The Kitchen Cleaning Caper

Good morning Everyone!

About three weeks ago, several round white spots, maybe two inches in diameter, and a long smear of white appeared on the kitchen floor.  Kayla said she had tried to mop them up, but it hadn’t worked, and neither had vacuuming.

I was tired of looking at them by Sunday, so yesterday evening I sat down on the floor and started working on getting those spots up.  The spots were made by a thick, hard substance, though, and the only way to remove them was to scrape the substance off with a knife.  It was too thin, too uniform and not stretchy enough to be gum but it was too tough to be something like sugar or icing.

After a while, Kayla joined me on the floor to help.  She wanted to know if I knew what the spots were.  I told her I wasn’t sure, but  I was beginning to think I might be better off not knowing.  Realizing I was talking about unwanted critters, she said “Eeee-youuuuuuuuuu!”

She helped me scrape for a while in silence, then she said, “These spots look exactly like someone  got mad and slung the stove top cleaner around without realizing that it wasn’t shut good.”

Happy Face Angel With Wings

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I sat back to look at her, and she added, “Not that I did anything like that!”

I let her off on a technicality.

(For the record, Mark and I went into the bedroom and shut the door so we could laugh until our sides hurt at her non-confession.)

Have a great day!


FN.  We have a glass cook top on our stove, and it requires a special cleaner that rubs on like a paste and then is wiped off with paper towel.  Apparently once the stuff dries without being rubbed off, it is impenetrable.


Good morning Everyone!

I finally have relented and allowed Kayla to join Facebook, with the single stipulation that I MUST approve all friends and follows before she either makes or accepts either.  Her first wave of friends includes most of our family (if there’s anyone out there I missed, it’s purely accidental and I apologize!) including my mother.

Last night, I went in Kayla’s room to check on her, and she was very proud to tell me she had just been chatting online with my mother (her Grandma Dottie.)  Kayla was happy and excited.

The conversation led me to think about communications.

Bare foot Girl

Messages By Foot
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For millenia, the only means of communication that people possessed was mouth-to-mouth.  Coupled with transportation limited to the use of the foot, it took a very long time for messages to get anywhere farther than maybe the next cave over.

Assyrian War Ship

Relief Carving of an Assyrian Battle Ship from around 800 B.C.

A few brave souls realized that you could travel to certain places quicker if you went by water.  There were unique dangers involved and the range of places you could reach by water were limited, but you could travel farther faster then on foot.

One day during those vast uncharted millennia, some enterprising soul evaluated the risks of falling off a horse trying to break it versus the rewards of being able to get a message three villages over in half the time, and the use of the horse for transportation and communication began.

Ox Cart

Ox Cart
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Another incredibly brave family apparently very fond of their possessions and wanting to move elsewhere without having to leave any behind decided to take two or four oxen and attach them to a wagon with their stuff in it.  Big animal + big horns = big problems, but someone persevered long enough to make it work.

Smack dab in the middle of antiquity, the Phoenicians, who were fantastic sailors, decided to invent the alphabet.  Before that, the Babylonians had invented a kind of picture language they inscribed on stones, and the Egyptians invented the hieroglyphics they wrote on papyrus and tomb walls, but while the Babylonians and Egyptians wrote primarily for local purposes, the Phoenicians were salesman, the tradesmen of the Mediterranean, and they need something fast, snappy, easy to adapt and relatively easy to learn.

Roman Road Algeria

Remains of a Roman Road in Algeria

So now, messages could be sent directly to someone else in a fairly far away place preserved in writing rather than dependent on memory and transmitted by ox, horse or foot power.  The Romans, believing that conquering required an excellent road system, aided this process with a series of excellent roads built throughout Europe and the Middle East.  Portions of those roads, some of them built over 2000 years ago, still exist today.

Bear in mind  that it took the world thousands of years to reach this point.  For another couple of millenia, communications’ revolutions were sedate, although people, being people, continued to make better versions of the equipage that animals could pull behind them, the ships that men could sail and the materials used to preserve and transmit messages.

