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Monday, December 28, 2015

A Walk In The Woods

Portal Tree   Great Smoky Mountains  Big Greenbrier    Timothy H. Fisher Photograpy

Yesterday I went for a hike. You heard me, a hike. I have not been on a trail for several years due to many health factors and the chronic fatigue I deal with each and every day.
For me to work each day and then rest on weekends is pretty much the best I can do physically. But this was one of those situations that you just have to say yes to and hope for the best. My friend Mike, who is a Mountain Jedi, contacted  me and said he was taking some nice folks from Mississippi to Parton Town in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and they would love to meet a close relative of  Dolly Parton or as I refer to her, The Dolly Lama.  A whole new wave of Dolly love was born with the release of  the made for T.V. movie "Coat of Many Colors".  Dolly's dad and my mom were brother and sister. They were born into a family of 12 children in the area that is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Life was tough in Parton Town located in a community called Big Greenbrier. The old cemetery is located about a mile or so up the Old Settlers Trail. It is by no means a difficult walk unless you are out of shape and haven't hiked in a while. Check and double check...
But I so wanted to do this walk. I have not been to the family cemetery in about 20 years. Not that much changes in a cemetery,  but I wanted to make sure my daughter and her husband knew where it was and heard some history on the area of her Parton family ancestors. Many of the Parton men were tough and of a violent nature. It appears we produce a lot of  tom cats and preachers.  From what I can hear most of the fair maidens in the Brier were warned to stay away from the Parton clan, but alas as most fair maidens tend to do, they did not heed the warning. My grandmother Bessie was pretty much banished from her family when she married Walter Parton, AKA Poppy to us kids. This is just a hard truth for some, everything certainly wasn't rainbows and lullabies for our family and for the majority of mountain families. It was a hard knock life in the Appalachian hills, lack of education and wide spread poverty encased many of the families like the damp mist that hangs in the hollers to this day.

I did not want to miss this opportunity to walk with Mike Maples and to hear stories of the people and the places long forgotten in the Smokies. He is certainly one of the most sought after hiking guides and never fails to keep you entertained and amazed with his knowledge of our ancestors. He does a lot of off trail hiking (not recommended for John Q Public) and locates and maps old home sites and the artifacts of daily living left behind when the inhabitants were forcibly removed to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Mike Maples with an old saw found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I had been worried on Saturday night that I would not be able to go on Sunday morning because I was so tired from the Christmas holiday. As you folks with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue know, the holidays usually knock you on your patooty when all is said and done and the tinsel hanging limply on the tree just reminds you of how much you dread un-decorating. I had over indulged on fudge and chocolate covered cherries and just felt like a run over dog. Sunday morning came and I was stiff and wobbling like a weeble. So I did the only thing I figured might help: massive coffee intake while I watched the catholic mass on TV, (no I'm not catholic),  Minister David Jeremiah and then a Pentecostal preacher. I wasn't leaving any denominational stone unturned,  I needed as much Divine Intervention as possible.
 Much to my daughters surprise I was ready to go at 8am. I was slathered in Pain-A-Trate, the Melaleuca  company's miracle pain relieving cream and had dug the old hiking boots out of the closet.

I had her dust and clean my walking stick with the turtle carved on the handle and I was ready to go.I had emergency snacks, a liter of water, BP meds and hopefully a direct line to the big man upstairs. We met the family and Mike at the trail head. It was already in the upper 50's and humid as could be. My stiff muscles were screaming already...but i went anyway. Soon familiar scents were dancing around me~ rich fertile earth, the river and pines.  Aches and pains faded to memories of the past when I walked this trail with my mother and Aunt Hazel, the last time being around 1998. The sound of the high waters of the middle prong was roaring through the valley. I felt light headed and I did not care... I breathed the air of the Brier and felt the familiar presence of  my past, it was wonderful.

 We slowly made it to the cemetery where we dowsed a few of the graves that were only marked with river rock head stones. If you are not familiar with the art of Dowsing, it is also called Water Witching and  using Divining Rods. I can't explain how it works but it does and you can either do it or you can't.

Mike and I both can find the unmarked graves and determine the sex of the person buried there. We visited the grave of Benjamin Christopher (Chris) Parton, a Civil War Soldier who is both mine and Dolly's great, great Grandfather.We left and continued on to the old home place of Chris Parton, where the mossy remains of a rock wall and the old pile of chimney stone sit  by a mountain stream.

