Thursday, January 29, 2015

Remembering Dad

Today would have been my Dad’s 81th birthday.

My dad liked nothing better than having a steak for his birthday. Mom likes a Ribeye, but not Dad, he liked a T-Bone; the bigger the better. In recent years, the local steakhouse closed down, reopened, closed again, reopened as a church, closed again and has now reopened as a Mexican restaurant.

Confused? Me too!

So in keeping with the family tradition, we’re going out for T-bones at the new Longhorn that has opened near where the old steakhouse once stood.

I’m sad you can’t be with us but we know you’ll be watching. I don’t know if you ever got to eat at Longhorn or not but I hear they cook a really mean steak.

We miss you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Diddy And His Digits

I'm celebrating my father this week.

In my latest book, Scrunchie-Fried, there's a story about my father and the accidents that led to the removal of both of his pinkie fingers. It follows below:

"Diddy And His Digits"

I never knew a man that had lost one of his fingers.

I also never knew a man that had lost the same finger on each hand in separate accidents.

What are the odds of that?

Okay, so I lied. I did know someone like that. That someone was my father.

My daddy, or Diddy as he was known to many was never able to wear a pinkie ring--for that was the finger that was missing from each hand. Come to think of it, I don't think he would have worn a pinkie ring even if he hadn't lost his pinkies. It just wasn't his style.

Dad was a country boy, born and raised on a farm along the rolling hills above the Ohio River. He was born in the community along Island Creek, went to school in a place called Mud Puddle and raised hell with all the other "river rats" in a small town called Manchester. He was drafted into the Army in 1958 and spent eighteen months in Germany. Yes, he saw Elvis a few times, but only from afar; they ran in different circles.

Harold (Diddy) Palmer spent six years in the Army and National Guard and upon his return settled into family life in the small town of Seaman, Ohio. Children soon followed and in 1974, my parents bought the farm on Cherry Fork Road. I remember the first time I ever stepped foot into that old brick house (I was thrilled that it had an upstairs.) and after a few hours of moving boxes it was time to stop for lunch. For lunch, it was the old Palmer standby--bologna sandwiches and a bottle of pop.

We spent over twelve years on the farm before Mom and Dad were forced to move south because of the job situation. Dad had worked as a pattern marker for the Hercules Trousers company since getting out of the Service and the factory closed down in the early 80s. They never had a lot of work; I can remember most of the times he was lucky if he got to work four days a week, some weeks it was only three days. The absence of both little fingers never seemed to hamper him in his duties as a pattern marker though, and that was a good thing.

Mom was a supervisor for many years in a male-dominated industry and worked for Robertshaw Controls Company. She was in charge of the pressure switch line and travelled to Haiti and Mexico several times when the company moved its manufacturing lines there. That said a lot about Mom because the late 70s and early 80s were not very friendly to women in the workplace. She did break down barriers though and did the same work as her male counterparts--she was just paid about 30% less. Astonishing, isn't it? Doing the same work but getting paid less than the person standing beside you.

The story surrounding the loss of his first little piggy was the result of an accident. Back in the day, about 1937, most folks used a large galvanized steel tub to do their washing in. The galvanized tub had multiple uses: it was used to water the cows, it was used to wash the dishes, it was used to wash the clothes and it was used to wash the people. If you were lucky, you had more than one tub to accomplish these tasks. I'm not sure if my grandmother had an extra tub or not but the tub in question was sitting on a table and my dad got a hold of it. The steel tub fell off the table and somehow my 2-year-old father grabbed the edge and got his finger sliced off. Ouch! I don't know if there was water in the tub or if he was waiting to be put in the tub. Either way, I'm sure it hurt like the devil.

Daddy was a few years older when he lost his other pinky finger. He and his brother, Harry James, were chopping wood; probably aged less than seven or eight at the time and dad's hand got in the way. The blade of the ax came off and landed exactly where dad had placed his hand, neatly slicing off the last two fingers on his left hand. Blood was everywhere. Mr. Stevens or Boots (depends on who you ask) was my Great-grandfather's hired hand and was the only adult around when the accident occurred. The story goes that Boots grabbed my dad, yelled at Harry to put the ends of the fingers in a rag and run like mad. Boots carried my dad over two miles into town to local doctor. They managed to sew the end of his ring finger back on, but sadly, the pinkie finger didn't survive.

