ancestors

Midnight and Queenie – My Introduction to the Dark Side of Humanity

My writing exercise last week had us exploring our experience with loss and grief. For me, it all started with two pets. My first pet was a cat. She was mine. She was dark black and full of love. Her dark coat was the reason I named her Midnight. Queenie, on the other hand, was a family dog, a beagle.

Today I will write the first part – about Midnight.

I will warn you, this could be triggering for some people.


Part One, Midnight

I do not recall the circumstances surrounding how Midnight came into our family or why she was designated as my cat. I thought perhaps those details lived deep in the recesses of my mind, but if they do, they are not yet accessible to me.

Midnight lived with us at my grandmother’s house in the Valley. She was a sweet and lovable cat and I loved her. When my parents decided to move to a nearby town, Midnight stayed behind and continued to live with my grandparents rather than move to a more urban landscape. At my grandmother’s, she could remain an inside/outside cat free to safely roam within the confines of their yard. She never strayed away from home, always staying close to the house.

My grandparent’s house stood on a rise in the property with the yard sloping downward and leveling out. At the lowest level in the yard was a narrow stream which we referred to as a ditch because of the low water levels. There was a small footbridge to cross the ditch. There stood a grand plum tree and the walkway to our clothes line where my grandmother hung the laundry to dry and the pathway that led to the barn.

The property line was just beyond the plum tree. Next door was a similar house with another large lot and a barn, where my parents’ good friends lived. They had two sons, and a sweet Collie named Lassie. Their youngest son was the same age as my oldest sister, and their oldest son who was about 20 at the time.

One afternoon when I returned from school, my grandmother called. It was unusual for children to talk on the phone, but my grandmother had called to speak directly to me which was unusual.

Once on the phone, I heard my grandmother crying. She spoke slowly and told me she had to have Midnight ‘put to sleep’. I did not understand the phrase, but I slowly understood as she explained what happened.

Midnight had taken a stroll around the yard as was her normal routine. She loved to climb up the plum tree and observe her surroundings. On this particular day. Larry, the oldest son, had sicced Lassie on Midnight. This seemingly gentle dog, worked up into a fervor and taunted to attack my cat. My grandmother intervened to stop the attack, but it was too late. Midnight had been severely maimed beyond the ability to recover. My grandmother had her put to sleep.

I cried and she cried. She apologized to me and told me over and over and over how sorry she was. I knew she as was heartbroken as I was. I could not for the life of me understand how anyone could be so cruel. I was so angry and at an age when no child should feel those emotions.

Larry was always a little ‘off’.  We always thought there was something different about him, but no one ever imagined him capable of such a mean and cruel thing. From that moment on I despised him. Sadly, this would not be my last unpleasant interaction with him in my life, but that is a story for another day.

Unfortunately, this also colored my opinion of Collies. It was a breed I would always steer clear of and have slight distrust in. I know that might not be fair, but childhood trauma changes you.

I learned a lot about life that day. I learned humanity had an evil and cruel side. I learned animals could be killed by a doctor and that it could be a humane act. I learned about mistrust. And I learned about how sorrow can connect people in profound ways. I learned my ‘gut feeling’ about people was a valuable instinct I should not ignore. I learned a lot. Maybe too much for a little girl.

I was only seven years old.

Blog

Monday Missive

Welcome to a rainy and foggy Monday in the foothills of North Carolina. The fog has the mountains well hidden this morning and the earlier rain has given way to an occasional drizzle.

  • Today we celebrate the 8th wedding anniversary of my daughter and her wife. It has been fun re-living the event through photographs and shared memories. Considering all the hurdles thrown at them, they are happy and building on a very solid foundation of which I am very proud.
  • I started my morning by an early run to Costco scheduled so I could arrive and shop during senior hours. I think the rain may have discouraged more people from being there because it was not at all crowded. No line at the check-out. I was in and out in under an hour.
  • We had another gorgeous although pastel sunset the other night which often happens when the cloud cover is just right. It reminded me we are only 54 days away from spring.
  • Remember my disaster of pizza rolls I attempted to make? Well, while not pizza rolls, I did find a lovely recipe for pepperoni bites that turned out great. As with all recipes, I tweak and add filling and spices, but at least the dough had a beautiful rise this time!
  • I decided not to take the Monday art class again today. It was not quite what I expected and I did not get a good vibe from the class. Since there was no instruction per se, I can simply draw on my own with the same result and save another 2 hours of Zoom time.
  • The pine siskins are back at the feeder. If we have four feeders out, they will  cover them all. They do not seem to care for meal worms, but anything else is fair game. They are very aggressive to other siskins, but they do not seem to be with other birds. The cardinals do not like all the fluttering around the feeders, but the bluebirds will plow their way in to get their share.
  • We have completed the survey to get our Covid vaccination, but there are no appointments yet available. I check every day and hope our number will come up soon.
  • I am doing well tempering my time reading the news and scrolling through social media now that the inauguration is over. It has been good for me.
  • It’s predicted to be 72° F (22° C) tomorrow with lows back in the mid 20° F range Thursday and Friday. What crazy weather.
  • Have a great week everyone.

SLS

Song Lyric Sunday – “If I Laugh”

Jim gives the following guideline:

This week we have the prompt Chat/Laugh/Rant/Scream/Talk and the song that you choose must contain one of these prompt words in either the title or the lyrics.


I joined the Air Force right after I graduated from High School. After Basic Training and Tech School, I was assigned to an Air Force base in Columbus, Ohio. At that time, we had only one female enlisted dorm on the base which as you can imagine made it a popular hang out spot for all the guys.

