Archive for the ‘Silliness’ Category

Miss Beth’s Incredible Shrinking Two-Inch Tall Curiously Leathery Trail Cake

January 25, 2011

(Doesn’t my little carrot look a bit like a manatee?)

A big thanks to y’all for your bevy of bounteous birthday wishes—you’re very kind. They meant a lot to me.

It was a pretty swell birthday, all in all. Actually, it was my second celebration since we’d partied earlier when the kids were home. This time was more subdued, though I was delighted at good wishes from friends, my birthday poem from Benjamin, and a Happy Birthday song from Ariel. Here’s the last verse of Benjamin’s poem:

While her two young’uns are busy,
they still would want to know,
that this is a blessed, happy birthday,
hopefully not drowning in snow.

How could I not have a great day with odes like that? 🙂

I did get a hankering for some birthday cake, though. And since it so happened that Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man had some freshly-dug carrots from our otherwise lifeless garden, I decided that what I was really craving was a carrot cake—my favorite.

So I set about chopping, shredding, measuring, mixing, pouring, and my favorite part (besides eating the cake)—watching it rise through the oven window. I really, really love to watch cake (or bread) rise in the oven because it seems like magic. (As I’ve mentioned before, we are easily amused).

So, as usual, I eagerly peered through the oven window about 20 minutes in. “Hmm…that’s weird.” I said to Tom. “It seems to be about the same size as when I put it in there.”

“Oh, it’s probably just slow rising,” Tom said helpfully.

“Thanks, honey,” I said. “You’re very likely right.” By now it had been 30 minutes. I checked again. “Hmm…that’s weird. Still the same size…no sign of rising.”

“A watched cake never rises,” Tom said, with a sage nod and a knowing look.

“I’m grateful for your insight, O Enlightened One,” I said, laughing. “How did I ever manage without you?”

“I have no idea,” said Tom. “It must have been a struggle.”

40 minutes in: this time I opened the oven door. The rush of warm fragrant air was heavenly. At least it smelled good. In fact, it appeared to be done. But it was still the same size as when I put it in. In fact, it almost seemed smaller, like it was shrinking. I touched the top. Strange—the cake seemed quite firm. Not firm as in “nice crust with moist center” but firm as in “well-cured beef jerky.”

I took both pans out and we stared at them. “They look like they’re about an inch tall,” said Tom.

“Yep,” I said. “About an inch, I’d say.” I pressed the top again. Still very, very firm. “Well, at least there are TWO of them. I’ll just put lots of icing on it.”

So I did. Only I was in such a hurry to get the icing on that the layers weren’t fully cooled, resulting in the icing melting and the top layer of the cake sliding off the bottom one to tilt precariously near the edge of the table. The icing was flowing off, too, dripping off the top and sides of the cake and plate like molten lava. I didn’t realize this, of course, until much later when I came back from an outdoor task.

“Oh no!” I hollered. “My cake!  It’s…melting!”

Tom came in from the other room and we stared at the cake. “That is one pitiful cake,” Tom said.

“Yeah,” I said. “It is indeed a wretched sight.” I spooned up all the icing I could and stuck the two layers back together. We both scooped up what remaining icing could be salvaged, doing our best to repair the wreckage.

“I’m afraid it’s not much use,” said Tom. He wrinkled his brow and frowned. “You know, I think your cake is about two inches tall.”

I got a ruler. It was almost exactly two inches tall. We looked at each other and started to laugh. I got a knife from the drawer and cut a small slice. I took a bite, then handed it to Tom. We both chewed thoughtfully.

“Hmm,” said Tom. “Curiously leathery.” He chewed some more. “Robust.” We started laughing again as we gnawed and gnawed.  “Sort of like…hardtack.”

For anyone that doesn’t know, hardtack was the name of the rock-hard bread that soldiers ate in the Civil War.  It was also called “sheet-iron biscuit.”  To break it into smaller pieces, troops would bash it with their musket butts. 

