Thursday, September 29, 2011


Earlier this year, Big Bore and I began planning a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, to celebrate the advent of my Social Security benefits, but after all the unexpected "One Thing After Another"s, we've downsized to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado--again. Plenty of hiking trails still await us there, so we are not disappointed. Just to be able to get away ANYWHERE will be fun. The Flaming Bore will be off line for about 10 days, give or take a day or so. Mountains, here we come!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Although I will always be a devoted Beatles kind of girl, there are a few oddball musical groups that have grabbed my attention over the years, and one of them was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. My college buddy Walter, of "Walt's Vault" fame (the title of his college newspaper sports editor column) turned me on to a bit of the Mothers, and I especially liked their song, "Call Any Vegetable," which is not to be confused with "Duke of Prunes." I'm not sure which of their albums it's on. Maybe "Burnt Weeny Sandwich" or "Uncle Meat." Frank and his crew always aimed for the bizarro when it came to writing lyrics. "Call Any Vegetable" is probably the only song in music history that coos sweet nothings to a rutabaga.

A few years after leaving college behind, circa 1973, I found myself working at a Love Field restaurant in Dallas, and among the semi-famous who strolled in one day was Frank Zappa, himself, and his bandmates, all of whom were and still are nameless to me. Like most good over-inflated performers and athletes, they asked for seating in the private area of the restaurant so they wouldn't be hassled by the commoners, but, believe me, I was probably the one in the joint who knew these scruffy guys in bell bottoms were the Mothers. No one was going to get within 50 feet of them.

I acknowledged that I knew who they were and asked where they were going. Memphis, maybe. I can't recall. They weren't rude, but they weren't friendly, either, so I got them seated, told a waitress who they were because she couldn't figure out why in the world they were getting the VIP treatment, and returned to the front of the restaurant to greet other customers. But a little part of me still wanted to go back to the Mothers' table and sweetly warble out to them, "Ruta-bay-a-aga, Ruta-bay-a-aga, Ruta-bay-a-aga, Ruta-bay-a-aga, RUTABAGA."

This will go down in history as one of the great regrets of my life.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Saturday night our local library board presented a snazzy mystery dinner theater production, Murder Overdue. Among those putting on their acting chops were our postmaster, a retired judge, an insurance man, and my good friend Library Lady who, in a bit of genius casting, portrayed the no-nonsense librarian, Miss Aggie. "I run a tight ship!" As Official Photographer, I snapped this photo of a frazzled Miss Aggie with the library cat, Page Turner, an opinionated pussy with a "sixth sense about those who have overdue books."

Here's the basic plot of the mystery: Snarky Will Webster, an on-line book seller, is found murdered shortly after he steals a library book that is about the size of a 36-inch television, and almost as heavy. Who is the guilty party?

Is it Dusty Ann Tomes--a bookstore owner who's in competition with Will and fights with him over books at garage sales?

Is it Debbie Webster--Will's ex-wife who's constantly nagging him for back child support?

Is it Albert Pennyworth--Will's apartment house landlord and plumber extraordinaire who is demanding his late rent payment?

Is it Miss Mattie Pryor--Will's snoopy next-door neighbor who's always harping about the loud volume on his TV?

Or, (gasp!) could it be the dear Miss Aggie, whom Will angered earlier in the day at the library?

Great for laughs and perplexing to the audience because only ONE amateur detective fingered the true murderer. And, no, the winner was not The Flaming Bore, who guessed the book seller as the guilty party, based only on the fact that Will was found next to his PT Cruiser and Dusty Ann Tomes had told the sheriff that during the night of the murder she'd gone "cruising" around town. How's that for logic?

As it turned out, most of us had overlooked the obvious. Ah-hah! Of course! You're under arrest! Hell hath no fury like an ex-wife scorned!

Friday, September 23, 2011


"You can have the remote," Big Bore announced the other night.

Oh, joy! I knew just what I wanted to watch---Turner Classic Movies, East of Eden! We don't often take on a movie when it's pushing 9 PM. He's usually getting ready for bed by then, and I have the attention span of an ant. But East of Eden...with James Dean, for gosh sakes! This would surely be a keeper.

