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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Band Books

The Captain who, for reasons I can’t fathom, insists on checking to see what I’m doing at any given time, strolled through the living room when I was mouse deep in research.  I’m not sure why he checks on me.  He says experience is a great teacher.  I say don’t worry about it, the hair grew back.

“What are you doing?”

 “I’m picking out some snazzy music.”

 “You don’t play an instrument.”

“No, but I can still be supportive.”

“Of who?”

“The band.  It’s band books week.”

“Um, no it’s not.”

“Nothing like a stirring march by John Philip Sousa to wake up all the dogs at once.”

“But it’s not.”

‘Maybe I’ll wear red, white, and blue tomorrow.’

‘You can wear what you like, but it won’t make a difference to Mark Twain.”

“I didn’t know he had a band!”

“He wrote Huckleberry Finn.”

“Um, you may not like this, but Huck and I took the friendship oath long before you swashbuckled along.”

“Then you know it’s banned books week.  B-A-N-N-E-D.  Not band.”

“Oh.  You mean like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and Fahrenheit 451?”

“Yep. Just like them.”

“And Harry Potter and his Hogwarts buddies?”

“The very same.”

"No marches? No fanfares? No pants with stripes down the side?"

“Nope. Banned books. The ones they kick out of schools and libraries.’

“Isn’t that kind of like the lifeguard draining the pool?’


“How are people supposed to learn to swim?”

“I guess they’ll get a book about it.”

“That sounds great. Strike up the band!”





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Brain Food for the Zombie's Soul

While I appreciate a stack of homemade hoecakes as much as the next Southern Belle, I just can’t bring myself to get past the pictures of a teeth-gritting Paula Deen grinning up at me in a flirtatious, deadpan way from the covers of magazines at the checkout.

“She looks like a zombie.”  Son Two and I are at a bookstore large enough to merit its own bobsled team.  Paula Deen is gazing at us with a gleam in her eye and a glazed-tooth grin. It may come from a butter-induced stupor, but I can’t help but think she’s sizing up our brains to see how many deep dish pies she could get out of the pair of us.

“She’s just posing for the camera,” I said, shivering and checking over my shoulder for random undead figures lurking in the nonfiction aisle.

“It looks like she’s staring at me.”  He shifted on one leg to lean behind me.  The creature’s eyes seemed to follow him.  A trick of light on the glossy cover made her appear to drool. If she licked her lips, I was going to peel out past the half-price calendars like a Nascar driver on the last left turn.

“Let’s go to the coffee shop,” I whispered, backing away from the bookshelf.  We’ll get something with caffeine to keep us alert.”

“Mom.  If I got any more alert I’d be an exclamation point.”  Son Two is as tall as an industrial refrigerator, but only as wide as an icicle in the freezer compartment.  He can take in food all day, but somehow the shelves stay empty.
“Back up slowly and don’t make eye contact.  She’ll try to lure you in with homemade doughnuts and full fat cream cheese.”  But it was like I was talking to Angel Food.  Son Two was gone and there was nothing but air. 

I tried to run, but out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a cover picture of made-from-scratch banana pudding that would make my granny ask for more.

Dinner that night was especially tasty, finished off with a delicious dessert. 
Zombies may want brain food, but banana pudding is food for the soul.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gonna Fly Now

I’m contemplating taking a trip.  It doesn’t look that far on the map.  A few states up, maybe a little to the left, give or take a few fast food restaurants and a national monument or two, but stopping short of making a pass over scary bodies of water if you don’t count the restrooms on the Interstate.

But I’d have to fly.  I’m not afraid of flying; I did it in quite a carefree manner before I got married.

In 1982.   

Thirty years ago we didn’t have to take our shoes off to get permission to board the plane.  As a matter of fact, we didn’t have to take ANYTHING off to board the plane.  We checked our luggage for free and got clever little bags of peanuts for a snack at naptime.  It was better than kindergarten.

The nice people at the gate set my pocketbook on a little conveyor that ran through a box that looked like a tiny carwash without the water or me screaming where nobody could hear me, and sent me on my way.  They figured out I had no money or authentic signed Elvis photographs and wished me well.  We parted as friends.

These days I’ve heard so many horror stories, I’m afraid to approach the airport without hiring Chuck Norris to serve as my personal bodyguard.  If I can’t get Chuck, I could make do with my husband before he's had his morning coffee. But that seems cruel, although not unusual.

I’m not afraid of flying, I’m afraid of TSA.

I’ve heard ugly stories about patdowns, and I don’t want to get my Spanx in a wad over how much Preparation H I’m bringing on board. Beauty pageant contestants use it to tighten the skin on their assets, and I might need more than the allowed amount to look my best.

