Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wart Hog Dollar Store and the Clown Motel

Driving up route 95 north of Las Vegas was one of the prettiest rides I had taken in a long time. It sure is nice to have a job where I get paid to tour the country. In the mix of beautiful sights I also see some very interesting things. I saw some signs warning me that there might be cows and bulls crossing the road. Why? Because cows free-range out there, no fences anywhere except around Area 51, the secret government base where they hide aliens or what-ever they do there that we-the-people can't know about. I was in a mini-market standing in line while a tourist asked the clerk some questions. I overheard the clerk telling the tourist that at Area 51 he needed to stay out of the desert because the guards would chase him out with big guns. I guess that's good information to have.. I didn't see any guards or aliens or even an UFO. Darn my luck!

I had been driving for about 500 miles and started thinking about where I wanted to spend the night. I got the map out and decided I would try the town of Toponah, Nevada. Many of those towns along the mountain route were old gold, silver or copper mining towns, maybe I could get a motel and be a tourist for a day.

I drove another 150 miles and entered the little town of Toponah, I knew I was nearing the town because the speed limit signs asked me to slow down, from 70 to 65, from 65 to 45, then 35 and finally 25. I gladly obeyed, there was so much to see..

"Welcome to Toponah" the sign said. "Thank you", I said. I noticed a small sign on the right that beckoned me to 'get my gold weighed here'. No thanks, I don't have any today. I saw a McDonalds. 'Oh, a modern town', I thought. On my left was a block building, no bigger that a two car garage, which is what it probably started out to be before it became the "Wart-Hog Dollar Store". I passed by it, didn't need to spend a dollar at that time.

Moving on, I came into the downtown area. To my right was the tallest building in town, about 5 stories, way up in the sky, and etched into the false front at the top, way up in the sky, were the words 'First Bank of Toponah, 1907'. It was made out of hand-hewn sandstone blocks. Neat. Next block down and across the street was a similar building, only 3 stories high, labeled "Hotel and Saloon". The sign was wood and the paint was fading. The building was empty and boarded up.

A block or so later I left the 'downtown' area and found a motel on the left, named "the Clown Motel". There were gaudy paintings of huge pink clowns all over the building and on the sign. Yikes. I wondered several things about this strange apparition on the outskirts of Toponah.

First: Who the HECK would stay in a Clown Motel? Don't people KNOW that clowns are evil?
Second: I wonder what the decor is inside? Clown sheets and pillow cases? 'Come, my dear, lay your head here'. No Thank You! I would rather sleep leaning on the wall. But wait, they probably had clown wall paper, clowns every where, just waiting for you to get close enough to grab you.

What about the bathroom in the Clown Motel? What kind of motif could they possibly have? Clown towels? Clown noses, hands and eyes for faucets and door knobs? Oh, and the toilet, think about it, a huge clown mouth for a toilet seat. "Come my dear, sit here".

No thank you, I'm really in the mood to go squat under a bush and risk making a scorpion or a rattle snake mad when I pee on them.

I decided that Toponah wasn't a safe town to stay in, clowns could get loose and run amok during the night, then who knows what kind of things could happen.

I left that town, and drove another 100 miles to the next town. I found a safe place to sleep there, hoping the clowns stayed in Toponah!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I spend a lot of time behind the wheel, riding up and down the road, thinking, about the future, my next exit, the past, and where I can stop to do the potty thing. I was thinking about the guy who wants to buy my house the other day and what kind of 'disclosures' I'm obligated to pass on to him and his wife.

I had gotten an Email from LegalZoom which by strange coincidence contained an article about home sales and disclosures. It explained that it was a good idea to disclose any information about the house possibly being haunted. My house is only three years old, could it be haunted? Surely not! But then again.... nobody died in that house, but, there is a dead body buried in my woods.... Well, I thought, there IS my mother who visited me several times after she died, just bumping around and doing some mischief stuff.. should I tell them? Is she still there?

