Monday, August 30, 2010

Mentone, Alabama...Part III

Friend and I looked at each other in confusion as the old man repeated, "Have you seen the White Elephant?"

"I'm not sure," I said. "Is it sitting in this room?"

"What? I'm not talking about Harvey. Oh, wait. That was a white rabbit. Hehehe-you 'bout had me there. I loved Jimmy Stewart. No, I'm talking about the antique store called the White Elephant behind the closed down hotel. It's a big old place--take you half a day to get through it."

"Nope. Haven't been there yet. We'll check it out on the way to Ft. Payne. Well, we better get going, there's a lot more stuff to see." We walked outside and hopped into the car, anxious to continue on in our exploration of Mentone. We took the road leading down the mountain and searched for the White Elephant as we left town. Sure enough, it was just as the man had described--very big and what we could see through the windows overflowing with antiques. "Maybe, we can come back tomorrow when we have more time," I said.

It didn't take very long before we arrived in Ft. Payne. The town was an important site for the Cherokee Nation until their forced removal to Oklahoma along what became known as The Trail Of Tears. Later in the 1800s, the town experienced a "Boom Period" when most of the still standing historic buildings were built. It was thought that large coal and iron deposits were abundant, but after only a few short years they had all but dried up.

It wasn't until early into the 20th century that Ft. Payne rebounded with a new industry: hosiery. And that was one of the reasons that I wanted to go. Not for hose, but for socks. Before NAFTA, Ft. Payne was the largest sock producer in the world. After NAFTA--not so much. If you check your socks, you'll see what I'm talking about. What used to say, "Made in America" now says, "Made in China."

I was lucky to secure several dozen pairs of diabetic socks for the family, at wholesale, mind you, and plan to return whenever I need more.

The other reason that I wanted to go to Ft. Payne was to go searching for my favorite man, Randy Owens, from the group Alabama. After asking several locals if they knew where he lived, all had pointed me to the park in the center of town and I found this beautiful tribute.





After a relaxing meal at the Old Family Buffet complete with live entertainment. (It was a hole-in-the-wall place and I walked in the door to see if they were open and was met with the smell of the seafood buffet and a guy singing C.W. McCall's Convoy. It was quite the combination, so we decided to stay and see what he would sing next...)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mentone, Alabama...Part II

...Both Friend and I shivered in disgust simultaneously at the man's words. I was the first to break the silence, "Nope, we're from Georgia."

"Ah, that explains it," he said.

Now, I'm not from Georgia originally, and I'm not one to get offended when my heritage is being questioned but I knew that we had just been dissed so I couldn't help myself when I asked, "What do you mean by that?"

He laughed silently to himself, shook his tambourine, spat and said, "You Bulldawgs are always busy, always got a phone stuck to ya ear and never take time to enjoy the day. Come on inside and take a look."

At his invitation, both Friend and I stepped inside his shop. Inside were some of the most beautifully hand carved wood sculptures that I had ever seen. "Did you carve these?" I asked.

"Yep, sure did. It keeps me occupied. This whole community is filled with artisans, writers, painters and crafters. You'll never know what you'll find in these shops. The inventories change with the moods of the artists. You got any creativity about ya?"

"Well, I like to write some," I replied.

"Yeah, she's the Middle-Aged Fat Woman," Friend said helpfully.

Now, you've heard of people snorting when they get tickled. That old man made some sort of noise, choked on his 'baccer juice, rattled his tambourine and said, "Middle-Aged Fat Woman, you don't say. Are you that blogger that's got that feisty mother?"

"Yep, that's me!

"Well, what about that. Ain't this a small world. I love reading all about your adventures. Have you put a book together yet? I could sell it in the store for you. What are you doing here in Mentone?"

"Just came to spend time with friends and enjoy the scenery. I want to go to Ft. Payne and see if I can find any of the guys from the group Alabama or go on over to Scottsboro and check out the Unclaimed Luggage place. I like looking at the antique stores, too."

