Archive for November, 2009

Blount Mansion in Knoxville, TN

November 30, 2009

The William Blount Mansion in Knoxville, TN

This old postcard shows the William Blount Mansion in Knoxville, TN.  William Blount (pronounced to rhyme with “country” not “county”) was the territorial governor of the territory of the United States south of the River Ohio from 1790 to 1796.  In 1796, Tennessee became a state, and he then served as a US Senator from 1796 to 1797.  He was not the inventor of that specialized cigarette called a “blunt”, so just get that right out of your head.

Anybody got one cent?

When I was in 1st grade, one of the other 1st grade classes went on a field trip to Blount Mansion.  When that class returned, the unfortunate left-behinds were regaled with stories about the steep staircase and the gift shop. 

I never got to see Blount Mansion.  But I have this nice postcard, which I will now list on ebay.  Maybe Steven Stafford will buy it.

BabyBecky Found!

November 29, 2009

November 1958

Here’s another picture that should have been posted with yesterday’s post.  Organization is not my strong point.  I should also be studying for a final next week, but, oh well, my public calls…

Here’s CowboySteve, not to be confused with Steven Stafford, stopping by from the cattle roundup, for a photo shoot with his “maw” and LilSis.  CowboySteve is about 5 years old.  LilSis is about 1 1/2 months, still with the warranty.  If this picture were in color, the walls would be industrial beige.  Good for Mom to have been able to find time to put on some lipstick and comb her hair, what with 3 children aged 5 and under, and one being a brandnew infant, and another being a poutypants like myself.  And there’s still BigBroBob and BigSisSandi lurking around somewhere.

This picture was made from that dandy little Brownie camera held at bellybutton height.  Any effort by my mother to roll her eyes is merely coincidental.  Bless her heart, she’s 40 years old.  I’d rather be 40 than pregnant, but Mom managed to do both.  I think she looks awesome.

Happy Birthday, Papa!

November 28, 2009

Papa & me, age 2

My father was born on November 28, 1913.  I found these pictures dated November 1958.  It was about the time of my 2nd birthday, and my father’s 45th.  This was taken on the front porch of our house on Nichols Park Road. 

What's that face about??

As children, we were not allowed on the front porch.  The steps were steep and hard, and we would surely fall and get hurt.  This side of the house faced south, so there was plenty of sun for this late fall picture.  LilSis would be about 1 1/2 months old.  Mom was probably holding her, and that might have been what my frowny face was about.  Booted out of the crib at a tender age.

I was a voracious reader, and when I was in 4th grade, I read “Heidi”.  The father in the book was referred to as “Papa”.  I started calling my father “Papa”, he didn’t object, and there you have it.  History was made. 

He was a good, hard-working father.  He sat down to eat, read the newspaper, and watch television, but little else.  He always had a task at hand or was musing out the details of something.  If the end of the world came, you’d want to be with my father.  He could do anything, and he always took care of business.  He was a wonderful role model and an all-around good guy, with a startling sense of humor.  He participated in a church fund-raiser called a “Womanless Wedding”, and grinned all the way around while wearing a brown page-boy wig and green dress, a scaryfunny sight to see at 6’6″. 

The world is a better place because of the “Tall Man”.  He died in January 2006, and we will always miss him.

The Object of My Desire

November 27, 2009

I have to confess.  I am in love. 

It’s been a while.  My world has been cold.  Even surrounded by dogs, cats, and guinea pigs, something was missing.  I lived in a cold tin can, waiting to be warmed to the very cockles of my being. 

Now something has come into my life that warms my heart and brightens my world.  It puts off such profound heat that I do not know yet how to control it.  One night, I woke up sweating from the warmth of my new-found love.  The room was 84 degrees.

My heart beats faster just looking at his face

 It’s a Seabreeze Thermaflo.

Last year when the cold weather set in, I had central heating issues, or rather, lack of them.  I had no heat in the RV.  I have a generator that requires copious amounts of gasoline, and I have a central heating system that is hooked up to a propane tank, but there’s a leak somewhere between the tank and the system, and the super-duper automatic sparking system that ignites the gas.  doesn’t.  work.  Mere complications in the comic book that is my life. 

Every fall, I become more delusional than usual, and last fall I decided that I would just do without heat for the winter.  I mean really, how cold could it get?  I’m from good pioneer stock, and I laugh in the face of cold weather, at least LowCountry SC cold weather.  Sometimes we get a cold snap and the mercury drops to freezing.  (Insert mocking, nonenthusiatic brrrr here.)   By October, I was counting the days until the spring.  No heat, and, I might add, no hot water.  The hot water tank runs on propane gas, which addresses my gassy issues referred to in the paragraph above. 

