Archive for the ‘Confessions’ Category

My Alter Ego and Me

November 17, 2010

(Junaluska reflections)

I have a confession.  I’ve had another blog.  Since June.  Not that it’s been completely hidden—it’s been in my Bloglist (Mr. Schwump Has His Say), but it’d be easy to pass over.  Just like Mr. Schwump himself. 

Not that I’ve posted on it much—only two posts since Benjamin broke his back—but I guess I just lost my spark for a while.   I’m still looking for that spark, but I’m happy to at least see the occasional small flicker. 

(The good news is that, thanks be to God, Benjamin is feeling better.  Thank you very much for your thoughts and prayers.)

Perhaps you’re asking, “Who’s this ‘Mr. Schwump’??” Well, I explain that in my first post on the other blog, if you’re curious. (If you’re a big fan like I am of The Andy Griffith Show, you might remember the humble Mr. Schwump.)   It’s worth clicking through, though, just to see the really cute possum we caught!  And the surly groundhog!  Not to mention the snakes…umm…entwined.

Maybe you’re wondering, too, “Why another blog?”  Well, I’m glad you asked.  I explain that, too, in the first post on Mister Schwump, but to make a long story short, here goes:

I can be awfully neurotic at times, especially when it comes to writing.  It got so that on Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl, I’d write a post, only to go into a sort of crazed obsessive/compulsive edit mode.  I couldn’t stop finding fault with what I’d written. But despite the fact I’d edit ’til the cows came home, I’d still not feel satisfied with what I’d written and would suffer terrible anxiety every time I published a post.  Stomach-churning, heart-pounding, hands-atremble anxiety. That’s not the reason I quit the blog, but it was a factor. 

But I found I missed writing.  So I started another blog.  I’m sorry not to have mentioned it.  I wanted to tell you—it felt strange not to—but I was afraid you’d naturally compare it to this one and find it lacking.  My alter ego Mr. Schwump doesn’t worry so much about “perfect” writing…and he doesn’t ramble on and on like I do. 🙂  He trusts that his story deserves to be told, whether anyone out there cares to read it or not.  Even if the writing is only average.  As it turned out, my most faithful readers were my sweet children, who know and love Mr. Schwump (or, at least, the Mr. Schwump in me).  And they were my only commenters (under…ahem…assumed names. Apparently, they have alter egos, too–ha,ha).

I did say “long story, short” so I guess I’d better get to the point:  I want to feel, like Mr. Schwump, that my story deserves to be told.  And I want to be able to write without that Nasty Critic in my head telling me that it has to be perfect to be worthwhile.  (Not to say that my posts were ever perfect—far from it—but I always felt like I had to try to make them so.)  So as of today, my alter ego, Mr. Schwump, will be ending his blog and will begin to write on Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl.  He’s going to teach me how to write freely and with joy again.  How to write without giving the Nasty Critic so much credence.  And in the spirit of writing freely, I’ll be writing even more honest and true than I have in the past.  Words flowing straight from my mind and heart to my key-tapping fingers.  No, the posts might not be as polished as my old ones (again, NOT saying that my posts were all that polished, but that I couldn’t stop trying to polish them).  You may even choose not to read them, though they will be shorter (I’m trying to learn to be more succinct, too) than my previous posts so will require less of a time commitment.

I’m hopeful that somehow in the process, I can come to believe, like Mr. Schwump, that my story is worth telling.  And that my life, however dull or ordinary it might be, is worthwhile.  My messy, imperfect, often boring life.  So what I’m saying here is that I’m sort of, more or less, reviving Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl.

Besides, y’all never took me seriously anyway when I said I was quitting, did you? 🙂

But my greatest hope, as always, is that even my most ordinary writing about my most ordinary life will resonate with someone. Or give them pleasure.  Or make them laugh. And that somehow, somewhere, someone will find truth in it. 

Because in the end, I reckon that’s about all that matters. 

(Autumn rainbow at my house)


Not The Things That Hide You

March 24, 2010

(My front-porch gnome)

I recently read an article (I don’t remember where) that mentioned that the phrase “working class” was falling out of favor. Apparently, some people find it offensive, though for the life of me, I can’t imagine why. I should think that all those other folks who aren’t included in the “working” class designation should be the ones offended since there seems to be an implication there that they don’t work. And, besides, I’d rather someone call me “working class” than “lower class” any day.

