Temporary Insanity

Last week the weather forecasters in our neck of the woods predicted that we would be getting T-E-N inches of snow.  Ten inches of snow in this part of North Carolina has lower odds than a $10,000 scratch-off lottery ticket.

The city sent out a letter letting us know that they were slagging streets, salting sidewalks, putting transit personnel on 12-hour shifts, and advising us to prepare to hunker down.  Schools were closed before the first flake fell.

I went about my hunkering preparations by making sure there was plenty of wine, toilet paper, and bread.  Yup.  We were good to go stay.

Then I looked outside at our tacky assortment of suet holders and bird feeders.  Practically empty!!!  Worse, so was our supply cabinet.

There were no lines at the hardware store because everyone else was at the grocery store at the other end of the shopping center buying bread and milk.  I selected a variety of suet and two different kinds of bird seed, then walked around the display to see what else might be helpful.  On the bottom shelf was a large bag holding peanuts in the shell, dried corn kernels, and an assortment of other nuts and grains.  My mind waged an argument inside my head:  don’t do it!  vs. but it’s going to be 10 inches!   The but it’s going to be 10 inches! side sent out images of a backyard littered with furry frozen you-know-whats.  I shoved the bag into my cart.

God help me, I was buying squirrel food.

Next morning,  the ground was white all right, but it was less than half an inch and already beginning to melt.  I looked out at the feeding station and saw the birds waiting while a squirrel suctioned a bird feeder like his name was Dyson.  The clay saucer of squirrel food remained untouched.  I rushed outside, screaming and clapping my hands, and the offender jumped off and sauntered up the pine tree, but only a few feet, leaving no doubt that it was only a temporary detour.

Sure enough, I had barely sat down again when he swaggered down the tree, flexed his muscles under his fur jacket, popped his knuckles, then made a gymnastics leap (I’d give it a 9.4) onto the bird feeder.  He latched on immediately, like a suckling pig.

The sympathy truce is over.  There will be no refilling of the squirrel feeding station.  This is war.

I’d like to pass the rest of the food bag on to that squirrelly weather forecaster.






Travelin’– Or, As They May Say In Michigan, ‘Raveling.

Whenever we go on a trip, I tell myself that I’m not going to take any photos of weird things along the way, then I see situations that tickle me and I change my mind, but by the time I pull out my phone and aim the camera I end up with a series of blurred photos.

Here are my blurs and blobs, with explanations:

IMG_0259  The license plate on this car says “UDontNoMe”

This one says, “YOUKNOWIT.”  IMG_0262

I know that in the South, we have a tendency to drop our G’s at the end of words.  This truck is from Michigan.


Notice anything missing?

And last but not least, since this story made the front page of the Wall Street Journal last week, I thought I’d include a photo of the peachoid along I-85 in South Carolina.


Although it looks like it’s wearing a winter bonnet, the Gaffney, SC water tower has actually been under repair for some time.  The Journal article pointed out the town had “hoped to get cracking last fall,” but it wasn’t that easy to find an artist who can mix the 12 shades  and paint in the air like that.  It isn’t just a simple one-color job and the end is not in sight.

Depending how you look at it.


Hello, I’m Not Your Grandma

Maybe if I had more pockets, I’d do better about keeping track of my cellphone. More often than not, it’s in the bottom of my handbag amongst sticks of sugar-free peppermint gum and wrinkled old sales receipts.  It’s generally off or muted.  That means that I’m a bit hard to reach.

Actually, my most frequent callers are people  I don’t even know.  They leave messages, sometimes several a day, and I have not a clue as to the identity of the caller or the callee.  Since the message on my voicemail greeting is my own,  you’d think they might realize that the grandma they call is not the grandma they know.  Alas, no..

The Missed Call list shows that it’s a Wadesboro, NC,  phone number.  I’ve had messages from various members of the family,  phoning to leave a long message for “Grandma.”  Whoever the caller is, she’ll leave a message, then shout, “Does anybody else want to talk to Grandma?”  A child will then add her own message, chattering away as if she doesn’t expect a response.

