Merry Christmas Y'all

It’s summed up best, I think, by Sir Paul McCartney. “Simply having a wonderful Christmas time.”

I had remarked, on everyone’s new favorite mode of communication, Facebook, or fb to the more seasoned hip readers, such as myself….ahem, that it was going a be a slim Christmas in the Vi house. A gal’fran commented that sometimes those are the best and that is the truth.

We ending up with not a big stack of loot, but a meaningful one, as there were no “standard last minute gifts”, but each reflected something we love. Those gifts give both ways. To the receiver, a new view of a cherish icon. I received a paperweight with a drawing of the Eiffel Tower under a glass dome. If you find yourself on my side of the bullpen, stop by my cubicle and I’ll show it to you. To the giver, the gift of knowing your choice and the story that goes along with how it came to you is something that will be remembered and told and retold. How the Eiffel Tower thing you had planned on getting because the giftee said back in August that she loved it, was sold at Kirkland’s and you found an even better gift at Pier One, and it was hiding under a display table. Something drew your eyes there, and there it sat. “Bonjour, I am over here.”

I received the gift of appreciation. Economic circumstances have led me to be that lady that gives baked gifts. I’ve always heard that those were the best gifts, but I wasn’t sure I believed it. It certainly requires a lot of work, even if it is cheaper, by the time you add man hours, its value rises. Of course, the giftee doesn’t see that part; they see and experience yummy goodness (hopefully). I took Friday, Christmas Eve, off from work to prepare the buffet that preceded our gift exchange. The house filled with savory aromas, background noise provided by Turner Classic Movies with their Christmas movie line up. Mel and Sk8rBoi did whatever housekeeping chore I asked of them, and Mel never even complained or whined, that was a gift in itself. I’m proud to say my cooking endeavors were met with oohs and aahs and what Dr Frederic Frankenstein would refer to as “yummy sounds”.

Christmas is a magic time. Forgiveness comes easier; the kid in you comes out to play with all other kids that come out at Christmas time. In the sitting around and hanging out that comes after the gift blitz, we reminisce about crazy things we’ve done, how we found the perfect gift. We enjoy a second trip to the eats, maybe have a cocktail. Laugh, love and wonder at the things we learn about each other.

As I was helping Mel put her new down mattress topper on her bed, I noticed a quarter on the floor. “I’ve been practicing with that,” she said and took it from me. She began to roll the quarter through her fingers, clumsily, cos she’s still perfecting her moves, but it’s something I can’t do, would never have even thought of trying. I was amazed; it was an extra little Christmas surprise. This morning, waiting for X2 to pick her up, she told me how she had been practicing for three days as she rolled it over her fingers. Her Dad came in and began explaining how it is done. He’s an explainer, you know. Ask him the time, he tells you how to make a watch. Turns out, when he was Mel’s age, he also taught himself this trick. I’m always astonished at the things we inherit. This isn’t the first time Mel has exhibited X2’s phenomenal ability to self teach. This is a gift he passes onto his daughter through DNA. My gift to her is to the ability to make people laugh and the love of words. Mel’s gift to us? Showing us the younger version of ourselves with renewed hope and promise.

Christmas 1995, I received the greatest gift ever. News that I was with child. I found out Dec 23 that Mel was on her way. Very apropos, too, as I had prayed for this miracle and news of it came to me as we commemorate that most important birth.


Boast of Christmas Past

Well, friends and neighbors, the Yule Tide Season is in full swing. This Christmas is going to be small, materially, but we’ll do all right.

The tradition in my family has always been to open presents on Christmas Eve night. When we were kids, DoodCuz, DrCuz, Kat and I, we quickly ate our light supper, hot dogs usually, then sat in front of the TV in the den until the grownups decided that it was “time”. Many times, we’d hold the present with our name on it that most intrigued us, loving it before we even knew what it was. I remember reading the words “Head to Toe” through the paper on a present, and I went crazy trying to imagine what it could be. That was 1971. You couldn’t just type “Head to Toe” in a search engine, you had to sit there and wonder.
Most years we were able to successfully beg to one just one present Christmas Eve Eve. “Head to Toe” ended up being a Dawn doll with three wigs, short to long, hence head to toe. Dawn was a tiny Barbie-ish doll.
After presents had been exchanged, we played with our new toys for a bit, the grownups would gather round the table and play cards or a board game. Once 9:00 came we four kids piled up in Auntie Virg and UncaHoney’s king size bed. The adults continued their games, enjoyed a few cocktails and waited for Santa.
After Santa had arrived, we were woken out of hard achieved slumber to see what Santa Claus had left. It would be like 4am. We’d run out to the den and find our individual stack of loot. The adults stayed up, made sure we saw all the stuff, including stockings, and at some point slipped away to bed without our notice. When the sun peeked into the windows, with her rosy pink glow, we sacked out on the couch, or floor, our new favorite toy sleeping beside us.

Later, we would awake to Dot, Auntie Virg and Mama Lou in the kitchen, our Christmas meal prepared as if our late grandfather were supervising. Everything his recipe and the manner in which he would have made it. My mother worked to peel oranges slices, riding them of their filmy skin. Next she would chop pecan finely, pecans from Auntie Virg’s pecan orchard that conveniently came with the house. Auntie Virg was bravely chopping peppers and onions and cabbage for the hot slaw. Mama Lou attached pineapple slices to a Ham, them plunked cherries in the center of them. DOT made the potato salad, and it was good.

After dinner, the food was left out for grazing. Christmas afternoon and night was a big munch/play/munch/play kinda thing. No VCRs and video games them, we had toys to play with and fight over. FAO Schwartz South was going on there and we disappeared until we thought of all the good food still prime for nibbling.

And speaking of no VCRs, if you missed the broadcast of Rudolph, Frosty and Charlie Brown, you didn’t get another chance to see if for 12 months. Back in those days, the TV Guide was the most important magazine in the house.


Schoolhouse Minuet

Did you know that December 10th is the date Mississippi reentered the union after the civil war? I only know, not because I’m a Mississippian, but because on December 10, 1971 I enrolled into Duncan Academy and the 6th grade class was having a Happy Birthday Mississippi party.

It was a sweet little school, the kind Francie Nolan gets to go to in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Grades 1-6, it was a stately old building, one long hallway through the middle, a auditorium with a stage and a library no bigger than a bedroom. The classes were small; there may have been 15 in the 6th grade class, including me. The desks were wooden, bolted to the floor, the desk top attached to the seat in front of it, think A Christmas Story, we even had a hole for ink wells. There was a cloak room and a radiator. It was very quaint.

Duncan Academy was a private school, right on old highway 61 (it was the only 61 then) at Duncan Miss, a little burg between Cleveland and Clarksdale. Smack in the middle of the Mississippi Delta. The last time I remember seeing the building was on a trip from Lafayette to Eudora back in the mid eighties, at that time it was a nursing home. The old gym was now a ramshackle structure, the old lunchroom not visible from the road, but probably was still in use. I think there may be a school on that site, I hope some of old building was renovated. I love old buildings.

The children who went here were the children of cotton planters, managers of cotton farms, and white cotton farm laborers children. Then there was Me, Dot and I lived with Auntie Virg and UncaHoney after the Hardy years came to a screeching halt. I was at the bottom of the social hierarchy, the poor relation.

I was forced to play girls basketball, I sucked, the most athletic thing I can do is sit on the couch and cheer the Saints or Cowboys on. We studied Mississippi history. That’s a bloody history, most of the material had to do with the Civil War. I don’t think Mississippi History taught these days concentrates so much on that, in fact I think it’s kinda glanced over. We took a overnight field trip to Jackson and met the Guv (see blog post “Picnic”)

The other big happening that year was the school play. When I say School Play, I mean ever’body. We sixth graders were the real stars, we had all the speaking parts. It was about a little country school putting on a school play, ah, art imitates life imitates art. Each class came up to “practice” their song for the “play”. My cousin, DoodCuz was in 3rd grade, and his class’s number was “You Get a Line, I’ll Get a Pole”. We had to wear Hillbilly clothes, cut off blue jeans and ropes for belts. We talked “country” (as if our real voices weren’t).

It was on a Tuesday night, I believe, and in the days before VCRs and such, Auntie Virg missed her favorite TV show, Sonny and Cher, to see our performance. I sat on stage right, all the way to the end, right in front of the audience, I looked at the footlights to keep from looking out at the audience. I didn't want to mess up like I had in the third grade. I was supposed to keep eyes straight at the audience, being part of a Christmas tree, wrapped in crepe paper, sitting on the steps leading up to the stage. But I turned and watched the play and the teacher leaned over and smacked my shoulder with a ruler, in front of everyone.

