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A Sixty Second Dilemma
Posted On 02/09/2022 14:46:07
The quickest way to make my mind go blank is to tell me I have sixty seconds to do something, or say something, or answer a question.  It makes no difference how well prepared I am.  Ask me to do something and I will do it in record time.  Ask me to repeat something or tell you what I just read and I will do it without missing a single word and I will do it almost instantly.  Quiz me about something I have studied and I can quote authorities on the subject without blinking an eye.  Just don't tell me I have a time limit.

Once my grandmother was expecting the "ladies" for lunch.  It was a big deal for her.  I really do not know why.  She always seemed to chatter about all of them, when they were not around.  She knew how to fix whatever was wrong with each and every one of them.  However, this was not a let me fix you type meeting.  This was an appreciation luncheon.  Which really meant they would chatter on and on about whoever did not come to the luncheon.  Grandmother always tried to keep ugly gossip out and did not tolerate name-calling from anyone.  I really think she had these luncheons to catch up on all that had been going on with her friends.  I call them friends, she called them friends, but I don't think she would rely on any of them for help in a crisis.  That is just my opinion, I am seven years old and have only known my Grandmother for two years.

She had helped me get through the first grade.  It had not been an easy task.  I spent a lot of time in the corner of the room.  I loved to giggle.  Grandmother loved to giggle.  Most of the time when we were studying or alphabet we would make up fun games with the letters.  I learned to tie my shoe on my head.  While the talent for saying something in such a manner that it was funny took type to develop.  My first-grade teacher did not appreciate the results.  For example, telling her the "P" just ran down my leg while reciting the alphabet landed me in my familiar corner.

Time limits restricted my mental flow and seemed to choke the information right out of me.  It also restricted my ability to quickly do anything.  Grandmother knew all this about me.  I really thought she would appreciate how well I had anticipated the results of her demands that day.

"Look at this room.It is a mess and I have the ladies coming any minute now.  If you don't clean this room spotless in one minute I am going to beat you half to death.  When I get back it better be done."  The knock on the door singled the first of her guests to arrive.  I was sure glad.  I reasoned that I had one minute to clean my room.  I looked at the tea party my dolls were having, the teddy bear round up in the corner and of course, the shoes, hats, and clothes leftover from playing dress-up were all over the bed.

I caught a glance of the cat going into my closet.  I wonder if I had to get her out too.  I thought again and a closer look told me she was giving birth to kittens on top of a pillow that had landed there during the pillow fight my sister and I had two days ago.  Then I decided there was nothing I could do but get prepared.

I heard all sorts of chatter and laughter coming from the dining room and the living room.  I heard cups clinking and tea being poured.  Grandmother had three teapots going at the same time.  It was remarkable how well organized she was.  I had proceeded to full fill the current demands made upon me.  My sister had been excluded from the clean-up duty due to a little problem with the mumps.  Her face was swollen and she was in her own bed, in her own room, and I might add, was being served food in bed.  I heard the ladies all in her room now oohing and awing over the poor baby.

I was prepared and waited in my room.  The door opened and four rather large women walked into my room and gasp.  "What in the world?"  Grandmother's mouth flew open and I knew she wanted an explanation.

"I got everything you would need."  There I was naked as a jaybird, with three switches laying on the bed, and the first aid kit lying beside them.  "GiGi is having kittens in the closet and I knew I could not get everything done in one minute.  So, I am ready for you to beat me half to death."

I was totally surprised when everyone laughed out loud at the same time.  I use the phrase naked as a jaybird only because I had heard it before.  I know jaybirds are not naked but have feathers.  Now, on with the story.I bent over the bed and held up a switch for my grandmother.  She has no idea how frightened I was at that very moment.  All these women were grandmothers too.  What if all of them wanted to take a wack at me?  One of them walked over to me and took the switch from my hand.  Grandmother grabbed my robe from the back of the closet door and rushed to me.

"You are hot.  You are running a fever.  Oh, baby let me look at you.  You have the mumps."  I was thrilled.  I got scooped up and put into my pajamas and put into bed.  I got fed in bed and even got one of the teddy bears to join me.  GiGi was moved to the laundry room to care for her four kittens.  I got up one time while grandmother was saying goodbye to all her guests.  I raced into my sister's room and gave her a big hug.  I was so happy.  I thanked her for saving me from getting beat to death.  My sister looked at me and we instantly kissed each other... we wanted this to last a little longer.  It took less than sixty seconds to go from being beaten to death to "poor baby".  That is what I call record timing for any dilemma.

Tags: Childhood

Your Time or Mine?
Posted On 02/09/2022 14:04:03

“What are you doing out here all alone?  I thought all the little fairies were trying out your new wings today.”

  “I don’t seem to fit into their timetable.  My hourglass did not open when it was scheduled to so I have been closed off my century and did not wake up until the cat knocked the post that was holding it all up.  Nothing makes sense to me.”

“Give me an example.”

“Well, why do they ask you to dial a number on a phone that has no dial?  It is not just the phones, they have phones they carry with them, in their pockets.I see no pay phones anywhere.  Back in my day, you took a carriage ride to see a girl. Now you get into the fastest thing possible and then honk when you get there.  I am not sure you need a man and woman to have babies anymore.  I do not understand anything at this time.”

The little fairy suddenly jumps up and twirls around.  “The music is crazy too.  Now it is just how loud you are not what the words mean.  Can you hold someone in your arms while dancing... no you have to wiggle six feet away.  I do not belong at this time.  I will never fit in and I am not so sure I want to either.”

She continues as she is walking back and forth.  “People move too fast going nowhere important.  They do not take the time to find out anything when they visit with someone.  I watched a couple stop to see his grandmother.  He left a wrapped gift but did not care enough to go into another room and actually say hello.  Did they inquire about her health, how her day was going, or anything?  No.  Just, leave the package and split before anyone knows you came bye.

What has happened to this world during the last century?  I am going to get down off my soapbox so-to-speak and I want you to tell me what you like about this new century of yours.

