Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Sorry I have been ignoring you my dear blog readers and Internet friends. You are very important to me and I don’t want you to feel neglected.

However, it’s the first week of school and my life, at the moment, is a zoo, so please forgive me. I will be back to my regular writing very soon. Meanwhile, just short blurbs for a week or two.

Between my packed classrooms, students adding and dropping, trying to find a teacher’s aide to work for me, attending faculty meetings, answering no less than 5 millions questions from students covering everything from “can I add this course?” to “do you know where the bathroom is?” to “what do you think I should major in?”, I’ve been just a tad busy.

Hang in there. I’ll be back and with a new design as well. My wonderful and talented niece is helping me to give my blog a much needed facelift. She is a very talented graphic artist and will be doing blog designs on the side to pick up some extra money, so when she gives me the word, I’ll give you the link and you can go there and get some very creative work done for YOUR blog.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Those Damn People Seem Determined to Try and Kill Our Dogs With Their Sickening Contaminated Food

I receive several newsletters in my email box and today I got one from the ASPCA. In it is information about yet another dog food recall. This one hasn’t hit the news big time just yet, or at least I hadn’t heard about it before now. Apparently, once again, the Chinese are making our pet’s food with contaminated and/or poison ingredients.

Follow this link to read about the Chicken Jerky treats and their danger.

I have been so careful with my girl’s food since all this poison dog food stuff has been in the news. I cook for them at home and mix their home made stew into a carefully researched kibble, Canidae. I bake them cookies, but once in a while, I have still been trying to get them some of the chewy treats that they enjoy so much. I read the label on the Waggin Train Chicken Jerky Treats very carefully and it says they are made of pure 100% chicken breast. These treats came from Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club or Costco. Could have been any of the three and all three are specifically named as selling the poison jerky.

Now I read in this recall information that dogs who eat these dangerous treats are having terrible bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Some of them are desperately sick and some of them have died. Once again China’s careless, dangerous manufacturing practices are killing our pets.

When I purchased these treats, I read the package with the greatest of care and I still missed the teeny tiny print that said “made in China” or I NEVER would have bought these damn things. I just threw the remainder of the current package away. However, my girls have been eating these particular treats for quite a while.

We did have one episode of throw-up and vomiting in the last few weeks, but since the very nature of dogs is to occasionally eat disgusting things, I didn’t worry about it too much. It seemed to clear up and, at the moment, both girls are fine. But I am so angry!

Who can you trust when it comes to food safety for your pets??? Apparently no one. I’m now casting a suspicious eye on the kibble that I feed them with their stew. I feel they need the vitamins and minerals that they get from this product, so I guess I will continue feeding it and just watch very, very carefully for any problems or any news about this kibble.

I guess it’s time to break out the smoker and see what I can do about making tough, chewy dog treats on my own from human grade food. I’ve begun to believe my own cooking is the only thing I can truly trust for them.

I know there are many of you out there who don’t really understand pet owner’s fears and anger and concern, so let’s put it another way. What if it were Gerber Baby Food????

Friday, August 24, 2007

And Then The Brakes Failed..........

Well, dear friend in Blogland, it’s been a rough week. What with returning home from my trip and having to deal with the realities of life, school starting, having classrooms literally bulging at the seams with students and then, the piece de resistance, getting run over by a golf cart.

Yes, all in all, a tough week. But Hallelujah!! I went to WW this morning and was astounded to discover that I actually lost weight this week. Amazing. Since stress=food in my life, the fact that I lost weight after a week like this is a testament to the change in my habits. When stress is gnawing on my life, I apparently have learned not to gnaw on food in response. For me, that’s a big accomplishment.

Now as to how some of these things occurred: school started because it’s just that time of year and, unfortunately, summer vacation has to end at some point in time, not only for the students but for the profs as well. Let me assure you that they did not dread heading back to the classroom any more than I did. That’s not to say I don’t love my job, for I do, but if one is going to choose between textbooks, spread sheets, computers and classrooms full of students or a sunny afternoon on the golf course or at the beach, I believe the choices are fairly obvious. However, I’m quickly getting back into the swing of work life and am already planning, writing, reading, doing PowerPoint presentations, etc. etc. Life at work has returned for another semester.

This semester we have an overabundance of students. For the University this is a good thing. For the individual prof it is not so much fun. I know I am spoiled. Many college level teachers lecture to classrooms with a 100, or more, students in attendance. However, I’m used to small classes of 20 or so where I can give the kids lots of individual attention, learn all their names and really begin to feel a rapport with each one. But this semester, it’s not happening. My classes are full up and the University has had to raise the upper limits of attendance in order to accommodate all those wanting to sign up. My classes have literally doubled in size. Twice as many students, means twice as much work. I’ll survive, but I don’t imagine I’ll learn all their names and the classes will undoubtedly have a much more impersonal feel to them. Not my favorite way to teach.

