The Flight Canceled (because of punks)?

The flight canceled?

This morning, I opened my news page online and saw an article about a flight from Charlotte to Nassau, Bahamas, that was canceled yesterday. According to the article, a group of high school students from Boston refused to wear masks on their flight from Charlotte to Nassau (I think they were connecting through Charlotte), so after a lengthy delay, American Airlines canceled the flight and rescheduled everyone to travel today. Sadly, all those folks have to arrive in Nassau a day late, but guess what else? All those people who were supposed to fly out of Nassau on that plane back to Charlotte? Well, their flight was canceled too, because the plane never got there (I checked the American Airlines website to see if the downline flight had canceled, and it had.) See the story on the WSOC-TV website here.

What the what?!?! I love American Airlines, but I can’t believe they punished all the travelers because of the actions of some high school punks. Yes, I called them punks, because they were being absolutely, completely selfish.

Here’s the thing: If wearing a mask is such a big problem for you, you don’t have to fly. These kids knew before they left Boston that they were going to be required (by the Federal Aviation Administration!) to wear masks in the airport and on the plane. They knew. Life is all about choices. If you don’t want to wear a mask on a plane, then you should choose an alternate form of travel. Or in this case, maybe you choose a different destination…unless you want to charter a plane or travel by boat.

My blood pressure went up just reading the article about these selfish kids. I can only imagine how livid I would have been if I had been a passenger on the flight. And if my own child had been a participant? Well, she wouldn’t be on her way to the Bahamas today. Her butt would be on the way home…and big punishment would await her…big punishment. Punishment in the form of no phone or driving for a while. Punishment in the form of researching the meaning of the word “selfish.” We would likely teach her what selfishness was all about by behaving selfishly ourselves. She asks for something for dinner? We say, “No, that’s not what we want. We’re selfish, so we don’t care what you want.” She wouldn’t be hanging out in her room alone. She would be hanging out with us all day, so she would have to do what we want to do. Oh, we could teach her what it feels like when someone is selfish and ruins your plans.

And as much as I love American Airlines, I think they were far too lenient on this group of kids. Fortunately, American gave other passengers hotel vouchers for the night (that would not be enough to make me feel better about it), but the high school students? Well, they weren’t old enough to check into hotels, so they had to sleep in the airport. That was a tiny bit of sweet revenge. But still, American was too lenient. And I hope the parents will punish them when they get home.Those selfish punks, in my opinion, should have been blocked from flying again and left to fend for themselves on how to get back home to Boston. Get on a Greyhound bus. I wouldn’t care how they got there…just get out of the airport.

Not gonna lie…if I had been a passenger on this flight, my head would have been spinning around, The Exorcist-style. I likely would have asked (begged!) the captain to just put them out and continue on, because the rest of us would like to get to our destination. I probably would have cried tears of anger, simply because no one loves a vacation more than I do. It makes me angry just to think about it. A bunch of selfish kids ruined things for everyone else.

Unfortunately, these kids made a bad choice. Life is a series of choices. If these kids want to make bad choices, they will eventually learn there are consequences to their actions, I hope. They will be the victims of their own poor choices. However, in this case, I’m afraid the other passengers were the real victims of these punks’ poor choices. I hope these kids thought about their actions while they were trying to sleep in the airport last night. I hope they were absolutely miserable in the airport (and wearing masks!). I hope they got on the plane today with their masks and apologized profusely to the other passengers and crew. I have a feeling they didn’t offer apologies or ask forgiveness, but I hope they did.

Target Saved Me

Target saved me.

Almost 18 years ago, I had a baby. I was completely clueless. I had never taken care of a baby. I had never spent much time around babies. And somehow, I got the baby who didn’t require much sleep. Our pediatrician assured me I wasn’t doing anything wrong…I just got a baby who didn’t sleep. God does have a sense of humor. I love my sleep. He knows that. But He found a way to make me learn to live without sleep. The joke was on me!

Staying home all day with a baby who doesn’t sleep makes for a long day. When she was several months old, after the worst of the flu season had passed, I made a real effort to find places I could go with the baby…places I could waste lots of time. The best place I found? Target.

Yes, way back in 2004, Target saved me. I found I could put my baby in the stroller and spend hours in Target. She was happy, and I was happy. She was seeing new faces, and I wasn’t stuck at home. It was what I referred to as the “Target effect.”

The “Target effect” kept us going for a long time. I could take the baby there in the morning and spend time outdoors in the afternoon. Or if it was raining, we might put in extra time in Target. As our daughter grew older, Target entertained in different ways. We could have snacks (with Icees!) in the snack bar. We could wander through the toy aisles. So much fun in one place! It was especially awesome in winter! In fact, even after she started school, we would go to Target most afternoons after I picked her up , and we would get Icees and popcorn. It was a great opportunity to do a “post game wrap up” of her day.

As she got older, we added other places to our go-to list. Carowinds, a local amusement park, became our favorite place in summer. We got season passes, and I could push her around in the stroller for a few hours a day…with her climbing out to watch live shows or ride rides or play games. We would have lunch in the park and work up a good sweat. Good times! In fact, she would be heartbroken when the park closed at the end of the summer (and secretly, I would be heartbroken too).

