Sunday, October 17, 2010

Zipper Virgins

     Ah, fall has finally arrived. As Mother Nature eases mankind into this beautiful season Ruby J and I are packing our bags for a Wimberley, Texas ziplining trip. I know you are thinking, WHAT? What are two middle-aged women (who believe they are still 17) thinking? Are the insurance policies up-to-date? Do they have a death wish? Ziplining, really? Well, it’s on our list of things we want to do, so after months of research and locating the perfect spot (that promises lots of shopping opportunities also) we make our reservations.

     The planning stage is where the thrill begins. We watch videos of ziplining locations across the country looking for the perfect spot. The Wimberley Zipline Tours caption screams, “Prepare for high flying fun as you glide through the air on the most exciting Ziplines in Texas.” Excitement mixed with adrenalin causes me to pause for a moment of silence seeing my life pass before me before I hit the “send” button. Ah, it’s done. We are really going to do this crazy thing. Just as I relax and start visualizing the freedom of zipping through the air, flying over canyons, passing streams and gorges, breathing fresh mountain air, Ruby J starts sending me “death” ziplining horror videos. GREAT, just great!

     Hum, something tells me she may not be totally committed to this venture. However, if she were truly “out” I know she would say something, but come on, she has walked all over a flea market with me wearing an umbrella hat. As the days get nearer, we text each other back and forth counting down until it’s finally here. Bags packed (trunk and back seat full) we put the top down on Hepburn and head south on IH35. We made plans to stop in Hillsboro to have lunch at Mimi and Papa’s. These are old friends, near and dear to our hearts. There is nothing better than a good meal, talking about old times and getting hugs from people who feel more like family than friends. Until we meet again, Mimi offers an old saying making me smile as we jump in the car and continue on our dare devil girl trip.
     Cursing down IH35 even the wind whipping past us doesn’t cause us to miss a beat in conversation. We have our hair tucked up in our trusty 9-1-1 baseball caps (in case we get pulled over), sunglasses and ice tea. Before you know it we are in Round Rock and pull in to shop for unfound treasures. We strike big at the shops and realize we will be hitting Austin at rush hour traffic. No fear….WE ARE ON VACATION!!!! Turning off the highway in San Marcos we make a pit stop then jump on the two lane country roads, following Hepburn as she guides us all the way to the front door of our country abode. “You have arrived,” she says confidently.

     Unpacked, we can’t believe how beautiful the place is; we have all the comforts of home and don’t even have to share a bed….yeah! It’s late, there is a cool breeze drifting through the windows and we have a nice spread of cheese, olives, crackers, fruit and pastry cream horns stuffed with icing. Life is good. Tomorrow is a shopping day and we have mapped out every shop in town. For now, we need our beauty rest to withstand the temptations of items that will surely want to go home with us.

     We hit the shops early and after shopping we decided we literally walked 8 hours today. This will help me with my fitness pal entries, because I did not stick to my diet. Let’s see 8 hours times a zillion equals hum, I can eat all I want for two years and never gain a pound. Cool. See, shopping is healthy. One of the best places we found today was a little shop called Climb On. It was like a candy store of natural beauty products. Heaven! They had me at “pure”. I think we bought one of everything in the store then made sure we were on their email list, phone list, FaceBook and Twitter. We could not wait to get back to the casa and try the purest of pure. I could tell Ruby J looked 15 years younger just standing in the store holding the stuff.

     With our dogs barking, it was nice to kick off those flip flops and get in our PJ’s. Dinner tonight is a smorgasbord of goat cheeses, crab, sauces and avocado; by the way, did I say we had fresh baked pie from the Wimberley Pie Company? Still that didn’t help our nerves as we talk about tomorrow – D- day. With the lights off I start to sink into slumber when I hear Ruby J praying:

Oh Lord, won't you bring me some lightening and rain?
My friend wants to go ziplining, she must be insane.
Worked hard all my lifetime, now broken bones are my pain,
So Lord, won't you bring me some lightening and rain?

Oh Lord, won't you give me a helping hand?
My friends mid life crazy her heads in the sand.
I wait for a sign each day Lord as dementia sets in.
So oh Lord, won't you give me a helping hand?

Oh Lord, won't you buy me some silver jewelry?
I'm counting on you, Lord, please don't let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won't you buy me some silver jewelry?



     Morning comes with the most beautiful sun rise, clear skies and crisp air. We watch a small herd of deer outside our window as we enjoy coffee and cream horns. Dressing quietly we gather our gear then head out early not realizing we are only about 10 minutes away from the site. I use the excuse I didn't want to get caught in the Wimberley morning rush hour traffic….it’s 9:30 and there’s not a car on the road. Parked, we slowly get out, recheck our gear and walk to the welcome center. We do the usual meet and greet as our guides help us put on harnesses, helmets and gloves. There are 10 of us dare devils. Two sets of old friends and three couples celebrating their anniversaries. The guides start giving us the do/do not speech. “Fingers cut off,” got my attention real quick. Taking in all the instructions we are admitted to flight school. Of course, we passed with flying colors. I mean it was only two feet off the ground. I’d have felt bad if we failed. Giddy we talk back and forth as our nerves get the best of us, when the guide hollers for us to load up in the back of the truck. We all scrunch in as the driver begins to climb the mountain and I notice I’m griping the rail with an iron claw.

     At the first plateau, we gather as a group (yes we had to hike up Mount Everest). The guides talk about the history of the land and terrain. Then it’s up another mountain as we reach our first zip line. It’s called the Bunny Run. Ruby J is third in line and I’m directly behind her. Fear quickly diminished after we zipped like pro’s and made it to the bottom without even a scratch. WooHoo, let’s do it again! Fashionesta zippers! Ruby points out how good we look in harnesses and helmets. We could have blended in with construction workers or well diggers easily. I might get Ruby J a construction belt for Christmas this year. Pink of course. I could always glue a tiara on the helmet to add a touch of bling.

     Zip one, zip two, zip three….let me go first, zip four, zip five….love it, love it…zip six, zip seven, and sadly zip eight. No, we want more; give us more, can we work here? Let’s do it again. How can it be over, we just got here? If we walk very slowly maybe they will think we are with that next group and we can go again. Ah, I don’t wanna go (foot stomping).

     Super psyched on adrenalin we say our goodbyes and realize we are starving. A late lunch at Lucy and Ethel’s was just the right fit for the day. Still energized we drive to Dripping Springs, just to see if treasures there might be trying to find us, but no, we were already spoiled by Wimberley’s gracious hospitality so we head back to town. But wait, oh my, we see a store we missed yesterday and must stop in. We find the perfect gift for our dwelling host, buy some local wine then are ready to have dinner and turn in for the day. Our last eatery is Milagros Hill County Tex Mex. It’s a good thing we got their early, because when we left, the line was out the door. As our energy winds down, we know this is our last night before we pack up and head home. We spend what’s left of the day reminiscing about how we overcame our fears of ziplining and start planning our next adventure.

     We wake early and on the 10 hour drive home we never stop talking about our adventure, past adventures, future adventures and as always about old friends and times gone by. Another goal marked off our list and another story to remember always.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lake Murray or No Room to Breath

Remember when 100 people would pile in a Volkswagen Beetle and all you saw were faces, feet, hands and butts smashed up against the windows? That’s how Ruby J, Raquel, Loretta and I looked piled in Loretta’s mustang with enough luggage, food and makeup to sustain a small country of high maintenance divas for a month. Food aside, we really do need to look good when we get to our cabin at Lake Murray, Oklahoma. As we cuss and discuss what has to go, we weigh our options. First, we really need clothes, and yes clothes are highly overrated when you have the body of a Roman Goddess! However, it is the chilly season, and even a Roman Goddess gets goose pumps-not pretty. Second, as beautiful as we are (breath-taking in fact) not even I want to see this face without "Mary Kay" doing her magic all over the place. So, food it is, after all we can always find a grocery store in Oklahoma. WooHoo, we have overcome our first obstacle, food is out, and necessities are in.