Further racking of my brain resulted in a plan of epic fail proportion.  I bought an electric pitcher that heats small amounts of water which I could then pour into the tub for a hot, really hot bath.  I bought 2 small space heaters from Wal-Mart (Hi Wal-Mart!  This isn’t a plug!), plugged one in the living area, and plugged one in the bath area.  I discovered that I couldn’t use the two heaters and the hot water pitcher at the same time, or the breakers would trip.  Sometimes the breakers tripped when both heaters were on.  (Bonus:  I learned where the breaker box is in the RV.)  I learned to get ready for bed by lying stick-straight on my back on the bed and pulling the layers of covers over me.  No sleeping on my side or stomach in case I needed to spring up and flip on the tripped breakers.   

It was like having a new baby in the house, and trying to sleep at a level barely below the conscious, never getting good REM sleep.  Waiting to be awoken by smoking heaters or flaming bedclothes.  Never a good look.

One morning I awoke colder than usual.  I cranked up the nearest heater a few notches, and the RV went black.  Flipping the breakers was useless.  I checked the outside breaker box on the power pole, and noticed a smell of burnt rubber, and I wondered why there was a burnt-rubber-smell when there were no cars peeling out and burning rubber.  There was no apparent problem with the breakers anywhere. 

I went to work, and called a repairman.  He actually called back and actually showed up later that afternoon.  He found the problem immediately at the power pole when the RV plugs into the juice and showed me where the RV’s master plug was melted.  Melted and electricity are never good even when only used together in a sentence, much less a reality.  I scored bonus points for also melting part of the outlet.  Evidently my system was hazardous to human beings, but there was no government warning on the RV, like on cigarettes and spirits. 

I started a new system.  I ran two extention cords (properly rated and designated for outdoor use, thankyouverymuch) from the outlet at the power pole; one cord came in thru the driver’s window, the other snaked in thru the bathroom window.  That system served me without further ado for the rest of the cold season, although I continued to sleep verrry lightly.  Worried about spontaneous combustion and all that space age stuff. 

The vet offered the use of an Edenpure heater for a weekend.  It was a magical device that heated the entire RV with warm floor-to-ceiling heat.  I wanted one in the worst way, but the $500 price tag stopped me cold.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the Edenpure weekendoflove and dreamed of the day that Mr. Edenpure would be mine, in spite of his pricey little cost.  The online reviews by his former sweethearts caused some consternation.  Some reviewers claimed he didn’t give the love he promised, and only ran up their power bills.  Other reviewers said he loved them for 6 weeks then something broke and couldn’t be fixed.  Some reviewers said he was downright unfaithful and undependable.  And Mr. Edenpure and his competition were all made in China.

Then, one day last month, I saw this teetiny heater in the Vermont Country Store catalog.  Sugar is Catalog Man, a super hero who welcomes all catalogs into his world, and we were going somewhere, most assuredly not Thomson, GA, since we haven’t gone there yet, and I found a stack of catalogs in his vehicle.  I’ll read anything, and I found my latest crush within the pages of the catalog. 

This guy puts out

The dimensions given in the catalog were something like 10″ x 9″ x 8″, which sound ridiculously small.  In my opinion, there was no way that this little guy was going to heat up my world, because, let’s face it folks, where I come from, size matters.  For scale, the photo above shows the little dynamo on a 26″ wide carpet runner.  There’s a little fan inside to propel the heat forward, and vertical louvers in front of the fan to sweep the heat from side to side.  And the housing never gets hot.  The temp got down pretty cold last night, and you’d have never known it unless you stepped outside.  Sugar gets all the credit here.  He bought Mr. Seabreeze for me, being convinced that Mr. Seabreeze could man up to the job at hand.  I wavered, unsure of Mr. Seabreeze’s credentials,  until… the final clincher in the decision to commit to this one true love…

Oui, oui

He’s Canadian, and Canadians know cold.

In Which I Cut to the Chase

November 26, 2009

When I was in first grade, I was in love with Steven Stafford.  He was an adorable round-headed child with ears that stuck out of either side of his head.  His head looked like a round mug with two handles.  I suppose that God made him that way so that later in life his girlfriend could grab him by both ears, and…  well, you know, kiss him.  I never kissed him, but I wanted to, or so I professed to him in a love letter. 

