Scarlott Letters

Just some stuff I find funny…


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March from Heaven and Hell

March 2014 was a month of contrasts, interwoven with the worst and the best that life offers.  The first week of the month saw me traveling to Wichita Falls, and subsequently Terral, Oklahoma, for a baby shower for my youngest daughter, Whitney. Baby Jolee will be grandchild number seven for Joe and I. Christmas is officially out of hand.

Whitney is a diagnostician for an educational co-op service center and she was on spring break, so Sunday following the baby shower, she, my granddaughter Preslee, my Mother and my dog Cash all headed back to Midland for a “short vacation.”  All I can say is if you consider Midland to be a vacation, you seriously need a new travel agent.

We hadn’t been back to what I call “the REAL Windy City” an hour when I got a text from my daughter Courtney that they were on their way to the emergency room and thought her daughter Mia might have dislocated her elbow. It turned out to be much worse.  She had a bad break and the hospital in Allen sent her by ambulance to Cook’s Children Hospital in Dallas, where she had surgery to insert two pins. Mia, who is five, was climbing into the playpen to entertain her baby sister while her Mom cooked dinner, when she slipped and fell, coming down on her elbow. Ouch!

Monday passed uneventfully and we settled in to Whitney’s visit for what we assumed would be leisurely shopping, interspersed with park-going for Preslee. We were right, up until lunch on Tuesday, when Whitney sprung a leak…not a good thing when you’re only 7 months into what you hope is a 9 month pregnancy. My stepdaughter, Kori, who just happens to be a great labor and delivery nurse was a godsend and got us in to see the right people. Long story short, Whitney and her entourage were allowed to head back to Wichita Falls the next day. Her doctor sent her directly to the hospital for two weeks or labor, whichever comes first. Apparently, there’s a world of difference between a baby delivered at 32 weeks and one delivered at 34 weeks. We’re hoping Jolee stays put a couple more weeks.

 

On the following Monday, I headed to Allen to take care of Mia and her broken arm for what was her spring break. I have to say, we had a great time. How could it not be when there was shopping, fine dining, pedicures and ice cream involved? It was our first extended ‘just Mia and Honey’ time and we rocked it. We will definitely be doing that again, without the broken arm next time. It was also educational as I now know all the dialog and music from “Frozen” and “High School Musical 1,2, and 3.”  On a side note, I’ve now watched Frozen with both a four and a five year old. The “watch out for my butt!” line was the funniest thing in the movie for both of them, AND for me.  This seems to confirm Joe’s contention that I’m easily amused.

By the end of the week I was missing my man, so instead of driving straight to Wichita Falls for Whitney’s scheduled c-section on Tuesday, I decided to drive back to Midland for the weekend. Joe has been great about me being gone so much but he was happy to see his “drive-by wife.”  Last week I was his “blonde couch bunny.”  I think I’ve been demoted.

On Monday I headed out again for the birth of Jolee, scheduled for Tuesday, March 25. Once the baby gets to this stage, the risk of infection starts outweighing the good of staying put, so we’re a go no matter what.  You always hope for the best in these situations, but you can’t help but worry.  God was watching out for Jolee and her mom because we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.  Jolee weighed in at 5 pounds 2 ounces, was 17″ long (or maybe I should say short), had a full head of hair, and best of all was mad as hell at being so rudely evicted…and she made sure everyone knew it. She’s a feisty little thing. She’s on a cpap machine to help regulate her respiration for right now, but both the pediatrician and respiratory therapist say she’s doing great, so we’re hoping her stay in the NICU unit is short. Whitney is also doing great, which is good because she’s going to need energy to get through the next couple of weeks…not to mention the next 18 years or so.

March brought us broken arms, hospital stays, and the anxiety of worrying about children and grandchildren, but it also brought us good outcomes, answered prayers, quality time with granddaughters and a sweet new baby girl.  The fact I went from “blonde couch bunny” to “drive-by wife” in less than 30 days is a small price to pay…and I have a feeling I can work my way back up.


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The Anal Retentive Hosstess

Last night Joe and I hosted our first, long overdue, Midland party.  It was a Super Bowl Party.  Denver and Seattle, playing in what should have been a close game…the best offense against the best defense.  As it turned out, it wasn’t much of a game at all with Seattle stomping Denver 43-8.  When the first play of the game is a safety, you kind of figure it’s going to be a long night.