Dad was a natural story-teller and one of his favorite stories was the story about how he lost his little fingers. Dad would hold up his hands, fingers outstretched and begin to tell the tale about his childhood accident. If there was any neighbor kids around he would tease them about only being able to count to eight and complain that his gloves never quite fit right. They would be wide-eyed and slack-jawed by the time they left our house. It's amazing what kids will believe, sometimes.

I can't say for sure if I ever knew how dad felt about losing his little fingers. I don't think he would have been discriminated against as a child. What would they have called him? Two-Pinkie Diddy. Even if they had teased him, he was such a scrapper that he could have fought back and as for the older kids that teased him, he could have just run away. He was the fastest kid around.

No, I don’t think he really cared. It was his unique story--one that not too many people shared, because back during that time, accidents rarely turned out that good. You either died from infection or bled to death.

Thank goodness, Mr. Stevens had his boots on that day…

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's National Handwriting Day

Like a lot of people everywhere, my handwriting is something that leaves a lot to be desired. It's not the neatest and it's not filled with a bunch of swirly and outlandish loop-te-dos, although sometimes, I wish that it was. My signature is kinda boring and usually legible.

I've never understood why medical doctors handwriting is so bad. Is there a class for that? Bad handwriting 401? (I'm sure it's not a graduate course but I don't think they teach it freshman year, either.)

Nowadays, they don't even teach cursive writing in a lot of schools. What's up with that?

According to the site, holidayinsights, National Handwriting Day was established by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977. January 23 was chosen because it is the birthdate of John Hancock, famed first signer of the Declaration of Independence and a man well known for his flourishing and billowy signature.

The purpose of the new day was to introduce the handwritten letter back to the American public. Electronic communications have nearly taken over the world. I'm always happy to receive any sort of fun and positive greeting through email, Facebook or what have you, but when I actually receive a letter or package through the mail, I get so excited that you would have thought that I had won the Powerball Jackpot or something.

"Hey, Mom, let me show you this super eCard that so and so sent me," is a sentence that I have never said to my mother. On the other hand, "Did you see this card that Big Red (sister) sent me through the mail? It's hilarious," is a line that I say a few times a year.

Another thing that you might want to consider is this: Why not write a handwritten love letter to the special person in your life for Valentine's Day? Don't get me wrong, chocolate, roses and a romantic dinner are all fine but slip in a thoughtful and personal note that you wrote and you're gonna score big more ways than one.

Don't have a special someone to send a letter to? That's okay, send it to me. You might not get a super gushy "I love you, too" but as least you'll get a reply...and be able to read it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Winter's Icy Grip...TBT...January 17, 2011

This was from four years ago this week. Cold! This week it's been 65° every day. Can't complain about that...

The house sits quiet,
stunned into silence.
Whiteness, shone forth like a blinding ray.
Rareness, for a Southern day.

The coldness doth come.
On occasions so rare
Never lingering
Gone into thin air

Beautiful to some, the perfect colored balls
Frozen in time

Where is the warmth,
Where is the breeze
It's pretty, we know
But we're beginning to freeze

Southern snowfall, unusual to see
Unusual still, to stay past day three
Ol' man winter, please take a trip
Loosen, your hold, and release your icy grip.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Thing About Handicapped Parking

If you've been a reader of this blog over the years then you know that I am an observer of many situations and problems that would otherwise go unnoticed.

One such problem is handicapped parking.

Everyone knows that handicapped parking is a good idea and helps millions of folks patronize businesses that they normally wouldn't have access to. The handicapped parking spot is great because it allows the disabled to get as close as possible to a business without actually driving inside.

But, here's the problem: Once they have finished their shopping and returned to their vehicles there isn't any place for them to return the shopping cart. I'm talking about large parking lots. Most cart returns begin at least six parking spaces down from the handicapped spots. The person is forced to choose between a spot close to the door and a spot close to the cart return.

Ever wonder why there are so many shopping carts at the beginning of a row and not in the return area? That might be the reason.

