Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cotton Picking Snow

It’s cotton picking time in lower Alabama and that means we’re near about as close as we’re gotta get to anything resembling snow. Right now, the cotton fields are topped with fluffy white cotton bolls. And yes, they’re as soft on the plant as when you pull a store bought one out of a bag and rub it on your face. Cotton picking time means the farmers are harvesting their cotton.

What does all this have to do with snow in Alabama? Well, the cotton’s gotta be taken from the fields to the cotton gin. The farmers load up trailers and haul the cotton to the gin. During the trip, tuffs of fluffy cotton fly off the trailers and settle on the sides of the road. The closer you get to the cotton gin, the thicker the layer of cotton until it looks like a light layer of snow has fallen alongside the road.

Since it doesn’t snow much in these here parts, it’s a nice reminder winter is on its way. In cotton’s heyday, all the farms round about Tassanoxie grew cotton. I wasn’t alive then, but I can picture the “snow” effect. Can even see “snow” lining all the dirt roads  as the tuffs of cotton fall off the the mule-drawn wagons going to the closest cotton gin. 

The boll weevil showed up way back when and ate up all the cotton crops. Folks lost their livelihood. It was a bad time. Lots of places went quite a few decades without cotton because farmers switched to growing crops like peanuts. The pendulum swung back to cotton a few years ago and Tassanoxie, not wanting to miss out on the revival, put in a cotton gin. 

If you get a hankering to pretend it’s snowing in Alabama, just drive up any ole road leading to a cotton gin. It’s a nice reminder winter is on its way.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Do Lice Love Selfies?

I saw a headline about selfies leading to more head lice in teens not so long ago. When I read it, I thought. “Goodness, that makes sense. What with everyone cramming their heads together to take a picture, I can see lice moving onto new feeding grounds. And teens do love taking selfies.

Being a reporter type, I did what I always do, only now I do it faster because of the Internet. I did some research. It wasn’t hard because the article had gone from a regional e-zine into a blurb on the national news. And all the headlines carried words sure to smack a parent upside the head: lice, teen, and selfie.

Bad enough parents have to battle lice on their young’uns, now some expert is telling them they haveta worry about their teenagers bringing those little rascals home, too? All on account of teens constantly taking phone pictures of themselves and their friends.

Back to the article. The quoted expert was the owner of a de-lousing company, so right there I learned something new. I had no idea companies existed that did nothing but remove lice from people’s heads. Imagine spending your day nitpicking! Not that some folks don’t already do that, but usually they criticize little things about life, they don’t actually pluck nits from some kid’s head.

Fulltime Nitpicking
It took me awhile to wrap my head around the idea of true nitpicking being a full time job, but once I digested it, I wondered if the owner of such a company is a real expert. Now, I can sorta see her being an expert since she runs a de-lousing business. But, wouldn’t it be good for her business to make parents of all age kids nervous about lice? 

I was also a little leery of the expert’s facts, but it could’ve been the way the reporter put them together. First, she’s quoted as having seen a “huge increase of lice in teens this year” and later, “the bump in business over the last few years has been tenfold.” 

Here’s my problem. I need solid evidence. How many is huge? And tenfold times what? Is the tenfold increase an increase in teen head lice cases or just that her business has been growing as more parents use her service.

Bug Expert
And then, of course, there’s the bug expert. He doesn't make money off removing head lice and thinks transferring lice while taking selfies is all hogwash. Seems he’s run off to many a school to verify lice infestations only to find the culprit has bread crumbs in his hair, not lice. 

This guy says teens aren’t as likely to have lice in the first place. Seems they’re better at washing behind their ears. Younger kids share lice because they tend to roll around on the ground together more than teens do. Although I’m not saying teens don’t roll around together…

Since I never heard of a company that delouses folks, I’m going out on a limb here and say the real story is there’s a huge increase is the number of businesses devoted to de-lousing kids. And to my surprise, there’s one right here in Tassanoxie. Leastways, there’s a car driving around with a cutesy lice removal company name on the door. I was that surprised Tassanoxie had enough head lice to support a de-lousing company. 

iPhone 6 for Teens
There’s a bright side of this story for some enterprising teen. Here’s the ammo to convince your parents you need the new large size iPhone 6: lice prevention. All you gotta do is swear to keep at least 6” between heads when taking group selfies.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Naked Dating?

