From the Gates of Hell to Hooterville

When we are away from home, we usually stay in a hotel in the Hilton Hotel chain because we have Honors Points. But last week, for only the second time of our forty-three years together, we stayed at a small New England bed and breakfast, which resembled something from the fictional town of Hooterville.

When we arrived, there was no one at the check-in desk—just a phone number to telephone one of the owners. I made the phone call, but that was unnecessary because I was able to hear the person speaking to me through the walls. She came out to greet me and handed me a key. I did not need to show my credit card or an ID. It was very casual.

The room was, well, charming I guess you could say. There was a column smack dab in the middle of the room, which could prove fatal for those middle-of the-night visits to the little girls/boys room.


The ceilings were slanted like those of my childhood home. I gave myself a slight concussion one morning when I stood up too quickly after grabbing a pair of socks from the dresser drawer. (Ouch! Who knew to look?)

The kitchen, stocked with a coffee maker and mini fridge, conveniently shared the space of the toilet and shower, so one could, if desired, have a cup of Joe while relaxing on the throne. With a flick of a switch, you could turn on the light and the fan, which sounded like the engines of one of those small regional jets preparing to taxi down the runway.

They advertised that they have a Smart TV and free Wi-Fi, but they really should say “we sort of have a Smart TV and Wi-fi,” because our connection to the Web would routinely disappear while watching a show or surfing the Internet. But we were not working and I had brought a book with me, so it was not an issue, and we were, I’d remind myself, in Hooterville.

The bar reminded me of Cheers. Everyone knew everyone’s name, I saw some of the same faces each day, and by the second day, the bartender knew what kind of beer I was drinking.  Despite the quirkiness of this place, I would definitely stay there again.

Overall, it was a great trip. I saw lovely scenery, I finally had a lobster roll, and best of all, I got to spend a few days with my brother, which was the reason for my trip. Sadly, I learned that despite the charm of the area, there are many places not accessible to a person in a wheelchair. That made me sad!


She’s Got Spunk Too

I have been thinking about Ed Asner a lot today. For you young whippersnappers out there, the recently departed actor was most known for his portrayal of Lou Grant in the hit comedy, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” In particular, I have thought of him for his famous line in the first episode, in which he tells young Mary Richards, “You’ve got spunk.” If you have a few minutes, check it out. You’ve Got Spunk

Our 5 year old granddaughter has been coming home with daily updates on the wearing of masks in her classroom. On the first day of class, she was the ONLY person in her class wearing a mask, and this included the teacher and the aide.

As the class prepared to go outside for recess one day, her teacher suggested that she keep her mask on her desk until she returned. She bravely told her teacher that she did not need to do so, since she wears her mask attached to a lanyard. In relaying this story to her parents, she reasoned that if she left it on her desk, “I would be walking into my room unmasked.” (Genius child!)

Each day the number of children wearing masks in her class has been going up and down like the stock market. Yesterday, she was approached by some children who urged her to remove her mask because “Covid is over.” My dear sweet little granddaughter stood up to those little hooligans by stating, “You are wrong. It’s not over. I saw the charts!”  She then followed her remark by saying, “Whatever!” and then walked away. (That’s my girl!)

She has spunk, just like Mary Richards and also just like my mother did at the age of fifteen. Mom’s boss passed a comment to her one day that he did not like her make-up, so my mom told him that she did not wear it for him. He responded by saying, “I like you kid. You have spunk.”

I guess spunk runs in the family!

The Year that Was

March 6 was the one year anniversary of the first case of coronavirus in our state. So much has happened to the residents of Planet Earth during this time.

I was clueless when I naively stated last year that “I can just get on with my life while at the same time follow safe practices such as diligently washing my hands more often and for twenty seconds and fist or elbow bump rather than shake hands.” Clearly I did not have my crystal ball handy.

However, I did have the foresight to purchase toilet paper weeks before the TP shortage would become a national crisis. We ate our last meal at a restaurant on March 11 and we made our last trip to a grocery store on St. Paddy’s Day. We began visiting our grandchildren through a window—sometimes at our house as we watched them play in our yard, and other days from the front lawn of their home as they peered at us from above. We began having Zoom calls with my mother, which we later learned that she did not enjoy.

