When Nothing Else Matters

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On Monday, October 11, I didn’t go to work.  I had a sore throat and laryngitis.  I did go to the local pharmacy and picked up an OTC dayquil/nyquil combo pack and some cough drops. On Tuesday, I didn’t feel any better so I stayed home again.  On Wednesday, I went to the doctor.  Clearly something was going on.  When I arrived at the doctor’s office, he took one look at me, checked my blood oxygen, and called 911 for an ambulance to take me to the hospital.  When I arrived at the hospital, I was put on a ventilator, feeding tube and central line from Wed 13th thru Thurs 21st.  I have no memory of anything between arriving at the hospital and waking up from the ventilator 8 days later.  I’m told I nearly died, but you couldn’t prove it by me.  I was released from the hospital late yesterday (10/24).  There’s this stranger living in my body.  She doesn’t smoke.  She doesn’t even breathe very well.  She uses portable oxygen.  She gets winded walking from one end of the house to the other.  But she will continue to improve every day.

My daughter is here from Texas.  My sister had a POA while I was incapacitated.  My living will is missing, likely the victim of a burglary last spring when my strongbox was stolen.  I won’t be going back to work before Thanksgiving, according to my doctor.  I’m very glad I have AFLAC.

Now I Want Otters

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My daughter posted this morning, which makes me look like the consummate slacker, so I figured I’d better make an effort at putting something up.  Then I saw this video at Baboon Pirates.  Check it out; you’ll want otters too!

And just because he’s mine, here’s a picture of my grandson playing on the swings.

Ahh...there's nothing like having the wind in your hair!

Best Buddies

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My niece is visiting my sister with her two rug rats.  It’s a shame that grandma’s dogs don’t like kids.   This is Zeke, the Great Dane, and 14-month-old Alex.

There's nothing like a mid-afternoon nap on the deck

On another happy note, my grandson is coming to visit me later this month.  Oh, and his Mom & Dad, too, I guess.

If I Owned a Store I Would SO Put This Sign Up …

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…with all the amendments and attachments thereon.  There is little that annoys me more than seeing someone’s kids running around, screaming and raising hell and no one doing anything about it.

Sunday Top Ten List – Culture Shocks for a Relocated Yankee

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I grew up in New Jersey, and moved to North Carolina when I was 26.  There are many things about the South that are vastly different from what I grew up with.  Here are just a few.

1.  Everything is slower, except the traffic.  People talk slower, walk slower, conduct business slower.  But there is so much less congestion on the roads that traffic generally moves pretty well.

2.  A ‘toboggan’ is a hat, not a snow conveyance.  See pictures for comparison.

A Southern Toboggan

A Northern Toboggan

3.  Country Ham.  Do not ever confuse this with Taylor Ham.  The former is very Southern, very salty, and very popular as a breakfast meat, generally served on a biscuit.  The latter is seldom found outside of New Jersey, and is generally served on a hard roll with egg and cheese.

Country Ham Biscuit

Country Ham Biscuit

Jersey Slider

Taylor Ham, Egg & Cheese on a Hard Roll

4.  Snow Days.  Here in the South, it is customary to close schools, churches and daycare centers if the weatherman says it might snow tomorrow.  I kid you not.  Snowfall in excess of 4″ inches is considered a major storm.  I have seen as much as a foot of snow on the ground here; everything shut down for a week.  I mean EVERYTHING.  No mail.  No banks.  No work.  No school.  I understand that it is not economically feasible for us to have the kind of snow removal equipment that is mandatory up North, but it was quite a culture shock the first couple years I was here.  I can remember sitting in school watching the snow pile up.  They didn’t even CONSIDER closing until there was at least 6 – 8 inches on the ground.  Also, at the first hint of Southern snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store to purchase bread and toilet paper.  It’s a rule.

5.  Clothing.  Growing up, ‘school shopping’ meant buying bulky sweaters, a new coat, wool pants, and the like.  Here, it’s shorts and tank tops.  Up north by mid-September you usually needed a light jacket to wait for the bus in the morning.  The first year I was here, I made the mistake of packing away my summer clothes over Labor Day Weekend.  Ha!  It is not at all unusual to still being wearing shorts well into October.  Last year, we went to the beach in October, and went swimming!  I’ve attended New Year’s Eve parties that were held outside.

6.  Barbeque.  Up North, ‘barbeque’ is an event held in the back yard, where you cook hot dogs, hamburgers, or maybe a steak.  In the South, ‘barbeque’ is a dish made by slow roasting pork (I understand in Texas, it’s beef) in an outdoor oven, seasoned with various sauces or dry rubs.  The sauce or rub depends on your particular region, and can be tomato-based or vinegar based.  A Pig-Pickin’ is a backyard gathering where they serve barbeque made from a whole or half pig which has been cooked overnight and painstakingly sauced and coddled by the chef.  Generally, this is accompanied by coleslaw, watermelon, and a keg (or two!) of beer.    I went to a wedding last month which was followed by a pig pickin’.  The picture below is my boss at the last pig-pickin’ we hosted, in 2007.  Time to have another one (in the fall, when it cools off!)

