Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Things I Couldn't Say"

Dear So and So...

You all seemed to enjoy it last week, so here's another batch of letters I'd like to send....all about "Things I Couldn't Say!"

Dear Publishing Companies,

You must think readers are incredibly dumb!  In the last year or so, we are seeing an enormous increase in the numbers of those "tweener" paperback books.  You know what I mean, they are larger than a paperback, but smaller than a hardcover and they still have a flexible cover and....aha!....they cost more than a standard paperback, to the tune of $4-5 more!!  Surprise!!  They are not significantly lighter than a paperback, they don't necessarily have better paper, or larger print, or bonus features, or anything of value to the reader and purchaser of the book.   It is just a means of increasing profits.  So do you think we can't figure that out???  Sheeesh!   We all know publishing is having hard times these days, but don't try to trick us into helping you out of your bleak financial situation!  Especially when our financial situations aren't much better!

Not-as-dumb-as-you-think Mel

Dear Health Insurance Companies,

I have many, many concerns about healthcare in this country, not the least of which is the responsibility borne by insurance companies for the mess.  Nevertheless, when someone goes to the Emergency Room, spends two hours there, to learn that the problem is NOT the horrible medical condition you dreaded, and when a bill over $3,000 is the result, it is REALLY, REALLY wonderful to discover that the "Patient's portion" is $-0-!  Thank you, Aetna!


Dear Drivers,

As part of my on-going campaign to wake up the oblivious drivers of this country, I would like to point out, yet again, that when there is a very heavy rain coming down and there is road spray, big puddles, not much light, and you are driving a grey or dark colored are very nearly invisible to other drivers unless you have TURNED ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS!!  Maybe you don't care that I can't see you behind me, but I sure care!!   If I have to stop quickly and don't know that you're there, it can lead to disaster.   Honestly, you don't have the control you think you do when there is water all over the road!!

Totally Ticked-Off Mel

Dear Summer,

Just wanted to send you a short thank you!  You have been very well-behaved this year.  The majority of the past 3 months, the temperatures have been pretty bearable, there haven't been any weather extremes in the way of rain, wind, dryness.  The moderate weather has lead to a banner year for flowers of all sorts!  I've seen things bloom this year that I never saw before.  Wildflowers were incredible, flowering trees were gorgeous, unusual blossoms were everywhere.  Except for the fact that it was a banner year for bugs too, this was a perfect least for me.  I'll be really sorry to see you go.

Your biggest fan, Mel

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"All the World's a Stage" Story #2

I am not overly fond of working with large numbers young children in shows.  They are very energetic, often without much supervision, and sometimes they just can be totally out of control.  They are usually good once they hit the stage, but off stage they're a trial.  Perhaps its different with "professional" shows, but in community theater (my bailiwick) that's how it is.  There are a few musicals that I've done that are good shows for adults but they have a fair number of kids, e.g.,  "Oliver", "Annie", and "The Sound of Music".  Despite my preference not to work with kids, I have been in each of those shows.  The kids are intrinsic to the story, so you either deal with them or you don't do the show.  Simple!

But every now and then there is an experience with a child that doesn't quite fit the mold.  I was doing "The Sound of Music", playing the role of the Frau Schultz (the housekeeper), she  is only in the 2nd act so I just hung out back stage for the 1st act.

Captain Von Trapp's children range from 16 years old down to about 6.   The role of the youngest child was being played by a darling little red-haired girl, slightly small for her age, who had never been on stage before.  She was a real cutie, had a nice little voice, and learned her lines and blocking fairly easily.  She was the kind of child that would make the audience say "awww" as soon as she walked on stage. 

Opening night arrived and all the kids were excited but didn't appear to be particularly nervous, including the little red-head.  She entered on her cue, remembered her lines and her blocking, and was fully engaged in the scene.  The first song the kids were involved in is "My Favorite Things",  which Maria sings to the children to distract them from a thunderstorm outside.

The scene takes place in Maria's bedroom, with the kids seated around and on the bed.  The little red-head was to sit cross-legged on the floor next to the bed, which she did, listening to Maria sing.  When the song was over, kids were supposed to jump up and exit to stage right, which they did....except for the little red-haired girl.  She just sat there.  Maria had a bit of business to do before the stage went dark for the next scene, but the kids were supposed to be gone.  The stage manager in the wings and the little one's mother were desperately trying to get her to come off the stage, but she just shook her head and sat there.  No one could figure out what was going on and the director was beginning to panic.

We were extremely fortunate that "Maria" was not only a seasoned performer, she was a kindergarten teacher in her real life, so an extra little girl on stage didn't throw her very much.  Keeping totally in character, she went over and knelt down next to the little redhead.  We could see they were having a whispered conversation, and we could see tears rolling down the little one's cheeks.  After a bit, Maria scooped her up in her arms, the little girl laid her head on Maria's shoulder as Maria carried her off.  The scene went to black. 

Maria set her down off stage, the little girl ran to her mother and they disappeared toward the dressing room with the director.  It was time for a scene change on stage, so the working blue lights came up, giving off just enough light for everyone to see the big wet spot on stage.  You could hear the audience murmuring sympathetically. 

Oh no, the poor little thing!  She had an accident on stage and didn't know what to do about it.  But, from a theatrical point of view, she hit it dead on!  She kept in character, she tried to keep anyone from knowing, and she tried to do what was best for the show!

Of course, it was an enormous topic of conversation back stage, but there wasn't a mother among us, whose heart didn't break just a little bit for the little cutie.  We were afraid that she wouldn't be willing to go back on stage after that.  That kind of thing could scar a kid for life!  But we underestimated her, that little cutie was a trouper!  She went back on that night and every performance thereafter through the whole run. 

However, before every performance from then on, the little redhead went around back stage and told absolutely everyone, sometimes more than once, from Maria to the leads, to the chorus to the stage hands and even to the musicians, "I'm fine, I've gone to the bathroom!"

I don't know if she did anymore shows, but I think she probably did.  But I can guarantee you that she hits the bathroom just before the start of absolutely every show she ever does for the rest of her life!

Live theater!  Isn't it great?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"All the World's a Stage"

I haven't written very much about acting, directing, and all things theatrical.  This is mainly because I am still hurting from my last experience.  (All theater people are weird in one way or another.  Don't let anyone ever tell you differently!)  Nevertheless, I have a wonderful avocation that I have enjoyed (mostly) for more than 30 years.  Since I'm not doing theater right now and I am seriously missing it, the very least I can do is write about it!  "All the World's a Stage" is a true statement, but the stage is also a world of its own.

