Friday, March 30, 2012

Being Stevie Nicks

 She did it to me again, alone in my living room, she sang for me. And I sang back. I can’t sing a lick, but I can sing Stevie Nicks.

Mentoring American Idols, there she was. Unbelievable. The chic who sang my high school heartache out, “alone in my room I will not wait for you.” And she loved the idols I did, Phillip and Elise. I’d take you any day Philip, you with your heart that comes out your mouth, and Elise, a chic who rocks Led Zeppelin. What a star.

So Stevie already had me at hello, but then she had to go and give advice to one of the girls who has a voice bigger than her passion. “My mother died two months ago. I have no problems.” Sing that, she said. Feel that. Damn you Stevie Nicks, still singing my story.  Alone in my room, she made me sing again. 

Thank God for her. There’s no one like her. She is my past, and she’s still with me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

He Who Dies with the Mostest Toy Hauler Wins

By Sheilah

We’re off to South Carolina, to look at the toy hauler the boys must have. They have too many toys is what this whole adventure tells me, and now they need a big wagon to carry them in. I picture Dylan at 2 in the backyard lugging his Red Ryder wagon around, chock full of sand toys and sticks and stones and all the things he acquired that he cannot let go off. I see my husband when we first met 27 years ago in that huge Ford truck with the off-road tires and the lift package on it, near monster truck-like. The size of those tires was awesome, I concede that.

But now, they tell me, the dirt bike racing requires a hauler/camper. There is no way around it. They cannot tent camp any longer. It rains too much, gets muddy, their backs are stiff. They refuse to stay home the night before and hit the race early Sunday morning. No, they must be there the night before to walk the track, get the lay of the land, roast marshmallows. I get it. I do. Half the reason for racing is so Dylan can hang out with his friends, run in the night, complete the whole dangerous life of boys thing by camping.

Does it all really require an expensive camper, though? I ask quietly. Of course it does, silly thing! They’ve spent weeks looking at campers vs. toy haulers, and the final result is in: it must be a toy hauler, which is the camper turned trailer with the back that opens like a ramp to load the bikes in the back. The couches-sleepers fold in and up to the sides to make room for the bikes. The queen bed is on a hydraulic lift so it easily raises to the ceiling to make room for the bikes. Clearly, the bikes are the thing. There is a bathroom and a kitchen, if you cared about such, but I don’t think they do.

So a toy hauler it will be. Wi-fi, stereo surround, microwave, shower, stove, fridge and freezer, beds and dinette—all the creature comforts. You can open the windows and sleep by the sound of the cicadas. You can open the back and pull a screen down. You can mount a flat-screen TV to watch motocross. You can primitive camp where there are no facilities. You can dream of your hare scramble race through the woods the next morning, your Suzuki tucked in safely beside you, amping your dreams.

And you can hitch your toy wagon to your truck, with stars in your eyes, dreaming. Everything you want on your back as you travel down the back roads to some random land in the woods that a farmer has devoted to this dangerous sport, so boys can be boys finally, like they used to be when we were all farmers.

And Mommy, the most important thing, remember, is that YOU will be there, cheering me on at the race. Oh, who wouldn’t want one?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Julianna, We Need To Talk

We’re in the middle of supper; both children are talking at the same time while trying to gain our attention. We’ve all put in a long day, we’re all tired and that's when I notice the frown on my hubby's face. Being a good wife (Okay, so I’m not Julianna Margulies, or a lawyer, or a brunette, besides, TV keeps raising the fictional bar on what a good wife is.), I shush the children and ask my husband if everything is okay. He proceeds to tell me he’s worried, because he lost the envelope with….wait for it….his coupons.

A month or so back I wrote “Toilet Paper is Just Like Fine China, Right?” explaining how the hubby has started on a coupon clipping bonanza that might not always meet with this wife’s approval. Julianna Margulies has nothing on me when it comes to the cross examination on coupons. “Is it something we use? Is it buy two for fifty cents off, and can you double the coupon? Are you sure it’s a better bargain than the store brand? Do we need it or do you want it because we have a coupon?” I swear I would have dropped my fork at the dinner table when he told me he was worried, but we were eating sandwiches and that would have been too messy.