Sports Connection, a local place with video games, bowling, inflatable trampolines, and a snack bar, became a favorite when she was elementary school age. I could relax in the snack bar and watch her move around the building with friends. Other places on our list were Gymboree Play and Music, Charlotte Nature Museum, and any splash park or swimming pool in summer.

We were also fortunate to have great friends in a very active “playgroup.” Originally, we met once a week, but as the kids got into toddlerhood and elementary age, we met almost every day we were in town during summer months.

I should probably write a thank you note to Target and all those other places for saving my sanity during those early years. But I owe a really big thank you to the lifelong friends I made along the way. I don’t know how we would have managed without our awesome playgroup. It was made up of moms from all over the country. We were from different backgrounds, religions, and political beliefs, but we developed incredible friendships that are still alive and well today.

Now that our daughter is entering her senior year of high school, I feel sure I will be calling on those friends to keep me sane again! Too bad our favorite Target got rid of the in-house snack bar. We could have survived our kids’ senior year together by having Icees together right there.

We Took the Bus

We took the bus.

In 2012, my then-9-yr-old daughter and I met my friend, Mary Ann, and her son in Los Angeles for a five-day vacation. We had visited the city before, but we decided we would make this particular trip a little different than other trips. We decided we would give our kids some opportunities to learn, and of course, we learned along the way too.

Mary Ann and I decided before we went that we were going to do this trip differently. One big change? We would purchase bus passes for each of us and use public transportation for most of our travels through the city. At 45-years-old, I had only taken a city bus once…the previous year in Los Angeles, and on that particular trip, I got off at the wrong stop. But this time was going to be different. We thought it would be good to expose our kids to the city bus system…see the world through a different lens instead of our locked car doors. And we were right…

We didn’t know a lot about how the whole bus thing works, so we took a cab to the city bus station, where we purchased one-week passes for each of us. I don’t remember how much they were, but I think they were around $20 each. We also picked up some pamphlets that listed information about the bus system, and we learned we could download an app that would help us navigate the city. And our adventure began.

Near the bus station was La Brea Tarpits. I didn’t really know that much about La Brea Tarpits, except I remembered hearing Johnny Carson make fun of it on The Tonight Show when I was growing up. But there it was…just down the street…so we walked down and did the full-on visit. It was well worth our time, and a good learning experience for the kids. If you visit LA with children, especially kids who have an interest in prehistoric creatures, I highly recommend La Brea Tarpits. See more info here.

Upon leaving La Brea Tarpits, we had our first bus experience. We swiped our passes when we boarded, and we were off! I don’t remember much about it; it was pretty uneventful. That particular bus wasn’t even crowded, so we had plenty of space.

Everywhere we went, we referred to the app on our smartphones for help in figuring out which bus to take where. I told Mary Ann that I didn’t know how lots of people figured it out! It really isn’t that easy to master the system, but we were getting lots of help from the app…thank God Mary Ann discovered it. Our bus experiences were pretty darn pleasant. One day, when the bus was crowded on the way to Santa Monica, a young lady offered to let me sit next to her instead of standing. I spoke to her and quickly learned she was deaf. Using the minimal sign language I had learned in my youth, I asked her name. She signed back to me that her name was Crystal, and a friendship, albeit brief, was born! My daughter couldn’t believe her eyes as I chatted with Crystal in my very limited knowledge of sign language, but she could see we were communicating. I explained to her that Crystal couldn’t hear, and she said, “I figured that out, but how do you know sign language?!?” As I’ve said before…I’m a Jill of all trades but a master of none. When we arrived in Santa Monica, we all got off the bus, and we never saw Crystal again, but she made an impression on my daughter…as did my sign language skills.

Another day, we were on a very crowded bus…not even elbow to elbow…it was body to body crowded. A young lady who was standing near me asked me which stop would be closest to her hotel. I said, “I’m flattered that you think I look like I know what I’m doing, but I have no idea.” She explained that she was an exchange student from China. I introduced myself and my fellow travelers, and then I asked a gentleman nearby, who appeared to be homeless, and he gave her directions. At the next stop, when we couldn’t get off the bus fast enough before the doors closed (it was crowded!), the same homeless gentleman came to our rescue by yelling to the driver to stop for us to disembark. Whew! Who knows where we would have ended up?!? My daughter learned there are kind people everywhere, and they don’t all look the same.

We did get off the bus at a wrong stop one day during our adventure, and we believe our kids witnessed a drug deal going down. I guess that’s educational too. We just kept walking, trying to act nonchalant, while we were in fear for our lives, but we made it. The kids were complaining that they were hungry, so we stepped into a fast food joint, but that didn’t last long either. Halfway through our meal, a fight broke out, and we totally ditched the food and got the heck out of there…another lesson, for sure.

