Friday, September 6, 2013

So, Whatcha Been Up To?

Free to a good home.
Husband.  Retired.
'Nuff said.

This was my Facebook status a mere five days after Fred's retirement began early last year.  He was restless, he complained, he wanted something to do.  His retirement was my curse to bear, but it soon turned into a blessing.

A knee injury I had sustained the previous year worsened with use, and I was forced to undergo extensive surgery.  "Ethel's Nine Weeks in the Wheelchair" was nominated for best comedic short. The many scenes where tornado sirens were going off and Fred was trying to maneuver that decrepit wheelchair through mud, gravel, and driving rain to get me to the basement were hilarious, but nothing compared to the glare he met when he suggested that next time he rig a harness and pull me down the basement staircase, like hauling a big ol' bluefin tuna to the scales.

Yes, he got more than he bargained for when I was further sidelined by a blood clot in that knee, which broke apart a week later and settled in my right lung.  Let me tell y'all, a pulmonary embolism is nothing to sneeze at, and when you have two of the little buggers, and the CT contrast dye sends you into anaphylactic shock, well, lesser women have not survived.  But my pampered princess crown was still shiny and new, so I just told St. Pete he'd made a little boo-boo, and he let me slide.

Me and Pete...we got it like that.

I was just beginning to master the mechanics of a cane when Fred was bitten by a brown recluse spider and ended up spending three days in the hospital, where he drove the poor nurses crazy with his never-ending supply of bad hospital jokes and his stubborn refusal to take his condition seriously.  That spider left him with a small crater in his heel and partial memory loss.  But still he took care of me.

All those spring storms caused extensive damage to our roof, and the all-day hammering of the roofers brought about a mass exodus of brown recluse spiders from our attic.  When one scuttled across my bedroom floor in broad daylight, I told Fred I didn't care what it might cost, we were hiring a pest control service NOW.  What a blessing!  Since "the bug man" began his regular visits, I have seen only one live spider in the house, and it was doing the death dance.

So I hastened it.  Put it out of its misery.  Dr. Kavorkian isn't the only one with compassion, you know.

Symptoms of pulmonary embolisms and asthma can be similar, so it's understandable that I don't know when the embolisms dissolved and the asthma began.  But no sooner had my doctor diagnosed asthma than I was hospitalized following a severe asthma attack.  Steroids seem to be the only thing currently keeping my breathing in check, but steroids have an annoying little side effect: you gain weight.  They help tremendously with breathing, but you gain weight.  They keep pain levels at low to non-existent...but you gain weight.  They give you energy...but you gain weight.  LOTS of weight.

Okay, I'm beginning to depress myself, so let's get on with the good news.

Fred isn't the only one who retired recently...I did, too!  The cash-strapped Post Office offered VERY SMALL INCENTIVE early retirement to employees who met minimum age and years-of-service requirements, and I took that offer and ran with it.  I didn't care that I was getting a buyout of only 15% what  similar companies were offering their employees.  I just wanted and needed out.

Being retired means more than just choosing whether or not to remain in your jammies all day.  It also means you get to pick up the nieces from dance class and piano lessons, take Aunt Millie to the hairdresser, sign when the UPS man delivers Johnson Henry's new computer, and watch that the little Crenshaw boy doesn't climb over the fence to get in the neighbor's pool.  And keep Zoey when she's running a fever, and pick up new grandson Andy at daycare on Tuesdays!

That's right, I have two grandchildren now.  Zoey is two, and Andy is four months.  And they are the light of my life.

Zoey is a little charmer who has her grandpa wrapped tightly around a petite finger.  She is utterly feminine, enjoying her manicures and pedicures, and her favorite color, of course, is pink.



Andy is a happy cherub who changes every day.




Lots of you have asked about Willadean.  Since I retired, I don't have daily contact with her anymore, but I do keep up with her.  There will be plenty of stories to follow when I resume blogging.  In the meantime, I just saw a picture that reminded me of her, and I pass it on to you.


So, what have y'all been doing?



Monday, August 26, 2013

On Life and Love and Friendship

The screen on my little netbook dims in energy saver mode, a tactful reminder that I've been staring at the blank page too long, staring as if waiting for the proper words to magically appear.

But they don't.  They won't, for some emotions have no proper words, and there is nothing magical about death.

