Monday, August 29, 2011

Haiku Monday: MEMORY


One blonde, one brunette.
Playing jacks on  a hot stoop,
Flipping tens to win !

Peace be With You:

Ephesus sojourn
Mass held in Mary's garden
Dad holding my hand

1am  cell  tweet
Awakens heart pounding fear.
Oh God! Keep her close!


Do you take this man?
To dance with on moonlit sands?
Yep! I did that too :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beachin' Birthday

Mermaid is taking me on a beach vacation for my birthday!

 I believe life is a gift and birthdays are our opportunity to say thanks. Some friends have stopped having birthday celebrations after age 45. I disagree. Life is to be celebrated. Our reality is, you get older or you get dead. I hope to have a few more decades to celebrate.

Blowfish claims I am difficult to gift. Unlike most of his hearsay from other spouses, I rarely want "things". Given a choice I pretty much always choose experiences over possessions. Harder to put  a bow on but infinitely more valuable.  This year he has a super gift in  production. He is tickled  with himself. So much so  he does little jigs around the room when he thinks about it. He is not coming to the beach, he is staying put to hang with the pup and watch the greenery wither in the drought. He has cautioned me to not come home broken.

Mermaid thinks it would be fun if we went parasailing.
Me too. I've done this before, in Acapulco Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico. It is fun, the view is amazing . Injuries or incidents are rare. Blowfish has pointed out Moses can float safely down a river while I cannot. That was so  .............. July.

There is a certain amount of safety in hanging out on the balcony, avoiding the UVB's and the UVA's. At twenty something, I doubt this is the vacation Mermaid has in mind.  We do love to build sand castles, shell seek, people watch and beach walk. Mermaid loves, loves, loves beach volleyball.  Great daylight activities. But at sunset, well things change don't they?

                                      Ahhhhh, life is always different at the beach.

Another thought is to go sport fishing!I mentioned this to Blowfish and  he said, "You are fragile. You break. Frequently. You are going to France in a month. Don't blow it being stupid."  Well really what are the chances I would hook a fish which would pull me overboard or blow out my neck or my wrists?  I am not yet ready to be the old dog on the porch, basking in the sun, watching the pups frolic. I have wrist braces. To charter a private deep sea fish outing is pricey.  Clever Mermaid has found a "party boat fishing"  option. The idea is to show up at the dock and see how many folks want to go  Gulfing for a little adventure. It is $X per head and you go forth for a half day of fishing and partying. There is an air conditioned cabin, indoor vs over the side plumbing, and there is luck. You might meet your soul mate, you might be surrounded by those who did not edit their night before and are having issues.

Either way it is sure to be an experience.

Then, there is food. There is no dieting while on vacation. That is my rule. If you desire birthday cake and fried chicken for breakfast it's fine with me.  Because of my severely restrictive, no-salt, dietary regimen I eat out less often than most and rarely eat seafood.  Not just because of the sodium values but because I am also allergic to shell fish.

This bothers Blowfish a lot. He is such a foodie it is just beyond him to think of dealing with my limitations. It spoils his joy. He drives himself crazy trying to find someplace to feed me. Farm to table, cook to order restaurants are great for me. Beachy, seafood places not so much.   I on the other hand, have been on this regimen since before I ever met Blowfish and am well adapted. Mermaid has never known a mother who could eat what she eats so this is normal to her. If I am asked about where to eat my frequent response is somewhere outdoors or somewhere architecturally interesting or somewhere entertaining. I am more satisfied by the environment than the food.

I will love the sights, sounds, aromas, and the companionship of  my wonderful daughter.

                                                              Who needs food!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Haiku Monday: Walk


Walk, talk and chew gum?
Presidential candidates!
Vote for Juicy Fruit.

The Clutch Strut

Must these damn rappers
clutch their stuff and scream out loud?
Walk that walk elsewhere.


Will you? Kiss my feet.
If. I walk a mile in yours.
Will you love me still?

Friday, August 19, 2011


There was a time in my life when I believed I was uniquely me.
My own true self.
It is disturbing to be told I am not.