Mike Maples at the Albert Houston Parton homeplace  chimney remains
A couple of pieces of old pottery shards were on the ground. I tried to imagine life as it was 100 years ago for them. I wonder if they imagined 100 years ahead to their future generations.....  soon we were making our way back to the car. My feet were soaked from crossing two rain swollen streams and the day was catching up with me, but I was so happy for that moment in time.

Now today is a horse of a different color. Don't get me wrong I am so happy I went, but this morning when I attempted to walk to the Keurig it looked much like this:


So I now find myself deep in the soft comfort of the Granny Bed, once again slathered with Pain-A-Trate and on not one but two heating pads.  I honestly don't have an inch that is not aching or sore but God willing I will  try to do it again when I can bend my knees....but for the next few days I will be like this:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

HALLOWEEN~Ghosts of Days Gone By

I was born on a Sunday morning at straight up 2 a.m. under the dark of the moon, also known as the new moon.

I suspect this has a tad to do with why I have always been drawn toward supernatural occurrences,the after life, celestial bodies and all things that go bump in the night.

As long as I can remember, I have felt different someway. Not bad or sad, just different. Drawn toward the unseen....this may be in part because I spent a lot time alone up until I was about 12 years old. I was a lonely child who did not play well with others. I spent my time in the woods or playing in the creek and had a fantastic imagination. I recall the time I played and ran from my shadow all day on the dusty road of my childhood home. Pretend and unseen friends were my normal and I also believe the origins of my absolute love of all things Halloween.

I have talked about my cousin Pat before on this blog- Everything in Life I Learned From Lucy post. She was all about anything Boogery (scary in mountain talk). She too loved Halloween and was born with a caul over her face. For those of you who don't have a clue what I'm talking about, a caul is a section of the amniotic sac that appears as a thin veil over the baby's face and head. Folklore in the Appalachia's and in many other parts of the world tell that a baby born with a caul, also known as a caulbearer is "double-sighted" or has peculiar visions.

My first Halloween memories are with her and my mom, aunt and sister going to Gatlinburg to Trick or Treat downtown. Usually, my costume was just old clothes and a sooty face, but sometimes I would get a little costume from the Dime Store in Sevierville as a very special treat if we had any extra money.
They were usually devils, princesses, black cats, ghosts, and other wonderful characters and a far cry from what passes as a costume these days.

Trick or Treating in Gatlinburg during the 60's was a cornucopia of pure heavenly delights. My favorite place to go was the Old Smoky Candy Kitchen. They would give out Red Candy Apples and Pralines. Full retail size, one to each child. Never had anything tasted better on the ride home from Gatlinburg as the candy apple. Other shops on the Parkway were also generous. KarmelKorn gave small boxes of their homemade delicacy. The hotels and motels had full size bars of candy or popcorn balls.  The streets were filled with local families and a handful of tourist who were the last  remnants of the October leaf crowd. When November the 1st arrived the streets of Gatlinburg would look like a ghost town, with only a handful of shops open during the day.

In 1966, the world was introduced to the Great Pumpkin and the Peanuts gang in the animated special. I clearly remember the excitement of going to the neighbors house (color TV) and sitting in the floor as close to the TV as I could get. This neighbor was also my first grade teacher, Ms. Sally. She was very good to me and at one time took me to her house everyday at lunch. She and her husband Gordon had a store in our community. She would give me little treats and once she gave me a Lay's Three Little Pigs mask for Halloween.  During this time, 1966,  we were living on their property. My mom and dad were in the middle of a terrible divorce battle. This was a very difficult time and I will never forget the kindness they showed us.  About 30 years later, they had both passed and the family was cleaning out the store and the personal items in a large estate sale. I was saddened to see the once loved items being sold. But that is what happens to treasures on earth...they become rust covered and moth eaten. I walked around and ending up buying Ms. Sally's very old pressure cooker/canner. Then I saw the prize: an old plastic Jack-O-Lantern.

I wondered if it had once sat in the old first grade classroom at Pittman Center as a silent observer or maybe held candy on the check out counter beside the ancient cash register at Gordon's store.  Its black paint is peeling and it has a large crack down the side. Jack now has a place by the tattered black cat.

