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Mother Nature Pushes The Limit

October 3, 2013

When my husband and I purchased our home 17 years ago it was everything I wanted: nice size private wooded lot, koi pond, hardwood floors, three fireplaces, balconies, French doors, galley kitchen, big windows and a windowless basement where we could seek shelter during storms if needed. It is an island unto itself sitting on a little foothill within the city limits of Hudson; hence we have the benefits of city water, sewer, and natural gas, which is nice.

Every season brings beauty to the place. However, we have learned if you if you live in the woods you must adapt to Mother Nature for it is she who rules our little domain. We’ve had huge trees and limbs twist and snap off during several seasons of weird, stormy weather. Indeed, I have found myself sequestered in the basement with our two dogs and a flash light with extra batteries more than once. There’s a huge old oak tree right by the entrance to our storm shelter so if it ever succumbs to the winds and falls on the house we may be trapped in our underground lair for a while. We are prepared for that . . . I hope!

In the spring the birds nest in that old oak tree and acorns fall like rain in the fall. We try to avoid that area in autumn lest we be pummeled by the nuts that provide a grand buffet for our local squirrels. You have squirrels anywhere you have trees but ours seem to be a regiment of rodents led by some unknown high commander. We’ve gotten used to their illicit activities such as raiding the birdfeeders and teasing our small dog that goes berserk every time he sees one.

One year, when we actually had a cold winter, the koi pond froze completely over, thereby suffocating all our fish. The following spring it was tragic to peer into the pond, looking for signs of life and finding not one trace of the 15 or so fish we had before winter.

Mother Nature By ChewBaccaSauce

We had to restock the pond with newbies. The raccoons have been uninterested in our golden gems, but they are happy to belly up to any dish of dog food that has been left on the porch. We have had to humanely trap and relocate these critters a couple of times.

We’ve had a flying squirrel come down the chimney and there was a chipmunk living in the drain at the outside door of the basement for a while. I guess he wasn’t too fond of our Labrador trying to sniff him out so he vamoosed and a toad frog moved in.

Yep, you have to get used to reptilian creatures where we live. Summertime brings out little lizards that like to scurry across the porch and up the sides of the house and, recently, our resident black snake shed its skin in the bushes by the driveway. I know there’s been a black snake hanging out in the dense evergreen shrubbery by the house, I just don’t want to meet him personally! I am happy to say that he’s doing his job as we don’t seem to have any mice. So, according to my husband, the snake can stay. (Although I really think I could tolerate the mice without the benefit of their predator, Mr. Black Snake!)

I have graciously endured all the things Mother Nature has brought our way but the coup de gras was a recent invasion of bees. The vicious insects found a tiny hole between the fascia board and soffit of the house this summer and whiled away their days feverishly building a nest.

Unbeknownst to me, I walked into the bathroom after a long workday to be greeted by a swarm of bees flying all around me. They had bored a hole right through the sheetrock of the ceiling. Ack! Ack! Ack! Double Ack! I got the heck out of Dodge and slammed the door behind me. I’m allergic to bee stings. I called for my hubby to come quick. “What? What? What is it?” he said. “Whatever it is Levi didn’t do it.”

Levi is our Lab who posts a lookout at the bathroom window every week day afternoon watching for me to come home from work. Sometimes he’ll unintentionally topple over a potted plant due to his size.

This problem was far greater than a toppled African violet. The hubby took a look, uttered a choice word or two, and quickly slammed the door. He’s allergic to bee stings also. Immediately we began to ponder our options. Two large cans of Raid later the bees are gone but we are still left with a hole in the sheet rock that will have to be made much larger to retrieve the nest.

Here’s the question: Would I live anywhere else? Nah, no way, I love our home, but I need to have a serious chat with old Mother Nature about the object of this game she’s playing and request she keep the critters outside the house so the humans and the dogs can live peacefully on the inside.


Jeffers Theatre Renovation Shows

‘The Bright Side of Life’

September 19, 2013

I have to say, there is no better musical comedy for a theatre to produce than Monty Python’s Spamalot if you want to draw a crowd. It’s a spectacular choice, and to present it as part of Hickory Community Theatre’s Gala grand opening of the newly renovated Jeffers Theatre on Friday the 13th (of September) shows a very healthy marketing strategy. The lobby of the small historic theatre was fairly bursting with patrons waiting to see the hilarious show and new renovations to the theatre.

