Category Archives: When things don’t go as expected

Again with the Absent-mindedness!

Good morning Everyone!

As most of you who follow this blog will remember, I am particularly gifted with the character trait known as “absent-mindedness.”  Here are the latest instances:

1) On my way to work, there is a restaurant, one of those small places that always has something moving into and out of it.  For about two weeks, I had been driving by it, absently noticing that the sign read “Coming Soon:  Mandolin Cafe.”  Each time I passed it, I wondered if the town where I work really has room for another Chinese restaurant….until my mind insisted that I notice that “mandolin” and “Mandarin” are two different things!

2) Have you ever wandered around the house swearing because you can’t find your glasses  – only to realize that you’re wearing them?  Funny – me neither!

3) I wanted to download some pictures onto my computer today, so I pulled out the Nikon camera, found the cable to connect it and started my task – only to have the darn thing run out of battery on me!  Digging through the camera bag for the charger, I found it missing.  Kayla was the last person to use the camera, so I began the necessary cross-examination to try to establish exactly where she might have left the charger while grumping that if we couldn’t find it, we had a very expensive camera we couldn’t use – only to discover that the charger was on the table in front of me where I had taken it out moments before in order to reach the camera!

4)  I was in a tearing hurry about two weeks ago, but I had also reached the point where the gas gauge in my car had gone from gentle reminders to crawling in the desert gasping for  fuel.  I whipped into the gas station, used the “pay at the pump” feature, hung the gas pump hose back up, got my receipt and tore out of the parking lot to cross the major U.S. Highway separating the gas station and the fast food place.  Once I was in line at the drive-thru, however, I realized I couldn’t find my wallet anywhere.  Panicking, I stepped out of the car for a second – where I discovered my wallet sitting on the roof of the car, where it had remained safely while I drove from the gas station to the fast food restaurant!  (And yes, I said a devout prayer of thanks for that one!)

Have a great day!


A Fish Tale Only Jonah Would Believe

Hi Everyone!

I don’t often reblog something, but the day this happened, my husband “called” it for Facebook, so I will share Mark’s version with you. Every year, there is a big fair in Montgomery, and Kayla’s school went to it on a field trip on October 13. Here is what happened:


Photo courtesy of

Yesterday was the day my 12 year old daughter Kayla and her class went on a field trip to the Fair. Before she left we cautioned her about bringing anything live back except her classmates. We specifically stated, don’t play the stupid gold fish game and win a fish because you don’t need any more pets. Feeling that the instructions were clear and reasonably easy to follow my wife and I then sent her on her way with hugs, kisses, and lots of love. However, the 12 year old mind is apparently hopped up on hormones and thus unable to process information in a direct and meaningful way. I know this because when I called her yesterday to see that she made it home okay I was told, “Dad I have a bit of bad news….” Apparently we played the fish game, but tried hard to lose. Unfortunately we were just too darn lucky and won a goldfish named Kisses any way. Well we couldn’t just flush it – I know this because I suggested it and was quickly rebuffed by her and my wife – so we are now trying to be responsible and raise it. That decision has presented my daughter with a moral dilemma. In order to keep it alive she really needs to invest in a real fish tank which I have refused to pay for because I am openly hoping that Kisses croaks. Therefore she would have to use her money to pay for said tank, but she is saving for a new IPOD and apparently is much more conscientious with her cash than with Dad’s. She is further concerned because I’ve told her that if Kisses dies she cannot replace him even if she buys a tank. So when I left this morning she was trying to decide whether it is nobler to accept the demise of poor Kisses or risk it all and buy a tank. I could rescue her from her situation, but as I told her, she got into this situation by not listening, so she needs to learn to get herself out. Besides the way I look at it I could win either way. If she buys the tank and the fish dies, then she doesn’t get the IPOD which means she will have less electronics and more time to spend with the family. If she lets the fish die, then I will have one less useless pet in the house. However, with her luck she will probably buy the tank, get enough money from her relatives for her birthday next month to buy the IPOD and the fish will out live us all.

P.S. from me:  10 days later, Kisses, the fish, is still going strong, making him exceptionally long-lived for a fair fish!


Have a great day!


All in a Day’s Work

Good morning Everyone!

