Sunday, July 31, 2016

There's No Place Like Home

The kids and I made the trip back to Petticoat Junction this afternoon, and, while it is always good to visit our loved ones, it's also nice to come home. It would have been even nicer if I hadn't come home to dead flowers in the porch boxes and a garden that screamed neglect, but, you can't have it all, I guess.

Besides, with a little (actually, a lot) of water and some tender loving ministrations, the flowers and vegetable plants will probably rebound (she said with her fingers crossed).

Now that I am home, I have about a million things to do in addition to stressing over the gardens. For instance, I get to do laundry, and house cleaning, and dishes, because, apparently, I am the only adult in the household capable of handling these things. I could be annoyed by this fact, but, hey, job security, am I right?

While I work on those things, here are some final photos from Mayberry.

And, finally, because it isn't Stampede without a Smokin' Charlie induced nightmare...


I descend from a long line of natural storytellers; that's why this blog has 2235 posts. I have often asked myself why I write here; in the beginning, it was a way to bridge the distance between myself and my parents, then, it was a way to leave my children a written documentation of their childhoods. I also clearly enjoy the storytelling, so, I guess I've answered my own question several times over.

It's worth noting that I also enjoy listening to stories, and, this weekend, I have heard a treasure trove of my Aunt Rose's personal stories.

Aunt Rose is 83. Last year, she was battling cancer and we thought that Stampede may very well be her last, thankfully, we were wrong; she is here again with us this year. I have to wonder, however, if her obvious need to tell her stories doesn't serve as a precursor to the natural winding down of her internal clock; if, by telling her stories, she can succeed in preserving her legacy here on Earth.

If so, I understand the need. It's just too bad that she didn't pick up pen and paper at some point, to document those stories for her children and grandchildren; she had some great tales to share.

In addition to sharing her stories with us these past few years, Aunt Rose has also allowed us to bear witness to her pursuit of her Bucket List goals; last year, she rode a horse for the first time. This year, she rode a different steed...

...I don't know how much longer the good Lord will see fit to share Aunt Rose with us, but, if we are blessed with another Stampede together, I cannot wait to see what she has up her sleeve. Skydiving? Barrel racing? Mountain climbing? The possibilities are endless.

I just hope that also holds true for her stories.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Photo Dump

I have lots of stories to tell; Stampede has been awesome. But, my mom's internet could best be described as sloooow, so I will save them for a day that there aren't seven adults and four kids sucking the wifi dry.

In the meantime, pictures!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cutting the Slack

Today, my niece and her dad competed in the qualifying heat for tomorrow's professional rodeo. The preliminary trials are commonly known as Slack, and they are open to the public; mom, Queen B, Emily, the Cub, two of my aunts, and I all attended, which, made for a pretty full cheering section for our team.

And, they didn't disappoint; the Rodeo Princess caught immediately out of the chute, and her dad heeled immediately after. Their time was 6.7 seconds, but, the Princess had accidentally broken the barrier early, resulting in a ten second penalty, which brought their time to 17.7 seconds, which, was still good enough to get them into tomorrow's competition.

We are crossing our fingers for them; the Princess has never won a Stampede saddle before, and it sure would be nice to see her do it this weekend.

Like I said, fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

You CAN Go Home Again

Your allergies, however, may flare up, leaving you with itching, burning, runny, gummy, blurry eyes and a nose that either stuffs up completely or runs with the force of a geyser, which, is truly attractive, as you might have imagined from the description.

So, while I am happy to be in Mayberry, I am not at all impressed with the reception that my sinuses have received.

I haven't let the irritation keep me from enjoying my visit. I did opt out of the Josh Turner/Clare Dunn concert this evening, but I spent a good part of the day visiting with my mom and my Aunts Debbie, Rose, and Connie, who are all in town for Stampede. I also joined Queen B, her friend Emily, and Emily's mother for lunch in Mount Pilot, and that was fun.