I  had this problem years ago when I bought my first cellphone  in North Carolina.  The cellphone company claimed they retired numbers for a year before reassigning them.  Hogwash.  That number was so fresh that even the guy’s own mother didn’t know he’d changed it.  She was leaving messages along with dozens of other callers, most related to the guy’s work.  He was in the entertainment business, so the messages involved  changing bookings,  giving him party dates, etc.  I felt too guilty to ignore them, so I’d call his mother and leave the messages with her, figuring she’d track him down if they were important.

After a couple of weeks of that, I called the phone company and requested a different number.  They gave me the one I’m still using, which has worked fine until the Wadesboro family began calling.

One day, after turning on my phone and finding four long messages from them, including one from the woman telling Grandma that she didn’t know whether Jerome was going to try to make it to Charlotte because of the bad weather.  I called the Wadesboro number and left them a message,  saying that Granny wasn’t getting any of their messages and she’d probably appreciate knowing that Jerome wasn’t coming before she started fixing dinner for him.

And yet, the messages continued.  Sometimes I found my phone in time to answer and each time I’d say they had dialed the wrong number.

They continued to phone.

Once I called them and reached a member of the family, the mother I think.  I told her that I knew that Granny’s number must be very close to mine because I was receiving her messages.  She  laughed and said, “Yes, very close!”   I replied that they were leaving very nice messages and that I felt sure that Grandma would have enjoyed hearing them.

Didn’t help. The messages still piled up.

One night last week, after watching a late movie in bed, I turned off the light and settled under the covers.  I was nearly asleep when I realized that I’d left my phone on.  Since I hate the little beeps that sound to let me know of messages, I fumbled around in the dark to locate my phone and switch it to Off.  Somehow, I hit Redial and a voice answered with a sleepy, “Hello.”

It was a little after 1 AM.

I quickly turned on the bedside light and saw, to my horror,  that I’d redialed the last call received, which happened to be the people in Wadesboro.  I apologized, saying that I had hit Redial and called them by accident.

Would you believe that I haven’t had a single call from them since?   I don’t know the reason.  Perhaps Granny has gone to that great phone booth in the sky, or perhaps they decided that it would behoove them to dial more carefully in order to prevent any further late-night calls.

I’m knocking on wood, however.  I realize that the calls could resume at any time.

It’s probably a good thing that I don’t have granny’s number.  I’d be inclined to call to make sure she’s okay.  She might want to talk awhile and complain about her children never calling.


Some one invented the telephone,
And interrupted a nation’s slumbers,
Ringing wrong but similar numbers.
~Ogden Nash, Look What You Did, Christopher

Anytime I see someone blocking the aisle in the supermarket while talking on a phone, I want to ram that person with my shopping cart. ~Richard Turner

Paper Town? Paper Leaves.

Last fall I received an e-mail that someone was making a movie here and would be filming several scenes in front of a couple of houses up the block from us. The movie was based on a young adult book–Paper Towns. so I assumed the movie would also be one for teenage audiences.  George Clooney had no role in it, so my interest level was not high.

Around Thanksgiving, someone taped a reminder to our front door advising that they’d be blocking off parts of the street during certain hours.  Some of the filming was done late at night, so it wasn’t much of an inconvenience.  There were huge lights placed next to the curb, up and down the street, for use when needed.IMG_2527The trucks left parked on the street were a minor annoyance.  Not as many trucks as when Homeland was filmed in this same area, but since the Homeland crew rented a nearby church parking lot, they’d been out of sigh for the most part.

White trucks lined the street some days and were more of a nuisance.  It’s not a very wide street.  IMG_2523

I apologize for the blurriness; I took all these pictures from the car.  It was slow going on this day.  Here, they were rolling some equipment down the middle of the street.


Although the trees were losing leaves, the storyline must have been set during warmer months.  Why do I think that?  Because men on ladders meticulously removed the scarlet leaves of the two dogwoods near the house and wired fake green leaves in their place.  Also, the crew was constantly blowing away dead leaves.

The first picture shows the trees with their fake leaves and the second is a closeup to show just how real they looked.  Unless they were supposed to look like dogwoods.

