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Gnomes took it

Hey y’all, it’s been a crazy few days. No really, ever since I got back from my Cousin’s funeral it’s been non-stop. It’s been so crazy I forgot to take my child to a doctor’s appointment. I’ve never in my entire life forgotten to take myself or a kid to a doctor’s appointment. It’s been that kind of crazy. I have a proper blog in the works but in the meantime enjoy these pictures of these garden gnomes I found on one of my walks. I think the gnomes stole my brain and that’s why I forgot that doctor’s appointment. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Country Mouse


My Mother married my Step Father (the man who helped raise me) a few months before my 7th birthday.  When he became my Dad, I inherited a Grandmother, an Aunt and Uncle and three cousins. This new family all lived in rural Kentucky. The town is a map dot. We’re talking a flashing yellow light and a couple of stop signs. Until the 1990s, addresses began Rural Route 3.  I became close to the youngest of these cousins. She was the only girl. Looking back on it, I basically played babysitter to her when we visited every couple of months until she was old enough to hang with the big kids. 

This cousin grew up mudding on four wheelers in hills they called hollers. She skipping school to help plant tobacco and ran the roads way to early with friends of her older brother who was closer to my age but too cool for us girls. She was the Country Mouse to my City Mouse. I could not truly comprehend her life and she couldn’t truly comprehend mine but we loved each other despite our differences.

My cousin was smart. One of the smartest ones in her graduating class. She skipped her graduation ceremony to run off with her boyfriend. They got married soon after and welcomed their first child. I begged her to go to college. I begged her to get out of that little podunk town where all there is to do is make babies and/or do meth. She stayed away from the meth but managed to have five babies.  She loved her children but her life was not easy. It was hard scrabble and yet she made sure her kids had everything they needed and most anything they wanted.

I got a call earlier this week saying my country mouse cousin had passed away. She had battled health problems for years – mostly uncontrolled type two diabetes and not taking care of herself. She didn’t make it to 40.  I remember when she was still in diapers. How can it be that she is gone?

I cannot wrap my head around a world without her in it. Even though I lost my mom at a young age, I cannot imagine how her youngest, who is 9 years old, feels right now.  I can never unhear her son wailing at the funeral, “I want my Momma and it’s not fair.”  

At some juncture during the funeral, I realized my connection to that family is no more. My Step Dad, my Grandmother, My Aunt and Uncle and now two of the three cousins have all passed away. I am not close with my remaining cousin so I will never go back to that tiny town. For old time’s sake, I drove by my grandmother’s old farm. All of the buildings have been torn down and I wouldn’t know the place were it not right next door to the family’s church. 

As I drove out of town, a late model SUV pulled out in front of me and proceeded to drive ridiculously slow.  On the back window was a sticker that read, “I hope you keep Jesus as close to you as you are to my bumper.” You’d never see a sticker like that in the city but you do in the country. In my hurry to leave that tiny town behind, I was reminded once again that this City Mouse doesn’t belong here. 

Photo Credit: Me – this is what the road to my Grandmother’s house. Rural Route 3 indeed. 


Podcast Recs – October 2020

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done podcast recommendations.  If I’m being honest, I really wanted to write a blog about that shit show of a Presidential Debate or the fact that the Disney corporation just laid off 28,000 people but I can’t find the words for either topic.  Since there is nothing like some good old fashioned escapism, let’s get back to podcasts.

I’ve been listening to a lot of my old favorites like Disgracedland, History Chicks, Sean of the South and Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It.  If you have not checked these podcasts out, stop what you’re doing and do so. Seriously, so good on so many levels. 

Now for the new stuff.  One of my old favorites, Noble Blood, is produced by a company called Grim & Mild.  They produce a number of really good podcasts specifically centered around history with a twist.  With the case of Noble Blood, it’s all about royalty and their unhappy ever afters. That show runs about 20 – 30 minutes per episode.  Cabinet of Curiosities is much quicker usually around 10 or 15 minutes. It centers around the bizarre and strange.  Lore is another longer show running around 30 – 35 minutes. It deals with creatures, legends and places. While listening to these three shows, I’ve learned about all the wives of King Henry the Eighth, the origin of Lloyd’s of London, The Legend of the Wild Hunt and ghost ships. I find many of my family’s dinner conversations revolve around interesting tidbits I’ve learned from these podcasts.  Grim & Mild makes other shows that I have not listed here that may also interest you.  This is just a sampling of the stuff they put out. I’m not going to lie, I’d love to be a researcher for them.  Some of the topics they come up with – wow.  I’d like nothing more that to dive off into the deep end of research.  It makes my book nerd/useless information junky heart sing. 

