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.”


Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Albuquerque Trail-Day 1

Some would argue that a trip to Albuquerque takes 11-15 hours by car. Well when you go by way of V&RJ, a trip across west Texas can takes days. We believe MPH means “must peer here” or “many presents hollering”. If we didn’t stop at everything that called out to us we could never forgive ourselves for missing that lost special something. After all, as with every shopping adventure, we are only making ourselves available to the treasures that are desperately searching for us.

The trip starts out as an escape to the mountains of Jemez Springs, NM. We had been planning the trip for months and now it was finally here. Late September, early October is a beautiful time of year in the New Mexico Mountains. We scored a beautiful chalet overlooking a plunging bluff and could not wait to get there. Packed and ready to go, I load up Lucy, my 1988 red convertible BMW. I could just see us cruising , top down, the wind blowing through our hair; scarf’s trailing behind, as we sail across the west Texas plains-a total Thelma and Louise moment, without the drive over the cliffs edge ending of course.

However, we learn our chalet is a mile up a mountain with hair pin turns, steep grades and a strongly suggested tip of four wheel drive vehicle accessibility. So, as my bubble bursts, I pick up Ruby J and sadly we swapped out Lucy for the 4-wheel drive Chevy Avalanche. We make the transition of luggage, totes, goody and survival foods, and of course Tina Turner CD’s along with an array of other great artist to entertain us. Our excitement overtakes us as we make the transition, talking at the same time, doing the vacation tee tee dance, kissing loved ones goodbye and head for the open road.

Ruby J and I have a trip pledge. We can talk about family and work until we get out of the county, then it’s all about us. So as you can imagine we are talking 90 to nothing as we approach the county line. We can always pick up the same conversation, and we do, when we cross back over. For now, it’s splendid girl talk bliss. We talk about old friends, old times, and the here and now, and as always, the adventures our imagination takes us.

We stop in Wichita Falls, I can’t recall the attraction, but it’s still a good time to gas up. I’m fumbling with the massive cargo, enough for a year’s travel, nestled in the back seat when I notice something missing. At first I’m in disbelief, it’s here somewhere, has to be, must be, please tell me it’s here, where is it? Ruby J notices the commotion and attempts to soothe my fears by pulling everything out of the back seat. “Venus, it’s got to be here,” she reassures me. Once, twice, three times we go through the bags and luggage but it’s not here. Oh my God, my mind flashes forward, our Swiss chalet, girl week of pampering, wine drinking, massages, salt baths and desserts, and I left my luggage in the back of the convertible. Noooooo!

Because Ruby J is who she is, she holds back the obvious, “you’re a dumb ass,” but instead blames it on any and everything but me. Surely it must have been the force, fate, Feng Shui, karma, the gods, stars and even the luggage itself. “Damn luggage, you just can’t trust good luggage anymore.” Then as if finding the key to world peace, Ruby J quickly blurts out, “Venus you can wear anything I brought….oh look there’s Wal-Mart…anything except my underwear that is.” Still stunned, I gaze towards my future wardrobe and see fading visions of perfectly chosen outfits quickly replaced. I know this is how Goldie Hawn must have felt in the movie Overboard when she slides into an oversized housedress. Even though Kirk Russell tells her it’s her favorite she knows deep in her heart it’s just wrong.


Never had a sister, so a Lobster will have to do!


Relax, have a nice cup of coffee, tea or your preferred adult beverage and see life through the eyes of two passionate women, who in the beginning of their 30+ year friendship, were not passionate at all. At least not about each other anyway. Well, that's not completely true. How can you be passionate about first impressions? Not that Ruby J could be considered a judger at all. However, at first site she hated me. It was one of those "French Kiss" scenes where Kate sits down in front of Juliet and say, "It was before I knew you, bitch" kind of moments.

Thank goodness we got past that! Anyway before we head off on 30 years of adventures let me explain "Lobsters". Ruby J and I never had a sister growing up. I was always envious of sisters who told each other all their lifelong secrets and knew there was a sacred bond between the two. Then on one of the "Friends" episodes, Phoebe explained how Lobsters will search the entire ocean looking for its soul mate. When they find each other they never part. Even when they die the living Lobster hooks it little claw around the other and drags it along until it is no more (have you got a good picture yet?). At that moment I knew Ruby J was my sister (Lobster) for life. Except that, I don't plan on dragging her around if she goes first, that is, unless she is wearing lots of cute jewelry.

In a nutshell Ruby J is the sister I never had and for 30+ years have always had. She is everything I could ever imagine a sister would be. She has that sister intuition, and knows exactly what to say at precisely the right moment. She’s outspoken, never meets a stranger and is literally the Sun. I on the other hand am quite the introvert, happy in my shell. You might say together we are the yin and yang of best friends.

Join me as I attempt to portray the wild and crazy adventures or should I say Lobster Tales of Venus and Ruby J.