Tag Archives: Budge

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley

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https://i0.wp.com/vetmed.duhs.duke.edu/Photos/cutebrownmouse.bmp I just tucked Budge in after an adventurous first day of Summer Vacation for her and the rest of the county’s teachers. Now I’m sitting here mulling over what would have happened if my plans hadn’t gang agley, as dear Robert Burns says. I know this much; if Plan F had managed to grow from seed to fruit, yesterday would have closed out my second full decade as a teacher. I was an emergency hire at Woodmont High School in October 1994 for the 94-95 academic year. A teacher who moonlighted at a retail store in the mall got a sweet promotion to full time district manager in another state and my resume’ was the one Dr. Susan Hoover-now-Achilles picked, I think at random, from a pile on her desk.

I realize now I’ve started in medias res so to catch everyone up, Plan A was to follow my dream to become a Midshipman at the US Naval Academy, marry my high school sweetheart at the USNA Chapel after graduation, make rank, win medals, and have pretty babies. As to the first part, I had the grades. At that time, I had the fitness ability. I had a sweet 1380 on the SAT (back when that meant something). What I didn’t have was an appointment. Ignorant babe that I was, I didn’t know one does not simply walk apply and get accepted into Mordor The United States Naval Academy; one must be “appointed” by a US Congressman from one’s home state. A few other shortcut ways exist, but I didn’t meet any of them either. Apparently, I didn’t impress either secretary enough to even get an interview with the august men so, NO NAVAL ACADEMY FOR YOU!https://i2.wp.com/www.sposabellaphotography.com/blog/2011/brittany/naval%20academy%20wedding_009.jpg

So, I did what I always did. I dropped back ten and punted to Plan B which was to enlist in the United States Marine Corps after graduation, marry my high school sweetheart after basic, get deployed, make rank, win medals, come home, and have pretty babies. Unfortunately, I’d wrecked my ’79 Mustang the summer before my junior year and a piece of bumper went through my left quadriceps right down to the bone. The wound got infected and turned into a cantaloupe sized subdermal hematoma which I delayed getting taken care of until it had seriously messed up the muscle surrounding the wound, the end result being a 5″x5″ puckered, sunken spot on my thigh with a direct tunnel of nasty scar tissue running right down to the bone. I went to my Armed Forces physical (MEPS) at Fort Jackson and was doing great until one of the doctors did something no one else had ever done . . . he put his finger right in the center of the scar mass and pushed. I hit the floor like a crack dealer during a Saturday night SWAT raid. He pointed out any enemy who captured me would do the same AND that spot was going to swell up tight whenever I ran, which he was right about — the swelling, not the capture — because my junior year wrestling i had to ice that spot after every practice. So, I spent the longest five hours in history on a bus back to Greenville from Columbia just to tell my very unhappy Gunnery Sgt. recruiter I was a medical washout.

So, dropped back ten more and punted to Plan C which was to go to college, marry my high school sweetheart, get a degree, and have pretty babies. Well, Plan C went down in flames one day in the spring of my senior year when my high school sweetheart announced to me at my locker on a Friday right after final bell, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is, ‘IT ISN’T YOURS'” then turned and walked out of my life forever to become the wife and punching bag of an odious Georgia redneck. On the positive side, once I finally woke up Monday morningish, I understood with perfect clarity what a “Lost Weekend” is.

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So, dropped back ten more and punted to Plan D which was to go to college . . . and after that things got a little hazy but, as you can tell, I’ve never been one for planning the details. So I went to college, became an engineering major for a total of two hours, and came out on the other side with a degree in Secondary English Education. I and my country bumpkin accent and grammar were off to become a high school English teacher. That was in 1993 and by the end of the summer, I’d lost any hope of getting a teaching job so with the aforementioned Plan D in tatters, I took the aforementioned job at Kufner Textiles. That year of 93 to October of 94 was a long, strange trip involving lots of adventures I may tell some other time, but not here.

Welcome to Plan E. Here, I worked as many hours per week as I could doing whatever, but mostly dyeing cloth dark blue, jet black, or sometimes whorehouse red. Whenever I changed lots, I had to climb into the dye vats and wash down the rollers and flush out the tanks. It was hot, wet, and absolutely miserable work, but those adventures I was having made it bearable for awhile. Then, on October 10, 1994, while in the middle of a change from blue to red, I got called to the public phone in the breakroom, Dr. Hoover of Woodmont High School wanted to see me for an interview as soon as I got off that afternoon.

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/smurfs/images/8/8d/Smurfette-original.png/revision/latest?cb=20130824204416That interview was a hoot.https://avikstudio.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/hellboy_001b.jpg?w=160&h=219

Dr. Hoover forbade me from going home and changing so I walked into her nice spiffy office looking like the bastard love child of a giant Smurfette and Hellboy. As always happened when I cleaned dye vats, I had blue dye in my hair, on my face, and all over my clothes. I splashed red dye starting up the second lot so I had red mixed in all over as well. I tried to get her to let me stand on the sidewalk outside her office, but she knew nothing about how strong industrial cloth dye is and I knew nothing about what a raging, control freak, diet obsessed hellcat she was so I came in and plopped my happy dye covered ass down on her brand new office couch and crossed my legs. When I stood up again, I had the job, starting the next day. So that led to Plan F where I would teach like some of my favorite high school teachers had taught and stay in the same room teaching two and a half generations of children for thirty years and retire with a luncheon and a cake shaped like a book of Shakespeare Plays to write the great American novel. Somewhere along the line, I’d get married and we’d have pretty babies.