Like with all my recommendations, I get my downloads from Apple Podcasts but these shows can be found pretty much wherever you get your podcasts. If you start listening to any of these, I’d love to hear about your favorites. Also, if you do podcasts and you have a recommendation for me, please leave me a comment. I usually listen while doing my walk/jogs and it really makes the miles fly by. 

Photo Credit: Kaboompics .com free on Pexels.com


What I’m Watching

black crt tv showing gray screen

Last Sunday night was the Emmy’s and I have to admit I have never watched the four shows that dominated – Schitt’s Creek, Watchmen, Succession and Ozark.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard great things about Schitt’s Creek and Ozark but the premise does nothing for me.  Maybe if we have to go into lockdown again, I’ll watch it along with Breaking Bad. I don’t know. I find that I don’t dedicate myself to most series until I know it’s gonna be around for a few years.  

Having said that, I’m a sucker for documentaries and limited run series.  Here late Netflix is owning it with those times of shows. I know many are “canceling” Netflix due to Cuties. Get over it. Child porn is everywhere and for awful and inflammatory as Cuties is the documentary The Social Dilemma makes up for that awfulness.  Y’all, I always knew deep down that social media is the devil and yet I keep it around because I love keeping in touch with far flung family and friends.  We have been reluctant to let our kids have social media because we feel they are on their devices enough playing games and doing school work. After seeing that documentary I just want to burn all of devices and go analog again.  It’s disturbing. This documentary is definitely worth your time.

I’m also watching Challenger: The Final Flight. It has a time capsule feel to it and is very well done. Anyone over the age of about 40 remembers exactly where they were when it blew up that cold January day, I know I do. And, having always been interested in the space program, this show is just fascinating.

I also really enjoyed Down to Earth with Zac Effron. It’s a few months old and slightly contrived but to see how other places are working toward sustainable planet practices is interesting. Sometimes it seems to me that the world wants us American’s to do it but when you see what other countries are doing it brings it home that we all need to do what we can to help our people and our planet.  Some would say this show it a little propaganda-y.  Whatever. It’s still pretty good tv and Zac Effron is extremely easy on the eyes, at least that’s what my 13 year old daughter says.  I can’t say that she’s wrong.

Next time we’ll talk podcasts so all my podcast people I got some new favorites.

Photo Credit: Burak K on Pexels.com.


Strong Women

One Hundred years ago last month, women won the right to vote. Not much was said about it, despite it being an election year. I guess we’ve had too much on our plate what with Covid and all. The 19th Amendment was floated in 1919 and ratified in August 1920.  Since that time, as the old ad campaign goes, we’ve come a long way, baby.

Women been Mayors, Governors, Generals and Admirals. We’re run for Vice President and President. We’ve been Secretary of State and members of the Supreme Court. Women have lead Fortune 500 businesses.  We really have come long way yet we still have so much more to do. 

Yesterday, we lost icon, Notorious R.B.G aka Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  She was a champion for women’s rights. I didn’t always agree with her but I’m glad she was in my corner willing to fight. 

If you are a woman and you’re not registered to vote, get your ass out and register. We owe it not only to ourselves and our future but also to honor  the strong, stubborn, fearless ladies who came before us paving the way. We still have a lot to do.  

Photo Credit: I took this a couple of years ago when my family and I vacationed in Washington, D.C. It filled me with immense pride to see those ladies in those robes knowing they were fighting for me equality for me and my daughter.  


19 years

On this day, we say we’ll never forget but when will it end? Every year I feel antsy. I feel like I can’t breathe and I’m going to throw up. I’m sad and upset and filled with irrational worry.  It didn’t even live in New York or Pennsylvania.  I didn’t know any of those who died. Yet, I can’t get past it.  I can’t look at this day now as just another day. Is that what “Never Forget” means?

It’s been 19 years. We say we stand united yet it feels like we are more separated than ever. Between politics, the pandemic, and life, we look at each other like they are the enemy.  You’re a Republican, you’re an asshole. You’re a Democrat, you’re an asshole. You’re a police officer, you’re an asshole. You’re black, you’re an asshole.  You’re white, you’re an asshole. Everyone hates everyone else. We are all so quick to point the finger and proclaim the other guy the problem. 

America, we need to get our shit together. Those crazy bastards that attacked us 19 years ago, they have nothing on the destruction we are currently waging on ourselves. 

