Monday, March 31, 2008

On being retired ... (or 'semi') ...

Goods and bads, either direction, I guess.

I have spent MANY hours today "shopping" around. (Any of you who know me at all know just how much I love shopping!)

I HATE shopping!!!!!!!!!!

I really dislike using the word "hate" ... think it's abominable, a word to avoid, a feeling that one should not have. Deep down, in the farthest depths of me, I try to not use that word -- or even think of that word! It's so (normally) outside of my everyday vocabulary usage that I have been known to go to great lengths to keep from uttering it.

ToDAY, however, I found myself spending (literally) hours on the phone, talking to receptionists, nurses, whomever the powers that be were that I reached on the phone, asking questions about my "WellCare" coverage.

Did it include this/that? What should I expect? Where do I go from here? Are you sure that I can do this/that?

WHY was I spending so much time on the telephone?

Good question.

I'll answer by saying that I am probably the world's worst procrastinator!! I put off until the very last second/minute/day something that should have been decided long ago.

We are now down to the 'nitty gritty'. Today is the last day to change one's coverage without penalty. Otherwise, one would have to wait until November.

You know what? I think I'm going to wait until November. Meanwhile, I am FULLY informed about all the "---------" that's currently out there, which is a whole lot more than I could have said for myself three months ago!

Fairy tales

I'm going to post this under "Funny things".

See "My first year teaching", posted January 27th, this year, for my account of a story my principal had related to me of "The Three Little Pigs" -- a story, he said, that he had heard first-hand, while he was 'observing' (circa 60-70-80 years ago, now, as of this writing).

You know, the thought of Grimm being the author of fairy tales was ALWAYS appalling to me. WHY should fairy tales necessarily be "grim"?

All that aside, and I hope you have gone back to read my post of 1/27/08, I would like to introduce you to (if you haven't already been so introduced!) an author that lends (in my opinion) a great deal of humor. I should say 'leant', as he is no longer with us, I'm sorry to say ... said author is James Thurber.

The story of which I'm speaking is the one about "Little Red Riding Hood". You know, the one where this sweet young thing goes through the woods on the way to her grandmother's house, gathering flowers, merrily skipping along, thinking cheery thoughts about her life and her grandmother, etc??

That's the one. You've got it!

All right. So, on she goes ... collecting, skipping, going along her way, and very much looking forward to seeing her beloved grandmother.

She gets to her grandmother's house and goes inside. (Meanwhile, of course, the big bad wolf has devoured her grandmother and is hiding in her grandmother's bed, trying to disguise himself in her grandmother's clothing.)

Well, you know at least one version of that story, I'll bet. I wonder if you know Thurber's version? ? ! ? ! ?

Thurber's version is that Little Red Riding Hood, upon entering dear grandmother's house, imMEdiately sees that it is not her grandmother lying there on her bed ... it is, instead, a wolf dressed in her grandmother's clothing. She pauses not for a millisecond, takes a pistol out of her little handbag, and shoots the wolf dead!!

Thurber's stories often had a moral attached (much like Aesop, I guess) to them.

THIS one's moral was, "It's not as easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be!"

I recommend Thurber. I also recommend those "Burma Shave" signs that used to appear along the the roadside, one after the other ... funny, funny, funny! (Again, you should probably allow for my somewhat [perhaps?] demented sense of humor.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

On gun control ...

How did I get ever get to this issue, anyway, from "Memories of my mother ..." ??

This topic has almost nothing to do with my mother. It has much more to do with the 'news of the day', which at that date (not today, 3/31 ... I'm editing, only) was at the top of my mind, and a lot of the news, it seemed, was focused on the mayor of NYC's investigations into guns making their way illicitly into his city.

It appears as tho some of his investigative techniques were in question, one of which included going outside of his jurisdiction to try and counteract such imports.

Another 'question of the day' seemed to include, "Would Barack Obama embrace the endorsement of a person who would authorize such tactics?" Vitriolics ensued from both sides, and I found myself 'thinking' (almost always a pursuit in and of itself) about the subject of gun control.

Hence, this post. There are no politics here ... only my personal thoughts, O.K? I apologize for the abrupt deviance off topic, altho I think I might have already alerted you that these "Memories of my mother" would not be of a daily occurrence.

All right, now that all that has been explained (?), we'll get back to the subject of this post, gun control.

As a child, growing up, I remember that my parents did not own a gun, did not want to own a gun, did not want to even be around someone who owned a gun ... in other words, there was not a gun in our house.

I can remember thinking, "Guns are scary things."

And yes, indeed, they are.

There was a young man in my class in high school who -- it was understood -- would always miss class the 1st day of deer hunting season (he'd be out trying to get his buck).

Well, this one year, he was in class as per usual. "What happened?" everyone wanted to know. "Didn't you go?"

"Well, yeah, I did. I went out into the back yard and there was this 10-point buck. I shot him, and my folks said I had to come to school." (Needless to say, he did not appear to be very happy.)

(You might not think this is funny, but I think it's hilarious!! But then, my sense of humor is somewhat odd, as you might have noticed.)

My very first personal experience with guns was courtesy of my first husband.

We were newly-weds, and living 'out in the country'. He thought that I should know how to protect myself, just in case he wasn't there.

Heavens to Betsy!!

The thought that I might have to try and protect myself while he wasn't there (and why shouldn't he be there, for crying out loud!?!), however, caught my attention, and I watched (all wide-eyed) while he explained the various intricacies of loading and then discharging a 12-gauge shotgun. (And, of course, I had to know how to clean the darned thing, so we spent a bunch of time on that!)

He had other guns, by the way, but he wanted me to know how to use and handle the largest one. His opinion (and probably accurate) was that, if I could hit the person with a 12-gauge, there wouldn't be much left of that person to keep coming after me.

Well, the first time I fired the 12-gauge, guess what happened? (If you can't guess, you just have no imagination whatsoever.) I fell right on my behind, that's what happened!! (What did you think happened??)

(By the way, I gave him the 12-gauge back after he had incurred a robbery in New Orleans and all of his other guns were stolen.)

My second husband, now, carried a concealed handgun in his briefcase. He "needed it", he said, to protect himself on the way to and from law school in downtown Houston.

I didn't like the fact that he was a law school student and had no permit to carry a concealed handgun. He (inasmuch) told me that my opinion didn't matter.

During my many years as a taxicab driver, I heard a lot of stories about drivers carrying handguns, some of which I believed.

I never did, some of which probably goes back to many years ago, when I lived in Columbus, Ohio.

This would have been in the 1960's, a decade of some trauma in this country.

My husband was teaching at Ohio State University, I was teaching in Hilliard, our daughter was attending the Columbus School for Girls, we were living in "Upper Arlington" (you kind of had to have your nose up in the air when you said that, you understand?) ... life was good ... I had more energy than I can even beGIN to imagine, tell you the truth!

I was doing some going out at night (not a lot, but some) ... either to play bridge or go bowling, one or the other.

There were stories of 'gangs' stopping cars on the city streets. Gang-raping the woman, if she was alone ... beating the man and then gang-raping the woman, etc. You get the picture, I'm sure. Ugly stories.

My husband and I discussed the option of my carrying a handgun in my purse. (Those were the days of long ago, when I actually carried a purse, I hope you realize.)

My comment to him was, "You know, by the time I could actually find a gun in this purse, I would have been raped and had the baby!"

I have never carried a gun to this day ... not in my purse, not concealed somewhere on my body, not in my car ... nor do I have one in my house.

It's not so much that I am opposed to guns, I don't think, as I am offended by the idea of having to use one, even in self-defense!

It is my very personal opinion that one ought to be able to go about one's own life -- whether it be in public or private -- with complete disregard for a possible need to defend oneself with the use of such potentially deadly force.

I'm living in a dream world, aren't I?

Memories of my mother ... (part two) ...

Unlike the series of posts about my brother and sister, these will not be chronological.

My mother wasn't particularly tall, probably around five and a half feet (maybe half an inch less), but she wore a fairly unusual shoe size, a 10 1/2 AAAAA. None of the stores in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) carried that size, she said, so she either mail-ordered them -- or, perhaps once every couple of years, we would take a trip to Chicago.

We were in Macy's, I think, four of us -- Mom, Peggy, Johnny, and me. Dad wasn't with us. I don't think he liked to shop. (I must take after him, huh?) "Stay close to me," was the constant admonition. And we did -- well, most of the time.

A small panic ensued a little later when we realized that Johnny (he couldn't have been more than four years old) was nowhere to be seen. We looked down this aisle and then that one ... no Johnny. Mother was getting somewhat frantic, and Peggy and I were worried, as well. After all, he was small, and this was a huge store!

We noticed a number of people who were all gathered around 'something', pointing and laughing amongst themselves. We inched closer to see what the attraction might be, all the while keeping a keen eye out for Johnny.

Do you remember those concrete water fountains, by any chance? The ones where water was always bubbling up at the top? You could lean over and take a sip or two without having to try and locate a lever or button.

Well, Johnny had discovered, simply by placing his thumb over part of the fountain, that he could direct the water in any direction he chose, and was having the time of his young life doing so!

One of us girls shouted, "There's Johnny!" He heard it and looked our direction. At this point, Mother firmly grabbed both of us by the hand and quick-marched us away, saying, "Come, children. I never saw him before in my life!"

Johnny quickly left his experiment and ran to his mama. He stayed pretty close to her side for the rest of the trip.

That tactic wouldn't have worked with my daughter, I don't think. Once, while shopping in a pretty large store, we were accidentally separated.