Wouldn't it be more helpful if they built a cart return area before the handicapped spaces?

Anyhow, the next time you're out in one of those large parking lots, check it out and see how close the cart return area is to the disabled parking spots. And if you notice someone trying to decide which way to go with the cart, offer to take it inside for them.

You'll make their day and probably yours, too!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King, JR Day

Many Americans across the nation will enjoy a day off work today. I wonder what Dr. King would think of that?

Was it his dream to have a national holiday named after him?

Would he think that his dream had been fulfilled?

Given all of the issues that still resonate across the country I could only imagine that he would say the dream has not been realized.

People are still fighting over the same issues in one way or another.

His children in Atlanta are even fighting over items from his estate.

Maybe on this holiday, in addition to enjoying a day off, have a listen to his speech again and see if you can do something to help bring the dream to life.

Everyone can do something.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Confederate Bean Soup...A Paula Deen Recipe

In keeping with my New Year resolutions I am trying to cook more at home and eat out less. This is a favorite recipe of mine.

Confederate Bean Soup:

This a great soup to make when you have leftover baked beans. If you don't have leftovers, you can substitute Bush's baked beans. (I had that and I also added a can of Bush's hot chili beans.)

1/2 pound of smoked sausage, slice in 1/4 in slices (I used a whole pound)
2 slices bacon, diced (I used ham lunchmeat)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced (I omitted the onions, because I'm allergic to them)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced (optional) (I didn't choose this option)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups Bush's baked beans or leftovers
1 1/2 cups half-n-half (I used 2 cups)

Saute sausage, bacon, onions, garlic and peppers in butter until bacon is cooked. Add beans and simmer for a few minutes over medium to low heat. Add half-n-half. Increase or decrease h-n-h for preferred thickness. Serve with hot corn bread. Serves three or four.

I added some black pepper to taste and about a 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. I was very surprised at how well this soup turned out. I served mine with a bit more cheese, a few saltines and dropped the cornbread on top.

I made enough so that I would have leftovers. This soup is probably one that you don't want to eat in mixed company or take to a potluck supper. Too many beans can ruin a good thing.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

National Hat Day

Today, January 15, 2015, is National Hat Day!

No one knows for sure where or who started it but I'm quite sure that they worked in the haberdashery field.

I like to wear hats.

I have toboggans and skull caps for wintertime wear.

I have several large straw hats that I wear whenever I am doing anything outside.

I have several ball caps that I only like to wear when I have a certain haircut. The "just to the top of the shoulders" Bob haircut looks perfect underneath a perfectly rounded bill and a "perched just touching the top of the ear" cap. I'm not a big fan of turning my hat around backwards or not folding or rolling the bill.

I even have my cowboy hat from my childhood stuck in a box somewhere. (It must have been a ten gallon hat because it still fits.)

My favorite hat for the longest time was given to me by my old college roommate. It's yellow and has a "G" on it. I still wear it the most but it's beginning, like me, to show its age. It has a small tear, several sweat stains and one big old drop of red paint. (Not sure where that came from but it could have come from my last painting project or my "over the handlebars" bicycle wreck from 2012.)

Mom has started wearing hats and has received numerous compliments from men and women. Since battling skin cancer over the last few years her doctor has recommended that she wear a hat whenever she leaves the house. She now has a larger collection than my father ever had and it's always fun whenever we get together to see which one she'll be wearing.

Not a fan of wearing hats? Why not give it a try for a day or two and try as many different hats as you can. You never know; it might just change the way you look at things.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Got Gas?

Recently, a friend of mine was disgusted by the amount that she had to pay to purchase propane for her home in Virginia. I immediately knew how she felt because I have been battling with my propane provider for years and not just about price.

I thought I had already written about this crap but after checking back through the archives I only found a draft and not the actual finished piece. (Not sure why I never finished it.) Probably, because no one would actually believe it, I guess.

To keep it short and to the point, whatever could go wrong with ordering a tank of propane has gone wrong for me.

Here are a few examples:

I ordered gas and it never got delivered. (This happened three times.)

I left them a check taped to the inside of the lid of the tank but they wouldn't leave the gas because they couldn't find a check.