The grocery bag of food is left at Loretta's house and in its place is Ruby J's makeup Caboodle. Ruby and I offer to take the back seat and make room for the Caboodle between us, leaving only 10 inches on each side for us to sit. Moving the passenger seat forward as far as it will go, it takes both of us to lift it to the back seat and place it on the hump. Holding it in place we each slide into the sardine can seat, our knees plastered up against the front seats while our head supports the pillows stuffed against the back windshield. I say a prayer, "Please don't need to pee as we make our 100 mile drive to the cabin, amen."

The drive went fast, with several conversations going on at once. Ruby and I might be talking then interject into Loretta's and Raquel's conversation, or we might all be talking at the same time about several different topics. None the less, good conversation and company made a fast trip to Lake Murray State Park. Turning off IH35 towards the lake we get a renewed surge of energy, knowing we are there. At the marina, Loretta picks up our keys and we are off to search for our weekend hide-away cabin. There is it, a quaint adobe structure. Looking at it from the outside I wonder how they put a living room, bedroom, bath and kitchen in a 12x12 space with a fireplace no less. Beautiful, gorgeous, wish you were here!

Unloading the car would be easier if we could actually get out of it. Sitting for so long without being able to move or readjust can be quite painful. Neighboring vacationers begin to stare as we make animal moans and cries (non sexual in nature) in an attempt to unravel the pretzel we've become. Inching out of the car my body looks like an old woman, bent, crippled, hunched, as my spine protests and I wonder if I’ll ever stand straight again. "Stop whining," Loretta hollers, “grab a bag; we’ve gotta get food!" Unloading our valuables we each find our place in the hovel. Ruby J and I take the sofa bed and search for the sheets and blankets we brought. The cabin is bare bones; you bring your bling, which includes all linens, kitchen stuff and toiletries. There is no television, clocks, phones or radios. It does however, have water and electricity. So this is what they mean when they say we are roughing it.

With a plethora of food items and drink, we watch the sunset and share a meal. Raquel tells us stories about her trips up north to a "spirit house" she visits often and psychic phenomenon’s she’s experienced. We sit in awe for hours listening as the hair on the back of our necks refuses to lie down. Raquel talks about her guardian angel and how spirits follow her around. Sometimes they are so loud she has to tell them to be quite. She said with an excited expression, “There are here with us on this trip, wanting to be a part of our adventure.” "Ah, no! I don't remember extending the invitation to anyone but the four of us," I said. As Raquel continues to tell stories, Ruby motions me to the kitchen. As soon as we squeeze into the closet size room, the air begins to get thicker and thicker. Ruby totally forgets why she summoned me there. Our eyes meet and it's as if we can't talk but know what each other is thinking. Our bodies feel like we are moving in slow motion as we try to get back to the living room miles away. As soon as we make it through the door (simultaneously) the air clears. We jump on the couch and Raquel asks if we heard them. "Heard who," Loretta asks? "The spirits in the kitchen, they were all around the two of you jabbering unintelligible messages to Ruby, they called you in there. That’s why you went, right," questioned Raquel?

Ruby pulled her feet up on the couch and with a quivering voice says, "I, we, kitchen, couldn't breathe, thick, felt trapped, hard to move (breath, breath, breath), oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, that was them, spirits, I think one touched me, (rabid breathing) are they here now, what was that, did you feel that? Raquel grabs her hand, and motions to the kitchen, "Ruby, there are several here, right now they are in the kitchen, they wanted you to know they are here and want to talk to you, but you must relax to communicate with them." Ruby blurted, "I didn't invite them, why do they want to talk to me, are they gonna be here all night?" I'm just sitting in the corner of the couch frozen, wishing I was in the sardine can backseat with the doors locked headed south on IH35. Raquel tells us her guardian angel and spirit friends talk to her all the time. Understanding them is the key. They speak so very fast you have to relax your hearing so much so, that you slow them down, then and only then will you be able to communicate with them. "Hum, yeah, no I don't think there will be any spirit communicating for me," Ruby say adamantly. "Oh, believe me, there are time's I have to tell them to leave, sometimes the room is so full with their presence I can hardly breath,” expressed Rachel. Ruby J looks over at me and we both have goose bumps.

Loretta suggests we take a break and build a fire, so we stock the fireplace and gather around. It's a hollowed out Aztec adobe style fireplace and other than not being able to find the flue we were set. Loretta and I try to look up through the stack, but can't find the lever so we figure it must not have one. At first the fire appeared to be cooperating, a little flame was taking off and gradually getting bigger. Ruby J noticed a little smoke in the air but thought we stacked it with too much wood. She walked outside to see if it was billowing out the chimney stack and runs in when she sees nothing. By this time the whole cabin is filled with smoke and we are running back and forth to the kitchen getting water to douse the flames. That is everyone except Ruby J; she isn’t stepping foot back in that kitchen. The windows (2) won't open so Raquel has the door open fanning the smoke out. Ruby J, Loretta and I take turns helping for what seemed like hours until we could breathe through the haze and return to our abode. Raquel exclaims, "Time for another bottle of wine ladies, we battled the fire and the spirits have left." Spirits or no spirits, Ruby J never entered the kitchen again.

As we prepare for bed, Raquel tells us she brought her "past life regressions" techniques book with her if we wanted to try it. Of course, Ruby and I were like hell yes...what’s that? Raquel explains how she would place us in a meditative type trance then she asks us questions such as, look at your feet. This gives her a reference of the time period and terrain, are you wearing shoes, if so, what do they look like, what color are your feet, how big are your feet, etc. From there she asks your name and can you find a calendar or maybe a newspaper, are you in school, what grade, what does your home look like. She asks questions to determine who you are, the year or century, location, surroundings and your age. She progresses forward in increments of 2-5 years. If she moves five years forward and you don't respond or say you see black, she moves back a year. The goal is to find out how long you lived in the time period.

I lie on our sofa bed as Raquel takes me down, slowly transcending into a meditative state. She begins by asking me if I can see my feet, I respond with "yes". The questions begin: Are you wearing shoes? "No, I answer." What color are your feet? "Black." Do you live in a house? "It's like a shack, dirt floors, bed." Can you find a calendar and read me the date? "No, I can't read." Are you poor? "Yes, very poor." Do you live with your parents? "Mother, don't know my father." Does your mother work? "Yes, very hard in the fields."

Raquel continues: I want you to move forward five years, what do you see? "Black." I want you to move backward a year, what do you see? "I'm running again, they are chasing me, they have guns, dogs, but I have to get away. I'm tired, getting weaker, can't run anymore, they've found me, stop beating me." I want you to move forward 4 1/2 years what do you see? "Black." I will count to five backwards, when I get to one, you will awaken, feeling refreshed, safe, unafraid, 5-4-3-2-1.

As I awaken, I remember the whole experience. Raquel refers to her book and translates what she believes to be the scene. She relayed, I was a slave child possibly in the early 1800's whose mother was bought and owned by a plantation Master. She worked in the fields. I sounded like a rebellious child who had tried to escape several time. The last attempt ended in death at about 14 years of age.

I'm listening, but wondering, did she really pull that from me or did I make it up. I would like to think if I made it up I would have been a princess in a tall castle saved by a handsome prince who slew dragons and brought me precious jewels (and shoes). I would like to recall living a fairytale life instead of a slave child killed by the master. How depressing. Ruby's like, “I think I'll pass, we'd probably find out I was the town drunk who got run over by a train or something like that. “

The whole experience has exhausted Raquel and she excuses herself to bed, Loretta soon follows and Ruby J and I quietly crawl into our sofa bed. For a few minutes we are quite, then Ruby says, "If you get up to go to the bathroom, I'm going with you, (pause) promise you won't leave me here by myself." "It's a promise girlfriend, it's a promise, wanna go sleep in the car?" "No, but if one of those spirits touches me I'm walking home." "I'm with you all the way!"



