Guest blogger Rachel Crofton is back. Yesterday, she read Madison Woods’ blog http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/ and started badgering me to let her post a commentary. Rachel is not a woman of few words, so we had to break it  into two or three pieces.   Enjoy ~ Russell  

Modern Inconveniences – part 1

That loud, off-key, screeching noise you sometimes hear, is me singing the praises of modern science and technology. I’m extremely grateful for all the wonderful appliances, gadgetry, and software aps that have been developed to make my life easier and more comfortable.
They even have artificial intelligence now, which I am told is no match natural born stupidity. It may be in its infancy, but you can be assured scientists will keep working on it until they perfect a version that can write Russell’s blog for him. After all, how much intelligence could that take?
But everything comes with a price—and not just money. What are some of the things we have sacrificed to enjoy the benefits of a “new and better way?” Why are we obsessed with speed? Does faster always mean better?
In today’s society, people are forever in a mad dash from spot to another. If we can shave a few seconds off here and there, then we can cram in more activities, making our lives fuller, thus generating greater happiness, right?

Those of us who have celebrated more than one anniversary of our 39th birthday can remember full-service gas stations. This concept was based on the businessowner’s perception that the customer was “king.” When a car pulled up to the pumps, an attendant would come running out, ask you how much gas you wanted, check under the hood, wash the windshield, put air in the tires, and change the baby’s diaper. The driver left, feeling secure in a safe, well maintained vehicle with a dry baby and a fist full of Green Stamps.
Today’s drivers pull into a convenience store, slam on the brakes, set the stop watch on their iPhone, slide a credit card at the pump, fill the tank, hop back in the car, peel out of the parking lot and check the timer. Anything under four minutes is considered good. Three and a half or less and you’re a superstar.
Upon returning to the highway, our hero becomes stuck in traffic only to move forward one car length at a time. Rather ironic, don’t you think?

 

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The Fingerprint Fly

Today’s post is inspired by the weekly photo prompt (originally from http://nanodeltech.com/), provided by Madison Woods. Be sure and visit her blog http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/ each Friday to enjoy her 100 word #Flash Friday story. Read the comments and follow the links to other stories ranging from excellent to sublime.

The Fingerprint Fly
Crime bosses from around the globe converged in Las Vegas this week for the 54th Annual Gangland Technology Conference.
Vendors and mad scientist demonstrated the latest in electronic gadgetry to a mildly enthusiastic throng of over 6,000 underworld leaders and third-world dictators.
Evidence Eraser LLC, a New Jersey company, debuted “The Fingerprint Fly” (shown below). This tiny engraver confounds forensic experts by duplicating the fingerprints of internationally known celebrities—including this year’s favorite, Charlie Sheen—onto the fingers of common henchmen.
Promoters consider the show a great success. One well-known don from Chicago was quoted as saying, “Dis shitz amazing!”

2011 in Retrospect

2011 was an odd year. In fact, evidence has been uncovered to support the theory that eleven falls somewhere between ten and twelve. Eleven is also a prime number. I guess that is supposed to designate it as ‘special’ since it can only be divided by itself and one. Personally, I find such numerals rather (yawn) boring and refer to them as ho-humbers.
Today, I sit here struggling to find something memorable about 2011. Let’s try the weather. It’s usually a safe subject. I say that only because I once worked with a guy who always asked your thoughts or opinion on a given subject then immediately chose the opposite. He would argue (debate was the word he used) the color of grass, a cloudless sky, and whether fried green tomatoes were fruit or vegetable.
Now, back to the weather.
Our little slice of heaven (Goshen, AR) set new records for cold temperature, snowfall, rain, high temperature, drought, and Republican debates. This is a double-trifecta by my calculations. I wish I could say I had some money riding on this, but who knew there would be so many candidates seeking the nomination.
All of the usual things happened in 2011. People were born, people died, and millions of unfortunate souls were afflicted with (or became) hemorrhoids. Scientists made new discoveries, technology advanced at break-neck speed, and the heavily burdened tax payers were thrown another anchor and told to sink or swim.
On a personal note, I gave birth to my first blog in October. Blogs are different than babies in that the labor pains begin after the birth. Talk about needy! Mine wakes me up at night screaming for new material, photos, and anything else it can scarf down. It constantly clamors for attention and throws little hissy-fits when people read the posts and fail to comment.
The good news is that I’ve become acquainted with other blog parents from around the globe. These wonderful folks have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. Without them, I would have probably put the little guy up for adoption or thrown him in the dumpster. So, thank you one and all.
What 2011 event was special/important to you?