Well, I got my Budge, several ex-students now friends, but only ten good years of memories rather than the thirty I’d planned. I could go into detail and I have in a previous post as to what led to Greenville County Schools and me parting ways in a most unfriendly fashion, but I don’t feel like digging up those bones tonight. It’s in the archive. So ended Plan F. Funnily enough though, the day I left the school ten years later, you could still see the outline in blue of someone sitting, legs crossed and arm extended on the arm rest as clear as a mountain stream on that office couch. https://postmediamontrealgazette2.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/a-empty-teachers-desk-is-seen-at-the-front-of-a-empty-classr.jpg?quality=55&strip=all&w=660&h=495&crop=1

An old proverb, maybe Jewish, says, “Man plans and God laughs.” I’ve fought my way through a few more plans until Plan I finally took over after I was unceremoniously let go from my last chance teaching job six years ago now. Still, IF things had worked out, I’d be two thirds of the way to retirement today along with some of the best friends I’ve never heard from again. Funny thing my daddy used to say about that word “if;” he said, “If a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his ass every time he took a step either.” Ah the plans of mice and men . . .

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

Missionary Position

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boys fightingOnce upon a time, I was a new Christian determined to win the world for Jesus. I thought everyone should go to Heaven and I was the one to show them the way. I had ALL the answers to anything anyone could ever ask me about faith. Then, eight years ago, Papa John died and I didn’t have answers for MY questions, and when I finally had those pieces of life somewhat reorganized, Mama died and dumped my apple cart again. I went to a seriously dark place emotionally and mentally and almost gave up on everything.

A year later, I’m still recovering, but I’m a different person. I still believe Jesus is our savior, sacrifice, lord and the ONLY means of salvation and eternal life. (Wonder how many followers THAT lost me?) I still want to go to Heaven . . . especially if it means I’ll see Mama again. I’m still “on the firing line” as the old gospel song says, but . . . BUT, I understand a few things differently now. For instance, everyone doesn’t WANT to go to Heaven. Lots of people could care less about Heaven or Jesus too for that matter. I know there’s a difference between civil rights and religious teachings. I’m different and I’m scarred now, and because of that, I have a better missionary position than before.

I’ve developed my position around three critical ideas: a perceived interest, a perceived need, and/or an established relationship. First, I have a willingness to discuss the story of my faith in Christ and what He’s done for me with anyone who shows even the remotest interest. I believe all Christians should be willing and able to do the same because we are admonished to “always be ready to give a defense or reason for the hope we have in us.” I also think it’s important to pay attention to the person I’m talking to. If I see the reptilian haze begin to fuzz over their eyes or they seem to bristle at the name of Jesus, then it’s time to talk about the weather or football or — God forbid — politics.

Second, I’m willing to start a conversation about Christ and faith with anyone (even a stranger) who seems to be in a state of physical or emotional turmoil or pain. Some people might see that approach as intrusive or offensive, but I see such a conversation in the same light as a compassionate nurse or doctor checking on someone he saw take a tumble or having a little trouble breathing. I like to help people; I want everyone to go to Heaven, and I have the skill set for such a conversation. If they seem open, I go as far as inviting them to church one Saturday night or Sunday morning; if I sense pushback, fine – it’s a perfectly legitimate choice on their part and we’ll just leave it at that. It never hurts to care about people, though.Finally, I’ll initiate faith discussions – often intense ones – with non-believers I have an established relationship with. The key is ESTABLISHED. I’m not going to ask a person if he’s a Christian on our first meeting unless he brings it up. Football is much safer for a conversation starter. I’m talking about people I’ve known and interacted with over a lengthy period of time. It could be a friend, but I’ve also had these faith discussions with my regular waitress at restaurants I frequent. These are people who know a decent amount about me. Hopefully, they can tell I’m a Christian before I even bring it up; if they can’t, I’ve got a bigger problem because my life isn’t a reflection of Whom I serve.

Discussions like these, however, are YEARS forming and they are not without hazards – I’ve lost touch with a couple of people I considered good friends over tension between our beliefs, but such is the risk anyone who wants to point people towards God’s Kingdom must be willing to take. It doesn’t feel great and it certainly doesn’t make me some sort of martyr to lose a friend over my faith, but if you put yourself out there, it’s likely to happen at some point. In the end, all I can do is show the way; I can’t walk the path for them. My grandmother-in-law had a saying I think of often: “We must let people go to Hell in their own way.”

Now just as I have three key ideas I live by for sharing my faith, I also have three things I avoid. For one, I will NOT “debate” religion in a comments section of a website or in posts on Facebook. Text is a poor way to debate ideas because so much communication and meaning relies on non-verbal cues. It is extremely difficult to gauge someone’s state of mind or read his intent on a message board. I see online religious “discussions” as THE fastest way to obtain proof of Godwin’s Law, Poe’s Law, and – most profoundly – John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Theory, often all in a single comment or post. Remember, don’t feed the trolls.

The second thing I will not do is participate in any sort of mass “direct evangelism.” For those who didn’t grow up in the South, direct evangelism is going door to door in neighborhoods, trailer parks, and shopping malls to ask random people to sit down and discuss their salvation. This kind of missionary position is not the exclusive domain of Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, but they’ve made it famous; however, I know of several “regular” churches where one night per week is “visitation night” or “outreach night.” I know this human faith wave has produced fruit, but I also know it’s created more bad press for Christians than good. No one wants to deal with telemarketers, even if the product is salvation, and knocking on the wrong doors these days is a quick way to meet Jesus in person via a 9 mm slug to the head.