I have written before about our “social experiment,” but here’s a quick recap: while walking to breakfast one morning, we took turns greeting everyone we passed on the sidewalk with “good morning.” Some people looked afraid. A few others murmured something back, but three different people stopped us and thanked us for wishing them a good morning. They all asked where we were from, and they were all from somewhere besides LA and said we reminded them of home! Did I mention one of them even hugged us? The lesson there is that you can’t make everyone happy, but maybe you can do something small to make one or two people happier.

I haven’t felt the need to take the bus on subsequent trips to LA. We rent a car at the airport these days and get around pretty easily. But we will always have the memories from that trip.

We took the bus.

Which Gilligan’s Island Character Are You?

Which Gilligan’s Island character are you?

If you’re about my age, you likely remember Gilligan’s Island. It was a favorite when I was a kid, and frankly, I can even laugh at episodes now. Interestingly, I guess I saw it in reruns (also known as “syndication”), since it only ran for three seasons, from 1964 to 1967. I was born at the tail end of its run, so I certainly don’t remember it from its first run. If you’re familiar with the show, you probably remember the personalities of each character. Remember the characters? Gilligan (the first mate), Skipper (the captain) Thurston Howell III and Mrs. Howell (the millionaire and his wife), Ginger (the movie star), the Professor and Mary Ann (the farm girl)…all on Gilligan’s Isle.

I took my daughter and some of her friends to Miami for Spring Break a few weeks ago, and a friend met us there with her daughter. One day, we chartered a boat to take us out on Biscayne Bay for a day of boating and swimming. On the way to meet the boat, my friend and I were laughing that we were going out for a three hour tour, based on the Gilligan’s Island theme song. In case you don’t remember it, it went like this:

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailing man, the Skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day for three-hour tour…a three-hour tour. (Lightning cracks.) The weather started getting rough. The tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost…the Minnow would be lost. The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, the professor and Mary Ann…here on Gillian’s Isle.

Yes, we actually sang the song while we rode in the car, and the kids had no idea what we were singing. Sad. Truly sad, because Gilligan’s Island was some comedy genius. I’m sure there are people who would say it was just a series of slapstick gags, but there’s a reason we all remember it…it was funny!

As we drove through Miami, our conversation turned to those very characters. My friend asked me, “Which character are you? Ginger or Mary Ann?” I laughed and laughed. I know I’m not Ginger, the sexy movie star. But I don’t think of myself as naïve Mary Ann, either. And then it hit me, and I responded, “Oh honey, I’m Lovey.” If you don’t know who Lovey is…she’s Mrs. Thurston Howell III. Apparently, her legal name was Eunice Wentworth Howell, but I don’t remember hearing her ever referred to that way. Mr. Howell called her Lovey, and everyone else called her Mrs. Howell. She was a little spoiled (ahem), but she was always up for some fun and for trying something new. I’ll take that description of myself and run with it. My friend laughed…and then started calling me Lovey. I wear my “Lovey” name tag proudly. In fact, I might just start calling myself “Lovey” in real life. I wonder if my husband can adjust to that?

We decided my friend had to be Mary Ann…not because she isn’t a sexy movie star, but because she gets things done. Mary Ann was naïve, and my friend is anything but naïve. But Mary Ann was also a farm girl who knew how to get things done. You might remember Mary Ann doing laundry or cleaning up around the place. Well, my friend is no farm girl, but she takes care of business. Ginger could never do what my friend does in a day, but Mary Ann could!

We designated one of my daughter’s friends as the professor. Sure, she’s not a man, and she is a whole lot prettier than the professor on Gilligan’s Island, but she had a solution for anything that came up during our trip. There weren’t a lot of obstacles to overcome, but she was organized and came up with different ways to do things.

All the other teenage girls with us were Ginger. Aren’t all teenage girls a little bit like Ginger? Teenage girls, generally speaking, are a little self-centered and concerned about their appearance…much like the sexy movie star from Gilligan’s Island. They’re also a little delusional about real life…much like Ginger, who always thinks she can solve problems with ideas from some of her movies.

As for Skipper and Gilligan, we found them on the boat. We had a captain who drove the boat, and one crew member who assisted with everything. The captain was knowledgeable, gregarious, and strong, and our “Gilligan” helped us onto and off the boat when we swam in Biscayne Bay, providing us with swim noodles and a kayak. Our “Gilligan” served us our afternoon snacks as we soaked up the sun and poured the champagne for me and my friend.

We had a great time on our little tour. We didn’t encounter rough weather. We didn’t get stranded on an uncharted island. We didn’t have to build our own huts and sleep in hammocks for years while finding our own food. We didn’t have to gather around a radio to listen to news from the mainland, where we had been forgotten. None of that happened. We made it back to shore alive and well. We were all a little more tan. No one was hungry. Everyone was happy.

We had enjoyed a Happy Cruise…that’s the name of the company we hired to take us out, Happy Cruises. If you are going to Miami and would like to charter a fun little boat for a day, see the website here. Tell Captain Derek you were sent by Kelly from North Carolina!

Or just call me “Lovey.”

