Friday, April 22, 2011

research for me - out of time

"We walked all the way up to where the dam was. We knew by then that it could not have been just a cofferdam. When we got there, it was massive, a huge, towering thing that had the whole left side out of it where it had broken through. Strangely enough, to the right of that dam was a house. Absolutely untouched. You could look from the dam across the hollow and see where the water had hit the other side of the mountain. The water came out of there and went WHUMP! And then it careened from side to side all the way down. It was absolute devastation, just like taking a dozer and scraping the land clear for 5 miles or so.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On Tossing the Bouquet

My friends and I always considered the tradition of tossing the bouquet to be a bit demeaning. That was one perk of getting married at the age of 20. I wan't expected to mix with a gaggle of crazed women diving for a bouquet so they would be the next to marry!

In fact my close friends and I always kind of congregated in the back and watch the village idiots scramble for the bouquet!

One time my friend, Sami, and I were talking at the back of the pack. We weren't paying the slightest attention to the tossing of the bouquet. We were participating because we didn't want to hurt our friend, Kristi's, feelings.

All of a sudden the bouquet slammed into Sami's chest! If I didn't know better I would say Kristie aimed with perfect precision and hurled a line drive right at her! Sami looked at me crestfallen and pasted a fake smile on her face! She couldn't hurt Kristie's feeling. I was doubled over laughing at her prediciament!

Kristie hugged Sami and congratulated her on catching her bouquet. Sami immediately had a brilliant idea. She formally presented Kristie with her bouquet saying that she knew it would hold treasured memories for her for the rest of her life. At first Kristie wasn't sure if she should accept. We both assured her that "it was meant to be."

I was glad that it was "her" and not "me".

I was married 2 years later.

Sami waited until she was in her early 30's to marry.

tail beaters

There are 2 common injuries to tails in the greyhound business. The first are the tail beaters. Tail beaters are dogs that are so happy they never stop wagging their tails. Even though most crates are about 3 foot deep by 3 foot tall and 32 inches wide this is not enough room for a fullsized greyhound to constantly wag it's tail. Consequently they beat the end off their tails which can make their tail sore and blood starts to splatter everywhere!

No, the cure isn't to beat the dog until he is miserable and won't wag his tail anymore! (that's a joke by the way) The cure is to wrap the end of the tail in cotton and tape so that the dog's tail look a little like a lion's tail. This works fine unless it is a dog that doesn't want a big ball of cotton taped to the end of his tail - then you have a problem because they chew it off.

Then you try to muzzle the dog but nobody want's to keep a muzzle on a dog for 24 hours a day - that is a miserable way to live. If worse comes to worse I have seen people amputate the tail. After scar tissue forms it doesn't become an open wound as easily. You can't cut the tail off because it is like a rudder when the dog is racing and helps them hold the turns at 45 mph!

Then there are dogs that accidentally hit the rail with their tails. I have never figured out how they do that but they do. These dogs come off the track with about the last 3 inches or so of their tail dangling by a nerve usually. If it is a clean cut then you can snip it with scissors and apply antibiotic ointment and cotton and tape. If you keep it clean it will heal in a week to 10 days.

Sometimes they just cut it and you have to go to the vet to amputate it between the vertebrae. A minor surgery but surgery nonetheless. Still only a week to 10 days to heal.

Describe your first day at school ( from It'spamelagain)

I don't know if this was my first day but I know it was close to it. We were in our reading circle and the teacher had put me in first group which meant I knew how to read. Mrs. Stollings was her name.

I was sitting there wondering who told her I could read and thinking that I didn't know how to read and panicking because it was almost my turn. Then my turn came and what do you know, I read my sentence perfectly. I could read! I just didn't know I could read!

The book was one of those Jane and Flip and Betty books. I was so proud of myself.

I should have known I could read. According to my mom I had my own rocking chair and magazine rack full of my books from the time I could walk and talk. Every time we would go to the store she let each of us pick out a toy or candy. She said that my choice was ALWAYS a book.

