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What FDR Really Said

08 29, 2009 · Filed in: Family




Let me tell you about “Too Much Sugar for a Dime.”  I had never heard this phrase until I married Danny Clark 37 years ago. Just by the way he said it and whatever he was referrring to, I knew immediately what it meant. If something was Too Much Sugar for a Dime, I knew he meant that “it” would be more trouble than it was worth.  And he has never been one to be involved in anything that was too much trouble.  And then………….


God said to Danny: “Thou hast chosen a wife.  Go forth and multiply. And henceforth, thou wilt be blessed with two beautiful daughters and, lo, thou wilt findeth out thou only thoughtest thou knew Too Much Sugar for a Dime. Thou must learn patience, even if it taketh unto the ends of the earth for thou to learnest.”


It was after God spoke to Danny that two baby divas were born 2 ½ years apart.  Danny couldn’t blame me for two girls because the father determines the sex of the child—everyone knows that. Right?   And God, ever true to His word, began to show him the true meaning of Too Much Sugar for a Dime.   Danny was suddenly tangled up with a wife and two daughters who gave  this expression a whole new meaning for him, much like those who surrounded Frankenstein felt when that lightning bolt brought him to life.


I would have to say that Too Much Sugar for a Dime is more like a concept that might be stretched to apply to a person OR to an experience. You can think back to projects you undertook that went way out of control beyond your wildest imagination in a sort of domino effect (which is really an inaccurate comparison to use since dominoes is a game and what you’re doing cannot be even remotely construed to be fun.)  I’m talking about things like a small plumbing repair (“Honey, the toilet is running again…) that results in removal of the actual toilet and 20 trips to Home Depot.  That little plumbing repair becomes Too Much Sugar for a Dime.


Then there are people. Girl babies come into the world with an AGENDA.  They are born with a genetic marker known as Sugar. As they grow from babies into little girls, they are Juuuuuuust Enough Sugar for a Dime.  Then, one day it seems like they and everything they touch exceeds the accepted Sugar quota. One favorite recipe around our house called for 1 Party, 1 New Outfit, and 1 New Boyfriend.  Then, you add Sugar to taste.  No external source of heat is required since it will ignite from Spontaneous Combustion. You can bet it was always stirred till boiling.  You may substitute other ingredients as desired to suit the occasion.


I can’t pinpoint the actual DAY it happened, but almost simultaneously, these six magical words gave Valerie, Cecilia and me a new way to communicate.  Somewhere along the way, we discovered there was a disaster movie associated with anything we undertook. We would be floating along and before you could say Titanic, the ship had severely tilted and everybody had started sliding down into the water. What can I really say except Sugar ‘R Us.


The creation of the caricature drawings of us for this blog was mighty fun for the good folks at Stone Soup Technology, I’ll bet.   The setup and design of the blog was a birthday gift to me by my daughters. They hired Stone Soup website designers to do our caricatures based on photos.  When the “unveiling” took place—much like the Presidential portrait, I feel sure—the first thing I said was, “Why is my hair parted in the middle. I never part my hair in the middle.  Can he fix that? And, y’all, I’m sorry. You know I never would wear that shade of green. You know I love hot pink. CC, I love the pink you have on, but we can’t both wear hot pink!  Can you ask him to put me in something black with a touch of pink? That’s not much to ask, right?” 


Then, there was this situation that almost got a little crazy:


Ring, Ring….


Me:                  Hey!


Valerie:            Hey!  I just had this great idea. For Brittain’s birthday party [Birthday Extravaganza Numero Uno] I saw this really cute thing on the internet.  They do these custom-made cone-shape party hats.  I ordered her one with her name monogrammed on it.  But, I thought it would be fun (DANGER SIGNAL #1) if you came over and we wrote everybody’s names on their hats—you know—with sparkly markers or something like that. 


Me:                  That sounds cute! [first grandchild, first grandchild]


Valerie:            Bring your acrylic paints! 