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Houston/Galveston Psychic Trip: How we got invited

     Scared, intrigued and excited, Ruby J and I get invited to a “Psychic Girls Weekend” trip in Houston by our good friend Raquel. We meet Raquel when she came to Fort Worth to visit my sister-aunt Loretta. I call her that because even though she really is my aunt, she is only five years older than me. It just feels wrong calling someone who’s supposed to be your elder “aunt” when she is more like a sibling. I digress…anyway; Loretta called to say Raquel had arrived, so I speed over to meet her. I have been hearing stories about Raquel for years now and finally I get an invite to meet the only person (I know of) in the world that has psychic abilities and reads jewelry. Reads jewelry? What is that? Well, Raquel has the ability to read stories and histories of metal and stones. How’s this done? Raquel holds the jewelry in her closed hand and meditates, becoming one with the piece, allowing it to talk to her.

     Raquel then begins to tell the tale using her voice as the items channel to “get its message out.” Raquel will tell you that though the meaning is clear, understanding or decoding the jewelry’s message is up to the owner along with interpretation depending on how old the jewelry is and where the metal or stone originated from. If you have a piece of jewelry that was handed down from generation to generation there may be stories you don’t know about. Or, if you have a piece of jewelry that was melted down or re-tooled the metal or stone will always carry with it the history of anyone who wore the piece.

     Eagerly we sat waiting our turn feeling like we are back in school being picked for the kick ball team. Silently, each of us is screaming, “Pick me, pick me.” Beautiful Raquel with her soothing sincere voice looks over at my daughter and asked if she has any jewelry she would like read. Shocked that she would be picked first, she quickly looks at her hands, oops not wearing a ring today, feels her neck, no nothing there either, then slides her hands to her ears and walla-earrings. Two small diamond studs adorn her ears. She quickly takes them out and hands them to Raquel. Raquel gently closes her hand, sits in silent for a few moments then opens her eyes abruptly. She looks around the room, then to my daughter and says, “Maybe we should talk in private.” Each of us protests, wondering what could be so secretive that can’t be shared. Raquel looks directly at my daughter and says, “I don’t think you would want everyone to know this and I don’t want to reveal anything you may not want known.”

     My daughter looks at her, then at me, and says, “These earrings were a gift from my boyfriend, and there is nothing I can’t share with my mom or family.” Raquel gives her the "are you really sure" look and allows the earrings to speak. “I see a baby boy.” STOP! Dead silence in the room as we all turn towards my daughter, each of us have the same question going on in our heads, “You are pregnant?” She jumps up and with firm confidence says “NO!” Raquel, says, “Well, I may be rusty, but there is no question about the certainty of the message, let me finish and see if it makes sense to you.”

     “I see a baby boy. You are terribly unhappy, feel helpless, and don’t know what to do because the marriage is bad. There is abuse, control, threats, and now you are pregnant again. You are far from home, hundreds of miles away and don’t have anyone to talk to. He has you trapped, caged knowing your family is far away and he is in control.” STOP, WAIT RIGHT THERE, pregnant again? I look to my daughter with brows raised and she says, “Mom I am not pregnant, nor have I ever been pregnant, I swear! AND, when have I ever been away from home?”

     Hum, good point. We are all up walking around trying to make sense of it all, asking questions, getting more coffee and comfort food. Right now anything will do, just give us something to stuff in our mouths. Raquel is calm trying to explain how she has no control over what the earrings reveal, but stands by the strength of the message. I ask her to try again, but she only comes back to the original message. Perplexed we try to go deeper. Did her boyfriend get the earrings from someone else and then give them to her? Could they have belonged to another at some point in time? We ask questions like when did you get them, where did they come from, has anyone else worn them besides you, did anyone borrow them from you? Trying to answer all our questions she looks up at me and says, “There is one possibility, but it’s kind of a secret.” I’m bewildered and confused not knowing where she is going as she says, “Mom, remember when I called crying because I only had the earrings for a couple of weeks and lost one of the diamonds?”

     Instantly my adrenalin begins dumping each half second, my heart begins to race, pupils dialate, frozen shock takes over, and all of a sudden I can’t speak, move or think. Trying to pull it all together and not wanting to connect the message and its memories, I begin to feel the emotions churning, going back in time, THAT place that had been stuffed and suppressed, now begins to feel raw all over again. My mind runs through the earrings story again and it hits me with full force. Immediately my stomach cramps, I’m re-living the scene, can’t breathe, no way out, as fear overcomes me. Feeling all eyes on me, I slowly and purposely make the words come out.

    “OK, (breathe) when I answered her distraught phone call about the lost diamond she was a mess and didn’t know what to do.  I tried to calm her but she was so upset because her boyfriend had worked so hard to buy them for her. She knew it was not her fault but she didn’t want to disappoint him or know about the lost diamond. So, I suggested she take a diamond from the wedding ring given to me by her father (my ex). After all, it just sits in the jewelry box, God knows I’ll never wear it and I had planned on giving it to the girls when they grew up anyway. This was the perfect solution. She came over and the diamond was the exact size, so she took it to the jeweler and her life was good again.

     As the reality of the story sinks in, the crowd now makes the connection. The one diamond had carried with it years of sadness locked into the stone. Before my daughter took the diamond it had sit alone in the jewelry box for almost 15 years, holding onto memories of the last time it was ever worn and could not let go of. Finally it would be heard, using Raquel to unlock the door that had been closed for so long. Raquel walked over to me and said the diamond must be cleansed, because the sadness it held was so strong it possessed negative energy for the wearer. Raquel walks us through each step of the cleansing ceremony using salt and sun to absorb the bad and infuse the good energy.

     Still stunned by the honesty of the stone, each of us are now a little scared to hear what other stories the jewelry in the room may unfold. One by one, we hear good, funny, sad and strange tales as we unravel the web of days gone by and unlock the history of family stones. I think there is that little place in the back of our minds that we are all wishing that Raquel is the ancestor jewelry psychic who will bring us messages from our grandmother, whose jewelry I still wear today.

     Raquel asked us, if we have jewelry that just makes us feel good, something that lifts our spirits when we wear it, no matter what kind of day we may be having, as it may be the energy associated with the jewelry. I have a beautiful black and silver necklace and earring set, that when I wear it, I feel a euphoric wave of pleasure. I can only imagine the stories it holds. I remember seeing my grandmother wearing it when I was a little girl and how beautiful she was, confident, sophisticated, and elegant.

     Raquel also warned about buying and wearing used jewelry. Each piece carries its history good or bad. She told a story of a friend who had her eye on an estate ring. When she finally saved enough money she bought it. She had never thought about its energy until she met Raquel. Though she loved the ring, she said every time she wore it she became depressed, sad and lethargic. After a reading, she learned the rings original owner was murdered by an ex-lover and her horrific death was the last memory the ring held.

    Mouths gaping and still mesmerized, it’s time for Raquel to go back to Houston. Before she goes, she invites all of us to come to Houston for a girl’s weekend getaway. We all check our schedules and probably would have packed our bags that day if she could have fit us in her car. With the date set, Raquel drives south. We on the other hand sit and talk for hours, re-living the day’s events and wondering just how she does it and what life is like in the psychic world….to be continued.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

When Friends Call or I’ll Bring the Swine

     In the Fall of 199(?) something, Ruby J decides to remodel, reface, redo, and rearrange her dated living room. So, she does what all girls do in their time of need. She called her Lobster sisters for help. I thought, yeah, a new project and a reason to get together and create new beginnings. Loaded down with sewing machines, hot glue guns, pins, tacks, tape, paint brushes, fringe, sequins and wine we arrive and scan the space. Filled with pride, as if we have all been personally selected to give the Mona Lisa a facelift, we follow a strict protocol and open the wine first. Leonardo De Vinci’s standing together in the middle of Ruby J’s living room, sharing a moment of silence for the old crap (hanging in there for so long) and making a celebrated toast asking Christopher Lowell to enter our souls and give old Mona a Flash Dance curly perm and a push up bra.

