Politics, Religion, and My Crazy Mama

26 09 2011

I’ve lived in my car the past few weeks. Not literally, of course, but it sure feels like it. I’ve had to run up to West Virginia every other week to oversee the final details on a house I’ve been working on. It’s made work exciting for the first time in a while, but it’s also worn me out. But the end of that project is near…one more visit should take care of it.

While on my way up to the mountains, I spotted a few billboards erected by various churches, the point of which seemed to be discrediting the theory of evolution. This must be a hot ticket again, because they asked the Miss America contestants something about it as well, and it’s turned up in political Q and A’s with (natch) republican presidential candidates.

It’s a small mind that feels threatened by scientific evidence that is seemingly at odds with whatever version of creation their religion has taught them. “It’s just a theory!” naysayers squawk. So is gravity, dear hearts. I don’t remember a lot of the science I learned, but I do recall that NOTHING is ever considered absolute. A theory is as close as we get. It’s as if the faithful feel that evolution disproves the existence of their God. Maybe it just explains how He did it. At any rate, the entrance of the topic into the political realm is nothing more than pandering, and it’s cheap, transparent, and has nothing to do with real issues. But the sort of dim wits who get their panties into a bunch over that sort of thing will no doubt rush out and vote for the fella who sees them as useful idiots who he can pay some campaign lip service to.

Speaking of blathering idiots, the governor of SC recently made some remark that over 50 percent of applicants to a certain place of employment could not pass a drug test. She could not have been more wrong. Turns out, the “fail” rate at this place of employment was around ONE percent. She simply repeated the bad information because it suited whatever point she was making that day. Not to pick on Republicans, but they seem particularly guilty of it. I can’t tell you the number of emails I get that contain flat out wrong information designed to do nothing but impune the liberal side of the aisle. With the exception of one cousin who seems a little too involved with conspiracy theories, not once have I seen the same sort of rubbish from a liberal. It’s nothing new of course, but repeating a lie often enough does not make it the truth. And in this economy and climate, we all owe it to ourselves to be informed.

In the wake of the recent end of the Dont Ask, Dont Tell policy, a gay service member questions Rick Santorum during a recent You Tube debate. To the crowd’s “BOOs” the gentleman asked Santorum if he would reinstate the policy. The candidate said he would, citing nothing more than his hunch that enlistment would drop and a lot of shower room nonsense. The truth is, the military’s own studies have shown that dropping the policy won’t matter a whit to much of anyone. Enlistment-age folks simply don’t have the hang ups about such things that the old fossils running for President do. The Republican party needs to get with the times…they are the Lincoln Town Car of politics.

An interesting fact…when the Supreme Court decision was made to allow interracial marriage in the United States, public support for it was only at 20% (and those against it used the same arguments they use now against gay marriage). Public support for gay marriage is around 50% now. Wonder how long it will be til the Supreme Court decides on it?

At any rate, that gays will have the right to marry in the short term is a foregone conclusion. Even the founder of the hugely anti-gay American Family Association has admitted defeat on that issue, so when politicians mouth off about it, evolution, and the long-decided abortion issue, you can bet your ass it’s because they don’t have shit to say about the issues that REALLY matter. And, I think we are all on the same page that the economy is where it’s at today. Take a look at who has increased the national debt the most. Take a look at who has helped people in your income bracket the most where taxes are concerned. Hint: it ain’t the party who has been draggin Reagan’s corpse out as their mascot. (Didya know Reagan raised taxes 11 times? And even raised them on big business? Any conservative today would be ran out of town if they proposed that!)

But let me get off my soapbox.

Mama needs a hobby, kids. If I have to put up with one more phone call asking me about the weather, I will scream. She calls me four or five times a day. Three conversations regarding protein powder. One to discuss whether prices at her local pumps are the result of gouging, and another to ask which Lego set I got for my birthday. (Yes, I got Legos for my birthday–the “grown up” architecture series ones, thank you very much.)

And she’s turned to playing match maker. A friend recently made a comment that she would like to find someone to date. And mama knew just the man. (Anyone knowing mama’s personal history with men would run at this point.)
He’s got a heart a gold!” Mama gushed. “Kinda stocky.” she continued. “And stutters when he gets excited…but that’s alright.”

You can count on an update should the lovebirds ever m-m-m-meet.

And naturally, mama’s weekly doctors visits factor heavily into her conversations. She is to be commended, according to her doctor, for choosing Vicodin over Percocet to manage her “pain.”

Now, let me get back on the soapbox a minute. In these times of budget crisis, it’s natural to see entitlement programs criticized. I can think of many examples of these programs being abused and over reaching. But before we look at them too harshly, take a look at societies that do not have such social safety nets in place. Do you really want America to turn into Mexico City? Do you want to feel like you’re driving through Mumbai on your way to work? Can you even fathom the increase in crime?