I honestly think the kids looked at him a little cock-eyed, especially when he said he was calling his mother to see if she had the paper and could cut out the coupons for him! It’s almost like he left me for another woman, kinda like what happened to poor Julianna’s character. Still, ya gotta love a man who is willing to go to those depths to save the family a dollar, but I live in fear. What will I find in the pantry tomorrow? He doesn’t seem to come home with just “one” item, it’s always multiples of one item and I may run out of storage space. He did promise me he would stick to certain brands, which is progress since our toilet paper fiasco.

I used to wonder what to get the man who seemed to have everything except the big, HUGE, ticket items, like a boat or a 98 inch flat screen TV. (How do people watch those things without having serious eye damage?) He has a big birthday coming up and I figure with all the big bucks he’ll be saving, I should get him more than an envelope to put his coupons in. I can see it now, a manly leather three ring binder with dividers and protective plastic sheets! Yes, I am a good wife.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bless Their Pointy Little Heads, Someone Has To

Tell me that I’ve stepped back in time and this is the reason I’m so confused by the maddening mess of minutia reported in the media. This week yet another slice of news came in via a Bloomberg report that stated, “six jobs with the largest gender gap in pay and at least 10,000 men and 10,000 women were in the Wall Street-heavy financial sector.” Really? Wall Street? This vast place of making or breaking the financial back of America (where women make most of the purchases), can’t come to equal terms where salary is concerned? SHAAAZAM! All of this and glass ceilings too, why we must be back in the Eighties!

Speaking of blasts from the past, Rush, I’ve-been-married-four-times-so-you-know-I’m-an-expert-on-women, Limbaugh has pulled yet another low blow, twisting facts (Really Rush, if you’re going to call yourself an expert, it’s the insurance companies that would have to pay for birth control pills, not our tax dollars, and you don’t take a birth control pill every time you have sex, just saying!), and calling Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute. People are enraged, as they should be, but not nearly enough. When asked what he thought of what Rush said, Romney stated he would have used “different language.”  Say what?

Not once did any of the major bigwig, grand poobah, yuckleheads currently running to be the Republican candidate for President think to say, “Dang Rush, but ain’t you a big ole NEEE-ANDER-THAL!” A young lady was speaking on behalf of a friend to make employers have comprehensive health insurance that covers birth control pills. Sandra Fluke only wanted to tell her friend’s story, but because she dared to speak out on such a controversial subject (What year is this again?), she gets labeled a slut. I swear, if Rush so much as eluded that about my daughter, he’d have a whole heap of Southern Mama whoop ass on his hands.

I guess Romney would have called her loose, misguided or something else. I guess those would be oh so much softer words. Gee, but I hope his daughters, if he has any, or Santorum’s, the good ole Catholic family man (I am a Southern Catholic, and I can tell ya, ya don’t get more confused or guilt ridden than that), never have daughters with open minds who want to control their own bodies. In the meantime, I shake my head at those men who believe they stand tall and yet refuse to defend the honor of a lady, no matter what her opinions are. Shame on them and heaven help their daughters.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Someone Is Watching You!

I am a good citizen, and I know I am. I do not litter the roads or sidewalks, I keep within the law, and I will always help people out when they need it. However, just lately being a good citizen has taken on a new perspective in my neighborhood, leaving me to question the so-called helpful acts of some.

The neighborhood, situated around a renowned golf course, is middle-class America at its best. Neat houses of substantial sizes with well-tended lawns line paved sidewalks. You hardly ever see junk cars and never see sofas on the porch, only tasteful rocking chairs synonymous with the South. Nevertheless, with that said, it has its other issues – namely the ‘We are Watching You Patrol’.