"Have you seen the white elephant...?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mentone, Alabama...Part I

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had spent a few days up in the Alabama Mountains getting some culture. It was nice to get away without having to drive a thousand miles. I sorta live in the middle of here and not where I want to be and it's a hassle to get where I'd like to be. Some friends had rented a cabin on the southern side of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, on the outskirts of a town called Mentone. I would be lying if I said it was a one horse town; it's a little smaller than that.

We had arrived early on Friday afternoon and Friend immediately began feeling uneasy. First of all, her cell phone wasn't getting a signal and she is very attached to the old iPhone. Secondly, there was a strange looking man sitting on a chair that kept staring at her. In between spits of nasty smelling tobacco juice he kept trying to play a harmonica and rattle a tambourine hoping to entice folks inside his shop.

After a few moments of fighting with the phone she got a signal and was able to place a call. Somehow, at that time, while scary man continued to shake, rattle and spit, every vehicle without a muffler, every dump truck and every ATV within a 10 mile radius all converged on the same spot: the convenience store where Friend was trying to talk on the phone. I finally had to go inside because by that time I was laughing so hard I nearly wet my pants.

Friend joined me inside a short time later and had this to say: "I'm ready to get out of here. This place reminds me of one of those movies where you end up visiting, but never leave. Keep your eye out for people with chainsaws or a big tall man wearing a hockey mask. This place gives me the creeps!"

We spent a few moments cooling and calming ourselves down, enjoyed an old fashioned coke in a bottle and plotted our next move; we still had several hours to kill before going to the cabin. At that time, Mr. Shake, Rattle and Spit stopped his activities, looked over at us and with a toothless smile said, "You girls, ya ain't from 'round these parts, are ya...?"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Are You Mad?


I was sitting around doing some thinking lately and the longer I sat the madder I got. You probably have your own things to be mad about but here's what is bothering me:

I'm mad that my doctor charges me $220 for an office visit. And then all they want to do is send me for more and more tests. Yes, I have diabetes and high cholesterol, but quit trying to find something else wrong with me.

I'm mad that every time President Obama wants to take a vacation every Republican, dead or alive rants that he doesn't have the right to do so. It hasn't been that long ago that President Bush spent the entire month of August at his ranch in Texas. I don't remember him receiving that much criticism.

I'm mad at myself that I can't seem to stick with my eating plan. This new Walmart and its bakery has sure thrown a monkey wrench into my weight loss. Plus, the gym I joined a few months ago went out of business because of the economy.

I'm mad that every agent that I've sent my book proposal to has sent it back saying, "It's just not for me." Okay, people, if it's not for you, who is it right for? Where are the readers of Erma Bombeck and Lewis Grizzard? Doesn't anyone want to laugh anymore? I love to read a lot of different genres but how many vampires does the literary world need? Okay, maybe Lestat, what about it Ann? Any new stories forthcoming?

I'm mad at my new furniture. They sure look purty but it's more comfortable sitting on the floor. I miss my recliners!

I'm mad that I can't seem to outgrow my montly outbreak of acne. Change, already, will ya? It was so bad this month that I looked like I had the chicken pox. Careful! I don't want to get confused with one of those Duggar kids.

Well, these are a few of the things that I'm mad about. What about you? Feel free to vent in the comments section.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's My Lucky Day...Year III

****It's the third time around for this post. I just know that this will be the luckiest day of the year...Third time's a charm, right?



****This was what I posted last year on my lucky day. It didn't turn out as lucky as I would have wanted. So, I'm giving it another whirl. Maybe, better luck this year...year 2!


Today, August 22, is the luckiest day of the year for me. If something exciting is supposed to happen, it usually happens on this day. I can't remember the specific events (okay, maybe I can, but a girl has to have some secrets) but I do know that it was on this date. I do remember that I got my wisdom teeth pulled on this date in 1989. I know that wasn't lucky but I did get to eat mashed potatoes for every meal for a few days. And luckily, my favorite food is mashed potatoes.

I think I am going to try my lucky numbers on the lottery this evening. The problem is that I have to pick five numbers and I only have two: Eight for August and twenty-two for the twenty-second. That means that I will only get two out of five numbers and you don't win anything with just two correct. But, since it is my lucky day, I might get the other three numbers as well. I'm a winner and I didn't even know it. Now, what am I going to do with all that cash?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcomed To Walmart


If you missed my earlier post about the new Walmart opening in my town you can check it out here.