This borders on stalker behavior

Whatever my motives, I had good penmanship and appropriate capitalization and excellent letter composition.  I think that I capitalized “Love” and “Kiss” and “Merry” because they were important to the theme of this composition.  Must make a mother proud. 

My mother saved some stuff.  “Some” means copious amounts.  This little work of art had been folded several times like school children do, top to bottom, side to side, and top to bottom again.  You can see remains of the coffee cup ring.  Apparently Mom liked this so much that she used it as a little coaster.  Ah, little Ruth Marie’s brought home more crap – that’s nice, honey – where’s my coffee cup.   

We were not supposed to use three-ring binder paper in 1st grade, only that special writing paper for beginning writers.  I remember that I wrote this note on special paper that I snagged from my older brother, and that the paper was tablet style with the two holes on the top.  I suppose that I intended to impress little Stephen with my worldly use of 4th grade style paper. 

After agreeing to love and kiss and merry me, little Stephen and his family left town sometime during the summer after 1st grade.  Gone, like a thief in the night, never to return. 

But, me, I still have this cool coaster.

Name That Occasion

November 25, 2009

Ruth & Becky

This picture was taken sometime during 1960.  I’m about 4 years old and Becky is about 2.  It appears that someone got a color camera, and that perhaps all pics moving forward in time will be in color.  This was made in the living room of our house on the “divan” as Mother called it.  I found out years later that it was just a couch.  And of course there’s the prerequisite crocheted afghan on the back of the divan.  I learned how to crochet once upon a time and thought that I would make a granny-square afghan similar to the one in the picture above.  Nope!  Too much work.  And all those little squares to keep up with until they could be stitched together with the black yarn….  Dante’s Inferno might have had a crocheted granny-square room in it.  I suppose they are holding a spot for me in the granny-square department in Hades. 

The divan had a matching chair.  Both were a nondescript beige nubby fabric made to withstand flamethrowers and small children.  My mother painted the walls four basic colors:  beige, eggshell, blue, or green.  My older sister made the comment once, after returning home from college, that the colors were “institutional”.  I didn’t know what that meant for a long time.  I suppose that she’s right, but I don’t know what other colors would be used.  Black-of-death?  Pepto-pink?  Red-orange-of-hell?  That was so last century.  The color of small children’s handprints would have been a big hit. 

Once upon a time, when pictures were being developed from film, the pictures were returned to you, by the developer, with the month and date stamped on them.  Like on the picture above where it says “Dec 60” at the bottom of the picture.  In my family, and perhaps yours too, this was never an accurate way of determining when the photo was taken.  Cameras were used only on photo-opportunities, and never as casually as we use them today.  A roll of film could have 12, 24, or 36 pictures, at least the ones that I’m most familiar with in the 1970’s and ’80’s.  It might take a really long time to use up the entire roll, maybe even a year, but certainly always months.  So I doubt that the picture above was actually taken in December 1960.  I’m wearing short-sleeves, and Becky’s wearing a thin-looking dress. 

And as I’m zooming in on the photo to look at dress detail, I notice that I am picking at my cuticles.  In the picture, I am picking at my nails and I am four. 

Some days I am still four.

AskTheVet: Doggy Fear of Thunderstorms

November 23, 2009


There are many different options for dogs with thunderstorm phobias. Some commonly used methods consist of behavior modification, natural medication, or prescription medication.

The most common behavior modification is a process referred to as desensitization. This treatment consists of exposing the dog to subtle sounds and visual effects that mimic a real storm. The time and intensity of this artificial scenario is slowly increased as the dog is rewarded for learning to not respond in a fearful manner. This method is proven to be successful but will require patience, potentially a lengthy treatment time, and may require concurrent medical treatment.

Melatonin is a common natural treatment which has been used to treat dogs with thunderstorm phobias. Melatonin and other natural medication can be prescribed by your veterinarian. Prescription medication consists of tranquilizers, sedatives, or anxiety drugs.

Thunderstorm phobias need to be evaluated on a case to case basis. The intensity and severity is different for each dog. Thus, it is difficult to predict the prognosis for any one case.

Disclaimer: This section is provided for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for regular veterinary care through a licensed veterinarian, including regular office visits.

It’s Easter! 1957 Style!

