The Cuss Cash Jar

“Shitski! The remote died!”

As the Machete Mania show segued into The World’s Best Hamster Clips, Jeannie levered up from the sofa and went for batteries. She returned to see a bunch of jittery rodents running along a zip line over a realistic chasm full of cats. Her husband Elroy slouched on the couch oblivious.

As she turned to announce ‘bedtime’ for her 9 year old son, there he stood grinning, holding out the Cuss Cash jar. “What, you want me to count it for you?”

“You talked dirty and owe a buck.” Tommy grinned wider and shook the jar.

“I did not. Perhaps you mis-heard my recollection of the name Shitski. Your cheesy smile brings it all back to me. I was out walking Roscoe, my beagle/bloodhound mutt, and there before me a shaded park bench beckoned:

I plopped and Roscoe laid across my feet. No sooner had I closed my eyes than somebody that smelled expensive sat right next to me. I looked over and he stuck out a beringed hand.

“Madam, I am Ivan Shitski.” He nodded toward the fuzzy Chihuahua thing he had on the blingy leash that attached to a blingy collar. “This is Katerina the Great.”

At the sound of his voice, Roscoe woke up barking and slobbering. I had to jerk hard on his leash to keep him from having a taco snack. The Russian leaned away from us and the rat dog jumped into his lap. I jerked Roscoe’s leash again and said, “Shut it!”

The evil eye that Russky gave my now peaceful hound prompted me to make a wager. I said, “Sir Shitski, I’ll bet you $100 my dog is smarter than yours.”

He turned his nose up and said that he wouldn’t want to take my money because his darling had won shows. I asked if he was scared old Roscoe would bust his supreme confidence.

He said, “Ha! Fine, I’ll bet a dime.”

Elroy asked, “Dime bag?”

“Shut it, Elroy. Now, back to the vivid memory.”

The Russky stood up and placed the rat dog on the ground. When he unclipped Kate the Great, he showed the thing two fingers that he twirled around twice. The fuzzy runt got on her hind legs and walked around old Ivan twice, then sat all perky right in front of him with goggle-eyed adoration.

I stood and showed Roscoe an L-shape, just finger out and thumb up you know, and unclipped him. That mutt ran fast enough to make grass fly up behind him. As Ivan laughed, I pulled my Ruger SP-101 from my inside back holster with the safety already off. “Ivan, that dog is smarter by an order of magnitude because he knows not to be anywhere near me with a loaded gun ready to fire.”

Jeannie peered straight at her solemn son. “Ivan silently picked up his tarnished treasure and gave me that same cheesy smile as you. He didn’t even pay up. Now go to bed.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” He replaced the jar, laughed and trotted to the bathroom with a spring in his step. Had he glimpsed cats chowing down on clumsy hamsters?

She snuggled back into Elroy’s arms.

“Jean, don’t you think he’s going to figure you changed that Russian’s name to suit yourself when you saw him with that jar?”

She pinched his arm. “No, he won’t figure nothing because he takes after you.”

“You made that up?”

“Shit yeah! Plus his head will be too full of kitties and hamster parts.” She dug for Elroy’s wallet and put two dollars in the jar, then clicked in search of any show without rodent carcasses.

Long-Legged Geeky Girl

Whew! I’ve been up to my ears in busy so have missed posting for a while…sorry! I did just enter an essay contest and thought I might share my non-fiction entry. Go GIRLS!

 

Long-Legged Geeky Girl

Mary Ellen Wall

 

“What are you all red-eyed about?”

“High waters. All I got is high waters. Bell bottoms gotta drag the floor!”

“Prissy girls.” Mama went back to her crossword puzzle and I stomped back to my room to take off those durn blue jeans that showed my ankles as soon as possible. It wasn’t my fault I wasn’t born a boy. Tossing my book bag and shedding my shame, the treasure spread across my bed stole my attention.