Today I was in a market close out store. It's one of those places that buys the inventories  from furniture market showrooms. They often buy great stuff for pennies on the dollar. If the manufacturer is overseas it is far more cost effective to sell the entire showroom contents at the end of market than to ship it back. Ten cents to the dollar is the norm.
The downside  to these type of stores is you have to haunt them as they are only open a few days a month and  they only have what they have. In other words if you see something you like get it because they will not have another nor can you order more of the same.

So today I went. This particular business is located in a metal warehouse building which is not climate controlled. While we are not still in the triple digits , temperatures remain  in the mid nineties outside. Hotter inside the warehouse. They  have the bay doors partially open and the BigAss fans blowing.
(That is the honest to goodness name of the manufacturer of large scale industrial fans) but it is not the same as air conditioning. I do not visit this location in "designer" clothes. I wear jeans, a polo and boots . Others  dress for the heat in clothes which are only slightly more than what I wear in the shower. I understand it is hot but that is not a reason to display all ones goods. Not to mention my body is a bit beyond the display stage of life.

As I  was passing a collection of  furniture which was clearly designed for bachelors,  a woman with big yellow hair and a name tag came out from between rows and said,
" Well, I can't believe you would show your face in here again."
" I beg your pardon?"
" Beg all you want, it will do you no good here!"

Clearly Big Hair had an issue with someone. Not me. I had never met her before.
I put my hand out to shake and said,
" Hi. I am Fishy from Fishy Designs and I do not believe we have met."
" You are not!" was the heated response.
I was not in the mood so I gave her a firm look and said, " I am sure if Steve or Jane is here  they will be glad to vouch for me. Now if you will excuse me I have limited time today and I would like to continue on".
" How long do you think you can do this?"
"Do what?"
"Pretend to be someone else?"
I again took stock of this individual who was not just confused but also acting a bit like a junkyard dog. Not my issue. I reached into my bag and came out with a  business card which I handed to Big Hair and said,
"If you go back up front, you will see I, and my business, are in your computer system. If necessary you can call the number on the card and hear my phone ring. Now please excuse me"

While she was studying the card I made good my escape. I had made it through the bays with upholstered goods, the casegoods, the deconstructed Kitchens and was  browsing the accessories when Big Hair reappeared. She marched up to me and said,
"My name is Nova and you look exactly like her. Same face, same hair, same size, same everything that I can see."

" Nova, please excuse me."
" Are you a twin?'
"Nope. Nor a triplet or so on either."
" Well your non twin is a thief and a liar."
" I am not Nova and for sure I would like for you to move off this subject. I have been patient but I think I am done now. You have in essence told me I am not myself, not truthful and a thief. I like to think I am uniquely me. I like to think I own my face as well as my behaviors. I like to think I have manners but my string is a bit short in this heat so please do let me continue on ".
" I never forget a face."

With that I moved on and continued to shop.
Nova did not follow. But the next bay over there she was.
Staring. Shaking her head. Pretending to look for something but stalking me.

I found this irritating and decided to leave.
As I began moving toward the exit, the owner Steve came in,
" Fishy! nice to see you   how are things?"
" Good, you?"
"Great! Come back here I want to show you a new showroom I just bought. We are making room for it in G Bay now." He was very enthusiastic.
" Next time, I was just leaving."
" You didn't buy anything? Come on, let me show you the new stuff!".
" I pass, but it's nice to see you".
As I was taking my leave I heard a hissing sound behind me. I turned and saw Nova rapidly gesticulating and stage whispering to Steve. He was shaking his head and smiling, then he started laughing really hard.
He waved me over while he was still trying to gain composure.  As I got closer I saw Nova was way past being red faced. She had moved onto plum and was heading toward blue. I had a mean, irrational thought,
" if that damn woman arrests someone else will have to do the cpr".
Finally, after getting his laughter under control Steve said, " Nova here thinks you look like someone else".
" She mentioned."
" She thinks I should check your tatoos to confirm your identity." 
" What?".
" So does this mean you don't have tatooed pasties?"

