Tuesday, August 24, 2021

short stories

 number 1

For the past several weeks I’ve been having problems with my personal ecosystem.  Ugh.  I just hate that.  I’ve been good though.  Exercising regularly.  Not getting too hot.  And, watching what I eat and drink.  One of the things that sends said ecosystem into a tizzy is coffee.  That’s fine, I just changed over to tea.  I like tea thought I will say, I’m a bit of a tea snob.  I like black tea and please give me leaves not the powder you find in tea bags.  I don’t like green tea and white tea is pretty much tasteless.  Oolong is okay but I’d rather have black.

All tea comes from the same plant - Camellia sinensis.  The different types – black, oolong, green, white – has to do with the type and time of processing.  Ok, probably more than you wanted to know.

Anyway – lately the ecosystem has been getting back to normal so I thought I’d try coffee this morning.  Now, I have a Keurig.  It’s perfect for me as I seldom have more than one cup.  Lately, the Keurig has been living on the top shelf in my pantry.  So, this morning I got it down; stretched up on tiptoes, wiggled it a bit until I could get a grip on it. 

Yes, I know – would have been much easier if I’d had gotten the stepstool but – nope.

So, I got it down, set it up, and all of a sudden, my tubby little body said a great big

Fine.  I picked up the machine and proceeded to put it back.  Now the Keurig is heavy.  Wiggling it down was one thing but lifting it over my head to a high shelf was a sincere challenge.  Again, on tiptoes, lifting the heavy Keurig over my head, trying to get it in a small space . . . . annnnnnd I lost my grip.  It crashed down on me, the heaviest part hitting me in the face. 

Yep, shoulda gotten the stepstool. 

number 2

Jean Sot Guards the Door

A Louisiana Tall Tale

One day, Jean Sot’s mother wanted to go to town.  "Now Jean," she said, "I want you to guard the door.  "Yes, Mama," Jean Sot agreed.  Jean’s mother left for town. Jean waited and waited for her to get back. But she was gone a very long time. Jean got worried, and decided to look for her. But he remembered he had promised to guard the door. 

So Jean took the door off of its hinges and carried it on his back when he went to look for his mother.

Along the way, Jean Sot saw some robbers coming along the path, carrying a heavy sack of money.

Jean Sot was frightened. He adjusted the door on his back as best as he could and climbed up a nearby tree to wait for the robbers to go by. But the robbers stopped underneath the tree! They sat down and began to count their money. The chief robber counted out the money for each man, saying: "This is for you, and this is for you, and this is for you."  "And that one’s for me," Jean Sot cried. The robbers were startled. They looked around, but couldn’t see anyone. The chief robber began counting again: "This is for you, and this is for you, and this is for you."  Again, Jean Sot said: "That one’s for me!"  "Who is that?" called the chief robber. "I will wring his fool neck!"

Jean Sot was so scared he began to shake, and the door fell off his back and down onto the robbers.

"The Devil is throwing doors at us!" shouted one of the robbers. They were so frightened that all the robbers ran away without their money. So Jean Sot climbed down the tree, picked up the money and the door and took them home to his mother.

number 3

My sister and I do occasionally attend estate sales.  For the most part – they are glorified garage sales held inside a home though sometimes they are really amazing.  This one pretty much fit into the glorified garage sale.  There were

some unique items –

and someone in that house baked –

fancy cakes,

plus they were prepared for the invasion of the The Golden Horde  the group of Mongols who ruled over Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and the Caucasus from the 1240s until 1502.

and loved to decorate.

Guess they didn’t believe in the Easter bunny.

well, I’m going to quit now – my cheek is really hurting and I have a terrible headache.


24 Aug 2021

Monday, August 16, 2021

On Being a Tech


It has been very quiet here in big W lately.  It’s much too hot to do anything outside.  So, my days have been full of needlework (not very interesting).  That said, I’m going to share a story.  One containing all the things that make a story good – concern, excitement, fear, horror, work, happy ending.

Once upon a time . . . .

Here a while back, my laptop developed a small problem.  The fingertip mouse pad sort of popped up at one corner.

I couldn’t “snap” it back in place so, I called my son-in-law (my go-to-guy about all things computer).  It didn’t seem to be a big deal, the pad still worked (though I have a wireless mouse I use), and without being able to see the problem, he suggested I tape the area to keep out dust and dirt.  Okay, that worked for me.

