Monthly Archives: January 2015

It Was a Romantic Way for a Mouse to Die

Recently good friend Valerie had some troubles with a Mouse in the House thanks to girl cat Lila bringing her new toy inside before Val could stop her. For days Val heard and saw the critter scamping around in the kitchen and pantry. Lila was having no part of finishing up her mousing duties.

So Val gets a handful of humane traps and sets them. No luck. Next she tries Snap A Trap. Still no luck. She and Robert can hear the mouse finding all sorts of treats in the pantry. After a day or so all is quiet. Val figures the mouse has moved on. She gets a bag of pretzel chips like these from the pantry to have a snack.

mouse chips

She retrieves a handful from the almost empty bag. The second handful is more exotic. One dead mouse body. A rushed trip to the bathroom and then a call to Robert, who adores his amazing wife and would do anything for her. “Oh poor mouse,” he offers. Val is aghast, “Poor mouse? What about your poor wife? I called you for sympathy. I think we’re done here.”

This fun to hear not experience story brought to mind one of my favorite Anne of Green Gables scenes which goes something like this. Anne has made the sauce for the plum pudding but neglects to cover it instead using the cheesecloth to pretend that she is a nun. Marilla tells her that she is lucky no mice got into the sauce. Anne is gathering her courage to tell Marilla that a mouse drowned in the sauce when Miss Stacy, the local teacher, knocks at the door. It’s dinner time and Marilla invites her to stay. Anne tries to convince Marilla that the dessert puddling will be fine without the sauce but Marilla brushes that silliness aside. Anne reluctantly serves the pudding and then at the last moment screams, “DON’T EAT IT, MISS STACY!” Everyone but Marilla get a good laugh. Anne sighs and says,”Well I suppose it was a romantic way to perish, for a mouse.”

(PS If you don’t see the clip that follows try another devise. It’s short but fun. I never could figure out a way to get it back onto YouTube.)

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by | January 28, 2015 · 2:08 am

Searching for Brian Boitano

Nationals in Greensboro! We have tickets for both the Senior Ladies and Mens finals. But we want more. We. Want. Star. Sightings. We want Brian Boitano.

We begin our conquest by watching the senior men on the specially built practice ice rink. Jason is incredible. When you’re on practice ice each skater gets a turn to run through his program but the other skaters can remain on the ice working on elements, they just need to stay out of the way. It works.

Fan Fest is fun. We munch free foods, the girls do a free photo opt. We would like to get on the concourse but you need a ticket. Pairs competition is in progress and our tickets are for the evening. We decide to get some lunch at the Stanley’s Barbeque across the street. It’s good and cheap.

As we’re leaving, the girls spot Max Aaron just sitting down to the counter with his dad. Flashing ahead I can tell you that he secured fourth place on the podium. He was so elated when he finished his skate that he sank to his knees and then lay face down on the ice. He’s adorable. The girls are shy. We tell them he’ll be flattered. He is very gracious and just like that we’ve scored our first notch.

Back at the coliseum, Emily goes to find power for her phone charger. We have quickly learned to do this at every opportunity. I decide to try for the concourse again. They’re queueing up folks outside the lobby doors waiting for the pairs ticket holders to exit. I’m near the front. We’re trying to get a good spot in line for the mens’ autograph session. Em & Lydia join me. By this time the line is crazy long. Finally we’re in and we bolt for the autograph line. By the time we find it, we just miss the cut off by about four people. “Do we know anyone?” I ask. We start scanning the line. “Yes!” shouts Emily. She has spotted a skating friend who kindly adopts Lydia. That was close but we made it. Max was at the signing table too. Lydia reminds him that he already signed her book. “Dinner,” his memory clicks in place. They share a laugh.

lydia and jason girls and max em & rohene

While we’re waiting for Lydia to get her autographs, Emily spies Rohene Ward, choreographer extraordinaire. A former champion, Rohene is Mr. Flexibility and he can spin in both directions, little things like that. Another photo opt.

We find our seats and for the next two hours watch some amazing skating by the top twenty-two ladies. Karen Chen is so tiny. She looks like she’s about Lydia’s age. We stay for the awards and then head for the hotel.

Sunday morning I get separated from Em & Lydia and find myself in the Schiffman’s Diamond Club exclusive parking lot. Upon entering the building I’m told that I need credentials. Or a ticket. I’ve got my ticket. “That’s all you need,” says the lady at the desk. She scans my ticket and puts a pink wrist band on me. “This will let you go anywhere today.” I thank her and head upstairs. I’m on the concourse. I’m in the arena! I see the champs practicing for the closing number. I go closer for a better view. There’s hardly anyone around. So many top notch skaters in one place! I text Emily.

