Nancy Roman

I Suck At This

A few weeks ago, we put in our vegetable garden. (Yeah, very late, but it was a really cold spring and it rained a lot and I was really busy, okay…?) My husband prepared the raised beds.  He excels at this – mixing in composted cow manure and turning over the soil – fresh and soft and warm.

We have four raised beds. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, swiss chard. Yum.

(By the way, we’ve done kale as well as swiss chard in the past. I don’t like kale, but I know it’s good for you, so I gave it a try. And guess what? The deer ate every bit of the swiss chard and didn’t touch the kale. I rest my case.)

We’ve had a few successful years – like this one:

Successful Tomatoes

Seven Foot Tomatoes

When my husband had the first bed ready, it was time for my part.

“I can plant the tomatoes while you start on the second bed,’ I offered.

“Oh no,” he said. “You can’t do tomatoes right…. maybe you can do the peppers.”

Yup. sticking plants in the ground is tricky.

But I guess peppers is a bit less tricky than tomatoes.

So I planted peppers.

And now several weeks later, I have to admit – the peppers look kind of wimpy.

This Sunday, we prepared all our annuals for our patio pots. (Yeah, very late, but it was a really cold spring and it rained a lot and I was really busy, okay…?)

Hubby prepared all the pots.  He has a good system. He puts stones in the bottom of the pot for drainage, and then filter paper,and then his secret mix of soil and manure.

And when he had a pot ready, I designed a nice combo of annuals – petunias and impomoea and impatiens and angelonia. I planted every pot with an eye for good color patterns and a nice symmetry and fit for each pot.

Fifteen in all.

Like these:

annuals in pots

And as I finished each pot, Hubby carried it to the designated spot on the patio.


I watched him…




Yup, sticking flowers in dirt is still really tricky.

Don’t Ask Me To Pet-Sit

I love my pets.

And I love yours too.

To be perfectly frank, I’d rather see photos of your dogs and cats than your kids. Your pets are always at their sweetest in photos. But although your babies may have that fresh and innocent look, your older kids (older than, say, two) are mostly just mugging for the camera in ways – I must confess – I usually find just slightly obnoxious.

Perhaps this is because I have pets of my own, but I don’t have children of my own. But perhaps it is also because I have seen your kids in action. I often like your pets better.

But please don’t ask me to pet-sit.

My heart is in the right place, but my track record is dismal.

Several years ago, a close friend asked me to stop by and feed her cat while she was away for a few days. No problem, I said. The first day, I entered her house, and there was no sign of Kitty. I discovered the bathroom door was closed, and once I managed to get it open (there seemed to be something wedged on the other side), there was the cat. He had managed to get the door closed behind him and it appears that in his resulting panic, he had pulled down the bathrobe that had been hanging on the door.

But okay. I propped open the door with a few heavy books so Kitty would not be able to lock himself in again, and put his food out. I wanted to pet him to calm him down, but he was nowhere to be seen. But he had always been kind of a spooky little guy. I didn’t worry about it.

The next day, my friend came home, and couldn’t find the cat. She searched everywhere in the house. I had left her a note explaining why the books were stacked by the bathroom door. But there was no Kitty. She was distraught. Until she looked out the window and saw Kitty sitting in the back yard.

I swear I don’t know how Kitty got out. But I can only assume that I was too busy building my book doorstop for the bathroom to realize that I hadn’t exactly closed the kitchen door.

Thank God it ended well.

The same can’t be said of another friend’s fish.

My husband’s friend lived quite near my office. So when he and his wife planned a little vacation, I was happy to stop by their house on the way home from work and feed their tropical fish. The first afternoon everything looked fine. But the second afternoon, two fish appeared to be dead. I didn’t have a lot of tropical fish experience, But I didn’t believe that fish usually do the backfloat. But just in case I was wrong, and they were just napping, I left them there. I carefully fed the rest of the fish, exactly according to directions.

The next day, our friends returned, and they immediately called me. All of the fish were dead. All of them.

I just couldn’t understand it. They had written all their instructions down. I read really well, and I am very obedient. I could not imagine what I did wrong. I felt horrible.

But thankfully, the investigation cleared me from all wrongdoing. The couple discovered that the water in the tank was extremely warm. Too warm for even tropical fish. They realized that they had left the drapes open in the living room, and the morning sun had landed right on the fish tank. There was no way I could have known that, as the sun had moved off by the time I went over. (And of course, if I had seen the sun reflecting on the tank, I probably would have thought, How nice for the little fishies.)

