Tuesday, June 30, 2009

'You Gotta Wanna!' & 'I Don't Wanna!'

Please excuse the colloquial language of post title... I lapse into sloppy language occasionally -- Apologies my English teachers.

In a past weight loss journey I attended a Weight Watchers summer camp (June 1979), located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Montreat, N.C. The camp director was a dynamo Weight Watcher leader, Ruth Harper (I think I have the correct name.)

Ruth's enthusiasm could energize and inspire you to do handstands and calisthenics at the same time, if required to lose weight. She knew how to make the food program palatable. The program in those days required 3-5 'fish' (not fried) meals and one LIVER meal weekly--not my usual weekly menus, but my menus were not weight loss compatible!

In the week I spent in camp we had lectures by Ruth daily. These lectures were designed to stoke the fires of enthusiasm to complete the journey to a specified weight goal. She could set off firecrackers under our fat fannies in 10 minutes. Each lecture ended with the admonishment: YOU GOTTA WANNA!

Yes , I should tatoo it on my forehead, or as the Biblical Israelites of old, scripture was written or tied on the forehead.[Deut. 6:1-9 ,25]

Weight Watchers dislikes the word 'diet' associated with their food program; they prefer a 'nutrional food program for life.' Sorry! to me it is a starvation diet. How else can you describe 40 medium size grapes as a serving? Nope! it's starvation.

When I left camp I swore I was having a tee shirt and sweatshirt made with the slogan, YOU GOTTA WANNA, back and front. I don't remember ever doing it.

In subsequent weight loss attempts, I remembered Ruth Harper and her slogan. I remember it every Wednesday a.m. when I weigh and record my gain or loss at Weight Watchers on-line.

In fact the slogan is applicable to other life events, too. In my senior years with increasingly long lists of aches, pains and physical ailments, I become weary with doctor appointments, and discouraging news.

Recently, blood tests discovered I have a slightly elevated calcium and parathyroid hormone levels in my blood. This is indicative of benign adenoma(s) in one or more parathyroid glands, but may also be indicative of kidney failure. None of my doctors suspect cancer. I had an 'eye to thigh' PET/CT scan in October--nothing "lit" up in the terminology of PET scanning.

My GYN physician made an appointment with an endocrinologist in Springfield MO for July 7. This involves a 2-hour drive and 2-3 nights stay, plus boarding Luckie.

My self-awarded license to practice medicine, not my legitimate license to dispense medications, enables me to prognosticate I think my irregular blood levels are due to discontinuing Boniva last October because of gastric distress. My diagnosis does not hold water with anybody, but me!

I DON'T WANNA GO. I've looked for every excuse, consulting with my primary care physician and oncologist looking for support to cancel. Nope. They say I GOTTA GO. Grrr...@#^%$#!

Reluctantly, I GOTTA GO. I started the first steps Monday in making reservations at La Quinta Inn for three nights. I spent yesterday filling out a package of information sent me by the endocrinologist's office. But still, I DON'T WANNA go. But I GOTTA.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Guess What! I'm a Winner...

One of the joys of blogging is the unexpected event, i.e., give-aways, meme and tag events or simply blogging with people.

I received an e-mail yesterday from Carol of The Writers Porch that I had won a author-signed book of poetry, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia (her blog has same name). I did not realize I signed up for the contest, but do remember commenting on the author's poem. After reading the book, I will post an amateurish review and e-mail the author, Patricia Neely-Dorsey .

As a rank amateur in high school I participated in essay and poetry contests, via my English classes and won a few awards or inclusion in anthologies of my peers. This talent, (if indeed it was talent) gave way to a fascination with pharmacy. My first job was bookkeeper for a local drugstore.

Maybe this book will get me back to reading books,, a habit I abandoned for a myriad of reasons, the need to be more active, addiction to information technology, reading electronically, and a concentration on technical and political reading.

Carol's blog is on my blog list because I was following her two beloved Pekes (short for Pekingese), and the impending birth of a litter . She and her husband live near Hattiesburg, MS on a farm named Swiftwater Farm.

Book reviews, life in rural Mississippi, lush gardening, her pets (dogs and cat) and photography are a few features of her blog. She may add "mid-wife" to her resum'e; she delivered Sadie's litter. :~D

Thanks! to Carol for the give-away and Patricia for providing the book and signature!

[photo from Carol's blog reviewing the book]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Please Restrain "Flaming Me" about "Jacko"

Wikipedia Definition: "flaming:" Flaming is a hostile and insulting interaction between Internet users. This is the short definition; see link for more details.

Over the past 48 hours three entertainment icons have died. The "big C" (cancer)played a major role in, or was the cause of, death in two icons [Ed McMahon (The Tonight Show), Farrah Fawsett (Charlie's Angels)]. As a so-far cancer survivor myself, I, and many others, refer to cancer as the fear-filled verdict, "big C."

But this post is not about cancer.

The third person, who somewhat unexpectedly died, was the world King of Pop, Michael Jackson, also called "Jacko" [Thriller]to the British. Some will argue he superseded Elvis Presley as the musical star who defined and changed popular music and entertainment. Jackson's Thriller, is the bestselling album of all time (to date).