Just to kind of prove both to you and to myself that I have had great experiences in "show business" and I want to share some of my stories.  I hope you can bear it!  Rather than getting into my whole history in theater (I have been involved with more than 40 shows!), I'll just start with a definite highlight.  I'll tell you about the best complement I ever received in theater.

About two years ago, I was thrilled to be cast as Ethel in "On Golden Pond".  Most everyone saw that movie; if you did, then you might remember that Ethel is the role played by Katherine Hepburn.   It was a great movie and the play is even better.

A Quick Synopsis:    "On Golden Pond" by Ernest Thompson
The plot focuses on aging couple Ethel and Norman Thayer, who spend each summer at their cottage on a lake in Maine, called Golden Pond.  During the summer the story takes place, they are visited by estranged daughter, Chelsea with her new fiancĂ© and his son, Billy.   At Chelsea's request Billy remains with Norman and Ethel for the summer.  The play explores the often turbulent relationship the young woman shared with her father growing up, the development of a loving relationship between Norman and Billy, Ethel's realization of  the gradual decline in both Norman's physical and mental condition, and the difficulties faced by a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage.  It is a sweet, funny, honest, and very poignant look at what could very well be a family like yours. 
The quality of the cast was very good.  Norman, Chelsea, and Billy were played by very talented and capable actors, whom I respected and enjoyed.

Ethel is deliciously complex role, a real challenge for an actor.*  It was one of the most difficult and emotional roles I have ever played.  The emotional range that she goes through is quite broad  and I loved exploring all of her facets and making her into a real person that the audience could believe.

The audiences were appreciative and attentive.  Over all it was terrific.

On the last night there was a woman in a wheelchair in the first row.  She was about 20 years older than I (which puts her around 75-80).  She and her daughter were very faithful season ticket holders, so I had seen them at the theater frequently over the years, but didn't really know them.  In fact, I never even knew their names.  After the performance that night, as the actors greeted the audience in the lobby as usual, the two women came over to me.  The daughter complimented the show and the performances and we chatted for a moment.  Her mother didn't say very much but she agreed with all the nice things her daughter was saying.  As they were about to move away, the mother took my hand gently in hers.  She pulled me a bit closer and I bent down to be able to hear her better.  I could see there were tears in her eyes.  She squeezed my hand and said softly, "You got it exactly right."

That one short phrase was the best thing anyone ever said to me about any performance in my long history.  It still chokes me up, but, oh, it gives me such joy.  That's what acting is all about.

Sooo, there's my first story about theater.  Would you be interested in hearing a few more??

*Just FYI, I consider both men and women "actors".  The word "actress" is useful only to clarify gender when necessary.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Things I Couldn't Say"

Dear So and So...

Trying something new today!  An opportunity to write all about "Things I Couldn't Say! 

Dear Magazine Editors,

If you in any way gear your content and focus to "mature" men and/or women, please be aware that small, colored print, especially on a dark background, is almost impossible to see when one's eyes are more than 60 years old!  I have even seen such designs in the AARP Magazine!  They should definitely know better!  If you want me to read an article, don't hide it in an "arty" design.  I can't read what I can't see.

Thank you,


Dear Bloggers,

See above!!  The same goes for blogs.  Dark backgrounds and small print are difficult to read.....Be kind to the older set!  Please don't make it such a struggle to read your beautiful blogs!

Thank you,


Dear Favorite Authors,

Write faster please!   It's hard waiting for your next book for so long!   :)

Thank you,

Ever faithful Mel

Dear Drivers,

Just for fun, let's all re-read the "Rules of the Road" again.  I'll bet you don't remember them nearly as well as you think you do!!

Thank you,

One close call too many

To Whomever is "In Charge" of such things,

Bullying kids are not good.  That's one behavior that has absolutely no redeeming value at all.  As we start of another school year, can't you please, give parents and teachers the magic words that will make this behavior disappear from the world forever.  Enough damage has been done! 

Thank you,

Mel -- On behalf of all kids, and parents, and teachers everywhere

So what do you think?  Is it  a keeper?  I'm still trying to figure out the "linking" part, but in the meantime feel free to send someone a Dear So and So about  the things YOU couldn't say!

"Bits and Pieces" (ad infinitum)

Just a little bit of this and tiny piece of that....

***  The Big Guy is doing OK.  The facial drooping has gotten a bit better, although he says it doesn't feel any better or different.  The thing that appears to be the most bothersome is the eye watering.  The doctor warned him that the eye probably would not close properly and to watch out for dryness.  Well, his problem is certainly not dryness.  His eye is almost constantly watering.  He has taken to wearing a gauze pad held in place by an eye patch which helps a lot.  It is a bit like living with a pirate though!   Arrrggh, Matey!

*** The other thing that happened on Wednesday was that M-t-G got her first set of braces.  She anticipated only getting the top set (to make room for her canines which have no where to go), but ended up with a full set.  The first few days have been pretty painful while she eating.  There is a huge list of things she can't eat, and it encompasses many of her favorite things -- nuts, corn on the cob, popcorn, gummy anything, and so on.  She informed her mother and I Wednesday evening after dinner, "This is not making me happy!"  Well, nope, I guess it wouldn't.  Don't worry, honey, it will only be for a year or 18 months"  Cold comfort, I guess!

***  Last year from the end of May to September we had almost constant HOT (over 100F) weather, which got to be really uncomfortable and made just about everyone cranky.  This year we didn't hit 100F until August, which is an improvement.  Nevertheless, it has been over 100F again for the last 2 1/2 weeks.  OK, we're done now.  That's enough!!

***  M-t-G is experiencing some anxiety over going back to school this year.  Not only do we have the addition of braces (never easy on kids), but the poor kid has to go to a whole different school because of the School Board's decision to re-draw the school boundaries.   Arrrr!   Most of her friends will remain at the old school.  She met her new teacher yesterday and I hear that meeting went well.  School starts Monday, so we shall see. 

***  Ratchlet informed me that "Jersey Boys" (about The Four Seasons) is running for the next 3 weekends.  She will secure some good seats and put them on hold for one of the Friday nights, so I'll pay for them when I get there, but will have better seats than the "hoi polloi".  She can't get free tickets of course, but she can get good seats....I'll take it!  As the Associate Director for the theater she has a little pull, not much, but enough!  Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing the show!  In fact, I'm already humming,  ".....big girls don't cry, big girls don't...."

***  Had dinner with our 2 best girls tonight at dessert heaven, The Cheesecake Factory!  Being the non-dessert person in the family, I only had one bite of the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake the Big Guy, M-t-G, and Ratchlet shared (they serve enormous pieces!)  They were all in 7th Heaven, particularly M-t-G.  I thought it was too rich and too sweet!  Heresy in my family!!