The very next year, the same friends adopted a sweet little kitten. And they needed to go to Maine for a family event. The friends were a bit hesitant to ask me to take care of the kitten. I’m sure that was because they didn’t want to inconvenience me – it had nothing to do with dozens of dead fish, since that was totally not my fault. But my husband said he would stop by.

Well, about noon that day, I received a call from my husband. He was in a panic. He arrived to find the kitten in a very bad state. “She’s barely conscious and she’s panting so hard her whole little body is shaking.”

“Get that cat to a vet right now. We cannot be responsible for killing our friends’ pets two years in a row!” I hollered into the phone. I used the royal “we” in this case. You can do that if you are a couple.

So Hubby raced the kitten to the nearest vet. Where it was determined that the little girl was hypoglycemic, and was in some kind of diabetic coma. The vet gave the kitty a dose of glucose, and she perked right up.

Everything turned out fine. Although my husband said later that it was a whole lot harder taking the cat home from the vet than bringing her there. A little kitten in a coma will lie in your lap quiet nicely while you drive. While on the other hand, A kitten of a full-fledged sugar high will jump around the car like it is an incredibly fun trampoline.

How To Kick-Start Your Diet

My annual reminder.  If I can do it, so can you!  If you are overdue for a colonoscopy, please make your appointment today! It could truly save your life.


I did it!

The “Dreaded Colonoscopy.”

Only it wasn’t so dreaded. It was easy. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. (Literally “lemon squeezy.”)

The hardest part was the prep. Which really wasn’t as bad as I’d read. Hilarious Dave Barry warned that you may need a seatbelt for your toilet. I only needed to stay within twelve feet of mine — and some chafing cream.

So that wasn’t too horrible. What was awful was watching my husband eat all kinds of goodies. He made ham-and-pickle salad. I adore ham-and-pickle salad. In fact, it is right up there with lobster. But no. I ate green jello with a Dulcolax chaser. He had roasted almonds dusted with sea salt. I had a beef bullion cube. He had chocolate covered strawberries. I had lemony Drain-O.

I got up before dawn. That wasn’t too difficult because I was up every 18 minutes anyway.

The doctor’s orders said no make-up. That was bad news. But I have a lightly tinted moisturizer. Surely that would be okay. And my new blush is really sheer. But what if they couldn’t tell I was cyanotic because my blush looked so fresh and healthy? I took it off. (I left on my new concealer though — they don’t need my dark undereye circles to check my oxygen levels…)

And no contact lenses! No one has seen me in glasses since I had my gallbladder out. So here’s another medical establishment I can never frequent again.

We went to the Endoscopy Center as the sun was just coming up. Good thing Dunkin Donuts is open at that hour. Hubby needed a glazed donut. I needed the ladies’ room.

The nurse at the Center was very nice. She explained all about the procedure. She gave me a hospital gown in size XXXXXL. It fit pretty good.

She told me that when I woke up, I would be in the recovery room with other patients who had the same procedure. “You all have to let the air out,” she said, delicately describing the Farting Room. “It will be very musical. Just join the band.”

They gave me Propofol to knock me out. I was out for 20 minutes, and woke up as refreshed as if I had slept eight hours. And euphoric.

And my colon is perfect. “Absolutely perfect,” said the doctor. She gave me pictures. And you know what? My colon IS perfect. Just like my Grandma used to tell me when I was an eight-year-old ugly duckling — “I am pretty on the inside.” I won’t share those photos with you, but let me say that my colon is like a chain of rosebuds, delicately unfurling.

I felt so good, I went out to breakfast without make-up or contacts. And I even laughed when I farted as the waitress brought me my scrambled eggs and bacon. That Propofol is pretty damn good.

And I lost two pounds.



Today we cleaned, bagged, and froze twenty pounds of strawberries.

We have strawberries and/or blueberries every morning. Healthy breakfasters, that’s us.

So Hubby picked about thirty pounds of strawberries in the past week.(Five pounds already in the freezer; five pounds already through our digestive systems, so twenty pounds to fix today.)

I love picking strawberries, but I’m still working full time, while Hubby is retired, and the strawberry field is right on his way to the gym. Yeah, he has the life that I am hoping to have very soon.