I ordered gas and they put it in the neighbor's tank.

They billed me for it and threatened to send it to collections before I could convince them about the mistake.

For over five years, they had one of the meanest customer service representatives that you could imagine. (She was finally fired.)

The new rep that replaced her listened to my stories of previous mishaps and assured me that those mistakes would never happen again. They had went through several training classes and had a completely new staff. (She then used my account number for the lady that came in at the same time as me. Good thing I checked my receipt before I left. It took over 20 minutes of voiding and searching to get that mess straightened out.)

One could think that I was making all of this up because it all seems so impossible that the mistakes would keep happening. But, I'm not and it's always an adventure when I need to purchase fuel for my furnace. I do have to admit that the last three visits have been mishap free. (I guess that training paid off.)

Now, when I go I no longer begin my conversation with, "My name is Palmer and I've had some problems in the past." I just give my info and they ring me up.

Today was a little different. The woman that replaced the mean lady was there and had two new helpers. As I was waiting for one of the newbies to ring me up I mentioned about the price that Amerigas was charging my friend in Virginia which was $4.58 a gallon. My company is Heritage Propane and I was charged $2.29, which is substantially less. All three heads swiveled and looked at me when I mentioned the price and then they all looked at each other.

"I think they pay more up north and down in Florida," the lady I knew said.

"Yeah, I think you're right," another said. "It's probably because of the salaries; they make a lot more than we do."

Sounds reasonable to me.

The new lady rang up my purchase without any problems and I left them with a chipper "Goodbye and I hope to not see you again this year." We all laughed and I grabbed one of their 2015 calendars and headed out to the car.

Glancing down at the calendar I was surprised to see the Amerigas logo  on it. Oh, no, when did that happen?  My company was no longer small and independent. Maybe that was why the three women looked at me so funny when I mentioned the higher price up north.

I don't know, maybe the higher prices up north are paying for all of the training down here because it's been over two years since they messed up my account.

Good for me, but bad for my friend. On the bright side, I hear they are predicting a warmer and shorter winter for the northeast.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Brother's Birthday...Year VII

Now, it's time for another birthday. My big brother is celebrating his birthday today. His nickname is Boy, sometimes called Big Boy.

Boy is a fan of WW II and can give you all the information ever needed if you are building a house since he has a background in construction.

He taught me how to play football, throw a baseball for a perfect strike (complete with a full wind up) and how to play chess.

He also taught me how to chew tobacco, scratch my butt, cuss a blue streak, burp the alphabet, throw cow patties, use the tractor and manure spreader to drive to town for hot dogs and Sour Cream Doritos when Mom and Dad were working, castrate a hog and spit and catch loogies.

Most of these tricks I have since out grown! (Most)

However, it is good knowledge to have. You never know when you might need to do some castrating.

So here's to you! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

SIster's Birthday...Year VII

Today is my sister's birthday. In case anyone wants to know, her nickname is Big Red. Yep, she's got red hair and a fierceness to go along with it.

She resides in the frigid north where it snows all the time. Yuck!

I won't tell you how old she is (29) because that wouldn't be sisterly. She is older than me though.

Happy Birthday! May you have many more and continue to do things that make me laugh.

P.S. Your present is still on my counter waiting to be mailed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Faux Southern Twang...Ain't My Thang

Watching television these days is like trying to find a particular fish named Benny in the Pacific Ocean--a crap shoot at best. With choices like "The Real Housewives of I don't really care" and "It's another singing competition" and lest we forget "The dumber I sound and look the more the producers will try to make me look smart and educated" to my all time favorite "The ultimate survival show for people who are crazy enough to live where the rest of the 7 billion people on this planet would never dare to go."

Whew! A one time through my cable channel list and you find at least five choices each that are similar to the shows that I mentioned above.

Have they simply run out of ideas?

Or are there just too many channels?