I remember standing at the black board in that 6th grade classroom, a fellow class mate making fun of the way I wrote an uppercase "D". I was the scapegoat in that small class. Later I would lash out at one of the girls I considered most hateful to me. My mother told me years later I had caused the girl's mother to have a nervous breakdown. I don't know if that's true, but I sincerely hope that it is not. That might not be a story for another time, it shows an ugly side of me.

We lived with Auntie Virg and UncaHoney through the winter and in spring Dot got us an apartment in Merigold, Mississippi. We only got one channel, Channel 6 out of Greenville/Greenwood. I spent a lot of time listening to the radio. There was no FM then, not in this area. I listened to WHBQ out of Memphis. Popular songs of the day were "Brandy", "Vincent", Jackson 5 and Osmond songs. "Doctor My Eyes" "A Horse With No Name". I remember my bedroom in that little apartment when I hear those songs. I am instantly transported back to a lonely 11 year old reading Tiger Beat and 16 and Rona Barrett's Hollywood magazines.

What ever happened to Rona Barrett, anyway?



Thanksgiving is about what is in your heart.

I was noodling around on Google, having just made Google Chrome my browser of choice, and was taken aback, almost to tears, by putting the street I lived on in Brandon Mississippi in the mid sixties, into Google Maps Street View.

This is the house my step-grandparents and step uncle lived in, my step father was raised here. I love this old house, it holds so many good memories. I didn’t know for sure that it was now abandoned, when I saw the mail box lying on the ground, that’s when I knew. I had a little catch on my throat. Like when you hear some doddering old thespian has died. Scanning further, I noticed the trash heap beside it. Mom would have never stood for that. Not at all.

Mom and Pop and Freddie. My step-dad Hardy’s family. I loved them in a way that I could not love Hardy. Well, not Pop, he was a little creepy in an Uncle Festerish type of way, but he never paid much attention to me anyway, thank goodness.

Dot married Hardy in October 1965, three weeks before I turned 5. Dot always said a daddy was my 5th birthday present, but he terrified me. He was so big. The only grown up man I knew was a bent over Great Grandfather that I loved dearly. This man was tall and large, with a deep voice and a quick temper. He terrified me and I avoided him at all costs.

I remember the night I met Mom. It was cold and wet and we were wearing jackets. We came in from the wet night into a glowing living room. The glow came from the gas space heater, you don’t see those much anymore, but they were wonderful. It was so cozy, snuggled down in
the sheets, lying on your side so you could see the grates on the heater glow with the orangeyellowblue of the flames. Nothing bad could happen to you, bathed in that golden light.

It was late and we went straight to bed. We slept in the bedroom Hardy and Freddie shared. It had two double beds in it. I slept with Freddie, while Mama and Daddy (I called him that their entire marriage) slept in the other bed. Freddie was 12 years old, 12 years younger than Hardy.

The next morning we woke to the smell of bacon and biscuits cooking. I had been living with great grandparents for as long as I could remember, they were old when I came along. I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast in those years, but it couldn’t have been that exciting, I can’t remember any breakfasts. I do remember the noon meals, though. This home cooked breakfast with all the trimmings, right down to sliced tomatoes blew my little mind.

Later, I was left alone with Mom while Dot and Hardy were off somewhere and Freddie was at school. Pop worked at the Vickers plant. She sat at the kitchen table peeling apples. She offered me a slice, but I wanted the whole apple, and I sassed her, something I’m sure Mimi and Granpa always put up with cos I was their precious angel, and they were both masters at sarcasm, so it was kinda inbred. Anyway, she literally turned me over her red checkered apron and swatted by behind. I was outraged, I had never been spanked, in memory, I was everyone’s darling.

After I sulked around for about an hour, she brought out some things she said I could play with. One was a big black purse covered in those colorful little half beads. This isn’t very politically
correct, sorry, but there was a little black ragdoll that looked like a “pick-i-ninnie”, but I loved it. I had lots of dolls back at Mimi and Granpa’s but I think some where packed into a box in the trunk if the car. The piece de la resistance, was a coon skin cap. I had to treat it like a Holy relic, or I couldn’t play with it. When I was bored with those, she gave me Piggly Wiggly bags and crayons and I colored in their logo pig. Later, I was allowed to rummage through her jewelry box and try on her jewelry. It was only costume jewelry and she only wore it to church, but to me, it was like a treasure chest.

Later that day we traveled southwestward to Lafayette Louisiana where we settled in the apartment on Surrey Street. We went back to Brandon for Christmas and I remember it well.

The first Thanksgiving I can remember was in that warm, cozy kitchen. Dot and I watched the parade across the street, in a house we rented when we came back from Louisiana for good (for good, the Dot and Hardy Years, cos I’d be back in 1974.) Dot made peanut butter and crackers with a large marshmallows on top. These were put into a low oven and browned, then served with hot chocolate. About noon time, we trekked down the hill, to Mom’s. Hardy was already there. He had been there all morning. He went there every morning. He was a Mama’s Boy.

Not surprisingly, Dot cared little for Mom. You can see in this 1968 Christmas dinner photo that Mom is mostly hidden by Uncle Fester, I mean Pop. That is an old family trait of cutting peeps you dislike out of cute pics, we are a strange bunch. Only an O’Brien would make everyone hold their pose while they positioned the most beloved person in the room out of the picture. Dot had to use an old timey brownie with those golf ball shaped flashbulbs, bulbs people, not even a flash cube!

Also, my mother wasn’t fond of Freddie, but I thought he was a total blast. He was only 7 years olderthan me; he was more like a goofy big brother uncle. I had UncaHoney, the stalwart of uncleness, but this uncle was goofy and funny and had a box full of comic books under his bed. He called me
“Puddin’ Head” I was once bitten by a neighborhood dog. Freddie lost his head and shot the dog. The little dog partially visible at the bottom of the photo, Nubbin was then whacked by the owners of the collie that bit me. It was like a horse head in your bed. If that ain’t love in Mississippi in 1970, I don’t know what is. Somebody call Jeff Foxworthy.

If she disliked Mom and Freddie, she downright hated Pop. Pop had been in WWII. He was active in the VFW. He drove a blue Dodge. He smoked roll your own Prince Albert cigarettes. He didn’t wear his teeth when he was at home. He drank Budweiser. He was a pretty good sport, I guess. He was funny.

I am very thankful I had them in my life. They came into my life when I was young. They were there Oct 65-Nov71.

I am also thankful that Dot, Chris, Mel and I made a pilgrimage back there in July of 2000. We drove up to the little yellow house. I got out of the car and carefully opened the old gate. I walked up the thin concrete walk that I still have scarred knees from falling there. Mom opened the kitchen/front door before I could open the screen door. “Can I help you?”
“Mom, it’s Vi”


Grow Up!!!!!!!!!

Here it is, 2:14 am cdt. It is my b'day, but technically, since I was born at 3:03 am, I'm still 49.

But, seriously, Folks, for all my mullygrubbing this week, I am not really as bummed as I put out there. I know 50 isn't old, age is just a number, you're as old as you feel.....cliche's, I got a million of 'em.

They say you can never be too rich or too thin, I'll never be either one of those, but, I don't mind, I've had a helluva good time. I've done some stupid, crazy shit. I try to be a decent gal, I like to see people smile and laugh. The ability to make people laugh is the greatest gift God gave me. I strive to be compassionate, fair, honest.....blah blah blah, yak yak yak......boy scout much?

Its 2:36 now, gotta hurry up and get back to sleep, so I can fall asleep 49 and wake up 50.

Ta, for now, Auntie luvs u. Xoxoxox



50 years ago today……

Dot was cooking pork chops and when turning one over she dropped it onto the floor. She threw the fork she was turning it with, across the room. Her mother took her to the hospital.
This was the magical October of 1960. You went into the hospital 3 days before you even went into labor, got knocked out with twilight sleep (which in retrospect is probably best as I weighed almost 10 pounds) and went home a week later when a baby who had spent her first week of life hamming it up in the nursery.

Apparently, my Irish/White Trash gene kicked in early. As seen in this early photograph of me anticipating the attacking of the cake, which would surely begin any second.

Here I am at two, a little more sophisticated and doing a Bette Davis impersonation.

Upon further research into my birth to 2 year picture trail, I discovered I could be quite the “pissed off baby”.
I learned to chill at any early age. Kick back, enjoy a tudge of milk, and watch Beverly Hillbillies.

Enjoy a smoke,

oh what? You’re not supposed to eat it?