About a week after she died, I was snoozing away at around 5 in the morning, and my radio came on, full blast, top volume, on a station she liked to listen to. I flew out of bed in great surprise. WHAT THE HECK??? I turned the radio off. Maybe I bumped it. Maybe the cat bumped it. I don't know....

A week or so later the piano came on and started playing. Chopin, Beethoven, I don't know, something classical. Ok, it has an auto-play feature, it's electric, maybe I left it on and the cat stepped on the auto-play button. But the first song on the auto-play list is a children's song, not a classical piece. But the cat was on the bed with me, equally surprised at the sudden music playing. It wasn't playing the first selection, what the heck is this??? I jumped up and ran to look at it. The keys weren't pressing down, nothing spooky like that but it was just music-ing away, I reached out and pressed the 'off' button. It stopped playing. Gee Whiz, what the heck was that all about, I wondered????

My Uncle had given my mother and I a tin of fruit cake the previous Christmas. We ate the fruit cake, washed the tin out and put napkins in it. The tin lived on my kitchen table. After she died I started to find the tin of napkins neatly turned upside down on the floor by my chair. Not a single napkin out of place, just turned over on the floor. Ok, stupid cat, knocking things down, right? I put the tin of napkins in the cupboard. Guess what? I found them upside down in the cupboard, several times. Not the cat this time!

One day I heard some dishes clattering in a cupboard. They were on a half-shelf in the back of the cupboard. They'd been there for a year or more, undisturbed. How did they fall? No earthquake, nobody there to root in the cupboard except me, how and why did they fall? Oddly enough, there were some of HER dishes, not my dishes. Ok, I decided, she's still here. I could hear her bumping around in the kitchen at night, opening and closing cupboard doors, rooting around for, what, coffee? I could hear her cane thumping and bumping into things. It was a noisy house at night.

I went to a psychic. Crazy, I know, I've never gone to one, don't really believe that stuff. Didn't tell the psychic about my Mother, about the possible haunting, I just went and said, read my Tarot, tell me what you think. She told me about someone close to me that didn't want to 'separate' from me. Asked me if I was breaking up with a beau, sending a kid to college, who could this person be that didn't want to be away from me? Good grief, I told her about the stuff going on in my house. She told me to go home and tell my Mother to leave, go to her new place.

I felt foolish talking to what appeared to be an empty house, but I did what the psychic said to do.

I don't think Mom listened, because the 'haunting' stuff continued. Now I'm not there anymore and new people are in, I wonder where the Maternal figure is? I guess is they ask, I'll talk.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dream about big water and being lost

Every now and then I get a whopper of a dream. Yesterday was one of those times.

In the dream, I was visiting my sister in the Washington D.C area, (we had recently done the tourist thing there in real life), and I took the wrong metro, ending up at the end of the line. Ok, no problem, I thought, I'll just get the return train and get it right when I get back. Just then I heard the announcer say the last train of the day was leaving. I rushed to the platform in time to see two trains pulling away.

I started walking back, but found myself in my pickup driving in an unfamiliar area. The road in front of me came to an intersection, the light was green so I went straight, seeing that the road was going to drop off a steep hill, I slowed down as I crossed the intersection, but as I started the decline, I discovered that the road ended, there was a yellow-plastic-chain crossing the end of the road. After the yellow-plastic-chain thingy, there was just grass, a steep, STEEP slope ending in the river. My truck broke the yellow-plastic-chain thingy and the tires found wet, soggy, grassy ground. I hit the brakes hard, shouting (out loud?) "Stop, STOP" to my truck.

To my left were two people sitting at a picnic bench, eating and watching me slide down the hill. I turned to the left, hoping to stop the awful slide I was in but the truck just slid sideways down into the river, which turned out to be deep enough to swallow up my truck immediately. I had the sense to put my window down and unbuckle my seat belt as the truck sank, and I swam out.

Then I found myself on a very narrow sidewalk high above the river, the river below swollen and angry, rushing by, taunting me. There were two more people sitting on a park bench, eating sandwiches and watching the river. I went to them on this narrow sidewalk and clutched onto the one wearing a polka-dot 50's style dress. I was screaming in pure panic by this time.

