Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Let me explain a little about growing up in the Bible belt. You see the town I grew up in had every kind of church you could imagine. I mean there were Methodologist, Luttereens, Catolholics, Pissoffpalieans, Pressedbeeferrytons, Assembliedgawds, Churchofcripes and of course Bathtist. Now there were three religion related universities in my home town too. There was a Bathtist University, A Methodologist University and a Churchofcripes University. So we had lots of religion in our home town. There were so many churches and so much church goings on that I think that Jesus himself lived down near the creek. Only every one called him HeyZeuse and made fun of him because he was kind of developmentally challenged. I thought HeyZeuse was cool because he had the name of Jesus, so he must have known God up close and personal.
There is an old joke about a little town that has a corner where on one corner there is a Churchofcripes Church and on the other corner there is a Bathtist Church. One Sunday morning the choir director at the CoC church tells his congregation to turn to page 324 in their hymnal and sing “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown”. Upon hearing the CoC congregation singing this song the Bathtist choir director instructed his congregation to page 243 and sing “No Not One”. I know old joke but that describes my hometown. What I mean is the Bathtist would say “If you’re not of our church your going to hell.” Then the Methodologist would say “If your not one of us well, guess you’ll be warm for eternity.” The Churchofcripes would say “If your not one of us then you don’t exist” and on and on it went. It was neighbor against neighbor, church against church, vacation bible school against vacation bible school. No really. One summer when I was about six years old I attended the Bathtist Vacation Bible School and then a week later I was invited by my best friend to go to the Churchofcripes vacation bible school and then one of my other friends asked if I would like to attend the Methodologist vacation bible school. One thing was for certain; my mother had a lifetime supply of macaroni necklaces and crayon pictures of Jesus. Oh and just so you know it was HeyZeuse down by the creek and not the Lord’s Son that I drew. They just said “Draw Jesus”. They didn’t say which one.
I attended all of the vacation bible schools I drank the Hawaiian Punch and I ate the cheese crackers. I made macaroni necklaces and drew pictures of a mentally challenged man who lived in a shack by the creek named Jesus. I sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of my lungs, sometimes with instrumental accompaniment and sometimes not. I said the Lords Prayer and recited scriptures by rote that we were instructed to memorize. I did these with zeal and fervor. You see I believed! I wanted to be a good Bathtistmethodologistchurchofcripes Christian. I wanted God to listen to my prayers and I did NOT want to burn in the fire and brimstone that Brother Bettherthanyou was always preaching about. When I died I wanted to hear this booming Charlton Heston voice say “Gladys I saved you a seat you will be sitting on my right.” So I did these things right up until the very last day of vacation bible school at the Missionary Bathtist Church. You see that last day Brother Betterthanyou got up and gave an especially moving sermon. He Thee’d and Thou’d and spoke of having a testimonial. He told us the only way to have a testimonial was to become a missionary. A missionary of God. He had me. I was with him…right up until the time he told us that we had to swear. Not just swear but swear to God with our hand on the bible that we would become missionaries. He went on to say if we did not become missionaries then we would go to hell where we would burn for eternity. I stood there in my bobby socks and my Hushpuppies aghast! I just could not make this pledge. I could not do it and I just knew that my eternal soul was doomed. I was doomed to the firey pit of hell with Hitler and Moosaleeni. I knew this because Brother Betterthanyou told us they went there for killing a whole lot of people in a far away land. I was torn as to what to do. Place my hand on that bible and swear knowing I could not go through with it or to just hide behind Ms. Sarah our teacher. I chose to hide.
