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Santa ‘Paws’ Lights the Way

December 23, 2010

Oh Christmas dog, oh Christmas dog, your nose is
bright and shiny.
Oh Christmas dog, oh Christmas dog, so is your hiney.
You light the night so bright and free though I know
you’d rather be inside with me.

Oh Christmas dog, oh Christmas dog, please guide
me through the rain and fog.
You light the way to my front door which keeps me
from tripping up and getting sore.
I plug you in again and again to me you’re man’s
best holiday friend.

Oh Christmas dog, oh Christmas dog, you’re so cute to me.
Oh Christmas dog, oh Christmas dog that’s why so I placed
you near the dogwood tree!

Season’s greetings everyone. I don’t normally go in for a lot of outdoor holiday lighting. Some of it can be as tacky as bright red fingernail polish. But, this year, I found a little lighted 30-inch white dog advertised in a local store flyer and found it so endearing I just couldn’t resist. His red and white Santa hat is offset by a sparkly green neck scarf. Of course then I had to decorate the picket fence behind the little fella with red and white lights. Uh, and then I put a Christmas tree lit with red lights up in the window. So, if any of you see me out and about wearing bright red finger nail polish, shoot me …with a water pistol.

In this season that represents new birth and possibilities, I wish you one and all the very best. May your blessings be many, your needs be few and may peace settle gently over you at the end of the day! From my house to yours: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Taking A Lesson From

“The Wooden Bowl”

September 2, 2010

“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.” ~ Dr. Robert H. Goddard

Recently, a friend of mine lost his father. His dad had reached a fairly old age and his children bore him many fine grandchildren. But, this was the first time my friend and his siblings have encountered the loss of an immediate family member. There was, of course, some anguish. And, while the loss was anticipated, I believe it came much sooner than they thought. It always does.

From the day we are born, we are on a course toward death. Hopefully, we can make it out of the world at a ripe old age with dignity and grace. And, if the powers that be shine on us, perhaps we’ll be surrounded by loved ones when old age looms large.

I keep a note pad on my reading table where I make a list of things I need to do. (Because I’ve reached a certain degree of age where keeping lists is a must!) On my most recent list is a notation to send a special note to two elderly aunts living in Virginia. I loved these women very much in my childhood but time and distance drew me away. A few days have passed and I still haven’t crossed this matter of correspondence off my list.

I’ve written on these hallowed pages before of my opinion of chain e-mails. BUT, as I have said before, this one bears an audience much larger than my e-mail contacts would allow. And, as usual, the author of this composition is nameless, which is a shame. I am sharing it with you gentle readers. I know, I know…maybe you think it’s a cop out for lack of original editorial material. I don’t much care. I think this particular missive is one that deserves to be read, not by just me or my friends and family but by everyone who flips to this page in FOCUS. (Pssst . . . pass it on!)

And so it goes:

“The Wooden Bowl”

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and 4-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table, but the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about father,” said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.” So, the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The 4-year-old watched in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I’m making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.

The words struck his parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither the husband nor the wife seemed to care any longer if a fork was dropped, milk spilled or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life goes on and will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles 4 things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they are gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.

I’ve learned that sometimes you get a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back sometimes. I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the need of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I’ve learned that when I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve learned that you should pass this on to everyone you care about. I just did.

Truth is… I could not have written an original piece any better than that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a couple of special notes to write.

Take care of yourselves and each other. Peace be with you!

 

Get A Grip . . . Drip!

August 12, 2010

I made a conscious decision at the first of the year to make a strong effort to compose my literary contributions with a positive spin. I’m not going to say that was an “absolute” New Year’s resolution, as I have a hard time with the word “resolute.”

So far, I’ve managed to crank out the verbiage on a more positive vibe. That’s just a personal opinion. There were no polls or surveys taken.

BUT, some days . . . some days my restraint goes “kabllloooie.” On those days, something so outrageously negative transpires I have no recourse but to get out the soap box. And then, you know . . . uh, first I have to find the thing. I don’t keep it on hand as much as I did in my earlier days. I foraged through the closet for it and – voila! Located behind 10 years worth of holiday wrap, some old cassette tapes, a funky pair of platform shoes and a witch’s hat there it was, my trusty soap box.

Here’s how it came down:
It was a blistering late July afternoon when I was enroute home from an appointment and pulled into a convenience store/gas station in Blowing Rock. All I had on my mind was getting a “cold one.” That’s a diet Sundrop. It had been a hot, but lovely day in the high country and the store was fast approaching the 5 o’clock rush hour.

