Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas...a day late

This shot was taken last year. I like how the light shines on the wall and the ribbon looks so creamy. But my admiration for this shot is not why I'm including it in today's post. I'm including it because I haven't taken a Christmas shot this year. I'm what one would call, "a day late and a dollar short." But let me explain.

Last year, 2007, Thanksgiving was on November 22nd. This year Thanksgiving was on the 27th. We had four weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and five weekends last year. Really. I just checked it. In the scheme of things, not having that extra weekend meant a lot.

There were other extenuating circumstances that caused my lateness. The first major interruption was kitchen cabinets. This project actually began on Halloween; that's when the demolition began. I had to cram everything that was in the cabinets all over the house. They finished the Monday before Thanksgiving. You can imagine the chaos. Usually I try to start decorating after Thanksgiving, but this year I had to find the electric knife so Tom could carve the turkey, and the plates, and the silverware, and on and on. It reminded me of the time that my stepson had a party (after many warnings from us not to try it) when Tom and I went out of town. In the spring when the bushes were trimmed, all sorts of things surfaced. We even found Pepperidge Farm fish crackers in places you couldn't imagine. But that's another blog.

The other project that interfered with Christmas was the front stairs. To be perfectly honest, this started about two years ago when Tom pulled up the carpet from the stairs at my request. Then it was my turn. I pulled out a million staples and then took a year to rest. I like to pace myself. In early October I began again with the spackle, sanding, caulking, priming (two coats) and two coats of beautiful Benjamin Moore white satin paint. When the cabinet work began, I had to stop the painting (the tread needs to be painted black) to oversee the kitchen project. Yep, I was right there. I have pictures.

So to make a long story short, I'm still behind. I have some friends coming over for lunch on Monday, the 29th and I'm looking for the elves to go on the mantle. But before I put up the elves, if I ever find them, I'll have to stash the pumpkins that have been holding court on the mantle since October. Oh, and while I'm at it, I'll just throw away the candy that is still in the bowl next to the front door from Halloween.

I'm doing my best to catch up. Before you know it Valentine's Day will be here and those elves will still be on the mantle. Maybe I'll put some cute little hearts in their arms.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Penny's Day

Penny and I have been friends for over fifty years. Boy, that sure does sound like a long time; I guess because it is. We spent our childhood about two blocks from each other. She lived on Rural Avenue and I lived on Hall Avenue. We spent summers playing hide and seek and walking barefoot. Then before going into the sixth grade, I moved and went to a different elementary and junior high. We stayed friends, though, thanks to bicycles. In high school we reconnected. This time the summers were spent going to the pool and again, walking barefoot. Then came college and during the summers working at the beach. She got to spend entire summers at the beach, while I on the other hand could only spend half summers there. Summer school always called my name.

This is a picture of Penny standing in the yard of our apartment from the first summer at the beach, 1966. What a bathing beauty. Judging from the curlers, she must have been getting ready for work. We used to spend the mornings on the beach and return to the apartment in time to get ready for work by three.

Here's a picture of Penny, Mary and I working on our tan before going back to the beach for the second summer (1967). It looks like Penny is the smart one, NOT standing on her head. Mary and I, on the other hand are just showing off. Early yoga.
Always ready to pose, here we are again. That must be Penny's John Romaine purse on the blanket. We were in our second year of college. Does anyone see a book? I guess the sun was more important.
The Kit Kat was where we sunbathed during one of the summers. Again, here are the three of us: Penny with the sunglasses, Mary and I squinting. As usual my hair is hanging on my body. Why? I bet it was in the 90's. I must have been brain-dead. Check out the coke bottles. I wonder if we had already eaten our daily allotment of two or three Krispy Kreme Donuts. I think this was the summer that our buddy, Fred, was the lifeguard in front of the Kit Kat. Maybe he was the one taking this picture, that is, if he wasn't saving lives in the riptide, or those 20 foot waves!
After hanging out at the beach for four summers, it was time to get real jobs, so we all moved to Atlanta. We lived the single, dating, and shopping and dating. Penny was the first of the four of us (Barbara, Mary, Penny, and I) to get married. She was also the first to have children...Erin and Ryan. Two great, smart, and good-looking kids.

I know how rare it is to maintain friendships through the years, but we have done it. We have always been there for each other and we always will. Thank God we have good health and a sense of humor. From Simms Elementary to Huntington High School to Marshall University to Myrtle Beach, and finally, to Atlanta, Penny and I have been there, done that... together.