I went home and was crushed. I felt dirty. I felt awful. I was a terrible person. I was a sinner of the worse kind. I was going to burn in hell. Finally my mother had had enough of my moodiness. She walked over to me and said “Gladys, what the hell is your problem today? What are you all in a twitter about?” That was it I couldn’t do it anymore it all came flooding out in a rush of racking tears and snot. “Mama, I’m a terrible person! I’m gonna rot in hell.” She picked me up and set me on the kitchen counter and said “Now why would you burn in hell?” I looked at her through my tears and said “Cause I couldn’t swear on the bible that I would be a missionary.” Meme looked at me straight in the eye and said “What the hell are you talking about?” I blew a big snot bubble out of my nose sucked in a hic-cuping sob and said “They made us promise we would become missionaries or we were going to rot in hell and I don’t want to be a missionary.” Meme probed a little bit further trying to get the whole story out said “Well that’s a bunch of bullshit. You don’t have to be a missionary and you won’t go to hell.” She gave me a cookie and sat me back down on the floor. Then a the corners of her mouth turned into a smile she took a puff off of her Benson and Hedges and said “Just out of curiosity Gladys, why don’t you want to be a missionary?” I looked up at her wide eyed and said “Because I don’t want to go to Moezambeek and eat monkey meat.” To which Meme replied “Well good for you!” and walked out of the room laughing. I knew right then and there if my mother had anything to do with it I would go to heaven whether I became a missionary or not.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I have lived much of my life in books. It was my escapism, my vacation from the real world and my companion when I was sick, alone or scared. I spent many hours under a tree or by the Varsol enhanced fire reading. I enjoy reading to this day but don’t read as much Science Fiction or Fantasy. My son-in-law Pud reads about a bajillion of them a week. He is hugely into both and when Tadpole and I were organizing her books we found a treasure trove of first edition Star Trek and Isaac Asimov books.
What lead me to this story has nothing to do with any of those things. It started with a snowy day and a movie. It had been snowing for days and we were just waiting for it to calm down enough to go outside. I had seen the previews to “Marley and Me” and we have a little cinema in town where it just happened to be playing.Kahuna and I bundled up and went to the little mall that has like 4 shops. I hate the mall but this one doesn’t really qualify as a mall unless you consider one cell phone store, an outdoor store, a beauty salon and a Ben Franklin a mall. We got there a tad bit early, like 2 hours early because we, Kahuna, wanted to look at the boots and skis. We had lots of time to kill and were walking around in circles when Kahuna spotted a young girl at a folding table with books on it. Knowing I love books he drug me over to the table. Here sat a young authoress trying to sell her books.
We chatted with her for awhile and learned that she had started writing these books when she was 15 years old. Fifteen people! When I was fifteen I think I was still playing with Barbie and talking on the phone. I was still in the “do you think he likes me? I think I like him. Should I talk to him?” stage of my life and writing a book was the furthest thing on my mind. Anyway this young girl has written a series of Fantasy type books and because getting published is extremely difficult, she published her own book. That takes a lot of courage, tenacity and money.
Kahuna listened to this young woman’s story and though he is not a Fantasy genre reader I could tell he wanted to help her out. I knew that we had limited funds since neither of us had been to the bank or the ATM machine in weeks. Hey what can I say, we just don’t spend money. Anyway we went to the cinema and pre-purchased our tickets for the movie, figured up how much extra we had for popcorn and since neither of us drink soda we decided it was in our budget to purchase a book. We went back to her little table and purchased a copy of her book and chatted with her some more.
It turns out she has lived in 21 different places in her young life. She has been all over the country. She told us she lived most of her life pretty rugged with no running water or electricity. She was a quiet soft spoken girl who told me that she has always loved to read. This spurred her to write down her own stories that she imagined. I mean think about it if you have no electricity you have no television, no internet and no video games which in turns amps up your imagination. This in turn feeds your creativity and next thing you know you are writing down all these wonderful adventures. I respect and admire this young woman for her endeavor. We wished her luck and moved to a bench outside the theater to await the movie. I of course started reading.
She has done a very good job of developing her characters and her plot. I read the first 5 chapters before it was time to enter the theater and then finished the book when we got home. I would like all of you Fantasy fans and those of you who are not sure to e-mail this young lady, order her book and help a new author get started. The name of her book is “The Hiding Queen” by R.J. Gregersen. It has elves, queens, heros, heroines and love and adventure. You can order her book here: R.J.Gregersen@hotmail.com. Go on I’ll leave the light on for you.
Oh and just so you know I loved Marley and Me. I’m going to warn you though if you go see it take 47 boxes of tissues and make sure you have on waterproof mascara.
Monday, December 29, 2008
There are a million stories in the city.
"The story you are about to hear is true; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.")
A sampling of crime briefs from the Kalispell Police and Flathead County Sheriff’s reports…by Julius Macker (comments by Gladys)
1:10 a.m. The person who stole two cartons of cigarretes from an Evergreen bar will be talking to the authorities soon. There is video of the incident.