My final taboo is “Christian merchandising.” My cars do not sport chrome fish or any other Christian device. I do not own a Christian t-shirt. I don’t carry a reference or study bible with me wherever I go. None of this is due to my shame at being a Christian; it’s the polar opposite. Before chrome fish, we didn’t have chrome fish with feet, chrome fish eating chrome fish with feet or vice versa, or chrome flying spaghetti monsters. Also, I know how I drive and ESPECIALLY how my Budge drives. I don’t want to embarrass Christ with our road rage. I can’t think of a worse witness for Jesus than cutting someone off with a huge chrome fish on your bumper THEN giving them the finger when they blow their horns at you.

So, that’s my take on sharing my faith. I want everyone to go to Heaven, but I’m not naïve enough to believe everyone will make it in. Hell, some days (LOTS of days) I have serious doubts about myself! Love y’all; keep those feet clean.

They Say It Never Rains In Upstate South Carolina

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Actually, what “they” say is, “Seems it never rains in Southern California.” Still, I think it’s apropos, especially considering the rest of the chorus of that Albert Hammond one-hit wonder goes

Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California
But girl, don’t they warn ya
It pours man it pours

Well the last three weeks, it has POURED. Literally and metaphorically. I’m talking frog-strangling, log-floating, fish-choking deluges of biblical proportions and at the moment, Father Noah is awol and they’s nary an Ark in sight. I mean, I’ve been through some rough patches in my life. It happens to us all. I understand that. The Bible says the Lord makes it rain on the just and the unjust alike. We all take our turn in the barrel as the old crude joke punchline says. Here lately though, I think I’m getting my rain and someone else’s monsoon to boot.

Let me give you, my beloved readers, a quick rundown on the last three weeks around Chez Wham.

  1. I lost or misplaced or had my iPod stolen. It was old, but it was mine and it had all my iUni podcasts on it.
  2. Budge’s pool, or as I like to call it “that godforsaken swamp in my backyard,” has eaten chemicals like I eat wintergreen Lifesavers. I hate that pool.
  3. Daddy had to go to Charleston to have a heart cath because his last nuclear stress test wasn’t what it should have been. Turns out he has a touch of heart damage at the bottom of his heart so he’s going to have to add some heart medicine to his daily regime.
  4. My nephew, Mason, had a horrendous allergic reaction to an antibiotic he was taking and for three days, Nick and Sissy though they were going to have to hospitalize him. He was head to toe red welts. He’s better now, but it was terrifying.
  5. Mama’s home healthcare nurse sat her down and explained that her C.O.P.D. has reached the terminal stages. She’s not going down without a fight, but I’m afraid most of the fight has gone out of her. I’m looking at life without my Mama sooner instead of later.
  6. Budge has been gone for two weeks this summer in the midst of all this mess going on and anyone who knows me KNOWS how well I do when I don’t have my Budge around to moderate my moods for me.
  7. Our DSL and phone lines had to be replaced because they were slowly giving up the ghost. Some people might say home internet is frivolous; those people are not teachers.
  8. The pastor on staff at church whom I was always closest to and would have turned to in the midst of all this mess was dismissed from the staff for good cause. To quote Forrest, “and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.”
  9.  I got a surprise from the IRS in the form of a tax bill to cover a mistake I made two years ago. Uncle Sam wants about $3000 of “his” money back. People in Hell want ice water, too. One more payment a month.
  10. Three of four tires on my beloved Honda Element have picked up nails or screws in the shoulders beyond the range of the tire company’s ability to safely patch them. The fourth tire was already patched. I don’t have road hazard protection on them. Lately, I’ve been riding around with an air compressor in the back.
  11. The back porch at the Ancestral Manse (Mama’s house) caught on fire and burned 1/4 of the structure. It’s now unsafe to walk on, much less get Mama’s wheelchair up or down. Estimated cost to replace? Somewhere in the $1K to $3.5K range depending on lumber costs.
  12. JUST LAST NIGHT, I was washing clothes and the sink and both tubs started gurgling like a demon had possessed them. I went in our bathroom to see what was wrong and met an inch of water standing in the floor with more coming from the porcelain throne. It was all thick with lint and suds. Septic tank’s full after 16 years. Cost to get it pumped? At LEAST $350. Might as well be three million.

Now I didn’t tell you all that to get pity and I don’t want anything from anyone. I just had to get all this off my chest or I was going to explode. I’m a talker and sometimes I just feel better getting everything out. Kind of like squeezing a boil.  It has LITERALLY been from one thing to another this entire summer. Like I said before, poop happens. I know everybody’s got troubles. I also know that misery loves company and, sweet brothers and sisters, I could use some company right along now.

Still love y’all and try to keep those feet clean!

John Carter is a Fun Flick

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Before a curious hacker took a red pill; before a xenomorph wiped out a bunch of Colonial Marines; before a farm boy, a crazy Corellian smuggler (who shot first), and a walking carpet saved a Rebellion; before NCC-1701’s five-year mission; before a deposed duke tamed his first sandworm; even before the 3 Laws of Robotics were graven into a Foundation; a disillusioned  and haunted Confederate war hero went looking for gold and ended up on Mars.

Watching Disney’s John Carter in a cool, dark theater is a good, exciting, and not terribly educational (not that that’s a bad thing) way to spend a cloudy afternoon with someone you love. That is precisely how my beloved Budge and I spent yesterday afternoon. In the end, she liked the movie more than I did, although I did like it a great deal. It is pure escapism at its finest and the cinematography isn’t too shabby either.