So, Happy Birthday, Penny Gail. Call me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Debbie's Christmas Card

In early December I met my friend, Debbie, her husband, Dick, and their two cute,little dogs, for a Christmas photo shoot at Kennesaw Mountain. As a rule, I really don't like to take pictures of anything or anyone that breathes. When one breathes, one moves, and that makes it difficult to get a clear shot. Now I know that I could increase the shutter speed, but in this case, that would necessitate taking my frozen hands out of my gloves to move the button on my camera. Here is an example of what I'm talking about. Dick is trying his best to get control of the white one. Debbie told me a thousand times what her name was, but my brain was concentrating on getting THE SHOT.

The white one is cute and playful, while the brown one is behaving. But wait, it doesn't stop there.

Dick and white one continue to play. I'm thinking, "We've got work to do. This will have to stop."

And it does, for minute or two. Everybody seems to be calming down.

Oh, no, here we go again, only this time it's the brown one.

Someone has got to get control of this situation. I'm thinking, "Hey! I'm over here! Look in the camera."

Now we're ready, but somebody moved. The camera? This one would have been perfect. My fault.

Debbie, you have got to get control of yourself!
FINALLY! Got the shot! It just needed a little tweaking.
I just added a little vignette and it's a Christmas card !

Here's what I learned: 1. If I'm taking shots of animals, take treats. 2. Learn the names of all involved so when I need their attention I can use their names, and not just make weird noises.That goes for the dogs, too! 3.Don't take outside shots in less than 50 degrees. And finally... 4. Use a remote. That would enable me to get closer to the subjects without moving the camera. Maybe I'll get one for Christmas. Are you reading this, Tom?
Thanks, Debbie and Dick. I had fun and learned a lot. Next year? Maybe I'll have my remote.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Everyone Needs A Thank You

I must admit that this title was not my idea. My sister, Janie, the one who went with me to Art in the Park, thought of it. As she was watching people enter my tent and going straight for the cards, she told me that we should move the cards to the front of the tent where prospective buyers would have to trip over them. Anything to make a sale! She also added that I needed to make a cutsy sign giving people ideas as to why they should buy the notecards. That night in the hotel, I made the sign and it worked! Will wonders ever cease. Janie should have been in merchandising or maybe even a think tank. She does that a lot, think, not merchandise.

As friends see my cards, some of them ask me to do a set for them. I absolutely love to do them, especially when they give me an old picture that I can enhance with my magic wand. Some call it Photoshop. The card pictured below is one of my friend Debbie and her friend on a lake in Michigan. I used a sepia tone with fancy edges. It makes it look even older than it is.

I used this shot in an earlier post and then made it into a card. This was a shot of our neighborhood gang. It was probably taken in the early 50's. What a motley crew we were.

I've sold several sets of personalized golf shots for Christmas gifts recently. I'll show them in my next post.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Nancy Faye

Here she is. Ms. Nancy Faye T... great friend (brought me food in the middle of the night, kept me in that t.v. show, and so much more), excellent teacher (was 11 Alive teacher of the week, or was it year?), comedian (one of the funniest people on earth), athlete (played highschool basketball and, I think can beat my husband in golf), pretty near genius (understands all of that science stuff), world traveller (went into that jungle in South America with a team of science teachers), great cook (was featured in one of Tyler Florence's shows) and most importantly, a cancer survivor for ten years, with MS!

I took this shot two years ago at Christmas. I have no idea of what we were talking about, but she obviously had a strong opinion. Wonder what it was?

Things must have calmed down, or the wine kicked in.

Have a great day, Nancy. Did I forget to say that you are proudly a THIRD GENERATION Atlantian? For heaven's sake, let's don't forget that. (You know, native Atlantians can be sooooo snobby...I'm just sayin'.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Party Line

