Thursday, July 30, 2015

Not Too Funny To Me

The following are telephone conversations that took place recently between my mom, sister and me:

Mom: "Watcha' been up to?"

Me:  "Not much; working on my new book."

Mom: "Oh, I see.  When are you going to let me read more of it?"

Me:  "When it's finished!  Why haven't you called?"

Mom: "I been busy and the phone works both ways, you know."

Me: "I know that, but sometimes, I'm just testing you--make sure you don't forget about me."

Mom: "Well, I may be forgetting some things these days but you're certainly not one of them."

Me: "Thanks."

Mom: "Hey. What was your name again?"

Me: "Mom!"

Mom: "Ha! Just teasing you--you ain't the only one with a sense of humor, ya know?  Wanna hear something funny?"

Me: "Sure."

Mom: "Well, I have some new folks I'm pet sitting for and they have a German Shepherd and a big black mixed dog. I took them both out on the leash at the  same time and the black dog turned around real quick like--almost like he was scared of something. It caught me off guard and knocked me off balance; I ended up on the ground. The next thing I recall was that the German Shepherd came at me over my head and jumped on the black dog.  I thought, 'this is it; I'm going to be attacked by them for sure.' Well, the German Shepherd wasn't attacking me, he was jumping the other dog. He must have thought that I was being attacked."

Me: Silence.

Mom: "That German Shepherd is a nice dog; he really likes me."

Me: : "That isn't funny at all; you could have been killed. You know I don't like it when you take on new clients..."

Mom: "Harrumph! I can take care of myself.  You're just like your father; you worry too much. I gotta go, Wheel of Fortune is on."

Me: "Okay, bye. (Calling my sister.) Have you talked to mom lately?"

Sister: "No, why?"

Me: "She got pulled to the ground by a big dog and then another dog jumped the other dog over her head."

Sister: "What kind of dog was it?"

Me: "German Shepherd."

Sister:  "Oh, they are very protective."

Me: "She could have been hurt."

Sister:  "You worry too much; you get more like dad everyday.  I gotta go, Wheel of Fortune is on."

Does anyone else fail to see the humor in this? Or is it just me?

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Benefits Of Travelling Alone

On my recent trip to Florida to fetch Mom I was delighted to find myself traveling alone. Just me, the Mustang and the open road....Ahhh--I can still feel the wind whipping around through the open windows of the car as I cruise along at a steady 80 MPH.

Can you hear the stereo blasting out my favorites hits from the 80s? The Outfield. REO Speedwagon. Journey. Air Supply. (Yes, I totally love Air Supply) Joan Jett. AC DC. Hall & Oates.

Did you see a MA Fat Woman in a sporty red car, "Just Dancing" her bootay off and singing along and as loud as she could to Lady Gaga? While at the same time doing the Humpty, the Humpty Dance while wearing apple bottomed jeans and boots with the fur....Yes, my friends, that was me!

At one point during my drive I was on such a roll of hearing back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back good songs that I could totally get into that I was totally oblivious to a cop that had been following me for several miles. Luckily, during a commercial intervention, I was able to calm down long enough to see him and maintain a more dignified persona as he drove past and gave me a look.

Of course, never one to be unfriendly, I gave him a smile and a wave and cranked the radio back up--I had to-- Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer had just started.

I was able to stop and eat at the first place that I saw that looked appetizing. I filled up with gas. Plus, I had a potty break...all in one stop! That never happens when I'm riding with someone.

Nobody in my family likes to ride with the windows down. (Except, Dad.)

I was able to listen to whatever music I liked, as loud as I could stand it and sing along blissfully off key without a care in the world.

...Another benefit of traveling alone.

Uh, oh! What's that smell?

Smeller is the feller...

...and whomever smelt it, dealt it!

Can't blame nobody but yourself...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Computer Problems

For the second time in six months I have been the recipient of a computer virus sent to me by some unknown assholes somewhere across the dark recesses of the Internet. The first time the virus removal folks were able to remove all of the junk and there was no damage to my personal files.

The second time around I wasn't so lucky.

I received the Crypto virus and its exactly as it sounds: It encrypts your personal documents, photos and videos and basically holds them for ransom. The virus removal team spent six hours one night (I stayed up all night) trying to remove the virus  which they did but were unsuccessful in decrypting my files.

I did do a backup. Or at least I thought I did. I have an external backup contraption that I use to backup on a somewhat irregular schedule. 