Not funny.
Not funny at all.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Driving Home

On my way home from my recent travels I hit a spot of rebellion. I just did not want to be traveling the interstates dodging the killer 18 wheelers. The weekend before my trip two of those haulers had a slam up spiraling from northbound to southbound lanes  killing the drivers and a couple of other innocents in their path.

Folks traveling that same patch of  interstate were stuck in hundred degree heat for 8 hours. They had to turn off the engines and just absorb the heat from hell radiating into the cars off the melting asphalt. The Red Cross sent volunteers out there on ATV's with bottles of water and sacks of apples.  Families begged the volunteers  to take their babies and their elderly to some air conditioning and  food.  Horrible.

If you are traveling from Florida to the Carolina's your primary options are I-75 or I-95.  Both of which are about 65% tractor trailer saturated slabs. So I decided once I got beyond  the major traffic areas I would  get off the super slabs and go  another way. North of  Lake City I went  East on I-10 taking the first exit in about a mile to get on US 441.   You can take this road  North into Douglas , Georgia then pick up the 221 and ride it all the way to within 25 miles of my home county. Which I did.

 It was bleak. The drought has burned up the cotton fields. All the fields were tragic. It is painful  to see mile after mile of devastation. Very few of the farms I passed had irrigation so their crops are a sad, hard loss. More than cotton was lost. Food. Cattle. Livlihoods. Hope.

Definitely not a scenic trip, but no tractor trailers either.
Me, the Fizz and a not too terrible audio book cruising up the road was fine by me.

When I reached the intersection of 441 and 221 I gasped aloud.
There was a sign saying: McRae 52. OMG! I had not thought of my summer in McRae, Georgia in decades.  There was no point in listening to the book cd after that. My head was flooded with memories.

In my fifteenth summer a long time family friend went square dancing on a Saturday night  stomping her way through the raised platform and fracturing her leg. Badly. It required surgical  hardware and six weeks in a wheelchair with her leg straight out in front of her. Once she was able, she telephoned my mother and asked her to send me to McRae to " be her legs" for the Summer.
Mama said ,"of course".
I begged and wailed and wrung my hands but Mama still loaded me up on a smelly Greyhound bus and shipped me to Hell. I won't say that bus ride was as horrible as Frida's but it was terrible. Extremely. I thought I would be glad to get off that bus but the reality of McRae  was worse.

Some sweaty, weary, dusty old man in a rusted out pick up truck came up to me and explained he was there to take me to  Mizz McRae.  Our family friend had married into the McRae family  which is how she came to be living there. Sadly, Mr. McRae had died shortly after their marriage . Bernadine had stayed on as the nursing supervisor of the tiny Telfair County Hospital. The only doctor on staff was another McRae and the specialists who came through when called. Bernadine was practicing medicine  too. They didn't actually have "Nurse Practitioners" in those days as a title. They sure did as a reality. When doc was not there  the back up physician was the vet. When he too was unavailable medical care was a toss up between Bernadine, the pharmacist and the voodoo woman in the block house.

Bernadine was the only registered nurse in the county.
I was the only slave.

My "job" was to get Bernadine to and from the hospital and, to do her rounds/duties with her while at  the hospital. With that straight out leg she could not get close enough to the beds to take vital signs or change a dressing or check a pupil for reaction or help in the ER/OR. Nor could she hold a bedpan or an emesis basin or change a bed or empty collection bags or give bed baths.  Before the Summer was over I was a pretty good nurse practitioner too. I had done all kind of nursing and a surgery or two when doc was away,
we couldn't contact the vet,  and Bernadine couldn't reach  the patient who was about to bleed to death. I delivered a baby too. The mother was 12.

Also, a very, very great distance from my usual poolside at the club summers.

Back to my arrival.
I refused to get in the truck with Weary Man. I went to a pay phone, called the hospital, talked to Bernadine before I would agree to get into a car with this suspicious stranger. Imagine my shock when upon arrival at the hospital he took his leave by taking Bernadine's car and leaving the truck.  Bernadine explained she could not get in and out of her car so we would be using  the truck now that I was present. I hadn't quite figured out how she could get in and out of the truck until I was instructed to back it up to the hospitals loading dock, pull out a sheet of plywood and roll her onto the  truck bed.  She gave me directions through the back window on how to get "home". Which was a trailer in a dry field.

