Friday, July 31, 2015

The Old Dirt Road

Not long ago I was out driving with my son. We drove past what used to be his grandparent's farm. As we pondered the changes there (all that is left is Mom's weeping willow tree and Dad's yard light) I mentioned that I remembered when the road going past was just an old dirt road. He remembered that too.

The road is paved now. As it should be. It is a fairly major road with the quaint name of Broken Kettle Road.

I mentioned that I had seldom lived on paved roads as I grew up in Nebraska. Even after we moved to Iowa and lived in Sioux City the streets we lived on were not paved.

One house was at the top of a hill. Boy was it hard to drive up and down when the road was wet from rain. Walking was no fun either.

The other house my family built. It was on the corner. The road leading to the grade school was paved and the road that met it at 90 degrees was paved. But as soon as you turned the corner... dirt.

I can remember in the summer being so excited when the "grader" came down the road. It would level out the holes and ruts so that the ride would be smoother for a while. In the winter the same machine served as the snow plow.

Dirt roads and even those that were graveled meant a lot of dust flying when cars went by. If we were playing in the yard we gloried at dancing in the dust clouds. Of course then we had to wash up. Oh the horror of it all.

Of all the places I lived while growing up I only remember one where we lived on a paved road. The reason it was paved was because it was the main highway into town and also the town's main street. Less dust.

Even now I live on a little dead-end street in a little bitty town. Until last year it was just a dirt road. Last year they laid asphalt. It really has not made much of a difference. The street is maybe a half block long. The cross street is still dirt.

I do not mind the dust so much. It is just dust. In the big city dust is mixed with all the petroleum waste in the air. That means that it is oily and sticks to everything. Plain dust is for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Are You Ready?

The thing I have been dreading has happened. I called my nephew to see how my sister is doing. He handed his phone to her.

The reason I have been dreading talking to her is because I did not want to hear her struggle to speak and make me understand her. She is my little sister and I did not want her to hear anything negative in my voice to discourage her.

Imagine my surprise when she spoke clearly and I could understand her. Her words are slurred just a little but not even as much as someone who has had too much to drink.

I can hear her thinking about what she is saying but that is only because I know her and her speech patterns. Most people would not notice that.

My nephew had taken her into the garden at the facility where she is staying. She calls it jail. She wants to go home. That is a good incentive to work at getting stronger.

Anyway she is able to sit in a wheelchair for trips to the garden and therapy. That in itself is a huge improvement. She told me that they are getting ready to have her start trying to stand.

She says her left leg is useless but I told her that it might come back in time. She thinks it is because part of her brain (she means skull but she does still get a little confused) is being stored in her leg until the swelling goes down enough for her to have it put back where it belongs.

She was beginning to sound a little tired so I said goodbye. Now that my selfish feelings have been assuaged I will call her a little more often.

I just felt the need to share my joy. The news was depressing for so long. Now I am looking forward to a reasonable recovery for her. I think I need to find a way to celebrate.

Friday, July 24, 2015

To Catch A Jackalope.

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for Nature Center Magazine. I have had it on my mind for about two weeks now. Perhaps I am meant to share it again.

Late at night the cowboys sat around the campfire relaxing from the long day. Tall tales were told. Loved ones were remembered. Then the cowboys started to sing.

But what's that? In the distance something was singing back at them. Other cowboys? None in the area. Rustlers? They wouldn't let themselves be known. No... it's the jackalopes joining in.

Are you asking what is a jackalope? It's a supposedly mythical animal that is a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. It looks like a jackrabbit except that it has horns like an antelope or deer. Occasionally it might have a tail like a pheasant too. Is that a jackalopant? Nope. It's still a jackalope.

A jackrabbit is actually a hare. It is usually bigger than a rabbit and has longer ears. The babies are born above ground and able to see and have all their fur when they are born. They are able to fend for themselves. Take a look.

Deer and antelope are much larger animals. They often have magnificent antlers. Often they are hunted for more than meat. The antlers and heads make trophies for the hunter to brag about.

How did these two kinds of animals unite to form a new animal? Nobody seems to know. Maybe the same way that other hybrid animals of mythology were made.