Hubby and I were increasingly anxious to find her (she must have been about the same age as Johnny when he was having all that fun with the fountain) and searching more and more frantically when all of a sudden we heard, over the loudspeaker, "Will the parents of ----- please come to -----?"

I mean, we RAN!! A tearful reunion, lots of kisses, hugs, and smiles all around.

Well, the very next time we were in a fairly large store, my daughter must have remembered all of the attention she had gotten the last time. She had heard her name called over the loudspeaker, we had run to her, lots of kisses and hugs had been exchanged, etc.

She waited until we were a little preoccupied and then made a tearful dash for the nearest person with a badge, telling him/her that she couldn't find her parents!

Sure enough, her name was clearly announced over the loudspeaker and the reunion was accomplished. This time, however, we were a little bit suspicious ... and, the next time it happened, we told her, "If you do it again, we're just going to leave the store without you!" (By the way, she never did it again.)

So, Mother's tactic did work, right? What do I know?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Memories of my mother ...

This post is the first in what will probably be many ... 5? 6? 7? 8? ??? ... in a series I have entitled, "Memories of my mother ..."

I must tell you that they will not be posted daily. THIS one, however, I feel an almost compulsion to write, or at least begin the series.

First off, I will say that I have no 'bad' memories of my mother. There are some sad memories, of course!

The occasion of my mother's death is the primary reason I left my first husband. (That's not HER fault, I hope you understand! Please read on.)

When she found out that she was dying of lung cancer in 1976, I went back to Munising (in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) to see her for the last time. I wrote her a letter, in which I said, (something like, because I don't have a copy of that letter) "I will try to conduct my life in such a manner so that, when you see me, you will not be ashamed."

At that time, I believed (and maybe still do, but I haven't taken the time recently to reexamine my beliefs) that a person exists/lives on in some fashion after death and 'knows' what's happening.

Honestly? At that time?? I disgusted myself ... truly!! I could no longer look at myself in the mirror with any kind of favor.

I had gone outside of the marriage to try and 'fulfill' my fantasies ... not once, but many times!

Really, I was less than pitiful. (You might think I am being too hard on myself here. We will probably disagree.)

Sorry. I have to stop. I didn't initially intend to write what I did ... but, now that I have, I'm not the least bit interested in deleting it. If I lose some or all of you due to what I am about to post, so be it. The 'truth will out', as it were. I'll be particularly sorry to lose you, Tammy, if you decide you'd rather not stick with me, but I will try and understand.

O.K. It's shortly to be 'out there'. I feel a great deal of relief. No regrets.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


O.K. My dinner is in the oven ... spareribs and sauerkraut, in case any of you want to know, and (It's going to be absolutely yummy -- this a courtesy of my long since departed mother -- and, if you want the recipe, [I can absolutely guarantee you that it will be the easiest dish you have EVER concocted! Take it from one who is a certified 'non cook'.] just let me know and I'll post it, O.K?) ... it'll be ready to eat in another hour and (maybe) 15 minutes. No fuss, no muss, no bother ... but deLIcious!!

Now, where was I, anyway? Oh, yes! The subject of this post ... polls.

I was watching ABC. It seems that they were posting the results of (what seemed to them, anyway, to be somewhat tainted) polls. At least, that was the gist of their commentary as I understood it.

The poll/s was/were on the subject of --------- who the devil cares what the subject was, anyway???

ABC's objection was that the study (and it, supposedly, was a scientific study) was funded by a group whose interests were obviously 'suspect', according to ABC, because there was a vested interest in the outcome of such a study.

Have YOU ever been called upon to venture your opinion? (I have not.) If you indeed were, did you respond honestly, or did someone offer to 'pay you' for your opinion? (I have experienced neither. And, if I do in the future, I will be sure to take copious notes and report the inquirer to the 'powers that be' that regulate such things -- this is all assuming, I hope you understand, that there IS such a thing as the 'powers that be that regulate such things'. At this stage in my life, I tend to doubt any and all such possibilities.

So, what's my point?? I guess my 'point' is that you can only trust your own instincts/beliefs. Try not to be dissuaded by public opinion polls. Try not, in particular, to be influenced by the media. (Barf, and double ugh, OK?)

Try, instead, to listen to your own heart and watch &/or listen to each candidate's public interview and hope for an opportunity to meet with him/her in person sometime down the road so that you can decide for yourself what their deepest down thoughts are ... ... and then it's still a 'crapshoot', isn't it?

Now, that thought's kind of scary. Now that I bring it up, however, so is LIFE!

Planning a party ...

... can be a whole lot of fun, particularly if you're just a little bit on the 'outside' just looking in.

That was the situation in which I found myself, maybe a month or so ago, when one of my very dear friends asked me to compile a list of names/addresses/phone #s, etc., of those people in the bridge world who might possibly still 'be around' -- in other words, still alive and among the living -- and who would remember same 'honoree' and might want to be included in an invitation list to his 'surprise' 60th birthday party.

Understand, mind you, that said honoree doesn't live here -- and hasn't, for many many years. However, his sister does, and SHE is my 'very dear friend'.

Does that not strike you as unusual?? It does me!! (I'm sorry. There are probably a BUNCH of you who don't know that he and I were, at one time -- again, many years ago -- engaged to be married.)

I think I have gotten very much off track here. Suffice it to say that the party will go on, as scheduled, this Saturday (3/29), from 6-9pm.

My daughter wanted to know what they could bring ... the suggestion was a bottle of red wine. I will be bringing one of the raciest cards I can find, along with a small container of prophylactics.

More later. (??)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Going to the movies ... (#1) ...

It's been a long time since I've been out to see a movie.

The last time I went to a movie theater was with my significant other. I have an awful time remembering titles and names, so I'll briefly describe it for you. Maybe you'll know which one I'm talking about.

It stars Clint Eastwood, and it's the one where he works with this young gal who wants to box. It has a really poignant ending. That must have been three years ago.

A few years before that, I paid to see "A Beautiful Mind" and fell asleep right in the middle of the story ... woke up just in time to view the credits.

I love movies (well, some movies -- guess I should qualify that), but you're not available to drive customers if you do that, and there's enough forced 'down time' in the taxicab business as it is without you adding to it.

On the upside, tho, cab drivers make their own hours, and that's a definite plus ... you can choose when to go see your movie and avoid the long lines that sometimes occur during prime time showings.

Since September, I've had a lot of free time. It's been wonderful! I'll have to do a post to tell you what all I've been doing since then, but that's another topic entirely. I'll get back to movies.

Yes, I've been watching some movies on television. Commercial breaks, while they can be irritating if that's all you're doing is watching the movie, are quite useful for getting up and putting more ice in your glass, going to the bathroom, making a quick phone call, and taking out the trash (just to name a few). Now, PBS and TBN have no commercial breaks, so I must allow for that in my schedule.

If I'm feeling really tired, I hit the pillow and hope to catch whatever it was I was watching another time. Meanwhile, I haven't thrown perfectly good money away only to fall asleep in a theater!

One other very clear memory of my public movie-going experiences from when I was a cab driver sticks out in my mind.

There I was, really enjoying the movie (and not falling asleep in the middle of it), when someone's cell phone began ringing. Isn't that irritating? I mean, why take a cell phone into the theater with you, anyway? Right??

The sound continued. I thought, "Why the devil doesn't that person answer his phone? It's interfering with all of our enjoyment. How inconsiderate!"

FINally, I realized that it was my cell phone!! I had inadvertently left it in my shirt pocket when I'd left the car and gone in to see the movie. Is that mortifying, or is that mortifying?? (!!)

Meanwhile, for Christmas this past year, I received a delightful gift from my granddaughter ... a coupon worth two admissions to a movie with just the two of us. I haven't cashed it in yet, but intend to very soon.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter ...

... is tomorrow, actually, but I am going to post this today.

As all of you who read my previous post know, I've been up since three this morning. I haven't yet been back to bed for a nap.

I just called my favorite Indian restaurant, and they're open, so I'll be taking a 'time out' shortly to go and pick up some of their delectable food to go.

My day will not end until I have finished watching "The Robe" (for at least the twentieth time!) on TBN (Trinity Broadcast Network) late this evening -- midnight or so.

Meanwhile, I'd like to share something with you.

A few minutes ago I logged on to a very special music website, one that I have visited many times before. I just sat here, looking at the lovely photograph and absorbing the moving piano accompaniment.

As I continued to quietly enjoy, the words of a tune that I have sung time and time again crept into my mind and heart. Here they are, in part ...

God so loved the world, God so loved the world
That He gave His only begotten son

That who so believeth, believeth in Him
Should not perish, should not perish

But have everlasting life.

I pray that all of you have a blessed and glorious Easter.

Random thoughts

This day began close to five hours ago, at 3am, when I woke up to the sound of the alarm (on the first ring, hooray!). I had to wash my hair, make some fresh coffee, and just in general get my body ready and mind organized to pick up yet another personal customer from my cab driving days to go to the airport.

Gee, I wish I had more of these! But, I don't. I see Dorothy only about once a year, -- fairly typical, actually, of my 'regulars'.

Anyway, she had called me a couple of days ago, asking if I was available for an early Saturday morning pickup. I told her I was, of course, and would be delighted to see her again.

Then, because the last time we saw each other my car was a taxicab, I had to go through the whole long story all over again. I concluded with the question, "Do you still want me to pick you up? If you'd rather have a taxi, I can recommend someone for you."

"Oh, no," says she, "I want you!" (Such a warm fuzzy answer.)