I did a LOT of writing the last few months.  In fact, I finished the novel that I have been working on for over four years which is a huge accomplishment for me. Right now, it is with my editor which is slightly nerve-racking because no one else has read it but me. In my other books, the stories were passed from family member to family member and read multiple times before being published. This time, I am keeping wraps on it until I figure out what to do with it.

Anyhow, I had lots of various files on plotlines and character traits and had even started book two of the series and now they are all encrypted and my local computer fixit guy says they are corrupted and are gone for good. I was able to restore everything to December of last year when I had the last virus but evidently the backup which I thought I had done didn't take or I never did one. I lost everything I had written this year. (I have multiple copies of my finished manuscript and even sleep with a copy of it under my pillow.) (Thank goodness!!!!!!!!!)


Now, the hard drive of the computer with the corrupted files has crashed, too! Nice. It will be nice to have a new laptop but after the mess with my car and making the final payment on my trip up the East Coast plus two trips to Ohio and back--the wallet is a bit thin--I'll be using my phone for surfing and am writing again on an old laptop from 2005. The plus side of this is I discovered photos of me when I was thin--before I became the Middle-Aged Fat Woman--I would show you but the old laptop doesn't have internet access.


So, I'll be in-an-out on the blog until I get everything straightened out. I'm to the point now where I might just switch back to pen and paper. At least the only breakdown I'd have to worry about is the smeared ink and cramping of my hand.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bathroom Brawls At The Cracker Barrel

Recently, my sister and her family came to town for a visit. When she takes a road trip, one stop is always a requirement and that is a visit to the local Cracker Barrel. Now, I don't know about other parts of the country, but every Cracker Barrel restaurant that I have ever visited has been standing room only...even in the bathroom.

I have strategies whenever I visit a busy restaurant. First, I go at odd times of the day, like before noon for lunch or around 4:00 p.m. for dinner; that way you beat the crowds most days.

Next, if there is a school bus within eye shot of the parking area, I'm going somewhere else; too many pimples and hormones for me. The same goes for tour or charter buses; I try to avoid these as well.

Also, if I arrive in the parking lot at the same time as another patron, I always try to beat them to the door. Nothing personal, but beating them might be the difference between a seat by the window or a seat back by the open kitchen door, or worse, right in front of the bathroom. Sitting there gives a whole new meaning to "What's that smell?"

Those are all good strategies but they don't work at Cracker Barrel. I think the company knows that too. Why else would they have all of those comfy rocking chairs out front and a gift shop that I always get lost in because I can't seem to stay away from the hard stick candy if they didn't know that waiting was part of the allure?

Anyhow, upon arrival at the restaurant, sure enough, there was a tour bus parked out front. It was later in the afternoon, so maybe they had already eaten and were browsing the gift shop was a thought that passed through my head.

As we hurried in the door trying to beat the minivan full of people that had parked near us, it was soon apparent that my thought was correct: They had finished eating and were browsing the gift shop. It was packed!

I needed to use the facilities immediately upon arrival so I headed through the crowd and tried to enter the bathroom. I made it just inside the door when I fully grasped the situation at hand. In front of me, filling every available empty space was a senior citizen. They were washing their hands and fluffing their blue hair; one had her false teeth out and was applying an extra layer of Poli Grip.

One thing I found quite astonishing was that here was a line for the handicapped stall. Three lovely old ladies and their walkers on wheels waiting patiently to get the stall big enough to turn around in as one of them said.

I don't know how many ladies there was in the ladies room, I do know that I smiled politely and moved out of the way for this one and moved over there for that one. I opened the door twice and I pulled off paper towels for another; all the while getting a little bit nervous because I needed to go myself.

Somehow, at the exact same time, every old lady left in the bathroom wanted to get out at the same time. Some were skipping the hand washing, others had finished with their hair and teeth and every one of them made straight for the door, heading right to me. I had backed as far back in the corner as I could and one lady with a walker said, "Honey, you're gonna have to move, so I can get this thing out the door."

I was trying to move. But the other ladies weren't being cooperative. Instead of backing up against one of the stalls, they were all converging towards the door where I was. Another made a comment about them trying to get out, and then another.

It was a standoff! Finally, after some polite laughter and a loud gurgle from my stomach, I said, "Sorry, I'm bigger than all of y'all put together and you need to move."

And they did. The lady with the walker maneuvered to the right, another backed into an empty stall and two others backed up against the sinks. "Here ya go, honey. Why don't you use the handicapped stall? It's got an extra roll of paper in it!"