Then, months later, the problem escalated to the point that the deck was pushing up and the computer wouldn’t close.

My first thought was – Obviously, the computer gods have determined I need a new laptop.  In a letter to my brother, I mentioned, in passing, the computer problem, ending with a new computer is in my future.  My brother responded with – back up your hard drive now, sounds like your battery is bad.  Oh that can’t be good.

I got right up and backed up the computer. 

Next, I sent a detailed email to my son-in-law telling him what was going on.  I did this in a calm mostly straight-forward manner having no real worries – the thought being that I’d be needing a new laptop and this would give him a heads-up so he could start looking at computers for me.  I’ll be going to NM for xmas so I figured I could get a new one then.

Dealing with computers – what type of processor, RAM, screen resolution, HDD, storage gig – is totally outside my comfort level.  I’m fine using one and am moderately program savvy but the rest of that stuff??  no.

He called me right back.  Go unplug your computer.  It looks like the battery is not only bad but it could catch on fire.

Okay – that would be really bad.

And, so I unplugged not only the power but everything else attached to the laptop, all the while maintaining a bit of a distance.

What next?

Well, he said, if I were there, I’d remove the battery.  Hmmm – how hard can that be? 

Actually, not too hard.  The most difficult part – removing a bunch of little tiny screws and not losing any of them.

Then I opened the back, unscrewed the battery, and removed it.

Yep, all puffed up.

What next?

Son-in-law – take it outside and put it in a bucket.  Leave it there just in case it catches fire.  And so, I did. 

What next?

Put the back on and plug it in, he said.  Should work like a table top computer. 

TaDaaa!  All is better!

Now, I had to figure out what to do with the bad battery.  I did what all people do – I went to the internet. 

Cover any terminals with tape.  check
Place the battery in a plastic bag.  check
Put the battery in a cool dry place – yeah, right, no cool dry places here other inside the house and it’s NOT going inside the house!
Find someplace that will take it.  working on that

This has been a good/bad thing.  Bad – now I have a damaged battery that might catch fire and so far no luck finding anyone that will dispose of it.  Good – I discovered that I can remove the battery from a laptop and still have a working computer and I'm going to get a new laptop!

The End

 Okay, may not have been a highly entertaining story but it did meet all the story criteria from above  (you may not have been horrified but I assure the idea my computer could burst into flames horrified me!)

 Hmmm – I wonder if this would work on battery disposal??

16 Aug 2021


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

August, Queens, and other Stuff


August . . .  August is here.  Ugh.  That means it is very, very, very, very, hot.  And humid.  

I spoke with a woman today who said she could hardly wait until September for things to cool off.     hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Yeah – no – maybe by October – maybe.

So much for the weather.

What else?

Well, I was told today (by my dentists office) I am Queen for a Day!  And doesn’t that sound cool? 

Unfortunately the new crown I got, didn’t come with gold and jewels.

Though for the cost, it should have!

Still, it got done with no discomfort and I don’t have to worry about breaking that particular tooth.

What else again?

It’s been very quiet around big W lately.  So, I got online to see What Else – and this week is:

Weird Contest Week
(I had way too much fun with this)

North American Wife Carrying Championship

Wife-carrying contests can be found all over the world, from Kazakhstan to Finland. Stateside contests largely follow Finland’s official rules for the competition, from the length of the track (278 yards) to the number of obstacles (two dry obstacles, one wet).


The premier Nailympia competition was derived from the Nail Olympics, a contest started in 2001 in Las Vegas. The event is famous for being 100% non-product-run. Judges—all industry experts from around the world—don’t know anything about the nails they’re looking at.  (I couldn’t tell what I was looking at either – that person is standing with hands at waist height, splayed open fingers, palm down.)

Great Knaresborough Bed Race

If you’ve ever dreamt of running through a 2.4-mile course with 629 other people broken into teams pushing intricately decorated beds toward a finish line, England’s Great Knaresborough Bed Race is for you. The contest sees 90 teams of six runners (and one passenger, naturally) pushing homemade beds of their own creation through an obstacle course flanked by fellow paraders, marching bands, and cheering squads.