We’ve tried just freezing them whole right from the field, Results are okay, but they are hard to wash once they’ve thawed, since strawberries don’t hold up quite as well as blueberries. So we wash and dry them, and cut them up for freezing. It’s not hard work, but to do so many is time-consuming. And finger staining, by the way. But I’m used to that. In our former home we had wild blackberries in our yard. One year, I stained my fingers so badly before a big meeting, I had to make a detour on my way to New York, to have a manicurist soak my fingers in Polident. In comparison, strawberries are a piece of cake. Shortcake, that is.

But it did take close to two hours to prep them all.

I stood at the kitchen island, which is a perfect height for me. But it was a little low for my husband, so he dragged in an old stool, so he could sit. This stool has been around just forever. One of those simple unpainted pine jobs. It’s been in the sunroom holding a big plant for a couple of years. And a few weeks ago, we moved it outside to the patio. But the plant was beyond help. My soft-hearted husband has a tendency to try to turn annuals into perennials. By that I mean he moves all the potted annuals into the house at the end of summer. Where I watch them slowly waste away, until my husband is watering dead sticks.

“It will come back,” says Hubby, standing over some sorry remains. “I can save it.”

So anyway, he grabbed this old stool that had been soaked from overwatering the dead stick, and then soaked lately from the rain.

But Hubby wiped it down and sat down and resumed his strawberry decapitation..

And halfway through the stool cracked and about a third of the seat crashed to the floor.

And Hubby swore.

“What a piece of shit,” he howled. “So much for all this whizz-bang modern technology…..”




Whizz-bang technology????

It’s a friggin’ STOOL!!!



I Hope There Are Windows In Heaven

My Father’s Day Post from a few years ago:


When I was young, my father loved cigars.

A while ago, I wrote about Dad smoking cigars in the car (“Riding In The Car with Daddy”). I sat up front between my father and my mother – basically because my sisters would not sit next to me. I was nauseated most of the time. And nobody ever attributed this to my dad’s cigars. They just figured I was a puker.

Well, okay, this was sort of true. I still can’t sit in a car going backwards (even the length of a driveway) without my stomach turning over. And until recently, I used to go to New York once a week on business. I’d take the train. God forbid I didn’t get a forward-facing seat. Of course, as I turned greenish, the gentleman opposite me would often generously volunteer to switch. Wasn’t that sweet?

And forget amusement parks. I am okay with skeeball – that’s about it.

But I think my motion sickness is a Pavlovian response to all those years in the car with Daddy. All I need is to feel vehicular momentum and my body reacts:  ‘Okay’, my autonomic nervous system says, ‘Vehicle in motion = Let’s get queasy.’

After all, the other stimuli elicits the same response. ‘Cigar smell = Let’s throw up’.

But the cigar response is more complex. Sure the waves of nausea are like the incoming tide. But there’s also another beachy reaction – Sheer delight.

To this day, the smell of a cigar fills the air with images of my father  (along with the stinky smoke).

My mother always hated cleaning ashtrays. Her solution was easy – she never put any out.  Dad would sit and watch TV in the evening, with his hand cupped under the cigar.

And there would often be a half-smoked cigar perched on the edge of the end-table near his chair, or on the lip of the sink. “Don’t throw that away,” he’d say. “I’m going to finish it later.” And so the unsightly (but not too unsightly – he didn’t chew the end) would sit, patiently waiting for the next evening.

(I think he got that habit of saving his stogie from his old relative – not an uncle – I’m not sure how exactly we were related – but this old guy would leave his cigar perched on the step at the door of our church. He’d pick it up after Mass.)

When I was a teenager, I remember my mother wanting to hang some new sconces on either side of the picture window in the living room. My father put up the first one by measuring the distance from the window with his cigar. He popped back into the den for a few minutes to check the game. Then he went about putting up the second sconce also by measuring with his cigar. “But your cigar is shorter now, ” complained my mother. “Don’t worry,” said my father, “I’m allowing for the ash.”

When I was in college – I took my first big trip. I flew down to Mexico. (my first plane trip, and I did it alone. To another country! And I didn’t throw up on the plane – I waited till 2:00 AM at the hotel. Pretty good, I still think.) Anyway, I had a high school friend at the University in Mexico, and we met up and went to Acapulco for the cheapest Christmas Break adventure ever experienced.

Cuban cigars, though contraband in the U.S., were available in Mexico. And I bought my dad one. One. It cost the equivalent of six dollars. Which was about 30% of what I spent that whole week. Given the exchange rate at the time, I think the price on the label was about $40.00… this was what I liked best about the cigar. When I gave it to my Dad, he was impressed. “I’m going to save this and smoke it at your wedding.”

