Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pills, Pools, Progesterone, and Public Access

As you may imagine, I have a pretty whirlwind week behind me. I generally hate to do "disjointed bits of stuff" blogs on Tuesdays, I feel like I should write some coherent piece of brilliance (which I never seem to do anyway). But here are a few things from the past week.


Friday I found myself at my mom and dad's house being the Pill Nazi. When Mom was in the hospital, something became very apparent very quickly to my sister and I, and that thing was that Mom needs to get a handle on all the medicine in her life. My sister bought her one of those "old people pill holders," a term I hedge on using because I've found myself within the last month buying not one, but two old people pill holders (OPPH). I don't take any medicine per se, but I pop vitamins all day long, and if I get busy I tend to forget them. Therefore I bought two OPPHs, one for home and one for work, to house and remind me of the multivitamin, calcium, vitamin C, fancy-ass expensive iron, vitamin B12, and I-Caps I'm supposed to take daily. Guess what. I still forget, but I'm getting better.

Anyway, Mom's OPPH is very advanced, much nicer than mine. It's huge, about the size of a notebook, and has, horizontally, all the days of the week, and vertically, "morning," "noon," "evening," and "bedtime."

Now about Mom in the hospital. I kind of blame them and not her. She was of course supposed to take her medicines with her when she went in last week, and she did, in a plastic bag. The morning of her heart cath she and the nurses went over everything she takes, it was all written down and scheduled, and that was fine. However, they didn't take her plastic bag of medicine away from her, they left it right on the table by her bed, beside Huckleberry Hound. And so when my mom decided it was time to take one of her medications, and the nurse wasn't right there with the pill, she'd reach in the bag and grab one and take it. We spoke to Huckleberry about biting her hand, or even growling, when this happened, but Huckie's way too nice to do such a thing.

So when the nurses would come in with her medicine, she would say she'd already taken it. Which is good, I guess, but to be honest, none of us knew if she was double-taking or missing out or what. So the sister and I decided when we got home someone had to be the Pill Nazi. And for some strange reason, I just assumed it would be her. I mean, she's older, and she tends to be the General where these things are concerned.

However, as of Friday she had not volunteered to be the Pill Nazi, and so I realized it would fall to me. And I headed over there after work to get out the big OPPH and the 17 bottles of medication and have at it. Heil me.

And as a task, it wasn't the worst thing in the world. I guess what was bad about it was that she's now on a little combination of Plavix and two low-dose aspirin per day, a combination the doctors stressed to her could not be missed under any circumstance whatsoever, lest she get a blood clot in her stent, have a heart attack, and die. So there I was counting out pills and realizing that basically my mom's life is in my hands.

I spent about an hour counting pills, helping Mom decide when in the day she wanted to take what pill, writing it all down, and putting pills into the OPPH. And I was getting good at it. I was becoming a Pill Nazi to be proud of. Then Dad decided to get into the act. He decided I didn't know what I was doing.

Yes, Dear Old Dad, who raised two daughters and then came to the conclusion that neither of these daughters he raised can do anything right. I'll never understand it.

As one would, I started the pill-placing on Sunday morning. And I ran out of one pill. So I realized that since it was Friday, I had to count how many pills I had of that one type, remove them from their dose boxes in reverse order, and place them starting on Friday to make sure she'd have them on her days she needed them. Seemed very simple to me. Not so to Dad, who, after originally declaring the whole OPPH was a "stupid idea" and that "she's always done fine so far" (remember, my mom had to go have her stomach pumped a few months ago because she took a shitload of the wrong pill), now decided I needed to completely empty the OPPH, start again on Friday, and, well, things went way downhill at that point in the evening.

I told him I knew what I was doing. He swore I did not. I told him to mind his own business. He told me, "Well, I'll just leave, then." To which I replied, "Well, one of us is going to have to, and I'm holding the pills." He left. Of course, he came back a scant five minutes later, but wouldn't talk to me, which was fine, because I was counting out pills and holding my mom's life in my hands.

He finally got over it when I got all the pills placed, went over them all with Mom, every single day at every single time, and got up to leave. But I'll never understand why this man thinks the girls he raised, who own land, are gainfully employed, and can drive, buy liquor, hold a checkbook, and everything, are apparently do-less.


Believe it or not, yesterday was July 28th, and yesterday was also the very first time this year I've had a swim. As you longtime readers know, this is my near-daily summer exercise, done in laps always in multiples of three, for some reason.

However, the beginning of summer was cold, the middle was rainy. I was mowing, pool pH levels were off, and there was always something else going on.

It was very hot yesterday, and I decided I was going to swim, no matter what. And I did. Well, for a bit.

I swam for about 20 minutes and boy, am I out of shape. My shoulder hurt right off the bat, I was winded after about ten minutes, I was thrashing around in there like a speared marlin, and finally, thankfully, it began to rain. Sometimes I can swim in the rain, if it doesn't impede my sight, but this rain was needly. Like little needles hitting my skin, or at least I told myself that, so I packed it up and came home, dejected. Not that I had to quit, but that I wanted to quit. I normally hate to have to stop swimming around, back and forth, mind focused on nothing more than counting laps.

I went back today and had a much better time of it. I swam for about 40 minutes, did about 10 more of what I call "kick laps," which means holding onto my water bar-bells and doing laps only by kicking, then I did about 10 minutes of water bar-bell resistance stuff with my arms. It was nice.

And in what will shock you all, and me too, to be honest, I didn't count laps. I didn't worry about doing 30 or 39 or 42 or 45 laps. I just swam. I went for time. That means I have to find something else to be anal about.


Now, I have my moments of sheer exasperation where my sister is concerned, there's no denying it, but along with that I've always been up front in saying that we are also capable of really having a good time together. We were, of course, thrown together during the whole Mom Hospitalization Thing, we shared a room at the hotel and hung out together when Mom was in surgery, or sleeping.