Four nights and 18 or so total hours’ sleep later, we had created these masterpieces:



If I am going to be perfectly honest here, I’ll have to admit Too Much Sugar has been near and dear to my heart before Valerie and Cecilia helped me learn how to take it to a whole new level.  Take “Handmade Gift Christmas,” for instance (as opposed to “Mama’s Crazy Bow Christmas”  if  you care to read about it on Brittain’s Blog).  During Handmade Gift Christmas, I went a little too far. I will say, though, that I was only 26, and it seemed like a great idea at the time, as many of my ideas do.   Whatever came over me came over me big.  It was during the big crafts craze.  For my father’s Christmas gift, I decided to crochet a nice, warm scarf.  Did I find someone to teach me or did I attend a class? No, I bought a book and read it.  Here’s a hot tip: crocheting is not an easy skill to learn from a book, but don’t try to tell me that.   I believe I may actually be the only person who did not learn to crochet at my grandmother’s knee. When someone told me I couldn’t teach myself from a book, move out of my way because I will do it or die trying.  Some minor details were left out of the book (or at least I figure they were) because once I got started, I didn’t know how to stop.  Literally.  I must have yelled, “Stop the Insanity” and tied some special knot that I invented. 




And so it was that my daddy’s scarf was more like an afghan which would be fabulous if you need warmth sitting in your favorite chair but looks very odd when worn around your neck over a coat.  It was GIGANTIC and very long. I think he wore it once and then it disappeared.  The only terms I can recall about crocheting are: (1) Yarn and (2) Never Again.  That scarf was Too Much Sugar for a Dime.


As I have written this, I have had an epiphany about this entire subject.  As the girls in our family and our activities have been called Too Much Sugar for a Dime through the years by their father/my husband, we have failed to recognize that HE is the true  Sugar Monster, and it’s high time we called for a Sugar Smackdown! 


Just like King Kong, if he had just cooperated a little more, he wouldn’t have become quite as agitated.  king-kong1


I hope I have given you  a new phrase to incorporate into your vocabulary.  Now that you have heard it, I’ll guarantee you one thing:  you’ll know right away the next time something is Too Much Sugar for a Dime.


Ooh La La!

05 20, 2009 · Filed in: Family



On Mother’s Day morning this year, I felt as if I had gone back in time about 20 years. You may know that feeling. Valerie asked if I could come over before church to put Brittain’s hair in a French braid.  It seems as though it was yesterday that I was the on-call hairdresser in my home, and can I just say how fun it was?  Then one day I just stood there and thought, “Wait. Where did those little girls go? They don’t need me? Not even to fix their hair?” 


I had never even heard of a French braid until I had two daughters taking dance lessons who needed their hair done for recitals.  A  French braid…..doesn’t that just sound graceful?  The ideas, words, wares, and foods that are associated with the French just seem to have an allure.


Even though I have no French ancestors (although my middle name is Cecile—a French name), and even though I don’t speak French, I love French braids, French twists, and French manicures.   If a magazine cover features a room decorated in French country, I will flip straight to it.  Mademoiselle magazine only ceased publication a few years ago, but it was a magazine with class and one of my favorites. We Americans serve hors d’ouevre to our guests, we talk about that eerie feeling of déjà vu, and we RSVP an invitation.   French pastries, French perfumes, and a toile design on anything all capture our attention. 

Mademoiselle, 1983 cover

Mademoiselle, 1983 cover


For a French braid to “happen” to a 2-year-old’s hair, there must be orchestration. Taking that thought one step further, I believe it might be easier to write an opera score than to keep a 2-year-old still long enough to braid her hair.  It was a lively beginning for an already action-packed Mother’s Day.   Dan was there—and that was great because I knew he would help if summoned.   I’m actually surprised he understands the whole girly-girl hair thing since his idea of a bad hair day is nicking his scalp.




Brittain had no clothes on when she opened the door to let me in.  After streaking through the house several times, she finally allowed us to put some undies on her.  Valerie said, “Mimi is going to fix your hair.” “No.” “Brittain, don’t you want her to fix your hair like a princess?”  “No.”  “How ‘bout you watch Noggin channel and I’ll give you some little marshmallows while she fixes your hair?”  That worked, but I knew I needed to operate fast before the slight sugar high from the marshmallows kicked in.