Our groceries were delivered by Instacart, a service which we eventually discontinued when efficient curbside delivery began. Although I know there are those who feel bad for me regarding our decision to obtain our food this way, I am thrilled with this service since I HATE TO SHOP! Is it possible that I can avoid most of my grocery shopping forever?

We are eating better home-cooked meals, and I have spent the past year experimenting with various banana bread recipes. I have decided that I am not a fan of the Greek yogurt-infused bread, but applesauce in place of fats is not a bad taste. I learned to grow basil from a single leaf and scallions from the white stems at the bottom of the plant. I have my favorite wine delivered to my door.

We learned about forming a social bubble, and after developing a list of do’s and don’ts, we were able to see the grandkids again, mindful of the fact that cheating was not an option because the results could be deadly.

In July, Dad and I began the toothpaste challenge (Pandemic Challenge), and I am happy to report that to date the score is Mom-5, Dad-0.

During late summer and early fall, I worked on the election, engaged in sign language classes with our soon-to-be five-year old, attended a Zoom baby shower for grandchild #3, and eventually took a trip to NJ to visit the new baby. Dad mapped out the location of every restroom stop, we found hotels with remote check-ins and virtual keys, and we stocked up on plenty of hand sanitizers and wipes. Now we have a Lily and a Willow in the family. I guess we all like plants.

I was disappointed to discover that many Americans do not trust doctors and scientists nor are they able to perform basic research to discern fact from fiction. I know who is honest and who is selfish among my family and friends.

With a new president and free vaccines available to every American who wants one, I look forward to the day when we can return to a world with less restrictions. But as someone who eases into a pool rather than jumping in feet first, I will continue to wear masks and avoid large gatherings after receiving my vaccines until the scientists and doctors, particularly Dr. Fauci, assure me that it is safe to stop these practices. I don’t want to endanger my unvaccinated loved ones.

I can be patient. I don’t want to experience another year like this. As Dan Rather said, “Can we please not spike footballs before we hit the end zone?”

I’m Back with a Surprise

I have been quiet for several months because I have been a busy bee. I have been working on the election (writing postcards, posting informative messages to Twitter and Facebook, researching candidates, and taking a class on working on the Voter Protection Hotline) as well as planning weekly lessons with my four-year-old granddaughter. We are learning to speak Spanish and to sign—both of which have been on my bucket list. Hola, mucho gusto, gracias!


Although we had a brief period of allowing our grandchildren to visit us at our home, we backed off several weeks ago due to our decision to isolate ourselves for the upcoming arrival of our newest grandchild. We did not want to take any chances of not being allowed to visit her.

Looking back on my infrequent posts this year, I realized I never announced the impending expansion of my family tree. I guess I did not anticipate a break in writing for so many months.

It has not been a typical pregnancy. The visits to the doctor were sometimes virtual, which was not comforting to both Mother and Grandma. The shower was via Zoom and the shopping trips to choose the baby furniture were stressful, but at least it was easy to keep those pesky sales people at a distance. Not to be able to visit my pregnant baby was sad, but now the excitement is reaching its peak.

After months of waiting, the time is finally here. Mommy-to-be checked into the hospital last night—6 days before her due date because the baby is predicted to be a bit on the large side. We have been getting text updates and had one telephone call so far today. Dad mentioned that his traditional meal-in-waiting was always a BLT sandwich. What will be the meal of choice for our family’s newest father?

I can’t wait to see them all as well as my mom. We have not been together since November because of the virus. I look forward to seeing how Jamie morphs from teacher to mother. Will she be a typical first-time-mother and boil each item before the baby touches it, or will she be more like a laid-back veteran mom and teach her daughter how to juggle knives? After all, the new dad is very skilled at juggling the tennis balls I sent her in case she experiences back labor.

In any case, I lost the baby shower guess-the-date contest. My date was October 16. The winner looks like it will be the God-grandmother/great aunt. I don’t know if the Godmother of the mother is the God-grandmother, but this is my story, so I get to choose!