***  I'm continuing to run out of new things to read.  I haven't had a chance to go to the library this week, so I'm reduced to re-reading some of the books that I have.  Several folks have urged me to get a Kindle, which gives you access to hundreds of books almost instantly.  Considering how quickly I go through books, it would make a lot of sense, but I'm resistant.  I love books and somehow reading electronic versions just doesn't seem like it could possibly be the same!  Besides, I'm cheap!  I wish I knew someone who has one that I could borrow for a couple of days.  So far, no luck in that quarter.  Maybe I can squeeze in a side trip to the library tomorrow.  That would hold me for another couple of weeks!

***   I have an addictive personality.  I'm not at all tempted by alcohol or illegal drugs, but after my experience during my one trip to Las Vegas, it is clear that I could become addicted to gambling very easily.  Hence, my "one trip to Las Vegas"!!  So actually, my only addictions are smoking and Pepsi!  I drank nothing but Pepsi and Pepsi Free for years!  I was notorious for always having Pepsi in my travel bottle!  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Midnight snack....didn't matter, Pepsi was my drink of choice.  Well, this past year, for whatever reason I don't know, I have drastically reduced my Pepsi intake.  Now you might think that is good news.   Well, not as much as it could be.  You see, I've just replaced Pepsi with iced tea!  That's all I order in restaurants and since I found that I can purchase pre-made, unsweetened tea by the gallon (wheee!), I am pretty sure I have slipped over into a tea addiction.   I can go through a couple of gallons in a week!  Like I said, addicted!   I sure wish I could become addicted to something positive for a change, like saving money, or cleaning, or the like.  I'm pretty darn sure that won't ever happen.  I'm too busy enjoying blogging, FaceBook, and Iced Tea!

Okay, that's enough random thoughts for tonight....besides it's time for more tea!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Oh, What a Night"

It was not quite 11:30 pm last night when I got THE CALL that every wife dreads.  "My boss is taking me to the hospital.  I've got sagging on the right side of my face."  His voice was unsteady and he sounded scared to death.  He started to explain that he didn't feel bad but....I interrupted.  "You can tell me at the hospital.  Go, get off the phone and go.  I'll meet you in  the Emergency Room." 

Oh my God!  There's only one thing that means, Stroke!   Or at least a TIA (Trans Ischemic Attack -- sort of a pre-stroke warning.)  

You know that saying "My heart jumped into my throat?"  Well, that's what it felt like.  My pulse skyrocketed, I got that immediate adrenelin rush, and my stomach got instantly tense and a bit queasy.  But I didn't panic.

I did, however, keep thinking along the lines of:  "Mikey, my hubby??  With his 163 cholesterol, and his 130/65 BP??  Stroke?  Mikey doesn't get sick!  These things just don't happen to him.  He even still has all his original teeth, for heaven's sake!"

I made a quick inventory -- dressed, shoes, sweater, purse, keys.  Nothing on the stove, nothing burning in the fireplace, nothing to turn off, grab cell phone, grab cigarettes, start car, plug in phone, back out, close the garage door.  GO!  All done by rote, while my mind was off into "what if" land. 

As I was driving (the hospital is about 10 miles from here) I debated if I should call Ratchlet now, or wait til I knew something.  She was probably already sleeping.  Debated for all of about  6 six seconds.  Call Ratchlet.  She'd never forgive me if I didn't!  Besides, she's always been able to keep me calm.  She is always rock steady in a crisis.  I don't exactly fall apart, but my voice gets shrill and demanding, and I turn into a bitch... aahh, witch... rather sarcastic and nasty old woman.  Sadly, I don't even realize it and she can usually bring back to an acceptable level of behavior.  I called.

Me:  "Hi honey,  Is T.A. home yet?  (He sometimes works late.)
She:  "Yes.  Why?  What's wrong?"
Me:   "I just got a call from Daddy and his boss is driving him to the hospital because he has some sagging on one side of his face...."
She:    "I'm on my way.  Which hospital"
Me:  Seton NW
She   "I'll meet you in the ER.  I love you.  Bye"

30 seconds tops!  That's my daughter!

I got to the ER without mishap, even found a parking spot nearby, went in and saw David (the boss).  We talked for just a moment and I agreed to call him when we knew anything.  I was allowed into the triage area, where Mikey was still talking to the triage nurse, who was doing vital signs and getting a history.

Except for his B/P, which was somewhat elevated, all of his vitals were normal.  Huh?  No fever, pulse ok, heart sounds normal, no slurred speech, alert and lucid, no pain, no discomfort, no weakness, no dizzyness, nothing unusual except
when he turned to look at me, I could see that the right side of his face was seriously sagging, he could only show expression on one side of his face.  His smile was really weird and his mouth got all wonky (another medical term) when he talked.  He said everything else felt fine.  Double huh?

 I'll spare you the excrutiating details, but suffice to say he had blood work, EKG, was hooked up to monitors (which showed dropping B/P, a good thing) and normal everything else.  The doctor was there to examine him in about 15 minutes of his walking in the door.  Rachlet arrived just in time to hear what the doctor had to say.  He said it looked like it was something called "Bell's Palsy" which is usually caused by a virus which causing swelling in the facial nerve and can cause temporary facial paralysis. It is treated with an antiviral med and steroids.  It is not at all life-threatening and takes about 10 days to clear up.  He was sending Mikey for a CAT scan to confirm the diagnosis and which he expected would show no signs of stroke.   He was a fast talker and was pretty bare bones with explanations.

Not acceptable to my darling daughter, who, I swear,  knows as much about medicine as any 2nd yr. med student and will not be satisfied until she knows everything there is to know about a medical problem affecting someone she loves.  She called T.A. and had him look up Bell's Palsy on the Internet while she was talking to him and then she repeated everything he read to us.  The upshot of which was just about what the doctor said!  But reassuring nonetheless!  During this, the nurse administered a steroid injection, which had an almost immediate positive result.  The extent of the sagging lessened a fair amount.

Great feelings of relief all around, the knot in my stomach went away and it felt like I could actually breathe again. 

By the time the doctor left the "room", the attendant was there to take Mikey for the CAT Scan.  Rachlet and I settled in to wait, sure that he would be gone a good long time.  I wanted to go outside for a cigarette, so I asked about how long she thought it would be till he was back.  She told us about 10 minutes!!  We came back at about 8 minutes and he was already back!!

Now that the crisis was pretty much over, things began to sink in.  At that point, we had been there for a bit over an hour.  He had all of his tests, most of the results, been examined, given a preliminary diagnosis, received his first dose of meds and been for a CAT scan and was back to the ER all in about and hour and 15 minutes.  Whoa!  That's never the norm in an ER experience I've ever seen!  Hospitals generally don't move that quickly.  But this one did.  Amazing.