Yes, I’m one of those in the working class, and I suppose it’s fairly obvious that I’m not ashamed of that. With a blog name like Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl, it would be hard to pretend to be anything other than what I am. And, really, it’s those of us in the working class that keep the world humming along. I mean, how could we get along without our auto mechanics, our carpenters, our janitors? When I was a janitor, sometimes people would laugh when I told them that I took great pride in keeping all those toilets clean, but haven’t we all, at one time or another, been in a position to be deeply grateful for clean public toilets?

When I read about people fighting to keep affordable housing for the working class out of their neighborhood, I wince, realizing that they’re talking about me. It’s painful to know that someone finds the idea of having me as their neighbor offensive. What is it they’re afraid of?

Sure, I probably do bear out some of the stereotypes those folks might harbor about the working class. I like yard art—especially gnomes, flamingoes, and those little plastic birds with whirling wings. And I not only eat Tuna Helper and Chicken Helper, I LIKE them. Spam, too. And, yes, we do have a 28-year-old car in our yard, but it’s not up on concrete blocks. 🙂

(My other porch gnome–he keeps it swept for me.)

Really, I think it’s pretty likely that I have the same dreams for my children that wealthy folks have for theirs. And it’s also likely that if they could look beyond my image, they’d probably find that we have more in common than they’d imagine.

There’s no doubt, though, that there are differences. Four years ago, when Ariel was a high school senior, she was invited to Scholarship Day at UNC-Chapel Hill, which meant she was a finalist for a merit scholarship there. Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man went along with her, and they were both pretty wowed by the lavish treatment they received. It was high-falutin’ stuff for us country folks. Most memorable, though, to Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man was listening to the other parents at his table talk. They were having a lively conversation debating which place they preferred for their winter vacations—the Canadian Rockies or the French Alps. Now Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man can usually talk to anybody, but as someone for whom even a trip to Dollywood would strain the family budget, he found it a bit difficult to relate.

And even now, there are times when Ariel feels the divide between herself and her wealthy friends. It’s very hard for her friends who’ve never known privation to imagine how it feels, just as it’s hard for her to imagine how it feels to have your Daddy buy you a new Lexus SUV.

I guess the important thing for her (and us) to remember is to look beyond that Lexus, beyond the expensive clothes, beyond the talk of trips to Europe. The late Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood used to sing a song called“It’s You I Like” which I frequently sang to my children). It included the words “…it’s you I like…the way down deep inside you. Not the things that hide you…” I love that phrase “not the things that hide you.” Too often, we do judge someone by their outward image, by the things that hide the truth of who they are. And it goes both ways. It’s just as wrong for me to judge someone by their Lexus as it would be for them to judge me by the pink plastic flamingoes in my yard.

I am painfully aware of my prejudice against rich people. Just the other day, when I read about some celebrity hairdresser in New York City who charges five hundred bucks for a haircut, I felt my blood pressure rise in anger. Both for the greedy hairdresser and for the people who would pay that. And every Saturday, when I read our local newspaper’s “Home of the Week” feature (which really should be called “Mansion of the Week”), I find myself thinking the most uncharitable thoughts. Especially in 2008 when Progress Energy raised our electric bills by 10.2%, and soon afterward, our newspaper featured the huge summer manor (yes, it was just a summer home!) of a retired Progress Energy executive. Talk about bad timing.

Yes, sometimes I feel a resentment towards the rich that veers dangerously close to contempt. And that’s wrong. When I judge them by their luxury houses and cars (the things that hide them), I’m being just as narrow-minded as any other bigot. Judgment, so often, keeps us from seeing the good in people. It is a true poverty—a poverty of the spirit. And poverty of the spirit is the worst kind of poverty there is.

Sure, some of those rich folks have gotten rich on the backs of the poor. And, yeah, many of them have never struggled or known hardship. But I really don’t know their stories, any more than they know mine. The unfortunate truth is, though, we’ll probably never know each other’s stories. Because they don’t want me in their neighborhood.

But they’re welcome to mine. Sure, it’s not likely that they’ll drop by the doublewide to have a nice Tuna Helper supper. And it’s even less likely that they’d invite me to up to their mansion to have tea. But if they do, I might have a few suggestions for their yard. “Looks a little bare,” I’d say. “What you really need is a nice flamingo or two. And a couple of gnomes wouldn’t hurt…”

(My latest acquisition. I adore the little wrinkles behind his neck.)