     Now I’m not talking about armatures here. Each one of us has at some point in our lives “created” something, so we feel pretty confident we are subject matter experts in this field. I mean, who wrote the rules for decorating? And, what made them the expert? We say who, we say when, we say who, is and always will be our motto. We don’t need no stinking de-Ka-rate-tour judging or telling us how to create the perfect room. Furthermore, anyone can create a space on unlimited funds, that’s just a no-brainer. Real creativity comes when you have to work with what you have, or one-hundred dollars, whichever is available to you. If there is one thing we are good at, it’s working with nothing, come on, after all we are dispatchers, we’ve always got a plan B, C, D, and E in our back pockets just in case the situation changes. And that’s exactly what we have here.

     Like passionate opera singers, in perfect harmony each of us are verbally designing the ideal space. Ruby J watches, never says a word and lets us ramble on and on then finally presents her inspiration piece. She lays a flat sheet, still in the plastic wrapping on the couch and says this is what we have to work with girls. We stop in mid-stream, look at her with “I beg your pardon,” “Did we hear you correctly,” “I think I misunderstood what you just said,” deer in the headlight gazes. Without speaking, we each search the room for the bottle of wine, then glance to see how many bottles are here. Ahh, there it is, “More please,” “Me too,” “Yes, thank you,” “Here, go ahead and take the last little bit,” “Oh no, you have it, I insist.” Well, plan B it is.

     Anxiously Ruby J rips the plastic off the king size sheet, unfolds it and shakes vigorously until it opens completely. It floats in the air and gracefully descends to the floor revealing all its rich colors and patterns. Earth tones burst forth in a rich Aztec pattern as the sheet comes to life. At that moment we know why Ruby J was drawn to the sheet. We could see how the room would come together from this one inspiration. The warm tones changed the cold room into an inviting and comforting space. Now the question was how to make it happen with the slim budget. White walls turned to radiant sunsets reflecting off a red, orange and rust cliffs pallet. A rug was scored on sale, taking the eye away from the dated carpet. It’s the first thing you see when entering the room, catches your attention and teases the eye where to look next. Ruby J has only one window in the living room. It’s a bay window with one center and two sides. The aluminum blinds are outta here and the new King size sheet will adorn the space. This is a westerly window and the sun is blinding hot in the evening. Together we brainstorm on how to make the best with the difficult shape and odd frame. “Can I have another glass of wine please?”

     This is a hopping place, lobsters are sewing, cutting, painting, cleaning, measuring and someone has the important job of keeping our creative juices flowing with a full glass of wine. Even when faced with a minor dilemma we are not discouraged. We find there is not enough fabric to make gathered curtains with the sheet, so we decide to make three panels. One large and two small should work nicely.

“If there is fabric left ober we can make bibe pello’s, is a panel really fat, I mean flat, or can it be a tad crimped on one edge.”

“Let’s use door nibs for fennels.”

“Where the swine?”

“Oops, glue gun injury.”

“I measured 30 inkas, the window is 28, the panel is 12, how’d that hippen, RJ.”

“You know, it kinda looks like a shiet on a windo, if you turn your head like this.”

“You guys are the bust lubsta’s eva.”

“If you can’t fund a screw hul use the gle gun.”

“I say fringee EVERYWHERE!”

“You got that writ, I put it on the cuffee teble, goooo glue gun.”

“Who’s thristy?”

“Ahh, that is so sweet, you hot glued my wine class to the table-butumas!”

“This paterene reminds me of my Indian ruts.”

“I had mosicans when I was lil, do you have any RJ we could use them as decortons”

“I don’t think the sheet scrapps look good glued to the door nob, sorry, just my pinion.”

“Ooops, did I do that?”

“Done! Puject completer, lets look at the misterpiece-and toast!

“Humm, yeah, just turn your head lik this, oh, they don’t open, but tink bout this, if the house fell forward you would look so cute slepin there, and luk it goes with your jewry.”

“ooooH you guys are tha bust, I luv it! Lets do my bedrum next week?”

“Sure, I’ll brung the swine.”



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silver Jew’ry, Silverware, Silver’s Silver right?

Silver Fork Necklace
If you’ve never been to the Fareast you need to have a looksee. East Texas bound (I mean far east Texas), Ruby J and I are off to Jefferson. Why you say? Well, let me explain. Ruby J heard about this famous beauty salon called Beauty and the Book. According to owner/writer Kathy Patrick it is, “The ONLY Hair Salon/Book Store in the WORLD!" Nestled in the heart of Jefferson on North Polk Street sits a little shop dedicated to GIRLS! You can get your hair done, colored, cut, dyed, shaved, spiked, gel’d, ironed, bleached, stretched, curled, extended, sprayed or just plain washed. But that’s not all, you get books, jew’ry, bags, t-shirts, more books, posters, bookmarks, and boas, did I say jew’ry, and even more books. Of course when Ruby J told me about the place, I looked up the number, called and made appointments. Now I know you are thinking, those two vintage goddesses don’t need no beautification, you just don’t mess with perfection.

Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but we all need a little touching up now and then. So with appointments made all we had to do was get there. When I called the shop I told Kathy we would probably need the whole morning…we need of a lot of attention. In fact I’m sure she thought I was kidding when I said we needed to clear out all the inauspicious energy (that’s a Feng Shui term for you non-Zen believers) we’d stored up since our last girl trip.

We check into the Historic Excelsior House on West Austin and are escorted to room 214, The Lady Bird Johnson Room. Besides us, other short time famous guests included Ulysses S. Grant, Oscar Wilde, and of course Lady Bird Johnson. Our room is located across the street from the historically renowned haunted Jefferson Hotel. Just so you know the Jefferson Hotel was NEVER a choice for the two of us. In fact we didn’t even want to look toward the place for fear one of the “permanent guests” might see it was “us” and try to squat in our room. Not gonna happen!

Unpacked we walk the streets, proud to be a tourist. And proud we were, there was not an architectural structure with a door on it, we didn’t venture into. After a few drop in’s, we noticed a definite theme in all the little shops. Whether it was a gift shop, jew’ry shop, sweet shop, or junk shop, when you walked in, a statuette caught our attention. In each store it was always black, however, in some stores it had a black collar and in others it had a purple one. Imagine a black 20-inch cone shape object, wider at the bottom, towering to a point at the top and on the very top was a stuffed black cat head.

Ruby J and I surmised the town has a strong following of some sort. Maybe the blacK Kat Kollar was a symbol to “other’s” that they were  members (black collar) or high priest’s (purple collar) of the organization. Our inqusitiveness got to be a challenge, and we were not let down. Every establishment we entered, within 30 seconds, the statuette was sighted. We got brave and started asking the shop owners what it was. We never saw but the one statuette in any store, so they weren’t selling them. Here’s the strange part, everyone we asked gave a different answer. Some didn’t even remember how it got there; just that it was or always had been-there. Now we are really creeped out and start thinking we’ve asked way too many questions and are looking over our shoulders as we make our way back to the hotel.

Night comes as we lay and talk about the ghostly spirits we know are lurking across the street. Then we settle on the notion that Lady Bird Johnson would never allow them in her room, so we rest peacefully. Morning comes and we can hardly wait to be beautified. We linger over a wonderful breakfast on the hotel’s garden terrace, not wanting to ever leave THIS setting. It’s a beautiful flower garden, butterflies, song birds, white linen table clothes and orange juice in champagne glasses. Can life get better than this very moment? Why yes! Remember the inauspicious energy? Coming back to reality, we down any last drops of coffee and we are off to beauty land.

Beauty and the Book is the perfect size for cozy girl time. We get there a little early and are the only customers there. We have to touch everything-twice. Oh yow, this is our kinda candy store. We were pampered, entertained, de-stressed, polished, brushed and combed for almost 4 hours. Kathy entertained us with her wit, literary passion and beauty skills as we were taken to a whole other girl-beauty world. We laughed, made fun of, praised, gawked, and ooo’d and awed with each new treasure. That’s when it happened. I didn’t see it, but Ruby J can be a very sly, sneaky woman when she wants to be. I mean the whole shop can’t be more than 300 square feet. Salon on one end, books on the other and eye candy in the middle. I never saw it coming and surly was not prepared to respond.