We waited 20 minutes for the results of the Cat scan and blood work, all of which came back as guessed it,  NORMAL!   The doctor came back, confirmed the diagnosis, described the treatment in a bit more detail, told us what to look for, asked if we had any questions.  Mikey had been fretting about going to get his car and some work thing he had to do, so I asked, just be sure, if he should drive and go to work the next day.  Yep, all systems were go!  He could resume regular activity right away.  Oooo-kay.  (I think the Big Guy bribed him to say that, but I can't prove it!  lol!) 

Doctor left, Nurse came back with prescriptions, and to remove the monitoring equipment.  And that was that.  We walked out of the E. R. entrance at 1:35 a.m., just 5 minutes over 2 hours from the time I got his initial call.  I don't know about your E.R., but this one was awesome!  In and out in 2 hours.  It may just be a record! 

We all said our goodnights in the parking lot, Ratchlet drove Mikey to his car, on her way home, and I went home.  Of course, we are all relieved and grateful, but not truly surprised, like I said Mikey doesn't get sick!

But, "Oh, What a Night!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"

I love quizzes. (Now that I am out of school....waaaay out of school!)  I'm forever taking magazine surveys, playing trivia-based  games, filling out questionnaires.  I don't quite know why, but I guess it might be a sort of a "Know Thyself" kind of thing.  Anyway I have a hard time passing them up. 

And that is why today I am once again completing one of those all-about-me  questionnaires I stumbled across at another blog. 

Thanks, Julie!
"47 And Starting Over"

I'm sorry to be so self-indulgent, but perhaps this is the survey that will reveal all!  (All what I have no idea!)  If its too self-indulgent for you, I won't be too ticked off ...ummm.... offended if you choose not to put yourselves through it.  By the way, this one really has some unusual questions, you might want to try it yourself!  Here we go....

Finish the Sentence.  I Dare You!

The Names I Answer to:    Mom, Grammy, Bunk (don't ask), Windy, Big Sis, Hey You in a pinch!

I've never been:  Off American soil (I don't get out much, I guess.)

I hate it when:   I'm so angry that I start to cry.  It weakens anything I try to say!

The one person who can drive me nuts is:   There used to be several people that I knew in one or another work environment.  Now that I'm retired, I don't have to deal with any of them anymore!  Of course, the Big Guy, is always able to make me nuts, but he's my husband, so that doesn't count!   Most of the time.

When I'm nervous:   My stomach hurts.

The last song I listened to was:  "SOS" from Mama Mia.  Love that song!

If I were to get married today:      The Big Guy would be very surprised!  

My hair is:   Not as pretty as it used to be.  I like blonde a whole lot more than grey.

When I was 5:    I was a skinny, sickly little kid who was sick more often than I was well.

Last Christmas: Was probably the last time Santa Claus will visit.  M-t-G is 9 now, and believing in Santa is most likely a thing of the past.  That makes me very sad.
 I should be: Doing any number of things other than blogging.  But this is more fun!

When I look down:   I realize I need a pedicure....desperately!

The happiest recent event was:   Finding out from the doctor that the little bump on M-t-G's leg is nothing, but a little bump (which is a medical term for a calcified hair follicle).  Given Maddie's health history, Ratchlet is a very vigilant mom!  Thank Goodness!

My current annoyance is:    All the summer flying critters (crickets, dragon flies, june bugs) who keep trying to take up residence in my garage!

I have a hard time understanding:  Prejudice of any sort.  When I was little, I played with a little African-American girl on a bus trip my Mom and I took.  She was a little girl just like me.   From that day forward, I never did understand how anyone could support prejudice and bigotry.  

The thing I want to buy is:   A Kindle....I think, maybe, not sure yet!
 If you visited the place I'm from:   You'd have to visit at least three different towns.  We move a lot when I was a kid.  Each of those 3 towns is "home" in a different way.

Most recent thing I've bought myself:   A $3 clearance book from Big Lots. 

Most recent thing someone else bought me was:   The Big Guy bought me this cute cordless carpet sweeper thingie.  I only hinted once!

My middle name is:   One of the crosses I bear.

Last night I was:   Reading  "Agnes and the Hitman".  Jointly authored by Jennifer Cruisie and Bob Mayer....funny, funny book!  Highly recommend it.

If I was an animal I'd be:   A sloth, I fear.

Tomorrow I am:   On call as possible moral support for M-t-G.  She's getting her first braces.    :(

Tonight I am:   Going to continue re-reading (for at least the 6th time) "To Kill a Mockingbird"  Remarkable book. (Like that's a news flash!!  lol!)

Well, there that's done.  Did I reveal all?  Probably not.
As the song says, "I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden."  So you're stuck with parts of just plain, old me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"There's a Kind of Hush"

From my driveway, I can see 12 houses (including mine).    I was just outside to warm up a bit (Mikey's home, the thermostat is set to his comfort level!), and I realized that of the 12 houses, 10 of them are completely lights at all.   "There's a Kind of a Hush" around the neighborhood that you get after everyone has settled in for the night.  It is quiet, peaceful, yet just a little bit spooky!

Why spooky, you might ask.  Well, it's Saturday, in the middle of August, just shy of 10:00 p.m. and everybody has gone to bed, including the Big Guy!  10:00 p.m., folks, on a Saturday and nobody is up except me and one other night owl!  I'm pretty sure he'll (the guy on the far corner) pack it in soon too.

That's ridiculous!  I may not have much of a social life, but gee whiz!  I haven't gone to bed by 10:00 since I was 11 years old!!  Mikey's had a hard week and he was worn out, but this is fairly unusual for him.

All this quiet makes me want to run up and down the street ringing a bell telling these folks that life's too short to spend so much time sleeping.  There are places to go, things to do, people to see, why aren't they out there doing it?? 

Actually, I do know the answer to that question.  In a word....children!  There are an enormous number of families with small children in this area.  Little children that go to bed early and then get up at the crack of dawn, necessitating that mom and dad follow suit in order to survive.  So here I am on Saturday night with no one to play with and nothing to do, except blog, all by myself.

I guess for most of those families, that "kind of hush" is nirvana, of sorts.  But it's kind of creepy for someone who hasn't had a small child living at home for 30+ years....maybe this isn't the neighborhood for me!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Who Will Buy?"

I don't know how anyone is actually a successful realtor these days.  I mean, seriously, what with the crummy housing market, less than steady economic picture, and the uncertainty of the mortgage and banking industry, is there anyone out there "Who Will Buy?"  And if they do buy  (or lease), will they actually use a realtor to help them?  Not in our experience!