I'm taking a class offered on-line through, called Stories in Hand. In a nutshell, it's a system that includes tools, guides, and a way to organize the stories that we want to tell. In the class we were presented with several downloads that include "sparks," or questions about your past. The intention is to "spark your memory," and make you think back, waaaaayyyyyy back.
One of our first writing assignments was to choose a topic from the "roots" section... there must have been over a hundred "sparks." We could write in a journal, make a scrapbook page, or blog. Of course, I chose the latter. In one of my conversations with my sister, Janie, I told her about the "spark" that I was thinking about; it was, "what technology do you remember your family having?" She shared a conversation that she had several months ago with Jennifer, my niece, her daughter, about a party line. Jennifer (age 27) had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, and I bet most folks age 50 and younger are right there in the same boat. For those of you who are clueless, let me explain.
I can remember in the 50's when I was in elementary school, we had a party line. That meant that several families shared the same line. Each family had their own ring so they would know when to answer an incoming call. Back in the day, we didn't stay on the line forever like we do now. Okay maybe my mother did when she talked to Mrs. Lewis, Jimmy's mother, about our fifth grade social studies homework. It took them several minutes to figure out what neither Jimmy nor I could explain.
There is nothing good that I can say about having a party line. It never failed that when I wanted to make a call, some unknown woman (always a woman) would be talking. The only way we could get others off of the line was to torment them. Our parents didn't behave like that, but we (kids) did. Here's an important thing: we never, absolutely never told our names. It was all secretative. There were several methods of tormentation (is that a word?). I was an expert at two of them. First, was the heavy breathing. It let them know that someone was waiting to use the phone and second, was the constant clicking. That worked the best because it drove them crazy. I picked up the phone every thirty seconds until they gave up and got off the phone. I'm sure I had something important to say to someone.
The strange thing is that I don't remember when the party line was dropped and we had our own private line. You would think that would be of utmost importance because I was approaching puberty and talking on the phone was an integral part of that period of my life.
I finally found a picture of an old telephone, but I remember ours as having a smaller handle and body. I can still remember part of our phone number. Something like JA-23565. Our telephone, we only had one, was located in our hall. But it wasn't really a hall, it was more like a room with a hall leading off in the back to the dining room. There was a Tiffany lamp placed next to the phone on a table. I can still see my mother sitting and crying there in the hall as someone on the other end had just told her that her brother (Leland Davis a newspaper reporter from Cincinnati) had died. I didn't realize the impact that had on me until now.
This picture will give you some idea of what they looked like.

Although most of us have several telephones in our homes today, we also have cell phones, blackberries, Iphones, etc. We can talk to anyone at anytime. Good grief, now we can actually see who we're talking to in real time. Below is an image of my niece courtesy of Skype. We just started using it last month and it is unreal! I know it's been around for sometime now, but I'm just getting into it.

Get this. You can even do a conference call on Skype. The only drawback is that you can't see everyone. I'm sure someone, somewhere is working on that.

From party lines to private lines to skype, can it get any better?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Employees of the Months

Every now and then when something out of the ordinary occurs at Casabella, I make an Employee of the Month Award. Coming from the world of education, we always gave a Teacher of the Month Award and a Parapro of the Month Award. These were things we did to recognize those who did something special and deserved the attention. The staff voted each month.
But let me back up. A few years after I left education, I began working part-time at a store called Casabella. One day when I wasn't scheduled to work, the manager (the other Nancy) called and asked if I could come in to work. Noticing my hesitancy and my lack of enthusiasm, she said, "You know, if you come in today, you will be Employee of the Month." This was a joke. Until that minute an employee recognition program had never existed. To make a long story short, I agreed to go in that day, but before I did I made myself an award. It was a hoot! Not only did I give myself the award, I made myself Vice President of Employee Recognition. For then on, every couple of months, I present these awards to those I feel worthy. There isn't a deadline, there aren't any rules, and there isn't any voting, I just do it and get away with it.
So after hearing from several of the girls about what happened a week or so ago, I though it was time to reinstitute the recognition program. Here is the latest award.
Employees of the Months Award
is proudly presented to
Julie and Penny

for sacrificing life and limb by stopping cold and callous criminals dead in their tracks, and for leading to the arrest of know felons (who have on several attempts tried to pass their bad checks), by commandeering these bad people by withholding their drivers license until the authorities arrived. So smart.

These strong and courageous women need to be commended by all of us at Casabella for saving the store over $1000 (this includes the previous attempts) and ridding the community of these low-life reprobates.
Pictured above, Julie (aka Starsky) is holding a copy of the fake drivers’ licenses and the fraudulent check. Penny (aka Hutch) is holding the receipt showing over $600. of merchandise that the thieves tried to purchase. By their quick thinking and talking in code, they were able to
bring this sham to a screeching halt.
Thanks ladies. All of us at Casabella appreciate your brains, your bravery and your guts. You make us proud. There’ll be a little something extra in your next check.
At work yesterday, I asked one of the girls how she knew that these were the infamous criminals. She replied, "How many people do you know who would buy over six hundred dollars worth of childrens' merchandise, but wouldn't spend money to fix their teeth?" Deep. Just remember, crime doesn't pay.
Vice-President of Employee Recognition

