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!

Nancy

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.

Original:

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.

Revised:

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!

Nancy

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!

Nancy

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!

Nancy

Confession by a Compulsive Rule Follower


Good morning Everyone!

From www.clickartonline.com; all rights reserved

From http://www.clickartonline.com; 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 http://www.clickartonline.com; 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 http://www.clickartonline.com; all rights reserved

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

confused angel

From http://www.clickartonline.com; all rights reserved

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

police car with lights on

From http://www.clickartonline.com; all rights reserved

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

person making complaint

From http://www.clickartonline.com; 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!

Nancy

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!

Ignore a Moose


Hi Everyone!

The Cracker Barrel where my family frequently eats dinner is tucked within an enclave of four or five family priced hotels, which means, depending on the season and tournament, we might be dining besides a junior high soccer team, a high school baseball team or an elementary school cheerleading squad.  On our way there Friday, we passed a man wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Coach” printed on the front.  Mark made a comment about the man being a sports fan, and Kayla announced from the back that “Radiostiping is wrong.”  Both of us stared at her blankly for a few seconds (somewhat dangerous on Mark’s part, since he was driving), and then I realized that she meant “stereotyping.”

Once we got to Cracker Barrel, Kayla started playing that peg game that drives me crazy because I can only get one peg left once every ten or so times.  Suddenly she announced that “I am mumble mumble ignore a moose.”  My hearing is not what it once was, although I can’t get any ear doctor to agree with me, so I have learned that rather than continually ask “What did you say?” sometimes repeating what I thought I heard gets a better response.  Accordingly, I exclaimed “You’re going to ignore a moose!”

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t want to be an ignore a moose.”  That’s when we realized that she was trying to pronounce “ignoramus.”

Today, on my way to lunch, I saw that the local KFC’s advertising sign board had changed.  It now asks me to try its new “baked beans and lemonade.”  Without meaning to radiostipe, I believe I would be an ignore-a-moose to try a dish made with such an awkward combination of ingredients!

Have a great day!

Nancy

A headline that makes you go hmmmmm…..


Hi Everyone!

I saw the following headline on a web site today – “An Airport That Even Pilots Don’t Like to Land In.”  How many of you besides me wonder who else besides pilots would be landing in an airport?

Have a great day!

Nancy

Church of the What???


Good morning Everyone!

Last weekend, Mark, Kayla and I went to Huntsville to attend a recital given by one of my sisters, who is a gifted soprano.  The recital was at her church, so as Mark and I were looking for the church’s address on our Garmin.  Mark asked what I was looking under, and I told him “Church of the Nativity.”

In the back seat of the car, Kayla (who fades randomly in and out of conversations these days with often hilarious results) said suddenly,” That’s a terrible name for a church!”

When asked to explain, she said,” The Church of Negativity? Who would want to go there?”

It took Mark 3 blinks and me 5 to contain our amusement where we could calmly explain that the deletion of two letters changed the meaning from something unpleasant to something wonderful.

She did roll her eyes at me when I announced after the explanation, “Coming soon to a blog near you!”

Have a great day!

Nancy

Time Matters


Good morning Everyone!

Elegant Mantel Clock

NIGHT BEFORE:

Picking up necessary medication after work: 20 minutes.

Putting bag with necessary medication down in the house somewhere:  10 seconds.

Greeting husband and daughter:  5 minutes.

NEXT MORNING:

smiley-frowny-face_17913_

1st sweep of house for bag containing necessary medication:  5 minutes. 

smiley more frowny face

2nd sweep of house for bag containing necessary medication:  5 minutes. 

more frowny face

3rd sweep of house for bag containing necessary medication: 5 minutes

angry face

4th sweep of house for bag containing necessary medication:  4 minutes, 45 seconds.

relief 2

Being saved by 15 seconds from calling husband and daughter and throwing monumental (unfair) hissy fit about stuff being moved without knowledge:

Priceless!

Have a great day!

Nancy