By the time I was in the 6th. grade I had a huge bookshelf in my bedroom that went from floor to ceiling. By the time I graduated from high school it was full of my books that were cataloged in alphabetical order - just like the library. I had read 98% of them in addition to books from the library and borrowed books from friends.

I was a voracious reader

Tragedy in the Land of the Squirrels

Last week there was a huge storm that swept though Charleston. A very huge tree was blown over next door. It was one of the squirrel trees. I was amazed to see that the entire inside of that massive tree was hollow - no wonder it blew over. I always thought squirrels just lived in a little hole in the tree. I didn't know they could bore out the whole durn tree!

Today I observed one of the squirrels has a broken foot. I couldn't figure out how it happened until I remembered that his whole house had toppled over last week.

There is also another squirrel who is missing about 2/3's of it's tail. It looks like it was scraped off with about 2 inches of bone and nerve exposed at the chopped off end! I have been trying to figure out that injury for a couple of weeks now - until today.

I watched the woman who walks her golden retriever past us everyday turn him loose to chase one of our unsuspecting varmints today! From the looks of that poor squirrels tail I would say the dog actually chomped down on his tail and scraped it to the bone when the squirrel jettisoned up the tree. Right now I hate that woman!

The Story of Mr. Big

Mr. Big was a greyhound.

He was not very fast but he had the perfect disposition to be a pet.

I found Mr. Big a home.

Mr. Big's best friend at that home was a rabbit.

It's no wonder he couldn't race!

It was not what I had intended

I might as well group my sad bunny stories together

One time I had a couple of rabbits. They were happy little rabbits that lived in a hutch. The hutch was in the middle of my yard where my greyhounds would loaf. Those two arch enemies of the bunnies had become used to them and ignored them whenever I put them outside. Sometimes I would let the bunnies out of the hutch to loaf and play in the yard and eat a little fresh grass. It was a good life for all.

One morning before the dawn of a new day I let my greyhounds out to do their morning business. They had been out for less than a minute when I heard a terrifying squeal and I raced outside knowing what I would find - a dead bunny. Apparently in the middle of the night one of the rabbits had chewed his way through the wood of his house and was giving himself a lovely turnout in the yard. Unfortunately I didn't know about it until it was too late.

I was quite distressed by the turn of events and I decided to give the other bunny away - house and all - to a good home. I wanted to keep him safe from any potential accidents. I knew just who I wanted to have my baby too. There was a little boy down the street that spent quite a lot of time outside my pen admiring either my dogs or my rabbits; he didn't particularly care which was out - he liked them all.

When I saw him later in the day I asked him if he wanted the rabbit. He was thrilled. I told him to go home and ask his mom. If she said yes he could have the rabbit, the cage, food, straw and other assorted rabbit accouterments. It was a happy day for all when she said yes.

Two days later I saw the boy. I asked him how the rabbit was. Sadly he told me it was dead. When I asked what happened he said his pitbull ripped apart the cage and killed it. In my grief I had neglected to find out if he had any other pets. I assured the child that it was my fault and not his - and it was. I KNEW to ask these kinds of questions when finding homes for animals and I neglected to do so.

I can't imagine the terror that poor bunny felt as that dog ripped apart it's happy home and proceeded to kill it. At least what happened at my house had been over in a second and the rabbit never knew what hit it.

What a sad, terrible story. They can't all be good you know.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I had a pet ferret ONCE

I brought it home. Someone had given me the ferret, cage and food for free. I was cleaning the cage and Bobby decided to hold the ferret for me. He reached into the cage and that ferret latched onto his finger and wouldn't let go. Bobby actually held the ferret in the air dangling from his finger.

I couldn't believer my eyes. I would have been jumping and screaming and shaking my hand to get rid of that varmit. Bobby calmly disengaged the thing and put it in it's cage. He told me to get rid of it.

I gave it back to the people the next day.

Virginia - a sad, sad bunny story

One time my mom and dad came home from a car auction with a huge white rabbit for my brother. He named her Virginia because that is where they bought her. Virginia was pregnant. He looked forward to her babies and had a wonderful nest for them but she miscarried or something.