Our Old House

Our Old House

In the very near future, we are going to be moving again – back to the town and house we reluctantly left two years ago. Needless to say, we are very excited about getting to go back home, but I am not looking forward to the pre-moving “happiness is a full trash bag” stage. Mark has a new job, back in Montgomery, with a very interesting company that I may write about some day if Mark doesn’t mind, and our house in the old town never sold – and it was on the market for over two years! Our rental house has been fine as far as it goes, but I still think of the prior house as home.

However, our “pre-moving” goals got an unexpected boost the weekend before last. Over the two years, we had slowly moved everything out of the old house, and had just gotten the final batch moved this March, which meant that we had a patch of 12-15 boxes in the corner of the garage by the water heater and the air conditioner drain. Friday night, as I got out of the car to enter the house, I noticed that a couple of the boxes weren’t standing flat any more – they looked like they had buckled under from the bottom.

So Saturday, Mark, Kayla and I sallied forth into the garage to figure out what was going on – and were not pleased with what we found. The air conditioner drain had become clogged, and had been spilling water onto the floor of the garage for an undetermined period of time.  (I missed the “what to do when the air conditioner drain clogs and floods your garage” episode of This Old House, didn’t you?)  The boxes were “buckling” under because the bottoms and bottom sides up to a point had gotten wet and collapsed, while much of the sides still remained straight.

So of  course we had to pull out all of the boxes that were wet, open them and check (and redistribute into the house) the contents thereof. I was pretty worried, to be honest with you – there were precious artifacts in those boxes that I really did not want to lose, especially pastel and acrylic paintings Kayla and I had done, family photograph albums, loose family photographs and my (and Kayla’s) most precious books – those we decided were so important to us that we wanted them nearer to us than the storage room we rented for most of our surplus stuff from the old house. Miraculously, NONE of those items were ruined, and only a very few of them were even damp! What was damp and mildewed were clothes and sheets and bedspreads/comforters that had somehow ended up at the bottom of every box. All of those have been pulled out and washed so that we can decide what to do with them without the mildew/must/mold in the dampness triggering the worst of our allergies. What a relief!

During this very long day of pulling out stuff, unpacking it, putting it away, throwing it out or washing it, Kayla was an absolute trooper! Mark had a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning, so when she and I were ready to get “up and at them,” it was just her and me there. I simply told her that we both had to do things we didn’t like to do that day, but they had to be done and I needed her help. That’s all it took – she was very helpful the entire day, vacuuming the house for me while I started in the garage during Mark’s doctor’s appointment, then coming outside to help both of us once he was home.

The door to the kitchen had to be held open during some of this activity; Darwin and Mandy tried to escape out it once during all of this. Darwin stood at the door wagging his tail, looked directly at Mark as Mark said, “No!” then sashayed out into the garage just far enough for Mark to discipline him. Mandy, who was only seconds behind him, stopped dead in her tracks just before she crossed the threshold and then started grinning and backing away, beaming because she hadn’t got into trouble for escaping but Darwin had. However, if you disciplined dogs based on intent rather than execution, she would have fully been equally as guilty!

After a long day, the garage was cleaned out, the drain was fixed, the wet boxes unpacked and removed and everything tidied up generally, which is what we meant to have happen anyhow at  some point before our move.

So I guess it all worked out for the best. However, I am watching our garage floor like a hawk now for any traces of moisture in case the drain decides to repeat its clogging performance – and the floor around it has several feet of clearance on most sides.

Have a great day!


Tubing on the Little Pigeon River – ish

Good morning Everyone!

I hope each of you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  We spent the long weekend in Gatlinburg to attend the Gaither Family Fest, a three night series of concerts by some of the best artists in Southern Gospel music.

Even though our nights were booked up, we had time during the day for other activities, so we decided to take advantage of the pretty weather and try some sort of water activity one afternoon.  Our choices were inner tubing down the Little Pigeon River, going to the Water Park at Dollywood or white water rafting.  To be honest, Mark and I would have preferred to try white water rafting, but Kayla was pretty scared, and I had no wish to fight crowds at the Water Park when the main attraction for me there was the Lazy River, so the compromise agreement was that we would go inner tubing.  Somewhere in the back of my mind was the idea that inner tubing down a river would be much the same as going to a Lazy River attraction, just on a real river rather than a man-made one.