“My, my.  You do have an opinion.  I have seen some wonderful developments and inventions come about in the last century.  It has made the world a much smaller place.  People talk face to face while they are thousands of miles away from each other.  Children can go to school and not have to leave their homes.  Parents must be diligent about what children are learning.”

“You must know some about the history of my century.  You know what I am up against.  How can I cope, how can I advise, how can I help anyone here if I cannot help myself?  I can’t console anyone if I agree with them.  The world is ruined.  Humanity has gutted the planet of all that is good and true about it.”

“Have they now?”

“Come on, take a flight with me.  I will carry you if you need me to, but you need to see some things you might have missed.”

“I think this is a waste of time.  I have flown all over, been made fun of, and laughed at, I don’t want any more.  I am ready to just stay here until my wings rot off.”

“Boy, you do need a little pick me up.”

“You secure back there?  Relax and your wings will fold into mine and we can both lift… here we go.  I am going to point things that are happening right this minute.  Then we will talk.”

“That breeze is wonderful. It smells like lavender.  Oh, look at that.  That little boy has rescued that dog from the street.  He is taking it to that lady, they both are getting it into the house.  She is trying to pay him.  He just gave her a peck on the street.  He is gone.  I wanted to watch him for a while, why fly away so fast.  Oh, I see… you mean he is homeless?  His sisters and family live in that cardboard box.  Did he turn down money?  It would have helped his family.

“Just watch.”

 “He has pulled out a lawnmower and is pulling it behind him.  He has stopped at one house and now he is mowing the grass.  He earned the money.  That is wonderful.  His parents did a good job teaching him.  Warn me before you take off so fast.”

“Where are you going?”

“Just watch.  Okay.  We are in a hospital?  So many people helping so many people.  So much pain and suffering.  There is kindness here.  Compassion and putting other first is all over here.”

Now, we have a few places to go.  Look down there.  Those young people put flowers on the graves.  How wonderful.  They have wagons full of flowers.  Over there at the edge of the drive.  I see someone giving that man the shirt off his back while he changes his flat.  He finished the tire then gave the man a couple of bottles of water before he left. He did not get his shirt back, I think he gave him the shirt.

Now, little one.  I want you to keep watching the century you woke up in and realize that mankind needs anyone who knows about kindness, compassion, and hope.  This is not about you.  It is about what is needed.  Mankind always needs hope, laughter, and love. 

“My wings are stronger now.  I am ready to take on this century.  Thanks for the tour.”

As you get to visit with family members from all generations remember there are many things that have not changed throughout the sands of time.  Embrace those things and learn what you can contribute right where you are.  Let love, laughter, and hope guide you.

Tags: Hope Fantasy Love Kindness

Just One Kiss
Posted On 11/23/2021 19:34:31

What a day I have had.  It was a Monday for sure.  Then about mid-morning, my caregiver decided to go to the library.  That is within walking distance to my house so it would be a good walk for her and some quiet time for me. 

Then I decided I would do some exercises to get that part of my day over with. I selected the bathroom since it has the most room and is close to everything I need to get to in a hurry.  Why I thought that I will never know.

I had done three.  Exactly, three knee bends.  I then stepped on my oxygen tubing, fell backward, and ended up out cold for the next hour and a half.  When I came to I had a horrific headache.  My vision was a bit blurred and I could not get up.  I was very nauseous. I had remembered turning the water on to refill the dog bowls just before I went down.  Yes, the water had filled up and run over.  Yes, the floor was all wet.  And so was I.  I must admit at this point I was not very happy.

I tried to get up but did not have the strength to do it.  I tried my walker but it was on wheels that did not lock.  I finally butt walked into the bedroom to get to a chair that had stronger arms that I might be able to use to pull myself up.  This remained a good idea until I attempted to pull myself up.  My right hip implant popped out of the joint and I screamed my head off.  Bella and Bear were outside in the yard.  Sweetpea was inside laying on her bed.  I had no hip.  My leg dangled there and I could see no way to get it back in the joint socket.  The last time this happened a doctor applied heat and messaged the joint back in.  The pain was horrible.  I cried.  I shouted.  I have to admit I even cursed a bit.  I could not reach my cell phone.  I was worn out by this point.

I finally started crying and I guess started an old-fashioned pity party.  I quietly cried and felt sorry for myself.  Then out of the blue, Sweetpea brought me a dog bone, a dog toy, and a very welcome lick on the cheek.  She just stared at me.  She expected it to work. It did.  I relaxed as I was enjoying the love that had gone into the gesture of giving me what would make her feel better.  My muscles relaxed, my hip floated back into the joint without any effort on my part.  I thanked Sweetpea as I used a chair to pull myself back up.  I dressed for the day.

I remember a lesson I learned a long time ago.  Gratitude always prepares you to receive a blessing.  Even if the gratitude is to a dog for bringing you an “I Love You gift.”  It was the one kiss that did the trick.

Tags: Pets Gratitude Prayer

Fruit Cakes A Wonder
Posted On 11/09/2021 04:15:24

During our developing years, our list of the wonders of the world around us changes.  Meeting Santa was a wonder that took some getting used to as well as the wonder of kittens being born.

The first time we went to the circus was filled with wonders.  Tigers, lions, elephants are all exciting but not as disturbing as watching ten clowns get out of one small car.  That one bothered me.  I never wanted to get inside of a small car after that.  What if I got trapped in there?

I had learned so much, yet my education seemed to grow the most just before the holiday season.  I learned about spooks during Halloween.  Thanksgiving had its own surprises.  One thing captured my sister the most and once again brought Grandmother to our rescue.

My grandmother, the true Southern Lady that she was loved listening to the radio.  However, during a short period, a song called the Mule Skinner Blues would play.  Now, grandmother would say she hated that song, but her foot seemed to like it because it would not stay still when it was playing.  We always laughed about it.

The season for cooking was about to begin.  My grandmother’s lady’s group always got involved with whatever was going on in the community.  The crocheted and knitted for the poor.  They did sew and repairing of children’s clothing for clothing drives.