My Bookmobile treasure: Pollinators, Geology and the Inland Sea, The Science of Fire, Storm Dynamics. With a fluffed pillow at my back and my bare giraffe legs stretched out before me, I reached for the nearest tome. The 8th grade science fair was only 27 days away. Hmmm, weather instruments.

I had a jelly jar in my hand wondering what to use as a membrane when I saw the fancy syrup bottle with the plastic handle and spout in the trash. Ditch the spout. The jelly jar went back to Mama’s canning supplies. The smaller opening would mean a little balloon would fit lots easier and still be big enough for a pointer. A needle would poke the balloon. Dootdootdoot…what the hoot? Epiphany! A toothpick, flat rounded end stuck down. Glue, where’s the glue?

The two poster boards were a breeze to do. One had a wild tornado in the center with a spotted cow and a couple trees in it. Labels and arrows artfully drawn noted the meteorological details. The other had a precis of my EXPERIMENT. The harder part turned out to be affixing the index card to the bottle neck. Scissors! Tape! Where’s the durn tape?

I added another reading from the nightly weather report; the toothpick had a great range against the card which gave me pretty good space to record the data. The weather guys said a band of storms were on the way. Great! I might get a couple data points in the low range right before the science fair; the top of the card looked a bit blank.

Me, the biggest idiot in the room. The guy to the left of me had put an Apollo capsule model together. On the right, the guy with a hamster in a cage kept trying to make the critter run in the wheel. Across from me the guy had a printed, full color diorama of the Grand Canyon. Several boys had volcanoes. I had taped the cow tornado picture to the front of the table and whapped up a poster full of news of the record-breaking storm swarm and a fairly well drawn map to put in its place. Was it hokey? The boys had more polished displays. Except for me, all the contestants in the gym were boys.

Seeing the strange high school teachers quizzing the Apollo fellow reminded me of a Wild Adventures show including a warthog. Me, the warthog, now realizing lions approached. Could I still run? Where were the exits? I blinked at hearing someone knock on the table and there they stood, directly in front of me. Holy bovines.

“Miss, please explain why you brought this mess here.”

Mess? By golly, warthogs got tusks. “Sirs, Ma’am, I made this barometer from ordinary items and calibrated the device using the National Weather Association certified reports that are televised each evening.” Here I pointed at the data on the card. “There are 23 data points taken before Wednesday. On that day, the barometric pressure got so low, the diaphragm busted. This ‘mess’ is the evidence that my barometer worked.” I did not add that the sight of that balloon getting sucked way into that bottle and popping while Mama clutched my little sisters under the kitchen table and screamed at me to join them will amaze me to the end of my days.

Well, 1st place won me a whopping $50. The April 3, 1974 avalanche of ravaging tornadoes allowed me to proceed directly to the Woolco Department Store where I purchased a gleaming new Brother sewing machine. I figured out how to use it. From then through now, I choose the material for my clothes, I select the patterns and alter as I please. And my pants are always the right length.

Crazy Maniac About BOOKS!

Since I was a we little tyke, I’ve devoured books (I even ate part of one about the 3 Little Kittens). We didn’t have that many around the house so I read Mama’s few (Gone with the Wind and such) including the full set of Golden Encyclopedias. What an education for a single-digit kid!

The Bookmobile stopped by the shopping center we walked to for groceries (Winn-Dixie) and I really had to beg ’em to give me a library card. Oooh, how I treasured that card. They limited me to 3 books for a while, but extended it all the way to 10 after noting my care and fervency. Andre Norton and Arthur C Clarke were early favorites, and cook books – I started cooking all kinds of goodies. History and science were my absolute favorites, and I have the firm belief the Bookmobilers stocked more just for me.

The biggest shock about being on a ship far out to sea in the USNavy was being BOOKLESS but for the few I brought with me. Back in port: Buy more books NOW.  I don’t want to neglect the wonder of libraries, it’s just that the school libraries were substandard and the Louisville Free Public Library was way too far away to walk or bike. Yeah, the bus. The bus costs cash and transfers were daunting for a lone youngster.