I must admit when I saw the first posters announcing John Carter’s pending arrival back at the end of summer last year, I had absolutely no idea who the character was, who created him, or what the whole mess was all about. None of that proved the slightest impediment to my enjoyment of the film.

For those who have not checked out Wikipedia for themselves, John Carter is the creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs — yes, THAT Edgar Rice Burroughs — the guy whose OTHER major character made Johnny Weismueller famous. Carter is the central character of Burroughs’ Barsoom novels, which give the history not only of John Carter, but also of Mars — known to the natives of the books as “Barsoom.” Their publication in 1912, first in serial form and later as pulp novels stands as a seminal moment in the entire genre of science fiction. Fittingly, the movie came out on the same date as the first book.

Before I go any farther, let me caution anyone sucked in by the “Disney” nameplate. The movie is PG and with good reason. Limbs are hacked off, creatures are branded with hot iron, and copious amounts of blood — blue though it may be — splashes across the screen. In fact I was nearly certain the adorable little six-legged dog/lizard creature  was going to get killed and I was fully prepared to storm out of the theater as soon as that happened. Thankfully, to ease the minds of the other animal lovers in the house, the little  fellow survives the entire movie and plays the hero on one or two occasions.

The movie plays true to most of the source material, from what I can gather anyway. However, even if you know nothing about the background works — I certainly didn’t — the movie is still fun to watch. Much like Dorothy steps from black and white into Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz, we get cued in that John isn’t in Kansas anymore when the picture goes starkly desaturated. Most of the blue tint comes out and what is left is a light, slightly yellowish haze that captures fairly accurately the look of the Martian landscape sent back to us by  the Mars Viking probe and its 21st century descendents.

One knock some people have made against the film is its abuse of scientific knowledge. First of all, it IS a science FICTION film so a little suspension of disbelief is necessary — just as it requires a huge dose of disbelief in traction to think that every alien race in the cosmos is not only bipedal and at least passingly humanoid, but also that every one of those aliens speaks the Queen’s English better than my former students did. However, if one realizes that the science of the film FITS FAIRLY WELL with the science of the times of the novels, it becomes much easier to give the directors a pass.

The movie is worth seeing and it does have all the elements required of a great action flick. The damsel is in distress and fleeing an arranged marriage, the evil general turns out to be merely the puppet of an even viler overlord, and the little (if 12′ tall can be considered little) green men end up saving the day. There’s even a slight twist at the end that those with more knowledge of the source material than me might have seen coming.

Taken as a whole, John Carter wasn’t the very best sci-fi movie I’ve seen, but it is far superior to many of the worse ones I’ve endured. It is worth seeing and I give it three and a half of five stars.

Of Blind Squirrels and Acorns

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Every so often, I manage to get it right.

When Budge and I moved to our home thirteen years ago, we noticed one serious flaw — apparently, our front steps were designed and built by a hobbit with a grudge. Three steps led up to the front porch and they were six inches wide at best. The narrow treads were compounded by the angle of the steps that felt more like climbing a ladder than walking stairs.

My mom almost tripped up them the day we moved in. My beloved Budge (whose Indian name is “princess-trips-over-sunshine”) fell on them twice within the first week we lived here. I can’t number how many work days started off horribly for her with a spill down the steps. Twice, she turned her ankle during a fall badly enough to go to the ER. Last January during an icy spell, I had my feet go out from under me and hung suspended above the demon-possessed hunks of wood long enough and high enough to think about just how badly it was going to hurt once I hit.

Our steps were a comical, if deadly, conversation starter as everyone who came to our home for the first time noticed how ill-designed they were. One of our friends — young woman who is very tall and statuesque with feet of proportionate size — literally had to ascend and descend the steps sideways because enough of her foot wouldn’t fit on the tread perpendicularly to walk up or down safely. Several visitors mentioned we walk upon a death trap every day.

I was pretty much forced to agree and within a month here and falling twice, I had vowed I would rip out those horrid timbers and replace them with properly proportioned pedestrian pathways.

Then last Tuesday morning, after thirteen years of cheating death, I got a wild hair and decided RIGHT NOW was the time to fix the steps. Here is where things get intriguing. See, I’m one of those sad males who never learned the basics of carpentry from my father or my grandfathers. As a result, I never approach a project like this without anxious trepidation and the knowledge that severe personal injury is always a possibility when I handle power tools.

Now, anyone who knows carpentry can look at my work and tell which side I started on because I learn from my mistakes “on-the-fly” and tend to get better as I go. For instance, the left handrail took me three hours to do correctly. The right one took forty minutes.

Another funny think about me and building stuff is I use screws even though nails are much cheaper. See, I can squeeze the trigger of a drill and put a three-inch long deck screw where I want it, but I can’t hit a nail on the head twice in a row with a hammer if someone had a gun to my head. If my soul’s salvation depended on me hammering a nail home without bending it, I would split Hell wide open. I watch in open-mouthed awe as my daddy and others easily drive nails home with three hammer blows while my nails look like the twisty blacksmith’s toys in Cracker Barrel stores.

Just hit my finger . . . ouch.

I also use screws for everyone’s safety, but I’m not talking about holding power or “up to code” stuff. I’m talking about unreasonably violent pain reactions. If I slip with a drill and bang my hand, when I give a primal scream and chunk the drill from my hand, it’s only going as far as the cord length. However, if I crush my fingernail with a hammer, I turn into a reasonable facsimile of Thor: God of Thunder and hurl my clawed version of Mjolnir with all my pain-assisted, adrenaline-rushed might in whatever direction I happen to be facing and endanger windows, cars, children, pets and low-flying aircraft. I figure I’m better off with screws.