There was always the “Lady’s Bazar” they made baked goods for.  They sold the baked goods in order to pay for the rest of the things they did like the food baskets etc.

One of the top sellers for the Bazar was my grandmother’s fruitcake cupcakes and of course whole fruit cakes.  What made them special was the homemade peach brandy put on them every day.  Also, there was some rum that was put on the big cakes.  It became a daily ritual after the cakes were made.  It was during one of these “Lady’s Bazar” preparation meetings that showed me some wonders I never knew anything about.

My grandmother had gone with my mother to the venue where the Bazar was to be held.  The booth decorations and preparations would take them all day.  Lilly, my grandmother’s older sister was in charge of my sister and myself along with conducting the cake preparations.

My aunt Lily was a very sweet woman.  She did seem to get a little overwhelmed with my sister and me being underfoot, so she sent us outside to play in the backyard.

We played for a very long time.  It was not until we needed to come in and tinkle that the wonders started coming to light.  We walked into the kitchen.  No one was there.  We walked into the hall.  No one was there.  There was no one talking.  We ventured into the formal dining room.

The dining table had been let out its full length.  Ten chairs all the way around.  One lady was in each chair.  The cupcakes and fruit cakes were also scattered all in front of the ladies.  Each lady seemed to have her head tilted back, her mouth open, sound asleep.  One or two of the ‘ladies’ were even snoring.  All of them had a glass of peach brandy and a cup of rum in front of them.

This was amazing to us.  My sister wanted to taste it.  So, she did.  It tasted so good.  She gave some to me.  Yummy.  We proceeded to go around the table and gulp down the remainder of the peach branch.  Then we started on the rum.  It was not as good but after all the brandy it was not so bad.  Now, you must understand.  We had no idea what was happening to us.  We felt silly.  Everything was funny.  I do mean everything.  My sister decided she could hang upside-down on the crystal chandelier and toss some of the fruit bits into the open mouths of the sleeping “lady’s club” members.  She pulled herself up and only a few of the crystals fell off.  She started swinging.

We were laughing and having a really good ole’ time when The Mule Skinner Blues came on the radio.  I got on top of the dining table and started clapping my hands and stopping my feet to the music.  Suddenly, all the women woke up at the same time.

Mother and grandmother walked in just as I was about to rap up my song.  “I hate that song.”

“Lilly, Grandmother was shouting.” 

“Lilly, my mother was shouting.”

Aunt Gussy opened her eyes and screamed when she saw my sister swinging on the chandelier.

My sister was rescued first.  I remember lots of black coffee being made all afternoon.  Grandmother repaired most of the cakes that had been made.

She said this is one time the Fruitcakes made the Fruitcakes.

To me, it was just another one of the wonders of the world.  How to turn ten, church-going, Southern Ladies into ten… sleepy time gals.

I don’t think grandmother ever put Lily in charge of my sister and me again.  Grandmother wanted me to remember the headache and the pain.  I did.  After that, all I had was peach preserves but not brandy.

The girl stomping her feet and dancing to the music was six.  The girl swinging on the chandelier was four.  We had all turned into fruitcakes. 

Tags: Making Fruitcake

My Best Splanation
Posted On 11/09/2021 04:00:14

A day out shopping with the whole family entailed an easy lesson on how not to explain anything.  My mother and father, my Aunt Gussy, my Grandmother, my sister and me.  Grandmother had announced to the group that we had one rooster among us so we must be kind to him.   Four adult females and two little girls was a bit much all at one time.  I wanted to know why Daddy being a rooster made him the one in charge?  I got a wink and a giggle from each hen.  I was convinced when he dangled the car keys at me.  I had decided not to mention that at least two of the hens could also drive.

We were entering a large department store.  There was an esculator that led to the second floor.  One by one the hens got on.  The electronic stairs started disappearing as we approached the second landing.  Grandmother's shoe  got caught.  Grandmother went down.  She let out a little squeal.  Then as if it started the chain reaction all the way through our hen parade.  Daddy, I should have mentioned before now, is deaf.  He wears a hearing aid but when the hens are chatting he usually turns it down.  Daddy is still walking and is totally unaware that the entire group has stopped and was trying to get get Grandmother back on her feet.  Everyone seemed to have their own idea of what to do, yet no one was listening.

The reason for this shopping trip had started the day before when two of my cousins had come to the house with two huge jars of marbles.  The two little boys were playing with the marbles in the drive.  One of them had slipped on their own marbles.  The guys in the white coats came and took them away.  While everyone was taking care of the boys, I gathered up the marbles and put them in smaller jars under my bed.  When asked about the "jars", I was able to return them unbroken.  No one asked about what happened to the marbles.  There had been a big discussion about each of them losing their marbles.  There was a big discussion about the water being half full in a glass as well.  Sometimes grown ups do not make sense at all.  They were all happy the boys were okay.  The family secret that we had all lost our marbles was safe.  If we ever got thursty, somewhere there was a half a glass of water waiting for us.  The entire group had decided to go shopping to replace the marbles.  It would make the boys feel better.

So, here we are.  Shopping for marbles.   The store manager has been called to the scene.  The escolatorh has been turned off.  The manager insists on waiting until the proper medical people be called in to help Grandmother get up off the floor.  While she is down there she is answering questions for the store manager's accident report.

One question after after another were being answered.  Name, address, how long had she lived there, any mental disorders in the family... then the big one.  How old are you.  Gasps went out throught the group.  "That is a question that no one asks a Southern Lady.  It is just unheard of.  Besides, I just don't know.  Gussy had a ballpark answer.  Mother said she would ... Grandmother stopped her immediately as if she had become a traitor.  "You will not tell anything... he can see I am over twenty one.  By this time Daddy has made it all the way to the toy department, purchased two large jars of marbles, and headed back.

He spots the crowd at top landing.  "What are you doing down there, Mother. Get up off the floor."  He reaches down and gently takes grandmother by the elbow and allows her to grasp his shoulder as he pulls her up.  "Why were you down there?"