Nor is this post a tribute to Michael Jackson vs. Ed McMahon or Farrah Fawsett.

This post my perception of how the U.S. media and citizens' response to Jackson's death is perceived by our global community.

Yesterday about 5:30 p.m. I left the house for a city council meeting. The news channels had just broke the news of Jackson's cardiac collapse into unconsciousness and transport to a hospital.

As the council arrived after me, the informal conversation, including myself, evolved around the news of Jackson's death.

After the council meeting I returned home and reflected how our council reaction was a microcosm of the U.S. and, to some extent international, media's response. The purpose for which we were to assemble was momentarily suspended for our immediate reaction to untimely death of Jackson.

Every broadcast and cable news channel had canceled their normal programming to covering the unexpected death of Jackson, from speculation of "real" cause of death to his personal debt, controversial life style, impunity of his troubling legal cases, and his defining music.

The deaths of McMahon and Fawsett were shelved, cryptically mentioned as a footnotes to broadcasts.

Fawsett had documented her cancer battle in video, photos and interviews. Although controversial, she considered it her contribution to the subject of "Big C". I have seen clips of this footage; as a cancer survivor of 14 years, it is exceptionally difficult to watch.

However, I wonder how our adulation of a "pop" entertainment icon and blanket media focus is perceived by Iranians dying in the streets for freedom of expression, or starving millions in many countries like Zimbabwe, or tyrannical suppression in countries like Sudan which takes from the impoverished and gives to the oppressive governing powers.

If you every lived in a third world country, as I have, you would realize how the U.S. is perceived immoral, overtly wealthy, ungodly, status seeking and status worshipping, evil country to be scorned by cultures with differing ideologies.

Envy may play a part in this perception, but sit back and try to see this event unfold through the eyes of persons totally unacquainted with western culture, particularly US culture. As this adulation is played out over the next few days, try to see this media blanket coverage, which has superseded military casualties in two wars, death on the streets of cities in Iran, daily deaths attributed to chronic malnutrition and starvation and oppression on nearly every continent, through the eyes of our global community.

In my advanced years I have few heroes, because the pedestals of too many of my "heroes" were made of clay. If I have "heroes", they are the everyday people, who toil anonymously to live and work responsibly, dwelling among us without acclaim or identity; their only "acclaim to fame" is their obituaries: neighbors, husbands and wives, teachers, laborers, clerks. retirees, and children.

Please allow me to acknowledge these three deaths as I would any one's death. Death is a common denominator which equalizes us all.

" Thriller" (You Tube Video)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Luckie: Dog days have arrived!


Luckie is already in mode for dog days of summer, which usually is August. Reckon she knows something we don't know???

She has abandoned her small rugs, the bed, and her chair for cool spots on vinyl flooring in a small, dark , cooler hallway!

Already shedding hair, she's picked up the pace. Further, she is gnawing at what appears to be "hot spots" faster than I can spray the Hydrocortisone 1% Lotion Spray. If it doesn't improve, she will visit her most un-popular spa, the vet's office.

A few "hot spots" are devoid of hair, but not yet bleeding. She goes to doggie beauty shop Saturday, after which I'll dump more Hydrocortisone 1% Lotion Spray on the "hot spots." If spots enlarge or bleed, she'll visit her vet.

Luckie looks like a "huge" German Shepherd in this photo. However, she is a 39 pound dynamo mixed breed, Heinz 57 dog.

The current temperature is 93 degrees- feels like 99 degrees. There is a slight chance of isolated showers. Don't bet the farm on it! We have a soaker hose on our newer shrubs and trees.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Convention Part 3: Days 2 and 3; then HOME!

[For bloggers who have not followed this series, you may be interested in Hot Springs National Park Convention-Part 1: Arrival and Convention Part 2: Dining with the Wined and Soused for history and background so I am not redundant to regular readers.]

After the disappointing opening night dinner with the wined and soused, I looked forward to the next day's activities, especially the afternoon workshops on various topics of interest for local government officials.

The day began with a breakfast buffet of traditional, not necessarily healthy, selections: bacon, sausage, giant biscuits [with gravy, butter or jelly]YUM! YUM!, sausage, fresh fruit, orange juice, milk and coffee. Breakfast was served in the exhibit area, so the exhibitors had a captive audience.

Exhibits were goods and services local governments need or use. Exhibitors had drawings for WalMart gift cards, free pens and other advertising gizmos to attract us to their exhibit. I collected many free pens and signed up for many WalMart gift cards, but did not win anything. I collected a unique paper clip dispenser, paper pads, and two coasters for cups or glasses.

The morning assembly consisted of Arkansas Municipal League (AML) and state legislative agenda reports of interest to local governments. Although somewhat tedious, these reports often have a few morsels and tidbits for every city, large or small. My city has issues with fireworks and dilapidated housing, topics of which there was new legislation.

Following the morning sessions, there was a luncheon for past AML presidents which we attended. MORE FOOD: chicken breast, rice, spinach salad, roasted vegetables, huge roll and butter, chocolate bundt cake, coffee, tea and water.

The afternoon was fun. There were three workshop sessions; each session had six topics. I chose Land issues (my friend was a speaker), How to Avoid Dumb Mistakes as a City Official (really funny), and Parks and Recreation Ideas.