Starved, we leave our little bit of heaven, and say our thank you’s and goodbyes to our new best friend Kathy. We saw a wonderful little eatery with French sidewalk table ambiance just down the street so that’s where we end up, still talking and reminiscing. Sitting outside drinking refreshing herbal ice tea, Ruby J says, “Venus, I bought you a present.” Surprised, I say, “Me?” After all I had been with her all morning and never saw her buy a thing. Ruby J responds, “Yes, you-nit wad, but I don’t know if you will like it.” I’m thinking have I ever NOT liked anything you gave me, gees. Ruby J continued, “But, well it’s a, it’s a fork necklace Venus.” I sat there for what seemed like FOREVER trying to have a positive reaction. Finally I said (trying not to laugh or show the “you got me a what” emotion), “Ruby J, I’ve never had a fork necklace that is so sweet.” “Now if you don’t like it, we can take it back, or I’ll keep it,” Ruby continued. My mind is racing as I try to grasp what, why, and has Ruby J had a stroke? Quick, what’s the stupid acronym for signs of a stroke….I can’t think that fast, is it raise your arm, stick out your tongue, buy your friend a fork necklace?

Ruby J pulls out a small bag and lays it on the table. I feel bad because I didn’t buy her anything, but not that bad. I look at the bag, like maybe it needs to marinade there for a while until it turns into another jew’ry type utensil, like a silver necklace. Looking at me with that, well are you gonna open it, it’s the best present I every bought expression, I slowly pull the bag towards me. Softly I open the ends, like it might jump out and slid my hand inside. I feel tissue paper and what feels like a ladle, or a ladle that’s had the handle broken off. Smiling I gently start to unfold each layer of tissue paper, and sure enough it’s a fork.

Ah, but this fork has been tooled, heated, and curled into a beautiful piece of art. I gasp when I see its beauty and can’t believe it’s mine. No one will ever have a fork necklace like mine, because its hand made by a local Jefferson artist that places her wares in Kathy’s little shop, just so my best Lobster friend could find it for me. I know you think I should be ashamed for thinking Ruby J would ever buy me a eating utensil and expect me to wear a fork, knife, or spoon, much less a cheese grater. But I have to tell you, I come by this quite honestly. Once at the Peach Festival Ruby J bought me an Umbrella Hat. She had the same I just bought you the best gift expression. I wore it and Ruby J walked proudly beside me, all day. Nuf said.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Ghost Rider of Jemez Springs

Jemez Springs, New Mexico is just 60 miles north of Albuquerque. Thank goodness, there are no malls, trinket shops or junk stores along the way, or we would still be on the road. As we pulled off US Highway 25N from Albuquerque onto 550 I immediately recognized the terrain from our many trips to Ouray Colorado and began sharing childhood stories with Ruby J.

All of a sudden we hear the roar of what sounded like a steam engine fly past us. We had the windows rolled up and still felt the gust of wind through our hair. “What the hell? What was that? Did you see that, is that it way up there in front of us? Right there! Can’t you see it? THERE! Look about a mile ahead of us that has to be it, what else could it be?” Ruby J hollered, “That can’t be it, that’s a motorcycle, he couldn’t have flew past us and got that far that quick.” “Well Ruby J, it’s just us and him on this road, who the hell else could it have been,” I mumbled.

We come to the Indian Reservation and stop at a store/gas station to fill up and of course pee. There are only us and a Harley motorcycle out front. We walk in and make a beeline for the restroom. As we come out a man in all black leather motorcycle gear is paying at the register. As we approach he looks, nods, turns and leaves. It was only for a second, but he was creeeeeepy. He had a sinister smirk like, we meet again or how’d you like that fly by, Freddy Krueger meets Texas Chain Saw Massacre grin-nod. He fired up his ride and sped off. We jumped in the truck, locked the doors and looked seriously at our map hoping somehow the directions changed and we weren’t going in the same direction as he was. Nope, no such luck, damn map, that’s our route too. We mosey along, nice and easy. No need to rush ahead, enjoy the scenery, relax-whoooosh. “What the hell? What was that? Did you see that, is that it way up there in front of us? Right there! Oh my God Ruby J, it’s him. Where did he come from? He should be in front of us!” Ruby J just mumbles, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my GAUD.”

We arrive in Jemez Springs, still shaken but thrilled to finally be here. It’s pretty much a one street town. The first thing we see is The Laughing Lizard Inn and Café. Oooh, can’t wait to go there. The café looks interesting, but the inn, well let’s just say Ruby J could not even look at it without reaching in her purse for the Lysol. Next we see the Los Ojos Saloon, now that place looks like something out of the 1800’s. I could just imagine roughriders trotting into town, hitching their horses to the posts, and throwing down. There were a couple of motorcycles out front. Curiously we looked to see if one might be Ghost Rider, but all we remembered about the bike was a black blur. “Look Ruby J, there it is,” I scream. Our reason for living, a force of life, the Jemez Springs Bath House and just like that the Ghost Rider is a fleeting thought.

Now this bath house, which by the way, we have appointments for early in the morning, makes their own bath salts. They are going to wine and dine us, flip and turn us, boil and bake us, melt down any stressors that dare to surface and finish with a long massage. Oh my God, can’t we just camp out here till morning? We pull over to have a looksee, of course they are closed, but we are like two kids seeing Santa at Macy’s on Christmas Eve. WooHoo Ride’em Cowboy! Now that we know exactly where it is, we turn around and head back on the road towards the cabin.

The directions say after we cross a bridge with a huge boulder it’s the first gravel road to the left…..gravel road should have been a red flag. As we approach the bridge, we hear the freight train humming. I look in the rearview mirror and right behind us is GHOST RIDER! “Why isn’t he passing us? How long has he been back there? What the hell? He’s just following us, why’s he doing that?” Ruby J (the navigator) screams out, “Don’t turn-go straight and slow down.” I do as I’m told and Ghost Rider kicks it in gear and flies past us. We’ve now gone at least another mile past our turn and have to find a turn around on the narrow mountain road. Ruby J sees a spot and motions me to it, like if we speak he’ll hear us. I turn around and we make our way back to our gravel road.

When we were given the 4-wheel drive tip that too should have been a red flag. This cabin is about a mile up the mountain and it takes about 30 minutes to get there (flag!). The ride is tight hairpin turns, single lane, huge pot holes and small boulders that literally raise the truck, tilting it to one side where Ruby J grabs hold of the arm to my seat. Several times when we make a turn I look at the wall we are supposed to climb, look over at Ruby J and she just smiles. You know the one, that teeth clenched, drill team smile, that really says I’m gonna kick your ass if you kill us. But no, she just keeps saying (with white knuckles and stone face), “Venus, you’re doing a great job, gasp, great job, OH God!

Well, you know the drill, that night we sleep in the loft, scared to death that Ghost Rider knows where to find us. Upstairs window cracked so we can hear the sound of the Harley approaching and a 32 Chiefs Special tucked neatly under my pillow. We lay there quietly, wide awake, motionless looking up at the skylight thinking, “If that SOB makes us miss our Bath House appointment, we’ll see how he looks when a three-quarter ton 4-wheel drive pickup runs over his ass!”  "Come on Ruby J, lets go sleep in the truck!"


Friday, July 16, 2010

Poet and Didn't Know it

Fall seems to be the trend for trips lately. Ruby J and I head for Cypress Springs Lake near the town of Winnsboro, Texas. It must have been fate because I was whining to a good friend about how I was stumped where to take our next trip. She offered her lake cabin, and of course it would have been rude for me to not accept. Ruby loved the idea and started packing for the winter.