The highlight of the school year for me as a child was the annual Halloween Carnival at Pittman Center School. It always was on the Saturday night before Halloween. We wore our costumes and brought our treat bags.   The gymnasium was decorated into a spooky  wonderland of orange and black streamers, paper witches and white sheets transformed to ghosts. You could bob for apples or toss free throws in the basket.  Game booths were sit up and tables of homemade bake sale goodies as well. One of my most prized possessions was won at one of these games. I was lifting the Ducks from the wash basin/pond and won a grand prize. A set of ceramic planters that feature a little bear cub on a log. I was thrilled.

On the ride home I remember being in the back seat of the car and my dad pointing to the moon and asking if I could see the man in the moon? 


 I recall that both my mom and dad were laughing and having a great time.One of a very few unfortunately,  it was a magical evening . I still have the little planters. They have made it through numerous moves, the blizzard of '93, two marriages and about 50 years of life. My poor daughter is going to inherit some weird stuff.  Some day I will tell you about Granny's hair.... but for now back to the Carnival.
 The teachers had goodies for our treat bag and a class room had suddenly morphed into a Haunted House where you were accosted in the dark by skeletons and goblins.

If you dared to stick your hands into the box of brains, you would be forever haunted by the grizzly jello goo that stuck to your trembling fingers.
 Most of the games were simple and Carnival style, aimed at the younger children: A Dart Throw, a Duck Pond, Ring Toss, etc..

 The older kids were sneaking off to steal kisses in locker rooms and to let the air out of tires in the parking lot.Occasionally a flying egg would greet a late arrival to the Carnival and some toilet paper might be billowing from the big trees by the creek.    We had a local constable that we delighted in enticing to a good harmless game of cat and mouse. In those days we had no intent to destroy or vandalize, and the local lawman was part of the plan. I think he enjoyed chasing us around the parking lot and playground, and having a little fun himself. It was the one night he could be childlike too. Little pranksters and tricksters had one night to innocently revel and it was glorious.

                                    Times sure have changed :

We also had the crowning of the King and Queen of the Halloween Carnival  that ended the evening festivities.   One end of the shiny gymnasium floor was decorated for the soon to be royal couples to march in with much pomp and circumstance. A basketball goal had magically became an arbor of white tissue paper, balloons and orange and black party streamers to the floor, a majestic back drop. Two chairs, fit for a King and his Queen were on an elevated section, with the remainder of the  royal court seated on long benches covered with cloth. Their conspicuous legs telling us that on a normal day they would be the basketball team benches.  The honor of running for Queen and King was decided by classroom vote early in the fall.  After the candidates were elected, the process of gathering the most money began. Each class had a designated day to hold a bake sale at school, moms and dads donated raffle items and tickets were sold, Granny made a quilt and Pap might carve a beautiful songbird bird as a raffle item. At the carnival you made your last charge at making a few more dollars for the honor of the crown.

 I was the queen candidate in the 4th grade. I remember one Saturday, my friends and I  took a mason jar to Gatlinburg and pan handled all day for change on the Parkway. Dickens would have been proud. Certainly, this would be frowned upon in modern day society. The tourists gave us loose change and a smile.Most were very nice and talked to us little hillbilly's about our school and families. Some gave us a piece of candy and some even gave us a dollar bill. I remember one man gave me a five dollar bill.  
 My King candidate was Stanley. I always had a  crush on him, but he sealed it one day with a dirt clod to the head at play period and I knew he was the boy for me.

 My mom had  borrowed a formal gown from a lady in Gatlinburg that had a daughter my age. It had a white satin top and a big red crinoline full length skirt. It was the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. My pixie was teased and poofed  and a tomboy had become a princess for a few hours. While the crowd was being entertained in the gym with a cake walk, square dancers and musicians,  we were in classrooms getting dressed for the grand entrance. The secretary and the Principle were in the office counting the final totals for each class. Soon we marched into the gym, in order from 1st grade to 8th grade and took our places. There were crown bearers and robe bearers, it was a grand event.  Unfortunately, we came in second place and watched from the bench while another took our sparkly crowns and was adorned with long velvet robes... such is life.

 Many years later I watched my daughter walk in the same processional when she was in the 1st grade. It was changed several decades ago to the Fall Festival and is held in November at the new school. All essence of Halloween has long been removed.