On the way to the airport, we had a fairly extended conversation about the Presidential candidates and politics in general. Each of us gave our views on the newly sworn-in NY governor. Her husband added his disgust with a system that allows people to get to such high positions of power with, seemingly, not thorough enough background checks.

We groaned about clerks poking their noses into passport files, and hoped the incidents were not politically-motivated (but afraid they were). We wondered how nasty things might get before November. The game of politics is so much fun, isn't it? Yuk!

Her reason for traveling this year? Her son, who lives in Florida, is taking her to Paris for her birthday. Isn't that delicious? She's going to call me from FL before she is due to return, giving me the poop on the airport pickup. I told her that the only way I would pick her & her husband up from the airport was if she would promise to tell me all about her trip. She promised she would.

I think living vicariously is a very close second to being there myself, and I'm looking forward to seeing her again in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The first day of spring ...

... is here, and what a glorious day it is!

Isn't it early this year? Or is it always on March 20th? Maybe it's early because we added a day? I have no intention of looking it up. That would take all the fun out of this post.

My first husband always said that I was a lot of fun to go to the movies with because I could never remember the ending. Well, I was much younger then. Some of my favorites I've seen so many times that I can remember the dialogue, even ... still, that doesn't take away from my enjoyment.

It's the same thing with books. You know what, tho? I'm almost embarrassed to say that I have not even begun a book since September -- seems impossible to have to admit that in writing, but it's true.

There are positives and negatives to just about everything, I guess.

I drove a taxicab for very close to 18 years. There's a humongous amount of 'downtime' in the cab business ... waiting at the airport, in queues at hotels and cab stands, at ball games and special events, in a parking lot ... waiting to get your car inspected, to pay your lease, to have stickers put on, to get the meter changed to conform to a new rate (and there might be another increase coming up shortly with these gas prices -- aren't they unbelievable??).

Cab drivers, as a general rule, are pretty sociable folks. They like to talk -- about anything. You name it, they'll talk about it. And, you'll find that most of them are quite knowledgeable about current events on the local scene as well as at the national level. They read the newspaper voraciously.

Not I, however. When the Houston Post disappeared from our newspaper scene many years ago, we were left with only the Chronicle. No competition, no accountability, and a marked decrease in quality. The Chronicle -- and this is just one person's opinion, of course -- could be put to much better use as tinder or toilet paper, even. How about as a liner for a 'possum's casket?? Now that was useful!

So, what did I do in my downtime? Well, I never looked at my watch, I'll tell you that! Besides the fact that I never wore a watch, that would have been a 'downer'.

How did I know what time it was? Fair question. If the time was important -- I was to pick up a personal customer, for example, or the baseball game was on (I became somewhat of a fanatic before 1994, lesser so afterwards ... will probably do a post on that somewhere down the road) -- well, yeah, I'd keep track of it pretty closely.

Thank goodness for clocks in cars, right? Unless your battery is completely dead, and assuming you have remembered to change the time twice yearly, all you have to do is turn the key to auxiliary power and -- voila! -- you have the time. Also, I had a cell phone -- another neat gadget with which to play. (Again, one must assume that it has been charged.)

Enough already! Let's go back to the original question, which was, "What did I do with my downtime?" Well, it kind of depended on where I was.

If I thought I had enough time to take a nap and felt a little tired, I took a nap. Cab drivers work long long hours. Naps are essential. If I wasn't feeling sleepy, I would open the latest book I had checked out of the library and -- continue to or -- begin reading that.

Heavens to Betsy!! The number of books I read during those almost 18 years must have easily been in the hundreds! Finally, I decided that I had to try and keep track of them. I now have two notebooks (about 8" by 11") full of same, compiled first alphabetically by author and then by title and year of publication. Some personal notes are there, as well, along with up or down arrows -- the arrows refer to my own opinion of the book/material.

As a young person, I can recall that my favorite reading included dog/horse stories ... Albert Payson (sp?) Terhune, certainly. A little later on (& continuing for many many years), romance novels. Mysteries were NEVER on my "favorites" list.

My interests have since expanded to include historical novels -- does the name Michener ring a bell?, autobiographies -- Katharine Hepburn's (how about the one that shows her skate-boarding!), and mysteries -- yes, mysteries!!

Interestingly enough, I found myself going -- in most recent years, particularly -- directly to the end of the book to find out 'whodunit'. I did this only with an author that I greatly admired. Then, I would go back and read (in some instances, read and re-read again and again) the book.

I get a tremendous amount of enjoyment out of a well-turned phrase, a succinct point, a word so deftly applied that there is no possible way its exact meaning could be misunderstood. (Maybe that's why I like PBS so much??)

Anyhow, I have strayed from my main point, which was to wish ALL of you just a delicious day ... enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What I mean ... is not necessarily what I say ...

How often have you heard one person say to another, "Hi! How are you?" - or - "Hey, how's it going?"

My question to you is, has the questioner EVER bothered to listen for an answer???

If I am ever asked the question, "How are you?", I expect the questioner to at least have the courtesy to wait until I have responded with 'how I am'. (Not that I thought the asker would have been particularly interested in my answer, you understand, but I was asked a question.)

That's the way of it nowadays, isn't it? Nobody (seemingly) cares!! SO, your greeting to a passing acquaintance is a question of a rhetorical nature, only. Why even bother yourself with such an utterance?!? I mean, why speak at ALL? Why not just nod, or 'doff your hat', as it were.

I find it equally offensive when, while driving and listening to talk show radio, the caller begins with, "How ya doin'?" and then immediately launches into why he called in the first place, not the least bit interested in how the other person was 'doin'.

So why even ask the question??

If you want to give a greeting, say, "Hi!" - or - "Hello!" - or "I've heard so much about you, I'm very glad to meet you" (whatever) type of thing. DON'T ask a question and then walk away without waiting for an answer!

To me, that is just about the height of rudeness.

Similarly, it seems to me, is the instance when one person says to another, "I'll call you" - or - "I'll send you an e-mail with more info on ----- tomorrow."

Now, ALL of us know that e-mails are faster than regular mail, and tomorrow means tomorrow, right? Right??

So, I waited for five days for said e-mail to arrive. It didn't come. I hoped that the person that I had been talking to had not been taken ill.

YESTERDAY, I received in the regular mail (via the US Postal Service) my response from the person who had said he would send it by e-mail. Meanwhile, back at 'my' ranch, I had sent him an e-mail asking, "Did you change your mind?" "What happened?" "Did you lose my e-mail address?" "WHAT!?!"

At this stage of my life, folks, I really like it when people say what they mean and mean what they say.

Pyramid schemes ... (part six, FINally!) ...

Sorry. I had NO idea, originally, that it would take this many posts to tell this story ... but, it has, and I thank you for bearing with me.

I had no control over Houston's economic situation. To make matters even more obscure, though, was the fact that in 1986 Houston was celebrating its sesquicentennial ... 150 years in existence, exactly the same number of years as Texas.

Kathy Whitmire was the mayor of Houston then, and there was this slogan, I remember distinctly, "Houston Proud". (Or maybe it was, "Houston Pride" -- ?? Guess I DON'T remember it all that distinctly!)

Whatever. There were a lot of fun activities celebrating the sesquicentennial that year. I was in the resale business, and collaborated with Ron and Susan Horowitz. We did at least a couple of shows together, and sold just a 'ton' of SQC stuff, some of which was very fine.

By the end of 1986, however, the city of Houston had lost over 160,000 jobs. We needed this sesquicentennial anniversary to try and keep our heads above water, and there it was ... we celebrated!

Also in 1986, my dad came to Houston for an operation. He had an aneurysm. It had been detected years previously, but nothing had ever been done about it. No one thought it was serious enuf to warrant an operation. They were just 'keeping an eye on it', they said.

The last half of 1986 is almost a blur for me. My third husband's announcement that he wanted a divorce, my dad's coming down for major surgery ... it's kind of fuzzy, even to this day!

My step-mother was staying in my townhouse. I was trying to conduct my art & accessories business during the day, and she was at the hospital (it seemed) day and night. (They had driven down here from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as was per my dad's wont, and so she had their car available.)

Well, he never did recover fully from the operation. In fact, he died just before Christmas in 1986.

I guess you could say that I never fully recovered, either!

I spent the next almost three years trying to recapture (what had once been) a thriving art business. It simply wasn't there to be 'recaptured' -- or, perhaps, I was just not the one who could do it. My mind was simply not able to adequately focus.

This is now many years later.

Currently, being 'semi-retired' since September of last year, I am looking for something "part-time" that I could do to supplement my Social Security income (laughable at best, cry your heart out at worst).

I have been given suggestions 'out the wazoo', as you might imagine.

Actually, there are a couple or three things that I should probably pursue. 1) Tutoring ... why not? I certainly have the credentials! 2) Channel 39 (TV) keeps running these ads for help. Their studio is maybe 15 minutes away from where I live. I am a really good typist, why not at least inquire? 3) Proofreading ... My daughter has told me (for years!) that I am anal-retentive. Why not take advantage of that fact?

Meanwhile, being just a horrendously inexperienced neophyte in re the internet, I was drawn into an ad and answered it.

What could possibly have been the buzz words or phrases that attracted me? Well, they were ... "make money now" ... "proven advertising" ... "immediate cash flow" ... "your timing is perfect" ... "business opportunity" ... "work your own hours" ... etc., etc., ad infinitum.