Richard Trevithick

Richard Trevithick’s “Puffing Devil” (Replica)

Then, on February 21, 1804, Richard Trevithick’s “puffing devil” steam locomotive made the first train run on a track from point b to point a.    It took  about a decade for the commercial ramifications of steam engines to come to fruition, but by 1850, there were over 9000 miles of track laid down in the United States, and over 6621 miles laid down in England.

In 1837, inventors in England and in the United States invented separate telegraph systems capable of receiving and transmitting messages across wires in mere minutes.  Communication possibilities exploded.

Bell 1880 telephone

Alexander Bell Talks on a Telephone in 1880

Until now, the driving force behind communication/transportation innovations was to improve commerce, (although train companies were quick to pick up on the possibilities of passenger service).  However, communications began its next evolution in 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone, that is, the first device that was capable of producing a clearly understandable reproduction of a human voice.  By the 1900’s, not only had telephones spread throughout the United States, but their main switchboard facilities had begun to become mechanized.  As part of the effort to improve telephone service, the first digital networks began to be developed starting in the 1940’s, although it wasn’t until 1978 that Motorola developed and sold the world’s first mobile phone.

In the early 1970’s, my family lived overseas in Taiwan for a couple of years.  Even then, we could not talk to people back home by telephone very much or for very long, so we would record stuff on cassette tapes and mail them back home to the states.  I was very moved when, on my grandfather’s death a couple of years ago, I came across a cassette tape he had kept from that time.

1950 Rotary Dial Phone

Rotary Dial Phone from the 1950’s

Even when we came back to the states in the mid-1970’s, people had rotary dialing, not touch tone, and the phone stayed attached to the kitchen wall because cordless phones were either not invented yet or at least not inexpensive enough for normal people.

Now, of course, we take instant communication for granted.

New Model Cell Phone

New Model Cell Phone: HTC One, M9

If I can’t remember something I needed at the grocery store, I stop in the middle of the store and call home to find out what the unknown item was.  In fact, I get miffed if I can’t reach someone right away.

Instead of having to run for the kitchen phone from remote areas of the house when the phone rings, we now get to hunt for the cordless phone all over the house because Kayla and I both seem to be constitutionally incapable of putting the darn thing back in the same place every time.

When one of my bosses went to Germany a few weeks ago, he never missed a beat back here at home.  The speed at which he could obtain his e-mails was only limited by whether they were coming in at a time of the day when he wanted to read them.

Sometimes, (read “almost always” if you are below the age of 25), we don’t even talk on the phone anymore; we text messages back and forth on our cell phones.

Many younger people are beginning to eschew home phone lines altogether, keeping only mobile phones.  I can understand that, but it just seems so unrooted not to have at least one landline connected to your place of residence.

We can chat face to face by Skype to people on the other side of the world and receive news from anywhere in minutes through signals bounced up to and down from satellites orbiting the earth.

And we take it all for granted.

Until the smile on your child’s face after talking to her grandmother lights up your world as well as her’s.

Have a great day!


Where did the time go?

Good morning Everyone!

A couple of weeks ago, a cousin of mine posted a picture on Facebook reminding all of us that there were (at that time) only 10 shopping  weekends before Christmas.  I could hear (and joined in) the collective groan that rose as those fatal words were read.  Didn’t we just clear the Fourth of July or something?

On September 21, I posted about Mandy’s accident.  I blinked, spun around once, and now over a month has gone by!  Mandy has made an excellent  recovery.  All but one of her stitches came out yesterday, and her ear looks distinctively untorn, which was the whole goal of the surgery.

She handled wearing the cone for about two weeks with grace and panache.  I know she prefered NOT to have it on, but she didn’t mope around when it was on.  She did find that it cramped her scavenging style.  Counters and kitchen floors were much harder to access.  I got more than one puzzled look from her when she was in the kitchen trying to rescue a dropped piece of food from the floor and she couldn’t quite reach it with her collar on.

I found a new app for my phone the other day that lets me do a sort of crossword puzzle on it, which I have enjoyed, although I did take issue with the answer “crochet” for the clue “a knitting technique.”  Tisn’t so, as any knitter or crocheter will tell you.  Knitting is knitting, and crochet is crochet.  Different tools, different techniques, different considerations.  The only thing they share in common is that they both use yarn and patience.