I can hear it now. “Hey Bob isn’t that your brother-in-law Fred? Yeup that’s him. Wow look at that he is wearing the ski mask you got him last Christmas. Welp guess we’d better go pick his sorry ass up. You better call the missus and let her know her brother will be hole up in the jail for New Years”.
3:15 a.m. Someone had pneumonia.
They called 911 for this? Come on you can do better than this!
12:39 p.m. A 16 year old tested positive for marijuana. He was taken to the detention center.
Wait! There was a test??? I didn’t study! The dog ate my homework. No really that isn’t my urine, it’s my dog’s.
12:47 p.m. A light pole was hit by a vehicle.
Dude! Was this before or after he tested positive for marijuana?
4:09 p.m. There were some loose cows off Vanderheide.
“Hey Maw, have you seen them there cows?” “Yes, Paw, I done told you, theys going to town to do some Christmas shopping.”
5:07 p.m. Someone thought a couple of people sitting in a parked car were suspicious because they were wearing pajamas. It turned out at least one of them was. He was arrested on a $185 warrant for theft.
I know that I am suspicious of pajama wearers. So my question was he arrested for wearing pajamas or for stealing the pajamas? And WOW $185 dollars for pajamas! I would be wearing those things everywhere too!
10:00 p.m. Someone’s mother could hear things being thrown and words being yelled from their daughter’s room.
Um, did you try opening the door and tell her to shut up?
11:49 a.m. A woman said she saw a man ski through her yard.
“Hello 911? Yeah there is a man with a ski mask on in my yard. No he’s not trying to rob me. No, he is skiing. Yes he is skiing through my yard. Hello? Hello?”
10:47 p.m. A concerned citizen reported that two older men were smokig marijuana outside of a bar on the west side of Kalispell.
Was that before or after he stumbled drunk to his car and drove out of the parking lot?
11:32 p.m. Someone allegedly saw a man who resembled Mr. Clean.
Ok I just don’t know WHAT to say here.
1:58 a.m. There was an unconscious person near Coot Court.
Coot Court? Really? Who named this place?
Monday 12/22 (notice we jumped straight to Monday? Criminals always take Sundays off)
1:04 a.m. It’s not certain whether a woman missed her flight.
Uh? I never knew you were supposed to call 911 for missing your flight. I thought you were just supposed to stand at the gate kicking your luggage and cussing.
1:23a.m. A 16 year old female hasn’t come home. She is with her 19 year old boyfriend.
Um, somebody needs to tell that boy that 16 will get you 20. Come on people PARENT your own children!
11:54 a.m. When a woman turned on her radio she said she could heare a message in Morse Code. A deputy listened to the radio and thought the same thing.
Tadpole, your wrong. Schizophrenia is contagious.
5:59 p.m. A man thought his neighbor must be drunk. He was sitting in his car but it wasn’t running. Turns out he wasn’t drunk he was just extremely bored.
Another one that needs no comment.
Officer Frank Smith: Christmas cards, huh? A little late, aren't you?
Sergeant Joe Friday: Well, I was going to send them out Monday, but we had that stakeout.
I'll be 10-8 at the donut shop.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I look down on the lake from the high up on the mountain slopes. The view is breathtaking.
They were flying through the air on chairs. What fresh hell is this?
I came to my senses and out of my imagination and realized where I was. I was on the ski slopes and I don't ski. Go here and you'll see why. There in the distance was
Kahuna blessing the snow.
I'll be in the lodge having a hot buttered rum. Care to join me?
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Valley of the Cake Dolls
It was my granddaughter’s second birthday and I traveled 1700 miles to see her. I spent the week with her before her birthday and was reminded just how sweet and volatile a 2 year old can be. She could go from sweet and cuddly to total meltdown in the matter of seconds with just one little word “No”. That one word would be uttered and her happy giggling world would suddenly turn into something that can only be related to an all out “China Syndrome” nuclear meltdown. She would do this several times a day and with her being 2 she never really cared where or when. This I can say, she has healthily lungs and is strong as an ox.
