YANK!

Early fall is training time here for precinct workers, to ready them for the  November election.  The classes are mandatory, even if one has worked at the same job for 20 years.  Every year, something changes.  My class this year was, as always,  a roomful of Republicans and Democrats working together in good faith to make sure this election is carried out as seamlessly as possible.

The room was packed.  I’ve mentioned before that the location I select is a windowless room in a county office building that was previously used as the overflow morgue.   Although there are training locations all over the city, this one is nearest my house.  I sign up for daytime classes.  If I see a shadow, I want it to be my own.  Others must feel the same way.

I took one of the few seats available, next to a pleasant-looking older woman who has snagged an aisle seat.  (Okay, it’s possible that this “older woman” could have been about my age.) As we exchanged pleasantries, I realized that I was not looking her in the eye,  mesmerized as I was by a significant hair growing under her chin.  No peach fuzz. . .  this one was a doozie,  so long it had a slight curl to it.  Upwards of an inch, at least.

As she talked on, I wrestled with myself about what to do.  Should I avert my eyes and ignore it?  Surely, she didn’t know it was there!

Recently I read that a friend is someone who tells you that you have lipstick on your teeth.  Isn’t a long chin hair in that same category?  It is hard to know exactly where to draw the line in these matters.

Once I attended a morning brunch and encountered a similar incident.  One woman I didn’t know very well shouldn’t have been there because she had a terrible cold.  (Her husband was a doctor.  You’d think he’d have told her.)  As we chatted, she wiped her nose with a tissue.  Unfortunately, she dislodged. . . um. . .  mucus (can I say wet booger here?) which smeared across whatever that space is called between nose and upper lip.  I quickly did a motion across that space on my own face and told her to wipe again.  It was either that or start gagging.

So back to the whisker lady.  I rationalized that she must not have any friends or they’d have told her she needed to tweeze.

“You have a long chin hair right there,” I said, squeezing my index finger and thumb under my own chin in a pulling motion in order to designate the location.

She answered, “I know.  It won’t come out.  I tried to pull it out and my friend tried, too.  It won’t come out.”

I was stunned into silence.  My fingers were itching to reach over and yank.

I could have had that sucker out of there in five seconds with my bare hands, even if the other end was rooted in her nostril.  Furthermore, , I not only carry a small Swiss Army Knife, but tweezers, clippers, and scissors as well.

Errant hairs, beware former Girl Scout leaders..

Heck, if the woman’s whisker truly required something of industrial strength, maybe the morgue folks left something behind.  I’d have been willing to search on her behalf.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her, then buried my face in my elections manual to forestall any further conversation.

Today I went to lunch with some of my precinct friends (Democrats and Republicans) and told them the story.  They were horrified, but laughed  hysterically that I had been so rash and bold.

So now, unless that woman has a second friend with stronger fingers, she is going to work the entire Election Day with people staring at that eye-catching chin hair.  Oh, the embarrassment!  By Election Day, it may have grown enough that she can tie her name badge to it.  Give that bad boy a purpose.

You may rest assured that I will definitely be checking myself in a magnifying mirror for stray eyebrows and facial hair before I show up to work on Election Day.

And let this be a warning to my fellow precinct friends:  if you notice lipstick on my teeth and don’t tell me, I’m going to do some hair pulling myself.   Yours.

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Count no’Count? Hardly!

Since my Dearly Beloved and I happened to be with friends in Oxford, Mississippi the week of William Faulkner’s birthday, we decided to visit St. Peter’s cemetery where he and a number of his family members are buried.  The original Faulkner burial plot was full by the time William died, so another plot was started and he was laid to rest there, as later were his wife and stepson.

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The Faulkners are buried on the side of the marker away from the road and his stepson,  Malcolm Franklin, is on the road side.   I took several photos and although not known for my powers of observation,  I saw nothing in that fourth spot, beside Malcolm’s grave.

BUT, a University of Mississippi map of Faulkner sites of interest mentions that this fourth gravesite, long vacant, is now marked with a smaller stone for an old family friend, E. T., who “came home to rest with us.”  The map points out that the whole thing is a carefully guarded secret and that no one, except for Faulkner’s nephew, Jimmy Faulkner, knows who it is.