The Dumb Mistakes was a staged telephone conversation between a Mayor and an AML attorney. Most of the scenarios I already knew. I learned that Arkansas does not have a nepotism law (but my little city does). The big mistake city officials make is they act, assuming they know the law, and then call for verification or legal advice after the fact. Usually someone has questioned their actions!

Following the workshop sessions there was a buffet and happy hour sponsored by two entities, one of which was ENTERGY which supplies electricity to a large area of Arkansas. I can't begin to list all the finger foods and drinks available in two locations. I had coconut chicken bites, fresh fruit, a yummy lemon square I shared with my friend, and Coca Cola-no diet drinks available and I avoided the alcoholic route. We avoided our table companions of the previous night.

We both were tired so we left this function early, even though Ronnie McDowell was to perform country and western music. McDowell is a Elvis Impersonator, but a vocalist and musician in his own right. Here is a YOU TUBE video link of his Elvis impersonation and another of his own work .

Following the concert, at 9 p.m., there was dessert and cordials buffet. We were just too tired to participate, even though desserts were certainly tempting.

We decided to rest and people-watch on the indoor mezzanine of the historic Arlington Hotel.

On the third day of convention we had two morning assembly sessions following another buffet breakfast. These sessions were AML financial reports and availability of federal stimulus monies. The latter was disappointing as second class cities were obviously excluded by provisions.

Most stimulus funds required "shovel ready" project plans. This means detailed plans which require civil engineer reports and other information. Small cities do not have funding for preparation of projects which may never see fruition.

The morning session was followed an awards luncheon, the final event of the convention. Menu: baked catfish, potatoes, lettuce salad, coffee, tea, apple pie, carrot cake. I tanked up on coffee as I had a 4-hour drive home.

The drive home was uneventful. I was fortunate to beat the Friday 3:30 - 4 p.m. exodus out of Little Rock, the capitol city of Arkansas.

At my age these events are somewhat stressful even though I always gain useful knowledge. It will take the weekend plus a few days to energize myself again.

So I repeat the opening sentence of this 3-part series:
"Arriving home after conventions is a pleasure and relief--something about the relaxed, safe sanctuary of home once more!"

[I had another photo I took of my convention goodies, but it kept posting as if I rotated it 90 deg. to left, which I did not. I took it in landscape mode with my camera and only edited for picture quality. If you have had a similar problem and solved it let me know. I have reduced size and tried several settings. Guess I am just a nitwit!]

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Convention Part 2: Dining with the Wined and Soused

The highlight of the first day, actually afternoon and evening, was the opening night dinner in Horner Hall of the Hot Springs Convention Center.

My city's representatives, consisting of three aldermen, the planning commission chairperson and a spouse, along with five representatives from two other cities, occupied one table. The entire room was overflowing and additional tables had to be set.

The dinner was catered. I am amazed how well waiters, waitresses and other personnel efficiently present meals and clear tables without undue delay between courses.

This meal:

1. tomato, lettuce salad topped with croutons, two dressings on the side
2. iced tea, water, coffee, and Arkansas red or white dry wines
3. KC steak, medium
4. braised zucchini and sweet red peppers
5. potatoes, cubed and lightly oven fried
6. chocolate mousse or cheesecake with strawberries whipped cream.

My table popped the cork on the wines during the salad course. These bottles appeared to be 1 liter each, and were products of Arkansas wineries.

Raised in a non-drinking family, my YEARLY alcoholic intake is nil to none. I had about 1/3rd cup of dry white wine, barely covering the bottom third of my wine glass. My friend, the planning chairperson, had 1/2 a wine glass.

The balance of the two bottles were consumed in one round by the other eight persons during the salad course.

I knew we were in trouble when some in our party asked the waitress for more wine. We were told each table was allotted only two bottles. OOPS!!!

A long interval between courses caused some in our party to grumble. Two men table-hopped and obtained wine refills from other tables. I thought that was in poor taste, until further antics by ladies seem downright tacky and uncouth.

One woman at our table exited the room for the restroom and came back with a full bottle of white wine from a non-drinking, or should I say, a non-wine partaking table. Not to be outdone, the wife of one of our aldermen went out to smoke and came back with a full bottle of red wine, obtained in the same fashion. The guzzling eight consumed the entire contents of these bottles, too.

My friend and I were mute and astonished at the adult misbehavior of our table!

One alderman (my city) spent significant time regaling the prices of various beverages in the hotel's package store. Another alderman (my city) said he was switching to beer as soon as he got back to his room. Geez, what a bunch of souses and winos!

Not a connoisseur of liquors or wines, I had nothing to contribute to the conversation; nor did my friend, who said her household kept wine, but partaking thereof was not a significant part of their daily life.

In hindsight, the alcoholic consumption was not overt, but my expectation of scholarly conversational exchange about governmental issues was drowned in the bottom of wine glasses.

My friend and I retired to our rooms about 9 p.m. The next morning some of our table companions told us the alderman, with detailed knowledge of the hotel's package store, entertained a gathering at the hotel swimming pool with music played with his fiddle, harmonica and voice. He is talented musically.