The Curious Case of a Cut and Curl Calamity

October 27, 2009

old crone

(Here’s a shot Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man took of me when we were on vacation recently.  You can see I look very happy and rested.)

Long-time readers may recall that last year I wrote a post on my misadventures at the beauty salon called The Strange, Sad Tale of a Beauty Shop Washout.  Now in case you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s a little excerpt from that post:


She (we’ll call her Rhonda) obviously believed that the only good perm was a tight perm.  With every roller she rolled, she’d give this little yank at the end, just to make sure there was not one iota of slackness in that curl.  It hurt so much that tears sprang involuntarily to my eyes, but I just bit my lip and thought about how sometimes, we must suffer for our beauty.  And, really, all that tautness had the effect of smoothing out my wrinkles.  Why, my face hadn’t looked that tight in years!  My first facelift!

Two excruciating hours later, she was done and it was time for the big reveal.  As she started pulling out more and more of the little rollers, it became apparent to us both that something had gone terribly wrong.  There was no curl…no, not a bit.  Neither one of us said a word.  All I could think was—I do not care, just let the nerve endings in my head recuperate.  And she was probably thinking—If I don’t say anything, maybe she won’t notice. 

But there was just no denying it.  Rhonda took out the last curler and stared bleakly at my reflection in the mirror.  My hair hung lank and limp.  Finally, she spoke. “You,” she said sadly, “are curl resistant.” 

She called over the other stylists and they stood in a circle around me, shaking their heads mournfully, as though observing the scene of an accident.  “I just can’t understand it,” said Rhonda.  “I’ve never had this happen before.”

They all cast sympathetic looks her way and some of them looked accusingly at me, as though if I wanted it badly enough and if only I had lived a good life, my hair would have curled.  “Curl resistant,” they all repeated, like a chorus in some really bad opera.  “She is curl resistant.”

And now here I am over a year later and, believe it or not, my hair has not seen a perm rod or a pair of scissors since. Though it has had daily contact with a curling iron and an industrial-sized can of hair spray. Because those are the only things that can tame my wretched hair at the moment (or what’s left of my wretched hair).

You may recall that I mentioned in my previous post that “my curly perm makes me look like some refugee from the eighties.”  Well.  Now I’ve moved beyond that, I think.  Now I look more like maybe The Ghost From 80’s Past. You know, sort of like The Ghost from Christmas Past?  You can probably imagine it—a ghost crone with shoulder pads and wild eyes and long, stringy, straw-like hair (80’s music playing in the background) shaking a can of Aqua Net and saying, “Woooooo…beware this 80’s hair! It is not debonair! Beware, beware this hair!” And the ghost maybe showing scenes from Bad Haircuts and Perms Past. *Shudder*

You’re probably saying, “So what’s keeping you from getting it cut, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl? Who’s stopping you?” Well, part of it is just plain fear. You know, the shameful stigma of “curl resistance.” Will I still be curl resistant? Will I again be ostracized for curl resistance? It was a pretty traumatic thing to be surrounded by that angry mob of hair stylists fingering my limp hair and shaking their heads in disgust.

Also, it always seems a bit risky to just pick a salon right out of the yellow pages or go to one just because it’s near where you buy groceries. That’s what I did last time and you can see how well THAT worked out. I’ve asked a few folks for advice, but so far every one of them has recommended one of those fancy, high-falutin’ places in the city that maybe have French or Italian names. Or the words “day spa” in the name. I avoid those like the plague, mainly because they charge more for one visit than I budget for an entire YEAR of beauty. Sure, I could stand to spend a little more, but I’d rather buy books. I’ve found it yields a greater rate of return. Besides, they’d probably give me some weird hairdo that would make me look like Rod Stewart or something. Nothing against Rod Stewart—I just don’t want to look like him.

I always look for the kind of beauty shops I grew up with—the kind you see out in the country, maybe housed in a little shed in somebody’s back yard. You know, with names like Cathy’s Cut ‘n Curl or Barbara’s Beauty Boutique. I particularly love salon names where “K’s” are substituted for the “C’s” as in Kathy’s Kut ‘n Kurl. And of course, you know I can’t resist a pun in the name, like Shear Heaven, A Kut Above, Cut and Dried or my favorite ever, Curl Up and Dye. And there’s always the matter-of-fact, no-nonsense names like Betty’s Beauty Shop. They’re like yeah, that’s the name, I know it’s not cute—take it or leave it, lady.