They assured me that 'just around the corner you will be away from the river, all will be well by then'. I moved on, around the corner, only to find myself high, HIGH above the city street below, on an even narrower sidewalk. I was in a panic like I'd never experienced, just so sure I would fall to my death at any moment, and the people were so calm, like a sidewalk 50 feet above a raging river with no rails was the norm.

Around the corner I encountered two more women, sitting on a park bench, eating sandwiches and acting like it was so normal to have a sidewalk so skinny that a person had to sidle sideways clutching to old brick buildings.... It was all so weird. I was screaming in raw panic again, they were just munching sandwiches........

Just then my phone rang and saved me from any more skinny-high-in-the-air-open sidewalks.

Guess that's what I get for eating a meatball sub and taking a nap on my back!

Monday, July 5, 2010

There's nerve and there's THE nerve

Last week I bought a new semi-conservative swim suit. Today I spent several hours screwing up enough nerve to prance (feeling half naked) to the pool and get in.
I walk to the pool. I get in. I take a nice swim. There's a few kids there, playing, all's ok.

I go sit in a lounge chair, lean back and read until the sun makes my eyes sleepy. I close my eyes. I realize I have one leg down and one up. Too provocative a pose? I put my leg down. I decide it's ok to sit that way because there's only women and children there and they're all dressed WAY more skimpy than I am.
I doze off. I worry about sunburn on parts that haven't seen sun since I was at least 12. I don't care. I doze some more.

I hear a splashing near the end of the pool I am at.

I open my eyes to see who's drowning. It's a man. Kids and women are A-L-L the way at the other end of the pool. The man is floating on his back on a pool floatie thingy. He glances my way. I ignore him, and pick up my book.

Presently I hear furious splashing, not just a little splish-splash, SPLOOSH! SPLASH! I glance up again, against my will. It's still the man. I wonder, 'what, is he drowning NOW? Do I have to go safe him or something?'

He glances my way again, adjusts his swim trunks, front and center part. I look away. Weigh my options. Stay or go? The women and children are still A-L-L the way at the other end of the pool. The man glances at me again.

I leave. End of story. W. T. F.!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The battle with myself

I've been busy rooting through my mega-piles of schtuff, and trying to figure out how to cram 3 bedrooms, two baths, one barn and one shed into 20 feet of camper trailer. Not an easy feat, lemme tell ya!

"Where to start" Me wonders, wandering around from room to room, poking my nose into closet after closet, a cupboard here and a drawer there. "Ok, start here, in this room" I say. Me says, "Ok, that sounds like a good idea."
So Me and I pull out a box and start digging in stuff that is gold to me, junk to anyone else. Me wonders why in the world I still have this thing? I think, 'I can't throw that out, someone, sometime, somewhere gave it to me'. Me says, "Throw the dumb thing out, it's been wrapped in this paper for... how many years?" Me checks the date on the paper the dumb thing is wrapped in. "Good grief!" Me exclaims, "2004?? Throw the stupid thing out! It's been wrapped for 6 long years!" I close my eyes and toss it. I drag it back out. I throw it away again. I sigh deeply and pull the next wrapped object out of the box, wondering what it might be.
The battle thus rages for several weeks, box after box, I feel like it's Christmas morning, unwrapping things I forgot I had. Me wonders when I became a pack-rat. I feel guilty throwing out things that un-remembered people gave me, sometime, some holiday somewhere.
After several weeks of this guilt-ridden battle, I was happy to note that I managed to cull 20 boxes into 12. Me thinks I didn't do a very good job of getting rid of forgotten junk that who-remembers-who gave me sometime somewhere long, long ago. And Me knows that 12 boxes is way too much to schtuff into a space 20 feet long and 7 feet wide. I sigh heavily, knowing that Me is right. After much guilt-ridden work, many 'yeah-but's' and more sighing, I managed to cull 20 boxes into one admittedly large box of 'very special schtuff' that Me just had to lose the tossing battle and let I keep.
Me doesn't know just what the flock I'm going to do with this large box of very special schtuff, except put it in storage, but for now I won the battle, at least to a degree.
Next I look lovingly at my many, many books. It didn't look like that many until I had 11 boxes neatly packed. Me say's, "No way, you are NOT dragging 11 boxes of books up the road and putting them all in storage!" I went through and culled one bag and one box, "There, I'll donate these." Me thinks, 'uh uh, girly-o, get rid of more'! *Sigh*. My beloved books. "But this is such a good book," I argue. Me says, "How many times have you read it? A dozen? When's the last time you read it? 10 years ago? Put it in the donate box!"