With all this in mind, by sundown Tuesday, I had developed my stair plans from several WikiHow articles and a handful of YouTube videos. I had a solid plan of attack and went to Lowe’s and bought the materials with the last vestiges of our surprise tax refund.

Starting early Wednesday morning — and with a lot of digging and demolition — I managed had the “landing” level and the up and down stringers attached by lunchtime. Of course, I did have to take one stringer down and redo it after I realized I’d put it four inches too far over. Once upon a time in my life I’d have just left it and moved on thinking “good enough is good enough” but I really wanted this done right. Besides, once I realized what I’d done wrong, I’d already hung the four stringers once so redoing one wasn’t a big deal. By the time Budge got home, I had just screwed down the final tread. You cannot imagine how shocked I was when my measurements actually WORKED CORRECTLY. The top tread is smooth and level with the porch. Like the title says, even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then.

I didn’t want to push my luck so I knocked off for the day and started anew Thursday morning. My plan was to be finished by lunch. I managed to do that — if I were eating lunch in the Hawaiian Time Zone. I had some “design issues” with the hand rails. I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to attach them for the most strength and security. By the time I installed the first upright, I’d been sitting on the top step holding a 2×4 and sporting a dazed look for about an hour.

Still, I had the steps completed when Budge got home. I didn’t lose much blood or skin, but my back hasn’t let me forget I’m not in my 20s anymore. Ever critical of myself, I told Budge the steps looked like a complete amateur built them. She reminded me “Professionals built the Titanic; amateurs built the Ark.” She even put up a picture of them on Facebook she was so proud of me. I love my Budge.

So, if you need any steps built, please don’t call me, but remember I love y’all and keep those feet clean!

Brief Status Update

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Hey everybody! My posting schedule has been seriously haywire for most of December and January and I wanted to let those of you who check in every so often a reason why.

Mama was in the hospital for most of October. This was the first time she’s had to be hospitalized with her C.O.P.D. but it may well not be the last. Doctors’ visits and medicines and followups have taken a huge chunk of time.

Since coming home, Mama hasn’t been able to take proper care of Granny. Physically, it’s just become too difficult for her so we’ve been exploring alternatives.

Over Christmas holidays, Budge’s dad had a chest pain scare that ended up with three loooonnnggg days in the cardiac care unit at St. Francis waiting on his surgery results.

Because of Dad’s surgery, Budge’s issues with her brother came to a head and she hunted him down and had a nice loud conversation with him outside his second home bar. The conversation ended with Budge cussing out Rich AND the entire bar as well.

Realizing she could no longer adequately provide for Granny’s level of needed care, Mama relented and allowed Granny to become a resident at a local, extreme care nursing facility. Being separated from Granny has really taken a toll on Mama in several ways.

Granny fell in the nursing home and fractured her hip so she spent four days in the hospital getting a screw and pin placed into her hip to minimize her pain. Going back and forth to the hospital again has taken a lot out of Mama physically and emotionally.

Granny going into the nursing home has taken a huge chunk of income out of Mama’s household so I am in the process of making out some rudimentary plan to help Mama replace that income and keep her bills paid. This is proving to be a little like hauling eleven gallons of water in a ten gallon bucket.

Chloe, my niece, is scheduled to have the feeding tube removed from her stomach in the near future, but that is being delayed because my baby brother, Travis, and his girlfriend, Danielle, just welcomed baby number 2 while Granny was in the hospital. Little Baby Stoney was a completely healthy and quite stout ten pounds and two ounces.

My little brother, Nick, and my sister-in-law, Keri, are expecting a new little Wham and Keri is finally midway through her second trimester and can eat something besides saltine crackers and 7-Up without risking it reappearing. They aren’t going to find out what this little booger is going to be, so we’re all in for a surprise near June.

Both Budge and I have been fighting sinus infections for several weeks. Mine has more or less finally succumbed to a Z-Pac and Sudafed, but Budge has had to resort to steroid ear drops to help clear her ears up.

Those are the high and low points and with all that going on, it’s been quite an exhausting run since right before the holidays up until now. It APPEARS things are settling down somewhat. Granny is out of the hospital and all my nieces and nephews are currently doing well. Mama is stable, if far from what anyone would call “well,” and Budge is finally on the mend. I have several ideas for posts as well as topics I want to discuss with my fellow Feetsters, so stay tuned and thank you all for your patience with me in this insanity!

Love y’all, and if anyone happens to find a satchel with several thousand dollars in it, please let me know because it’s probably mine (at least that’s the story I’ll use!). Take care everyone and keep those feet clean til next time!

The Christmas Day Budge Channeled Gypsy

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When the lead pic is Gypsy Rose Lee, you just KNOW this is gonna be interesting.

1675 years ago today, the still-nascent Christians first celebrated the Birth of Christ on Christmas Day; 1211 years ago, Charlemagne became the first Holy Roman Emperor; 945 years ago, William the Bastard took the crown of England; 235 years ago, Washington crossed the Delaware and defeated the Hessians; 193 years ago, the choir of St. Nikolaus Cathedral in Oberndorff, Austria performed “Silent Night” for the first time; 97 years ago, several groups of Allied and Central Powers soldiers spontaneously stopped the Great War to sing carols and play soccer; twenty years ago, the final President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned; fifteen years ago, child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was murdered (probably by her psycho brother); and two years ago, a crazy Nigerian tried to use his underwear to blow up an airplane.