As to the “golf cart incident”, it was, of course, an accident, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. My friends and I had just checked in and were loading our bags on the carts, digging out balls and gloves and tees and just generally getting ready to play. We were next up on the tee. As I stood at the back of my cart, rooting around in my golf bag for supplies, my friend in the other cart, came driving up behind us. A perfectly logical thing to do. However, as he approached me, and the back of our cart, he put on the brakes and nothing happened. Nothing! The cart kept right on coming, directly at my unsuspecting backside. He screamed a warning and I turned, but it was too late. He plowed right into me and I went flying. Unfortunately, we were still at the clubhouse and not yet down into the soft green grass, so I went flying on the concrete patio area. Ouch!!

As his cart plowed into mine and into me, it obviously stopped and went no further for it had met the proverbial rock and a hard place, better known as my ass and the bumper of my cart. Not that I’m saying my ass is like a “rock” (Ha!), but it sounds good. Anyway, he leaped out of the cart and came racing to my side. He was terribly distraught and kept apologizing and wanting to make sure I was okay.

As I slowly stood up and regained my footing, I checked all the various body parts and everything seemed to be in working order. Of course everyone in the surrounding area came racing over to make sure I was alright and you know how embarrassing that is. After a fall in public one tends to just leap up and say I’m fine, I’m fine, even if you aren’t, just because you’re upset and you most assuredly do NOT want to be the center of attention. That’s exactly how I felt. If I had been dying of pain, I think I would have kept saying I’m fine, I’m fine, just so everybody would go away. But, fortunately, I really did seem to be okay. This morning I’m a little stiff and I have a few new bruises, but overall, it certainly could have been much worse. Fortunately for all concerned, I landed primarily on my butt, which has lots of padding. Had I gone forward and landed on my knees, it would have been a disaster. You’ll recall those painful, arthritic knees of mine. Landing on them, on concrete, is something that makes me hurt to even think about. Yowch!!

Moral: don’t trust the brakes on golf carts. Hopefully they’ll work, but they just might not. Try not to put yourself in a position where if they fail, you’re in trouble. As I write that I think about the fact that I play at one course that is VERY hilly and if the brakes on a cart failed there, I could be heading down the side of a mountain. What a lovely thought!! I guess when you rent equipment you pretty much have to keep your fingers crossed that it’s in good shape.

Surely the people that run a golf course located in a steep and hilly mountain area would make sure the brakes work very well. Wouldn’t they??

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

First Prize

When I was just a little thing, I won first prize in a baby beauty contest. What made the winning just a bit unusual was that it was my Dad who entered me. In the picture below, you’ll notice he is the only Dad in the winning line-up. As a matter of fact, he was the only Dad in the whole contest! I guess I was a real “Daddy’s Girl” for the first 8 years of my life. Then my siblings started arriving on a regular basis and he shared the love and attention all around. However, for those first few years, it was nice being the sole child star in his universe.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Once Upon A Time On A Hot September Day

He tilted his head back and took another big swig of the moonshine. “My God, that’s good stuff”, he commented to no one in particular. He leaned back against the straw bale, continuing to hold the jug in his hand.

As his eyes wandered around the group there in the barn, he saw his brothers, R.B., George, Navare, Charlie, Troy, Verlon and Bill in various stages of inebriation. The Sheffield boys, all eight of them, were well known for their good looks, their hard work and their fine moonshine. They had friends all over Letcher County, but they and the Houghton boys were the closest. They worked together, chased girls together and drank together.

The Houghton boys weren’t in much better shape than the Sheffields, as they too had been generously sampling from the jug Dewey held in his lap. Their family was not as lucky in the looks department as the Sheffields, but they could chase girls and drink moonshine with the best of them. The friendship of the two families was old and strong. The children of the Sheffields and the Houghtons, in past generations, had intermarried, so in many cases, they were not only friends, they were family.

The families were huge by any standards as the Sheffields had six sisters, as well as the eight boys drinking in the barn. The Houghton boys were seven strong with eight sisters at home. Huge families were the norm of the day. Sometimes, with so many varied and complicated connections, it was hard to remember if they were second cousins, or third cousins or, with wives dying young in childbirth, whether they were step-aunts or a fourth cousin twice removed. Whatever they were, they were friends. It was extremely confusing to try to remember all the varied connections and bloodlines running through these hills. What was just a given was that they were all of a kind. Mountain men. Kentucky men. Men who lived hard, worked hard and played hard.

The barn they were drinking in was old and the pillars that held up the roof leaned at a decided angle. However, the roof was sound and the corn and hay stored in there stayed dry when the thundering summer cloudbursts passed through. On this day, however, there was no rain. The sky was a clear, deep, blue with fat, little puffy clouds drifting gently by overhead. If the men had stopped talking, they could have heard the birds in the nearby forest or the rooting of the sow in her pen down the way.

Years later, when Dewey looked back on this day, he always remembered that clear blue sky and the smell of the hay in the barn. He remembered the feeling of being 19 years old and slightly drunk and he remembered when the fight started.