But probably the real reason I haven’t gone yet is that my hair looks so bad now that I can use it as a handy excuse not to do things I’m dreading. Like going to the doctor. I avoid doctors like the plague, too, but I really do need to get that long-overdue checkup. But I can’t until I get my hair cut. And we’ve heard of a church where we might actually fit in, but we’re pretty nervous about going. Terrified, in fact. But really, I can’t go anyway  until I get my hair cut. Plus, I have two friends from the past that I haven’t talked to in years that I’d like to call. One of them lives nearby, but I’m scared of rejection—it’s been a long time and maybe they will have forgotten me. Sure, I’d call them…but I can’t until I get my hair cut.

See what I mean? It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to see that I’m using my hair as an avoidance mechanism—a convenient excuse to not do the things I really should.

Hey, maybe that’s what I need—professional help! A psychiatrist! Because I really, really want to change. Maybe I should be looking for a psychiatrist instead of a hair stylist. Maybe it’s my head and not my hair that needs help. Maybe a shrink is just what the doctor ordered.

There’s only one problem: I mean, you know how it is.  I really can’t go to a psychiatrist…

Until I get my hair cut.

Just In Case You Still Remember My Last Post…

May 26, 2009

Since it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post, you’ve probably all pretty much forgotten what the post was about.  But just in case you do remember and just in case you’re curious about whether or not my shameless exploitation of Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man’s hurt toe actually got me into Blog Log…why, I’m happy to report that…yes…yes, it did.

But the thing is, Brian was a little late with Blog Log this week (apparently he was moving last week), so until today, I thought I had embarrassed myself  for nothing.  In fact, I was just about to publish a post bemoaning my previous post and exposing the egg on my face.  It was going to be titled something like The Folly of Following Fickle and Fleeting Fame.  (You know how I love alliteration) 🙂 Here’s an excerpt from my unpublished post: 

Yes, it’s true—it seems I humiliated myself and exploited my beloved husband’s injury for naught. It would appear, in fact, since it has been two weeks since the last Blog Log was published, that the Mountain Xpress has decided to discontinue the column. And they apparently made this decision just as I published my post where I all but begged to be in Blog Log again.  So it seems, as usual, that my timing is thoroughly and painfully off.  Which, of course, is nothing new.  I’m always the one who remembers the punchline of a joke long after everyone has walked away; who arrives at the party after all the food is eaten, half the crowd is gone, and the balloons are starting to deflate; and who sends a cheery “Get Well Soon!” card only to find out that the person I sent it to has just passed away.

My, that certainly was a light-hearted little piece, wasn’t it? 🙂  However,  I then went on to say:

But, on the bright side, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is still employed!  And his completely blackened toe did not wither and fall off!  In fact, it no longer looks gangrenous so I can now see it without flinching. 

Yep, it’s a good day alright when your toe doesn’t fall off!  I mean, I really hate it when that happens.  Bummer.   Yeah, nothing ruins a good day like losing a digit.

Seriously, we are truly grateful that Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man still has a job.  And that his toe didn’t drop off. 🙂  He even scored some free vegetable plants for our garden last week when there was a closeout at one of the places he does maintenance, along with some herbs that we can’t identify (but they sure smell good).   And I found the butterfly bushes I’d been wanting at a price I could afford.  Plus,  all the perennials I planted last year have come back this spring, except for the purple verbena.   All that…and I got on Blog Log, too!  Almost too much excitement for one week!  Things are definitely looking up.

So thanks, Brian.  I hope your move went well.  And I sure am glad the Xpress isn’t dropping Blog Log.  I enjoy it, even when I’m not on it.  But I sure do like it when I am. Makes me ridiculously happy.   Quite a thrill to see Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl in print, even if that isn’t really my name.  That would be “Beth.”  With a “B.”  As in beaming.  As in buoyant.  As in bountifully blessed.