That said…the people who want to slash entitlements should have Mama as her poster girl. She has latched on to some new program that seems to be intended for the elderly and truly disabled. It sounds like a great idea for them–allowing them to stay in their homes longer through the use of in-home nursing and personal assistants. (I imagine for cases of true need it is also less expensive–nursing home care comes at a shockingly high price.) But mama…who manages to do most anything she wants as long as it doesn’t involve an honest amount of labor, believes such a program is perfectly suited to her. And I’ve no doubt she will soon be taking advantage of the housekeeping and personal assistant portion. (“They can help me get this place cleaned out!” she gushed.) Remember what her place looks like?


Mama's Kitchen


Lord have mercy. Can you imagine the poor soul who thought they’d spend their working days helping keep Great Granny at home? That poor aide will need a fist full of mama’s Vicodin to get through the days.

And how have y’all been?


On Texting and Smart Phones

18 08 2011

One of the daily clicks in our house is the website Damnyouautocorrect.com it never fails to have us literally laughing out loud on a daily basis. I’ve never fallen victim to autocorrect disaster myself, knock on wood, but I almost did today.

Our landscaper emailed to remind me that he was coming this week to treat the lawn. I was TRYING to respond that “I would leave a check for you” but my phone decided instead that I meant“I ubersexual you” Thankfully, I noticed this before I hit send. Otherwise, I think we would be looking for a new landscaper.

And my mama has taken up texting. So now she has new ways to amuse and annoy me. (I wonder if she has found some program for “needy, disabled single women” to pay for a texting plan.

She has yet to find the space button on her phone. So her typical text is “lOveYou” with a random assortment of capital letters that make it appear that the message has come from a 14 year old girl. Yesterday she called me desperate to know if I remembered “The fox’s name on that Disney movie?” 

“Copper, I think. Yes, Tod and Copper were their names.”

Which one’s the fox?”


OK, we was just trying to figure that out.” I don’t know who “we” consists of, nor do I really want to know. I was curious how old Disney movies come up in conversation among grown folks.

Later, while we were out to dinner with some friends, Mom called me again. I sent her to voicemail, and she left a message asking, again, for the names of the characters.

Then she texted. “WhatSThatFoxNameonFoxaNdTheHound

Six hours later, and she’s still consumed by an old Disney movie? Can someone get her a hobby? And a space bar?

Let’s Catch Up, Shall We?

1 08 2011

It’s been a few weeks since I had time to blog…so let’s catch up a bit, shall we? I’ve been busier than a one armed paper hanger with work. This is a good thing. The company I started this year has kept me with a full plate of work. And press! A house I designed has been featured on CNBC, MSN, Apartment Therapy, and the real estate blog, Curbed. If you want to keep  up with all this, you really need to CLICK HERE and go like my company on Facebook. Really, click it. It makes me feel good to see new “Likes” when I update the page. Go on now, click.

So, work has had me all over the place. Myrtle Beach, West Virginia, High Point, NC. I come home from my day job and work til bedtime. It’s exhausting but fulfilling.  As you might expect, such a schedule means I grab a nap whenever I can. Like yesterday. I finished one project and decided I needed a little recharge before I geared up for the next one. So I passed out on our big ole family room sofa. As I woke up, I had the sensation that someone was near me. I figured it was Darling, sneaking up to “scare” me awake. So I flipped over and screamed “Boo!”. Which certainly did scare Darling, who was sitting on the other side of the room wondering why on Earth I had rolled over and screamed.

Anyhoo…Mama is on a roll lately. It is apparently “a full time job” just making sure my Grandmother takes her medicine properly. I remember when my great grandmother was alive…my grandmother and her sisters would take turns going over to her house on Sundays and divying up the pills she had to take into one of those pill boxes that has little slots for each day. The whole affair took an hour, tops, because I visited with her many times while this went on. In fairness, an hours time probably is a full time job to someone like mama.

Mama has made a huge drama (imagine!) over something that sounds like a complete and utter NOTHING. Maybe someone in the family can tune me into the truth, but apparently one of my uncles brought grandma a “mess” of fresh green beans. More than Granny can eat herself, so she intended to share them with her sister. Mama called her sisters husband to come up and get their portion of the beans. According to mama, this ruffled feathers, and one aunt “blessed her out” because it “wasn’t her place” to call them. I have no idea why this is a big deal…but Mama has felt the need to tell me the story, in exasperated tones, three times now.

And she hasn’t slept well lately, owing at least one night to the fact that her shoulder was killing her from, you guessed it, driving her new manual transmission car. Didn’t I predict that stick shift would make for countless excuses one day? I sure did.