Billy doted on Virginia and took loving care of her. He barely allowed Rhonda and I to even pet her. He kept her in a box in the garage at night and he converted our large doglot into a rabbit pen with everything a bunny could ever want in it.

Every year there was a rabies clinic in our hometown and we would take our pets and get their vaccinations. We took Virginia with us that year and the vet gave her the shots she needed. Billy held her the whole time so none of the dogs or cats could get to her. When she got her shots she kicked very hard and Billy almost couldn't hold her but he managed to not drop her. He was about 12 by the way.

We took her home and put her in her pen. Billy kept caring for her and after about 3 days he came to my mom and told her something was wrong with Virginia. He said she couldn't move. Mommy went to check on her and found her back to be broken. (mom was an RN) She talked to the vet on the phone and he said it was possible that Virginia had kicked so hard that she had broken her back.

She told Billy there was nothing they could do for her and let him say his goodbyes to his beloved Virginia. She took Billy in the house and made arrangements for our neighbor, JD, to humanely end Virginia's life. Somehow JD let Virginia loose and she ended up under his boat which was on a trailer in his yard. He couldn't get to her so he was using a boat paddle to try to scoot her from underneath the boat.

Unfortunately Billy sneaked out of the house when my mom wasn't looking. He became hysterical because he thought JD was beating his rabbit to death with the oar. He was inconsolable. I think Virginia actually met her demise by being shot in the head but I am not sure about that part.

We all did everything we could to try to make Billy feel better over the next few days. My mom went and bought Billy a huge goldfish that he named Marvin. Marvin was beautiful. He lived for years. I can remember Billy and Mommy making emergency runs to the dime store to buy heaters and filters when they would break down.

They took no chances with anything going wrong with Marvin.

I Saw My First Beaver Last Night

Actually I saw 2 beavers.

Eddie and I went to Daniel Boone Park which is a little roadside park a couple of miles from our building. He was fishing and getting more bites than he has ever gotten. That made it a fun night in itself. The water was high from recent rains and we were watching BIG fish jump out all over the place.

Something kept stealing his bait and he hooked it twice and was screaming (hilariously) that it was a big one and both times his line got tangled and "the fish" got away. He was using doughballs for bait and I told him he basically had fed the fish a whole peanut butter sandwich.

Just as the sun set he poked me and said, "Look." I looked up to see a head swimming on top of the water in front of us. I was immediately excited because I am the wildlife observer of the two of us. I followed it on it's swim along the coastline of the river. It came out of the water at one point when I was still trying to identify it as either a beaver or an otter or a huge river rat. It was a beaver.

Then I looked over to see another one swim up and join it. They continued their trek along the bank and I followed them to a little cove on the other side of the pier at the other end of the park where they disappeared. As I was walking back one of them swam back to the brushpile it came from.

I told Eddie he had probably been hooking the beaver all evening. He insisted that beaver don't eat doughballs. I don't know.

I believe I will name them Paul and Louise after my great grandparents. Hopefully I will have some good stories to come about them.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our First Apartment

Our first apartment after we got married was over Smitty's Restaurant in downtown Logan, WV. It was a tiny place on the third floor and we had to climb 5 flights of stairs to get there. Bobby would pick me up from work at P.R.I.D.E. (a community action agency - the oldest one in the US actually) and we would head for the park.

We had cookouts practically everyday and usually he would have everything packed and ready to start or he would leave the food cooking with a friend while he went to pick me up. We had some massive parties in that park, full of good food and drink and horseshoes and trails.

We came to know every trail in the park -even the dreaded backbone trail that I got lost on one time before I met him. Since Bobby was a mountain man I didn't ever have to worry about being lost. While I could hike with the best of them for awhile he was in better shape than I (he ran distance runs) and he usually had to take it easy on me. He also taught me how to scout deer and other creatures and tried to teach me various trees and plants but I never did get into botany that much.