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Art In The Park, October 08

For those of you who have not been fortunate enough to actually attend the Art in the Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, I thought you would like to see my set up. The blue and white canvas is a "get them in the tent" trick. Since I don't have dancing bears or male strippers, I have to work with what I have. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Last year I sold my red and white stripped canvas similar to the blue and white one. I really liked it and it was hard to part with, but the money meant more. I don't mean to sound cold, but it's all about exposure and profit. If I want to make this a profitable hobby, I need to part with the works that I really like. Yes, there are a few that I've taken that I don't like, but my friends do, so I take them with me, hoping that someone will buy them.
The golf shots were my sister,Janie's idea. She accompanied me last October and noticed that there were a lot of golfers at the show. I really didn't see them, but I trusted her and last winter and spring I started taking millions of shots with different old clubs. Tom and I even went to a local golf course early on a Sunday morning where I spent an hour or so on all fours taking shots of golf tees. Most of these shots have been made into note cards. Very cute if I do say so myself.

In the picture below you can see the general design of the tent. I thought the colored panels would add a little "ump" to my tent. Every time I go, I have a different design. In the bottom left you can see the large image of the Brooklyn Bridge that I took Labor Day. (See post dated September 10)

I like to write about visitors to my tent. For this post, I thought I would write about three different groups of people who visited and actually BOUGHT matted prints. They all had one thing in common, they were all from West Virginia. I just love people from West Virginia, mainly because that's where I was born and raised. So here goes.

Early Saturday morning as I was unpacking my wares, before the show opened, (okay I lie, I was late), a couple walked right by my tent with absolutely no intention of stopping. Lucky for them I saw the WVU logo on the man's baseball cap and said "Go Herd." Most of the time that totally pisses off WVU fans. That got his attention. One thing led to another and I must have held them hostage for at least thirty minutes. We talked about Marshall and WVU. We talked about coal and they told me that Haliburton was drilling in the mountains. I didn't know there was oil in West Virginia, but apparently there is. Scott and Judy H were from Martinsburg, a fair distance from Huntington, where I'm from. Eventually, they broke down and bought a print. They didn't have the heart to leave without buying something. I just love people from West Virginia.

If you don't take someone with you to give you a break, you just have to leave your tent unattended and just take your chances that a bunch of thugs won't steal your cute little notecards with the plaid ribbons. I really wanted to visit my friend Liz's tent. She lives near Litchfield, south of Myrtle Beach and she always has great shots. Fortunately, her tent wasn't far from mine so I could see if anyone was going into my tent, so I moseyed over for a quick visit. This was Sunday afternoon, and the crowds were thinning out, but I still kept one eye in the direction of my tent. As I glanced in the direction of my tent, I saw a group of women walking towards it, so I scampered back without looking desperate. One of the women had a, you guessed it, Marshall University blouse. We started the, "where are you from," and "who do you know", and discovered that we attended the same high school at the same time. She is two years younger. Her brother was in my class, but I remember that he was in the smart group (Harvard bound), so I didn't have any classes with him. She and her friend moved to the beach a year or so earlier. Her friend teaches at Coastal Carolina and she plays golf. They bought three, yes three, of my matted prints. Like I said before, I just love people from West Virginia...especially golfers.

Next came Maggie. At first I didn't know she was Maggie. She was a hoot. Her skin still had a deep, deep tan and her hair was short and greyish blond. She had that old lifeguard look... very outdoorsey. During our conversation I discovered that she was originally from Huntington, but has been living in Myrtle Beach for a number of years. She told me that when she was young, her family vacationed at Myrtle Beach and she loved it. She told me that her mother worked for Butler Furniture in Huntington and I told her that my aunt used to do Mrs. Butler's hair. Small world. As she talked I learned that she was a former teacher and had spent some time after graduating from Marshall teaching in Annapolis. When she introduced herself as Maggie S., I thought to myself, "this is the girl who my sister, Janie, knew when she taught in Annapolis." This was too weird. Then I blundly asked her, "Are you Maggie S who dated a midshipman from the Naval Academy who was killed in a submarine accident in the sixties?" She said, "Yes, how did you know?" I told her about me overhearing a conversation between Janie and my mother forty-five years ago. I remember thinking at the time how awful it would be to die like that. We kept talking and talking as she looked at my prints. I called Janie to tell her who was in my tent and she talked with Maggie. It seems that they would ride home at holidays together in Maggie's car. Those were long trips from Annapolis to Huntington. Before she left that afternoon, she bought a print, only to return the next day to buy another one! If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, I just love people from West Virginia.

When I returned to Atlanta after the show, I googled the submarine accident and included it in this post. Sad, but interesting reading.

