Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year End Closeouts

I thought I would closeout the year on a positive note and reflect on some of the things that I accomplished this year.

*****Please listen to the Jeopardy theme music playing while I rack my brain trying to remember something, anything!

Okay, I guess my 30 seconds are up.

What is...?

Oh well, I didn't have any money left from Christmas to wager anyhows. But hey, there's always next year.

Lastly, thanks for reading about the MA Fat Woman! The cat was tired of hearing all of my stories and said I needed a new least I don't have to rub your belly to get you to listen :) :) :0)

MA Fat Woman

Friday, December 26, 2008

Temporarily Away

The MA Fat Woman has taken some time off to spend with her family. I do know that she had to return most of the gifts that she didn't pick out for herself. She should be back sooner, not later or whenever her family gets tired of being around her.

MA Fat Woman's Mom

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Traditions

Some of my fondest memories around the holidays occurred on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t the actual event that was so much fun but the preparations up to that special day.

My Dad would always help in the decorating of the living room. There are certain decorations that had to go in a specific spot each year. We always had red and green crepe paper chains that ran across the ceiling of the living room. We would take branches from the bottom of the Christmas tree and place them on the mantel above the fireplace. We had a fabulously colored gold and shiny tinsel looking thing that hung from one of the doorways.

My job on Christmas Eve was to always set out the different food-laden bowls in the living room. We always had a bowl with various nuts, mainly walnuts. We had a specific bowl for the fruit, mainly navel oranges that we ordered from the FFA each year. And you can’t forget about the cheese plate. (Which was my favorite)

Both sets of my grandparents would come to my house each year for Christmas Eve dinner. My dad’s mom and my step-grandfather, both affectionately known as Mamaw and Papaw, as well as my mom’s mother and her brother, also known affectionately as Granny and Uncle Tommy. You needed to make sure you called Mamaw “mamaw” and Granny “granny”, or they’d let you know about it.

We would have a very big meal and then get to open our presents from our grandparents. I always knew what I was getting. Mamaw gave up buying us presents when we were really young. Instead, we were given money to go buy ourselves a present, which you had to wrap and then open in front of Mamaw.

Granny had so many grandchildren that all she could afford was usually a dollar bill and a pair of socks. I didn’t mind because I always knew that I would get a new pair of dress socks for Christmas.

Christmas Eve also meant something else too. That night the furnace got turned up to almost 80. Both grandparents were extremely cold-natured and we would have the fireplace going full blast and the furnace wide open. I loved it! I swear that was the coldest house I have ever lived in. The furnace had two vents—one into the living room and the other into mom and dad’s bedroom. There was an exhaust pipe that ran up through the ceiling and on out to the outside. The pipe was right beside my bed and I would hug it (it was warm) before I burrowed into my bed covered with about 15 quilts and blankets.

It seemed we were in bed relatively early and we tried to stay awake so we could monitor the comings and goings of the busy bees downstairs as they readied the living room for Christmas morning. I’m not sure what time they got to bed but everything was always perfect.
Our Christmas Eve dinners were always a lot of fun and something that we looked forward to. Sadly, several of the key players are no longer with us and they are deeply missed. We have a new tradition for Christmas Eve that we started after we lost Dad. I’m not sure why, but now we always go out for Chinese food.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rudd Christmas Farm

A holiday tradition that many people in southern Ohio enjoyed throughout the years was a visit to see the lights. Actually, it was called Rudd Christmas Farm and it featured almost a million lights by the time it closed in 1999. The light display was nestled in the hills of southern Ohio near the Shawnee National Forest in a town called Blue Creek.

I knew Blue Creek because that's where my Granny and Uncle Tommy lived. Each year after Thanksgiving Mr. Rudd would flip the switch and the twinkling lights would fill the nighttime sky with a dazzling display of electric sunshine. If you were looking for plastic Santa Clauses or mechanized Frosty the Snowmans then this light display wasn't for you. Rudd Christmas Farm celebrated the true meaning of Christmas, which was the birth of Jesus. Some years he would have live animals on display and a manger scene was usually set up in the barn.