These were all extremely important, memorable events to be certain, but none of them can match the Christmas morning ten years ago today when my beloved Budge made her burlesque debut on the back deck of our new home.

See what had happened was, it was Christmas morning and the two of us had breakfast in the living room in front of our tree, then exchanged gifts with each other. We were supposed to be at Daddy and Teresa’s for Christmas lunch at noon, so about ten o’clock, Budge went to get a shower while I took some of my new presents out to my workshop. At the time, my precious Jackie Boy and Beauregard (better known as Beau and Jack) were in their primes and I hadn’t yet taken the initiative to have their little testosterone factories shut down. Both of them were jealous of me and had scrapped quite violently before.

Even if you don't save a life, you may save a trip to the ER!!

While I was outside, I dropped something — I can’t even remember what — and when I stooped to get it, Jack ran up to me. Beau must have figured Jack was attacking me because he set into Jack ferociously. They were snarling and biting each other around the neck and generally tearing each others flesh (and my nerves) to pieces. Now I have been raised around dogs all my life. One of my earliest companions was a full blood American Pit Bulldog named Queen. I know dogs and dog behavior and one thing I knew to NEVER do was to get between two fighting dogs.

Well, I forgot myself in my desire to get this fight broken up. Beau was on top of Jack so I reached to grab his collar so I could pull him backwards. Just as my fingers touched Beau’s collar, Jack whipped around and tried to latch onto Beau’s neck. Unfortunately, my hand and wrist happened to be in his line of fire. He clamped down on my left wrist with malice and forethought. Pain exploded in my hand instantly, but just as quickly as he had bitten down, Jack released me.

I looked down at my wrist and four holes were spouting bright red gouts of blood. I grabbed my injured wrist with my opposite hand and staggered towards the back door. I was bleeding like the proverbial “stuck hog” and I didn’t want our utility room looking like an abattoir so I opened the back door, leaving a bloody hand print on the knob, and called out to Budge to please come to my assistance.

Now my Budge is a pretty cool-headed person and handles most emergencies well; however, she doesn’t handle ME being hurt OR large amounts of blood very well. She walked out to the back door wrapped in a towel fresh from the shower with her hair wrapped in a second towel. I recall her words being “Honey, I’m getting ready. What do you wa — OHMYGODWHATHAPPENED!!” I asked her for a clean towel so I could wrap my bleeding limb. At this point, I figured she would pick a towel out of the hamper that was at her feet or, failing that, she would take the towel from her hair.

I was wrong.

Ironically, this is one of Budge's favorite movies.

I heard her scream “HERE, TAKE THIS ONE!” and a towel fell at my feet. It was a pink towel and somehow, through the haze of pain and adrenaline, I remembered the towel on her hair being blue. I looked up and there stood my beloved wife au naturel.  She had stripped off her body towel and was standing on the back deck in a deep frost in front of God and everybody just as naked as the day she was born!

I managed to strangle out, “Um, baby?” and she came to her senses with a jolt and dashed back into the house. For about fifteen seconds, if anyone had been in either of our neighbor’s yards or driving by at a proper angle, he or she would have gotten a SHOW! Oh, that was a sight.

Once I got the blood contained, we spent about an hour of Christmas morning in the Hillcrest Hospital ER. Miraculously, the bite had missed any vital tendons or arteries. I ended up with four deep puncture wounds that hurt like CRAP as the nurse flushed them with iodine. Then I got a morphine injection and that was about the last clear thing I remember for the day.

We made it to Daddy’s about thirty minutes late, but by then the morphine was in control of my mind so I spent two hours in a recliner in a doze. We left Daddy’s and went to Charles and Missy’s for Budge’s side’s dinner. Again, I spent the evening in a recliner as Budge related the morning’s events. We made it home about eight that night and I was finally able to give in to the morphine completely and I was GONE to see the Wizard, so to speak.

Because I had such a great night’s sleep, I was able to get up really early the next morning. Budge and I had a fantastic day shopping the after Christmas clearances. To this day, we call it one of our top ten days ever!

And to think, it all started with a dog fight and a strip show 🙂

Love y’all and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Have a great day and keep those feet clean!

My Only Worries of Being Childless

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"Empty Cradle" by CoryMarchand

My post on how awkward it can be when you’re the only childless couple really garnered a lot of folks attention. I don’t get many comments as a rule, and that post picked up several. With that in mind, I want to do a follow-up on my views of being childless and explain a thing or two in a little more detail.

Sometimes I wish Budge and I would have had children one way or another. Having seen how happy Mason has made Daddy as a grandpa, I would like for Mama to have had a blood grandchild of her own. Now she’s a surrogate grandmother to many, many children of my various cousins and assorted other kin, but I know a child of mine and Budge’s would have made her even more overjoyed. Of course, with her COPD robbing her of vitality, she wouldn’t be able to do much with the baby, but hopefully, having that baby would make her sitting confined to a chair that much easier to bear.

Mostly, I’d just like to know what kind of father I would have made. I’ve always wanted a little girl, but Budge said I’d end up in jail or a mental hospital with a nervous breakdown once she became a teenager. I don’t know about that. I’m not worried about my hypothetical daughter. I know she’d be an angel. What I’d be worried about is her finding ME when I was between 15 and 19.