It FINALLY dawned on me, Dave Matthews, that you were looking to recruit someone to become part of a pyramid network that would sell your (actually, they looked pretty good to me, and I should probably have one in my house!) air filtering systems.

Dave, I thank you for your low key approach, and I wish you much luck ... ... meanwhile, I'm still looking!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pyramid schemes ... (part five) ...

I had been in Houston, by that time, over ten years, and had absorbed into the very fiber of my being the belief that there was nothing that could destroy our nirvana.

The Great Depression had barely touched this area. The '70s and very early '80s saw thousands, (hundreds of thousands, perhaps!) of people coming here to experience the 'good life'. Most of them came from the north, where economic conditions were, we'd heard, pretty awful.

Tent cities under overpasses were prevalent. There seemed to be almost no end to the immigrants (not from another country, but from areas in our own country that were in serious economic trouble!) ... LOTS of Michiganders.

There was one point, in fact, when I heard that U-Haul was paying people to take their vehicles out of this area! (By the way, I think that's a true story.)

Still, tho, people kept pouring in.

Some of us were idly wondering about this huge influx of 'foreigners'. Would there be enuf jobs to support those of us who had been here awhile and all of these newcomers?

A kind of 'circling of the wagons' mentality became more and more apparent, and there were even whispers of secession. After all, Texas had been a country before it became a state. Why not again?

[Another 'aside' here, if I may. My husband was in Chicago, I believe, on business, when he was asked, "Is it true that there are bumper stickers that say, 'Let them freeze'?" Hubby assured them that no such bumper sticker existed. What he failed to mention, however, was that there was a bumper sticker that read, "Let the bastards freeze in the dark"!]

Such was the attitude of many Texans towards the rest of the country at that time.

All of the signs were there by 1985 that we were going to experience, for the first time in our young history, a significant economic downturn.

I didn't see them. Or, if I saw them, my brain did not want to assimilate that information. I was otherwise occupied, falling head over heels in love again and preparing to get married for the third time. (Ye Gods! Wouldn't you have thought two times would have been enough??)

No, no, not for this almost half-century old child who continued to see things through rose-colored glasses, still envisioning white picket fences and happily ever aftering.

Something happened that should have made me sit up straight, but didn't. Christina called me, saying that she had over-extended herself on an order. Would I accept delivery of a few pieces of art that she had ordered under her name?

That request made me pause for just a bit. It was very unusual, but I accepted, after hearing what the pieces of art were to be.

[There's a series on television that I like very much, by the way. It's called "Dead Zone". Is it current, or am I just watching reruns? Whatever, it doesn't matter. It's about this young man who experiences just a terrible car crash -- and, for six years afterward, remains in a coma.

One day, he suddenly 'wakes up'. Little by little, he discovers that he has this curse/gift for seeing into the future/past simply by touching someone or something. Sometimes he actually becomes that person. Other times he is an eye-witness. I find the series fascinating!

One recent episode relates directly to my story. It's the one where this really evil man is waiting outside of this sweet young thing's house. It's raining. She pulls into the driveway and parks her car. As she gets out of her car, she can hear the phone ringing in the house. She RUNS into the house to try and get to the telephone before whomever it is that was trying to call her hangs up, thereby eluding the evil man, who'd had no idea that she would take off running.

If she hadn't been in such a hurry, he would have been able to grab her and do 'who knows what' to her.]

I took off running into a third marriage, thereby forever altering the course of my life.

Pyramid schemes ... (part four) ...

What I enjoyed the most was matchmaking -- not of person to person, but of people to beautiful art that was then specifically matted and framed to enhance their decor. I carried around little snippets of fabric, throw pillows, -- crayons, even. That was neat, I was good at it, and I had a lot of fun doing it!

One of my best customers was my first husband. I found several nice pieces of art that complemented his patio home beautifully. Once we even commissioned an artist to do an original mosaic -- something like a stained glass window, only this piece would be round, as I remember, and hanging freely -- of a figure representing him, of course, para-sailing. (I think that's the right term. If it's not, I'll come back later and fix it.)

That was an interesting process. She sent preliminary sketches. He and I met to go over the sketches, and he made comments -- he kind of liked this, didn't so much like that, what about adding thus and so? I called her with my report. A few additional sketches were sent, and the process continued for maybe two or three exchanges.

Then, always with the understanding that the finished product might not be exactly the same as one of the sketches (colors had been decided long before), she went to work. When the piece arrived, I couldn't wait to show it to him. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous!! I was so pleased. And he was, as well.

I commissioned an artist only one other time for a particular client. This piece was to be a sight unseen work, no sketches, by Roy Kerswill. Now deceased, Roy's specialty was the Grand Tetons. My client had seen some of his work in catalogs and galleries, and wanted an original of his own for his office.

Roy asked me if there was any particular area of the Tetons that my client wanted to include in the painting. Outside of that, the only constraint placed on the artist was the maximum size (complete, with frame). No color restrictions. My client wanted Roy to have complete discretion.

[A sidebar here, if I may. Roy and his wife lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in the summers, and -- on one of their many trips west, always traveling by car -- my father stopped to visit Roy. My dad knew that I had commissioned him to do an original painting.

Now Dad had never exhibited any kind of interest in art, whatsoever, but I had entreated him so many times to stop and just see if Roy was in town that he finally relented. Well, it turned out that Roy was in town, and he had Dad and his wife over to his home, where they had a nice long visit. I never had the opportunity to meet Roy in person, but Dad did. A warm fuzzy.]

My biggest client ever was a direct result of my Welcome Wagon sponsorship. Mike and Daphne Osborne were newcomers in the SugarLand area, and Daphne and I, in particular, had spent many delightful hours together perusing catalogs, cruising art suppliers and in general just enjoying each other's company. She was wonderful to work with!

I had personally placed and hung a grouping of several very fine limited editions on a stairwell landing in their home. I thought it looked great! Mike was not at all pleased with the placement (he wasn't actually there when I did the initial installation) ... thought it was too low. Daphne called, and said it was imperative that I come over as soon as possible and redo it to his satisfaction.

Well, I really didn't want to redo it 'as soon as possible'. As I recall, it was Thanksgiving, and my daughter was here for a short visit. I was disinclined to spend time away from her. But, I went to redo, taking her with me. Mike was there, and he was happy with the end result, he said.

I must admit that it did look good. I liked the first one better, but the customer is always right, right? Well, not really, but you have to be willing to 'give' a little bit.

Less than a week later, Daphne called me and said (something like), "Your ship has come in! Mike wants to see you in his office." I asked, "Where's his office?" She told me, I called him, and we set up a time to meet. I'd not had the VAGUEST idea that Mike was in charge of the finances for the company he worked for, not the vaguest!

It turned out that the company had recently re-located to an office building of perhaps six floors not very far from where I lived. I was to place a piece of art in each of many offices occupied by employees of a certain level, and I was given a list of those, along with hallway art of lesser quality print-wise, but still with custom matting & framing on each floor. I would be doing all of the installations.

Was this a dream come true, or what?? Of course it was.

So what happened? Well, a combination of things, actually, two of which were out of my control.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pyramid schemes ... (part three) ...

I made it my business to educate myself, to learn as much as I possibly could about etching, embossing, silkscreening, and lithography. Wood-cutting I already understood.

I had some vague awareness of the concept of a 'limited edition', how that differs in value (in 'quality' limited editions, the paper is usually hand-made, oftentimes by the artist himself) from that of a 'print' -- something mass-produced in the thousands by a machine.

Never did I delude myself into thinking that I might come across someone who would want to invest millions of dollars into original art. There was no way, honestly, that I could have helped him, personally. The best thing that I could have done, and would have, would have been to thoroughly research the field and refer that person to someone of integrity who had more knowledge and expertise than I.

I might have realized some sort of "finder's fee" out of it, but there was no way that I could have handled such a transaction. My credentials were simply not there.

As my business continued to grow, I realized more and more that I had to 'expand my horizons'. TransArt had a wonderful line of art, framing and mats, but the selection was limited. I found myself searching for a local framer that I could trust.

I began by just driving up and down the streets in my own neighborhood. I found Michele, who at that time was just renting that space and hoping to relocate in the "Village" -- closer to downtown, and certainly in a more prestigious area.

I asked her if she offered discounts to people who were 'in the business'. She was somewhat skeptical, at first (wouldn't you be?), but then -- realizing that I was seriously interested and 'in' to this business, gave me help out the wazoo!

Heavens to Betsy! The help (not to mention education) I received from Michele was --I find, even in retrospect from this much later date -- incalcuable!! She generously offered not only her time and expertise, instructing me on such specifics as 'museum-mounting', acid-free mats, reverse beveling, etc., but invited me to a private showing on one of my art-buying trips to NYC.

From the bottom of my heart, Michele, I thank you!

Meanwhile, back at TransArt's ranch, they were expanding like mad ... area rugs (I have a very large one in my home to this day that I dearly love), jewelry (Castine's ... I tried to recruit my own daughter to sell this line!), drapes, furniture, etc. Heavens!! I was clearly out of my depth on some of this stuff.

I attended at least two of TransArt's (now TransDesigns) national conferences, held in August each year just north of Atlanta. Each time, I drove -- in a 1984 Honda Civic wagon that was absolutely perfect for transporting art -- and 'camped out' in the Kennessaw Mountains, at a campsite that was available to the general public.

I tried to absorb every last scrap of information that I could about TransDesigns' ever expanding business. I took notes like crazy.

