Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mama Wants A Brand New Bag

And she'll do anything to get it.


Recently, I had the pleasure of being involved in a discussion about those that can't have, those that want it but can't afford it and those that would do anything imaginable to get it.

Ever heard of push presents? (Nope)

What about year-end bonuses for keeping the staff in line? (Nope)

How about a clothing allowance? (Me either)

And lest we forget: a handsome salary for spin classes; trips with your BFFs to comment on who has had what done or needs to have done; nannies, gardeners, drivers, tutors for everything...hell, there is even a salary for someone to hold an umbrella over the dog when it needs to take a dump.

Talk about excess?

But, that's not the worst of it. What really caused everyone to break out in a chorus line of twerkin' mirkin-wearing protesters shouting "Are you kidding me?" and "Seriously, I mean, really?" and "What the hell?" was  the $150K price tag for a bag she coveted.


Yes, seriously!

According to this lady, to be a part of the "in crowd" of this group of women in the Upper East Side of New York City, membership requires the purchase and display of a designer handbag called a Birkin. They are extremely rare and can run upwards in price up to $150K.

Does this bring the old quotation of "Flaunt it if you got it" to another level?

Or is it just another prime example of people that are out of their freaking minds?

Would peer pressure make you pay that much money for a purse. A purse? It's not like it's studded with diamonds or anything? It's a handbag, for Pete's sake. (Pete wouldn't buy it, either and if I was Pete's wife, I wouldn't let him.)

The author (I'm not giving her any space on my blog) wrote a book about her experiences living there and it was excerpted in the NY Times. She claimed, in the beginning, that she used her background in Anthropology to try and ascertain why these well-educated and smart women lived the way they did.

Personally, I think she's just trying to sell books. And in this society of today, if it ain't outrageous, totally over the top or laughing at the expense of others, it won't even be a blip on the radar.

To quote Forrest Gump: "That's all I got to say about that."

But there are others that do have something to say about it. Namely, my good friend, Gina Barreca. She is a Women's Humorist, Writer, Speaker and Professor Of English And  Feminist Theory at UCONN, a columnist for the Hartford Courant and is internationally syndicated with Tribune News Service.

She's the real deal.

Read the column and see for yourself:

                        Gina Barreca's Hartford Courant Column

She absolutely nails it in this column and speaks  for a lot of folks out there who could really use $150K for something other than a handbag.

Here's my final take on this over-priced subject: Gina ain't from the Upper East Side; she's from Brooklyn and it doesn't cost anything to be a member of her Tribe.

"Our Tribe-the Tribe of Smart, Funny Broads--stands together, laughs together, and watches out for one another. Here's to neither lying down nor leaning in--here's to standing up, standing together and laughing out loud." --Gina Barreca (From Gina's new book due out next year.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Her Latest Trip Of A Lifetime

*****Mom is on another trip of a lifetime and her sister, Phyllis, is travelling with her this time and they are touring Alaska.

Here's Mom's first selfie:

Nice hat!

****Below, is the original story from 2008 in case you missed it.****

My mom has decided that she likes to travel. I can’t blame her, she worked her whole life, mainly for one company, and was laid off at age 58 ½. (It figures.) Well, guess what? She wasn’t ready to retire and went to another company and worked for another 10 years.

She joined the local travel club down at the bank and last year went to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. It was a seventeen-day adventure filled with plane rides, wacky roommates, sheep farms and aborigines—it was the trip of a lifetime.

Or so we thought!

Late last year, the travel club got the itinerary for 2008. Mom spent several weeks mulling over the different trips and decided she wanted to go on a cruise and see the Baltic capitals. It was the trip of a lifetime she said and I’m going.

And guess what? She left a few days ago. But, here’s the thing—she didn’t go by herself. She had so much fun the first time around that on this trip she took her sister, her brother and sister-in-law and two folks that she graduated with way back in 1956. Watch out Europe, here comes Blue Creek.

Blue Creek is where this fine group of Americans hails from originally, or thereabouts. It’s a small town, population 50, maybe? It depends on who shows up for church every third Sunday.

I do know that every Memorial Day weekend they gather for the yearly alumni function. It’s a festive affair where the conversation tends to lean toward who’s got what and if anybody died the past year. (Forgive me for that one.) They also have a slideshow of somebody’s vacation from the last year that puts everyone to sleep.