Ok, I didn't do too good with the book project. I still have 5 boxes. Books are so hard to get rid of.... *sigh*. Me says shut up, Me is so mean!

The final decision that Me and I agree upon is this: I will live under a big leaf in the woods before I ever have this battle again! Pack rat. Shut up, Me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I was lost but not anymore

Almost two years ago I climbed out of my career and came home to take care of the Maternal Figure. A year ago she left, again, not so surprising, since she had been making her own career of showing up and going AWOL for over 35 years. But this time she actually said 'Good by' and I, for once, knew just where she was going. Never again will I wonder where the hell she is or when she'll show up on my door step without the courtesy of at least 5 minutes notice.

Since she went on her new and permanent adventure, I've been kind of lost. For the first time in many, many moons, I did not have a plan 'B'. No stinking idea what I was going to do next, and what I would do if 'next' didn't work out.

That's not a good feeling. I didn't like it. Oh, I've kept busy, learned the tax code, helped a bunch of people out, worked a few places.... but that wasn't a good answer either, there was no 'tomorrow' to all those things. That wasn't a good feeling. I didn't like it.

I put my house on the market and chewed my nails while the realtor did nothing to advertise it, paced a hole in the floor waiting for the never-to-happen-prospect to ring my phone. That wasn't a good feeling. I didn't like it.

A job offer came up, but not here. Back in Pa, back home. Doing the same thing I did before I moved to Tennessee. They E-mailed an application to me. I filled it out, copied my resume and E-mailed it back. Spoke with the guy on the phone, and started that wait.

South Central Human Resources called me and asked it I would volunteer to do taxes again next year. Next year. "Unless you can hire me and pay me NOW, I can't wait around for next year." was my answer. No job, no pay, nice talking to you lady....

I called the company in York again. Nobody around to talk to. "I'll call next week," I say.
I start thinking about going home. Where will I live? What will I do? I'll look for a camper, I think to myself. Stick it in a year round campground and see what happens.

A friend calls from PA and says, 'Hey, why don't you come to work here? I'll be your reference, they're hiring, I'll get you in." "I'll think about it," I say.

I go look at a few campers. This one is junky, this one is too expensive, this one is too long, this one is too heavy.... I donate a bunch of furniture to the town I live in for the flood victims. Not that I had that much, but any little bit helps. I find someone to babysit the house and mow the yard. I find a nice lady who lives alone and loves my cat. And I find a camper. Right size, not too old, very clean, came with all the stabilizer and weight distribution equipment, nice price.

"I'll think about it," I say. I call the only year round camp ground I know of in PA, it was one the Maternal Figure lived in for a while, you know, one of those times she dropped into my life like pigeon poo on a city street. Surprise, Surprise, as Gomer Pyle would say, I stumble upon the same lady who rented a space to Maternal Figure, "Yes, I remember LaDonna, she was so sweet, how is the dear lady?" she asks. (I swear Maternal Figure had multiple personalities).

I call the guy who has my application and Resume. "Yes, I want to hire you but it will be a few weeks yet," he tells me. THAT'S what I wanted to hear. Now I have a plan. And a plan 'B'.

I'm back on track and it's a good feeling. I like it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Well it was fun while it lasted

I moved to this podunk little town, thinking I was moving back to my past, a time with only a few red lights, small private-owned stores, population small enough that in a few years I would have met almost everyone here.