It is interesting the toys we carry to conventions: I carry a notebook computer: others carry fiddles and harmonicas, and wear outrageous clothes.

As readers can tell I am moderately conservative, i.e., old fogie and party pooper!

Part 3: Convention Days 2 & 3

Hot Springs National Park Convention-Part 1: Arrival

Arriving home after conventions is a pleasure and relief--something about the relaxed, safe sanctuary of home once more!

I always enjoy conventions, seminars and other gatherings of people with common interests. This week I attended the 75th convention for municipal officials of the Arkansas Municipal League (AML). According to AML, there are 500 incorporated cities and towns in Arkansas, all members of the League.

AML offers many services and programs to its members. However, its major service is lobbyist for its members' best interests to the state legislature and other entities. AML is a member of the National League of Cities which also acts as lobbyist at the federal level.

With that boring history, for bloggies not familiar with state and local government, here is my tale of first half - day at convention in two parts.

Welcomed by heat and humidity, our city planning commission chairperson (also a personal friend) and I arrived in Hot Springs mid-afternoon. We stopped at the Hot Springs multi-purpose, beautiful convention center, to register and pickup our usual packet of information and goodies. I'm fond of the goodies like very nice quality pens, an official AML lapel pin and AML "ball" caps.

The first interesting incident of the day was at registration where we met one of our city aldermen, 60ish in age, dressed in a BRIGHT yellow polo shirt, plain shorts and orange clogs. He told us he needed to find Wal-Mart as he did not have any clean underwear. Too much information for us. I could say more, but wish to avoid confrontation and litigation.

We extricated ourselves from this conversation and checked in the historic Arlington Hotel. Its location near the famous Bath House Row keeps this hotel in business despite antiquated fixtures, elevators, and rooms.

The swimming pool and outdoor hot tub are accessed from the 7th floor. As strange as that might seem, one side of the hotel backs up to a mountain. The pool and outdoor gigantic hot tub are built into the side of the mountain at that level.

There are old photographs of past grandeur, beautiful old murals, elevators which still have clock-like pointers showing current up or down movement, indoor and outdoor mezzanines,and underground shopping area.

The Arlington Hotel was Al Capone's vacation hangout! One 4th floor suite has a plaque claiming to be his personal rooms where he had interest in a speakeasy across the street. Some historians say Capone started his gangster career in Hot Springs, which became a mecca for "healing waters" in which to bathe or imbibe.

Despite this history and grandeur, I was unimpressed with my large room which bothered my allergies, asthma and COPD. The HVAC was room wall unit with room thermostat. I never could get the room cold enough.

I worried about the older electrical outlets. The bathroom had tiled floor and tub enclosure; fixtures were old. However, there was no mold or mildew.

Carpets, tapestry, and bed coverings were old. The bed was comfortable and plenty of pillows. Mahogany finished furniture was in good condition.

Transportation was provided by an impressive public transportation system. Although called trolley cars, the mini-buses were air-conditioned, and comfortable for short trips to and from Convention Center about eight blocks away. AML and Hot Springs provided a special bus to shuttle between hotels and the center.

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was the first European to see what Native Americans referred to as the Valley of the Vapors when he and his men reached the area in 1541. Hot Springs became the first national park. See Discovery and Protection for additional history.

[photographs from on-line web sites of Arlington Hotel, Arkansas Municipal League, Hot Springs Convention Center]

Part 2: Dining with the Wined and Soused

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Convention fun?

When I get home my first post will be
Sitting at the Wino and Soused table.....or is it sauced?

Menu: steak, braised veggies (zucchini, sweet red peppers, potatoes..yum)

cheesecake, yum yum, or chocolate confection ( traded chocolate for cheesecake with my friend)

Dry red and white wines, iced tea, water, coffee

LOUD music and crowd - glad I did not take my hearing aids

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Convention Time! And It Is Thundering Again..

Yes, more thunder out of near-nothing clouds and the sun is shining. Thunder showers are in the forecast for today and also Friday, when I will driving home from Hot Springs. Luckie is under my footrest again.

As a local elected official, I am invited twice a year to the Arkansas Municipal League winter conference in Little Rock and summer convention in Hot Springs.

Because information can be redundant I chose to attend one of the two events every other year. This is the year and I have chosen to go to the convention at Hot Springs.

A friend has been chosen by a Municipal League Planning Official to show a PowerPoint presentation of how our little city chose to re-write our comprehensive plan. I want to attend her workshop to support her.

She has worked hard as planning chairperson with little support from citizens or city officials. I have an interest in planning and zoning which I may pursue when I am no longer alderman.

Tomorrow I will have the forgotten pleasure of plundering through my closet for smaller sized, dressy clothes since I have lost 23.5 lbs. I have some nice things I haven't worn in a long time. They are still "fat" clothes but smaller than my current "fat" clothes; that's got to be progress!

Hopefully I won't fall too far off the diet wagon at convention; they surely do serve some scrumptious food. A lot of desserts are chocolate, so I give them to my friend. I am an odd ball not addicted to chocolate!

We are staying at the historic Arlington Hotel and Spa in the Bathhouse District. I will have my notebook with me as the Hotel has wireless internet free, but not sure what kind of time I will have, as there are events both nights.

