Rosemary Becomes a Real Woman

Sixty-six years ago, Rosemary,(pronounced Rose-ah-Mary) a good catholic, Sicilian girl was still childless. Despite being married for some time, she was not “a real woman.” To prove she was a real woman, per her Sicilian family, she needed a child. Fruit of her womb. A child, male or female.

NOLA city busIn the winter of 1952, per family lore, she was hit by a New Orleans City bus and drug down the street.  (Their words,not mine.) A few months later, Rosemary was in the family way. “Shook something loose,” said her family.

What she shook loose was born in September of that year, my Sicilian. And several years later, without the bus incident, she produced another son.

Today is the Sicilian’s natal day. Hard to buy him a gift when he has everything . . . me, Spot the Wonder Dog, and his own room for watching TV. But, I succeeded in giving him a surprise, a small fridge for his room which I filled with adult beverages. This morning Spot presented him with a snack basket full of the Sicilian’s favorite treats,(jerky, Junior Mints, Whoppers, M&Ms, red ballpopcorn and Lay’s Dressed Chips). Nestled among the food items was a new red, rubber ball.

Spot subscribes to the motto . . .  “Give unto others what you would like to receive.” I’m sure in her little brain she thinks, “He’s always throwing things for me to catch, so I should give him a new ball.”

The ball was a great hit. Spot immediately engage the Sicilian in her favorite sport, fetch. In the house no less which gives Spot a chance to slide scratches across our hardwood floors and shed another zillion hairs. I swear that dog should be bald with the amount of hair she loses daily.

FrogDespite writing comical incidents about what the Sicilian and I do, he is more than fodder for my blog. He is the best man in the world for me. I know this because I kissed a number of warty frogs before I found my handsome prince. He tolerates my perfectionism with only minor grumbling, and tells me all publishers and agents are idiots when I receive another rejection. So, today, dear Sicilian, I want the world to know I love you. Happy Birthday! And I wish you many many more.

happy birthday

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Life Without AC

hot sunSummer in the deep south is hot, very hot, and humid. You’ve heard it said, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”  Phooey.  It is the HEAT and the HUMIDITY. From Mid-May to Mid-October in south Louisiana every day is  hot and humid with a chance of a pop-up shower in the afternoon.

Murphy’s law struck our AC last week. If you are not familiar with Murphy, you can read about it here.  Murphy’s  main law is: “If anything can go wrong it will.” And I add, “Generally things go wrong at the worst possible time.”

Case in point. My best friend, Cindy was our  house guest last week. Thursday night the hot 82 degreesSicilian went to bed at 9:30. My friend and I retired at 10 p.m. As I passed the thermostat I noticed the reading: 82 degrees. Not good.

The Sicilian falls asleep 37 seconds after his head hits the pillow, which irks me, but that is another blog. I wake him. He’s confused, disoriented, and then disgusted.

“What do you mean the AC is not working?” He mumbles.

“It’s 82. Should be 77,” I reply. “The house will be a sauna by morning. We have to put our window AC unit in here.” (Like most folks in the hurricane zone, we have a generator and room AC unit to use if power goes out during a storm.)

“What about, Cindy? We can’t let her cook in the guest room,” he said.

“I’ll bring the futon in our room. We can all sleep in here.” Then it dawns on me, we have another AC unit in the Sicilian’s manly Escape Room above the garage. I rouse Cindy and tell her she will be sleeping in another room tonight.

So begins the wrestling of two cumbersome AC units. The window unit will not fit in our room because of plantation shutters, so we lug it to Cindy’s new guest room. Meanwhile the Sicilian has gone outside with the flash light to check the central AC unit which is humming like a large bee. I shut it off before it ignites.

He shoves the window unit toward Cindy and me. Our window sills are not flat, the unit lehot window acans precariously outside. The vents to drip humidity are mostly outside the room. We shut the window.  Before the unit  can be turned on, gravity takes over and the unit  is hanging by it’s cord outside the window.

“Quick,” I say to Cindy. We have to get it back in the window before the Sicilian sees this.”

Cindy and I pull  the AC  back through the window, lean it inward and turn it on. It works, but humidity is dripping on the window sill. Dishtowels fix that.