When my sister and I were little as well as my own daughter and nieces, we were blessed with the cakes my mother made. They were these gorgeous creations made from a doll and lots of cake and creamy frosting. They as everything that my mother did were pure perfection. My mother would bake the cake of our choosing in a bundt or angel food pan. Then she would take an inexpensive Barbie want-a –be doll and take her legs off so all that was left was the upper torso. Then she would fill the hole in the middle with stiff frosting and stick the doll in the frosting so it would stand upright. Once she had the entire cake frosted like a beautiful ball gown she would take a piping envelope and make the top of the dress on the doll with piping and sprinkles and candies and such. It was any little girl’s dream come true. Mother is now making doll cakes for the little angels in heaven, but her tradition must live on. My daughter’s only request of me for my precious little granddaughter was a “doll cake just like Meme used to make”. Don’t get me wrong, I can cook, I can bake and I can plate food and make it look delectable, but cake decorating is not my forte’. So off the two of us go to get the necessary supplies, which is where my story truly begins.
This is what Meme's cakes would look like. This is from the "How To" website.
No longer do they make the Barbie knock-off dolls that you can tear their legs off. No today they make dolls whose legs do not come off. The day of the birthday, it is just Miss Priss and I at home and we get out the supplies ready to embark on our maiden voyage as grandmother and granddaughter making the first of a long line of doll cakes. So I get out the bundt pan, fill it with creamy strawberry cake batter and place it in the over and start to work figuring out how to fit a 16” tall Barbie into a 10’ tall cake and make her stand up. Once the bundt is cooked I stick the doll in the center to measure and realize there is no way short of cutting of the doll’s legs. I had one problem, no way to cut them off. I have no tools not even a sharp pair of scissors. Trying to emulate Meme and make do with what I had on hand I decided if I baked another cake, in a round cake pan that might give me the height needed. So into the oven the next layer went. I placed the bundt cake on top of the regular round cake then stuck the doll into that in hopes I had solved my dilemma. The doll was still a good bit too tall. So in a stroke of genius I bent the dolls legs back into an unnatural position of kneeling and secured them with a large rubber band. I wrapped her in plastic wrap and stuck her in the middle of the cake and ‘ouila, it was perfect. I then proceeded to cover the whole thing in rich and creamy pink frosting. The dolls torso was still devoid of any covering. I had looked for a piping bag but could not find one so purchased canned piping instead. I covered the bodice with this piping only to realize it was very hard to control and way too oily to put on the plastic wrap. So it would slide down the bodice onto the cake. After several attempts I was able to get it to stick and the effect if not perfection was acceptable to a two year old. The party was to be later that evening after dinner. I placed the cake in the refrigerator to keep the icing from melting anymore than it was and proceeded on with dinner.
We gathered presents and cake and took the party outside. To say it was a pink party is not being fair to you. Think Pep tobismal explosion and then cover that in pink wrapping. Yes, it was pink.
That’s it, that’s my cake story.
I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for about two weeks. Who is this Braxton Hicks anyway and can she sing like Toni Braxton? The contractions got more intense and closer together but still were not consistent or strong enough to be “real” in my mind. Instead we made it through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with me walking three or four steps and having to sit down. My family was very supportive and tried to help throw me into labor by feeding me lots of rich food and making me laugh. Unfortunately all it did was make me have to run to the bathroom before I peed in my pants. We played 400 games of Hate Your Neighbor and 200 games of Spades. Now let me just insert a Trooper Bob-ism here. He is the only person I have ever known to bid Nil while holding the Ace of Spades in his hand. We laughed, ate and made merry. We watched movies and played with the kids toys. Each time I had a contraction everyone would stop and ask “Is it time?” Nope it wasn’t time.
Finally at about nine p.m. the day after Christmas, Meme looked at me and said “You need to go to the hospital and let them check you out.” I have told you before that I do as I’m told and so we gathered up our stuff and drove the 14 miles into town in the snow that had begun to fall. I entered the Labor and Delivery unit of the hospital and gave them my name and my doctor’s name thinking that once again they would say “It’s just Braxton Hicks, GO HOME.” I just knew this baby was never going to come out and I would continue ballooning up until I was so big I would just explode. I also knew that if this child ever came out it would never be late for anything again. The nurse escorted me to a room and examined me. She looked at me and instead of sending me home she said “I’ll be right back” and ran out of the room. The next thing I knew it was midnight and they had me hooked up to this machine and that machine. The doctor had arrived and he examined me and ran out of the room. I was beginning to get self conscience. Then he came back in dressed in scrubs and told me it was time. Time? Time for what? Time for Howdy Doody? Time for the news? No he explained it was time for Tadpole. She was born a little after midnight and was a little bitty thing even though she was a month late. She was gorgeous and bright. She was precious and cuddly.