You know I don’t say a word anymore about Ruby’s packing or how many bags, trunks or Pods she brings with her. One trip she had a trunk with all her make-up in it. I think the thing was as big as a small fishing boat. She called it a Caboodle….I was like, ok call it what you like, the thing is huge! I just happened to politely say, “Ruby, does it really take all those cosmetics, to make you presentable?” She never said a word, but years later when we were having one of our confession sessions’s she blurted out how bad I hurt her feelings. Believe me, to this day she has not forgotten about it. I have to say, through the years she has downsized to a bag (the size of a paddle boat). Come on Ruby J, “Let it go, let it go, release, relinquish, repent.”

The lake cabin was so charming and private. These kinds of places are so awesome during the day, but for two fraidy cats, when darkness comes all we can think about is Jason and Crystal Lake. It’s evident we’ve seen way to many horror movies. Locked down, blinds shut, 32 Chiefs Special right under my pillow, we both end up sleeping in the loft, thinking at least we would have the advantage if he tries to climb the ladder. We talk non-stop, hoping our bantering and chatter will scare the hell out of him, and then peacefully we slip into the night and our dreams.

Bright and early we rise, have strong coffee, put our faces on and head for town. Winnsboro, though not a large town, was very inviting. We saw a small coffee shop called Art & Espresso and stopped in for a cup of Joe. The owner was preparing for the day and offered us pastries and kept our cups full-yum. She asked if we were coming to the poetry reading that night. We looked at each other and thought, “Do we look like we attend poetry readings?” Eyes meeting eyes, I could read Ruby J’s mind….ok, we’ll play. We acted like we were surprised and excited to be personally invited to a poetry reading. “Sure, we’d love to come, sounds like fun” Ruby J cutely responded. I had never been to a poetry reading and knew this was something we had to witness. I mean, how is it done? Do people volunteer to make fools of themselves in public? Is it acceptable to laugh out loud? Or, do we just snap our fingers if we are moved by the words?

Never expecting to actually return, we shop, eat, shop, eat, shop, go sightseeing and then thought, “Hum, let’s do it, we can actually tell people, why yes I’ve attended some wonderful poetry readings in my time, marvelous, just marvelous.” Returning to the coffee shop, we are a tad early so we have our pick of seats. We move to several different tables trying to decide which is best for maximum viewing. We finally settle down by a window, in case we start to laugh we can look out the window, instead of looking into a wall. The place begins to fill up with all types of interesting people. The owner says her little spill and introduces the famous native Winnsboro Poet. The first poem was either very short, or I missed it. All I heard was T’ha, sort of like he had something in his throat. Then another poem came with the same T’ha. I look at Ruby J with my lips so tightly closed for fear of busting out and immediately know she feels my pain. Not wanting to be rude and leaving in mid performance we sit there watching the crowd.

Apparently they must know something we don’t because they look like they are really into it, understand it, going with each line and appear connected. The only thing I can hear now is T’ha. We hear T’ha after each line, in the middle, between words and always at the end. After enduring what seemed like hours of incomprehensible sentences, words that don’t meet (even in the middle) and a rhyming pattern from an alien nation he bows and says we will take a short break before he begins again. You don’t have to give me a better sign that that. We are outta here. The minute the door closes behind us we start dying laughing. It’s true, we are confirmed poetry rejects.

On the way back to the cabin, poetry starts pouring from our mouths. We take our queue from our newly introduced famous poet and make sure we follow protocol. After the first few poems, I scream for Ruby J to find a pen and write them down. Oh My God, we are poets and didn’t know it. All these years we had a talent inside just waiting to be exposed. On our way home we capture some of our more famous poems, I’m sure you’ve heard them, I mean if you have any clue of the literary world that is. Just in case, I’ve added them for your reading pleasure.

Ruby J
Writing a poem, searching for words,
Trying to think of rhymes.
So many things, so many tries,
But nothing seems to chime.
Cleverness escapes me, smiles surround me.
Time after time after time.
Two words I cannot forget,
Friend and lobster or lobster and friend,
Really it does not matter,
Cause you my friend, are both to me,
With grapes on a silver platter……T’ha…

I have found it is the little things that mean the most
Who would have thought t’ha would make me smile
When it’s not even a word, or is it?
It’s not in the dictionary, it’s not in a file
But it has meaning to me and makes me smile
And, I believe if a word has meaning to
At least two people in the world
Then we should enjoy it all the while. T’ha

Ruby J (Birthday Poem)
Candles and cakes,
Road trips and lakes,
Laughter and wine,
Good friends and not so good ones too,
Some of us are really blessed, to have a great friend like you! T’ha
Dancing and wigs,
Cat eye glasses,
Lots of presents too.
Just stopped by, to tell you this…
Happy Birthday to You! T’ha

Ruby J (Liver)
Liver is an ugly thing
Smelly too…
When someone offers you liver,
Just offer them your smelly shoe…T’ha

Ruby J (Poem of the Afternoon)
Ode to afternoon
Afternoon, tune, tuna, fish
Fish, dish, red hat.
Red hat, how about that!
Jew-re, never enough.
Doesn’t rhyme
Who Cares!!!! T’ha

Deadlines, Deadline, Dead, D’ah
What does that say to you?
Deadlines make you dead?
Oh, my weary head
Clock ticking, time flying
I’m sighing,
Only to realize
My coffee is cold


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Dream or “Why they go back”

This post is outside the norm of my usual humorous posts. However, today when I was getting a book from my library for a friend an old journal fell out of the bookcase and opened to this entry. It was a sign, and due to our recent loss (7 week embryo of life) I thought I would share it.

The beginning of a new life can arouse all kinds of emotions. The first time I found out my daughter was pregnant we were very excited. She had a beautiful glow about her. I thought to myself, my first grandchild from my first child.

A few days later we were sitting at the dining room table when we saw her pull into the drive way. I knew something was wrong. Falling into my arms I knew she had lost the baby. We cried, we hugged and tried to rationalize the whole thing. Why? Why would this happen to someone so special and deserving? When she left I couldn’t let it go, it didn’t feel right and I needed answers, closure.

That night I started having dreams. My Grandfather kept trying to explain why things happen, saying it was because of him that “She” came and left so quickly. “Trust me,” he said. I couldn’t put it all together, the why’s and why not’s. Piece by piece, like a puzzle, his story began to unfold. I remember waking up crying, it was so moving, beautiful, and breathtaking.

Grandpa said he met “her” when he went to heaven. He tried to explain her to me saying, “Venus, imagine sunlight softly brushing across your cheek, gently placing soft warm kisses from forehead to chin. Imagine the taste of hot homemade cinnamon rolls dripping with melted butter, toasty warm bedcovers tucked snugly on a cold winter night, and Spring everyday of the year. Imagine the pounding in your heart as your daughter walks confidently down the aisle, in that oh-so perfect dress and gives you a teary-eyed glance of approval. At that precise moment you have made all her dreams come true. If security, safety and emotion could possibly describe an entity, behold this breathtaking beauty, a snow-white winged heavenly spirit.”

Grandpa continued, adding how the vision of such beauty took his breath away. “Like a single tear forming in a father’s eye seeing his angelic little princess in her wedding gown for the first time. It’s celestial in reality; “She” is a picturesque portrayal of unconditional love, beauty and bundles of blessings. The luminescent energy she possesses shines so brightly you squint instinctively and draw away. However, you find yourself drawn to it. The soothing warm rays wrap around you holding, hugging, safe.

“Newcomers feel comfort by her soothing touch,” Grandpa added. Fear and confusion melt away, replaced with floating serenity. A lifetime of worries seized at the touch of her hand. Hands pass one by one, sliding graciously into her satiny soft palm. Old and young, it matters not, she is always there waiting to receive. Known as “The Greeter” she holds a highly respected position in heaven. Each new hand relays incredible stories of life on earth. Good lives, wonderful histories and sagas the Greeter never tires of hearing.