I noticed a construction worker, tired from the day’s heat, getting out of a dump truck and wondered which one of us would make it to the beverage cooler first. He managed to beat me to the check out with an ice-cold tall boy Budweiser. As we approached the checkout I noticed the clerk, a tall self-absorbed young man, talking to a woman customer in a somewhat degrading tone about how her receipt would come out directly at the pump if she would just go on out there and look. This woman was not deserving of the manner in which she was being spoken to, but took it on the chin anyway and left the store.

The clerk seemed to be having a bad day and was growing more agitated by the minute, and for no apparent reason I could figure. What he didn’t realize as Joe the construction worker and I were standing there waiting for his fuming to ease up was I made a point to remember his name which was on the tag he was wearing on his shirt.

So, when he rang up Joe’s beer. It came to a couple of bucks and a penny. The jerk, er, I mean clerk, still in a dither, asked Joe if he could produce the penny because he said, “I don’t have any pennies in my cash drawer.” Obligingly Joe dug around in his pocket and produced the penny. The clerk did not give Joe a cash receipt nor did he place his tall boy in a bag (which is North Carolina law).

I was up next to take this lad’s abuse. By this time rush hour was in full swing and there were four gentlemen waiting in line behind me. Before the clerk rang me up, he was virtually snorting air through his nose as he thumbed through several receipts laying on top of his cash drawer and uttered the word s - - t aloud. You could have heard a pin drop in that store.

My Diet Sundrop came to $2.07. So, I said to the clerk, “Look, just take the 7 cents out of the dime and keep the change. I don’t want you freaking out because you don’t have any pennies in your drawer.”

And this is where it began to get worse: “I’ve got pennies,” he said. “I’ve just got to walk over to the other register and get them. And, I’m not freaking out. It’s like this all day every day.” He said to me in the same condescending tone he was using with woman who had previously been in the store.

My immediate thought was, “If you’ve got pennies, then why the HECK did you tell Joe the construction worker you didn’t and make him dig around in his pocket to find one!”

First the dude utters the do-do word and then he decided to pull his attitude on me. NOT a good idea. Anyone who knows me well knows when I’m going to lower the boom; my voice becomes low and very calm.

I looked at this guy, who had worked himself up into quite a little train wreck by this time, and said in a low, calm voice, “You seem a little frustrated.” Well, folks you know in this day and time when jobs are very difficult to find it seems a crime to abuse one once you have it. But this guy, this doh . . . this PUNK, had the nerve to say, “Wouldn’t you be frustrated if you worked at a gas station?!”

I turned around and saw the guys standing behind me in line virtually slack jawed. So I said to the clerk very calmly, “At least you’re working.” And as I said that, the gentleman standing directly behind me said loud enough for the entire store to hear, “You got that straight!” As I left the store with my Diet Sundrop in hand I got the distinct impression the guys I left behind there were in no mood for any lip from the cashier.

If this store clerk thought he was having a bad day on that day. The next day wasn’t going to get any better for him. Remember, I noticed his name tag. I looked up the home office web page for this chain of gas stations/convenience stores and jotted down the store number, location and telephone number. I then called the home office customer service department and registered my complaint. I also called the store directly and spoke with the manager about this issue. As it turns out the jerk clerk was on duty at the time. I reminded the manager that not only was her employee rude he neglected to put an alcoholic beverage in a bag before it was carried out of the store which goes against state law. “By the way,” I said. “You’ll be hearing from your home office about this. If this rude horse’s butt doesn’t want to work at a gas station, there are probably 500 other people out there who will.”

Bottom line is if you work at a place where you are serving the public don’t let your bad day become their bad day. You can take a break, go outside and curse to yourself, scratch the dirt and blow mucous out of your nose like a mad bull but when you return to your work station you need to be wearing your Mr. Happy face. Ya dig? And if you think you’re being watched – indeed, you are!

Ahhh… I feel better now. I’ll just be chucking the ol’ soap box back in the closet behind the witch’s hat. Hopefully I won’t be in need of it for a while. (I’m not sure I can say the same for the hat!)

Thanks for reading my:

Peace . . . o’ mind.

 

Mass E-Mail A Keeper

(Pssst…Pass It On!)

July 22, 2010


I check my e-mail most every day with the exception of weekends when I generally take a break from cell phones, e-mail and landlines. I pshaw modern day communication media intrusion for the company of a good book on my down time.

Among other things I find annoying about some types of e-mail are those mass e-mails that beckon you to forward them on to 10 of your friends, including the person who sent it to you. This is the equivalent of an old fashioned chain letter, I suppose.