Tadpole and I had a special connection from the day she was born. She grew a huge funny bone while cooking in the proverbial oven for an extra month. She also grew a huge heart. As she began to grow and become her own little person she grew a huge personality too. She has grown into a beautiful woman. She is often my muse, my inspiration and my cheerleader. She has a great take on life and an independence that baffles me. She takes after my mother in her ability to be both stern and soft. She cares for her clients and worries over them but she takes no guff from them. She is a petite woman who is ten feet tall in her constancy. She is a great mother dealing with her own daughter with love, care and respect. She is beautiful both inside and out. Most important she is NEVER late!
MOM! Stop taking pictures and pull me!
Happy Birthday Tadpole!
I owe you an Exploding Barbie Cake!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Now let me back up here a minute. Doe lives 1700 miles away which means all of her friends and most of her family are 1700 miles away. Doe married and moved in with my daddy and when she did she went through all of her pots and pans. She also re-did the kitchen replacing the old stove with a new glass top stove so she knew she didn’t have an iron skillet. She got on the phone and called her sister Ponice, who is in her eighties, and asked her if she had an extra iron skillet that she wasn’t using. Ponice, whom I have never met but have heard lots about, gets her flashlight and get’s on her eighty-something year old knees and looks through her cabinets. Now let me ask you what kind of name is Ponice? Pronounced Pawn-niece. Daddy says it’s native American and it is I-wrap-a-ho cause Ponice always goes around wrapped in a blanket. Don’t tell Ponice that he said that though because she WILL find that iron skillet and hit my daddy over the head with it. Alas Ponice didn’t have an iron skillet either. Then Doe called her daughter up in Fisher County who got her flashlight and got on her knees looking for an iron skillet that might be hiding in the recesses of her cabinets. When she didn’t have one she called her cousins down in Hill Country and they in turn got out their flashlights and dug through the cabinets looking to see if they had an old iron skillet hiding in the black hole beneath their sink or in the corner of the pantry. Basically this means that I had people all over the state of Texas whom I have never met looking through the deep abyss of kitchen cabinets for an iron skillet to send me in Montana. I tell you I am overwhelmed that these strangers were on a mission to find me a well season aged iron skillet!
You would think that I could just run down to the local iron skillet store and buy one. Alas this town is too tiny and there is no iron skillet store. Kahuna instead announced this was madness to have people all over the state of Texas looking for a 40 pound iron skillet that would cost two thousand dollars to ship. He instead loaded me up in the green hornet and drove me through the snow and the ice to Wal-mart. I told him I had already checked Squal-mart and they didn’t have them and besides I wanted a “seasoned” skillet.
We pursued the aisles of the department store looking at each new fangled skillets with me saying, no that has Teflon or eww the eggs would stick to that one and nope you can’t put it in the oven. Then he saw some that said they were “pre-seasoned”. Yeah sure but have they been really seasoned? Have they been slathered and smeared with years of shortening and rubbed with oil? Have they slid in and out of the oven a million times? Have they chicken fried steak or made hash browns? I don’t think so. Seasoned? YOU can’t handle seasoned! Oh wait that’s truth and I’m not Jack Nicholson, thank God! I acquiesced and agreed to shell out the $13.00 for a pre-seasoned Lodge Iron Skillet.
I went home and rubbed it with Crisco and put it in the hot oven. I let it cool and rubbed it with Wesson Oil and stuck it back in the oven.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Now all I have to do is put on my 47 layers of clothes, my woolen socks and my insulated water proof boots. Then I wrap my neck in a woolen scarf and put my hat on my head.
Dust of Snow
The way a crow
I search in each patch of trees and cache of brush for some sign of life and some beat of heart.
Another peaks out at me from the trees.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My mother had decided instead of setting the Christmas tree up in the living room like normal people, we would set it up in the front entrance way. We began our Christmas Eve ritual of drinking rum infused eggnog and putting toys together. Let me just ask why? Why must we put things together? Why do the toy manufacturers do this to parents? Why do parents wait until Christmas Eve to put these evil toys together? Why oh WHY?