Now the jackalopes are able to make their own little jackalopes. They are still very rare because they mate only in a storm. Lightning is an essential ingredient to successful mating.

As I said before baby jackalopes are able to fend for themselves from birth. But they are mammals which means that milk from the mother helps the young grow stronger and faster.

Jackalope milk is valuable. It has many medicinal uses, including as a powerful aphrodisiac. It's hard to get though.

The female sleeps belly up so it's fairly easy to get the milk if you can get to her. The milk comes out homogenized because of the powerful leaps made by those strong hind legs. The problem is that jackalopes are either shy or ferocious depending on who you talk to. There aren't too many of them either so it's kind of hard to find them to begin with.

Jackalopes can mimic any sound. We've already learned that they can sing like us. When they are being chased they will often send their hunters on a wild goose chase by yelling, "There it is. Over that way!" It makes it hard to find them.

The best way to catch a jackalope is to set out a flask of whiskey. They love the stuff. They are easier to follow and catch when they are drunk. Just be careful. They're mean drunks and will fight to the end.

Jackalopes are found mostly in the western and prairie states of the United States. Cousins can be found in the alpine regions of Europe. Some of the names they go by there are Wolpertinger, Blutschink, Dahu, Dilldap, Elwetritsch, Hanghuhn, and Rasselbock. In Sweden there is the skvader.

President Ronald Reagan had a jackalope trophy mounted on his wall. He said he had captured it himself. A senator from South Dakota gave him another one a few years later as a gift.

Douglas, Wyoming, calls itself the Jackalope Capitol of America. In June each year they have an official Jackalope Day. Celebration of all things jackalope to be enjoyed. In fact you can even purchase a jackalope hunting license. The season is short so you will have to be prepared. Only one day, June 31 (not a misprint) and the time is only 12 midnight to 2 in the morning. If you go hunting for jackalope, I wish you luck.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Did I Hear That Right?

When I was about 11 years old there was a very popular song named "Teen Angel". It was about a teenage boy whose girlfriend was killed in an oh so tragic car accident. Everyone was singing it.

One day my mother came home from grocery shopping chuckling. She had seen a little girl sitting on the curb in front of the post office. And singing at the top her lungs. "Clean Angel, can you hear me? Clean Angel, can you see me?" You can find the song on YouTube. It was sung by Mark Dinning.

Sometimes we hear the words to songs wrong. It is a common thing. There are even web sites dedicated to hearing the words to songs wrong. Some of them are quite funny. Just do a search for wrong words to songs and be entertained.

The Singing Nun was a real nun who had recorded a song named "Dominique". It was a huge hit. A beautiful song sung by a nun with the voice of an angel. My aunt who was a know-it-all teenager at the time insisted that it was performed by The Singing Num. After all a real nun would never make a record.

This song is probably the most notorious song of all time. "Louie, Louie" by The Kingsmen was banned in many cities of the United States. Those in charge of banning things were concerned because they could not understand the lyrics. That meant it must have something "dirty" in it. The more cities that refused to allow it to be played, the more we wanted to listen to it.

I was fairly newly married. My husband and I headed to the laundromat to wash some clothes. As we walked in with our dirty clothes there was a song I had not heard before playing quite loudly.

Imagine my shock when the chorus began "Where were you when the ship hit the sand?" I of course heard something else. I thought they were singing about something distasteful hitting the fan. If you are interested the song sung by Little Jimmy Dickens is on YouTube and titled "When the Ship Hit the Sand". It is still difficult to write the correct words.

I cannot begin to tell you of the number of times while the television is on that my head will whip up at something I imagined that I heard. Usually it is something that I will not repeat. Usually my unclean little mind picks up sounds and scrambles them into something else. Does it happen to you\?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Vote For Me; I'll Set You Free

The Temptations sang a song called Ball Of Confusion. The first verse begins;

People moving out, people moving in
Why? Because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sure can't hide
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I'll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on

The candidates running to be chosen to represent the political parties in the 2016 presidential election are crawling out of the woodwork. The Republican candidates number in the upper teens right now with perhaps more to come. There are fewer in the Democratic race but choices must be made.