I watched them all get on the bus to take them to the airport and I noticed that they were going over their camera gear. I heard Mom say to be sure and get good pictures so we can turn them into slides to show at the alumni dinner. I’m tired of being bored for two hours. This is the trip of a lifetime and I want everyone to know it.

And there you have it; my mom is off on the trip of a lifetime—for the second fifth time.

Friday, May 15, 2015

She Walked Away

Sister's van
May isn't my favorite month.

I lost my father in May.

I lost my grandmother in May.

Friend lost her father in May.

And I had a bicycle accident a few years ago that all of the emergency room personnel said that I was lucky didn't leave me seriously injured.

Is it all just coincidence? I don't know.

On Wednesday, the thirteenth anniversary of my father's passing, I was at my mom's house mowing the yard and went inside for a drink. I looked at my phone and saw I had missed several calls and texts from my mom. I listened to the message and couldn't believe it; my sister had been involved in a horrible car accident. About a mile from her house, a man ran a red light and hit her nearly head-on. I called mom several times and you could hear the panic in her voice,"I'll be right there," she said.

My sister was taken to the emergency room and thankfully, she suffered no broken bones; but has a lot of bumps and bruises.

Her van was totaled.

Everyone said she was lucky. I think it was more than luck; I think it was Dad and maybe even Granny looking out for her.

Another May tragedy was averted; I think I like this month a little better, but honestly, I can't wait for June.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

In Through There

I talk a lot about my family and the adventures that we have. I've mentioned several times about growing up on a small farm on Cherry Fork Road and the struggles that Mom and Dad had to keep us clothed and fed. I can't say that I remember every little detail because I can't. Sometimes, at family gatherings, one of us will mention a story that we had long forgotten, bringing us to tears and cracking us up at the same time.

Our family likes to tell stories. Nobody could tell a story better than Dad. And every time he told a story each important part would be punctuated with the saying "in through there". I don't know why he said that. He probably didn't realize he was saying it. Maybe, it was how he collected and ciphered through all of those tall tales in his head. One such story might go like this:

"Back when I was a kid, in '43 or in through there, there was a boy lived up the holler that we scared so bad, that he lit up a tree and didn't come down for three days. Damn, chicken shit, what he was. See, one night we was coming home from coon hunting and he got distracted, in through there and got left behind. Us fellows decided to teach him a lesson and hid behind a rock down there on Island Creek. You 'member where that is, don't you? Shit, he come around the corner, in through there, and we all just jumped out at him and he jumped back, screamed and took off a running, straight up the holler and up that big old oak tree, pissing his pants and carrying on like a girl. That was the funniest damn thing I ever seen."

I've heard this story many times and I still get a laugh out of it. Besides being a great story teller, here are some other things, in through there, about Dad:

He got drafted into the Army in the 50s and saw Elvis over in Germany.

He was scared of heights.

He loved watching Westerns on television.

He taught all of us how to play poker and shoot pool.

He could cuss a blue streak like no other.

He got up at 3:30 AM every morning without an alarm clock. (We never knew why)

His nickname was Diddy.

He planted a garden big enough (we all helped) to feed our family and still have enough left over to give away to family and friends.

Both of his pinky fingers had been cut off due to accidents as a child.

He liked Hudepohl beer.

He was a pattern marker for the Hercules Trouser Company in Manchester, Ohio, for 25 years.

He could out run anybody in the neighborhood, including Sheldon, the boy from Hawaii.

He loved his family, deeply.

Sadly, he left us 13 years ago today, on this date.

Wherever you are, in through there, we miss you very much.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Girl And A Chainsaw...A Mother's Day Memory

I like to consider myself a Jill-of-all-trades. I'm fairly competent at keeping a house clean, keeping the lawn mowed, whipping up a mean casserole and wetting a hook at every opportunity.

I don't have any children unless you count my fur babies, Wally and Ralph, so I can't tell you if I am a good mother or not. Hey, the litter box is cleaned out daily and the kitties are fat and sassy and I don't hear any complaints from them.

My nieces think that I am a great aunt and I try to "mother" my own mother sometimes but that just drives her bonkers. "Stop worrying," she says. "You're getting on my nerves and it's not healthy for you. Don't you have a story to write?" Dissed, once again, by my own mother.

I can spin a basketball on my finger and I have a wicked left-handed hook when I bowl. When it's right on target it's a strike every time. But most times, it hooks too soon and crosses from the left side of the lane to the far right side and ends up in the gutter before it has made it halfway down. I should probably practice more but that's not me and I'm usually off to the next best thing before I know it.