I didn’t get married right after college.  I waited a few years. Like twenty.

And at my reception, my Dad took from his pocket the twenty-year-old Cuban cigar and lit up. We practically had to evacuate. But it was one of the highlights of my day.

As my father grew older, he cut down on his cigars, and eventually in his old age, he gave them up completely.

I’d like to say I miss them – but honestly…no.

But I do miss Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I hope there are lots of cigars in heaven.

But for God’s sake… (LITERALLY, Dad!):

Open a window.

My Dad and Me on my wedding day. Behind my head is the cigar-aligned sconce.

Communing With Nature

I spent an hour sunbathing today.

Of course, I wasn’t really sunbathing. I’ve always been rather careful about my skin, since, although I am a natural brunette (not any more, but, you know…), I am also naturally pretty pale. But I was treated a while back for a keratosis (precancerous skin lesion) on the bridge of my nose, and I have a sweet, smart young friend undergoing treatment right now for a more serious skin condition. So please – be careful, wear sunscreen, and see a doctor right away for anything that doesn’t seem right. (That’s the end of seriousness for today… but don’t forget, okay?)

So I was enjoying a warm sunny day slathered in SPF.  Still, though, I call it sunbathing, since I was enjoying the sun and I was also doing what could be termed ‘practicing’ in case I should ever have another opportunity to visit a clothing-optional beach.

I was reading on my Kindle. Originally, I had big doubts about whether I would like Kindle-reading. I love physical books. Paper and Print. But to my surprise, I also love my Kindle. All those books in one little package. And I can read it clearly even in the bright sun. I do WISH someone (Are you listening, Amazon?) would pay me for endorsements. Then I would REALLY love my Kindle.

It was perfectly quiet, and I guess because I was so still and ‘au naturel’, Nature decided to pay me a visit.

First was a bird. A medium size bird, medium brown. I’ve just checked Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds, but as usual, Sibley is no help unless you already know what you’re looking for. I can eliminate ducks and hawks and turkeys – and non-brown birds like cardinals and bluejays, but everybody else looks pretty much the same. I guess he could have been some kind of thrush, but I found a bird that’s brightly colored in maturity but brown in youth. A dickcissel. It’s mostly found on prairies, and I live in New England, but with a fabulous name like that, how can I NOT think it was a dickcissel?


An immature dickcissel

So, Dick flutters right over and lands on the back of a chair near me. As a matter of fact, I sat in that very chair while having coffee in the morning. But I moved pretty quickly when I noticed that hornets were flying in and out of the joint between the seat and the driver’s side leg.

Patio chair / Hornet house

Patio chair / Hornet house

Dick regarded me with a casual disinterest.

I wanted to address him in his own language so I gave him a little whistle. I’m not much of a whistler.

Dick answered back in his own language. He was not much of a whistler either. What he said was “tschik…tschik’ – which is totally consistent with a dickcissel, by the way.

I decided to try English. I told him that he wasn’t all that bad looking, and by the way, there were hornets in that chair. “Hornets are delicious,” I said.

Dick said, “tschik, tschik,” which in this case I believe meant, “Nice try.” He lifted his tail, plopped out a little poop, and flew off.

Proving that he was an immature dickcissel.

I returned to my book.

Not five minutes later a chubby chipmunk came by.

I think his name was Phillip. He certainly looked like chubby Phillip who sat next to me in third grade.

Chipmunks have only two speeds. Zippy fast or dead stop. So Phillip zipped by my feet and halted.

I tried his language. “Tschik, tschik,” I said. But apparently that was Dick’s vocabulary, not Phillip’s.

English is so much better for communing with nature. Human beings don’t speak any other Species, but all animals understand English. Just watch any cartoon on Saturday morning. Chipmunks, birds, dinosaurs – they are all bilingual. It’s like English is their first language or something.

“Hi there,” I said. “I see you partook of the feast of sunflower seeds and other yummy things we put out this winter.”

Phillip stood on his hind legs and sneered at me. He sneered. A chipmunk sneer.

I didn’t need a chipmunk translator to get his drift.

But I’ll translate for you.

Phillip said:

Who are you kidding? The feast WE put out this winter? Your husband put out all the goodies. The only thing YOU put out was that white-and-black cat, which is like putting Godzilla into Chipmunk Tokyo. Just because your name is on the mailbox doesn’t mean you can take credit for the snacks. I may be a chipmunk but I’m not claiming I sang “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” 

He gave me the finger with his tail, so to speak, and zipped off.