It is a nice, small town, it does have a few private-owned stores, a junk store, a jewelry store, a flower shop, a small-time grocery store akin to the IGA Mom used to shop at a hundred years ago. (Or so it seems like a hundred..)

I have seen almost every face that lives in the county, know some by name, even know which 'creek' some of them live on. There are 21 creeks in this area. I live 'on' Cedar Creek. I like it here 'on' Cedar Creek, my 11 1/2 acres is quiet, serene, save for the morning bird that wakes up and screeches WAY before morning is actually here. The 'peeps' in the woods in the evening can't be beat, I love it. Yeah, there are bob cats and coyotes running around after dark, armadillo's that dig holes in my yard, and weird dangerous snakes, but that goes with the territory.

I've spent the last two years looking for decent work here. I've tried a few food joints, deli's, a farm, and now a mini-market. What I've learned is this: Tennessee does not have many laws to protect the employee, I can get fired for simply fixing my hair in a way the boss doesn't like. The boss doesn't have to give me a lunch break. Well, that's not entirely true, there is a lunch break mandate;, after 6 hours you must get a break. Oh, but if you are doing a job that doesn't allow time for a break then you take the break 'when you can' and it has to be at least 15 minutes and you have to get paid for it. In other words, the boss can say there's no time for a lunch break and just pay you for the whole day.

On another note, I see so many people around here that think it's a great accomplishment to be able to 'collect a check', Disability is a big thing here. I saw that when I was doing taxes. Some of the people 'collecting a check' didn't seem disabled to me, but.. what do I know?

So. The places I've worked around here went like this. Not enough people to do the job correctly, punished for not getting it all done, don't you DARE work any overtime... Oh, someone quit today? Ok, you pull a double. You've been working for the last nine days? Well, we're two people short and don't know when we'll hire anyone to help out.

Yesterday it was, "I know you're on time for work but you need to go home and come back in 2 1/2 hours so you can pull a 10 hour shift". I said NO.

Saturday a girl quit, she didn't call, didn't give notice, her boyfriend called and said she wouldn't be in today. Small town gossip came in a few hours later and said she was working at a different mini-market. I called the manager and her answer was, "well, you'll have to close the store tonight." Let's see, that would put me on my feet, no 'break', busy store on a main highway, selling gas, beer, cigs, lottery, soda, candy, and cooking for the deli case for abouuuuut 13 1/2 hours. I said NO. I ended up working 10. Next day, "Hey, can you work 10 again?" NO. What does the manager say? "Well, I"M not working!!" "Close the store when you feel like it then."

I'm leaving this town, I need a real job, with real people, not selling one beer at a time for 10 hours to all the 'collect-a-check-winners' that drag their progressively drunken bods in hour after hour.

More bitchin'. The boss came in to relieve me the other night and didn't do trash, didn't mop, and left my drawer 5 bucks short. Mopping and trash is something she rags about every day. I wish I could dock her pay. More bitchin'. Apparently when someone wins money on the on-line ticket, the ticket has to be run twice through the machine. I did not know that. I run it through, find out how much they won, pay them and throw the ticket in the trash. Seems I'm short 78 bucks the other day, seems it's all on-line winnings I'm short on. Seems my paycheck will be 78 bucks short this week. Seems I just might walk out.

More bitchin'. We can't make people pre-pay their gas. We're the only store in town that does not require pre-pay on gas. We're also the only store in town where the gas pumps are out of sight of the cashiers. People aren't dumb, they know they can get gas and run, who will catch them? Policy says I must call the cops, but what can I tell them? "Someone stole gas, have no idea what they were driving, no sir, there is no camera on the pump they drove off from."

Pay day comes and I see I've been kind enough to treat the thief with free gas. Boss says, "You have to pay attention." Yup. And the aisles are set up in a way that I can't see what people are doing in there and they pocket candy and what ever else they can get. Customers say they saw so and so steal, I call the cops, and say, "No, I didn't see it, someone told me." yeah, that goes a long way!

Enough. House is for sale, I'm dragging my sorry butt back home.