For the last few years I have been obsessed with owning my own chainsaw. I live on the edge of town in a slightly wooded jungle area. Every spring when the new growth on the trees, plants and shrubs emerges, my house, yard and driveway fight to keep from being swallowed by the ever-expanding spread of wisteria vines, kudzu and wild azalea bushes.

I have a nice set of clippers that are advertised to cut through twigs and branches up to one inch thick and it does a really good job. But, I thought if I had a chainsaw I could cut through the higher up foliage that supports the new growth that I have to cut back every year.

Simple enough plan, right?

No one in my immediate family thought so.

Brother's opinion: "A chainsaw? What the hell you want a chainsaw for? Why don't you just hire someone to do it? You're like dad--you'll cut your arm off?"

Sister's opinion: "What are you going to do with a chainsaw? That doesn't seem like a very fun Christmas present? Besides, aren't you a bit clumsy like dad? You'll cut your arm off?

Friend's opinion: "A chainsaw? That's what the tree service people do--and you are so much like your dad that you'd probably cut your leg off." (At least it was a different appendage.)

Mom's opinion: "You want what for your birthday? A chainsaw? I don't think that's a really good idea, besides you are a bit clumsy like your dad. You might cut the wrong tree down and it will fall on your house. Or even worse, that pretty Mustang of yours. Then what would you do? I'm not getting you a chainsaw--you'll cut your head off?"

I couldn't really understand why but confidence in my sawing abilities was extremely low. Yes, I have had a bicycle accident in the recent past; I did step in a hole in the back yard (not my fault; it was a sinkhole) and I did fall into the creek a few weeks ago. But none of those incidents involved a 2-cycle gas powered engine.

It's not that I haven't operated a chainsaw before; I had on more than one occasion and one time, alcohol was involved. (But hey, the family doesn't know about that.)

So imagine my surprise last weekend when the big box sitting in the corner of the room partially hidden by a large ficus tree turned out to be my very own chainsaw. Amused looks were passed between the family as I oohed and aahed over my new toy. "You better be careful with that," they all volunteered. "You'll cut your arm off."

Upon closer inspection I was disappointed to see that it was an electric chainsaw. "Mom, it's electric," I said.

"I got you a cord to go with it," she said.

I hadn't noticed the other package that was lying slightly underneath the chainsaw box. I reached for it and sure enough there was a hundred foot extension cord. "Well, that's good," I said. "But why did you get me an electric chainsaw?"

"Harrumph," she scoffed, "those gas chainsaws are over $200. I'm not paying that much for something you might only use one time."

Frowning slightly, I asked, "Why do you think I'm going to use it only one time?"

"Well, sweetie, you are your father's daughter and I know you can be clumsy sometimes. I didn't want to pay too much in case you cut your arm off."

I just shook my head. "I'm not going to cut my arm off. Have some faith."

"Oh, I have plenty of faith. And Happy Mother's Day!"

"Thanks, mom," I said. "I'm glad you have faith in me and no one has ever said 'Happy Mother's Day' to me before."

"Sure, honey. I have lots of faith that you'll do a good job cutting my shrubs back. Now, let's go try this thing out."

In retrospect I'm not sure who the chainsaw was for: me or my mother.

A chainsaw for Mother's Day? Why not? It's the perfect gift!

(Just don't cut your arm off.)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Scrunchie-Fried Is Free This Weekend

Scrunchie-Fried: Gianetta M. Palmer: 9781490910765: Books
Click here.

Scrunchie-fried is available as a free download all weekend starting at midnight tonight and running through Sunday.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Another Senior Day At The Cinema

Mom called the other day and asked if I wanted to go see the new movie The Second Exotic Marigold Hotel which I agreed to go to since I didn't have anything better to do. We decided to go to the afternoon matinee and went to Applebees for lunch. It was really a hard decision about lunch because we usually like to go to Red Lobster when we're in the neighboring town.

After lunch, we purchased our tickets, bitched about the price of the popcorn and walked inside the movie theater. I thought it was strange when the lady selling the tickets said that we had purchased the last two tickets and the movie was now sold out. It was a Wednesday afternoon, school was in session and I didn't think that this movie was supposed to be a blockbuster or anything. I soon got my answer when we arrived in Theater Two; the place was packed.