Of course, the two are nothing alike.  My first clue came when my neck started hurting because there as nothing on the inner tube to support it.  The best way to get relief was to stretch out in full nap position across the top of the inner tube, which would have been okay except for the shoals – there are two or three spots on this particular inner tubing path where the water gets very shallow and runs over a series of rocks.  We called them “the rapids” although I am sure they were quite tame when compared to the real thing.  They were not designed with naps in mind.

Because the rapids are so shallow, it is easy for your inner tube to get hung on some rocks.  You can get “unhung” in one of two ways – either you push yourself off of the offending rock and back into the mainstream of the river, or another inner tube does that for you.  However, when I got hung, another inner tube coming up behind me hit me at just the right spot to flip me out of the inner tube into the shoal.  The water was only mid-calf deep, so I wasn’t in any danger, but the current was very fierce, and the rocks very slippery so I couldn’t get my footing to stand and get back in my inner tube.  While I was still pondering my way out of the dilemma, another inner tube came along and bumped me in just the right way to separate me from the inner tube I was seeking to get back into.

So now it was just me sitting on the rocks in the rapids.  I saw that Mark had caught my inner tube down the river and was trying to get it back to me, but the current at my location was too strong.  Finally, I ended up scooting myself over the rapids rock by rock like an upside down inch worm – my posterior in the water – until I could get to the deeper, quieter water.  By the time I was reunited with my family and my inner tube, I was exhausted.

The other problem with inner tubing is that the river is completely in control of your progress and path.  While I don’t think of myself as a control freak (Kayla, stop giggling here), eventually the lack of control started driving me crazy.  The river liked to drive me towards the banks where there were more rocks and things for my inner tube to catch on, while I wanted to keep towards the center of the river.  Apparently inner tubes were not designed to allow you to use your arms to steer them, so my attempts to do so left me yet again exhausted.  It was a great upper body workout though!

There were some parts of the river where you could just float lazily along and relax – one part was so placid I think we almost stopped – and the people inner tubing along with us were incredibly friendly and nice, so I’m glad we did it.

I’m even gladder, though, that there are no photographs of me during my impromptu inchworm impersonation.

Have a great day!



So You Want to Make a Call….

Good morning Everyone!


I had to make a telephone call yesterday.  For years in our town, every phone number began with one of two prefixes – 234 or 329.  There was a time (this was true in my grandparents’ town, too) when you only had to dial five numbers to make an in-town call.  In a kind of shorthand, you either started the number with 4 or 9 and the phone brain that resides somewhere most of us never see automatically supplied the first two digits.  Long distance calls required 1, the area code and then the phone number.  Those days are long gone.


My Grandmother’s Favorite Telephone

Today, a phone call goes more like this.

I dial:  1-205-555-5555  (FN)

Phone brain:  Screeching electronic tones, then:  (Pleasant Female Voice):  “The number you have reached is disconnected or no longer in service.  If you think you have reached this recording in error, please check the number and try again.”

Even though I know that this number is active and in service,  I dutifully hang up and check the number.  Some part of me knows that the Phone Brain is watching from afar, and there will be consequences if I don’t follow instructions.  Seeing that I dialed it correctly, I decide to try just the last seven numbers.

Phone Brain: (Sterner Mail Voice, but ditching the screeching electronic tones):  “We’re sorry  but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number.  Please hang up and try again.”

Me: Hmmmmm.

Pursuant to instructions, I then dial 1-324-4008.

Phone Brain: (Same Stern Male Voice):  “We’re sorry  but you must first dial a 1 or 0 before calling this number.  Please hang up and try again.”

Me: !

Successive tries with 1 still fail and I begin to call Phone Brain names that I hope my child never hears and repeats.  I finally drop the 1 and use the area code and the seven digit phone number:  205-324-4008. (Please note that this is the one instruction Phone Brain did NOT give me!)

The call finally goes through.  I think I can hear Phone Brain laughing in the background.

Telephone Switchboard

Phone Brain

I would like to add that only a Phone Brain with a wicked and twisted sense of humor would add “392” as an additional prefix in a town where “329” reigned for three decades.

