We toodled happily through the hills of Virginia in high spirits for a couple of hours till Cousin Kathleen asked for a rest stop. She wasn’t feeling so well. Uh oh! Still fearing the onset of food poisoning, I wheeled into a service station and she scurried for the Ladies Room. We filled the car, took our break, and waited. She came out looking a little green around the gills. “I ain’t feeling too peart. Something must be going around. I have a feeling I knew what was going around, that rotten sausage rolling around in her gut.
“Do you think we ought to go back home? I don’t want to take you off sick.”
“I’m fine. I just kinda’ had loose bowels.” That phrase always gave me visions of a person walking along with their arms full of slippery guts that periodically escaped and slipped to the ground. “I think I am fine now. My stomach’s rumblin’ a little. Think I’ll have a little bite to settle it.”
The sharp smell of rancid sausage assaulted us as she unwrapped a sausage-biscuit she dug out of her purse. “I’m sorry I ain’t got enough for y’all, but I didn’t want to waste this last piece.”
We couldn’t talk her out of eating it, and she cleaned it up, even licking its wax paper wrapper. Around noon, we stopped at a rest area for our picnic, spreading it out on a table under a shade tree. Several other groups were picnicking close by. Cousin Kat wasn’t hungry, so she headed for the restroom, telling us “Y’all go ahead and eat. I need a few minutes to sponge off a little.” That sounded ominous, but I didn’t offer to go along, assuming she wanted privacy.
By the time she came out, she looked bad. At a nearby picnic pavilion a couple with three little children was putting out their lunch. Dad smoothed the red and white checkered cloth and corralled the kiddies as Mom laid out the matching napkins and dishes. It was obvious tradition meant a lot to these parents since the kid’s clothes matched and Dad pulled out a nice camera and set up a tripod. It was a beautiful day for a picnic and family photos until Cousin Kat walked up, leaned against one of the poles of their pavilion and started projectile vomitng in their direction. She continued retching as they hurriedly packed their things, apparently in no mood for a new tradition.
When she regained her equilibrium, drank a Seven-Up, declaring she was fine now. “Sometimes I just get real sick like that, then it’s all over. Let’s get on down the road!”
She must have had a constitution of iron. We couldn’t talk her husband into going home, so we headed on. All was well for a couple of hours, then she got nauseated. I pulled over so she could retch to her heart’s content. Reaching in the car behind her, she grabbed Mother’s brand new red fleece jacket to wipe herself up with. Mother is still griping about her ruining that jacket. We whipped into a hotel and got a room, so she could rest and recover. We loaded her with fluids. I tried to get her to go to the Emergency Room but she would have no part of it. You can’t make an apparently competent adult go to the Emergency Room against their will. Believe me, I tried. Every time she opened her eyes, I had her drinking fluids.
After a few hours, she seemed better. At her suggestion, the rest of us walked over to the hotel restaurant for dinner. When we got back in an hour or so, the room smelled like a charnel house after a fresh episode of diarrhea and vomiting. Worst of all, her hemorrhoid had flared up and started bleeding. There was a bloody, poopy mess on the toilet, the walls, and a trail back to the bed where she lay sleeping like a baby. We made sure she was okay, gave her more to drink, and got to work on the mess, calling for extra towels to clean up. We also had to wash her clothes, since she’d already messed up the two outfits she’d brought. Then we headed to the pharmacy for remedies and air fresheners. Just in case you don’t know, they don’t give that stuff away. It was not a good night.
Somehow, we made it through the night. The next morning, she’d won her gastrointestinal battle. Now all she had to deal with was agonizing hemorrhoids. Her generous in descriptions of her progress and suffering did not make her a better travel partner. We did some anti-climatic sightseeing in Amish Country, due to her ailments. Naturally, she didn’t feel like getting out, so we just made abbreviated stops. The only place she got out was at a quilt shop, where she was outraged at their prices. She’d thought she might be able pick up a nice quilt for twenty-five dollars.
We headed out early the next morning, determined to drop her off and head home to Louisiana. We had no intention of ever spending another night at her house. I think she was happy to see us leave, especially since we left her pantry well-stocked.
Reblog from Andrew. joyce.
I was hanging out the other night at the Tiki Hut, minding my own business, when a voice behind me said, “Hey man, what’s up?”
I should first explain that the Tiki Hut is an edifice here at the marina where I live. The denizens of said marina congregate there on occasion to commune with one another. I, on the other hand, avoid it like the plague. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that I don’t like being around people, but that particular evening I had the place to myself.
I turned around, and standing there was this dude I had never seen before, although he did look kind of familiar.
“Hello,” I said in response. I was a little perturbed at having my solitude interrupted, but decided not to be rude. “Are you new here?” I asked in a friendly manner.
I mentally shrugged. I…
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Cousin Kat was tight. We always took plenty of food when we went to visit, knowing how “conservative” she was. She thought three rolls, three scrambled eggs, a little jam and a dab of butter was plenty for any number of guests there might be for breakfast. “I just don’t think there’s any point in folks being hoggish,” was her favorite phrase as she set out a meal. She was a devout believer and had probably heard that story about Jesus feeding the multitudes on five loves and three fishes one too many times.
A few days before our last visit, someone had given Cousin Kat some fresh homemade sausage. She’d eaten a bit and saved some for us. That sounded fine till I opened her tiny 1940 model refrigerator to get some water. The rank smell of bad meat nearly knocked me down. “Ooh, Cousin Kat, I think something’s gone bad in here!”
“Oh, it’s not bad. It’s just that sausage Barney gave me. It’s real spicy!” She answered, totally unconcerned. “I’m gonna cook it up for supper.”
I made up my mind then and there to eat popcorn. I’ve never smelled a spice that mimicked the smell of rotting meat so closely. Mother and Phyllis both found other options. Count Kat cooked that sausage and ate up all by herself, since she was determined not to let it go to waste. It stunk the whole house up with its nauseating odor as it cooked. We all told her it smelled like it might have “gone to the bad.” She disagreed.
We planned a road trip for the four of us to go into Amish Country and packed a nice picnic …no sausage. Phyllis and Cousin Kat decided to take their showers the evening before so The four of us wouldn’t be competing in the morning. Cousin Kat told her how she could run a bit of water in the tub, sit on the edge, wash her face, ears, neck, then her body before washing the best parts and her feet. That way, she could get by with just a little of that expensive hot water. Well, I do believe I heard the shower running while Phyllis was in there, despite her lesson. Cousin Kat perked up her ears, too. When Phyllis came out, Cousin Kat said, “I hope you stopped up the tub and saved your water for me. Just one person don’t mess up bath water none.” Shamefaced, Phyllis had to admit she run it all down the drain. Cousin Kat gave her a look.
We went on to bed. I snore and talk in my sleep, so no one would bunk in with me. I am always early to bed, so I took the small bedroom. Cousin Kat gave Mother an inflatable mattress her son had left there to put on the living floor. Unfortunately, he had taken the pump home with him, so they sent a great deal of time trying to inflate it with a small hand-held hairdryer, the wrong tool for the job. Eventually, it approximated a mattress, though it flattened out the minute Mother reclined on it. They hadn’t bothered to pad the floor with quilts, so Mother was freezing the minute she lay down that frosty October evening. She got up, dragged her covers tote old-fashioned bi-fold sofa and tried to warmup. It was hard, lumpy, and had a couple of exposed springs but it was better than the icy floor.
Meanwhile, things weren’t going much better for Phyllis in the large, unheated upstairs bedroom. She’d chosen it because she liked to sleep in the cold. She’d dawdled and was the last to get to bed. I was quickly asleep though I kept up a listen for retching during the night, expecting Cousin Kat to come down with food poisoning, but the next thing I knew, Phyllis was climbing in the small creepy bed with me. “I thought you were too good to sleep with me.” I reminded her.
“I am, but when I got upstairs and switched on that dim overhead light, and everything looked fine, but when I turned back the quilts, rice scattered all over the place. I couldn’t imagine why rice would be on the bed, like that. I turned on that little flashlight Cousin Kat gave me and saw the bed and floor covered in mouse pellets. Mice were scattering everywhere. I can’t sleep up there with all those mice. She was mad! I was laughing so hard the springs were creeping. We sounded like honeymooners.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t sleep well, I talk in my sleep. In truth, it’s much worse than that. I curse and hurl epithets, language I’d never use during waking hours. Once I drifted off, Phyllis and I rolled up in that ancient mattress like a couple of hotdogs in a bun. She swears I shoved her and screamed at her to “get the f…. Out of here. I don’t remember a thing about it!
In a huff, she got up in search of a place to sleep. Seeing that Mother had abandoned the perfectly good air mattress, she gave it a try. Of course, it put her right on the floor. Not to be defeated, she folded it in half and stretched out. That was a little better. Just as she drifted off, it gave up the ghost and blew out. Hearing all the racket, Mother and I got up to help. I invited her to share my bed, but she was mad and wouldn’t have any part of it. Mother offered to share the bi-fold sofa, but there was no way that would work. She ended up spendinding the rest of the night wrapped in a blanket trying to sleep in a not-so-easy chair.
We got up early to Have breakfast and get ready for our trip. At the kitchen table, We chatted over breakfast and sipped coffee. Mother and Phyllis lied about the extent of their miserable night. Phyllis had to come up with an excuse about abandoning the mousy attic. Cousin Kat polished off the last piece of the rancid sausage with her breakfast.
I got the first shower, keeping it short, since I remembered Cousin Kat’s lesson. It was pleasantly hot, but Mother said Cousin Kat ducked down to the basement to “get something” while I showered. Mother was next in line. When she got in, the water was nice and hot while she soaped up, but in just a minute, an icy blast hit her. Obviously, Cousin Kat’s basement errand was to cut off the water heater. The water came from a spring, so Mother’s hot shower was over. She had to wipe the soap off with a wet washcloth dipped in icy water.
She was furious when she shivered out of her shower, accusing me of using all the hot water.
“Mother, I wasn’t in there but a couple of minutes. I didn’t use that much!”
All the while, Cousin Kat sat humming contentedly, finally offering, “Oh well, that water heater’s old. I guess it just gave out.” Only the day before she’d told us that her son had just put in a new one, over her objections. “I can heat what water I need on the stove and save the heating bill.” She made no mention of turning off the water heater.
Finally, the cold, sleepy bunch was ready to start the trip.
To be continued
Despite my parents’ earnest efforts, I never developed a taste for church. Church required dressing in starchy clothes, a miserable Saturday night hairdo session, major shoe polishing efforts, memorization of Bible verses, claiming to read my Sunday School lesson, and worst of all, not getting to spend the night with my heathenish cousins who didn’t have church inflicted on them.
It probably wouldn’t have been such an issue had my older sister not been the poster child for Christian kids. She could be mean as a snake all week, then nearly kill herself to be in church every time the doors opened. In all fairness, it is possible her meanness toward me was a result of torments I’d heaped on her, but if she was such a great Christian, you’d expect her to be thankful for the opportunity to turn the other cheek, like the Good Book says.
Any way, the summer after my junior year in high school, Mother came home from Sunday School with “Big News!” Mrs. Miner had asked Mother if I would take the primary class in Bible School. Mother assured her I would LOVE to, forgetting I wasn’t cut from the same cloth as my saintly sister. “Why, it was an honor to be asked,” Mother told me. “No one else your age was even asked. Naturally Phyllis was also honored with an invitation to teach the juniors. She was so excited you’d have thought the invitation was straight from God’s lips.
“I will not teach Bible School. I hate bratty kids and crafts, and I am going to enjoy the first year of my life not stuck in Bible School half a day.” I told Mother. This defiance came as a big surprise to her, since I normally went along with her. Daddy was so strict, that by the time I was that age, I’d pretty much given up on getting my way about much of anything, but this Bible School business was over the line. I’d had enough!
“Oh, yes you are,”. She insisted.” I’ve already told Mrs. Miner you would. Besides, she can’t get anyone else to take that class.”
“Mother, I hate Bible School. I won’t do it even if you beat me to death, and then I’d go to Hell for sure, getting killed over not teaching Bible School. Do you WANT me to go to Hell?”
Pulling out the Hell card was all that saved me. Mother considered and backed down. She’d made it clear on many occasions she had no intention of allowing any of her children to go to Hell.
Well, I didn’t teach Bible School and I didn’t have to go to Hell, but I got the next worse punishment. Mother gave up and taught “my class” but threatened me I’d better have the house spotless and lunch ready every day when she got in from Bible School. She was mad as hops for having to teach, which seemed odd when it was such an “honor” to be asked. Oh yes, I checked with my friends, all good Christians, and Mrs. Miner had unsuccessfully badgered them to take the class before she bothered cornering Mother about me. I guess they didn’t know what an honor it was.
That Monday morning the house was a real pigsty. Mother never was a meticulous housekeeper, but we’d had swarms of relatives in. Sunday evening supper was late, so the dishes waited for me in cold, slimy gray water ensuring they’d be as disgusting as possible for me. I was always involved in housework, but this was the first time I was threatened with a job of this magnitude to accomplish alone in less than four hours.
Mother took pleasure in calling out over her shoulder as she headed off to Bible School. “This house better be spotless and lunch on the table when I get home…..and Oh, yes, clean out that refrigerator, too!” The saintly Phyllis smirked as they got in the car.
I didn’t bother to tell her that she, Phyllis, and I couldn’t have gotten all that done if we’d been working like like our lives depended on it. It looked like a week’s mess piled up. I started in on the dishes, a Herculean challenge. All the countertops were covered, the stove, and a pressure cooker and several dirty pots waited patiently on the floor for their turn. Grandma apparently thought more pots was the answer to all Mother’s problems, so every time she went near a thrift store or replaced one of her pots, she sent her castoffs to Mother. Mother was a master of disorganization and grabbed a fresh pot for everything she cooked, tossing the used one on the dirty stack. A stack of crazily leaning miss-matched pots and lids always lined our counters, unless we’d just done the dishes.
I set in washing. The glasses, plates, and bowls went pretty fast. There were way, way more than the rack would hold, so of course, I had to stop to dry and put away several times. The dreaded silverware was next. I made fresh, hot dishwater to soak it during the drying and put away process. While they soaked, I tackled the refrigerator. It was a small, older model with few shelves. Never fear, those shelves were stacked two or three layers deep with ancient vegetables nobody wanted the first time, dried mashed potatoes, wizened onions, potatoes, and turnips with dirt still clinging from the garden. None of our bowls had lids, so leftovers quickly crusted over. I scraped out the dried leftovers in a bucket for the hogs, and made a new stack to start after the silverware was done.
We didn’t have air conditioning, but our house boasted an attic fan. For best effect, one closes the doors to unused rooms so the fan will pull a breeze though the areas in use. I had the kitchen windows and back door open. By the time I got the silverware done, a few wayward flies had worked their way in through a hole in the back door screen, not bothered at all by the cotton ball on the screen that was supposed to terrify them senseless. They didn’t share the family’s low opinion of the leftovers and were buzzing about them happily. I took time out of my busy schedule to treat the hogs to that bucket of slop. It’s impossible to climb up on the rails of a hog pen and dump slop into a trough with splashing some on yourself. This just added to the fun. A number of the flies journeyed with me to the hog pen, but a few slow learners lingered in the kitchen. They were all over the slop I’d splashed on myself as soon as I got back in. I didn’t have time for a showere, so I washed my feet and legs with a washcloth. The flies found a few spots I missed and pointed them out. Of course, I had to swat them and sweep them up with the rest of the kitchen before I could continue.
About eleven-thirty, I realized it was way past time to get lunch going. We weren’t baloney and cheese sandwiches kind of people We were big meal in the middle of the day people, a meat, dry beans, and two vegetables and biscuits or cornbread. I couldn’t have made a quick lunch if my life depended on it.
In a panic, I perused the refrigerator and found nothing but a couple of eggs and a package of frozen sausage in the freezer. Desperately, I scrambled the sausage and made a pan of sausage gravy and biscuits. We often had biscuits and gravy for an emergency meal. Just as I pulled the biscuits out of the oven, I put away the last dish away and finished mopping the kitchen as they got out of the car. The rest of the house was untouched, but the kitchen sparkled. “Don’t come in the kitchen. The floor is wet!”
Even though the rest of the house still looked like a disaster zone, the kitchen looked good. Mother looked self-righteous, but somewhat mollified till she asked what was for lunch.
“Sausage gravy and biscuits. I forgot to put a chicken out to thaw and put beans on.”
Mother was furious. It was summer. I guess she’d thought I would somehow found time to gather and prepare okra and tomatoes from the garden like she would have if she’d been home. “I can’t eat biscuits and gravy! I am on a diet. I have to have vegetables or I’ll put all that weight back on!” In a huff, she went out and got tomatoes and radishes, and ate them with two fried eggs.
It still beat the Hell out of teaching Bible School,
Reblogged from Bluebird of bitterness.
Wally was a postal worker who worked in the dead letter office. One Wednesday afternoon, a letter arrived addressed to God in shaky handwriting. Wally opened it and read:
I am an 81 year old widow living on a very small pension. Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Two of my dearest friends are coming to my house for dinner on Sunday, but without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Please help me.
Wally was deeply moved. He showed the letter to his fellow workers, and they all decided to take up a collection to help the widow. When everyone had contributed, they had $95, which Wally put into an envelope and mailed to…
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Reblogged from Don Massenzio’s blog
A young man joined the military. Soon after he got to boot camp he realized he’d made a big mistake. It must have taken a toll on him because soon enough the stress of boot camp had pushed the young man over the edge.
The recruit started riding a pretend motor scooter making motor sounds and beeping a pretend horn. The military decided to discharge the young man due to his instability. As the young man was leaving the base for the last time he rode his pretend motor scooter. When he got to the front gate he stopped and put down the pretend kick stand.
He turned off the pretend key and started to walk away. The guard said, “Hey, what about your motor scooter?”
The young man replied, “I only needed it to get me out of here, it’s all yours.”
At the local machine shop, Jim was…
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