Then, night before last, she didn’t sleep well because Kenny showed up at “quarter to midnight” drunk. Now, I have no  idea what kind of drunk Kenny is. Some drunks are funny, some are mean, and some are just depressing. I would guess he is the depressing sort. And since he and Mama are on the outs because he tried to “hoodwink her” into…well  honestly, I don’t exactly know what he hoodwinked her into, she relayed the story twice, and it involves them babysitting his three year old grandson and the kid using up every sheet of paper in the notebook they gave him to color in. If that makes no sense, welcome to my world. So I imagine ole Kenny tied one on and came out to Mamas hoping for a reconciliation.

Under the circumstances, most people who’d been dating a person for most of a year might have put aside whatever differences the coloring book had created and insisted the intoxicated person sleep it off on their sofa. Or at the very least insist they leave. So, naturally, mama did neither of those things, choosing instead to call the police. I’ve no doubt in my mind that had she told Kenny to leave, he would have without hesitation. I can picture the scene, he knocks on the door and she dials 911. Because the “police ain’t worth a damn here!” Kenny was gone before they arrived. I’m sure the stress of the whole encounter will keep  her from resting most of the week.


Great Aunt Merle–The Original Person of WalMart

1 05 2011

Picture it, small town West Virginia, 1995. A group of friends too young to drink, too poor to do much of anything, and too stupid to care what anyone thought, are looking for ways to entertain themselves on a quiet weekend night.

Someone gets the bright idea that someone, no names please, ought to dress up as an old woman. And so that young man got decked out in a fabulous purple hat, a pair of vintage Sally Jesse Raphael glasses, and, complete with a walker and one of those masks everyone wore when SAARS broke out, the group headed to Wal Mart where they ran into one of their mothers and her long time friend and neighbor. The mother, without missing a beat, said, “Jane, I’m sure you remember Daddy’s sister Merle?” Poor Jane didn’t know whether to laugh, but uncomfortably said her hellos. And now, folks, thanks to the wonders of color scanners, I’d like to introduce you to Great Aunt Merle:

File This One Under “WTF??”

26 04 2011

I think I dream most nights, I even wake up remembering vague “shadows” of my dreams a few nights a week, although by the time I stumble to the shower, I’ve forgotten them. Not so last night. I had the most bizarre, twisted, dream EVER, and unfortunately I won’t soon forget it.

We were on a cruise ship, not surprising given my recent vacation. But this was some sort of bizarre special interest cruise. The cruise ship’s nightclub was a smoky, tired looking place that bore a striking resemblence to an old roller rink. At one point, a flash mob broke out into a rendition of Janet Jackson’s old hit “If” (which had a well choreographed video). Halfway through, Miss Jackson herself busted onto the stage and in an angry fit, put a stop to the folks who were “violating her copyright” and then preceded to show them how it was really done.  And not well. Her iconic dance moves looked more like a grand mal seizure. She was booed from the stage.

At some point, you know how dreams are–fragmented and following no real timeline, a group of two rowdy children made a nuisance of themselves on one of the stairways. I firmly demanded that the little hellions take me to their mother. So they marched me downstairs to what had to be the lowest deck on ship…we entered their stateroom where we found their mother in an obvious lesbian tryst.

“Not now kids! I’m trying to find myself!” she said, and as she got up to slam the door in our faces, her breasts looked like two giant bloodshot eyeballs.

As we moved down the hallway on this lower ship deck, a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that the entertainment and shows were about to begin. Suddenly, hoards of people swarmed the hall, clammering to get into various staterooms. Somehow, I understood that the shows and entertainment were happening inside the various cabins, and so I started peeking in. In the first, a group of emo-looking emaciated people were doing God knows what to each other, all while a  big news camera was rolling. A group of midwestern tourists, looking like they might have just left their Sunday School groups, stood taking pictures and remarking to each other how wonderful the cruise was. I got out of there and went across the hall.

There, Betty White, as Rose Nylan, was joined by a rather embarassed looking Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia. They were embarassed because Betty had volunteered to demonstrate a line of sex toys that bore her name. There, in front of God and everyone, she dropped her sensible skirt and made a 12 inch dildo disappear. Now before you ask, I hadn’t drank a drop, eaten anything strange, or partaken of any drugs, prescribed or otherwise before going to bed. But, as the emcee of the Betty White sex show announced that her toy would be auctioned off that night in the dining room, I woke up. Thank God.

Mama Needs a Nigerian Prince

23 04 2011

With mama just days away from collecting the windfall pittance awarded her by the insurance company for the worthless junk that’s probably just buried under a pile somewhere in her trailer house priceless treasures that once filled her immaculate home, her mind has already turned to how she will spend it.

“I won’t replace ever-thing. Hell, I couldn’t if I wanted to! Some of that stuff was irreplaceable!” Yes, that’s because most people just throw away the prizes from their cereal.

