And a Fine 4th to You, Too!

My Dearly Beloved and I are sticking close to home this holiday.  Camp Granddad was open for our Georgia grandchildren during much of June and we loved every second of it.  This week we’re running Camp Granddog, as their goldendoodle, Ivy, is here to romp with our girl, Scout.  Ivy is a squirrel chaser and I had high hopes that she would tutor Scout in the finer points of tree rat elimination.  Instead, Scout seems to be having some success in showing Ivy the joys of lying on the deck and watching the damnsquirrels climb the feeder poles.


Happy Independence Day from Camper Ivy and all of us at Camp Granddog!

To Pee Or Not To Pee

The City Council here had a policy discussion on gay rights last month and much of the ensuing kerfuffle centered around bathrooms and whether or not an individual had the right to use the bathroom of one’s sexual identification rather than the bathroom of one’s genitalia.    Eventually, they took bathrooms out of the discussion. . . then decided to vote down the whole proposal anyway.

I’m perplexed as to why a person chooses to vote against someone solely because of their sexual orientation.  I’m for putting equality on the front burner and leaving sex to simmer in private on a back burner.   My gaydar antenna is still in the original wrappings.  I don’t care whose team a person plays on–just make the rules fair for everyone.

As for the bathroom issue, I admit that I’d be taken aback if Bruce Jenner walked into the Cracker Barrel bathroom right behind me, but at the same time, I don’t think someone should have to drop their drawers to prove where they’re allowed to pee.  Just make sure the bathroom is clean.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my Dearly Beloved and I enjoy going places together, but we have different ideas about the road trip.  While I’m for stopping at interesting places (okay, they usually involve shopping) along the way, he points a laser beam to his destination and would prefer not to stop for anything.   I like to wait and buy gas in South Carolina, where it’s about 20 cents a gallon cheaper.  He fills the tank here the day before we leave and it’s fine with him if we reach our destination on fumes.

He does, however, know that bathroom stops trump everything.  In fact, he even asks me, “Do you need to go to the bathroom or should I keep going?”  because parts of our trips often go through No-Bathrooms Land.

During a pit stop on a trip a couple of months ago, Dearly Beloved pumped gas at one of those Gas/Fast Food/Junk stations along I-85 while I went inside to use the ladies room.  I walked in and headed into a stall like I always do, used the toilet, and walked out.

It was like I’d entered The Twilight Zone.  Although I don’t recall anyone else being in there when I went in, there were FOUR MEN using urinals went I walked out.  I was flabbergasted, but it was minimal compared with the stunned expression on their faces.  They froze.

How had I managed to overlook the Men’s Room sign on the door and the urinals on the wall on my way in?   If I could miss all that, might I have been so intent on my mission that I overlooked a guy or two standing around?   For all I know, Bruce Jenner might have been in there.

I didn’t look up and I certainly didn’t look down.  Nothing for me to do except say, “Pardon me!” and get the hell out of there.  I didn’t even stop to wash my hands.

So. . . I’m not about to attempt to solve the problem of who gets to use which bathroom, but other people have much interest.   I understand that some states are working on laws to ban transgender folks from using the bathroom of the sex they identify with.   Might I have been arrested for an Oops?

I did learn one thing from the experience:  If unisex bathrooms ever become commonplace. . .  as long as they’re clean, I may not even notice.

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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.

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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











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.

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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.

What? Me Worry?

Two of our children had birthdays last week.  Children doesn’t feel like the appropriate word for responsible, mature individuals out living productive lives way out from under any parental wings.  (Heck, they don’t even live in the same state.)

Offspring sounds a bit clinical.  Kids?   I still have my stretch mark souvenirs, so I’ll stick with children.  Big ones.

The thing is, they’re all grown up.  No more concerns that they’ll be jumping off the roof, riding a skateboard pulled by a Doberman, or getting a hand stuck in a gum ball machine any longer.  Nope, they’re out in the world making solid, intelligent decisions every day.

No need to worry about our kids once they’re grown. . .  right?

My daughter-in-law recently sent back these pictures from Bermuda, where she and our son spent a few days.

That guy contemplating the bad decision looks suspiciously familiar.

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Image 3Gulp.


“Don’t worry about a thing. . . ’cause every little thing gonna be alright.”

– Bob Marley

“There’s no point in being a grownup if you can’t be childish sometimes.” 

– Dr. Who



The Arthur Report

Whenever hurricanes head for the Outer Banks, I check with my brother to see if he is evacuating or staying there.  It’s an unnecessary step.  He’s always staying put, but I ask anyway.

Friends in other parts of the country see the weather reports and ask about him.  Maybe they’re wondering if BroJoe is one of the nuts waving wildly behind Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel.

I know he’s sensible–to a degree–but he loves aggravating me with false information.

For instance, yesterday he e-mailed that he was shelling on Hatteras Island. Truthfully, I wouldn’t put that past him, but the Weather Channel had mentioned an evacuation order in effect for Hatteras, so he had to be pulling my leg.

Later, he sent me a photo of the supplies he’d laid in:  two bottles of wine.  Red and white, of course.

This morning, the headline in our newspaper said: Arthur makes landfall in N.C.  I e-mailed to ask were those wine bottles floating now.  He sent back two photos and short notes in response.


“Terrified. . . in the eye of the storm.”

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Here in Charlotte, the weather is lovely after the much-needed rain yesterday.  Dearly Beloved and I fly our flag proudly, gratefully, on this Independence Day, 2014.
One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, One Nation evermore!

– Oliver Wendell Holmes










Mother’s Day 2014

After my mother died, my brother and I found several photos of her which had been taken by newspaper photographers.   The pictures had never been framed, simply tucked away in a drawer along with some of her unfulfilled dreams.

When World War II broke out, she went to NC State to learn welding so that she could help in the war effort–a Rosie the Riveter.  She headed for Baltimore to work in the shipyards there.  Instead, she ended up teaching welding there.

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This photo was taken at a parade during one of our town’s big celebrations.  Centennial, perhaps?  She’s the tall one in the capelet dress.  To this day, that’s my favorite plaid.  I used to peek at the dress which had been relegated to the bottom of her cedar chest.  I’m sure she never wore it again.

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My neighbor grows the loveliest roses in town.  She gave my Dearly Beloved these to give to me for Mother’s Day.  She’d cut them just before the rains came.  They smell divine!

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Happy Mother’s Day to my daughters, moms of our five wonderful grandsons.

Happy Mother’s Day to EVERYONE, mothers of the heart.  You, too, Mother Earth!

 And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see–or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read . – Alice Walker