So, the big day finally arrived and Walmart threw open its shiny new doors to welcome the citizens of my small town. From what I heard, you'd have thought that the President had come to town. Well, maybe an ex-President, it is somewhat of a Republican lovin' area. I'm not sure if they had a band or not but I think the mayor might have been out there tooting his horn about getting them to come to town.

I waited until I thought an appropriate amount of time had passed before I ventured over to check out the store myself. I didn't want to seem too excited. But hey, there ain't much else to do in this place. It was after 5:00 PM when I finally entered the store and as I passed through the doors I was greeted by the nicest man wearing the biggest smile. "Welcome to Walmart," he said.

That was very nice I thought to myself. I turned left inside the store and that took me toward the garden department. Along the way I passed 3 associates and was again, "Welcomed to Walmart!" I smile politely and kept moving. Toy department, "Welcome to Walmart." Automotive department, another "Welcome to Walmart." By the time I made it around to the Bakery I swore I was being followed by an Army of blue shirts and khaki panted soldiers all chanting in unison, "Welcome to Walmart!"

Holy Crap! I get it! You had me at welcome.

I had a hard time leaving the Bakery. I was the fat kid in the candy store and the smells were out of this world. I left the doughnuts alone, and instead went for a freshly baked box of blueberry muffins. Not to go Rachael Ray on ya or anything but, "YUM!"

My last stop in the store was the produce section. I wondered what the price of bananas was going to be. Thirty-two cents a pound was what the tag above the display said. Well, that's definitely cheaper, but the selection was bad; the bananas already had brown spots on them. Better luck next time, I guess.

I didn't see the chocolate dipped strawberries and they weren't having a wine and cheese tasting event. Maybe that will happen in a few months when all of the welcoming has worn off, what do you think?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Welcome To Walmart


My small town where I live is finally going to be more than a map dot on the old trusty Atlas. We're getting a Walmart. And not just any old Wallyworld, mind you, but a new prototype Walmart as I found out.

I was grocery shopping and I approached the produce section hoping to replenish my fruit bowl. I have a wooden bowl that contains apples, oranges and bananas, and sometimes pears if they're not too expensive. I say hoping because I never know if I'm going to get fresh fruit because it costs so much.

Anyhow, I was at the banana display and the bananas were marked .49c a lb. (too high). There was a nice looking younger lady with an infant checking out the other side of the display working her way around to me so I could admire her baby, I'm sure. Never one for missing out on a random conversation with a stranger I began our discussion with, "Oh, my, bless your heart, isn't she precious! When Walmart opens in a few days, either the prices are going to come way down or they're going to go through the roof. Forty-nine cents a pound for bananas, isn't that awful?"

"Thank you, but she is a he and he is precious. I know what you mean about the Walmart. I got to see it today."

"Are they having an open house?" I asked. (Dumb question, I know.)

"No. My husband is a manager there. They have chocolate dipped strawberries. It's a prototype of a new, more upscale Walmart. You wouldn't believe how different it is from a normal Walmart. They are going to even have pizza ovens, wine and cheese tastings and all sorts of stuff," she said excitedly. "I can't wait until it opens!"

After she walked away and left me standing by the bananas I started really thinking about gourmet strawberries, pizza ovens and fancy cheese. What am I thinking? I'm thinking that the price of my bananas is gonna jump up to $1.49 per pound to pay for all of that new fancy smancy stuff.

It opens in a few days. I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Not So Friendly Skies


I'm sure you've heard about the meltdown that flight attendant, Stephen Slater had aboard a JetBlue Airways flight recently. It seems that a passenger was rummaging around in the overhead compartment while the plane was still taxiing to the gate.

First of all, don't you hate those people? No matter where you go, or what you are doing, there is always that one person that is breaking the rules. What about the person that won't turn off their cell phone at the movies? What about the person that cuts in line at the amusement park? What about the person that has 57 items in the under 10 item checkout lane? I could go on and on.

