Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Catalogue Queen in Training

People, who know me, know that I am a “hardback snob.” This means that I vehemently prefer a hardback book to a paperback book, and that I don’t like to break the spine of a book; the mark of a true hardback connoisseur.

In spite of my snobbery, I love magazines and catalogues, and getting something in my mailbox.

I love the small ones, the medium sized ones and the over-the-top extra large ones. I read then from cover to cover and promptly recycle them, unless there is something that I must order. Usually I will rip out the page, put it beside my computer, recycle the rest of it and then deliberate on whether I truly need the items.

The process may linger until I see the next catalogue which may have these items on sale. Not only am I a connoisseur of catalogues but I am proud to be a sale-lover as well. As an online shopper, I have graduated to beaucoup catalogues covering various genres.

Eventually the ones that try to sell me cement mixers and dogsled equipment realize I’m not their target audience and give up.

Perhaps like you, my name and address have been sold repeatedly to other magazines; I seem to keep certain catalogue companies in business.

However, I am perplexed by the ones that say, “This may be your last catalogue, if you don’t order soon,” since I’ve never received them before, and would prefer they keep their word in making it the last time I see it.

I’m really not into sleazy nightwear or the toys that go with them. Just saying.

I’ve always admired the “off- the- grid” inventor that delights in the junk mail and catalogues, creating paper logs from to heat their homes for the winter. I would consider this, but I don’t have a fireplace or potbellied stove, but I’m sure I’d keep the house toasty.

In general, I read catalogues in the car while Scott is driving, or in the “reading room.” Although I try not to distract Scott’s driving, I like to share a comical T-shirt logo or stupid pet item. When I’m finished, I drop the catalogue on the backseat’s floor and rely on him to recycle; he doesn’t like picking up after me, but, oh well.

The catalogue bug bit me while visiting my Mother-in-law, Ada; she is to be revered as the “Queen of the Catalogues.” In the past, while visiting her, I would marvel at the plastic boxes of catalogues lining the lower shelves of her office. One would never imagine they would be found in alphabetical order and by genre; clothing, household goods, foods, children’s, gardening and so forth, but it is so. I spent hours perusing little known ones with heightened anticipation. In a very short time, she became my catalogue guru, and I have tried to make it my mission to outdo her.

It never happened. Apparently, I’m still in training.

Today and even after many “remove my name from your list,” instructions, I am still happy to find catalogues in my mailbox. Today, I received 3 magazines and 10 catalogues, and it’s not even Halloween.

Holiday catalogues come next. Woohoo.

I hope the Postal lady still likes me. I think I need to leave her some candy with one of my favorite catalogues.

May all your mailboxes be filled with great catalogues. I'd love to hear what catalogues you like to get; email me at

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Small Town Thoughts

I’ve lived in different sized cities and towns both in the states and overseas. There are pros and cons for living in a small town.

I like to be part of the community; volunteering and even being part of other people’s lives, making a difference.

Sometimes it takes a long time to be accepted in a small town. Typically, I don’t like being the center of attention, especially the focus of gossip.

However, sometimes it’s appropriate to be the center, like on my birthday. On Facebook, I received over a dozen birthday wishes from friends/family, and writer friends. 
That was nice.

Even my small town remembered me in an unusual way. I got a recorded phone message from the local drug store, singing happy birthday and wishing me the best for today. 

That’s a first.

May all you days be filled with warm wishes and great birthdays. Email me at 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Just When You Think It’s Safe To Go Into The Shower…

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 7 years old. Multiply that age by the times my glasses have been changed and you get a Progressive Lens wearer that’s nearly blind as a bat. 

Although bats can really see, they use echolocation to find their prey in the dark. Technically, they’re not blind then either, so why do we even say that?

I wish I had echolocation without my glasses, in the dark or in the light. Six inches away from my face and things just become blobs of color
Scott knows all too well because even with my glasses on, I can’t find where I dropped an earring or the remote, and he is enlisted to help me find these things. 

Unfortunately, he can’t find the remote either and since he doesn’t leave it in the same place twice, it becomes comparable to a “man hunt.”

