Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Five Things... and Grandpa

Today's 5 things are "Five people you DO NOT want to see standing at the foot of your bed."

1. The crew from 60 Minutes.

2. A policeman.

3. An undertaker.

4. A strange figure in a black hooded robe with no face.

5. A doctor with a mournful look on his/her face.


A couple of people I wouldn't mind seeing at the foot of my bed are my mother and my maternal grandfather.

My mother died in 1993, and in 1995, when I was making my wedding dress I had the absolutely certain feeling that she was telling me she approved of my fabric and pattern choice. She was right: it was a lovely pattern and beautiful fabric. So, if she wants to show up and tell me I'm doing a good job (on whatever), I'll take it.

I was 12 years old the last time I saw my grandfather (pictured below). I was sick with the flu and my grandparents, who had been living next door to us, decided they wanted to go back to South Dakota. (I'm sure those two events were not related.)

This is my grandfather in 1903, when he was 24. Is he not a handsome fellow?

After Grandpa died in 1965, my mother told me that he'd wished he could be around to see me grown up because he thought I was going to turn out to be a neat person ("neat" was my mother's word; I don't know exactly what Grandpa said). It's one of the greatest compliments I ever got. If Grandpa wants to stand at the foot of my bed and tell me whether or not I fulfilled his expectations it's all right with me.

Grandpa built houses and other buildings. He also designed them. During one of my grandparents' moves to South Carolina, he built the house that I grew up in. He was in his 70s and had no power tools. He built that house mostly by himself and it was well-constructed and true. He was a little annoyed when he discovered that one wall was off by an eighth of an inch. My sister now lives in the house.

During the Depression, Grandpa was an itinerant carpenter and moved the family from one place to another throughout the midwest and northwest. They finally settled in South Dakota and that's where he died. The main thing that bothers me about my grandparents' deaths is that Grandpa is buried in South Dakota and Grandma is buried in South Carolina. Couples who have loved each other for as long as they did should get to lie at their eternal rest together, side by side.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Book Review

I should strive to keep an open mind. I judged a book by its cover. Literally.

My friend Theresa gave me a copy of Barbara Bretton's Casting Spells. I picked it up last week and on the cover is a basket of knitting and a black cat.

"This is going to be fluff," I thought.

I read the first two pages.

"OK, so it has some humor. I'll give it another page or two."

Well, I kept on turning pages and reading. And it turned out that I really enjoyed it. It takes place in a tiny Vermont town and our heroine is the daughter of a sorceress and a human. In fact, the place is populated by fairies, trolls, werewolves, vampires, etc. Our heroine, Chloe Hobbs, is the only person in town with no magical powers. Three hundred years earlier, Chloe's ancestor, Aerynn, cast a spell over the town to protect it from meddling outsiders. The spell does not keep out anyone, especially tourists, but humans (except for Chloe) think all the residents are normal, everyday people, although they're all quite good-looking. The spell is weakening and as Aerynn's only descendant, Chloe is the one who needs to strengthen it. But this cannot happen until she comes into her powers, and that won't happen until she falls in love, so all the townspeople keep trying to fix her up with their friends and relatives. A murder happens and a possible love interest comes to town. Everybody becomes rather desperate for Chloe to realize her powers because an evil fairy is threatening to take over, which will destroy the town. There are several knock-down-drag-out fights between supernatural beings, mostly in Chloe's house and knitting shop. The action gets very intense and the solution to all the problems, while not exactly predictable, is expected. It was good reading. I've put the sequel, Laced with Magic, on my wish list.

My other latest book, though not involving the supernatural, was nonetheless exciting. It was Even Money, by Dick Francis and his son Felix Francis. The main character, Ned Talbot, is a self-employed bookie with a bipolar wife and a computer-whiz assistant. The self-employed bookies have to compete with the big betting conglomerates, who keep trying to take over the small guys' businesses. Ned's father, who Ned thought died 37 years earlier, shows up one day and introduces himself, then less than hour later he's stabbed by a very efficient killer. Ned has to solve his father's murder, deal with his wife and assistant, and try to outwit the big betting houses. I learned a little about the bookmaking business, although I'm hopeless when it comes to understanding just how betting and odds work (even though I bought The Complete Idiots's Pocket Guide to Betting on the Horses). The climax of the book was classic Francis, and included an elaborate plan for finding the killer and getting the big boys off his back. It was, as usual, exhilirating. I love Dick Francis.

I'm currently reading Fire Sale by Sara Paretsky. She really can write a gritty, hard-boiled mystery. I'll let you know about that one when I finish it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Possible New Addition To The Household

We may be getting a new cat.

This is Bagheera, a beautiful seal-point Siamese, who's just as sweet as pie.

She currently lives with my niece, Katie, who needs to find another home for her. Since I have met this lovely cat, I immediately volunteered. Richard was a little shocked at this spur-of-the-moment action on my part, but, being the big-hearted person he is when it comes to animals, he's pretty much on board with it now. We discussed it before the final acceptance was sent to Katie, and he left the decision up to me, knowing that I would say yes.

Bagheera was saved from being euthanized in an Alabama animal shelter by the Atlanta Siamese and Persian Rescue, and then Katie got her. She was less than 6 months old when she was snatched from the jaws of man-made death and Katie has had her about 5 years now, so she's not quite 6 years old.

Keep good thoughts for us and for Bagheera that things work out and she is able to come live with us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

50th Post

This is my 50th blog post. I didn't know I had that much to say. Some people reading my blog may still be unconvinced. But I don't care; I'm having fun.

On Facebook, I ran across some prompts for five things to list. I copied down some of them (the rest didn't interest me), and I will do an occasional list. Today's list is "5 things I don't eat":

1. Chitlins, or more correctly, chitterlings. Who in their right mind would eat fried pig intestines? My favorite cuisine is fried food, but I have to draw the line somewhere. In Salley, SC, they hold the annual Chitlin Strut, where they celebrate (!) chitlins. My parents went one year. My mother nearly gagged on the smell, but Daddy stood in a very long line to sample the disgusting things. I think Daddy, being a Child of the South, just had to say that he had tried them. I shudder at the thought.

2. Collard greens. I have never taken to large, leafy greens. I don't know why, as they usually include grease and salt in the cooking. My mother used to try to get me to eat spinach and turnip greens (not at the same time) , but they usually came from a can and were downright disgusting. I don't remember ever having collard greens at any family gathering when I was growing up, but my in-laws love them. They serve them frequently.

3. Prairie oysters. Buffalo testicles. Need I say more?

4. Licorice. I don't like licorice or anything resembling that flavor, like root beer, fennel, anise, tarragon. I don't even like to be near anybody who is eating licorice. The smell on their breath offends me.

5. Goat eyeballs. I read somewhere that goat eyeballs were a delicacy in some Middle Eastern countries, and if you were offered them, you ran the risk of insulting your host if you declined. I think that's a bunch of horse manure. If a foreigner came to my house I would not insist he eat anything he found objectionable, and I would not be insulted.

6. Boiled peanuts. (OK, so I have six things.) Most Southerners love these things, but I find them slimy and flavorless, even though they are cooked with a lot of salt. Even some non-Southerners have acquired a taste for boiled peanuts.

I'd rather have Cheetos.