I was the boy all the parents loved because I was so respectful and attentive to not only their daughter, but also them. I guess I’d have had to set the boy down and tell him, “Son, I don’t like you and I don’t want to like you. You don’t have to make small talk with me about my hobbies or sports or anything of that sort. I know your kind and I know what you want really, really badly and I realize nothing I can do will change that. But, son, you need to know one thing. There’s a well in out in the country where I grew up. It’s deep and hard to get to. If I catch you impinging on my daughter’s honor, they’ll never find you.” Well, maybe Budge is right.

The main reason I worry about us being childless, however, IS Budge. See, I’ve got maybe thirty or thirty-five years left before one of the Wham heart attacks takes me on to see Jesus . . . I hope. We don’t have much family in any event, and I’m worried sick about leaving Budge back here alone. I don’t want her to get old alone. I don’t even want her to EAT alone now! People used to laugh at me because whenever I would have a wrestling match or something of the sort and wouldn’t be able to eat supper with Budge, I’d always call one of her friends and ask her to take Budge to supper and I’d pay. I can’t stand the thoughts of her eating alone.

I remember visiting Granny Wham when she was in Martha Franks Retirement Home. Some of the ladies there had outlived all their family. They literally had no one to come visit them or make sure they were being treated well. I get so upset I start crying and get sick to my stomach when I think about my beloved Budge sitting at a table alone knowing no one is going to come visit on special days like Christmas and her birthday.

SHE tells me I’m being silly, but that’s the biggest worry I have since we have no children. I want her taken care of, but I know that if the world stands long enough, I’ll probably go to the grave before she does. Of course, if she goes before me, the funeral home may as well hold the hearse at the house because I’ll probably be along shortly from grief. It will be difficult for me to go on without Mama, but life without Mama AND my Budge is just too much to bear!

Have a good weekend, y’all!

Love y’all and keep your feet clean and warm during this cold snap!

Instructions Would be Helpful

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Tonight, Budge and I had the privilege to keep the nine-month-old youngest baby boy of some of our friends from our church community group. The parents were going to see Oldest Daughter perform as Comet the Reindeer in the school’s Winter Holiday Christmas program and Middle Daughter would be accompanying the parentals.

However, Baby Boy likes to go to bed at 6:30 to 7:00 in the evening and, even though he is a wonderfully easy baby 99% of the time, he does NOT like being up past his bedtime. With that in mind, Dad gave me a call and asked if we’d get Junior off to bed so He and Mom could enjoy the show.

Since we are childless but adore children, we jumped at the chance!

Now as I said, Junior is an awesome baby. He’s ALMOST got the mechanics of crawling down. He’s got the arm strength built up to hold up his torso and he’s got the rocking motion down, but he just hasn’t quite put all the pieces together to create forward movement.

Mom explained the bedtime routine, told us where the Chicken Enchilada Bake for supper was warming up, and thanked us profusely before heading out the door to the school. Junior played hard for the next 90 minutes. He loves his little soft ball, but he has a hard time keeping it where he wants it and he since he can’t move to get it yet, he gets a little aggravated when it rolls away. So he and I had a great time playing with the ball and the little thing you push down on and it spins. He was having a great time, but all good things wear out and right around 6:35, the little fella started wearing out.

Budge asked me to do the diaper change and put him in his “sleep sack” while she ate supper then she’d take him up and rock him a bit so he’d go to sleep. No problem. Diaper changes don’t bother me at all. When Budge and I kept nursery at our former church, we had a family who sent three children through the nursery and I have no idea what those little ones ate, but they had the WORST diapers imaginable. I won’t gross you out with the hideously gory details, but suffice it to say the diaper, and sometimes even the clothes, didn’t always contain the spillage.

Little Junior’s diaper was a piece o’ cake compared to the Samples’ kids. I got him into the dry and put him in his sleep sack, zipped it up and figured he was ready for the night. Now I’ll admit I was a bit confused about the design of the sleep sack. It looked warm enough aplenty for his tummy to his feet, but his arms and chest were exposed and since I was under the impression the sleep sack replaced blankets in the crib, I was worried that his little upper body was going to get chilled. Still, this was the garment Mom had left for him to sleep in and Mom knows best, so I got him snuggled in the sleep sack, picked up his footie pjs to put in the hamper and went to make the handoff to Budge.

Those of you who know and understand the workings of sleep sacks already realize the problem. I would have loved a call from any one of you about four hours ago.

As soon as Budge saw me holding Junior, she laughed a little. When I queried her about what was so humorous, she informed me THEN that the sleep sack goes on OVER the pjs. Well, that does make sense, but since I like a minimum of cover when I sleep, I projected that onto the baby and figured the sack was all he needed, despite my misgivings about the arms and chest exposure.

Okay, I felt a little aggravated at the fact everyone in the world seemed to know how to dress a babe in a glorified sleeping bag except me, but I got over it quickly in the spirit of getting Junior off to the Land of Nod. So I sat him down and prepared to rectify the mistaken clothing situation.

It was there my troubles began.

See, Junior was an angel for the first undressing and redressing, HOWEVER, it became immediately obvious that he also was not one to suffer fools gladly. I had taken my ONE chance at dressing him properly while he was compliant and calm and I had blown it. Now, I would have to pay for that folly.

Since the sleep sack had just the one zipper, I had him skinned out of it relatively quickly, but then the footie pjs had to go back on. Whoever dreamed up footie pjs should be taken out, stood against the wall, and shot. Then shot again. With the eponymous “footies” on the bottoms of the pj legs, it is impossible to reach up through the leg, take firm hold of the wiggling foot and pull said foot back through the leg. You instead have to do “the point and push” where you start a foot into a pj leg and hope Junior extends his leg. He did . . . after six tries.