Emily has been a fixture at our house for the past couple of years and, since she is planning to move to Neighboring City to attend college next month, it seemed like a good time to get to know her mom; I know that having someone I trusted near Queen B while she was attending college on the Front Range would have gone a long way in making me feel better about her absence and the distance that separated us and I am happy to be that person for them.

Tomorrow, I am planning to get back in the Stampede swing, but, for now, it's rather nice to I don't have to run around the house, cleaning, doing laundry, fretting over the garden, nor do I have to rush out the door to one-or, both-of my jobs. Instead, I can relax in the backyard, or go for a long walk, or do absolutely nothing at all, and, that feels pretty good.

So, while Stampede is definitely different, it is also somewhat more relaxed, and, I'm not going to look at that as a bad thing. That said, I really do miss the people who, for various reasons, aren't here to enjoy the weekend with me; Dad, of course. Reese and Phoebe. It's new, it's weird. It's change, and, change is inevitable.

Apparently, so are my allergies.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In Which My Ovaries Are Officially Dust

The kids and I are in Mayberry for the big Stampede doings. While we are here, I have made it my mission to get a few shots of the Man-Cub for his senior pictures.

Earlier this evening, we tried out a few at the abandoned train yard where I took what ended up being Queen B's senior picture back in 2013. 

I don't think we have a winner yet; while I felt the essence of the Cub in some of the shots, I think we may need to go in a different direction.

Luckily, we have time, and, I've got the cameras.

In the meanwhile, here are some shots from my baby boy's first official senior picture shoot.

Also, rest in peace Ovaries; it's downhill toward menopause from here on out.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Three For Three

We just got back from the High School, where we were attending the annual baseball awards ceremony. The ceremony always takes place as late in the summer as the baseball coach can get away with, this year being no exception. As a result, the ceremony is always pretty poorly attended despite the copious amounts of ice cream that the coach provides in an effort to entice the kids.

Despite this year's poor attendance, we had a good time. The coach had glowing comments to make about the Man-Cub, and, it was exciting to see him present the Cub with his baseball letter.

In addition to his pin, the Cub earned Three Sport Athlete recognition, for the third year in a row, as well as his third Academic All State Honorable Mention. That's three for three, football, basketball, and baseball; not a lot of kids can carry a full course load, including college classes, play three sports, and manage to get in volunteer hours toward his community service requirements for graduation.

To say we are proud would be a vast understatement.

Way to go, Cub!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Flame Wars

Last month, we had the unfortunate experience of accepting two checks written on a closed account for fairly expensive items at the hardware store. The total of both checks hovered just under $1000. That is a big hit for a small business.

Following our usual protocol for bad checks, we contacted the "customer" (and I really do use that term lightly) and Hugh gave him ample time to make good on the debt. He didn't. Hugh then turned the fraudulent checks over to the District Attorney's office, where we learned that the check writer had upwards of $15,000 in outstanding fraudulent checks, written on the same closed account.

Further investigation (Note to criminals: if you are going to write bad checks to a business, pick a business that isn't owned by a COP) revealed that the check writer had been selling multiple items on various Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade sites in both Hooterville and neighboring communities. Yesterday, Friend Kortni alerted me when two more items popped up on one of the sites; they weren't our items (those are long gone, the guy assured us), but, Hugh was infuriated enough to hit the guy where it apparently hurts: his social media accounts.

Hugh posted the guy's Facebook profile picture on our store page along with a full description of his crime against us. Then, going a step further, he shared the post to all of the local community Facebook pages.

It did not take long for the posts to go viral. In fact, according to Facebook stats, that post on our page is the most viewed and shared of any post we have ever posted. That's...kind of sad.

On the other hand, the majority of comments that we got on the post were from other small business owners who have been burned by this guy, so, at least they had a forum to vent as well.

The guy in question was not happy, as one might imagine. He has since left threatening messages on Hugh's page as well as complaining to Facebook to have the post removed. He is also due in court this morning on charges unrelated to all of his bad checks, and, with any luck, will find his ass thrown in jail for a lot longer than he was the last time. Oh, did I mention he is on parole? No? He is.