When I was growing up, I remember Mama and Daddy telling me not to act scared if I was around a strange dog because they could smell your fear.  Well, so can a 2-year-old. I suddenly felt like one of those guys who has to dash into a building while the clock is ticking and find the right wires to disconnect before the bomb detonates.  Dora the Explorer on Noggin channel started getting on my nerves immediately.


All tools had been assembled: the squirt bottle of water, the comb, the brush, the rubber band.  In French braiding, you start with three sections of hair, and that is quite simple. When it becomes fun is when you must grab another section of hair to incorporate into the braid and continue to grab new sections from each side as you go down.  You need steady hands that can work on a head that stays still.  You also need the 10 fingers you have and you must sprout a couple more in order to grab more hair to braid, keeping all sections taut.  If I were really smart, I would add a special trick like picking the comb up with my toes.  


As I braided, Brittain would look down at her marshmallows and look back up again quickly.  Then, Valerie kept forgetting and would say something to her, and Brittain would turn her entire head which meant I had to hold in place all twelve of my fingers with hair wrapped around them and move in a semi-circle one way or the other when her head moved.  The end result was quite nice.


I treated Brittain to a French braid,  Valerie treated me to a French twist,  

Brittain & Mimi

 and then she did her own hair.

Val & Brittain

Now, whether France can really claim this braid known as a French braid is hard to prove. However, we do need to give credit to Madame de Pompadour, a famous/infamous figure during the 18th century.  She is known down through history as  mistress to King Louis XV.  But  the hairstyle named after her is what’s unforgettable. 

Who can ever forget The Pompadour, France’s gift to America in the 1950’s and 60’s?  I believe it was their pièce de résistance.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Little Richard

Love in Disguise

05 08, 2009 · Filed in: Family

                  Sarah Ann Sherman Moss Sarah Ann Sherman Moss

It is hard to believe that fourteen Mother’s Days have come and gone since my own mother died.  We grew up with the old tradition of wearing a red rose to church on Mother’s Day to honor our mother on this special day.   A white rose was worn to honor the memory of a mother who had passed away.  I can still remember walking into church past the ladies who wore a white flower on Mother’s Day and thinking how sad it was that they no longer had a mother. The white rose I now wear on Mother’s Day signifies not that my mother is gone but that she is still with me.

Being a mother to Valerie and Cecilia has allowed me to fully grasp how much my mother loved us.  When I was 35,  I wrote the following as a Mother’s Day gift to her. 


Love in Disguise  

Some things are so elusive we simply cannot capture them no matter how hard we try. Throughout history, we have seen magnificent works arise from the hands and minds of humans, but seemingly with some unseen entity helping.  Certain words come to mind when we ponder examples:  the divine inspiration of Handel’s “Messiah”; the sheer genius of Michelangelo’s creations; the imagination and vision of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs; the magic in my mother’s fried chicken. What? Had you not considered it a form of art?  Its very existence catapults it into this lofty group of talent. 

When I was about twelve years old, I remember sitting best-friend to best-friend style, deep in “girl” talk with my best friend.   All I can recall from this eye-opening conversation is my friend saying that her mother cooked the best fried chicken around.  It took me a moment to comprehend that not only did she believe it, but furthermore, she had never questioned it! I was on the verge of defending the honor of my own mother’s fried chicken when the look in her eyes stopped me from speaking. 

It happened again some time later with another friend.  I began to notice a strange pattern emerging.  The earth didn’t tremble, nor did a thunderous voice speak, but I had a revelation just the same.  Every single person I asked responded without a moment’s hesitation and without blinking an eye:  their mother’s fried chicken was indeed the best.  To a person, they each stated it as if it were a well-known, indisputable, scientific fact.  I felt I was moving into sacred territory where no one had dared to tread before.  Dare I question a belief so revered—the pride and love a child has for his own mother’s fried chicken? 

I crossed into my teens, and boys became my primary interest.  The revelation I had had long ago at the childish age of twelve wasn’t really important any more.  I just went through years of joyfully eating my mother’s fried chicken whenever it was offered. 

To taste it was to love it.  Its crust was the thickest–yet lightest–and crunchiest I have ever eaten.  It was cooked to perfection every time.  Anything served with it tasted wonderful.  It melted in my mouth and nourished my soul.  In my book, to have a friend over for a fried chicken supper was to extend the ultimate invitation. 