"What's it about?" he asked.

I'd never read the book or seen the movie before, but I'd heard enough about the story line to act like an expert. "It's based on a John Steinbeck classic about brothers in conflict. Sort of a Cain and Abel or like the Prodigal Son. What are those Bible stories called when Jesus tries to teach a lesson with an example? I can't think of the word."

"Parables," Big Bore helped me out. "Metaphorically speaking."

Gee, since when did he turn into an English professor? --So, after a rough introduction from actress/shoplifter Winona Ryder, the movie began. For the next two hours we were mesmerized. Here's the movie in a nutshell:

James Dean is the bad teenaged brother Cal. His good brother Aron has a girlfriend named Abra or Aspra, or Aspirin, or something equally odd. Bible-thumping businessman wannabe Daddy Adam tells the boys their mother died when they were infants, but somehow Cal finds out she's really a successful Madam at a nearby palace of ill repute. Cal keeps trying to do good deeds to gain his Daddy's love, but his efforts always backfire; therefore, Abra or Aspririn (whatever) falls for him (natch), he reveals Mama's true identity to Aron, Aron freaks out, gets drunk and joins the army, and Daddy has a stroke --all in one night!!! Then, Cal makes a bedside promise to Daddy that he'll have Abra/Aspirin be his nurse. The end.

"Ah, come on! Don't tell me it's gonna end there!" I wailed.

Big Bore agreed. He wanted the movie to keep going, too. How could East of Eden go south on us? After two hours!! I think the Motion Picture Association needs to add a warning label for lousy movie endings like it does for foul language, violence, and nudity. Something like ES, for Ending Stinks or Ending Sucks or Ending Spews...just fill in your own S-word. Guess I'll have to go to the library now and check out some Steinbeck.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


My big city pal Maggie, who is an avid reader of all that is newsworthy, recently sent me an article of monumental importance that could change the world as we know it. It seems that the entire community of Osceola, Missouri (pop. 818) is demanding that the University of Kansas change its mascot from the Jayhawk to something more politically correct. They think the bird sounds too much like a "domestic terrorist."

Seems that back in 1861, Osceola was raided by a group of abolitionists who went by the similarly-titled name: Jayhawkers. A dozen of its citizens were killed and the town was burned to ruins. What the present-day residents fail to recall is that two years later William Quantrill and his Raiders more than made up for the Missouri massacre by killing or wounding just about every man in Lawrence, Kansas, which I'd say makes matters pretty much even-Steven 150 years later.

A KU spokesperson, Jill Jess, responded to Osceola's demand by writing: "It would be hard to confuse it (the Jayhawk mascot) with anyone with terrorist intent, although we admit we have been terrorizing the (Missouri) Tigers on the basketball court for some time." Touche, baby!

This is not the first time objection has raised its ugly head toward the Jayhawk. Back in 1944 a Kansas legislator advocated a new mascot for KU, arguing it's not even a real bird, for crying out loud! It's just a mythological cross between a blue jay and a sparrow hawk wearing goofy yellow shoes! Others, in more recent years, have argued, ironically, that the Jayhawk is not menacing enough. It's good ol' bird grin hardly instills fear in opponents. Osceola-ites should actually be happy that such a harmless looking creature represents our state's largest university.

The Jayhawk has undergone numerous cosmetic morphs throughout the years, including the frowning 1941 version above next to the current one. Pick your bird and make your preference known! The future of the State of Kansas depends on it!

Monday, September 19, 2011


A few days ago I posted about Gilda Radner and her catch phrase, "It's always something," and BAM! Today we have a computer crash! Big Bore was looking up some recipes on the Food Network website and suddenly devious messages started popping up. "Critical warning," this. "You'll never get this started up again," that. Woe is me. The plugs have been pulled and we shall be taking the computer to Dr. Ben, stat. I've had just all about all the "somethings" I want for one month.