I had never met her, never spoken with her, never known her as anything other than "Mrs. Bluelights."  I knew little of her day to day life, and practically nothing of her dreams, her favorite colors and numbers, TV shows, books.  I didn't know what pair of shoes she reached for when her feet faced a long day, or what food she craved late at night; if she left the dishes for the next morning, or commandeered the remote during commercials; her pet peeves and greatest fears; regrets. I had no idea what could flare her red headed temper and what it would take to extinguish the flames.

And yet...I knew all I needed to know, for within her husband's keystrokes, she unwittingly revealed herself: she was part of Eddie, and he was part of her.  She was there, and we knew it, perhaps by nothing more than "we," because her absence would have been noted otherwise.  For when one is comprised of two, the lack of either part is most conspicuous and will likely have a lasting effect.

But with her death, the two that had become one is one again, or perhaps only half of that, for one does not easily remember how to be one, when one has been part of a greater one for over forty years.

I won't speak more of Maria, for her story is Eddie's to tell.  If you haven't already done so, I urge you to read Eddie's tribute.  But I suspect most of you have already been there; I saw the names of many mutual friends among the comments, most written in May, when Eddie had mourned for a month and was able to speak of his wife.  And that's what brings me to the crux of my own post.

I regret to say that although Eddie's life was forever altered months ago, I have only just been made aware of it.  Eddie is a dear friend, albeit only in BlogLand, but I didn't know.  And that is my own fault.

My goodness, I look back over my post list and see I've not written anything in well over a year.  Could it really have been that long?  And in the only time I've popped in at all in recent months, I reverted most of my posts to draft, in that fit of senseless paranoia I experience from time to time.  I didn't check my comments.  I wasn't ready to be tempted to visit friends and laugh or cry with their adventures, or to be mesmerized by their breathtaking photos or entranced by prose.

I didn't check the comments.  I didn't see the message from Eddie about Maria.

When I sat down to write this, I had every intention of saying something to the effect of I'm coming back from my break, not in full force, but I want to stay in touch and will post maybe once a month, maybe more often.  But, as I am trying to finish that promised first novel, I know in my heart that anything I write will end up among its pages, even if those pages are forever compressed into a tiny flash drive, perhaps tossed and  lost, but most likely gathering dust in a seldom used cabinet.  Sometimes I write an amusing short story on my Facebook wall, but that's really all I've done since my self-imposed break.  However, I do want to tell you a bit about what's been going on in my life and I'd like to hear about your own lives.

Leave some comments.  Tell me what's changed, who's married, who's having babies, who's retired, where you're traveling, what you're doing, even if it's nothing.  I'll write one post in the next few days and tell my friends about my misadventures in the world of Ethel and Fred.  After that, the only promise I make is to check in more often.

And in the meantime, keep Eddie in your thoughts or prayers or wherever you hold dear friends.  Very, very dear friends.
















Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mayberry, My Hometown

The following is a post I originally wrote in 2010, but given the passing of Andy Griffith, I felt it worth repeating.





♫ My hometown is the greatest place I know,
Where the people I find
are gentle and kind
and the living easy and slow.
 ♫

These are the opening words to the song Bee Taylor and Clara Edwards wrote as a tribute to their hometown, Mayberry, North Carolina. Their hometown, my hometown.

There were many people responsible for The Andy Griffith Show: Sheldon Leonard, Aaron Ruben, Richard Linke, Bob Ross, Frank Myers, Sid Hickox, a splendid cast and crew, and a host of some of the era's greatest script writers. Though all these persons contributed immensely, I give my greatest thanks to Andy Griffith, himself, without whom there would never have been the classic sitcom.

I grew up on The Andy Griffith Show.  Back in the days when families had only one television set, our entire family would gather in front of our little black and white portable on Monday nights and watch Andy together.  As a family.  It didn't matter if the dishes hadn't yet been done or homework finished; it was time for Andy and things of lesser importance could wait.

When Andy decided, after eight seasons in the top ten, to leave the series while it was still on top, the show evolved into Mayberry, RFDAndy made several guest appearances, but the star became Ken Berry, as farmer and councilman Sam Jones. Andy reportedly stayed on as a story consultant, a role he had played, uncredited, since the beginning; indeed, he contributed to the writing of many, many scripts. The Andy Griffith Show, already in daytime reruns, went completely into Rerun Land, where it has stayed...for forty six years.

