Thursday, September 27, 2007

Exercise in Marlboro Country

We have a constellation of regular walkers who pass our house on their daily exercise route. There are two little 75+ ladies who whiz by like a geriatric juggernaut at 6:00 a.m. each morning. It makes me breathless just to watch their pace.

There's a tall, stringbean fellow who usually appears around 5:00 p.m. wearing overall cut-offs. His pace would be considered a mosey and he carries a big dog whomp-em stick. There's a little blond fellow with wire-rimmed glasses, about 50-ish or so, who never looks up or speaks. He looks pretty intent during his painfully slow "run." The geriatric juggernaut could pass him like he was standing still.

Tonight our neighbor from down the street made her first-time appearance on the walking circuit. She is a leggy blond, 5'8" or 5'9", maybe 110 pounds. Cute as a button, definitely doesn't need to lose weight. She had her hair up in a ponytail, newly purchased jogging togs, and a sparkling pair of new white running shoes. She even carried a huge plastic travel mug like a hardcore runner. She was prepped for sweat.

"Hey!" I call from the porch, "Taking up walking for exercise???"

"Yeah...," she says holding up the mug and a Marlboro Light, "...but I don't much see the point with a beer and a cigarette."


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Do You Remember When?

Love the socks!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Tennessee Waltz

Today would have been my parents' 60th wedding anniversary. In honor of the occasion here is a little piece I wrote many years ago.

I was dancing with my darlin' to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see
Introduced him to my loved one and while they were dancing
My friend stole my sweetheart from me.

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
Now I know just how much I have lost
Yes I lost my little darlin' the night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz.

Ahhh....The Tennessee Waltz. A beautiful song. One of my favorites. Hearing it evokes memories of stories Mom used to tell of an open-air dance pavilion on Lake Hamilton called Fountain Lake. Dances were held there every Friday night way back when. In my mind's eye I can see the gay couples dancing under the Chinese lanterns on a warm summer evening as the cool breezes blow in off the lake. The live band, resplendent in their white jackets, plays Tommy Dorsey tunes.

There is an old black and white photograph of Mom and Dad taken there at Fountain Lake. They are frozen in time, embraced in mid dance step. Both are in their early 20s. Mom is beautiful, the belle of the ball. Her eyes are squinched up with merry laughter. She's wearing a beautiful silk dress with a full skirt made from some material Daddy sent home from Japan. Dad, home on leave from the Korean War, is looking dapper in his Navy crackerjack. He is sporting a cheesy pencil thin moustache and his thick black hair is slicked down with a quart of Brill Creme. He has a rascally grin on his face and a twinkle in his eye. They both look so young. I'll bet Daddy doesn't weigh 115 pounds in the picture.

For this moment in time they are carefree. All the worries of the war seem far away. They don't know about the coming trials and tribulations of the world and their life together. All that matters is each other and the next dance tune. What a wonderful time.

Fifty seven years and three kids later, Mom and Dad are still together, survivors of several wars of the world and of the heart. The hair is a little thinner, a little grayer. There are a few more wrinkles around the eyes. The silk and the crackerjack have been replaced by a daily uniform of comfy sweatsuits. Fountain Lake has long since disappeared. It's been years since a band in white jackets played the Tennessee Waltz. But Mom's eyes still squinch up with laughter, and Daddy never lost the rascally grin. Who knows, maybe some night on an oldies station they play the Tennessee Waltz and the young-at-heart old sailor twirls the belle of the ball around the living room floor. I certainly hope so.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shopzilla Hits Pulaski County

I barely had time to set down my suitcase before I was whisked away to go clothes shopping with my sisters. The Shopping Sister (aka The Prissy Sister) met Nana and I at the store. I hadn't seen Pris in a long time so I was looking forward to a few sister squeals and a hug. No such luck. She walked in the door and immediately started looking through the racks. I was chopped liver as long as there was shopping to be done.

"Gee Pris, aren't you glad to see me???"

"Ya, whatever..., Hi."

Then to Nana, "Will this fit her?"