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Brake Jobs, Boob Jobs And A Goat Named G...Part Two

....I was happy to be seated by the fabulous Teresa Hooley Slack, who not only is a terrific Contemporary Christian Fiction Writer but is also a classmate of Sister. We enjoyed catching up, talking about writing and the changes in publishing since she first started writing directly out of high school. You can check Teresa out here.

Pretty soon it was almost time to pack up and say our goodbyes, but I saw something that reminded of what a friend had asked me recently: Had I had any work done?

Notice a resemblance?

Me neither.

Sadly, the only work I have done is admit to the fact that I need a bigger bra size. I guess that's a good thing because everyone I meet these days is always telling me how good I look. That's the thing about a new bra, I guess (one that fits) it makes you look like you have had some work done.

I made it back to my hotel and relaxed for a few minutes before heading over to the venue where our get-together was being held. There was a handful of folks already there when I arrived and they had decorated the room nicely. In the beginning stages of planning the event I suggested a pot-luck dinner. Some had mentioned catering but with our group, getting firm commitments to attend are as rare as a four-dollar bill.

One classmate, Angie, who lives in the area knew a lady who makes appetizers and volunteered to bring spicy meatballs, Fiesta cheese dip and fancy wieners wrapped in bacon. Perfect!

Others volunteered to bring drinks, a cooler with ice, napkins and tableware and lots of other goodies. I was worried about the amount of food but we had way more than we needed and we could have fed the other two/thirds of the class if they had shown up.

Twenty-two of us attended and some were a bit shy in the beginning but soon it was just like old times:

North Adams '85

Two of our former teachers, Mr. Breeze--American History  and Mr. Schweighart--French also attended but I forgot to take their picture. I also forgot to take a picture of the food which is surprising, too.

For over four hours we laughed, we ate, laughed some more, looked through the yearbook and wondered about those that hadn't come and reminisced about our time at North Adams High School. As far as we knew, none in the class has passed away, which is a good thing.

A particular highlight for me was telling some about the novel that I recently finished and naming some of the characters after them. Your name in a book, why not? (FYI, Mom got my name out of a book.)

As we were leaving, my old high-school crush came up to me and said, "Well, G, I didn't use your name in a book...

...but I did name my goat after you."

Thanks, Brian, that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Holiday Parades

I missed the Fourth of July parade again this year, but just barely. I wanted to go, but I have this thing about parades. They scare me a little and usually make me cry.

I was in the marching band in high school so I got to march in several parades a year. I don't think they bothered me then because I was in the parade and didn't have to watch. From the tenth grade on I marched in the very front row on the left-hand side. I played a large brass instrument and it was a lot of fun. Maybe, it was from watching all of those Thanksgiving parades on TV that made me nervous around parades. All of those large inflated creatures that if there was just one wrong misstep could send their handlers floating off somewhere over the rainbow.

As I drove into town yesterday, tractor pulled floats with balloons flapping in the breeze, pickup trucks with 'Vote-for-so-and-so' and gleaming red fire trucks passed me coming the other way. When I reached the center of town it looked like someone had set a bomb off (wonder if they had a permit?). Trash everywhere.

Families were still milling around town clinging to their children's hands to keep them from running into the street to salvage any leftover thrown candy. I saw one child dart out into traffic, hit a pile of manure (EEWWW) left by a horse in the parade, pick up a piece of candy and slide across the road into the waiting arms of a very shocked parent. One parade judge was receiving medical attention because one of the parade participants had thrown an exceptionally large piece of hard candy at him and boinked him on the head.(I think they got last place.) I heard a little girl sobbing inconsolably because she hadn't gotten any of the candy thrown in her direction.(See a pattern here?)

As I was waiting to make a left-hand turn in the center of town, I was startled when I heard something beside me go bleep, bleep. I looked at all of my mirrors and couldn't see a thing. Bleep, Bleep, BBBLLLLEEEEEEPP!! All of a sudden, six very large clowns(I'm scared of clowns too!) jumped up out of the smallest motorized vehicle that I have ever seen and yelled, "Chinese Fire Drill".

The light turned green but I stayed put. Clowns were running beside me, around me, one even tried to open my door (good thing I had it locked) all jumping up and waving, one tripped over his feet, one pulled a flower from his sleeve, one honked his nose at me and one handed me a balloon in the shape of a wiener dog. As the light turned back to red, they hopped back into that car, made a right-turn and sped off.