P.S.--Thanks to the local library for keeping me blogging and barking.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


My childhood pal Literary Diva (see March 24, 2008 blog) recently made a move halfway across the country from Reno, Nevada to Lincoln, Nebraska. Leaving Lake Tahoe Land for Huskers Country has been topographically shocking, but she's hanging in there. This afternoon a gift arrived from her, just in time for the kick-off of Nebraska's football game against the Washington Huskies. So, of course, I had to try it on immediately, especially since she said the shirt screamed my name when she saw it on display.

And she's right. There are scads of genuine artificial diamond studs scattered all around the front--definitely my style--and it has a little hoodie in back. I don't know what the material is, but it's lightweight and not at all itchy. I think I look stunning! Or maybe stunned. Either one will do.

I will forgive Diva for trying to convert me into being a University of Nebraska fan. I'm just playing make-believe for the rest of day. And since Kansas lost big time to Georgia Tech earlier this afternoon, I'm making it known right now: Go Huskers!!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011


Since Little Bit seemed to be feeling better, and I had shaken off my xanax hangover from a bad night's sleep, I drove out to the high school football field tonight to watch the last half of the game from my car. There's an area south of the stadium where slackers can park. It's not exactly front row seating, but there's a clear view of the scoreboard and the announcer doesn't blow out my goofy ear from this vantage point.

While I watched the action, through a fine mist, and slurped on a cup of coffee, my mind started to wander back about 45 years when I was a member of the Fredonia High School Pep Club, loyally attending every football and basketball game scheduled. God forbid if I missed yelling a single cheer, thus jeopardizing my chances to receive the coveted Pep Club Award at the end of the year.

I suspect my inner ear damage likely got its start during my Pep Club days. There were typically between 70-80 girls in the club and we screamed like there was no tomorrow. Whenever we entered a town during away games, we'd slide down the bus windows and start off with the cheer: "We're from Fredonia! We couldn't be prouder! And if you can't hear us, we'll yell a little louder!" Of course, we got louder and louder and kept it up when entering the opposing team's stadium or gym. If we won the game, and we won a lot, then we left the defeated town the same way we entered, adding the "V-I-C-T-O-R-Y" cheer to the Fredonia pride cheer. The poor bus driver and club sponsors could not have been paid enough to accompany us.

Nowadays, teens are clueless about Pep Clubs, an archaic invention of a time when girls couldn't participate in sports and needed something to do with their excess energy besides making out with their boyfriends. The only kids who know the chants now are the cheerleaders--and even some of them are gee, like, questionable at times.

Louder and prouder? No longer in the game plan.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Up until I turned on the "Today Show" yesterday morning, I'd never heard of Missoni, an Italian fashion maven, maybe because I haven't spent a dime on clothing or housewares in more than a decade. Oh, I take that back. I bought two pairs of sweatpants last year. But, according to the news reports, I should be stark raving wild about owning Missoni. Apparently half of New York City is, anyway.

Target stores offered a big cut-rate Missoni sale and the rush was on to purchase anything with these ugly zig-zaggy designs that look even worse than my worst nightmare. Basically, it's rick-rack gone amok on steroids. I don't get it. I haven't worn rick-rack since 6th grade, and I have pictures to prove it, unfortunately.

I'd like to make this blog longer and rant on some more, but I've become dizzy looking at these pictures of fabulous Missoni merchandise that every stylish gal should own. I'm just going to miss out on the great deals, save a few bucks, and try to get my equilibrium restored before the end of the day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The late Saturday Night Live great Gilda Radner created a wacky character named Roseanne Roseannadanna--you remember her, don't you?--who would occasionally appear on the SNL news segment to disperse words of wisdom. Her key catch phrase was: "It just goes to show ya. It's always something."

Roseanna/Gilda would rant on and on about a pimple on her forehead, or food between her teeth, or toilet paper stuck on the bottom of her shoe--usually some minor irritation in life--and then end her segment the same way. "It's always something."

Years later, it seems that every time I think I'm getting ahead in my bank account, Roseanne's philosophical words play out in my own life. A year ago the water pipe under the front porch sprung a major leak to the tune of over a thousand dollars before all was fixed and done. Next came car repair after repair after repair. Then Critter got sick. Vet bills. More car repairs. Then the drought caused the water bill to skyrocket. Now Little Bit is sick. It's always something. Thankfully, the savings I stashed away over the years is there to bail me out.