It was filled with row upon row of old people, namely senior citizens. I was the youngest person in there by about 30 years. Even Mom, who ain't a spring chicken any longer looked at me strangely. "What the heck's going on," she asked. "Did they get Senior price? Did they get a group discount? How can I get in this group?"

We found two seats up in the very last row and after tripping over two walking canes, a walker on wheels and a prosthetic leg we settled into our seats. The movie started and we were about 30 minutes into it when the tape broke. Mom elbowed me and decided that she wanted popcorn after all and now would be a good time to get it. I agreed and started down the steps when I heard someone ask me if I was going to the concession stand. I stopped and looked towards the voice and was startled to see the smallest little old lady imaginable. I said I was and she asked if I would get her something too. Her legs don't move so good especially when she's been sitting awhile. I nodded in agreement, collected her money and started back down the steps.

Another voice chimed in. And then another. Finally, once I reached the bottom of the stairs, I just asked the entire audience who wanted popcorn. Almost every hand in the theater wobbled upright. I looked a little scared I think because the lady on the bottom row said, "Come on honey, I'll help you."

It seems in the rush to get the Soothing Waters Assisted Living Home residents inside the theater before the movie started someone had neglected to ask the Seniors if they wanted any refreshments. And that's how for the next 30 minutes, myself and my helper, Genevieve, made about 25 trips to the concession stand. The manager of the theater noticed what we were doing and didn't restart the movie until we had finished. Everyone had popcorn and everyone had a drink!

Well, almost.

When I walked backed up the stairs totally exhausted to reclaim my seat Mom gave me a quizzical look. "Where's my popcorn?" she asked.

"Here, honey," the lady in front of us said, "she can have the rest of mine. I only wanted a bite or two anyway."

We accepted her offering and after the movie got back into the car. "Where's my ten bucks?" mom asked.

"What ten bucks?" I asked.

"The money I gave you for the popcorn; you didn't get me any, remember?"

I just smiled and handed over the money...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Losing My Estrogen

Please sing along if you remember the words to REM's Losing my Religion now affectionately known as Losing my Estrogen.

There are many benefits of being a middle-aged fat woman, or so I'm told; personally, I've yet to discover any.

There are so many changes going on with my body right now that I swear if I wasn't somewhat educated I would think that I wasn't a human being at all. Everything seems to be happening in reverse; Benjamin Button ain't got nothing on me. Let me provide you with a few examples:

Why is it that every hair on my body is turning a darker shade of gray with each passing year except...wait for it...the hair on my upper lip.

Have I mentioned the forgetfulness?

I am now an official member of the older society of women in my family. What is so special about this extraordinary group of women: You are now allowed to carry around your own personal Lady Bic Shaver for the purpose of extinguishing those pesky dark hairs without fear of being made fun of or laughed at.

We've all tried the tweezers, but that's too painful.

Some of us might have tried the waxing technique but ever since that scene in the movie Basic Instinct with Sharon wax and I haven't quite been on speaking terms.

Have I mentioned the forgetfulness?

Another thing that I can't seem to control these days are my emotions. I'll be crying tears of joy one second and the next I go almost completely batshit crazy with rage. Thank goodness for Midol and Pamprin; they've become my best friends.

And don't even get me started on the acne problems. When I was a teenager I expected to have a pimple here and there. You woke up in the morning, stared at the small white bump, popped it and moved on; it healed within three days.

My menopausal acne doesn't behave this way. When I get one of those whoppers they stay around for three weeks or longer and bug the crap out of me because they're never in a convenient my forehead or the tip of my nose. One little kid pointed at me one day and asked her mommy if that lady had diseases on her face. (No, honey, just monster pimples.) Nice.

Have I mentioned the forgetfulness?

I've mentioned to mom the changes that I've been going through and she just laughed, "Get you some hormones and give it about ten years. You'll be just fine. I made it through okay, didn't I?"

That quote took me down memory lane about twenty years ago, back to a time when mom was losing her estrogen too. You would have thought she was losing her mind; crying all the time, ornery as hell and it took 15 minutes for her to figure out which child you were. "I guess you did. You were a bit gruff sometimes, though, I think."

"Gruff? I wouldn't talk if I was you, you've just been plain grouchy. Go get some of them pep pills. I gotta go, my favorite song just came on the radio." In the background, I wasn't too surprised to hear the opening chorus of my new favorite I chimed right in...Losing my Estrogen.


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