Having been a newspaper theatre critic for a number of years in the past, I was asked to write about the changes inside the theatre.

HCT’s Gala celebrating SPAMALOT & the theatre’s renovation drew a huge crowd.

The moment I stepped across the threshold into the dimness of the theatre, nostalgia swept over me. I have always loved the classic design of this theatre, which is housed in Hickory’s Old City Hall building, and on this particular opening night I could literally smell the fresh paint. In fact, I overheard someone say, “The painters just left.” I loved it! That lovely aroma mingled in nicely with a live performance.

A group of women were gathered in front of the ladies’ restroom, and from the other side of the hall I could hear their excited chatter about how lovely the newly renovated restrooms are. Of course I had to check that out, as it’s a personal habit to drop into the restroom at least once during every production. This part of the theatre’s renovation was graciously provided by renovation campaign volunteers, donors, and the City of Hickory. Compared to the old restroom, this refurbished one now has the appearance of the quaint rest lounges seen in theatres of old. Quality hand towels placed in woven baskets are set atop the new stone counter tops. The sinks and all the fixtures gleamed with newness and, to be honest, had it not been so crowded in there I would have lingered longer. All it needs is one small upholstered chair. Sometimes older citizens need a soft place to perch while waiting for a stall. Overall, the restroom’s much needed facelift is a winner and a nice place to freshen one’s lipstick and exchange pleasantries.

The Jeffers Theatre renovation is in the first phase of a multi-year plan to restore and update the interior. The City of Hickory has committed resources to update the first floor and basement restrooms and install an elevator to reach all three floors of the building.

Artistic Director Livingstone, M.A.D. Emeritus Jeffers & M.D. Rambo

The theatre’s capital campaign committee has raised more than one million dollars for the rest of the project.

It’s good news that Spamalot music director Jeff Hartman and musicians (who were superb for this show) are now in a real orchestra pit with the updated sound technology they so richly deserve.

I enjoyed settling into a comfortable, new, burgundy-upholstered seat while listening to the groovy sounds of the reeds tuning up. The sound technology alone has moved into this century while I was having a “time out” from local theatre. There are also new digital floor lights to help guide patrons in and out of the theatre when the lights have been dimmed for the show.

I had the honor of a second-row seat for this production. It was the perfect place to soak in the new color scheme of the theatre.

Shown here enjoying the success of Hickory Community Theatre’s Gala are HCT Board President John Brinkley and Karin Koval, a
designer who worked on the theatre.

The lush, forest green carpet with its pattern of mellow gold swirls and florets is a perfect complement to the green walls and magnificent, muted gold stage curtain.

The night was hectic and loaded with excitement and, while I didn’t get to speak in depth to Managing Director John Rambo, I did get to shake his hand and appreciate all that he was keeping track of. Artistic Director Pamela Livingstone has helped create a new persona for the theatre that is classic and inviting.

The amount of work that went into this opening night was evident and perfectly executed. The rest of the HCT staff is to be credited as well. They are: Administrative Director, Christine Stinson; Technical director, John Smith; Managing Artistic Director Emeritus and the theatre’s namesake, Charles E. Jeffers; and last, but certainly not least, Housekeeping, Patti Fenick.

Designer Elizabeth Atkins, who also worked on the theatre’s design.
Photos by John Koval

It’s a good feeling to know Hickory’s beautiful little theatre is excelling in its progression. And, while my initial assignment was not to review this production of Spamalot, I can tell you dear readers, it received a very well-deserved standing ovation. Opening night was a major success for all involved, and I left Hickory’s well loved community theatre whistling and singing the Spamalot ‘anthem,’ “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.”

Theatre photos courtesy of John Koval.

A Raised Glass to Schoep!

The Dog I Loved But Never Met

August 18, 2013

“Buddy I coulda gone that extra mile for an extra bark or an extra smile ‘cause I never felt so free It was just my dog and me.”