Now:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That’s over 7000 books in my cabin library! Plus a few hundred more elsewhere. And I write some as well! What else can I do but make an attempt sort a few out (including – sigh – duplicates)?

TA DA! a few years ago I started a BOOKSTORE! Old Lady Who? is named after Mama who adored Jimmyold lady who Rogers, the Blue Yodeler. It’s an Independent Bookstore among the thousands on Abe Books. I found myself amazed when I realized I hadn’t told any of you about it! Need a book? Give Abe Books a look and maybe do a search for Old Lady Who? I put one of these stickers on each order.

So, problem solved, right? Sell them until I have room to walk.  Of course not. Don’t worry, if I need therapy for this obsession, I’ll buy a BOOK on it!

book order

A Favorite Christmas Story

I just like this one. Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holidays to each and all!

 

The Christmas Cactus

 

Shivering, she pulled herself up from the hearth using her cane and put the poker back on its hook. “I shouldn’t ought to have let that burn so low.” She eyed the four logs left, judging whether they’d be enough to get her through the night or not. Nope. Susie wobbled to her overcoat and went out to woodpile on the front porch in the blowing snow and retrieved four more fair-sized ones. She fretted about forgetting to do it in the daylight; she forgot so much anymore.

The fresh logs she’d just loaded in the fireplace still laid there, not wanting to burn. Working the bellows until she got a flame made her sweaty. She thought about taking the darned overcoat off because with two sweaters on it would cut off her circulation but good. Coming down with pneumonia wouldn’t be very smart, though.

Next she knew, she stood at the coatrack with her coat hung. Chilled to the bone, her hand fondled the other coat there, and she wiped the tears from her face. “Stanley, help me out here, will you please?” His camouflaged hunting coat felt so blessedly warm as she buttoned it up. “Yes, Stan, I’ll make us some tea.”

Instead of making the tea, she plopped heavily into the padded kitchen chair by the fire. Staring at the flames, she remembered how Stan would have brought in plenty of wood, and he would have banked it better. He more than once told her she didn’t have a lick of sense and she believed it. That Christmas cactus she’d insisted on getting so many years ago bloomed right on time anyhow, up until he went onward to the pearly gates. Since then, it hadn’t done its duty at all. She angrily remembered the tea and heaved up to put the kettle on the stove. The propane he’d put in heated it up quick and she fixed a little pot of chamomile.

On the way back to her warm seat, she glanced over to the miserable cactus. She stopped, her tensed body falling slack. “Oh Stan, would you look at that!” She gently cradled the bright red blossom and smiled in that contained Mona Lisa way he liked. “Thank you, lover, I’m warm nose to toes now.” She sat and sipped her tea, hugging his coat tightly, feeling his embrace as they watched the fire dance. Merry Christmas.

christmas-cactus-in-hand

Kids and Cars

“Wait a minute! You’re going too fast!” Kate followed Darlene down a path she had not seen before. She stretched her neck and stubby legs as far as she could. Concentrating on speed, the descent into the ditch surprised her. She slowed on the wet rocks when she Turtle 007saw where they were headed.

She’d avoided this edge of the woods because of the awful whooshing noises. Her Uncle Harold had been smashed flat, an ugly, gruesome mess his shell could not prevent. Her neck retracted some with that awful remembrance. “Darlene, Mama said to stay away from the road. Terrible things happen here.”

Her friend kept on walking around a curve in the ditch. “It’s okay, silly. Look! The great big super-noisy machines that were here just before the last big rainstorm did this.”

The ditch now went under the road! They walked through the smooth-rock tube and came out the other side as safe as could be. Climbing up the ditch, she looked around at this side of the woods. Then she looked at the dreaded road. Oh no!

“Darlene, over there! That’s Daddy at the side of the road!” Her Dad was going to cross the road to find her! The path back was too long, how could she show him a safe way across?

Her Dad started across the road, his neck stretched out very far.