I watch Andy at every opportunity, even though I know every episode, even though I can quote much of the dialogue, even though I can tell when a scene has been deleted, or lines have been cut, in order to make room for more commercials. My children grew up watching Andy, and I attribute the wholesome goodness, the solid principles of that show, for much of their fine character. The moral values of The Andy Griffith Show are deemed so great that many churches have adapted the series into their Sunday School lessons.

It was a simpler time. Even though the series was set in the sixties, Mayberry was unaffected by the volatile nature of the rest of the country: there was no sex, no drugs, no war in Vietnam, no race riots. Maybe that's why it stayed on the top of the Nielson ratings charts for so long - maybe Americans needed that weekly escape from the harsh realities of the era. Maybe that's why, to this day, it still flourishes in reruns - maybe we still need that escape to a place where the pace was slower, the people kinder, and all dilemmas were resolved in thirty minutes.

My hometown? No, not really, for Mayberry is, after all, a fictional little hamlet. But I feel more ties to Mayberry than I do to my real hometown; indeed, to any town in which I've ever lived. I know every business in town. The courthouse, where Sheriff Andy Taylor and deputy Barney Fife hold dangerous criminals - like town drunk Otis Campbell, who has his own key and is allowed to lock himself up and let himself out.  Floyd's Barbershop, where the men of the town gather to gossip and play checkers. The Mayberry Security Bank, where guard Asa Breeney sleeps soundly in a chair in the corner.  Walker's Drugstore, the Grand Theater, the Mayberry Hotel, the Snappy Lunch, Mr. Foley's Grocery, Fred Goss' Dry Cleaning, the All Souls Church. I know the houses of each citizen: Andy's two story house, where he lives with son Opie and Aunt Bee; Mrs. Mendlebright's Boarding House, where Barney cooks illegally on a hot plate; Mrs. Wiley's, where socialites gather for dances; the Darling cabin, way out in the mountains, reached by crossing the Robert E. Lee bridge (a tree that fell over a shallow spot in a creek.)

Some of the program's greatest moments involve...nothing. Nothing more than Andy and Barney sweeping up the courthouse and having aimless conversations; nothing more than the family sitting on the front porch after a full meal, humming and strumming guitar. And some great moments involve the zany antics of overzealous Barney, who is allowed one bullet only, and must keep it in his shirt pocket.


There were classic hilarious episodes, like Barney's First CarThe Pickle StoryThe Great Filling Station Robbery, Barney and the ChoirDogs, Dogs, DogsThe Loaded Goat, and virtually anything involving Gomer Pyle, the Darling family, and Ernest T. Bass. But my favorite episodes involve strangers to the town, strangers who stumble upon a town stuck in time, and learn a lesson about themselves. In Man in a Hurry, impatient businessman Malcolm Tucker's car breaks down just outside Mayberry on a quiet Sunday morning, and, of course, the only thing open in Mayberry on Sunday is the church. Mr Tucker becomes outraged at the townsfolk, desperate to get to his important business in Raleigh, but by the day's end, he has learned to appreciate the slow pace, the friendly people, the generosity he's offered. Or Bailey's Bad Boy, in which spoiled young man Ronald Bailey sideswipes a farmer's truck, and is arrested and detained in the Mayberry jail. His lesson comes from watching Andy's firm but loving discipline of Opie when Opie breaks a window with a baseball. Or Sermon For Today, in which a visiting minister preaches to the congregation to "slow down, take it easy, what's your hurry?" He never realizes that Mayberrians have always lived by that adage.

Even though Andy was the sheriff, most of the episodes dealt with home and family and small town values. Barney Fife summed it up accurately in the episode Andy on Trial, when he said, "...when you're a lawman and you're dealing with people, you do a whole lot better if you go not so much by the book, but by the heart."

By the heart. That was the message that The Andy Griffith Show drove home.

I owe Mayberry and Andy Griffith a debt of gratitude; for teaching me and my children patience, kindness, a sense of fairness, and for entertainment value that simply cannot be matched.

Many of the cast and crew are now deceased, but they will forever be young on screen and in memories. What a legacy.

Thank you, Andy.

(Added July, 2012, after Andy's passing, and paraphrasing lines from Opie the Birdman:)



Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hellooooo! Is There Anybody Out There?

I guess it's the size of this place that makes it so hard to find my friends.  I'm not even sure who's here with me - I've really seen very few people so far...not even Reverend Harold Camping, who I kinda thought would be leading the parade.