From the very beginning, I had felt a tremendous amount of pressure to 'recruit', as Christina had done me. Initially, I tried -- running ads, 'interviewing' interested persons in my home, etc., -- but my heart wasn't really in it, I don't think.

I wasn't interested in trying to motivate someone else for my own gains, I just wasn't! If they couldn't motivate themselves, I wasn't about to try and do it FOR them!!

TransArt, as I finally came to understand, was what I would describe as a "pyramid" organization. You recruit someone, a percentage of their sales comes back to you in the way of profits, they recruit someone else, a percentage of that person's sales comes back to your recruitee in the way of profits (with a lesser amount to you, as the initial recruiter), and so on and on it goes. Are you confused?? Hope not.

Saint Urho's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day, all of you Americans who have some Irish in their ancestry.

Actually, this Irish-American is also German, Swedish, Dutch, Scots and English. How many varieties are you?

I completely forgot about St. Urho, however, until I realized that everyone on this morning's newscast was wearing (or at least they claimed to be wearing!) a touch of green somewhere or another on their body. How could I have done such a thing? I will never be forgiven by all of you Finnish-Americans out there!

Now, I don't lay claim to any Finnish ancestry, so I can be forgiven just a teeny bit, perhaps.

Not that there ever really was such a person as St. Urho, mind you. It seems that he was merely a figment of one Richard Mattson's imagination, created in 1956 in response to being questioned by an Irish-American about the Finns' lack of having a saint such as St. Patrick.

Prior to a month ago, I had never heard of St. Urho -- and neither had you, I'll bet! Then, one of my old friends from college told me about him. Said she was going to be in charge of a music celebration in his honor March 16th -- yesterday, as a matter of fact. I remembered to send her a congratulatory e-mail.

You can read all about it on Wikipedia ... songs, poems, statues, the works ... all for a made-up saint whose legend is barely 52 years old. Imagine that!

I think it's just a stitch! In another fifty or so years, many people will probably believe that this legend is as old as the one of St. Patrick.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pyramid schemes ... (part two) ...

The ad read something like, "Major company expanding in this area and looking for qualified individuals." Buzz words and phrases, such as, "If you are tired of someone else telling you what to do and when to do it" ... "self-motivated" ... "creative" ... "independent" ... "work from your home" ... "set your own hours".

I was definitely interested enough to call. I thought, "What can it hurt? At least I will be able to find out what this is all about." I had some leeway at that time, money-wise, and was not in a crisis situation. I was trying to explore all possibilities.

Christina seemed delighted to hear from me, and invited me to her apartment where she would be conducting interviews, she said.

I went. There were perhaps three or four others there, and I expected that all but one of us would be waiting each time while she interviewed individually. That was fine with me. I had anticipated that it would go like that, and was prepared to wait.

To my surprise, however, she invited all of us to sit in the living room of her small apartment, which was attractively arranged with artwork, framing, and mat samples. Then, for the next half hour or so, she showed us what could happen when you change a frame here, pick up an accent color there. It was simply fascinating to me!

I thought, "I can do this!" And then I realized, "Not only can I do this, I would LOVE to do this!"

I had always had an 'eye' for color & placement, I felt, and found myself getting more and more intrigued by the possibility that I could help others achieve aesthetic reality in their own homes and offices.

I was excited, and could hardly wait for Christina to get to the 'bottom line' -- how much it was going to cost me to get into this. I was already mentally compiling lists of anyone I had ever known -- friends, relatives, neighbors, mere acquaintances -- everyone within the remotest possibility of earshot of my voice was going to know that I was now in the business. I wanted to get started yesterday!

That was my introduction to TransArt Industries.

As it turned out, the initial investment was not that great -- less than two hundred dollars, I'm pretty sure -- maybe less than one hundred, I really don't remember. Whatever it was, I could easily afford it.

The initial investment would include catalogs, laminated prints, frame & mat samples, ordering forms, etc., plus a nice-looking case in which to carry everything.

I consulted with Sam Miller, my attorney friend who had handled both of my first two divorces. I asked him if he had ever heard of the company. He hadn't. I asked him how to set up account books. I had never been in business for myself before. He gave me some advice.

And so, I set about my business. I called and wrote everyone, including one of the Hiltons (Eric, I think, who had been married to a gal I knew from the duplicate bridge world) ... I mean, I inundated the world I knew or had ever known (just about!) with my exciting news. I was into this!!

I became a Welcome Wagon sponsor in SugarLand, a fast-growing community not far from where I lived in southwest Houston. I offered a free initial consultation along with a 10% discount on their first purchase. As a WW sponsor, however, I also had to give a free gift. My free gift was a picture hook enclosed in a little plastic baggie, both of which I purchased by the gross. (The thought of having to give a free gift in addition to a free initial consultation and 10% discount on the first purchase really stuck in my craw!)

Little by little, tho, my business grew. I received award after award in sales.

In 1983, I was #1 in Christina's unit for sales. In 1984, I was #1 overall in the greater Houston area. I was in my mid-forties, and in the prime of my life!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pyramid schemes ... (part one) ...

Over 25 years ago, following my second divorce, I was looking for something to do to make money, a professional venture that I could both love and be challenged by ... terrible sentence structure here, but I'm going to let it go for now (might come back at a later date to revise it, but for now it stands).

First and foremost, professionally-speaking, I am a teacher. I love to teach!

I can think of few things to equal the look of pure delight in a very young child's eyes when he/she understands/"sees" the concept/s presented.

Each child is an absolute miracle ... a wondrous gift from God.

The miracle continues as the child begins and then continues to absorb his/her surroundings.

The child learns by doing, by imitating that which he/she sees, and by exploring for himself (I'm going to be omitting the him/her he/she references in this post -- just ridiculous, anyway!) and learning as he goes (sometimes by painful personal experience -- other times by parental approval, smiles, and hugs).

How the devil does a child learn to speak, anyway? By imitating, of course, what he hears. The feedback the child gets from his first utterances reinforce his efforts.

Seriously, however, I ask you, "How can one possibly teach 'the' 'a' 'an' ... those little dinky words that mean absolutely nothing?

If I knew the answer to that question, I would tell you. I do not know the answer.

O.K. So the child has learned to speak. NOW, as the child continues to explore the world around him, he wonders why there are all of these books/newspapers/magazines around? All these materials are made of paper (feels like!), and the big people seem to spend a lot time with them, just touching and looking at them with their eyes.

Are they toys?? NO, I quickly discovered, as I grabbed one and ripped it ... I was just trying to see if I could make it move and play with it! My folks quickly grabbed whatever it was that I was trying to 'move', and said, "No!"

Another NO when I grabbed one of my prettiest crayons and tried to add some color, and yet another when I tried to run and throw it outside to see what might happen.

I spent many years teaching first grade, and far and away it was my favorite. A sixth grade teacher once asked me, "How can you stand to be around or even try and teach such a young age?" She said, "I know you love it. It's obvious. But what can you possibly get out of it?"

Boy, I didn't have to think twice about my answer. It was, "The tremendous sense of satisfaction I get at the end of the year. I've taught them how to read." "Oh, yes, now I understand," said she --and, pointing to a bunch of Greek words on the chalkboard, continued, "I get that same feeling of satisfaction when my students have memorized these words."

She hadn't understood a word of what I'd said, of course. We had a few more seconds of a less than memorable conversation, then went along about our separate business. I didn't try to explain further ... she still would not have understood. It was obvious to me that she quite liked where she was. Why have a debate?

Quite a few years later, here in Houston, actually, I had the opportunity to teach sixth grade in a private school situation. Thoroughly enjoyable. I could see why she had liked that age so much.

So why didn't I go back into teaching full-time? The answer is in two parts.

1. I was leery of teaching in Houston's public schools. (Even 25+ years ago? Yes.) Besides the obvious answer of classes being too large, I was hearing way too many first-hand stories from teachers currently in the public school system about testing, testing, and more testing ... almost forcing them to 'teach to a test', as it were. I am vehemently opposed to such a concept.

Required detailed lesson plans were a stumbling block for me, as well. Certainly, throughout my somewhat extensive teaching career, I had known that I would have to have a plan -- but 'detailed', including the exact questions you might be asking for weeks/months ahead of time?? NO!!

"All right, then," you could rightly ask, "why didn't you go back to that private school that you liked so much?" That's a fair question.

2. I couldn't support myself on a private school teacher's salary. My first teaching experience in a private school was while I was married, and my salary was not our family's only income. It's as simple as that.

I had trouble believing it!! It just sounded impossible to me. I inquired of many private schools. ALL were interested in me, but I couldn't support myself on the salaries they were offering. One even went so far as to suggest that I could take on a second job to support myself. (!!) Well, that's not the way I teach, nor should that be what they were looking for -- or, for that matter, what the parents of their students had every right to expect -- in dedicated teachers.

An ad in the newspaper struck me as kind of appealing, and I answered it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My 'possum ... (update) ...

Well, so far so good.

The creature's coffin is now outside, along with five plastic bags of stuff to be picked up by the garbage people.

I went out to the garage about an hour ago, fully expecting to be hit with horrible fumes. There were none ... hooray! More later ... ...

It's later, around 3pm, and I'm about to hit the pillow for a nap.

The garbage collectors came late today, but the coffin is gone, finally, creature and all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


How does the expression go, something like, "Hell has no fury like a woman scorned."

Well, this post is -- and it might take me awhile, I'm so angry -- more like, "I really don't like having my mother or my mother's generation besmirched."

In this particular case, however, it wasn't perhaps so much besmirching as a complete misunderstanding and/or deliberate misrepresentation of the facts to further one's own interests ... i.e., in trying to make a political point.