It’s not hard, y’all.  You, reading this, you are not any more special than the next person. Start treating everyone with respect – like you would like to be treated. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t “earn” your respect. Be nice. If you can’t be nice then shut the hell up and walk away. Stop blaming others for your screwups or how life is so unfair. Find some bootstraps and lift your own self up. No one is responsible for your happiness/well being/success but you.  Work every day to make everything you touch to be a little bit better than the way you found it. If you’re having a hard time, ask for help. 

We can do this. We are Americans. 





Tales from the Road – Part 2

Last week I promised y’all a story of why my backside is probably floating around the dark web. So, without further ado, on with the story. 

The place where I had to go to get my fingerprints done was a law office on the town square of Podunk, TX.  Incidentally, the square was adorable. The courthouse was just like you’d picture in your head. The outside of the law office was equally picturesque.  I open the door and it looked exactly like a law office in a small town should – old tin tiled ceiling, rich paint job on the walls and lovely decor. The waiting room was separated by a door so you really couldn’t see what was in the back of the office but suffice it to say the place looked nice. Yeah, it looked really nice until I was called back.

I was welcomed back (20 minutes after my appointment) and was met with cheap 1970s fake wood paneling and forest green shag carpet.  The furniture looked like it had been picked up at The Goodwill Store and the most high tech thing I saw was the fingerprinting rig.  After the fingerprinting was over, I asked if I could use the bathroom. The lady said, “Sure, it’s the first door on the left.”

I walked down the hall and the first door on my left looked like an abandoned, very dirty break room/kitchen. The lights were off and I couldn’t see much but I did notice litter on the countertops. I thought maybe the lady had her left from her right mixed up so I went to the first door on my right. That was a boardroom with more shoddy furniture and clearly not a bathroom.  So, I went back to the weird kitchen area.  It had two doors inside that room. The first door was a janitorial closet with a water heater and such.  Again, clearly not a bathroom.  The other door had reflective mailbox stickers – you know the black and gold kind that come on a big sheet in the automotive section at Walmart – that spelled out the word “Private”.  I tried that door expecting to find God only knows what behind the door but instead found a toilet.  

Hooray! Success, I found it. My back teeth were floating so you know whatever – any port in a storm. I felt around for the light, flicked the switch and shut the door all in one motion. The light started trying to come on overhead. It was buzzing and crackling like I was in some sort of creepy gas station in a bad slasher film.  There were actual flies buzzing around the toilet and half the ceiling was falling in.  I could see thick yellow insulation and what appeared to be broken duct work hanging out of the old sorta white-ish drop tile ceiling.  I say sorta of because some sections had ceiling tiles while other sections were completely missing. The wall opposite the toilet had a hole in it. Like I said, my back teeth were floating so I relieved myself. The whole time I was sitting there peeing all I could think of is this is the kind of place where they stash hidden cameras and you end up on the dark web, or worse some peeper creeper is sitting there looking at you pee from some glory hole cut into the wall or worst of all this is how my organs are going to be harvested and I will wake up in a bathtub full of ice.  Thank God, I peed quick.

I finished up and was happy to find very good toilet paper not the single ply wood chip variety – were talking Charmin. I stood up and attempted to flush and wouldn’t you know it the damn thing won’t flush.  I tried again, this time holding down the handle. I’ve had my fair share of experience with  cranky old toilets. The second time was a success but that too was a near miss.  Incredibly, the sink had soap but no paper towels.  I shook my hands like Dash in Incredibles 2 and used a big wad of toilet paper to complete the job.  But, wouldn’t you know it, the trash can situation was a train wreck as well. The trash can was a standard plastic kitchen garbage can with the top ripped off and no trash bag liner. There was several wadded up pieces of toilet paper or white substance in the bottom so I just added mine to the collection and super fast walked out of that place.  When I got to my car, I doused my hands in Purell.  

So, if you happen to be noodling around on the dark web and you find a picture of a woman in red Flora Bama bar tshirt on the toilet that’s me.  Sorry my ass is so white and not tanned. You’re welcome. 

And, as if all of this wasn’t enough, sometime while I was driving home I got an email stating they didn’t get a good enough print on a few of my fingers and they have to re-do it! To say I’m pissed is an understatement. All that driving and the creepy bathroom for nothing. There is no way I’m going back to that crazy place to get my prints done. Now, I get to go have my prints done at another place. Let’s all pray it’s not at some run down law office Podunk, TX. 