FullSizeRender 2014-11-13_13-29-23_237

Dearly Beloved happened to be walking past when we heard someone yell,  “Roll it!” so he took a quick snapshot of the scene.  If that was a love scene with guys practically breathing into the car, acting must be harder than I thought.  photo

But here’s my favorite picture from that week.  Alas, I never walked up to take a closeup, but see the little white square in the bottom of the photo below?


It was a handwritten sign telling where the women’s restroom was located.

 The wide screen reminds me of a roll of toilet paper.
-Yasujiro Ozu




Just Because I’m Paranoid

. . . doesn’t mean they’re not after me.  I’m not making up this stuff.  Let me offer this series of unfortunate events that I believe would make Lemony Snicket shudder.

Sometime in December, my brother e-mailed a photo of a baby squirrel, a critter so tiny it looked lost in the palm that held it.  He said he’d rescued it.

I have no idea where the rescue took place–perhaps in the cat’s mouth, maybe beneath a tree.  Don’t know its sex or why my brother named it CAKE.  I am not a very inquisitive squirrel aunt.  He sent pictures of Cousin Cake to his nieces and nephews.

One reason I did not show much interest was sciurophobia–fear that I’d receive a squirrel as a Christmas gift or perhaps as a January Birthday Cake.  It seemed wise to maintain a low profile.

A later set of photos reassured me.  I could start answering the doorbell again.  Little Cake was obviously in the care of professionals.

photo copyphoto

Maybe I’ll knit it a little vest for Valentine’s Day.

Perhaps I sound overly dramatic about squirrels.  But before you judge, there’s more.  No kidding.  Cake was just the icing on the. . . you-know-what.

Dearly Beloved and I spent our first Christmas away from home this year.  We didn’t even decorate beyond slapping a wreath on the door.  No tree, no holly decked halls, no Carolers on the mantel.  (I’ve mentioned before about those sweet dolls with craters where their little noses used to be–all thanks to an attic invasion of  nose-fetishist squirrels one year.)  

Instead, we drove to Virginia Beach and spent a most delightful holiday with our son and daughter-in-law.   Even Scout the Wonder Dog was welcomed.

We’re not one of those families that sits around watching sappy Christmas movies.  That’s DB’s doings because I like sappy Christmas movies.  His choice is always  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  The guys in the family always vote with him and the girls don’t care as long because it offers a respite from TV sports.  Over the years, the guys have brought along their moose mugs, their Cousin Eddie quotes, and various CV junk. including one wearing a green dickey.  Oh wait, that may  have been DB.FullSizeRender

This year, things got even more authentic.   The night before we left for Virginia, our toilets made a gurgling noise that strikes terror around here.  Sewer line backup.  Or, Yep, we , as Cousin Eddie explains it,  “Sh*tter’s full.”   Ours was, we learned $300-$400 later, was caused by roots of the large oak tree across the street growing into the sewer line.

Christmas morning in Virginia Beach, I was the last one up. I schlepped blindly into the kitchen for a wakeup cup of coffee.  When I was able to open my eyes enough to see daylight, here’s what was in front of me:


A freakin’ nightmare, right?  Two more cups of coffee and it was still there.  It sat beside me on the sofa and stared at me while we opened gifts.  Even fake squirrels can give the evil eye.


Ee returned from Virginia to find the damnsquirrels were partying in our backyard.  One was sitting ON the squirrel baffle, raking seeds out of the bird feeder with greedy little paws, like it had hit the jackpot on a One-Armed Bandit.FullSizeRender

Since the best place to buy Christmas tree ornaments here is at our favorite hardware store,  I headed for their after-Christmas sale the day after our return.  Some of the best ornaments had already sold out, but there were plenty of these:


That’s it in a nutshell.  Christmas Past, Christmas Present, Christmas Future.

The strange little glass-domed ornament?  Yeah,  I bought one.  Maybe  I’ll pass it along to BroJoe next Christmas,  A remembrance of his little cupCake.


“SQUIRREL!” – Clark Griswald, Sr. – Christmas Vacation

“It is difficult, when faced with a situation you cannot control, to admit you can do nothing.”
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish











Lost on a Concrete Mountain

It’s been one of those weeks when I’ve felt one step away from being identified as “that batty Mary Lee.”  I’ll leave the house, thinking I’ve got it all together and then the wheels fall off.