We usually went to see the lights on Christmas night. We had spent the day at Granny's house--eating and running down all of the batteries in our new toys. As darkness began to close in it was time to load up in her truck and drive over to see this year's display. I don't know how we managed but we always seemed to fit 23 people in Granny's truck, plus a wheelchair.

The drive to see the lights was an adventure by itself. It was a couple miles back a curvy road with a large stream on one side and a big drop off down into a gully on the other. Throw in some icy weather and a couple tour buses and you got yourself a happening situation.

Once we unloaded and made our way through the display it was time to meet Mr. Rudd. Both Mr Rudd and my Granny had had large families. He didn't know who you specifically belonged to, but he knew you were one of Margaret's kids' kids. Greetings were exchanged and Christmas carols were sang with full-bellied gusto. It was a good time.

I guess the event that stands out the most about my visits to Rudd Christmas Farm was the year he did something special for my family. Due to horrible weather and a death in the family we were unable to view the lights on Christmas night. We had several family members that didn't make it to Granny's house until well up into January. Granny placed a phone call and asked if Mr Rudd might turn on the lights for a few minutes so we could witness the majesty of his display. Not a problem, he told my grandmother, come on over. Now, that's the true meaning of Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Conversations

Since Thanksgiving was so late this year my family and many others, I'm sure, have been playing catch up for the past several weeks. The following is actual dialogue between my family members on various subjects.

MA Fat Woman: "You got your tree yet"?
Mom: "No, it's too early yet".
MA Fat Woman: "It's December 21. How much later are you going to wait?"
Mom: "It's been raining. I can't very well get a tree in the rain, can I? Besides, I called a guy and he said he would deliver it to me".
MAFW: "I didn't know that Christmas tree farms delivered?"
Mom: "Listen here young lady! Don't you get smart with me".

Sister: "What did you get Mom for Christmas?"
MAFW: "Nothing yet. She already has everything she could possibly want or need. What did you get her?"

Brother: "What does Mom want for Christmas?"
Sister: "I don't know. MAFW was supposed to do some hinting around and find out".

MAFW: "What would you like for Christmas this year?"
Mom: "Well, I've been through so many Christmases that I already have everything that I could possibly need".

Brother: "Did you find out what Mom wanted for Christmas?"
MAFW: "She said she had been through so many Christmases that she had everything that she could possibly want or need".
Brother: "That's helpful"!
Sister: "Ask her again".

MAFW: "Have you bought the turkey yet"?
Mom: "I don't think I want turkey this year. I might want to get a ham".
MAFW: "Why do you want ham?"
Mom: "I just want to try something a little different this year".

MAFW: "Mom wants to have ham for Christmas this year. She wants to try something different".
Brother & Sister: "Is she sick? What's going on? You're supposed to find out what she wants for Christmas and now you tell us she wants ham instead of turkey. Do we need to come earlier than expected?"

MAFW: Mom, Brother & Sister want to know if they need to come sooner for Christmas"?
Mom: "Lord, heavens what for"?
MAFW: "To see if you need any help getting the tree and buying the ham".
Mom: "You kids need to worry about your own problems, not mine. I've already got the tree up and decorated and I bought a turkey and a ham. See you on Christmas Eve"!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Minor Details

Sometimes with all the hustle and bustle of the holidays small things can get over looked. I misplaced my electric bill under a pile of miscellaneous scraps of wrapping paper and had to pay a 30 dollar late fee. (No holiday spirit there)

I have been overlooking the fact that I have gained about 10 pounds since Thanksgiving.

Another minor detail that I seem to have overlooked is my credit card limit. Every time I go shopping and swipe the card it comes back approved. (I guess I'll deal with that in January)

I'm a little disappointed with the amount of Christmas cards that I have received this year. Only six so far.

I went to the mailbox and was excited that I had received a card from Mom. Good ole' mom--you can always count on your mom to keep those holiday traditions alive. I ripped the envelope open and pulled out the beautiful card inside. It was lovely...a wonderful holiday scene with carolers and horse-driven sleighs. As I turned it around several times looking to see what personal message she had written on the inside I became a little confused. There wasn't any message at all; in fact, she hadn't even signed the card.

