Cul-de-sac Chronicles

Three Dreams because One is Just Not Enough

A few nights ago:

First Dream

We found the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood: smaller homes, one story, nice lots, and neighbors in our age bracket. It was moving day. Before we could even get our sofa in the door, several neighbors gathered around to welcome us to the neighborhood. I heard one say, “Did you hear that Dick and Jane failed the test. The association told them they cannot move in. They had to haul all their things away to storage.” I said, “Excuse, me. What test, what test is this?” She said, “Oh, you haven’t taken the test yet?” “No, nope, no test.”

All the neighbors turned to look at me with that tsk, tsk expression on their faces. The woman continued in that elementary schoolteacher tone, “You cannot move in until you pass the test. Dick and Jane studied for weeks and could not pass. Have you studied?”

“No, nope, no.”

H and I rushed to the office and got our test. It was the size of one of those grocery flyers that you get in the mail on sale day – the Sunday version that has extra pages.

A classic anxiety/fear of failure dream. Wasn’t this the same dream we all had in our senior year at exam time – just before graduation. Shouldn’t I be over that?

Second Dream

I was in an elevator, and I needed to get off on the third floor. It stopped on every floor except the third floor. I really needed to get off on the third floor. I kept going up and down, up and down. As I’m sure you know, it never stopped at the third floor.

Okay, so those were my dreams a few of nights ago. I had this next one the night before those dreams, but a little explanation first.

I recently read a John Grisham novel, Sycamore Row. It’s the first Grisham book I’ve read in a long time. I finished it just before his much talked about remarks regarding child pornography inflamed everyone, and I had the dream just after he walked those remarks back in his apology.

Jake Brigance is the protagonist in Sycamore Row, the same Jake Brigance that Grisham brought to life in his first novel, A Time to Kill. Matthew McConaughey played the Jake Brigance role in A Time to Kill, and those are the threads from which my third dream materialized.

Third Dream:

H and I were walking on a beautiful beach. We came to the bottom of a flight of stairs that led up to a large beach house on a cliff. Workers were just beginning to paint the stairs white. Matthew McConaughey walked out on the deck above and shouted down, “Come on up.” As we ascended, he bounded down the stairs with a light step and shook H’s hand. He was all Matthew McConaughey in his white, loosely fitting linen shirt that flapped lightly in the sea breeze. His radiant, blond wife came out and shook my hand as she drew my fingertips to her lips and lightly kissed the tip of my index finger. It seemed strange, but hey, they were the McConaugheys. They invited us inside. There were a few other people there (no one that I recognized), and they asked us to enjoy some blue crabs with them. Those crabs were the biggest blue crabs I’ve ever seen. They were at least eighteen inches long. At least. I said, “My father would love to see these crabs.”

The dream vanished. I didn’t even get to taste a single crab.

Did you hear Grisham’s remarks? What was he thinking?

My Grave Experience

100_2104Yesterday, we drove up to Graves’ Mountain for the Apple Harvest Festival with friends. It was a beautiful day. We packed up a lunch, a couple of blankets and folding chairs. When we got there, we found one available picnic table by the stream and quickly claimed our spot.100_2109

Soon after we arrived, all the ladies had to pee. So we bravely headed off to the porta-potties, or as H prefers, “visited the blue houses.”  My friend and her daughter grabbed the first two available, and I waited a few seconds before a young man and his son exited. When I got inside, I realized my mistake. There was a small puddle of mysterious liquid on the floor and all over the toilet. Foolishly, instead of exiting and finding another blue house, I decided I could handle it. This would prove foolhardy.

I considered my options and possible techniques. I could try to wipe the seat with toilet paper, but yuck! And even still, I would not like  to sit on it. So I turned my back to the seat, spread my legs so as to avoid the urine, lowered my pants, which had the undesirable consequence of dropping both pant legs onto the floor. I watched in horror as they bunched like an accordion on the floor and spread out until they began to suck up the fetid mixture like a thirsty sponge. How did I not know this would be the case? The deed was done. By this point, I was committed to my plan. I hanged my butt over the offending seat (without touching), grabbing the waistband of my pants, I pulled them away from the seat so they would not touch it, and I let loose my stream, never, ever touching the seat as I accomplished all this. But…

When I was almost finished but not completely, I realized my knees were giving way, and I had to do something fast. I ceased my stream and began to rise when my knees suddenly and completely turned to rubber. In what seemed like slow motion, I began to tilt, tilt, tilt backwards. Panicking that I was going to end up on the offending seat, or worse, in the hole, I made a snap decision to throw my considerable weight to the left. I did.