"Because this man would not let me up until I told him my age."  She winked at me and the man's face lit up as he grasped for words.  Daddy, gently held onto Grandmother, as he guidded the other hens away from the scene.  The store manager followed us trying to explain he needed to know all sorts of things for his report.  He was so desperate that he was actually shouting as we neared the front doors of the store.

I stopped.  I put both my hands up and waved them at the man.  I shouted back.  "Can't you understand.  This is about our secret.  We have lost our marbles and before the guys with the white coats come, we had to get more.  Please, it is a secret.  But don't worry.  I keep a supply under my bed."

The man stopped.  He looked at me.  I am all of seven years old.  I told him I was seven.  If he needed an age for his report.  It was my splanation.  "That will do."

I glanced back in the store window as we all got in the car.  The man was still scratching his head.  I had to giggle.  "What are you laughing about, Sweetie?"

"The man still needed an age for his splanation report.  I told him I was seven and we had all lost our marbles."

All the grown ups laughed.  "Good job, little one."

Tags: Children Explaining

Swinging On A Halo
Posted On 10/26/2021 07:03:50

I could hardly wait until my sister woke up from her nap. I had learned so much today. October thirty first. Who knew it was the month of the spooks. I had never heard of spooks until this morning. I heard it on a cartoon, just before nap time. They are apparently something to be feared. I knew we were in trouble when I had asked our new grandmother if she had ever heard of a "spook". Her answer sent shivers down my spine. My heart was beating so fast. She said she was the Queen of the 'spooks'. I am five almost six and I had never heard of such a thing. Yet, here I am living with the Queen of them all... whatever 'they' were. I had to warn my baby sister to be on guard and stay close to me. I had protected her all the time we were at the orphanage and I will protect her against 'spooks'. I had questions in my head. One, what are they? Two, why are they dangerous? Wish I could count higher.  "Why do they only come out in October?" There also had to be an answer to one real curiosity. "What is Halloween?" The cartoon characters were really excited about it. It had something to do with 'spooks'.

My new grandmother had no idea the fertile ground where she had planted the seed, "I am Queen of the spooks." Please understand the blanket of fear my imagination had wrapped around my mind. I whispered to myself I must be brave.

Then suddenly my sister woke up and giggled because I was hiding under the bed but she could see me in the mirror hanging on the back of the closet door. "Oh my," I instantly shushed her and motioned for her to join me. I had forgotten how loud she giggled. I told her whatever happened she could not laugh. Her eyes got big and she nodded that she understood as I removed my hand from her mouth. I then whispered to her that our grandmother was the Queen of the spooks. "What spoo?" She said in a voice that to me was loud enough to expose our position. I shushed her again.  I proceed to the closet and pulled down two shirts and two pairs of pants. I used our bed pillows. I dressed the pillows and tied them all up with some ribbon. I stuck dolls in the top all the way up to the neck. Only the heads stuck out of the top. I arranged my two foolers (as I had named them) so that they looked like they were taking naps. Then I took my sister by the hand and proceeded to fix up a nice hiding place just behind the bedroom door.

My grandmother had been so loving up till now. I had no idea what to expect. She always read a story to us after we got up from our naps. She came into the room. She bent down to kiss us awake like she always did. Suddenly, she giggled. She glanced around and I was sure did not see a thing. I had no idea our feet were sticking out.  She walked over, sat down in her big barrel chair, and opened a book, and started to read. I was thrilled that the 'foolers' had worked. She started reading a story about a rabbit and a turtle who was running a race. It was a good story. She did seem to giggle a lot as she read. I had to be very careful not to laugh. Grandmother then told the 'foolers' they needed to get up so we could get ready for Halloween. My eyes got so big. My sister's did too. Then she said the words that would put total fear into my heart.

"You little ones will be angels." Oh, I knew angels were what happens when people die. She was going to kill us. I thought to myself, Oh my, how would we escape? I did not really mind being an angel but really thought it would come a little later in my life. Then I just had a flash of my climbing a tree as an angel. What does an angel do with their halo when they want to climb a tree. Maybe they use their wings and don't get to climb at all. How sad. Do angels spend all their time in church? Do angels have pets? These were questions that would need to be answered... just in case we did not make our escape.

"I have your costumes all finished and I need to get your halos right. So, you two better get up or I'll use magic on you. Now, I am going to go get the candy ready." She left the room. All of a sudden my sister broke away from me and ran after her. I was not prepared for Grandmother to use the idea of having candy to capture us.  My sister loved candy. I was too smart. I would not be caught. I instead made my way to the living room and hid behind the sofa. I had no idea that every time I moved, I made the drapes move. Grandmother seemed perfectly happy dressing up as Queen of the spooks. I listened as the doorbell rang. It seemed like several children had come to the door. Grandmother made a big deal out of what wonderful spooks they were and gave out candy. She even thanked them for coming. I heard my sister giggling. I could not see but I listened with my heart pounding.

"Baby, I wish your sister would get up. I guess she is going to sleep the night away. You and I are going to go trick or treating. You are such a good angel." Those words made me cry. She had already turned my sister into an angel. "I am going to have to take care of that sister of yours before we go. She then went into the bedroom and yelled, Abra Ka Dabra, then I heard her giggle. She left through the second entrance into the room. When I heard her in the kitchen, I took the opportunity to sneak back into the bedroom. I stood there completely speechless. There, on the beds, where I left the two foolers. On one bed a turtle. On the other bed a bunny rabbit. Oh, she had taken them out of the story she had read. Then I saw hanging behind the closet door a beautiful white gown with wings.

Grandmother entered the room, I jumped out of my skin. It was my grandmother's voice but not her face. She had red lips and blood coming out of the corner of her mouth. She had teeth that stuck out from under her lip and blood dripping from them. I started screaming as loud as I could. "I don't want to be an angel yet. Not yet."

Grandmother instantly grabbed me and held me very close. I think she suddenly realized I had taken her seriously. She remembered calling herself the Queen of the spooks. She started kissing my face. She had tears coming down her cheeks. "We are only pretending sweety." She gently brushed the hair out of my eyes, "Why don't you want to be an angel?"