 I like to think that decades later, the shadows of Halloweens past still join the annual march for the crown in the empty old gymnasium on the Saturday night before Halloween and the little valley nestled between the mountains and Webbs Creek lovingly holds the faint laughter of children from days gone by.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Everything In Life I Learned From I LOVE LUCY

When I was growing up we had very little in the way of material things. One luxury that we did have was a television. My love affair with the TV began at a very early age. My sister has an old diary which has a page entry stating  " we went to town today and Judy cried and screamed all the way home because she was afraid she would miss Tarzan. She didn't". The list of shows I would cry and scream over would fill this page. One of my favorites was I Love Lucy. I come from a long line of funny women;but none were as outrageous as Lucy. I struggled with whether I wanted to be like the fiery redhead or swing from a grapevine with a monkey. It was a dilemma.  I would go to the mirror and make faces like those in the above picture, then go to the apple tree and jump from branch to branch. It was about this time that fate set me on my course and I realized I could get folks to laugh. In 1963 the Knoxville Municipal Zoo got their first elephant. His name was Old Diamond and he was a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus bull elephant that was very aggressive and difficult to handle.  They left him after a show in Knoxville. I begged for several months to go to the big city and see him.

 Only in the scary jungles of my Tarzan TV shows had I seen such a behemoth; I imagined the trip daily as I sit glued to the TV watching head hunters.. Then finally, my cousin Pat told me that mom said she could take me to the zoo the coming Saturday.   I was the happiest child in Pittman Center for that moment in time.
 Let me tell you a little about my cousin Patricia. She was 12 years older than me and I thought she was the most sophisticated and beautiful woman on the planet. She had big teased blonde hair, cherry red lipstick and smoked Salem Menthol's.  I was about 7 when we made the journey. I was so excited. The zoo was connected to an area called Chilhowee Park and they had a roller coaster named The Mad Mouse. She bought me cotton candy after the coaster ride( my first and my last coaster ever), blotted my tears and made me promise not to tell mom she had taken me on the rickety old ride.  We then went to see the elephant. Now back in those days there wasn't any type of natural habitat. The animals were behind wire or wood fences. When I saw the 16,000 pound giant, I was both horrified and amazed. Suddenly I realized the most shocking thing...Old Diamond had five legs. I screamed at the top of my lungs "Pat, Pat...he has five legs!"
A roar of laughter erupted from the large crowd gathered to see Old Diamond.  For the life of me, I wasn't sure why they all laughed...but I liked it. So I hollered again "Look Pat, he's five legged"...again hysterical laughter. Pat was momentarily speechless and then she gathered her cool. She took a  long drag off of her Salem Menthol and suggested I take a closer look. Sure , no problem. I had waited a long time to see Old Diamond. The crowd was giggling and watching as I inched closer to the wooden rail fence above the elephant pit. A man hollered " You better look close there little girl, you may never see a five legged elephant again".  He was right.
 About that time, my worn out flip flops lost traction. I cleared the bottom rail and fell rolling, down the hill into the pit with Old Diamond. I had a birds eye view of that fifth leg and realized it was shorter than the others. Screaming and confusion ensued from above as I got up and started backing away. I looked up at Pat and she was white as a ghost and on the verge of tears. I stared up at Old Diamond and he stared back at me.  Now in my young mind, I pictured this would happen:

 However, what I saw were uniformed men running toward us from a building, I'm pretty sure they had poison tipped spears. Diamond just stood there...unphased. I didn't give them a chance to get to me. I was more afraid of them than I was the elephant.  I high tailed it up that embankment like Cheetah. When I got to the fence, Pat along with a couple of men grabbed me and lifted me over. I had lost a shoe in the great fall but was none the wiser on the leg situation. Suddenly everyone laughed and clapped. That was the moment I knew my calling.....
On the way home I got the Birds and Bees 101 and a bribery Chuck Wagon Basket from ReMacs Drive-In if I promised not to tell mom anything about what had happened.
 I loved Pat more than ever.