Like Mother, Daughter

Apples don’t fall far from their trees.

I am the daughter of a single mother and the single mother of two daughters. My mother wanted no boys and I wanted no boys. Don’t get mad, boys are wonderful, but I feel I am a girl mom. If I had had a boy, I’da loved him, but…..well, I didn’t, so it worked out. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it lately and with the right hubs, I might have wanted a boy. Perhaps my feminine intuition suspected I wasn’t destined to be a wife, and knew girls would be easier for a single mom.

Dot always said, if I had been a boy she would’ve left me at the hospital. She also would have named me “Jerry Wayne”. I would be a good ol’ redneck boy, I reckon, probably would have wanted to be a cotton farmer like Unca Honey. Of course, I wouldn’t call him that, it’d be Uncle Bill, cos that’s manlier and stuff.

My daughters look a lot like me, I think, I can see it in old photographs. I never thought I favored my mother, but I do, after all.

“The Look” comes from her:

Sometimes it’s attitude:

Sometimes it’s less than ladylike:

Once we were 3rd graders



It was 27 years ago, today.

I had been admitted in to the hospital in a small central Arizona town. In labor. A southern girl, 1600 miles away from her mommy. Kin to no one. My mother-in-law, Estella, was there, but she had never actually given birth, (X1 was adopted at age 3 months) so she could not offer the experienced comfort of a woman who had experienced the miracle I was about to achieve. She did as best she could, though. Also there was the girl who passed for my bestie in my Arizona adventure, who had had three children, in rapid succession; she was a little more comforting. A belle needs her mother and aunt at these times. Know who wasn’t there? Flippin’ X1, that’s who.

I had to drag X1, kicking and screaming to every childbirth class we attended. He used this labor time to hang out with buddies of his that I didn’t get along with, and therefore had missed out of hanging with the year that he had to kowtow to a pregnant belle. It’s a good thing, in retrospect. He would’ve gotten on my nerves and I would have strangled him with the IV cord. I would not have done time, however. The readers who have met him can tell you it would have been justifiable homicide. Not that X1 is a bad guy, he’s just…well….that’s a story for another time.

Pam. That was her name. The nastiest, evil temperedest nurse I have ever come across in my entire lifetime, and she’s the day shift nurse. Fellow belle’s, the medical professionals I encountered out west, do not have the empathy we belles have grown up around. My Dr Cuz is a doctor out West, now, an eye doctor. I’ve not been examined by her, but I am sure she is beloved by her patients, all sweetness and gentle concern. My OB out there looked like Merlin Olsen and had the bedside manner of that Scrubs doctor guy that is so abrasive. I’ll admit, I was a bit over dramatic, when first admitted. I was breathing deeply and moaning, as you do. Pam said, and these are her first words to me, “you need to cut that out, Honey, you have a long way to go.” HEEFAH, if Ah wadn’t standin’ here pregnant, I’d whoop yore ASS!!!!!!! But she was right, I wasn’t at that point, I just thought that went along with it. See? A girl needs her mother at a time like this. Likely Dot would have told me to cut it out, too, but that’s the difference between the Mom and an OB nurse with a grapefruit apparently lodged in her ass.

The labor was long and not very productive. Pam came back for day shift and said, “My God, Vi, are you STILL in labor?” No, Bitch, I just love walkin’ these bright sterile hallways pushing a squeaky rv cart around, listening to stupid X1 prattle on about crap I did not care about. Now he shows up, and had not the decency to shut up about WWII battles and navy experiences. Southern boys know better. A Southern boy shuts up and lets you rant, while pushing the IV cart for you.

The hospital was tiny in 1983, one me and one other girl occupied the maternity ward, which doubled as the geriatric ward. I can’t complain about anything else, and it was sort of nice to have the place to myself, the nurses paid a lot of attention to you. The other nurses were pleasant. Isn’t it funny? I can remember everything about Pam, it pissed me off just to look at her. The nice nurses just all blur together, I can’t remember one specific thing about anyone else. The old saying about a squeaky wheel is true.

Neither X1 nor Estella had the common decency to phone Dot, who sat on pins and needles back in Lafayette, and let her know what was going on. This was long before cell phones for everyone, and she couldn’t even get in touch with me by calling the hospital as I was in a labor room with no phone. The desk staff never came back and said your mom called. That is something that would NEVER happen down south. That would be a jaw-smacking offense.

They put me on pitocin, and everything after that is a blur, until the delivery room. X1 was at least supportive there. The nurse tried to position the mirror so I could see but I said to never mind. When I had to count push to the count of 10, I would see a treasure chest under water, slowly opening and closing. I’ve always said that’s cos Chris was a treasure.


If I'm Middle Aged, Do I Get to Live to 100?

One more month of 49 and then……(sigh) I’ll be 50.

I don’t know why I am stuck on this. It’s a landmark, a half century. I think I am bothered that I don’t have anything to show for it.

Let me share with you some things that may come in handy in your lifetime.

Don’t put food in the refrigerator with a metal eating or cooking utensil in it. I do not know why, my Mother said don’t do it, so I don’t do it.

Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Rogers.

To say someone is “cussin’ up a blue streak”, means that they are spewing profanities so fast that they are putting a jet stream into the atmosphere.

If you should burn, cut yourself or have lice, use tea tree oil.

No other crayon besides Crayola has any serious value as a crayon. We Southerners calls ‘em “colors”.

If you hear a noise that sounds like gunshots, look at the clock and see what time it is. The police will need to know later. I once saw a tv crime show where the murdered person pulled the plug from the clock out of the wall right before they died, therefore establishing the time of death for the detectives. Well, when is the last time anyone used an electric analog clock? It’s asking a lot of a dying person to get the clock off the wall, pull the battery out, then expire. They should use that time to dial 911.

For gosh sakes, take care of your teeth, by gum. Dentures are not the dream answer you suppose them to be.

Dogs have owners, cats have staff. It’s true. Any cat lover will attest to this. Without shame.

Three things you never discuss with a mental patient: religion, politics or sex. Actually, that’s a good outline to follow with most people you meet.

Now, a few things I should like to see happen while I’m still rattling around.

Let gay people have their happiness. Legalize gay marriage. You’re lucky to find love, what’s the difference if it with one’s own gender? I’ve heard “It’s against the Bible!” The biggest rules are outlined and carved in stone. It’s called the Ten Commandments. People break those every day. Self avowed Christians take the Lord’s Name in vain, without the bat of an eye. Not all, but some. I do. I get angry, cuss a blue streak and “GD” pops out. I always whisper, “sorry, God,” in case he heard. If we can break those commandments willy nilly on a daily basis, why are we holding so tightly onto that one ideal? I left the church I was baptized in due to their constant badgering of gays, (among other overwhelming theologies). I really miss the music; it is Southern Gospel at its finest. N E WAY…..I think you should have the right to marry who you love, and you have no control who you fall in love with. This often leads to the breaking of commandment #7. Nobody’s perfect, we are all sinners, and we are forgiven. Everyone.

Bring the troops home. It’s been almost ten years. Let’s pick up our toys and go home. Too many young Americans dying.

Legalize Marijuana. Criminalize bullying. Eradicate intolerance. Abolish racism. Stop cancer.

Bring Shoney’s back to the Desoto County area. Slow down with the technological advances, we have enough gadgetry. If you loved the movie, the book is worth reading. Be excellent to one another. And…..Party On Dudes.


Ann and Dot PI

And, Speaking of Sneaky

I honed by deductive reasoning skills at an early age, just by being a little shadow in the lives of Dot and Evil Ann.

Dot and Evil Ann’s hubbies, Hardy and Jeff, were truck drivers. They were partners on long hauls between Lafayette La, and California. I have no idea what Californians would need from Louisiana, but they brought back fresh flowers, fruit, and candy shipments. They worked for the Durell Franks trucking firm, and I have never been able to find a track of this company ever existing, even when I moved back there in 1974. They were on the road five days and home three. That’s some hard driving back in them days, California and back to Louisiana in 5 days. One slept while the other drove.

So, that is how the Terrible Twosome met. They were road widows five days at a stretch. Just a couple of housewives, both aged 27. Dot had me, and Evil Ann had three boys, but they were not in the picture at this point, and that is a story for another time. So here are two young women, in the mid 60’s, with a five year old that was quiet and compliant. 3 channels on TV. A rotary dial phone and phone numbers that began with letters. That was as far as their gadgets went in those days.