Have a great day!


FN:  The phone number has been changed to protect the innocent as well as myself, since most receptionists would deem it justifiable homicide if someone gave out a number that required them to field meaningless phone calls from people trying to see if a number works.



Around the Second Bend in the Road

Hello Everyone!

We had rain Monday.  Not the gentle rains that slowly permeate the ground and nourish the grass, trees and flowers of spring, but the frog-strangling, gully-washing, can’t-see-in-front-of-you-to-drive type of rain.  And we had it for about six hours.  The combination of downpour and time led to a flood of water puddling on lawns, streaming down roads, carving mini-canyons in local gullies and other such stuff.  Water even got into our sunroom from somewhere – we’re not sure whether it came in from the puddle gathering at the back door or from the back wall – but fortunately it wasn’t very deep.

rain, umbrella

Heavy Rain
Photo Credit:

Our first hint of the most dramatic consequence of the rain came when I left the house for work in the rain about 8:00 a.m. and saw the “Road Closed” sign on the left side of our neighborhood entrance.  I didn’t think much about it; I just figured a section of road had flooded over and it was closed until the waters could recede.  When I came home at lunch and the sign was still there, I became a little curious and called the police department.  It turned out that a section of road over a culvert had been washed away.

Break in Road

One View of the Washed Out Culvert

We found out later that the white pipe in the picture is a water main that also broke, leaving folks on the other side of the break without water for two hours.  That didn’t sound too bad either, but since the “Road Closed” sign was still up, Kayla and I parked the car at the entrance to the neighborhood and walked down the road a ways.  After two houses and two bends in the road, we came across the washed out culvert.

It was a big deal.

Road Washout

Deep view of washout

It also apparently became a neighborhood novelty.  In addition to the small crowd on the other side of the break (we waved at each other and shouted messages of good will across the gap), a regular stream of people showed up between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. to view the EVENT.

Road Washout

Width and Depth View of Washout

No-one in the town is more grateful for the timing of the wash-out than our family – we can time the washout to somewhere between 5:35 a.m. and 8:00 a.m.  Why?  Mark drove over that very spot at 5:35 a.m. on his way to work.

Have a great day!


The Art of Absent-Mindedness

Good morning Everyone!

It is well-known at my household that I have a gift for being absent-minded.  My family is resigned to the fact that I will forget the dinner choice they made in the den after I walk the ten feet or less it takes to reach the kitchen and have to ask again.  Kayla, when she leaves the house to catch the bus, makes sure that she locks the front door to the house so I won’t forget. while Mark is very patient when he asks me for something from the kitchen, I leave, go in there, putter around for a while and then return to the den without his original item. Kayla knows when the two of us are riding around to do something to speak up when I am about to pass the original destination, having already forgotten what that was.

Yesterday, I reached what must be the  pinnacle of absent-mindedness for any mom –  I forgot to pick up Kayla!  She has been riding to and from school on the bus, but on Thursdays I pick her up from the house and take her to art, then pick her up from art at the end of my workday.

Yesterday, although I knew I had to pick Kayla up from art when I left the office, I had forgotten by the time I reached the driveway of our house.  I remembered Kayla just as I pulled up into the driveway, so I immediately left and returned to art to get Kayla.

I called our art teacher, Bonnie, to let her know what I had done and that I was immediately turning around to pick up Kayla.  Bonnie is always a very good sport about things and I was so amused at myself I told her what had happened  When I picked up Kaya, she was outside Bonnie’s The Cottage Gallery, waiting for me with that gleeful l look all children get when their parents manage to mess up on something.

After we got home, Mark told Kayla not to worry; he’d always send me back to get her – we would never want to do that to Ms. Bonnie!

Have a great day!





Through the Donut Hole

Good morning Everyone!

Sinclairs, Lake Martin, Kowaliga

Sinclairs at Lake Martin, from the Sinclair’s website

My mother was visiting us last weekend and while Mom was here we decided to drive over to a restaurant that is on the banks of Lake Martin, Sinclairs on the Lake.  We sat down to a beautiful waterfront view, and an excellent meal, but before the meal arrived, Mark and Kayla completed their ritual walk along the boat pier that lets boats dock right by the restaurant.  While they were doing so, a little black and white cocker spaniel streaked by them, bound and determined to get into the restaurant, having just seen her master go through the door.

Cocker Spaniel

A black and white cocker spaniel similar to the one we saw.

Mark helped to catch her, and inside the restaurant, Mom and I watched the cocker spaniel being brought back to the boat to await her owner, struggling against the leash all the way.

Shadow, Dog


It reminded me of an experience we had with our first dog, Shadow.  Even though she was half cocker, half lab, Shadow detested the water.  However, paradoxically, she loved to ride in the boat.  Her favorite speed was wake speed; she would sit in the front of the boat then and enjoy watching the world go by.  Whenever we went faster, my appearance was required in the front of the boat to hold her as we sped through the water.  When she decided that Mark was going too fast, or the ride was too bumpy, she would jump out of my arms and walk back to where Mark was driving, and stare at him.

Bayliner bowrider boat

A new model Bayliner similar to what we owned back in the day from

She was the smartest dog we ever owned, hands down, although Tyra comes close.  Once, she was too smart for her own good.

We had taken Mark’s sister, brother-in-law and our nephews, out in the boat, found a likely spot on the lake and anchored the boat where we could play and swim in the water.  One of the toys we were using was a huge inner tube.

Inner Tube

Inner Tube Similar to the One We Owned

We left Shadow in the boat because we knew how much she hated the water.  She sat on the front of the boat, watching us, and we went ahead with our water sport.  Before we  could turn back around, a black streak came flying off of the boat, ringing the inner tube in the center and slipping right through it.

It was at that moment that I learned that dogs could cuss.

Apparently, Shadow had eyed the inner tube carefully, and not realizing the hole in the center was floorless, had decided that she could jump onto the inner tube to be nearer to us as we were playing without getting wet.

She came up from under the inner tube swimming (it’s not that she couldn’t swim; she just hated the water) and mad as a hornet, blaming us for her misadventure.  She did deign, however, to let Mark help her back into the boat as she scrabbled up its fiberglass sides, desperate to get out of the hated water.

All was forgiven, of course, once we all got back in the boat and headed back to the dock.

Dog in Boat

Shadow riding at wake speed.

Have a great day everyone!


Rules I Never Thought I’d Need – The Extended Cut

Good morning everyone!

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!  Back in March, some of you found this blog when I published a post called “Rules I Never Thought I’d Need” but some of you joined me afterwards.  Since March, I’ve been able to add a few more to the list, so I am republishing the list with my additions.  I hope you enjoy it as much as you did the first time!

Just for grins and giggles, I am going to go in reverse order.

1) Do not squirt the ink out of a ballpoint pen in the bathroom and mix it with water in order to make ink “like Harry Potter uses.”  (Age 10).

2) Do not lose control of the ballpoint pen and ink during the squirting process, spraying black ink all over the bathroom.  (Age 10).

3) If you do spray black ink all over the bathroom, do not fail to call in reinforcements immediately.  (Age 10).

4) Do not bring lady bugs, worms, crickets, roly-poly’s, moths, butterflies, lizards or any other type of insect or reptile  into the house as pets.  (Ages 5-10 and counting.)

5) Mom is the spider killing expert, but roaches need to be handled by Dad.

6)  When your mother who is recovering from surgery tells you she has to take a nap, gives you the run of the house and the back yard with the sole restriction being do not go out the front door until she is awake, do not lock the dogs in the back yard, and play with your friends for two hours with the front door open, you on the inside side of the door and your friends on the outside side of the door.  (Age 10).

7) Do not jam your elbow into a plastic hurricane glass until it gets stuck in an effort to keep the infinitesimal scratch on your elbow from getting wet in the bath and stinging.  (Age 9).

8 )  Do not feed paper to the dogs as a treat.  At least two of the three are dumb enough to believe you.  (Age 10).

9)  Soap is required for a bath to really be a bath.  (Age 5).

10)  Do not wash your hair with conditioner only.  (Age 8 through 9).

11) It’s not a good idea to fill the bathroom sink with Dixie cups and then fill it with water.  (Age  6 but she had help from a visiting 4-year-old.)

12)   Do not dump the entire bottle of shampoo in the tub to use as bubble bath.  (Ages 6 through 8).

13) Do not dump the entire bottle of liquid soap from the sink in the tub to use as bubble bath.   (Ages 6 through 8).

14) Do not dump the entire bottle of conditioner in the tub for reasons I have yet to understand.   (Ages 6 through 8).

15)  Do not drag a dog into the bathtub with you.   (Age 6).

16) The controls on the dashboard in the car,  including the radio, are MINE!  Please leave them alone.  (Ages 4 to 10 and counting).

17)  Do not try to pierce your ears with the end of a paper clip, even if it looks like an earring hole is there.  (Age 6 and 7).

18)  Do not cook eggs on the stove without a parent’s presence and permission.   (About age 7:  this one is harder to justify because the one time that she did cook the eggs by herself, she did a good job and remembered to turn the stove off, which is more than I do sometimes!)

19) Do not cut the screen out of its frame in the window.  (Age 5).

20)  Do not put anything in your ear, including rocks, without consulting an adult first.  (Age 4.)

21) Do not put anything in your nose, including wooden sticks, without consulting an adult first.   (Age 4)

22) Which led to:  Do not put anything in any body part for any reason unless a parent says it is okay, with the exception of food or drink in your mouth.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Building a Web Site – It Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Good Morning Everyone!

Picture by Torsten Bolten, on Wikimedia Commons.

As you may recall from last week, I am starting a weekly post on basic football rules – the posts publish on Friday.  My ultimate goal is to have this weekly post on its own blog, and in a fit of overconfidence, I decided I would try to build the web page myself through  I have not gotten very far along with the experience, but I have learned two things:

1) My excellent vocabulary does me no good when it comes to the terms necessary to build a blog site.

2) I have no clue what I am doing.

From Print Shop Professional 2.0

The first step seemed easy enough – I had to pick a web host for my blog.  I went to, they had several listed and I picked the first one.  The registration process went smoothly, my new domain name ( was registered, my account was verified and then I started trying to download the software.

From Print Shop Professional 2.0

That’s when everything came to a screeching halt.  There is a very annoying thing called a FTP.  After several tries to guess what that meant (Failure to Prepare, Files to Press, Fast Top Press), I finally googled the term to find out that it means “File Transfer Protocol.”  I gained a vague understanding that this has something to do with transferring information from one location to another, but that is about all I have learned.  To install the WordPress software onto the website I want to use, I have to tell it something about my FTP, and I apparently am not giving it the answer it is looking for.  When I go to the place where I am supposed to be able to find the answer it is looking for, it gives me the information I am placing into the WordPress software already!  If you think arguing with one computer is hard, trying arguing with three!  I have censored several swear words throughout this process.

From Print Shop Professional 2.0

Then two days ago it occurred to me that the National Football League might object to the title “The NFL Novice” under some kind of trademark law.  I have spent some more time reading through the trademark papers, and even sending an e-mail to the licensing people at the NFL to try to find an answer, but no luck.  Of the many uses the acronym “NFL” is trademarked for, almost none of them fit the category of what I want to do, except for this one phrase about electronic dissemination of information to third persons for some purpose ( I can’t remember the exact phrasing; it is the purpose that is iffy – I may or may not be trying to do that, if I could ever figure out exactly what they mean.)  In the course of wading through that issue, I decided to be safe and picked out another name for my new blog “The Football Novice”, with locations at and  (Don’t bother to check the links; there’s nothing exciting there yet.)

So then, I went back to WordPress to try to get it installed on one of the three blogs, and went to the “How To” page, which told me that before I did anything, I needed something called a “Text Editor.”  At that point, last night, I decided to call it a day.  They had several listed on the page,but I hadn’t heard of any of them.

Please Help!

For now, I think I am going to go back to my trusty Kindle, where, gathering electronic dust for a couple of months now, resides “The Idiots Guide to Building A Blog.”  I think my efforts have now qualified me to start reading!

So, for at least the next couple of weeks, bear with the Football Friday posts here.  I will figure out how to do this, and have the new blog up and running some day!

Have a great day everyone!