And that’s when I slammed my cheek against the wall of the port-a-potti. And I remained plastered there, pants down, around my thighs, butt hanging in the air, and quivering legs trying to decide if they were going to hold me upright or let me slam onto the toilet seat. Would they, would they not? It was a horrifying few seconds. My face remained plastered to the wall. All of my weight was concentrated on that left cheek.

While balancing there, I began to inch my pants back up toward my waist, and I swear, I had almost completed the job successfully when the door to the blue house flew open, allowing bright light to pour  in as a cast of thousands gasped, their lips formed into round ooohs. The young woman stuttered and stammered, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Oh, I’m sorry.” But she did not close the door. (I know I locked that danged thing when I went in.)

I quickly finished, stepped out, found my friend’s horrified face in the crowd and said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I was finished. Nothing was exposed. Right?” She astutely concluded this was the way I was going to play it and loyally agreed, “You’re fine. You’re fine.”

I practically bathed in hand sanitizer. I went into a compulsive phase, periodically pulling the bottle out of my pocket and squirting a bit into my hands the rest of the day. There was nothing to do about the bottom of my pant legs. I didn’t drink another thing the entire day. Dehydration was preferable to visiting another blue house. You couldn’t have gotten me there again if you’d handcuffed me and dragged me with a team of Clydesdales. Blue houses stink.

And this is how I felt about that.100_2100

When I got home, I got out of the car, went straight to the washing machine, stripped my clothes off, tossed them in and started the machine with an extra dose of detergent. Then I went straight to the shower and scrubbed from top to bottom. If you’re worried about bodily fluids, I would suggest avoiding blue houses.


fat_woman_on_scaleIt’s time for a visit to the old poke-in-the-eye doc. No problem. I’d rather do that than go to a doctor who forces me to get on the scale.  I’ll stop by Marshall’s after the appointment. Do you love Marshall’s? I’ve found two pricey brand-name blouses there recently for about a third of the retail price. It isn’t easy for me to find clothes now. I’ve gained so much weight. When you aren’t pleased with your body, it isn’t easy to find clothing that pleases you. It isn’t the clothes; the body is the problem.

H is fit. He has the right metabolism, but he also works at it. He eats like a Saint Bernard, but he burns calories like a Hummer burns gas. He worked out for an hour yesterday, and then he mowed and bagged the grass and leaves.

Activity + good metabolism = hot body.

I’ve struggled with weight since my mid-teens. As soon as puberty was a thing of the past, so was my lean, little body. It happened before I knew what hit me. I went from a person who burned calories while sleeping to a person who couldn’t lose weight if she had the flu for three weeks. Remember that Irma Bombeck joke about giving birth to a seven-pound baby and three pounds of afterbirth and still gaining two pounds. I guess our male ancestors needed lean bodies to hunt those woolly mammoths, and the women had to maintain fat to survive the famine. No famines around here, but I’m all set if one pops up.

Over the past 45 years, H has never said a word to me about my weight (smart guy), but he’s finally breached that boundary. It has nothing to do with looking good in hot pants. Remember those? It’s the health thing. And I know that.

I’m going to have to get going here pretty soon. I’ve improved since vacation, but I need more structure and commitment and consistency. Seriously, you cannot empty an ocean with an eyedropper.

I may have to go back to W/W or at least rummage around here for the book and that silly point calculator. That thing rubs me the wrong way. Why can’t they just go by portion sizes or calories? It’s a marketing gimmick, I guess. Anyway, W/W is a great weight-loss program… okay…. lifestyle program. Whatever they want to call it, it works IF you follow it.

Time to beat some life into that dead horse again.

Only a half-hour until Morning Joe. Can’t weight to see what they’re talking about this morning. I bet you can guess.