On Grandpa’s day, the Greeter reached out to accept his wrinkled freckled hand. As Tom appeared before her he stood proud, so serene, shining, running one hand over his hair as if to straighten a cowlick. As he placed his weathered hand inside hers she gasped. It was magic. Sparks surged through her, awakening a river of undeniable emotion. Insurmountable love passed from one to the other, the history of a family so bonded, so gifted, astonished her. Tom’s strong vibrant grip sparked a passion inside her. She experienced an unfamiliar emotion-hunger. Hunger so deep she starved for every morsel of history he passed through her. She craved for more knowledge, names, and dates. It was only seconds in reality, yet she encountered a lifetime of memories. The expressions on her face varied instantly from incredible happiness, deep sorrow, appreciation, gratefulness, giggles, frowns, bliss, disappointment, surprise, and lastly true love. She could see it in his eyes, feel it, and knew immediately the reason for his journey.

Tom was a family man and loved his soul mate more than life itself. Frances was always right in his eyes, and though she would frustrate him, he placed her ever so gently upon a pedestal of love and deep devotion. She was his energy, his reason for living. The thought of life without her was unimaginable. He knew what he must do. He would go first and wait. He would wait forever if necessary, no matter how long it took. You see Frances was a stubborn woman, but Tom was a patient man.

For many years the Greeter dreamed of living life on earth. Sometimes the stories she received were so enchanting she could barely contain herself. But now, now that she had met Tom, she knew she had to see what he felt. She shared her desires with God, carefully expressing every detail with true desire and emotion. He loved her and understood her desire, however, he pointed out how very important she was to him and all those passing through. The Greeter was loyal to her position and admired by all. She was sunshine, always finding beauty and goodness in everything. Her spirit created an atmosphere of joy and love for those arriving. But now her time had come.

She knew it the moment she took Toms hand. This was her family, the one she always dreamed about, the one she wanted-had to be a part of. She went back to God and he saw the light in her eyes and gave her his blessing. He knew she had a mission and she was ready. Tenderly he showed her what her mother and father looked like and she smiled. She didn’t see their faces, but their souls and she knew God had blessed her. Her life would be filled with unconditional love. Looking at her mother’s radiant beauty and warm smile she felt secure. She saw the love shared between her mother and father and knew why Tom was so very proud of his wife, children, grandchildren, great grand-children, and now great-great grandchildren.

She made the journey gracefully. Through love she nestled into her mother’s womb. The anticipation of the next nine months, of having her mother totally to herself, was pure bliss. She wanted to experience every moment; feel, hear, and touch as she grew inside her mother. Life was good. She loved her mother already and could not wait to meet her. Time was moving so fast it seemed. She wanted to know this family; she wanted to feel what Tom felt. She longed for the passion, love and loyalty she witnessed from him. She wanted to touch all the hearts and listen to each soul he was responsible for. In an instant she was in love with each of us. She thought, “How can I be so lucky and blessed.” Through her mother she could see the special bond we shared-a family. She felt the same emotions that passed through hands when she was a greeter. So many good souls, on so many levels, passed as one by one she had meet those who came. Now she was living them. How different this was, so personal. She wanted to feel them all.

As she snuggled inside her mom, God called to her. She smiled and opened her soul to him. He needed her. She was so special, God needed her more in heaven than we needed her here on earth. She knew at that moment he was right and agreed with his reasons. The only pain she felt was heartbreak. She would never know her physical mother and father on earth, only in heaven. She felt heartbreak for herself and for her mom, dad, grandparents and family. How was this going to affect them? Would they know she loved them? Would they understand why she left?

As she slipped away, painlessly into the hands of God, she knew she would see them again. She would wait for them one by one and know them by name. There was a reason for her leaving. I didn’t know then, but I believe I do now. Our Granddaughter, the Greeter was there for Tom. She was there for Frances. Now she had to be there for her Papa.

Bob knew he was sick for quite a while, but was afraid. Not for himself, but for June. June was his lover, partner, best friend and confidant. Leaving her alone after a lifetime together broke his heart. He had always taken care of her and her him. His time was near.

When it was time, calmness came over him and he stopped fighting. He spent what time he had left preparing the best he could for his soul mate and family. He covered all bases, leaving no questions or doubt. He was so worried about us, little did we know, he was preparing us. He made the transition so gracefully, and as he slipped away from us, from our hands, he slid his hand into hers. She was there for him, and knew him by name. She kissed his cheek and called him “Papa”. He was not afraid anymore.

I only know things happen for a reason. Sometimes we don’t have to understand, only trust, love, and believe. This week Papa and his great granddaughter greeted another little soul into heaven. I can’t think of better hands to be in. We will miss you.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pennies from Heaven

Ruby J and I head for Fredericksburg, TX for a little R&R, shopping, wine tasting and some much needed sister time. I found a beautiful Bed and Breakfast just blocks from shopping and comfort food. As always, we have our two year survival luggage, food and CD’s. It’s a beautiful trip down US Hwy. 291 where we drive through small quaint towns with towering historical court houses and old fashioned squares. We cut over in Johnson City, take 290 right into Fredericksburg proper. The Victorian Rose Suite at the Das College Haus was everything we could have imagined. It had a parlor with a fireplace and large bedroom plus a private bath, we were giddy! We unpack, and then head out to get staples. It’s getting late so we decide to make ourselves a cheese tray with grapes and crackers, and of course wine. There is a chill in the air and I can’t wait to get back to build a fire.

As we start to leave my handbag knocks over a small metal tray sitting on the nightstand with 4 pennies in it. Toni and I scramble to pick them up and place them back on the night stand. We had just talked about how odd it was to have the tray there and could not guess what the significant could be? Surely that was not the tip the last tenant left, was it? Maybe, it means, “hey don’t be cheap, we’re starving here.” Or, possibly a penny for your thoughts and that was all they could come up with-4. Before we leave we make one more scan to make sure we didn’t miss any and off we go.

Excited to find a local store that had exactly what we wanted, we rushed back to our room to assemble our cheese tray. Ruby J walks into the bedroom and calls for me to come quick. As I walk in she says, “Venus, the penny I picked up before we left is back on the floor exactly where it was before I picked it up.” I said, “Ruby, are you sure, when we left there were four pennies in the tray, how many are there now?” THERE WERE ONLY THREE! All of a sudden the whole room gets thick, we can’t move, much less breathe. It was like we were frozen, staring at each other, reading each other’s mind. At precisely the exact moment, we scream, turn, and clear the door at the same time and land 15 feet away on the parlor couch, feet tucked up under us as if they would be wacked off if they hung towards the floor.

We are cry-talking at the same time until we both run out of breath for what seemed like 20 minutes. Then we attempt to gain some sense of composure and think logically-not happening. Terrified of the supernatural, I call Loretta to get our physic friend Raquel’s phone number. Trying to explain to Raquel in cry-talk language is not helping her understand our dilemma. Finally as if a light-bulb goes off Raquel screams, “Pennies from Heaven!!!” This quickly get’s my attention and I say (through sniffs) “Wut’s that?” Raquel explains this is an awesome gift we have received from good spirits. I scream, “Raquel, there is nothing GOOD about this, your saying we should be grateful we’ve had the shit scared out of us, I mean I’ll need to change my pants and Ruby J looks like the Grim Reaper with mascara streaming down her mortified, we’re gonna die tonight, face .”

Raquel explains (more calmly now) that Pennies from Heaven (in her world) means finding pennies is a sign that someone from the other side is showing their loved ones they are still around & they are watching out for us and we should consider this a great gift. Well, I don’t want to appear ungrateful or anything but, “I don’t want a gift, didn’t ask for a gift, take the damn gift back, no gifts-period.” I communicate with my loved ones (on the so called other side) just fine like everyone else….not by leaving freaking pennies. What kind of statement is that anyway? Hey, l left you a penny-think about me. That’s just scary. Now if it had been a $100 bill, I might feel differently. If it was a $1000 bill, I’d do a jig for you and scream your name so you could hear it (on the other side)-try me.

Now understand, I’m trying to translate all this to Grim Reaper, mascara dripper girl, huddled in the corner of the couch with a pillow covering almost every inch of her exposed flesh-like that’s gonna protect her. Can you imagine how that sounds?
“Now Ruby J, these are good pennies-not bad pennies-good not bad-good, good. That means we don’t have to sleep in the car tonight because someone on the OTHER SIDE is a FREAKING COMEDIAN and wanted to subtly let us know they are on this trip with us. Did they not get the “Pledge notice” after all we are freaking out of the county and this trip is supposed to be about us…what the hell, where’s the damn wine?"