As a former customer service employee of the United States Postal Service I can understand the frustration that Mr. Slater must have felt. I have been threatened to burn in hell, cursed at, called a pigeon holer (whatever that is) as well as other unmentionable salutations all because I was standing at the front counter. On more than one occasion I wanted to "Grab a beer, open the emergency slide and get the hell out of there."

I'm all about customer service but at some point the customer is not always right. And that point is usually when they are not following the rules. Rules are meant to be followed, not broken. They just don't make them for shits and giggles, you know. They are there for a reason.

Would I have done what Mr. Slater did? I'm not sure. I know I wouldn't want to be facing criminal charges because I was just doing my job. Why hasn't the person that stood up while the plane was taxiing been charged with anything? Surely, there's a misdemeanor charge for not obeying official instruction or something, right?

Wouldn't it have been awesome if Slater had looked at the Air Marshall and said, "Can I get some help here?" I bet that passenger would have sat down and stayed in their seat if they had a 9M pointed at them...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summertime Conversations

***The following conversation took place between my mother and me a few days ago. We hadn't spoken in over a week which is unusual for us.


Riiiiinnnnngggggg

Me: Hello?

Mom: What'cha doing?

Me: Sweatin'!

Mom: Oh! What'cha been doing?

Me: Sweating.

Mom: I see.

Me: How was your trip?

Mom: Warm.

Me: Did you do any sight-seeing?

Mom: Well, we started to get out of the car once, but it was too hot.

Me: I see. When did you get back?

Mom: A few days ago. Did you do anything for Friend's birthday?

Me: We were gonna go fishing, but it was too humid. Went to the casino instead.

Mom: Oh, my! How much did you lose?

Me: None! I came out ahead for a change.

Mom: Wow! Good for you. What about Friend?

Me: Well...it wasn't her day. She did get to keep her birthday cake, though.

Mom: Hahahahaha. Lololololololol. Hehehehhe...

Me: You shouldn't laugh at that...

Mom: I can't help it; it's funny to me.

Me: I'm going to cook a birthday dinner, do you want to come eat?

Mom: Come to your house? In this heat? Heavens, no! It would be fun to watch you play musical air conditioners, though. Well, gotta go, Wheel of Fortune is on. Bye.

Click!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What's Your Order?


If you've looked at the calendar lately you should have noticed a lot of dates lining up. Once the double zeros flipped over we've seen 01/01/01, 02/02/02, 0/3/03/03 and my favorite: 04/04/04 (my birthday). And you can't possibly forget about the luckiest day on record: 07/07/07.

We've also had days that have lined up sequentially like 01/02/03, 04/05/06 and 07/08/09. Recently, it was 08/09/10 (Friend's birthday) and a couple in southern Ohio gave birth to a beautiful bouncing baby girl. This wouldn't have been unusual except for the fact that she was born at 11:12 PM. Yes, that's right. She was born on 08/09/10 at 11:12. I wonder what the odds are of that?


Whether you believe in luck, happenstance or the natural order of things, the numbers have lined up perfectly and I think that's a good place to stop. After all, you know what comes after twelve, right?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Friend's Birthday...Year II

Birthday wishes go out to the Friend that I mention in my posts. Friend has experienced several of the MA Fat Woman's mishaps and can always be counted on for a good laugh, a no nonsense quote, or a story that will upstage mine every time.


Which reminds me of a story about Friend. Friend had a big time job and several underlings at her disposal for years. When birthdays and holidays floated around they always celebrated big. Everyone got cakes, presents, and usually taken out to dinner or the such. Well, Friend was really excited when it was time to celebrate her birthday. She had heard them planning and plotting the details of the party and was very excited.

It didn't turn out that way. It seems the person that had done the planning had an emergency and all of the plans fell through. On the day of the birthday, there was nothing.

No dinner!

No presents!

And no cake!

Somebody realized what had happened and ran to Walmart to get an emergency cake. The day was a Friday and the office was scarcely staffed. After about 3 or 4 people sang Happy Birthday, each grabbed a slice of cake and scattered back to their respective offices.

When it was time to go home that evening Friend went into the break room to get the cake to take home...

...it wasn't there!

"Where's the cake?" she asked.

"Oh, so-and-so took it with her. She said nobody had chipped in, so she was taking it home!"

I know! Stuff like that happens all the time to her.