Taken from lyrics for “Just My Dog and Me” by John Hiatt

Some would say he was “just a dog,” but for hundreds of thousands of people from the far flung corners of the globe, Schoep, a smallish mutt of German Shepherd extraction, was not only his owner’s dog, he became the dog of the year, the one that everyone who is a “dog person” came to love. He was the underdog, the quaintly lovable pooch with one ear turned down and the other standing up and an undeniable cockeyed smile that revealed a personality so enchanting even “cat people” loved him. And when I say he was loved, he was and still is ENORMOUSLY loved, most certainly by me.

Schoep was rescued from an animal shelter as an abused pup by Bayfield, Wisconsin, resident John Unger and his then fiancee. The relationship dissolved and, devastated, Unger contemplated suicide. His little buddy was there at the time, sitting right by his side as Unger was pondering diving headlong into the breakwater boulders of the Milwaukee Marina, where the two were living at the time.

His owner credits the dog with saving his life by snapping him out of the will to die. The pooch was looking at him, as if to say, “If you go, who will take care of me?” That look, and the unspoken words between he and the dog gave Unger the strength to press on in life.

Schoep, forever in our hearts.

Many of you may know the rest of story as the result of the now-famous photo taken by Hannah Stonehouse. It is timeless. In it Unger is seen soothing the 19-year-old arthritic dog to sleep on his shoulder as he stands chest-deep in the water of Lake Superior. Suspending Schoep in water to take the pressure off his aching joints was the best way Unger knew to relieve him of pain long enough for the dog to relax and fall asleep, as Schoep’s pain made it difficult for him to sleep otherwise.

It was karmic – the image of pure trust, loyalty, faith, kindness and love. It was the perfect hour of a perfect day when an ordinary guy and his beloved companion were captured by the divine intervention of the most amazing photograph taken by a small town photographer. It seems it was simply meant to be. The end result was, thanks to social media, instantaneously known as “going viral” when Stonehouse posted the image she had taken that day on her Facebook page.

Unger thought at the time that his dear companion was going to have to be put down soon, and this would be the photo he wanted to have to remember him by. He could no longer afford veterinary care for the aging dog and the time had come when each day the two had together might be the last.

From going viral on Facebook to making the evening news all across the nation and beyond, the photo of Schoep and John sharing a peaceful moment in Lake Superior on that summer’s eve created a rampant stirring of hearts and generosity. Soon, without any solicitation, folks were sending the funding needed for the elderly dog’s care to the veterinary office where Schoep was a patient. Very quickly there were enough donations to take care of the dog’s vet bills for the rest of his natural life. Hence, the Schoep Legacy Fund was created. The money covered the cost of laser treatments to all his joints, food, pain medication and chondroitin.

From August 2012 through July 17, 2013, John shared his life with Schoep on his Facebook page. We saw Schoep on a magnificent journey through the last year of his life. News of Schoep was posted almost daily through the year. There are 300-plus photos depicting the tenderness of affection between the two. To date, Schoep and John have garnered more than 317,800 “likes” on their page.

Aware the inevitable might come any day I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me as I read the news in Unger’s post of July 18th. Along with a photo of Schoep’s single paw print in the sand were the accompanying words: “I breathe but I can’t catch my breath … Schoep passed yesterday. More information in the days ahead.” As I read the words tears were running down my cheeks and for the next few moments I could hardly catch my own breath.

We Facebook followers had come to love Schoep more and more with every passing day since he made his big debut in Stonehouse’s now famous photograph. Unger would entertain us with his veterinary updates and news of how the days were going. We saw man and his best friend through almost an entire year of activities, most of them were written up briefly with various photos of Schoep in the lake, Schoep receiving laser treatments for his arthritis at the vet’s office, Schoep at Bayfield’s Annual Apple Fest and Schoep walking the fields around his home. There was Schoep and John filming a commercial about a pet adoption sponsored by a nearby car dealership. We saw Schoep visiting the two mules, Abby and Hoffman, who lived on the farm where Unger was caretaker. At Christmas Unger posted a photo of him and the dog wearing Santa hats, as the snow peppered down on the deck outside their cottage. We saw them through the long Wisconsin winter and into the spring of the year. But, alas, Schoep was not coping very well when heat of summer came ‘round and finally, the intrepid dog gave up the ghost.

