Monday, December 30, 2013

It Could Only Happen To Me

As a writer, it should come as no surprise to many of you that I have been known to embellish here and there to give a story a more satisfying punch.

Sometimes, it's the beginning of the story.

It could be somewhere in the middle that needs a little spicing up.

Or, it could need just a bit of a twist at the end to either make me the hero...

...or the goat. It just depends on what kind of mood I'm in that day.

But, sometimes, mind you, on extremely rare occasions, everything falls perfectly into place and no changes to the plot are necessary.

Yes, what I am about to share really happened and this time, I have witnesses.

My sister was visiting Georgia for the Christmas Holidays and after a fun and festive day we decided to hit the stores the day after Christmas and take advantage of the sales and discounts that were in many stores.

Now, I'm not much of a shopper like my sister is but I do like to tag along. We had been to several stores and it was later in the day. My feet were beginning to hurt and I was getting grouchy. My sister noticed  that I wasn't keeping up any longer (I mean, how many signs that say 50% off do I have to look at? I get it, prices are marked down but I've run out of people to shop for.) and said she was almost ready to go. (Thank you!)

We were at the far side of the store which happened to be Target in the last wide aisle in the very back. I was leaning on the cart for support trying not to let my eyes glaze over with boredom when I noticed something walking toward me. My distance vision isn't that good but I thought it appeared to be a very large dog leading a very small man.

As the pair continued to walk toward me, my initial thought had been correct; it was a very large dog, a Rottweiler to be precise. Now, this may come as no surprise to many of you, but I didn't know that a Rottweiler could be used as a service animal. I know there isn't any reason that they couldn't be but I had never seen one before.

At least I thought it was a service animal. Most stores, other than Petsmart, don't allow you to bring your pets with you. The dog and the man he was leading (who turned out to be a big man) were now almost directly in front of me and I looked at the dog (thought about reaching to pet him, but thought better of it) and then smiled at the man.

What happened next was like something you see on television when everything is in slow motion. As the pair started to walk past me, I took a step forward, and nearly lost my balance when I noticed something on the floor and did a quick side step to avoid what was there. The man pulled on the dog's harness and yelled something and I watched in amazement as the dog continued to poop.

And this wasn't poodle poop either; it was BIG dog poop.

As I scooted to the end of a display to hide behind, I began to take stock of the situation. I counted at least four piles and the man had whipped out plastic bags to clean up the mess. My sister had appeared from somewhere and watched as the man began to clean up the area. "At least I'm prepared," he said holding up a fistful of plastic bags. It wasn't enough though, and my sister found a few extra napkins in her pocket  that she offered to the man. He finished cleaning up the mess and went off on his way.

I stayed behind the display, still not quite sure that what I thought had happened had actually happened. Had a very large dog, a Rottweiler, just pooped on the floor beside me? At Target? What are the odds of that? A Rottweiler being used as a service animal? Wouldn't they be house broken?

As my sister and I continued on our way out of the store, she said, "I never thought I would see that. Did you?"

"I know, me either," I replied.

"I didn't know Rottweilers were used as service animals."

Me either.

And there you have it, a story for the ages--one that could only happen to me.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Photo Bombing...It's What I Do

Not many people can claim what I have become quite good at and that's photo bombing my own pictures. As you can tell from the photos below, I have shown up in many places totally changing the look of a memorable landmark.

At Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

At a musical venue in Vienna, Austria

Another view

Somewhere in Germany

Somewhere on the Danube River

I'd like to blame it on the camera but three different devices were used in the making of these photo bombs. I'm not sure but maybe it's the operator?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rudd's Christmas Farm

***Enjoy this classic holiday post***

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's 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.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

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.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas

From my house to yours, Merry Christmas!



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