressed, not my thing but uuuum kinda draggy.. So be it.

My Tony used to say, “ I don’t let the weather make my decisions.” I suppose that was a fairly good lesson for our children. And of course, when I was teaching I had no choice. BUT WOW, I can let the weather make my decisions now and I just love it !Getting old should have some rewards and I’m checking them out.

Raining? Oops, I’ll stay home .Don’t even think about ice and snow or real cold weather.

Pump my own gas? Are you nuts? Seventy-five year old ladies should not do that. Surely that’s not proper. I honestly cannot imagine my dear mother or any of her 6 sisters pumping gas. If one of my kids can’t take care of that for me, there’s a full service station not far away.

Have I mentioned how much I love my car? I drove a Caddy for a long time and , yes, it was big but I loved it. It was white with red leather seat covers….. just automatic nearly everything. I pampered that car and could probably have made it last another 100 thousand miles. There was just one little problem. I could get into the driver’s seat easily by kind of falling into it. Getting out was the problem because of my arthritis. My son saw this and said, OK, time for you to get a new car.

I never thought I’d see the day when my child actually measured the distance from the ground ---------- to my fanny! Then he went car shopping and found several kinds of cars whose front seats kind of fit me --- if you get my drift. He took off a day; we looked at each kind of car; and I fell in love with my Toyota Highlander. All I have to do is just swing my knees around and step right out. A miracle !

Back to my Caddy - one of the ways I entertained myself on a dull day. I lived just off Walton Way, a rather long street, in Augusta, Georgia. Whenever I rolled up to a traffic light turned red, with a carload of boys in the next lane, I never looked at them nor acted like I even knew they were sitting over there gunning their engine. But the minute that light turned green I was out of there like a shot, leaving them way behind !I always did that at least twice so they’d know they didn’t stand a chance !

I’d had a state of the art music system installed in the Caddy and I could blast out any body I chose to .Of course it was most often classical music and the 1812 Overture, with it’s canon fire was just right to drown out a boom box in the next car. I firmly believe that old people need to fight back sometimes so I try to do my part. I do have to say that I don’t do any of that foolishness here in Atlanta because there is usually a grandchild in my car and it would possibly freak them out!

Lots of stores now have those little golf cart looking rides and they are fun. Some are much better than others though. Target’s are small and really slow. I used to be embarrassed to use the carts, afraid some busybody ol’ grump would say I didn’t need them. Well, I got over that, thank goodness. I always drive one around the big Kroger where we shop each week. I will admit that I’ve about cured the prescription department of placing those big, ugly cardboard displays in the aisles . They don’t hold up well after being dragged half way around the store! Every now and then, I challenge another driver to a race but so far, no one has taken me up on it. One old man laughed so hard I was afraid he was going to fall out, tho’ and his prune-faced daughter came along and glared at me. That’s as close as I’m going to come to make some old man happy! Little Granny-sunshine---- that’s me……..

[Note: the image above is not flattering of my beautiful granddaughter, but doesn't the car behind her look nice?! That's my Highlander...]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Cottage


We lived in Knoxville, Tn. For 20 years, from 1971-91. We lived in a fairly decent subdivision for 8 years and had a non-winterized cottage on Douglas Lake, near Dandridge, Tn. That’s where we had tons of company and I mostly remember cooking huge meals. I loved our screen porch and we spent time there doing jigsaw puzzles, playing Monoply, etc. We did have 3 small bedrooms so the kids often brought friends. On Friday afternoons, we loaded our 20ft run-a-bout, which we used as a trailer, 2+kids, 1 cat in the picnic basket, up front at my feet, and a mutt dog, German Shepherd, and a Basset hound. We tried to take just one car .The trip took just over an hour so was not bad. This was where Tony taught our kids and their friends to water ski as well as a lot of young folks who worked for him at the bank.

The cottage was partly furnished when we bought it and I filled in with garage sale buys. There were only 3 other houses on our point that jutted out into the lake, so practically no traffic. Our cottage was on a little, deep water cove and there was almost always a good breeze.

Most often, just before twilight, Tony and I would carry gins and tonic down to the dock and take a boat ride and cool off…….. a favorite time of day for me. Our big dog loved to ride in the boat so often joined us …. But he always jumped out of the boat as we entered the cove and swam on in.