Needless to say, I called her right away to point out the fact of the unsigned card. Her response: You knew who it was from, didn't you? What's it matter if I signed it or not. I've been busy baking and stuff, so, I forgot a minor detail. Be thankful you got a card at all, what with the price of stamps and all. I don't know why they keep raising the price of stamps...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sleigh Riding On Cherry Fork Road

One of the activities that I miss the most since I grew up and moved south is going sleigh riding. I’ve mentioned before that I grew up on a farm in southern Ohio. We had two driveways, one that led up to the house of course, and the other that led up to the barn. Our house and barn were located on the top of a small hill with a gradual incline down to the road. Whether going to the left or to the right out of the driveways you immediately had to start going uphill. I think you get the picture.

Anyhow, when we were younger, nothing gave my siblings and me more countless hours of enjoyment than an old boring piece of plastic. The neighborhood kids would always come to our house because we lived on top of a hill. Plus, our parents were usually at work. Riding the piece of plastic down the hill was especially dangerous. There was a fence at the bottom that separated the field from the creek. But, there was a couple of bumps near the bottom of the hill that if you hit them just right you could go flying over the fence and into the creek. This amazing feat happened to the MA Fat Woman on more than one occasion and was always accompanied by shouts of “AIRBORNE” from the barnyard animals and visiting neighborhood children. Most times though, we just plowed into the fence at the bottom and hoped the barbed wire wouldn’t cut us as we disengaged ourselves from the fence. Honestly, I shredded my fair share of mittens to say the least and I do have a couple of faint scars from barbed wire puncture wounds.

As I grew older, the allure of Cherry Fork Road began to call. For Christmas that year, I had gotten a real sled, the kind on metal gliders that could be steered by hand. Oh, my goodness, it was a beauty. The directions told me to use wax and rub the blades until you could see your reflection in them. The better the blades were waxed, the faster the sled would go. That’s what the instructions said anyway. Now, all I needed was some snow.

It finally snowed enough sometime late in January to give the new sled a test run. There are several ways to ride the classic flyer sled. You can sit down on it and have others give you a push. If you are a little adventuresome, you can lie down and have others help you out by giving you a shove. But, the best way to get going is to get a running start, jump on it and then hold on for dear life. On more than one occasion, I landed with a thud as the sled darted out from under me or I ran into the ditch because I couldn’t steer it properly.

Everyone was having loads of fun with the new sled until the day we almost got run over by the snow plow. After that, no more riding on the road. We tried to ride down the hill in the field but the blades always got stuck in the high grass. One day, my little friend, who was considerably younger and smaller than me was complaining because we couldn’t ride the sled any longer. Suddenly, I had an idea. I would lie down on the sled first and then my friend would get on my back facing the opposite direction to watch for cars. It was brilliant! Dad didn’t think so. He thought we were just being annoying. No riding the sled on the road; it was too dangerous. After huddling for a few days, we came up with a slightly better version of our plan. We would do everything just the same, except for the time of day. We were going to go sleigh riding at night. We took the new plan to Dad who thought we were both nuts. He approved it and we made plans for the next evening.

It was a clear cold night. The waxing moon gave us just enough light to see where we were going. I got on the sled first and then my friend piled on top facing the opposite direction. We checked for cars and then shoved off. The sled took off and down we went screaming and laughing the whole way. We made it halfway up the next hill and we both jumped up and ran the rest of the way up the hill. I don’t know how long we rode the sled that night on Cherry Fork Road but mom had to come out and get us. I do remember it being a lot of fun and we rode the sled that way for several years.

Riding a sled, in the dark, on Cherry Fork Road is one of my favorite memories from life on the farm. With the recent weather the north is having, it might just be the time to find that old flyer and soap up the blades. It’s been 30 years since I have been on a sled; I bet I could teach my niece a thing or two.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Caught Off Guard

I was out an about on one of my undercover assignments today. During the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season many folks tend to get a little grumpy and irritable. Not me! Have you been stopped at a light before or just travelling down the road and you notice someone in another car singing or dancing? Well, that someone is me.

I don't really understand why I am in such a good mood. Must be the fact that I know I am getting some decent things for Christmas; seeing as how I picked them out.