When I got to the hotel on Sunday night, the sister was already there. She had the TV tuned to "Mad Men," a show she loves and I had never seen. I wasn't keen on watching a marathon of episodes of a show I'd never seen, but didn't have the gumption to challenge it, and so I laid on my assigned bed and watched. Sister told me about all the characters, their stories up to that point, stuff that had already happened, and I found myself really getting to like the show. We watched till just past midnight, when we knew we should be asleep (we had to be up at 5:30), and of course, I promised myself to watch the show's season two premiere this past Sunday and forgot.

Even though we turned the TV off around 12:30, we still didn't get to sleep till around 3:00 because we just got the damn helpless giggles and giggled for 2 1/2 hours, till our bodies ached, over the fact that we're both so damn old we can't stand to sleep under covers anymore. Now, I've always been one who likes a cold room, but the sister never has been. However, she is four years my senior, and whatever old womanly things I have beginning in my system are now raging in hers, and when I got to that hotel room she'd already arrived at, it was about 40 degrees and the air conditioning was going so hard it was rattling the windows, blowing the curtains, and sounding like an airplane getting ready for takeoff. And fine with me.

But when we got into bed, the sheets and blanket were tucked under the mattress so tight, and so far up the bed, we couldn't move once we were tucked in. It was like lying in a manila envelope. The sister and I both have a theory, a theory about old women trying to salvage at least 10 minutes of sleep a night - "If you can just get one leg out of the covers, you have a chance." OK, it's not so encouraging, but it's something.

Anyway, these sheets and blanket were tucked in so tight we were in our beds, feet and arms flailing, and we couldn't get anything out of the sheets. It took about 20 minutes of mass body pandemonium before we could emerge a leg. And even then, along with all the sounds of an overworked air conditioner you'd hear a random, "Shiiiiiiiiiiit," or, "Holy God in Heaven," or, "Is it me? Is it just me?" till we both finally fell off, well, maybe not fell off to sleep so much as just blacked out from the lack of oxygen in all that giggling.

Public Access:

And speaking of fun with the sister, we found ourselves together in a different room in the same hotel on Tuesday night. A room just like the first only everything was reversed from where it was the other night, and the air conditioner was quieter and seemed to work better. The sheets were still stapled to the mattress, up to our necks, and we still had to pull and tug and kick and giggle our way to some kind of comfort.

Again we needed to get to sleep fairly early, but we found ourselves channel surfing in the bed at around 10:30. Cooking, movies, news, baseball, music videos, boring stuff, and then we hit Channel 78. That's really all we knew about it, it was Channel 78. We found ourselves watching, well, I found it on youtube later, watching this very thing. We laid there in our respective beds, mouths hanging open, silent, until our eyes finally caught up together and we lost it in howls of laughter. What the hell show was this? The music clip (if you didn't care to follow the link, though you really should), was some men on a porch playing banjos and guitars, singing about "Grandpa's Crack," because a revenuer caught Grandpa making moonshine and now Grandpa makes crack, singing this tome to Grandpa's crack while a girl did a jig on the porch of a dilapidated house. That clip ended and led us to two men in a studio, men in bibbed overalls and sporting fake "Billy Bob" teeth, teeth that fit so badly they wouldn't stay in while the men were talking and therefore we couldn't understand a word the men said. That clip led to this one (which you should also watch, because really, you need to know what we were seeing to understand the reaction), called "Dragstrip Angel" and contained a chorus that has perhaps the best lyric in the world, "Dragstrip Angel, Dragstrip Angel, killed on the quarter mile."

Finally the sister could take it no more and climbed out of our stapled sheets to see what network we were watching. "Oh my Lord. It's local access."

Well, that explained a lot, but it was still about the weirdest thing I've ever seen on the TeeVee. Well, up to that point in my life.

Because at 11:30 the Billy Bob teeth guys ended their show and another show started, something called the Charles Cullen Show. I know this because it said so on the screen. It also said it was written by Charles Cullen, directed by Charles Cullen, the music was by Charles Cullen, and on and on. The Charles Cullen show was the scariest, worst, and most bizarre thing I've ever seen in my life, and oddly enough, I mean that in a really good way. If I had access to this show on my television I'd watch it every night, even the repeats.

According to his website, which you'll never guess but it's called charlescullen.com, Mr Cullen is a musician and chicken farmer. His show is a combination of musical numbers and skits featuring puppets. I don't know if the puppets are made by Mr Cullen, there was nothing I saw that said "puppets by Charles Cullen," but one puppet was a ventriloquist's dummy named Mr Stitches, and Mr Stitches was an evil, evil puppet. He told us that all those sounds kids hear in the night that parents tell them are the wind or the heater is actually him coming to get them. There was another set of puppets called The Puritans, and they're on youtube as well, although this is a different sketch than we saw in the hotel room.

The musical numbers were something along the lines of this, although this song, about Mr Cullen being shot in the head while performing, was a little gorier than the one we saw. The number we saw was called "Grandaddy Bought Me A Copperhead," and was about, believe it or not, Charles's grandaddy buying him a copperhead. At a sale at the Pentecostal Holiness Church.

And like I said, it was awful and bizarre, but there's a certain comfort I find in knowing there are people like Charles Cullen in the world, and even more comfort in knowing they live right here next to me in the Bible Belt. So raise your chickens and make your puppet sketches, Mr Cullen. Next time I'm in a hotel room in R'noke, which, no offense, I hope is never, I surely will look for your show.

Thankfully, public access ended at 11:30 and we got to finally fall asleep.

The next day my sister and I were having lunch in the fabulous hospital cafeteria, which had huge windows and overlooked the hospital grounds. An old, weathered, half-rusted van came driving through the parking lot.

"That looks like a van Charles Cullen would drive," I said.

"No. If it was his, it would say 'Van owned by Charles Cullen' on the side," she replied.

