Mixed Nuts Part 1

imageThis is a repost of one of my favorite posts about my eccentric family. I posted it when my blog was new, so many of my readers haven’t seen it.  Enjoy!  If you’ve read it, please be patient.

When you are dealing with family, it clarifies things to have a scale. You don’t have to waste time analyzing people when you have a ready reference. This one works pretty well for my family.

1.Has a monogrammed straight jacket and standing reservation on mental ward.

2.Family is likely to move away without leaving forwarding address. Has jail time in the past or the future

3.People say, “Oh, crap. Here comes Johnny.”

4.Person can  go either way. Gets by on a good day. Never has been arrested. Can be lots of fun or a real mess. Relatives usually will invite in for coffee. Likely to have hormone-induced behavior.

5.Regular guy. Holds down a job. Mostly takes care of business. Probably not a serial marrier. Attends church when he has to.

6.Good fellow. Almost everybody likes him or her. Volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. Manages money well enough to retire early.

7.High achiever. Business is in order. Serves on city council.

8.Looks too good to be true. What’s really going on?

9.Over-achiever. Affairs are in order. Solid citizen. Dull, dull, dull. Could end up as a 1

Instead of saying, “Uncle Henry’s a pretty good guy, but sometimes he goes off the deep end, you could say, ‘He’s a usually about a 6 but he was a little 4-ish after Aunt Lou took his new truck and ran off with his brother’.” Or…

“Why in the world did Betty marry him? He was a jerk to her when she was married to his daddy.”

“Well, you know she’s a 5.”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.” Or…

“You set the house on fire trying to dry your underwear in the oven?? What in the hell were you thinking?? And you call yourself a 6?”

“Look, you know darn well I’m a 6. It just seemed like a good idea. Appliances should be multifunctional. I’ve seen you pull a 2 lot of times and never threw it up to you. It could happen to anyone.” Or…

“You forgot and put the turnip greens through the spin cycle and now the washing machine drain is stopped up! I’m not even going to ask you what turnip greens were doing in the washing machine! You’re a 2 if I ever saw one. Your mama and sisters are 2′s, too!! Did you put the beans in the dishwasher, too, while you were at it?”

“No, I’m not an idiot. You cook beans on the stove. I put my rolls in the dishwasher to rise.”

Our family reunions are an eclectic mix of mostly 5′s who can tip into categories 4 and 6 when pressed.  Most are fairly regular folks, seasoned with a picante’ dash of street-corner preachers, nude airport racers, and folks who are just interesting in general. We have a couple of 7′s thrown in, reminders of what we could do if we tried. A person’s position on the social ladder is likely to be greatly influenced by his company or partner. For instance, if a submissive #5 marries a dominant #7, it is likely he or she will benefit. If the lower number Is dominant, not so much.

I was comfortable growing up in this eccentric milieu in the 1950’s. While I gave lip service to my parents’ goal of strict respectability, I enjoyed a ringside seat to periodic lunacy. It also justified my lapses. It ran it the family! And no matter how disappointed my parents might be when I messed up, at least I hadn’t been caught naked in traffic yet.

When considering parenthood, most people entertain hormone-tinged delusions, imagining their children as cute, well-behaved, athletic, and smart. We gaze fondly at our partners imagining a baby with his blue eyes, her sweet smile when’s we should have looked a little closer at Grandpa’s buck teeth or Grandma’s frizzy hair. Even better, this baby is just as likely to inherit genes from a great-great grandpa, the horse thief, as from Grandpa John, the Pulitzer Prize Winner. The baby might look a lot more like Aunt Fanny, the lady wrestler, than its pretty mama. A better plan would probably be to put all babies in a lottery at birth, so parents could credit their lumps to bad luck and the joys to good parenting for the next twenty-one years. The kids would definitely appreciate it.

(to be continued)


Conquering Corwin end Mother’s Bad Attitude Part 2

image . . Aunt Essie got her nose out of joint when her little guys came home bringing tales of how badly Uncle Bill had treated them, so he didn’t hear

was Qan affable enough guy. Q, though he must not have taken time to meet the boys before they married. He’d also married before and “wadn’ payin’ no child support. to that Q. Qwoman after the . w. ay she done me. Besides oldest ‘un never did look , that little https://. . / 2016/12/15/. / neither, if you git down to it.”

The long and short of it was, they needed to get the heck out of Dodge or her sweetie would have gone to jail. Like any landed gentleman of the South, Daddy had always maintained he’d a place for any of his sisters who fell on hard times. Desperately in need of a home, She magnanimously forgave. Daddy. Over Mother’s furious objections, he set up a mobile home on their farm for Aunt Essie and her family. The situation went downhill fast. Aunt Essie wore her slippers to check the mail and slid down. She asked Daddy for the name of a good lawyer so she could sue. He told her she’d have to move if she sued him, so she changed her mind. Her Bill had a heart attack within a month of the time they moved there. He never worked another day, leaving them penniless until his social security kicked in. Guess who supported them.  The good news was, he’d gotten an increase to his check when he and Aunt Essie got married, since he could lead claim her boys.  The bad news was, he had better things to spend it on than groceries and rent.

All that aside, they had the added joy of daily life with Corwin. Corwin quickly dropped out of school, a reasonable decision, since the only thing he was getting out of it was a bus ride and two free meals a day. When he got suspended for harassing little girls, it was a relief to everyone in the system. Bill and Aunt Essie went somewhere in Aunt Essie’s car one day. Wisely, Bill took his keys, knowing Corwin would certainly take off in his truck the minute he left. One of Daddy’s horses had died three or four days before. As farmers do, instead of burying it, he hitched the dead horse to his tractor and dragged it as far to the back of his place as he could, leaving it to the varmints. Corwin had been puzzling over whether or not the varmints had gotten to the horse carcass yet. Corwin showed some industry in hot-wiring the pick-up, but not in driving in the muddy fields. He got stuck and had to leave the truck buried up to the hubs next to the bloated horse. Bill was livid when he came in and found his truck missing. “Where in the Hell is my G—D—- Truck?”

“Stuck in the mud on the back of Uncle Bill’s place.”

“What in the Hell is it doing back there?”

“I drove it back there to see if see if that dead horse was stinkin’ yet.”

“Well, what in the Hell were you gonna’ do about it if it was?”

Aunt Essie had an infuriating little ankle-biting dog named Susie she kept in the house with her.  It yapped incessantly and snarled at anyone who got near Aunt Essie.  Mother and Daddy had never had a dog in the house, so Mother complained about Aunt Essie’s dog. “Let it go,” Daddy insisted.

The next weekend, Bill and Essie went out of town.  Aunt Essie wanted Mother to keep Susie, but Mother declined, not wanting a dog in her house.  It worked out fine.  Unbeknownst to Mother and Daddy, Aunt Essie left Susie alone.  Susie did a lot of house peeing, pooping, and wall-scratching scratching over the next four or five days locked up in the trailer.  Apparently the abandonment upset the poor dog’s digestion. The place smelled like a charnel house by the time they got back.

Not too long after this, Corwin and Kelvin were found to be growing a lucrative crop of marijuana on Daddy’s place.  Mother was infuriated and reported them.  They were arrested.  Aunt Essie got her nose out of joint about the arrest and moved off in a huff.    It’s a shame when families can’t get along.

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Best friends by blackmail


Most childhood friendships begin with sweet moments. Such as finding your soul sister on the first day of kindergarten or moving to a new school and being all alone until that one kid sees you sitting by yourself and decides to sit and share their lunch with you, sparking a lifelong bond. At least that’s how it usually happens in movies or in books.

That’s not the case with me or my best friend of now 20 + years.

I was 12 and had recently joined a new church with my family. It was a small church in a small town. We didn’t live in the area and I didn’t go to school there, so I really didn’t know anyone. The congregation had maybe a little over 100 members on a good day and the youth group had about 4 of us in it.

My first Sunday in Sunday school…

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Back Story on Corwin or Mother’s Bad Attitude

imageThis repost gives a little history of my cousin Corwin, who Mother did NOT want moving on their place.  In my family of “Mixed Nuts” Cousin Corwin was the winner, hands down. When he was about twelve, he and his twin Kelvin got in a little “dust up” with the police, so it seemed like a good time to get out of town. Aunt Essie called Daddy, asking if the twins could come spend a few days. Now if the image “twins” brings to mind thoughts of “barefoot boys with cheeks of tan,” think again. Kelvin to all intents and purposes, could have passed for normal, but Corwin was nuts. At five foot eight and two hundred and sixty pounds, he was physically intimidating. His pale blue eyes blazed with madness. He ripped through a fried chicken like a chain saw. Mother had to double the amount she normally cooked…

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A Dog and his Squeaky Toy

 Our pack is growing, one hundred three pounds to be exact. I was concerned Croc would bully Buzzy, but  needn’t have worried.  This gentle behemoth is desperate to play, frequently play-bowing and politely presenting his large behind for Buzzy’s sniffing “Howdy do?”.  Though Buzzy is normally social and thrilled to have canine guests, he wasn’t sure he wanted  Croc moving in, reminding Croc of the pecking order at every turn.  He has yet to “shake hands” with Croc, though they are playing happily.  Buzzy still occasionally snarls to remind Croc he was here first.

Below, you can see Croc with his grandmother.  They are about the same weight, but he has a lot more muscle.  He can ‘t get enough of her.  With her high, Minnie Mouse voice, he thinks she’s a squeaky toy.  See how he has his leg draped possessively over her?


One Man’s Trash

Inspired by the story of the woman who sold a piece of cheese toast on eBay for a monumental amount, I realized I might be able to score big time with this starter kit for hoarders.  The most desirable piece might be the brown wooden toilet seat cover.  It matched my bathroom redo and looked great in the store.  It turns out, brown is not the ideal color for a toilet seat.  Turns out, brown Is not a color that I really felt comfortable with, once in place.  Not only that, in an effort to ensure hygiene, I wasn’t satisfied with cleaning instructions and ramped it up with an improved cleaning regimen.  Sadly, it sprouted splinters, resulting in considerable complaints.  It had to be replaced.

The collection includes several cracked flower pots which would still be useful if you put them in place before filling with flowers.  The ugly gourd blue bird nest has hosted a family of wasps.  and will probably be  non-toxic to birds in a few years.  I blasted it pretty hard with wasp spray.  The kneeling pads are cracked, but probabaly wouldn’t pinch if the gardener covered them with a towel before use.  The square plastic container is leakproof.  It has held chicken-poop tea for my ferns for a couple of years. The miasma of poop is still quite pungent.  Maybe other men wouldn’t object to it the way Bud does.

The ragged soccer ball is an adored dog toy, barely past its prime.  I am sure a crafty person could find a good use for the ragged bathroom rug and broken brick.  Be sure to get your bids in as soon as possible, or I’ll have to stuff it all in the two mulch bags and dump it.

Bird Dog

I was greeted by the desperate fluttering of a bird trapped in my fireplace this morning.  Shutting the doors to adjacent rooms, I went for a flashlight and dish towel before opening the fireplace doors.  Fortunately, he was blinded and clung fearfully to the bricks when I shone the light on him.  I was so relieved he easily disengaged from the wall when I grasped him with the dish towel.  My heart soared as he winged his way to freedom like so many others I’ve released from my chimney trap.  I was reminded of another bird experience.

Annie, our Dalmatian dog once alerted me to a bird on the fireplace.  That time it didn’t go so smoothly, since I hadn’t yet learned to shine the light on the bird to confuse it.  The bird escaped into the living room.  It took me a few attempts before I caught and released it.  During the melee, Annie bonded with the poor, terrified bird.  She clearly enjoyed seeing its return to safety.  Lest you think a lot of kind thoughts about Annie, I need to let you know, that’s the only non-despicable she ever did.  She was sweet about the bird.

The next day, I went to visit my sister.  Marilyn had just gotten a bird.  That poor bird must have thought it had gone to Hell.  Marilyn’s cat  had his hissing face pressed into the cage with his front paws clutching the cage in a death grip.  The traumatized bird had backed as far away  as the cage would allow.  Marilyn was tired of pulling the cat off the bird’s cage, so when she offered me the bird, I took it.  The weather was fine, so the bird stayed on the patio for the rest of our visit with the disappointed cat’s nose pressed against the glass the whole time.

Annie assumed ownership of the bird, greeting it every time she walked by and napping by its cage.  The bird enjoyed her company chattering merrily when Annie greeted it. They were friends for several years until the bird’s death.  It was a heartwarming friendship.