Then it was time to get the arms in the sleeves. I could have put socks on a millipede in the time it took me to get Junior’s arms corralled and into their proper resting places. Did you know a baby boy who is pissed off at you because you are too stupid to get him dressed correctly the first time can A) scream louder than the flight deck of a nuclear aircraft carrier during launch and recovery AND B) bend his arm into contortions that would make Houdini proud? By diligent effort, though, I managed to redress the lad in his pjs and wrangle him back into the sleep sack. Of course the zipper stuck a time or two and Budge was making everything soooo very much easier by giving helpful advice like, “Don’t catch his skin in the zipper!”

I really wanted to say, “Hon, I’m a guy. I’m used to ‘not catching things in zippers’ okay?” But I didn’t so I lived to write this entry. When I finally got the zipper zipped and the little tag thingy at the top of the collar buttoned, I threw both hands in the air rodeo style so the judges would know I had finished the hog-tying event. Budge just looked at me with barely disguised laughter of derision and scooped Junior up and took him off to bed.

Hey, all you Gerber and Carter and Oshkosh people? How about some directions printed on the sleep sack? Too much to ask?

In any event, love all of y’all and keep your feet “sleep sack” warm, dry, and clean!

Breakdown in Communication

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You just have to wonder what's coming when this is the opening picture!

In honor of the first Friday of the new school year around these parts, I want to share with y’all my FAVORITE story ever from my beloved Budge’s teaching career. She just started year NINE, which is hard for me to believe and she gets better and better each year. I’m not saying it just because she’s my wife and I love her, but as a former teacher, I know awesome when I see it.

So this particular story took place early in Budge’s second year. Her first year had been a typical first year. It was stressful, but not terrible. This second year group, however, was proving to be a little more of a handful than her first class. Still, they were a neat bunch and one of the most memorable was a young lad named . . . well, let’s call him “Sydney” since Budge has his baby sister this year.

Young master Sydney was performing the role of “bathroom reporter” during the morning potty break. The most important part of his job was to enter the boy’s bathroom first and return with a report on anything out-of-place or order so none of my lovely’s children would be unfairly blamed. The fun started when Sydney returned from his reconnaissance foray into the toilet. Upon his return, Budge asked for a report. The report went a little something like this:

Budge: “Okay, what’s the deal, Sydney?”

Sydney: “Mrs. Wham, there’s piss on the seat in one stall.” Now it’s important to note that the boy gave his report in an even, conversational, matter-of-fact tone. He was not cracking up or goofing off. Budge, however, wasn’t sure she’d heard him correctly.

Budge: “What did you say?”

Sydney: “I said, ‘Mrs. Wham, there’s piss on one of the seats.'”

Budge, now a little distressed and a little louder: “WHAT did you say?”

Sydney, by this time wondering why this strange woman was teaching: “I said, “Mrs. Wham. There. Is. Piss. On. The. Seat.” He never raised his voice. He was never disrespectful at all. Truth be told, the poor little guy was at a complete loss as to what he had done wrong.

Budge was fairly well discombobulated by this time so she hustled the class into the room, shut the door a little harder than she meant to, and — once everyone was seated — began one of the first, and to date, strangest dressing downs of her career.

Budge: “Class! We do not use the word PISS in this class?! Does everyone understand me?!”

Budge is MUCH prettier, but I have seen a similar look.

She told me the class stared back at her with a reptilian haze dulling their eyes. Sydney was in the back looking absolutely bumfuzzled. Apparently, at his house, the yellow liquid one’s kidneys produced, which then exited the body via the bladder and urethra, was called, appropriately enough PISS.

Now as an aside, I like to think of “piss” as one of those good old Anglo-Saxon words that cut straight to the core of the apple so to speak. When someone uses one of those ancient words, no one has much of a chance to doubt his intentions. Unfortunately, those words have fallen out of favor in polite company. My Budge was about to offer a substitute in its place.

Budge: “Instead of PISS, we will call it “TINKLE”! It is not pee or pee-pee or anything else, and it IS NOT PISS! IT. IS. CALLED. TINKLE!! Got it?”

According to her, twenty-seven of twenty-eight heads, including Sydney’s, bobbed up and down in affirmation probably thinking, if we go along with the crazy woman, maybe we can get away during recess.. The lone dissenter was another lad named Johnathan. Instead of nodding his acquiescence to the new status quo, Johnny had his head buried in his arms on his desk and Budge said his shoulders were shaking violently. When she called his name and asked if he understood, he looked up with a terrible grin on his face and tears squeezing out of his eyes as his whole body shook in a spasm of suppressed laughter.

Budge: “Something funny, Johnathan?” To his everlasting credit, the boy didn’t crack. He regained control of himself and managed to squeak out, “No, ma’am.”

Budge then gave the class a withering look and one more expulsion of “TINKLE, okay?” Before she went on with the lesson.

And the moral of this story is . . .

Sydney and Johnathan are seniors in high school this year, but Sydney came with his mom and sister to “Meet the Teacher Night” on Monday and as soon as he walked in the room — all six foot plus handsome young man of him — he smiled and said, “Mrs. Wham, I’ve already told Sissy here that we use the word TINKLE in your class.”

Budge said she couldn’t help but laugh at what she wouldn’t let herself laugh at eight years ago. Since then, she’s learned to pick her battles and “Piss on the seat” probably wouldn’t garner a second glance. However, to a still-green teacher, she had to stand firm against the onrushing tide of PISS and other monstrosities.

I still love her though!

Love you all too! Keep those feet clean and good luck in school.