And don’t forget the Gilligan’s Island closing song: So this is the tale of our castaways; they’re here for a long, long time. They’ll have to make the best of things; it’s an uphill climb. The first mate and his skipper, too, will do their very best, to make the others comfortable in a tropic island nest. No phone! No lights! No motor car…not a single luxury. Like Robinson Crusoe, it’s primitive as can be. So join us here each week, my friends; you’re sure to get a smile…from seven stranded castaways…here on Gilligan’s Isle!

Thank You, High School Sports

Thank you, high school sports.

I know all schools in this country still haven’t returned after the health crisis we have endured over the past year. Yes, the virus is still alive, but more and more people are being vaccinated. And more schools are opening.

Our daughter is a junior in high school and has been fortunate to be back in school since August. Last March, at about this time, they left a day early for spring break and never returned for in-person learning for the rest of the school year. They did have online classes, but everything else was canceled. But this year, they returned on a “hybrid” schedule in August, meaning they go for in-person learning every other day and learn online on alternating days. It has worked pretty well. At least they are seeing half their classmates every other day, but they are missing the sense of community…their friends…and real school.

Sports even started back up in the fall, with caveats. They had to wear masks, and there were no fans in the stands. Parents could watch games on livestream, but it wasn’t the same. Eventually, just before the end of the fall season, two adults per player were allowed in the stands…but not students. The same thing happened with winter sports, but now, with spring sports, parents and students are allowed to attend, with masks of course. We have become so accustomed to masks now that I don’t think anyone really cares. We are just happy to be able to watch sports in person again!

Our daughter plays lacrosse on her high school team. She has played varsity for her independent school since she was a freshman. Her freshman year, they won the state championship…the first time the school had ever won the girls lacrosse championship! But last year, the season was cut short. Her freshman year, even though they won the championship, they lost to a large, nearby public school that is not in their conference. It has more students in grades 9-12 than our school has in K-12. They also have a tough team with an outstanding record.

Last night, I was working the livestream on top of the press box at the stadium with my friend, so we had a bird’s eye view of the field. It’s fun to be in the stands, but last night, it was particularly fun to be able to see everything. This particular team we were playing has always been tough, so I know our girls were nervous. And they should have been. It was a close game. We scored first, but the other team quickly went ahead. The other team soon had two injuries to key players, unfortunately, and the parents of those players were angry. I get it. I get mad when my daughter gets hurt too. But the tension in the stands was palpable.

After the half, our varsity girls soccer team finished their practice and came over to watch and cheer on their team. There were a few boys there watching and cheering already, but as our crowd of spectators grew, the momentum seemed to go our way. Our students were cheering and stomping and having a great time cheering on their classmates. It felt the way a game is supposed to feel. It wasn’t quiet. It wasn’t gloomy. It was electric and exciting! As a spectator, I could feel the excitement, so I can only imagine how much energy the girls on the field got from the crowd. For thirty minutes or so, life seemed relatively “normal.”

And when the buzzer sounded at the end of the game, our girls won by two points. Because we had not beaten this particular school in several years, the girls were especially excited. And I have to admit, the students in the stands and the parents were especially excited too. We were excited about the win, but we were excited life felt normal for a little while. We were excited to be cheering together for our team…our daughters or classmates.

I sure hope the momentum of our country people the virus continues just as the momentum for our girls continued last night. Feeling normal is a good thing.

Thank you, high school sports, for making life feel normal again.

A Quiet New Orleans Mardi Gras

A quiet New Orleans Mardi Gras.

My teenage daughter and I just got back home after four nights in New Orleans with our friends from Ohio, Jenn and Lindsey. Yes, it’s February. Yes, it’s Mardi Gras season. No, there were no crowds.

We arrived in New Orleans last Thursday evening, and when I posted on Facebook that we were spending the weekend there, I started receiving messages from friends in Mobile and other areas in the Deep South, saying, “You know the city is shut down, right?” I had done my homework, so I wasn’t alarmed by their messages. I knew bars were closed in Orleans Parish, and I knew lots of streets would be blocked off at night in the French Quarter, but I also knew the restaurants were open. Seriously…that’s all I needed to know: food is being served!

Back in the day, when I was in my 20s, it was fun to go to New Orleans for the nightlife. I enjoyed Pat O’s and Audubon Tavern II with friends. We enjoyed Hurricanes (the cocktail), Milk Punch, Dueling Pianos, and second-line parades. And then, as I grew older and became a full-fledged adult (whatever that is), I started to appreciate the food. Aside from the people and culture of the city, the food became what I looked forward to most, and when I lived in Mobile, Alabama, less than two hours from New Orleans, I found my favorite restaurants in the Big Easy and made regular jaunts over for dinner and Sunday brunch.

So when my friend from Ohio asked us to meet her and her teenage daughter there, I agreed immediately. It would be their first visit to New Orleans, so I tried to explain the culture, the city, and the cuisine beforehand. I told them how friendly everyone is. I told them how delicious the food is. We talked about the New Orleans brogue and the patois of the Cajuns. And I told them to be prepared for anything in New Orleans…because you never know what you’re gonna get! The city has lots of nicknames, one of which is “The City that Care Forgot.” That should tell you there can be lots of shenanigans. And come on…everyone has fun in New Orleans, right? It’s always crowded, right? It’s always boisterous and bawdy…especially during Mardi Gras, right?