And that’s about all for now!

Have a great day!


The Very Large Vet Bill

Good morning everyone!

Yesterday was quite wild at our house due to one of those unfortunate accidents that occur from time to time.  Mandy and Darwin were playing somewhere in the house or yard, and when the dust settled, we discovered that Mandy’s ear had torn open at the bottom and was bleeding profusely.  It is a fact of nature that such events always occur on Sundays when the local vet’s office, which I would have preferred to use, was closed.

Between the screams of the 13 year old vet-wanna-be who didn’t handle her first dog emergency very well, the lack of paper towels anywhere in the (*&^&%$#$*^&* house, the length of time it took to get Mandy’s ear to stop bleeding, one very anxious lab (Darwin) who was worried that he had hurt his sister so kept trying to poke his nose right into middle of the healing ring, and a wiggly, bleeding husky basset hound mix who did not understand why we had to bandage her head, and why we didn’t want her shaking it, I was longing for an afternoon somewhere at a resort pool with a waiter catering to my every need, including lots of frozen drinks with pink parasols.  This was especially true after I spent a good part of the morning holding Mandy down so Mark could bandage her at least four times.

Huskey Basset Hound, Cone

Mandy Waiting in the Car to Go Home

The first two times, we tried bandaging only the ear once we got the bleeding stopped.  Each of those bandages lasted 10 seconds and one head shake after which the bandage was gone and the ear was bleeding again.  The third time, we bandaged the ear and then bandaged the ear to her head.  That one lasted about 30 seconds and then she pawed at the bandage enough to release the ear, shake her head and commence bleeding again.   The fourth time, we bandaged the ear, bandaged the ear to her head and then wrapped gauze around the head until Mandy resembled a small, white Marley (as in Marley & Scrooge.)

After we finished bandaging her up for the fourth time, we decided one of us had to make the 20 minute run to the nearest Pet Smart so we could buy a cone to keep the dog from pawing her ear. I had a sneaking suspicion that we wouldn’t be able to home doctor our way out of this one, so I asked Mark and Kayla to take the dog  with them just in case.

Mandy in the Car after Surgery

Mandy in the Car after Surgery

When they got to the store, Mark left Kayla in the car with the dog while he went in to PetSmart to get the cone, but after about five minutes sitting in the parking lot, Mandy let loose yet another giant shake of her head, causing the bandage to fly off her head, and the bleeding to start again, with the added bonus of copious drops of blood spattered all over the car, the dog and the daughter in the process. Kayla took Mandy out of the car after that to go find Mark, with the two of them dripping blood all over the local PetSmart.  After that, Mark took Mandy to the vet at the back of the PetSmart store and left her there to get sewn up, which we found out would include general anesthesia, stitches, injected antibiotics and pain killers and medicine to take home, automatically ensuring a Very Large Vet Bill.  The people there were very nice, professional and helpful, though.

While Mark and Kayla were dealing with Mandy and PetSmart, I was at home trying to reassure the anxious labrador and cleaning the kitchen.

Once Mark and Kayla got home, we had about an hour and half, and then I needed to go back to pick up Mandy and pay the Very Large Vet Bill, run one more errand, pick up dinner and then head home while I tried to drive, talk with my daughter and keep the dog from banging the cone hard enough to bust her haute couture priced bandage job back open in less than an hour.

Mandy - the orange is a bandage, not a collar.

Mandy – the orange is a bandage, not a collar.

The vet’s bandage job has survived at least through this afternoon.  If we’re lucky and we can keep it dry and clean, it won’t need to be changed at all this week.  Mandy is very unhappy about the cone, but she will have to learn to live with it until she’s better.  We learned that lesson the hard way when Tyra’s tail got infected.

Have a great day! I’ll keep you updated.


The Priesthood of the Disposal of Unwanted Critters

Good morning Everyone!