There is a gaping hole around the AC unit letting hot air into the room because the side expansion units won’t fit.  “I’ll get a cookie sheet.” Too small, it fell right through the window. At last a plastic cutting board and lots of duct tape plug the window. Cindy is busy putting sheets on the futon bed, while I turn on the over head fan and install a floor fan. At 11 p.m. she is relaxing in her cool bedroom.

As for the Sicilian and me, we must now bring the floor AC unit  downstairs. This is hot AC floor unit 2similar to lugging  a Volkswagen with a 10 foot cumbersome exhaust system down a flight of stairs. Thankfully it installs easier than the window unit.

Ever the gentleman, the Sicilian says he will sleep on my side of the bed where the AC will be blasting, because ” I know you don’t like fans blowing on you.”

“You don’t have a lamp on your side. How can I read?” I ask.

“It’s late. Go to sleep,” he says. And he does.

hot reading by flashlightIf only, I think. I read by flashlight, not an easy trick, but at least the room was cool.

NOTE: As for the AC repair, we were given an appoint 4 days hence. But, thankfully my post on FaceBook rewarded me with a commercial AC man who lives in the neighborhood. We were up and running a day later. Woo hoo. Or should I say COOL man, cool?

Lawn Marshall

neighborhoodThe Sicilian, aka my husband for those who are new to this blog, has appointed himself the Lawn Marshall for our subdivision. For someone who detests authority, abhorred his time in the military, and was forced  into management for the last three years of his career,  I find it odd he has given himself this position of power. Actually it is a position of no power, as the neighbors are unaware that he is maintaining a mental score card of their behavior.

If you want  the Sicilian to make notations on your Permanent Record,  do one of the following:

  • Leave a  garbage can on the street for more than a day before the designated pick up day or more than a day after the garbage is removed.
  • Put up holiday decorations more than a month before any given holiday.
  • Fail to remove holiday decorations  by two weeks after the holiday has passed.

FOR THE RECORD, one house at the front of the subdivision is on permanent report. Their Mardi Gras decorations are still up, and Mardi Gras was February 27.

spiderAnother  home owner left Halloween pumpkins in their front garden for  a year. (I  noticed them and told the Sicilian. Yes I like to needle him about his idiosyncrasies.) Now they too have a black mark on their  permanent record.

While long-term holiday decorations upset the Sicilian, they don’t bother me. One house sported a huge spider for Halloween that covered the front of the two-story house.. It  remained there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not your usual fall or Christmas decoration, but perhaps they were celebrating the year of the arachnid.

  • Dogs running at large irk the Sicilian, especially if they bother Spot the Wonder Dogdog running wild who is  leashed or confined to her yard. I agree, these people should have a tick mark on their permanent record.
  • If the grass is knee-high, mowing is needed, ASAP.

Every neighborhood, despite the cost of the homes, has one person who is a pain in the arse. trashy yard Ours is the Squire. He sets a high standard for blight in our neighborhood.  His dogs roam at will, cars, trailers, trucks, and miscellaneous items are strewn on his lawn and driveway.  There is not a Permanent Record large enough to record his misdeeds

horses arse 1 If you do not see a pain in the arse in your neighborhood, check your yard and look in the mirror. It could be YOU. If code enforcement, the sheriff, or animal control visit you on a regular basis, watch out. Someone has recorded this on your permanent record.

Is this YOU?s arse 2

Goodness Gracious, Snakes Alive!

cypress kneesI’ve lived in the muggy, buggy swamps of south Louisiana for seventeen years. I’ve had more than my fair share of encounters with fire ants, stinging caterpillars, mosquitoes the size of small drones, and wasps, but mercifully I’ve been spared snakes until this year.

One encounter is more than enough for me, and any more than that means we have an epidemic of  Biblical proportions. This year the seven plagues Pharaoh suffered is nothing compared to my snake encounters.

My first snake encounter occurred about three weeks ago. I was enjoying a leisurely swim in our pool, alone, because the Sicilian does not enter the water until it reaches bathtub heat of 90 degrees. He and Spot the Wonder Dog were on the patio playing chase the ball. (Spot chasing, the Sician throwing.)

Suddenly the Sicilian stands and yells, “Come here, Spot. Come here right now.” Heimg_1689 opened the back door. “Get in the house.”

Spot runs into the house and just before the Sicilian entered I yelled,  “Why are you going inside? It’s nice out here.”