Sometimes I get suckered into reading one of the things via a clever hook line. Recently I received one I found particularly intriguing and, well, instead of e-mailing it to 10 of my friends (because I don’t have that many in my list of e-mail contacts) I’m sharing it with you, gentle readers. If you like it, save it, clip it out and mail it to someone you really care about. Or anonymously slide it under the door of a colleague. Heck, run copies of it off, wait until it gets dark and stick it in the mailboxes of all your neighbors!

Are you ready for it? Because here’s the clever hook line: “Tequila and Salt.”

The rest of it goes as follows:

This should probably be taped to your bathroom mirror where one could read it every day. You may not realize it but it’s 100 percent true.

1. There are at least two people in this world that you would probably die for.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.

4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don’t like you.

5. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

6. You mean the world to someone.

7. You are special and unique.

8. Someone that you don’t even know exists loves you.

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever something good comes of it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you take another look.

11. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

Happiness keeps you sweet.
Trials keep you strong.
Sorrows keep you human.
Failures keep you humble.
Worry looks around, sorry looks back and faith looks up.
And always remember . . .
When life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt and call me over!

That’s your mass e-mail for the day and I can honestly say . . .
I’ll raise a shot glass to that!

Have a good week friends, readers, and loved ones. It is as the old Beatles’ tune says: “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”

Peace.

Beating The Heat Where

A River Runs Through It

July 8, 2010

“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” ~ Norman Maclean

As a youth I never envisioned my life with a river running through it. However, it seems there is and always will be. I’m fond of the sound of water as it glides over rocks, weaving through lovely meadows, glades, and forest land.

Rivers and various bodies of water that give life to fish, particularly trout, have been the center of recreational life for my loved ones and an intimate circle of friends for the decades I have known them. And, although I’m not an expert or a fisherwoman, I’m not half bad when it comes to identifying a few primary flies on which the illusive trout feed: Caddisfly, Mayfly, Woolly Bugger and the nymph (no . . . that is not a party girl you take along for the ride, it is an underwater fishing fly.) Likewise, I can easily spot any river pool where a trout may linger. I’ve spent years learning of the sport of trout fishing through osmosis.

So, I did not think twice when I spotted a Google Earth print-out of a satellite photo map of Grandmother Lake in a strategic place on the dining room table. It wasn’t hard to miss. It was right in my line of vision as I came into or went out of the house.

My other half (some of you might know him, Mr. Sara Mawyer – just kidding sport, really!) is always on the look out for a new fishing spot and thought finding this lake might make a good day trip. Aside from being a scouting expedition, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to take some nature photos. We loaded up the cooler with some of my homemade “tater salad,” roast beef sandwiches, fresh cantaloupe and bottled water and headed north up the mountain toward Watauga County early one Sunday morning.

We located the dirt road (as indicated on the aforementioned map) in Linville that would likely lead us to the lake. We traveled a few miles, admiring the purple and red wildflowers alongside the road. This road ended up taking us to the base of Grandfather Mountain, which was obviously not our initial point of destination. So, we turned the old Chevy truck around and headed back down the road we had turned off of before taking the wrong road. On that road was a sign that said, “Private Grandfather Lake.” That did not deter the driver and he proceeded along the road for a bit. There were huge houses planted in the woods with elegant landscaping. Hmm . . . at that point we were both pretty sure we needed to turn around and seek directions from one of the locals.

Photo: The Watauga River by Sara Mawyer

We pulled into a gas station to inquire but it seems there were no “locals” working there. The clerk directed us to a nearby popcorn vendor stand where he said we’d probably find a local. But, nope, there were no locals there either. We were then directed to the produce stand located just a short way from the popcorn vendor. We were assured there would be locals there. We hit pay dirt there and were able to pick up some fresh green beans and squash as well as the disappointing news that Grandfather Lake couldn’t be accessed without going through private property. Meanwhile, we were wondering if there was Grandmother Lake but we figured it was private as well. (I later discovered Grandmother Lake does actually exist.)

Our moment of disappointment lightened when a “flatlander” in a motor coach pulled into the parking lot and asked the produce vendor where uptown Linville was. Fortunately I had my back to this guy who, judging by his accent was not from the dear old South. I had to muffle a giggle when the produce man said, “This is it. You’re looking at it.” The tourist asked again in disbelief where the uptown area was. And he got the same response. By that time, I was laughing out loud. It was rude, I know, but I just couldn’t help it. The beauty of Linville is that it is a very, very, slight blip on the map.

We climbed back into the truck and headed back down the road toward other waters. “Well, we went on a wild goose chase here and didn’t even catch the goose!” I declared. I thought it was funny. I don’t think my traveling mate was very amused.