In the United States the leader of the Executive Branch of the federal government is the president. In every year divisible by the number 4 (as in 2016) there is an election to choose who will be our president for the next four years.

No person can be elected president for more than two four year terms whether those terms are consecutive or not. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to serve 4 terms. There have been other presidents who took office as the result of the elected president dying who served for more than the two terms but not for more. After FDR's long run people felt that a limit to terms was necessary and a law was passed limiting the amount of time that can be served.

The Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says in part;

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

President Obama has served two terms as president so we will be electing someone new. Each citizen of the United States who is 18 years of age or older has the right to vote. During the primaries a 17 year old citizen may vote as long as they will be 18 by the time of the presidential election.

This primary election will be a challenging one. As I said there are so many people plying for my vote. And there are many differences of opinion from them about running this country. Some statements I like and others I do not. I may agree with one candidate on one issue but completely disagree on another.

My ideal candidate would completely agree with me on all issues. I am certain that millions of other voters feel the same way. And I am also certain that not one of those voters completely agrees with me.

So how do I choose the person I will vote for? I pay attention to what all of them are saying. But until a few of them fall by the wayside that is pretty much all I do.

When the choices are narrowed I then began to listen to speeches. I watch body language. How do they respond to questions? Do they seem knowledgeable about the major issues? Do they have responsible and reasonable solutions to problems facing the people of my country? Do they seem intelligent?

Those are a few of my criteria. I go online. All the candidates post their platforms. I can read each one and decide whether I agree or disagree. I can decide whether they have a real plan or are full of hot air.

When the day to vote arrives I go to my local polling place and cast my secret ballot. One person close to me says my vote does not matter. Nothing will change.

I believe that as the number of voters declines the politicians take that as an indication that they can do as they wish. If nothing else I want all of them to know that someone (me) is keeping an eye on them. I wish more people felt the same way.

My children all have strong political opinions. Some of them are totally opposite from mine. That is their right and I encourage them to have those opinions. We have some lively discussions.

I also have grandchildren who vote. My two oldest grandsons are the political beings. And they each support a different political party. Luckily they like each other a lot but they do have some good discussions.

They come by it honestly. My parents were active politically as was my father-in-law. We were all taught to care and take the operation of our country. After all we are The People.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Famous People

The high school I attended had several famous people who also went there. Macdonald Carey was a movie star and well-known for his role on Days of Our Lives which is a soap opera. Twin sisters Dear Abby and Ann Landers not only went to the same school they had the same home room teacher I did. Of course it was a few years earlier. Sharon Farrell is another.

Dear Abby and Ann Landers each came often to speak at assemblies at the school. Of course they were in the midst of their famous feud so they were never there at the same time. I remember Sharon Farrell coming once. It was exciting to be in the same room as someone famous.

It is not a big city so the concerts there were not usually starring famous acts. Gary Lewis and the Playboys came when This Diamond Ring was popular. I was able to see the concert. I also saw a Grand Ole Opry show with Skeeter Davis (End of the World) as the headliner.

Then I got married and moved to a big city. I am a huge music lover but money was tight so I did not go to concerts. I was content to listen to the radio.

However after my parents and brothers and sisters moved to the city my siblings attended many, many concerts. Once my children were old enough they went too.

KISS was a favorite for all of them. My brother and three of his friends made costumes and dressed as KISS for Halloween. So did my children. So did my grandchildren. And they still go to KISS concerts.

I like KISS well enough but I was never interested in going to a concert. One time they were appearing in a near yet not so near city. My children had tickets as did a couple of nieces and nephews. They bought me a ticket too.

It was a good concert. We were off to the side of the stage. Because we could see backstage from where we sat we also saw Shannon Tweed walking around back there. She was appearing on a soap opera at the time.

Once at a KISS convention where KISS was not scheduled to be my oldest grandson looked up from his place at the table and excitedly said, "It's Gene Simmons, it's Gene Simmons!" Sure enough Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were there.

They had received word that some costumes that had been stolen from them were on display. The police were with them and the stolen objects were retrieved. My grandson who was not much more than a baby got a "high five" from Gene Simmons as he passed the table.