As you can see myself and Ruby J are still not satisfied with Raquel’s explanation so we call the owner and ask if she has ever had any problems with ghosts in her establishment. What a good impression that made. She’s got some psycho dames living in her B&B for how many days? Poised she says, "No," and explains she just bought the property six months ago. She can clearly hear through my cry-talking that this will not make me feel better, so she does the only logical thing and say’s, “Girls, there is a bottle of Fredericksburg Peach wine in the kitchen, get it and drink the whole bottle-you’ll feel better.” Side by side Ruby J and I slither through the house to the kitchen. You could not slide a hair between us. We find the wine and tiptoe back to our room, open, pour and do exactly as instructed. Ok, we are starting to feel a little braver, so we turn on every light in the house, close and lock every door, turn on the TV, all the while moving as one being before crawling quickly into bed. By the way Ruby J will never forgive me for making her sleep on the closet side….it had no light. We laid there until sleep overtook us, in what appeared to happen as we were talking in mid stream.

The day we left, I walked in to pay the bill and the owner cheerfully (in an alien kind of way) handed me my receipt and said, “Look at the window sill.” I did and saw a penny. When I turned back to her she said, “ For six months now, since I’ve owned this property, each day when I open up I find a new penny laying exactly right there.” Twilight Zone goose bumps overtook me. I don’t remember leaving or know how I got out of there and into the car. Ruby J just remembers me cry-talking while urgently motioning for her to get the hell out of there. For the next several hours the two of us drive home bitching about the gall of some uninvited “other side” guest trying to horn in own our girls-get-away trip. The nerve!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tucumcari Looksee

The Blue Swallow Motel on Route 66 in Tucumcari NM, is a short detour from our mapped trip to Jemez Springs NM. Nonetheless, I had just seen Jay Leno interview Billy Bob Thornton, who said on his way to the show he stopped at the Blue Swallow Motel for the night. I’m like, OMG Billy Bob Thornton slept there, we have got to stop and have a looksee. I could tell Ruby J, who once made us sleep in our cloths, I mean all our clothes at a hotel in South Carolina, was not sold on the idea. You see Ruby J was a Health inspector in another life. Cleanliness is next to Goddess, right. Let me explain.

We made a quick trip to South Carolina to see Ruby J’s son graduate from boot camp. I mean QUICK. Can you say South Carolina without the vowels? It was that kind of quick. We only took a breath when we weren’t running over some idiot who didn’t know 70 mph meant 100 in we gotta get there yesterday lingo. After about 100 hours of straight driving, we stopped at a motel (the word motel should cause your eyebrow to raise just a tad). We only have an overnight bag, however little did I know, Ruby J’s bag was equipped with a sanitary supply industrial warehouse.

We walk in the .005 star room and Ruby J shouts, “Don’t touch anything, quick pull the bedspread off the bed.” Puzzled (remember I’m the naïve one) Ruby J said, “Didn’t you see Oprah where she showed what people do on those things.” I’m hearing this as I’m on a downhill motion to sitting on the black plague of death bedspread, and in one (not so smooth) motion I immediately do the ballerina tuck, arch, pull yourself up with all your might, tippy toe, jump, turn and look to make sure something didn’t get on me.

Ruby J pulls out a 95 gallon can of Lysol and start spraying EVERYTHING. There was not an inch of that 250 square foot econo-room that could have anything vile living on or in it. I start to pull off my coat, which by the way was long, quilted and hooded when Ruby J says, “You might want to keep that on. We have to sleep on top of the sheets and it might get a tad chilly in here tonight.” Now mind you we are dog tired, it even hurts to talk. Visualize the two of us sleeping in sub-zero coats, jeans, snow boots, gloves and the hood of our jackets tied tightly around our head. “I damn the germ that tries to get past these barriers.”

Alrighty then, back to Tucumcari and the Blue Swallow Motel, I think you get the picture. As we take the Route 66 exit, our macho 3-quarter ton, 4-wheel drive pickup that can pull a cruise liner if needed strolls past the Blue Swallow Motel. “Was that is, no that can’t be it, Billy Bob raved about the place, said it’s a permanent stop-over on all his trips, maybe we should turn around and take another looksee.” “Hum, let’s see...oh yeah, that must be it, hum maybe this is upscale in Billy Bob’s Sling Blade world, what do you think.” Ruby J looks at me with raised eyebrows and says, “Venus, I don’t think I have enough Lysol.”


Monday, July 12, 2010

Survival Food

When you are world travelers (we consider the US the world) a girl's gotta be prepared these days for the unexpected. What if:
• We got stranded
• Flat tire
• Hair ball
• Ruby J wants me to dance like Tina (that takes calories girl!)
• We are laughing so hard we can’t drive
• Shopped and dropped
• Pee’d again
• We are crying and can’t see….sometimes we laugh till it makes us cry.
• Sleepy, you don’t want to hear about the road side…or lack thereof…parks we’ve slept in
• Pulled over for, hummm…maybe SPEEDING!
• Farts or belches and it didn’t smell like roses
• Or, just plain hungry, talking takes energy

Well, whatever the reason we pack for the long cold months, like we might have to hibernate, you just never know. Our fav’s are cheese. Not just any cheese, we like the spensive stuff: Cheddar, goat, gouda, Swiss (baby that is). We gotta have crackers with our cheese, I’d say wine, but I might be driving. Triskets or any old flat hard thing will do. Now we gotta have nuts: almonds, peanuts…ok just get a can of mixed nuts and you’re good. Fruit is a must. Girl don’t get mushy fruit. You are driving and not looking at what you’re grabbing in the goody bag and you don’t wanna drip all over the steering wheel-please Louise! Blue berries, grapes, strawberries are all easy to pick up and drop between your…you know-seat.

Then there is the pee-esta resist taunt , drum roll please, Venus’s famous Granola. Yes, you think I’m kidding, but I, Venus D’Gaudez am a Granola making fool. It’s true just ask anyone I’ve force fed the stuff to. “You’ll like it if you try it.” Famous last words, swallow don’t spit. For this trip I made Autumn Blend. I like to toast it to give it a little crunch and toasted travels better than raw.

Autumn Blend Granola
6 cups whole oats
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raisins
1 cup honey
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup dried figs
1 cup dried dates
½ cup flax seed
¼ cup molasses
½ teaspoon salt

Mix it all in a HUGE bowl, then spread on a cookie sheet and toast, turning about every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes on 250 degrees. Let it cool and break it up in chunks or however you like it.
Making your own granola just gives you a feeling of earthiness, is that a word? And, by the way it’s a lot cheaper. I literally give the stuff away. It freezes wonderfully, so it will last the whole season. Eat it just the way it is or with yogurt, ice cream (yum), sprinkle it over salads, or fill up your bowl and eat it with milk. Honey you can eat this granola on or with anything and talk about feeling lighter, geez just looking at it gets me going.

Nuf about me, Ruby J makes this killer grape salad. Ok, so we don’t necessarily take it on trips, but you gotta try it.
Ruby J’s Green Seedless you don’t wanna spit seeds on your friends, geez! Grape Salad
1 lb. Green seedless grapes
2 blocks cream cheese softened
Chopped pecans the number or poundage is up to you
1 tsp. sugar

Mix and chill.

Ruby J says she stole this recipe from that famous animal lover Pam, who she knows would want to share it with the whole world. However, she didn’t say if Pam stole it or should I say borrowed. Anywho, the reason we don’t include this as one of our staple survival foods is we, Ruby J and I eat with our fingers when we are driving. Sometimes Ruby J stops short. And though she would always tell me if I needed a “BIN Check” (Bugger in Nose check), I think she would bust a gut seeing cream cheese and grapes all over my face. At some point she’d just say, “Venus, get that shit off your face.”