See? We have fun.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, if people really were ideally suited for their jobs, what would GW be doing instead of being president?
- Honorable Mentions go to the dishy Michelle, with her "Dying Peacefully, Amen," and DeepFatFriar with his "Dromedary Piss Analyst," though I think DFF is a little lofty is W's abilities.
- Runners-Up go to Patrick (my little Patrick), with his "Dethroned President At-large," and LilyG, with her "Driving People Around."
- And this week's winner is Kellie with an ie, with her "Dog Park Assistant."
- A couple of you came close to my own for that, which was "Deputy Parking Attendant."
- Thanks to all who played! You've all done very well!


Monday, July 28, 2008


Hello, lovers of letters, and welcome to another short round of acromania. I'm already 10 minutes past HRT (hucklebug recording time).

This week's acrotopic comes to us courtesy of Mr M. "If People Held Jobs They Were Really Suited For, What Would George W Bush Be Doing Instead Of Being President Of The US?"

It's long, I know. Believe me, I know. I typed it.

Anyway, the rules are as always. Everyone gets three entries to try and come up with the best acronym they can, one that matches both the topic above and the letters below. The letters are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket is ideally suited to his job. Tomorrow at 10:00 pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners.

The topic - "If People Held Jobs They Were Really Suited For, What Would George W Bush Be Doing Instead Of Being President Of The US?" The letters:


There you go. Let's get the man a new job. We're eight years too late already.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to another Picture Sunday in Betland.

I need to start things off with some thank yous and apologies. Thanks to everyone who sent along good thoughts and wishes to my mom, aka Granny. And apologies as well, because I know I should have come along one day last week to update you all on the situation. Things were just very hectic in Betland, and even when I was in town I was trying to get caught up on all the stuff I fell behind on when I was out of town.

For the interested, the story goes like this.

My mom was having a heart cath Monday in R'noke. The family went down the night before, as it's a 2-hour drive and she had to be there at 6:30am. She had the procedure, and the news wasn't good. Of the three main arteries leading to the heart, one was blocked 90%. One was blocked about 60%, and the other was OK. Normally under such conditions, open heart surgery would be the next step. However, the cardiologist and surgeon conferred and decided that Granny (who's not a well woman, as you've heard me say) was too high-risk a case for this. Her psoriasis, age, general condition, it just wasn't optimal. The drugs she's on for the psoriasis would make the risk of infection greater, and would also leave her less able to deal with any infection. They decided to put a stent into the most blocked artery, on Wednesday. They kept her Monday and Tuesday night, since we were so far from the hospital.

I came back home Monday night so I could work on Tuesday, but it was hard leaving. My mom was very weak, having trouble breathing, and was more than a little nervous about it all. She was in capable hands, though, not only the hands of her doctors, but the blue hands of Huckleberry Hound, who went to stay with her in the hospital. (For the uninitiated, Huckleberry stays with any family member in the hospital. He's so far been 100% in the good luck department.)

I went back to R'noke on Tuesday night, and Mom had the stent put in on Wednesday as planned. It went very well. She actually did better overall on Wednesday than she did Monday. In fact, she was a little feisty on Wednesday, and had nurses threatening to tape her head and arms to the bed because she kept trying to sit up. They finally let her sit up around 6pm, and so I left her once again to come back and man my post at TheCompanyIWorkFor on Thursday. My sister brought my mom and dad home Thursday.

And she's been doing pretty good. They said it might take 2 or so weeks for her to start feeling the full effects of the stent, but so far she says she's feeling better, has a little more energy, she got to start driving again on Saturday, and I just saw her today and she's looking well. So I hope this is the beginning of a turnaround I was hoping for.

Friday started to feel like normal again. Mom was home, and Thursday after work I got to go pick up podmobile2 from the shop. The hail dents are gone, $2200 and a new hood later, and I was happy to hand the rented pimpmobile, aka Rockin' Delta Black (thanks, Patrick) back to the rental place.

And Friday - well, you know how you just feel like buying something for no reason in particular? I'd walked down to the pharmacy to get something to drink (yes, my small town's pharmacy has a fountain), and saw something. 50% off, and I was in the mood to hand over some money.

And so - I bought Sherman a horse.

His name is Mr Steed, and he's very soft. He came with his own saddle, and he and Sherman are getting along like a house afire. As you can see from the photo, where they're roaming the vast plains of the Poderosa's driveway. I was hoping Mr Steed would stay tied up outside eating my grass to the point where I wouldn't have to mow it anymore, but I have a feeling that won't be the case and I'll have yet one more border here at the Poderosa. However, he does seem to know a smattering of Spanish and was conversing with Che Guellama earlier today. So maybe he can be the official translator.

Last night was a real treat for me. My first trip to B'burg in over 2 weeks. Off to Mr M's, Poderosa East, to visit with him and - Kellie with an ie! Yes, Kellie was in Raleigh, NC, for work purposes and made a trip up to B'burg to visit. It was so good seeing her again. We all (Mr M, Kellie, me, the kids, and DeepFatFriar) had burgers on the grill and just relaxed and caught up. After the week I'd just endured, it was perfect.

Kellie had to leave, though, way too soon, and Mr M and I squeezed in a few clarinet duets before I headed back home. I would have liked to stay overnight, but I had so many things at home I needed to catch up on, and knew I'd end up lolling around in B'burg today wasting my day away if I stayed. So I high-tailed it back to B'field, got in in the wee morning hours, finished up a Comfy Chair movie, and hit the hay.

Then today it was general housework and recipe making. And yes, folks, an actual recipe du jour is back. No handing Mr Peabody a stick of licorice, no spreading frosting on a rake. I actually cooked for you, dear readers.

Which is not to say I splashed out money-wise. I'm proud to say this little foray into the kitchen cost me nothing. I had everything already at hand. So, I must ask. What does one do when one loves Mexican food but doesn't get nearly enough green vegetables in one's diet? Well, now one takes out this recipe card and makes dinner. From the "Veggies Go Mexican!" file at cardland, will you please welcome into your homes Green Bean Enchilada and Refried Peas.