Water in the Canal

Yesterday, I went to the doctor. Wow, that turned out the way every visit should. I arrived a few minutes early, and waited about three minutes before they took me back to the examining room. I didn’t even wait a minute in there. The nurse got all my information and my vitals, and the doctor came in and proceeded. The nurse returned and gave me my flu shot, thank-you-very-much, and whoosh, I was out of there and on my way home. The whole thing – from the time I left my garage till I pulled in again – took one hour. I even got a great parking space. Everything went my way. I should have bought a lottery ticket.

The first thing the receptionist asked was, “Have you traveled outside the United States recently?” Does South Carolina count? When I returned home, I received a call from someone who set up a mammogram appointment for me. Her first question: “Have you traveled outside the U.S. recently?” I guess they’re all on the detail.

how-ear-worksThe doctor told me to get Flonase (nasal spray) and plain old Zyrtec (an antihistamine) without the D (decongestant) – both OTC – for the earache. I knew that’s what she would do, but I wasn’t sure what was compatible with all my other meds, and then there’s the A-Fib to consider. Can’t forget that. I can’t take anything with the D (decongestant). The antihistamine should help with any swelling or inflammation, which should help to open the canal and allow the water to escape.

Something tells me that just about now you’re thrilled you dropped in for a detailed medical report. I have to get a life, do something interesting… maybe an affair with the thirty-something down the street or a second-story job. I think I’ve mentioned the second-story fantasy before. The outfit alone would be worth writing about: all black, skin-tight, hair pulled back in a pony tail, black smudges under the eyes, soft bag over the shoulder for the stolen jewels. Nothing could be more fun than seeing the inside of strangers’ homes when they’re not there.

But, alas, my day will entail laundry and a trip to BJ’s. They sent us a temporary membership – good till Dec.31 – so we thought we’d check them out, and maybe lunch at Panera Bread after. They’re offering a seasonal turkey/cranberry/flatbread sort of thing, paired with squash soup. I still love their creamy tomato soup, paired with the fuji apple salad. I do not like Applebee’s. Do you? Everything taste the same there. I think they have a bucket of seasoning mix they throw on everything that comes out of that kitchen.

Okay, that’s enough babbling. I’ll let  you off the hook now. Have a great day, everybody! Maybe I’ll be wild and choose the squash soup. It isn’t second-story work, but it’ll have to do.

Reflections on Doctors and a Chicken Piccata Recipe

doctor.jpg!BlogThe ear still aches. As luck would have it, I have a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment this morning. I’ll get her to look at it. I doubt she’ll even know what to do. Primary Care docs are little more than health managers/paper work junkies anymore. Mine barely touches me. I don’t even have to get undressed. She just looks at my ears and throat and listens to my lungs and heart and inquires about any complaints I may have. She makes appropriate appointments with appropriate specialists if necessary and viola, I’m out of there. She’s sweet and I’d like to have her for a niece, but… It isn’t her fault. It’s the nature of the system nowadays. Remember when your family doctor could sew up a cut, treat an infection, mend a limb or lance a boil? When my brother managed to stick a knife in his eye, they took him to Dr. Crawford, not the hospital. No kidding. That’s unimaginable now. And in addition to all that, Dr. Crawford made house calls. I imagine he could carve a mean turkey at Thanksgiving, too.

Chicken Piccata  – Image: Eating Well

I made chicken piccata last night. I  used a recipe I found on Eating Well. It was a new recipe, and I complained through the entire preparation that I would never make it again, no matter how good it turned out. Even though I thawed, halved those huge chicken breast and pounded them into cutlets earlier in the day, the recipe still took more time, effort and created more dirty dishes than I’m interested in. It turned out to be very tasty, though. The sauce/gravy was delicious on the angel hair pasta. Will I make it again? Not sure. If I do, I will do ALL the prep in the morning. I like simple and fast. Maybe I’ll look for a slow-cooker version. That’s more my speed.

Off to wake H, get coffee and watch a little Morning Joe. He’s tied in knots about Ebola. Why do I keep watching that show? I just can’t get enough… apparently.

Earaches and Drunks and Ebola! Oh my!