Having all that behind us, we came to a sweet place ideal for munching our lunch along the Watauga River. When I was in college I could shimmy down a steep river bank on my fanny and not stop until my feet hit the water. Now I’m older and much wiser. I approached the down hill trail with a keen eye out for snakes. I was so busy looking down at the trail and stomping my feet to ward off any slithering reptiles I wasn’t paying any attention to the constant thwap, thwap, thwap of tree limbs slapping me in the head and face. After all that commotion I was more than ready to perch on a big rock overlooking the river. I basked in the sun there and ate ice cold cantaloupe like candy, breathing in the heady aroma of the trees, earth and water. As I ate, I would spot pools where I thought the fish might be and my partner would confirm my locations and point out the fish as he saw them.

After a respite there I was enjoined to take a short walk downstream where I found a group of boys and their father playing in and around a very nice, deep swimming hole. Ah, the fearlessness of youth. These young lads thought nothing of jumping off a steep rock into the cool water below. They had been frolicking like a bunch of young otters there all afternoon. I whipped out the camera hoping to catch some photo action. It was enjoyable to see such summer fun and one of the bigger boys was happy to honor our request to jump off the rock and make a huge splash for the camera. For the time I was there all cares and worries disappeared and I felt younger and more alive than I had in awhile.

We might not have found Grandmother Lake, but I at least rediscovered that living in the moment is the most important way to approach every day. Sometimes that’s easier to master than others but with a river flowing through it my life will always be more content.

Peace.

P.S. I recently traveled to the very heart of Mortimer in the Pisgah Forest region of Caldwell County (deep in the woods). But that’s a fish tale best saved for another day!

Here’s lookin’ At You Reefers

May 27, 2010

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m glad to be unfettered from my ‘regular’ job. I’m headed home through the country; I’ve got the windows rolled down, the wind flying through my hair and a tune in my head: “I blew out my flip-flop, stepped on a pop top; cut my heel had to cruise on back home.” “Margaritaville” is a song that screams to be sung aloud as you’re negotiating traffic en route to the weekend. Yup, happy time island music is what I’m talking about. If only I could make a get away to Ocracoke Island to dip my toes in the surf, I would feel completely renewed!

Alas, I probably won’t be seeing the ocean for a while so I’ll have to be content to sit and sip Margaritas by the closest body water I have, which is a well-established gold fish pond. And, dad-nab-it, there is a boat named “Mudpuppy” sitting in the yard that hasn’t seen water in quite a while. I look at it longingly during the muggy southern summer and think about how carefree it made me feel to be cruising on that old “dog.” Shoot, my swimsuit “ain’t” swum in so long I’ve grown out of it and back into it again (at least twice). Nonetheless, I can still enjoy the delightful musical flavor of the sun and sea as presented by my long-time favorite, the Coral Reefer Band.

A friend recently gave me Jimmy Buffett’s “Boats, Beaches, Bars, & Ballads,” a 4-compact disc compilation box set of the Coral Reefer Band’s greatest hits, rarities and previously unreleased songs, circa 1992. He said his cousin had given it to him for Christmas and he hadn’t even opened the package because he wasn’t fond of the famous front man, Jimmy Buffett. I was more than pleased to take it off his hands. It was, after all, a set that went quadruple platinum. Obviously, the band’s following is vast.

Photo: Cruising memory lane, me and Mudpuppy

I truly fell in love with the band’s music when “Havana Daydreamin’” was released in 1976. That was before there was such a thing as a “Parrot Head” (a term bestowed on fans of the band’s cult-like following).

I was a waitress at a rural country club at the time. Late in the evening, when it came time to break down the tables and set them for the next day’s lunch, the restaurant manager would put the album on and crank up the music while the wait staff finished work and gathered in the wee hours to unwind. Many nights we’d all sit around the pool, where we’d soak our aching feet, and gaze up at the summer stars while listening to the musical poetry of Jimmy Buffett. Suffice it to say, some of us sitting around the “cement pond” sometimes ended up taking a dip. And, as far as swimsuits go, I don’t think there were … (Whoa, hold up there. Here’s what you’ve got to remember – I was only 20!). Just saying.

I actually met Mr. James William Buffett up close and personal once in Hickory. He wasn’t surrounded by large throngs of folks dressed up in Parrot Head garb back then. He was just a humble musician traveling through, with his band of merry men, that had stopped for a week night gig at Hickory’s college one very cold January night in the mid-‘70s. It was sometime before the release of “Havana Daydreamin”. Cost of admission was just $4.00. A friend of mine and I attended the show that night expecting the house to be packed. Unfortunately, the band was well known to very few in Hickory and the auditorium was about 1/3 full. The Coral Reefers gave us a stellar performance anyway. Buffett interacted with the crowd with his warm smile and good humor.