When they first got together, they sat up late into the night, EA drinking coffee and Dot and I drinking Coca-Cola (We are life long Coke people!) EA and Jeff moved a lot, but always managed to live in “duplex” apartments, that were really just a few rooms converted into a one bedroom living space for singles, or young married, in grand homes with spacious porches and weathered rocking chairs. EA’s hobby was those oil paint by number kits, scenes of Japan. She had lived in Japan in her other life, and she had a budda she had gotten there, that always rode on the front seat next to her during her many moves. I am sure this is where my love for fat budda statues comes from. In one of these homes, the kitchen had a long counter between the kitchenette and little dining nook. We would all three sit at that counter on stools, Dot and I on one side, EA on the other. They chain smoked Viceroys and told each other their life stories, while KXKW radio crooned out country western music in the back ground. I will always associate Patsy Cline’s standards, the smell of lighter fluid, (EA cleaned her paint brushes with it) and green stamp catalogs with this room, and that time. EA would work on her painting, I would pour over the stamp catalog, and they would talk.

Dot and Hardy and I lived in a little one bedroom apartment, in the back of an office of some sort, it was somewhere around Simcoe or maybe Surrey, in Lafayette, that is all I can remember. The owners of the business had lived there, starting out, then built a big home next door and rented their old living quarters out. You had to be quiet in the day time, so as not to disturb the “office”. I remember there was a huge yard to the side where there were a couple of rental trailers.

Dot and EA made buddies with the young couples in the trailers, so I had kids to play with finally. It seems one of the trailer’s residents sister came to stay with them to escape an abusive relationship. She was very mod, (that’s a 60’s word, for my younger readers) and the owners son fell head over heals in love with her. She wanted nothing to do with men, she had had quite enough of them for awhile. He was the obsessive type.

Now, there’s the back story, here’s the scene: It’s late one evening, the big double windows in my mother’s bedroom are open and we are sitting there in the dark, watching the owners’ son circle the trailer where the mod girl is home alone, trying to peek into the windows. We knew it was Macky, as he was a large boy and kind of lumbered. It was frightening and a little exciting too. It’s like Rear Window. I’m Thelma Ritter. (That’s a movie, younger readers, watch it, it’s very good) After that, when we were in that room at night and situations necessitated the light being on, it was a lamp, right in front of the windows, the shade down. That way anyone watching cannot tell what is going on by watching shadows. Then you take care of your business quickly, outen the light and raise the shade, cos it is Louisiana and it is summer, and only ritzy people had air in 1966. EA and Dot pieced the whole story together, Mod Girl had complained of scary noises at night. EA and Dot were on a stake out, and they did not call the cops on the perp. They did worse, they told his mother.


I'll take Olivia Walton for $200, Alex

Suppose you could pick your parents.

Let’s pretend, for a minute, that reincarnation is the one truth. You’ve gone though life 1. You learned a few things. This time you get to put an order in for parents. Once you are sent back into a womb, you lose all memory of that choice and you live the hand you are dealt.

So, who would you pick? Would you want parents as close to the parents you had to begin with, or did you opt for total opposites on the menu of characteristics you filled out before the trip back to a womb.

Previously in the blog I have shared some Mommie Dearest type memories of Dot, but I am feeling thankful by comparison these days, so I wanted to share a pleasant memory. I am wracking my brain and cannot some up with anything specific, but I think I’m being a little guarded. So many pleasant things intermingle with wincing memories. But, she did have wonderful qualities, it’s just that, oh well, this only my opinion, but she was a beautiful young woman, but was rather plain as she neared 30 and I think she was always bitter about that.

Dot was beautiful, but she was also a rebel. Not rebellious in a functional ways, but with an “I’ll do what I damn well please” outlook on life. She would not be told what to do, by gum. She was backed up by an adoring Paternal Grandmother, an indifferent mother and “Daddy”.
Her Dad died before I was born, but I heard about him all my life. It’s funny that the older she got, the more “Daddy” came up. She always said she was scared of him, but I also think she really loved him, and wanted his approval. About this, I am of course, I am speculating as I have no paternal memories, whatever. Step paternal, Uncle like a Father, had those, but no contact with Vi’s dad, as discussed in an earlier blog.

Dot quoted him daily. He had been a cook in two branches of Service and he was the highest authority on all things culinary my entire life until 2001. He was serious, forbidding and judgmental. He was an alcoholic though, and that was also an oft discussed visualization Dot passed down to me. In his defense I want to add that no one else I have ever heard of had ever seen him the way she did. Except for the alcoholic part, sadly, everyone agrees about that.

With her father, and if you ask me, her conscious gone, Dot went a little wild. She was young, beautiful and in Memphis Tennessee in 1957, a career girl from Attalla County Mississippi employed as a long distance operator for Southern Bell. Her Aunt Meriwether lived in Memphis, and of course, fresh off the farm, Dot went there and found herself attracted to her aunt’s newly begotten step-son. Despite being “cousins” and the scandalous fact that Kenny was newly divorced, they became an item. Kenny asked Dot to marry him, and she hadn’t given a reply.
She mentioned it off handedly to Aunt Meriwether , the next morning at breakfast.

“Oh, no you’re not,” Aunt Meriwether scolded. “You’ll ruin your life.”

And, because she was told not to, she did, every step of the way knowing she did not love this man and that the marriage was doomed for failure.

I guess I had a Bohemian upbringing at the hands of Dot. I guess that I have somewhat raised my kids that way too. I like the kitschy, I don’t really do “sets”, it’s more, pieces I like for one reason or another. Dot loved “sets” though, they were very important to her. Back to the Bohemian……I spent my teen years in Lafayette La, and my mother liked to hit the bars, that was her thing. My mother taught me how to drink. She taught me to appreciate a good looking butt on a man. She taught me how to be self sufficient and support myself as a single woman. One trait she and I share is that we have two failed marriages. She died before I had been single barely 6 months from marriage 2. She didn’t see me buy a house and wrangle a fast paced life. I think she would be proud, but I also know she’d be critical. Heck, the way she haunts us, I guess she knows all about it.

I think I’d like to come back pretty much into the same situation I was raised in. I really had two mothers, sisters. Isn’t it funny how you know so much about your mother’s sister (in my case) and absolutely nothing about your father’s family except what you were told by your mom. My father had a brother who was a famous crime fighter in Memphis. I heard about him on the news and read about him in the paper, but never got to meet him.

Which brings me to Dads, I’d get to pick that too, on my next life value meal menu. I know I’d pick my UncaHoney , with all his horns filed down. The man he was before he broke his back. I moved away to Louisiana soon after that happened and I really did not see him again until ’86 and this was not the same man. So, I’d like to take UncaHoney ages 23-37, and mix in Indiana Jones, only because I want a dad as bohemian as mom. UncaHoney could out McGuyver McGyver.
James Garner and Doris Day should play them in the movie. Well, if the movie was made in 1960s, we could use them, but I guess Harrison Ford and Meryl Streep. But no, that’s only cool for a 80s movie. How about…..Johnny Depp and Lois Griffin?



Hum Moonglow

June 1971
Alligator Ms

Four of the Eleven Swinford (Names have been changed to protect the innocent) Children's Birthdays are in June. They are all grown with children of their own, in some cases, grandchildren.

The clan gathered at Unca Honey and Auntie Virg's for a mass birthday celebration. Also in this vid, yours truly, Dot, my step-dad Hardy and Mama Lou.

This comes from the home movies of Unca Honey and Auntie Virg, and all those are silent, the movie camera they brought out once or twice a year had no sound recording apparatus. I have added one of the tops songs of the era that was one of Auntie Virg’s faves. (Hope Ray Stevens don’t sue me) It must be providence that I chose this song for this clip cos it seems perfectly set up to the images. The song isn’t long enough for the entire vid, but I’ve decided that silence belongs to the many people in this clip how no longer walk among us.

Every time I roamed far and come back I always wanted to see the home movies. Even though, I wasn’t in them very much. The process of even being able to watch the movies was quite the production. First the projector, a huge, daunting Bell and Howell monstrosity had to be lugged out, set up. Individual reels were loaded up, someone did a shadow puppet thing in the dusty projector beam between films. We never “flew the bird” we were much more refined than we are now, cos now “the bird” is so common place, we no longer consider it “common”. The whole process took hours, but everyone was together, laughing, reminiscing.

The large family in this clip is the family my Auntie Virg married into in 1961. They were a close knit bunch. When I stayed summers with my Aunt, we would visit Unca Honey’s family frequently. I shyly sat back and observed these people. My earliest memories of a traditional clan involve this family and I don’t think any of them knows it powerful impact that had on me. Thank You Swinford family.