The other night, Big Bore said out of the blue, "You know, we're lucky. We have our health, a roof over our heads, and food on the table. A lot of people don't have all that."

And we have someone to lean on when feeling down in the dumps about a sick cat or when wanting to share a bike ride to the park. Who could ask for anything more?

When the next bump in the road of life comes along, I hope I can continue to put on my game face and remember the "Roseannadanna Mantra." And when I go down to the bank this afternoon to see if my first-ever Social Security check has arrived in my account, I will dish out my own thought for the day: Money can't buy you everything. But it does pay the bills--because it's always something.

Here's to you, sweet Gilda.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


When my niece-in-law recently posted a pic of two-year-old William with a birthday cookie, I immediately recalled a picture I'd taken of her husband, my nephew Brandon, many years before when he was eating a cookie. His reaction was the total opposite of Sweet Will's--more of a Cookie Monster. William looks happy to share. I had asked Brandon if I could have a bite of his cookie, and "no way!" Every time I see this pic, I want to wipe away the cookie crumb on that pouty lower lip. Tough guys shouldn't need their faces washed.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I'm not as rabid a football fan as my college pal Dr. Maureen, but I still looked forward to the regular season starting up yesterday. I follow two teams--the Kansas City Chiefs, since the word Kansas is in their title, and the Carolina Panthers, since Maureen and her husband are season ticket holders. Also, I own a stylish turquoise and black, sleeveless, Panthers football t-shirt and like cats of any kind.

Anyway, it was with more than just a passing interest that I sat down in front of the TV yesterday to watch the Chiefs host the Buffalo Bills...and fumble their first play of the game, a kick-off return, which led to the first Bills score. And it all went downhill from there. Dropped balls, missed tackles, an interception, and the Chiefs had their worst home opener in franchise history, losing 41-7.

Now, since I have nothing better to do, I sometimes try to guess what the headline will be on the sports page of the big city newspaper the day following the big game. On maybe two rare occasions we have matched ideas, but most of the time the pro writers have a much better headline to summarize the game. Here were my top creations for yesterday's Chiefs game:

Opening Fright
Call 9-1-1 (Okay, so I know it's in poor taste considering yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.)
Chiefs Scalped (Okay, so I know it's politcally incorrect to make Indian references.)
Oops! They did it again! (Okay, so I know it's lame to paraphrase Brittney Spears.)

Well, of course, the actual headline was much better than my efforts: Flat broke, busted

I think the Chiefs and I need to return to the practice field and get better prepared for the next game/headline.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011


This past week we've been nursing Little Bit, who has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. He's lost weight and fluids out of both ends, if you know what I mean, so we've had our work cut out for us. Not in anyone's favor is his age, 16, but we're going to give it the old veterinary college try.

I'm doing most of the at-home doctoring, but Big Bore is helping when I administer the twice-a-day anti-nausea shots because I don't want Little Bit taking off in the middle of the procedure, and I don't have enough confidence to go it solo like I do with the thyroid pill popping. "Hold him down" is all I ask. The two of them are good buddies, so it's worked out okay so far.

When Big Bore was recuperating from his arterial bypass surgery five years ago (you can see the beginning of his scar in the pic above), Bits rarely left his side, so we owe the ol' cat our best effort. My mother has told me to quit wasting my money on vet bills and have him put to sleep, but I'm not ready to do that--yet. He may not live much longer, or he may live a few more years--whatever. At least we'll be able to say we gave it our best effort.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Yesterday's project at Casa de la Flaming Bore was to (sob!) denude our old sick blue spruce tree that fell victim to cytospora canker disease this summer. Dr. Big Bore, a certified tree surgeon in a past life, performed the last rites and then we got busy with the loppers. Most of the tree looked like the top left of this picture--brown, with needle drop. Beyond repair.