Then Tom picked the cake plate up with a flourish and held it aloft in his right hand. With his left, he pointed at the cake and looked into an imaginary television camera.

“Hi there, friends,” he said in a Texas drawl, to his imaginary television audience. “I’m Cowboy Tom!  You know, when I’m out on the range with the other cowpokes, we can’t be bothered with a big, bulky old birthday cake. No ma’am. So what do we eat on the trail?” Tom looked over at the cake and smiled.

“Well, we cowhands like to eat Miss Beth’s Trail Cake! Only two inches high, so it fits neatly into your saddlebags! And it has that manly consistency—it’s REAL cake that a buckeroo can sink his teeth into.” He looked back into the imaginary camera and winked.

“So, buckaroos and buckerettes, don’t weigh your horse down with unwieldy cakes! Yes, if you want that long-lasting chewing satisfaction, reach for…” He thrust the cake towards the imaginary camera. “…Miss Beth’s Trail Cake!”

I was laughing so hard at that point that I almost choked on the cake. Tom put the cake back on the table. I got a couple of plates and cut two pieces. Despite its curiously leathery texture, it tasted pretty darn good.

And there we sat on my 53rd birthday and chewed and laughed and laughed and chewed some more. I thought about how blessed I am to have a man who makes me laugh. Who saves me yet another goofy animal-shaped carrot from the garden. Who thinks I’m funny, too, and always laughs at my jokes. And I thought about what a gift our sense of humor is. How it has so often saved us through all these hard and sometimes lean years. And how often that sense of silliness and the absurd has helped us to see what’s worth getting upset about and what’s not. A fallen birthday cake is nothing in the Grand Scheme of Things. Well, nothing but an occasion to laugh. And chew. And to be thankful that it’s at least edible.

But even more, I’m thankful for someone to share it all with. Not only to share Miss Beth’s Incredible Shrinking Two-Inch Tall Curiously Leathery Trail Cake, but to share the joy and pleasure of a big, ol’ deep-down, belly-shakin’, knee-slappin’ guffaw.

What a gift it is. And I am so grateful.


We Dig This Carrot!

November 23, 2010


(A happy little carrot)

Gather ‘round, folks. It’s time for the semi-annual posting of googly-eyed produce on Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl. Yes, it true—with all the lofty talk in my last post about the importance of writing about “truth” and other high-minded things, I’m posting a picture of an anthropomorphized root vegetable.

I just couldn’t resist when Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man dug up this rabbit-shaped carrot in our garden. “The potatoes have eyes,” the carrot said. “Why can’t I?”

So I gave him some. As you know, we are easily amused here at the Doublewide Ranch. Hope you are, too. Because, in my humble opinion, the world needs more pictures of googly-eyed vegetables. If for no other reason—that it makes us laugh. Well, at least it makes ME laugh.

And while my little carrot may not speak of truth, there is a certain beauty and purity, I think, in finding yourself unabashedly giggling like a silly, gleeful six-year-old.

I hope your Thanksgiving table is surrounded by those you love and plenty of hearty laughs, if not silly giggles. Ours will be, for sure, as we eat all the usual Thanksgiving fare—turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and…well…maybe some good ol’ root vegetables. Carrots, sautéed in butter, to be exact. Without the googly eyes, of course.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

(One of these things is not like the other…)

Unsung Heroes #2: Ode to Peanut Butter

March 18, 2010

(This is the only picture of peanut butter I’ve ever taken, amazing as that might seem.  Only longtime readers (with really good memories) might possibly recall the utterly silly, madcap story  it came from.)

I was looking over my blog categories the other day and noticed that I’ve only written one post for “Unsung Heroes.” I started that category with the intention of recognizing and honoring common accoutrements of everyday life that we might take for granted. It was certainly no surprise to my family that my first post was an “Ode to My Recliner”.  I love that thing.  In fact, I sit in it so much that it bears the permanent indentation of my body. It’s sort of like a custom-made recliner now!