Happy Birthday Friend!

I hope you get a cake that is all yours...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Purple In Polyester...Part II


When Mom mentioned that she might have an outfit in the closet for me it sent a little shiver down my spine. Mom has every piece of clothing that she has ever worn dating back to the 70s and most of them involve polyester in one form or another.

Mom started rummaging around and began pulling out one treasure after another. First off was the lime green pants and orange and lemon checked jacket with a faux fur collar. "What about this one? All it needs is a pair of black stilettos and you'll be dressed to impress," she said.

"Well, I'm not sure. You know I don't do well in heels," I replied.

"Yeah, that's right. You spent way too much time in those green Converse high tops of yours."

"Mom, they were my basketball shoes. I better get going if I'm going to pick something up tonight."

"Nonsense, let me see what else I got back here." Next out of the closet was a dark chocolate brown leisure suit that still had the tags on it. It had a white patent leather belt that should be cinched at the waist and there was a small label in one of the pockets that said the outfit would go great with white patent leather shoes. "Holy Toledo!" she exclaimed. "I wondered whatever happened to this suit. Here, try this on."

Mom handed me the suit and I handed it right back. "It's a size 14. I'm a little past that size, remember?"

"Don't you get smart with me, young lady. I'm still your mother and I'm just trying to help."

"I know, Mom, but I don't think there's anything in there that I can wear and my tastes are a little more conservative than yours. The next thing you're gonna pull out is your lucky suit which you said Dad made you get rid of because he said it made you look..."

"Wait! There it is. Oh, my goodness. I thought this was long gone. It's my lucky suit!"

As I watched her standing there flushed with excitement I was transported back to my childhood and that purple polyester suit. Whenever there was an occasion that called for Mom to be dressed up she wore the suit, it was her "lucky suit" she always said.

"I'm gonna go see if it still fits," she said. She returned a few minutes later wearing the purple polyester suit. It was a little snug in some places, and fit perfectly most everywhere else. She looked radiant, turning this way, admiring herself in the long mirror, humming what sounded like an early Elvis Presley song, completely oblivious that I was in the room.

"It still fits, Mom. But why do you call it your lucky suit?"

My question seemed to snap her out of her reverie and she looked directly at me. "This is my lucky suit because this is the suit that I met your dad in. He said it made me look like--well, that's none of your business. And on second thought, I don't think you can wear any of my clothes. You better get going if you're going to find any stores open."

She was right. I needed to get going to see if I could find my own lucky suit. As I left the room she was still admiring her reflection and I'm sure was reminiscing about the night she wore the purple polyester suit and met my father nearly sixty years ago.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Purple In Polyester...Part I


I had a job interview today. Shocking, isn't it? When the lady called to set up an interview I thought she had the wrong number. I've sent out dozens of resumes with little or no response.

When a Master's Degree is as common as a Bachelor's Degree these days your resume and cover letter really need to stand out. I went back over both of my documents searching for the magical phrase or well-intended action verb that had caught the HR Department's eye but came up empty.

There's nothing like short notice to light a fire under somebody's ass and that ass belonged to me. A job interview? Are you kidding? And they want me to come first thing in the morning. Are you kidding me?

Needless to say, I had several activities planned for the day, one of which was a trip to Mom's to pick up the cat and the new cat because I had been hiding up in the Alabama mountains for a few days getting some culture.

I walked into her house and mentioned that I had a job interview and she 'bout fell out of her chair. "Are you kidding?" she said. "Don't blow it. What are you gonna wear? You ain't worn nothing but t-shirts and shorts for the past two years."

That was a problem. I have a whole wardrobe that I haven't seen in about two years now, the pre-quitting smoking wardrobe of nice sweaters, dress shirts and business suits. I do have one outfit on hand; I call it my funeral suit. It's black, wool and extremely hot; not something that needs to be worn in the Georgia summertime heat. "I don't know," I said. "I'll have to pick something up. I do have the funeral suit..."

"Heavens to Betsy, good gracious NO! You are not, I repeat N-O-T wearing the funeral suit. You'll keel over for sure wearing that hot and scratchy thing. I bet I got something in the closet that would be appropriate."

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