We each had a specific bike or Barbie house to snap together or on which to put stickers. Again let me insert here that this should be done BEFORE you have had one too many of my mother’s eggnogs. We were for some unknown reason trying to do this all crammed in the front entrance way. The fact that the tree was set up in the entrance way made it such all of the toys were tightly packed together.
I put one of these together and forgot to tighten the handlebars. It resulted in a wreck with a garbage can. Yes I had too many snegglogs.
Under the tree sat three Amazing Amanda dolls all dressed in their pink overalls with their hair up in dog ears. You know what dog ears are don’t you? Dog ears are the same as pigtails a pony tail on either side of the head up high. They were so sweet and cute sitting there with their eyes closed. Then across the entrance sat three A.G. Bears in all their plushiness.
This is A.G. Bear. He really didn't talk, just grunted back whatever you said.
Next to them sat Teddy Ruxpin and the Talking Mother Goose. We finally finished the whole set-up for Christmas morning sometime around 2:00 a.m. We all went into the living room to watch a show called The Albatross that my brother had taped on a VHS tape. We sat on the couch when all of a sudden one of the Amazing Amanda dolls said “Mommie, I’m hungry” in her sing song high pitched automated little girl voice. This of course caused #2 Amazing Amanda to pipe up and say “I love you mommie.” This began a full out conversation among the three Amanda’s and the A.G. Bears grunting their responses along with Teddy Ruxpin’s eyes popping open to start reciting a Teddy Ruxpin story and Mother Goose reciting a fairy tale.
Teddy looks innocent enough, but pair him up with those evil Amanda's and you never know what he might do.
We all were sitting on my mother’s couch each one of us looked from one to the other for an explanation. Then we started laughing which of course caused the dolls and plushies to talk even more. This went on for awhile with each of us shushing the other to get the toys to be quiet. This didn’t work very well because with each shush it would start the toys up all over again which would cause us to laugh. You get the idea. The only way we were finally able to quiet down the toy gallery was for all of us to go to bed.
My mother fell asleep on the couch as she was wont to do. She said about an hour after she had fallen asleep she heard someone talking. Not knowing if it was one of her grandchildren or the doll she called back “What?” which of course caused the whole entrance way to once again erupt into conversation. My mother gave up and went to bed.
My daddy had gone to bed earlier had not been awake when the dolls had been activated or the bikes had been assembled. He got up to complete his normal 4:00 a.m. Christmas morning routine which involved going out to get the paper. He came in the house and shook off the cold of the morning and said to no one in particular “Whew it’s cold out there!” That was it that started the toy packed hallway to once again erupt into conversation. Daddy was done. He didn’t care for possessed dolls. He went and woke up his grandchildren to come take claim to the animated dolls and animals.
See here is Mother Goose teaching her young duckling how to terrorize old people on Christmas Eve.
The grandkids came running down the hall to a round of exchange. They stopped and looked the toys carrying on their discourse. They looked at each other. They looked at their parents. Then with the excitement of kids on Christmas morning ran and claimed each of their animated buddies.
*sidenote: Tadpole being only 3 years old was a little freaked out by the Amazing Amanda and shortly after Christmas had me pull the batteries out. She didn’t like being awakened by the possessed doll.*
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Growing up in my family we always had great Christmases. Our Christmas was always complete with more presents, food and baked goods than a small third world country could need. My mother would wrap everything individually so there would be plenty of packages to open Christmas morning. Santa would come and leave unwrapped gifts like bicycles, dolls, erector sets, Lincoln logs and other things that had been put on Santa’s list. Santa would hide these presents in the trunk of my mother’s car until Christmas Eve. He would have to wait until she had finished her shift at the hospital and returned home to come to our house. He would then pop the trunk of her T-bird open and get out the toys he had stowed away for just this moment. It was amazing how he knew which car was my mother’s and that he would arrive exactly when she got home. I guess that is part of the magic that is Santa. He would then go to our stockings that were hung with care from the mantel and stuff them with all sorts of goodies. First there would be an orange, then an apple some walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts. Towards the top of the stocking there would be a tube of Chapstick and some pencils and ink pens then to top it all off sitting at the top of each stocking would be the Lifesaver Book. Yes folks it was always the mother-lode of candy goodness. There was every flavor of Lifesaver goodness in those books.