A few years ago the Big Guy went to realtor school for months, passed the exam, got his license, paid all the myriad fees (including all of the ANNUAL ones)  and hooked up with a broker and was all prepared and ready to help people find their dream house!
In light of all the obstacles listed above, lack of buyers is not the biggest problem with being a realtor who actually is paid for the work done.  No, the biggest problem is the potential "client" who will contact a realtor about buying, selling, or leasing a property.  The agent will then get all sorts of valuable information, find possible properties, take the client to see those properties, find other properties, keep in touch for as long as it takes, work with other agents, prepare forms and paperwork, and receive and make lots of phone calls, and field lots of requests for more information.  In other words the realtor will work his butt off trying to find the client exactly the home he/she wants.  And then, poof, the client disappears, stops returning phone calls, and ultimately wastes the realtor's time completely.   No client, no sale, no lease, no commission, no income, no joke!!!

I suppose that this is a bit overstated but it happens more often than you would believe!   People seem to think nothing of requesting all sorts of help from realtors and then leaves them hanging.  Do people not understand that real estate is the realtor's BUSINESS?  Do they not know that all that time that the realtor spends trying to help a client is UNPAID WORK unless a sale is made?  Are they willing to work at their own job without pay???  Why do they expect it of realtors???

It takes HOURS and HOURS to look up property information, print out comparisons, pricing information, trade phone calls, and try to match clients to their dream home.  Hours that result in nothing for the realtor who puts it all together. 

I understand that frequently it is difficult to find exactly the right home.  I also know that the realtor will continue to do his best to find that home for as long as the client is willing! 

But it is with the general understanding that when the deal is closed, the realtor is entitled by law, to be paid a percentage of the purchase price.  This is only fair.  This is the realtor's job.  This is what they do to earn a living (or at least supplement their income).  They don't do it just out of the goodness of their hearts!
They are people who have lives and needs just like everyone else. 

It is MORALLY WRONG to take advantage of all this "free" work that realtors do and then negotiate your own deal or work through another agent to actually make the deal....just walking away and leaving the orginal realtor who had done so much for the client, high and dry and uncompensated. 

Real estate law is very structured and realtors have no other option for how to work with clients and certainly, no way to guarantee any compensation for the preliminary and upfront work done.  A realtor doesn't get a dime unless and until the deal is closed!  Not one! 

This is a personal rant, because it happened again this week with TWO different clients.  I am not the realtor.  I don't represent the Realtor community.  I don't represent the Big Guy.   I am NOT speaking for anyone else.  I am willing to consider the other side of the story.  Nevertheless, in good faith, Mikey works very hard to help folks and yet, it frequently ends up being a big waste of his time.  That is just not right!

It makes me so darned mad!  Arrrgghhh!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"She's Not Just a Pretty Face"

Maddie-the-great is a pretty wonderful kid....everybody says so!  Not just her Grammy (that's me).  She was a beautiful baby, once she grew out of that early preemie thing.  At first, she was so fragile, and that's all we could focus on  But once she was beyond that time, the first thing you saw about her was how pretty she was.   She has a smile that can light up a room and she is very photogenic.... even her school pictures turn out beautifully.  Nobody ever looks good in a school photo!  Except our girl!

The fact that she is so pretty is not what strikes people the most about M-t-G.  Some of the things that she says just about knock us out.  She is a natural wit and has a great vocabulary....that combo makes her into one of the funniest kids I know.  It's not usually intentional, especially early on.  To wit:

Going back a few years to the time she was about 4 or so, the whole family had gone to one of the big malls to do some shopping.  While walking from one store to another we came upon a container asking for donations for some worthy charity or another.  It was about 3.5 feet high and round.  There was a sign over the top about the charity and the top was closed except for a round hole in the middle.  But it wasn't just a flat top.  Nope this one was shaped like an inverted cone, wide at the top and narrowing down to the hole that was about 2 in. in diameter.  The real attraction was that you started the coin at the top at the widest point, where it would spiral around and down to the bottom before dropping in. 

I doubt there is a kid alive that can resist dropping money into a slot!  And this kid was just as interested as every other kid.  As I recall, she very nicely asked for a coin she could drop in, which she proceeded to do.  She stood there watching as the coin went round and round, faster and faster.  We all stood there waiting for the coin to drop in so we could be on our way.  Down and down it went and finally dropped into the hole. 

As we started on our way, little M-t-G, turned to us and said, "It's like a toilet for coins!"  We, of course, laughed.  She, of course, got mad!  (Like I said, unintentional natural wit.)

Another example, fast forward about three years.  M-t-G decided she wanted to learn to play the violin.  So after serious discussions about practicing and commitment, mom and dad agreed.  She was really excited because she has always LOVED music!  And so she began.  I never really thought about the sequence of how one goes about learning how to play the violin.  We learned, however, that you start with the notes and the corresponding string and hand/finger placement and so on.  The first few lessons the notes are just plucked, almost like a guitar.  A necessary step when you think about it.

After the first 3 or 4 lessons, she still had not touched the bow.  I happened to be along with them when Maddie finally was allowed to pick up the bow and begin learning how to make the bow find the notes the way her fingers did.  She actually played her very first song, the ever popular, "Twinkle, Twinkle"!  That
day, after her lesson, as we were leaving, M-t-G was walking a fair distance ahead of Ratchlet and I as we came down the stairs.  As she turned the corner, we heard her say softly, "NOW I am a violinist!"  We didn't laugh until she was out the door.  We had learned our lesson!

And then there was Halloween when she was 7.  She wanted to be the Trojan Horse!!  Honest!  They had to really work at talking her out of it!!

There are other examples of delightful things she has said, the funniest of which I have already posted here: as part of the series on how M-t-G became a cancer survivor.  If you haven't read these postings, please do.  It's the story of two miracles.

I can't remember exactly how old she was when she told me some obscure fact about planets.  I asked her, "How do you KNOW these things??"  She looked me straight in the eye and she said matter-of-factly, "Well, Grammy, I'm just ...(pause)....very smart!"

Oh no,  "She's Not Just a Pretty Face".  Not by a long shot! 

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Getting to Know You"

I just finished reading all about Colleen at where she posted this "Getting to Know You" quiz.  It was fun, so I decided to  play along.

If you want to play too, do the "copy , paste, and replace" thing to your blog..and tell us all about YOU..from A to Z!

And thanks for sharing Colleen!


A- My AIR CONDITIONER is set on:  At least 3 degrees warmer than when the Big Guy is home.

B- My BEDROOM theme is:  I guess you could say it's kind of a shabby chic....with a lot more shabby than chic!

