I Gave It the Hairy Eyeball

Despite my Dearly Beloved’s eye rolls, I’m one of those people who brings home the complimentary shampoos, conditioners, etc., from our hotel stays.  I believe I have enough shoe cloths to set up my own shoeshine station.

Not so with the shampoo and conditioners.  Now that we rarely travel,  the silver bowl of freebies in our guest bathroom has not been restocked in a l-o-n-g  time.  It contains only lotions and body washes.  No shampoos or conditioners.

I’ve been using a prescription shampoo and I’m a tub person anyhow, so I’ve paid little attention to our shower amenities beyond noting that there were some bottles of shampoo and conditioners in the shower rack.

A few weeks ago,  I decided I wanted to use something besides the dermatology stuff, so I checked out the stash in the shower and found it sorely lacking;  empty bottles, missing lids, no shampoos and conditioners from the same manufacturer.  Shameful!  As I began tossing them,  I spied a couple of like-new bottles I’d never even seen before.

I sniffed one and found it to have a delicious coconut scent.

Since then, I’ve used the bottles several times. . . enough that the bottles are getting a little low.  Whichever of our offspring who left it here won’t mind, right?  After all, everybody wants Momma to be happy.   In fact, I thought I’d better hint that we need more, so I took a quick picture to remind them which brand it was.

Beach Babe.  Oh yeah, that was it.   Beach Babe.

Then I read the labels more carefully.


Harrumph!   Really?

Rest assured that the bottles will soon have “Your Mother begs to differ” written down the sides with my best Sharpie.


People who can finish a shampoo bottle at the same time as the conditioner are truly gifted.





Food Truckin’

My experience with food trucks is limited, mostly ice cream trucks and vendors at county fairs. I have not a trace of nostalgia for either.  The new era of food trucks–the fancy ones with the catchy names and the specialty dishes–seems much more appealing.  Here, they’re primarily uptown in the business district which isn’t on my radar, but they satisfy a niche for the 75,000 or more workers up there.

I love hearing the clever names owners select and found this list of the Awesomest/ Worst names online.  I couldn’t tell which was which, so maybe we need to compile a list of our own, real or made-up.  Any suggestions?

Folks who don’t work uptown have an opportunity to try some of the gastronomic offerings when a number of the trucks head for a southend parking lot on Friday afternoons for what becomes an instant fiesta: Food Truck Friday.  Dearly Beloved and I have not tried it, so my food truck knowledge remains scant.  Someday. . . .

Riding around the beach last week, I found myself behind, well. . . what do you think. . . would you call this a food truck?








Mary Lee is WHAT???

BroJoe sent me the first headline a couple of years ago, something about Mary Lee hanging around the Outer Banks.  Huh?  Since then, I’ve received a stream of fun headlines from friends.  I prefer the ones that refer to “rock star Mary Lee” instead of words like “massive” and other references to weight.

Mary Lee prowls East Coast

Mary Lee Has Come For a Visit

Great White Mary Lee passing by Charleston coast again

Great White Mary Lee Moves Back North

Mary Lee is back in North Carolina

Mary Lee checking out St Helena sound

You do know Mary Lee, right?  Rock star?  Also a Great White Shark.

This one was left at my front door a few weeks ago:


Tagging a Great White Shark was a big deal.  The SPOT  (Smart Position and Temperature) tag attached to her dorsal fin sends data to the nearest satellite and it is passed on to the research team.  When she was tagged, she was christened (so to speak) Mary Lee, after Ocearch scientist Chris Fischer’s mother.  Still, I feel a connection.  Other sharks will always be asking her, “. . . now,  is Lee your middle name or your last name?”

The SPOT gives location, water temperature (GWS like waters around 50-70 degrees) and water salinity.  Usually they stay in salt water, but Mary Lee entered brackish waters around Cape Cod.  That’s close!  She has also pinged within 200 yards of the Carolinas coastal areas.  Mary Lee prefers her summers around the Cape, winters farther down the Atlantic coast.