History of USS Thresher (SSN-593)
Related Resources:
List of Personnel Who Perished in the Loss of Thresher on 10 April 1963Online Photography of USS Thresher


The second Thresher (SSN-593) was laid down on 28 May 1958 by the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard; launched on 9 July 1960; sponsored by Mrs. Frederick B. Warder; and commissioned on 3 August 1961, Comdr. Dean W. Axene in command.Following trials the nuclear attack submarine took part in Nuclear submarine Exercise (NUSUBEX) 3-61 off the northeastern coast of the United States from 18 to 24 September.On 18 October; the submarine headed south along the east coast. After calling at San Juan, Puerto Rico, she conducted further trials and test-fired her torpedo system before returning to Portsmouth on 29 November. The ship remained in port through the end of the year and spent the first two months of 1962 evaluating her sonar system and her Submarine Rocket (SUBROC) system. In March, the submarine participated in NUSUBEX 2-62, an exercise designed to improve the tactical capabilities of nuclear submarines , and in antisubmarine warfare training with Task Group ALPHA.Off Charleston, the ship undertook operations observed by the Naval Antisubmarine Warfare Council, before she returned briefly to New England waters from whence she proceeded to Florida for SUBROC tests. However, while mooring at Port Canaveral, the submarine was accidentally struck by a tug which damaged one of her ballast tanks. After repairs at Groton, Conn., by the Electric Boat Company, the ship returned south for more tests and trials off Key West. Thresher then returned northward and remained in dockyard hands through the early spring of 1963.In company with Skylark (ASR-20), Thresher put to sea on 10 April 1963 for deep-diving exercises. In addition to her 16 officers and 96 enlisted men, the submarine carried 17 civilian technicians to observe her performance during the deep-diving tests.Fifteen minutes after reaching her assigned test depth, the submarine communicated with Skylark by underwater telephone, apprizing the submarine rescue ship of difficulties. Garbled transmissions indicated that--far below the surface--things were going wrong. Suddenly, listeners in Skylark heard a noise "like air rushing into an air tank"--then, silence.Efforts to reestablish contact with Thresher failed, and a search group was formed in an attempt to locate the submarine. Rescue ship Recovery (ASR-43) subsequently recovered bits of debris, including gloves and bits of internal insulation. Photographs taken by bathyscaph Trieste proved that the submarine had broken up, taking all hands on board to their deaths in 5,500 of water, some 220 miles east of Boston. Thresher was officially declared lost in April 1963.Subsequently, a Court of Inquiry was convened and, after studying pictures and other data, opined that the loss of Thresher was in all probability due to a casting, piping, or welding failure that flooded the engine room with water. This water probably caused electrical failures that automatically shutdown the nuclear reactor, causing an initial power loss and the eventual loss of the boat.Thresher is in six major sections on the ocean floor, with the majority in a single debris field about 400 yards square. The major sections are the sail, sonar dome, bow section, engineering spaces, operations spaces, and the tail section.Owing to the pressurized-water nuclear reactor in the engine room, deep ocean radiological monitoring operations were conducted in August 1983 and August 1986. The site had been previously monitored in 1965 and 1977 and none of the samples obtained showed any evidence of release of radioactivity from the reactor fuel elements. Fission products were not detected above concentrations typical of worldwide background levels in sediment, water, or marine life samples.
30 July 2001

There were many more interesting folks who visited my tent. So many were from the New York and New England area. One lady who bought my framed pavilion image was from Alaska. She didn't know Sarah, but she liked her. What's not to like?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's My Day

This morning as I was writing this post, I took this picture from my window. The trees are just gorgeous this time of the year. Although my birthday is today, I'm not crazy about fall. I absolutely hate cold weather, and fall means that winter is just around the corner.

Here's another one.
As usual, I've waited until the last minute to get my car tags. In Georgia we have to renew during our birthday month, so off I went to get my car inspected. I talked with the man in charge who was a nice, older black man. We talked about Obama and McCain. I think he detected a little concern on my face because he said it's all in God's hands, so I shouldn't worry. He said McCain is a good man and Obama will be getting his help. I told him that I felt sorry for McCain, and he told me that according to the bible, McCain, in his seventies, is in his strong years, so he'll be fine. I felt better.

Off I went to the tag office to buy my new tags. As I was waiting for the tags, my sister, Janie, called to wish me a happy birthday. I love getting these calls. An old, old friend, Stan left a voice mail wishing me a great day, and Barbara called and sang "Happy Birthday." Later Penny called and sang a song that she said she saw in some movie with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue. Summer Place?