But! There is still hope! Being the folk artisans (?) that we are, we have decided to keep the trunk and create a memorial of some sort. Our current thinking is to stick a cat weather vane on top and then nail in directional signs indicating the distance to our favorite places: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Magazine, Arkansas; 30-Mile Campground, Wichita Pizza Factory, El Charro's of Pittsburg, Fredonia, Phelan Ranch, and, of course, Climax USA. We think this piece of art will go well with the nearby bottle tree and cause all the neighbors to shudder. A progress report will be made before the end of the year--provided we haven't been thrown off the block.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


"Are my butt cheeks showing?" I asked Big Bore yesterday afternoon. I have an old pair of blue flowered shorts that are comfy to wear around the house, but they are a bit too shorty-short for a senior citizen to be wearing out in public.

"No," he said. "You look good in them." -- Now there's a lie if I ever heard one.

"How much are they below my butt cheeks? I don't want to be exposing myself."

"A good four inches. Quit worrying."

The ringing of the doorbell came to his rescue. There was no question about our visitor's identity. We saw him peeking inside the front window: "Hey, Jeff!" The neighborhood gadabout was home from pre-school.

I got up to answer the door and, I swear to God, this is exactly what came out of his little mouth once he saw me:

"Hey, Nancy, put your pants on and come out here to see what I have!"

Good grief! Nothing like having a five-year-old give an honest critique of my shorts!

"These ARE my pants!" I said, wounded.

"Well, get out here and see what I have!"

---I think it's time to pack away the flowered shorts--permanently.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


There is a petrified zoo hanging around outside Casa de la Flaming Bore. Right now the numbers stand at four cats, three gorillas, two rabbits, and one turtle. None of them have names, but the favorite of the neighbor kids is the turtle.

I've lost track how many times they've hidden it from Big Bore this summer. ("Hey, let's hide the turtle from Jeff!") He originally placed it in the flower area around our elm tree. Then the kids moved it to the front bird bath. ("Look! It floats!") It has since travelled to the front ground cover, then the backyard coleus, underneath the coneflowers, then to the back bird bath, and now it's beneath a barberry bush. They've moved it so many times that the 5-year-old (no longer 4, as of last Sunday) forgot where he put it and had to go on a mad search yesterday.

It's a good thing turtles are slow, or we'd never be able to keep up with it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Good lord! When I stepped outside at 8 o'clock this morning, our front porch thermometer read 34 degrees! After a summer of over 60 days in the 100 degrees+ range, this threw my body into shock and I ran back inside to warm up.

"Where are my sweatpants?" I asked anyone who would listen. I rummaged through the closet and couldn't find where I'd stored them last spring, so I just put on my spotted-leopard flannel jammy pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and went back outside to suck in the cool air. I must be in Colorado.

I don't mind the heat so much, but the drought has been hideous. Every time clouds start forming, we get on Weather Spark or Weather Bug to watch the storms boil up all around us, only to have them give us the snub. We have cracks in our front yard so big that I think I'm in danger of slipping inside one and never being seen again. Saturday we got a few tiny sprinkles, but I got wetter when the little neighbor kid assaulted me with a spray bottle.

In the last few hours, the temp has risen almost 30 degrees, so I don't think I'm going to need to put out an All Points Bulletin yet for the sweatpants--but at least I can begin to think about cooler weather, watering less, and raking more. My weather calendar says that autumn is officially 17 days away and thunderstorms are in the forecast. I'll believe it when I see it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


This just in from the dumbo department: seems a man in Wichita contacted his favorite online hook-up service for a hooker to come (no pun intended) to his hotel room for some some sort of recreational companionship. Use your imagination. Apparently two-for-the-price-of-one showed up, he forked over $160.00, then changed his mind and decided he didn't want to hook up after all. The article didn't say what prompted the sudden change--maybe he was intimidated by a threesome, I don't know. Anyway, he asked for his money back.

"No refunds!" the lovely ladies of the evening informed him and walked out.

Now, you'd think the man would have just chalked this up to a lesson learned but, no, he called 9-1-1 to complain that he'd been given the shaft. And, course, he ended up being arrested on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute and hauled off to jail.

Big Bore was inclined to cry foul. "That's hearsay."

"No it's not. It's a confession straight out of his mouth," I said.

"But what if he just made it all up?"