I had to look away from her. I could not look at that horrible face. Her tummy was quivering and shaking. "It is not funny," I shouted. You are going to eat me. "Where is the baby?" I shouted. "I don't want to die." I started trying to wiggle loose. I started crying when my baby sister walked into the room dressed in a white gown with wings just like the one on the back of the closet door. She had a funny wire that stretched out from behind her neck and held a shiny golden ring. "You killed my baby." I ran to my sister and was surprised to see she was real. I suddenly became aware of my grandmother's costume. She was dressed all in black with a tall pointed hat and the picture of a black cat arching its back on her apron.

"This is Halloween, my love. You don't have to die to be an angel on Halloween. This is pretending. None of this is real." I started pointing to the turtle and the rabbit and started huffing and puffing. "We are taking care of them until Timmy, from down the street, and his grandmother gets back from Trick or Treating." I read the story about the tortoise and the hare because I knew they were coming over tonight." I thought for a minute and thought I had remembered hearing Timmy's voice while I was behind the sofa.

"What about the halo. Can angels climb trees with a halo?"

"Yes, they sure can. I have a sneaky hunch you will be swinging on your halo no matter what."

I immediately put on the angel costume and went trick or treating with my grandmother. I told everyone we met that I was going to swing on my halo later. My grandmother laughed and clapped her hands. By the time we got back, went through all the candy, and got into our pajamas... I had forgotten about swinging on a halo. The next morning the turtle, the rabbit, and the halo were all gone. It was November 1st... My first turkey day had its own surprises.

Every Halloween now, I think about the time I was an angel dreaming about swinging on my halo.

You can see the picture that goes with this story in my Galley  The cat sleeing while holding the turtle.

Tags: Children And Holloween

The Bears Secret Heartbeat
Posted On 10/18/2021 01:29:22
"Grandmother, Grandmother, where are you.  Jackie's Teddy Bear is alive!  It has a heartbeat."  I was running from room to room trying to find my grandmother.  I knew she would want to know about my discovery.  I had spent the whole day next door playing with Jackie and her grandfather while grandmother took care of my sister.  My sister had been hospitalized because of her ears.  She was always getting ear infections.  The only way to fix it was to put some sort of tubes in her ears.  My sister had only been home from the operation for three days.  I just knew I had an answer that would make her feel better.

"I am in here, but you wait there till I come out."  Grandmother was wiping her hands and adjusting her apron when she came into my room.  "Now, what is all this about a live bear?"

"Yes, Jackie's Teddy Bear is alive.  It has a heartbeat."  I repeated it.  My grandmother's mouth flew open and her eyes got big.  "But how is that possible?"

"It must be magic.  I begged Jackie to let me have the Teddy Bear to help my sister but she would not part with it.  Even her grandfather said the Bear had a secret and could not be given away."  Grandmother frowned and then she started doing her finger on the chin thing.  She gazed out the window and just kept tapping her chin.  I knew it would not be long before she would figure out a way to get that Teddy Bear.

When my mommy got home from work I started to tell her about the Teddy Bear.  Grandmother stopped me and told Mommy she would be back in a while.  She had waited until Mommy got home so she could leave.  Next door, that is where she was going, next door.  I just knew it.  Suddenly, Daddy showed up and she got in the car with him.  They both took off.

I went in to see my poor sister.  She looked so small in that big bed.  I crawled up on the bed and laid down beside her.  We held hands and she smiled at me.  I tried to talk to her but her ears were full of stuff and all wrapped up.  She looks like she had on earmuffs.  I thought about what would make her happy.  Then I remembered how much she loved music.  I ran and got Daddy's little radio.  I turned it on and placed her hand on it.  She smiled when she felt the music come through.  This was so sad for me.

We had been told just last year that she was almost blind in one eye due to a birth defect.  We had already gone through the double teeth thing.  It was awful.  Her baby teeth refused to fall out and her permanent ones came in anyway.  The dentist had to pull her baby teeth.  The kids at school had been so cruel to her.  I was always in trouble for beating someone up who made her cry.  The glasses she had to wear were thick and a double row of teeth did make her look like a monster with pretty blond hair.  I tried to make sure to sit on her right side so she could easily see me.  Now, her ears.  I just had to get that Teddy Bear.  I know the magic in that bear would heal her ears.

Grandmother and Daddy came home with big grins on their faces.  Daddy came in carrying a big Teddy bear.  One the same size as the one Jackie had.  Without even waiting I grabbed it from my daddy and ran to my sister's room.  Her little arms stretched out to hold her new friend.  She was grinning and holding her bear.  All the grown-ups had followed me into the room and were also grinning as she patted the bear's face.

I let her hold the bear until she went to sleep then I had to find out for myself.  I slowly took the bear so her grasp would release it.  I held the bear and I heard nothing.  I was devastated.  This was not the right bear.  This bear was not alive at all.  It would make her happy but it would not heal her.  I cried quietly so no one would know my heart was broken.  I thought Grandmother understood.  Why won't Jackie give me her bear?  I would give her such a bear if it were me.  Then I thought about what I had just said in my mind.  No, I would not.  If I had a live Teddy Bear, I would never give it away.  I guess the only thing to do is hope grandmother will stare out the window, put her finger to her chin and find another solution.

I awoke the next morning.  I jumped out of bed and looked on the floor.  The Teddy Bear was gone.  Oh, No!  I ran to my sister's room, it was not in there.  Grandmother was serving my sister her breakfast in bed and helping her with napkin duty while she ate it.  I glanced around and could not see the bear anywhere.  "What are you lookin' for, baby?"  Grandmother was finished and headed to the kitchen.  She was grinning but I could not figure out why.

My sister was very sad and crying because she missed her bear.  I brought her all sorts of toys in from my room but she only wanted that bear.  No grown-up in the house was talking.  I got up on the bed and let my sister lay her head on my shoulder as I held her and just let her cry.