Dr Cuz had these reels transferred to vid and Dood Cuz made DVDs from those tapes. Now I am taking my set of those tapes and putting them into wmv files. Sometimes it makes me swimmy headed to realize how technologically advanced we have become in my lifetime.
If any of the family reads this and would like their own copy of the clip without my “commentary” they should let me know and I’ll gladly cyberspace them a copy.

This was to be my last “summer” with my aunt, as by December we would be back, Dot and I, as my mom and step dad parted ways. I lived at Alligator and went to a tiny private school in an charming old building. The 6th grade went on a field trip to Jackson and met the Guv’nah.

There would be other summers, but those summers at Alligator are part of who I am now.


...Perchance to Dream

Some people dream in color, I dream in weird.

I have always been a super intense dreamer. Sometimes, I am afraid I will wake up feeling heart attacky, so intense are these nocturnal teleplays. Some are prophetic. Sometimes a dream will be so real that I wake up thinking the event actually happened. Sometimes I have recurring dreams, and continuing dreams. I once acted on an emotion that came to me in dream form. It failed horribly, but it turns out that is best. I had to take the action, though, so strong was the message in the dream.

I dream in entire movies, sometimes. Epic stories of horror and end times, snakes coming out of bathtub faucets. Sometimes I dream about evil so real I wake up shaking and praying.

I remember being about 9 in Brandon Mississippi. I’d lie in bed at night waiting to go to sleep, grateful for Tinker Belle, my mother’s Siamese cat, her favorite child, asleep on my legs. I prayed to God for no dreams. “Not even dreams as good as gold, I’ll take the gold, keep the dreams”, I’d think every night with my eyes closed tight, afraid to open them. I was scared until sleep, that I would see a ghost. Also, the back door of the house was in my bedroom and I was subliminally scared by that, I think.

While I remember that vividly, no dreams from that Vi era come to mind. I do remember dreaming about a giant living Indian Buddha statue grabbing citizens off the ground and stuffing them into its mouth. I was probably 6ish, sleeping on Evil Ann's couch. When I was seven and living on the Breaux Bridge Highway in Lafayette, I constantly dreamed I walked into our living room and my mother sat on the couch, with her ankles crossed daintily, and without her head. I screamed in my dream. Evil Ann would be in the kitchen making lumpy oatmeal, wearing a “house dress” and without a head. (Not as tragic, no scream)

For years after I graduated High School, I dreamed I had to go through it again. I kept saying I’d already graduated, no one listened. I still dream about hallways at Comeaux High, in a creepy pink, Alice through the looking glass, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey kind of a way.

During “Arid Zone” year, X1, me, JD and Kip played D and D every night (Dungeons and Dragons, World of Warcraft in person with tons of books, maps 75 different type of dice) I’d dream all night that people I knew were being killed off one by one and I was all like “No problemo, I have a save spell and a couple of potions.”

During the infancy of the “Bat(I hate that bitch) period, back when I didn’t even know what she looked like, I dreamed she was a gorgeous leggy blonde……hmm, another “opposite” dream….and after I had really and truly met her (OMG) {eyesrollingtobackofheadIcanseemymedulaoblongottathingie} well, in retrospect all I can say is the whole experience was a nightmare, a nine year nightmare, not only for me, but others as well. C’est La Vie, we’re still here.

After my mother passed away, I dreamed she was still alive, refusing to believe she had died. I’ve dreamed about places we’d lived, as if we’d moved back and now had to find jobs. I’m not lying, kids, these dreams are as detailed as a tv show.

Recurring dreams? I’ve had ‘em. Dreams so erotic I’ve woken up quite discombobulated, check. Dreams that have made me stop on the way to the morning tinkle and say aloud, “what the hell was THAT?” Sometimes, I’ve had a dream and I remember the act of dreaming, but no details, not sure if that relieves me or pisses me off.

One particularly frustrating recurring dream I am cursed with, is the “I can’t dial the freaking phone” dream. It’s so film noir, this dream. It’s in black and white, even. I think there may be trench coats involved,…any way, I keep trying to dial numbers, as I am in desperate need of help. Did I mention in this old timey dream the phones are touch tone? Go figure.

But then, there’s the nightmares so intense I used to be afraid I would wake up in the throes of a heart attack. I should keep a note pad by the bed, cos there’s a blockbuster horror epic/apocalyptic saga going on in these dreams, Bubba! Stephens King and Spielberg have decided to corroborate on the screen play and Johns Mellencamp and Hiatt are going to do the score.

Hey, if you’re gonna dream, dream BIG.


My Peelings Are Hurt, Gotta Go To The Doctor

I asked the little boy, “What will you be when you grow up?”
He looked at me seriously and without actually verbalizing the “Duh”, he said, “an adult”. I think he even rolled his eyes.

Kids, ya gotta love ‘em. I know I do! ( Beetlejuice) Who doesn’t secretly love hearing funny stories about themselves as children? It’s a complement when someone has “a story on you”, as we say down South.

Let me see, some of the precious things I did are pretty cute I guess, I don’t really hate any of them. I don’t remember this, but my mother used to take Toddler Vi to this diner lunch counter-y bar type establishment. Apparently, I made the rounds of the patrons which consisted of I don’t even know what and came back with gum, dollar bills, change and the loot one gathers as the result of being an adorable child. This was the early sixties, I don’t remember this specifically, but I do remember diners and cafes. The Blue and White Restaurant in Tunica MS is a prime example of this. Speaking of this fine establishment, I have another pre conscious memory story that took place here, but that’s a story for another time.

Here’s one of my faves. A school bus driving girlfriend was driving her bus along one day and a pick-up, going on the opposite direction, swerved into their lane, then right back into his own lane. She and some of the kids on the bus were speculating what may have caused the driver to do that. Was he drunk? Did he fall asleep at the wheel?

One little girl pipes up and says “Maybe he looked down and counted to four”. It has become a catch phrase. Some of you may have heard me say it.

Now for the fun part, embarrassing my children.

X2 took Chris down to the local ice cream parlor and when they were leaving, she grabbed a toothpick and stuck it in her mouth. “Why do you need a toothpick,” he asks. “Sometimes I like to chew on ‘em like a tough guy”, is the answer.

Mel and I were riding in the car, listening to the radio. A commercial for Cats record store comes on and the announcer says “in ‘Cat’s all over Memphis’.” Mel looks out, all around and says, “I don’t see any cats.”

More random kiddie quotes from our little family tree:

Mama, isn’t technology a wonderful thing?

You gotta watch me, I’m sneaky like that.

You don’t hafta be married to have a baby.

What’s so so security?

What’s a serial number killer?

Mama’s at the booty shop.

I think I’m ‘bi-sexual”, I’m friends with girls AND boys.

Ow, my feet have bones!

Are you a dumb blonde?

Come git me, ah’m daid.

People shouldn’t drink and drive…..how can they see over the cup?

I love that band Bootie and the Ho Fish

Ah the times I’ve embarrassed my mother and aunt. I can remember this one: I was 6, spending the summer with Auntie Virg and UncaHoney, in Duncan MS, the year is 1967. There is a family cook-out going on and I pipe up and say, “Did my Mama make this potato salad?” No, Auntie Virg explained patiently, Dot is in Louisiana, she could not have possibly made the potato salad. “I didn’t think so, this is awful.”

The Awful Potato Salad in question was made by Auntie Virg’s sister-in-law, Jean. Jean prided herself on her potato salad, was famed for it, in the family. Auntie Virg was mortified for many reasons, not the least of which was that Jean was sitting right next to her. Jean never liked me, I guess I don’t blame her.

Here’s one I did to Dot. Like most kids, I could crank the vocal cords and be quite loud. “You don’t have to yell, we aren’t across the street,” Mama would scold. Elderly neighbor comes over, little old lady, hard of hearing. She’s a loud talker, most hard of hearing old people are. Five year old Vi admonishes, “You don’t have to yell, we’re not across the street!” Luckily, I think the old lady was too deaf to hear it, but I got the “glance of doom” anyway.

I get a call from the school, I’ve got to get there quickly, Kindergarten Chris has bitten a ring on her finger out of shape and it is cutting off the circulation. I run into the office and upon seeing me, she screams, “you’re not gonna beat me, are you?” Right there in front of all the elementary school dignitaries.

In the same vein, I remember this as clear as yesterday. I was two and I had wet the bed, my great-grandmother was sleepily grumbling as she changed the sheets. “You ain’t gonna give me to the people down the road, are you,” I cried.