For concerts my son would dress his son and daughter as KISS members. We have seen the kids in a couple of videos.

My oldest son loves Queen. He was too young to see them when Freddie Mercury was in concert with them. But they were touring with Paul Rogers and my son was able to get 4 tickets to some really good seats. I went with him as did my youngest son and his daughter.

Two of the original members of KISS were performing at smaller venues after they were no longer part of the band. The tickets were not nearly as expensive so the kids usually went to see them. They were in more of a nightclub setting.

One night they had gone to see Peter Criss. He was a little late for the performance. When he did get there my children overheard him whining about just about everything.

The band that I managed was just a local band that played in a bar. They were all very talented and many had performed with groups that you would know of. But they were not famous.

The father of the keyboard player died suddenly. We needed a replacement. John Galvin of Molly Hatchet graciously agreed to fill in. He did a fabulous job. I later learned that my youngest brother knew him and my nieces played with his children.

Then there are The Irish Rovers. I had wanted to see them in concert for years but no one would go with me. I go many places alone but it just seems like you need someone to enjoy a concert beside you.

Finally my second granddaughter who was about 5 years old said she would go with me. She fell in love.

We went to see them every year after that. They always gathered to sign CD's afterward. They are a really nice bunch of men. And they have always been good to my granddaughter. They talk to her and take an interest in what she is saying. They are no longer touring but they are worth seeing if you ever get the opportunity.

Sports are popular for my family. Baseball is my favorite and other members of the family like it too. Football, soccer, hockey. All are good.

We went to Tiger Stadium for my oldest son's birthday. That was the first time Mark "The Bird" Fidrych pitched there. We fell in love with him just like the rest of the world did.

We have been privileged to watch many of the Tigers from Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Joel Zumaya, Justin Verlander, Willie Horton, And Miguel Cabrera just to name a few. There is nothing like seeing the ballgame live.

Mike Ilitch owns both the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings. He is the founder of Little Caesars Pizza. Every year he throws a huge Christmas party for all his employees. My daughter was a manager for Little Caesars Pizza for many years so she was able to rub elbows with a lot of sports stars. The sad thing is that she does not care for sports and unimpressed by anyone including famous athletes.

She working one time when several WWE wrestlers came into her store. They were visiting the tanning salon in the same strip mall and needed something cold to drink. She still is not sure about who they were but thought maybe either HHH or Psycho Sid was one of them.

My father gave me tickets to go see the Red Wings when Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio were on the team. I saw Alex Delvecchio in a hallway after his shower. His hair was still wet. I fell in love. My husband vowed never to go to a game with me again because I became so excited that I kept hitting him in the arm.

Bobby Heenan was a wrestler/manager for the WWE. My oldest grandson liked him because he was not only talented but he was so funny.

Bobby Heenan was signing autographs so my son took his son to get an autograph. Bobby Heenan appropriately insulted my grandson while signing the autograph. My grandson was thrilled.

My oldest grandson enjoyed acting in various plays in high school. Even after he graduated he would still attend the plays at his high school. He did not really have the time between working and college classes to take part in any.

But then there was an ad in the newspaper. They were looking for extras for a movie being made in the  town where he worked.

He applied and went in for an interview. When they found out that he had an older model car they asked if they could use it in a scene. It might suffer some small damage but they would pay him for it.

He just snorted and said, "I'll drive it off the bridge if you want me to." Obviously he did not love his car.

Anyway he was chosen as an extra. He was required to be on set several days a week. Most of what he did was crowd scenes. But he is spotlighted in one scene in the movie. It is a terrible movie but I watch it just to see him in that scene.

If you are interested the movie is "High School".

He became friendly with a couple of the actors starring in the movie. He still stays in touch with them by email. He met a lot of the big stars like Michael Chiklis and Adrien Brody who were in the movie. He was especially friendly with Brett Kelly who played the little boy in Bad Santa.

My grandson had such a good time and was well thought of by the rest of the people in the movie. As a matter of fact they called him about a couple other movies but by that time he was working full time and planning his family.

I have been active in politics since high school. Maybe even before that. Because of that I actually met a few famous politicians.