Bang, Bang... Our next-door neighbor showed up at the door.  He had my sister's bear!  I grabbed it and took off to my sister's bed.  I did not care if it was not alive.  It made her happy.  Her outstretched arms showed me I was right.  I was thrilled.  My sister sat up in bed and held the bear very tight and gave him a big hug.  "Wow,"  she said.  He held him close and gave him another hug.  "Wow."  She was grinning.  Then she started laughing.  All the adults had gathered into the room to watch the magic unfold.  She looked at the bear who now had long eyelashes and kissed it.  Then hugged it again.

"The doctor said today was the day so here we go. Daddy came over to the bed and slowly started taking all the stuffing out of my sister's ears.  She held on to her bear the whole time.  When he was finished she hugged Daddy.  Then she again hugged her bear.  She squealed and waved me over to the bed.  She said, "Hug her.  My sister said, "Hug Sister."  I was taken back, she had named her bear Sister.  She called me Sissy or Janie.  The Bear from then on was Sister.

I followed her lead.  I hugged the bear.  I suddenly stopped and realized I could hear her heart beating.  Just like Jackie's bear.  She was alive.  My sister was healed.  She could hear.  I was thrilled.  That bear stayed with my sister all through high school and was still with her after her first son was born.  I knew it was the magic that it brought.  She once said it brought the magic of love.

All the grown-ups had to talk me out of trying to feed the bear.  It seems when I held it at the dinner table, I heard its tummy rumble.  That is a story for another day.  The secret to the Teddy Bear's heart was love.  You could not hear it without a hug.  I do know that for many, many years I thought when my grandmother was tapping her chin, she was talking to God.  I told my sister several times that is when Grandmother was calling in the boss upstairs.  I still think I was right on that one.

What I did not know at the time but learned many years later is that his granddaughter's bear had been through an operation which included taking his old stethoscope and placing it just so inside the bear.  Every time she hugged him, she could hear her own heartbeat.  This also lets me know I was not crazy.  I did hear his tummy rumble.  I don't think anyone ever told my sister the Secret of the Bear's Heartbeat.

Tags: Teddy Bears Children

Juliet Then and Now
Posted On 10/18/2021 01:21:08

Sebastian is new to the town of Hawkins.  I thought I would invite him to go with me to the senior center for the day.

Little did I know the invitation would start a chain of events that left me wondering about a lot of things, my sanity was just the start.  Sebastian had mentioned he liked playing dominoes.  There is an entire group of ole goats who love to sit around, talk about what they used to be, and play dominoes.  I know because George, my previous neighbor used to invite them over to his house when the center was closed until everyone could get vaccinated.

  The two friends he had were also from New York, so I was not sure what to expect between Sebastian and these two particular Yankees.  They are a couple of odd fellas to my way of thinking but what do I know. Maybe in New York, the squirrels do run up your pants leg… from the inside?  That is what they were afraid of when they were in my house.  Oscar sent them into pulling their socks over the cuff of their pants.  I tried to reassure the men that in Texas our squirrels look for nuts in the yard, but they were sure there might be a mix-up.  They really did think that.  Surprised me for sure.  Tell you for sure I have no desire to ever go to New York.  Poor dears.

Anyway, when we got to the senior center Sebastian got in on a new domino game that was starting, and I proceeded to go visit a few people.  I like to read to those who have been shut in and to just visit with them.

I was barely into a visit with three ladies who were talking about the usual grandkids and such.  Four… no five men came running over to our table.  Two of the ladies started the batting the eye routine.  I wanted so bad to straighten the false eyelashes on one of them.  It was very crooked and made it look like she had a black eye she was hiding.  Her lipstick was on her teeth... I guess that is okay too.  At least she had her teeth in.

“Sebastian was telling us about your Funny Farm.  Do you think we could all go out there for the day?  We could get one of the people here to drive the bus that takes us all to the grocery store.  It would get us out of here for a while and give us some fun.  How about it?”

Sebastian, walked up about that time with a grin on his face.  “Honest, Jane, I was telling them about you picking up those miniature donkeys, and then I got to tell them about Tarzan, Hamstring, and of course Loverboy.  I think this afternoon you are expecting the first three donkeys to be delivered.”

  “Let us help?  Please.  The ladies were squealing now.  All were up and ready to go tackle the management here at the center for transportation.  “If they can’t take you-al I will get some help getting you there.  Just let them know Sebastian is on the job.”

I glanced a Sebastian as he took charge.  Just like they did the day Becky went missing.  I guess his Navy Seal training just kicks in whenever he needs it to.  I wonder if any of these ladies realize his hobby is raising roses?  Nah!  They would not believe it.  I threw my hands up as if I had just given up.  The thought of IGiveUp came to mind.  I guess he is still on the job.  Since we rescued Becky that day, Sebastian has helped complete the rainbow, butterfly, and dragonfly garden out at the pond.  It is a magical place just to sit and think about what this blue-eyed, bearded, rose gardener was doing in my life right now.  I guess I will just see what ‘blooms’… I made myself blush and laugh.  Sebastian caught my eye and gave me his pretty grin.  “So, it is a go?”

“Yes, let me know how many are coming and we will make a day of it.  Heck.  This is the only Monday we are going to have this week.  Let us make it a good one.”

The ladies started squealing and clapping their hands. “Oh, my lord.  What have you gotten me into?  I want liability waivers signed by all you ole goats and you nanny goats too.  I ain’t goin’ to get sued if you fall in the pond or if Loverboy spits on you.”

Sebastian, you arrange for the transportation.  I will head out to the farm to get things ready.  I turned to get up and a funny little man, hat in hand, stepped in front of me. 

  “Jane, let me go with you to the farm.  I would so enjoy it.  My late wife and I had a wonderful little farm up in Colorado.  We raised flowers for the flower markets everywhere.  She loved the baby’s breath.  Juliet always wore it in her hair.  She had the most beautiful silver hair.  I just know I could help you get things ready.  My Juliet loved donkeys; we even had a couple of those little ones.  She was from the Sardinia area.  You know that is where the miniature donkeys are native to.  I bet you did not know they are naturally three feet (or under) from the shoulder.  They are not bred down, it is natural…. I”

“Before you go any further.  If you know miniature donkeys, you are welcome to come with me now.  What is your name?”