And in closing…this isn’t about a kid. I have one of those faces, I guess, that encourages total strangers to approach me in stores and ask me to help them. I was approached by an older lady, not doddering, just older than me.
“Haave yew evah taken a leave,” she drawled, surely she was raised in the deepest darkest part of the tri-county area.
“Yes, I’ve taken a maternity leave,” I answered.
She wanted to know if I have ever taken Aleve.


Days of Road Trips Past

8 a.m. tomorrow, I am officially on vacation. Well, really, it’s a staycation, cos I be po’! No, no trip this year, but I remain hopeful that there is a Mardi Gras in my future. Anyway, it’s my mind that needs rest and travelling requires thinking and concentration.

So, in lieu of a road trip, I will regale you with memories of vacations past.

My first official vacation, by official I mean renting a camper and being gone a whole week to a place I’d never been before. Dot, Hardy (my step dad 65-71), his parents and brother and me. We took out in a Pontiac Bonneville, hauling a pop up camper, from Brandon, MS to the great Smokey Mountains. I was 8.

The next Vacation I remember was 1972. I was staying out in Alligator MS with Auntie Virg and UncaHoney and the cousins. We piled in the ol’ station wagon and just lit out, no destination in mind. We ended up in Muskogee OK. We had adjoining rooms, and the sliding doors opened out to heaven, to my 11 year old mind, that was a huge blue pool and a tiny kid pool. I had never been in an inground pool, prior to this, all my swimming experiences included sandbars of reservoirs, the Big Muddy and plastic pools, oh and a washtub at a very very young age. I thought it was the most beautiful ever, especially at night, after it was closed, and I would open the drapes and just stare into the calm blue depths. The lights in the pool walls glowing seductively. We stayed there at least two nights, we got room services and swam and shopped and sang “Okie from Muskogee” to the top of our lungs, till we were shushed, lest we disturb the other guests. From there we went to Missouri, went to a cave, went to Blythe Arkansas where Auntie Virg and UncaHoney fell in love with the lounge act at the Ramada Inn, a duo of singing sisters called “The Pedagogues” So we stayed there quite a few days. We went home with their album and listened to it constantly the remainder of the summer.

1987, Dot, Chris and I took out in a new station wagon and landed in Branson MO. We didn’t see any of the Branson sights, we went on through to Silver Dollar City, then we hit the now defunct amusement park, Dogpatch, in Dogpatch AR. We spent the last night in a little mom and pop hotel in Newton AR. The restaurant was awesome, it was straight out of the early sixties, I don’t think they had ever redecorated.

2003, I take my kids and cousin Brit to the thriving metropolis of Lake Arthur LA. We had rented a car, and since my car had no a/c, I kept the one in the Enterprize Saturn up on full blast and by the end of the trip I had the worst ear infection of my life from the vent blowing right into it for a week. It took me months to get over it, but before my ear tried to kill me, the girls and I toured the two state capital buildings in Baton Rouse, toured St, Martin de Tours, that little museum next to it that was once a college, the house out at Evangeline Longfellow Park, drove by my old places of residence and the ol’ Alma Mater. Leaving the Wainright clan and headed back east, we stayed in Lafayette where I poured over the phone book trying to find an emergency clinic open on a Sunday. I could have sworn when I left the city in ’86 that they had those, but they didn’t in 2003. We headed on to Natchez and by chance I decided to go another way, cos I try to avoid Baton Rouge as I always get lost there. So we left for Opelousas, turned right when we got there and in a couple of hours, found ourselves driving past The Myrtles. So, we toured THE MOST HAUNTED PLACE IN AMERICA…..(several places make that claim) then rounded out in good ol’ reliable Natchez. In one of the antebellum homes, Chris got stuck in a priceless antique hoop petticoat, that was pretty funny until we realized it was a priceless antique, then after we got it off, unharmed, it was funny again.

Our ultimate vacation (so far) came in 2006 when we drove from Memphis to Arizona. It was supposed to take two days but took four as we spent an entire day in New Mexico driving in a blizzard. The day before we were in Elk City Oklahoma enjoying a wonderful Route 66 museum, in summerlike weather. The horrible day of snow driving up mountains was worth it, when we stayed in the El Rancho Hotel in Gallap New Mexico. We went down the “Mother Road” stopping at attractions, including the giant rabbit in Joseph City, A couple of days in the old homestead, then we went to the Grand Canyon Railways Resort, where we swam in an indoor pool, then had to bundle up in coats to go back into the hotel through a snow bank. We rode a train to the Grand Canyon and had a bus tour of the rim. Back in Yavapi County, we toured the ghost city of Jerome and ate in a whorehouse.

All travel ends the same, you’re tired of being a tourist and just want to sleep in your own bed. The trip to your vacation destination seems to take forever, and the trip home is even longer. By the way, here’s a tip for Southerner’s traveling west. You ain’t gettin’ no sweet tea in the eatin’ places.


Well, Ah Deau De Clare

I’ve just re-read The Stand by Stephen King. The uncut edition.

I am a more careful reader than I was in my younger days. Back then I rushed through a book, anxious to get to the end. Now, I’ve lived more, I can relate to a book in a different way, it speaks to me, by experience rather than curiosity.

Another book recently re-read is Gone With The Wind. I know, I know, drippy Old South romance novel, racist, “I don’t give a damn, tomorrow is another day” stuff. Blah, blah, blah….yak, yak, yak .

When I read GWTW as a teen, I had lived with it all my life, because, my mother loved the book. However, when my mother read it, she was a teen. It was an “old” book even then, as it was originally published and made into a movie the year she was born, so I guess she had grown up with it too.
I was told that the first movie I ever went to was GWTW at the tender age of 2 months at a drive in. That viewing slips my memory, but I do remember seeing it at drive ins and dusty old theaters each time it was re-released to theaters, and Dot and I would always go together.

Before this new fangled VCR craze, you could see GWTW once a year on CBS, like the Wizard of Oz. It’s sort of a rite of passage to me, my mother loved it and I loved it, and it was something we always had in common. When Mimi, Dot’s grandmother was sick in bed, I remember trying to read to her, I tried to read GWTW to her, I was six years old. I got probably through the first sentence, maybe, I mean a six year old’s vocab in 1967 is somewhat innocent compared to a 2010 six year old. So, If I could stumble through the first sentence, as a seasoned 1st grader, certainly I had no idea what it meant.

My next attempt was age 12. I skipped through some parts, disappointed when I could not relate a passage to the movie.

I finally read it in its entirety at age 15. Mostly while I was babysitting the LeGrange kids, way out in the wilds of Broussard LA. That was a sweet gig, the Dad would pick me up on Friday night, and I’d sleep over Fri and Sat and stay till Sunday afternoon, when I would go home with a $20 bill, good wages in 1976. The Mom and Dad stayed out late and got out early on the weekends, we never saw them come and go. But, I digress, badly.

I read it here and there in the years hence. But, I got the most out of it this last time I read it, about 6 months ago. When I read it when I was young, it took me back to a place I had heard of my entire being, the grand and glorious SOUTH!, by cracky! It lets you imagine that you are the most popular girl at the barbeque, you find out about southern history and antebellum south’s customs and what was expected young ladies back in the day………waaaaaaaaaay back in the day.

When you grow up and read it as a 49 year old adult, it’s a whole ‘nuther ball game.
First of all, Margret Mitchell wrote an astounding novel, I’m not talking just the story everybody gets from the movie, I’m talking back ground things. You call it cinematography in the movies, I don’t know what you call it in books. She only has this one novel, but she poured herself into it and she deserved every award she ever got because of it.

After you’ve grown up and experienced some struggles, come to terms with yourself, warts and all, learn a few things about loyalty and dogged devotion and worry and developed your survival instinct, read it again. When you read as an adult, when you can relate to worrying about making ends meet in hard times. Forget the movie, just use it as a frame of reference for reading the book. So that you know where you are when you’re attending the Twelve Oaks Barbeque. Reading it as a teen, then as a seasoned veteran of life may be the best way to get the most from it, as the heroine is 16 at the beginning and 30ish at the end.

So, I started out saying I read one book and ended up giving a book report on another. Sorry about that, it just flowed along, I couldn’t stop it. I recommend both books. Next time, The Grapes of Wrath. Movie versus book. Class dismissed.


Girl Friday

I bet you been thinkin’, “now, why don’t she write”. (Dances With Wolves)

Hay Ya’ll!!!!

I’ve been sick with the crazies for a couple of weeks, med tweaking, stuff like that there.
Anyway, hopefully I’m back, I know it had to be tragic without my fabulousness. HAHA

Right before that, my fab hi skool bud and her hubs, stopped by on the roll thru back to Cajun Country and we enjoyed a 3 Margarita lunch at my fave Mexican restaurant. It was great and when I go to La, I am looking her up!