One night, after dinner, and early dark, Bruce and I sat out on the front steps watching a little campfire he’d built between the cottage and the lake. Our dog George, was sitting between us. A beautiful reddish brown fox strolled between us and the fire. The 3 of us watched it, totally silent .. and still. George must have decided he was too sleepy for a fight or else that fellow looked way too odd to tackle. I knew Bruce was poised to grab George but he didn’t have to. We’ve never forgotten that …..

Dee was unhappy with the walls in her cottage bedroom so we bought the cheapest sheets we could find, sort of a red white and blue stripe, if I remember correctly, and she stood on a ladder and thumbtacked the sheets, like wallpaper, all around her room. Talk about an instant makeover!

When we first bought the cottage, our agreement was that there would be no phone, radio, or TV. Dee was a big TV watcher, and after she got older, she would usually carry a little black and white TV and watch whatever was on one of two channels we got there.

What we did have plenty of was books and games. On rainy days Tony and the kids played poker for pennies, which were always returned to the cigar box.

The kids and I stayed all week the first summer and Tony came out a time or two. Bruce and Dee found some old lumber under the house, and it was dragged down to our dock. They built a wonderful big raft, which they kind of rowed around the cove. Anytime anyone left the cottage going toward the water, our rule was that they HAD to put on a ski belt. They all just did it, no complaints. We wore ours too. This was before MaeWests were required. We were all, even me at that time, excellent swimmers but the rule prevailed.

Tony bought Bruce an aluminum John boat with an outboard motor. Tony attached a sort of flag on a pole to the boat. That way, Tony could always see and tell where Bruce was, often fishing. Bruce still has that boat and I believe Dee has photos of the two of them in the boat.

As the summer wore on, the lake was lowered so by Labor Day we were out of water in the cove. There was an advantage to that because we could see the lake bottom and retrieve whatever we’d dropped, most often someone’s glasses. The deepest part of our cove was maybe 20 ft. deep.

Our kids were perhaps 8 and 10 when we first bought the cottage but they grew up. The first time we went up without them, we were miserable, but we grew to love going there. However, when Dee was 16, she wanted to stay in town on summer weekends, to be with friends. We sold the cottage and built a permanent home on Melton Hill Lake, between Knoxville and Oak Ridge, Tn. We lived there 12 years before moving back to Augusta, Ga. In 1991.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Granny Rants #1

How would you protect yourself or call for help if you do not carry a weapon or cell phone? Or if you are too nervous to call? Well, I have a handy, dandy solution for you. This past week, my son bought a Signal Horn, actually two, for me. All one has to do is mash a button, and the sound is deafening! It made the dog howl and run away, and believe me, we only wanted to hear it once. I sleep downstairs and the rest of the family upstairs. I doubt I could call loud enough for them to hear me if I needed help. I can imagine an intruder peeing his or her panties if that noise went off near them. Go to Walmart to purchase one or two .I have arthritis in my hands but I can sound this alarm . ATTWOOD SIGNAL HORN for BOATING,CAMPING,BICYCLES. USCGuard approved for boats up to 30.4 ft.. That should tell you how powerful the horn is.

Dee and I have top quality walkie talkies on our bedside tables but even they malfunction sometimes. I can take a horn outside or in the car. It is only about 6 inches tall.

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Why do some people feel they have to announce when a child is adopted? You know, “ This is Ms. Fuzzbucket’s adopted daughter…” Tacky!

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Are you ashamed to admit that you take short cuts, cook casseroles made with soup, or use INSTANT something or other ? I used to be in my quest to be a gourmet cook. Ah, the rewards of getting old! Now, I do it all with great glee. Last night, daughter Dee served delicious green beans grown in our own garden. Mike just couldn’t bring himself to eat them. He prefers the beans we usually serve -------- Del Monte Blue Lake !!! Yes, we cook from scratch mostly but are not above taking a few short cuts.

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Why did Obama’s crowd campaign against George Bush and Sarah Palin? Bush was out of office no matter who was elected. My theory is that some of the ignorant, young people simply did not get it through their thick skulls that a president can only remain in office for two terms. Obama is not our first black president. He is our first half-black president.

Why did they go after a person running for vice president? I like Sarah Palin and I’ll be very interested to see where she goes from here. I genuinely hope she goes after some of those who have maligned her and her family so cruelly. Hopefully, she can do that now that she is out of office.