As the years rolled on my Lucy moments only increased. Way too many to remember so I have picked out some of my favorite memories that I think best convey the Spirit of Lucy.
Several years ago I was riding with my ex husband, who I will refer to as Ricky from this point on, in Pigeon Forge. For those not familiar with our area, Pigeon Forge is a tourist town and is the home of Dollywood.
Needless to say the traffic is horrendous most of the time. Me and Ricky were on our way home when suddenly a car passed us on the Parkway and I saw this:

 A young child behind the wheel of a car, alone driving. I freaked out and immediately dialed 911 to get him stopped before he wrecked. I made Ricky drop back and we followed him until finally a police car pulled in behind him and got him stopped. It made me feel good to know maybe I had saved his life or another persons. Maybe he had ran away and took the car.  We pulled over and watched as the officer talked to the child and then, to my surprise, he got back into his patrol car and left. The kid pulled back onto the road and continued driving. I made Ricky speed up and catch the car. As we got beside him, I was peering like a meerkat and then I looked like this:

In my defense, he should have had this sign on his back window:

Many of my Lucy moments have involved animals in one way or the other.  When I was the Mayor of our community, I organized a Halloween Trick or Treat at City Hall for the lower grades of our elementary school. Now as many of you know I love Halloween and since it was the younger kids I went with a more conservative, non scary costume:

Halloween fell on a weekend so on that Friday  we began the Trick or Treating around 2pm. At that time the school was on the same property as City Hall and the kids just walked over one class at at time to get their candy from me the friendly bovine Mayor, complete with rubber udders. After the kids had finished and went back to school, I went into the meeting room for something and was planning to go home. Suddenly , the City Recorder came in and said " There is a man here to see you about a zoning issue". She had already told him I was in the building, so there was no running like a stampede toward the back forty out the back exit door. I told her to send him in but to prepare him...apparently she didn't. He walked through the door and saw me and I knew he had no idea what the hell was going on. I had hoped it would be a local person I knew, but the poor man was from Ohio and had just bought a house in our community. Rarely do comedic opportunities such as this just fall into your udders.  I never batted a heifer eye. I just extended my hand and introduced myself as I asked him what I could do for him. He mumbled a minute and then began to ask about a zoning ordinance. We sat down and I reached and intentionally adjusted my plastic udders. He watched uncomfortably and continued to ask some general questions about our Town since he and his wife had recently moved to the area. I offered him something to drink- he chose coffee. Of course my next question was "Do you want fresh cream with that"? He quickly said "NO, no thank you". Our conversation continued another twenty uncomfortable minutes with neither of us acknowledging the spotted cow in the room, so to speak. It was difficult to maintain my composure and not crack up. But I just kept saying in my head "What Would Lucy Do"?  He shook my hand again, thanking me for my time and left. I don't think they live here anymore.

Rewind a little to  the wonderful 80's, my daughter attended the same elementary school mentioned above. As I would take her to school we kept seeing a mixed breed black dog hanging out at an abandoned building near the school. Of course my dog loving bones started to ache as I watched the stray stand by the roadside. My daughter said the dog hung around the school and was getting scraps from the lunch room. So I took a bowl and put it at the building and fed her everyday. It wasn't long before we realized the dog was expecting. So from that day we called her Mamma Dog. I noticed other foot prints around her bowl and realized other folks were also giving her dog food.  One day we saw Mamma Dog and she had obviously had her pups. I watched her climb in and out from under the old store building, long abandoned. With in a couple of weeks I could hear the pups whining so I climbed under with a flashlight to be greeted by a growling mamma and several little shining eyes. It was at this time that I became this:

I would save those pups come hell or high water, literally. This area is in a flooding zone and we had been having some high rains. A couple more weeks had passed and I had only heard the pups, I had never seen them out.  The river runs right beside the old building. My daughter and I went to fill the dog bowl in the rain. While we were parked we heard puppies crying from the river bank. A couple were on rocks in the river and the rest were across the stream on the hillside. Damn the high water, we were getting those pups. This stream is usually knee deepish at most areas but in a flash flood it becomes a force of nature not to be reckoned with. We quickly gathered pups, throwing them into the back seat of my car as the water rose. No sign of  Momma Dog.  We headed home with a Volvo full of howling canines. I was surprised at how healthy they looked. They were about 6-8 weeks old, and they were beautiful. Multiple colors and just  wonderful.