C- The CAR in the driveway is:  I don't have a car in the driveway!  Our Homeowners Association bans parking your car in your driveway after sunset!  Yeah!  We couldn't believe it when we found out.  But they'll fine you big bucks (like $200) if you do it and get caught!  
D- My DESK looks:   Fairly neat, as long as the roll-top is rolled-down!!

E- The EXACT time I wake up daily is:  The moment I realize that I have to....uhhhmmm... "use the facilities".

F- The FIRST thing I wash in the shower is:  My face!  I learned that lesson from Joey Tribiani on "Friends"!   Remember??
G- My GARAGE is filled with:  Who knows all belongs to the Big Guy who can never find anything in there.

H- My HOUSE is:  Nice enough, but it's not my dream house!

I- If you peeked INSIDE my bedroom you'd see:   Books, lots and lots of books, acres of books!

J- My favorite JUICE is:  The juice made from the leaf of the tea plant.  (Give it a minute, you'll get it.)

K- The best part of my KITCHEN is:   Kitchen, kitchen....I know I have one around here somewhere.

L- The LAST person who visited my home was:  The guy dropping off the bill for yard work.

M- The last piece of MAIL for me was:  An offer for Cancer Insurance.  EWWW!  How ghoulish.

N- My NEIGHBORS think I'm:  Invisible.  They must, none of them ever talk  to me.

O- If you OPENED my fridge you'd see:   Fridge, fridge....Isn't that something kept in a kitchen?

P- My last house PARTY was:  Well, the last time the house got dressed up was Christmas. 

Q- A QUICK meal I like to fix is:   Aren't you listening?  In order to fix a meal you have to have a ......what's that word again?   Oh yeah, a kitchen!  I haven't seen mine lately.

R- My favorite ROOM of the house is: The library/den/computer room.  I practically live in here.

S- The SHAMPOO brand I use is:   Pink.

T- My largest TELEVISION is:  A waste of space.  It belongs to you know who...I don't even know how to turn it on.

U- UNDER my bed you will find:  What the heck are you doing under my bed???

V- The last time I VACUUMED was:  I think it was during the Carter Administration.  That is what husbands are for.

W- Looking out my WINDOW I see:  A whole lot of green....bushes might be a tad overgrown.

X- I wish I had X-TRA:  Money....a lot of extra money!  I get really tired of juggling ....Uh, I mean....struggling with the bills!

Y- My YARD is:  Occasional home to an itinerant bunny!

Z- ZZZZZZZ My bedtime is:  Whenever I finish the book!!   Ain't retirement great??!

OK, it's your turn!  You know what to do....

Quick Question....

Ratchlet told me that she is running into difficulty in trying to leave a comment.  Is anyone else having difficulty?  If so, please let me know via this email account:   I'll do my best to figure out why!



Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Hooray for Hollywood"

I've always loved the "old" movies.  You know the kind....made before 1970, maybe even black and white,  movies without blood, gore, non-graphic, sweet, simple, or funny....sometimes even a musical!  (Oh no, horrors!)

In its heyday, Hollywood made a gazillion of  'em.  Some are still considered among the best movies ever made.  But whether or not considered great by anyone else, there are several from that classic film era that I consider my favorites.  The reasons they are favorites vary all over the place and usually have nothing to do with the things that film critics look for.  It's not the technique, or the artistry, or the symbolism, or any of the other buzzwords, film snobs use.  Nope.  For me its all about films that pull an emotional reaction from me every time I see them.  They can be funny, or romantic, or touchingly sad...but something about them "speaks" to me.  I can see (and have seen) them over and over again to the point where the dialogue is so familiar I can say most of the lines right along with the actors!  These are the ones that make me say "Hooray for Hollywood"!

That is not to say, of course, that there are no films made after 1970 that I have enjoyed and could watch again.  It's just that there are fewer of them.

Would you care to know what those films are?  Well, I'm going to tell you anyway!  The list is in chronological order, except for the last two, which are  simply the best of the best!

15.   "It Happened One Night" ~~ Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, 1934 comedy.  One of the very first and best of the romantic comedies.  Gable doing comedy, priceless.  A classic!

14.   "The Philadelphia Story" ~~ Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, 1935 comedy.  Three great actors in their prime and perfectly cast.  (Interestingly enough, both of these films revolve around an enormously wealthy young woman's wedding day.)

13.  "12 O'Clock High" ~~ Gregory Peck, Dean Jagger, 1949 drama.  WWII  film about aircrews in the United States Army's Eighth Air Force who flew daylight bombing missions against Nazi Germany and occupied France during the early days of American involvement in World War II.  Jagger won an Oscar, Peck should have!

12.  "We're No Angels"  ~~  Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray,  Peter Ustinov.  1955 Christmas Film.   Perhaps my favorite Christmas movie,  with 3 very unlikely "heroes".  A delight!

11.  12 Angry Men" ~~ Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Ed Begley. 1957 Courtroom drama.  Another classic.  Magnificent performances by all, especially Cobb and Begley.

10.   "Auntie Mame" ~~  Rosalind Russell.  1958 Comedy.  Funny film, chock-full of memorable characters and unforgettable lines, the most famous of which is probably "Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

9.   "Some Like It Hot" ~~  Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon.  1959 comedy.   Directed by Billy Wilder.  Wonderful!  Monroe is sexy, Curtis is gorgeous, and Lemmon is at his frenetic best!
8.   "McClintock" ~~  John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara.  1963 Western (!)   Classic tongue-in-cheek cowboy movie with two actors who were great together.  You could practically see the "sparks" flying between them.

7.  "Come Blow Your Horn" ~~  Frank Sinatra, Molly Picon, Lee J. Cobb. 1963 Neil Simon comedy.  Worth seeing for Molly Picon's performance alone, much less Lee J. Cobb in a comedic role. 

6.   "Father Goose" ~~  Cary Grant, John Mills, Leslie Caron.  1964 Comedy/drama.  Another film about WWII, but one of the most quirky love stories ever.  It also has my favorite line of all time.  "Married!?!  Goody-Two-Shoes and the Filthy Beast??"

5.   "Dirty Dancing" ~~  Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey,  Jerry Orbach.  1987 Love story.  What is not to love??  Music, dancing, and Swayze??  Be still my heart!

4.    "Ghost" ~~  Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg.  1990 Love Story.  Oh my, just about everything in this film is the best it could be.  Makes me cry and laugh and has the sexiest love scene ever!

3.  "The Birdcage"  ~~  Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, 1996 Comedy.  I have never laughed as much as I do with this film.  Williams and Lane are just inspired as two aging gay lovers, with Gene Hackman perfect as the hypocritical, bigoted Senator.  Funniest film ever, bar none. 