"Well, I suppose anything is possible." Maybe he was tired of living in a ratty hotel and wanted to upgrade his accommodations to lock-up. Who knows. Next time he gets overcome by the desire to make a hook-up, however, I have a recommendation. Call for self-service. He'll be a lot better off. Hassle-free. It's cheaper and safer and will most likely keep him out of jail.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Last night I had the pleasure of visiting with some former students, and one of them referred to me as something I hadn't been called in twenty years--Coach. I wan't sure whether to laugh or cringe. You see, back in 1991 and '92 I was the lamest excuse for an assistant junior high volleyball coach that this town has ever seen.

I agreed to take on this position of athletic esteem because: 1. I was new to the school system and didn't know any better 2. the head coach was desperate for a helper and 3. I met the qualifications of having two legs and the ability to blow a whistle. Knowing how to play the game was immaterial.

Actually, I HAD played volleyball in Miss Mosby's jr. high gym class back in the mid-1960s. This was in the days when girls served underhanded and just pitty-patted the ball back and forth across the net. Nothing to it. Fast forward almost 30 years and, my, how the game had changed with interscholastic competition. Most of the girls wanted to serve the volleyball overhanded, like a rocket, and move the ball around with a bump, set, spike return that was guaranteed to intimidate the opponent into submission. I was way out of my league. About all I knew how to demonstrate was stretching and running warm-ups.

Fortunately, the former student I ran into last night seemed to have no recollection of what a lousy coach I was--or at least she didn't throw it up in my face.

"Remember the time when the zipper stuck in my skirt and you had to come to the locker room to rescue me?" she asked. We laughed. Oh, lord, do I remember that! I thought I'd have to call the Jaws of Life.

"And remember the game when I served the ball (underhanded) and it went up to the ceiling and back through the gym rafters?" Indeed, I do. The ball actually never touched a thing and landed on the opponent's side, remaining in play. Damnedest serve I'd ever seen.

I didn't tell her what I remember MOST about those two years of being the assistant VB minion, though: Coaching is hard work. After a day of teaching, I was ready to go home and relax before getting to the paper-grading grind. The last place I wanted to be was in a noisy gym with 30 girls for 90-minute practices, riding buses to games, and getting home late--since we always had to stay for the jr. high football games, of course. It was sensory overload for a 40+ year-old body that had never bumped and spiked a volleyball in her life.

After two years of this charade, and numerous chiropractic appointments, I left coaching to become the yearbook adviser. I had much more ability and confidence with this position since it didn't require wearing shorts, but it was just as challenging and dangerous--this time to my mental health. As far as I'm concerned, schools need to re-name those "extra-duty" jobs to "hazardous duty." If I had it to do all over again, I'd be wearing a life preserver.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Yesterday, the final question on "Jeopardy" was from that wacky category, eh, Canada, which opened up a wormy can of memories for The Flaming Bore.

"Dr. Maureen and I used to go to lots of baseball and hockey games," I told Big Bore, "and every time a Canadian team was in the mix, she would belt out the Canadian National Anthem like there was no tomorrow."

The song is shorter than the American National Anthem but sung with much more emotion and gusto, which Dr. M. never failed to inject. And, of course, being the daughter of a football coach, she had enough volume to reach even the most remote regions of the stadium or arena. I never joined in on her "O Canada" performances, preferring to be the sidekick, shaking my head and laughing.

Invariably, people sitting around us would ask Dr. Maureen if she was from Canada. Rather than blow up some ridiculous story, which I would have expected her to do, she was honest: "No, I just know the words to 'O Canada' and I like it better than our anthem."

I can't remember now what the Canada question was on "Jeopardy," but Big Bore and I both missed the answer. He guessed British Columbia and I picked New Brunswick, but the answer was Prince Edward Island. Rats. If Alex Trebek had said, "These are the last eight words of the Canadian National Anthem" then I would been triumphant.

"O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!!!" I belted out in my best, off-key operatic voice at the end of the quiz show.

Big Bore rolled his eyes. "Hanging out with Maureen and you must have been a real trip," he said.

Yeah. Sort of like putting your life in jeopardy. Double jeopardy.