We hung out in the Fun Center (arcade). I was a Centipede Wizard and people would actually pay me to play so they could learn my tricks. There wasn't a machine in southern WV that didn't have my name in the top score postion. Sometimes the arcade owners would unplug the machine on me because I could play so long on one quarter. When I complained they would just refund the quarter and tell me to go home.

One day he called me at work and told me he found a puppy but he didn't take it home. I told him to get it and I would find it a home. I fell in love with that pup the second I saw it and there was no way I was going to give her away. We weren't allowed to have pets so we had to sneak her out in a pillowcase (past the old lady watchdog on the first floor) every day. She thought we sure did do a lot of laundry.

I remember the first time it got really cold after we got married my dad called. He wanted to know if I was warm. I assured him that I was. He would also call and ask, "Where you at?" My answer was, "where'd you call me at?" That was in the days before cell phones and he knew the exact spot the phone was sitting in that he called me at. I understood why he called though.

My mom gave us furniture and things to decorate the apartment with. I still have the porcelain Christmas Ornaments that she gave us for our first Christmas Tree. They are 28 years old now.

We were completely in love and took to calling each other "husband" and "wife". Like most newlyweds all we needed to be happy was each other. It was that way for the whole 13 years we were together before I left him.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"I can drive this road with my eyes closed"

We were on our way to my grandparent's house one day. There was a very sharp curve on the way at a place called Monitor. My dad made the statement that he had driven the road so many times that he could do it with his eyes close.

I decided to test that statement. Right in the middle of the curve I reached over the back seat and put both my hands over both his eyes. He slammed on the brakes! He yelled and expletive to God!

Fortunately he scared me so bad that I jumped back and he could see again almost immediately and he didn't lose control of the car! I was not a happy child when we got home that night.

Then there was the time I had done something to my little brother. I couldn't have been more than 6 years old. My mom was asking me how I could do such a thing and I remember taking the back of my wrist and putting it against my forehead (just like an actress in an old soap) and saying, "something came over me!"

I seem to remember sailing into a wall as well. I NEVER used that excuse again.

There are some lovely comments from one of my aunts in my picture section...

When you read the comments from dreggplant you will understand why I handle some of the situations that some of you find so appalling from my childhood with humor. I refuse to become bitter and old about things I had no control over.

She berates me for not facing my childhood. Here is a lovely memory of her when I was a kid.

I remember being in the center of a screaming, howling mob that she was the leader of because she was the oldest kid in the house and she was in charge. I remember being forced to fight my little brother and my sister and my youngest aunt and my youngest uncle because they wouldn't allow us to fight the bigger kids - that would be cruel you know.

If we didn't fight then we would be beaten by our loving older aunts and uncles so we had to fight. I learned to fight while listening to the cheers of my elders chanting what a great fighter I was. I could take a punch with the best of them when I was a pre teen and still come out and beat the living daylights out of any who dared to stand against me. Or should I phrase it properly as any who were FORCED to stand against me or risk a beating by my aunt and the others in charge.

Still I don't hold this against them or her. I recognize they were kids and they were mean because they didn't know any better.

I prefer to remember her allowing me and my aunt Robin to walk down the aisle behind her at her wedding holding the train of her wedding dress. This change was made at the last minute because I was too afraid to walk down the aisle in front of her with the rest of the wedding party and then I changed my mind at the last minute.

I remember the most beautifully wrapped Christmas presents from my aunt the doctor once she had made it. Even though we rarely saw her because she lived so far away.

I have chosen to forget all the other insults and trespasses from those who should know better.

Education does not teach compassion. I let her comments stand for themselves. Her comments are indicative of other comments by some of my aunts who have never for the most part had any part in my life and know nothing about me.

I have always said, "Ignorance is the best excuse".

The Power of the Easter Bunny

I was the Easter Bunny at the mall one year. It was one of the most fun jobs that I ever had. Everybody ought to be the bunny at least once. I don't even like kids and I had a ball. What I learned is that the Easter Bunny has as much power as a Rock Star!