Yep, chopped liver, without enough sense to pick out my own clothes. I had become five years old again. I knew I would. Dang!

So I'm standing in this hoity-toity store in west Little Rock with a bunch of ladies of leisure from the McMansions of Chenal Valley eyeing me with suspicion. The salesladies were giving me the Big Frown too. I'm sure I was quite a sight standing there in my Haskell, Arkansas Cub Scout t-shirt I bought at Goodwill; raggedy blue jeans; dirty Wal-Mart tennis shoes; no makeup or jewelry; and hair stuck up in a clip. The other customers probably thought I was a homeless person in need of a good spraying with some disinfectant. I was a turd in a punchbowl.

My sisters dug through the endless racks of clothes, pulling out this and that for me to try on. I stood there like a post with my finger crooked for them to hang clothes on. The whole scenario reminded me of when I was in elementary school buying school clothes with my mother. I *hated* shopping for school clothes. She always bought cheap stuff from K-Mart that was itchy and scratchy. I never had a say in what got purchased. I was just stuck with it.

Lucky for me this trip was different. The sissies were picking out nice clothes, comfortable clothes, classy expensive clothes. They knew what would look good on me because the same stuff looks good on them. Plus, they have good taste. Momma didn't. They did let me have a say in the jewelry. They like fru-fru fussy necklaces and earrings. I like clean, simple lines in my hardware.

It was nice having two dedicated personal shopping assistants. They debated the pros and cons of each piece and rendered an opinion as to whether it was a Buy or No Buy. I didn't have to decide. That was nice. They put the right accessories with each outfit to make it sizzle. They even helped some of the other customers while they were waiting for me to change. They were doing such a good job they were mistaken for store employees not once, but twice. The saleslady tried to get them to fill out an application they were so good.

Two exhaustive hours later, I finally escaped the store with two jackets, four tops, a pair of pants, a belt, and three sets of jewelry. The sissies are practical girls, hooray! All the pieces mix and match so I can create lots of different-looking outfits from all that. The sissies are frugal shoppers too. Hooray! I got all that haul for just under $450. That's a steal of a deal from this particular store. When the salesladies saw the mound of clothes and jewelry I was going to buy, they lightened up a little. Grrrrr. There's a special place in Hell for snotty salesladies...maybe a Goodwill store with no commissions. Grrrrr.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Night at the County Fair

The residents of Our County were out in full force at the opening night of the county fair. Much candied apples and cotton candy were consumed and later hurled on the rides. The scent of cow poop and funnel cakes wafted through the evening air. It was a magnificent mass of unwashed humanity. I was lovin' every minute of it. I had to have some cotton candy because ya just can't go to the fair and NOT eat cotton candy. I did not, however, hurl it up later on a carnival ride.

In the exhibit barn I found my stuff had won second place ribbons! Woo Hoo! Beginner's Luck! These photos are a bit dark and fuzzy because I was having trouble shooting through the chicken wire barricade, but there are the ribbons! Woo Hoo!

I was disappointed that there wasn't a single crocheted toilet paper holder to be found. I thought at first I had missed them, but nope, nary a one. They have finally died away completely.

We watched the junior division hog competition and got to see two hogs have a fight in the show ring. It was better than a barroom brawl. I wonder if the judges deduct points if your pig gets in a fight??? Hubby wouldn't let me near the pig pens to get me some pig sugars, so I pouted about that for a bit.

We did get over to the lamb and goat pens to find some cute little critters this year. Hubby did all the skritchin' and I just took pictures.

We wandered back out on the midway to gawk at the carnie games and watch people on the rides. Carnival rides make me kinda queasy just watching other people on them. I wouldn't dare get on one. Ugh!

At the entrance/exit gate there were these two illuminated palm trees just sitting out in the middle of the carnival doing nothing in particular. One was red and one yellow. I couldn't figure out why they were there, other than to look pretty and provide some light. I thought they were a pretty cool design. I'd have the yellow one in my backyard.

All in all, a wonderful date night out with Hubby. And I won ribbons! Woo Hoo!