I have no illusion that we will ever recover our merchandise, nor will we see financial restitution, but, it really would be nice if this guy wasn't in a position to rip off other innocent parties.

And, while the buzz generated by Hugh's posts could come back to bite us in the ass (I'm sure the scumbag has equally scummy friends out there), at least other businesses have been warned.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Favorites: A Little Bit of Life, Lately

I haven't done a Friday Favorites post for a coon's age, so, I guess I better do one. Why? Oh, hell, why not? f you can't navel-gaze on your own blog, where can you?

So, if you were to ask the Man-Cub what some of his favorite things have been lately, he would definitely say playing Pokémon Go. Indeed, he spends what little free time he has walking around our neighborhood, and in neighborhoods in communities ranging from Hooterville to Neighboring City, catching imaginary characters. He is often joined by the rest of my boys, and, they could be doing a lot worse things, so, I cannot complain. I would post a picture of them wandering seemingly aimlessly down the street, staring at the phones in their palms, but, it's been like 95 degrees here lately and I am in no mood to walk across scorching hot pavement to capture those particular moments.

Hashtag: Not That Dedicated of a Mom.

While the Cub is engaged in his Pokémon pursuits (literally), I have been using what little free time I have in more literary pursuits; I have been reading. A lot.
So far this summer, I have powered through almost every title in Elin Hilderbrand's  (quite prolific)portfolio, a number of suspense novels, and a bunch of stuff in between. I am currently working through Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (I'm on book 3), and I have done most of it via my Kindle, so, it's safe to say that the Kindle is one of my favorite things this summer.


A few evenings ago, I heard a knock on the front door. My visitors were the young couple whose wedding I photographed in Vegas in June. They brought me the neatest thank you gift, ever.
A bottle of good wine (they know me pretty well) and a customized wine glass, bearing the name of my photography business and the date of their wedding, which, established my business by providing me with my first professional gig. It was the sweetest, most thoughtful gift that I could have imagined.

When I photographed their wedding, I carried my equipment in a Fossil bag that I purchased at the mall in Neighboring City. It's not meant to be a camera bag, obviously, but, with some padded dividers borrowed from one of my real camera bags, it did the job quite well. I'm thinking about using it again next week, when I haul all of my equipment to Mayberry for Stampede. It's a favorite this summer, for sure, the pink color is just so happy.

Speaking of pink and happiness, Dad's Oriental lilies have started to bloom in my flowerbeds. They are huge, vibrant, and fragrant, and, I think there are going to be even more blooms this year than there were last year, which, is saying a lot; there were a ton of blooms last year.

Somewhere, Dad is smiling.

And, that's about it for this post; I have to get to the hardware store, because, although I have Fridays off from Day Job, I still have responsibilities at the store. That doesn't mean that I'm not loving Fridays, it just means that they could be even better.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Things Are Finally Humming Along

The past couple of days, there have been multiple hummingbirds at the feeders. This is good news because I was seriously starting to worry; usually the feeders are packed and I am refilling them every other day, this summer? Not so much.

I was actually starting to wonder if the hummers had gone the way of the bumblebees; I'm happy to be wrong.

Guinness and I both love watching the birds zip around. Guinness will sit for hours in the kitchen window, watching them chase each other from feeder to tree to feeder and back again. I enjoy standing on the porch, as close to the feeders as I can get, close enough to feel the flutter of the birds' wings as they zip about my head in search of their next sugar fix; sometimes I capture them in photos, more often, I don't.

They are fast little buggers.

And, beautiful.

There is a wider variety in the type of birds this year; the colors are unique and amazing, and I am determined to photograph each one.

This one reminds me of a goldfish...

The entertainment that the birds provide is worth every penny that I have spent on sugar and all of the time that I have spent boiling water in which to dissolve it.

Hummers say summer to me.