Anyway, I was in the grocery store the other day, horrified, as usual, at how the size of food items just keeps getting smaller, yet the price just keeps getting larger. Pretty soon, I thought to myself,  I’m going to have to give up eating. Eating—a silly habit I’ve developed over the years. But it’s just too expensive now.

But then, in the fluorescent glow of the grocery store light, I saw it. The food of the Gods, the Holy Grail of all Foodom, and, apparently, the Last Culinary Refuge of the Poor—peanut butter. Amazing, really, with so much inflation in food prices, how peanut butter has stayed relatively cheap. We buy it by the case, and we eat it by the spoon—we love the stuff.  Especially Benjamin and me.

So, naturally, when I heard that March is National Peanut Month, I knew what I had to do. Here is my “Ode to Peanut Butter.” Yes, I know it’s a silly poem and probably quite an awful one, but I’ll bet it makes you laugh. At least, I sure hope so:

Ode to Peanut Butter

Oh, sweet legume that grows beneath the earth!
Let me now proclaim your worth!
May my lips your great praise utter
Crunchy, munchy peanut butter
Creamy, dreamy peanut butter. 

Food of the rich and poor alike
Food for grownups, food for tykes.
Food that sets my heart aflutter
Crunchy, munchy peanut butter
Creamy, dreamy peanut butter.

On a sandwich, from a spoon,
Eat it morning, night, and noon.
When I run out, I cry and sputter,
“Crunchy, munchy peanut butter!”
“Creamy, dreamy peanut butter!”

By the jar or by the case,
You can buy it any place!
How I do adore its taste!
Crunchy, munchy peanut paste!
Creamy, dreamy peanut paste!

To clean out jars is not a chore,
‘Cause when it’s gone, I’ll eat some more!
I’ll never let it go to waste—
Crunchy, munchy peanut paste
Creamy, dreamy peanut paste.

Luscious goodness that I love
For it, I thank the Lord above.
It puts a smile upon my face.
Crunchy, munchy peanut paste
Creamy, dreamy peanut paste.

So I bow before thee, Jar of Jif,
My sagging spirits thou dost lift.
To do without would make me shudder.
Crunchy, munchy peanut butter.
Creamy, dreamy peanut butter.

Hank and Homer Have a Snow Day

March 11, 2010

(For those that are new to my blog (and are thinking “Why is a 52-year-old-woman playing with stuffed animals?”), you can find the story of Hank and Homer here.)

It’s been a while since you heard from your old friends Hank and Homer, so perhaps you’ve wondered what they were up to. As you know, they love the outdoors, but it’s been a bit cold out for a couple of little fellas like them, so they’ve spent a lot of time snuggled up in the house with their other invertebrate friends (known to the unenlightened as “stuffed” animals).

Although we vertebrates have grown a bit weary of endless snow, there’s nothing Hank and Homer love more than a good ole Snow Day. As soon as the first flakes start falling, Hank and Homer are ready to go!

And so it was last week, when we had several inches of the white stuff. At first, it was falling so hard that they just watched happily from the window. But after it finally stopped, Homer put on his cap and the new matching sweater he got for Christmas. As you know, he’s a bit sensitive about his unfortunate resemblance to Homer Simpson, so he wears his cap and new sweater a lot since they make him look less like that other Homer. He especially loves the fact that his cap and sweater were made from a sock, just like he was!

So after Homer put on his new made-from-a-sock clothes, Hank decided that since he was made from a glove that he should wear a glove hat! So he found a glove in the drawer and put it on. Homer thought Hank looked very much like a chicken with his glove hat and began to make clucking noises. Hank began to cluck, too and to flap his arms about like wings. They got sillier and sillier and louder and louder, but then realized that the snow was melting!