I’m sure he was just cranky because I mentioned his weight.


I Have A Good Excuse

I was late for work today.

But I have a really good excuse.

First of all, I went to a concert last night. On a weeknight. I stayed out very late. The wee hours. The concert didn’t get over until 11:15! That’s a full one hour and fifteen minutes past my bedtime. And I didn’t even count that it’s an EIGHT minute drive home. Let me repeat: On a weeknight.

Then, my husband had to get up early. His friend is trying to convince him to go partners in an antique business. So they went to the huge antique show to get the lay of the old stuff land, so to speak. I haven’t been discouraging in this possible endeavor. Hubby needs a hobby. And he loves to make deals. He was a very successful salesman due to his love of the deal. The issue is that he falls in love with shit. And then he can’t bear to part with it. He had found the perfect product in advertising – because he didn’t have to buy it first. And it’s hard to fall in love with advertising space. But antiques? I mean I like antiques. But I don’t want my house to start looking like the The Addams Family. Then again, he might be good at it.

So anyway, he had to get up at 5:00. This would not necessarily translate into me getting up early too. He can make coffee and toast quite well without me. So I could have slept a little late. However, the alarm beeps right over my head in the bedroom every time a door opens. And it beeped over and over and over again. I’m not sure why he went in and out so many times. Four years ago I would have said he was filling up the car with snacks. After all, it’s more than an hour’s drive. Snacks would be called for. But now that we are both eating healthy nutritious stuff, snacks are water and bananas. That wouldn’t take a whole lot of trips to the car – even he takes forty bananas.

But regardless, beep, beep… going out… beep beep…coming in. Beep beep… going out… beep beep…coming in. Beep, beep… well, you get the picture. So I got up. “You’re up?” he said. “You shoulda slept in.”

So I’m up. Early. I didn’t take long in the shower, because I didn’t have to wash my hair. It’s Zumba day, and I’m not going to waste clean hair on a day that ends with a big sweat-event. Zumba day means updo. Updo is easy with dirty hair. It mostly just sticks to itself. And the ends that pop out are charmingly casual.

I ironed. I must wear freshly ironed clothes, even when it’s jeans. I just must. The ironing board is set up permanently in my home. College almost killed me, because I had no space in my dorm room for an ironing board. It’s a miracle I graduated. I dressed in my freshly ironed clothes. I didn’t change more than twice. That saved time.

I did all my makeup. ‘All’ means ‘a lot’. But I am very skilled. I could compete in Olympic makeup application. I would win. I was still really early.

My husband left for his big adventure. This saved me an enormous amount of time at breakfast, because I didn’t have to talk to him. I opened my book. In retrospect, this may have been a minor mistake. However, I had already saved so much time what with getting up so early and not shampooing and not changing my clothes three times and not speaking to my husband —  well, four chapters fit into my schedule quite nicely. The fifth made it a little tight.

But I was okay. I did the dishes and made the bed and saved an enormous amount of time by wearing plain hoop earrings and my wedding rings. Not having to choose a necklace easily offset that fifth chapter.

Yogurt and a banana in my bag… Double-checked that the coffeemaker was off. And the iron. Perfectly on time.

Then the old cat threw up. Not a problem. Hubby can “find” it when he gets home. There is no way to date-stamp cat puke. It most certainly could have happened right after I left.

I was only 1 minute behind schedule. But I knew I could make it. I have no traffic lights and only two stop signs between my house and the office. Both stop signs are at right hand turns. There’s hardly ever any traffic. I don’t really have to come to a full stop.

And then. Those few seconds late caused me to be behind the school bus that I am usually in front of.

I ended up six minutes late for work.

“Sorry, I’m late,” I said to the boss as she spotted me running in. “Why does every damn kid have to kiss his mother?”


Why I Don’t Read True-Crime Stories

It was the summer I was twenty.

I almost wrote that I was home from college for the summer, but that year, I actually commuted to college so I was home all year anyway. So let’s just say that I was on summer break from school. And dreaming of the Fall when I would actually move out of my bright green and pink frilly bedroom and into a college dorm with an Indian batik bedspread and a Mao poster.