They’re at Fan Fest making posters waiting for public time on the practice ice to start. I know how to get them into here. I go get them. They’re skeptical. Trust me I say. We trudge around the building looking for my parking lot. We walk and walk. Emily is totting the skates. It’s a big building. Finally we get there and they get their pink wrist bands. We go upstairs. Now the ladies are practicing for the exhibition. We sit front and center and watch. Again there’s hardly anyone around.

We decide to get some lunch. We pick random seats to sit and enjoy our snack. We assure the attendant we will be gone long before the ticket holders arrive. “Is that Gracie?” I ask Emily spying blond hair on a tiny girl standing in the next section over. She looks. “It’s…ASHLEY!” She and Lydia throw everything in my lap and bolt. Success. A private moment with Ashley Wagner.

lydia & ashley

It’s time for public practice ice. The girls lace up and hit the magic ice. There are free skates for you to borrow, but as one little skater proclaimed. “These are so dull. I feel sorry for anyone that uses public skates. I can’t skate!” Our girls can, they are looking good!

The girls skate for a good while and then the ice gets crowded and they’re finished. Right where we leave the ice is the back door curtain to Fan Fest. I tell Emily we could cut through there. She says we’ll get stopped. We go the long way around and once there discover a chat session with the ladies’ champions. It’s fun to watch. Then as they are wrapping up Emily figures out that they will exit through the shortcut curtains. “Run,” she says to me and Lydia. I offer to tote the skates but she shakes me off. We run. We get there just as Karen Chen is coming out. Score! And Gracie! Double score!!

Karen & Lydia gracie & girls girls with gracie

We’ve done so well. Still no Brian Boitano but everyone else!

It’s time for the men’s finals. We settle in our seats to watch the top twenty. They do not disappoint. About half way through the participants we notice Ashley and her boyfriend sitting not ten seats away from us also watching. All the girls around us are grabbing photos and paper for an autograph. We smile. Our moment was better. The guys do not disappoint. Everyone earned their place on the podium. We’re hoping they’ll stick around for awhile after the ceremonies but they need to get ready for tonight. We are happy. As we are leaving, Emily says, “Look Mom, it’s Brian Boitano.” He is on a panel on the concourse chatting for the Icenetwork. We could stick around and chat with him but Emily is trying to beat the forecasted ice and snow. Goodbye Brian Boitano, we hope you had as much fun as we did!

ashley strawberry winner


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by | January 27, 2015 · 5:20 pm

How I Got to Be in the Mother Of FIVE Club Part Too

The first chapter in this five part series has me announcing quite emphatically that one is enough. Months of seasickness morning sickness are not for this gal no matter how cute the outcome. I was firm. And then she got me. Cuteness won. She needs a friend, I tell Donny. He agrees.

emily two

Back then when we discussed having a family I said six, he said four. It was just conversation, never a real plan, just never not a plan. We both like children. That’s actually how we met. Creating an interactive booth for kids at a church function, but that’s a whole other story.

I have my Dalkon Shield taken out. Yes, I had one of those. Probably a good thing I opted out of the one kid plan. Again the advise, it may take awhile. Again, we’re immediately pregnant.

Maybe it won’t be so bad this time I lie to myself. It’s possibly worse. Emily is a trooper. We sit on the couch, eat popsicles and watch endless TV. A four channel selection worth. Her first full sentence is, “It can be yours if the price is right!”

The kip isn’t due until the end of March but my track record says early.

It’s morning. I feel weird. I beg Donny not to leave for work just yet. As he is getting another cup of coffee my water breaks, all over the bed. For the uninitiated, as I was, it’s a LOT of fluid. Followed by I’m not f*&king around here contractions. I fervently want to lay there (just not on the not water bed) and pop the kid out. My friend the couch will be perfect. But such birthing is only for hippies and those way out people.

We call the doctor. Meet us at the hospital. It’s going to be close. We call our neighbor Slim to come take care of Emily.

We start our journey to the hospital on the other side of town. Faster I urge Donny. His presses the pedal harder. Suddenly blue lights appear. “Hello officer, sorry about speeding but my wife is having a baby. Can you help get us to St Mary’s faster?” The officer looks at me. I’m too busy holding the baby in check to look back. I’m sure that he figures he either gives us an escort to the hospital or he helps deliver a baby. Escort it is.