There is no telling what tales I will have when I return.

So until Saturday I am AWOL!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Didn't It Rain? Luckie says 'enuf of this'

For two consecutive days we have received showers of blessings, i.e. otherwise known as downpours of short duration. but significant accumulation.

Although north central Texas, and to a lesser extent, surrounding states have received an overabundance of rain and some destructive, sometimes tragic, severe weather, in July and August we may long for a cooling downpour. However, humidity preceding and succeeding these storms is oppressive to those of us with respiratory distress.

More showers are predicted for later today and tomorrow!

A Texan blogger, Amber Star of Serenity Days, included several posts about the north central Texas area, and a weather film clip. Dallas streets looked like waterways. See Building an Ark and It is coming again!....looking for my water-wings!

Here in north central Arkansas, we are beginning the search for an ark...too late to build one!

Unlike Noah we haven't been called to preach 120 years nor build an ark-building materials are several continents away. We have a nice sized mountain, Bull Mountain, part of which is in the city limits, actually in the ward I represent as alderman. I took a drive, but found no landlocked ark.

You know the Ark has never been found....for sure..

We do have a boat, but the Marina where it is housed, is not accessible because the lake level has inundated the roads to it. And I don't swim...

I am thankful for the recurrent showers which have watered my new post-Great-Ice-Storm shrubbery and young trees, saving ballooning my water bill. Rain is far more beneficial than city water any day!

But Luckie has developed a fear of thunderstorms.

When we adopted her, Luckie did not appear to have this fear which seemed to develop in the time-frame of her diagnosis as an epileptic. Little is known about the aura that precedes seizures in adults or animals, so maybe the storm triggers that in her doggy memory.

When the thunder begins Luckie gets under the raised footrest of my recliner, in a dark place, or as close to one of us as she can physically get. It is odd. When the storm is over, this behavior ceases.

This morning I awoke to thunder at 4 a.m. Luckie was beneath my foot rest. I have unknowingly lowered the footrest, squeezing her into the cavity underneath the recliner, only her tail is visible. It is a tight fit, but she never utters cry...must not be painful.

So today I am a tad deprived of sleep. Maybe a nap this afternoon? Probably NOT.

If I could catch a rainbow to photograph,the weather would be tolerable!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Call for Help!

I've received an email from a visitor to Remembrances of an Arkansas Stamper for a poem I mentioned in my Comments to her post, Fall, 1939, where I mentioned a poem, whose title was something about a Garden Gate.

If any of you writers and poets recall this poem, here is Elise's request and e-mail! I don't know if she is a blogger. But it would make her mother happy, and Elise, too.

Elise Smith at a5thgentexan@yahoo.com e-mailed me the following request:
Greetings, I stumbled across your response to the blog of Remembrances of an Arkansas Stamper. In it you mentioned "...There is poem about a Mother waiting at the garden gate for the return of her child. ..." which is exactly the poem my mother asked me to search for, for her. I know nothing else about the poem but would really like to find it for my mom. I appreciate your time, attention and any assistance you can provide. Thank you so much. Best wishes and regards. sincerely, Elise (like 'Release' without the 'R' ... E lease)

The poem was a tribute to a Mother who was always waiting for her child regardless of the period in their life. The last stanza mentioned the Mother was in heaven, and would be waiting by Heaven's gate to welcome her child again some day.

In my high school days I did some poem writing, and loved poetry. Mother gave me, and I also purchased a few anthologies of poetry, usually topical in arrangement. These were usually inspirational works from Hallmark stores, the most famous, as I remember, called Leaves of Gold. However, I had several similar albums. I remember a lot of the works were "Author Unknown."

I used this poem in a church bulletin I published in the 1980s but I no longer have my library. I had to downsize when we semi-retired and moved to Arkansas into a manufactured home. I had to downsize again when allergist told me to get rid of things that accumulated dust and mold.

The poem may exist on a 1.44 floppy disk, but I have no working computer with the capability to read floppies now. I do have a huge collection of both size floppies.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saturday PhotoHunt - Lock


Curly LOCK(s)

Multitude of Spare LOCK(s)

Combination Safe LOCK

File Cabinet LOCK(s) & Keys

Interior Door LOCK

Mixture of LOCK(s) & Keys

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Scarlet Letter - Another Playground Debacle

Do you remember the classic, The Scarlet Letter, by American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne?

Wikipedia summarizes the novel succinctly: The Scarlet Letter (1850) is a novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered his magnum opus[citation needed]. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.

The Scarlet Letter inspired many films, TV , theatrical adaptations, and music. Wikipedia lists 14. Many U.S. students read this classic as a part of American literature in high school or college. It is a favorite of mine, and refreshingly different from the Puritanical literature earlier in that century.

The title of the novel referred to a scarlet letter "A" for adultery Hester Prynne wore on her clothing across the breast and her lover, a minister, had burned on his chest.

I provide this background for international bloggers who may visit my blog.

As regaled in Monday Musings - My First Friend, I was not skilled in school playground interaction and had limited social interaction with my peers in my early school years.

I'm not sure what provoked the playground skirmish. I probably stoked the defensive fires of passion once the hurtful names began to zing like arrows, piercing all our little hearts. When provoked, I could be an acid-tongued, sarcastic, snotty-nosed kid, if I felt threatened.