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Do you have little sins [or big] that you feel you must hide? I have tons! I confess: I just love Jif Creamy Peanut Butter and Smuckers’Strawberry Preserves in a sandwich on white bread. Spread the bottom half of a slice of bread with peanut butter, add about 1tbl preserves, then fold the top half over , making a little pocketbook, being careful to seal all the edges. Now, that with a cup of strong Starbucks’ black coffee is good enough to make you push yo gramma in the creek – and spank her for getting’ wet!

Well, enough sinning for one night. See y’all tomorrow.

Memories of Europe

A longtime, close friend and her husband have chosen to take their entire family on a trip to Europe to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. These people have pretty much traveled everywhere over the years so part of this trip is to revisit a place that they especially liked, a small town in Germany.

Hearing about the trip has brought back memories of our first to Germany. Bruce was stationed at a fairly small post, in Bavaria. As soon as he’d left the states, I made a real effort to learn the German language well enough to at least get by. I’d had Latin and Spanish in school and had sung in Italian because my longtime voice teacher, here in Atlanta was Italian. None of this did me much good so I ordered a program where one placed a sticker with the proper German word printed on it, on its correct object. Every thing in our house had a German word stuck on it except Tony and the dogs. He’d never admit it to me but I think it helped refresh Tony’s German. He’d been stationed there too, in the early 1950’s before we married.

We stayed over there a month with Bruce and his then wife, in his townhouse. We would usually leave on Sunday afternoon and return on Thursday evening. On Friday, we bought groceries, came home and cooked enough for several meals, and caught everybody up on their laundry. The system worked because they were hungry for mom’s cooking and we were tired of eating out.

There were lots of dear and funny moments. Bruce told me about a dish he’d eaten somewhere that required hot paprika. I knew I could duplicate it with the proper ingredients so Tony drove me to the German grocery store. He stayed in the car but could see me in the wide, clean window. For the life of me, I could not locate the HOT paprika and could not think of the word for HOT. I am fairly good at pantomime so tried to use that – jumping around, fanning my face etc. much to the delight of the folks working there. When I got back to the car Tony said, “What in the Hell were you doing in there”? I said just trying to brighten their day--- which I did --- they were doubled over laughing.

Another time, Bruce took some leave time and we took a fairly long car trip, my first time to see the Alps. I was so affected that I almost cried, a totally unexpected reaction! Just into Switzerland, we stopped at a lovely hotel where Bruce and I went in to see if we could get rooms. I simply could not understand the proprietor and asked if he could speak English? When I noticed Bruce’s face, I knew something was wrong ----- apparently the man had been speaking English all along. There were few guests, off season, so we got to be pampered .The wait staff gathered round and talked to us while we ate; the chef came out and sat with us. They asked why Americans always asked for HOT tea? Did we think they’d serve us cold tea? I had to explain about iced tea – didn’t even touch the Sweet tea thingy! [In the South, all tea is “sweet tea.”]

Their townhouse had 3 bedrooms with the guest bedroom and bath on the main floor and the others upstairs. They had brought Agatha, their black Lab, with them and had acquired a cat while there. Before we arrived, one night, Bruce said he woke in the middle of the night when he heard the downstairs toilet flush.. His wife was by him in bed. Soo who on earth would break in and flush the toilet? Turns out the cat had learned to pat the handle [a button on top of the toilet tank on the German toilet] and get herself some nice cool water …….

Bruce met us at the train one Thursday evening with exciting news. He’d made reservations for all of us to leave for Paris the next evening. Our train was called The Orient Express but was not like the movie one. From Paris, we traveled to Caen, then rented a car and drove to the World War 2 beaches. Along the way, we always visited the cemeteries where Americans were buried. Walking around the German bunkers , the beaches, the final resting places of our young soldiers produced tears and lumps in throats.

We did the usual stuff in Paris but it is not my favorite city. I suppose I’ve read so much WW2 history that it's hard for me to respect the French. Their snobbish attitude doesn’t set well with me.

Think I’ll save memories of Italy and England and Belgium for another time. We went back for another month the following year.

As Bruce was driving us to the airport, in Frankfort, I remarked that if I’d had just a little longer, I’d have been able to communicate with the Germans a little better. He laughed and said, ”Mom, you got off the airplane communicating. You might have improved your language a bit is all”.