After a quick trip to Home Depot I spotted these trees on my way home.

A little after I got home, these were delivered. Daisies, my favorite, from Marcy. I love them. Thank you sooooo much.

And, it's not over. Dinner tonight with Tom and tomorrow night, dinner with Barbara and Penny. Friday, I'm meeting Sharlene at Lenox for shopping and lunch. I just love birthdays.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I voted today. I took my chances by not voting early last week, and standing in line for six hours. Tom did. He arrived at one of the early voting precincts at 6:15, and waited for the polls to open at 8:00. It only took him two hours, but that didn't sound inviting to me, so I rolled the dice. Took me FIFTEEN MINUTES. When I called Tom to gloat, he said there was a name for people like me. Of course I asked what, and he said "bitch!" I should have replied, "what, smart ?" but I didn't. I just laughed. Bless his heart.

I'm copying an email sent to me by Doris, my Huntington friend. She tries her best to keep me informed. Many of you have probably received it, but just in case you haven't, here it is. Good article.


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

(Lucy Burns) And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

(Dora Lewis) They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women. Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. (Alice Paul) When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining? Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder. All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient. My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said. 'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.' HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunco and Bingo night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think little shock therapy is in order. It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.' Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote. History is being made.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bless His Heart

I just did what I never do, and that is answer the phone when it shows a tollfree number. Because I am about to start a minor kitchen renovation, I though it might have something to do with that. Could be Sears, Lowe's or Schuler. But it wasn't; it was COMCAST. This poor guy had no idea what he was getting in to. I tried to warn him, but he didn't think I was serious.

When he identified himself, I told him that he really didn't need to try to offer phone service because I already had my internet and cable with Comcast, and I didn't like the service. He was very polite, said a lot of "yes ma'ams." He asked me why I didn't like their service, and I explained to him that my internet goes down several times a week, and we have already disconnected the box from the television in the kitchen. Wierd things used to happen to the kitchen television. For example, when Tom tried to reason with the Comcast crew on the phone, they convinced him to keep at least one box in our house so we could have access to On Demand. We kept the box in the livingroom, but we've never used it.

As the conversation continued, this poor guy tried to show some compassion and really wanted to correct the problems. I BEGGED him not to send any more repair men because it just complicates the situation. I can deal with the internet going down for a few minutes. Sure it's frustrating, but life goes on. When he attempted to go there, I mentioned that millions of repair men have been on my property. Rarely are they the same person. That's one of the problems. In the past when these men have attempted to fix the problem, we've gone through the same steps. I pull out reams of paperwork, explain the problem, they shake their heads, and hours later at least two miles of cable cord is draped across my backyard. Before they leave, they tell me someone would be coming soon (two or three months) to bury the new cable. Then they come and tear up the lawn leaving mud clumps and tracks all over the yard, sidewalk and driveway. It never changes. I bet we have a ton of cord buried in our yard. I explained to the man on the phone that they always discuss cables, including the pros and cons of split cables. I don't give a rat's ass about split cables. I just want the internet and the cable t.v. to work when I turn it on.

By this time the man on the phone couldn't get in a word. I kept apologizing to him and told him that he probably needed to report our conversation (maybe it was taped). If he smokes, I'm sure he's standing outside some building in some city with at least two cigarettes in his mouth, mumbling to himself. I was really kinda easy on him; he got me early in the day. I started to go into my monopoly rant, but I kept it to a minimum. It's just not right. My AT@T friends seem to have the same problems, so there is no reason to change service. Absolutely every day I get requests to change services, but until EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM can promise that I would be speaking only to those who live in the United States and speak English, then I ain't budging. This experience is bringing back memories of my conversations with our brothers and sisters who work for Dell computers. I almost had to go into therapy after dealing with them. I've got to go and get a coke. The caffeine does me good.

Final thought. Why in the world would anyone want to bundle services? If you are on Comcast, when the cable goes down, so does the phone and internet. If you are on AT@T, when the phone goes down, so does the cable and internet. All it takes is for someone to run into a telephone pole or a construction crew to cut the cable. Remember this: Don't put all of your eggs into one basket.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

RATS 101

When I say rats, I don't mean rats, as in rats, or darn, or heck. I mean rats as in RODENTS.

I know when it gets cooler outside, rodents begin looking for a nice warm place to make their nests and settle in for a spell. From the clues I have gathered IN MY GARAGE it seems that an eighty pound rat has decided to call the Welcome Wagon and join the neighborhood book club.