Big brother has nothing on these folks. It all started with a neighborhood Facebook page. The original idea, I suppose, was to help us network, swap ideas, advertise items for sale, and any other everyday business. At first it worked, that was until the issue of speeding and stop signs came up.
Speeding is a problem, I totally agree and I will admit I have myself received one speeding ticket. I was in the common situation of kids screaming in the back seat whilst I was trying to get them to school. My concentration slacked for a moment and my foot hit the pedal, hard. Within seconds, Mr. Policeman was there, lights flashing and a severe face. I paid the price. Well, the price of asking an attorney to claim instrument failure, as is common here in the USA. I learned my lesson and am very careful now. 

I got off lightly I think, especially compared to what happened to some neighbors of mine. A while back, a few interfering, oops sorry, well-meaning residents decided it was a good idea to name and shame individuals who they thought were speeding. Each day one or two people in particular would plaster descriptions better than a police APB all over the Facebook page. Nothing was sacred, hair color, sex, estimate of age, car type, car color, and license number. Thankfully, we didn’t learn if they were caught picking their noses or the color of their underwear but it was heading that way. 
It didn’t stop at drivers. The conversations moved onto pedestrians who walked on the road, school bus drivers who did not stop properly at stop signs, nothing and no-one was exempt. 

At one stage, an individual described how they followed a person out of the neighborhood and along the highway. We learned that the girl in question was talking on her cell phone, her exact speed, and which direction she turned at a traffic light some 3 miles away. Could this be stalking? If not it seems close, well I think so.

The whole situation went on for a couple of weeks until one day the do-gooders took one-step too far. They named a private license plate, which described the name of its owner. What ensued I could only describe as defamation. A long dialogue started with more people looking and reporting on the so-called culprit. It culminated with one person insisting and I quote “****** must be stopped!”

Thankfully, others and I decided enough was enough and posted our disagreement with the whole episode. I mean, unless these people are saints, they would do well to remember their glass houses are as fragile as the next. The persecutors defended themselves, stating it was for the good of the neighborhood, but did concede and agreed to stop. 

I am all for neighborhood watch and looking out for each other but starting a witch-hunt should not be part of the agenda. We are not in Nazi Europe, just small town America, and those people would do well to remember it!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Society Needs to Be Shot

Good grief, I'm tired! Makes it a little hard to think of something to write. Between the rain (I'm a ridiculously light sleeper), the hot flashes (which aren't hot for near as long as they are clammy), and the number of projects I'm trying to get done before chaperoning the 8th grade trip to Florida this month....did I mention being tired?

So I'm trying to write a blog this morning, and I thought...and thought...and thought...what do I want to focus on....

But then the news mentioned a shooting at a psychiatric hospital in Pittsburgh...

Now before I get gun owners all in an uproar, I'm typing this in a room with guns. I'm as Southern as they come, and with that came the target practice as a youth, the guns in every house I visited, the men talkin' hunting. I thought pickup trucks came with a gun rack just like they did with mud flaps. In fact we made the mistake of scheduling our wedding on the opening day of deer season in Tennessee. Quite a few men who did not make the wedding showed up for the reception, thankfully freshly showered. 

What strikes me about every shooting we hear of is - how did we become a society that thinks we can solve our problems by murder? People piss me off every day. If you've ever heard me talk about carrying the kids to school or been with me in the car lane at school, you've gotten to see it first hand. But, it's never occurred to me to shoot the people who take all day to drop their kid off or text in the car pool line.

Why are we failing so miserably at conflict resolution, at helping those who need it? What can we do differently? It's not just's society...there's a Southern saying - "just oughta be shot" - I heard this all the time growing up. It was a comment on how stupid or ridiculous something was. But nobody ever did it...unless you were a deer...  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Don't Fear the Click

First, let me say, I am not Steven Jobs. Technology has never provided me with a living. But I do dearly love the stuff, and I play with it. I've never had the fear of the click. You know, the fear that if I click on this or that it'll be similar to pressing the infamous red button and launch every nuclear missile possible at my computer rendering my pc, well, let's just say in need of Viagra.