Of course, I've only been here a little over twenty four hours, and I don't really know my way around yet.  It took a good hour for St. Peter to find my name in THE BOOK.  I mean, seriously, wouldn't you think they'd have developed some sort of index file by now?   The little angel who lead me to my cloud whispered that St. Peter has been lobbying for a computerized system for years, but rumor has it that the Council of Angels won't appropriate funds for the front gate until Pete stops letting in reprobates like me.

That certainly put me in my place.

I was chastised right away for bringing my own laptop.  I don't know why it was such a big deal - there was this older couple ahead of me in line with two trunks, five rolling suitcases, and an overnighter, like Mr. and Mrs. Howell on Gilligan's Island.  St. Peter just rang for a bellhop angel and let them pass.

Then there was the woman behind me who was so worried about her little poodle.  She entrusted his care to a man who was a self-proclaimed atheist and therefore knew he would not be taking the highway to Heaven on May 21.  This guy charged her over $100 to care for her little darling forever, but now she's worried he'll back out of the deal.  "I didn't want to trust an atheist, but what other choice did I have?" she worried.

Ah well, I'm settled in now on Cloud # 6009956200CM.  I have no idea what that all means, but that's my new address.  It's nice - sparsely furnished, but soft and clean, and with a fantastic view.  Last night my sector went to a harp concert, and tomorrow there's supposed to be a choir.  I've been invited to tryouts.

The internet service up here SUCKS.  Dial up.  Can you imagine?

I must go now.  My little angel dropped by to say I have a fitting for my first wings in 20 minutes, and I have no idea where the tailor shop is located.  If I see Reverend Camping, I'll let y'all know he's safe and sound.

And hey, if any of y'all are up here, too, email me your new cloud address and we'll do lunch!

TaTa for now!

Ethelmae

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NO BOYS ALLOWED!


Seriously, y'all, this is a story of experimentation best left to the imagination for any male readers out there.  Sorry, guys, but y'all just don't have the stomach for this subject.

What am I talking about?  Feminine products, that's what. 

Are all the boys gone now?  Good, we can get on with our story.

PRELUDE

Y'all might remember that from roughly mid December till February I was sick off and on with severe kidney infections, flu, and bronchitis.  And flu and bronchitis always leave that annoying deep hacking cough which just lingers on and on and on...   Add kidney infections to that, factor in age 50+, and you've just concocted yourself a recipe for the dreaded...urinary incontinence.

I'm not talking about a little leak here and there; I'm talking about some major gushing.  No puny little panty liner was gonna handle this, and I absolutely refused to buy a box of extra large Depends. 

So I went with the obvious solution: maxi pads.

Now, y'all, I went through an early menopause, but I was sure I still had some of those pads...somewhere.  Digging far back into the recesses of every bathroom cabinet and drawer, I found Tums, expiration date March 2003; a half-filled bottle of DayQuil, expiration date January 2008; a bag of cotton balls that exploded when I tugged at it; a McBride and the Ride bandana; a yellow Hot Wheels car, what I think was part of a Transformer, and a green roof slat from a set of Lincoln Logs; enough black and white buttons to make a good-sized mosaic cow; three unopened packs of Bic shavers and two of Q-Tips; my missing Carpenters' Christmas cassette tape; one Charlie Brown Christmas toe sock; dozens of Disney shampoos and hotel-sized soaps; and the instruction manual for a VCR that had died a slow, painful death about five years ago.

But no maxi pads.  So off to Dollar General Store I went in my coat thrown over my pajamas.

I have no shame.

It seems things have changed a bit in the feminine products section since I last made a purchase.  Of course, everything is a lot more expensive, but I was totally unprepared for the wide variety of feminine products available.   Did y'all know they make a pad for thongs now?

It staggers the imagination.

Knowing I needed something industrial strength, I chose Always Extra Heavy Overnight with Flex Wings.  I had no idea what Flex Wings were, and truthfully, still don't, but let me tell y'all: these things work.

In spite of the width and unbelievable 15 inch length of these things, they don't have that pillow-between-your-legs feeling like the old maxi pads. Those Flex Wings are wide and stay securely in place.  I can testify that they're super-absorbent, because I coughed myself silly through many nights and never once had a leak.  They shoulda used these things to soak up that Gulf Oil Spill.  And the adhesive backing?

IT STICKS.

THE EXPERIMENT

I was in the bathroom, having already peeled the plastic backing off one of these super-sized things, when I decided to go ahead and get my bath. Since I had just reused the new wrapper, I had nowhere to restick the new pad while I bathed.  NOWHERE.  What to do? 