Wrong.

In 2021, there is nothing boisterous and bawdy about the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, thanks to COVID. Last year, lots of folks came down with the virus after visiting the city for Mardi Gras parades and other events. The city got some flack. So this year, the mayor headed it off at the pass. She shut down streets throughout the French Quarter. She ordered bars shut down in the parish. She had more police walking the streets, to keep folks from loitering. And she cancelled parades. I read where she said, “I’d rather do too much [to combat COVID] than too little.”

What I can tell you is that I have never seen this apocalyptic version of New Orleans before. It was quiet. It was calm. To top it all off, it was drizzly and overcast the whole time…and that can make any city look gray and dreary. New Orleans just wasn’t itself. The only time we encountered a crowd of any kind was when we decided to walk down to Cafe du Monde on Decatur Street one morning. There was a long line to purchase coffee and beignets, but it was outside, so we ordered our confectioner’s sugar-covered breakfast and sat in an outdoor area to dine…promptly dropping powdered sugar all over ourselves while pigeons darted around our feet and under our table, waiting for us to drop a crumb or two. In fact, the pigeons were likely the biggest crowd we saw on the whole trip! When I say it was “apocalyptic,” I mean it.

I had made reservations at all my favorite restaurants in advance, so when we arrived at each one, we were welcomed with open arms. They were thrilled to have the business, and I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to introduce my friends to New Orleans cuisine. In fact, we ate so much at so many fantastic restaurants that we found ourselves waddling through the city after each meal. Between meals, we checked out the Garden District, where lots of beautiful homes were decorated for “Yardi Gras,” or made to look like “house floats,” since the crewes weren’t parading this year. We also picked up a King Cake (or two) from a local bakery. I got the baby from the first cake, and my friend’s daughter got the baby from the second cake…meaning we will both have good luck this year. (This “good luck” theory was something I questioned when I fell down the stairs at Galatoire’s later that night, but my friend insisted it was likely that King Cake baby that kept me from having a broken leg after the tumble. Go ahead and laugh…it’s a hilarious visual, I’m sure.) We washed down that King Cake with Daquiris we purchased from a drive-thru daiquiri bar in Metairie…and checked out some beautiful homes in the area (including a famous/notorious uncle’s house) while we were there.

On our last full day in town, we had brunch at a well-known restaurant in the garden district…a restaurant that is known for its carnival-like atmosphere. When we arrived, I was excited for my friends to experience it. We were lucky enough to get a great window table in the patio room, and honestly, the atmosphere was the most electric we had experienced since we got to town. We dined on local cuisine, and our desserts were incredible. We also had mimosas and indulged in some Brandy Milk Punch…a traditional New Orleans drink. And while we were at brunch, we struck up a conversation with the table next to us, where the ringleader was a local…a regular at the restaurant…a regular with a fun sense of humor and a welcoming personality. He sent Brandy Milk Punch shots to our table, and for a little while, even without the jazz trio that’s usually roaming through the restaurant, it felt like real New Orleans. My teenage daughter had experienced it before, but it was at that moment that I told our friends from Ohio, “This is how it’s supposed to feel in New Orleans.” Yes…the real New Orleans is welcoming, friendly, and happy…boisterous and bawdy…and we got a little taste of that at our Sunday Jazz Brunch…courtesy of a friendly doctor who splits his time between New Orleans and Savannah, a doctor who just wanted to have some Mardi Gras fun at Sunday brunch.

It was a nice reminder that New Orleans lives on, and Mardi Gras will be back in full force…likely better than ever…in years to come.

The people of New Orleans are tough, having survived Hurricane Katrina and lots more. They’re not going to let a virus get them down…well, maybe temporarily…but they’ll be back better than ever, no doubt.

My Favorite Rescue Story…3 Years Later

***I first published this story on February 10, 2018, but today, January 30, 2020, is the third anniversary of the actual “homecoming” mentioned in the piece. Sam is alive and well, enjoying life in my mother’s old house with my nephew. This is a repost of the original from 2018.***

Eight years ago, when my mother lost her Jack Russell Terrier, Sissy, to heart failure, she needed rescuing. I mean my mother needed rescuing. Daddy had died three years earlier, and Mother missed him terribly. So now, she was missing Sissy too. She needed company, so after a few months, she went to the local animal shelter.

FullSizeRender-28On that fateful day, it happened there was a young female Jack Russell Terrier who had been picked up and brought in by animal control. There was a hitch: she had only been there a couple days, so they had to hold her for two weeks to see if anyone claimed her. Mother waited. She called me and told me about the cute, little, white terrier with brown spots. Mother said she was a muscular little dog with lots of energy. She told the people at the shelter she would take the little terrier if no one claimed her. She was excited, and secretly, she was praying no one would claim that cute little terrier. She waited two weeks.

September 14th rolled around, and Mother went back to the shelter. The cute little terrier was still there, and since no one had claimed her, she was available for adoption. It seemed fitting that the cute little terrier, which Mother would name Sam, went home with Mother on Daddy’s birthday. Mother gave Sam a home, but really, Sam rescued Mother.