Joe and I have been together almost 6 1/2 years and the very first event he ever invited me to was Sandra & Arthur Dragisic’s Christmas party.  At the time, I had not even met them, but it was on their front porch, right after Joe rang the doorbell, that I leaned over and whispered to him “By the way, I’m commando tonight.”  Whether I was telling the truth or not, the  look on my proper CPA’s face was worth the price of admission.  Right then, he should have known…

Since then, we have been to countless parties at the Dragisic’s and I have worn proper underclothes…mostly.  Sandra is the consummate hostess and her parties are beautiful.  She must have been born with an entertainment gene.  I was not.  As Sandra has gotten to know me better, she has subtly hinted that maybe it was my turn to host a party, such as, “Sherree’, when are you going to have a party at your house?  It’s your turn.”  It’s uncanny how she can ever so delicately plant an idea like that, and after three or four years of nagging gentle reminders, it comes to fruition.  It’s a gift, really.  But more to the point, she was right.  My turn was way overdue.

The reason it’s taken me this long to get around to it and the problem with me hosting parties, in general,  is that they turn me into a stark raving lunatic.  Call it a delightful quirk, if you will.  No really, please call it that.  It probably stems from the fact all of my friends keep tidy houses, and truthfully so do I, but when the topic of a party at our house comes up, Joe starts hunkering down for the onslaught.  He knows what’s coming.  I have never gone to someone’s house and thought to check out the baseboards.  I really couldn’t tell you if any of my friends even have baseboards.  When I attend a party, the only thing I’m interested in is enjoying time with my friends…and dessert.  But when the party is at my house, for some irrational reason, I think that every baseboard, every corner, every nook and cranny has to be spotless to the point that even someone suffering from OCD would tell me to lighten the hell up.  Add to the mix that we have a Corgi that sheds like running water and you can begin to see my dilemma.  Can you feel my pain?

I was determined that this time was going to be different.  I was not going to let a simple little Super Bowl party turn me into the Anal Retentive Chef on crack (if you don’t get that reference, you are too young to be reading this, so stop right now).  I thought about shaving the Corgi, but I was afraid people would mistake her for a potbelly pig.  I even briefly entertained the idea of wrapping her up in Saran Wrap or hooking her to a harness pulling a Swiffer behind her, but that seemed a bit crazy.  After all, these are my friends, the kind of friends I hope would feel at home putting their feet on the coffee table.  They all love dogs.  They won’t judge me if there’s a little dog hair on the floor.  What’s the big deal?  So, I did what any (in)sane person would do, and went out and bought a $600 Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner to deal with the dog hair.  I am nothing if not a problem solver.stadium

With that obstacle ticked off my list, I began researching Super Bowl party ideas on Pinterest.  That almost sent me over the edge.  Seriously, these people have way too much time on their hands. The picture accompanying this post is one such idea.  Are you f**king kidding me?  That stadium of meat is an inferiority complex waiting to happen.  Fortunately, saner heads prevailed.  Joe smoked a few pork tenderloins, I got the stuff for slider sandwiches, everyone else brought a snack or side, we stocked the bar…abracadabra, you have yourself a Super Bowl party.  And the best part, I kept my sanity.

I am a lucky girl.  I have friends scattered from one end of Texas to the other, and I love all of them.  Thanks to my Midland group for making the party fun in spite of the game and for ignoring any dog hair you saw!  You guys are the best!  I’ll leave you with one last piece of advice…if Sandra ever heads in your direction with “that” look in her eye, run.


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An Almost Epitaph

Last night, my husband, Joe, was “feeling strange.” At our age (56), “feeling strange” is never a good thing, as in, at the funeral, everyone is whispering “well, he said he was feeling strange.” His stomach was upset, so he took some medicine and laid down on the couch and said to give him 30 minutes. This was very un-Joe-like behavior, after all, we had just taken his first baby back ribs off his new smoker, something he’d been looking forward to for hours. Thirty minutes later, I tried to wake him up and he wouldn’t stir. At this point, I was beginning to get concerned. The good news, he was still breathing, so I decided to give him 20 more minutes and then I was throwing cold water on him or possibly calling 911, depending. Luckily, he did wake on my second attempt, said he felt remarkably better and proceeded to scarf down a whole rack of ribs. I’d say his recovery was nothing short of miraculous.