I am so angry, in fact, that I am almost outraged!!

Let's take what I read, quote by quote.

... ... a World Class Pack Rat ... ... I had no idea that pack rats were now divided into classes. 'World class' -- my goodness. Impressive!

... ... Every closet, cellar shelf and attic corner was packed tightly with things 'saved against a rainy day'. ... ... kept everything from wrapping paper off of the Christmas gifts to scraps of old clothes, and she canned and stored like a squirrel coming up on the Ice Age. Now, I ask you, "How is it even conceivable that we could be coming up on an Ice Age in this hysterical era of "global warming", much less 50+ years ago, which is the time period to which the author refers.

... ... or more accurately, like a woman who'd come of age during the Great Depression. Now, in this quote, the author has it exACTly right! The woman referred to was a product of the Great Depression. In fact, she'd had to drop out of high school and go to work to help support the family when her father left home. She saved every little scrap because she had no guarantee that there would be any the next day. To belittle that generation with cute little phrases to try and illustrate one's point I find personally abhorrent.

... ... Psychologically, she was what she'd eaten (or rather, what she hadn't). What the devil is THAT supposed to mean?!?

Sorry. I'm angry. I have a really difficult time hearing or reading what I believe are somewhat distorted statements of those who are no longer around to speak for themselves without saying at least something in response!

I'll try to be more composed next post.

My day so far ...

... has been fairly boring, actually.

When I first get up, I go 'you know where' and then check to see if I have any e-mails ... I like e-mails!

That task accomplished, I then either zap leftover coffee in the microwave or brew (in my case 'drip') a new pot. I like Folger's, and I like it strong. I mean, not so strong that it would make me permanently bald if I actually drank it for any length of time, but strong ... black, no cream, and certainly no sugar.

Then I go back to my new toy, the computer.

One e-mail I thought I might have some fun responding to was -- something like, "We are looking for smokers/non-smokers to complete a survey. After completion of this survey, we will send you a million dollars!"

Now, who in their right mind would not respond to an e-mail like that? (All right, I admit I 'made up' the million dollars, O.K? Stop shouting at me!)

An hour and a half later, after being sucked into a (seemingly) never-ending morass of "based on your responses" questionnaires, I FInally figured -- you must have come to the conclusion by now, that I am close to being an absolute idiot! -- out that you have to just answer 'No' to everything ... and, if push ever finally comes to shove, you simply hit "Delete/Cancel", whatever -- ANYthing to get it to go away!!

I DID it (I think!) ... however, I am still "unsubscribing" to all sorts of 'crap'.

It is my personal opinion that everyone should have this experience at least once in their lifetime.

A new (and welcome) e-mail came in from Tammy. She had added a comment to my last post, that of the 'possum update. (By the way, Tammy, I added one to yours.)

That reminds me ... after receiving Tammy's e-mail, I went out to the garage to check on possible vile smells emanating from that area.

Not yet (knock on wood), but garbage people don't come until tomorrow.

On the way back into the house, I noticed a whole lot more leaves in my backyard. They were just lying there, silently entreating, "Please rake us up. You don't have a compost pile. What else could you possibly need us for? We are dead, real eyesores, and are covering up potentially healthy and nice-looking grass. Why are you putting up with us, anyway?! What's wrong with you?"

I thought, "All right, already! Get off my back, will you?"

And then, I came back into the house, where I am writing this post. Fait accompli.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My 'possum ... (update) ...

Well, you're too late.

I know all y'all will be very disappointed to read this. Some of you might be in the air already -- in fact, landing today. Perhaps others are driving here. Well, the 'possum is gone, as in deader than a doornail gone.

I had an early pickup this morning to go to IAH ... yes, I'm still driving some of my old-timey customers -- not enuf of them on a regular basis to pay the bills, but every little bit helps, right? ... and didn't get back to the house until four and a half hours later. Had just a 'ton' of errands to run, and you know how much I love shopping!

So, I took my sweet time and made sure every last item was crossed off my list before I returned to the house. It took three stores and one post office to accomplish it all, but it's finished! Hooray!!

(By the way, have all of you remembered to stock up on the "forever" stamps? First class is going up one penny May 12th. I bought 40. I'll buy another 40 in a couple of weeks, assuming the one store I went to still has them in stock. The post office was "out", would you believe?

Those ought to last me a good while. I use maybe five a month. That's only 16 mos. worth, tho, assuming I buy another 40. Maybe I should buy ten or so regular 41 cent stamps? Heck, I don't know. It's a gamble either way you look at it, isn't it?)

Now, I fully intend to keep this self-satisfied smirk on my face for at least the rest of today and maybe even some tomorrow, we'll see. (Very similar to how I feel after I've voted. I can be quite obnoxious, actually.)

But, back to my 'possum update. So, the car is in the garage, and my arms are loaded down with groceries when I see what at first glance looks like a very large cat basking in the sun just inside my garage.

I go a couple of steps closer, fully expecting the cat to awaken any second, startled out of a sound sleep, jump up and scurry away. Well, it wasn't a cat.

Guess what it was? Yeah, you guessed it first time around. I gave you too many hints, didn't I?

Finally, it dawned on me that there was no way my 'possum would be sunning himself. They're night critters!

So, I put the groceries back in the car and starting stomping my way towards the creature, all the while watching intently for the least little sign of movement or life ... the LAST thing I wanted to do was get bit by a sick or dying 'possum!

No signs of life. No movement whatsoever. I wasn't about to touch it! Ugh! Double ugh!!

O.K. Now I had to get rid of it!

Thank goodness one of the stores I had gone to was stocking their shelves, and I was fortunate enuf to grab several large boxes before they were compacted. They're still in my trunk.

All except one, actually -- the one I chose to dump the dead critter's body in.

I first lined it with old newspapers. We don't have our next scheduled garbage pickup until Friday, and I don't know how long it might take before he starts stinking up the garage, do you?

Then, I looked all around for my shovel ... know I've GOT one, but do you think I could find it?? (No) SO, I grabbed a hoe and somehow managed to get the creature's corpse balanced on it long enuf to transport him to his readied coffin.

Triple ugh!!!

Anyway, I'll probably decide later to put the windows in the car all the way up just in case "el stinko" decides to show up tonite or tomorrow. We're not that warm yet ... highs in the 60s and 70s, but still, better safe than sorry, I figure.

Now don't you be mad at me! I first posted that I had a 'possum that I was giving away, for free, on March 2nd. All you had to do was come over, find it, and cart it out of here. It's now March 12th. Too late.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Canoeing ... (part three) ...

Our last canoe trip together was with Paul Joe and Jacky, two very dear friends of ours.

Paul Joe was a farmer. Not tall (around my height, perhaps, 5'8" or so), but stocky ... I mean, that man had muscles out the wazoo!! Amongst his many crops were pigs. He was used to lifting and working hard all day, every day!

Still, my husband thought it would be best if Paul Joe learned a technique that he had perfected over the years -- that of hefting a canoe in a "1-2-3" step manner that would not be injurious to one's back. So, we went over to their place with our canoe and the instructions began.

Paul Joe watched carefully as hubby demonstrated his back-saving maneuver. He tried to emulate same in a graceful manner, as illustrated. He tried, and tried again. And again. Each time, he was simply unsuccessful. At one point, in his efforts to be lithe, both he and the canoe fell back into some thorny bushes!

FINally, just as we were all about to give up, Paul Joe said, "I think I've got it!" And he went over to the canoe, grabbed it in the middle by both sides and proceeded to lift it over his head, all in one fell swoop ... kind of an "up/down" technique.

We couldn't stop laughing!! Yeah, he had it, all right, and we were pretty sure that there was absolutely nothing that could happen on that trip to dampen our -- by now -- heightened spirits.

And so, off we went (putting in out of Winton, as usual) to Superior/Quetico. My husband had all he could do to try and keep up with Paul Joe & Jacky. It's really funny, looking back on it.

The weather was GORgeous ...cold, but what would you expect from June in that area? All right, you might have warm weather at that time of the year, but to "expect it" would be way over the top!

I don't have any bear stories to share with you on this trip, but I do have a moose story. Ready?

One night, as we were lingering over the campfire after eating, we were hearing all kinds of different sounds. Paul Joe must have thought he recognized one particular recurring sound as a long lost brother, or some such, and he thought it would be fun to 'answer the call'. And so, he did.

Well, Paul Joe answered. The animal responded. Paul Joe answered again. Another response (this time the response was from a somewhat shorter distance away). Paul Joe answered again.

THIS time, however, the response seemed to be so close to our campsite as to be cause for concern! I mean, who wants to be in the midst of a moose looking for a mate?!? Not we!!!

All was silent. We all just wanted to laugh hysterically out loud, but we dared not utter a peep! We stifled our laughs, and -- for an hour or more -- just listened ... I mean, we listened!

Canoeing ... (part two) ...

Our second trip was with Bill & Ellie, friends of ours.

They had never been canoeing before, and we were a little leery about taking them along with us, but they wanted to go. They knew how much fun we'd had on our first trip, and they really wanted to experience some of that.

So, off we went. To Algonquin Provincial Park this time, where my husband had, as a boy, spent quite a bit of time learning the art of canoeing.

At the outfitters, he helped Bill select a canoe that might be the least cumbersome to transport over portages. (By this point, we had purchased an Old Town canvas canoe -- painted yellow -- that my husband dearly loved. It was 'lightweight' ... I probably would not have been able to trek it across a portage, but my husband thought it was just perfect, so there you are!)