A View from the Road

I had to go get fingerprinted for my new job. And since so many places to do this are closed or overrun with people I had to drive two hours away to a tiny East Texas town to accomplish this errand. I’m always amazed/intrigued/interested in the ordinary. The day to day life of others. Sometimes I think of blogging this stuff but it happens for few and far between I couldn’t replicated it on a consistent t basis but I digress. Without further ado here are the things that drew my attention today. 1. There is an inordinate amount of condom stores here on Texas. Any while we are on the topic why do we need condom stores. Those thing ra can be found literally everywhere. From gas stations to CVS to Walmart. There is no need for theses places other than to have an awkward conversation with your newly minted 7/8 year old reader when they ask you mommy what’s a condom. 2. Building on this I saw a billboard for a that stated don’t forget your protection. It showed a pair of rubber gloves, a mask and a condom. Seriously y’all? That just conjures images of nelkid people wearing all of these at the same time. That’s really not sexy. 3. And to build on this whole idea further i saw a place that sold all these items. They billed themselves as a place for all your PPE. I sure home they sell nomex fire retardant outfits and real respirators while they’re at it. 4. As I was in the wait room for my fingerprinting there was a small child. I’d say about 5 years old that was carrying on a very detailed conversation with her family. She was adorable and talked very adult like. Shortly after I arrived a police siren sounded and she said oh no the police are coming to get me and threw herself to the ground. Her mother told her the police were not coming to get her if she hadn’t done anything wrong. I found that so telling. That whole interaction. Where did she get that idea and why did she respond that way especially give. The fact that her mom seemed to be of the camp that the police are our friends. Very interesting.


Life Update

I got a new job! And, I still have my old job. They are both similar. The official title for my new job is Twos class assistant teacher. It’s a great schedule with some great kids – a few I already know from my other job.  

I have been in state mandated training all week including Covid-19 training. Y’all these state mandates are no joke. Anyway, I have nothing interesting to say except my posting schedule will be a bit crazy for a few weeks.  I have more training, lesson planning and such. I hope to either keep my normal posting day of Wednesday or establish a new one in the coming weeks.  

Most school system I know are back to school. If you are, I wish you peace and a bottle of wine.  

For those that may be impacted by the hurricane in the Gulf, please know I’m thinking of you. It wasn’t so long ago that I lived in a hurricane zone. It’s usually not so bad but when you are trying to make the hard decision to stay or flee, it sucks.  


School Days

people on a video call

Welcome to Metroburg ISD Middle School Orientation for Virtual Class Instruction. I am your host Jane Smith. We are just going to wait a few minutes for everyone to hop on our Webex and then we’ll begin.

Nearly 150 people are talking at once. Above the ruckus, the following is heard:

“Daaaaadddd, turn off your camera.”
Agitated female speaking a middle eastern language punctuated by shouts.
Several very loud small children and babies crying in the background.
“I have a question about my child’s AP class.”
“How can I access my child’s assignments?”
“When are we going to get schedules?”
“Mom, put your microphone on mute.”

Now, if everyone would please put your microphone on mute and your camera to off it will help the chat flow better. Additionally, if you would please type your questions in the chat on the sidebar my partner, Ted, will answer your questions while I give my presentation which I will be sharing on-screen with you.

No one, like not a single person, puts their mic on mute.

Ted, how can I mute everyone? There isn’t a button for me to mute everyone. No, Ted, it’s not highlighted. Ted, how do I share the screen with everyone? No, Ted, the share button isn’t highlighted either.  Jane is clearly distraught and looks like she doesn’t know if she should cry or cuss.  She definitely needs a drink.

Still, not a single person mutes their mic, and several people of Indian descent continue to pepper the host with questions about schedules, AP classes, and the gifted program.  Each voice becomes progressively louder so as to be heard over the other. The noise in my earbuds is deafening. I’m about to click “leave meeting” and just pray to God the slideshow is emailed later when out of nowhere above all the other voices:

“OHMYGOD, like I’m having really bad anxiety right now with all this noise is this a presentation or a Q and A?!” 

Poor Ted finally figures out how to help our host, Jane mute everyone and share her screen.  This online orientation is now roughly 8 minutes in. If this is any indication how any of the online classes are going to go we are well and truly screwed. 

Incidentally, I know these presentations were delivered by administrators, not teachers. I know there will be hiccups. Technology will not work. Webex invites won’t get sent. The internet will go out. At some juncture, the day will be totally fubar and everything will be a shit show. But, I know many of my teacher friends are working hard to make it right for the kids. 

I’ve told my kids to try their absolute best and stay flexible. That’s the best any of us can do.

Now, will someone tell Mr. Patel and Raja’s mom (no kidding actual people from my Webex) to calm their tits about the freaking AP class and mute their mics.

Photo Credit: Anna Shvets for Pexels.