I was riding along today and spent so much time rubbernecking at something that I almost ran off the road. It was a lightly wooded pasture filled with llamas and goats. I was somewhere between Deck the Halls and Jingle Bell Rock when I saw the first group of goats. This isn't unusual, but, I saw another bunch with a taller animal, then a third and I couldn't figure out what it was until I read the sign: Alexander's Llamas and Billie Goats. I don't know why that tickled me so much. I must have laughed for half an hour or so.

Something else happened that caught me totally off guard. I had stopped at the grocery store on the way home and was loading my groceries in the trunk of the car and was getting ready to return my cart. A guy walking past with his empty cart grabbed mine and said he'd take care of it for me. I was too stunned to object. I mumbled a "thanks" and continued shaking my head as I got into the car. Somebody had done something nice for someone without wanting anything in return. (Like my number) And he didn't ask for a tip.

Llamas, Billie Goats and a nice gesture. All great ways to be caught off guard!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Day Of Wrapping

I spent seven hours, twenty-six minutes and thirteen seconds wrapping Christmas presents today.

I wrapped 58 gifts.

I had bought myself a couple of items and I wrapped them up too. I'll take them over to my mom's house to open up Christmas morning. She's always amazed at the things she gets me; I always seem to like certain presents more than others.

I was pleased that I got everything wrapped in one day. My sister, was on day 7 of wrapping. She has to have a stool to keep herself propped up so she doesn't pass out on the wrapping table.

My seen from the recliner has improved significantly. I do have the lights strung up and one or two ornaments. The cat has eaten all of the pine needles that his little tummy can handle. I've got more presents on one side of the tree to hold it down. It's leaning a little to the right.

I've spent a day wrapping presents and that can only mean one thing: I am through with my Christmas shopping!

Now, it's time to start baking.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rediscovering Potholes

I am happy to say that I am off the roads from my recent visit back up north. I love visiting, I really do; but, it's that pesky return drive that always gets me. I'll tell you something else that almost got me. Potholes. I had forgotten how big and bad the potholes are up there.

My sister was shopping like she normally does and dragged me along with her. I guess there was a sale going on at a particular store and you had to be the sixteenth person in line at approximately 9:30 AM on a particular day to get 3% off your fourth item purchased. We were running a bit late and she decided to take a back road behind the south corner of the old strip mall close to her house.

I'm not even sure if it was a road or not. We hit every pothole that we could and couldn't see. We hit one hole and the coffee in my cup bounced up and I was able to catch it on the bounce back up from the next pothole. By the time we made it to the store I had a burn on my neck from the seatbelt holding me in place and a very sore tongue that I had bitten somewhere back amongst the potholes.

I was a little grumpy by this time. I'm not much of a shopper. My sister just rolled her eyes at me as I started explaining the virtues of living somewhere where potholes are hard to find. As we stood in line waiting for the store to open I asked what item she had been in such a hurry to get that we had to travel through all of those potholes.

"Your Christmas present", she said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Concerts

I've taken a few days off to travel north into the frigid wastelands of southern Ohio to watch my niece perform in her Christmas school concerts.

At least I thought it was supposed to be a Christmas concert?

I watched the junior high chorus perform several selections, none of which I have ever heard before.

Next, the junior high orchestra performed several melodious tunes that had my sister and I tapping our toes and clapping our hands in unison. You're right, we had never heard of any of those "holiday" selections.

When I was in the band and the chorus we played Christmas songs at the Christmas Concert. We played Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, and of course, ended the program with all singing together We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

When the conductor had the orchestra take its final bows I stood up ready to sing my favorite Christmas carol. I was the only one standing and my niece turned to look at me with a look of pure terror on her face as I began the opening verse of We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Everyone turned to look at me and then my sister joined in as we headed into the main chorus. Before you knew it, the whole auditorium joined in and we sang ourselves out of the room. I heard many saying what a good way to end the program. My niece spent the next fifteen minutes explaining that the crazy lady that started the Christmas carol was her Aunt MA Fat Woman from Georgia and that's how they do things in the south.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another Seen From The Recliner

I’ve done some remodeling around the house lately. It’s not really remodeling, but a moving of stuff from one junk room to the other. As you know I got my Christmas tree recently and it needed to have its own corner of the living room. I was tired of not being able to see my tree from my recliner so I moved my computer desk and all of its associated printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, photo printer and ipod docking station into a storage unit for the Christmas Holiday Season. Why do I have all of that junk anyway? I don’t use most of it anyway. I guess I have been keeping up with to many Joneses.