The Coral Reefer Band’s biggest hit with those of us who were in the auditorium that night was “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw.” And, the small Hickory crowd was clamoring for it. This song continued to be a consistent tune played in the band’s second set through 2003, but is now only occasionally played by the group.

Little did I know, my girlfriend had been a fanatical fan of Buffett since his early country music days in Nashville, dating back to 1970 with his first album “Down to Earth.” It was 21 degrees that night, and after the band had wrapped up its show she came up with the bright idea that we could meet Buffett . . . if we waited on the loading dock of the auditorium long enough. Well, as she had driven us there that night, I really had no recourse. I became one of 2 shivering fond fans standing in the cold, under the stark light of the loading dock bay, waiting for the fair haired troubadour. After about an hour-long wait, Buffett’s band members blew past us and onto their waiting bus. The last person to come out the door was the man himself. He resembled Big Bird, bundled in a bright canary yellow down-filled coat.

He looked at us with some amusement, I must admit. I shook his hand and said “I enjoyed your show Mr. Buffett.” My friend (yeah remember her, the “fan”) was so dumbstruck she said nothing. “Thank you. Would you like to come on the bus?” he asked. I’m pretty sure he could see we had turned into a couple of Popsicles and he just wanted us to get warm before he sent us on our way. Oh, if I had only known then that this man’s music was going to be sung far and wide in the oncoming decades, I would have jumped at the chance. But I said, “No thanks, we’ve got to be going.” He headed for his bus, looked over his shoulder with a sunny smile, waved, and said, “Take care.”

My friend and I walked to her car with me cursing the whole while saying, “@#!*! The next time you make me stand out in the freezing cold to meet someone you had better at least have something to say!” She lamented about not having spoken to him for the rest of night, the next week and on into the following months.

I’ve been listening to Buffett’s wonderful musical words on my 45-minute commute since I got hold of the boxed set. The beautiful, poetic, lilting verses and chorus from his ballad, “Changing Channels,” often play through my head as I go about my day:

Girl of a thousand faces from a long line of basket cases
Daughter of a fortune teller, Oh the lovely Isabella

She’s changing channels
Staying on her toes
She’s just changing channels as she goes

Some folks have a bird’s eye view
Others haven’t got a clue
Some will come and some will stay
It doesn’t matter any way

Man, I sure wish I’d at least gotten an autograph!

Oh well, here’s to swimsuit season. May your summer be sweet. And, here’s lookin’ at you Reefers!

 

Getting It Down on Paper

April 8, 2010

“Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.” ~ Erma Bombeck

These days, I am constantly referring to notes, lists and journal entries to be sure I’m on course and sometimes, just to figure out exactly what is going on in my life. If I catch myself disengaged from my ever present pen and paper, I am at a total loss if I have to rely on my memory. (Surely this short-term memory loss is not the result of the life I lived in my 20s! Nah, it can’t be that!)

Anyway, every so often I really need help cleaning the house. Noticing that I left a note to the cleaning woman on the dining room table the other day, I picked it up and began to read. Whew, doggie! Sometimes I wonder who’s really piloting the S.S. “Sara Mawyer.”

Check it out. (The name of my house help has been changed to protect the innocent.)

Hello Greta!

Aside from having to travel long distances to take care of your relatives, I hope you have been well.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve called to have the house cleaned. We’ve been in the throws of crate training Gus, the new puppy. If you look down toward the dog kennel you’ll see him. From the house he looks like a tiny brown spot with huge “bat” ears. At last, he’s down there with Astro, learning how to be a big boy. Warning! You may find numerous little pee-pee spots on the carpet. Keeping an eye on him is like trying to catch a hummingbird in slow motion. Anyway, he’s being nurtured and getting acquainted with the world. I figured the sound of the vacuum cleaner would freak the little dude out.

And speaking of the vacuum cleaner, it isn’t in its usual place. You’ll find it parked in the den, where it has been for the past two weeks! Ugh. I dragged it downstairs with the best intentions of striking a lick, but the old “bod” just wouldn’t cooperate. That dadgum sciatica is gnawing at me again. Such is mid-life, that’s factoring in that I live to be 102. You don’t have to clean the upstairs toilet if you don’t want to. (Ahem, a certain household personage installed new innards in it back in January. Now, it will only flush correctly if you stand on one leg, hop once or twice, and hold your mouth just right.)

Photo: Gus wrestling with his chew toy! By Sara Mawyer

If you could concentrate mainly on the floors, that would be wonderful. It’s been a long winter. The history of it, and puppy training, is written on the hardwood.