Looking back now, I realize it was also the ultimate gift from my mother. A special dish prepared in someone’s kitchen has no equivalent.  Time is set aside, loving hands perform the labor, magic is tossed in, and the finished creation is placed before you as a gift needing no elaborate paper or bow. 

The years raced by, and I was grown and married.  When I tried my hand at frying chicken, I felt betrayed by my own mother.  My chicken was a failure, yet she had made it look so easy!  My husband chose that moment to tell me his mother’s fried chicken was the best.  Oh, really?  I said.  I never tried it again. 

I approached midlife examining and questioning things which before had never bothered me.  I asked myself questions that ranged from a little silly to very ridiculous and even threw in a few serious ones.  Does God grade sins on a scale of 1 to 10—what’s 1 and what’s 10?  Will I still think young when I’m old?  Will I leave this life never having learned to fry chicken and have someone say mine was the best?  

I began to talk with my now grown-up friends about the sacred subject of Mother’s Fried Chicken once again.  That eerie feeling of déjà vu rushed over me as their words echoed my thoughts:  I never learned to fry chicken like my mother’s.  For a moment, I became amused at the thought of some Margaret Mead personality doing an in-depth study on what could perhaps be evolving as a pattern throughout society—“Is Fried Chicken a Dying Art?” 

I wondered if my fleeting feelings of inadequacy could stem from my long-ago failed attempt at frying chicken.  Just as “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche,” I knew deep down that “Real Women Can Fry Chicken.”  It didn’t help that I was born in the Deep South, land of “Gone with the Wind,” the Civil War, and home of fried chicken. 

I refused to believe that home-cooked Southern fried chicken is a dying art.  It has too many reasons to live.  No fried chicken? No picnics.  It has also been decreed that there always be five or six different versions of it at any church dinner.  Last, but not least, future generations must experience the joy of it. 

I’ll wager that if I really tried again, I could learn from my mother how to fry chicken like hers.  I could probably place it before my children and see the same delight in their eyes and have them tell me mine is the best. 

Does this mean then that I do not believe any more that my own mother’s fried chicken stands unparalleled?  No.  In my eyes, my fried chicken couldn’t begin to equal my mother’s.  Her magic would be the lacking ingredient. 

In my curiosity about “The Magic of a Mother’s Fried Chicken,” I have learned many things.  Our mothers’ fried chicken is only a tangible manifestation of their love for us, their children.  Our adoration and praise of it as the best is actually our feeble attempt at placing our mothers on the pedestal where they deserve to be.  We must learn to recognize demonstrations of love, however they may be disguised.   I know now that her fried chicken caressed me just as much as her arms ever have. 

What more beautiful work of art can we behold than the essence of a mother’s love and her child’s appreciation of it? 

But, I leave you with one parting thought.  My mother’s fried chicken is the best.  It always was, it still is, and always shall be.  Amen. 

This article was written for Mother’s Day 1987.

Mama’s fried chicken graced our table for seven more years.







The Pink Hiney–a Great Atlanta Tradition

05 04, 2009 · Filed in: Family

Who would have ever dreamed they would be forced to launch “damage control” from a high level in the name of pigs? Are you kidding me? Wipe everything you have heard from your mind and say, “H1N1.” And forget about The Flu Formerly Known as Swine.

H1N1. Sort of looks like hiney to me. You know that little tune: “I see your hiney, All bright and shiny. It makes me giggle, to see it wiggle.” I’m sorry, every time I see H1N1 from now on, that’s what I’ll think.

After the entire world has been promoted to Pandemic Level 5, and after WHO—not to be confused with THE Who (great music but glad they’re not in charge of the pandemic)–has spoken and said, “All of humanity is under threat,” they decided to rename this disease because it gives pigs a bad image, and people are not eating pork.

The pigs ARE at fault. As the President himself said about closing the borders to contain it, “It would be like closing the barn door after the horses are out.” Apply the same logic to the whole name change. The CDC can’t unring that bell. At least they called it Swine Flu. They really could have named it Pig Flu. Or, maybe it would have been okay to disguise it as in “Ig-pay Oo-flay.” When they named Mad Cow Disease, they didn’t beat around the bush. We knew where that came from. Plus they added a descriptive adjective in front of it to make it even worse. Cow Disease must not have carried the right amount of terror. The pork industry ought to get over it. The whole world could have been calling it Filthy Swine Flu.