Santa and his Hos

I’ve always been envious of Santa Claus. What a sweet deal. He works one night a year making deliveries and spends the rest of his time kicked back in the easy chair delegating activities to his “little people.” You may have heard them referred to as elves, but they could just as easily be called dwarfs or a midgets, except no one uses the term midgets any more unless they are speaking of a peculiar wrestling match or an even more peculiar porn video.
Legend has it that these industrious little folks manufacture and package toys and other goodies for Santa’s annual run. They are also responsible for reading the majority of the incoming mail, the exception being letters from naughty girls. Those are routed directly to Santa’s most private quarters, where even Mrs. Claus is not allowed to enter.
Technology has come a long way at the North Pole. The electronic games, toys, and gadgets that he delivers today are a far cry from the cap guns and mute dolls of my childhood. The information age and world wide web have made it easier to track our individual behavior. Now, he can simple read someone’s Facebook page, check their tweets, or scan their emails for incriminating evidence.
Just imagine Santa sitting in front of his computer smoking a bowl (Oops, I mean his pipe) deciding who makes the “A” list and who gets the jigsaw puzzle of a white cow in a snowstorm. The good news is Santa has a forgiving nature and he’s never actually been known to bring anyone a bundle of switches unless they specifically requested them in the aforementioned letters.
Knowing that he can’t be everywhere at once, I applied for a Santa position at a local mall. This would be my way of helping the Big Guy while making a little jingle of my own. Who wouldn’t want to hire me? My belly fills out the suit, I have gray hair and beard, I can be jolly and make people smile, and I look good in red.
Everything was going great during the interview until I asked about the Hos. Why does Santa have only three? Another thing that bothered me was the impersonal nature in which he refers to them. Surely they have names. How hard could it be to memorize Betty, Mildred, and Wanda?
The interviewer stared at me expressionless for what seemed like an eternity. Then she leaned over and in a very low voice whispered, “I’m sure you’d make an exceptional Santa. So good in fact, that I’m afraid you’re over-qualified.”
I was a little disappointed, but didn’t let it dampen my holiday spirit. On my way out I turned to all the would-be Santas in the waiting room and roared, “Betty, Mildred, Wanda and a M-e-r-r-y Christmas to all!”

Christmas Tree Me

For today’s post I used the photo prompt, provided by Madison Woods and a Christmas poem I wrote several years ago. Be sure and visit her blog  http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/ each Friday to enjoy her 100 word #Flash Friday story. Read the comments and follow the links to other stories ranging from excellent to sublime.

 

It wasn’t much to look at, kinda scraggly for a tree.

One side with a gaping hole and a flat spot on the other.
Mama just shook her head when she saw the fresh cut cedar,
but helped me stand it in a bucket filled with rocks and water

 

I cut a star from scrap cardboard and wrapped it in aluminum foil.
Then sewed a popcorn garland ten feet long, that wouldn’t go twice around.
From a box of ancient ornaments, I found a few that weren’t broken,
and a tangled strand of colored lights, some of which actually worked.
I dressed the tree the best I could, turning the flat side to the wall
and showered it with icicles while humming Christmas carols.
When at last I plugged it in the tree just seemed to glow,
as if magically transformed—no longer rough and flawed.
Sometimes I feel like that tree, full of holes and bent by sin
But God is still willing to choose me and take me home with Him
He’ll hang grace from every bough, add a star to hang above,
And when at last He plugs me in I’ll glow of the Savior’s love.