“But I think I’ll look into movin’ the house.”  This is the only good idea she’s had in the past decade. See, mama’s doublewide sits on seven and a half acres of land that, while she has had it for 30 years, doesn’t technically belong to her. In the coal country of West Virginia, traditionally the coal companies have owned large pieces of land that sit atop their mines. 30 years ago, there was a coal mine miles away from mama’s house. Because coal mines spider beneath the ground for miles and miles, technically,  her property sits atop the long-abandoned mine. And she (like my great grandparents who once lived next door) has what might normally be considered a lifetime lease on the property. These arrangements were fairly common 30-50 years ago, but not so much now. In fact, the coal company has little by little sold off their holdings above the mine that mama lives on. A new subdivision has gone up at the extreme edge, two new schools and a business park have eaten up another chunk, soccer fields and a driving range now sit where the slate dump once was. And what was once her neighborhood, filled with old folks who had carefully tended gardens, is now little more than a scattered handful of decaying homes bisected by a newly built highway.

It’s only a matter of time, sitting where she does between two  new schools and a major road, before the coal company finds someone willing to pay a fortune for mama’s acreage and she’ll be tossed off of it. So, I’m 100 percent behind the idea that she moves her home elsewhere, where she will once again have neighbors and not have 7.5 acres to pretend to care for.

Her mind is alive…worrying and fretting about how she will move her “stuff” out of the house so that it can be moved. “It’s gonna take some time!”  Considering it took her two months to write a damn list of what was stolen, boxing up her possessions isn’t a task that she is likely to be able to complete in this lifetime.

“I could have it done in a weekend.” I told her. And I could. A dumpster would need to be rented, but I would make very quick work of turning her 1200 square feet into something presentable.

I’ve got a problem though.”  And, as anyone who has read a few Mama stories know, her problems are EVERYBODY’S problems.

I cain’t put that check into my account. Or they’ll take my benefits away.” I’m uncertain of what benefits she gets exactly, but the list is no doubt extensive, and includes, apparently, free phone service and a “pay what you want” plan with the power company. “And I cain’t very well walk around with thousands of dollars in cash.”

“I’m gonna buy a gun though. I already looked at one at the pawn shop. It’s pink with “The Lady’s Gun” engraved on the handle. They only want $400 dollars fer it.” The idea of this woman walking around armed makes my skin crawl. Months from now, the headlines will be alive with stories of water meter readers who met an untimely demise at mama’s house, or she’ll blow her foot off trying to use it as a bottle opener or something.

“I need ya to get on the computer and find out how this insurance moneys gonna affect my benefits. I think I’m gonna need to put it in someone else’s account. Say, maybe me and you’d open an account in both our names?”

“Well it would still have your name on it, I don’t see how that would help anything.”

“I don’t know. I guess it would need to be a bank we got up here and you got down there.”

“There’s no such bank.” I lied. “You should look at someone else who lives locally.”

“I might have to, they’s a lot to think about. But look on your computer for me.”

Yeah, ok.” The truth is, I don’t know how an insurance settlement affects her benefits and don’t really care. I’m certainly not going to play party to some sort of benefits fraud, nor do I have any desire to hold so much as a joint account at Blockbuster video with mama. So, I lied. At least I think I did.

“The insurance company is required to send notification to the IRS of settlements larger than $5,000, so you won’t be able to hide the money.” I told her. “Just deposit it in your own account and face whatever consequences there are.”

Maybe it’ll slip through the cracks.” she said, “I mean it is money to repair my home, they cain’t hold that agin me.” And maybe they can’t, I really have no idea. She went on “Maybe I could just put it in your account. If I don’t have the money in my name, they can’t hold it against me.” It all started to sound like one of those Nigerian email scams.

“I don’t think so Mom, I don’t live close enough to be able to access that money for you.”

At that point, someone beeped in on her other (gubment provided) line. And that got me off the hook…for now.

I’m Gonna Need a New Insurance Company

21 04 2011

By now, my loyal readers (all three of you) are tired of hearing about Mama’s insurance drama. Nearly four months have passed since hungry burglars tore into Mama’s mobile mansion and made off with a priceless collection of jewelry, Nascar memorabilia, and fruit cocktail. Mama has given herself carpal tunnel syndrome compiling an exhausting list of the treasures taken. Her nerves have been worn to nubs as she struggled for months compiling this list. And, somewhere, I suspect, a poor insurance adjuster has taken medical leave of absence to deal with the post-traumatic stress of having been assigned my mama as a client.

But the end is nigh!

Having had her claim transferred to the “Large Loss Department” Mama reports that a settlement has been reached.


That’s right, puppies, Mama says she will be getting a check for the full amount her contents were insured for. I’m betting State Farm calculated it was cheaper to just pay her than to risk losing anymore claims adjusters.