There’s one thing that really makes me sad: even if everybody really does start calling it by its new name (the Hiney Flu), nobody is gonna forget where it all started. That cute little pink guy with the curly tail won’t ever be thought of the same way again. “This little piggy” has to get with the program. “This little hiney went to market, this little hiney stayed home”—I could go with that. And one of Atlanta’s best-loved traditions for the past 50 years, The Pink Pig, could stand another makeover:


I think it has a nice ring to it. What do you think? : )


No More Flying Trapeze for Me

05 03, 2009 · Filed in: Family

Dear Diary: While walking through my kitchen, I thought I was a goner when one of my treasured fake shutters fell onto my back.    My ridiculous half-scream followed by, “OMG, the shutter fell on me!” failed to even budge Danny from his chair where he sat playing Adventure Quest on his laptop. I wanted to stretch out on the floor and place the shutter on top of me until he walked in and noticed, but I might have been there for a couple of hours.  When it fell,  the wood frame hit me right in the trapezius, probably ending my circus act forever.




I guess you could say it was a freak accident.


Love, Jackie


It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now…..

04 19, 2009 · Filed in: Family

I have found myself sitting at too many hospital bedsides recently. During Christmas week alone, both of my beautiful daughters had urgent medical problems.  They both spent time in the hospital and so, therefore, did I .   My brother was hospitalized shortly thereafter in agonizing pain following knee surgery, and I sat beside his bed, again feeling small and afraid hoping my presence offered some comfort.


All of these loved ones of mine are healthy for the moment. 


How many roller-coaster rides can a heart stand when someone near and dear to you experiences health problems?  Who knows? You slide into your seat, secure the harness and ride—and you know YOU are not driving this train. You have signed up for a lifetime season ticket and you ride, wondering if the bend up ahead is going to be followed by a drop-off that takes you straight down without you knowing what’s waiting at the bottom.


Let me say right now that we all get a little crazy when we’re scared, some more than others.  Let me also say I have discovered during the few times a medical condition has resulted in a visit to the hospital for Cecilia, she shows off her talent to incite panic in those around her which I freely admit she inherited from me. When it happens, it’s “STAT.”


She is so well-spoken and credible that it’s extremely difficult to tell whether what she is saying is accurate or FULL-BLOWN PANIC disguised as normal.  Unnerving doesn’t begin to describe what you feel when they give her an injection to calm  her down and the second that door closes behind them, she seems to go “boing!” from reclining to sitting and says, “SOMETHING….IS…..NOT…..RIGHT.”  “COME HERE…….FEEL MY HEART…IT’S NOT BEATING RIGHT….CAN YOU FEEL IT?”   Neither is mine at this point.  Then, she becomes so pale I get up to seek immediate help because she is the one in 2 million who is now facing imminent death due to an allergic reaction to the drug given to relax her , and I must find the person who can save her. I also want to find that nurse and ask for something to knock me out.  All the while I speak to her in a tone that is quite obviously a fake calm.  Both daughters say they become MORE frightened when I do it because they recognize I am scared out of my mind when they hear me speaking…..very…..slowly….and…..enunciating….carefully while doing a really bad acting job of pretending to be calm.


Do not think for one minute that these Florence Nightingale moments stop at the humans in our family.  The daughter I have just described has a four-legged, furry “child” named Sophie.  Sophie DeAngelis, Yorkie-Poo, weighs in at a hefty 8 lbs., but do not be deceived. She has teeth like a Barracuda and the drive to finish off her inanimate prey.  She loved her chew toy, Dru Barkymore, so much that when she was found, Dru Barkymore looked more like E.T., and I feel sure she wanted to phone home. 


This precious puppy has obviously inherited a flair for drama and scaring us to death as this string of texts from Cecilia shows: 


From: CC cell

Feb. 22, 7:45 a.m.