You’ll find cleaning supplies all over the house; under the kitchen sink, in the powder room, and in the upstairs and downstairs bathroom. (Do I sound scattered? As Ricky Ricardo would say, “caramba!”)

Please help yourself to some coffee and pastry (I can’t tell exactly what it is from the looks of it, but I’m certain it’s in the pastry category).

Thanks so very much and take care until next time!

You know folks, Erma Bombeck might be dead, but her spirit is certainly alive and well, and haunting me daily somewhere in the “burbs” of Caldwell County! Hmm . . . Now what did I just do with that list of things I need to do for the week??? D-ohhh!

Peace! And remember, everywhere you go, there you are! (Uh, even if you have to write it on a Post-It note and stick it to your forehead.)

 

 

The Path

March 25, 2010

You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.” ~ Buddha

I often take sage wisdom and comfort from the Buddha. Every thing I’m very fond of usually ends up with a nickname. So, for me, it’s “The Buddha Man” I turn to for profound morsels of knowledge. I’ve shared the quote about “the path” with several fellow “grasshoppers.” Some days I think I get it . . . some days probably not. Your head needs to be in the right place. Of course, it should be attached to your shoulders for starters, that’s always helpful (yuck, yuck – can I get a drum roll puhleas!).

In order to “become the path” one needs to think about the path. What is it, exactly? It is the way, but the way to what? I stand at the beginning of the path and think, “Oh, what a lovely path. I must traverse it.” Starting out things are pleasant, there’s a babbling brook, gentle breeze, a song bird singing from a tree limb. But, there are important things to look out for on the path. Walking along, humming a song I, oomph! What the heck? Well, that was a nasty tree root I stumbled over! My fanny is plunked right down in the middle of the path. Okay, let’s see if I can just get up. Whoa Nelly! I’m not as graceful as I used to be. I think I created a small rock slide trying to right myself, now I’m rolling away from the path, and headed straight toward the creek. I’m digging in my heels. Pebbles and dirt are flying. Grabbing on to the underbrush, I grit my teeth and manage to avoid falling into the water by a very narrow margin.

Okay, so maybe the path is not always easy going. Picking twigs out of my hair, and dirt from my teeth, I get the feeling I need to stay close to the path to fully understand what the path is. Sometimes the path looks well trodden, but at certain points it narrows into a little bitty slice of earth that cuts through the forest. Once I reach this point I’m thinking, “Now would be a good time to take a look at the forest instead of the trees. But, I can’t see the forest for the trees. So I find a large rock alongside the path. I sit for a spell. The light here is dim. I breathe deeply. The air is ripe with the scent of earth and evergreens. I quiet my mind, turning down the volume on all that “inner chatter” until there is nothing but me and the path. Slowly, I begin to see the forest emerging from the trees! It was right there the whole time – I just had to let myself see it.

Hopping off the rock, I continue trekking along the path. After awhile it opens into a lovely sun-dappled meadow of tall, green grass. I take off my boots and let my feet enjoy the coolness of the grass. I turn my face to the sun and think maybe, just maybe, I’m . . . becoming the path itself. It is me and I am it. We have become “one” along the way. There is beauty in the path and there is danger in the path. The path lends itself to an awareness of myself I didn’t have before I started the trip.

Moving on, the clouds darken and it begins to rain. I find refuge under a thicket of Rhododendron. I draw myself up tightly and huddle there listening to the rain sing a sweet lullaby. After a while I decide to forge on. This path must be taking me somewhere. Oops! There I am again; my fanny is plunked right down in the middle of the path which has become slick and muddy from the rain.

Photo by Sara Mawyer

Okay, so by now I literally am the path. I’m actually wearing a large part of it! There’s mud on the seat of my pants, leaves clinging to my shirt, a few scratches and some bruises from where the path came up to meet me, and there’s a dang horse fly that just won’t leave me be.

If I get off this path in one piece, I’m going to look forward to becoming “one” with the shower, followed by becoming “one” with the nice warm, fluffy bed covers. I will stretch out and think about my journey along the path and, before sleep, I will check back in on The Buddha Man for my daily tidbit of wisdom.

I will turn to a well-worn page in the book of quotes: “It is better to travel well than to arrive,” says The Buddha Man. Hmm…that’s definitely food for thought. And, for the path? Let’s just say I’m still learning to “travel well” without eating dirt or creating rock slides.

Peace to all grasshoppers big and small!