A crew of Ocearch marine biologists followed her when she headed down to Jacksonville, Florida, where she began swimming with a smaller, Great White Shark there.  That’s how the crew discovered Lydia, who was then tagged and released.

Mary Lee has her own Pinterest and Facebook sites.  Google her and you’ll find over 1,000,000 links.  See?  Rock star!  

Here’s a video of how she was tagged:

With the crazy, cold winter we’ve had, I worried that she had checked out for South American or Africa, so I was pleased to learn that she was in the Savannah area.   Mary Lee may prefer the Atlantic coast,  but her more adventuresome friend, Lydia, headed out to sea.
A couple of days ago, my blogging/Facebook Irish friend Steffi Walsh posted a Look Who’s Here blurb announcing that Lydia was nearing the waters around Ireland.  Amazing!   I e-mailed to ask Steffi to tell Lydia that Mary Lee said Hey.  She refused.
I’ve read many fascinating facts about great white sharks, like their favorite foods:  sea lions and seals.  One article speculated that if they attack a human, it’s because they’ve mistaken the human for a seal.  Over 70% of humans attacked by a great white survived  because, it is believed, that they realize their mistake and let go.  Hmmm.
(See, Steff, you could do it!  Just try not to look like a seal.)
A good meal can last these sharks up to three months.
Recent articles about Mary Lee say that she may be pregnant. Yowsah!  Gestation period is 11-18 months, so it’s an educated guess  right now.  If it’s true, Fischer’s mother will be pleased.

 “Mary Lee is a sweet, sweet woman. This is a sweet, sweet shark,” Fischer said. “Now she keeps asking if it’s pregnant, saying ‘I want grand-sharks!’”

Lydia, who has been tracked for more than 20,000 miles, is also rumored to be pregnant. She could continue to swim toward Ireland or she may turn toward the Mediterranean.  There is a favorite shark birthing spot near Turkey.

Both of them pregnant?  That must have been one heck of a Spring Break in Jacksonville!


Sharks are as tough as those football fans who take their shirts off during games in Chicago in January, only more intelligent. – Dave Barry


As The Woolly Worm Turns

Monday night my Dearly Beloved asked had I ever slept with a 71-year-old man.

Umm, that would be a definite NO.

Well, starting tomorrow night, you’re going to.

Turns out he was wrong about that.  WHY is a convoluted story:

One of the good things about living in Charlotte is that one can think “beach” or “mountains” and reach either in two to four hours.   For years, we always headed to the coast since we had a house there, but the mountains have been calling us lately and we went twice in one week.

The first time we went to Waynesville, a sweet town just beyond Asheville.  We stayed at an inn on a golf course.  One sunny day, one cloudy day, and both were lovely.

At the end of a sunny day, the clouds began rolling in...
At the end of a sunny day, the clouds began rolling in…
The next morning, the mountains had disappeared.
By morning, the mountains had disappeared.















DB went to a junior college the first two years of his college education.  He’s mentioned driving up to see it several times, so when his class announced their 50th reunion, he decided it would be a good time to attend.  Two of the girls he went to high school with were also going.  We made reservations for the four of us at an old farmhouse B&B.


The football practice field was now the soccer practice field, but the mountains beyond were the same.  It was easy to see why he’d loved this place.

All three of them were horrified to see that the nearby diner was now a service station.  I was horrified to see that we were too early for the wooly worms, since there wasn’t much else to do around there.


There was a women’s clothing store with lovely things in the windows and a huge SALE sign, but it was closed.  Turned out that the SALE was the store, not the merchandise.

So we walked around the campus until time for their reunion party that night–which is getting around to explaining why I’m not sleeping with a 71-year-old man.

I have mentioned before that DB considers himself to have been a very good shag dancer  in high school.  Do watch a bit of this video link to see how popular it The Shag was back then.

Now picture it still being a favorite of the 50th year reunion attendees.


(There are plenty of Learn to Shag videos on the internet now.  DB says to plan to spend time practicing with the closet doorknob or the bedpost if you try it.)