I waited for the light to turn green and was shocked to hear a bleep, bleep once again. I looked up and saw that little car heading my way again and thought, "I don't think so." I didn't care what color the light was, I slammed that Mustang down into first gear, hit that pile of manure, hit the emergency brake, squalled the tires, and laid down a piece of rubber that would've made Old Number 3 right proud. I left those clowns choking and gasping in my dust.

I needed to stop and get gas before I left town and was a little uneasy when a guy in a clown suit pulled up at the next pump. He smiled at me and I just kind of looked away. I heard his cell phone ring and he began to talk to someone. I had finished pumping my gas and looked backed over at the clown. (He wasn't there.) As I did so, I heard a 'honk', I jumped out of my skin, turned back around and there stood the clown. "My friends just called and said you really made their day with that maneuver back at the light," he said. "They want to know if you want to go to the next town and be in the parade with them?" (Sign me up!)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day

The scene--Any small town in a state that doesn't allow fireworks, namely Georgia.

A guy walks into his local courthouse and asks where he can get a permit. The guard sends him down to the permit office. There is a really long line and only one window open. He admits to himself that this permit thing must be a pretty good idea, 'cause everyone here seems to be getting one. After all, on July 4th, he always hears fireworks going off all over town, so, they must have a permit, right?

The man finally reaches the counter after one lunch break, and two smoke breaks and asks the lady about applying for a permit. She pulls out the forms and said that the fee was going to be $500.00. He scratches his head and thought that that sounded like a lot of money. "Ma'am, why does it cost so much to get a permit to let off fireworks," he asked?

"Let off fireworks," she said. "Don't you know that is illegal in this state?"

The man scratched his head once again and then asked, "What are all of these people here for?"

"Sir, this is the tag office," she said.

The man, quite confused by this time, looks up and asks, "Where does the city get its permit to let off fireworks for the community each year?"

The lady, quite at a loss for words looks up and says, "Wait right here, I'm gonna go get my supervisor."

Enjoy your 4th of July wherever you are and remember this: Let the professionals shoot off the fireworks, because they have a permit. Just don't ask to see it.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Brake Jobs, Boob Jobs And A Goat Named G....Part I

That pretty much sums up my last few weeks.

Nothing says I'm going on a mini-vacation quite like an unexpected trip to see the mechanic. Twice. At least we're not on a first-name basis. Yet.

If you've been following along and paying attention I had a picnic, book signing and high-school reunion to go to all in the span of one week. Nothing unusual about this except it required a lot of driving and wouldn't you know it, my brakes couldn't wait until I returned from my trip to Ohio. Luckily, the garage was able to work me in and I got a brand new set of rotors and pads for the front of my car. The first time I drove the car it didn't feel right. Plus, smoke poured from the left front tire. I drove 90 miles to The Atlanta Writer's Club Picnic and back having to stop every ten minutes or so to check the status of the smoke and the smells that were coming from the brakes. I made it home safely but since it was late Saturday afternoon I would have to wait until Monday to take it back into the shop.

I packed over the weekend and everything was ready but my car. I had convinced myself that everything was okay, but I still took the car back to the mechanic. I explained everything and he even got in the car with me and took it for a drive but there wasn't any smoke, only the same sensation that something didn't feel right.

I made it to Dayton and stayed with Sister for a few days and we did the things that we normally do: eat and shop. Sister got a new van to replace the one that was totaled in May when a guy ran a red light and hit her head-on and it's the exact same color as the one she had. I might have picked a different color but as she says, it matches her eyes.

On Friday, I headed to Adams County in southern Ohio and spent the evening with old friends talking about old times and childhood memories. It's always a good time when I get to spend time with Barbie and her family. Barbie is two years younger than me but we played basketball and went to church together, plus we were neighbors and she married one of the boys in my class, so it's always felt like she is part of our class, too.

Here are some more of the things I enjoyed while hanging out in my old home town:

Doughnuts from the Amish store

Soft-serve chocolate from the machine

Sam's tastee freeze--best pizza burgers in town, closed now

Saturday was a big day and I was thrilled to participate in the Local Author Book Fest at the Peebles Library sponsored by the Peebles Magazine Club.

Here are a few of the highlights:

My table

My Aunt Mary

Lisa, a fellow classmate and local lawyer

We had a terrific turnout and I was especially pleased to be sitting beside one of my favorite local authors...


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