Historic Propst House

March 18, 2010

 

I took this photo of the Historic Propst House, located at Shuford Memorial Gardens in Hickory, on a very bitter cold winter day. It was approximately 18 degrees and the low-setting sun was fleeting. The great thing about days like this is hardly anyone else is moving about. So, if your down-filled coat is secured tightly, and you’re wearing gloves, and a neck scarf, hopping out of the warm car doesn’t seem so bad. The house, which was the original custom-built home of J. Summie Propst and his bride, Nancy Jane Abernathy, was acquired by the Hickory Landmarks Society in 1968. It originally stood in close proximity to the railroad tracks on what is now Main Avenue, SW.

 

Photos by Sara Mawyer

Snow Begets Snow

February 25, 2010

It would figure if I actually put pen to paper and wrote about our last bout of snow with accompanying photographs that Old Man Winter would play the trump card and actually disappear for at least a week or so. Nonetheless, at this writing there is still a smidgen of that white stuff lingering on the ground, and according to some old wives’ tale that means more snow will come. So, I haven’t gotten out my shorts and flip-flops yet because just when I do, the weather outside is likely to turn frightful. When it comes to winter in western North Carolina, all bets are off. After all, we are all familiar with the sight of snow on the daffodils!

Following are some comments I’ve heard from friends and associates every winter for at least the past 10 years:
“We used to get some bodacious winters here.”
“I remember one year, back in the ‘70s, it snowed every Wednesday!”
“Back when we had winters, my dad would put chains on the old Chrysler. That thing was like a tank, but it’d get us where we needed to go. Do they even sell snow chains anymore?”
“We used to get our sleds out, build a fire in an old oil drum, and stay outside sledding and having snowball fights until our moms made us come in. Our clothes would be soaked and we’d be numb all over from spending the day out in the white stuff! I haven’t used my sled in so long I don’t remember where I put it.”
“Snow cream … yum- that’s the best!”

And this one is the kicker: “I wish we’d get some snow.”

Hmm…this lends new meaning to the old saying: “Be careful what you wish for.” Snow! Snow! Snow! Since December 18, 2009, anyone who has wished fervently for snow in the past decade has had their wish granted, practically every week. And, gentle readers, we’ve been very long overdue for a true, bonafide winter. We haven’t had one in so long we hardly know how to act. Of course, by now some of you have probably caught on to the fact that if the weather man/woman even hints there’ll be a snow flake in your area, the most important thing to do is be sure to stock up on bread, milk, chocolate, canned soup and beer (not necessarily in that order).

If I’m at home, it’s nice to go outside to fill the bird feeder, and maybe walk down the hill to the mailbox and get a breath of crisp, cold air. (That’s about the extent of it if you are a “mature” adult, but not yet in the “senior” adult category.) However, one Friday afternoon in January while I was positioned comfortably in my leather recliner with my puppy, Gus, curled up asleep in a tight, toasty little ball in my lap, I happened to gaze out the window noticed a snow flurry had begun.

I thought, “Now would be a good time to break out the new camera and go outside to see about photo possibilities." So, I wrapped Gus up in his favorite fuzzy throw blanket and nestled him softly in the chair, and ventured forth to take a creative break. Early evening was encroaching and the snow was coming down steadily by the time I got suited up and ventured outside. I managed to get off a few shots before darkness descended.

While I’ve adjusted to what natives of Catawba Valley and the southern foothills call a “real winter, by God,” I have gotten weary of dressing like a human onion who, by the end of the day, is peeling layers off into a giant heap, then jumping into some thick socks and flannel pajamas and scampering like a field mouse to the warmth of the fireplace hearth. It’s there whilst warming my backside I enjoy my favorite cold weather tradition. That would be receiving multiple warm, gentle laps of the tongue and “snoodling” with my four-legged pals, Astro and Gus. Dog biscuit anyone?

Peace readers – stay warm!

Photos by Sara Mawyer

My Little Valentines

February 11, 2010

My little valentines I hold you so dear.
In the blossom of youth your innocence is clear.

And though you may wander far and near,
you need never worry my love is right here.

You carry the better of two families joined as one.
As a matter of fact you’re as good as they come.

No matter what stages you go through with time,
your very essence will always remain sublime.

So . . . here’s a kiss for you, and you,
your mother and dad and many more, too!

(Written for my niece and nephew, Emily Caroline Mawyer and Zane Thomas Mawyer.
Happy Valentine’s Day Snickerdoodles!)

Anybody Home?