For the first time, we had a chance to slow dance together in his college environs.  Then, at my urging,  he did a couple of shag dances with his old schoolmates.   When he felt some early creaks and pains, he thought it was because he was just getting warmed up.  It was his Double-back Suzy move in the second dance that wiped him out completely.  They laughed while they were dancing, but by the time we arrived home the next day, his back and knee were assuring him that it was the pain that had been doing the warmup.

Since he must lie in careful corpse position, he’s sleeping alone until it gets better.  His birthday has come and gone with only the dog by his side. . . and she’s on her own bed.  So no, I’ve never slept with a 71-year-old man, but I’m willing.

DB now considers himself a “recovering, former shagger.”   That’s okay with me.

The slow dances are still all mine.

His favorite dance quote:

“If a man doesn’t know how to dance he doesn’t know how to make love, there I said it!  

–Craig Ferguson

My favorite:

“When you do dance, I wish you

A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do

Nothing but that.”

– William Shakespeare

Don’t Move Without Duct Tape

It’s been two weeks since we moved from the beach-house-not-on-the-beach.  Putting a house full of furniture and stuff into a house full of furniture and stuff is not for the faint of heart.  We have the Salvation Army on speed dial.

Did you ever see the movie,  Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation?  Jimmy Stewart’s narration of the disastrous events therein played through my head often during Moving Day.

When I left Wilmington on Moving Thursday, the temperature was 88 degrees and it was delightfully sunny.  The movers were still loading the truck.  Dearly Beloved assured me that I had enough gas to make it home without stopping.  He forgot to factor in the additional weight of the yard statuary, frozen food, plants, electronics, jars of coins, and the fat dog that filled every square inch inside.

About 20 miles outside of Charlotte, the Warning light blinked red on my gas gauge.  Almost simultaneously, the skies grew dark,  the wind picked up, and a driving rain began swirling all the grease, dirt, and bird poop on my windshield.  Miss Piggy is afraid of killer windshield wipers, so I tried to use them sparingly, as she had been promoted to front seat status lest she get into the frozen food or be assaulted by an errant garden gnome.  (Really, they’re not gnomes, they’re rabbits.)

The rain slowed the traffic–me and 10,000 trucks– to a crawl.  The gas gauge light glowed on.  I kept inching along, afraid that any attempt to move over two lanes to find a gas station would cause either an accident or road rage.  (So, I suppose, would giving out of gas in the middle of the highway.) 

Finally I reached a turnoff inside the city limits where I would be able to find my way home without having to get back onto the highway.  I stopped at the first gas station I saw.  When I got out of the car in my light cotton sweater,  wind and icy rain hit me full in the face and whipped my skirt up to my shoulders.

Discarding any plan to fill the tank, I pumped $13 worth of gas in and hurried to get back inside my car.  I turned the ignition key and saw that I hadn’t bought enough gas to make the red light go off.  The car thermometer registered 41.  It would do.

(Cue Jimmy Stewart’s voice:  “The temperature had dropped 47 degrees…”)

I turned on the seat warmer and drove home.

Flash flood warnings were crawling on the bottom of the TV screen by the time the moving truck arrived.  The guys came inside to see where everything might go.  Yeah.  So had I.

One of them–Willie– had not brought a jacket and his t-shirt and jeans were already soaked.  He was, I’d heard him say earlier, a former high school linebacker with a 19″ neck.  I rummaged through the closet and came up with a thick hooded sweatshirt.  I thought it was one that said Grandfather Mountain, but when he pulled it past his broad shoulders, I saw that I’d grabbed the wrong one.

This one said, Providence Girls Softball.

I found one of those Totes raincoats that folds up into a little pouch. The thing is easily as wide as a shower curtain and makes a swishing noise when I walk, so I’ve worn it only a couple of times.  Nevertheless, Willie donned the coat and swished his way through the move. The coat must have had my scent because Miss Piggy, still blind from her eye surgery, dogged his heels (sorry! 🙂 ) each time he came in.

The wind continued.  Branches snapped and fell,  scaring the movers, who thought they’d broken something.