I tell you that story to get to this. As we were getting ready to go to bed, I was telling him how much he scared me and how he was lucky I didn’t call the paramedics. He just laughed at his imagined near demise, gave me a hug and said, “When the time comes, I’ll be happy if you just think ‘he was good to me’.”  That got me thinking, and Sweetheart, if that day ever comes, I’ll be thinking so much more. I am five months older than Joe, so I could very well be the first to go. There’s no need to wait until the end, but just in case, Joe should know what I think about every day.

I think the luckiest day of my life was when you found me. I think about how you call me beautiful, with a straight face. I think about how I sometimes catch you just watching me read and about how you rub my feet as you read. I think about the sacrifices you make by working hard to give me a nice home and a wonderful life. I think about how you laugh at all my smartass comments and how you make me laugh in return. I think you fixed what was broken. I think of how in 6 1/2 years you’ve only gotten mad at me twice, if you don’t count this post. I think of how you love your dog even when she’s a pain in our collective ass. I think about quiet weekends at home watching football and how you indulge my thirst for travel…and how I’m happy either way. I think about you, solid and dependable, and always there for me no matter what. It’s cliche, but you are my rock, and your steady support gives me wings. I think about how much better my life is with you in it, and how together, we are extra awesome. I think of comfort and passion, laughter and love, and the peace that comes from knowing I am right where I belong. I think of a thousand things, both large and small, that you do just to make me smile. But mostly, as long as I breathe, I’ll think you are everything…and of how good you are to me.


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T-r-o-u-b-l-e, as in BIG

Two years ago, I may have inadvertently agreed to something I am now seriously re-thinking. Actually, I don’t remember agreeing to this thing or even thinking about it to begin with, so I am left questioning my sanity. My friend, Kari Collins, is a wonderfully witty woman and writer. She writes for a local newspaper, authors two blogs, various books, post-it notes and birthday cards. She is undoubtably one of the funniest people I know. If you need proof, check out one of her blogs at karilynncollins.com. If you are drinking anything, and why wouldn’t you be, you might want to swallow before you start reading or your drink might come out your nose.

I know Kari because she is part of Champagne Thursday, which is a group of girlfriends that get together on Thursdays to…wait for it…drink champagne. Our name is catchy but admittedly lacks imagination. We came up with it before Kari became part of our group.  She would have probably campaigned to call us Bubbles & Broads. Hey, I think a name change may be in order. Anyway, one such Thursday in April 2012, two long years ago, Kari came in brimming with enthusiasm, ideas and stories of a whole bunch of new writer friends. She had just returned from her first Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, held bi-annually in Dayton, Ohio and she was as excited as a 12 year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert. Sometime during the evening, she may have mentioned something about me attending with her next time around. Sometime later, after an undetermined amount of champagne, I may have said “sure”…or not. We have only Kari’s word to go on, and she might be fudging the truth a bit.

There are so many things wrong with this scenario, I hardly know where to start. First, I don’t consider myself a “real” writer. I certainly don’t get paid for it. I don’t have the great American novel residing in my bosom, waiting to be set free. I have an accounting degree for God’s sake. I’m pretty sure the two are mutually exclusive. I write on a modest scale, mostly grocery lists, text messages, Facebook status updates and the occasional blog post. Every so often I have a friend tell me I should write a book, but I consider that more a compliment made out of politeness rather than an actual career suggestion. In truth, I know nothing about the business of writing.

Kari has a way of making you agree to do things that you have no business in hell doing. You probably have a friend like this yourself. Kari has raised the whole concept to an art form. You’ll think that not only is it a fabulous why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-myself idea, but you can’t wait to sign up. I’m positive this trait served her well in high school. She has had years to perfect it and it’s the reason I ended up, to my somewhat stunned surprise, registered for the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. This is not going to end well. I’m not a writer, I don’t work, and I don’t think they’re going to let me shop.

There are only 350 spots for the workshop, and they sold out in twelve hours. Getting one of them has been referred to as akin to having scored “the golden ticket.” I know this because there is a special Facebook group just for workshop attendees, which has only reinforced my certainty of fraudiness (no need for a dictionary, I just made that up). There are real writer-type author people attending. When they find out that I, a blasé blog poster, garnered a spot they are going to be p-i-s-s-s-s-e-d. I am in much the same spot Kari’s high school friends found themselves in on Sunday morning…big trouble.