Seriously, I nearly died of the shock of it all.

I am certain my manners were not up to snuff  but you try making a plywood bridge from a truck bed to a metal trailer door and shove a 250 pound wheelchair bound woman through it. A woman who could not stand without crutches, or take a bath or get in a bed or use the facilities without assistance. Once we were through that door, before I moved the truck, I searched for the telephone. I'd been in McRae for about 6 hours and  that was enough for me. I called home and as soon as Mama answered I said,
" Come get me. I'm not doing this!"
" You are".
" NO ma'am! I am not!  Come get me now!!!!!!!!!!!!"
" Good night Fishy, give Bernadine a hug from me." 

I could write a book about my summer in McRae.
It could be divided into the hospital horrors, the home horrors and the horror of the butterbeans.
The basic outline of life in McRae was this.
Get up, make breakfast, clean the kitchen, do laundry, make beds,  be Bernadine's full time step and fetch.  After lunch it was  help Bernadine get groomed and dressed for work. Get the truck, back it up to the trailer, roll Bernadine out , climb down, get in the cab, pull up enough to clear the door, get out of the cab, lock the trailer, secure Bernadine in the truck bed, get back in the cab and drive to the hospital.  Work at the hospital from 2pm until midnight, do the transport thing in reverse, get Bernadine changed and in her recliner for the night. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Some nights I would just fall asleep from sheer exhaustion. Other nights I  cried giant tears of self  pity  until sleep finally   came.

By the end of the first week I was reconciled to this awful reality. In the evenings  the hospital was the town square. First people came in to visit. Others stayed in the lobby/lounge area because the hospital was just about the only air conditioned public building open at night. It is hot like you cannot believe in McRae, Georgia in the summer time. That kind of heat makes people crazed. Bernadine allowed as how it was good medicine to let the townsfolk hang out in the air conditioning. She said it made for fewer stabbings and shootings. Eventually I  think I met everybody in McRae. After the first week there were not many who had not stopped by the hospital to meet " Bernadine's legs".  Bernadine's legs learned she had skills but no desire to be a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a Georgian. I learned how to focus on whatever emergency presented and deal with my own responses afterward. I witnessed the spectrum of humanity.

Have you ever grown butterbeans? They do taste great but they are a chore to harvest. They grow  low to the ground on a bush about a foot tall. The bean pods hang down under the leaves so harvesting them is backbreaking work because you are picking at ankle height

Just steps from the trailer door was the kitchen garden. A few rows of each of the summer vegetables.  I would go out most mornings after breakfast, water the garden,pick the bugs off the crops,  pick what was ripe, feed the outdoor cats and at the end of the property make sure an old white horse had fresh water.  Just that little bit in the hot still air was enough to make you shower wet with sweat. If the air was moving any at all you became covered in a fine coating of dust stuck to your sweat.  I hated it there. Hated.

One morning, once I came in with the harvest and headed for the shower, Bernadine asked if I didn't want to go back out and pick butterbeans.
" They are not ready".
" Are you sure, you haven't picked any all week and they are my favorite".
" They aren't ready"
" Now Fishy, I know it isn't enjoyable to pick beans but you  don't want to be wasteful".
"They aren't ready!!!!!!"

Bernadine studied me a minute then said, " Please will you go look again?
Eve Lynn said last night if we got 'em picked she would cook 'em for us. She makes the best butterbeans of all . Go on back out there and check that first row, those butter beans should be ready."
Reluctantly I went back out there, walked down the row a bit and then headed back to the trailer. Just as I was placing my foot on the first step I heard a click. Bernadine had used a crutch to reach across the trailer and lock the door. I was beyond fury. When I stopped screeching  and door pounding Bernadine called through the door something about letting me come back inside once the butterbeans were picked. I learned a whole new level of rage that day.