Kate went to her side of the road and a big noisy car rushed by. She panicked, then withdrew her head to see her Dad was okay, his head slowly emerging from his own shell. He resumed trudging deliberately across the road.

Another big noisy came, very loud Turtle 008and slow. Kate trembled as it crept toward her Dad. The big green noisy stopped very close to him. A two-legged animal, a human, got out and picked up her Dad. The human set her Dad down on Kate’s side and went away.

His head raised very high when he saw her. “Kate, I told you not to cross the road!”

“Dad! Let me show you the safe way across!”

 

 

 

Love A Tree Day!

Tree HuggerThe very first time I travelled from faraway San Diego to the remote reaches of a Western Kentucky forest, I fell swoopy-doopy in love. The Realtor I’d visited was in Elizabethtown. I wanted to build a cabin in the woods. Nada, nothing available, all the woods being sectioned up and bulldozed for subdivisions, sadness. The hour I was to leave the motel for the airport, she called and breathlessly rushed to say she’d just had a miracle pop up on her screen.

I sped over and met her at the door. She told me a 100 acre forested lot just came up on the wire, not even formally listed yet. And they only wanted $35,000 for it! She got a somber look and added that it was almost a hundred miles west.

We went and we poked around a little in the pouring rain. Gee, I wasn’t sure…We went back to the Realtor’s house and she let me stay there.

I called home and said I’d be away for one additional day, then remembered to change the flight due to family emergency. Sort of… The next morning I drove back out and everything seemed different, me and the trees in cosmic communion. The wonderfully sunny day was rather far along before I’d stopped wandering the deer paths, swooning in awe of the cacophony of birdsong and ogling the brilliant wildflowers. Before I got back in the car, felt the strangest, I couldn’t believe I was doing it compulsion. I hugged a big ‘ol tree. Tight.

I got back to the Realtor’s and picked up my plunder so I could return to the airport in Louisville. I had to talk a 35 grand commitment over with Bob, we had to look over the finances, we had to see if this could integrate into our plans, I had to convince him with a thousand pictures. I drove away. About 100 feet.

I ran back crying and signed the papers.

I have NEVER regretted it.

It’s Love A Tree Day, and as ABBA sang, “I do, I do, Id, I do, I do!”

Holy cow, just writing this has me in tears.

 

An Easter Thought

Cabin creek rippleTo me, a creek symbolizes a powerful force that can be beautiful and life-giving but can also cleanse the landscape in a flood. This water is precious to the life of the woodland flora and fauna, the flowers and the fawns. The rippling sound warms my weary heart. The water can dry up, leaving the woodland parched and sad. Then it returns in glory. What better way to commemorate the Resurrection?

Cabin creekside

A Puzzle Story – Just for Fun

This is a PUZZLE story, and is a bit more understandable if you read it out loud…

Piece Tastes Good

That sighed of the river that forms hour boarder now bruise ail four all to sea! Wee tact a notice on hour billboard write away, “Know Ail, Bier oar Other Alcohol on Hour Sighed!”

Narrow blue water 1

Soon they dug into they’re coughers and sent cruise of guise to build a saloon on the river! Wood ewe believe the shear vise displayed? Weather they can reed hour sine oar knot, weir bread better than them and wheel have nun of it!

Narrow blue water 2

This mourning, the devils lured too, then for, then ate and then moor of hour citizens to trudge waste deep across the shallow blew boarder. Many were already at the bar with blog june 053boos! How could they chews this? I told them awl know!

Then I saw a mail of rank, maybe a kernel, they’re at the bar with my Ant Mimi. He past her a bottle and pointed at me. She urged a waisted fellow to grab an or and roe her back here.

“Deer, just try this Fare Bare Bitter, yule like it!”

Her words wade heavy on my sole, Ant Mimi the Matriarch. Aye had two take a sip. Won moor. Hmmm, won moor.

Weave decided knot to weight to build a bridge too hour fare and sonny friends on the far sighed.

Narrow blue water 3