Farish Houghton was the drunkest of the Houghton boys and when Dewey heard Farish raise his voice, he turned his head to see what the trouble was. Farish and Charlie were squaring off over at the side, right by where the ladder to the loft started up. Farish was yelling, quite loudly, “you can’t say that about my sister, you shut your filthy mouth!” But Charlie was laughing and he was taunting Farish. Charlie had a few drinks in him, but Farish was much the drunker of the two and also the one who was furious.

Farish lunged at Charlie and swung a large heavy fist that, fortunately, completely missed Charlie’s laughing, teasing face. If that big fist had landed, Charlie Sheffield would have had a broken nose. Charlie was always getting into trouble because of his smart mouth and his teasing ways and now, it appeared, he had teased the wrong man. Farish, drunk or not, was renowned far and wide for his fighting abilities and if he got hold of Charlie, there would be blood, without a doubt.

As Charlie backed away from Farish, continuing to taunt and tease, he found himself backing right up into the unmoving body of Farish’s brother. Charles felt two big hands planted in the middle of his back and he was shoved right straight into Farish’s arms.

Farish grabbed him around the middle and with a strength born of plowing fields and hauling heavy bales of hay, he lifted Charlie up in the air and body slammed him into the ground. Then, like a lion moving in for the kill, he dove on top of Charlie and began hammering his face, his head, his body, anything he could reach with those big, ham-like fists.

At first Charlie fought back valiantly, swinging his fists and kicking and thrashing violently as he tried to get Farish off of him. But Farish was a much bigger and stronger man and Charlie’s efforts slowly changed from offense to defense. He tried to cover his face and head, but Farish just kept pulling his hands away and punching him again.

The other men had formed a circle around the fighters and were cheering them and yelling for their favorite. In their drunken state they didn’t realize that Charlie was really getting hurt by the bigger man. “C’mon Charlie, hit him, you can do it,” yelled his brothers. “Get him Farish, punch him again!” screamed the equally excited Houghton boys. They were all laughing and yelling and making a huge amount of noise, when suddenly the barn doors were ripped open and a big man yelled, “What the hell is going on in here?”

The family patriarch, Bill Sheffield, had arrived.

Bill was a big man. One of the biggest in the county and he towered over most men with his 6’4” frame and his 230 pounds of solid muscle. He could pick up a full barrel of moonshine, swing it up onto his shoulder and gently set it down into a customer’s wagon with what appeared to be the greatest of ease. At the age of 55 he was still bigger and stronger than any of his sons. In the regular arm wrestling matches that took place on a quiet evening, in front of the fireplace, only Dewey, so far had come close to besting his Dad. Dewey was also going to be a huge man but he didn’t have his full growth and strength yet and his Dad could still take him.

As Bill strode into the barn, the circle parted and Bill saw what was happening to his son. Just as the circle opened Farish took a round house swing and when it landed on Charlie’s face, his cheek split open and more blood joined what was already there.

“Get the hell off of him you stupid bastard!” “You’re twice his size.” "What’s the matter with you boy, don’t you know how to fight fair?”

With those words, Bill strode toward the tangled twosome on the ground and grabbed Farish’s collar. He jerked him upright and off the limp and unmoving Charlie. As he threw Farish aside, he knelt beside his son, and using part of his shirttail, he tenderly wiped the blood from Charlie’s face. The boy was unconscious, his nose was smashed and his eyes were already blackening. There was blood trickling from his ear and one arm was lying at a funny angle. He turned to Navare and ordered, “get a bucket of cold water and a rag and clean your brother up. Once he’s awake, we’ll see how bad it is.” As he looked around the circle of young men he said, “I can’t believe you idiots stood here and let this happen. A fight is one thing, but he’s about beat Charlie half to death.”

Then he got to his feet and slowly turned to Farish.

All the color had drained from Farish’s face and, suddenly, he didn’t feel drunk anymore. The rage he saw in Bill Sheffield’s face made his blood run cold and he decided in an instant that his fighting mood was over. He turned and ran for the door, stopping only long enough to grab his things, which he had left lying there. Farish was afraid and rightly so. He knew if Bill Sheffield caught him, he would beat him to a pulp. Charlie was Bill’s favorite, so they said. So Farish ran.

With a roar, Bill took off after him with six of his sons right behind him. Navare stayed with Charlie, bathing his face with cold water and gently talking to the unconscious boy.

Farish ran as though his life depended on it and his feet flew as he raced through the trees, up the hill and leaped gracefully over the creek. But he could hear them behind him. They were whooping and hollering and the seven of them made as much noise as a herd of elephants as they raced through the forest after him.

As they ran, they snapped off branches on the underbrush and startled squirrels and rabbits who fled in the opposite direction. They smashed the leaves and ferns and wildflowers under their feet and they began to gain on Farish.