We came to love Unger also, for he has shown scores of people whom he will never personally meet the true meaning of trust, kindness, faith, love, and gratitude for every day he got to spend with his dog as a result of Schoep’s Legacy Fund. I grieve for his loss. It was a reminder to me, as a dog owner, to hug my own two canines a little more often and to look into their faces every day so I will remember them for the rest of time. I will love them without exception and kiss them voraciously while they are here on this earth. I do it more than ever now, as Schoep has shown us all what the love of a good dog is and can be.

It is with great faith that through this exceptional year of growing to love a dog I never met I blow kisses to heaven for Schoep now. It is without fail that he most certainly has reached his divine destination. He’s keeping company with the best of them while still guiding Unger from the great beyond to pursue his life with joy in the knowledge that, while his beloved “boy” may be gone he will not soon be forgotten.

It’s a given that Schoep wasn’t a pedigree, but he certainly took a far superior blue ribbon as “Best of Show” in the arena of everyday life. In an interview during the “early days” of Schoep’s popularity, Unger was quoted as saying, “You give love and that love will return ten-fold.” What a profound statement that turned out to be.


This column is dedicated to the memory of Schoep (June 15, 1993 – July 17, 2013), and in honor of John Unger.

The Graduate

June 27, 2013

Around the first of June I sent a graduation card to a young man who was born the first year my husband and I moved to our current home in Hudson. I know it sounds a bit cliché but it really does seem like yesterday instead of 17 years ago.

I generally scribble a little some-un, some-un in every card I send. As I pondered what to write to Gabe as he begins this new adventure in his life I was tempted to write the following:

Hey kid (I know you don’t think you’re a kid but comparatively you are), I hope you enjoy the next couple of decades of your life because they will fly by at warp speed. People will pass in and out of your life. Some will be the fair weather kind of folks who only hang out with you when times are good and others will be your friends through thick ‘n’ thin for life. You’ll have girlfriends on and off until you meet “the one” you’ll eventually marry. Hopefully she will have both style and substance enough to be your partner in your life’s journey. As you settle down, you’ll have a mortgage you can call your very own. You may have children. In fact, you may have more children than you ever dreamed you would (hey, it happens). There will be many happy occasions to celebrate from here on until you get to be about 50. (Yeah, yeah, I know it seems like 50 is light years away for you right now, but trust me it will be smacking you on the back of the head before you know it!)

You’ll watch your children grow from infants into little people and then teenagers with minds of their own. You may have to pay for vacation trips, braces, dance classes, baseball uniforms, music lessons, prom dresses, contact lenses, cars, computers—anything you can think of that your children may want or need. Before you know it your own kids will be graduating high school!

You’ll go to work, come home, go to work, come home, etc. until you reach retirement age. Yup, kiddo, that day will come. It’s a good thing you learned how to hunt and fish at a young age because by the time you hit your “golden” years you may have to forage for your own food and learn holistic ways to stay healthy because Social Security and Medicare may no longer exist.

By the way, I don’t know why they call them “golden years.” Sometimes they aren’t really too bright, they may be a bit tarnished even.

The day will come when you and your wife will keep the grandchildren every now and then and you’ll regale them with stories about the good ol’ days. At that point, you’ll probably wonder where the good ol’ days went. That’s just it, kid, enjoy your youth because some of the best days you are having right now will turn into the “good ol’ days” some 30 years from now.

Do all the leaping, jumping, running, hiking, and camping you want right now because your knees, back, and hips will have an uncanny way of locking up on you further down the road. By that time, two of your most favorite possessions will be a heating pad and an ice bag. You’ll begrudge anyone who dares to sit in your well-worn recliner and you’ll find you need a pair of reading glasses to keep handy in every room.

You’ll enjoy the company of an old hunting dog as much or more than you do most folks. And, about the only time you’ll actually move fast is when the laxative kicks in ‘cause you like meat and taters a lot more than broccoli and cauliflower.