Well, I honestly don't see how any meal could be healthier than this. And easy? A walk. All you need is to wrap up some green beans in a flour tortilla, slap some enchilada sauce on it, and sprinkle a little cheese around on it before you throw it in the oven. Then take some peas, drain them, get them really hot, then lard them up and watch them sizzle. Mush 'em to within an inch of their pea lives and you've got refried peas. It never hurts to garnish it all with a little cup of salsa, which has of itself been garnished with some green beans. That's fancier than I make myself in real life.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And yes, all this and a movie too. There's a new feature up at the Comfy Chair Cinema, and I promise you you won't want to miss it. It features some familiar voices and some not-so-familiar faces, and it's called "Sock Puppet Theatre!" Please follow the link and enjoy.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Picture Sunday (ish)

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to a mere shell of a Picture Sunday, put up early because I have to head out of town today.

My mom, aka Granny, goes to R'noke today because tomorrow at dawn she has to have a heart cath. My mom is not a well woman. I'm hoping whatever they find (and they'll find something, I'm just not sure what) is fixable. Keep good thoughts, please.

My dad's birthday was Friday. He's now 79 years old. One away from 80 (I do math so you don't have to!), and frankly, that blows my mind. My dad can not be almost 80 years old. But he is, and we gathered at my sister's house to have dinner and hang out. Since I made a batch of cupcakes over the July 4th weekend and they got the thumbs-up from the recipients, I thought I'd make another batch for last night. Where they seemed to be enjoyed by all.


Just like with biscuits and gravy, fries and ketchup, or most other things that go together, seems like when you run out of one you always have some of the other left. This time for me it was icing. All cupcakes adorned, and I still had a dollop of icing left. If that's not a recipe du jour opportunity, I don't know what is.

And so this week's recipe du jour, from the "Implements of Sweetness" file at cardland, would you please say hello to The Icing On The Rake.

All you need for this is a little icing and a little rake. I used Sherman's gardening rake for this one. Well, I did once I found it. It was in doubt for a little while, and I walked through the house reciting the alphabet. "The icing on the fake, the icing on the hake, the icing on the lake...." Just when I thought I was going to have to use one of the rubber duckies in my bathroom for The Icing On The Drake, I found the rake. Hallelujah.

Happy week, and keep good thoughts for my mom, please.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* There will be no new movie at the Comfy Chair Cinema this week, owing to the fact that I've got a lot on my plate with family at the moment and I couldn't come up with an idea. Never fear! We shall return!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You Can't Go Home Again. Nor Should You Want To.

I did something this past weekend I swore I'd never ever do. I mean, really, never ever, as long as breath drew in and out of this shell I inhabit.

I went to my class reunion.

For those of you who keep count, it was the 30 year reunion. Which absolutely blows my mind when I think about it, but I guess time does pass and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

Anyway, the thing about never ever going to a reunion, well, it was what it was. There was nothing belligerent about it. I never said, "Ehh, that bunch of shits, I don't want to associate with them anymore under any circumstances." It was just something that held no interest for me.

When I was in high school I was, as you might imagine, a middler. I wasn't popular or shunned. I had friends, got along fine, got good grades, played in the band, and although I'm sure at the time there had to have been some drama here and there (I mean, it was high school after all), I really enjoyed my years at old Graham High. I was happy there. So happy, in fact, that had it been an option I'd have checked the "Stay Here Forever" block on my Life Sheet.

That's not an option though, as we all know, and I graduated, and the strangest thing happened. I had absolutely no desire to ever go back.

And I mean go back into the building. I can remember the first time I did go back into the building. The Nephew's first-ever school program. He was in kindergarten, so it would have been about 1994. I walked in, through the back door that leads to the cafeteria, walked down the short hall to the auditorium, sat down, boo-hooed like a baby when my 5-year old nephew sang "The Reindeer Twist" with his class in the Christmas program, then got up and walked out. Not so much as a look around to see how things had changed. In fact, until The Nephew marched in the high school marching band, I don't guess I'd been to more than three football games.

(An aside, because you all know how I love a good aside: To completely date myself, that back door that led to the cafeteria, in my day, had an actual smoking port. Kids could, if they had a note from the parents, go outside and just light one right up. You show me a school who has that nowadays and you win the fur-lined pisspot with the stucco handle.)

The ten-year reunion came and went, as did the twenty. I filled out the little questionnaires, well, one that I know of, probably both, but my RSVP always said no. For the ten, I had a legitimate excuse. My friend Tina was visiting from England and I was taking her up and down the Eastern Seaboard. In fact, during that visit we had a great conversation about the differences between England and the US. As Tina so eloquently put it, "You're so gung-ho about everything here. You actually go back and visit with the people from your school? At home it's, 'Goodbye, don't come back,' and they kick your arse out the door."

For the twenty I also had something better to do, which was either sitting at home watching a movie or going to bed early. I can't remember which.

And so the thirty loomed over me. Well, I say that like it was there and I was thinking about it, on the horns of a dilemma. I wasn't. I had no intention of going. In fact, I'd already gotten my little packet and RSVP'd no thanks. Then my sister had a conversation with me one day a few weeks ago, and it started like this: "Listen, I'm just saying this to keep my promise, so here it is. I talked to Scott [one of the four or so reunion coordinators] this weekend, and he said you have to come to the reunion. He was adamant about it, so there. I told you."

"Yep, OK," I said. "You kept your promise." But I knew I'd keep mine, too. No reunions for me.

And then a few really strange things happened, things that normally wouldn't have had the slightest effect on my changing my mind.

The first was that as I was buying groceries one afternoon after work, I ran smack-dab, buggy to buggy, into Rhonda. I graduated with Rhonda, and though she lives here, I hadn't seen her since graduation. She looked beautiful, just like 30 years ago, but with a face that had more wit and wisdom and life to it. It was so sweet and warm and familiar. I had a hard time getting it out of my mind.

The next was that I happened onto the reunion website. I'd been there, briefly, to fill out my questionnaire and say "thanks but no thanks," but for some reason I went back to it. Maybe to make sure that really was a picture of Tom Waits in all the old musical acts at the top of the page. I started reading the guestbook and seeing words from people I spent all those years with back when we were kids.