Coleman Young was the first black mayor of Detroit. He and I had a hate/hate relationship. We were constantly locking horns over one issue or another. One time he became so angry with me that he called me an a$$-h**e. I felt the same about him.

Through a dear friend on the city council I met Rosa Parks. I cannot say I knew her well but I saw her several times. She was ever the proper Southern lady. She was soft-spoken and intelligent. She was one of those people that you instinctively wish to protect.

When Senator Ted Kennedy was trying to institute a National health care system he came to our city to conduct part of his study. He asked my brother and sister-in-law to testify about my niece's illness and how the costs affected their family. He had his nephew Joseph with him.

We did meet both of them. I was impressed with the composure and ease of Joseph. I was sure he would do well in the political world. Not so much with Ted Kennedy. I had the feeling he was not as bright as most of the Kennedys were said to be.

My oldest granddaughter was chosen to attend the Student Athlete Games in Rhode Island. The keynote speaker to these gifted young people was Bill Clinton.

Even before he began to speak one could feel why he had been elected president. And when he was speaking each person felt as if they were a part of a conversation in the kitchen.

President Clinton showed his intelligence. He considered his answers to questions and framed the answers in everyday language. He never "talked down" to the audience. He was totally at ease and that made the audience feel the same way. He is a disarming and charismatic man.

I worked for a department store that catered to the more wealthy people of the area. My job was in the men's wear department. I sold shirts and ties as well as underwear. Several of our clients were seen on television.

Bill Bonds was a local newsman. Many people know him as the newscaster in Godzilla. Bill Kennedy was an actor in Hollywood and made many movies. He was the announcer at the opening of The Adventures of Superman the old series from the 50's. He hosted an afternoon movie program and by the way adored being a "star". Sonny Eliot was a World War II hero. He was shot down and taken prisoner in a camp in Germany. After being rescued he became an actor and eventually one of the most loved weathermen.

Those are but a few shoppers at the store. And I was fortunate enough to be consulted on the matching of ties to shirts by each of them and many others.

The most famous person I ever met was Steve Wilkos. At the time he was just beginning his own television program having been part of the security on the Jerry Springer Show. He is a former Marine and a former Chicago policeman.

I was standing in the beginning of a line waiting to be admitted to visit my son in jail. Mr Wilkos came up and introduced himself to all of us. He said he was going in to interview someone for his program.

I later watched the program it was the mother of a 9 year old girl who she was setting up for sexual liaisons. How sad.

But Steve Wilkos was very personable and constantly looking for unusual stories. One couple in the line lived like Gypsies and that piqued his interest. He talked to them for quite a while before he was admitted inside.

My son had no idea what was happening but they were on lock down while the film crew was allowed all the way in. I told him what I knew and he was surprised.

So I have seen many more famous people that I have met. But I have met a few. How about you?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Life At The Store

My daughter-in-law worked for the same company as I did. We just worked at different stores. We gleefully exchanged tales of strange things that happened.

At her store senior citizens gathered together on certain days to have breakfast and a bit of companionship.They played checkers and there were bingo days sponsored by the store. It was a nice outing for them.

One morning as the cleaning staff were cleaning the bathrooms they had to wait while one of the senior men was using the facilities. They waited and waited and waited. Finally someone decided to see if he needed any assistance. No answer.

An ambulance was called. The police came. The poor man had died.

My daughter-in-law called me to tell me that the area had been roped off as the police investigated the scene. It took several hours before they even removed the body because they were waiting for next of kin to come identify him. Could that have been done somewhere other than a men's restroom?

Another morning just as I was walking out the door to go home from work I was informed that I had a phone call. It was my daughter-in-law. "Guess who is in charge of this store?"

I jokingly said, "You are." As a matter of fact she was.

A couple of enterprising young men had come into the store and started to fill their clothing with bottles of liquor. Of course they were seen.

Shoplifting laws in that state have rules that the person doing the shoplifting must be seen to take the item(s) and be under continual surveillance after that. They must be seen leaving the store without the merchandise being paid for before they can be stopped. Security will wait for them just outside the door and ask the shoplifter to accompany them to their office where the authorities will be called.