I hope to get the call announcing the arrival of baby ____ (I am not announcing her name!) before dinner time today. Then I will be able to raise my glass in a toast.

It is time for some happy news for a change!

Pandemic Challenge

“Are you brushing your teeth with that toothpaste,” Dad asked while pointing to the nearly-empty tube of toothpaste. I smiled, and he responded with a mild expletive. He was not happy. I was another step closer to winning our latest pandemic game, which is focused on toothpaste.

Our latest game is similar to the one we played several months ago with toilet paper. In that game, which was made easier because we were able to use separate bathrooms, the goal was to see whose roll of toilet paper would last the longest. Dad won, but that was not surprising because it is a well-known fact that men use less TP than women. I won’t elaborate on the obvious.

During the toothpaste challenge, we are both working on the same tube of toothpaste. The winner is the last one who is able to squeeze that final drop of paste onto their brush. Each day it is getting more and more difficult to fill our toothbrush. We have resorted to flattening the tube and rushing to the bathroom to be the first one to brush our teeth.

I am determined to be the winner.

Not the DMV!

Ever since we left New Jersey, the DMV is not something I think of often. When we moved to North Carolina, we had to get our cars inspected, but that could be done at places such as Jiffy Lube or some gas stations. We only went to the DMV to get our driver’s licenses when we moved there.

Once we moved on to other southeastern states, we learned that there were no requirements to have our cars inspected. Que sera sera was the motto of Georgia and South Carolina. So I only visited our local Motor Vehicle office to get my license when I moved to the state, to obtain a temporary handicapped sticker after my hip replacement, and to get a Real ID to so I could fly on an airplane without a passport.

So it was a strange situation which brought the DMV to the forefront of my thoughts again. Here’s what happened.

Uncle Dave mailed me some documents, and on Saturday, he called to ask if they had arrived because he got a notification that they had been delivered in the morning. I check the porch, looked in the bushes, and then went to the mailbox, but I found nothing. I called him back and got the tracking number from him, which claimed the envelope had been delivered to a P.O. Box at my local post office at 9:48 am. Well that was certainly interesting because I do not, nor have I ever, had a post office box.

Monday morning I made an inquiry at the post office where the envelope had allegedly been delivered. I waited, and waited, and then was asked if I had one of those clustered mailboxes (no), or if I ever had a P.O. Box. I was told to hold a minute, and I could hear some shuffling around while the number of my house was being discussed.

When the nice post office worker returned to the call, he informed me that the envelope had ended up at the DMV. How interesting! Apparently, this happens frequently enough that the post office routinely receives mail that has been mistakenly delivered to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

My envelope should arrive at my house on Tuesday. Let’s hope so.

What a Nice Surprise!

I recently learned that my brother can sing, which turned out was not a surprise to all my siblings. I think that after we moved, I was pushed out of the loop of some family gossip. I don’t think it was intentional. It just happened. Out of sight, out of mind!

This new discovery happened when I saw a notification that Uncle Dave had just performed on a Facebook Group called Quarantine Karaoke, and when I heard him singing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” I was shocked. He was really good, and I was happy to see him enjoying himself since his life has been filled with one punch after the other.  It began with the accident that killed his wife, followed by the death of his nephew, and now with his diagnosis of ALS. But here, in that space, he can enjoy himself for a few minutes.

I called Grandma to relay my news, and like me, she did not know about his singing. Now it is possible that she knew but forgot, but I like to tell myself that I am not the only one in the family who was not told this huge piece of family news.

I explained to her what karaoke is, but I don’t know if she really understood the concept. Then this morning, I had a revelation while in the shower. A lot of my best thoughts happen there. I recalled the sleepovers at my grandmother’s house when we would play with her underarm flab, tweeze the hair off of her upper lip, and watch Sing Along with Mitch.

As I told you in Sleepovers at Grandma’s House, someone would sing a song, and just like in karaoke, the words would appear at the bottom of the television screen so his viewers could all “sing along with Mitch.” Looking back on that show I now realize that Mitch Miller was the creator of karaoke.  Check it out: Sing along with Mitch. 

I can’t wait to discuss this with Grandma today.