The two of them were together almost every single day for eight years. As long as she was able, Mother would throw the ball in the backyard for Sam. They “talked” to each other. They sat out on the back porch together. When company came over, sometimes Sam would run and hide under the bed, but she didn’t realize only her head was under the bed, and the rest of her wasn’t…just like  a two-year-old, “I can’t see you, so you can’t see me.” She made Mother laugh. She rescued Mother.

Mother died December 30. She fell on Christmas Eve. I’m sure Sam saw her fall. I’m sure Sam saw the EMTs carry her out. I’m sure she was confused. Heck, I’m still confused; I wish Sam could talk and tell me exactly what happened. For a few days, Mother’s friend/caretaker, Lois, would go feed Sam and visit with her some. When we realized Mother wasn’t going to make it, my aunt and cousin were with me at the hospital, and they offered to take Sam from Alabama to Florida to another aunt. (I would have loved to keep her, but we have three non-shedding dogs at my house, and my husband’s allergies can’t handle shedding.)

Sam is ornery, doesn’t adapt well to change, and she must have been scared and confused. She couldn’t get along with the aunt’s dog. My cousin, Patti, found her another home…and another. She was loved at the last home, but because of her shedding and her running into the road (a lot of acreage but no fenced yard), after a month, the lady couldn’t keep her.

Patti called me and told me she was looking for another home for Sam. I immediately texted my brother, whom I affectionally call “Brother,” and said, “We need to bring Sam back to Mother’s house.”   Because he lives near Mother’s house and would be responsible for her, I held my breath, thinking he might text back a firm “no.’

To my surprise, his first response was, “Maybe.” I knew, if Sam went back to Mother’s, she would have lots of company and be loved, because my brother stays there sometimes, my nephew was planning to move into the house, and friends visit all the time. Most of all, Sam would be comfortable. I typed back, “We can pay someone to come clean the house once a week.” Brother typed back, “Yes.”

Next, I texted, “I think Sam would be so happy.” He immediately responded, “OK.” Yippee! I promptly called Patti to start arranging Sam’s homecoming. I relayed messages between Patti and Brother, and they made it happen.

Patti called me after picking up Sam from her most recent temporary home, and said, “Sam went absolutely wild when she saw me!” Patti used to visit Mother and Sam a lot, and Sam is crazy about her. I could hardly wait for Sam to see Brother. A week ago, Brother met Patti at the halfway point between their cities and picked up Sam.IMG_8703.JPG

Sam was as excited to see Brother as she had been to see Patti. She and Brother’s dog, Amos, don’t always see eye to eye, but when she saw Amos in the car, she was even excited to see him! The three of them drove back to Mother’s house.

Brother called me after he got Sam home and said, “She was so excited. She ran into the house, and then she ran and ran and ran around the backyard.” He said, after a little while in the house, things got too quiet. He thought Sam had escaped. (She loves to slip out the door and go for a run if she can.) He looked in the bedroom, and there was Sam, piled up on the bed, sound asleep. It was probably the best sleep she’d had since December.

Mother would be happy to know, this time, we rescued Sam. She’s home. She’s comfortable, and she’s happy. I haven’t even seen her since her return(I live 400 miles away), but every time I think about her homecoming, I cry. I’m crying now.

We rescued Sam. I engineered it, and Brother and Patti made it happen.

Give your dog an extra treat today.

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Whew! We Made It!

Whew! We made it!

While it seems everyone is feeling like they “made it” through 2020, I’m feeling that and breathing a sigh of relief that I made it through the month of December. Sounds crazy, right?

Here’s what you don’t know: both my grandmothers died on December 26…in different years, but still, same day. Eerie, right? And then, my mother fell ill on Christmas Eve three years ago, in 2017, and was taken to the hospital. She lived a few hundred miles away from me, so I made it to her bedside the next day, Christmas Day. She wasn’t in great shape when I got there, but she was awake and communicative. My friend, Angela, brought me Christmas dinner to the hospital from her family’s gathering. I knew Mother was sick, but I didn’t realize just how sick she was till the doctor told me the next day that she was just getting worse. I understood what he was saying. I’d been through this before with my dad.

And then I realized it was December 26. I remember asking the doctor, “Is she likely to die today?” I explained to him that I was asking, because both my grandmothers had died on December 26, and if my mother died on that day, I would be curled up in the fetal position in my closet every year on that day. Call me selfish for thinking that way, but I’m just being honest. If every woman in my family died on the same day, I would be terrified every year as December 26 approached. Did I want to lose my mother? No way! I’d always known I had the best mother in the whole world, and I certainly didn’t want to lose her, but I really didn’t want to lose her that day.

Mother passed on December 30, 2017. She made it past the 26th, so now that day doesn’t scare me quite so much…but now I’m just terrified of the whole month of December. Does that mean I’m superstitious? Generally, I don’t think of myself as a superstitious person, but when I think about some of the silly things I do…maybe I am superstitious.