Hank didn’t want to look like a chicken so he took off his glove hat and out they both went. But Hank still felt sad and a little jealous that Homer had such handsome warm clothes and he didn’t.

First up—sledding. They found a shiny bowl in the kitchen cabinet that made a very fine sled. Wheeee…down they slid lickety split! Hank felt a little bit scared but he just held on to his friend Homer and whooped and hollered just like Homer did.

Pretty soon, Big Mama needed the shiny bowl to mix cookies in, so Hank and Homer decided to make snow angels instead. Poor Hank found it hard to make snow angels with his short little legs, so Homer made all his angels for him and pretty soon the yard was full of snow angels. Hank sighed with pleasure, imagining all those snow angels suddenly taking flight. How beautiful that would be! He stood there for a while dreamily pondering that, but was snapped out of his reverie when Homer threw a snowball at him. Thwack! Hank laughed but he really didn’t like playing Snowball Fight. It stung and he was wet and cold and still feeling a little scared from the sledding.

So Hank took the snowball he’d made and started making a snowman. Homer came over to help. Big Mama had given Hank a carrot to use for the snowman’s nose, but Hank put it in the snowman’s hand instead.

“Umm…Hank?” said Homer. “Isn’t the carrot for his nose?”

Hank looked at Homer and rolled his eyes. (Or at least, he rolled them as well as one can roll button eyes).

“Golly, Homer…who would want a carrot for a nose?? This way,” said Hank, “the snowman can feed the carrot to the animals who might be hungry in all this snow!” Then he put a hat on the snowman and wrapped a red scarf around him.

Homer smiled. Sometimes Hank was a little silly, but that was one of the things Homer loved most about him. It was then that Homer realized that Hank was shivering and his black fur was all wet. Homer looked down at his own brand new Christmas sweater, and suddenly knew what he had to do.  It made him sad to see his best friend cold.

So he took off his new sweater and the matching knit cap and put them on his friend Hank.  Hank was thrilled with his warm new clothes.

But then, Hank looked at Homer standing beside the snowman and saw that Homer looked…well… a little naked. And a little cold. And it hit him: That snowman doesn’t need a scarf and hat! Snowmen like being cold so it seems pretty silly, really, to put warm clothes on them!

So Hank unwound the scarf from the snowman’s neck and wrapped it tenderly around his friend Homer. Then he took the hat from the snowman’s head and put it on Homer’s. It gave Homer a jaunty look, and he didn’t look quite so much like Homer Simpson.  Of course, now the snowman looked naked, but at least he wouldn’t melt so fast with those warm clothes off!

Then they heard Big Mama calling from the porch that the cookies were ready. Cookies! Hank and Homer thought that those (and hot chocolate) were the best part of Snow Days. So they went in and ate cookies and drank hot chocolate until they were…well…stuffed. Then it was time for a nap. Hank was warm and cozy in his new sweater and as he snuggled up to Homer, he decided that the best thing about Snow Days wasn’t the sledding or the snow angels or the snowman or even the cookies. No.  The best part was snuggling up with your best friend and knowing that you are safe and cherished and warm and loved. Nothing (not even cookies) was better than that.

What We Did on Our Autumn Vacation–From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

November 16, 2009


shiny new potty blog

(Our shiny new toilet)

Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I went on vacation last week. Of course, I guess, in modern jargon, you’d call what we did a “stay-cation.” After all, we slept in our own bed every night. But we barely did a lick of work all week, ate a lot of junk food, slept in, and had great fun, so it was a vacation to us. And when you live in Paradise, staying home really isn’t so bad.

As regular readers know, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man dearly loves a roadtrip. So, naturally, we went out most every day. Even on the days we were running necessary errands, it was fun because…well…we have fun every time we go out together, whether it’s to buy a toilet or to hike up a mountain. And we did both on this vacation!