One day I was waving to the kids and thumbing my nose and shaking my hiney and just generally making a fool of myself. I looked up into the balconies (there were 2 levels of the mall above me) to see that all the way around both levels above me as well as the entire plaza in front of me was full of kids pantomiming my every move! There were hundreds of them of all ages both big and small! The were mocking my every movement. I kept up my dance for a few minutes more and then I decided that I needed to quit because the kids were becoming so enthusiastic that I was afraid that somebody was going to fall over the railing.
So I gave them one last wave and sat down in my throne.
It was a great day.

50th Anniversary Party Worthy of A Lifetime Together

Last Saturday my great aunt and great uncle Patty and Gerald celebrated 50 years of marriage. They had an incredible party thrown by their children. It was truely a celebration worthy of their incredible life together and everyone had a magnificient time.

The party was given in the rotunda of the University of Charleston, site of the wedding celebration of their youngest daughter, Sarah. Both lifelong friends and family were in attendance.

The evening started with elegance and flair. It continued with heartfelt tributes and congratulations from all. It ended with a bang as a DJ played music from their teenage years that was both appropriate for the oldest people there to enjoy as well as the youngest. By the end of the evening even the waitstaff was dancing.

It was fun to watch them as the party got into full swing and they were quietly dancing at their posts trying to be discreet as a professional should. In the end they were dancing all over the floor as they performed their duties and enjoyed a dance with my aunt Patty who always wants EVERYONE around her to have a good time.

And they did.

Congrats to my cousins who gave the party of a lifetime to one in a million parents.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pam and Kathy Horsing Around

Pam and Kathy.JPG

Kathy and I were hired on the same day almost 11 years ago. We were fast friends. We compliment each other. She is calm and loves children while I am a little more "outgoing". (a nice way to say I'm a grouch!)

I call her my stable pony. For those of you who don't know what a stable pony is, I will tell you. When you have a horse in the stable that causes problems you get a calm, manageable pony to hang around with it and be friends. The pony has a calming influence on the problem horse. Kathy is my stable pony.

I am her enforcer. When I go in at night my first question is usually, "Who's the fearless leader tonight?" If they tell me Kathy then I have to delete the fearless part. (hehe) I have to step in and be the fearless part of the fearless leader.

Kathy is the world's greatest mawmaw. She has 6 grandchildren that are with her constantly and she can't wait for more. They are the center of her universe.

Kathy never does anything wrong. She told me the only time she ever skipped school was on senior skip day. I told her that didn't count. She told me it did count because she and a friend went to a party. There was drinking and pot and teenage mayhem. She left. Right after she left the party got busted.

She squeaked through that one and was so grateful she never did anything wild again.

Patty Ann the Mighty Snake Slayer

One time when Patty and Gerald and family were visiting us, my mom happened to look out the window and to see our cat playing with a snake. This sent Mommy and Patty into a tizzy! There was no way that a snake could ever be allowed to live in our backyard! Mom would yell out in terror every time the cat would swat at the snake and the snake would strike back at the cat. Patty was terrified but her mama bear instinct kicked in because she had to protect her children and her nieces and nephew.
The problem was that Daddy and Gerald were no where to be found. All of the kids were running around the yard yelling with glee at the prospect of killing a snake. Mommy and Patty wouldn't hear of allowing us anywhere near the vicinity of that tiny little serpent. We went next door but Wimpy wasn't home and it was usually his designated job to keep our yards snake free. However there was a telephone repairman who happened to be working up on the power pole down by Star Market.
When we asked him to kill the snake, he said, "no way, I'm terrified of snakes."
He did, however, come down and witness Patty, the great snake slayer, at her most mighty. She clutched the very tip of the hoe that we found for her and bravely slung the business end at the snake. She missed! She was terrified and she was holding that hoe so far down the shaft that she had no control over where it was landing. But she bravely swatted and cursed at that snake until she finally killed it. At least I think she killed it. The poor thing may have fled for it's life.
Patty was the hero that day, even the telephone repairman told her so. Once again our yards were safe for us to play.