Have you every noticed how there are hierarchies all around us? A simple example is standing in line – The first person in line goes first, the second person gets to go next, etc.  And there are even a few of us who will, on occasion, step forward to correct a person who dares to challenge the hierarchy by cutting in line.  Such an event follows the principle of proportional palatability  – the chances of being corrected, and the violence used in said correction are directly proportional to the amount of time spent in line and the importance of the item the line is for.  The same chances are indirectly proportional to the palatability to the group psyche of someone barging in front of everyone else.

At our house, we have hierarchies too.  This morning the Priesthood of the Disposal of Unwanted Critters was called to action.

The first and foremost High Priest of the Disposal of Unwanted Critters is Mark.  If he is home, the hierarchy stops there.  I’m not sure where the rule is set out – in the United States Code, the Code of Alabama, the Eleventh Commandment, the United Nations Charter or the Code of Hammurabi – but somewhere it says that the male of the house shall remove all unwanted critters, dead or alive, from the household if he is at home.  It makes perfect sense to me and Kayla, although Mark may not agree.  Unfortunately, unwanted critters are notoriously inconsiderate, and they do appear when Mark is not around.

When it comes to killing and removing spiders and roaches, I become the High Priestess of the Unwanted Critter Department.  And I hate killing spiders and roaches – not because I think they deserve to live in peace, but because deep down I know that at any minute they can grow taller than a house and kill me along with all that I love or, even worse, actually fly (roach) or run (spider) on me.  I was over 40 before I ever killed either a roach or a spider – and that was only out of desperation because Kayla and I were alone.

As High Priestess, it is my privilege to delegate certain removal tasks, and Kayla is in charge of the Removal of Birds Killed by the Dogs.  We had such an incident this morning – I let Darwin and Mandy out, and they both shot over to the far corner of the deck, where I heard a scuffle that lasted about 1/2 second.  I called both of them back sharply.  Darwin arrived with a feather hanging from his lip (commonly known in criminal justice circles as a smoking gun), and Mandy trotted up afterwards.  The poor mocking-bird that had, alas, strayed from its normal habitat was lying on its back with its feet straight up in the classical dead bird pose.  Kayla showed up right afterwards, having heard the scuffle, and performed her duties as Head Acolyte competently and thoroughly.

I was kind of shivering with the willies, and asked her what we were going to do with the bird.  She kind of rolled her eyes, then told me to get her some paper towels.  Taking the paper towels, she gently lifted the bird and placed it in the dumpster, after not so gently admonishing both dogs about killing the bird.  Neither dog was particularly upset by being admonished, which is on par with most canine corrections that involve any member of the Priesthood besides Mark.  (And yes, for all grandmothers concerned who may read this, I did have her wash her hands extremely thoroughly after she came back in, paper towel or no.)

And that was the excitement at our house this morning!  Anything happen interesting at yours?

Have a great day!


My Novel – The First Lines

Good morning Everyone!

I am working on my first mystery novel.  In fact, I’ve finished it twice already in the last twelve months and I’m just digging into my third go-round.  Naively, I thought that the major part of the work involved in writing a book came while working on the first draft.  Alas, that is not so.  I thought I’d share you with the original opening lines, and then the new revision opening lines to get your comments on the changes (if you want).  There’s also a poll so you can vote for the opening you like best.


The 2011 annual Christmas dinner for the local Webster County bar was memorable. Due to a hectic trial docket, the dinner was held December 23, much later than normal and a rare dusting of snow greeted each of us as we entered the venerable, but still elegant, Radford Grill. The party’s attendance was up that year; William Henderson, the esteemed local bar president for the last 15 years (mostly because no-one else could be bothered with it) and head of the local Democratic party for the last 20 years (mostly because nobody was better at it) had arranged for an after-dinner speaker of national prominence, an unusual treat for our normally cash-strapped local association.
Memorable achieved never-to-be-forgotten status after the national speaker (who was every bit as good as anticipated) stopped talking. As the applause died down, William stood up from the white clothed head table and went to the podium.
“I’d like to thank my good friend, Tim Tolar, for that wonderful presentation. Now, folks, it’s up to you whether you want to…”
At that  moment, Jackson Herring threw the double oak doors at the entrance to the meeting room open with a bang and strode purposefully towards William at the podium.