I stuck it to the wall. 

Honestly, I intended to leave it there only as long as it would take me to get ready for the tub, but since it was still firmly affixed to the wall at that point, I thought, dang, that's some good adhesive, and just left it there.  A long, relaxing, bubbly jacuzzi bath was just what the doctor had ordered for my various maladies, and when I emerged and had dried off, that thing was still stuck up there on the wall.

I mean, that's some really good adhesive.

Purely out of curiosity, I assure you, I resolved to test the adhesion of this thing by leaving it on the wall until it chose to fall off on its own.

I actually forgot all about it, but was reminded several hours later when Fred arrived home from work.  He removed his coat, set down his lunchbox in the kitchen, and disappeared into the bathroom.  Approximately 30 seconds later, I heard him call.

"Ethel!"

"What?" I called wearily, having just lain down on the couch.

"Come 'ere!" he hollered.

Remote in hand and three dogs already settled into place atop me, I had no intention of just hopping up and doing Fred's bidding.  "Whadayou want?"  I hollered back.

"Come HERE!"  he insisted.

I reluctantly heaved myself off the couch, displacing three dogs who were none too happy about having been deposed so quickly, and shuffled in my fuzzy houseshoes to the bathroom door.

He was seated on the throne, carefully averting his eyes from my new work of art.  "What is THAT?"  he asked.

Suppressing a smile at his discomfiture, I said innocently, "What?"

"THAT," he said, pointing, but still avoiding direct eye contact.

"It's an Always Extra Heavy Overnight Maxi Pad with Flex Wings."

"I KNOW what it is, what's it doing there?"

"It's an experiment..."  But he cut me off.

"Get it down."

"But I haven't finished the experiment..."

"Get it down."

"But it's just an innocent little..."

"Get it down."

I guess I couldn't blame him.  After all, he's just a man.

But the Always Extra Heavy Overnight Maxi Pad with Flex Wings experiment goes on: I took another pad a few weeks later and stuck it to the back side of the closet door, away from Fred's line of sight.

It's been there nine days.

Dang, that's some really good adhesive.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Love Birds

Good morning!  My name is Alexander Hawthorn Nathaniel Beeker XVI.  Just call me Alex.


I am here today to tell a love story - the story of Molly and Ben.

That's Ben over there.  And that's his house.  It was everything a bird could want...yet Ben was unhappy.  He was alone. 

He was also camera shy.


One snowy day he caught the eye of the lovely Molly, and he instantly fell in love.

Ben asked her to move into his house, but Molly was a lady of fine breeding, and told him that she would never consider living with him without the benefit of marriage.

"M...m...m...marriage!?" he faltered.  "But...but, I'm not ready for that kind of commitment!  Look, I'll refurnish the house just for you!"


But still she refused.  "I'd rather freeze out here in the snow!"  she sniffed, and she turned her back on him.


"I have berries..." he enticed her.  "Chocolate covered berries..." 

Ben mistook the fire in her eyes as passion for him, and proposed on the spot.

He swelled with pride at his prowess.  "Who's the man?  Who's the man?"  he shouted into the darkening skies.

They were married immediately and Molly moved into the big house.  They were very happy.

One day, with Ben out shopping for groceries and Molly visiting her mother, a cute little chick named Bonnie spied the big house and came calling.  After knocking several times and finding no occupants, she laid claim to the house and moved in.


When Ben returned and dropped the groceries inside, he found Bonnie sprawled across his nest.


"Who are you?" he demanded, rather hysterically.  "What are you doing here?"

"I'm Bonnie, and I'm just tweeting a few friends, inviting them over for a housewarming party," she said innocently.

I would have asked where she'd gotten the iPhone.


"Get out!  Get out before my wife comes back!" Ben told her in panic. 

"Get out?" Bonnie said.  "But it's snowing again!  And who made you ruler of the roost, anyway, huh?  We women have rights now, you know!"  And with that, she budged him aside and settled herself once again atop the soft nest inside.  Try as he might, Ben could not convince Bonnie to leave.

When Molly returned and saw Ben in a house full of partying ladies, she flew into a jealous rage.

"I'll have the divorce papers drawn up tomorrow," she screeched, "and don't EVEN think you're getting this house!"

Despondent, Ben flew to his old nest in a cold crabapple tree.

But Molly was heartbroken and found that she couldn't sleep in an empty nest.  Distraught, she donned her winter coat and slept outside on the snowy ledge.