Thankfully, I try to leave things like car keys and my cell phone in the same place each time they drop from my hand. I know, one day in the near future, they will be found in the refrigerator, but when I get that forgetful, I will have a “clapper” or whistle device attached the them.

Getting back to being blind. I got in the shower this morning, sans glasses and said to myself, “I need to pick up that blob of hair when I get out.” I toweled off, got dressed, put on my glasses and reached into the shower. It wasn’t a hair ball. It was a roach!

Apparently, I had taken a shower yesterday and today with the rude but extremely clean Blattodea. This may sound quite benign to you but I have two mortal enemies: spiders and roaches. Terrified is a mild word for what I feel for them. I believe I could adjust my name to “Helified” and that would describe my condition.

Scott knows “the scream,” “the look,” “the petrifaction” when I see a roach, a common occurrence living in the South with lots of rain. They migrate in hoards to climb the walls and ceilings just for the pleasure of torturing me. My family knows that the vacuum is the best and only way to securely remove the vermin quickly from sight. Not today.

I had to steel my nerves to use three squares of doubled up Kleenex to throw the disgusting thing into the toilet before the cats realize that I dropped something in it.  Heaven forbid if the cats brought it back into the bathroom. 

Swoosh. Another one bites the dust.

Note to self: keep glasses on before entering the shower stall. That is all.

May all your showers be insect-less. I’d love to hear about your glasses faux pas, email me at

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Things I Get Into

Why do I open my mouth and stick both feet inside?

Besides teaching a Weather class this evening, leaving at 4:30 to eat, set up and teach from 6:30-8:30, then take down and drive 50 minutes home, I made the mistake of saying I would give a floral demonstration to a garden club this morning.

They wanted to see "contemporary" Ohara Ikebana designs. My least favorite type; I have to be "creative." So I labored for days thinking about it and looking at all the containers I had that would fit the description. I chose 4 to work with and one was a traditional suiban that I would slip past them...

I sketched my designs, thought of appropriate greenery from my yard to cut in 100 degree heat that needed to live more than 1 day and knew I could go to Lowes' Foods for a few flowers.

 I bought too many flowers and began to work the designs. I thought, this is a test and I should always do the easiest things first; so the traditional container was chosen, the design got a twist and my confidence soared. 

Then came the clear green glass container with the hole in the middle that had never been used. I fought it and hour later, came up with what looked like a simple design. Even Scott said, "I could do that."

The third container looked like a cracked rock and I knew if I saw it in a field, eventually some wild plant would eventually grow there, so that inspired the design. The fourth one was in a pottery bowl I bought near the famous fish market in Tokyo. It screamed for a design mimicking flowering hostas and that worked (unfortunately I forgot to take the photo.)

This is where it gets stupid.

I got up early, tried on 4 different outfits, packed up the car with the flowers, and drove 35 miles to the venue. No one was there to pick me up. I brought in the flowers and didn't see the group. I went to the manager's office and he told me the meeting was NEXT WEDNESDAY. I repacked the flowers, drove home, unloaded the flowers and then promptly got in bed.

Later, It took me 1 hour to clean the kitchen and I thought I have to do this all over again next.

Oh boy.

Disclaimer: Usually, I would never show my work with "junk" all around it, but these were only going to be reminders for me to use while I was demonstrating. The "real" photos would be taken in a great setting with a wonderful backdrop. On well. Wonder what I'll be inspired to do next week?  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Game Delay


Holy crap! My Superbowl kickoff began with a scare. 

This week, my kitchen has been in disarray with putting in new cabinets, new door fronts, drawers and corner lazy susans. Unfortunately the counter tops are cut and there are large gaps between each side. The carpenter went in and out of the house over about 4 hours and most of the time, the storm door gaped open. 

Tonight while trying to heat the toaster oven for some cheap pizzas, a mouse the size of an armadillo ran across the counter no less than 6 inches from my hand, ran behind the toaster oven and dropped into one of the gaps.

I didn't yell. I didn't scream, I produced an ear-piercing shrill in an octave I didn't know I possessed. I think I killed the mouse, or at least blew out his ear drums. He better be dead, but just to make sure, Scott put out 2 mouse traps filled with peanut butter, and then the stupid dog tried to eat them. 