Christmas, cocktails and crime are a curious combination and one that none of us – not me, not Boyd and especially not William – were ready for. When I first arrived at the Christmas Dinner for the combined Webster and Windover County bar, the most trying ordeal I anticipated enduring was coping with Boyd’s latest dating partner, Cindie with an “ie.”
I had counted myself lucky, though, when Boyd sat by me, and Cindie with an “ie” sat on his other side at the half table allocated to our firm. I would like to be able to say that I couldn’t understand what Boyd saw in Cindie with an “ie” (she had introduced herself that way to so many people that I couldn’t separate the name from the qualifier), but the reasons were self-explanatory. Boyd certainly hadn’t been looking for character or intelligence when he asked her out.  As president of the Webster County bar, William, our senior partner, and his wife Molly, along with Molly’s guide dog Sidney, were at the head table.
We had made it through dinner and finished listening to the nationally known speaker that William had persuaded to speak to our always cash-strapped local association, when it happened.
“I’d like to thank my good friend for that wonderful presentation. Now, folks, it’s up to you whether you want to…”
At that moment, Jackson Herring threw the double oak doors at the entrance to the meeting room open with a bang and strode towards William at the podium.

Thank you for your help, and have a great day!


Three Effortless Ways to Embarrass Your 13 Year Old Daughter

Good morning Everyone!

I did three things last week that embarrassed Kayla.  None of them was particularly dreadful, so I am curious to know if any of you can explain her embarrassment.

Embarrassment Number 1:  I joined Instagram.  I did not post anything, just got an account and followed Kayla and a couple of other people.  If I had posted weird pictures or Kayla’s toddler pictures (especially the absolutely adorable one of her looking like a mountain gnome, the bottom half of her face completely covered in chocolate ice cream from where she had tried to eat an ice cream cone in the dark FN 1), I would understand it better, but simply to establish an account?

Embarrassment Number 2:  I (gasp!!!) knitted while I was in a doctor’s waiting room while she was with me.  I didn’t hurt anyone, shake my needles at anyone, poke anyone’s eyes out or click the needles together loudly like a pair of castanets.  I even restrained myself from knitting when we were waiting at the orthodontist’s office, only knitting while we were waiting for my allergist.  (Lots of teens at the orthodontist; none at the allergist.)  Apparently I still committed a faux pas.

Embarrassment Number 3:  I did not mute the keys on my cell phone while I was texting.  The fact that I text at all is something she should encourage, noisy keys or not.  I like hearing the sound of the virtual keys; that way at least I’m sure I hit some kind of letter, even if it ends up being the wrong one!  If anyone can explain this one to me, too, I’d appreciate it.  And no, we were not in a crowded area, there were not any other teenagers around, and there was only one other person in the waiting room when I typed my text.

I would appreciate any enlightenment, although I can’t promise I will never embarrass her again, for two reasons.  The first is that the rules as to what embarrasses keep on changing.  The second is that embarrassing your 13-year-old can be a lot of fun.

Have a great day!


FN 1.  That picture was nominated for the “first time we meet your boyfriend” album as soon as it was taken.  Two for, and one against, and I’ll let you guess who voted for what.

Bibliophilic Friday: And Ladies of the Club

Good morning Everyone!

One of the Paperback Covers for the book

One of the Paperback Covers for the book

This week on Bibliophilic Friday, I am going to share with you the first book we’ve talked about that is out of print and not available as an e-book.  It’s worth the trouble of finding it, though.  This is another one of those books that I have read to pieces – I’m currently on my third copy, although this is the first hard bound copy I have owned, and slowly but surely edging my way forward to needing copy number four.

The book is Helen Hooven Santmyer’s And Ladies of the Club.   It is the story of a group of women in a fictional town named Waynesboro in Ohio who form a literary club in the late 1860’s, shortly after the end of the Civil War.  The book follows the lives of these women from the founding of the club through to the death of the last founding member in the 1930’s after Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected for the first time.  This summary does not do the book justice.