Then one day last week, probably Thursday, I had a small conversation with the brother-in-law by phone. Something very short and inconsequential, but in it he said, "You know, Scott and David [another coordinator] said you have to go to the reunion. Did you know Taylor's DJing at the dinner-dance on Saturday?" And why that started to turn my head, well, I was going to say I didn't know, but I probably do. I mean, it's The Nephew. I figured, "Hey, if I go to that thing and no one wants to talk to me, I can just hang out with Taylor and we'll spin songs of the 70s."

And that thought had no more than entered and left my head when it hit me. Is that it? Is that why I have no desire to do these things? I don't feel interesting or important enough for anyone to enjoy the fact that I'm there? And absolutely, by damn, for the first two reunions that was the case. I'd been thinking I'd have nothing in common or nothing to say to my former classmates, but the case was that I didn't think they'd have anything they'd want to say to me. And it was at that point, sitting there at my desk at TheCompanyIWorkFor, that I had something of an epiphany.

Good God's Hat, I really have grown in the past few years. Because I kind of started thinking this time around things could be different. Not because suddenly people would want to say things to me, but because I didn't really care if they wanted to or not. Because I knew I who was, and have kind of started to like that person.

I went home and looked at that reunion website again.

However, my dear blogees, you know me. And you'd be sorely disappointed if the story ended there, with me all confident and signing up to go with a swagger in my typing. No, I waited till Friday afternoon, bought a ticket, and immediately started to think, "There. I bought a ticket. Now I can go or not, and I probably won't. Maybe I'll go late, after dinner, have a drink, then come back home. Maybe I'll go very late, just as the bar's closing. Maybe I'll just sit in the parking lot and watch people go in and out."

See, you knew I wouldn't let you down, didn't you?

And it really wasn't till Saturday morning that I decided for sure I'd go. In the afternoon I started getting ready for the 6:00 event, got dressed, and was sure to load my iPod with all the songs from my "Memory Lane" file, because apparently now Djing doesn't involve records so much as it involves computers and iPods, and I wanted Taylor to have some songs from the day. I hit the road, got to the spot on the Betty Bet Bet Inspirational Highway where you turn right to go up the hill to the hotel where it was....

And I turned left.

I went to the parking lot of K-Mart and had a cigarette. I couldn't help it. Well, half a cigarette, but that was all I needed.

I pulled into the hotel parking lot, and a car pulled in and parked right beside me. A man was in that car. I was getting my pocketbook and all my stuff ready, and somehow hit the car alarm on Podmobile2. It was ungodly loud. I thought, "Oops, sorry, guy beside me," and when I got out of the car, I saw that guy was Jackson. My first friendly face, and I had someone to walk in with.

And my fine feathereds, I have to tell you, walking into that room was a revelation. There were those people I went to school with, all looking beautiful and handsome and happy. The first person to point at me and come up to say hi was Cline, who I thought wouldn't have remembered who I was in a hundred years. Then up came Todd, and Teresa, and Teresa (why don't people name their kids Teresa nowadays?), and Rita, and Joann, and of course Scott, who I don't think was expecting me even though I bought that last-minute ticket.

I inched my way to the bar (womaned by Kim, also in our class) for a, and Stennie, get this, glass of wine. (For those who don't listen to the Hucklebug, I've been forbidden by Stennie to drink wine when we record because you can't shut me up afterwards.) Kim's idea of a glass of wine was about a half bottle, by the way, and for this I will always love her. Then Scott took me aside and pointed me towards the room and made me play the "Can You Guess Who That Is" game, which I passed with flying colors. In fact, I won, a victory of pride only, but still satisfying. There was only one person I missed. For me, it was a walk. All these people looked just as I remembered them except (just like Rhonda) happy and more relaxed and grown into themselves.

A little later, Lisa and Prissy showed up. When I was at Graham, there were seven of us girls who were inseparable. Lisa, Prissy, and I were the only three there, but it was so good to see them. It had been years.

(Aside #2! There was a point where The Nephew took my car keys to go get the iPod filled with 70s music, and suddenly people started pulling out their iPods. "I have the Eagles!" "I have Boston!" The Class of '78 goes 21st century.)

We had dinner at tables, then afterwards we all went outside for a picture, and when we returned we all table-switched and everyone got a chance to talk to everyone else. And that's what I think I'll remember most about my 30-year reunion. There were no drawn lines anymore. No cliques. No jocks, stoners, rednecks, popular kids, rich kids, poor kids, nerds, or bullies. There were no "How come you never married/had kids/left B'field" questions, no long-winded "Ahh, I remember when" spiels, no "I made $250,000 this year, you know" disclosures. No one was trying to impress anyone else.

We just had fun.

And then the adorable DJ packed up and left, and so did the most of the people, and David reminded me for the third time that I didn't stop smiling and laughing the entire night. And I'm sure he was right.

At the end, there were just handful left. Maybe five. I was one of them.

And so, as I said to start it all, you can't go home again. You can't go back and dwell on your high school days. Nor should you want to. But that doesn't mean you can't have a hell of a good time with the people who went through it all with you.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! And boy, look at the entries! So, what should I name my rental car?
- Honorable Mention goes to LilyG, with her, "Royale Dyn-o-mite Buggy" (the "e" on royale was a nice touch).
- Runner-Up goes to Michelle (the dishy), with her, "Rough Dastardly Bastard."
- And this week's winner is Patrick (my little Patrick), with his, "Rockin' Delta Black." I could definitely call this car that, and in fact, from now on, I want you all to call me that as well.
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!


Monday, July 14, 2008


Hello acroees, acroers, acroites, and lovers of letters everywhere. Welcome to another round of acromania.

Well, you know, I have a car. My car is Podmobile2. He replaced Podmobile. Today I had to leave Podmobile2 at the shop to have all the hail dents sucked out of him, and that's a lot of sucking, so I don't know how long he'll be there. In the interim, I got a rental.