That accomplished, Bill paid close attention as my husband instructed him in the fine art of steering while paddling. As the person in the rear of the canoe, that would be Bill's primary responsibility. Bill seemed to catch on quickly, and we set out on what would prove to be a journey of -- shall we say -- less than wonderful memories.

Gear in the middle, Ellie & I up front all set with our paddles, Bill & hubby in the back of our separate canoes, it was imMEDiately evident that all was not going to go as planned!!

There was a tremendous disparity of height between Bill & Ellie. He was well over six feet tall, and she barely five! O.K. Ellie's in front and the gear was in the middle. When Bill got in the back of their canoe, the front rose in the air a few feet ... nothing to 'write home about', but NOW Ellie's paddle couldn't even reach the water!!

So, we went back to the outfitters, got a somewhat longer paddle for her, adjusted the weight of the gear, and set off again. (It had been somewhat of a frustrating start, but they were willing to give it the old college try.)

Before I continue with this story, I'd like to interrupt with another about Bill & Ellie, if I may. Hope that's O.K.

The four of us had gone to see the movie, "West Side Story". (Dumb me. I didn't realize that it was going to have a tragic ending. I hadn't paid enuf/or probably even any attention in English literature class to know that the movie was based on "Romeo and Juliet".)

Ellie & I were seated next to each other, husbands flanked on either side. I was really enjoying the singing and dancing when, all of a sudden (it seemed), there it was ... this terribly sad ending!!

I was stunned, and crying my eyeballs out ... not making a sound, mind you, no one was ... (You could have heard a feather drop in that theater. Ellie was doing the same. Thank goodness, one of us had brought extra tissues!) ... when, all of a sudden, some woman behind us "snorted" in her now uncontainable grief.

Well, that did it for Ellie and me. We burst out into laughter just as the credits stopped rolling and the lights went up in the theater. And, to top it all off, we just couldn't seem to be able to stop laughing!!

(Meanwhile, Bill and my husband were trying to hide under their seats so that no one could possibly associate them with those two obviously uncaring, maniacal women.)

Anyway, after the adjustments, Bill & Ellie started out paddling, going around in circles for a while until Bill got the hang of it, but then we started making some headway. It was looking good. Slow, but good.

Then, the second day, the backlash of a hurricane along the East Coast hit us. We were simply drenched with rain and frequently threatened with squalls that made traveling on the lakes dangerous, almost unthinkable.

We spent most of the time hiding out under our overturned and uprighted canoes, trying to stay warm. Forget trying to stay dry! I think we might have accomplished that objective -- that of staying dry -- twice (maybe!) on that trip.

I have to hand it to Bill and Ellie. They were really good sports. The weather was just horrific!

If it had been my first canoe trip, I would have said, "That's it, folks. I'm outta here!"

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Canoeing ... (part one) ...

This seems to me to be a most peculiar time to be talking about canoeing ... I mean, who in their right mind would want to go canoeing in March?!?

Not I, I assure you! However, these past few days -- while resting and trying to get better -- I've had a lot of time to think about my next post/s, and canoeing has come to the forefront again and again, so here we go.

My first husband was a 'master canoeist', and we took three canoe trips altogether ... two to the Superior/Quetico (National/Provincial) Park region in Minnesota and Ontario, Canada ... and one to Algonquin Provincial Park (again in Ontario, but in the southeast quadrant).

I think (meaning, "I'm not sure") on our first trip, when we 'put in' out of Winton, Minnesota, we rented a canoe. (It was probably a 'tub' -- that would have been his description of the vehicle, I'm pretty sure!)

We were equipped not only with a canoe, but with maps and 'wonderful' dried food, etc., -- you know, all those nutritious supplies without which one could not possibly do on an extended (we always took 10 days) trip.

And so, off we went. I was not afraid of wildlife. I was a little concerned about ticks -- they were prevalent, and were fond of 'latching onto' whatever kind of life might meander along the more predominant trails! (We wore long socks outside of our pants so that we could better see the critters.)

We always went in June. (You name any year you want, we went in June, which poses its own set of problems ... but, more on that later, O.K?)

So, it's our first trip -- and our only trip with just the two of us! (It's interesting only in looking back on it. It's really not significant, except for its 'historical' [? -- as in, "Does anyone really care?"] interest.)

I can remember feeling a tremendous sense of curiosity and wonder. I had never DONE such a thing! I was both excited and scared, all at once, but at the same time had just a ton of confidence that my husband knew what he was doing.

And, of course, he did.

The scenery was spectacular! So clean, the waters so blue, so COLD!! Lord love us, it was cold.

He couldn't wait to get out of the big city traffic ... he couldn't wait until the next big portage to get rid of the 'riffraff' of the short-termers. He wanted to get out into the real wilderness so that both he and I could enjoy the spectacular beauty of this region! (You know what? I don't think, looking back on it now, that he had ever been to that particular part of the world before.)

And it WAS beautiful! Heavens!! I really wish I had pix to show you, but I don't. What pictures I do have are all in my mind. I will try and describe in words some of our initial journey together.

Did you know that there are actually house boats cruising in those parks?!? We didn't, initially, and kept trying and trying to get further and further away from 'civilization'.

FINally, after a particularly long portage, we left the house boat scene behind.

And, it was on this portage that I had my very first live, face-to-face, experience with a bear.

You see, I had to go to the bathroom. (Every once in a while, one has to do that, right?) O.K. Hubby told me to go on up the hill and 'look for a good place'. So, I did.

I was continuing on 'up the hill', looking at the ground all the while for a good place -- when, all of a sudden, I happened to look up and there was this bear ... I kid you not, this bear was less than 10' away from me!!! And there we were, darned near eyeball to eyeball ... ... what would YOU have done?

Well, remembering my husband's oft-uttered remonstrances to me, I "walked and didn't run" away from the bear, expecting at any second to be just torn apart ... I mean, this bear was huMONgous and all scar-faced!!

I reached the bottom of the hill, where my husband was waiting, and he told me later that my eyes were 'as big as saucers', that my 'chin hung down to the ground' -- you know, all those trite sayings that are 'trite' only because they are so TRUE!?! I said, almost in a whisper, "There's a bear up there!"

He accompanied me back up the hill (I still had not gone to the bathroom!), but the bear was no longer to be found. Probably what had actually occurred was that the bear and I -- he while foraging for berries/whatnot and I while looking for a 'good spot' -- had both happened to look up at the same time and surprised each other, then simultaneously turned around and went the other way. No one knows for sure.

(Much later ... after we had successfully completed our trip and were returning all of our gear, etc., to the outfitters in Winton, we told them our story. They said, "Oh, yeah! You must have run across 'old Scarface' ... he's kind of a legend in these parts.

In fact," they said, "He's been known to go down to various campsites along that portage to demand his food!")

Just a couple of more bear stories for this trip. (By the way, please note that anytime I use the word "story" does not mean that I am 'making it up', O.K? If I am manufacturing something, I will tell you either in advance of or after the fact, as perhaps in a dream.)

One just delightful one that stands out in my memory is that of when we were camping at a kind of 'fork' between two streams. The noise was incessant. It was cold, but the scenery was -- really -- quite beautiful! I remember watching a 'hatching' of dragonflies.

That was fascinating! These beetle-like creatures would climb out of the icy river and up onto the rocks. There were thousands of them! Then, they would just stay in the sun, not moving. As they continued to dry out and warm up, their backs would begin to split open. We watched as, little by little, a beautifully-colored dragonfly would slowly unfold itself and then separate from what would shortly become just a shell to be carried away by the slightest breeze.

One day we were just inundated with mosquitoes, and the next, it seemed, their population had been cut in half. (Let's hear it for dragonflies!!)

At this same location, hubby pointed out to me a mother bear and her two cubs who were just the other side of the stream. I thought they were really cute ... and they were! Hubby said, "Just be glad that they are on the other side of the stream!"

Another time (same trip) ... ... We always had three packs (plus the canoe) to carry across any portage. My husband had to carry the canoe. Our main question always was, "What c/would be done with the food pack?"

We decided that whenEVer the food pack had to portaged across, then the other person would have to stay with same.

(Outside of the food pack, the canoe was the heaviest, and my husband had to portage both of those!)

So the main concern, going back to the original question was, "Who was going to stay with the food pack?"

Well, the answer to the above -- obviously, I was!! (Hubby couldn't stay and portage all at the same time. I mean, he was my hero, but he wasn't Superman, for crying out loud!)

O.K. So we came to the end of this one (fairly short, actually) portage ... we had long ago distanced ourselves from the house boat clique. Hubby had the food pack. I had one of the others. We came to the end of the portage, and it all looked pretty good, actually.

There was a fairly long wooden plank dock extending out into a pretty good-sized lake. We could see a couple of fishermen in a small boat in the near distance. They appeared to be relaxed, casting their lines, etc.

At the same time, however, hubby and I were a little unsure about leaving our food pack (along with the pack that I had brought over) at the end of the dock while both of us went back along the trail to retrieve the canoe and the other pack.

We decided that I would stay to watch over everything.

WELL, no sooner than hubby had disappeared back along the portage, a fairly good-sized bear came shuffling out of the trees and began sniffing around. He smelled something, and maybe it was even something good to eat?

Ye Gods! There I was, at the end of this long wooden plank dock -- two fishermen within earshot, -- starting to get a teensy bit nervous about this bear approaching the dock and our food pack in an inquisitive manner.