 

Peeves I like to Pet (part 2 of 2)

In today’s post guest blogger, Rachel Crofton, shares more about some of her favorite peeves. Rachel is best known for her essay Dodging Miss Daisy and is currently working on a memoir entitled, Raising Cain.

Caring for pets is a good way for a child to learn responsibility. Our son, Cain, was only four when he adopted “Leave the Light On.”
The poor little peeve was a gift from an elderly couple and appeared scrawny and malnourished when Cain first brought him home. How some people can be so cruel as to starve a pet is beyond me. If you can’t afford to feed a peeve you shouldn’t get one to start with.
It was so cute to watch the two of them play. They ran from room to room, Cain stretching on tippy-toes to turn on every light in the house. Bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, microwave ovens, it didn’t matter. Bulb were made to shine, and shine they did.
Our electric meter spun like a roulette wheel on steroids. Unfortunately, it always landed on red. When Brad saw the amount of the bank drafts he blew a fuse. Surely there was a mistake. How could there be that many digits to the left of a decimal point?
After a brief, but heated family meeting, it was decided “Leave the Lights On” had to go. Brad gave Cain two weeks to find the peeve a new home. I put an ad on Craig’s List offering a friendly, loving, house-broken pet peeve for only twenty dollars.
The president of a motel chain saw my ad and dispatched some fellow named Tom to pick up the peeve. From what I hear, it’s worked out well for both of them. Tom and “Leave the Lights On” have become virtually inseparable.
I just love happy endings, don’t you?

Burnt Offerings

Today’s post is inspired by the weekly photo prompt provided by Madison Woods. Be sure and visit her blog  http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/ each Friday to enjoy her 100 word #Flash Friday story. Read the comments and follow the links to other stories ranging from excellent to sublime.

Byron had heard people talk about smoking meat his whole life. From what he gathered, a person could smoke beef, pork, chicken, fish, or even cheese. The old timers even built little log huts dedicated solely to that purpose.
The very idea of smoking meat teased and captivated his imagination. How would it taste? Would it be as enjoyable and satisfying as his friends had said? Byron couldn’t wait to find out.
His attempts using papers proved futile. The meat kept falling out. Pipes wouldn’t stay lit. Then he saw the ceramic heater.

“Dude, wanna a hit of bacon?”

Peeves I like to Pet (part1 of 2)

Russell is busy working on the annual Gayer Family Christmas card. Rachel Crofton has graciously offered to sit as guest blogger for a couple of posts this month. Rachel is best known for her essay Dodging Miss Daisy and is currently working on a memoir entitled, Raising Cain.
Peeves make wonderful pets. You can take them anywhere. They don’t require food, water, or vaccinations, although I do recommend grooming them from time to time.
One of my favorite things about peeves is that you can have as many as you want. In fact, I have an entire kennel of them. Peeves love attention and like to come out for a playful romp at every available opportunity. Like other pets, regular exercise is essential in keeping them healthy and happy.
Hurry Up and Wait is one of my favorites. She likes to sit on the counter while I fix my hair and apply make-up. In the other room, my husband, Brad, is pacing like a lion who has just had its kill taken over by a pack of hyenas. How that man can watch a motionless fishing rod for two hours, or sit on a rock in the woods for half a day without seeing anything, is beyond me. But tell him you need five minutes to get ready before going out, and you’d think you were asking Richard Nixon to surrender the Watergate tapes.
I tell him, “Good things come to those who wait.”
Running on Empty is another of my high achievers. I hate pumping gas. The wind messes with my hair, my ankles freeze, and the scent of gasoline lingers on my hands for days. If there’s enough in the tank to get from point “A” to point “B” that’s all you need, right?
There’s a little icon on the dash that indicates when the tank is almost empty. I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, but the flashing red light seems to really annoy Brad. He immediately flies into a tirade about how we’re going to be late, followed by an extended period of prayer in which he asks for the fumes hold out till we get to the nearest station.
I really think he should plan better and allow more time, but the last time I mentioned it he glared at me with fiery eyes and clenched teeth. He doesn’t take suggestions well when he’s pushing a car in the rain.