When I got to the rental place, a guy looked at me, said, "We have your car ready for you!" and with a twinkle in his eye that was more than a little cruel, he said, "How'd you like a nice Impala!"

I replied that I didn't care as long as it wasn't a van and got me where I needed to be. Then I went outside and saw the car.

I thought, "Holy shit, this is a Pimpmobile." I got in, it's like a boat inside, if your boat has reddish faux-wood on the dash, and started down the highway. I turned on the radio and it was tuned to the classic rock station. Immediately Billy Squire's "Everybody Wants You" started to play, and I cranked up the volume and began to wave at people. All I needed was a feather boa and a long diamond-studded cigarette holder.

So the Pimpmobile I have. Unless you can think up a better name. This week's acrotopic - "Name My Rental Car."

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can. It must match the topic above and the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket asked that I don't take him out in public in that car. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I'll be reading the entries and judging.

The Topic? "Name My Rental Car." The letters:


There you go. Now acro.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to a very special edition of Picture Sunday.

As you all know, Mr M's clarinet recital was this week. It was Thursday. I had to work, but left about an hour early, sped home, changed into something recital-like, and hit the road to B'burg.

I got there a little early, so I stopped at Mr M's house, aka Poderosa East, instead of heading straight to the church where the recital was held. Things were calm, DeepFatFriar was there watching a movie, so I took a seat on the comfy leather chair and relaxed, and in about 20 minutes we headed out to the church.

I had a distinct mission for the pre-concert stuff this time around. I had decided to stay out of Mr M's face as much as possible. Last year it seems like I was around him at every turn leading up to the performance, he was nervous, it made me nervous, and so this time around we did a quick tune in the practice room, then I wished him luck and headed out to the sanctuary. Where I looked up at the church's gigantic speakers hanging from the ceiling and thought, "Holy crap, those look like giant iPods."

I was third on the program. It was a very different type of recital this time around. And this is all my own opinion, without confirmation or denial from Mr M. See, last year when he decided to have a recital, he wanted to prove something. He wanted to prove he could do it. It was quite formal, even though his speaking in between songs was friendly and charming, and the list of music played was Herculean. There was a lot of it and it was loaded with flashy, difficult, "looky what I can do" passages. And don't get me wrong, it was great, he played it well, and it was enjoyable.

But this year it was less stiff. The music was, on the whole, more modern and accessible. There was some beautiful stuff in there. Some flashy and hard stuff too, and some deceivingly hard stuff. The banter was light and funny, and I think everyone there really enjoyed themselves.

But you want to know about me, don't you? Did I play well, or did I fall apart?

As you know from my last blog, my goal was to have fun and not worry so much about it, and I achieved that goal. I had fun all right. Did I play well? Well, you'll have to decide that on down the page. I thought was playing well. In fact, I was burning it. It's funny how you play something like that "when it counts," and after you've played about the first four notes you can tell by the way they sound that you're going to do really, really well. It just feels right.

Mr M (who forgot his music and had to look off my stand) and I were just playing up and down, weaving in and out of passages, we were in tune, it was just great. Then it came to the beginning of my solo. The one I'd alternately played well and shitty, depending on the day. I started it, and it was kickin'. I played all through it, got back to the part where Mr M took the lead and I was dipping around behind him, I got to the end of a line, my eyes headed down to the first measure of the next line, I played the first two notes...

...and then I realized, "Oh shit, I've forgotten how to play the clarinet."

And then a couple of amazing things happened. One of which I'm very proud. The first was that after those first two notes, there was complete silence. And yes, friends, fun I was having, in fact, I seemed to be having so much fun that during that silence, I began to laugh. However, what made me proud is that even during my laugh I was keeping time, and I came right back in, right in time, into the next measure, and played well to the end. Also however, my laugh threw Mr M off a bit, and he had trouble with that next measure where I came back in. So a bird hit the windshield, but it didn't make us wreck.

People seemed to like it, or at least were very kind and complimentary to me about it, and in fact, I don't think I've ever had so many nice things said to me in one night. I'm surprised I didn't explode. Between the fact that they all apparently thought I clean up very well and played a good duet, I got some very nice things said to me by nice people.

Mr M finished on with the rest of the recital, which featured a barn-burning clarinet duet between him and his friend David Neithamer (hey, piss off, David!), everyone was happy and satisfied, and we all went back to Poderosa East afterwards for a little reception where ESP had laid out a beautiful spread of goodies. (Including the biggest and tastiest strawberries I've ever seen.)

So, first, some pictures. Here's the four of us who participated. Cara, the pianist (a really lovely person, editor of Blue Ridge Magazine, and woman who has actually interviewed the Hackensaw Boys!), David N (hey, piss off, David!), Sherman, me, and Mr M.

Now, I have to tell you something funny about this. It was not my idea that Sherman find his way into the picture. See, of course, some of the boys came along for the recital, Sherman, Peabody, Huckie, Good Luck Baby Lily, and at his first recital, Bunsen.

(Notice Huckie has his hankie at the ready. Remember, he got a little weepy last year.) Anyway, when we started posing for after-recital pictures, David (hey, piss off, David!) said, "Hey, give me one of those characters!" Of course Sherman was the only choice, and he held him for all the photos.

Here's one of Mr M and I during the duet.

And here's a photo of Mr M and I afterwards. I got flowers from him, he got flowers from an audience member. Since this was at a church and we're on the altar having pictures made, he in tux, us with our flowers, I like to refer to this as our "wedding photo."

Of course, us being us, we couldn't let well enough alone, and decided that if the above was our wedding photo, these would be our "what happened approximately four minutes after the wedding" photos.

And a good time was had by all.

I'm afraid there is no recipe du jour tonight, simply for the fact that I didn't feel like doing one today. I didn't feel like doing anything today, and so I didn't. Not a thing. So there!

Finally, here is where you can go hear Mr M's and my duet from the recital. And by the way, the blunder where I was having so much fun I laughed? You can hear it.