Monday, September 17, 2007

County Fair Time

This is County Fair week here in Our Town. I love going to the fair to people watch. I like looking at the chickens and rabbits too, and skritching the ugly goats on the head. I probably shouldn't be touching someone else's livestock, but I do it anyway.

This is me, getting up close and personal with a pig at the 1994 county fair. I like the pigs the best. They have the most personality.

Hubby has a high ol' time at the fair too. He is visiting with somebody from the time we hit the parking lot until the time I finally poke him to get him to leave. He is in his element amidst all the throngs of people. I usually have to drag him outta there.

I'm amazed at the tragic crafts that people enter in the fair. We always laugh at the crocheted toilet paper holders. Brownie points go to the first person to spy one that is made as a skirt for a plastic doll whose legs go in the roll tube. Those are a Southern Culture classic, but are getting to be harder and harder to find each year. I'm afraid that little piece of kitsch may be dying away. Here my twin sister Hillary displays a fine example of the non-doll variety.

When I look at the ribbon winners for photography I think, "Gosh, I take better pictures than that." But every year fair time sneaks up on me so I've never been prepared to enter anything. This year was different. I had been watching the paper for the fair announcement, and picked up an entry rules booklet a few weeks ago.

I trotted down to the fairgrounds this afternoon to submit my oil derrick model and two photographs. The place was abuzz with people setting up the carnival rides, the information booths, the garden veggie competition. I was behind an old fellow who was entering muscadines. There was a big discussion on exactly how many muscadines had to be on the plate for the entry. I am not a big fan of muscadines, so he wouldn't have won a ribbon if I were the judge.

I thought my photos were pretty good until I saw the other entries already submitted. Uh Oh! There are some fine amateur photographers in this county. My ribbon chances already look pretty slim, and I was just the 10th person to enter in the photography division.

Judging is tomorrow. Stay tuned for results.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Autumn Sunshine

Today was a glorious day weather wise. The autumn chill was unseasonably cool for September in Lower Arkansas. Sunshine through the trees cast long shadows in the morning and afternoon. The world was rather still and quiet.

It is the end of summer. The sun is looking at the Earth through heavily-lidded eyes, drooping towards a long winter's sleep. The world slows down on days like this. Life is a little slower, a little more deliberate and less frivolous in its actions. Time is growing shorter and there are things that need to be done before the first frost.

I love days like this but they make me sad in a way. The fun of summer is over. Shorts and t-shirts will be packed away soon. Weather will factor into any future plans. The coming grey days of winter huddled inside seem like a looming prison sentence.

I remember a day like this back when I was a senior in high school. My BFF Patti and I were romping through the woods near her house one Sunday afternoon. We were squealing like little girls as we galloped through the piles of fallen leaves. It was a bittersweet time. We were both about to leave home and knew our days of innocence were about to be over. I think we were trying to recapture the days of our childhood that afternoon by playing in the leaves. Days that had no worries, no plans, no expectations.

I remember that day long ago on days like this. I see the long sunshine, hear the rustle of the leaves, and the echo of our voices down the hillside. It was a magical time back then. I'm happy it lives in my memory.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Daddy's Home!

Each day when Hubby comes home from The Daily Grind, I stop what I am doing, run to the door, and greet him happy squeals of "Daddy's Home! Daddy's Home!" He gets a big hug and some sugars. The cats and the dog join in the commotion making all kinds of happy critter noises. It is the highlight of his day and ours. This has been our routine for as long as I can remember. Yes, we call each other "Mommy" and "Daddy" even though all our "children" have fur.

I started the "Daddy's Home!" routine after a conversation with my father. He told me how he never felt as though anyone cared whether he came home or not. He related a story about how he had returned a day early from a two-week trip. (I actually remember this incident.) He opened the door with a bright smile and said, "Hi honey, I'm home!" Mom looked at him rather annoyed and replied, "What are you doing home early???" His smile faded and he stammered that he finished up sooner than expected and they let him go home early. His shoulders sagged as he dragged his suitcase into the house. Mom turned and went back to what she was doing. That was one helluva welcome home.