Not that many months later Emily has her fully formed playmate. Mission accomplished.

donald and mickey

Donald Athelstan Ball Junior March 6, 1974




Filed under family, MOF, Mother of Five Club

How I Out Mini-ed Paris

Goddaughter Haley reposted this photo from Lost in History on her Twitter page this week. When I click on it for a closer look, a warning pops up that it might be unsuitable for my viewing. At that point you can only see the top half of the photo. It is captioned Mini skirt in 1969’s Paris. Having no filters on my Twitter feed I am intrigued and then as I click okay and see the entire photo I have to laugh. “I can go one better.”


paris 1969


I dig around in our picture portfolio and come up with my one better taken in December of 1967. I am working as a layout artist in advertising at Miller & Rhoads in Richmond, Virginia at the time. Ed Booth, store photographer, comes into our office and says that he needs a couple of gals for a photo shoot. He grabs me and says to get a friend and follow him. “Come on, Betsy,” I call to my copy writer friend a cubicle away. “This will be fun.”

Ed proceeds to direct us to the first floor and outside the store gathering up empty boxes and shopping bags along the way. “Hike up those skirts,” he commands. I do have a good collection of mini skirts but I am at work, decorum rules. We roll our waist bands over once. “More,” he directs. I comply. Even with rolling over the waist band the skirt still isn’t that short. Betsy balks. But I have her back. I keep hiking and rolling until Ed is satisfied. He tells us that the afternoon newspaper needs a human interest shot for the front page. The photographer will be along in a moment and he wants us to act like we are out for an afternoon of shopping.


M&R 1967


Two years Paris. Richmond, Virginia had you by two years.

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PigDog Schweinhund


PigDog and I had a tussle today. He shows up a lot but I can usually keep him in check. I was at the monument running in circles when the wind picked up and the temp dropped fast.

The day I decide to wear minimal clothing because it was supposed to be warmer. And it was warmer when I left the house. I keep options in the car but not a closet full.

I am always colder than I like at the start but things warm up fast and I end up carrying a football shape of odds and ends. I have learned not to leave anything in a tree nook or whatever because I forget to retrieve, every time.

I tough it out and actually the legs in shorts are fine. But the hands are miserable.  My hair is whipping in my eyes. Two-thirds of the way through my rounds I head to the car to get reinforcements. It’s so COLD!

The car is warm. I ponder getting back out.

“Stay,” urges PigDog. “You’ve done enough.”

“Oh shit, it’s you,” I sigh and get out of the car. He will not win. He does score a compromise. I only stay out for half the time.

Take that PigDog. A compromise is not a win.


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The Never Ending Christmas

It started on Christmas Eve, family wise anyway. Lewis, Hilarey, Donny & I took the bait and downloaded The Interview because our new Roku made it so easy and just really why not? It actually was entertaining if you kept your expectations low.

Followed by a typical Santa filled Christmas morning with L&H and later dinner with the usual cast of characters.

Followed by a Second Christmas visit from SS&EM the weekend after Christmas. In which E & M introduced my thighs to a new level of intense workout on the trampoline. “Jump as high as you can!” followed by looks of, “You can do better than THAT,” no matter the level of bounce.

Followed by Third Christmas aka New Year’s weekend with DT&S and ME&ML. In which Sea Bass reminded everyone how well he can chant, “Grandma Sandy…”-insert-“Where are you?” or “What can we do that’s fun?” In which M&L got to take home a newly adopted kit-teen.

And wrapped up by what I am calling Fourth Christmas although we already exchanged gifts via USPS because we still have this Dr Seuss delight gifted to us by Hotline not put away in the attic just yet. (Too much Valentine potential.)


Enter AJ&BZP who took advantage of a four day school weekend to make a dash for the OBX.

Highlights include PJ greeting his pizza dinner at Slice with a huge grin and, “Hi pizza!”

Adventures to Sandspur Hill which is what we have renamed Run Hill and then a less prickly adventure to Jockey’s Ridge where the Sand People emerged and guided us to many Star Wars planets.

All in all, cliche intended, it was the best Never Ending Christmas.

I know right? Cheers to 2015 and love to all!



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by | January 21, 2015 · 4:04 pm

How I Got to Be in the Mother Of FIVE Club Part One

me and e

Emily Downing Ball July 12, 1971

This is a repeat of my recent BlogSpot post because I am becoming rather attached to the new me. And since I have not finished the Mother Of Five Club saga here’s the first part again if you chanced to read it over there.