My daughter with the pups and our shepherd Gambler

We put up a make shift pen in the yard as Ricky screamed and cursed in Pig Latin and then stomped off to the Tropicana.... I began the task of finding them a home. It was no problem. I was adopting out pups to the left and right. Within a few days I only had one left to find a home for. That particular weekend Ricky and I pulled into the local grocery store to buy a cola. One of my friends uncle runs the store and she was there. I ask her if she knew anyone who would like a puppy. She said no and then told me that someone had stolen all of her uncles prized Australian Herding dog puppies from their farm. They had overnight rentals and they suspected a recent guest may have taken them all....once again, I looked like this:

Oh Shiiiitt........
I managed to hold it together until we got out of the parking lot. My ears were ringing, my heart was pounding and somewhere in the spinning distance I heard Ricky laughing .... I then looked like this:

I stole someones prize pups.......

"Lucy you must do this" declared an angry Ricky when we got home:

But I couldn't, I just could not do it.....

 I cried and snotted and begged him to please make the call for me. Some may wonder how the pups were at the creek. The back of the farm runs to the creek area and I suppose they followed mom....who knows.
I laid on the couch and kicked my feet in a true Lucy tantrum.... I bargained with Ricky that I would never ask to go into show business (dog rescue) again  if he would call for me and 'Splain what had happened.
Finally, after I wore him down, he agreed. I had a pillow over my head crying as I expected the local police at any minute to cart me to the big house. I heard him 'splain how I thought they were strays and I had already given them to families in the area. Fortunately, the forgiveness gods shined on me that day. The owner didn't want to upset children who were attached already to their new puppy and he was relieved his cabin guests hadn't taken them.  I was crushed...I hadn't been back to the building because Momma Dog had been gone since I took the puppy's. Guilt, guilt and more guilt. I knew it was too late for the other pups.....

Once upon a time there was a woman who wanted lap-band weight loss surgery. Finally, she was approved and a date was set for the procedure. Unfortunately, the woman had a flare up of diverticulitis and lost just enough weight to no longer be eligible for surgery. This was a nightmare! There had to be a way...again,

 The old wheels started to turn....she only needed 4 pounds. The hospital told her she would be weighed just before surgery and if she was even 1 pound below the minimum , they would cancel the procedure.
She remembered an episode of Andy Griffith were Barney was about to lose his job due to his weight being too low... the answer for him was a large chain around his neck under the uniform. She called and was told she would be weighed bare feet, in a hospital gown. This was a challenge. But then:

She went to Walmart and bought ankle weights with individual pockets of small sand bags. Then she went and borrowed a VERY large bra...Thank God for big boobed relatives, I was told she exclaimed!  In each side of the bra she sewed a pouch with 2 pounds of sand. I heard she put the bra on in the parking lot just before she entered the hospital. I was later told that after she got into the pre-op area and was weighed she was only 1 pound over the minimum amount. Whew...that is what you call a close one. Just before she was ready to get the IV , she allegedly  made a quick run into the bathroom. I heard she went in a double D and came out a C cup, but no one noticed. Legend says that later that day a suspicious item was found in the Bio-Hazard container.   The end.

You may have heard of Snakes On A Plane but have you heard of a Snake In A Maytag? It was a beautiful October Sunday afternoon and I was getting ready to do some laundry for my daughter and her friend who had just came off of Mt. LeConte from an overnight trip. I was standing sorting clothes dropping them in the washer when I thought..hmm I have never seen that black rubber piece all along the top of the drum....Oh My Gawd its moving...SNAKE!!!!!!!  Now I am an ex Park Ranger, but let me get surprised by a snake, spider or mouse and I am going to scream like a little girl or like Lucy:

I slammed the lid and screamed for the kids to get in there and help. My daughter is worse than me with a snake..her friend manned up and came in to help me. We opened the lid and it was not there. You know what is worse than a snake in the washer? Not knowing where it went..he banged the side of the washer and it shot out and tried to go up the wall. It was a black racer. They are aggressive and stand up and look like Cobras. I screamed to block the door to the laundry room. I knew if it cleared the doorway I would have to commit arson, and I don't wear stripes well. He and I frantically tried to pin it down with the only thing we had a Swiffer Sweeper. My daughter was like jelly standing in the back of the hall mortified. Finally, he said I think I have its head pinned..we looked at each other a minute, and the "you get it, no you get it" began. Since I was the woman of the house (Ricky had long gone to beat his Bongos elsewhere) and he was an invited guest, I knew it fell on me to do the deed. First I want to give you a mental picture. I , of course, was in flannel pajamas. My grey hair piled on my head in a bun. In my house is a center fireplace that you can walk all the way around. I have a screened in porch that locks and I usually keep the front main door open when the weather is pretty .It was a beautiful Fall afternoon in the Smokies. I got a pillow case and worked the long body of the snake into it...I got my hand as close to the Swiffer(head) as possible and we just looked at each other. "How much of the head is under the Swiffer"  I asked . He didn't know for sure. I yelled at Courtney "Go get the front door open" and I heard her sprint from the hallway. "Is it open?" YES.  OK, on 3, let go of the Swiffer.... 1,2, 3eeeeehhhh. Enough of the snake was above my hand for it to turn and look me in the eyes and try to strike my wrist. I screamed like a wild woman and looked like I should be in  this:

I ran screaming for the door, my daughter ran screaming from the door as we passed each other. As soon as I got to the porch I realized the screen was locked. "Oh my Lord Court, you didn't unlock the screen door! Get back here". She yelled no and I had to run back into the house with the snake above my head, it striking, just missing my hand. I lapped the fireplace, Holy Ghost Revival style and she ran the other way around the fireplace to the porch and unlocked the door and opened it wide. I live on a well traveled road and my neighbor was home. Cars were slowing down as I ran screaming into the yard with a snake over my head running for the creek. Why I just didn't drop it sooner I will never know. I didn't kill it.. I don't kill animals of any type if there is an alternative. My daughter and friend were all in tow as I reached the creek and threw him , pillow case and all. But guess what ? Being a racer, I suppose my laps had just warmed him up. He came out of the case, stood up about a third of his body and looked at us all like: Really? You want to play this game? Here he came up the creek bank and started toward us on the lawn.  We screamed and ran back to the house. I had to go to the comfort of the Granny Bed for hours..... being Lucy is not easy!

Where's my heating pad?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

AS SEEN ON TV or There's a sucker born every minute

Everyone has their Achilles Heel... mine  is buying the silliest things possible off of the TV infomercials or from specialty magazines .  I cannot imagine how many items I have purchased in the last 25 years or so. I thought it would be fun to share some of them and my experiences with the gadgets. Few are awesome , most are junk and some are just ludicrous.
 I remember the first advertising that lured me in was when I was a young child. Back then I searched the back pages of  True Story  for amazing ad purchases , such as x-ray glasses.  The picture was a kid with big black glasses with swirling circles as lens. I so wanted to see the bones of my friends and family. But the real desire was for the exotic Sea Monkeys... Never had such creatures been sighted on Tunis Creek.

My yearning for Sea Monkeys continued until my cousin Pat went to New York City on her senior trip and brought me back a pack.  Mom got me a mason jar of water and we followed the directions carefully. Each morning I would get up and check the jar. It was beginning to get smelly and once I thought I saw a wormy looking creature. Each day I searched for the little family pictured on the box.  After many tears and a tantrum, my mom threw out the stagnant mess and I felt a terrible guilt that my Sea Monkeys failed to thrive.

As the years passed the fitness craze began in the 80's. Soon I was watching this guy scream and tell me how badly I need this:

While I am on the subject of exercise equipment, I might as well show you the gallery . If you can sit, bounce, roll or push/pull it, I have tried it. Here are some of the highlights:

The Fluidity Bar...absolutely in the top 5 most ridiculous purchases of my life. I had insomnia and a credit card. Not a good combo at 3 a.m. It was only 4 easy payments and it should have changed my life, instead it looked like this:

I tried to put my leg up on the bar once, screamed in pain from my sciatic  and had to use this previous purchase:

Of all the exercise and health related purchases I have , I must say the best  and the one I use the most is the Crazy Fitness Vibrating Machine. 

I figured if it was good enough for astronauts in training, I certainly would give it a whirl or a shake in this situation. When it was delivered and left on the porch I could barely lift one side of the box at a time. I was thankful I had purchased these:

Back to the whole body vibration therapy, it is very effective when I use it regularly. As with most things that actually help, I quit.  I need to get back to using it. All you have to do is stand for 10 minutes at a time, easier said than done for someone with dysautonomia.  One thing that is hilarious is that the machine is made in China and has some instructions imprinted on the control panel on the hand hold area. Here is the actual picture of the instructions:

          I swear this is a photo of the actual instructions... sometimes the humor gods just smile on you. In addition to the above items, I currently have a Pilates Performer (QVC), Recumbent Bike (Overstock) and this fan favorite:

 Now for the low end items from As Seen On TV- Let's begin with Health and Beauty. As most women, I constantly look for the latest and greatest for your hair. Here are some purchases:

Bumpits- To give your hair that full and bouncy look:

How I actually looked:

Hot Buns: 

Reality, not so hot:

Sometimes the name of an item can make or break the invention. The epic fail award :

 For those of us who really hate bending over to wash our feet:

Epic Fail:  If you think hair clings to the drain wait till you see these nasty things after a few showers.