Whereas I Shamelessly Exploit My Husband’s Injury To Achieve Only Modest Fame

May 13, 2009

blog - tom's foot

Tom’s foot with one sad toe (by Benjamin)

Our local alternative weekly newspaper, the  Mountain Xpress, has a feature called Blog Log, where reporter Brian Postelle chooses certain local blogs and a particular post on those blogs to highlight for the week.  My blog’s been chosen several times, and I’ve got to tell you—it makes me inordinately happy.  Perhaps I’m a little silly, but it’s really nice to be recognized, however modest the fame may be.  It is particularly gratifying because, although we have a very active blogging community in the area, I don’t really fit with the general blogging crowd here.  I’m sure they’re all very nice, but they are a hip, savvy, and trendy crowd.  And I…well…I am not.  So I don’t fit in.

Anyway, it’s been a while since Brian mentioned Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl on Blog Log, and it’s got me a little down in the dumps.  The truth is, the only posts of mine he seems to like are the funny posts.  And, well, these days I’m feeling about as funny as fire ants at a picnic.  As funny as a big zit on prom night.  As funny as screen doors on a submarine.  You get the idea. 

Because Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I have been a little anxious lately.  Big cuts are being made where he works, and he is still classified as a “temporary” worker.  He is also the most recently hired.  So we’re feeling a mite vulnerable.  Plus, they’ve cut his $12/hour pay and gone way up on our insurance, while our benefits have been sharply reduced.   So we got the poor-boy-beans-for-supper-again blues, and I just don’t feel like being funny.

So here’s where you will see me shamelessly exploit Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man just so I can maybe be in Blog Log again.  You see, Brian Postelle also has a fascination for blogger injury stories.  He said so himself here. And I offer as proof the fact that he featured my post about the time Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man stopped bleeding with a condiment, not one, but two times on Blog Log.   So here I present the sad, sad story of Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and his tragic toe injury:

Since Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man works as a maintenance man, I worry a right good bit about his safety.  He has a lot of roof leak experience, so he’s the man they turn to when there’s a persistent leak.  So he spends a lot of time on ladders and roofs (I always want to say “rooves.”)   He likes it up there, but it makes me nervous, especially considering our luck for the past twenty years. 

So it finally happened—he got hurt about a month ago.  But it wasn’t falling off a roof.  Nope, so often it’s the little things that trip you up—in this case, an extension cord that he tripped over.  He then, in regaining his balance, managed to somehow come down hard on his toe and sprained it badly.  He came home limping like Grandpappy Amos on The Real McCoys.  (Does anybody else remember that show?)   When he showed me his toe, I got that weird chest-tightening I only get when someone I love hurts themselves.  It was one ugly digit, let me tell you.   Completely black—almost gangrenous looking—like his toe was going to wither and fall off in a matter of days. 

And, unfortunately, he is afraid to take time off from work (See Paragraph 3 above).  So he’s been gimping about for a while now, and while he’s some better (and his toe is unwithered and firmly attached), it still hurts quite a lot.  So, really, I’m not just posting this to get on Blog Log.  Certainly not.  I’d truly be grateful if anybody has some ideas to help a seriously-sprained toe.

But…there is no escaping the fact that I’m shamelessly exploiting my husband’s injury and milking it for all it’s worth just to see my name in print.  I’m kind of like that kid in grade school who was always raising their hand and waving it frantically to be recognized. Desperate, I tell you.  Heck, I’d even resort to excessive flattery to see my name in print. And it’s not even my real name.  That’s the saddest thing. I mean, my name isn’t really Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl, of course.  It’s Beth, with a “B”.  Like Brian, with a “B”.  As in, Brian Postelle, the very fine reporter and creator of the entertaining and delightful Blog Log in that most outstanding and venerable newspaper, the  Mountain Xpress

That’s Beth.  With a “B”.  As in blog.  As in bold and brazen. As in Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl. 


Our Guardian Angel Has Silvery Wings

March 13, 2009


Since today is the second Friday the 13th in as many months, I thought I’d talk about superstition.  I don’t think of myself as superstitious.  I mean, I walk under ladders all the time, step on cracks, have had numerous black cats cross my path, and have dropped and broken more mirrors than I can count.

But our luck has been a bit on the thin side of late, so last month on Friday the 13th, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I were debating whether or not we should tempt fate by going out that day.  To make matters worse, as I walked down to get the mail that morning, a black cat that hangs around our property darted out across my path.

“Hee, hee,” I giggled nervously, when I got back, trying to be jaunty and nonchalant.  “You’ll never believe what just happened when I walked down the driveway!”  I told Tom about the cat.

“Ha, ha,” chortled Tom.  “That’s pretty funny that that happened on Friday the 13th!” 

We both laughed loudly and heartily.  Then it got very quiet.  I chewed my lip and Tom stroked his chin worriedly.  We looked down at the floor, then at each other.

“So, what do you think?”  I said.

Tom thought a while.  “You know, maybe with Valentine’s Day coming the next day, it erases the curse.  Kind of like when Glinda the Good Witch comes around and weakens the power of the Bad Witch.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right!”  I brightened at the thought. But then it occurred to me that some people think love a curse and perhaps would find a grim satisfaction in the fact that the Love Day followed the Curse Day. 

But in the end, we went out anyway, had a real good time, and nothing bad happened though we tried every single sample at Sam’s Club, even that shrimp that tasted a little funky. 

So, no, we’re not really superstitious.  But there is the matter of our wind-up dashboard guardian angels.   The Archie McPhee catalog where I got them many, many years ago called them “parking goddesses.”  But we don’t have much need for spiritual parking assistance out here in the country, so I think of them as our traveling guardian angels.  They’re made of shiny silver plastic, as you can see, with wings that move up and down when you wind up the little knob on back.

And, Lord knows, with a 1982 Volvo DL with nearly 240,000 miles on it, we need all the divine intervention we can get.  And lest you’re thinking Oh that silly Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl!…well, in the nineteen years we’ve had her, we’ve never been stranded on the side of the road with that car (other than a recent flat tire). And lest you’re still thinking Oh that silly Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl!, let me tell you a little story about the day our dashboard guardian angel fell over.

One day a little over a year ago, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man had occasion to drive my Camry.  Now he is a man who moves expansively, with big, sweeping motions and somehow, he managed to knock over my dashboard guardian angel.  I noticed her lying on her side on my way out to get groceries.  I found some clean Kleenexes in the car and made her a soft bed to lie in until I could get back home and attach her securely to the dashboard. 

But in the course of bringing in groceries, putting up groceries, eating groceries, etc., I forgot.  And there she lay, in her soft little tissue bed, alone and forgotten and unable to flap her silvery wings.  The next day, Tom moved my Camry to change the oil.  Afterwards, when he started the car to put it back in its parking place, it refused to go in reverse and refused to do so until much, much later when we paid the nice transmission man two thousand dollars to fix it.  Perhaps you remember my writing about it here and here.

Coincidence?  You be the judge. For my part, I would like to pay homage to our dashboard guardian angel—winged protector and shining chaperone of all of our most perilous journeys.   You have served us well, noble dashboard defender, and I thank you.  May you always fly with us through the darkest night, down rain-swept roads and freezing, frosty freeways. 

But like I said—I’m not really superstitious.  What about you?  Any rabbit’s foots in those pockets, any lucky pennies in your purse?   Are those your fingers crossed behind your back—clutching wilted four-leaf clovers?



February 2, 2009


We all have family secrets.  The kind that only our very closest friends and family know.  Oh, I don’t mean the skeleton-in-the closet kind that, often, are best kept hidden.  I mean the kind we have that, when discovered, cause us to grin a sheepish grin or maybe squirm and giggle nervously.  You know, like the fact that you sometimes drink out of the milk carton or maybe occasionally don’t change your sheets for a couple of months or that you keep a secret stash of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the sock drawer, while telling everyone you’re on a diet.  Harmless stuff, pretty much, though I really don’t think you should drink out of that milk carton.

Okay, I know you’re probably reading eagerly now, thinking I’m going to tell you one of our secrets.  And you’re right, though the photograph above probably already gave me away.  But, in case it didn’t, here goes:  We have upwards of eighteen books hidden amidst the dustballs under our couch.  

Yes, I know, horrible…but true.  It all started years ago in the first of our many tiny homes.  Now there’s nothing wrong with tiny homes, but they can be a problem when you have approximately seven million books.  Okay, not really.  It just seems that way when we move.  And it’s the reason our friends and family make themselves scarce  every time we announce that we’re moving.  They remember past moves when, in their naivete, they volunteered to help.  Along about the five-hundredth one-hundred pound box of books, they all said the same thing:  “Y’all have too many books!”

Now, we all know that it’s just not possible to have “too many books.”  I mean, to me, that’s like saying, “You have too much money” (not that anyone’s ever said THAT to us) or “You have too many sunny days” or “You have too much chocolate.”  Really, it’s more the fact that we have too little house and too few shelves. 

But I digress.  What actually happened is that years ago when I’d be curled up on the couch reading and would run across a word that I didn’t know, I’d want to look it up in the dictionary.  But the dictionary would be in another room because we didn’t have a lot of space to spare in the living room.  So, lazy person that I am, I was loath to interrupt my book to get up and get the dictionary.  After all, I could usually figure out the word from its context.  But the trouble is, I’d then have to guess at how to pronounce it.  And I’d often guess wrong.  Like the word “despot.”  I knew what it meant, but I never looked it up.  So, over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I said it “des-SPOT”, with the emphasis on the second syllable.  And until a couple of years ago, no one corrected me.  So I cringe to think of all the people who probably snickered into their sleeves and thought me ignorant.  Which, of course, I was.  But I didn’t want them thinking that.

Anyway, that’s when I realized that our couch had both plenty of room underneath AND a charming little skirt that could hide not only dustballs the size of Chihuahuas, but a lot of books, including our large collection of dictionaries and thesauri.  So we’ve never had to get up to get the dictionary again. 

Just remember, if you come to my house and want to look something up, do be careful when you stick your hand under there.  Those dustballs can be a little scary.  Not to mention the monstrous spiders.  Or the lizards that we’ve found living in our couch through the years.   But whatever you do, don’t go in our closets

After all, there might be skeletons there.

Mea Culpa or…My Bad!

August 21, 2008

I have a confession to make.

Back in March, soon after we moved to our doublewide estate, I posted the picture above here, describing our “flowering cherry” tree.  It’s always so much fun when you move to a new place to discover, bit by bit, what’s growing there.  I feel about plants the way I feel about computers—the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know and the dumber I feel.  But I keep trying.  When this tree began to blossom in the spring, I googled “cherry tree blossoms,” compared the pictures I saw to our tree, and decided it must be a cherry tree.  Hence, my rapt description: Our flowering cherry humming with honeybees.

Anyway, a couple of months ago, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man came in and said, “Honey, the cherries on that cherry tree sure are big and fuzzy!” 

“Huh?” I said stupidly.  I didn’t recall ever hearing about any known variety of fuzzy cherries, so I excitedly went out to see our “rare” cherry tree.  I should have been more suspicious when I heard Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man snickering behind me.  This is what I saw when I went out:

And this is what it looks like now:

So, now you know.  I’ve come clean.  The truth is…I really don’t know much about anything at all.   What I mean is…I’m kind of ignorant.  But I don’t mind.  Not to sound corny or anything, but I find it exciting to know that there’s so much more out there in our big, wide world to learn. 

So, I’d better get cracking….

But first, I think I’ll go pick some of those “big, fuzzy cherries.”  I’m thinking a big, fuzzy cherry cobbler for supper would be mighty tasty. 🙂

Tick Tics

June 14, 2008

So you’re probably thinking, “What’s up with Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl?  First she writes three posts in a row about big red-eyed bugs, then she writes in nauseating detail about her husband’s bloody workshop incident.  Not to mention subjecting us to her terrible puns!”

Okay, so maybe I should apologize for the puns.  It’s really sort of a compulsion for me.  Seriously.  I have an uncontrollable urge to play with words.  The puns pop nonstop into my head, I blurt them out, and before you know it, I get carried away and people are rolling their eyes and groaning. 

But I digress.  What I really want to talk about here is irrational fear.  Neurosis.  Phobia, if you will.  Heart-pounding, scared-out-of-your-socks, sweating-bullets fear.   I’m embarrassed to admit it, but the thing that provokes a near panic attack in me is less than 1/10th of an inch long and wide—just slightly bigger than one of the vowels in this sentence.  So what is the tiny critter that makes my skin crawl as it crawls on my skin? 

It’s the tick.  Ick.  Ticks…well…they suck.

(Sorry! There I go again!  Like I said…a pun compulsion.)

And here at the doublewide, we are (as Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man says) eat up with ticks.  The folks who lived here before us raised cattle that ranged all over the property, so I think that might be the reason we have such a booming tick population. And all the tall grass and weeds in the fields around us along with lots of wildlife passing through make for a sort of parasite paradise.  Almost every time we walk through the yard, we pick up a tick. 

You know one of the things I hate most about ticks?  It’s the way they’re so…I dunno…stealthy.  They’re not content just to latch onto your ankle or leg for their tick picnic, then quietly drop off.  No, they furtively creep their way up your leg, looking for that perfect, out-of-the-way spot to sup your blood.


Anyway, as a result, every time I feel the slightest tickle, I am certain it is a tick tickle   (I guess you’d call this a nervous tick.)  I am constantly checking my legs for any little black specks making their way northward or feeling my neck or head to make sure they’re not already there.   And since we’re outdoors a lot, what with gardening and lawn mowing and bird watching, I have developed a bit of an obsession with constantly checking my legs.  I can’t stop thinking about ticks.  Yes, I know this is quite neurotick…I mean…neurotic.  And yeah, it does go back to my childhood (but I don’t wish to repulse you further with that story).  But I’m not sure what to do about it but wait for cold weather when the little bloodsuckers finally go dormant.  Or get counseling.  Or buy a friendly little monkey who will delicately groom me.

I’ve always wondered why God made ticks.  Or mosquitoes.  Or chiggers, for that matter.  Ah well, one of the great mysteries of life.  But one thing I am profoundly grateful for:

That ticks can’t fly.

Part Three: Six Guilty Pleasures

November 22, 2007

It might seem a little strange or shallow to post this on Thanksgiving Day, when others are writing lovely and profound pieces on gratitude.  But when I thought about it, I realized that the fact that I’ve made peace with certain things about myself is indeed something to be thankful for, as is the fact that my husband and children accept and love me as I am.   Happy Thanksgiving.

Name six guilty pleasures you once considered guilty but you now have either abandoned or made peace with:

1. I sleep with a stuffed animal at night.  No, I don’t mean my husband, though I do sleep with him, too.  I mean I sleep with a stuffed rabbit I got as an adult.  And I make no apologies.  I’m a very mature and responsible adult, and I’m not ashamed—it helps me sleep and gives me comfort and hurts no one.  I didn’t have one as a child, so it fulfils a need I always had.  My husband is fine with it.  And if you’ve got a problem with it, well… you’ve got a problem.

2. As a child, I loved the smell of mothballs.  I think it’s because my mama kept our quilts in a trunk with mothballs, pulling them out when the weather got cold.  So I associate the smell of mothballs with comfort and warmth, and when I was small, I’d inhale deeply the mothball smell of the quilt as my mama pulled it up to my chin at night.   But they are now known to be pretty serious carcinogens, so no more deep breathing of mothball fumes for me.

3. I am not thin and svelte. In fact, my ex-husband used to say that I was “hearty peasant stock,” meaning…not petite.  (And he didn’t mean that as a compliment). I used to worry a little about this and feel guilty when I’d eat something I knew to be highly caloric.  No more.  I adore food, so when I do partake of a high-fat indulgence, I savor every bite.  I just make sure I eat healthy otherwise and that I don’t indulge myself too often and that I buy things with elastic.  Thank God for elastic.

4. Though we don’t have much money, I do occasionally buy books.  For one thing, our local library seldom has the book I want to read.  For another, I love owning a book, especially a new one.  (See post below).  I don’t buy many clothes or shoes or spend much on beauty (though I probably should)!  So I don’t feel guilty buying books, especially those I know I’ll read again and again.

5. I indulge my love for yard art.  I love whirligigs and windchimes and gnomes and pink flamingoes and ceramic frogs and…well, the list goes on and on.  Yeah, I like stuff that some consider bad taste or tacky, but I don’t care.  I could never stand to live in one of those communities with covenants that ban certain “distasteful” yard ornaments.  Nobody’s going to take my gnomes from my home.  No sirree.

6. My greatest pleasure ever is being a mother.  It’s not a guilty pleasure, but I used to worry a bit about the fact that I wasn’t like the other mothers.  At school functions, I’d feel so out of place, and I’d worry that I’d embarrass my children. I mean, it was pretty obvious that these mothers had never told their children that their food had been nibbled by a mischievous kitchen rat! (See post below).  But my children love me as I am.  And I love them as they are.  A lot.  So I’ve stopped comparing myself to other mothers.   I yam what I yam, as Popeye always said.  

And that’s not so bad.

And now, I hereby tag anyone who would like to be tagged for this meme.  It really was a lot of fun to do, even if I did ramble.  But no need to feel guilty about that!