“There is big black snake here. I don’t want Spot to fool with it.”

The door snapped shut. My response  was spoken to the wind, “What about your wife? You’re leaving me out here alone when a snake is rampaging through our yard?” I was not a happy camper having been left to fend for myself.

The following week I left for Nebraska where it was so cold snakes were still hibernating. On a late night phone call to the Sicilian, he told me, “Tyler (a thirteen year old neighbor boy) came over this afternoon and said his mother needed me. I followed him across the street. When I asked him what his mother wanted, Tyler said, ‘There’s a big black snake on our patio and my dad won’t be home for two hours, You have to get rid of it.’”

“So what did you do?” I asked.

“Tyler checked snakes on his phone,” the Sicilian said, “and we identified the beast as a rat snake, not poisonous. His mom wanted me to kill it, but I just chased it off their patio with a broom into the creek.”

“So, you helped her, but abandoned your wife to deal with the snake in our back yard?”  I think he sensed the venom in my voice 1200 miles away.

snake by house 2And then…  a week later I opened the front door to walk to our curbside mail box and was greeted by  a huge snake less than three feet from the door. My scream broke the sound barrier. Spot had run past the snake toward the mailbox; I yelled for her to return inside, which she did. If she hadn’t obeyed, she would have been on her own. I love the little mutt, but when it comes to snakes, it is every man and dog for themselves.

The Sicilian rose from the couch to check out the commotion. We cautiously went outside. I was poised to run. We watched the snake quickly slither past a flowerpot and disappear. The Sicilian moved the pot, no snake.

“Where is it?”

“Not to worry,” says the Sicilian, it’s harmless rat snake.

“Harmless? To who? My heart has been stressed to the max, my throat is sore from thesnake by house screaming, and I’m a nervous wreck.”  Seconds later I discovered the three-foot snake curled up looking mean and evil ten feet from where I was standing.

The Sicilian said, “It won’t hurt you,” as he beat feet into the house and shut the door. So much for my visions of the Sicilian being my snake charmer.

I am now on high alert.

(By the way, the 3 dead snakes I have seen on my daily walk with Spot are the only good snakes I have seen this year.)

The Right Movie, per the Sicilian

penny-serenadeThee Sicilian and I sometimes agree on a movie, but not always.  A few nights ago I selected an old movie for us to watch, Penny Serenade (1941) starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. The movie started slowly, as Irene Dunne reflects on why she wants a divorce.
The Sicilian did not sigh, his normal reaction to something that he considers a monumental bore, instead he said, “I don’t suppose there is going to be any killing in this movie.”
“A movie doesn’t have to have murder and mayhem to be good,” I replied.
A few minutes later the movie took on a dramatic tone, and the Sicilian seemed to be enjoying it, then came a 10-minutes bit about giving a baby a bath.  The Sicilian’s reaction, “I didn’t know this was going to be a comedy.”
I must admit the baby bath scene too long, and not funny by 2017 standards. Again the movie became dramatic and it was soon obvious that the young child in the movie washitler-and-aliens going to die.
The Sicilian said, “I never should have watched this movie. That little girl is going to die. It’s not right. I should have watched something about Hilter or  UFOs.”
“It’s only a movie,” I said.
At the end of his movie he said, “Their child just died and five days later they’re adopting another child.  They didn’t even take time to grieve, I don’t like this movie. I never should have watched it. Tomorrow I pick the movie.”
shaneSo what is the Sicilian’s idea of a good movie.  His all time favorites are two old westerns, Shane, which won the academy Award for Best Picture in 1954, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962.). Any movie we have seen in the 17 years we’ve been married has never reached this bench mark.  I’ve heard the line “Come back Shane. Mother wants you,” from the lips of the Sicilian more times than I can count.
I have however taken him to some of the worst movies he has everla-la-land seen. The most recent being La La Land which may win the Best Picture this year.  I have to agree, the actors were horrible, could neither sing or dance, but I liked the premise. His comment, “Horrible. You owe me three beers for sitting through this.”
His all time worse movie, which he saw with someone  else is Bridges over Madison County. He recommends this for insomniacs.  He ranks it as the number 1 boring movie in the history of the universe. Terrible.
birdmanAnd then there is Birdman,  Best Picture in 2014. His description: stupid, crazy, made no sense.
The only good thing about the new movies we see now, we view them in a theater that has huge chairs, serves a variety of food and adult beverages. This way I can start buying the 3 beers I’ll owe him  before the movie is over.