I suspicion everyone has heard about that new reality show, Naked Dating. When I read about it, all I could think was, who in their right mind would want to go on a blind date without a stitch of clothing on? Here you are, trying to get to know somebody, but you don’t get to do it little bits at the time. Heck no, you are broadsided by the complete enchilada on the first date.
Warts, tattoos, moles and all.

Those TV folks may call it naked dating, but down here in the South, we call it what it is. It’s flat out, no holds barred, nekkid dating. If you aren’t acquainted with the phrase, let me introduce you to Lewis Grizzard, a famous Southern humorist Here’s how he explained the difference between naked and nekkid.

“If you’re naked, you don’t have any clothes on, but if you’re nekkid, you don’t have any clothes on…and you’re up to something.”

Maybe none of the folks involved in this show are up to something other than trying to make money and titillate viewers. But like we say down here, if it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk…

One would imagine certain consequences of two young humans wandering around nekkid. It would be normal for the guy’s appreciation of the female to be obvious. Kinda like a flag waving in the air. 

But what if the flag droops? Will the female get depressed because her partner’s interest has, well, flagged? Then again, what if it flies as if there’s a stiff breeze for a long time. Does the camera crew rush the guy to the ER? I’m just wondering since all those Viagra commercials warn that longterm flag flying leads straight to the ER.

I admit I didn’t bother to watch the show. Mostly, because I read in the newspaper that they’d blurred all the good parts. Which didn’t surprise me atall since they probably didn’t want the FCC to fine them.

What I do know is that I hope nekkid dating doesn’t take ahold down here in Tassanoxie. Alabama ranks #4 in the state line up for fat folks which means there’s a lot of overweight people here. Not that we’re alone. Obesity is becoming an epidemic in the whole USA. Nothing to brag on there.

On the plus side, that fact should slow down the rush to nekkid dating in these parts. 

Thank goodness. I can’t think of anything more embarrassing than going down to the Corner Cafe and running into a couple I know on a nekkid date. And it’d be plumb sad to watch them get hauled off to jail. And they would, because there’s not a doubt in my mind that Odell would call the police. Not that I’d watch them getting taken away. After all, they’d be naked. 

And if I went back to the Corner Cafe, there’s no way I’d ever sit where they sat while they were at the diner. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Courtship of Serena Smith

I’m all excited because I have a big scene in Ginger Hanson’s latest short story release. 

Here’s the cover. 

That’s the dog park where I take Jocko to play. It’s also where I saw Serena and Ted sitting together on the bench.

In my big scene, I nudge Serena toward liking Ted, who is a really nice guy. I don’t think Serena needed much nudging, though. I’m also thinking Mollie might be the real matchmaker here since she’s the reason Ted goes to the dog park. 

However it happens, Ted and Serena get a second chance at love. 

Want to read it? Just follow the link to



Friday, June 13, 2014

A Dash of Ginger Goes Live

Cover of A Dash of Ginger

My creator, Ginger Hanson, has gone into Indie publishing (she discusses the process in more depth over at Just Ginger). She’s got herself a micropublishing house, Saderra Publishing, and she’s publishing her stories.

The first release is called A Dash of Ginger, Sassy Southern Essays. It hit Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Kobo this week. In this collection of humorous essays, Ginger tackles subjects as varied as weight lifting, hair dye, plastic surgery, parenting, chocolate, shopping, and dogs. You’ll get a kick out of these essays wherever you live, but they do have a touch of small town living.

Truth is, if you're here because you like Miss Mabel, then you’ll like these essays. After all, they were all written by the same person.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Just Say Hey!