At some point a boy, yelled back at me, "well, you not so smart, you're adopted." As the epithet echoed over the playground, an eerie silence settled over the usual cheerful, carefree voices of children at play. Another boy picked up the mantra and said, "Yeah my parents told me that, too."

Some of my peers were mystified as I; others snickered. Whatever the WORD meant, it must be a no-no WORD, a subject not to be spoken or discussed.

I was old enough to use a dictionary. I went home and found the WORD in the dictionary, not saying a thing to my parents. Not knowing the "facts of life" also called the "birds and the bees," I pondered about the WORD's meaning. So it was a mysterious WORD, but to me almost, like my first friend being called a Nazi. My parents never used that WORD.

My parents sometimes would not discuss some subjects with their children. We respected them and erroneously put them on a unapproachable pedestal, a statue to be admired, not questioned. I kept the secret WORD to myself.

In this time period I had a new best friend I met in the second grade. We walked home together daily. One day I said to her, "I think I am adopted." I guess she had "the discussion" at home with her parents as she had witnessed the playground skirmish.

She very quietly said. "Well, your parents really wanted you with all their hearts, if you are adopted," which was soothing to a little troubled heart.

For a long time I felt branded with an "A-WORD." As I and my peers matured we had more important issues; the WORD faded into my background.

I don't remember when my parents enlightened me about adoption; they eventually did. There seemed to be a stigma associated with adoption in the '30s, '40s into the early '50s. There was the shameful "born out of wedlock" birth certificate. and the slurs describing persons of unknown parentage. Fortunately those words were not hurled on that fateful day.

Most states have passed laws that issue a replacement birth certificate when a child is adopted. The original is sealed in court records. My parents exchanged my birth certificate as soon as Texas passed that law. The date, time of birth, city and attending physician all are the same but the adopting parents are listed simply as parents.

More often than not, women, who did not marry were placed in "maternity homes" and often forfeited their infants for care received. This practice allegedly "saved face" for her family and herself,. In the late '50s women began to keep their babies, regardless of marital status, when movie stars publicly started the trend.

Whether to keep or relinquish a child would seem to be a very private, personal question where the decision has no right or wrong answer. From information I know about my biological mother, she had no option; the alleged father would not marry her. She was in a poor family of 10 other siblings--no room for one more mouth to feed during the Great Depression.

As my parents talked more to me, I realized just how special I was. They told of parking several blocks from the maternity home, covering their license plates and entering the home through a special door.

Daddy let Mother decide on which baby they would accept. In those days there multiple babies available for adoption. Mother, who wanted a girl, told of having a choice of seven babies! She slowly circled the seven cribs, each adorned with a blue or pink ribbon designating the sex of the baby.

Only one baby was awake and "talking," not crying. Mother picked me. I was two weeks old. Daddy said, "you were talking then and never stopped talking!" [My husband agrees!!!]

In September, 2000 I learned my biological mother returned to the maternity home twice, trying to find out where I went. She died, not knowing. I visualize her and Mother comparing notes in heaven...

Today I wear the "A-WORD" with distinction. On occasion I have to explain to physicians and others, why my family history is not applicable to cancer and certain hereditary situations. Now I do know some of this information, but until age 63 I did not.

Today the "A" WORD has many applications. We adopt animals - Luckie and I have a common bond. We adopt ordinances. There is Scripture which refers to us as "sons by adoption" to God. I don't intend to miss out on that!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bad Hair Day Part 2

Once my hair recovered from the TrimComb debacle, the hairdresser started looking for appropriate permanents for difficult hair. She tried a new approach of cutting hair after the permanent process, a somewhat successful method because frizzle-frazzled ends were eliminated.

Our change of station from Baltimore was to an isolated security base at Sidi Yahia, Morocco, one of three US stations in Morocco. We lived on Mehdia Beach, one of three beaches used by General Patton during the invasion of North Africa.

The Bad Hair Days continued. I vacillated between home perms applied by friends or no-perm straight hair. True to my oath, I cut no hair. Some wives had beauty training and there was at least one hairdresser in the PX.

Our next change of station was Denton, TX where my husband was a recruiter. I again had a full time pharmacy job, so I started my once-a-week hair appointments.

One appointment was total disaster: a cross-dresser hairdresser with a five-o-clock shadow confided he was having sex change surgery. Too much information for me, so I moved on to another beauty shop.

After several missteps, I found a shop near home where a friend worked. I scheduled a perm, explaining my litany of Bad Hair Days. Her employer recommended a perm called UNIPERM, a panacea for all kinds of hair.

An advertisement in the '70s said, "By following the foolproof directions, you'll all get perfect results time after time. Automatically." Another ad promised, "The super-mild waving lotions and UniPerm's unique system of controlled heat and time-release processing clamps promise fool-proof results on every head of hair, every time." A pricey perm at $50, UniPerm never met perennial Bad Hair Day!

This cure-all perm was the ultimate disaster with frizzle- frazzled ends breaking off with each brushing. I bitterly complained to my hairdresser and the owner. Both were horrified at results. The shop owner provided several weeks of conditioning oil treatments -no charge.