Friday, July 24, 2009

TOO OLD TO CUT THE MUSTARD ?????????

Well, if that means what I think it means, been there-done that – fun while it lasted! But, dang, there is so much more to life than what you sit on!!!

Every now and then, I allow myself to read some article about “seniors,“ knowing that at some point I will probably become one. Actually, a dear 89 year old friend, recently, told her housekeeper that I am quite elderly. The housekeeper told me about it with much sympathy as she has never met me. I mailed a picture to them that very day….

In Augusta, with the exception of one friend almost exactly my age, most of the remaining friends are about 5 years older than I. But bless yo heart, you’d never know it! Those gals can flat buzz around and get’er done!

Another friend is about 2 years younger than I and has the stamina of a 65 year old, at least! She is not above taking off on a long road trip or doing anything else that suits her. Also, she still works part time when she wants to. She taught her toddler grandson to pee in the yard --- said he’d do it anyway when he got older.

One of the annoying parts about getting older, for a reader like me, is that so much fiction revolves around a young protagonist. I just don’t get my jollies reading about the protagonist hopping into bed with everything that walks upright! Possibly, that’s why I like Chief Delaney in the Sanders books but then I was in my early 40’s when I started reading them and he was already retired. A few years ago there was a series of maybe 3 books about “old love.” I read them all but the nausea finally got to me…. So sweet they made your teeth hurt.

My Tony was only 65 when he died of cancer so I really don’t know much about old men. He was never old and he was about as gutsy as they come.

A couple of items I read kind of stuck with me. A young police recruit was asked on an exam what he would do if he was told to arrest his mother. His answer: I’d call for reinforcements! I like that.

Then, another piece of advice for would be thugs: Old people know they can’t win a fight with you, so they won’t hesitate to shoot you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Old Books and Silver and Seemingly Outdated Manners

Reading is almost as important to me as eating and this is not a recent development. By the time I was in the 7th or 8th grade, I had read all the books, even slightly of interest to a girl, in the teens section of the 12th and Peachtree Branch Library. Thus, the ladies in charge decided to allow me to read adult books as long as one of them okayed them. Soon they just said have at’em and I read what I wanted. At no time in my life did my parents monitor what I read --- and I freely give them a lot of credit for that. This allowed me to reach and stretch , sometimes beyond my understanding and, rarely, my ability.

Also, no one told me I had to finish every book I picked up. If one bites into a bad apple or just dislikes the taste, she is not obligated to finish it. Also, she may avoid a few worms, hopefully, that way. Now finding half a worm is a horse of a different color!

Ever so often I think back over books I have loved in the past, because kind of like old silver, they have a soothing patina that I find comforting. Usually when I discover an author I like, I read everything they have written. This is not always a wonderful experience because the setting and characters may be the same but the story is a formula. I just go ahead and give up on them and toss into the Goodwill box.

An author I have read and reread is Lawrence Sanders. He wrote, I believe, four Deadly Sins books and I read them again ever so often. Now, after reading these books the first time one pretty much knows who done it, how, and usually, why. No, the fun here is his wonderful, real people. The book I have in front of me is THE THIRD DEADLY SIN, published in 1981. The setting is always New York City .The first two in the series are on a bookshelf I can’t reach but don’t really need to.
Edward X.”Iron Balls” Delaney is one of my most favorite fictional men, you know, a REAL man, one I could easily love if I were lucky enough to meet him. Chief Delaney is a retired NYPD Chief who lives next door to his old station house. From time to time he is called upon to do a special job and doesn’t have to be bothered with running a department.

This man is so human he gets a kick out of preparing his own lunches when his wife is elsewhere. His special lunches are a cold beer and sandwiches. He has two kinds. Both are layers of mostly delicious sounding ingredients but one is fairly neat and can be carried to his study or shared. The other is so messy he has to eat it standing over the kitchen sink so the juice stays off his suit. One of Delaney’s most endearing habits is that he always cleans up after himself. [Years ago. I made a list of all his sandwiches so I could make them.] Also, he helps his wife in the kitchen and elsewhere .He has lovely manners but is tough. Hmm, I do like that in a fellow!