As employees we were all trained to report suspicious behavior to the security department and let them handle it. We were never under any circumstances to accost someone ourselves.

So these young shoplifters were clinking with the sound of bottles full of liquor. As they were walking out of the store the grocery manager and the night store manager took it upon themselves to play Rambo.

They chased the men and tried to tackle them and hold them for the police. The men were having none of it. They fought back. The grocery manager was right outside the doors of the store when he was hit. The store manager followed his fellow all the way into the parking lot. There the man repeatedly slammed the manager's head into a curb.

The police were at the store when my daughter-in-law arrived. After briefly explaining what had happened the store manager handed her all the keys to the store and said she was in charge until any other manager arrived. He was on his way to the hospital.

I had a department manager that we all disliked. She came in and decided right away to change everything. She issued orders and was short on praise. We could not wait until she was transferred. In retail managers are shuffled around regularly.

For some reason she took a liking to me at times. Sometimes when I was on a lunch break she would come sit with me and talk . I ate alone otherwise because I worked the midnight shift. Still I thought she was an ineffective manager and was anious for her to leave our store which eventually happened.

Then came the morning a few days later and my daughter-in-law called me. "Guess who got your old manager!" Of course it was her store.

I would occasionally stop by my daughter-in-law's store on my way home from work. Her first coffee break happened when I got there so we could sit and enjoy each other's company for a while. We also could let off a bit of steam about work because we knew what the stresses were.

Unfortunately that manager always came running over to sit with us like I was her long-lost sister. My daughter-in-law would roll her eyes in that way she has. I would cringe. The manager would plump herself down and chat away.

It was time to change displays in the main aisles at my store. Fishing gear was one of the displays being removed.

Someone got the idea to play a practical joke on the night store manager. They took a giant teddy bear from the toy department and put the fishing waders on its legs. Then they placed it in the bathroom. One of the smaller employees locked the door to the stall from the inside and crawled under the door to get out.

Someone was assigned to call security to tell them that there was someone in the bathroom who had been there a long time and was not answering any efforts to communicate. Security dutifully went to check. They were in on the prank.

The night store manager waited for security to report that everything was fine. When they told him they could not get any answer either the manager went into the bathroom. He called out to the person and got no answer. Finally he had security open the door.

We were all waiting to see what happened next. We were trying to look busy but it was hard. Finally in walked the manager with a sheepish look on his face. He knew that we all knew. It was good.

One night just as I pulled into the parking lot at work the warning siren went off. I moseyed on to the front of the store looking this way and that way the whole time. Someone said it was a tornado warning. I instantly started to look for the funnel. Security came out and ushered all of us inside to try to make us safe.

I worked in the cash office where the walk-in safe resided. It was the safest place to be in a crisis so I went there. All the other cash office workers were there ready to pull the door closed if needed.

The assistant night store manager was panicking. She was running around in hysterics. She wanted to know why cash office people were still in the office and ordered security to make us all go to the back of the store with everyone else. We tried to convince them all that we were supposed to be right where we were but she was having none of that.

We were herded to the back of the store right before we lost power. There are back-up generators in a store like that but they power the freezers, cooling units, and computers. There would be power for enough lighting units to keep it from being completely dark.

With all the employees and customers in the back of the store it did not take long for the atmosphere to become uncomfortable. Body heat and no moving air made breathing unpleasant. Children became restless and there was some crying. We looked through some of the merchandise and found a few things for them to play with. That helped.

It was a huge relief when the all-clear was sounded and we could return to where we were supposed to be. We were fortunate that the tornado passed us by.

During a different tornado my daughter-in-law's store was not quite so lucky. There was no warning and suddenly the roof was torn completely from over the produce section. Fortunately no one was injured. The store was a mess until they could get the roof replaced.

For a while there was a problem with a ring of shoplifters. There would be a group of them who would descend on a store. They would spread out so that security could not keep track of all of them. Then they would get what they came for and out the door they would go.

One night they visited my daughter-in-law's store. Security was waiting at the door for them. Struggles ensued. One woman fell to the floor and began to scream "Police Brutality!"