I grew up in the 70s and had three channels to choose from: ABC, CBS and NBC. These stations all broadcast their signals from Cincinnati and we received the transmissions via a UHF antenna. There were other stations in the Cincy area but we didn't receive them because they were broadcast over the VHF spectrum and our antenna wasn't equipped to accept both signals. Many a time, I found myself outside in whatever weather conditions turning the 50-ft pole that held the antenna hoping for a clearer picture. During the week we only watched television to hear the weather forecast, hear what Walter Cronkite had to say and to watch Gunsmoke on Mondays and The Waltons on Thurdsays. Television was a luxury then, not the attention-grabbing, relationship-killing, mind-sucking and mindless sitting on the couch eating whatever you can find activity that so many of us enjoy today.

With all of the selections to choose from, I usually find myself watching a rerun of a sporting event from 1989 on ESPN Classic. I'm not really watching it but I have it on in the background as I waste more of my time cruising eBay, Twitter and Facebook. Occasionally, a program will come along that will grab and keep my attention for a few episodes....or until they start killing everyone off or there's a contract dispute. The best part about Friends and Seinfeld was that the original cast stuck together during low ratings, contract negotiations and television superstardom. Could you imagine someone other than Phoebe or Kramer in their respective ensembles?

The original CSI was one of the programs that I used to watch. Characters came and left; two additional shows were spinoffs and enjoyed their own successes. Ted Danson does a really good job playing the lead investigator and I found myself watching this past Sunday night. That's another thing--they change the time and night of your favorite program and you don't get the message. I thought the program had been taken off the air.

I was flipping through my channels hoping there might be something interesting on when I saw the promo for CSI and NCIS: New Orleans. Another eureka moment: Aha! I didn't know there was a third NCIS; it might be worth checking out.

I tuned in on Tuesday night and almost from the get go I was turned off.

WHY? Fake southern accents.

There, I said it. Yes, many southerners have a distinct drawl to their voice and are quite aware of it. Other southerners, such as yours truly, have migrated to the south and may have picked up a way of speaking that is different than how they were raised. I have incorporated "Y'all" into my  vocabulary with no problem but will occasionally throw out a "youze guys" just to confuse people.

In reality, most of the people down south don't speak with such a pronounced twang because a.) they've moved to the city from somewhere else or b.) no one can understand them and it's a perfect way to get teased mercilessly.

So why does Hollywood continue to perpetuate such a lie? I may be the only person that this bothers or I might not. Who knows? What I do know is that it bothers me enough to not pay attention to anything other than the fake accents during the show and that's reason enough to turn the channel.

If I need to hear a pronounced accent I can just crank my car, head on over to the 'Pig, grab myself a Coke and do some loafering.

Y'all get my drift...that's the real twang...and I'll see youze guys later.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ready...Set...Let's Ride

I'm not sure about the rest of you but I am glad the Holidays are over. Don't get me wrong, I had a lovely time with the family; I ate really well and I didn't have to pass out the presents this year. That task went to my niece who has been MIA from our southern Christmas celebrations for a few years. I guess she missed hanging out at Grandma's house because she made the trip south and was almost sociable.

I've been under the weather for a few weeks. It seems that my intestines are not wanting to cooperate with the rest of my body which basically means lots of tests and numerous pokes and prods. These tests are all negative, thankfully, but have led to more tests to be scheduled in the future. It's an ongoing process--on the bright side, I've lost some weight, which is always a good thing.

From the picture, you can see that Wally has found himself a new toy. He just loves it! I loved what came in the box: a large selection of my favorite potato chips--Herr's Sour Cream & Onion Chips.

It used to be quite the occasion when I would get a bag of my favorite chips. I could only get them when I went back to Ohio, someone brought or mailed me a bag from Ohio or I bought them directly from the company website.

Not anymore, Herr's chips are in most of the grocery stores where I live which is a good thing.

Or so I thought.

Herr's has a lot of different kinds of flavors of chips in addition to the traditional flavors such as plain, barbeque, and sour cream & onion. The problem is that the stores carry all of the non-traditional flavors and not my favorite flavor, sour cream & onion.

I guess it's a good thing because I wouldn't want to eat too many but I sure feel like someone is playing a big trick on me every time I walk up the chip aisle.

Oh, well, for now I'm still enjoying my chips and Wally is enjoying his new ride.

Maybe someone from the Herr's family will read this and start shipping my flavor south. You never know; it might happen.


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