Then the shop owner and hairdresser sought the best perm available with built-in conditioning steps and no heat cycle, as I said price was no problem. After several of these permanents the hairdresser adjusted perm solution and neutralizer times until we obtained an acceptable perm, given my life-long Bad Hair Day history.

In our mid-40s, we decided to semi-retire in Arkansas. I brought a memo from the hairdresser with specific instructions and the permanent brand name.

The hairdresser I chose in Arkansas became my best friend (BF). She was puzzled by hair curling before the "bent" test and "grabbed the neutralizer." She knew I was adopted.

She obtained the permanent through her supplier. I also took her license to Texas to a beauty supplier I knew and purchased a 12 unit case. The product was discontinued in the period we were using the case of permanents.

Back to square one, she searched for similar permanents. Long periods of time I had straight hair. I was graying rapidly. After a hysterectomy I was post menopause, with no estrogen therapy. Hair began to thin. I had a bout with kidney cancer at age 60 - problem added to problem.

But there came that moment in time when all the roads of life meet at an intersection of revelation in September, 2000 - an epiphany.

My father died in 1999. Both parents were now deceased. I began to wonder about my biological roots. I never pursued my curiosity in deference to my parents who shaped my value system, provided an education. and nurtured me into adulthood.

I employed an intermediary - a fancy word for a searcher who also appears in court on behalf of clients. As we chatted, I discovered we bought our Denton home from her adoptive parents.

In this process I obtained redacted records of my biological mother's interview and stay in a maternity home. The interview asked about bloodlines and ethnicity of family background which stated German, Indian, etc.

BF read the papers with me. "That's it," she said. It's your Indian blood line. That's why your hair is so weird." She had worked with persons of Indian descent, but never connected that fact with me..... nor did I!

After meeting my biological family (a story for another time), some members dabbled in genealogy. As best can be determined, my generation of two half-brothers, a half-sister and myself probably are 1/32nd to 1/16th Cherokee from one side of the family. Since there is Indian from both paternal and maternal grandparents, it is probably more.

A few days ago BF asked me, " have you ever seen an Indian woman with a permanent?" No, but I haven't visited the Cherokee reservation in OK to conduct a poll...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Bad Hair Day - Part 1

Although existing before 1992, the phrase, a bad hair day, soared into prominence in the 1992 movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Buffy (Kristy Swanson) to the one-armed vampire Amilyn (Paul Reubens):
"I'm fine but you're obviously having a bad hair day."

The idiom means (1)a day on which one's hair seems unmanageable.(2) Also extended to mean a day when everything seems to go wrong.

I own a lifetime of (1) bad hair days, but (2) fewer days gone wrong.

Mother believed that little girls - all females for that matter - should look like, well, like girls. To this end, she was determined her two female children would meet the test of looking like girls [what ever that protocol is], no tom boys allowed. OOPS, I was already in trouble as far back as I can remember.

This "look like a girl" agenda began for my sister and me when we were infants. Not that we remember, but old photographs don't lie. We wore a lot of pink, even if we looked hideous in that color, and our hair was curled by whatever means available in those days.

My sister and I were both adopted; we are not blood sisters. We both had hair that would frustrate any hairdresser. Sister's hair was fine and silky, light brown and did not hold a perm well. My hair color was brunette, and its texture was a challenge. Perms burned and frizzled my hair, despite meticulously following instructions. The texture changed from somewhat coarse with no body to wiry when wet.

I remember my first beauty shop permanent. Mother dropped me off at a friend's beauty shop.[After my visit, I'm not sure the friendship endured.] I was confronted with a roomful of gossipy, yakking women and terrifying torturous appliances from some horror movie.

All was well until it came time to perm the hair with the electric curling machine chair. I took one look at that contraption and wondered what dastardly deed I had done to deserve punishment by electrocution. I screamed and cried as I was led to my perceived execution.

Despite assurances the procedure would not hurt, I continued my loud protests. The hairdresser lied. My head got hot and the smell of burning hair permeated the air. The odor was a cross between Bakelite insulators and tires burning. If I survived, I would be bald for life.

In the ensuing years Sister and I were subjected to 'Which Twin Has the Toni?' stinky, scalp-burning permanents and many other home curling ideas including home curling irons and brushes. Mother also permed her own hair.

Mother's hair and to some extent Sister's hair always looked nice. My results looked like a freak in a horror movie. Mother was not to be deterred. She tried everything that came down the turnpike on my hair. In my teen years she once again resorted to beauty shop perms, the results of which were not much improvement over home perms.

Bad hair days continued through college, my early career days, and marriage.

Just married in 1969, we moved to Baltimore where my husband's (H) naval assignment was aboard a reserve training ship docked in the Baltimore harbor. Money was tight for a while as I embarked on a new phase in my career - relief pharmacist.

My weekly beauty appointments were temporarily suspended until our financial outlook was better. But I needed a haircut badly. An annoying persistent ad on TV featured a device called a TrimComb, 'just comb your hair for a evenly shaped haircut for pennies a day.' It was unisex, too-suitable for both men and women. I ordered one for $9.95.