There are the New Year’s Day superstitions. Yes, every year, I eat black-eyed peas, greens of some kind, and pork of some kind. That comes from my parents. Every year, on New Year’s Day, we were required to eat at least one teeny tiny bite of each of those things. Black-eyed peas for prosperity. Greens are for wealth and health. Pork, from what I understand, is based on the fact that pigs root forward while foraging…by eating it we are embracing the challenges and adventures of the coming year. I’ve now learned I should also eat round cakes, pastries, or cookies…the round shape signifies that the old year has come to a close, and we have a promising new year. I’ve never done that, but I guess I’ll be making some cookies today. There are more superstitions for the new year, but those are mine…and now, of course, I’ve added the cookies. Ugh.

Other superstitions I’ve had in my life? When I’m driving and I drive under a yellow light, I “kiss the roof.” By kissing my fingers and quickly touching the ceiling inside the car, I’m supposed to make it through safely. When I was a kid, if we drove past a cemetery, we would hold our breath. We also didn’t step on cracks in the sidewalk, walk under ladders, or open an umbrella in the house…all bad luck. If a black cat crosses my path, I always say, “Damn that cat.” Supposedly, saying that will do away with the curse the cat put on you by crossing your path. Drive over railroad tracks? Lift your feet so you don’t have bad luck! I also use “knock wood” a lot…when I make a positive statement, I knock wood to avoid tempting fate or jinxing myself. I’ve been known to cross my fingers for luck, but generally speaking, I find that prayer works better. See a penny on the ground? “Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck!” Someone around me sneezes? I always say “bless you,” unless it’s a Spanish-speaking friend, to whom I say “Salud!” That’s supposed to keep their soul from escaping with the sneeze. (After a certain age, women aren’t worrying about their souls escaping when they sneeze…they’re worrying about pee escaping their bladders!) And here’s another one: don’t put your handbag on the floor…your money will go down.

So looking at that, I guess I am superstitious, even though I shouldn’t be. I’ve found several Bible verses that warn us against superstition, including 2 Kings 21:6, which says “And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.”

I guess that means I shouldn’t be worried about the month of December, and I shouldn’t feel the need to eat black-eyed peas, greens, and pork on New Year’s Day. I will try not to worry in December and say lots of prayers asking for help with that. But honestly, I just like black-eyed peas, greens, and pork, so I’ll keep eating those on New Year’s Day and any other chance I get!

This year, when I finally went to the grocery store, they were out of black-eyed peas, so I had to buy a mixture of dried beans/peas for soup. It contains black-eyed peas, so we are covered. I threw in a little spinach, some fatback, and some ham, so we’re covered, but I’m also going to have collard greens. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the ingredients to make cornbread, so we’ll be missing out on that.

All this is my long way of saying, “Welcome, January!” and “Happy New Year!”

Those Target Dresses, Though!

Those Target dresses, though!

Social media is going crazy making fun of some dresses Target is selling. Someone named Lorca Damon posted a photo/meme of dresses on display with the following caption: Target has decided if we’re gonna suffer a pandemic, we might as well look like we just lost the farm after the locusts ate our crops. To get a better understanding, here’s the photo:

Lots of people are making fun of these frocks, but I’m sure there are people who are actually buying them. Yes, some of them are purchasing them to make fun of them, but I’d be willing to bet there are people who are getting them because they really want to wear them in public. They think they’re cute.

And if you were a girl in high school or college in the late 80s, don’t act like you’ve never seen this kind of “fashion” before. Come on. Yes, it’s hideous, but there was a time we actually thought it was cute. Yes, we did…admit it.

I even wore some dresses similar to these…on dates! What in Hell’s bells was I thinking?!? And why were boys asking me out at all when I was dressed like I lived in a place so remote that I didn’t even know television existed? Seriously…nothing says “please don’t kiss me on this date” like a dress that covers every inch of skin except your face! In my defense, I didn’t wear them a lot; I think I had one or two of the dresses that I wore maybe a couple of times, but I wore them!

I’m not kidding. I have a picture of myself wearing one of those Little House on the Prairie dresses at an Alabama football game when I was in college…I think it was 1986…with a date! It was a royal blue flannel dress with a black floral pattern, long sleeves, and a black velvet collar and cuffs. Ugh. On that particular day, I wore it with black pantyhose and black flat shoes. I can’t post the photo here, because I don’t want to make the poor guy look bad for having a date with someone dressed like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Honestly, I think anyone who wore a dress like that in the 80s needs to send notes of apology to all the guys we knew. Laugh if you want, but I wasn’t alone. All the girls were wearing them! And often, we were wearing them with…wait for it…Little House on the Prairie lace-up boots. Here are some pictures of various dresses from that era in the 1980s:

Those dresses above are real dresses from the 1980s. Those hideous dresses were so popular that the brand, Laura Ashley, had whole stores full of them in malls across the United States! And another brand called Gunne Sax too…two brands devoted entirely to making us look like Laura Ingalls. It was a terrible style then, and it’s a terrible style now…unless you never want to get a date…or you’re trying to repel all men. Even my parents made fun of them in the 1980s. Every time I wore one or they saw a photo of me or my friends in one, they made faces. They even suggested then that we looked like we didn’t want dates. And they were right that we looked like we didn’t want dates, but we wanted dates…and we got dates…even dressed like that! Poor guys had to look at us in those dresses and pretend we looked pretty…even when we were wearing boots like these with the dresses:

So yes, I love seeing the memes about the Target dresses. In fact, a woman named Laura Waters did a whole silly photo shoot in one of the dresses and posted the photos on Facebook. You have to see it to believe it…I shared it on the Facebook page for Kelly’s Favorite Things, so you can see it there, or you can see the original post here. And as hard as I have laughed at the dresses, I have to remember that I actually wore dresses like that…and I cringe. Did I mention we wore skirts down to our ankles with those lace-up boots too?