And now.....(big drum roll, please).....the creme de la creme:

2.   "The Trouble with Angels" ~~  Hayley Mills, Rosalind Russell.  1966 Comedy.  This one has a lot of personal meaning to us.  We saw it when I was pregnant and chose one of the character names for our  newborn daughter.  Ratchlet and I have watched this film at least 50 times together.  There are some parallels to her life that strike a cord in both of us.  Know the dialogue to this one and still laugh when we see it.  Mills and Russell are outstanding and perfect.  This one is my top two favorite movies of all time.

1.   "Two for the Road"  ~~ Audrey Hepburn, Albert Finney.  1967 Love Story/Comedy.  The perfect movie in my opinion.  It is the best story of marriage ever filmed.  Just the best ever! 

If there are any of these that you haven't ever seen, do yourself a favor and watch them very soon.   I can't guarantee you'll love them like I do, but you just might!  After you've seen them, I pretty sure you'll understand why they make me say, "Hooray for Hollywood"!!

Isn't it a shame that Hollywood can't get it right every time??

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Bits and Pieces" (ad infinitum)

Just a little of this and a little of that....

*** I love these warm summer evenings.  Unfortunately, sitting on the deck to enjoy them is not an option for a little while, because there are two enormous wasps nests under the overhang.   I just discovered them last night.  Mikey sprayed them this morning, but I won't take a chance sitting out there until they are well and truly gone.  Shouldn't take more than a day or two.

***  I have way too many days that go by when I don't actually speak to anyone except for Mikey and whatever restaurant/store staff I encounter.  Alone doesn't automatically mean lonely, but some days its just too quiet!

***  I went to Marie Callendar's yesterday to return to pie plates and get the deposit back.  Most of the restaurants around have raised their prices; not too outrageously, but enough for a meal to cost $3-4 more than had been the case.  It's understandable.  They run into a lot of increased costs from their suppliers.  I get that.  However, in the case of Marie Callendar's, that puts a single meal for one up over $20 (after the tip).  I like Marie Callendar's well enough, but it is not fine dining by any means, so that $22-23 tab for just me really is pricey, so I haven't been going there as often lately.

But as long as I was there with the pie plates, I went ahead and had lunch.  While I  was eating, the hostess who seated me came over and held out a business card and asked if I might be interested in having one.  The card was labeled
"Senior Class Discount".  They were discounting the cost of the meal for people over 55 by 25% if you presented one of these cards!  25%!  That's enough to negate the price increases and returns my total bill into a more affordable range!  So I took one!   And it doesn't expire until 12/2011!  The only drawback is that it says on the card that it's only valid at this location.  Well, that's okay, this is the one I go to anyway!  Still, if you have one close by and eat there occasionally, it would be worth asking about that location too, don't you think?  Good luck!!!

Now if they would just put their Beef Stroganoff back on the menu!

***  One day last week I decided to go to my favorite shoe store and get some cute summer sandals.  Oh, silly me!  Nada!  Zip!  Bupkis!  There was practically nothing on the shelves.  They were preparing to put out their winter August....when it is 102F. outside! 

I do this every flippin' year and I never remember that you need to buy summer things in March.  And it makes me mad all over again, every year!   I don't know what that approach is called, but it really annoys me.  Every clothing and shoe store in the country does the same thing too.  It works well for the store; I guess, but I don't want to buy sandals in March!  It's still COLD in March.  I'm still thinking in terms of knee socks and corduroy jeans and heavy sweaters in March.  Nevertheless, the retailers have decreed that August is just too late to buy anything summery!  So I guess I'll make do with last year's sandals and try again next year.  Pooh!

***  My cousin, Kim, posted this on FaceBook.
"President Obama announced his plan to remove all combat troops from Iraq by the end of August. So thank you to all the men and women serving in Iraq and “Good luck in Afghanistan!”
I don't mean to be flip, but I suppose this could happen and that makes me sad.  :(

DISCLAIMER:  The above item is a piece of military satirical humor and is in no way intended as a statement of fact!  Sorry that wasn't clear.

***  She also posted this, 
"YES!!! I knew it!!! The world will not end in 2012 - I just found a bottle of ketchup that expires in 2013..."
I don't know about you, but I'll certainly be sleeping better knowing that!!  :)

***  Oh I almost forgot!  The bunny came calling again today!  I haven't seen him for a couple of weeks and I was pretty sure he had moved to a different neighborhood!  But either I was just missing him or he had gone away but came back for a nibble on our grass (and I use the term loosely!)  Either way he's still cute as a button and it was nice to see him.

So in the words of the inimitable Walter Cronkite, "And that's the way it is on Wednesday, August 4th".

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"School Days"

Many of you already know about Shell's "Things I Can't Say" blog. She writes about her family, her kids, certain...uhhn, "types" of moms, a wide variety of other topics of her choice. She does giveaways and contests and participates in a bunch of different memes. She is funny, informative, caring. She is what I consider sort of the penultimate blogger!

Her button is here to take you right to her page if you've never been there. You should go, she's one of the best.

Anyway, the reason I am promoting her site today is that my post, which will follow in a minute, was directly "inspired" by Shell's post today. She does product evaluations from time to time and today, in preparation for "Back to School", she was doing one about backpacks for kids. 

And that reminded me of one of my very favorite photos of Maddie-the-Great.

It so happens that this photo is already downloaded to my computer and with a minimum of fuss I was able to find it. So I thought I'd share.

There she is our Miss Maddie at about age 3 (give or take a little) with her very first back pack! Obviously, this wasn't for real "School Days" yet. But she did like to take a bunch of things with her to day care. (You just never know when you might need a few books or an extra "lovey" or two!) She wanted to be like the big kids!

But first she needed to figure out the balance thing! There is a definite lean to her posture! In fact, she looks like she's just about to topple right over. Of course, she did figure it out, didn't topple at all, and she used that backpack until it was just too small to fit, but this first time photo captures the happy moment perfectly!

There might be a lot of kids with better balance, but I seriously doubt there is a cuter backpacker anywhere!!

Ya' gotta love this kid!

"I'm Looking for Someone to Love"

No, not like that!!  (Sheesh! Some people!!)  I just need some new authors to read. 

You see, I love to read (I'm sure I've mentioned that before!).  I also read very quickly, especially if it's a new book from one of my favorite authors!  I have learned over the years to at least TRY to ration the amount that I permit myself to read of a brand new book I just purchased, otherwise I have been known to finish a book on the same day I start it!  That's very frustrating and annoying!  Especially back before the bottom fell out of publishing (you know, back when we were willing to spend $25 or $30 for a hardcover book.)  It has happened more than once that a favorite writer will not complete or release a new book more than once a year.  If I then read it in a couple of days....well, that's a long time to wait for the next one to come along!  I'm working on the problem, but it's hard to change something like that.

The second thing that's a problem for me is that when I find an author I really enjoy, I will then proceed to read everything every written by that person.  Sooner or later I've read all of their published work, some more than once, and I am stuck waiting till the next time they publish.  And there is no way to speed them up!

Anyway I have gone through a number of authors through the years and I am in the market for some new writers to try.  Well at least new to me!  I try to expand my horizons by getting books from the library so I can reduce my expenses and maybe find new favorites.  That hasn't happened lately.  For some reason, I haven't found anyone new in a while.  All I've been doing is realizing that I've already read half of the books I check out!  So I'm asking for your help.  "I'm Looking for Someone (New) to Love."  Would you share your favorite writers with me? 

Just to give us a fighting chance for some success here, I listed below some of the writers that I already love and have read everything they've done:

Robert Ludlum
Michael Crichton
Tom Clancy
Dan Brown
Ken Follett

General Fiction:
Nelson DeMille
Leon Uris
Greg Iles
John J. Nance
John Grisham
James Michener

Dick Francis
Agatha Christie
Susan Wittig Albert
J.A. Jance

Womens' Fiction/Romance:
Nora Roberts
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Sandra Brown
J. A. Krentz
Marian Keyes
Dorothea Benton Frank
Emilie Richards
Jennifer Cruisie
Anne Rivers Siddons
Robyn Carr
Susan Wiggs
Barbara Delinsky
Debbie Macomber
Kristen Hannah

Science Fiction:
David Brin
Robert Heinlein
Isaac Asimov

There are, of course, others; but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment.   Who do you love?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"The Uninvited Guest"

There are people who like all living creatures and others who are more selective about what creatures are tolerable and which are not!

I like most of the popular mammals....dogs, elephants, giraffes, people, gorillas, whales, dolphins, and so on.  They are generally fun or interesting to watch and/or get to know about.   I've known a number of dogs up close and personal and I've been known to spend extended periods of time at various zoos across the country watching the pandas or gorillas.  Mammals can be fascinating. 

There are exceptions of course.  Rodents are the spawn of the devil and MUST be destroyed!  As soon as possible would be fine!  That's not so unusual.  Most people don't care for the beady-eyed little critters.

I'm more ambivalent about birds, but I can admire much about them....their colorful plumage, their ability to fly, how cute they can be trying to find things to use in their nests, their songs.  I don't particularly care for some of their personal hygiene habits, however!!   (Once you've actually been pooped on, trust me, it changes you!!) 

For the most part insects are fairly tolerable and I can chase down inside spiders or lady bugs who visit and return them to their natural habitat.  I can spray wasps nests or ant hills or "bomb" a house to eliminate any roach species known to man!  Outside, insects and I have an agreement, I pretty much leave them alone and they leave me alone.  And that's just fine with both of us.  I'm not fanatical about bugs, the sight of one inside the house doesn't cause hysteria in me.  I can deal with it, and frequently do!

I don't like swimming in lakes very much because you frequently end up sharing the water with slippery,  slithery creatures with gills, who want to nibble on my ankles for some reason.  I don't swim well enough to feel comfortable actually swimming in deep ocean water.  So I've never been snorkling, or scuba diving to where it is deep enough to see the salt water fish.  That's what aquariums are for and there are a lot of wonderful ones all across the country where you can see the amazing variety up close without having to get your hair wet!

That leaves the reptiles....snakes and lizards.   ((....SHUDDERING....))  I reeeaaally can't stand reptiles of any sort.  I am 150% positive that the dinosaurs were large overgrown prehistoric reptiles, no matter what the "experts" theorize!  I am just sorry that whatever wiped out the dinosaurs, didn't take all the reptiles and lizards in one fell swoop (or one swell foop, depending on your mood!) 

I know that they have an important role in the food chain and the ecology and all that, but I just want them to take care of that role somewhere very far from Antarctica! 

So where have I spent about 1/3 of my life??  In warm climates like Florida, Central California, and Texas!! 

 Florida didn't seem particularly over populated by reptiles.  There were supposedly a large number of snakes that lived in damp, swampy places, but I never saw one.  The only lizards I remember seeing were chameleons.  They were kind of cute in a way and they did tricks for our amusement!!  (Really!  What other creature do you know of that can change color at will?)  Of course, their palette was kind of limited, green or brown being the only choices, but it was still interesting to watch it happen.  They were usually no more than 4 or 5 in. long.  and they stayed outside with the plants where they belonged.

Although the reptile population of California was supposedly widespread they were by and large, pretty shy and I don't remember any personal encounters with either snakes or lizards.  So it was kind of a non-issue.

But now we live in Texas.  Oh my, my, reptiles LOVE Texas.  I've seen a few snakes, one notably on my back deck!! But he slithered away and I ran in the other direction, to our mutual satisfaction.

So what is left that makes me absolutely cross-eyed with discomfort?  In a word,  Geckos!!  Horrible, ugly, creepy Geckos.  They are everywhere!  On the plants, in the grass, on the buildings, by the pools, and if you are not enormously the house!!   EEEEKK!  God, I hate them.  They are very nearly transparent and you can see their inside structure anytime they are near a light source.  They are incredibly fast when you get close.  They skitter at about the speed of light, to a spot possibly 2.7 feet away and come to a stop, where they stay until you move again, sending them another 2.7 feet away.  They don't move in straight lines!  Each spurt of movement can be in different directions, impossible to predict or catch!  And they are smaller than chameleons!  They are harder to see, being this sort of eerie, transparent flesh-tone!  Sometimes its not till they move that you are sure of what it is!

The adults come into the garage, leave whatever it is that turns into baby Geckos and leave again.  The little icky things are about 1.5-2 in. long and they can get in the smallest little spaces.  And once they're in, they stay in!   Ugh!! 

Texans will tell you that Geckos are good luck!  They even put statues of the creepy critters in their houses as decorations to bring them luck!   Oh, icky, icky!

The Big Guy tells me that they are more scared of me than I am of them!  HA!  If they're so scared, why the hell don't they move more than 2.7 feet at a time???  The idea of one crawling over me while I sleep, practically makes me break out in hives! 

To be totally honest, we don't usually get one in the house, mostly they stay in the garage or on the back deck (must be a reptile resort or something!)  But tonight, one has moved in.  Oh Goody, we have "An Uninvited Guest"!  It is hiding under the big chair in the corner of the living room.  When I asked the Big Guy to DO SOMETHING!  He said, "You got any ideas??"

Oh yeah, I've got an idea, you bet I've got an idea!!  "You can go...." but the Big Guy tells me that is physically impossible!

So, can I come stay at your house??  I promise I won't bring "an uninvited guest" with me!

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