My heart is still pumping and I don't think I can enter the kitchen again until he's gone. My throat hurts and football is ruined.

Scott will have to cook the pizzas.

Monday Update:

Imagine having your kitchen updated and everything, everything, in the kitchen is crammed in boxes piled in the living room, dining room, hallway and anywhere there's room. I think I counted 15 boxes in various sizes, 3 oak stools and 2 full-size bar stools. 

Saturday and Sunday I began to wipe down the new drawers, throw out the bottoms or tops of plastic containers that missed it's match and put things in the dishwasher that needed the dust bunnies removed. With the extra space in the kitchen, boxes were emptied. I was almost finished when Scott said, "Thirty minutes to kickoff. You better put the pizzas in."

I was not prepared for a heart attack and neither was the dog, Scott or perhaps the neighborhood. I'm truly surprised the police weren't called. Heck, I'm sure they heard me too. Typically I'm not afraid of animals, except roaches and spiders, but mice in the house might need to go on the list. 

In about an hour, Scott heard some weird scratching noises and found the trap occupied. He carried it to the front door and asked me what he should do with it. Then remorse set in. It's just a mouse and we live in the country where creatures of all shapes and sizes are my neighbors. "Why don't you take it across the street and let it go?"

Scott looked at me like I had three heads. "I'll leave the trap on the porch and tomorrow, if I can open it, I'll see if the mouse can be released." I felt better even if my heart was still pounding.

Am I still leary about going into the kitchen? You bet, and the 2nd trap is still sitting on the floor by the refrigerator just to make sure. Sometime today, I'm going to let the cats roam the house. Unfortunately they will probably just play with it, if they find it. I guess we all are just a bunch of chickens.

May your kitchens be filled with great food and drink, and no surprises. I'd love to hear from you. Write me at  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Food Order Gone Bad

"I'd like to place an order for delivery."
"If this is Helen, go ahead."
"I'd like one lasagna, one spaghetti with marinara sauce, a salad with thousand island, one meatball sub and one Philly Cheese Steak."

The lady at the other end repeats the order. "Will this be all?"
"Oh, I'd like a half-gallon of sweet tea."
"We don't have any more tea tonight. The cashier poured it out early. Then she got sick and had to go to the hospital. Do you want anything else to drink?"
"Uh, no. That will be all."
"Will this be cash or charge?"
Stunned, I said, "Cash."
"It'll take 45 minutes to an hour."
"Thank you."

I got off the phone and repeated the conversation to Scott. "You know, we don't know what got the cashier sick, and I don't want to be exposed to anything, if there is anything. I'm thinking about all the e coli outbreaks..."
"Call them back and cancel the order." So, I did.

We quickly got in the car and headed to Subway for dinner.

Paranoia quickly blossomed.
"I think tomorrow we should get our flu shots. Don't you think so?"
Scott said, "Yea, tomorrow will work for me."

Saturday, October 31, 2015

When in Rome...

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Perhaps one should not assume the Romans speak English.

I have been travelling out of the U.S. since I was 13 years old.

I have managed to visit 26 countries, several of these I've been to several times.

I've tried lots of different food, seen many wondrous things, had some amazing adventures, and at least tried to say "please and thank you" in the native language.

I realize that my eastern N.C. accent gets in the way, but I try to be congenial and adapt to "their" lifestyles.  After all, I am a US ambassador when I leave home.

The last time I checked my passport, it didn't say "stupid," but perhaps other travelers should have that special box checked...

1. "I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts."
2. "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time -- this should be banned."
3. "On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food."
4. "We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price"
5. "The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room."
6. "We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow."
7. "They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax."
8. "No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared."
9. "Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers."
10. "We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish."
11. "The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun."
12. "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England . It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair."
13. "I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends' three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller."
14. "The brochure stated: 'No hairdressers at the resort'. We're trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service."
15. "When we were in Spain there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners."
16. "We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning."
17. "It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."
18. "I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes."
19. "My fiancé and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."

A friend of mine sent me this list. I couldn't decide if it was worth laughing over or just to shake my head. You decide.

May all your travels be filled with fun and adventure. Bon Voyage. Email me at