Anyhow, after much exertion, and rolling up of cables and cords I got everything packed away. I now had a nice empty corner nook for my sparkling new tree. I had to cut the base of the tree as well as several surrounding lower branches off to get it to fit into the Christmas tree stand. My friend helped me to wrestle it upright and we both stepped backed to see if it was crooked or not. Over it went. It was crooked and lopsided. We pushed and pulled, turned it this way, then turned it around and finally decided to just take it inside and set it up. I had plenty of fishing line to tie it to the nail on the wall to ensure that it was perfectly straight.

And there it sets. It’s about 8 feet high and there are no branches below 2 feet. This helps to keep the cat from getting to the tree. The cat likes to eat pine needles and has thrown up six times. Whilst maneuvering the tree into the house I threw my back out and haven’t moved from my recliner since. There are no decorations on it—they’re upstairs in the attic. It needs to be watered. (The cat tried to pee on it, but, I don’t think that counts.) I keep hearing noises coming from the tree. Might be a bird? Could be a squirrel? No, I know what it is. It’s that little boy and his family that I didn’t let have the tree mocking me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

O' Christmas Tree

I’ve been going to the same Christmas tree farm for the last fifty years. We're not related but I’ve been such a regular customer that the proprietor of said farm lets me drive the John Deere tractor and wagon to haul my tree in after I have made my selection. For all of you city dwellers that think a Christmas tree farm is something set up on a vacant lot somewhere with a string of lights and overpriced Charlie Brown cedar bushes you’re wrong.

An authentic tree farm is where the trees are still in the ground and you take an axe and cut down the tree of your choice. Now, before the tree-huggers start pelting me with bits of holiday fruitcake about the damage that I am causing the environment by chopping down a tree, let it be said that I recycle my tree every year. I take my used tree and drop it in my friend’s lake to give the fish some added protective habitat. I’m been doing that for about five years and I haven’t caught a fish out of that lake since. I usually lose my line several times, probably on one of those dang trees.

When I went to get my tree this year I thought I was at the mall. The owner of the farm saw me pull in and waved me over to the John Deere. “Can’t talk now,” he said. “This place is jumping.”

He was right. I counted at least 4 pickups, 3 minivans, 2 SUVs, and a brightly colored red mustang.

I get the same kind of tree every year. My favorite has always been a white pine. There are several rules when choosing a tree. You have to walk through the entire field, up and down the rows, checking out each tree. I never choose one in the middle. It’s either all the way down at the other end of the field or it’s the very first one I see. In years past, I would take the handsaw and cut it down myself. Something has happened over the years, if I get down on the ground I can’t get back up. No problem, the owner will cut it for me, load it into the wagon, and then let me drive it back to the car.

The field was crowded with folks searching for just the perfect tree. A lot of people had already been there; the selection of white pines wasn’t as good as in past years. I had narrowed my choice down to 3 different trees and was trying to decide. I was on the opposite side of the field when an older lady and gentleman sidled up to one of the trees that I was considering. Before I could take one step in that direction, that old man had dropped to his knees and started cutting down my tree. I turned to look toward the other tree that I had been considering and it was gone too. I guess I was going to take the one closest to my car, the very first tree that I had looked at. I started to walk away from my chosen one when I heard something from behind me. It was a little boy that was standing excitedly beside my tree exclaiming that that was the tree he wanted.

He didn’t get it. I caught the eye of the owner of the farm and he walked over and asked if I had made my selection. I pointed to my Christmas tree and he chopped it down. The little boy was standing there as his parents walked up to a freshly cut tree stump. They looked at me and I looked at them and then we all looked at the owner of the Christmas tree farm who said this: “Sorry folks, you’re too late; my niece has been watching this tree grow for the past five years.”