The guys finished unloading about 10:30 PM.  Willie returned the clothing and they left for their four-hour return trip.  DB (who’d arrived about an hour after the moving truck) and I looked around at what could easily have been mistaken for a Goodwill Drop-Off station.

A short time later, the power went out.

The den, master bedroom, kitchen, and bathrooms are now box-free.  The other rooms require dexterity to be entered.  The term “take a flying leap” has become more literal.

We’re getting there.  Meanwhile, we’ve found Duck Tape to be extremely helpful.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting a Move On

Not since I drank three cups of an herbal tea called Smooth Moves, having misread it as Smooth Moods, have I had so much moving activity going on.  I’d be gulping Smooth Moves right now if it would aid with our move today, but I know better.  That day, I found out the hard way that the moves in question centered around the bathroom.

It’s Moving Week at the Beach-House-Not-On-The Beach.  I packed everything myself this time.  The plan was to be merciless in getting rid of the games, books, and toys, the aunt’s china, our daughters’ little dresses, Good Egg Son’s school art projects….

Easier said than done.

In between packing, we thought we’d take advantage of our last week here by going to some of our favorite restaurants.  It was also a necessity, since the first thing I did was to pack everything that involved cooking or eating at home.  It’s off-season, so traffic is light now and there’s no waiting for a table.  Nevertheless, even our eating-out plans ran afoul.

In a beach town, all the renovations and repairs are done during the “off” season.  Believe it, honey.  Things were definitely “off” this week.

The first day, we went to Dockside, a favorite restaurant on the Intracoastal Waterway.  It was warm enough to sit outside on the deck.  We could have, I suppose, but not if we wanted food.  They were closed for remodeling.  The owner lamented his timing;  he’d chosen a week that the temperatures rose into the 70’s.

On the day we drove downtown to eat at one of the River Walk restaurants and watch the sun set over the Cape Fear River one more time, we discovered that the city had closed the street and were digging up the cobblestones to work on the pipes underneath.  Everything was closed.

We ran errands one afternoon, skipping lunch, and stopped at a restaurant we’ve always enjoyed in the Historic District.  They turned us away;  we were too late for lunch, too early for dinner.  Humiliating, indeed, to be earlier than the Early Birds.

We saw on the local news that they are filming Revolution in the downtown area and  some additional streets were closed for that.   The city is so accommodating that it turns off the streetlights for the production when necessary.  Eating downtown sounded very complicated.  We scratched that off our list.

Yesterday, the day that the Salvation Army was coming to pick up our offerings, the day dawned bright and warm.   Perfect!  Until, that is, we walked out to our driveway and saw this:


And this:


To say that the Homeowners Association is working on the ponds is an understatement.  They are dredging the pond behind our neighbor’s house to the left of us and have a second crew draining and filling in the pond behind the houses to the right of us.  That stinky pond water they’re draining is running downhill to the storm sewer.   We, of course, are downhill, so there is a scummy lake in front of our house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo add extra confusion, the landscape trucks lined the subdivision street at our corner, delivering bundles of pine straw to be spread around in all the yards.  On our moving day.

With the temperatures in the 70’s, we decided to eat our final meal out here on the pier at Oceanic, a beachfront restaurant known for its food and its views.

The trip over the bridge took some time.  It seems they’re working on the drawbridge, which necessitated closing a lane or two.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADearly Beloved started laughing as soon as we drove into the restaurant parking lot.  This was the scene:


They were open, but eating on the pier was definitely out of the question.  The large crane and all the equipment was part of a project to expand the pier six feet on either side.

We sat in the bar area which overlooked the pier.  On the beach, the parasailors and surfers were out in full force and women dared to drag out bikinis to jump-start their tans.


This was the view from our table:


It cracked me up to see that giant crane and heavy equipment working atop the pier, while underneath the pier, men on wooden ladders banged away with hammers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the weather drops 25 degrees or so down to normal temperatures for January and the sand and wind swirl through?  Yikes!