My sister Claudia had her first apartment, which she shared with two other young teachers. It was a very cool apartment – mostly because they were “older women” and also because they were known to have men drop by. I loved men dropping by. I visited all the time and planned my exit in the evening to coincide with the departure of one (any) of the men – hoping they will take me to an all-night diner for coffee. And sometimes they did.

One day mid-week my sister called. She had the flu. Her roommates were gone for the day, and she was all alone. She was quite sick. She hated being alone and sick. Would I come by and stay with her for a few hours?

So I went all the way over there – the apartment was five whole blocks from my parent’s home.

Claudia let me in and immediately went back to bed. I played around a little bit with the TV, but a summer afternoon in 1971 was not exactly peak viewing time. I had a soap opera on for some background noise, and leafed through some magazines.

I checked on my sister. She was sound asleep. Bored, I switched off the TV and browsed through the books in the living room bookshelf. And I pulled one out.

“The Boston Strangler.”


I was fascinated. Mesmerized.

Of course, I already knew quite a lot about The Boston Strangler. Living in Connecticut, you couldn’t help but follow the case. Especially after we learned that the Strangler was most likely also the “Green Man” – notorious in Connecticut for rape and assault of housewives by pretending he was a repairman.

As the Boston Strangler and the Green Man, the perpetrator (who was most probably Albert DeSalvo, although there are some who do not believe his confession) wore the dark green work clothes that usually signified an appliance or utility repairman back in the early 60s.

As a little kid, the Green Man had put a scare into the people of Connecticut. I had been warned not to open the door for a repairman without my mother’s permission – and yes, people actually came to your house to fix things in those days. You did not throw out the miscreant TV or toaster and get a new one – you had the broken one fixed. Really.

(BTW, did you know that we used to have our shoes re-soled, and we’d wear them for years? Really. I’m that old.)

Anyway, I was engrossed in this book. I read for hours. I remember it as well-written as well as creepy. The way this guy would so convincingly gain the trust of so many women that they just opened the door and let him in. And wham.

And then.


The doorbell rang.

I jumped about four feet.

And I looked through the peephole.

And it was a guy in a green uniform.

I opened the door a crack with the chain still on and my heart pounding with a beat that reminded me of “My Sweet Lord.”

“Hi,” the green man said. “I’m here to fix your door.”

A repairman.

In green.





“Ummm, I’m the babysitter,” I said, not coming up with a better word for keeping watch over my sick, sleeping, older sister. “What’s wrong with the door?”

“It’s not flush to the floor. See how much space there is at the bottom? Someone here complained that it wasn’t safe.”

Well, that couldn’t have been my sister. My sister would never ever notice that a door was not flush to the floor. But both of her roommates could easily want that fixed.

But – “not safe?”

How dangerous is a slight crack at the bottom of your door? Who did they think would break in? Mr. Fantastic? Flat Stanley?

And with my finger still holding my place in “The Boston Strangler” – I unhooked the chain and let him in.

I backed up even with the bathroom door. I planned on jumping in there and locking myself in if I had to.

The guy had a long thin piece of board. He glued it to the bottom of the door and left.

And I never read another true crime book.

Oh yeah. I know what you are thinking.

With regards to my poor sister asleep in the bedroom:

You have never seen Claudia sick. I figured he’d take one look at her and run away.

Cowboy Memories

It was my husband’s turn to choose which Sirius channel we listened to on our last ride. So naturally, he picked Willie’s Roadhouse – very old-fashioned country music. By very old-fashioned, I mean Grand Ole Opry old-fashioned. I mean twangy guitars and twangier voices. I mean boots and barefoot and nothing in between. I mean men wearing sequins and fringe. I mean high hair on both sexes.

But to my enormous surprise – and delight – they had a special program. Theme songs from TV Westerns!

Oh the Memories!

I LOVED TV Westerns. And I watched them ALL.  And by all, I mean spurs and saddles up the wazoo!  If you are younger than I (and almost everyone is) – you have no idea how many westerns there were. You could watch cowboys every single night of the week – sometimes several in one night.

I only have a vague recollection of “Hopalong Cassidy,” “Wild Bill Hickok,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “The Cisco Kid” – they were pretty much before my time. But my husband loved them, so I would wager a guess that they had lots of shootouts and no ambiguity on who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. That’s the way he still likes his shows.

The first TV Western I remember well was “Roy Rogers”. I was not impressed. It was set in modern times, and Roy and Dale had telephones and vehicles. For chrissakes, if you are going to do a Western, I want to see you ride Trigger and Buttermilk – stay out of the friggin jeep.