If the stone is there, it must be very tiny, indeed.  I don’t remember seeing so much as a pebble, although at the time, I didn’t realize there was supposed to be a fourth grave there.   At the top of the steps leading to the plot, the family name was etched.   Alas, no E. T.

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Perhaps he phoned another home?

Remember the mysterious visitor–or perhaps more than one– who visited Edgar Allen Poe’s grave for over 70 decades on the anniversary of his birth and left behind a partial bottle of cognac and three roses?

It being the anniversary of Faulkner’s birth,  we (empty-handed, I confess) went to see if Oxford folks made a similar gesture at the grave of their famous citizen and left a special memorial of some kind..

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Um. . . not so much, although one person did leave an empty Maker’s Mark bourbon mini-bottle by the  column of the marker.  Faulkner would have preferred moonshine, but if not that, Scotch would do. Still, someone had been there.

Perhaps some Oxford residents are still holding a grudge.   After all, he did say this about the town in an interview with Esquire magazine in 1963:

Some folks wouldn’t even speak when they passed me on the street. Then MGM came to town to film Intruder in the Dust, and that made some difference because I’d brought money into Oxford. But it wasn’t until the Nobel Prize that they really thawed out. They couldn’t understand my books, but they could understand thirty thousand dollars.

To give the man his due, he said enough things–brilliantly–that earned him two Pulitzers and two National Book Awards in addition to the Nobel prize for Literature.   Here are a few quotations from his writings, not among his best known, although I found them interesting.

People … have tried to evoke God or devil to justify them in what their glands insisted upon.  – Absalom, Absalom!

Nothing can destroy the good writer. The only thing that can alter the good writer is death. Good ones don’t have time to bother with success or getting rich.  – The Paris Review, spring 1956

People everywhere are about the same, but … it did seem that in a small town, where evil is harder to accomplish, where opportunities for privacy are scarcer, that people can invent more of it in other people’s names. Because that was all it required: that idea, that single idle word blown from mind to mind. – Light in August

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween!

When we were kids, every now and then, my mother’s youngest sister, Mary, drove us to a tiny community in southeastern North Carolina.  She’d park near the railroad tracks and we would wait in the dark to watch for the mysterious Maco light to come bobbing and weaving up the tracks as the old conductor Joe Baldwin continued his 100-year-long search for his missing head.   Sometimes we’d perch on the hood of the car, but we never dared venture up that track in an attempt to be the first ones to spot the light.  No siree!

I can’t say for sure that I ever saw old Joe’s light, although I’d have probably taken my own children to watch for it, too, had the railroad company not, in the 70’s,  removed the tracks and the trestle bridge where the light emanated.  Poor Joe Baldwin doesn’t even have a route to follow any more.

One dependable sighting in the mountains of North Carolina this time of year is this one:

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The Bear Shadow

Just when most bears are beginning to pack it in for winter, this one emerges for a couple of weeks when the autumnal sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain, a 5,000-footer near Cashiers and Highlands.  My friend Birdie took this photo a week or so ago and shared it with me.

My blogger buddy, Mountain Woman has written about the bear too, as she also lives near that area.  There is an overlook area where people may stand to wait for it  to appear.  You can even shoot it, but only with a camera.

Now for some of the seasonal delights in my neighborhood. . . .  People around here are big on Halloween.  Perhaps because I ride past them so often,  the two houses one street over always grab my attention.  Out near the sidewalk sits this pathetic scene:

IMG_1738What could be so terrible in the house behind them that these poor babes have been abandoned, obviously in a catatonic state, in this antiquated wheel chair?

Arachnid Manor
Arachnid Manor

Spiders.  EVERYWHERE. . . a giant spider invasion!!!

Just a short distance up the street sits the Ghoul house.  One of the Ghouls must be a surgeon, as the magnolia tree on the right is festooned with hanging body parts.

Ghastly!
Ghastly!                              