The next thing I heard was laughter ... laughter, I kid you not -- from the two fishermen!

I was on my own here, obviously.

All right. (What do you mean, "All right!" "Are you insane?!?")

I tried not to move. I scarcely took a breath. I didn't want to call attention to myself. I thought, hopefully, "Maybe the bear won't get a REALLY good whiff of the food. Maybe the wind is blowing towards me. Maybe he won't actually come onto the dock." (I consider any bear a "he" unless there are cubs present. I didn't see any cubs.)

Well, my hopeful thoughts were soon dashed as the bear kept coming closer and closer to the dock, sniffing with his nose in the air all the while.

Then he put one huge paw up on the dock. Then the other. Well, shoot! I didn't have any rocks or big sticks with me to threaten the bear, so I began stamping my feet and shouting, "Go away!" (Or some such nonsense.) Nothing. No reaction at all other than just a little hesitation for half a second.

I took a few steps toward the bear, stomping my feet as hard as I could so that he could (maybe) feel the vibrations in the wood and shouting. Another slight hesitation. I decided if he still kept advancing that I would simply have to jump into the lake. I would be cold, but I could at least get away from the food pack and make my escape while he was distracted.

Thankfully, it didn't come to that. For some reason that only the bear knows, he chose to turn around, get off the dock, and continue on his ambling ways through the woods.

My husband thought the bear wasn't really sure that there was something good to eat out at the end of that dock. It was his opinion that, if the bear had gotten a good enuf whiff of what all was in the food pack, he'd have kept coming no matter how much noise I made or how threatening I might have tried to appear.

I think he was a little miffed at the two fishermen. I know I was!

Keeping your food safe, most particularly from bears, is a problem. NEVER do you keep your food pack inside your tent!!

One time we camped overnite on this absolutely gorgeous little island in the middle of a lake. We arrived late, and barely had time to get the tent set up before it got dark. As always, my husband hung our food pack high up on an over-extending tree branch that was strong enough to support the pack, but not strong enough to support both it and the weight of a hungry full-grown bear.

He attached various tin pots & pans to the pack so that, if some large critter were to come along in the middle of the night while we were sleeping, the clatter would wake us up and we would then ... ... ... (Are you waiting for some magic answer here?? There is none.) ... ... ... peek ever so covertly out from our tent and see what the magnitude of the problem might be.

Well, this night we were awakened -- not by the clatter of pots & pans, but by the almost incessant moans and groans of some sort of animal in obvious discomfort.

(If I had an actual recording of those sounds, I would attach it to this post. However, I do not. Try to imagine yourself making quite distressing sounds, loudly, as your stomach 'roils' in pain from whatever it was you ate that you shouldn't have ... those are the sounds that we heard, over and over again, all night long. Needless to say, we got very little sleep.)

Daylight came. The awful groans and moans had long since ceased, but still we were cautious. What could have happened?? That the food pack had been broken into was almost a certainty, but we had to find out how bad it actually was.

Yes, indeed, the food pack had been disturbed. The animal (probably a bear, and it would have had to be a cub) had 'eaten' a goodly amount of brillo pads, toilet paper and bread ... thank goodness he ate some bread, or he would probably still be retching someplace!

Before we took our leave from the island, we took some minutes to explore. In a nearby ravine, we found the remnants of a large tent -- claw marks all over it. I guess those campers had tried to secure their foodstuffs by placing them in their tent.

Did we ever eat anything other than trail mixes? Yes, indeed. Whenever we were at a campsite for more than just one night (which was just a couple of times), we would take the opportunity to fish, hoping for something just a little more appetizing.

Early on, I managed to snag a pretty good-sized fish, but my husband was unable to land one at the same time. So, he left my fish dangling in the frigid lake waters. (We had our own built-in refrigerator/freezer, don't you know?)

Well, the next day we fished and fished, and fished some more. FINally, after we had decided that we were going to have to go back and just cook up the one that I had caught, he landed one ... about the same size, actually, as mine. Fantabulous! We were going to "dine" tonite!

The smells coming from the pan were scrumpdeliocious!! Our mouths salivated. Then, when we actually started cutting into the fish, we discovered that their meats were a different color. "Oh, no!" we thought. "Was one spoiled??" (Just a horrendous possibility!)

VERY carefully, we each tasted the one that I had caught, thinking that it was probably the one that was tainted, and discovered, much to our wondrous surprise, that it was a lake trout (in my opinion, the steak of fish!). It wasn't tainted, at all. In fact, it was delicious!! (As was the bass my husband had acquired.)


Truly, that was a wonderful trip. My husband never took shaving gear with him on these trips, and we would come out of the 'wilderness' with him looking something like Rip Van Winkle.

In fact, following our very last portage back and heading across the lake to the outfitter's, I distinctly remember a passing canoeist shouting (with a grin on his face), "Eisenhower's still President!"

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fighting bugs

Sorry about my lack of posts the last few days.

I have been fighting bugs ... think I might be winning the battle, but most of my "up" time has been spent in drinking just lots and lots of orange juice and trying to figure out what else I can do to ward off whatever it is that is trying to take over my body.

Then, today (well, yesterday, actually!), I received a really intriguing question from one of my bridge students. It took quite a while to respond to that.

That's finished, now, but I am REALLY tired, again. Just wanted you all to know that I am O.K.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My 'possum

Would anyone like a 'possum?

I have one. It's yours. It's free. All you have to do is come and find it and get it out of here, you lucky son of a gun!

For many years now, the garage door that opens to my back yard has been off of its hinges. In fact, it leans against my fence!

It's all my fault.

A long time ago, I had taken to propping the garage door open with a broom handle wedged against the knob whenever I left the house each morning so that the working (at that time) large freezer that was located in the garage might at least have half a chance at some air circulation.

One night I came home, after another long day of driving, and discovered -- upon turning on the lights in the back yard -- an opossum skittering along the fence, moving as fast as it could away from the bright light.

My initial reaction was, "Neat!"

The only exposure I'd ever had to opossums was in nature magazines, cartoons, television, things of that sort ... never in real life. I'd always thought, "How cute!"

Well, they're NOT "cute"! In fact, they're downright ugly.

I didn't think too much more about it, tho, until just a few weeks later, when -- again going out into the garage to get into my car and go to work -- I could hear this kind of 'fierce' hissing noise coming from the inside of the garage.

I thought, "Heavens! There must be some kind of snake in here!" (That wouldn't have been terribly unusual. This is Houston, right?)

I opened the larger garage door to the outside world and carefully looked around.

There was no snake. What there was, instead, was a much smaller version of the opossum I had seen some weeks before. This one, however, was warning me (teeth bared all the while it was hissing!) not to come any closer.

That did it for me! I shouted, "You're out of here, kid! This is my garage, my car, and I want you OUT OF HERE!"

The possibility that something might get into the garage while I was gone had previously occurred to me. Now, of course, it was a probability.

Well, never mind. I can just hear all of you castigating me now with, ... "You should have done this or that." (or) "Why didn't you ... ... ?" Hindsight is foresight, is it not? (The old "Monday morning quarterbacking" routine?)

Time went by. No 'possums of any size re-appeared.

One day I went out to the garage and thought, "What is that absolutely horrendous smell?" Lawdy, lawdy, it smelled like something had died out there!

I went to work, clearing out years and years of art stuff and junk (mostly junk!) that I had accumulated ... frame parts, rug samples, catalogues, swatches, mailing tubes and cartons ... I kept setting stuff out for the poor garbage men to pick up, and they kept picking it up, God bless their hearts!!

Twice, at least, they had to back up their truck to get all the crap I threw out! (I apologize for the use of that word, but it's the best descriptive noun I can conjure up at this time.)

All of a sudden, it seemed, the 'smell' was gone.

I had not discovered a decaying body. (I really don't know where the odor came from nor do I know where it went. All I know is that I was glad it was no longer there!)

Nonetheless, I kept my car windows tightly 'rolled up' when my vehicle was parked in the garage (does anyone "roll up" their windows anymore?) just in case an absolutely horrific smell might try to permeate my cloth car seats.

Within the past week -- again, lighting up the backyard in preparation to going out to the garage -- I saw, much to my chagrin, a 'possum.

I'm sorry if I might offend some of you folks, but I simply refuse to dignify the creature in my back yard with the word "opossum".

THIS critter, actually, might be the 'grown up' version of the hissing/snarling/teeth-bared one that I met not that many years ago in my garage. And, I don't think he/she would be one you might be wanting to encounter in the dark!

This time, he/she was on top of my birdbath, sucking on what had to be really stagnant water!

Well, I'd had it 'up to here' with this critter, O.K.?!?

I went back into the house, filled a VERY large container with water, went back outside and proceeded to douse same creature.

He/she just sat/lay there and seemed to languish in all of the attention! Heavens to Betsy!! NOW what should I do??

Well, I found a hoe, and went back out into the yard, advancing towards the critter, all the while whirling the weapon around and around in a threatening manner and yelling vile epithets!

The 'monster' refused to budge.

I continued to advance, brandishing my hoe at the forefront.


No reaction.

NOW what was I to do? I mean, I ask you!

I continued forward, until the hoe was actually touching the creature.

Still nothing!

Frustrated beyond words, I gave it a huge jab and lodged it off of the birdbath.

I watched as it just lay there, inert, for a millisecond, and then got up and skittered off to 'shelter' behind afore-mentioned "leaning back garage door".

Would anyone like a 'possum?

I have one. It's yours. It's free. All you have to do is come and find it and get it out of here, you lucky son of a gun!