Tuesday, on one of those drizzly days that makes people drive insanely, I had a doctor’s appointment in a tall office building with a multi-level parking deck which, on that day, was packed.   Drive “up the concrete mountain” or “down into the bowels of the earth.”  I chose the narrow up ramp, following behind a string of slow-moving cars.  In contrast, drivers hurrying down the mountaintop drove as if late for a road rally.

Eventually, a man coming out of the building gestured to me, pointing toward the end of the row of cars.  I quickly backed up and took his spot as soon as he pulled out. Hooray!  I scurried into the building, fearing that I was late for my appointment–without taking note of what level I was on.

In this building, one takes an inside elevator to a huge lobby and crosses over to a second bank of elevators hidden behind the far wall.  That makes it more confusing if you don’t know where you began.

After my appointment, I headed out to begin my search.  I’d parked against an outside wall, so how hard could it be to take the elevator to each level, run out to check the row of cars parked diagonally on that front wall row, and locate my car?

VERY, I learned.  I tried six floors, certain I’d not gone any higher–searching each outer ramp for the familiar boxy shape of my blue Volvo station wagon.  Nothing.

Defeated,  I rode down to the lobby and asked the guy at the desk would he call Security to help me find my car.  He gave me a condescending look and asked what kind it was.  I told him, adding that I’d parked on the outside wall (I remembered looking out at the rain) and was certain I hadn’t gone any higher than the fourth level.  He let out a condescending sigh to match his look and said, “I’ll bet I can find it.  Sit on that bench over there and wait.”

I sat on the Naughty Bench by the elevators and waited an uncomfortably long time, smiling at everyone getting on and off the elevators, wanting to ask  if they’d seen my car.   Finally,  Desk Guy returned, defeated, and called Security to send a car.  That took another 10 or 15 minutes.

I hope that all the people milling outside noted that I entered the car willingly; no handcuffs.

The guy drove in silence up to the top, then down into the bowels.  I stayed quiet, too, even though I wanted to ask why he carried a can of baby blue spray paint in his cup holder.  (?)  He drove slowly, looking too, not trusting me to recognize my own vehicle.  Neither of us saw a single Volvo station wagon in the entire parking deck.

Had there been a Volvo Rapture?

Back at the starting point, Security guy looked a little uneasy, despite his assurances to me that it couldn’t have been stolen.  We rode up the ramps a second time.  No Volvo.  We started down again and suddenly, there was my station wagon–parked by the outside wall, with empty parking spaces on either side of it.  The Rapture committee must have taken a closer look and, finding it too messy inside for acceptance, dropped it back into place.

“What level is this?” I asked Security Guy.

He looked all around, backed up a bit, then answered, “2 1/2.”

Huh?  Even Harry Potter would have had trouble with that one.





Santa Baby!

The sunny South has been pretty darned cold these last several days, so Dearly Beloved decided it was time to fire up the pilot light for the gas logs in our den.  The logs were here long before we bought the house and frankly, they’re showing their age, but we do love having a fire in the evening.  Every year we talk about replacing them with a prettier, more efficient model.

DB also wants to have gas logs installed in the fireplace in our downstairs playroom.  Oh, and a large flat screen TV.   He wants to make the room his office.  I do catch a whiff of man cave to his plan.  Although the fireplace down there has never been used, it has a hook for hanging a pot in it.  When I first saw it, I pictured us down there snuggling on the sofa in front of the fire during power outages, homemade soup bubbling in the pot.

Two problems with that.  First, it’s much simpler to drive to a restaurant with power than it is to assemble ingredients by flashlight.  Secondly, we don’t have an iron pot.

But I digress.  Back to the old gas logs in the den. . . .

It’s always a chore to get the pilot light going.  No flipping a wall switch; it’s a messy,  inside-the-fireplace job.  This year, DB decided to work on the logs first to see if he could make them more efficient.  That entailed a few trips to the garage to assemble wrenches,  pliers, etc.

photo 1

I was sitting close by, watching all this.  Finally, he was ready to strike the match.  Just before doing so,  he pulled his head back out,  turned to me and asked,  “Do you want one last look at these eyebrows?”

Ho Ho Ho.