On the bright side, Kari has promised to introduce me to her writer friends who will hopefully become my writer friends as well. She says I will be inspired. Plus, she totally owes me a few drinks for tricking me into this. Dayton is involved. There will be laughter, really top notch speakers, faculty and sessions to attend. Who knows, I might come back a writer.


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My Show on FoodTV Coming Soon

I splurged today. I know that’s hard to believe, but true story.  For years I rarely found myself in the kitchen.  To eat, yes.  To cook, not so much.  I was married to someone for 17 years that got off work earlier than I did and  claimed that cooking was relaxing for him, so he did most all the cooking and grocery shopping.  Who am I to argue with someone who wants to cook for me?  I limited myself to cooking on Wednesdays that had a “3” in the date…the 3rd, 13th, 23rd, 30th and 31st.  You would be surprised at how few times in a year that happens.  Some months I didn’t cook at all.  When I became a widow, my kids were already away from home and I didn’t see the point in cooking for just me.  I can cook, I just rarely did.

When I built my new house in Wichita Falls, my friend Julia tried to talk me into not including a kitchen. Her theory was that a wine cooler and microwave were all I needed.  She had a point.  When I pointed out that lack of a kitchen might hurt resale value, she helpfully suggested that I just paint burners on top of the counter and an oven on the cabinet to at least save the expense of useless appliances.  She is full of great ideas like that.  In the end, I decided that I would go ahead and install appliances because if I ever sold the place I could advertise that the appliances were “like new.”

After Joe and I started seriously dating, all that changed.  Now mind you, for the first year I didn’t let him know I could do anything besides nachos or a salad to go with the steaks he was grilling.  I didn’t want him to fall for me for my cooking.  I revealed my skill a little at a time…reeled him in slowly.  He never stood a chance.  Since his diet consisted mostly of Slim Jims and KitKats, he appreciated my home cooked meals.

In the process of cooking for him the last few years, something strange happened…I discovered that I  enjoy it.  Not every night, let’s not get crazy here, but more nights than not, I throw a meal together.  The state of Joe’s kitchen was sad when I took over.  I don’t think there was a knife in the place that could cut butter, and forget trying to find a cookie sheet that wasn’t warped.  I have slowly purchased a few really good knives and bakeware, but in all my 50+ years I’ve never owned a fine set of cookware.  That changed today.

Anytime I’m near a Williams-Sonoma or Sur la Table, I go in and salivate over the cookware, fondle it and usually walk out with something like a whisk or spatula.  Not only does my heart stop at the prices but the choices are overwhelming…copper, stainless, anodized, cast iron, 3-ply, 5-ply, 7-ply.  I have been agonizing over this decision for more or less four years.  It’s time to make a freakin’ decision.  On more than one occasion, Joe has encouraged me to “just buy something already.”  He fails to understand that, like a fine scotch, this decision can’t be rushed.  Not only is it an investment but it is probably the last cookware I will ever own.  I want to get it right.  Hopefully, I did.

After tons of research, today I took the plunge and <drum roll please> ordered a 12 piece set of Demeyere Atlantis cookware.  It’s 7-ply with a copper core, flat bottomed (kind of like me), with straight sides and no rivets on the inside of the pan to hold bacteria or clean around.  Actually, I ordered a single piece of it several months ago to see if it lived up to the hype and it has become my go-to pan.  My cooking may not improve, but it will at least appear that I know what I’m doing.  Come to think of it, I won’t be able to blame failures on sub-par cookware any longer. Damn. Maybe I didn’t think this through afterall.


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Don’t Mess with the Hair

Almost six years ago, just a few days before my youngest daughter’s wedding, I fell on my left shoulder. We had had a thunderstorm with 90+ mph winds and when I got up the next morning there was half of a mesquite tree in my driveway. Turns out, half a mesquite tree is a lot heavier than it looks. As it also turns out, you should not attempt to drag said tree off your driveway…by yourself…on wet cement…in flip-flops. Lesson learned.