As I thought about it more, nobody ever greeted him with a smile or a hug; not me, not Mom, not my sisters. I can understand why he felt that way. Poor man, it's a wonder he ever came home at all.

I decided right then that I would not be the wife my mother was. I will greet my hubby at the door with a smile and a hug whether I feel like it or not, whether he's coming home from work, returning from a round of golf, or after running errands for a few hours. I do this because I *am* happy he came home. The world is a big, ugly place with evil forces that can keep my baby from me. One day he may not come home ever again.

I also figure that if I don't welcome him home, some other female surely will....and I'm not talkin' about one with paws.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Truth in Signage

Here in Our Town we have an anti-abortion group operating out of a storefront downtown, staffed by volunteers from local churches. They counsel scared young girls and try to convince them to keep their babies and either parenting them or putting them up for adoption.

If that's what they think is God's calling, so be it and more power to them.

What twists my knickers is the sign out front says "Medical Center" when in fact no medical services are provided. They provide free pregnancy tests, but anyone can do that themselves at home, albeit not for free. Otherwise, the folks inside are church ladies who tell them how terrible abortion will be.

The horrible side-effects of abortion posted on the "medical center's" website have been refuted in a July 2006 U.S. House of Representatives report, "False and Misleading Health Information Provided by Federally Funded Pregnancy Resource Centers."

I think it is abominable that "Christians" use such underhanded tactics to confuse and confound an otherwise emotionally fragile kid. The girls don't need that. They need sound medical counseling, not Bible-thumping nonsense.

If the "medical center" wants to preach their no-choice sermon, they have that right. Just change the sign outside to "Christians for Pro-Life" or something that better reflects what is inside the door.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sturm und Drang

There are times when it is clearly evident that my Southern Arkansas Liberal Arts education has failed me miserably. I remember taking a literature class in college, but I don't remember a single work we studied. The only two pieces of literature that have stuck in my brain are Silas Marner and The Scarlet Letter, which I studied in 8th and 11th grades respectively. (sigh) That's pretty appalling.

Tonight I was reading a blogger's post about a back-to-school shopping trip with a teen-aged daughter just entering high school. The trip, she wrote, was accompanied by much "sturm und drang." I didn't know exactly what "sturm und drang" meant, but from the context I concluded it was High Drama from an angst-ridden teenager debating with momma regarding the suitability of school clothing.

I discovered the conventional translation of sturm und drang is "storm and stress" so my conclusion was correct. I also discovered Sturm und Drang is the name of a movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s. A prime example of Sturm und Drang is The Sorrows of Young Werther, written by Goethe in 1774. I should know who Goethe is and some of his other works, but alas, no, I had no clue. I had to look it up.

Goethe wrote Faust, the classic tale of selling one's soul to the devil. In a brief fit of self-improvement good intentions, I decided I should read Faust to expand my knowledge of classic literature. A quick search on found several editions. One reviewer's note suggested the first-time reader should get someone to explain the story before attempting to read the play. That didn't sound too promising. I needed Bob and Bill.

Bob and Bill were two curmudgeonly bachelor professors whom I had the good fortune to befriend while living in Arkadelphia. Bob used to say that he and Doc were "twin sons of different mothers." If I could turn back the hands of time, I would wade out into the Caddo River, set down a bottle of whiskey between them on the Spades table, and say, "I'll take German Lit for $100 Alec....Goethe's Faust."

I would have gotten a three- to five-hour discourse on Goethe and Faust, with a generous helping of metaphysics thrown in for good measure. That, along with a cut-throat game of Spades and a huge pot of freshly picked green beans in bacon grease, would have made for a very enjoyable evening indeed.

Geez, I miss those guys.

The lively discussion of Faust will have to wait for a while since they have both passed away. But for now I raise my glass in a toast to my two old friends, who together are probably Sturming und Dranging away, much to the chagrin of the neighbors. Wherever you guys ended up, save a place for me at the Spades table. I'll be along shortly (metaphysically speaking) bringing with me some whiskey and beans.

Thanks for the memories.