I have to ask myself why styles like this would catch on in modern times in the first place. I saw this coming, though. I noticed in the past year that necklines got higher on blouses. It’s a lot more difficult to find a v-neck dress or top than it used to be…even in spring and summer styles! Maybe the pandemic is making us look for safer fashions?!? I don’t know what the reason is, but it’s terrible.

Let’s just hope this doesn’t catch on as widely like it did in the 80s. I don’t want to see whole stores filled up with dresses Laura Ingalls Wilder would wear. We have to do better than that in 2021.

Early Christmas Mornings

Early Christmas mornings.

I wish I could say I remember when our daughter became aware of Santa Claus and Christmas…maybe when she was two or three? I know her first Christmas, when she was just two months old…she knew nothing. The next year, 2004, she woke up and had fun playing with all the new stuff, but I’m not sure she was really aware of Santa.

In 2005, when she was two, she was catching on. She wanted to visit Santa in SouthPark Mall constantly…so we did. It was something to do with a toddler, and I was always looking for fu n…because she was not a napper.

Once she caught on that Santa came on Christmas Eve, she went to bed excited…just like so many other kids. And she woke up early…like so many others. But when I say she woke up early I mean my head had barely hit the pillow when she called down from upstairs.

The first year it happened, my husband was not happy. He heard her call for me…it was likely around 2:00am…and he groaned, telling me, “Make her go back to sleep till 7:00 or 8:00.” How exactly was I supposed to do that???

It was easier to reason with a grown man than it was to reason with a toddler, so I said to him, “No. If we get up with her now and let her see what Santa brought, she will play for a while and go back to bed…we will get to sleep a little later in the morning. Otherwise, we will be getting up at 5:30 or 6:00 for the day. Get up.” And so we did.

And I was right. She played for an hour (or two), and I took her back to bed and got to sleep a little later than usual. The same thing happened for several years, and every year, I had to remind my husband that it was just easier to go ahead and get up.

Last night, I saw a Publix commercial that was released last year. It features a little girl walking into the kitchen on Christmas morning, asking Grandma if they can wake up the others. Grandma says she has a better idea and sets about making pastries with the little girl. The sentiment is sweet, but when I was a little girl, I’d have thought my grandmother was just torturing me! What kid wants to hang out in the kitchen making pastries when there are gifts from Santa waiting in the living room???

I know everyone won’t agree with me, but when I was a kid, when we got up, we woke up our parents and ran to see what Santa had brought. I don’t think anyone could have stopped us if they had tried! But my parents never tried to stop us. I’m sure they thought the same way I did…”let them play now, and we can get more sleep.”

At around 7:30 or 8:00, Daddy would cook a big breakfast on Christmas mornings, but Mother always made the biscuits…her special recipe. We would hang around, talking about Christmas, and then we would all have a big Christmas lunch before we went outside to play with neighborhood friends in the afternoon…or as we got older, we settled in with the family (and likely a few friends) and watched football.

Our daughter is 17, so she knows the deal about Santa and no longer gets up before the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought. In fact, this year, she picked out most of what he will bring, but Santa tries to have a few surprises for her too. Christmas morning is not as exciting as it was when she was a little girl, but she gets the true meaning of Christmas now.

This year, at Christmas, it’s likely we will sleep in a little before we open gifts. We will have a little birthday cake for breakfast…it has become a tradition at our house. When our daughter was one, she asked Santa for a birthday cake, so we always have birthday cake for breakfast on Christmas Day. And after lunch, our daughter will figure out if any of her friends are available to hang out. My husband and I will likely watch football…any game that is on…just give us football.

Sure, as our daughter gets older, Christmas becomes different, but we enjoy being together. Is it as exciting as it was ten years ago? No, but it is more meaningful.

This year, we won’t get to see my brother and his children during the holidays, because of COVID, but we will make up for it in 2021…surely, the vaccine will make that possible. I haven’t left my house since Thanksgiving, except to pick up food…both my grandmothers died on December 26 (different years, and my mother died on December 30…I don’t need to get COVID and join them this year. The days between Christmas and New Year’s Day make me nervous every year.

So we will celebrate Christmas with our little family. Our daughter will likely spend some time with friends who had the virus a month ago, so I don’t have to worry about her. But no matter what…if she daughter wakes up at 3am and wants to open gifts, you can bet your sweet bippy that’s what we will do.