Views of the Blues, mvt III

All that and a Comfy Chair Cinema movie. I filmed the barn-burner duet between Mr M and David (hey, piss off, David!) from the recital, and you should go and take a look. I mean, if you want to see how real clarinet players do a piece.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Big news. Mowed my yard Friday, and in the back yard, saw something near my mower that I almost bent down to pick up and throw out of the mower's path - until I realized it was a snake. Yes, Mr Snake is back, well, let me explain, this snake was so exceedingly small it didn't even make me scream, it was no longer than about 10 inches, and was slithering to a crack in the concrete on the back porch. So I don't really have a Mr Snake so much as a Master Snake. I googled him and found out he's apparently a ringneck snake, a harmless and non-poisonous number described as "secretive." Hope so. Actually, I hope I was just an overnight stop on his way elsewhere.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thoughts Of A Woman Who Hasn't Blogged In A While

It's been a while since I sat down here and actually wrote something, so I'm making myself do so tonight. A couple of things that are on my mind....

There's a commercial that plays on our local TV station. It's for an area funeral home. Normally when funeral home commercials come on the screen I change the channel, because frankly, I don't want to think about funeral homes. But this one came on one morning while I was getting dressed and I didn't get a chance to reach for the remote.

Now that I've seen it, there's no going back.

I don't know why it strikes me like it does. I guess because it's so peppy. It says, "We're a funeral home and crematorium! It's a perfect combination!"

It's creepy. It's also not true.

I mean, a funeral home and crematorium is a natural combination, right? It's not a perfect combination, like chocolate and peanut butter, or jeans and tennis shoes. A funeral home and crematorium should be together. If they're on opposite sides of town, that's just silly. "OK, burners on the west side of town, planters on the east." Silly.

To me, a "perfect combination" would be something like a full-service garage and spa. You take your car in for an overhaul, then go upstairs and have an overhaul yourself.

Or a 1-hour dry cleaners and pedicure station. You know, lay the dirty clothes on the counter, go sit down, relax, pop off your shoes, and by the time your toenail polish is dry, your clothes are clean.

How about a dog boarding kennel and obedience school? Go on vacation a couple of weeks, board the unruly dog, then come back home and pick up a mother's angel.

My brother-in-law always thought the perfect combination would be a laundromat and sports bar. Stick the clothes in the washer and head over for a beer and to watch the game. I have a feeling somewhere in America at least one of those exists nowadays.

Years ago my sister and I came up with the idea of a clothes library. You check out clothes, be they wedding dresses, formal attire, or work suits, wear them, have them cleaned (perhaps at the pedicure dry cleaners), then return them. Stick the clothes library with a beauty salon or a shoe store. There's a perfect combination.

Saying a funeral home and crematorium are a perfect combination is like saying a station that sells gas and has air pumps has a perfect combination. There's no imagination.

As some of you may know, one of the reasons I seem to be away from blogland lately is because I've been trying to get ready for this recital I'm playing with Mr M. Now, let's get this right out of the way - I'm only playing one song in the recital. God help us all if I was playing more. Just the one has me goofy enough.

I was at my hinkiest weekend before last. Nothing was going right. I couldn't play it fast enough. Every piece of advice Mr M gave me I concentrated on, then screwed up everything else. I was argumentative, I was bitchy, I was pretty much unbearable.

Last week, Wednesday to be exact, he did a preview of a good deal of his recital at a retirement community where the Community Band plays a lot. It was a great setting to play in front of an audience without the formality of what was to come. He asked me if I'd like to do our number there, and I said yes. It would be good practice.

And it was. It could have been better, that's for sure, but it could have been worse. Mr M seemed to think I did just fine, but I know where I messed up. Flubbed two passages and squeaked in two.

But you know, it has - for now, anyway - helped with the nerves.

LilyG and I have had conversations from time to time I like to call WWTCH. What's the Worst That Can Happen. You know, I worry a lot about a lot of things, and sometimes I have to step back and use Lily's phrase. What's the worst that can happen. That came in handy on Wednesday, and I realized a couple of things after I'd played.

So - what is the worst than can happen?

I guess that I'd get totally lost in the piece and we'd have to stop and start over. I'd ruin Mr M's recital.

No I wouldn't. I'd look like a big-ass fool, but I'm only one part of his long recital. Only he can ruin his recital.

So, I'd look like a big-ass fool. I'd be embarrassed. I don't think that's exactly the end of my life.

And you know what? Clarinet players squeak. They don't want to - I don't want to. But it happens, and if it does, there's not a thing I can do about it. I can't go back and make it not have happened.

And as far as flubbing lines, this was perhaps the best revelation that came from playing on Wednesday. Those people in the audience don't know the music we're playing. They don't have it in front of them, printed in the program. If I flub a measure or two and keep swaying around like I'm nailing it, what the hell are they going to know any different, right?

So right now I'm pretty calm. I played the piece over twice tonight, and I didn't go into serious practice. No taking of specific measures and working on them. When I do that, that's when I start thinking too much and it all goes to hell.

So my goal for the recital is to have fun. If I have fun, the audience will too, and maybe I'll play it well, and maybe I won't. Hell, maybe Mr M will flub a measure. Then we can compare mistakes afterwards.

Anyway, it all comes off Thursday, so keep a good thought. I should have tapes, so I'll find a way to get them posted so you can hear. If it stinks, I'll put up the one from last Wednesday. Because, you know, I do have a little pride.

Finally, there is a new movie up at the Comfy Chair Cinema. It's called "Game Night!" and it's certainly not my best effort. But what the hell. Hey, what's the worst than can happen - you won't like it?

Go and give it a try.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! Wow, the entries! So, tell us all the title of the movies about your life.
- Honorable Mentions go to Patrick, with his, "Tedious Acts of Rare Excitement," (the closest to what mine would be, actually), and DeepFatFriar, with his, "That Asshat? Ongoing Relentless Ennui." (Can't go wrong using "asshat," I say.)
- Runners-Up go to LilyG, with her, "Taking Advantage Of Righteous Education," (that's a Yalie for you), and Mike the blogless, with his, "The Antagonizing Of Roger Ebert."
- And this week's winner goes to Stennie, with her, "The Adventures of Raving Egomaniac!" (I actually loved "This Ain't Over, Ralph Edwards," and I'm asking to borrow that for the title of my autobiography, but for Stennie, well, the winner was the winner.)
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!