If I had to select two main characters for the book, I would choose Anne Alexander and Sarah (Sally) Cochran, as they are named in the beginning of the book.  We follow both of them through the ups and downs of their lives, pregnancies, marital issues, children, deaths and all of the myriad threads that add up to an individual’s life.  The richness of the novel lies not just in the vivid settings that Ms. Santmeyer deftly weaves through the narrative, but also in the way she brings her characters to life – by the end of the book, you feel like you know and are friends with not only Anne and Sally, but many of the supporting cast – Amanda, who received a degree from Oberlin College at a time when few women did, Kitty Edwards, full of spirit and life, Elsa, Sally’s daughter, a women of strong character and kindness and many, many others.  Nor are the only strong characters in the book females – John Gordon, Ludwig and Paul Rausch and Sam Travers are just a few of the males you make friends with.  This is a book that transports you back to the 1860’s, then walks you forward decade by decade until it ends.

The story of the author is also fascinating.  Helen Hooven Santmyer apparently worked on this book for over 50 years.  It was first published in hardback in 1982 and didn’t make much of a splash.  The the mother of a high-ranking editor in a publishing company picked up the book at her local library, absolutely loved it and then insisted that her son read it and urged him to release it as a mass market paperback.  It was a best-seller in 1984 in that format.  Ms. Santmeyer passed away at the age of 90 on February 21, 1986, having seen her book on the best seller list of the New York Times for 37 consecutive weeks in 1984, including several weeks at number one.

Reading this book, which is over 1000 pages long, may seem like a commitment when you first pick it up, but by the time you are through the  few pages, the length of the book becomes immaterial.

Take the time to find this book – even though it is out of print, there are plenty of decently priced paperback and even hardback copies to be found.  Amazon is a good place to look for them, and I’m sure some other sites, like Barnes & Noble, would be good too.  Then take the time to read it.  You’ll be glad you did!

Have a great weekend!


Confession by a Compulsive Rule Follower

Good morning Everyone!

From; all rights reserved

From; all rights reserved

Yesterday I did something almost unthinkable for a techno-dependent ( but not tech savvy) obsessive-compulsive rule follower.  Ever since, I have been looking over my shoulder.

FBI person wearing jacket

From; all rights reserved

Homeland Security, the NSA, the FBI and the Secret Service have not called me on the telephone or called on me in person.

Lightning striking women

From; all rights reserved

The plentiful lightning in the thunderstorms dotting the landscape as I drove home did not strike.

confused angel

From; all rights reserved

Angels did not weep, although they may have been confused.

police car with lights on

From; all rights reserved

Police cars did not follow me with sirens wailing as I headed home.

person making complaint

From; all rights reserved

I didn’t even get a polite nasty-gram from Microsoft or any other software/operating system provider and my computer started up today just like it does every day.

What dreadful act did I do?

I turned my computer off, ignoring Microsoft’s demand that I neither unplug my computer nor turn it off while it installed 40 different updates to my computer when I was ready to leave yesterday afternoon.  I admit that I did wait for about 15 minutes, but when the computer announced it was still on 1 of 40 updates after those 15 minutes, I, with deliberateness and malice aforethought, unplugged it anyhow and headed home.

It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I had stopped and restarted my computer  twice during the day, each time receiving no update notices, and I was not in my regular office but in Birmingham where the failure to leave in time to avoid rush hour traffic usually transforms a 2 hour drive into a 3 1/2 hour drive.

Even though I am sure that the 30 minute chunk out of my day needed to complete the updates today was purely accidental, I don’t think I’ll take such a reckless and impetuous action again.

Have a great day!


My First TV Interview

Good Morning Everyone!

Last month, I had the chance to talk about my blog on the local television station.  The show’s name is “At Home with Kenny Dean”.  The host, Kenny Dean, was very gracious and made talking easy.  I put together the following excerpt from the interview.  I hope you enjoy it!

“At Home With Kenny Dean” is shown on M, W, H and F from 6-7 p.m. and on T at noon on the local television station in Alexander City, Alabama.  Kenny has a wide variety of guests from many different fields, including some of the best up and coming blue grass and country artists.

Have a great day!