It’s about time the rest of the U.S.A. officially recognized a longtime Southern tradition. Yes siree, there’s a star-studded campaign to get folks to do something we’ve been doing down here in the South since we shipped in from Europe.
And what’s that? Why, saying “hey” to folks we meet in our daily lives. Being it wasn’t a Southern proposal, I mean, why would we suggest everyone do something we do naturally, those in charge of the campaign suggest you “Just Say Hello!”

It’s probably for the best that the rest of the U.S.A. concentrate on saying hello because they don’t know all the nuances of how to say hey. For such a short word, it carries a lot of punch. And when spoken to a friend you’re right happy to see, that little bitty word can sound as if it has a bunch more syllables.

Back to the Just Say Hello campaign. The idea is to get folks connected with others. Seems recent research says lots of people in the U.S. suffer from loneliness. This is not a good thing to have because it can actually shorten your life. 

They want folks to put down their cell phones and connect with the people around them by doing little things, like saying hello to the clerk fixing our morning shot of latte. Or starting a conversation with a neighbor in the grocery store line.

Don’t that beat all? I thought everybody already did that. But there again, I’ve spent all my life in the South.

Since most of the world doesn’t get to live here, I guess having a national campaign to get folks to connect is a good idea. If it makes the rest of the U.S.A. as friendly as the South, who am I to complain?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Timed Parking at Tassanoxie Airport

Sam and I drove out to the Tassanoxie Municipal Airport last weekend to see an airplane his friend had bought. As many of you know, Tassanoxie’s a small town in Alabama. So I’m talking small airport with a terminal, some hangers, and a runway.
Imagine my surprise to see a little black and white rectangle that said “thirty minute parking” painted on the curb. I looked around the parking lot. Somebody had done stuck those little bitty notices on half the parking spaces. Sixteen spaces were forever parking while the rest allowed half an hour parking.
We’re way out in the country. Nary a business in sight. Exactly what kind of parking rush do these guys get?
“Shall I set a timer?” I asked.
Sam looked at me blankly. “What for?”
“So we’ll know when to come back and move the car to another parking spot.” I gestured toward the front of the car.
Sam read the sign and then looked around. There were four cars in the lot. “I don’t think we’re gonna have to worry about that.”
I’m one of those people who feels if you make a rule, you should enforce it. “If parking’s not a problem out here, why’d someone paint all those little notices?”
Sam opened his car door. “Come on, Mabel. We’re here to see Justin’s new plane, not fuss about the city painting the curbs.”
I waited until we’d admired Justin’s airplane before I asked him. “Does the airport do a lot of business during the week? You know, filling up the parking lot.”
“I’ve been coming out here for years and I’ve only seen that parking lot fill up on the weekends we have the Air Expo.”                                                                                             

Since the city got involved in the Air Expo after my retirement, I never covered one for the paper. But I do know they only happen once a year.
I’m not sure what bright butt city employee came up with this idea, or which higher up bright butt city employee approved it. I’m of half a mind to come out here, mark the cars in the limited spaces and then after thirty minutes call the cops. Wonder how long those curbside notices would last then.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kitty Cams Reveal Shocking Truth

I was on my way to Zonie Mae’s last week to get my hair done when I heard two disc jockeys on the radio talking about kitty cams. Seems some folks at the University of Georgia put little bitty video cameras on a bunch of cats whose owners let them roam around the neighborhood.

There was no good news for the lizard, small snake, vole and chipmunk populations who are the targets of roaming cats who hunt. On the plus side, not all roaming cats hunt. 

BTW, I wasn’t sure what a vole was until I looked it up. It’s just a short, fancy word for a field mouse. I know what you’re thinking–getting rid of these mouse critters who have a fancy name is a good thing. I’m of the opinion these little guys have their place in the scheme of life and shouldn't be killed off by cats. 

Did you notice something odd? Birds weren’t on the list. That’s because the kitty cam cats weren’t viewed capturing as many birds as they did the other critters. While they don’t catch as many birds, they spend a lot of time stalking them. And stalking, as we all know, can cause its own set of problems.