We’re home from vacation. We had the best time. No more sitting in balmy breezes, reading a book and watching the tide “roll in and watching it roll away again, wasting tiiime.” And what a way to waste time. We had the most beautiful weather. On the way home, as we approached the Virginia line, the temperature suddenly dropped twenty degrees in about twenty minutes, and big drops of rain splashed the windshield. Welcome home.

I woke yesterday with an earache and junky lungs. I think it’s the sudden change in weather and a little beachsickness. Who doesn’t have a little longing for the beach after vacation?

So, I slept like a baby while we were there. Days spent on the beach, deliciously satisfying meals and only CNN to watch on television are conducive to sleep… but not so great for dreaming. I dreamed that we were in some place – I don’t know where – and we had to get to another place – I don’t know where. Our only mode of transportation was a rickety, old bus that had been recently inhabited by Ebola patients AND we had to go through an Ebola hot zone to get to our destination. Thank you CNN. The only thing that could have made it more frightening would have been if we’d had to fight ISIS to get through.

The last night we were there, I woke to the sound of a woman’s voice. She was yelling to someone – a security guard, I think. She was screaming, “I can’t stay here? I have to move along?” Then things went quiet, and I began to drift back to sleep when I heard her again. This time she was yelling to a friend or a wanna-be-friend… if you know what I mean. She wouldn’t shut up, and the security guard had obviously moved to the other side of the hotel or somewhere.

H snoozed away. Nothing bothers his sleep, not even scantily clad, young women. Finally, I went out on the balcony to see what I could see, because it was my business now. I looked down, expecting to see her in the pool area, but no. I looked to my left, and a pretty, young, blond woman, wearing nothing but a filmy cover-up sort of number, was hanging precariously over the railing of her balcony on the seventh floor – one floor down and one balcony over from ours – drunk. Oh, so drunk. I expected to see her lying down there soon if she did not go inside and pass out.

IMG_7933I yelled to her that people were trying to sleep. She kept yelling for a few seconds more, but quickly ended her alcohol-fueled conversation and went inside.

When I went back in our room, H’s voice emerged from the darkness, “One day, I’m going to have to bail you out of jail. Why are you yelling at a drunk woman?” I said, “Oh, she woke you?” “No, you woke me!”

What can I say? The woman needed yelling at. At least she wasn’t a relative. It’s always nice when they aren’t related.

Today is for  unpacking, doing laundry and thinking up some healthy meals.

Do you think my earache could be caused by that sudden temperature/barometric pressure change? I remember getting an earache like this once when we went to the mountains. The doctor told me that a little water got trapped in the ear when we came down from the mountain, and that’s what caused the pain.

I found this:

 Your ears may “pop” or have a painful sensation as you ascend to higher elevations that have less pressure or when the atmospheric pressure decreases because of weather changes. Your pain is caused by the unequal forces between your outer and inner ear regions, according to Universe Today. In essence, the pressure outside your ears goes down before your ears are able to acclimatize, causing a pressure imbalance. The pressure inside your ears becomes too high in relation to the pressure outside. Source: LiveStrong

Sex Change Operation in the Cul-de-sac

IMG_7894_2It was a beautiful weekend. It was in the upper seventies on Saturday but dropped to the forties on Saturday night. Yesterday was our first bonafide fall day. The air was crisp with a little bite, and the humidity was low. It warmed a little as the day progressed, but I still needed a sweater. Beautiful!

The Grand Trio enjoyed the Lego convention, and they all came home with Lego toys of their own.  I’m always impressed with Legos. They have something for everyone – younger and older children. The older ones worked with directions/diagrams that helped them figure out how to assemble their toy on their own or with a little help from a friendly adult. The process advances so many skills. They are absorbed and focused while working on them, and they are proud of themselves when they finish. They make great gifts for kids… and some adults.

We made the Straw Man on Saturday… at least that’s what we’ve always called him, but there was a sex change around here. We always make the head out of a piece of burlap. We’ve used the same burlap for years, but it was a little worse for wear this year so H bought a new piece. When “The Man” needed a new face on his new head, my oldest granddaughter was elected to do the deed because she’s the budding artist in the family. As her vision developed, I realized our man was going to be a girl this year. Ha!