Our dorm was beside the dorm where all the hospital airmen were housed. We came to know them all well. I made many a grilled cheese sandwich and cheese omelette in an electric skillet in our dayroom – the only place guys were allowed.

I became good friends with a medic named Denny. He had a big crush on me, but he was a bit of a bad boy so I kept him at a friendly distance. He was a frequent visitor in our day room.

This year was was the time Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) was a rage. I had most of his albums including the album “Teaser and the Firecat” (released October 1971) which contained big hits like “Peace Train”, “Moonshadow”, and “Morning Has Broken”. (The artwork for the album is also by Cat Stevens.) It also included the song “If I Laugh” which I chose today. It is another pure guitar melody with simple lyrics.

While stationed in Ohio, I developed a severe case of gastroenteritis and was hospitalized for three days. My good friend Denny was a medic and worked the night shift at the hospital. Around midnight every night he came to my room, sat by my bed, and played “If I Laugh” for me. This is where I learned about Martin guitars and learned to love this song. Denny loved his Martin guitar above all else. Of course, I lost track of him, but I will always remember when he serenaded me by my hospital bed.

If I Laugh
Lyrics from Genius.com

If I laugh just a little bit
Maybe I can forget the chance
That I didn’t have to know you
And live in peace, in peace

If I laugh just a little bit
Maybe I can forget the plans that
I didn’t use to get you
At home with me alone

If I laugh just a little bit
Maybe I can recall the way
That I used  to be, before you
And sleep at night and dream
If I laugh, baby if I laugh
Just a little bit


Song Lyric Sunday is hosted every Sunday by Jim Adams. If you would like to join in the fun, check out his blog for the rules and to take in all the other music posted by other bloggers.

SoCS

SoCS – Just Point

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you every week by Linda Hill. Check out her blog for the rules and the contribution of other bloggers.

This week’s prompt:

Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “close eyes and point.” When you’re ready to write your post, open a book, a newspaper, or whatever is handy and close your eyes and point. Whatever word or picture your finger lands on, make that the basis of your SoCS/JusJoJan post. Enjoy!


I opened Alice Hoffman’s book “Magic Lessons” and pointed to the word hairpin.

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

I do not use hairpins or ‘bobby-pins’ as we called them. At least not now. When I grew up, it was not at all uncommon for girls to sleep with their hair in rollers or curlers. Talk about a formula for a bad night of sleep! Early on we used brush rollers which were a small flexible tube filled with a wire brush. Ouch! They were designed to hang onto the hair, but a hairpin secured them in place. Once wet hair was wound around the rollers, a hairnet was sometimes used to keep the rollers in place while sleeping. Sleeping? Ha! Talk about uncomfortable. Later on, the rollers came with plastic picks to secure them rather than hairpins.

Girl with rollers in her hair
Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

There were also plastic hair rollers that had a slip on clip that would clamp the hair onto the roller. These were often used on children along with sponge rollers which were a cylinder shaped piece of foam with an attached clip. My hair never stayed in those!

After brush rollers there were then hard plastic rollers in different sizes. The bigger the roller, the more body the style would have. At least the brush rollers would bend a little, but these plastic rollers were rigid and slick. As your hair dried, it tended to slide off the roller, ruining the curl. So, the solution was to use a lot of bobby pins. These were often used in beauty shops where the client would sit under a hair dryer for the hair to dry.

Both of my grandmothers had long grey hair which they braided and wrapped into a bun on the back of their hair. They used what I call true hairpins to secure their hair on their head. These were made of either wire or perhaps bakelite for special occasions.

My mother always set her hair in pin-curls. This consisted of the hair being spun around the tip of the finger and secured with two bobby-pins crossing each other. My mother could wrap pin-curls with her eyes shut. The first year I went to the cabin with my sisters, we bought bobby-pins with the intent of curling our hair in pin-curls. We never did, though. Now most people use clips rather than bobby pins.

Blog

Reviews and Buyer Beware

This morning I started looking for another vacuum to purchase. I hate making big purchases and trying to weed through the descriptions and reviews. I generally read a few top reviews, a few bad reviews and if there is some balance there, a few middle reviews.

My current vacuum is heavy to lug up and down the stairs. I had a small rechargeable battery operated vacuum until the charger died and the replacement exceeded the cost of the vacuum. So, I thought it would be nice to find a new vacuum that was small enough to store and keep upstairs.

The rechargeable vacuum I had cost less than $100 – $80 maybe? So that was my starting point. None in that price range had reasonable reviews that would instill confidence in a purchase. Then I thought I should just replace my current vacuum, spend a little more and just move this one upstairs. This would be the perfect time to buy one of those self-cleaning brush vacuums that advertise hair will not get wound around the brush – with my currently long covid hair that would be a great feature.

Enter the reviews. How can some be glowing reviews and others so horrible? People even upload videos now demonstrating their reason for reviews. After hearing that the self-cleaning brush didn’t really work I have nixed that idea.

A few weeks ago a manufacturer of a product my husband bought emailed him an offer. They wanted him to buy their new product, leave a positive review and then they would refund his purchase price. A quick review of Amazon’s policies tell you this is forbidden, but you cannot help but wonder how often this happens. Needless to say, he declined the offer.

I have only left one negative review and that was when my new Samsung top loading washer exploded. (It did not explode really, but the clips that hold the tub broke and unleashed a high speed spinning tub into the sides of the machine case. It looked like someone had taken a sledge hammer to it.) That deserved a bad review.

It makes me miss the days when you could walk into a local store, see a demonstration of a product being familiar with the people you were dealing with. Of course those days saw much higher quality products than exist today.

Meanwhile, I’m still doing some virtual vacuum shopping. Feel free to recommend something that works well for you.