Jalapeño Eating Contest

Some like it hot. The 4th of July celebrations in Round Rock, Texas allow you to take part in a jalapeño eating contest. The current record for jalapeno eating is 247 peppers in 8 minutes set in 2006.  (And, that has to be just bad for you!)

World Cow Chip Throwing Contest

The small town of Beaver in Oklahoma is often called The Cow Chip Tossing Capital of the world. The residents are so proud of their agricultural heritage that every spring, they indulge in this unusual sport of throwing a dried cow turd as far as an eye can see. (Well, ooookay)

World Championship Rotary Tiller Race

In Emerson, Arkansas, contestants run behind their tiller (they don’t ride it) to see who can till 200 feet of plowed ground the fastest. The tiller must have tines or blades, and an engine no bigger than 100 hp. Contestants must wear shoes, yes, that really is a rule. 

Finally, today is


Paul Bunyan Day

Paul Bunyan is a mythological lumberjack who, according to legends, created the lakes and rivers, the Grand Canyon, and even the Back Hills. The United States, according to the tales about Paul, looks the way it does, with mountains, craters, and winding rivers, because of Paul’s adventures.  There has been speculation that Paul Bunyan’s stories come from the antics of Fabian Fournier, also known as Saginaw Joe, a French-Canadian lumberjack.  Saginaw Joe’s life was sensationalized, even without the guise of Paul Bunyan. Stories say that he was taller than the average man at the time and that he had two complete sets of teeth, which allowed him to bite through wooden rails.

So, here’s a story for you -

Paul Bunyan’s Kitchen

One winter, Paul Bunyan came to log along the Little Gimlet in Oregon. Ask any old timer who was logging that winter, and they’ll tell you I ain’t lying when I say his kitchen covered about ten miles of territory.

That stove, now, she were a grand one. An acre long, taller than a scrub pine, and when she was warm, she melted the snow for about twenty miles around. The men logging in the vicinity never had to put on their jackets ’til about noon on a day when Paul Bunyan wanted flapjacks.

It was quite a site to see, that cook of Paul Bunyan’s making flapjacks. Cookie would send four of the boys up with a side of hog tied to each of their snowshoes, and they’d skate around up there keeping the griddle greased while Cookie and seven other men flipped flapjacks for Paul Bunyan. Took them about an hour to make enough flapjacks to fill him up. The rest of us had to wait our turn.

The table we had set up for the camp was about ten miles long. We rigged elevators to the table to bring the vittles to each end, and some of the younger lads in the camp rode bicycles down the path at the center, carrying cakes and such wherever they were called for.

We had one mishap that winter. Babe the Blue Ox accidentally knocked a bag of dried peas off the countertop when he swished his tail. Well, them peas flew so far and so fast out of the kitchen that they knocked over a dozen loggers coming home for lunch, clipped the tops off of several pine trees, and landed in the hot spring. We had pea soup to eat for the rest of the season, which was okay by me, but them boys whose Mama’s insisted they bath more than once a year were pretty sore at losing their swimming hole.

 10 Aug 2021

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Book, Books


Yesterday I finished a new book.  It had shown up in a couple of places – my “sale price from Amazon for Kindle” list and Facebook primarily.  Last week I bought it.  As it happens, I seldom ever buy a book by an unknown (to me) author unless it’s less than $1 or free and I paid $2.00 for it!  Historically, the books I buy by unknowns I read for 10 minutes or so and

delete from my library (could be why they’re less than $1 or free).  However, this one had caught my attention each time I read the little opening lines –

“Happily Ever After” wasn’t supposed to come with a do-over option.  But when my husband of 20 years packs up and heads for greener pastures and my son heads away to college, that’s exactly what my midlife becomes.

Magical Midlife Madness
Book 1: Leveling Up Series
K.F. Breene

40-year-old Jessie, with her son having gone to college and her ex-husband moved on to “greener” pastures, has no idea what’s next.  And so, she moves back home with her eccentric parents and discovers quickly this is not where she wants to be.  Then, a friend offers her a position as “caretaker” of Ivy House.  As a child, Jessie had visited Ivy House and felt a true affinity with the place so she accepts the job and moves to O’Brian, a small village in the Sierra foothills.  Now, as an adult, Jessie finds the house is not what it seems.  Neither are the other inhabitants (Earl, the butler, Edgar the gardener) and neighbors.  And, now, the decisions Jessie must make will also change her life.