Sophie is throwing up, and she hasn’t eaten anything for 2 days.  I’m really worried.  She ate a tennis ball.  I thought she was just chewing on it and then I couldn’t find the part that was missing.


Exhibit A  (think Jaws....Da-dum....Da-dum.....dum dum dum dum)

Exhibit A (think Jaws....Da-dum....Da-dum.....dum dum dum dum dum dum dum)


From: CC cell

Feb 22, 3:31 pm

We’re at the doctor’s office.  They r giving her an xray now. she has been throwing up since 9 last nite, not eating or drinking.


From:  CC cell

Feb 22, 3:37 pm

she ate a full branch yesterday on the beach. they said it felt like something was obstructing her abdomen.


(Ed. Note:  a full branch?  Okaaaay, then maybe she is not just a cross between Yorkshire Terrier and Poodle, but has a little Boa Constrictor mixed in that we didn’t know about.)


From:  CC cell

Feb 22,  3:49 pm

big foreign object. they said it looks like full sock or big chunks of tennis ball. surgery in the morning.


[Ed. note: see Exhibit A.]


From:  CC cell

Feb 23, 10:18 am



Ferocious Sophie, Yorkie-BOA-Poo (with handlers Cecilia & Matthew)

Ferocious Sophie, Yorkie-BOA-Poo (with handlers Cecilia & Matthew)


Sophie survived and promptly began living her best doggie life again:


Sophie Livin La Vida Loca.  All that's missing is a Boa--the hot pink one that should be flapping outside the car window.....

Sophie Livin La Vida Loca. All that's missing is a Boa--the hot pink one that should be flapping outside the car window.....

Bless the beasts and the children. And the physicians and nurses who heal the sick and still have enough of something left over to help the bystanders as we step off that roller coaster each time.

A Girl’s Gotta Do What a Girl…..

04 03, 2009 · Filed in: Family

Little did I know at the crack of dawn last Thursday that by midnight Valerie, Brittain, and I would be arriving in Jacksonville Beach to see Aunt CC.  Valerie called me at work 30 minutes before quitting time. She said she and Brittain—on the spur-of-the-moment–wanted to go see Cecilia since Uncle Matthew was out of town, and they wanted me to come along.  I know I’m in demand because I am always a barrel of laughs, but I’m also a good backseat helper with Great Brittain.  Amidst my protests, Valerie uttered, “Make it happen,” a scary command if I do say so myself.  So I did.  Make it happen. We arrived at Cecilia’s Jax Beach condo at the stroke of midnight before our carriage turned into a pumpkin.


Twenty good blog topics later, it was Sunday morning and time to return to Georgia.  We had spent the weekend living life to the fullest in our tame sort of way.  Although I had not wanted to be dragged out of my routine, once I was out, I wanted to milk it to the bitter end.  And that’s where the problems began.


I don’t believe the fancy footwork of Irish River Dancers had anything on us that last day.  Our feet moved quickly and in many directions.  When we woke up on Sunday, the weather was gorgeous.  We decided to hit the beach one last time. But! Before we did that, Valerie talked Cecilia into doing her hour-long exercise video with her. Discipline is important.


We then headed to the beach.  After we played in the sand, after we belly-laughed a lot, and after I drew many stares practicing the hula-hoop, we decided to head back.


I have no idea why people stared.  Look at the grace in that hula stance. 


However, the trip doesn’t end here.  Life is not complete without some shopping. And the shopping should have some pain associated with it to balance the giddiness of the moment. Men relive great moments in sports; women relive great moments in shopping.            


Valerie set out to shop for—what else?—some clothes.  And I wanted to go to the great antique shops for—what else?—anything I might need that I didn’t know I needed.  Aunt CC and I took Brittain with us.  I use “us” loosely because Cecilia selflessly found a great bench, used the power of a lollipop to keep Brittain happy, and I started an Olympic-worthy sprint to hit the entire row of shops. 


Wouldn’t you know it? I found something I couldn’t live without.  Something that was right up my alley.  Fake shutters.  Being a frequent watcher of HGTV, I recognized my shutters were just canvas on a frame painted in the style known as  trompe l’oeil where objects look three-dimensional. When pronounced, it sounds roughly something  like Trump Louie. (Since I had two shutters, I suppose that would be Louie Louie?)  I wanted them because this is what I say: why have real shutters when you can have fake?