Many of my friends have been so willing to share their experiences with me and being a novice I have listened intently and followed their directions on how to eradicate them. Here's what I know: don't use poison because they'll die in between the walls and the smell will be so bad that you'll have to move out of the house, use steel wool to stuff where you think they might be coming in, use peanut butter, creamy, not chunky, and place the traps close to the wall because they run next to the wall.
To begin, I thought the neatest option would be to go with the glue traps. EVERYONE says to use peanut butter. We bought two glue traps and I put a dollop of peanut butter on each one. Here is the first one. As you can clearly see, it hadn't been touched.

This was placed in the garage on the same day. Looked to me like I had been outsmarted by a rat. I think those are his little footprints under and to the right of the where the peanut butter was.

It soon became obvious to me that the glue traps weren't getting the job done so I decided to get the real traps, the wooden ones that will break their necks. I'm getting angry. So last week I went to Lowe's and bought two large traps. The woman in line behind me seemed concerned. When you buy these things, people look at you in horror. Some just shake their heads and tell you their stories. That is where I get lots of my information like, about whether to use smooth or chunky peanut butter, among other things. My salesman at Lowe's told me that he used Slimjims. I don't know where to buy Slimjims.

I thought this was going to be a simple project, setting the traps. HA! My husband and I tried everyway possible to set them and we couldn't figure it out. I even went on the website and watched a video. Still didn't get it. We blamed it on the traps. Obviously they were defective. I wasn't going to let this little bump in the road stop me. The next day I went to The Home Depot to check out their traps. I found them and even went to a sales associate and asked her to show me how to set the trap. She very calmly showed me and I was convinced that I got it. As soon as I got home, Tom and I started to fiddle with them and again no luck. After working with them for at least thirty minutes, Tom mentioned to me with clinched teeth that between us we had four degrees and we were pathetic. I agreed. Stupid was more like it. At last he got it. The secret is tension. We put the peanut butter on them and off we marched to the garage to catch this varmit.

Every day I ask Tom to check the garage to see if we had success. I just can't look. It absolutely grosses me out. A couple of days passed and this is what he found.

Outsmarted again. This is not over.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Going to Art in the Park

Just wanted to let y'all that I'll be at Art in the Park until Monday. I'm sure I'll have lots to write about when I get back home.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dear Martha,

Help me out. I'm getting a little concerned about your stock. In October, 2005 a month or two after you were released from the pokey, I bought several of your shares at $20.95. I just checked with my guru and YOUR STOCK IS DOWN to $1.01. You do the math. This has got to stop. You have got to do something to turn this corportation around. Hire new people. Let's get some people with some real brains. Look into the retired teacher's associations and interview the newly retired. Those people have to be smart to get out of the rat races that they have been in for 30 plus years. Specifically, elementary teachers. They are creative, smart and IN CONTROL. Middle and high school teachers tend to look at the bottom line. They could work on motivational techniques and work flow. Look into it. But in the meantime, read on.

Work with me here. You can't do it alone. You need to start with a Martha Stewart Academy where you could teach your sophisticated skills to others. Those lucky participants would be trained in every aspect of your organization. The goal would be to send them out into the general public to peddle your wares. In a minute you will see the connection.

I know you have already offered to the public items, such as: books, tapes, houses, paint, dinnerware, cookware, craft items, scrapbook items, flowers, bridal items, furniture, etc. And you have exposure on your television shows, radio shows, your website, and your magazine, but that's just not enough. GET BUSY, you have got to start thinking BIG. How about a mall?

You could start with mini (strip) malls. I know you would rather start Mall Of America size, but let's be realistic. These could be all over the world. These malls could have stores dedicated to specific Martha Stewart items. They would be staffed by those lucky people who have attended your academy. A cookware store kinda like Williams Sonoma only it will be just your stuff. I'm thinking cooking classes and canned food. The food could come from your farms and manufactured in your factories. That'll be in a later letter. A scrapbook store where you and your people could conduct classes. A paint store. Again, offer classes on Martha techniques. Of course a bookstore, where you could have book studies on various genres of books. Here's a tip: you could recommend different authors for a price... and it wouldn't be cheap. It could be themed. The summer months you could recommend beach trash. Since you are probably unaware of this genre, you could employ any number of teachers who are off for the summer. They need the extra money. Come on Martha, get down with us. Join the general population. Another store could sell large machinery...kinda like John Deere, but pretty. Paint them in those pretty blues or greens. I saw a lot of bobcats down at the beach, but they were bright yellow. (See blog dated 9/19/08.) That just doesn't blend with the beach. Think BIG, Martha. Of course there would be restaurants at the mall. Lot's of them. Also included would be furniture stores for different types of houses. Since you have several, you know what I mean. From formal to casual you could please everyone's tastes. Speaking of furniture you could also build your own manufacturing company, located, of course, in North Carolina. I hear there are several companies closing down, so you could just move in those vacated building.