In the course of getting pain medication, having x-rays and seeing both an ER doctor and an orthopedist, but mostly getting pain meds, I learned, in the words of my specialist, that my shoulders are “kind of deformed.” I don’t know but I think he might have broken the Hippocratic oath with his choice of words, plus it makes me question his medical training. The bone that comes down over the ball of my arm is too long and there’s not enough room for the rotator cuff and all the nerves. My mother, my father and one of my brothers have each had two shoulder surgeries. I could have probably guessed there was a genetic flaw involved. The good news was that I had a rotator cuff impingement. The bad news was that wasn’t all I had, although I didn’t know it at the time.

Both shoulders have given me trouble off and on ever since, but particularly in the last couple of years. They keep me awake at night and I’ve noticed a marked loss of strength. One day it dawned on me, like the light when you open the refrigerator door, that it should probably not take two hands to lift a gallon of milk to the top shelf. But, it wasn’t until the pain started messing with my ability to blow dry my hair that I seriously considered seeing a doctor again. You just don’t mess with the hair. So, last week I saw an orthopedic surgeon, here in Midland, who after looking at my x-rays said “I see what he (the Hippocratic oath breaker) meant.” Two days later I was having an MRI. Two days ago I got the news: a torn rotator cuff, bone spurs, muscle atrophy and, to add insult to injury, arthritis. FML.

cuffNeedless to say, surgery is on the horizon. Post-op I will be in a sling and will not be able to use my arm at all for six weeks, followed by six weeks of moderate physical therapy with limited use, followed by three months of intense therapy. Did they not get the memo about my hair? Hello! Not to mention the fact that I sleep on my stomach, nor will I be able to put on a tee shirt or button my jeans. I don’t want to even contemplate what this means about my ability to fasten a bra. This whole recovery scenario is just not working for me. Note to surgeon: Telling patients, especially female patients, these particular post-op details is not a stellar approach to selling the need for surgery. My needs run to not having six months of crappy hair days and being able to wear pants without elastic waistbands.

Even though my left shoulder is in terrible shape and my right one is not far behind, I have put off scheduling the surgery until June. We’ve got a trip to Turks & Caicos scheduled for late April and a trip to New York City scheduled for June…and I will not have my arm in a sling or bad hair. I have my priorities. Since I am waiting a while, I started physical therapy today to try to arrest any further muscle loss and to build up the shoulder as best I can before surgery. Since torn rotator cuffs are normally quite painful, the therapist told me that I must have an “incredible tolerance for pain.” He has no idea. Soooo many smartass comments came to mind in a split second, but I don’t know him that well…yet.


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That’s Dr. $hitbiscuit to You

Whew!  Weekends just fly by when you’re on the move.  We spent the last one attending my nephew, Grant’s, graduation from Baylor School of Law in Waco. He received his juris doctorate degree, but he says no one uses the title “Doctor” when referring to a lawyer and that he might as well be Dr. Shitbiscuit.  I like it!  It has that certain ring to it.  I immediately changed his name in my cell phone.  Now when he calls, “Dr. Shitbiscuit” is displayed.  DSC_0120

Grant and I have a special relationship.  About the time he finished the 5th grade I realized that I was never going to be able to outsmart him…it’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight, you might get in a few licks but you’re not going to win.  Since I can’t outsmart him, I decided to out-sarcasm him at every opportunity.  In this endeavor I can at least hold my own…most of the time.  Several years ago at Christmas, I had a tee shirt made for him with my picture on it which said “I have the smartest aunt in the world.”  It ranks as the one and only time that I have ever seen him speechless.  Score one for me.  At my wedding this past October, he wore it.  Well played, Grant, well played.  Score a big fat one for him.  In all seriousness, Grant is one of my favorite people and I’m very proud of him.  He is going to make a fine attorney, one with honesty, integrity and moral standards, and we need more of those.

Joe and I left Waco Saturday afternoon and headed south to Georgetown to spend some time with Joe’s brother and sister-in-law.  Not only did we get to go out to dinner with them, but my aunt and uncle, who recently moved to Georgetown, joined us.  We had a great time!  I felt sort of like a matchmaker when they exchanged numbers at the end of the evening.

Later that night, as Joe and I were trying to fall asleep watching TV, a commercial advertising a call-in phone sex line came on. Joe said, “I just don’t get it. What in the world could you EVER say to me that I would be willing to pay for?”  My immediate answer, “I do.”  BOOM!  I knocked that baby out of the park.  In fact, I think it’s still rolling…