They were running up a slight rise and, whereas the Sheffields were hardened, tough, farmers who could work from dawn to dark and never slow down, Farish was somewhat of a dandy. If there was a way to get out of work, he would find it. He much preferred a drink and a good fight to a day of hard labor in the fields. Those many hours of thinking up ways to avoid work were showing now as his breathing quickened and his legs began to feel leaden. He knew he couldn’t run much farther. He was rapidly becoming exhausted. His heart was pounding, his breath was coming in short gasps and he was terrified.

As the Sheffields gained on him, they were yelling and whooping and hollering like a bunch of wild Indians. All the boys still had plenty of liquor in them and the excitement of the chase was now racing in all their blood. If they got hold of Farish it would be like a pack of wolves on a lone sheep.

Farish was running for his life, at least he felt that he was. Undoubtedly, that’s why it all happened. Why in a moment that sky turned from blue to dark gray; why in a heartbeat the chase was over and life would never be the same again for any of them.

As they crested the hill, they came within yards of Farish. The chase was almost over. The Sheffields yelled in wild excitement and Farish’s heart felt like it would beat right out of his chest. As hands reached out to grab Farish and pull him to the ground, he whirled and the shotgun in his hand exploded.

The bullet hit Bill right in the middle of the chest and he went down to his knees and then fell forward into the dirt. Farish ran. Bill’s sons surrounded him, turned him over, picked him up and carried him home.

Bill died later that afternoon leaving a widow with fourteen children to raise.

Bill was my great grandfather, son of John, father of George, grandfather of George Jr., great grandfather of George III. George III is my brother.

Bill was a good man.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Out With The Old, In With The "New"

Garage Sale fever struck once again yesterday and I went looking for a piece of furniture that I need. I hardly ever buy wooden furniture pieces brand new. Why pay top price when you can buy things like dining room tables, bed frames, dressers, cabinets, et al for a fraction of their original price and they are often in perfect condition? I have a whole different philosophy about overstuffed or “soft” furniture. That, I will only buy new, for what I think are obvious reasons. Wood is easily cleaned, cracks and crevices on an old couch or chair, not so easy.

Aaaaannnyway…..yesterday I went roaming around Craigslist looking for a china cabinet. I had just reached a point that I was tired of not having enough storage space in the kitchen and I decided to do something about it. Plus I thought it would be nice, as an extra bonus, to be able to display some of my beautiful glassware.

So I found a china cabinet I liked the looks of….large, shelves with glass doors on top, a flat center section for “stuff” like cookbooks, coffee mugs, a picture or two, etc. etc and then a large bottom for storage. The pictures weren’t too good, but I have learned from eBay that the majority of the world cannot take a decent picture. That doesn’t mean the item isn’t nice, it just means the owner is not a photographer. It was hard to find this particular kind of cabinet for almost all the china cabinets you see are primarily glass on the entire top and are designed for display, with some storage in the bottom. I really wanted that flat center section for cookbooks, the mixer, et al. This piece was planned to be a nice looking storage unit in the kitchen area with a bonus of being able to display some nice glass at the top. This kind of cabinet was not readily available in the selections on Craigslist, so when I saw this one at a reasonable price, I immediately called the guy and went to see it.

Since I felt fairly confident that it was what I wanted I took a couple of guys and a truck with me when I went to look. It was located a good distance away and I saw no point in making the trip twice, so I was prepared to buy and haul away on the spot. Only problem? The cabinet looked like shit. It would have had to be totally refinished before I would even carry it into the house. This is not a bad thing if the price were cheap, but it was not and the guy wouldn’t budge. Stupid man. Nobody in their right mind will pay $350 for that cabinet in the condition it’s in. But you can’t tell people how to run their lives, so me, my guys and the truck left, sans cabinet.

Since I was already in this area, I called The Spouse and had her check Craigslist again to see if there was anything else I might want to look at as long as I was there. The guys and I went and had lunch and in a little while The Spouse called back with a couple of leads.

I called one of the leads and then we headed over there to take a look. The cabinet was magnificent. A beautiful mahogany display cabinet with lots of glass on the top and a small amount of storage on the bottom. Not at all what I was looking for. So, I bought it. If this cabinet was worth a penny, it was worth $2000 and he was asking $150. I didn’t see how I could lose.

My wonderful helpers loaded up the cabinet, we brought it home to my house, they brought it in and I cleaned it up and loaded it with gorgeous glassware. It is spectacular. It is beautiful. I am delighted at how it looks. However, I still have no storage space in the kitchen, no place to put the cookbooks and the mixer. The numerous coffee cups from all over the world are still packed in boxes in the garage and the kitchen counters have way, way too much stuff on them. However, I do have a gorgeous curio/display cabinet.

Back to Craigslist.

Cabinet as it looked when I purchased it

Cabinet now full of treasures

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Deer

She heard a soft splash and looked up from her work. With a gasp she saw the deer bending its large head down to the water to drink. The creature didn’t realize they were there.