One Christmas I began to think I was too old for Santa Clause. I was almost seven, almost grown in my mind, and believing in Santa Clause was for babies. My older brother and sister both acted like they knew a big secret and I wanted to be in on their secret. They talked about Santa and then they would snicker. The kids at school were torn too. Some were staunch believers and would fight to the death anyone who said that Santa wasn’t real. There was a boy in my class who could be described as nothing but mean. He was a junior Grinch. He told all of us that there was no Santa. He said that Santa was really our parents and that it was all a big lie. Then he went on with his blasphemy and told us that there was no Easter Bunny and no Tooth Fairy. I told you he was mean through and through. I went home from school and shared my thoughts and fears with my older brother and my sister. They gave me a knowing look and said “Well that kid doesn’t know what he’s talking about!” You see I think that they felt once the jig was up with me Santa would go away completely and with it a part of their own magic of Christmas.
This is my 7 year old self. I was not listening to anybody. I knew there was a Santa.
Christmas Eve rolled around and the three of us kids sat around starring at the round colored wheel reflecting colors off of the silver tree. We talked about what Santa would be bringing that year. My sister and brother both told me that even though Santa was pure magic they didn’t think he would be able to get a pony on his sleigh unless it was a plastic pony for my Barbie. The stars came out and the local weatherman reported that Santa had been spotted not far from our town on the Santa Radar.
My siblings convinced me it was time for me to go to bed or Santa wouldn’t be able to come. I sat out a big glass of milk and some cookies that I had made. My daddy had a roaring fire burning in the fire place which concerned me. I mean if there really was a Santa and he came down the chimney the minute he hit one of my daddy’s Varsol sparked fires he would be burned up. What good is Santa if he is in the burn unit at Parkland Hospital? My daddy told me that Santa would be fine. That before he came down the chimney he threw down special dust that put the fire out and he was able to come in the house and leave our presents. When he left Santa would go back out through the fireplace and up the chimney and the fire would start back up. I was a little skeptical but I wanted so bad to believe. I went to bed and squeezed my eyes together in the guise of sleeping and I listened. I listened for sleigh bells, or hoof beats, or even that jolly round of Ho-ho-ho. While I was pretending so hard to sleep I fell fast asleep. I was so soundly asleep there were no visions of sugarplums or red plums or purple plums or plums of any kind.
This is a sugar plum which is not a plum at all. It doesn't even contain plums.
The next thing I knew my daddy was standing in the door of our bedroom saying “Hey y’all come look Santy Clause came!” We all sprang from our beds and ran to the living room and there in the family room coming from the fire place were boot prints. They were big boot prints covered in fireplace ash. They went from the fireplace in the family room on the red carpet to the living room where the tree was on the white carpet. Then there was a faint trail that led back to the roaring fire. That was it I was convinced. I went back and like the Nancy Drew fan I was I did my investigation. Sure enough there were footprints on the hearth coming out of the fireplace. They stepped off the hearth and went to each of the stockings and then trailed to the tree. Under the tree sat dolls and toys and all the presents for which we had longed. We unwrapped our presents in a flurry finding new sheets, and pillows, underwear and socks, toys and books. Santa had come to visit our house and I had proof.
So you see I believe in Santa. Do you?
Monday, December 22, 2008
First let me tell you that I have really crappy phone service. It stinks and I have two phones. You can read about it here: Can You Hear Me Now? So the fact that my daddy called me 42 bajillion times this weekend is a miracle in and of itself. It is not so much a miracle as the birth of my great nephew Opie.
Anyway my niece, Gabby, was expecting a baby around Christmas. Now this is my brother’s one and only daughter. She is a kindergarten teacher and has more patience than Job and has lots of booger stories. Anyway she has been BIG and pregnant and she is usually little and petite. She was due December 27 which just so happens to be Tadpole’s very own birthday. Anyway Gabby kept getting bigger and bigger and I think they were afraid she might explode so they told her to come in and they would see about talking that baby out.
So starting Saturday my daddy would call me and give me the update. First he told me she went to the hospital but they turned her away because they were overburdened with pregnant women. Just how many prenant women were there? I mean did they have a sale on babies or something? It's not like she lives in New York City where there are millions of people. Plus who sends a woman in labor home because it’s too crowded. I mean what do they say. Gee we are really sorry but there just isn’t room for one more swollen stomach. You will need to just cross your legs and go home. Now at this point the person saying this would then be turned inside out in their own skin by not only the pregnant woman but by the pregnant woman’s family. They just want the alien removed and they want their sane sweet daughter/wife/sister/aunt back.