“They call me Shakespeare around here, but my given name is Ramon or Romeo.”  I rolled my eyes.  Just what I need at the Funny Farm.  I watched this funny little man. He was shy and soft-spoken.  He had a chain around his neck with a pendant on it.  He had glanced at it several times before he spoke to me.  I figured it must have a picture of Juliet in it.  There was also a tiny tape player in his pocket.  That had me curious. 

I stopped at the house and called the farm.  The donkeys were indeed scheduled to arrive later today.  Preparations were being made in the barn for their housing.  Oscar and the dogs, thank goodness we're already there.  I knew I would be going back out Monday so just left them there last night.

Shakespeare and I are headed out to the farm.  I guess this is as good a time as any to ask about the tape recorder.

“You want to listen to some music?  What do you want me to call you?  Shakespeare or Romeo?”  I had to chuckle.  His snow-white hair did not conger up an image of someone named Romeo.  He did have a nice beard, but it was silver and very curly.  He wore a beret hat.  Bright red hat on a shy man… His eyes were sad though and I was sorry about that.

“Jane, refer to me as Romeo, please.  I am not highbrow enough to be Shakespeare even though I do like to recite his stories. I have the entire collection.”  He once again glanced at his pendent.  Closed the claps and then pulled out the tape recorder.

“What is that.  That is the recording of my sweet Juliet talking to the miniature donkey we had in Colorado.  I bet you did not know that donkeys can make sounds when they breathe in and when they breathe out.  That is why they do the hee-haw.  Horses can’t do it or zebras either.  Only donkeys.  Each one has a distinct voice though.  Just listen to my Juliet talking to the baby.”  He turned on the recorder and played it.  Juliet had a wonderfully soft voice, but she and the donkey were doing a duet together with the hee-haw sound.  It was fun to listen to and it seemed to bring him great comfort.

We listen to Juliet sing her duet with the donkey several times before reaching the farm.  I had decided to do a buffet and let everyone just snack on whatever they wanted throughout the day.  If they had dietary restrictions, they knew what they were.  Barbra had pulled enough rabbit food out of the garden to accommodate anyone.  We had several salads; veggie medley-type dishes and I think four pasta dishes.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, and one spiral sliced ham are all set up.  I think Becky was even able to make a mess of potatoes as well.  We had em’ fried, mashed, sliced, and diced in butter, and some in cheese.  We even had brown gravy for anything we had not thought of that might need it.  The long bread loaves had been sliced diagonally and slathered with garlic butter then toasted on the grill.  Yum.  I could hardly wait.  Bowls of different fruit also adorn one end.  Pineapple, peaches, pears, and of course the apple pears were supplied by George and Carol.

Even if they don’t eat it all we have enough food set up to take care of anyone.  I felt good about that.

Romeo got out of the car.  The goats started butting him, Loverboy spits on him first thing.  Oscar was on the fence post waving at everyone.  Hamstring was trying to untie “loafers” again.  He was surprised, to say the least.

Tarzan flew over and landed on my arm. He looked at our guest with his one eye, up and down thing, then let out a siren sound.  Romeo threw up his arms, palms-up, and said, “Take me to your leader.”  We both laughed. 

When we entered the house, we got a surprise I was not expecting.  There in the living room.  Yes, I said the living room…. Three miniature donkeys were standing.  One had a baby’s breath around its head and had a silvery color.  She had big brown eyes and turned her head just as Romeo came into the room.  The duet started.  Barbra, Becky, and Betty stood there.  I thought it was the tape playing and was about to explain it to the girls.  “This is Romeo.  He and his wife used to have a couple of miniature donkeys.  He has his wife recorded…

“Jane, I don’t have the recorder on.  Juliet.  Is that you?"  Romeo had reached her and had his arms around her neck.  He was holding her head and stroking the ribbons and baby’s breath flowers.

“This is Juliet.  She has come back to me.  I have missed you so much.  Please, darling walk with me.”  The donkey followed Romeo out onto the porch.

I sat down unable to speak.  What do you say to a man who thinks his wife has come back as a miniature donkey?  “Hee-haw?  Has his grief brought on dementia?  I am in unchartered territory here.  I guess no one is being harmed and he seems to be overwhelmed.  Barbra, where did that donkey come from?”

“Let me get the paperwork.”  She picked up the papers for the little donkey.  I read as follows:  Name Juliet.  Originally from a farm in Colorado that was sold when one of the owners passed away.  I felt the goosebumps come up on my arm.

“What do I do now?”

Everyone is a bit taken back.  “Let’s see what unfolds.”  Romeo and Juliet spent the afternoon helping us get things ready.  She was such a sweet donkey.  She helped the other two donkeys get acclimated to the farm.  I think I overheard Romeo speaking Italian to Juliet.  She answered with the now-familiar hee-haw that was her voice inflections.  It was exactly like the recording or maybe I just imagined it was.  The fact that she is the same donkey he must have given up when he sold his farm is why all seems familiar to them both.  I had heard from one of the people at the senior center he had been grieving her death for two years.  Maybe this will help him find at least some comfort and peace.  Oh, wow.  I don't think the man is having dementia, I think he is finding a way to pull out of it. 

We had a wonderful day.  Two more romances popped up while the group made their way to the rainbow and butterfly pond.  No one fell in the pond today.  That alone made me happy.  I did take notice that someone had put a sign up that simply said, "If you fall in the pond, stand up."  I had to laugh, what a simple solution.

But watching these people made me realize that all they wanted was to have a little bit of a social life again.  This little farm could provide that.  Yes, the miniature donkeys are necessary for the little people that will be going to school here.  But more importantly.  I checked it out.  The miniature donkeys are therapy animals for several groups, including senior citizens.  I chatted with the management at the center to make The Funny Farm one of their outing spots.  There would be a fee to pay for food, etc.  That should help the budget a bit.  The school would not be funded for another year so it was coming at a good time.