Let’s face it, it’s not as if these cats are hungry. In fact, they only ate a third of what they killed and they left most of the kill at the capture site. Of course, some of the cats dragged their kill home for their lucky owners to see. 

Researchers were surprised to discover a few of the cats were seeing another family behind the backs of their first family. This means those cats had two families feeding them. Frankly, this revelation came as no surprise to me because I have known too many people who have been adopted by cats who come and go as they please.

What the kitty cams did reveal is that suburban free-roaming cats face a lot of dangers. They cross the road, exposing themselves to death by car. They meet and greet strange cats who can carry infectious diseases. They eat and drink substances they shouldn’t, like roadkill and sewer water. They enter crawlspaces where they could get trapped and die. And they can be attacked and killed by other animals while they ramble. 

All this is important stuff cat owners should consider when they hold that door open and let their cat out each day.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Five Second Rule, Anyone?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the five second rule, it’s the one that says if you drop some food on the floor but pick it up within five seconds, it’s okay to eat it. I’ve flat lived by that rule all my life, depending on the food, of course. I didn’t invoke it the time I dumped a whole pan of lasagna on the kitchen floor. Much as I love lasagna, I wasn’t about to try and scoop it off the floor and eat it. We had two dogs back then and I didn’t need a microscope to tell me there would be lots of dog hair in that mess on the floor.
No one is happy until they disprove things and someone set out to disprove this old wives tale. That led to several studies about how fast germs jump on dropped food plus some interesting side results.

I wasn’t a bit surprised to read that folks who drop candy are more likely to pick it up and eat it than if they dropped vegetables. Then the researchers discovered more women knew about the rule than men. Makes sense since over the long haul of human existence, women have spent more time cooking than men. The way I look at it, more men would know about the rule if more men listened to the women in their lives.  

Usually, food dropped on a tile floor didn’t end up having as many germs on it as food dropped on a carpet because germy stuff survives better in carpet. Which also makes sense since it’s harder to wash a carpet than a tile floor so folks tend to wash tile floors more often. But in the end, the surface didn’t really matter since germs jump from any flooring to the food really fast. It’s more a matter of how many of those little rascals jump than whether or not they jump.
While I’m sure all this scientific info is true, I’ll probably continue invoking the five second rule, especially with candy. Leastways, I figure I’ll pick it up until I can’t bend over anymore. And I should be able to touch the floor for a few more years because as you may remember, two years ago I joined a Tai Chi class. And believe you me, those folks are all about being flexible.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s Syndrome Strikes Again

I don’t know about you, but 2013 went well for me. I managed to keep my one measly resolution and blogged more faithfully. While I didn’t break any blogging records, I did manage to add ten more entries and had another 700 visitors. Sure wish I knew who you folks were. Since no one ever leaves a comment, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s those dang spider bot thingys running around indexing the Internet. 

I’m not a computer whiz but I’ve heard tell these little guys visit web pages to gather info for the browsers. Since Blogger counts visits, does it count spider bot visitors as real folks? 

Being the optimist that I am, I like to think real folks are stopping by to read my blogs and having a little chuckle when they do. 

Since I kept this year’s resolution, I guess I’ll have to come up with another one for 2014. 
Shooting for 12 monthly entries seems a good choice. 

Which means I’ll have to figure out how to deal with the end-of-year holidays. As you may have noticed, I did the same ole thing last year as I did in 2012 and didn’t blog in November and December. It’s the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year syndrome. Those weeks passed in a blur of shopping, wrapping presents, doing Christmas cards, cleaning, cooking, setting up decorations and then of course, undoing everything and cleaning, again. 

Maybe I need to pre-plan a tad better. You know, write November and December blog entries in like, oh, August. I’ve heard tell you can set up Blogger to publish stuff when you want. Hmm, a little research will be needed, but now I have my revised resolution. 

I resolve to blog each month of  2014 AND to learn how to pop the entries in as needed. 

This New Year’s resolution stuff isn’t so bad. Just keep your resolutions short, sweet, and doable!