It was quiet at the river’s edge with only the sounds of the rushing water as it raced and chased and splashed its way downstream in the bright, sparkling sunlight. The deer had come out of the dense, green woods right where the river took a sharp turn to the right, which is why it hadn’t seen them. The sounds of the river had covered the noise they were making as they soaked and pounded and rinsed the rapidly growing pile of clean clothes.

As they squatted there at the water’s edge, because of the angle of the river, they were actually looking at the animal’s haunches and backside while it drank. In their homespun clothes with the soft muted colors, they had blended right into the scenery at the edge of the water.

Sarah’s mind raced and her heart pounded. She was looking at enough meat to feed her family for many months. Her mother’s eye saw the deerskin for clothing that her children needed and the antlers to be made into knife handles and kitchenware. Her family needed this animal and all the food it could supply, but she had no weapon. The knife that she always wore at the band of her skirt would certainly not bring down a deer. John was gone, off into the woods with the boys, hunting for meat for the table, and he had taken the rifle with him.

With a tiny movement of her hand, she signaled her daughter to stay still. The girl’s eyes were wide with astonishment at the sight of the animal and with a slight nod of her head she acknowledged her mother’s hand signal. Even at the young age of 10, she knew the importance of meat for the table and she understood the significance of what they were looking at.

Sarah’s determination rose and, even thought the situation appeared hopeless, she looked around to see if she could see anything that might help her. Her eye lighted on the short handled, flat, broad paddle that John had made for her. He had smiled and kissed her on the forehead, when he gave it to her and said “Use this when you’re doin’ the washing instead of pounding on the rocks. It’ll be a lot easier on your hands.” She had been very skeptical of this “paddle thing” as she called it, but it had actually helped her to get their clothes clean with less effort and it was easier on her hands. He had been right.

While she squatted there, watching the deer, suddenly the animal stepped into the water and began to wade out into the river. At first Sarah was unsure of what she was seeing, confused as to what the animal was doing, but then, as it kept moving into deeper and deeper water it became obvious that it intended to swim to the other side. As the water began to deepen and the animal’s fur began to darken from the wetness, the deer began to swim.

Sarah straightened her back and stood up. The movement caught the deer’s eye and he turned his head and saw them there on the bank. For a moment terror flashed in his eyes. He tried to turn, to get back to the shore, to run from this danger. But it was too late. As he turned, in his haste to escape, he lost his footing on the soft and sandy bottom and the current caught him. Instead of turning back to the shore where he had waded in, he started drifting downstream straight towards Sarah.

In his moment of panic, with no secure footing on the bottom, he flailed in the water as he kept steadily being pushed by the current directly towards Sarah. He was trying to swim, to get to the other side, to get back to where he had come into the water, to go anywhere except closer to these unknown creatures who were standing on the shore staring at him, but inexorably the water pushed him towards them.

Sarah, full of resolve, picked up her washing paddle and waded into the water. She was determined that this deer was hers. God had sent this food her way and she was damn well not going to let it get away. The cold water climbed up her legs and soaked her long heavy skirts as she raised the washing paddle high over her head and waited.

She stood in the hip deep water, tense and tight as a bowstring, and as the terrified deer came within reach, she swung her paddle with all her might. Her blow landed on the animal’s snout and he let out a bellow of pain. He tried to swim away from her, but between his panic, his pain, and the current, he just thrashed about in the water and once again came within her reach.

Her second swing landed soundly on the top of his head and stunned the animal. He stopped thrashing and fighting the water and suddenly relaxed and began to float. At this point Sarah realized that if she didn’t do something, and do it very quickly, her “captive” was going to drift downstream and out of her reach. She dropped the washing paddle and grabbed the deer’s antlers. She watched helplessly as her paddle swirled in the current and started drifting downstream. “Oh well” she thought. John would just have to make her another one. The deer was more important.

She began to resolutely drag the limp animal towards the shore. The deer was large and heavy, but in the water, he floated, so his weight was manageable. Sarah’s heart was pounding so loud she could hear it in her own ears. The adrenaline was coursing through her bloodstream and she actually felt lightheaded. Her daughter, Elizabeth, was standing on the shore, bouncing up and down and squealing with excitement. “Mama caught a deer! Mama caught a deer! “ she kept yelling, over and over.

Sarah walked backwards, holding the antlers in both hands, as she dragged the animal through the water and towards the shore. Suddenly, the animal jerked its head and the antlers were roughly ripped out of her hands. The deer came back to consciousness and tried to regain its’ footing in the knee deep water. In an instant Sarah’s triumph turned to potential tragedy as she realized that in seconds the deer would find the bottom, stand, and run, and her chance would be lost. She reached for the knife at her waist.

In the moment between one breath and the next, she plunged the knife into the deer’s heart. She stabbed over and over again and the spurting blood covered her hands and arms and squirted onto the front of her dress. The deer stopped fighting, became limp again, and the battle was over. His dead eyes stared lifelessly at her.