Also, I have trouble with shoes.  Sure, it’s no problem to kick off my orthopedic oxfords in the spirit of goodwill to protect our national safety, but at my age it could take the entire Olympic gymnastics team and a couple of off duty Air Marshals to get them on again.  Here agility is the key.  Even terrorists can’t increase flexibility in something that hasn’t exceeded a twenty-five degree angle in 35 years.  These hips don’t lie.

All in all I’m a trooper about anything that will keep folks safe.  But the fluid limitation is going to be a problem. Everyone is allowed a quart-sized carry-on baggie to hold personal items totaling no more than 3.4 ounces of fluid. I’m 54 years old.  I retain more water than that when I brush my teeth.

And if I’m going to have to bend over to tie my shoes, somebody needs to be holding something larger than a quart-sized baggie.

Those Interstate restrooms are looking better all the time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


A Little Boy Gone on 9/11

by Carole Conner Oldroyd on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 3:05pm


I post this every 9/11.  I made a promise to myself and to this little boy's memory that I would never forget him.

This is Rodney Dickens. He was only 11 years old when he lost his life on September 11, 2001. He will forever be the face I see when I think of that terrible day.

When photos started streaming in on TV after the terrorist attack, his little face struck me. I began to wonder about him. As a mother whose kids were close to Rodney's age at that time, so many things ran through my mind.

My first thought was, "Who was with this little boy? Was he traveling alone?" My boys had flown alone several times.

My heart broke when I wondered if he knew what was about to happen; that his life was about to come to an end. Did anyone put their arms around him, or did he face the those final moments as alone as any human being could ever be? Did he cry? Was he afraid? Did anyone hold his hand? Did he pray for God to rescue him? Did he have dreams, goals, plans for his future? Was he even old enough to begin dreaming of what he would do when he was all grown up?

When I began researching to find out who little Rodney was, I learned that he was, indeed, without his parents. He was traveling with classmates. Again, parental instincts crept in and I sobbed thinking about his mother and his father. Were they watching as this all happened? How devastatingly helpless must have been the feeling, knowing that they were powerless to protect their child from the wickedness of these terrorists. I have had nightmares about Rodney crying for his parents in the seconds before his life was brutally stolen away on what should have been a day filled with joy.

And then my emotions turned to rage. Correlations between this innocent child and my own children filled me with so much anger, knowing that the terrorists would not have cared if my children were on that plane. Regard for precious human life was tossed aside like an unwanted object by those . . . I'm sorry, I cannot use the word "people". In fact, I don't have any other word for them besides terrorists. I feel that nothing appropriate even exists in the English language.

As I write this, my arms are covered in goose bumps. My eyes are filled with tears. This child. This sweet-faced little boy lost his life before he even had a chance to begin living.

Rodney, I never knew you. But I love you. With all of my heart, I love you.

 As long as I live, you will never be forgotten.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Danger Cat: Roll Out!

It’s not that I don’t like surprises.  I just like to know what they’re going to be before they happen, in case I need to phone 9-1-1 where they keep a disaster specialist dedicated to me on hand.

I like to know that the birthday cake is covered in trick candles that won’t blow out before I waste a wish.  Just wait, Mom. I’ve waited 45 years for revenge.  I’m pretending to forgive you so they’ll let me in heaven.

I like to know that the place we’re going for dinner has a dress code so I won’t wear the pants with the heart-shaped ink stain in the middle of the rear view.

I like to know before the haircut that I’m not going to look like I have the Miley Cyrus teddy bear do.  That’s why I’ve kept the same stylist for 30 years.  She knows how to disguise any uh-oh moments I’ve created.  My superpower is creating uh-oh moments.

But we can’t always know what’s waiting for us.

When I got home for lunch today, there was a long and winding trail.

Of toilet paper. 

It stretched from a toilet paper puddle on the bathroom floor, down the hall, and into the room of the Second Son.  Like a yellow brick road.  Except made of toilet paper.

I forgot what it’s like to have a baby in the house.

At quarter past menopause that is a surprise indeed.

But my kids were raised by a mom who took in so many strays that her signature scent is Labrador accented with topnotes of tabby.

So when a pitiful mewing sound drifted through his window not long ago, Son the Second presented me with a bedraggled grandkitten who promptly overthrew the Labrador regime and established domination over her minions.  And nothing was safe.

Especially the toilet paper. 

This sink is protected by Danger Cat.
And in a home that’s seen two boys, a cache of cousins, a brace of neighborhood kids, and enough stray animals to create our own animal planet, it wasn’t really a surprise after all.