But, the truth is rage takes energy and it gets expended quickly in relentless, scorching heat. It wasn't long before I had to go  get the hose and cool myself down. I looked but the keys were not in the truck. I needed some shade but there was none. I could walk to the McRae family home but it was a healthy hike. The home is nice, surrounded by a pecan grove so there was shade and a pond up there. When Bernadine first married she and Mr. McRae lived in the family house but once he died the next one in the family line up moved in and they "let" Bernadine move to the trailer. It was situated far enough away on the property so it would not be seen from the main house. I was just too tired and hot to make the hike.  And what would I do when I got there? Go for a swim?

What I was for damn sure not going to do was pick any butterbeans.
Not one.
No ma'am.

Eventually I got the idea to go down and see the old white horse.
I do not know what came over me but I got the notion to get on that horse.
That's not unreasonable  except when there is no tack. No bridle, no saddle.
You can do without tack if you can ride and know your horse. It is crazy to place yourself on the back of a large animal without knowledge or skills. But I did. I must have been heat crazed because I coaxed that old horse over to the gate, climbed  on his back, grabbed mane, opened the gate and clucked.

Soooooo stupid.

The horse lived in a dry dusty lot. Nothing to eat but the little bit of hay morning and evenings. He headed for the only green stuff in sight. The kitchen garden. He did not show a lick of interest in corn, tomatoes, peppers or squash. He headed straight for the butterbean rows, dropped his head and started to munch. I came off straight away. Once he dropped his head like that I slid right down his neck like a slide. Once I stopped laughing I got worried about how I was going to get the horse out of the garden and back to his pen. He wouldn't budge. I went and got the hose to squirt him out of the garden. That did not work. He  loved the cool  shower and even took a drink from the hose before returning to his busy consumption of the butterbean plants. Eventually I quit worrying about the butterbeans and began to wonder if they were okay for horses to eat.  In desperation I unhooked the hose and tried using it as a lead rope to get the horse back to his lot. It did work. The process of having a tug o war with a resistant horse in a garden is devastating to the garden.  Once the horse was secure and  I returned to the garden it was ...over.

Too bad.

I returned to the trailer to find the door unlocked. I stomped inside, told  Bernadine she was a witch and headed for the shower. She sweetly asked if I had picked the butterbeans. She wanted to get them shelled while I showered. I stuck my head around the corner and explained where the beans were. Bernadine said,
" Fishy! You've killed that sweet old horse!"
" What?"
" Those butterbeans will colic that horse. We have to get the vet out here immediately !"

The vet wasn't available but he told me how to put a tube down a horse's nose to empty it's stomach. I cut up the garden hose, greased it with lard and became a vet. Once I got the stomach emptied I had to give the horse a paste of oatmeal and water and then walk him. For hours. In that dreadful, relentless heat. A horse with a stomach ache is not a willing creature. They communicate this in awful ways. Eventually someone came to take Bernadine to the hospital while I kept walking the horse. Late in the afternoon the vet came to have a look and told me to keep walking. Later,  Bernadine sent some town kids from the lobby/lounge out to help with the walking.

The horse lived.
I lived.
I didn't kill anyone .
I didn't pick any butterbeans.
I learned a lot about ...everything.
Bernadine got her cast off.
I went home.

The Telfair  county  hospital today

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Village Life

The Fizz and I took another circular trip to hug my scattered loves. There is something very satisfying in making a journey to and for love. In my case I visit not just my loves but their locations, their homes, their gardens, their enterprises. To catalog in my memory banks visual references of their lives. It soothes.

This year it was a quick trip. I needed to return in time to participate in a most unusual wedding.  I first met the bride when she was in fifth grade. Becca was at work with her mom before they left for a trip to the capital. She was proudly going forth as her school's representative in the Geography Bee.  Now she is a summa cum laude graduate of the honors college of a large state university. She took a major in linguistics and a minor in anthropology.  She looks pretty much the same as she did in fifth grade.  Just taller and with  a bosom.  She's giving herself a couple of weeks to settle into marriage before starting graduate school. There is no moss gathering on this eager for life young woman.