Once again she grabbed the antlers and began dragging the deer towards the shore and towards her waiting daughter. When she got closer to the shoreline, the body began to drag on the bottom and the weight became too great for her to pull alone. “Come here”, she called to her daughter. “Help me. We have to get the body up on the shore and out of the water or else it’ll wash away. Daddy can come down and get it after he gets home, but we don’t want the body to wash down the river.”

Elizabeth drew back and made a gagging noise. The sight of all the blood both sickened and scared her. “Come here!” said her mother. “Now! I need your help.” Reluctantly the girl waded into the water, grabbed the antlers and helped her mother pull the body partially out of the water and up onto the shore line. She couldn’t stop looking into the dead animal’s eyes.

She thought of Roscoe, her dog who had died last year after he had protected Daddy from the bear. The bear had hurt him badly and even though Daddy had put salve on his wounds and tried to help him, within a couple of days, Daddy had said it was hopeless. Roscoe was suffering. Daddy had carried him out behind the barn and they had heard the crack of the rifle. She had snuck out of the house and watched while Daddy dug the hole and buried Roscoe. While the dog had lain on the ground, waiting to go into that terrible hole, his eyes had looked like the deer’s eyes. Elizabeth still had nightmares about Roscoe.

Once her prize was safely out of the water, Sarah sat down on the rocky shore. She realized her hands were shaking and her breath was coming in little short gasps. She felt like she had just run a mile without stopping. But she had a great big smile on her face. In her mind’s eye she was already cutting up the chunks of meat for venison stew and sewing the soft pliable deerskin into shirts and leggings for the boys.

Just wait ‘till John and the boys got home, she thought. She’d show them a thing or two about hunting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

She Flew Through The Air With The Greatest of Ease

I’m back in the Golden State and once again creating this incredibly exciting blog post from my desktop computer.

My trip was smooth and effortless and I honestly think it was the fastest return trip I’ve ever made. Of course the fact that I was reading a fantastic novel with more of the exploits of Detective Harry Bosch, didn’t hurt a bit. The stewardess had to poke me to get my attention to find out if I wanted a drink. I was totally lost in the story. That does tend to make time go by fast.

We went through one rough patch of weather with lots of bouncing and jumping around the clouds, but that was the only flaw in a lovely day. Of course, the rough patch had to come when I was in the bathroom, and as I sat there hanging on for dear life, I had visions of the plane crashing and them finding my body glued to the toilet seat. Not a pretty picture. I don’t want to die with my pants around my ankles and blue toilet water splashed over my butt. Some dignity please.

But enough about fun things like plane crashes.

You’ll recall my exciting gold coin find. Well, I’ve decided to put it on eBay and see what happens. Since it is real gold, I will put a reserve on it and we’ll see what the general public thinks about an 85 year old service medallion made of 14K. Knowing the fickle public as I do from my years as an eBay seller, they may “eat it up” or they may totally ignore me and think it’s boring. I have no clue but I’ll let you know when I know.

Another item I found at the 127 that I have not mentioned here in the blog is some very cool cowboy boots. Actually, cowGIRL boots, but let’s not nitpick. They are Lucchese boots, are handmade, and, originally, those suckers were several hundred dollars a pair. I picked them up for $7.00 and they are in great shape. Also very cute in a black and red leather. I listed them for $29.95 and I already have a bid! Aren’t you excited by my good fortune? Well, okay, you don’t have to be, but I’m excited. I do like a good find that I can resell for 4 times, or more, of the original purchase price. It makes the whole eBay seller experience that much more fun.

On another note, Lucy, my moaning dog (see this post) was so thrilled to see me when I entered the house last night, that I believe she hit a new high on the moaning scale. That dog was both pathetic and sweet in her unrivaled joy at my homecoming. Both of the furry girls were ecstatic at my return, but nobody voices her joy quite like Lucy. The Spouse was equally glad to see me, but no moaning.

Well, duty calls as school starts next week and I still have a lot to do to get ready. I am incorporating some new activities into one of my classes and taking another class into a partial online mode, so I have to get the website set up and do a million other things as well. With that thought, I will leave you and get to work.

Tune in again soon. I like to see you stop by. Comments would be good too, if you have time.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jog

The Old Homestead

My time here in Kentucky is winding down and soon I will be heading back to my home in California. I look forward to my bed, my spouse, my dogs, my stuff. You know how it is, no matter how wonderful the place you visit is, there’s no place like home.

These last couple of weeks have been wonderful. Time with my family is always wonderful. We’re very lucky. We’re close, we all like and love each other and we enjoy spending time together. We do many fun things and, best of all, we never stop talking. We trip over each other’s words, we interrupt each other, we tell stories, we just never stop talking and I love it. It’s who we are.

But now, of course, everything is different because my Dad is gone. I went to the cemetery yesterday and, as I stood at his grave, I once again began to cry. I wrote a post a long while back wondering about if you ever stop crying. We are approaching the one year mark in a few weeks and the pain doesn’t seem to lessen. It becomes bearable. You can live with it, because, of course, you have no choice, but it doesn’t lessen. My regular readers (both of you) will recall that I lost my Dad and a beloved dog within weeks of each other last year and the loss has yet to become less painful. I cry over both of them with very, very little provocation. I await the day when living with the loss of them becomes easier. I miss them both so much.

Dad’s death has also precipitated another situation that takes getting used to. My brother and his wife have bought the “old family homestead” and it is now their home. My Mom continues to live here, and always will, but slowly the house is changing and becoming the home of my sibling, rather than the home of my parents. It feels right at the same time that it feels strange. My parent’s home was always “my” home, simply because Mom and Dad were there. However, my sibling’s home belongs to him and his wife, and I have become a visitor in my own room upstairs. I am equally loved and welcomed and I feel sure that this will never change, no matter whose name is on the deed, but, psychologically, it just “feels” different. This is no longer my second home, my parent’s home, my home away from home. It is my brother’s home and I am a welcome guest. A very different feeling. Not bad, just different.

And so my time here draws to a close. Tomorrow we are all getting together for more eating, more gabbing, more enjoying each other. Then I spend Monday doing laundry, getting organized, running those last minute errands with my Mom and packing suitcases. I’m sad to go and I’m glad to go. Mixed feelings.

Update: If you recall the last post about the coin and the locket found at the 127 sales, here’s more info. The coin is indeed 14k and is worth the price of an ounce of gold. At the moment that’s about $670 an ounce so I guess that makes it THE treasure of the year since I only paid $2 for it. The locket is not gold but it is old, so it too is interesting.

More blogging to come when I once again reach that Golden State and the lovely Pacific Ocean.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Fat Lady Has Sung.....................

Well, the 2007 edition of the 127 yard sale is history. The 400 miles of bargains, deals, finds and treasures has been worked and reworked. The incredible buys have been made. The buyers have returned to their living rooms to spread out all their precious loot in the center of the floor and admire it. The sellers have folded their tents and gone stealing back to their homes and shops. All the crap that didn’t sell is going back into the basement or the attic or the garage or back onto the shelves of their junk shops and antique stores. All involved, both buyers and sellers, are unbelievably glad to be back in the air-conditioning.

The heat has been a palpable thing these last few days. It has been scorching hot with temperatures well into the high 90’s with matching humidity. We walked around farmer’s fields searching for treasures, with bodies slippery from sweat, accompanied by wet clothes and red faces. We drank ice water, sucked on snow cones and overheated our cars with air conditioning breaks. I took my own portable seat along with me so I could take sitting breaks in the shade of a tree and that helped some. However, nothing but returning indoors to air conditioned homes, could give relief from the heat. I have to wonder why the planners of this event don’t move it into the late Fall so all could enjoy cool, pleasant Fall weather rather than the mindless, baking heat of summer. The dog days of summer, as my grandmother used to call them, are no time for outdoor activities of any kind except for swimming.

I found lots of bargains and have several beautiful glass pieces already listed on my eBay site. There is a link at the side if you want to take a look. I continue to list things and will for several more days. However, I don’t think this year’s finds will suddenly reveal any unexpectedly valuable pieces. I tend to think the bowls, discussed in my last post, may have been a once in a lifetime find. I will, of course, continue to hope for another such treasure, but the reality is, finding that kind of thing is very rare.

I did find a couple of interesting items this year, but it’s not glassware. I also love to “root” through old jewelry. The vast majority of the time, it is costume jewelry and of little value but, occasionally, you find a piece that may have potential. I found a couple of such pieces in my travels these last few days and I intend to gather information about them to see what I might have. Both items cost next to nothing and it will be interesting to see if they turn out to be anything.

The first thing is a coin. It is on a loop with a ring and appears as though it may have been something that would go on a man’s watch chain of long ago. The front of the coin (medallion?) has a profile of H.J.Heinz and the words around the edge say “H.J.Heinz Company, Established 1869”. The reverse side is engraved “Faithful Service, John A. Spence, 1901-1921”. It would appear to me to be something given to a faithful employee for 20 years of service to the company. The coin appears to be “gold”. Whether it is real gold or bronze or whatever is unknown at this time. But it seems very interesting. I’ve already done a small amount of research on the Net, but can’t really find anything relevant. If anyone reading this thinks they might know something about the coin, please leave a comment. Here’s what it looks like:

The other item that I found of interest is a locket. Again it is gold appearing but it is not marked as 14K. It actually has no markings at all, but it is heavy and seems of a very high quality for costume jewelry. It may be exactly what it was sold as, a cheap piece of costume jewelry. However, it looks like more. I plan to have it looked at by a jeweler and I’ll let you know what he has to say. Maybe it’s a treasure! Only time will tell. Here’s what it looks like:

So, another year has come and gone and the adventure and excitement of “the 127 hunt” continues. I’m already looking forward to next year. Who knows what valuable antique may be lying around, just waiting for me to find it!!