So I'm pretty quick to click on stuff and make changes to software. And I don't think there's a platform out there that changes as often as Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg (on a side note, my spell check thinks I spelled his last name wrong and suggested Tinkerbell as a correction...just saying) is desperately in need of a chill pill. All the Facebook changes can be a bit much to keep up with and I've noticed a lot of people on Facebook with settings that I'm not sure they are aware of. Did you really mean to share with the public your frustration with your family or your job? Umm, maybe not. How about your location? Do you really want your teenage daughter posting showing that she's sitting in Timbuktoo, Wisconsin? Are you aware that your cover photo on the new Timeline is public and there is no way to change that setting?

So I thought that I would use this blog to point out just a few settings in Facebook that I consider to be dangerous, and how to reset them. I check the Facebook settings for all four of us in our family and I change any privacy settings that concern me. These are my easy to do, top three:

First, look at your statuses. Do you see the little gray icon on the same line as the Like, and Comment? If the little gray icon shows the earth, then that's who you just shared it with...yep, anybody on planet earth who is connected to the internet...even my Momma...soon as she remembers how to turn on that &*(*& laptop. Soooo, you might want to change this before telling people that your boss is a jerk who keeps picking his nose at your desk. To change that:

At the top of Facebook, spot your name. Beside it see the word Home, beside that will be a downward facing arrow. If you click on that you will see a drop down menu. Choose Privacy Settings. Now look at the  section titled, Control Your Default Privacy. Mine is set for Friends Only. If a friend of a friend wants to see my posts, they should send me a Friend Request. Public is self explanatory. The custom one can be set for even more privacy. If you set your default, you can always change it on individual statuses. But you have now avoided the infamous, "drunk posting" going out to the world.

Let me point out something about the cover photo on the new Timeline feature on Facebook. IT'S PUBLIC and you can't change it. So if you have children on Facebook, you might want to check what they are using as their cover picture, and you might not want to use that family picture as your own cover photo. I don't want the world snagging that picture. I currently have an ECU picture. Before that it was a picture of the geese on the golf course. The world does not need another picture of my family... In particular if you are young and foolish  fun, you might not want the picture of you chugging at the bar set as your cover photo, especially if you expect your parent to continue to fund your college education.

Finally, the one that really scares me is location. If you need to know my location then you also need to be a) married to me or b) my child or c) bringing me my real, ready to spend lottery check. Other then that... So when I realized that my location was on there when I posted a status - big yuck. This one is tricky because it hides in plain sight. When you are posting a status, if you see your location in that little box at the bottom, hover over it and click the x that appears. No longer will your location post on every status. You can always add it back later...not sure why you would want to...but that's up to you.

OK - that's it for this blog. Hope it helps, and remember, don't fear the click! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Flick of Fortune's Whip

By Sheilah

Some days I feel as if I’m toiling fruitlessly, or rather Fruit Loops-ly. I’m preoccupied, not living in the same time zone, scared or angry or sad. Just doing the deal alone, unmindful of the presence of God, or your presence for that matter. I read my morning meditation and promptly forget it, pray the same old prayers by wrote, don’t take the time to just sit and listen. Then I run off to do, forgetting that all things are useless when powered by myself alone.

Then I get reminded to be grateful, that life is chock full of beautiful, that I’m in the stream of goodness and light, not so random. This year I’m “Going Around the Year with Emmet Fox” every morning. On the 38th day he told me what “thy kingdom come” means. That my work is to express in concrete form the ideas that God furnishes me, and that to do this I must have “creative power.” Now this stops me up short.

“Fortune flicks her whip upon flesh that is more alive, upon that stream of hungry boys and girls who tramp the streets of every city, recognizable by their pride and discontent, who are the Future, and who possess the treasure of creative power.” Willa Cather wrote these words in “The Song of the Lark,” and I’ve had them taped to my wall for many years. Creative power is a longing of mine.

Fox says the phrase from “The Lord’s Prayer” means it’s my duty to bring more and more of God’s ideas into manifestation. It’s what I’m here for.  “If only you can find out the thing God intends you to do, and will do it, you will find that all doors will open to you.” And, by the way, he says you’ll be gloriously happy as a byproduct to living the right way. Feeling powerful today?