Like every good shopper, I have war stories to tell.  I have endured arms nearly torn from their sockets from heavy shopping bags and feet with such pain I could  barely shuffle back to my car.  Although no injuries had occurred yet, I experienced brief mental anguish and fear as my eyes quickly scanned the room to make sure the enemy did not make a sudden move toward my fake shutters.  They weren’t actually mine yet, per se, since I didn’t know the price.


I will tell you now that it was meant to be.  I had lost and found the same $20 bill twice during this brief weekend trip, and that twenty was in the found stage at that moment.  One of my Louies had a small damaged spot.   When I asked about the price, I expected to hear something over $100—and that was taking into consideration slight damage to one.  But, instead, I heard, “Twenty bucks”!  Sold to the lady with that crazy look in her eyes!




Trump Louies

              Louie           Louie 


Thinking outside the box or rather inside the box in this case came next.  Being an eternal optimist–and anyone who knows me will say I am (not)–I had not been concerned with the logistics of my lovely French purchase being loaded into Valerie’s SUV.  We had loaded our bags, the big basket of toys, computers, the big ball, and the two hula hoops before leaving for our shopping trip.  Since we were traveling with a 2-year-old, there was a car seat anchored on the rear passenger side.


Option #1 would allow us to push the 6-feet tall Trump Louie Louie shutters from the back toward the front middle.  They would perch on the back seat beside Brittain’s car seat and end directly in front of the radio allowing no elbow room, literally, for the driver.  And Mimi and Brittain would be separated in the back seat by the twin Louies.


Option#2 -  Hey, I thought it was a great idea.  With the tall headrests in this vehicle, I proposed we push the works of art straight into the back on the right side with them resting atop Brittain’s headrest and the front passenger headrest.  There were no nails involved, the headrests were way above Brittain’s head, and she would have liked pretending she was under a tent. My great idea was shot down.  Imagine that.


Option #3 was chosen – Valerie let down one-half of the rear seat.  The  fake shutters (which were very real during this process) came in the back left side and stopped on the middle console.  Mimi had to move to the front seat where I unfortunately could see Valerie’s frequent disapproving glares in my direction.  We knew Brittain was back there somewhere. 


Adding to the pain of the distorted positions we were in, we had to make the dreaded bathroom stop.  We tried having ESP as we guessed which fast food place or gas station did NOT have toilets with the electronic flush sensor.  The horrendous noise associated with going to the potty terrifies the child and why wouldn’t it?  If I were that small, I, too, would be afraid of being unable to hold on tight enough to prevent being sucked right down that hole, and I wouldn’t be able to produce a drop of urine either. 


So, Valerie and I concocted A Plan.  We knew it must be carried out with military precision.  We didn’t want to have to stop again as soon as we got back on the road.

My assignment was to cover up the electronic sensor with my hand so all the movement of three people in one stall wouldn’t trigger flushing while Valerie coaxed Brittain onto the toilet against her will.  It wasn’t happening.  It wasn’t happening, that is, until chocolate was promised.  When Valerie then escorted Brittain to the sinks for handwashing, my mission was to keep the toilet quiet until they made their way outside the bathroom.

I also had to use this bathroom opportunity.  As God is my witness (and I pray there were no other witnesses watching via a hidden camera like I saw on 20/20), I managed to keep my hand over the electronic sensor behind me, pull the appropriate clothing down with the other hand, hover in mid-air over the toilet seat, then coax some toilet paper out of one of those holders that shreds, breaks, slices and dices the toilet paper.  Still keeping the potential tsunami toilet water at bay, I was able to use my one free arm and hand once again to pull all clothing back into place. I was quite impressed with this trick although it really isn’t something you can put on your resume. Besides, I am real sure it wouldn’t be a pleasant thing to form a mental image of the entire stall experience.   A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

At 2200 hours, Brittain and Valerie exited the restroom, and I was FINALLY able to move my hand from the electronic toilet sensor so that it could flush.

We made our way out to the Wendy’s counter where I was sure to claim my Senior discount, much deserved.  At this point in the night, I looked like the hula hoop picture (see photo above) without the hoop. 