I’ll update you on the coin and the locket as soon as I know anything interesting to tell.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Bowls

Every year, for the last several years, I come to Kentucky just about this time. The end of July and 1st week of August is when the famous (infamous?) 127 four hundred mile yard sale is held. Since my Mom lives right off Highway 127 and I love garage saleing, it is a given that I will be here every year. The big sale formally starts tomorrow.

This crazy sale runs from Ohio all the way down through Georgia and anyone and everyone who lives along Highway 127 saves all their “junk” and has their garage sales and yard sales at this time of the year. Of course, selling of this magnitude also brings out the dealers from far and wide and, between the two, there are literally thousands of people on the roadside and out in the fields and meadows and parking lots along the highway selling their stuff and trying to make a buck.

Then, on the other side of that sales table are the people like me who are out looking for a “treasure”. You know what they say. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and I do love treasure hunting. Since I’m an ebay seller, I’m always looking for interesting things that I think I can resell for a profit as well as things that I personally think I can’t live without.

Well, about three years ago I was here, in Kentucky, for the 127 sale. I was out and about searching for that year’s big find. (I should tell you here that I have a thing for old glass and I love colored glass in particular. So anytime I see that glassware sparkling in the sunlight, I’m off and running to see what I can see.)

So I was out in the middle of one of the big meadows where hundreds of vendors have gathered together to make an almost swap-meet/flea market type atmosphere and I was walking along just looking and eyeballing and fingering and checking things out. It was still very early in the sale days. Actually, I think it was still in the early bird stages and the “formal” sales hadn’t even started yet. However, the old “early bird gets the worm” theory resonates very much with me so I like to check things out the minute people are pulling their stuff out of the boxes and setting up their displays.

As I strolled along I happened upon a booth where a lady was just getting set up. She had about half her stuff out and she was clearly one of the sellers in the garage sale category as opposed to a formal dealer. She was hauling out mountains of household stuff and clothes and toys and just about any kind of junk you could imagine from an old pick-up truck. I gravitated immediately over to the glass items and dishes which were piled high on a table. Everything on the table was filthy dirty and I really couldn’t see much as the organization of the table had no rhyme or reason to it and things were piled on top of things. Nonetheless, I began to look around and do a little rooting and digging. I didn’t mind the dirt for you don’t find treasure without a little digging. I ran across a pile of bowls and looked through them finding that several of them were colored glass. I found a couple of bowls that I liked as they had some sort of pattern in the glass, but it was really hard to tell what the pattern might be since the bowls were caked with dirt and grime. However, I thought they had potential so, after examining them to make sure they weren’t cracked or chipped, I held them up and asked her what she wanted for the bowls. She said $1.50 each would be fine, so I gave her $3.00 and she bagged them up for me. She was happy, I was happy. I strolled on to the next booth.

When I got home, I put the two bowls I had purchased into a bucket of soapy water and let them soak. The dirt was encrusted and caked and a simple rinsing would not do the cleaning job. They had to be soaked and cleaned gently with a brush to get all the crud out of the creases and corners of the design.

Once they were sparkling clean, I was truly very pleased with my purchase. The bowls were brightly colored, sparkled beautifully in the sunlight and each of them had a delicate intricate pattern. I felt sure I could sell them on eBay and make a nice profit.

I have a small library of glass books and I went through them trying to identify the patterns on the bowls. One of the bowls was easily identified and I was thrilled out of my mind to discover it was worth several hundred dollars. I listed it on eBay and it sold for $750.00. To say I was ecstatic would be a minor understatement. I was just tickled to death!!

The other bowl I simply could not identify. I went through every book I had, I did research on the Internet, I tried every way I knew to find out what that pattern was. No luck. Finally I just decided I would put it on eBay and let the collectors tell me what the pattern was. I figured it didn’t matter if it went for a fairly small price because I had already made a “killing” on the other bowl and I would be a very happy girl no matter what it sold for.

Anything that this second bowl sold for would be gravy as far as I was concerned. However, I had a “feeling” that it MIGHT be valuable since the other one had been, so even though I listed it very cheaply, I put a reserve on it. I was not going to let it go for a song. It was too pretty.

I listed the bowl that evening for $9.99 with a $500.00 reserve. When I got up the next morning the reserve price had already been passed and it continued to climb. Every hour the bids went higher. There were numerous people fighting for it. As the days passed I thought I would surely have the big one before the end of the auction. Finally, the last hours arrived and several dealers were fighting it out. An antiques dealer in California won the prize.

Come to find out the bowl was one of only five that are known to be in existence. It sold for over $2300.00 dollars!! I was told that if it had been in an antique shop rather than in an online auction, it could easily have been sold for $5000.00. I suspect the dealer who bought it from me turned right around, doubled the price and sold it again to some collector.

To say I was excited and pleased about the whole experience would be a minor understatement.

So that’s my bowl story. My big 127 adventure of a few years ago has now been shared with you. Now it’s time for this year’s 127 sale. I’m in Kentucky. Today I went shopping.

I bought a bowl.