Where’s Waldo

Today’s post is inspired by the photo below, provided by Madison Woods. Be sure and visit her blog  http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/ each Friday to enjoy her 100 word #Flash Friday story. Read the comments and follow the links to other stories ranging from excellent to sublime.

In today’s episode, Clem and Lester are enjoying the beautiful fall foliage.
Let’s listen in . . .

“You see that orange leaf up there?”
“Which one? There’s thousands of orange leaves up there.”
“That one right there. The one with the funny shape. Kinda looks like a heart, but with a notch tore out of the bottom.”
“I still don’t see it. What’s it located next to?”
“It’s right between them other two orange leaves, about half-way out that limb.”
“Has it got black spots on it, and a short stubby stem?”
“Yeah! Do you see it now?”
“No.”
“Right there! It’s the one wigglin’ in the breeze?”
“That’s not a leaf, you idiot. That’s a butterfly!”

 

Thanks Living

I plagiarized the title of today’s post from last Sunday’s sermon. Bro. Frank expounded all the reasons we should be thankful every single day of the year, not just on Thanksgiving.
He’s absolutely right. That’s why I keep the words ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE posted on my dry-erase board year round. It reminds me that I’m extremely blessed—and not just a little bit—but abundantly. Not only are all my basic needs met, I have enough extra to buy a few toys.
This time of year I like to get out my Russell & Connie action figures (not sold separately) and conjure up a few hunting adventures. These daredevils of the outdoors tackle enormous challenges and hardships in search of big game. Unlike me, they never come home empty-handed.
Their hunt may be long and hard, the terrain rough and treacherous—full of viscous beasts and beset with danger. Yet somehow, between wrestling angry alligators and extracting a decayed tooth from the mouth of a twelve-foot grizzly, they still have time for a few moments of tender passion.

Am I lucky or what? I’ve been blessed with good health, a multitude of great friends, and the love of a good woman. What more could any man want?
Thank you, Lord.  And Happy Thanksgiving to all! God Bless You!

Housekeeping Hints

Women live under a lot of pressure. There’s a high level of expectation as to how the home should be kept and decorated. From what I can tell, the cleanliness bar is set (and periodically readjusted) by one’s peers.
The best way to attain a passing grade from judgmental guests is to serve good wine—and plenty of it. Minor imperfections such as dirty dishes, clothes in the floor, and black-velvet paintings become insignificant dust bunnies bouncing harmlessly in the cozy confines of your humble abode.
You may think its bad now, but it was even tougher back in the old days. Cave women didn’t always good wine and liquor stores had not yet been invented. What’s a girl to do? Ugla is coming by this afternoon and the place is a mess. Dar’s loincloth is on the kitchen floor, cobwebs dangle from the stalactites, and the kids don’t look like they’ve had a bath in three moons. That Neanderthal witch will tell every woman within a two-day walk what a terrible cavekeeper you are.
Thankfully, your copy of Good Cavekeeping magazine arrived yesterday and you can keep Ugla occupied by discussing exciting new recipes for charred meat, roots, and wild berries.
If you’re still afraid she’ll badmouth your cave, hit her in the head with a rock. It works every time.

Golden Ghost Flower

The following 100-word Friday Flash Fiction is based on the photo prompt provided by Madison Woods. Visit her blog at 
http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/ to read her flash fiction for today and find links to other authors participating in this weekly event.

“What’s that?” Baxter asked.
“How should I know? Do I look like a botanist?” I replied
“No, you look like a smart-ass, and you smell like one too.”
“Well, it’s obviously a plant of some sort, maybe a flower.”
“You don’t reckon it’s an aphrodisiac do you?”
“Why don’t you eat it and find out? I’d enjoy watching you howl at the moon all night and running wild like you were chasing a bitch in heat.”
Baxter bent low and sniffed the plant. “It might be poisonous.”
“Could be,” I replied. “Let’s just hike our legs and mark it.”
Mandie Hines Author

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