I could go on and on. There are so many areas that could be explored. Photography in which I would be in charge. Leave THAT to me. And clothing... for everyone. Move over Calvin. Summer camps for children and music, that could be big. Computers and technology still have to be developed. Again, think about using those pretty colors. I'm getting sick of black, gray and white. But that's just me.

I'm trying to help you, Martha. I'll continue to develop and refine my proposals. Keep a stiff upper lip. You can do it. This week's goal has got to be to get that stock up to at least ten bucks by Friday. Go Martha!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

If It's October 2nd, It's Barbara's Birthday

Birthdays have always been a pretty big deal in my group of friends, and this one is no exception. Barbara and I have been really, really good friends for a hundred years, okay more like forty-five. But that's a long time. We met in junior high, continued our friendship through high school, then college, working at the beach in the summers, and, finally, moving to Atlanta. Of course, we weren't alone in this journey. Penny and Mary were also along for the ride. I'm not going to get into the details, and there are many. Just suffice it to say that our friendships have continued to grow and strengthen through the years.

This is a picture of Barbara that we had to submit in order to be extras in the movie, We Are Marshall. As usual, we were in a rush, so there wasn't much time for touch-ups. I took this shot of her in my closet with my small camera. As you can tell, she needed no touch-ups. Her blue eyes are lookin' pretty good. Pretty good lighting, don't you think?
Each spring the four of us go to Mary's condo at Hilton Head. We look so forward to it because we just go on the beach and relax. Not that our lives are as hectic as they used to be, but it's great to just sit and talk. Here's a shot of Barbara at a Hilton Head restaurant. I cropped everyone else because...well, because it's Barbara's birthday and this is all about her!

Last May instead of going to Hilton Head, we went to New York City. Here is a shot of the four of us in our hotel room after spending the afternoon walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and shopping at a mecca called Canal Street. Wonder where Barbara bought those shirts. Barbara is pictured on the far left.
I took this shot of Barbara on the subway going to Brooklyn. She was such a good sport to pose after such a long day.
So, here's what I know about Barbara (in no special order):
  • she's a great listener
  • she's always supports her friends

  • she can never sit still

  • she's a wonderful mother of two boys

  • she likes to make dinner for people, really, she likes to do it

  • she loves to take long walks (last year she did the 3-Day Walk)

  • she's a loving wife

  • she loves to entertain, especially around the holidays

  • she is an eternal optimist

  • she's a Christian

  • she likes to decorate and does a great job

  • she thinks before she speaks...always

  • she's very, very, patient

  • and finally, she's a great friend

Happy Birthday, my friend.

O.K., I just had to include this photo of us on the set of We Are Marshall, taken in downtown Atlanta. Now that's funny.



Monday, September 29, 2008

A Sign Of The Times

As I sit and write this post, the local news stations are leading with stories of gas shortages all over the Atlanta area. They have reporters posted in different areas confirming what we have known for a couple of weeks now that we really are out of gas.

I'm one of the lucky ones since I no longer work full-time, so I'm not using gallons of gas each week. I've noticed that the volume of traffic has declined during the day, which makes it easier to get to Target in less time than normal.

Anyway, last week, I noticed that my gas was hovering around a quarter of a tank, so I made it my mission on Friday to just suck it up and go on a scavenger hunt. As luck would have it, I found gas at a Quicktrip station about ten minutes from my house. I waited in line for less than ten minutes ...I was lucky. FYI California friends, I still only had to pay $3.97. No gouging at Quicktrip.

On the way home, as I passed several stations that were empty, and since I have a lot of family and friends who don't live in the south, I thought I should take pictures so y'all could see what is happening down here. So I got my camera and hit the road.

The images below speak for themselves.

Here's how they keep people from trying to pump gas when there is none. I guess some people can't read the signs...or maybe they think they're just kidding. I have to say that that BP's bag looks a lot more professional than the plastic bag that the Shell station used.

You would have to see it to believe it...I found a gas station that actually had gas and lines.

And finally a close-up. Most of the stations have employees directing traffic. That seems to keep road rage or gas rage under control. But I've heard stories. It's not pretty.

The pundits seem to think we have two more weeks of this so-called shortage. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and my camera in my car.