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                                                Happy Halloween !

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Cheers!

When my English friend e-mailed that she was having her neighbors over for drinks on July 4, I asked her to send a photo.   Remembering her Burns Night Supper a couple of winters ago, I suspected that having friends over for drinks didn’t mean setting out a keg and some Solo cups under a tree.

While we celebrated our independence with cookouts and picnics, she and her husband  invited their neighbors to a garden party.  The photo upped my Anglophile feelings another notch.

Have a look:

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Absolutely lovely, isn’t it.

The British are much more current on international news than we are, so they probably know more than they want to know about our absurdities, our crazy politics, etc.  Do you think they might, like the parents who pull out the champagne when the last kid finally leaves the nest, the Brits might have enjoyed a toast to our Independence?

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When you’re born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat. – George Carlin

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.
– Winston Churchill

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.
– H.L. Mencken

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
James A. Baldwin

Get A Room!

When my friend Beanie took two of her grandchildren to the Washington Zoo in the fall, she was expecting that she might hear questions from them about some of the 1800 animals in the zoo.

But she WASN’T expecting to run into this Aldabra tortoise scene right by the entrance.

Get a room?  I carry it with me!

Hard to tell him to get a room when he already has a house on his back.

Looks like that makes her a two-story.

(Many thanks to Beanie for the picture.)

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Poppies for Remembrance

Veterans Day. . . Poppy Day. . . Armistice Day. . . Remembrance Day.

Today, many will observe two minutes of silence on the 11th hour (11 AM) of the 11th day of the 11th month, when the Allies of WWI and Germany signed an armistice agreement.   The firing stopped immediately.

Here, we honor and remember all veterans on this day.

Thanks to my friend Alison for sending me the link to this stunning tribute in London.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-29935592

This poem is so touching. . . the earnest Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon and also a poet, was moved to write these words as he mourned the loss of his friend, Lieutenant Alex Helmer.  Since a chaplain was not present, McCrae was asked to conduct his friend’s funeral.  Like all funerals on the battlefield, it was conducted in the dark.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,images
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Blog Post. . . .

E-mail is perfect for talking gardening with friends.  I never tire of seeing pictures of their gardens.  I haven’t sent any of mine this year.  I should, lest folks think the duct taped cherry tree is the highlight of our yard.

My British friend and I write frequently of gardens, books, and grandchildren.  She is the friend of the Burns Night Supper,  who lives in a village which holds flower festivals in late summer.

Lately we have been talking Delphiniums and roses.  I recently bought a Delphinium plant, which probably won’t make it through the summer in our hot, sticky climate.  (In the South, larkspur is planted as a substitute.)  Her Delphiniums, though, are profuse and beautiful.

Want to see enchantment?

Image Yes, that is a thatched roof on her house.   And look at that lovely rose!

One of her Delphinium flower beds.Image 1She sent this next picture to show how she was coaxing a rose up a contorted willow tree that she doesn’t particularly like. Image 2I didn’t see anything unsightly about the willow tree, unless she was referring to that headless branch, and said so.  She wrote back that she’d talked to her pruner about those branch stumps he kept leaving to no avail, so she tries to hide the stumps under Paul’s Himalayan Musk Rose plantings.   (Like me, she is married to her tree man.)

That should explain why I was searching through her old e-mails.  I looked up Paul’s Himalayan Rose and although the listing doesn’t specifically mention “covers duct tape” in its attributes, I think it is something worth considering.  Bonus:  the instructions say,  “No pruning!”

(I should mention that my Dearly Beloved is  a very good pruner.  With proper supervision, of course.)

Not long ago, I mentioned to my friend that I wanted to make a little fairy garden in one corner of the back yard and she responded that she was working on a fairy den in her own garden.  Here, for instance, are her fairy wind chimes.  Image

As her grandchildren are all girls and mine are all boys, I supposed that we didn’t imagine fairy gardens in the same way.

Then she sent this video. ( No, this isn’t her pruner, nor mine.)  Take a look at this hedge!

 Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels. But their magic sparkles in nature. ~Lynn Holland