I would guess one could find these books in used bookstores or at least in paperbacks. It would be good to read them in order but you don’t have to. Some of the main people are the same but the stories are very different, and difficult to put down. Sanders wrote lots of books .I tolerated one other series and purely disliked some others.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Makes Me Happy

I am so new at writing a blog that I'm sure to make mistakes - i.e. not expressing what I really want to say. However, I'm not doing this for publication or a grade and haven't even decided if I'll share it at all. So if you read this and disagree , that's fine. Just keep it to yourself!

Today, I thought writing about what makes me happy would be kind of fun but, boy, do I have to limit that subject. Eventually ,I may go backwards and talk about the past but for now , today, this week, maybe this month will be enough.

I am a poor speller and despise Spellcheck --- so live with it .....

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY ....... SUMMER 2009 .......... 75 1/2 years old

Every night when I go to bed , I thank GOD that I am at home in my own bed with my own pillow.

Knowing that my daughter and grands are under my same roof is such a comfort to me.
I enjoy coming to my room at night, after dinner, usually with a dish of lowcarb ice cream, to read, play with the computer, or, rarely, watch TV. Sometimes I listen to my classical or semi-classical music.

Often, when Dee and the children are watching a movie , in the family room, I hear the laughing , happy laughing of all 3 of them. I thoroughly enjoy that.

Normally, we ask the blessing before meals, even when we eat out. But when Bruce is here we are often excited plus eating in the dining room. Often, he is the one who says we need to say the blessing and he likes us to hold hands too. This makes me happy........

Oh my, finding a good book or a new author I like is a joy !

Gardenias make me feel good --- just want to inhale their sweetness.They were the only flowers used in my wedding-- delicious!

With my quarters in the downstairs , back of the house , the good size laundry room is next door. It has its own outside entrance to the patio. I enjoy so much looking at all the beautiful pots of flowers lining the patio, especially the zinnias, that Dee plants every spring. Out front, on the partially covered lanai, are a bird bath and pots of geraniums, another of my favorites. It makes me so happy that my daughter shares my love of flowers.

Home grown tomatoes -- I love to smell their leaves even.

I've never seen a puppy I didn't love ..... and most older dogs too. My tiny Coco is my doggie-love at the moment. She sleeps with me and that comforts me ... and her too, I believe.

Often, my grands come into my room and stretch out on my bed and we talk------- I love that.

I can't help it --- my computer really does make me happy ???!!!!! Even with my arthritis, I can talk to friends and family, read all kinds of newspapers, investigate whatever subject interests me at the moment etc. but most of all, when Bruce was in Iraq for a year, we had a note from him several times a week. Most often the note said, "I'm fine, real busy." That's what kept me SANE !!!

So , yes, I am a happy person most of the time , very content.

Oh, I completely forgot to mention how much I love my car !!! ;0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Taste In Books

Writing about books is difficult for me because my taste changes. I used to feel I had to use my time wisely and read important literature. What a crock!

Then I thought I needed to read the best sellers so I'd have something to discuss with shallow minded cocktail party goers. I despise cocktail parties anyway. There I was, in pantyhose, high heels, tight clothes, trying to make conversation with a person who probably hated it as much as I did. Why did I go? My husband's job demanded it. It actually was a relief to find another reader with whom to chat.

I started reading "war stories" during WW2 , maybe in Readers'Digest. I was almost 7 when Pearl Harbor happened. We just had the radio then , of course , and I hung on every word of news. Later I found books about the war and WOW -- SPY stories! I still read and enjoy spy stories plus stories about the military.

Guess all that set me up for detective and cop books and on we go.

Now, I find a good murder most relaxing! So I read all the little British mysteries, and what in my head, I refer to as "little lady mysteries." They always have a theme , like scrapbooking, knitting, tea shop,wine making etc. One of my favorites is about a pet sitter, in Fla. Another is about a woman who works at a funeral home, in S.C., where she gets into all kinds of mischief.. Their books are so simple it really annoys me that they don't write faster and I email and tell them to get with the program and hurry up. By the way , sex is barely mentioned in most of these books which is fine with me. [ I already know all about it anyway.]

When I find an author I like, I read all their books and I usually decide, after the first 2 or 3, that the quality has lessened . So I give up on them unless I'm just desperate for something to read. I thought that was especially true with Jan Karon and certainly James Patterson.

Well, another day - another time. I DO love to hear myself talk!

Introduction

Welcome! I have been wanting to start a little book review site for a while now, and Dee has set it up so I can start. So stay tuned!