So, anyway, yesterday was the 16 year anniversary at my job. Yeah, 16 years ago I was fresh faced 30something “career girl” (Wong Fu) driving a 83ish yellow Toyota Celia with a broken speedometer and an awesome sun roof. I once got two tickets in 20 minutes in two different counties, in that car, Miss Carlett. I also spun out on 61 in Tunica one icy morn during ICE STORM ’94! Almost hit a cop. Ah, dem was da days.

This job has lasted longer than the combined time consumed by my two failed marriages. Heck, it passed that milestone 5 years ago. I found out about the Oklahoma City bombing and watched the O.J. verdict in the canteen. I was at work when my boss called in a said that a plane had just flown into one world trade center tower and while he was on the phone, the second tower was also hit. Katrina filled the house with storm refugees and displaced co-workers from coastal properties.

In sixteen years I’ve owned 9 cars, had 4 addresses, had 3 operations (one was a c section) 4 pairs of glasses, 3 tickets, voted for president 4 times, been to 10 funerals, done 7 different jobs at ye olde place of employment, took 9 trips out of state, went to 15 concerts and three weddings (hmmm). I’ve lost hair during the aftershock of an illness (thank God, it grew back to its thick uncontrollable self) went through a Bible thumping 3 times a week church attendance phase, was a blonde for awhile, went through a horrible stressful experience with my second ex-husband’s second ex-wife,( heretofore known as Bat, cos that is what she is as crazy as) got to see part of a movie filmed.

Whew, what a roller coaster life is. It’s got hills and valleys, ups and downs, fast paced breath stopping action. I’ve gone from having three television station reception to having internet access in my pocket. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you realize you ain’t seen shit.


Que Sera Sera

We come to potential crossroads in our life.

Maybe I’ve been thinking of something for quite awhile without realizing it. I’m heading to a milestone, age 50, and I’m a little contemplative on the kind of Crone I am going to be. I am not going into my senior years quietly and sedate. My mother mired herself down in age and appearance until she disappeared and became a caricature of a miserable little old lady. I don’t intend to live a second of my life miserably.

What is the difference between a milestone and a crossroads? To me, milestones cannot be avoided and crossroads are conscious choices.

There are many milestone birthdays. 30 is a big one, and when I turned 30 I had a 21 years old boyfriend who eventually became X2.

(One reason for the happy faces in the pictures in the previous blog entry “50 is the new 30”, be sure to read it, tell your friends and neighbors.)

I turned 13 living in a fairytale world of living with two loving parents, a little brother and 2 baby sisters, going to a private school with tiny classes and teachers who cared. In a picturesque house, on a quiet little street, in a little southern town. Substitute Aunt and Uncle for Mom and Dad and cousins for brothers and sisters and you have the Brady Bunch year of my life. It was the last traditional family relationship I was to be part of and I was just a bit player, playing the part of Cissy in Family Affair for one normal year, the year I turned 13.

18 finds me a career girl in Lafayette La. Fresh out of high school, in my first job. 21 finds me the same way, an answering service operator that lives with her mom, only name of the workplace have been changed.

25, I’m a young mother and wife in Lafayette. And 30, I’ve already bragged about. 40 wasn’t all that great as I was dealing with many issues involving a newly ex hubby and visitations of my precious little girl with a (there is no way to describe) soon to be step-monster.

I can’t say how I’ll spend 50. Life is so volatile that in the five months I have left of age 49 could drastically change, abrupt change always seems to happen when you feel the most secure, and that’s why you have to maintain an “edge”. Listen to your Auntie Vi, folks. Auntie knows, Auntie understands.


Louisiana Trilogy

I lived a majority of the first ¼ century of life in South West Louisiana.

Even though I am not a Cajun, I do have traditions and ideals I learned in Cajun households. I spoke with a Cajun accent for most of my first 25 years and I still say some things in the accent because they just don’t mean the same thing without it. The first time one hears “Cajunese”, those who are not lucky enough to have spent any time down Lafayette way, it had to be repeated and explained. That’s okay, it’s part of the charm.

So, I have a deep love for my old stomping grounds. I’ve lived in Broussard, Abbeville and Lafayette. I’ve bar hopped in Breaux Bridge, St Martinville, Mamou, Catahoula, Intracoastal City. I started first grade in Lafayette and graduated there, too. I go back every two or three years. I always go to the St Martin De Tours church. Drive by my old homesteads on St Pierre St and John Wayne Dr.

Katrina hit me hard, emotionally. We took hurricane refugees into our Casino Hotel, as did all the other casinos in the area. We set up computers at our bell desk so that they could file their FEMA claims online. I worked, telling them where to find things, help them use the computer is they needed, gave directions to Wal-Marts. Most of the people that visited during my shift were from Plaquemine and Metairie and many of them had homes underwater. They were in disbelief. They were still too shocked to grieve, it was still new. Let me also acknowledge the damage and loss in my home state of Mississippi.

Rita was even worse for me cos it actually affected areas where I had lived, loved, partied and dined. Also Rita hit Lake Charles harder and that is where my BBF Van and many of her progeny are.

Now there’s this oil spill tragedy. I haven’t followed the story a lot, but I don’t have to see media footage to know that it is tragic.

This is a hauntingly beautiful song about a flood in Louisiana in 1927, but it also fits recent water catastrophes.

Thanks for the idea. Deanna.


Daddy, Don't You Walk So Fast

I am one of those people who does not know their father.

My mother and father were married. When Dot found out she was pregnant, she decided to leave Kenny. Her side of the story was, “he wouldn’t hold a job, I was always supporting him. I’d rather support two people than three.” So, as I’ve always been told, she left him at 2 months pregnant, the divorce was final when I was 18 months old.

I am my mother’s only child. I am my father’s second of six. It’s so weird to know that you have brothers and sisters, probably all living right there in Memphis, and I have never met them. Two boys and two girls, with wife 3. Another brother, son of wife 1, is Hispanic. I have never been bothered by White/Hispanic relationships because I knew my older brother was the product of one and though I’ve never met him, I feel a loyalty to him. It’s subliminal. He grew up not knowing his father, too. Back in the late 50’s/early 60s, there was generally no joint custody or visitation or anything like that. I can’t speak for Larry (that’s his name) but my mother chose to remove herself from Kenny’s life and she was very successful in that. Dot tells me Kenny was abusive to Larry’s mother. Kenny was not abusive to Dot, but that’s another story for another time.

I did connect with my father eventually, sort of. I met him formally when I was 9. I was visiting Mama Lou ( Dot’s Ma) in Memphis, summer 1970. I convinced her Dot said I could meet my dad if I wanted to. Dot says she never said this, but somehow I got that idea and I went with it. Kenny came over to my grandmother’s house and I got the shyness and Mama Lou was stuck talking to him for two hours while I cracked pecans at the table and cut up with a neighbor girl. I never heard the end of that one, lemme tell ya.

When I was 19 or 20, I was working at Answering Service of Lafayette, and during an idle time at the old western electric switchboard, I got Kenny’s number from directory assistance and rung him up. His mother-in-law answered the phone and he was not there, so I said “Tell him his daughter from Louisiana called” and hung up. Now I try to imagine the shock I gave that old lady and it must have caused quite a fracas in the Kenny household.

The next attempt occurred when I was 22. X1 and I came through the Midsouth on our way out west so he could meet my aunt and her family. I tried calling him then, on a payphone in Southaven, but I didn’t get an answer.

It was when I was 30 that we finally met and I heard his side of the story. All those years Dot was insistent that I have nothing to do with him. Auntie Virg convinced her that it was only right that he should know he had a grandchild. So I finally had the official okey dokey to proceed.

Kenny was thrilled to hear from me. He came down to the motel in Hernando, where I was a desk clerk and we visited, then after I got off, we went for cokes to talk. He still had feelings for Dot, she had broken his heart. He didn’t know where I was. In this internet age, it’s easy to find someone, back then it wasn’t easy. His wife had been jealous of my mother and she kept him from searching too seriously, so that’s how it goes.

The story does not have a Waltonesque ending, sadly. He was willing to start some sort of relationship, but I believe his wife discouraged it. If I could tell he still cared for Dot, certainly his wife had been harboring ill feelings their entire marriage. He came out to the house, (he and Dot got along fabulously, Dot was flattered that he still cared, it was quite a boost to her ego.) took me and Chris to movies, invited me to a family reunion which I slunk out of, and Chris and I went to dinner at his house one night and his wife was less than charmed. She was rather cold to me and I can understand why. I had given Kenny photos of me and Chris, which he had proudly displayed on his home mantle. His wife and Daughters were outraged and demanded we be taken down. It was a nice try, but it didn’t work out.