She Was a Character

Tomorrow is our state primary, and after reading some Facebook posts on one of our neighborhood pages written by someone who wanted to vote for one person in the Democratic party and another in the Republic party, I was reminded of an election when both Dad and I faced the same quandary.  Our solution was for each of us to choose a different party. I do not recall who the Democratic candidate was that we wanted to ensure made it to the general election in November (It may have been the man who would become governor, Brendan Byrne), but I remember that the Republican candidate was a feisty older woman named Millicent Fenwick who loved to smoke cigars.

What was it so many years later about this woman, I wondered today, so I went to the Google machine for the answers? She was quite an interesting politician, but as a Republican during that time, I do not see her fitting in with today’s party. She followed the traditional party’s view as a fiscal conservative, but her Congressional biography said she had a “lifelong commitment to liberal activism on behalf of consumers, racial minorities, human rights advocacy, women’s rights, and dedication to campaign finance reform.”  She even voted against her House GOP colleagues 48 percent of the time.

A writer in the NY Times, Bruce Lambert, recalled that “during a debate in the New Jersey assembly over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a colleague told her: ‘I just don’t like this amendment. I’ve always thought of women as kissable, cuddly and smelling good.’ Fenwick retorted, ‘That’s the way I feel about men, too. I only hope for your sake that you haven’t been disappointed as often as I have.’ ”

I miss the days when we had outspoken Republican politicians of character who were not afraid to speak their mind. No wonder Dad and I had to split our vote that year. One of us had to make sure she stayed on the ballot.

He’s No Spring Chicken but….

We had another playdate with the kiddies, an event that I cherish because I know that the chance always exists that the coronavirus may result in losing those visits again. Each time one of us ventures away from our homes, we discuss our movements and decide if the activity requires a quarantine from our two families again.

Our visit was primarily indoors because it had been rainy, so after some marble races, bed making, and a few rounds of Mancala, it was time for another round of indoor miniature golf. (Remember how we played in January.  Fore !) Bryce went to work in the dining room while Dad took a quick nap. He had awoken before 4:00 am that day so he needed to close his eyes for a few minutes.

The holes consisted of a few chairs, boxes, a rolled up drawing, and a couple of placemats. I practiced with the kids until it was time to wake up Dad. When it was his turn (he thought) to try it out, he grabbed the putter but was stopped dead in his tracks when Bryce said so innocently, “You should skip this hole, Bampa. You are too old.”

What an incentive that statement was! Daddy lined up the shot and took a swing. Aha! It was a hole in one! So much for old age.

Coronavirus Hair- Part 2

Yesterday was another “adventures in covid-19.” I say adventures since we are the lucky ones because our health has not be impacted by this insidious disease. We are only inconvenienced, which is nothing to complain about by no means.

Since the rain had stopped, Dad decided to venture out of our little cocoon of safety in order to visit a new local salon, “Karen’s Kutz.” He heard wonderful comments about the proprietor, aka Mommysmeanderings! So we went out to the patio, where I draped him in an old sheet, and I organized my tools of the trade: a comb, scissors, shaving thingy, a mirror, and a spray bottle of water in case his freshly washed hair began to dry. I think I was much more excited than Dad.

I had prepared by watching several videos for tips on cutting curly male hair. I began by carefully shaving the hair from the back of his neck. “This is fun,” I thought as I then moved onto trimming the hairline. I then grabbed my scissors and moved on to the back of his head, holding Mr. Pointer and Tall Man together to form a line for cutting.

Dad’s curly hair made it both tricky and easy to work with, because while it kept curling as I tried to maintain a straight line, the curliness was hiding any mistakes I might make. Next was the most dangerous part of the job: the hair around his ears. But I was ever so careful, and I am happy to report that I did not do a Van Gough on Daddy’s ears. I snipped and I combed, working from side to side and back to front.

When the job was completed, I gathered the hair clippings to spread over my most deer-eaten plants because I had read somewhere that deer avoid plants surrounded by human hair.

I am happy to report that Dad looks much better, and he even admits that I may have gone too easy in a few places. So when the rain stops today, I hope to encourage him return to Karen’s Kutz for another round!