We returned home to finish our packing, weaving through the maze of trucks, rocks, and icky water.  We turned on the TV weather. We were hoping for more warm temperatures.   Nope.  Chilly temperatures and rain in the late afternoon-a 90% chance.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Today is the big day.  We have the contractor here doing touch-up work involving power tools… the bulldozers across the street, hauling pond dirt…  water swirling down the street… landscape crews spreading pine needles.. and the movers loading the truck.  Oh yes, I should mention that it’s garbage pickup day.

The guys will load the truck in Wilmington and unload it in Charlotte on the same day.  It’s sunny here right now, but DB checked the prediction for Charlotte’s weather:  two inches or so of snow or frozen precipitation is expected later today.


Has anyone read the Swarming Locust report?

Booty Calls

The sock-it-to-me humidity that smacks me in the face these days when I open the door to step out for the morning paper brings the heat of July to mind.  Those were the weeks when we were juggling the fun of Camp Grandad and the work of keeping the beach-house-not-on-the-beach ready for showing, plus treks to the doctor to figure out why my heart was threatening to mutiny.

We kept Granddog Ivy during Camp Grandad, so whenever there was a showing, we’d hide the dog bowls and beds, mop the dog drool from the sunroom floor, spray the de-doggy spritzer, and head for the dog park. Ivy loved the park and could hardly wait to start running.  Miss Piggy detested it.

It’s easy to see why.  Even at 16, she’s still got it.

Not that she wants it.

Eventually she dug a hole under a bench and parked her butt in it.  We realized that she was so miserable that she’d prefer to stay in the car.  After that, we parked in a shady spot, left the back door of the station wagon up, and she’d contentedly chew her bone, trying to polish it off so that she could start on Ivy’s while she was romping..

The dog park used to be all grass, but it’s just around the fringes now and the dogs run in the sandy soil.

Can she look any more ticked off?!?!

Ivy, on the other hand, loved making new friends.

These young moms were at the park every morning.  First they would gather for sit-ups and floor exercises, lying in the grass under the tall pines (not in the dog park!)  then they would circle the park, taking the tougher, uphill route.

They deserve merit badges:  Size 2 tags in some new jeans.  Go, Little Mamas!

The only size 2 items in our house are some lead pencils.

You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is. ~ Ellen DeGeneres

I don’t exercise.  If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor. – Joan Rivers


There will be a pop quiz at the end.  Fair warning.

You have an appointment at a clinic.  The entry door opens into the middle of a rectangular waiting area with a center aisle dividing it into two squares.  Chairs ring the outer wall of each square.  Amid each square, chairs are set up in back to back rows as if a rousing game of musical chairs is about to begin.  It isn’t.  You’re at a heart clinic.

You know from the hideous, stained chair upholstery that whoever set up the design had no taste, but a wicked sense of humor.  On the far right, a flat-screen TV is turned to FOX news.  On the left, CNN. That should really be MSNBC to make it a fairer choice, but you’re sick of politics anyway, so you choose one of the chairs against the front wall of the building, near the door where you entered.

Directly under the wall-mounted CNN TV is a sofa, facing toward the front door.  You see two children, a boy who is perhaps five and a girl you’d guess to be three.  Beside them on the sofa is a clutter of fast food wrappers and two kids’ meal bags from an unknown fast food place and at the end of the couch, a woman of indeterminate age.  She has waist-length hair and is wearing a white blouse tucked into a long gathered black skirt.  She’s somewhat overweight and looks pale and puffy, as if the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s genes dominated in a liaison with Betty Crocker.  Perhaps she’s in a religious organization or even a cult?

Your entry was evidently a cue for the children to jump up for a rousing parade.  They grab their drinks and start running in a circle, laughing and shouting.   When they sail past you, you note that the girl’s bottle and the boy’s sippy cup are filled with chocolate milk.  On their second fly-by, you see that some of the boy’s teeth are black with decay.

They race back to the sofa, drop their drinks, and pick up…OMG… WHISTLES!  (You want the name of that fast food company so you can send your first hate letter.)  So, you have two whistle-blowing kids running in circles around the musical chair setup.  Two elderly patients in wheelchairs are at the end of the rows, so they get extra long blasts as the children run within inches of their heads.