Yes, we started our vacation with a bang when we went to our local home improvement store to look at toilets. They had them lined up with spotlights shining on them, like automobiles in a showroom. There were at least twenty or more there, arranged on the commodious warehouse shelves, gleaming in all their glossy porcelain glory. It seemed a waste though that the toilets were high up on a shelf out of reach. I’m not privy as to why they do that—are they actually afraid people would sit down and try them out (take them for a test drive, so to speak) if they kept them on the floor?

A lot of people these days raise a stink about the fact that we’re having a movement towards low-flow toilets and pooh-pooh the idea, but we were ready to take the plunge. We were bowled over, but flushed with excitement at all the choices. But in the end, we decided to go with the flow and use the…umm…process of elimination to choose our toilet. Our #1 choice was one that boasted of being able to flush 20 golf balls. I mean, what a comfort to think that if we accidentally flushed a bucket of golf balls, that they would go down the first time! That’s sort of like twenty holes-in-one!

But that one was a little out of our price range (sort of like golf.) So we settled on #2, the one that said, “Rated Best Flush!” on the box. After all, like they say—a Royal Flush beats a Full House every time!

The excitement continued when we got home and went to install it (even though we were a little wiped out.) No problem doing the job—all you need is a “Can Doo” attitude. Anyone that tells you otherwise, well, they’re full of it. When we were finished, we were so excited that we had to sit down. But in the end, after we got to the bottom of things…everything came out alright.

Part Two: The Sublime (This story guaranteed pun-free.)

graveyard fields path blog

Well, if you’re still reading, after that shocking display of potty pun humor, I’ll tell you about our trip to Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s a lovely place with two good-sized waterfalls (three, if you count nearby Skinny Dip Falls). Unfortunately, not a single picture I took of the waterfalls turned out, and I’m not skilled with photo-fixing software. So, if you want to see some decent pictures of Graveyard Fields and the waterfalls, go here.   Or for lots of wonderful pictures of waterfalls, you should check out my friend Betsy’s blog.

Unfortunately, too, all the trees were bare up there, so there wasn’t much bright color to excite the eye. But there was beauty to witness and capture nevertheless—in all the shapes and patterns that Mother Nature provides in any season. In the bark of trees, in shifting shadows, in sunlight in and out of clouds sweeping across the mountainside, and in the swirls and eddies and sparkles that the wind and sunlight make in the clear water that washes clean the river rocks. That was what thrilled us most all day—watching the interplay of sunlight, rocks, water, and wind. Even though the bright colors of autumn were gone and even though we never captured the true beauty of the waterfalls, we didn’t mind. Because there was such beauty and life and energy in the swirling current, in the eddies of the river, in the scintillating water. In the sunlight, in the rocks, in the water, in the wind. All we needed was right there.

Fire. Earth. Water. Air.


November 10, 2009


Astute readers (and, undoubtedly, all the readers of my blog are astute) may have suspected that the photograph in my previous post isn’t really me. And, of course, you would be right, although the hair is not entirely unlike my own at the moment. (By the way, I think that picture is from a movie. Not sure which one, but it looks Monty Pythonesque to me).

Though lots of folks do post photos of themselves on their blogs, others leave you guessing. And so the mind conjures up a notion of what a person might look like which may be nothing at all like they actually do. It’s funny how our minds so readily form an idea of how someone looks based only on their words. One of the reasons I love reading blogs is that I’m so curious about lives that are different from mine. And that curiosity often makes me wish that folks had a Frequently Asked Questions feature on their blog, because so frequently I do have questions about them that aren’t answered in their posts.

So I thought it might be fun to imagine a few questions curious readers might ask me if they could and to answer them. Quite likely, I’m flattering myself to think you’d be all that interested in knowing more about me, but if you’re not, that’s okay. You are now free to stop reading and go watch You Tube or something. For the rest of you, here goes:

(1) So, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl, why don’t YOU put up a picture of yourself?

Well, first of all, since I run away when someone points a camera in my direction, there aren’t that many current pictures of me around anyway. Which is just as well since the photos that people do manage to snap also make me run away. I feel as though the stories of what I’ve been through in the past 30 years are all written on my face. However, if you’re curious, that’s me in the above shot. I put it there because I had to put something up to illustrate this post. Daddy took it in our backyard when I was sixteen. Check out that plaid maxi-dress!! If you’re wondering about the weird mark on my forehead…well, Daddy had this picture stapled in a scrapbook. I wish I could ask him why he stapled it right in the middle of my forehead instead of in the corner or something, but I can’t since he’s passed on. Maybe that will be my first question when we are reunited in Heaven:  Why, Daddy, why? Right in the middle of my forehead! What were you thinking??

(2) Why do you call yourself Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl? Aren’t you, like, 51 years old?? I mean, you ain’t no spring chicken, lady!!

Hmm…good point. Maybe I should have called myself Blue Ridge Blue Collar Geezer or Blue Ridge Blue Collar Granny. But really, I just liked the sound of Blue Ridge Blue Collar Girl. It rolls trippingly off my tongue. And you can see I was a girl once…a long, long time ago.

(3) Okay, how about a silly question, BRBCG….what are three things about yourself that you’d be embarrassed for people to know?

Only three? But there are so many! Okay…One: I still read Rex Morgan, M.D. and Mary Worth in the newspaper comics every single day. I have no idea why. Two: From about age 8 to age 11, I dressed myself like Pippi Longstocking.   She was always one of my favorite storybook characters. Pippi was a free spirit—she was “different” and she made no apologies for it. She also kind of raised herself, which, to some extent, was true of me in my earliest years. I identified with Pippi, so after I started earning good money at age 8 from working in tobacco every summer, I bought my own clothes and dressed as close to Pippi as I could. All I really needed was a little monkey named Mr. Nilsson. Three: When my children were small and I was fixing them a sandwich or something, I’d sometimes take a bite (Hey, I was hungry!). When they’d question the missing bite, I’d tell them it was a Giant Rat that did the deed named Raggedy Rat. “That Raggedy Rat is a rotten rascal!” I’d exclaim. I thought I was fooling them, but they later told me they always knew who the Real Rat was.

(4) Speaking of your children, why do you so often brag on them? Don’t you think that kind of shameless pride is a bit unseemly?

Yes, I suspect it is. But I’ve never been one for false modesty, and I am real proud of my children. We’ve been through a lot of hardship, financial and otherwise. Yet they’ve accomplished a great deal in their young lives. More importantly, they are kind, caring, and compassionate people who have many, many friends. Ooops…there I go bragging again!

(5) Why do you write such long posts, BRBCG? We lead busy lives—we don’t have time to read tomes.

Ummm…well why have you read this far? Oh, sorry…you’re right. I do tend to go on. Maybe I can blame my Southern heritage. When we Southerners start telling a story, we get a little wound up sometimes and carried away. I’m really grateful that there are still people out there in this age of TwitterTweets who will read my lengthy posts. The funny thing is that in person, I’m very quiet and don’t talk much at all. Say, speaking of that, isn’t it time we ended this post?

(6) Good idea. So why haven’t you ended it yet?

Well, because I wanted to ask if any of my readers had questions for me. Because then they could ask them in the comments, and I would do my best to answer them. Unless they’re too personal or something. And the questions can be silly or serious. Because Lord knows, I am both silly and serious, often at the same time. Of course, again, I may be flattering myself to think I’m interesting enough to inspire questions… 🙂

(7) OMG, BRBCG…why is this post still going on??  When are you going to end it??


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.

Never Smile at A Crocodile (and Other Cautionary Tales)

October 8, 2009

bunny alert blog

I thought it might be appropriate, as a follow-up to my post about our plant friends seeking world domination, to show you some of those from the animal kingdom that share our three and a half acres here at the Doublewide Ranch.

rat snake blog

(Rat snake in our driveway. I almost stepped on him because I was looking up at the sky.)