50 is the new 30

I’ve been feeling very reflective, of late.

I’ve always been one to do a lot of thinking. Too bad I didn’t have enough gumption to go beyond high school, school wise. I just wanted to be done with school, so it never crossed my mind to try to go to college. I wasn’t a great student, hated to study. In fact I never studied. Not once. I eked by on random memory and lucky guesses.

Saturday morning, it’s foggy outside so that the room is bathed in gentle gray tones. I have fans and a lot of white noise going on. White noise helps me relax, total silence makes my ears ring. It’s perfect for ponderings. My mind jumps around like a whack-a-mole. I tend to think in spurts.

I’m being dragged into October kicking, screaming, latching on to stationery objects. It’s like a giant wind machine is blowing me backwards toward my next birthday. Five Oh, we ain’t talking Jack Lord and Danno here.

Now that I’m here, approaching 50, it ain’t so tragic. I still feel young, mentally. I still have challenges to conquer and unfinished business to see to. Life keeps changing, you can’t set anything in stone, cos you have to roll with the flow.

When my mother turned 51, I made her a “cake” out sugar free lime jello with “Dot” spelled out in cantaloupe balls. (She was newly diagnosed diabetic.) And "LI" (51 in roman numerals, silly) I got Auntie Virg to get Dot and Chris out of the house and I set up the boom box with 50’s tunes and sat out her “Elvis” Bradford Exchange plate collection. Hung some streamers. Auntie Virg, Kat and lil' Chris thought the whole thing was great. I think Dot did too, but something in her personality made her always have a “this is ridiculous, why are you wasting my time” attitude, even though she was tickled with the attention at the same time. (She was a wonderful cook and loved Mel Brooks movies)

I may still have a few tricks up my sleeve. I am a fast learner, um, most of the time. Always something to look forward to, except that gets clouded by something to dread, sometimes. Of course, I’m always busy imagine the worst case scenario, too. A worrier’s work is never done. Everything always smoothes out, eventually, I’ve been lucky that way.

These pics are almost 20 years old, from the “Over the Hill Party” RonDan threw me when I turned 30.


Look Out World....

It’s almost here, May 19th. The day of graduation for the 1978 class of Comeaux High School. 32 years.

Thirty-two years. Oh My Gawd! If I didn’t feel old before, I feel it when I hear numbers like this.

What was I like 32 years ago? Sometimes I miss that carefree 17 year old. The seventeen year old Vi did not think she was carefree, but what did she know? She was just another teenager that thought she was all grown just cos she graduated High School.

I remember that day at Blackum Coliseum in Lafayette La. They herded us through the cow shoots for practice. There was hay everywhere and if I am not mistaken, MUD. The school teachers that were along to assist in our preparation talked to us like children! “If you don’t keep quiet, you will not walk and get your diploma!” Riiight, like you ain’t ready to get rid of us. We’ve been running around all school year being all senior arrogant; time to let the junior class rise to the top.

After they decided we were ready, they let us go and I’m sure me and my BBF Van spent the rest of the day preparing for the most exciting thing to happen to us so far. I don’t remember at lot of details between the practice and the ceremony. I was torn between the excitement of graduation and the sadness that my Mother did not plan to attend. I can’t remember why. We were getting along pretty good, then, but she absolutely refused to go. I was heartbroken. I had lived here four years, but I wasn’t kin to anyone except Mama. I had a very plain high school experience outside of football games and a few after game dances, I was also in Speech Club. But that’s all the extra-curricular actives I enjoyed and two of those we because my BBF Van was in Pep Squad.

So here’s the night, hot and muggy, if I recall, correctly. It’s threatening to rain. We go our little Pomp and Circumstance march in, up through the middle of the seats, around your section to the row you’re on, then go to the end of the row. Seated, I began to search the crowd, hoping Dot had changed her mind. I didn’t see her. Oh, well.

I was supposed to stand at the bottom of the stage stairs until my name was called when the graduate before me was walking off stage. In my excitement, I rushed when then girl on from of me name was called, the ushers stopped me and I stood there while she walked across stage. I was very anxious to be done with it. I was at the very end of the alphabet, W, so it really was over soon after that.

Being back outside, a balmy breeze was blowing and I watched my classmates huddled in groups getting snapshots with family members. You could have knocked me over with a feather when my mother and our friend Mona K walked up. Mona had shamelessly shamed Dot into coming to my graduation, and my mother had been there after all. I wish I had known while it was happening, but it was a good feeling once I did know.

Afterwards Van and I hooked up with a couple of fellow fella grads and went out to eat, then bowling. I had my first real job the next day. I was a young adult, high school behind me, a job. I thought I was pretty cool, but I knew a lot less than I thought I did. Growing up is a humbling experience.


"Scardy Cat"...."Am NOT"......"Are, too!"

What’s scary to you?

I love spine tingling ghosty stories. I love looking at ghost photographs, watching ghosty vids on you tube. Ghosty movies, not that hack and slash crap, but a good ghost story, heck it ain’t gotta be good. There are a plethora of “good” awful ghost movies on Hulu.

I’ve had the occasional ghostly experience. Sometimes my mother rattles around, but it’s not scary. I know she is here when I smell coffee brewing and I am not brewing coffee. We catch glimpses of movement in the corner of our eyes. She just drops by from time to time to check up on us. You get used to it after awhile.

I don’t care for clowns. I can only stand 3, Bozo, Ronald McDonald and Fizbo. All other clowns are evil and must be shunned. It’s not so much that I’m scared, I just hate clowns. I don’t trust anyone who won’t show their face. You can’t even trust Jimmy Stewart for cry-eye. Remember that movie “The Greatest Show on Earth”? Jimmy Stewart plays a circus clown hiding out behind the face paint, cos in real life (Real movie life, isn’t that an oxymoron?) he’s a fugitive running from the law for murdering his wife. You can’t even trust George Bailey after he schemers on the clown white.

My cousin, Dood Cuz, has this philosophy regarding clowns. People who hate clowns hate with a real passion. You don’t kinda just hate clowns if you’re a clown hater; you hate them with every fiber of your being, violently and carrying invisible pitchforks. Loathe entirely!

You know what would be the most awfullest thing ever? A Ghost Clown. If the theory that ghosts are lost souls trying to make sense of their deaths is true, imagine how many ghost clowns there could be. Clowns must die in plenty of embarrassing ways. Their squirting lapel flower could get turned around the wrong way and squirt water up their nose and drown them. And, how embarrassing to die in a clown car accident. When you jam that many passengers in a tiny vehicle, the ratio to body parts that intermingle tragically and comically would be very high, I would think. And all those red rubber noses lying around in the debris, it’s just too overwhelming to imagine.

Then, there’s your clown murders. Clowns piss people off, and every now and then they get whacked. Most clown murderers get off, though..crime of passion, justifiable homicide. Clown came at me with a pie, I’m deathly allergic to custard cream and he knew it. It was self defense. He just kept pulling and pulling those silk scarves from his sleeve, it drove me mad I TELL YOU…………..M A D!!! I had to kill him (insert dramatic sobs) I HAD….To…..…..Keel Heem.

When I was little it was one of my mother and step dad’s hobbies to go “ghost hunting”. We would travel the wilds of Rankin Co Mississippi (I think the wilds ceased to exist many years ago) looking for run down abandoned houses to explore. It was mid to late sixties, people didn’t post many “No Trespassing” signs back then. I don’t remember ever seeing a ghost, but it was rich in creepy goodness, just the same. Today, me and my girls enjoy touring antebellum homes in Natchez and The Myrtles in St. Francisville La. We like walking in grave yards.

Mel and I visited our dearly departed today. Mother’s Day is a popular day at cemeteries, we were lucky enough to miss the crowd. This little cemetery is off the main road, very scenic and peaceful. In living in the same place in excess of twenty years you make friendships and sometimes they dissolve at some insurmountable conflict and people stop speaking. Recently, I only found out about a former BBF’s stepson dying by discovering his plot on one our little visits. That rattles you just a little bit. You see tombstones with dates that span too short a life and you wonder “what’s their story?”.

Graveyards don't scare me. I think they are beautiful and peaceful. Back in 9th and 10th grades, I roamed the Sacred Heart cemetery in Broussard La. It was the only place I had to escape an ugliness going on in my home life. I frequently found myself there at night. Graveyards are good places to be alone (although, you're anything but alone) a quiet place to roll some thoughts around in your head. A good place to reminisce and be calm.