Other shoppers entering the store were shocked. Shoppers in the store were incensed. They all began tearing the store apart. The management had to call the police who sent out the riot squad. It took some time to calm people and resume some sense of order.

As a side note security camers clearly show the woman throwing herself down. No one else was near her.

There was also an infamous shoplifter. We called him "The Tie Man". The reason for his name was that one of his favorite items to take was silk neckties.  They were easy to conceal and easy to exchange with no receipt. All he had to do was claim that they were a gift.

Most employees knew him. We would notify security as soon as he came into the store. But we were never able to catch him.

He was finally captured. When they searched his car they found some interesting items. The most interesting was a journal. In that journal he recorded the date, time, and which store he visited.

He noted whether employees had greeted him and looked him in the eye. If they did he would leave.

He recorded what he stole and the price on the tag. He recorded how much he received when he returned it.

He made a fortune (hundreds of thousands of dollars) and it was all recorded. He shoplifted from all the major retail stores in several states. I wonder if he is out of prison yet.

One night we began to feel ill. I was a cashier that night. All of us experienced burning and watering eyes. Customers were complaining too.

The night store manager called the gas company to come out in the middle of the night to see if there was a natural gas leak. They found nothing. We were still having problems.

Of course they refused our pleas to close the store. The manager was getting ready to call the gas company again. Someone came from the back of the store where merchandise is stored.

A delivery truck had backed up to the loading dock to be unloaded. The exhaust pipe of the truck was just above the floor level. Since the driver left the motor running all those exhaust fumes were pouring into the store. A person could hardly see through the poison filled air in the storage area. Once the truck was turned off and a couple of doors opened the air was better. We were going to live!

At my daughter-in-law's store someone spilled some chemicals in the paint department. The fumes were highly toxic apparently. People were being sick in the aisles. Employees were ill.

An emergency call was made and a hazmat crew came out. They immediately closed the store. Several people were treated at the hospital.

The greeter from my daughter-in-law's store called me one night to tell us to be on the lookout for a man who came into their store, loaded a cart with auto accessories, and ran out with all of it. Everyone was so shocked at the act that they just stood with their mouths open. I thanked her and informed the manager of the store so he could notify security and anyone else who needed to know.

The greeter called a second time to tell us that the guy had come back and done the same thing a second time. I sort of chuckled but I said we would watch for him. We were talking about it when she suddenly exclaimed, " There he goes again!" He got them three times that night.

One night I was working at the service desk. The greeter worked right next to me so we had been talking back and forth during the night. There was not as much business at night so we had a little time to be idle.

A man came in to return something. I obtained his information as I was trained to do. I then examined the merchandise he wished to return. There was a reason I could not accept it for return so I declined.

He demanded to see the manager. I called the manager who said he would be there as soon as he could. He also notified security just in case.

The manager was not moving fast enough so the man went to grab the greeter's phone to call. She refused to let him use it.

He began to yell at her. Then he grabbed her around the throat and began to choke her. Security came running and rescued her. Police were called and they took him away.

She prosecuted. He was found guilty and sentenced to a short term in jail.

These are just a few extreme examples of life in retail. It is not always easy so be kind to the person trying to assist you or cashing out your purchases. We appreciate kindness.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Drive In The Country

I looked out the window and it looked beautiful. I decided to go for a drive.

It was a little more than breezy but not quite windy. I still have not decided whether it was brindy or weezy. But it was nice.

The sky was so full of those big fluffy cotton ball clouds just floating gently overhead. The very pale blue of the sky barely showed through but it was there. No sun was in my eyes but it was more than warm out.

As I drove along the country roads the first thing I noticed was the rippling waves in the corn as the wind blew over them. The corn is a gorgeous deep green and close to knee high. The waves looked so inviting.

The other main crop in this area is soybeans. I can still see the rows made when they were planted. As they grow the rows will disappear from sight. Today it was comforting to see the order of the rows.

In ditches and beside the road grew various prairie grasses. Mixed in are the stray grains whose seeds were transported by birds. They bow and weave so gracefully when the breezes blow over them.