Monday, July 07, 2008


Hello, acroites, and welcome to another round of acromania.

Time is short tonight (I know you're sick of hearing me say that, but it seems to always be the case), so let's get right to it.

An agent called. He called me. I swear he did. He told me Hollywood wants to make a movie of your life story. You don't get much say in the matter except the title. This week's acrotopic? "The Title of the Movie of Your Life Story."

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic, but also the letters below. They're drawn from the acrobasket. Whose biographical movie was called, "He Held Him Some Letters." I'll be reading the entries at 10:00 est tomorrow night, and naming the winners.

The acrotopic? "The Title of the Movie of Your Life Story." The letters:


There you go. Get thinking and acro!


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, make that end of long weekenders, and welcome to another edition of Picture Sunday.

It was a glorious long weekend here at the Poderosa. I did a little early celebrating Thursday by going to the grocery and trimming weeds around the Pod. A batch of cupcakes and preparing for the 4th on Friday.

When I was off to see the Hackensaw Boys!

Now, could there be any better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than seeing the Hackensaws? I submit to you that there cannot. They were in the tiny but teeming town of Floyd, VA. We (Mr M and I and the 2 kids in his charge this summer) got there just as the doors had opened.

We went in, I got a beer, and we spotted Ferd outside on the porch. We went to say hey, and did, where we learned a very interesting fact via Mr M. Out of the blue, Mr M said, "Ferd - what do you do for fun?" We learned that he likes to cook, all day long. So there. Spits, or Ward, was strolling around the porch playing guitar. It was very pleasant.

But soon enough it was time to go inside and get things started. And may I just say the boys were in fine form and played one of the best sets of songs I've ever seen them play. They did stuff they don't always do, still kept all the stalwarts in, and a fine time was had by all.

Twice. Because the boys decided to play one set from 8 till about 9:30, then we all disbanded and went outside to watch the fireworks. Then we came back inside where they played till about 11. They did encores out in the crowd, and then, when we thought it was all over, somehow they all ended up back onstage and did two or three more. They played their hearts out.

Pictures? Of course, are you kidding?

First of all, let's give a little shout-out to Mahlon Hackensaw. He doesn't get a lot of pictures here for some reason, and I don't know why that is. The boys are doing a couple of new songs in their set, one of them is his, and it's great.

At one point, Ferd decided to switch his normal fedora for a special July 4th hat.

Lovely. And speaking of lovely, how about a shot of Baby J warming up during the fireworks break?

Sean, or Plang Tang, did the same thing. A man and his banjo.

And a couple of action shots.

It was a great night, and it ended with me getting a giggle out of Baby J and Salvage when I couldn't pass up a photo op. Before they came out into the crowd, the Boys decided to play an accoustic song right on the edge of the stage. I noticed some laughing, in the crowd, and realized it was because those two onstage were having a giggle at Sherman, who'd decided to perch on Baby J's foot. (And no, the beer is not Sherman's.)

And then home. Where!....

I spent the entire day Saturday debating whether to go see the Hackensaws again. Saturday night they were playing a venue I went to last year, a place called Wildwater Expeditions. It's outside on a lawn at a whitewater rafting place on the New River.

I'd have to go by myself, and it was supposed to rain that night, and then there was the expense, and as both Mr M and my buddy Stennie can tell you, I debated with everyone whether or not to go.

I finally decided at the last minute to head out that way. The very last minute. And I'm glad I did. It was another night of Hackensawing, of fun and music and dancing, and it was a great weekend.

Today was doing all those things I didn't take time to do over the weekend. (Can anyone say laundry?) Generally a podding around the house day.

And now folks, I have a major announcement to make. And I don't know how much it will mean to you, but I'm telling you, I think it's going to change my life.

I know I've alluded here in the old blog about how the recipe du jour, though I do love it, is a pain in the ass. And this is why. Every time there is a recipe in the blog, it gets there by these methods.

- I think up the recipe.
- I make the recipe.
- I take the recipe's picture.
- I upload the photo.
- I go to Paint Shop Pro, where I resize, re-pixel, lighten, and sharpen the picture to get it ready for printing.
- I save the picture.
- I go to Word, where I open a new document, type the heading of the recipe card, and insert the picture.
- I print the document on photo paper, hoping the picture is light enough and sharp enough.
- I trim the document and so it looks like a recipe card.
- I scan the card and save it back into my computer.
- I put it into Picture Sunday.

I've been doing this for about 2 ½ years now, and for about 2 ½ years, I've been thinking there has to be a better way. But I couldn't figure out what it would be. In fact, I couldn't figure out how to even start figuring out what that better way would be.

Well, today - I did. I went to Paint Shop Pro and just worked around with trial and error and messing things up starting over until I found a way to do the whole recipe du jour without printing or scanning.

Can you imagine? No more buying expensive photo paper! No more running ink cartridges dry! No more worrying about tweaking a picture, hoping it will be halfway decent when printed! No more dealing with scanners, and Word! Work time cut at least in half!

It's a great day.

And it's a great recipe, too. And it comes courtesy of Mr M.

You know, this weekend above all, you understand how sometimes on a hot summer day nothing can beat a good ice cream cone. So from the man who brought you pictures of the Shermanhead peach, Shermanhead pickle, Shermanhead carrot, and Shermanhead squash, would you please say hello to the, from the "Great Summer Treats" file in cardland, Shermanhead Ice Cream Cone.

Thank you, Mr M.

And happy week. (Ye-gods, Monday after a long weekend.)

Betland's Olympic Update:
* There is not a movie at the Comfy Chair Cinema tonight. However, there may well be one tomorrow or Tuesday. Please stay tuned, I'll let you know if it happens.