It was, according to Becca's mom, always her wish to come 'home' to get married. She had a vision of what she wanted  that was in keeping with her sense of community. Which is strong. She did an immersion semester in China where she was a standout. Very fair skin, tall, large boned, single females all stand out in that culture. She found her way to acceptance via her belief in the goodness and commonality of mankind.
Those beliefs were founded and nurtured in her 'village church' and her summer mission trips through her high school and college summers. No surprise this young woman wanted to come back to her 'home village' to make the trip down the aisle. Fairly traditional but she wanted to do it 'her way' which is to say it takes a village to host a wedding.

Women of the church donated the  alter dressings and flowers. They were quite unusual as the swagged garlands appeared to be the wedding veils of past brides, the flower bouquets at intervals were made  from the fabrics, lace, beads and appliques from bridal gowns past. Donated by church ladies. All these efforts were supervised by a family friend with a distinguished career as a textiles artist.

The photographers and videographers were their wedding present from a longtime family friend.

The family spent months collecting wine bottles. The father of the bride then cut the necks off and ground the edges smooth to make vases for the centerpieces for the reception. Her mother grew all the flowers for the centerpieces , the bridesmaids bouquets and the brides bouquet. The maids wore Wildcat blue   dresses with bright yellow daisy bouquets. Two ladies from the church collected the blossoms and made the bouquets for the maids. It was charming.

One of the Bridesmaids made the wedding cake. Simple smooth fondant covering three round layers with neat ribbons encircling each tier and the base surrounded by daisys, the couples monogram gracing the top.  Village talent was shared everywhere.

One Uncle is a landscaper. He brought his love and his talents to the gallery to supervise the centerpieces at  buffet tables, bar, dj station, and every guest table. The wine bottle arrangements were done on site then set upon  mirror squares and surrounded by votives in a collection of donated containers. Each table had a slightly different arrangement. All had an assortment of ferns, daisys, zinnias. Each was then accented with a variety of blooms. Some with Hydrangeas, others with Gardenias, still  others with Roses. Whatever was looking it's best on the cutting day. Not too different from a Garden Party Wedding it's just that they brought Mom's garden to another location.

The groom is an architect. He loves historic preservation but currently is employed designing prisons. The bride wanted  the reception to be in a building he would love. And remember. So they came to our Arts Center which is in a very old, restored produce warehouse. The galleries have 16 foot ceilings, hand hewn beams, exposed brick walls, original plank flooring and huge new windows in every bay with every kind of lighting needed to showcase the art.  It's nice. We local artists raised three million dollars to pay for the renovations. Moms garden looked great in there! Natural, not floristy or homey.

Others from the village donated an antique car for the wedding couples departure. Still another provided for a bagpiper to pipe the happy couple on their way to the cheers and waves of the many guests and participants.

Other friends donated the wedding couples stay in a new downtown boutique hotel close to the Arts Center. On Sunday the newlyweds were traveling to Charleston where another villager donated a night in a beautiful old bed and breakfast along the battery. Monday evening they were boarding a cruise ship for the islands.

I was happy to be part of this Village.
I actually do not live in the Village or attend the Village Church.
It did not prevent the Villagers from welcoming me.
What amazed me the most? The acceptance. There were villagers of all stripes. All equally joyful.
All age groups had a great time and all took to the dance floor. Mom's and Dad's with young children and even the seventy somethings were out there shaking their booties. These Villagers love to dance! There was no need for the DJ to game people to the dance floor, he could barely keep up with the demands. Other than the Bride, I think her grandmother danced the most. Joy is contagious.

Did I mention the Groom is a twin?
His brother was the best man and gave a fine speech. It brought down the house with his funny stories about how growing up as a twin he had to learn to share everything. He said he and the groom had their difficulties along the way but always found a way to work things out. To learn how to share. Then he said ,
" The one thing I never had to share was my brother. Until now."

My guess is he will learn to share his brother with a series of villages, not just Becca.

I suspect this groom has signed on for an interesting journey.
Becca processed to the altar to the music of  Handels
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.