November 22, 2009

Aunt Etta, YoursTruly, Cousin Gordie, BigSisSandi

This picture was made at Grandma Packett’s.  The date on the picture is April 1957, so I’m guessing it’s Easter.  I’m about 4 months old here.  Grandma had a large dining room table with ladder back chairs that Cousin Gordie has now.  The table was a good place for a small child to make a hideaway under.  Once I took some of Grandma’s postage stamps that she kept in a Lazy Susan on the table and hid under the table and licked each and every stamp and stuck them under the table. 

I got caught.

I don’t know what the meal was in this photo, but I see biscuits!  Always homemade!  There was probably a sugar-cured ham and green beans and mashed potatoes.  That might be a cake on a cake stand in the middle of the table but I just can’t be sure.  I think I might have some more pictures of this day, but I’ll have to sort thru some stuff and match up the dates on the pictures.

I need to go eat some food now.  My mouth is watering…


Mr. Brown Takes A Bullet

November 21, 2009

You remember our friend, Mr. Brown, who showed up at the gate on Sunday.  He’s a happy, playful fellow who would love to hump Daisy when I let her out at strategic times.  So, I’ve been spending more time with him when I let Daisy out by sitting with him, patting his little soft head, and talking to him. 

On the night before he was to go to the shelter, I sat on the steps of the RV in the dark and picked him up and held him like a small child.  He listened, possibly out of boredom, while I droned on about how he was going on an adventure the next day.  As I stroked his side, I found a thick, damp, scabby area in his fur.  I worked the scab loose and flipped it to one side.  He never flinched.  I didn’t have on any outside lights to check the small wound, and the wound didn’t seem to be problematic.

The next day we went to the vet’s office to work.  During lulls in business, I worked with him on leash training.  Every time I put the slip leash over his head, he urinated.  I told him he was going to have to work on not peeing BEFORE the walk, but rather to focus on peeing DURING.  After the leash was on his neck, he always stood stock still.  He didn’t seem to how what to do, since he probably had never been on a leash, and I enticed him to walk forward by offering him dry food from my pocket.  By the fourth attempt at leash-walking, he was able to amble forward, sometimes even running, in a happy little motion.  He was going to make someone an awesome companion.

I popped him into the tub for a  bath.  He froze once again, but didn’t panic as I worked the water and shampoo into his coat.  I checked for the place where I’d found the scab the night before.  I found a lump, about the size of a full tick, but UNDER the skin.  This was very strange.  I worked my fingers forward through his coat and found the wound where the scab had been.  I called for the vet.

He decided that the lump was a foreign body, maybe a stick that had poked through the skin and broken off.  He got a blade and made a small incision over the lump and worked something out.  I held Mr. Brown’s head and talked to him.  He never moved. 

Mr. Brown's Bullet

The foreign body was a small bullet.  The vet suggested it was a 22. 

That Hurts

It appears that someone shot at him head-on.  The object grazed into his skin and lodged underneath.  No wonder he ended up at my gate.  The long wound on the left is the entry.  The incision on the right is what the vet created to remove the bullet.

Bob-ra & Mr. Brown

November 19, 2009

After surgery

Last week a kitten showed up at the Hardlyville Post Office.  It was dangerous for her to stay in the parking lot, so the Postmaster, who is this case is a Postmistress but the PTB (Powers That Be) only recognize the term Postmaster, brought the bob-tailed wonder into the building.  Little Bob-ra stayed with me for a nite before going to live at the vet’s office for a few days.  The vet determined that she was old enough for her spay surgery.  She had arrived at the PO wearing a little orangey collar with a red bell, no tag.

Mr. Brown showed up at my gate on Sunday.  He was wearing a collar that said “Best Friend”.  He was thin, starving, wormy, and more than happy to eat from the food bowl that I keep near the gate outside the fence.  I called in a found dog report to the animal shelter, and told them I’d have him fixed and vaccinated and foster him for five days if they would find a home for him.  They usually can cooperate with me since I foot all the costs, and I give them a healthy dog to adopt out.  The shelter has no reason to euthanize a healthy, adoptable, altered animal, and they know I’m watching. 

They both had surgery on Tuesday.  The anesthesia really does a number on them.  Their eyes do not close under anesthesia, so we put eye lube in the eyes to maintain moisture level.  Otherwise, the eyes would dry out.  Bob-ra’s surgery was more complicated than Mr. Brown’s, so she stayed at the vet to recuperate.  Mr. Brown came home with me to the RV palace and Swamped! plantation to run and poop play for a few days before he makes a journey to the shelter.

I'm never coming to this bar again.