We were married a year. Be a couple for a year before starting a family sounded like good advice and we found that it passed fast and we were still happy with each other and our life.
So let’s take the kid plunge we reasoned. Don’t worry if it takes months or even a year said the doctor when I quite the pill. And use some protection for a few months until your body has time to readjust.

Barely weeks into commando there was just that one time when protection was too much trouble. And we found out how fertile we were.

I’m just tired and sick. You’re pregnant. No over the counter tests in those days. Finally official confirmation. I got sicker. My days went like this. I woke up, threw up, went to work, came home threw up, went to bed.

I was teaching. My usual lively classroom became a tomb. I dared anyone to talk, to move from their seat, to move in their seat, to look at their neighbor. They created some great art because they had nothing else to do.

I got sicker. I lost weight. A lot. Can’ t you give me something I whined to the doctor. Something safe. I remembered those thalidomide babies all too well. I can put you in the hospital was his reply. I will put you in the hospital if you cannot keep something down. Nope. I had a job that brought in a needed paycheck. Mashed potatoes and I became tenuous friends. Only three months. Only mornings.

Lies. Maybe for some. Not for me. Day and night for months. And months. And months. I’ll still be sick after the baby is born I sighed. Finally around month seven it subsided. Just in time for the No Room In The Inn for anything but baby part.

This child will be an only I decided. That will be just fine. Get it here safely and let it be healthy and that’s it. I will not do this again. Never.


Filed under family, MOF, Mother of Five Club

Commit and Mean It

While I was running in circles at the monument today there was a small plane attempting landings and take offs. I say attempting because there was much screeching of tires and unnecessary revving of the engine. Now a pilot I will never be but my Dad was and as I painfully listened to the learning curve being applied I developed a new respect for his chosen career. To do the thing right you have to have confidence, complete and total confidence in yourself and your machine. You have to commit and mean it.

When I was a teen, Dad decided to take us to Florida to visit friends and his oldest sister and her family. In a Piper Cub. This Piper Cub. A four seater.

piper cub

From Ohio to Florida. And back. It was on the way back that the story takes place. Completely true and not embellished at all. (I actually thought I had already blogged about this but must have been a FB post only and you know how those get lost in the beast never to be seen again.)

We were at some small air strip in Georgia. Or South Carolina. There was a tiny visitor center, sketchy at best. We had probably mostly stopped for gas. We were miles from any type of civilization at all. A storm was approaching. One of those wall cloud type dark thunder storms. We were going to let it pass but then Mom saw the hand writing on the wall. Hours in this hell hole. My sister had already found rat poisoning in the bathroom and tried to eat it. “We’re not staying here another minute, Starke.”

Right. We loaded up. Dad was in his element. He headed us into the wind which was also into the coming storm. There were power lines at the end of the runway. Small low strung power lines. It was a short runway. Very short. Actually I don’t think it was even a runway. Just well packed ground. The plane was shaking and shimmying. We picked up speed but were not lifting up as quickly as we should have because of the storm. We were running out of runway ground.

I was riding shotgun which I switched out with Mom depending on whose turn it was to entertain Suzanne. Mom was surely saying prayers and covering my sister’s eyes. I could not close my eyes. We were going to hit the power lines or get taken out by the ferocious storm. I could see no other option.


And then just as we reached the end of the world, just like that we lifted up, cleared the lines, cleared the storm, and headed home. Dad knew how to commit. He really was a master pilot.

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Going Again


This is the second time I’ve started my new and improved blog this week. But now I will have a fancy schmancy .com blog so that’s cool.

Yeah that’s cool. If only I could move the three posts over here that would be even cooler. I’m sure there’s a way. It’s just not very intuitive. So for now I’m done with this boring post.

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What The Hell I Am Doing Here

I’ve been a BlogSpot gal for eons. And before that LiveJournal was my go to witty chat spot.

But lately it seems that unless you have your very own .com WordPress is trending. And so I decided to make the jump. It looks so much classier than when I signed up a l-o-n-g time ago.

Somehow my old account was still around. Somewhat. I inadvertently got to it by a random path. No sign-in needed. But then when I wandered off, after trying to add the cool social media widget and failing miserably, I could not get back. My password was wrong. My email for recovery was wrong. My older email was wrong. Wrong. I may not remember every password but I do know my email addresses.

More than one way to skin a cat. I scrolled through my history and went in the back door. But seriously I need to get a better system.

Or back to BlogSpot for my two faithful readers.

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