The Guest of Honor at a Pig Pickin', and the chef.

7.  Chiggers.  Now there’s a scourge that brings to mind words you won’t hear in church.  I never heard of chiggers until I moved south.  You can’t see them. The larvae, which are only about 1/100th inch long, are mites that feed on cell tissues. They don’t suck blood, but, instead, bore holes in the skin and inject enzymes that dissolve cell tissues. They feed on this “soup” from the skin surface. They favor areas where clothing is tight, such as ankles, waistlines, the elastic around the legs of your underwear, use your imagination. Places that REALLY itch.   Strong human immune reactions often force chiggers to leave within minutes, but of course, by then it’s too late. Their bites elicit swelling and intense itching that usually becomes noticeable about 4-8 hours after the attack. Then, you can expect five nights of misery.  Knowing a chigger’s biology, it’s pointless to expect that showering upon return from the woods can stop an outbreak. By then, chiggers have done their dirty deeds and gone. For you at this point it’s simply a matter of survival.  The books say not to scratch. That’s a good one!   While it’s true that scratching will nearly always lead to secondary infections, scratching is impossible to resist.   If you’re into power tools, a rotary wire brush on a Black & Decker might work!

They don't look like much, do they?

I believe they are a major cause of spontaneous insanity

8.  Personal Property Taxes.  This is not ‘Southern’, it’s just North Carolina.  Here, you are required to pay taxes on personal property annually, just like you do on real estate.  Taxable items include cars, boats, trailers, and even your dogs in some jurisdictions.  Every year.  This is in addition to what you pay to register or license them.

9.  Friday night football.  High School football games are held on Friday night, not on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday afternoon is reserved for college football, which is generally televised.  College football is very, very big here.  Professional football, on the other hand, is only followed by relocated Yankees like me.

10.  Language.  We have different words for the same things, and the same words for different things (See ‘toboggan’, above).  Also, words are pronounced differently.  My New Jersey friends tell me I sound southern (I’ve been here for 26 years!), but my Southern friends have informed me that there are certain words that I pronounce ‘Jersey’ that will give me away every time.  Coffee.  Oil.  Fire.  Simple words, but my mouth just will not produce them with an acceptable Southern accent.  Oil and fire have two syllables, not one.  There is a ‘w’ in ‘kawfee’.  The past tense of crank is cranked in New Jersey, not ‘crunk’.  You mash potatoes up north.  In the South, you cream potatoes and mash buttons.  I have discarded ‘youse guys’ in favor of ‘ ya’ll ‘.  It’s just easier, and gender neutral.  ‘Pin’ and ‘pen’ are pronounced the same in the South, so you must precede them with a descriptive adjective so people know which you mean.

Ink Pin

Pig Pin

Safety Pin

No Self-Respecting Cat I Know Would Ever Have Allowed This …

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Seriously?  He’s just gonna lay there and take that?  To be sure not!

H/T to Bayou Renaissance Man for the video.

How I Spent My Saturday

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I woke up this morning with a headache.  Too much sun?  Perhaps.  Here’s the story.

I spent the day yesterday at my sister’s house, hanging by the pool, catching rays.  It was hot.  Really, really hot.  And humid.  I was projectile sweating.  Much time was spent actually IN the pool rather than poolside.  I have acquired a raccoon tan, from wearing sunglasses all day.

My niece, who lives in Texas with her husband (Sgt. Fred), is visiting.  She doesn’t travel lightly – which is to say that she came to visit with her two sons (ages 5 years and 13 months), her two pit bulls, and her two cats.  Renee has to have two of everything.  Except husbands.  One Sgt. Fred is enough.  And he’s not with her.  Go figure.

Anyway, if you combine her and her entourage with the permanent residents at my sister’s, which include (in addition to my sister) my 77-year old stepfather, my 20-year old nephew and his girlfriend, my 19-year old niece and her 3-month old daughter, a Great Dane, a Border Collie, a Pit Bull/Poodle mix and her 6-week old puppy, and a 19-year old black cat named Mr. Doo, you can only begin to imagine the chaos.  Dogs barking.  Children squealing with delight or squalling with pure pissed-offed-ness.  Parents, grandparents, great-grandparent, aunts, uncle and cousins screaming to be heard over the general cacophony.  Dogs fighting.  Cats yowling.  Great-grandpa (who is the poster child for crotchety old men everywhere) grumbling.

So, I’m blaming my headache on too much sun.  But then again …

Today, I intend to stay home.  Alone.  In the air conditioning.  Maybe a nap.

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