You wonder if the staff is deaf.  Again, it’s a HEART CLINIC.

The woman, you aren’t even sure it’s their momma, calls out in a monotone voice, “You need to blow those whistles outside.  You might bother someone in here.”

Two problems.  They’re preschoolers.  “Outside” is a parking lot and it’s over 100 degrees.     Is she going to send them out into traffic or go out with them?

Neither.  They continue running and blowing on the whistles.

You realize that all FOX watchers probably aren’t armed because all they can shoot is dirty looks.  The woman looks unfazed.  UNTIL, that is, she picks up a man’s leather belt she has beside her and folds it into quarters.  The next time they run by, she says, in the same monotone, “I brought the belt.” 

They ignore her and continue their game.  The next time they pass her, she pops them–not at all hard–on their bottoms as they run past, but promises, “I’m going to whip you with the belt when we get to the car.”  

Okay, you decide, she’s probably their mother, but she sure as heck isn’t mother of the year.  The children are bratty, but what kind of life do they have with a mother who not only thinks it’s acceptable to hit them with a belt, but so relaxed about it that she carries it around in public as her weapon of choice.

Here’s my question: I’m just curious here. . . what will you do?  Anything you can do?   You find yourself so unnerved for a while, you can’t even remember why you’re there.

That’s the bonus question:  Why are you there?

You’re there for a Stress Test.

Blimey, They’re Slimy!

When I came upon what looked to be a petrified pile of dog poop in the yard, I was baffled.  Who did THAT?  It wasn’t Ivy’s or Miss Piggy’s.  (Sad as it sounds, I do have expertise in that area.)  I went back into the garage to get a shovel so that I could remove it.

When I scooped the shovel underneath, the ‘pile’ fell apart and I saw what it really was.

Coitus Interruptus on a spade?


Before you make too much fun of me for not being able to tell a snail from a pile of poo, picture the two interlocked.  Thankfully, it’s not an everyday sight.  How do they even find each other?

I was so grossed out that I opened the garbage lid and tossed them in.

I’ve felt guilty about it ever since.  Had I trashed rare snails?  Had I ‘offed’ somebody’s mother and the baby daddy?

When I googled to read just how serious my sin, I read how very hard it is for snails to survive in a world with badass humans who kill them.

Can snails contribute to Wikipedia?

It didn’t take long for the Ghost of Snails Past to begin its haunt.  A  few days later, I walked into the sunroom and found it waiting for me on the sliding glass door.

The Haunting.

Yep.  It had suctioned itself to the sliding glass door.


Since the ugly little bastard was playing on my guilt, it probably thought it had a free pass to slime the door.   What to do, what to do….

I took the safe option:  I yelled for Dearly Beloved.

He dispatched it to a safe area, that being in a natural area wa-a-ay away from the garden AND the door.

Enough with suction-ing creatures attaching themselves to my house!

Then I went into the guest bathroom and looked at the mirror.

That one stays.

Rear Window, Canine Style

It isn’t just some of our grandsons who attend Camp Grandad.  There is also a canine unit.  When it gets noisy around here, our bedroom, which is on the backside of the house, is a quiet place to take a breath.  The room is restful, the view serene.


Yesterday, Granddog Ivy quite suddenly became intrigued with gardening.  We had no idea what inspired this sudden interest, but she viewed, sniffed, and pawed it from every angle for over two hours.  The CSI Miami team could not have been more thorough.

I took pictures through the bedroom window.  Not wanting to distract her, I didn’t use the flash.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Suddenly. . . the aha moment!

She nosed down and with a sudden quick motion, flung something up onto the slate path and jumped up after it.

What was it?

Don’t let it be a snake.  PLEASE don’t let it be a snake. . . !

The hunter, relentless in her pursuit, had captured her fast-moving quarry!

I hope the squirrels were watching.  We relocated the turtle outside the fence, but we’re not making any promises to the tree rats.