“I need to get the vet out here to check out our new Funny Farm residents.  I am not sure when he can come out, but I guess we gotta get the ball rolling on that.”

“Jane, say no more.  I am a vet, retired, but a vet.  Is there enough room and space for me to put a small mobile home on the property?”

Before I could answer, George and Carol, answered for me.  “We have a cabin on the Northeast end of our property you can use as an office.  You can live there as well and take care of our farm animals here at the Funny Farm.”

“Jane, if it is okay with you, I would like to call my son.  He has a practice in Houston, Texas and he has been looking for an opportunity for both of us to work together again.  He and his wife were my caregivers before I went to the senior center.  I only did that because I did not want to be that close to the weather down there.”

“I am getting older, and it would be foolish for me to try and live alone again.  Besides, I must be here to take care of my Juliet.”  The man was holding that funny little hat in his hand.  His arm was draped around Juliet’s back as he spoke.  She slowly walked over to me.  She nuzzled her head on my shoulder.  Then she started in…. Hee-haw…. Tarzan chimed in too.  I started laughing.

“Jane, you said you wanted to see what would unfold.  It looks like the whole blooming outfit is part of the Funny Farm going forward.”  Sebastian had pinpointed it.  I was looking at the picture of Juliet then and scratched her behind the ear… and looking at her now.  My mind says no.  My heart says… maybe.  Why not just accept the blessings that have unfolded and say thank you, Father.  It makes no difference how many God Winks it took to move everything into place to bring about multiple blessings for all of us this Monday.  The blessings were real.  Again, Thank you, Dear Father.

Tags: Romance

Bertha's Secret
Posted On 08/29/2021 03:08:54

  Good neighbor boot camp continues as I am once again forced to have a chat with my neighbor George.

  Bertha and Oscar seem to love playing together. George still insists on walking Bertha down the street. The dogs still discuss the situation... Loudly.

  A familiar smell told me I was going to have a talk with George. Poor dear. He is so proud of Bertha. He actually smooches with her. George loves the loud purring and meows as the cat rubs against him.

  All of that is fine, but I have news for George, Bertha is a Bert. You would think a retired policeman from New York would be able to SEE that Bertha has a little extra under the tail. It is clear that Bertha has been keeping a secret from George.

  I see him headed this way, with Bertha on a leash. I still think it is funny the way George swishes a little when he walks.  The bullet wound he received as a cop in New York gave him his special walk. Bella has spotted them too. I am going to close the doggy door while he is here. Oscar is still asleep in the cat tree on the back of the dryer.

  I have donuts, coffee cake, and coffee or hot chocolate to drink. That should take care of the refreshments.

  Knock, knock. That sure sounds a lot better the Bang, Bangs he used to do at my front door. "Good morning George. Come right on in and make yourself comfortable."

  "Jane, I was more curious than anything else when I got your invitation." George was making himself comfortable on the sofa.

  "There are treats on the coffee table, what do you want to wash it down with George. I have coffee and hot chocolate, or fruit juice, I even have milk. Name your poison."

  "I wish you would not put it that way. I guess I'll have some coffee, black with a little sugar." I can see as I come in with the coffee that he has a napkin with three donuts on it.  Maybe he thinks I am going to steal one. Funny man.

  "I want to discuss Bertha. George there is no way to say this but straight out. Bertha is a Tom Cat. He is a Bert." I looked at George as he tries to swallow his donut bite and a sip of hot coffee while shaking his head, NO. "Have you not noticed the pungent smell around him now?"

  "Bertha goes through this every Spring, Jane. I should get her spayed, so she will stop having to suffer so much. Bertha is a lady. She is not a boy."

  I walked over and picked Bertha up. I stroked her, scratched her under the chin. Then I walked over to George and raised Bertha's tail. "What do you think those are George?"

  "That's just a couple of little tumors she has."

  "George, Bertha needs to go to the vet for an attitude adjustment. Let me show you one more thing." I sat down with Bertha in my lap on her back. I gently pressed on either side of her tumors and out popped what my grandmother would call the conductor. "George, Bertha is a Bert. There is no doubt about it."  I cannot believe I am seventy, retired and explaining the difference between boys and girls to a retired New York policeman.  No wonder he walks with a swish... That was not kind and I do apologize.  Heck, he does not even know he has a swish.  "It is easy to get confused about the sex of a cat, George."  

  "He is spraying. That is why he stinks and why everything he touches stinks, including Oscar. Please tell me you will get Bert neutered. Toms are very affectionate, it is easy to see how you got confused." I said that thinking to myself.  "You should, pardon the directness, know what nuts, balls, or testicles are by now." Tumors… really?"

  I thought a minute about how Grandmother would have handled this.  A spraying tom cat would definitely be a Hoover Dam cat or even the son of a Siberian sea cook.  I think direct is best and so would Grandmother.

  George turned red in the face. He put down his donuts and coffee. He held Bertha in his lap. Likewise, he gave his cat a stroke and scratch behind the ears. I think he actually shed a tear then said, "Well, Bert... It is just you and me now."

  George, Bertha is not dead, she is just a boy. I am sorry to have to break the news, but the spraying is too bad not to say something. Tell me you are going to take care of this quickly. The vet is down the street. Call him now on my phone and set up an appointment.

  George scrunched up his face and said, "Will it hurt, ah, ah, awe  him? Will it change ah, ah, um, ah his personality?"

  "No, George. It will keep him from wanting to go out and look for a female and get into fights every Spring.

  "Jane, you are right.  Bertha used to come back every Spring with scratches and the signs she had been in a fight. Oh, I am proud of my boy for fighting back.  Bert is a real boy."

  I thought to myself, OMG. I really do think men suffer because they have spent so much time looking for the missing chromosome. Now George has a proud son who fights back.

  George made the appointment with the vet for later today. We chatted a bit about Loverboy and the other misfits on the Funny farm then said our goodbyes.

  I watched from the window as George swished back "carrying" Bert as he kept apologizing for what he is about to do.

  "Oscar... it is time for you to get a bath."

Tags: Cats Neighbors Pets

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