 

My Real Life

typewriter-crumpled paperIn my other life, (this is assuming I have one)  I try to be a published author. All of you wannabee writers who plan to write the great American novel, be warned, this is NOT an easy path. In fact, that road to hell your church has been preaching about is a 4-lane super highway compared to the road to an agent or publisher.
Of course anyone can be self published, but sales from such a venture are very limited. Just how large a family do you have? How many friends owe you a favor?  If your are related to the Duggars (19 kids and counting), your family is listed in the Guinness book of records as the largest family on earth, or your family is headed by a godfather, you might sell 200 books, but this will not bring you fame, fortune, or a chance to be on Oprah.
Becoming traditionally published gives credibility to your work, but succeeding at this is bike-flatlike riding a bike with a flat tire uphill and against the wind while 8 million wannabee writers pursue you on hungry alligators. Limited alligatorfun to say the least unless you are a masochist.
The poor Sicilian must listen to my moaning about receiving another rejection on a regular basis.  Just to torture myself, I keep a record of every agent and publisher I have contacted about my novel, The Strength of Secrets. Being a Type A person I need to do this to prove to myself I am trying, or perhaps I am that masochist I just mention.
This past week I received yet another email rejection. I retrieved my submission journal preparing to  write “REJECTED” by the agent’s name, but I could find no record that I had ever submitted to this agent.
“I just got an email rejection for my novel from someone I never submitted to,” I said.
rejection
“So,” the Sicilian said, “you are now being rejected before you can submit. That’s progress.”
“This just proves everybody hates me and I’ll never be published again,” I moaned.  After a few minutes I opened another email. “Listen to this. My play has made the final cut in the one-act play competition. I’m one of the five finalist!”
“Thank, God. My prayers have been answered,” the Sicilian.
And this from a man who questions God, faith, and miracles.  If  the Sicilian  is now praying for me, God better listen. . thank-god

Southern Street Rules

shirtless-manTragically murder occurs all to often where I live, the greater New Orleans metro area.  A recent murder involved words and threats before a gun was used. In the threat phase one man ripped off his shirt and prepared to fight. However, after the shooter killed a man, and  the shirtless man heard the shooter say, “Where’s that other guy?” In response, the shirtless man hailed a cab and went home, leaving his wife at the scene of the crime. (I’m not making this up.)

Ripping your shirt off before a  fight was unknown behavior to me street-fightingand the Sicilian, but this might explain why TV newsmen at crime scenes here often talk to shirtless men. Why do I relate this incident, because despite his grey curls, the Sicilian would fight to defend me, his dog our home, and the street in front of our house.  By fighting I don’t mean a civil law suit, I mean physical fisticuffs. Needless to say, I do not agree with this method. Currently the Sicilian has someone “breathing his air” that irks him.  I remind him, “You know nothing about fighting. You had no idea you had to remove your shirt first. Who knows what other rules of street fighting etiquette you might break rushing off have cocked.”  So far this has worked.

street-sign-20Another quirk in this city is people claiming to own the public streets. Before living here, I’d never seen people  rope off the street in front of their house and charge people to park on the public street. This is a common practice here for homeowners living near a Mardi Gras parade route, Jazzfest, or other high traffic events.  The going price is  $20 to park on a public  residential street. I shake my head and pay the price. It’s either that or park 6 miles from the event.

The Sicilian too believes that the public street in front of our home is HIS private propertybutter-knife-2 and no one should park there unless they are a guest in our home.  Years ago (before I was his spouse) I was told the Sicilian became enraged over a car parked in front of his house. He grabbed a knife from a kitchen drawer and prepared to slash the car’s tires. His tirade was brought to a humorous halt when it was brought to his attention he was holding a butter knife.  So far that has not happened her, but I am not holding my breath.

 

car-with-ticket-2And now we have a neighbor with  this same parking fixation. No one should park on the public street.  He is currently posting brightly colored messages on cars parked on any of our   neighborhood streets telling them to park in their driveway.

For sixteen years this Yankee has lived in the Deep South, and I’ve yet to figure out their qutruth-strangerirks.  This might explain why so many successful fiction writers  have lived in the South. After all, truth is stranger than fiction.