Here’s a summary of JUST SOME of the Westerns I remember. I didn’t use Google or Wikipedia because I want my memories and my impressions to be the ones of my childhood – unsullied by today’s adult opinions. (So I could be wrong on some – or many – or all – of the facts.)

“Wyatt Earp” – “Bat Masterson” –  “Yancy Derringer” – these were all fancy-dress dandies. My Grandma liked these shows. I preferred my cowboys a little grittier even then. I didn’t want lace shirts. I wanted dusty from the saddle.  A small aside: about twenty years ago I happened to meet an actual descendent of Bat Masterson. I had the song (“He wore a cane and derby hat. They called him Bat. Bat Masterson”) stuck in my head for weeks. And now I do again.

“Death Valley Days” – an anthology series narrated by Ronald Reagan. Brought to you by twenty-mule team Borax. Borax was a soap. A twenty-mule team made it a very strong soap, I guess. Or very smelly. Maybe both.

“Tales of Wells Fargo” and “Iron Horse” – same actor; almost same show. One was a stagecoach and one was a train. Other than that…

“Sugarfoot” – another of Grandma’s favorite. She thought he was very cute and sweet. He was blond. Grandma liked blonds.

“Cheyenne” and “Bronco” – two very big men. I think these shows alternated time slots. Cheyenne was a man of few words; it would have been a difficult show to watch if you were blind. The strong silent type. But the producers probably saved a lot of money on dialog.

“Maverick” – this is where the dialog budget got spent. Very snappy and clever. Maverick liked to talk his way out of trouble. There were three (or maybe four) Mavericks, but I only liked James Garner. I liked him a lot. Like, a LOT.

“Wagon Train” – heading west. Never getting there.

“The Rebel” – a confederate soldier out west. I think he had a big secret. I never understood any of the plots. He had a sporty little cap though.

“The Rifleman” – Strong-jawed Chuck Connors who was a fast-draw with a rifle. Noisy. The Rifleman had a cute son, but the son called his dad, “Paw.” Unacceptable.

“The Deputy” – “Lawman” – “Laramie” – I enjoyed these shows. I cannot tell them apart now though. I probably couldn’t then either.

“Wanted Dead or Alive’ – Young Steve McQueen. Everyone thought he was handsome but I always thought he was homely. But even at eight years old, I appreciated the way he filled out a pair of jeans.

“Gunsmoke” – This was Great Aunt Lora’s favorite. She told me she wished she were Miss Kitty – she would have liked to run the whorehouse and drink with the boys. I thought Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty were a little long in the tooth.

“Have Gun Will Travel” – with Richard Boone as Palladin, a hired gun. My father, who never ever disparaged anyone’s looks, once said, “That is about the ugliest man I have every seen.”

“Rawhide” – by far the best theme song EVER. A never-ending cattle drive with two extremely tall cowboys, Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood had a lot of sex appeal, I guess. I liked the other guy. I remember lots of stampedes and hot tempers. And nights by the campfire sort of like the farting scene in “Blazing Saddles” – without the farting. (I think.)

“The Virginian” – a 90-minute Western. Plenty of time for plot-development and selling Alka-Seltzer. The show was loosely based on the novel.- very loosely, since Trampas was the bad guy in the book and a good guy in the show. He had curly blond hair though and very good teeth, so he couldn’t be a bad guy. The Virginian, like in the book, had no name, which made it very difficult to get his attention out on the range.

“Bonanza” – the biggie – the Ponderosa of Westerns. Rich cowboys. Pa and his sons were always falling in love, and their women always died. If I met a Cartwright, I would run for the hills.

“The Big Valley” – A version of Bonanza with a matriarch instead of patriarch. I liked the premise though. The dead rich father’s bastard son decides to join the family. My little brother had sort of a crush, not on the beautiful Linda Evans, but on 60-something Barbara Stanwyck. My brother knew a real beauty when he saw one.

“Laredo” – Texas Rangers. One of the Rangers had quite a spectacular body and took off his shirt in almost every episode. My sister Claudia enjoyed this.

“Kung Fu” – Weird. Just. Weird.

“How The West Was Won” – “The High Chaparral” – “Alias Smith and Jones” – late entries in the Western drama. I was becoming old enough to appreciate a hot cowboy on a big horse. These shows had plenty.

And I could use me some now. I think I’d like to go back and get another look at Steve McQueen’s jeans.