We arrived back home safe and sound again at the stroke of midnight.  If we had been a minute late, those fake shutters would have poked right through the pumpkin.







Writer’s Blog

03 28, 2009 · Filed in: Family

I suppose I have had a lifelong desire to have a place—a very special place—to express my thoughts in black and white in some orderly fashion, and here it is.  The opportunity has presented itself.  My beautiful daughters “gave” me a blog for my last birthday.  Six months have passed, and I have been sitting on ready.  I have imagined myself whiling away the hours finally putting my thoughts together.


You know–something like this…….




However, something went terribly wrong.   Instead, I looked in the mirror and saw this:



It’s writer’s blog.  I willed it upon myself.  Call the CDC.


It has taken me 3 weeks to write these few words.  In the meantime, I have been living with the speed demon from Hell who up and decided he was going to write a book and wrote the entire thing in the time I was fretting over a few words. Done. Fini. Finootie. This terrible act of psychological sabotage was committed by a person who shall remain anonymous until his book hits the best-seller list. Your biggest clue is I am married to the person I am living with.


I put all this pressure on myself.  I am my own worst enemy.  I am several years behind on wedding gifts, I should plant a flower garden, I need to start exercising again, clean my hairbrushes, do all the mending I have been saving for 30 years. What was I thinking?  That I could sit down and think about life?


My mind races at all times.  I try so hard to “stay on top of my game,”  but I am always setting myself up.  Could I try any harder to outwit myself?


“Jackie, okay.  Just calm down and think.  Where did you put your GPS the day you “cleaned out” your car? Oh, okay. You put it in the bag with your exercise clothes that are ready to go at a moment’s notice.  Hmmm.  That was a logical choice.”


It’s a blog for goodness sake.  I suppose that for me it will be somewhat like the little pink leather-bound book I still have that had a lock with a key—my Five-Year Diary from 1962.  Understand this: not another person has ever been allowed to lay eyes on any of the entries.  However, this document is now old enough and has thus been declassified.



When I found it, I saw there were entries only in 1962 and 1964.  I  wondered what happened in the years  1963, 1965, and 1966 that prevented me from writing.  (I possibly hid the diary from my own self? Imagine that.)  Nevertheless,  I can just see one fabulous writer emerging:



January 26, 1962

“Dear Diary, Today is Saturday.  I got two new records Twistin U.S.A., Goodbye Cruel World and The Twist.  Love, Jackie” 

(Ed. Note: But, who’s counting?)




February 26, 1962

“Dear Diary, I went to school. Arthur gave Pam a ring.  Mike had some rings and he was giving them away. I didn’t get one.  Love, Jackie.” 

(Ed. Note: Update on April 19, 1963. Arthur asked me to go with him.  I gave him a ring and he gave me a wedding band.  I  was 10.)




May 24, 1964     Sunday

“The Beatles  are lovable.  I have watched them on t.v. and seen pictures and they’re lovable.”

(Ed. Note:  They were lovable.)


Unless you have a blog that allows users to post various thoughts, it might appear the whole concept features someone who is just self-absorbed.  “Well, enough about me; what do you think about me? Did I tell you about me?”  That’s about par for a blog.  It is what it is.


The longer I live, the more I realize we are filled with draaaahhhhmaaaaa.  I am referring primarily to my two daughters and me—the three cartoon characters at the top of the page.   It is difficult to fill our roles every day, but we obviously feel it is our duty to our fellow family members to create dramas.  It might be more accurate to say mini-dramas.


And who can schedule air time for these?  They are unplanned, much like a tornado.  We should at least send a text message out to the cell phones of those affected–like a weather alert of sorts.  An example might be,  “We interrupt  your regularly scheduled lives to tell you Valerie said she is sorry for breaking the cardinal rule that we must inform all family members when there is a Clinique free gift special at Belk. But it’s too late now.  And the free gift had the cutest zipper case ever. You may now  return to your regular lives.”


So, the choice is yours. If you want a therapeutic excursion away from your own life, follow ours.  They  say people talk about other people to take their minds off their own problems.  We’re “those other people. “ Glad to be of service.  I knew my true purpose would reveal itself one day.