With visions of saving millions and eliminating a line item in our imaginary budget, I eagerly awaited its arrival via U.S. Postal Service. When it arrived, I read the somewhat vague instructions and decided to trim my hair while watching TV. After all, you just combed your hair and it magically provided a nice haircut.

Nowhere in the directions was a warning you would have choppy patches of 1/2" hair, surrounded by longer hair, or NO hair-bald patches. When I looked in the mirror that image looking back needed an exorcism.

H was appalled; for some strange reason he favored the barber on the ship...

After a couple of days at work, with some uncomplimentary comments directed at my new 'do, I sought an hairdresser willing to tackle my hair. Finding one near home,I arrived in person with my specimen of a TrimComb hairdo. Her face was white like she had seen a ghost; I thought she might faint.

She said it would take several months of trimming and shaping to get back to normal. Fortunately she had seen other TrimComb specimens, but none so severely destructive as mine. I prefer to think it was a creative cut myself.

Little did I know, you could cut hair to grow, or slow the growth--or so she told me. Unfortunately, TrimComb cuts were the no-grow way.

My husband extracted an oath in blood from me that I'd never try to cut my own hair again. And I haven't.

[I tried to find a photo of TrimCombs on the Internet and E-Bay, but to no avail. In the early '70s the ads ran all night on TV.]

Later - Part 2 ..Same song, second verse; could be better, but it's gonna be worse!

Monday, June 01, 2009


Most televised sporting events, and maybe other shows, have several persons, who describe to the viewing audience the event of the day. One such person's title is "Color Commentator".

Since I am avid Dallas football fan, as a number of Texas women are, I love the person designated to add color to the game. "Color" may be explanation of facets of the event, or personal factors, either complimentary or not, about participants.

From my bio, you know I am a former Texan (30+ years); therefore I have a Texan's ability to spin a yarn with colorful detail, learned from years of listening to fellow Texans and applying what I heard. Lacking crucial details do not deter Texans' storytelling; they become "color" commentators in spinning of yarns. Watch out! Here is my take on some "colorful events" in Texas and Arkansas.

Texans have some unusual activities they call fun, along with common festivals, parades and celebrations. Two or three events are downright nasty: spring rattlesnake hunts and resulting cookoff of snake steaks and cowpie (other animal "pies") discus throw or cowpie bingo. I never participated in these events. I can absorb pie throwing, watermelon seed spitting and other uncouth behavior but deliver me from things that hiss and rattle, or smell.

However, Texas is a huge state and there are many beautiful, fun events, everywhere, small communities and large cities. The culture of San Antonio lends itself to several beautiful events. As a high school band member, I marched in the heralded, largest night parade, the Fiesta Flambeau. Fiesta Fandango Run is held prior to the parade. Fort Worth has festive events centered around the historic stockyard district.

However, Arkansas has events which may evoke a smile, too.

There is a BeanFest and Championship Outhouse Race in Mountain View near Arkansas Patti; does the word "gas" connect the two events?! On the subject of gas, a community near me is named Gassville and their Gassville Day in the Park is in June.

Near Conway there is a community called Toad Suck. What do they do on Toad Suck Daze? I'll let you fill in the blanks.[I'm trying hard to keep this decent.]

I've lived in the same Arkansas town for nearly 30 years, so it makes me almost native. I relish my self-appointed unofficial job of initiating unsuspecting newcomers about my adopted home state.

The aforementioned Toad Suck Daze and the Beanfest and OutHouse Races are favorites. That sets 'em back on their haunches.

The annual Turkey Trot and Wild Turkey Calling Festival in Yellville, AR features a beauty contest called Miss Drumsticks, a National Wild Turkey Calling Contest, arts and crafts, bands and a parade. It serves as a homecoming event for many natives who moved elsewhere.

The Turkey Trot highlight is the impromptu flyover wild turkey drop by a mystery pilot. The number of drops for the 3-day event is determined only by the pilot. I know the pilot who catches and releases the wild turkeys from his personal aircraft during Turkey Trot.

SPCA and the Humane Society cannot catch him to cite him for cruelty; he disguises his plane's identity. It became a game between him and animal rights groups after a unfortunate bird hit the top southwest corner of the courthouse with a horrendous splat, feathers flying everywhere... That spectacle deflated the crowd for a few minutes.

The animal rights groups claim wild turkeys can't fly. I personally have see the birds spread their wings and soar, likr eagles, once released--so much for that erroneous idea. Domesticated turkeys may not fly; they are too fat.

Then there was the Great Duck Race for a few years in Bull Shoals. Tickets were sold for plastic yellow baby ducks with numbers painted on them. The ducks were dumped off the Bull Shoals Dam into the White River. At some point the first ducky to cross a line was the winner. Of course, I told one unsuspecting new Texan in the area they were real ducks we dump over the Dam. :)

Remember The Bible Hour Fish Ponds Fiasco post in which I described my Mother's "color" comments to the stories? Many a Sunday School teacher and Ladies' Retreat lecturers use this method. For example, one speaker, using Sarah, Abraham's wife, as focus, explained Sarah, an inhabitant of a chique, bustling city must have been frustrated and isolated by Abraham's nomadic wanderings and ordered by an invisible Spirit.

Color commentary enriches our reading and viewing experience.