One of the first things that caught my attention is – Jessie is not a teenager suffering with angst; she is not a gorgeous, svelte, designer wearing 20-something; she is a 40-year-old woman with stretch marks, droopy boobs, a few wrinkles, and a couple extra pounds whose life has just blown up.  I could so identify with many of her concerns and comments.  And, let me tell you, this is a laugh-out-loud book.  Turns out that O’Brian is also home to vampires, shapeshifters, gargoyles, and other magic welders.  I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  And, I’ll never think of Begonias in the same way again!

Family Matters
, The Harry Stark Series
Blair Howard

Okay, this is a book I got from my brother.  So far, I’ve read (actually listened to) six of the Harry Stark books with Family Matters being the latest.  Harry Starke is an ex-cop turned, PI who is well-educated and wealthy. He’s described as tough with good instincts. The series is set in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  So far, the books have been “stand-alone” novels meaning you don’t have to read them in order, however, I suspect that may change soon.  Family Matters is a bit different from any of the other books as it involves a haunted house. 

It all begins when Harry’s girlfriend, Amanda inherits a house on the Maine coast, substantial assets, and a large sum of money from her grandmother. The windfall comes with a request to look into the disappearance of Elizabeth, Amanda’s great-great-grandmother, more than a hundred years ago.  Harry is a skeptic, a down-to-earth investigator who believes only in the facts and has a tough time dealing with Amanda’s thoughts about what is happening in the house? Imagination can play tricks on a susceptible mind, especially when that mind is under stress. But is it just their imaginations?

Of the six I’ve already read, I enjoyed this one the least.  It’s not a bad story but there is so much dithering back and forth between the characters that I was ready to scream.  Honestly, it probably could have been 50 pages shorter (and it’s only 224 pages) if the they had just got on with the investigation.  The end is predictable and as good an explanation as any for ….. well, for the bad guy. 

Finally, I read three Atlee Pine books. 

Long Road to Mercy
A Minute to Midnight

by David Baldacci

These books – you need to read them in order.  Atlee Pine is the lone FBI agent assigned to the Shattered Rock AZ resident agency and is responsible for protecting the Grand Canyon.  Three decades previously, Atlee and her twin sister Mercy were attacked in their home in the middle of the night.  Atlee was severely injured and Mercy was kidnapped.  Now, she’s having nightmares, reliving the terrible night. 

In Long Road to Mercy

One of the Grand Canyon's mules is found stabbed to death at the bottom of the canyon-and its rider missing-Pine is called in to investigate. It soon seems clear the lost tourist had something more clandestine than sightseeing in mind. But just as Pine begins to put together clues pointing to a terrifying plot, she's abruptly called off the case. If she disobeys direct orders by continuing to search for the missing man, it will mean the end of her career. But unless Pine keeps working the case and discovers the truth, it could spell the very end of democracy in America as we know it.

In A Minute to Midnight

After a lifetime of torturous uncertainty, Atlee's unresolved anger finally gets the better of her on the job, and she finds she has to deal with the demons of her past if she wants to remain with the FBI. Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum head back to Atlee's rural hometown in Georgia to see what they can uncover about the traumatic night Mercy was taken and Pine was almost killed. But soon after Atlee begins her investigation, a local woman is found ritualistically murdered, her face covered with a wedding veil--and the first killing is quickly followed by a second bizarre murder. In a small town full of secrets--some of which could answer the questions that have plagued Atlee her entire life--digging deeper into the past could just be more dangerous.

And, in Daylight

Just as Atlee is pressured to end her investigation into Mercy's disappearance, she finally gets her most promising breakthrough yet: the identity of her sister's kidnapper, Ito Vincenzo. With time running out, Atlee and her assistant Carol Blum race to Vincenzo's last known location in Trenton, New Jersey - and unknowingly stumble straight into John Puller's (US Army Criminal Investigator) case. Stunningly, Pine and Puller's joint investigation uncovers a connection between Vincenzo's family and a breathtaking scheme that strikes at the very heart of global democracy. During the case, Atlee finally discovers the truth about what happened to Mercy.

All three books are very good.  Atlee is a dedicated agent and having her assistant Carol Blum with her the whole way, softens her hard edges.  I’d recommend all three.

5 Aug 2021