It’s amazing to me to observe how animals go about their daily business, adjusting without undue distress to our interruptions, intrusions, and insults. But then, who can say what they’re thinking, what goes on behind those whiskers, beneath those big furry ears, or even under that scaly armor? Who can forget the Hitchcock movie, The Birds?  *Shudder*  True story: My friend Kevin and I were eating lunch in a city park in Winston-Salem once when we suddenly realized we were surrounded by squirrels, who had gathered slowly and quietly, one at the time, until there were at least twenty circling us and closing in fast. We laughed nervously, quickly gathered our things, and practically ran out of there. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was more than a little spooked that day. And recently, at my favorite spot nearby on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Craggy Gardens, rangers closed the picnic grounds after a bear literally snatched a plate of chicken from right under a lady’s nose.

mockingbird in persimmon tree blog

(Mockingbird claiming our persimmon tree)

You may be laughing now, but one day you’ll remember my words. Or maybe one night—when you hear the mournful howls of coyotes in the darkness. Or when the Unseen rustle the underbrush as you pass. Or when you glimpse movement at the corner of your eye, only to see nothing there when you turn.

There was a really catchy Disney song (it was from Peter Pan, I think) from my children’s younger days that still goes through my head on occasion:

Never smile at a crocodile.
No, you can’t get friendly with a crocodile.
Don’t be taken in by his welcome grin–
He’s imagining how well you’d fit within his skin!
Never smile at a crocodile
Never tip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day
Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile!

Good advice, I’d say. Respect our animal friends, but keep a proper distance (especially from crocodiles. And pit vipers. And Komodo dragons, maybe). Let them go about their animal business without interference. Without intrusions.

Let’s just hope and pray that their “animal business” doesn’t involve WORLD DOMINATION.

But, as always…

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 🙂

Japanese and bald faced hornets eating sap blog

Giant Hornet and Baldfaced Hornet eat sap (at least, I think that’s what it is)

groundhog praying blog

This groundhog lives under Tom’s workshop. He has gotten fat from our apples and pears.  I guess that’s why they call them “hogs.”

bunny in the meadow blog

Sure, he looks innocent, but IS he?

rabbit on all fours blog

The first time I’d seen a rabbit up on all four legs.  Curious. And kind of funny. Perhaps he’s working on becoming bipedal?  Part of his devious plan for world domination?

squirrel eats big nut blog

Mmmm…this is a really tasty nut. And I’ve got it all to myself!  yum, yum…

squirrel with big nut blog

Hey, lady, get that camera outta my face!  Can’t a squirrel eat a nut in peace around here?

alert squirrel blog

Hey, lady!  Didn’t I tell you to get that camera out of my face? You wanna piece of me? And say, lady, didn’t I hear that you’re a little scared of squirrels?  Heh, heh, yeah…it was something about a certain squirrel incident in Winston-Salem….

A Morning Glory Warning Story

October 1, 2009

kitchen koons blog

My regular readers (thank you!) may remember that my daughter Ariel is an art major at UNC-Chapel Hill. One of her painting instructors last spring required each student to choose an overall theme for their works in the class. Ariel decided to paint her notion of what might happen if humans left earth and nature was allowed to take over. I liked all of her paintings, but these two are my favorites.  (Sadly, my camera did not do them justice.)

ariel's painting blog

Indeed, an interesting thing to ponder but a bit sobering as well. I found it even more frightening to imagine what might happen if nature took over while humans were still here. In fact, right here on my own front porch and the area around it, I have witnessed daily the horrors of such a scenario. A terrifying sight! An appalling spectacle! Yes, folks, you are about to see for yourself what happens when you allow to run amok MORNING GLORIES BENT ON WORLD DOMINATION!

chime morning glory bee blog

(Yes, those are chimes.  And yes, that is a bee.  Beeware, bee!)