For when it is hitting the fan, may I suggest :

And if you need Shittens,  first you will need:

I really don't enjoy shopping. I know that sounds unbelievable given the nature of this blog. But I  hate to shop. I wear the same clothes until they eventually come back in style. I hate shoes in general. I have three purses to my name and they are not designer. I do my very limited Christmas shopping online and I haven't been to a shopping mall in probably 10 years. But I can't resist the impulse buys at Walgreens. I am beginning to wonder if they are affiliated with the Devil. It was the same way when I use to go to Sam's Club over 20 years ago. I would go to "save money" and leave with a rolling cart full of items over $300 every time. I swear I think these places play some kind of subliminal message in the Muzak. Maybe they use this guy:

You turn into a robotic idiot that must have that 32 oz can of Tuna.
I knew I was really in trouble when I walked down an isle in Walgreens and I activated a motion sensor that began the following recorded message, " Are you tired of lugging out that heavy pressure washer every time you need to clean a small area?"  I recall staring at the video and  answering  "Yes, I am".  Soon I left the store with my blood pressure meds and this:

and on the subject of hoses, doesn't everyone need to always have a hose in their pocket?
I think so:
Is that a hose in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

Anytime I can buy something with lights I am especially giddy, for example:

And my all time personal favorite:

Also these are pretty cool:

Kinda reminds me of this poor black child raised in the south, Neven Johnson's invention:

The Opti-Grab Glasses

Here are a few Pet purchases over the years:

No they don't, they pee where ever they damn well please.

Just lean a commode brush up against the wall.....same thing

May I suggest a paper bag or an empty box.....

 I just spent several hundred dollars on doggie dental care...I haven't been to the dentist in 2 years.

Now for some of the lovely clothing attire you can't live without:

Soon you will be:

And If you are alone you can take yourself on a picnic:

And if it is "All about that Bass":

Just make sure you don't POP too much and have this tragedy happen to you:

Check your crack and check it often..Wilford Brimley
              As for the Home and Garden purchases, there are so many I couldn't post them all.You name it, I    probably have it or have sent it to the dumpster. 

I have put myself on a strict budget and I am doing better on the impulse buying . No I'm not, that's a lie.
 My latest purchase is this:
Retro phone receiver

Actually , I love these. I got one for my car, office and home. It suppose to block 99% of radiation from the cell phone and your face doesn't get hot. It's much easier to hold and I don't get a crick in my neck which requires me to wear this purchase:

In closing, I must tell you about possibly the most outrageous purchase of the past few months. EBay, Amazon and Nomorerack are not my friends. The long nights of winter find me searching away for anything and everything.  One evening on EBay I saw something I have always it would have been much better had I purchased them 40 pounds and 40 years earlier. Clogging shoes...

I also found this:

Eagerly I waited for the weekend so I could gear up and have my first lesson. I set my Nitro's out just in case and had my cell phone nearby and the door was unlocked in case first responders needed to make entry.
I also had a captive audience as I DANCED LIKE NO ONE WAS WATCHING.. but they were:

Soon, very soon, I realized this was a mistake of monumental proportions... my sciatica screamed in horror as did my ruptured disc. My face was red as a beet and my heart was throbbing in my eyeballs. The Orange Blossom Special spun on an old  33 vinyl and I made my way to the recliner. I lasted less than 5 minutes. 
The next day I could barely get out of bed. Finally, after being on 2 heating pads for a few hours, I was able to get down to the floor to use this purchase from Hammacher Schlemmer:

 It is wonderful, you lay and use a ratchet on the side to pull your vertebra apart to ease the pain. I must give it a big thumbs up. It is the same principle as the hanging inversion table but without the risk of being found hanging unconscious  like Grandpa on the Munsters. 
So as I sit here this evening comfortably on my:

and wearing my :

      I will dream of spring days so that I can plant my: