Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mardi Gras 2014, Cumming Playhouse, Jan. 24-26

I’m a Hole in the Wall Again! But I’ve Never Been a Zombie


Just last night, one of my past experiences came full circle.


You see this is my theory: everything in life prepares you for what is coming next. It may not be the very next thing happening in your life, but eventually you’ll use that experience to do a better job on the future one. Or at least, I always hope I do a better job.


We’ll see this weekend. I am volunteering for a group of performers in my community who are doing a production called Mardi Gras 2014. Representing Age Well Forsyth, this troupe will donate the proceeds of their musical to the Alzheimer’s Respite Care Fund. As a member of the Forsyth County Retired Teachers Association, I was asked to participate if I had any talents to offer. Well, I’m not much of a performer. When I sing, I need an alto on both side of me to keep me on key. When I dance, I trip over my own toes. When I speak, I often forget my lines. Performing hasn’t been my long suit for sure. But I figured I could take up tickets or something, so I e-mailed Dr. Linda Ledbetter, the director, and said I’d help. She seemed excited to have me and said the first rehearsal was Monday night. I thought it must be really hard to get someone to take up tickets.  I also wondered how much rehearsing it would take to do that. But I agreed to attend, thinking I’d get to see what the performance was going to be about.


It turns out, my job is not to take up tickets. I am the curtain opener and closer. That and the person who makes sure the people who are due out on stage are waiting in the wings at the right time to go out and do their numbers. This takes some practice for sure. The curtains have several panels in them so that people can come and go through them even if they are closed. This production has a master of ceremonies who does just that and I have to make sure he finds the hole so he isn’t fumbling around trying to get through the wrong parts of the curtains. 


Aha! I have been a hole in the wall before. I can do this, I thought. It was a long time ago. High school Latin Club meeting, to be exact. Yes, I guess it is no surprise I was a Latin language nerd. I loved the teacher, Mrs. Lutin. I know, Lutin for Latin was funny back then, too. Anyway, we were reinacting the legend of Pyramus and Thisbe, the story Shakespeare must have based Romeo and Juliette on. Pyramus was the handsome sweep-you-off-your-feet next-door-neighbor of Thisbe, the beautiful young maiden, of course. Their families didn’t get along and sure enough that made the two of them destined to fall in love. There was a wall that separated the two houses and in that wall there was a crack. There is where almost the entire love affair took place, except for the dying part. Well, I was chosen to perform. My best friend, Stephanie, was Thisbe and I forget who Pyramus was, but I got the lead role—the wall and the hole therein.  How lucky can you get?!


So you see, I am prepared to open that curtain, to reveal that hole, to save the MC from disaster on the stage. But I was thrown for a bit of a loop when the final number was announced. Thriller. They are doing Michael Jackson’s Thriller in the finale and everyone, even backstage people are to come in zombie costumes to take their bows.


I keep racking my brain . . . . . surely sometime in my life I have been a walking dead!






Without Mama’s # 1 Rule, Might I Have Been a Nudist?

Mama’s Rule # 1


Keep your skirt down.


When I was little, skirts were such a pain. They were always flying up and over my head. You couldn’t turn flips on the monkey bars, swing high in a swing with your head laid back and your feet straight out or even jump rope without flipping your skirt up over your head. Personally I preferred not wearing skirts at all. In fact, when Mama was gone and I was left in the charge of my Grandma, I was allowed to wear panties and that’s all. At least until we were caught. This is how we got busted.


My cousin, Esta Mae, and her husband, Robert, two of my very favorite people in my three-year-old world, stopped by our house one sizzling hot, summer afternoon. Mama was gone, Grandma was in charge, so I was playing outside in the yard in my undies.  Esta and Robert were on their way down to the farm. What an adventure that conjured up in my toddler mind. The farm. Horses, maybe, and cows and cats and kittens for sure. Could I go, too? Sure!


So I hopped in their car and off we went. I remember the long driveway up to the farmhouse, but for the life of me I don’t remember any horses, cows or kittens. What I do remember is the trouble I was in when I got home.  Mama was highly embarrassed that I went in only my panties. Maybe my feet were dirty from playing outside or my neck had rivers of dust-encrusted sweat dried on it. I am sure that would have indicated poor mothering in her mind and even in her absence she wanted her mothering practices to be followed. Of course Grandma was in the most trouble, having failed by letting me go anywhere in such a shameful state.


So that was the end of my nearly nude lifestyle.  Maybe it was the beginning of my stunted fashion sense, too. I didn’t have any clue what was fashionable. I blame that partially on the fact that we lived too far out in the boonies to get Dick Clark and his Bandstand on our TV. My friends who lived just up the road probably less than ten miles could get it and they watched it faithfully. They learned to dance the right dances, sing the right songs, hang the right posters in their rooms and of course wear the right clothes, all because of Bandstand. I never even had a poodle skirt, for heavens sake. That would have been one skirt almost worth giving up flips on the monkey bars for.


Poodle skirts were long gone by the time I got to high school, but skirts themselves were still mandatory for girls. Skirts and hose. UGH! Even when I went to college at East Tennessee State University, admittedly in the depths of the Bible belt, skirts were required. Some of the girls, especially for 8 o’clock classes, wore their raincoats over their pjs or shorts to class, but I was so clueless, I never thought of that.


So Mama’s rule followed me until the feminist movement set me free. Pantsuits came first. They were heavy, hot and polyester so thick you could hardly puncture it with a stickpin. Still I was happy to wear them, no more worrying about skirts flying over my head when I flipped on the monkey bars.


 Now, Mama’s rule still applies, if you’re wearing skirts on the monkey bars.


But then, wasn’t that what Mama was talking about?



Mama’s rules

Do Your Mama’s Rules Hold True Today?


I had a great mama!  Here are some of her rules:

  1. Keep your skirt down.
  2. Bananas and milk together are the world’s healthiest foods.
  3. Don’t waste—if the Depression can happen once, it can happen again.
  4. Girls don’t call boys—boys like to do their own calling.
  5. Red and pink clash-don’t wear them together.


My mama was born almost 100 years ago. Your mama maybe not so much. I would love to know how many of you think my mama’s rules hold up today and whether your mama had similar rules. If her rules were different, please include them. Before I write how I feel about whether my mama’s rules were a product of her time and culture or whether they are rules we should continue to live by, I’d like your uninfluenced feedback. Can’t wait to hear back from you.


I’m Sorry, Pope Francis!

I’m sorry, Pope Francis, I’ll try to do better.


I am breaking one of my cardinal rules of writing right now—never write about religion, politics, or personal family problems. I know, what kind of writer am I if I won’t be honest and share my deepest feelings, opinions, or thoughts. I’ll never write the great American novel because someone I know may think she is the offensive main character. I don’t want to offend anyone. My goal in writing is to find the funny side, to laugh at myself, and to allow others to laugh at/with me. But today I threw away half an apple cobbler and about 2 cups of chicken soup and I have to say, I feel guilty.


Here is why. A few days ago one of my friends posted this on Facebook: and I read it. I love this Pope. Now I am not Catholic, I grew up Baptist, Southern Baptist in Knoxville, Tennessee. My grandmother, Marietta Ausmus Edwards, was the baby daughter of a circuit riding Primitive Baptist minister. Yes, I know circuit riding ministers went out of vogue a century and a half ago, especially the ones that rode horseback across mountains. But long story short, I’m really old (67 in March) and my grandma was 75 when I was born, so do the math, it works.


Anyway, we Baptists didn’t have Popes and even though I grew up to become Presbyterian, they don’t have Popes either. Still when there is a good person with a good heart and a good message, I listen. In the first place, I have loved this Pope ever since he paid his bill at the hotel after he was chosen Pope. That was the way I was raised. If you have a bill, you pay it, no matter what your status. I have loved this Pope ever since I saw him smile and ask for prayers so he could be a better Pope. I have loved him ever since he refused the fancy digs and chose simpler living quarters. Ever since he made his own phone calls. This is the kind of Pope that just might be able to bring world leaders together to find some sort of peaceful coexistence. I pray for this Pope and all these leaders.


Now this brings me to my confession. I have always been a little envious of Catholics because they have confession and can do something to relieve themselves of their guilty feelings. As a confessionless Baptist-Presbyterian, I’m sorry just isn’t enough. I still feel burdened with guilt. And wasting food was number 2 right after idle gossip as things to resolve against. So I really feel terrible about wasting that apple cobbler! And the chicken soup, though as a sweet-a-holic I feel worse about the pie. I guess that might be a sin of another kind, but one confession at a time.


All joking aside, I really am going to try to do better this year about wasting food. I am this very minute cooking the left-over hambone in a pot of lima beans. Knowing we won’t eat all that many lima beans–my hubby hates lima beans but loves ham so I hope he will eat at least some of it– I am planning on sharing it with Bill, our 90-something WW II war hero neighbor who lives alone. I’ll send along some Tennessee-style cornbread (not sweetened with sugar) and some apples from Mercier Apple Orchards up in Blue Ridge.


And Pope Francis, if you happen to see this, thanks for being my Pope, too. I’m going to try to do better this year. Image

I Knit by Ear!

Somehow I have a hard time with directions. I read well, though slowly. I usually understand what I read and if I pay attention when I am reading, I remember most of what I read. I know, you are wondering how I can read but not pay attention. Maybe I have AADHD—Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. I don’t know. I didn’t have Childhood ADHD, I don’t think, because I could sit for hours and read a book or swing back and forth either right side up or on my belly, just letting the motion take me to a Zen state. But these days I can read for a long period and wake up to realize I have recited the words in my head, but been somewhere else in my imagination resulting in a total lack of comprehension of the covered passage. In fact I have started annotating in the margins of my books just so I can force myself to pay attention and if my senior status takes over, I can go back and catch up on the plot or the relationships of the characters in the book without having to start all over from the beginning of the book. I wonder if I am the only 67 year old with this affliction. I also wonder if by admitting this, I will be acknowledging a possible future of Alzheimer’s disease. I hope not.

Still I have to privately face the fact that I don’t follow directions well when all I have to look at is a list of sequential tasks that are supposed to end up with a deliciously baked pie, an artfully crafted wreath, or a hand-knitted toboggan (a warm fuzzy yarn hat, for those of you who think a toboggan is a sled for hurling yourself foolishly down a steep snowy incline).  (I have found most Southerners know what a toboggan is, but people from other parts of the world seem to have a vocabulary deficit in its regard. )

Back to my problem of not being able to visualize and consequently complete a project with just such a list, I have to admit that it is not a new dilemma. In fact, I have always been a visual learner and as a former art teacher, I have consoled myself with all the pedagogical research that support multiple intelligences and methods of learning. Visual learners are people who learn best by seeing images — they are the “don’t tell me, show me” people.I googled visual learners and and the Utah Valley University immediately popped up. This esteemed institution considers athletes, dancers, construction workers, actors, physical laborers, and surgeons are strong in what they term bodily – kinesthetic intelligence. UVU lists these famous people as examples: Jose Canseco, Roberto Clemente, Tom Hanks, Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire, Shaquille O’Neal, Julia Roberts, and Tiger Woods. Bette Fetter, author of Being Visual, adds Julia Child to the list of famous visual learners. So see, I am amongst a very wonderful group of folks. I should be more famous.

Anyway, famous or not, I have trouble reading directions and following them to a successful conclusion. See this evidence:  Image

I tried to follow the directions for this slouchy hat that looked so cute on Etsy. I bought the pattern and was going to make one for my daughter and another for her roommate. We measured our heads and it turned out they were remarkably almost exactly the same size so if it fit me, it would fit either of them. I began with great excitement and tried my best to follow the directions, but there were not pictures, just words. And what is worse, the typeface was a strange one in which the numbers looked like the lower case letter l and the numbers were so close together that I wasn’t sure if the were just typos or actually intended. You can see that my toboggan was a bit 😉 too big.

At least I had a failure to learn from. So like a piano player that listens to a tune and can repeat it by ear, I began again –with a failure, but a visual one, that I could work from. I decided that the size of the needles was too large for the ribbing that secures the hat to the head. I also decided the size of the yarn was too heavy to slouch properly. I increased the number of stitches due to the decrease in the size of the needles and yarn weight. I changed the hat stitches from ribbing to stocking-knit stitch after the first few inches, and at the crown I knitted two stitches together all the way around for two rows so that there wouldn’t be so much to wad up together on the last row. The result was much better, but the slouchy hat isn’t for me. I already have too much drooping in my neck alone. I’ll send these slouchy toboggans to the lovely young ladies in Jackson Hole.