Also beside the road were clover and sweet clover. I saw a bit of chicory here and there. I saw a large growth of creeping jenny. My grandfather hated creeping jenny because it chokes out what he planted. There were other little colors which were undoubtedly flowers but I could not tell what they were. I even saw a large stand of cockle burrs.

I was sort of watching for the wild roses I used to see as a child. I did not see any. Maybe it is the wrong time of the year. We used to go out and pick wild flowers for my mother. It was so much fun. And even though the flowers were wilted by the time we delivered them proudly Mom was always thrilled at our resourcefulness.

Stands of trees bowed their heads in the wind as I drove by. It makes one feel slightly regal. I was queen of the trees.

I watched as large birds of prey found a draft and floated and soared as long as they could. I envy them that ultimate sense of freedom.

So I just drove and looked in awe at the beauty that I don't always take the time to appreciate. As I rose to the top of the last hill before I would make the turn to go home I saw so far into the distance.

There was a haze over the scenery as I looked into the next state. I could see all the trees and buildings but there was an ethereal quality to it all. The closer things were the less hazy they seemed. Colors began to brighten. Outlines of objects became more clear. My goodness it was beautiful.

I had a good day. I am content.

P.S. I just found out that my niece's oldest son is the lucky fan who caught the game winning home run ball in today's Tiger's game.  I had a good day, the Tigers had a good day, and my great-nephew had a good day.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Creative Blogger Award

A huge thank you to Geo at Trainride Of The Enigmas for presenting me with this award. If you do not know Geo please click on the name of his blog and look around. He has the most magnificent sense of the absurd.

There are conditions to receiving this prestigious award.

1. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog.

2. Share five facts about yourself to those who are reading your blog.

3. Nominate other worthy blogs and notify those blogs.

4. List the rules. This is the time to tell you that this award is for fun. No other benefits will be given. Because of that any blogs that I list are under no obligation to reciprocate in any way. But my admiration of you is sincere.

Five facts about me.

1. Most of you know that my real name is not Emma. But the stories I write about are all true as I remember them.

2. I am not here to make a great literary statement. I am writing about my family and myself to leave a history of sorts for my children and their children.

3. I have a head full of absolutely useless information. I am good at trivia games but the facts are not worth much otherwise.

4. The one thing I do well is learn. I have an appetite to absorb as much knowledge as I can. Unforunately I am not good at "doing". You would think that would make me a good teacher but teaching is a "doing" thing so that does not work either.

5. Ever since my oldest son introduced me to the internet I have been hooked. I have a world of knowledge at my fingers. I have taken virtual tours of almost every museum in the world. I have visited apartments (and pubs) all over the planet. The cities of the world are here in pictures and words. I can learn a new language. I can learn the steps to a dance. I can study flora, fauna, and history. The words to my favorite songs are listed. I can listen to those songs performed by my favorite artists. I have met wonderful people from many different places who I would have missed knowing without the internet. I could go on but the opportunities are limitless. This science fiction contraption of my youth is now a marvelous reality that opens possibilities to whatever a person wishes.

I now bestow this award to bloggers that I respect. They have gained this respect in various ways. A sense of humor will pull me in every time. I appreciate intelligence, not necessarily education. Personality, humanity, and observation are present in each. Please visit the ones you are unfamiliar with and revisit the ones you know. All are good reads.

Cup On The Bus

Transformation Information

Life 101

Life at the Blue Rock Ranch

Jean-Living Simple

A Man On The Move

Weedpicker's Journal

My Journey

Dear You, Joy of Living

The Everyday Adventurer

nature tales and camera trails


Georgia Girl With an English Heart


Generation Z. Cruising In An RV

Out On The Prairie

The Frog & PenguINN

About Life and Love

The Rural Path

Don't Unplug Your Hub

Please consider yourselves notified.

If you do not see your blog listed please accept my apologies. It does not mean you do not belong in the list, only that I did not have it right before my eyes and my little brain can only retain so much.

All of these blogs are excellent and I hope you take the opportunity to visit them. To each and every blog listed, I will not be offended if you wish to ignore this whole award thing. As I stated before it is only for the fun of it.