Flea Marketing

This weekend my husband and I traveled to Brimfield Massachusetts to the huge Brimfield Antique Flea Market.

Brimfield is held three times a year, and it’s always a crazy event. For more than 50 years, the nuttiest folks from all over the globe collect junk and come together to see if they can fleece the public. It’s like the whole town becomes a junkyard. In fact, Brimfield is actually a group of 20 individual shows (each one big in its own right) all vying for a piece of the junkyard pie.

Oh sure, there’s some real antiques. But mostly it is the stuff that your husband has in the cellar that you have been begging him to throw away.

We woke to rain, but the sky was bright and the forecast called for clearing. So we dressed in warm clothes that we could peel off in layers, and comfortable shoes, and filled our travel mugs with coffee for the 75 mile drive. Naturally, we already had coffee at home, and so we required a pit stop before too long. And I was gratified that it was Hubby and not me that needed the stop (for a change).

After the nature break, I enjoyed the nature ride. We came upon four horses in a pasture. These guys were all wearing blankets. Granted it was a cool day, but a cool day in May. Those horses were wimps. I don’t see cows wearing sweaters. One horse was sporting a zebra-striped blanket. He may have thought he had a great disguise. But he didn’t fool me.

Once we got to Brimfield, we were encouraged in the most friendly way to park in everyone’s yards for $7.00.  One guy with a really big yard had a fistful of dollars in his hand. We gave him a few more.  His yard was more of a field, but it was dry enough, and we had taken the truck, just in case we found something great – and big.

So another pit stop at the port-a-potties. Those things are the worst part of any outdoor event, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t really, really grateful.

Finally we were ready to shop. There were thousands of vendors. You could buy broken dolls and buckled paintings. You could buy ancient scythes and dusty beer bottles.  Clocks that stopped running in 1945 and old 45 records that had a definite curve to their bodies. Costume jewelry that even my great-aunt Lil would have thought too gaudy.

Oh, there was some nice stuff. I saw a beautiful opal and amethyst ring, But since I already have an opal and ruby ring, I didn’t succumb. My husband found an ugly old coca-cola cooler – which reminded him of his childhood so naturally he wanted to buy it and turn it into a shrine with his toy trains and Hardy Boys books. I pointed out nicely that this cooler was extremely rusty, weighs 77 pounds empty, and costs more than an opal and amethyst ring. I was subtle and congenial though. I said, “That’s friggin’ hideous!”

We had to search to find something relatively healthy to eat. All the vendors from every carnival and country fair you ever went to were there. This would have delighted us five years ago, but we don’t eat that shit anymore – we finally found a deli sandwich stand. Not exactly health food, but a considerable step up from deep-fried oreos.

The best part was the dogs. Brimfield is a dog-friendly event. There were almost as many dogs there as people. And they were all adorable (The dogs, not the people. The people are mostly your regular homely folk.) One vendor had a pug puppy asleep in an old urn. The guy let me wake the puppy so I could see her smile. She didn’t smile. But she gave me an excellent dirty look.

Lately, I want a dog quite badly. But so far, I have recovered my sanity just in time, before I commit to a chewing, pooping, barking little friend. Maybe when I fully retire. I’d like a curly-haired dog to lie at my feet when I write my next novel. Doesn’t that sound nice?

We ended up at the Ben and Jerry’s booth for frozen yogurt, which was okay, even though neither of us got what we ordered. We would have been better off switching cups, as that would have put us a little closer to what we had actually asked for, but then we would have had to forego all the enjoyable bitching.

And that was our day –  $7.00 for parking and $16.00 for lunch and I think about $27.00 for two child-size incorrect frozen yogurts.

Oh, and one more expense. Hubby was very sleepy as we started home, and our coffee was gone, so he stopped at a convenience store/gas station for more. I never go into those places. Because mostly what is convenient is potato chips. Which is about my favorite thing in the world, after puppies.

Only Hubby didn’t come out with coffee. He decided on the beef jerky.

“You’re going to open that in the car?” I asked.

“Yeah, he answered already ripping the bag open. “It’s healthier than some of the other stuff in there. What’s the problem?”

“Because it smells like dog food! Don’t you think it smells exactly like dog food?”

“Not until right this minute.”

And it was a quiet ride home.

But a nice day overall.

And I woke up the next day to poison ivy on my foot. From parking in the field, I suppose.


The one piece my husband and I both loved. Not in the budget though. Not in anyone’s budget, I suspect.


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