Enter the villain, Snape.

(His parents named him before they'd finished reading the last Harry Potter book.  They didn't know old Snape was decent in the end.)

This is my imitation of him.  Pretty cool, huh?

Snape had been watching our little Molly during the night and had concocted a plan to take advantage of her newly broken heart and make her his own.

Oh, the angst!  I simply could not stand by and allow this rogue to take Ben's grieving wife!  But what could I do?

Quickly, I devised a plan to entrap Snape.  As I lacked the necessary...attributes...to entice him, I enlisted the aid of a comely young lass named Sophia.  "Can we talk?"  I asked of her, and I outlined my scheme.

 "I don't know," she fretted.  "It sounds kind of...devious."

"I'll have to think it over..."

"Ummmm...what's in it for me?"



"I'M IN!" she said, eyes wide and beak gaping.

That was easy.


With Sophia on board, we laid our trap and waited for Snape to make his move.

"Good...good," I whispered silently from the sidelines.  "Now!  Give him that 'come hither' look!"



"Closer...closer..." I found myself whispering.

"Work it...work it..."


I waited until just the right moment, then gave the word:  "Fly!  Fly under the table now!

"Oh, I feel so cheap," Sophia rued.

(She got over it when Big Red swept her off her feet.)


But Snape took the bait!  His beak was caught, and...well, Snape was...out of the picture, so to say.
And what happened then?  Well, the rest, as they say, is history.


Bonnie took a shine to a tall, handsome stranger...


...and flew the coop to be with him.


Molly moved back into their home, and Ben came begging forgiveness.  She tearfully relented....


...and they lived happily ever after.


THE END



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Take Me Home, Country Roads



Tennessee is widely known for many factors.  We're the Home of Country Music and the Great Smoky Mountains; the Tennessee Titans and Elvis Presley's Graceland.  Three US presidents have called Tennessee home, along with notables Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, Casey Jones and Alex Haley, and the great Cherokee Sequoyah.  We have the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon on Earth as well as the world's largest artificial skiing area.  Our Reelfoot Lake was created by the largest earthquake in American history, and within the walls of the State Capital Building in Nashville lies the body of its architect, William Strickland.

Really.  I wouldn't make up something like that.

Yes, we're a famous state.  So many celebrities, past and present have been born here: Aretha Franklin, Betty Page, Dolly Parton,  Miley Cyrus, Dixie Carter, Dinah Shore, Greg Allman, Tina Turner, Kathy Bates, Morgan Freeman, Justin Timberlake, George Hamilton...the list goes on and on.

We're also the third highest state in obesity rank, but we're not gonna go there.

One thing we're NOT known for, though, is snow.  And yet, for two consecutive winters, we have been inundated with the white stuff.

Hazardous?  Yes.  Inconvenient?  Check.  Beautiful?  You betcha.


Illness kept me indoors during most of the snows: flu, bronchitis, and severe kidney infections.  During those days of confinement we had deep snows and bright sunny days.  I stepped out the back door and got this shot...

 ...and the front door to get this one...


But the days I actually felt like getting out and about were dark and dismal.



Still, though, there's something enchanting about some of the photos.  Maybe it's the near black and white aspect, some with just a hint of color.  Or maybe it's just the subject matter - how can you go wrong when your world is wrapped in a fluffy blanket of snow?

I drove through the countryside, sometimes getting shots directly through my filthy car windows, as I did in this one.  I had no idea where the road would take me, but I was mesmerized by the tangled white tunnel overhead and followed it deeper...

...past old barns...


...and modest farmhouses, optimistic with wicker chairs on the porch.


 I passed ramshackle old sheds...


...and new barns on prosperous ranches.



These ducks were hilarious.  Every time the gray duck took a step forward, the duck on the ramp would stick her neck out and squawk.  I think she didn't want wet webbed footprints on her freshly waxed floor.

Mother and child were in no mood for company, so I moved on.


I drove slowly, savoring each frosted tree, every frozen vine.


Old barns fascinate me, and I loved the interplay of solid roof and open beams on this one.



Ah, the simple life.



These horses dined outdoors in the cold...


...while this one enjoyed the finest accommodations of the day.



The road looked promising, but a bit too treacherous for me, so I reluctantly headed home.

Yes, it was beautiful, but like this little bluebird, I'm just waiting for the last bit to melt.

Winter be gone, I will have no more of thee!




Fred and Ethel Go to Disneyworld

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