February 4, 2010


What is usually a well inhabited, cheerful little birdhouse during the spring stood cold and somber the deck last weekend following the season’s second deep-freeze of the season. Yes, the snowdrifts were quite high in the land of deck railing birdhouses. I half expected to see a sign posted by the little round door that said, “Gone way, way south. Be back in May.” Even my old dog, Astro, who had stepped briefly out on the deck with me to snap this picture, balked at the cold nipping at his nose and toes and demanded to go back into the house. I let him in and closed the door behind him while I finished up outside. He stared incredulously at me through the French door and tossed a wicked bark my way if to say, “Hey, get your tokus back in here Ma!” At any rate, I couldn’t return to the warmth of my hearth until I had spread some bird seed for my fine feathered friends who inhabit the surrounding woods during winter. (P.S. You’re welcome Woodstock! There’s always more where that came from.)

 

Photo: by Sara Mawyer

Every Picture Tells A Story

Don’t It?

January 28, 2010

Greetings readers! I hope your holidays were happy days! It’s hard to believe January is almost over and soon the crocuses will be poking through the soil.

Time flies when you’re holed up in the house, sitting on the fireplace hearth waiting for the snow to melt. Short days turn into long nights and days seem to run together. Next thing you know, you’re way overdue in taking down your outdoor Christmas lights and stashing away the rolls of holiday wrapping paper still left on the floor in the spare room.

And speaking of Christmas, for a long time I’ve wanted a nice digital camera with a decent zoom lens and this year, Santa did it up right. I’ve reluctantly put the old Olympus waterproof model away in a drawer. Gone are the days of Kodachrome. I suppose that camera will become another antiquity I’ve collected, just like the old gold-tone, rotary dial telephone I’ve stashed somewhere.

I’m a road warrior. I do a lot of traveling every week through three area counties and hardly a day goes by that I don’t see something I’d like to take a picture of. It could be a beautiful sunset, cattle grazing in a field, an interesting looking door or window . . . it could be almost anything! I’m always reminded of a tune from Rod Stewart, “Every Picture Tells a Story.” And, I find myself singing a string of words from that song that has stuck with me since I was a teenager: “Every picture tells a story don’t it?” Well, don’t it? Huh? Yep, that would be me you see here messing around in a local ladies room taking a picture of my new equipment (That is to say, the camera is new. All the other “equipment” seen in the photo is the same old stuff).

Also new and just in time for Christmas was the gift of new life. My husband and I lost our little dog, Duke, back in April to death by natural causes. And, our beloved Chocolate Labrador, Sam, was hit by a car on Thanksgiving night. My husband was not home at the time. I drove Sam to the emergency vet. He never once whimpered or cried out in pain. The outcome was very, very grim so I signed on the dotted line and bid him a humane, but tearful, adieu. We were heartbroken beyond words but knew, from previous experience, the best way to help us overcome our grief was to get another dog. And so we did.

Photo: Sara Mawyer

We opted for a small breed this time, a Feist. Around the first week of December we went to a local breeder who had a young female that had just had a litter of pups. The female pups were already spoken for at the age of 3 weeks. I picked up the one little fella in the bunch. He was so small he fit in the palm of my hand and he was shivering. Once I tucked him inside my coat to warm him that was it. This little dude was going to be our next dog. The gentleman we purchased him from told us he’d be ready to pick up on Dec. 23rd. as he would be 6 weeks old at that time. During the interim we went over a list of male dog names. Rex? Nah. Champ? Nah. Dino? Nope. Gus??? Awwright! We decided his “official” name would be Angus and we’d call him Gus for short.

So, world meet Gus. That’s him in the photo grabbing for a puppy biscuit. He’s already had his first visit to the vet. My husband said he asked Dr. Hill if he thought he’d get up to 25-lbs. He said the vet laughed at that and told him 15 lbs. would be more like it. (Pssst, don’t tell Gus. He thinks he’s a big dog.) This dog is smart, too! And, he moves fast – like at warp speed. The Feist is bred to hunt squirrels, so I guess his speed will come in handy if he’s going to outwit those pesky varmints. Although, he’s strictly a pet. If he hunts it will be his idea not ours.

At any rate, I’m hoping to occasionally contribute some photographs to FOCUS in addition to doing some writing. Or, even have photos to coincide with my columns. I’m no Fanjoy or Labrenz (married professional photographers who’ve contributed to FOCUS for years and whose work I’ve always admired), but I can point and shoot with some degree of accuracy. After all, every picture tells a story and I’ll be telling some. Makes some sense . . . don’t it?

On an altogether different note:
If you can afford to donate to the people of Haiti, please do, even if it’s just $5. Most of us spend more than that at the drink machine in a week. I made my donation to Doctors Without Borders, but there are many other credible organizations accepting donations. If you can’t afford to donate money, then send your prayers. Thanks.
Peace be to all people.

Photo: Meet Gus the Feist

 

 

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