He looked at me, gave me a wink, and proceeded to carry my new Christmas tree over to my car. Sometimes, it helps to know the owner.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Early Appointments

I went back to the doctor this week. I was only two months past my already past due appointment by about four months. We've already been over the routine that I go through in a past article; but for the newbies, check out July, I think that's where it is. Anyhow, I was back to see the particular doctor that was probably a teacher in a past life because she hands out gold stars if you’ve been doing what you’re supposed to do. I got a gold star which is a good thing.

I like to schedule my appointments early in the day. Not the very first appointment, because at 8:00 AM, I’m not really functioning that well. I like to be awake before the poking and prodding begins. Also, the doctors seem to be a little sluggish at that time. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be wearing that paper gown and hear or see somebody yawn. It might hurt my feelings. After all, you’re sitting there with your business out for everyone to see and people are yawning at you. It might not be that impressive but it ain’t that bad either. I’ve ‘bout worked myself into a fit just thinking about it.

Another important fact about early appointments is that you usually get to spend more time with the doctor than the later scheduled ones. The closer to noon or quitting time usually results in visits of ten minutes or less. Of course, that could be a good thing if you don’t like to go to the doctor.

I don’t particularly like going to the doctor, but it’s a necessary evil. Where else can you do what you are supposed to be doing and get a gold star?

Now, if she would only start awarding monetary prizes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ready Made Excuses

Awhile back I mentioned that I don't like to deal with credit card companies over the phone because it's never easy to get them off the phone. Mainly, if you have to call to activate a new card, you always get transferred to a customer service representative halfway across the world that tries to add some sort of protection against fraud or rude sales clerks. (Which might come in handy)

Anyhow, several years ago I received one of those satellite radios for my birthday and a one year subscription was included. That first year ended and I have been paying for it by the year ever since. It was interesting and has a lot of good music on it but my system is kind of bulky and I don't really have any space available for it to be utilized on a daily basis. In fact, I haven't listened to it in about six months. I wanted to cancel the subscription sooner but I couldn't find my paperwork. Plus, I hate dealing with those people on the phone.

Yesterday, I received an email from the company and it had my account number and a phone number to call for customer care. (Bingo!) They were just letting me know that my credit card was going to be billed in a few weeks and thanks for being a subscriber. (Not anymore)

I've cancelled several services and subscriptions over the years and have come up with a ready made excuse that stops the person on the other end of the phone in their tracks. What is it? The MA Fat Woman tells them that she's getting married. By my calculations, I've been married about 12 times.

Of course, the person from the company will tell you that you can take your service with you when you get married. I got an answer for that too! Tell them that your new spouse already has the service and you don't need two. So, the next time you have to cancel something try that excuse, it works for me every time.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Here Today Gone Tomorrow

It was relatively warm yesterday but the weatherman said that a massive cold front was approaching and might bring some wintry precipitation to my locality.

Have they all gone nuts?

Schools were closed.

My trip to the grocery store almost resulted in WW III. I had to wrestle a crotchety old man for the last loaf of bread and pry a gallon of milk loose from the grip of a screaming mother with 4-year old triplets.

I had to visit my doctor today(Which is another story)and was sitting in one of those small waiting areas when the lady beside me struck up a conversation. As most idle conversations tend to do the topic of the weather was mentioned. That little old lady said she almost didn't come out because of all the snow she had at her house. It turns out she lives about six blocks from me and she had about two inches of snow. I think I might have seen, maybe, two snowflakes. It's all in the eyes of the beholder, I guess.

Anyhow, that's what we do in the South. One snowflake can add up to one foot if you talk to the right person. The news crews will come up from Atlanta and put any moron they can find on TV and let them cuss and discuss the potential danger they could face while driving on ice.

Well, duh.

When we do get any real wintry weather it's usually ice and it has normally melted by the next day.

The funny part of all of this is that I have become used to this tradition of running to the store for bread and milk. I watch the Weather Channel for the special weather advisories and I watch the morons on the local news looking to see if I know any of them.

Winter weather doesn't happen very often in the south but when it does it is here today and gone tomorrow.


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