Here he is in all his 8lbs 2 oz.
Welcome to the world little Opie. I sure am glad you’re here and I can’t wait to see you and kiss those little Opie toes. Oh and for Gabby and Sleepy, Merry Christmas you have just been given the gift that keeps on giving. He will give you poopie diapers when he’s a baby, poopie attitude when he’s prepubescent, poopie language when he’s a teenager, poopie clothes to wash when he is in college and then one day he will be handed the same gift.
As Meme would say you did good kid!
He is smiling because he knows what kind of havoc he is going to play on his mommy and daddy's life.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I had one of those cravings recently and I did not control myself nor did I protect Kahuna from it either. I broke down and broke out the Fritos, wolf brand chili, and a package of chicken tamales. I lined my pan with foil I stripped and laid my tamales in the bottom of the pan already laden with Fritos. I then opened the chili, spread it all over the tamales letting it drip down to the Fritos and covered all of this with onions and grated cheese. I then lovingly and reverently slid this concoction into the 350 degree oven and let it bake until the cheese was a golden color. We then partook of this scrumptious meal. Oh it was so good and cheesy and frito-ey. It was so warm and yummy. About an hour after said dinner I began to feel warmth in my chest and a pain in my arm. I looked over at Kahuna who was squelching a belch. It was revenge of the Frito-pie. You see Frito-pie is what got Trooper Bob banned from cooking for his children.
One time Trooper Bob was left at home with his three children. The three well behaved polite children became hungry and pled with Trooper Bob to make his specialty. Trooper Bob never used a recipe. He would just start throwing things together and usually it turned out edible. This cold winter afternoon he decided Frito-pie was just the thing to warm up his adorable little children. He looked in the pantry and low and behold there in all its glory was a big can of Wolf Brand Chili with beans. The with beans is very important when making Trooper Bob Frito Pie. Then he spotted a can of Hormel Beef Tamales and he thought now that looks like a nice addition to my recipe so he grabbed that can too. He then employed his young daughters to chop up some onions, and grate a big pile of good old rat cheese. (I’ll tell you a little secret here. I was sixteen years old before I knew that rat cheese was actually called cheddar cheese.) Then he took a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes. I must tell you if you have never had Ro-tel tomatoes go buy a can mix it with a block of Velveeta and you will have the best queso you’ve ever had. He then added that into the mix. With the finesse of Bobby Flay he added a dash of cayenne and a smidgen of cumin and finished it all off with the cheese covering the concoction. Then he hefted the big casserole dish into the hot oven and let it brown.
My siblings and I sat salivating at the kitchen table anxiously waiting our tasty dinner. The timer bell chimed and Trooper Bob removed the heavenly Mexican themed concoction out of the heat and onto the table. We had sat the table with our best Chinet paper plates knowing that the regular Dixie plates would be eaten up by the tamale juice. We wolfed down our food like we had been stranded in the Andes Mountains with nothing but snow to eat. We ate our first helpings and went back for seconds, thirds and fourths until there was nothing left of the Trooper Bob Frito-Pie. We wiped our faces on our paper towel napkins and burped ready for our ice cream desert.
Later that afternoon the first pains started. Then the urgent trips to the bathroom came next. Pretty soon there wasn’t a toilet or a waste basket in the house that wasn’t being utilized. There was a retched and fetid smell in the house that was emanating from our feeble bodies. We were weak and pitiful when my mother, Meme, got home from her shift at the hospital where she had just spent 15 hours tending to the wretched and feeble. She looked at her poor wasted children and at her husband sitting in his recliner biting back indigestion and said “What did you feed them?” We all weakly and breathlessly croaked Frito-pie. She looked at Trooper Bob and said “what the hell did you put in the Frito-pie? Ptomaine poisoning?” Trooper Bob huffed indignantly and went on to tell her his list of ingredients. It was then that my mother took all kitchen rights away from Trooper Bob. He was no longer allowed to cook for the children in the house. She figured they were better off fending for themselves with a box of cereal and a jug of milk.