IMG_7881 IMG_7884 IMG_7888

H got lots of help. That’s my grandson (in black). You can’t see his face for the hair, but it’s really adorable. :)IMG_7818 
When it came time to add the hat, the little one suddenly wanted in on the act.IMG_7889

So, we now have a straw woman and I kind of like it. Her name is Mila (Me-la).

Today is laundry/packing day. We leave for vacation tomorrow. The temps are supposed to be in the low eighties. Perfect for me. When we return, I plan to begin a healthy diet and exercise program. That’s the plan. Who doesn’t love a plan?

In the mean time… seafood, prime rib and carbs, but I will walk everyday. Promise.

And Let the Fun Begin!

IMG_7648The Grand Trio will be here in about thirty minutes. H and I will transform from a couple of quiet, under-stimulated adults to circus clowns, making sure everyone has fun but no one loses an eye. Actually, their parents do an incredible job of keeping things from tipping into chaos. I marvel at them rushing right up to the cliff and pulling everything back a notch when someone needs a nap or time out or snack. There’s a lot of diversion involved. It’s a magic show, for sure. They were meant to have these kids, while H and I were meant to be their grandparents (code for slackers who love a lot and do a little). Know what I mean? Watch, enjoy and provide encouragement. That’s our job description. Not bad if you can get it.

They’re excited because the Lego convention is in town and they have tickets. I guess this is a big deal because it’s sold out. There will be competitions to see, and that’s about all I know, except that they are fired up about it, especially my grandson. He’s all about Legos.

I’m expecting a grand weekend. Hope you have the same.


Nothing Extraordinary

No, I really mean it. This is going to be one of those see-what-I-can-pull-out-of-my-hat kind of posts.

H reseeded the yard at the beginning of September, and his grass looks ridiculously green and lush. I think he’s finally found the secret to keeping this yard looking beautiful.

I’m still basking in the glow of our two-day visit with our friends. It was rejuvenating. I’ve become so comfortable with solitude that I’d forgotten how stimulating it is to spend a couple of days with someone who is creative and filled with ideas and mental energy.

When they retire, people often decide to move: back home, to a warmer climate, closer to family, to a lower cost of living, lower taxes, etc. We make that decision because it’s better for us in a number of ways, but every time we reach out for something that’s better for us, something new and good, we have to let go of something old and good. You can tell I’m missing my friend today, but isn’t life always about the balance, the compromise, acceptance? I’m not wishing I hadn’t moved here. I love it. I just wish my friend had bought the house across the street. You know?IMG_7770

Beverage Sippers for The Grand Trio

The Grand Trio is coming this weekend. You know I’m ready for that. Fall decorations: zombies and pumpkins and spiders. When my friends mentioned the available lot next door to them, I told them we would never move further away from the grands. They said they knew, but it was worth a try.

We hope to make the straw man this weekend. The bale of straw is in the garage. H unearthed the straw hat, bib overalls and plaid shirt. He even bought a fresh yard of burlap for the head. The old piece was getting pretty ratty. All set.

Off to have coffee with H and a little Morning Joe. That show is driving me crazy, and I still keep watching. I just want him to talk 30% less and allow me to hear his guests. It’s usually a good mix and time to hear their points, BUT he loves to hear himself talk. It’s a good format, but please, let me hear what someone else is thinking.



Autumn Dog

IMG_7744We had the shortest and sweetest visit on record with our friends. Pat and I talked nonstop. We caught up on everything new, and then we remembered everything old: the old neighborhood, neighbors, kids and fun times. Pat is such a great storyteller. What a fulfilling visit it was.IMG_7750

We used to go out for sushi often when we lived across the street from each other in Maryland, so we took them to a nearby restaurant that we use when the kids are here. We always get takeout because it’s easier than taking three kids to a quiet restaurant. We take mercy on the other diners. H always goes to get our order. In all the years we’ve lived here, I have never been inside the restaurant. From the outside, it looks like a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place, but the sushi is great.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a lovely, quiet restaurant for real grownups inside. We got a large, comfortable booth and talked the night away.



When they came downstairs on Friday morning, they informed us how we could get that elusive but perfect house in the perfect location. There’s a lot that’s still available that’s next door to them in their community. They said we could build exactly what we want and have the perfect next-door neighbors. :) Alas, we will not move further from the grands. I think they knew that, but it was a good try.



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