Even worse than this was what took place right at our own front door. I noticed a couple of months ago that there was a morning glory that had grown right up to the threshold.

“Ha, ha,” I said to Tom. “Look at that. I think that morning glory is trying to get into the house.”

And we both chuckled at the thought. No way THAT could happen since we have both a storm door AND a fairly tight front door with weatherstripping.

morning glories run amok blog

Pretty soon the morning glory started to put out flowers, and we’d smile and step over them as we came and went. We regarded our charming little door blossoms with fondness and affection. Sweet, pretty little purple flower.

And then, a couple of weeks ago, we came home, opened the storm door, and noticed that the morning glory had somehow snaked its way behind the storm door.

“Ha, ha,” I said to Tom. “Look at that. The morning glory got past the storm door.”

There were a few seconds of uneasy silence before we both laughed heartily (perhaps a little too heartily) at the thought. No way that morning glory did that on its own! One of us must have nudged it accidentally with our foot! Yeah, that’s what happened! That’s it! Ha, ha, ha, ha…

morning glory as petunia blog

(A morning glory posing as a petunia)

I’m sure at this point, dear readers, that you know what happened next. And you’re no doubt recoiling in revulsion, your heart pounding with dread. Yes, yes, it’s true. One morning, as I was turning the door knob to open the front door, I looked down and there it was. A little green shoot—poking out from under our door. It looked so harmless, so innocent, so benign. But don’t be fooled by those little green shoots that start out so small; by those heart-shaped leaves; by those luminous pink, white, and purple blooms. There’s far more here than meets the eye—things that go on when we’re not looking or when we’re asleep in our beds at night.

Sure, they’re charming little flowers. Enchanting even. And I can tell you for certain that you only have to plant morning glory seeds once—after that, they easily self sow. And self sow. And self sow. So go ahead, plant them if you must. Plant them if you dare.

But don’t let your children out of your sight for a moment. Keep your eye on small pets at all times. Make sure you have a pair of sharp pruning scissors always close at hand, and be prepared to use them.

And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

windmill and morning glory blog

morning glories and sky blog

Face to Face

September 12, 2009

Mr. Tomato and Mr. Apple blog

So, earlier this week I suddenly realized that last Sunday was my two-year blogiversary, and I was thinking that I really should write something thoughtful, insightful, and profound to mark the occasion. But then Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I saw this face on a little tomato. And I found an apple with a mouth and two eyes looking right at me so, of course, I couldn’t resist sharing them both with you.  And really, this (and this from 2007–a favorite) probably gives you a truer sense of who I am than anything else I could write.

Mr. Apple blog

Yep, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff. Just yesterday, our local news featured a potato shaped like a duck, and I laughed in delight like a five-year-old. And my friend Clara had this picture on her blog earlier in the summer of a heart-shaped spud, which thrilled me to pieces. And, too, I love those stories you hear of someone who had lost hope and faith but found a reason to believe again when they found, say, a corn flake with the image of Jesus on it or a rock shaped like a cross or a knot in a tree that looks like the Virgin Mary.

I hope I don’t sound deranged when I tell you that I see faces everywhere. In tree trunks, in fence posts, in flower blossoms. And even when the face isn’t readily apparent, all I have to do is add two little googly eyes, and there it is. Yep, it’s true—I could entertain myself for hours with two little googly eyes and a world full of wonders. And even if you’re not so easily entertained as that, I hope these goofy shots will at least make you smile and remember, just for a moment, the pure pleasure and joy of silliness. 🙂 

Mr. Snapdragon blog

There’s one in every crowd.

There's something strange here blog

Hey, what’s that critter on sitting on the bull thistle?

bull thistle critter blog

Egads!  It’s the rare Fuzzy Breasted Spiky Headed Thistle Bird!

Mr. Squash too blog

Mr. Squash blog

It’s not easy being squash.