Don’t fret though boy (yep, you’ll always be a boy to me) the destination really will be worth the journey and, believe me when I say: the journey is pretty dang short when all is said and done. Heh, heh, as I sit here in my well-worn recliner writing this to you now I just want to let you know I would have sent this card sooner but I couldn’t figure out where I left my eyeglasses. I tried to get up to look for them but I had an old hunting dog sitting on my feet holding me hostage for some beef jerky. I finally gave up trying to get the big lug off my feet because he was keeping them nice and toasty. So I put the card aside, fell asleep and totally forgot about it. I’ve contracted a case of CRS (Can’t Remember Sh-t) ever since I got my first AARP card in the mail.

Now . . . where was I??? Oh yeah, the next day I finally remembered the card. I tucked a check for $50 into the envelope but I just didn’t have the heart to write all that stuff I had planned to say. Everyone’s journey in this life is his or hers alone. I didn’t want to depress my young buddy as he has the world at his feet and he’s like a young bull coming out of the gate. So I figured, aside from the cash, the best verbiage I could give in observance of the boy’s high school graduation was the following:


May the wind always be at your back as you sail into the future. Things are going to happen in your life exactly as they are meant to, not one moment sooner, nor one moment later than the good Lord intends. Be hopeful. Be patient. Be open. Be encouraging. Be honest. Be peaceful. Be forgiving. Be accepting. And, always remember karma is everywhere you’re going to be.

Wishing you the best always! Love, Sara

Peace, mates! Seize the day!

Seeking Shelter

June 6, 2013

“Oh a storm is threat’ning

My very life today

If I don’t get some shelter

Oh yeah I’m gonna fade away”

“Gimme Shelter” by Mick Jagger/Keith Richards

As long as I live I will never forget one fateful day in September 1989. I was a newlywed at the time and I, my husband, and our beloved dog and cat, had settled into a comfortable life in a small brick home in Hickory.

We had honeymooned in the historic district of Charleston, SC, in July of that year. I was in awe of the cobblestone streets, old churches, and wonderful historic homes along the battery, which faces the harbor. Each house was grand and the exteriors were all painted different pastel colors. When viewing this area from a boat in the harbor it wasn’t hard to deduce why that line of residences is known as “Rainbow Row.”

I was truly grateful to have gotten to see this magnificent city because on September 21, 1989, Hugo, a Category 4 hurricane, with top winds reaching up to 160 miles per hour, came crashing right through Rainbow Row and the rest of the beautiful city.

As it turned out, Hugo did something unexpected. The old boy ravaged the sweetest part of coastal South Carolina, moved across parts of its sand hills region, then made a hard right turn and steamed toward Hickory and western North Carolina, then traveled on through the far western tip of southern Virginia, West Virginia and maintained a direct course for New England.

I remember the night before the storm I went outside to swing in the hammock and unwind from the work day. My body is freakishly sensitive to changes in the barometric pressure and I was getting a serious vibe of things yet to come. The cat had started acting strange as well.

Hurricane Hugo, 1989

I knew from having lived with her for 10 years that her odd behavior indicated a distinct change in the weather. The air that night was as hot as a gas oven and dead calm. TV weather forecasters had alerted the viewing area to possible bad storms and heavy rain the next day. I got up from my repose and began to move trash cans and lawn furniture onto the carport, as close to the house as I could get them. I secured anything I thought would be caught up in the wind and blown around.

That being done I walked back into the house with a sense we were in for more than just a heavy storm. “What ya been doing?” my husband asked. I told him why it had taken me so long to come back into the house. “I don’t know what’s coming our way, but it’s going to be bad,” I said. “The hair is literally standing up on the back of my neck.”

At about 5 a.m. the next morning I heard the faint roar of a train in the distance. It was eerie, especially since we didn’t live near any train tracks. The rain had already begun. I got up to crack all the windows a bit. This woke my husband up and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I had heard the roaring and thought that by cracking the windows it would keep the house from imploding in case of a tornado. “Wha??? Uh, Okay...” he said groggily. He rolled over and went back to sleep. The sound was getting louder so I climbed out of bed again. I put my jeans and T-Shirt on, stuffed my keys, some cash, driver’s license, MasterCard and health insurance card in my pockets, and then plunked back down in the bed and pulled up the covers. By this time my husband was fully awake. “What are you doing in bed with your clothes on?” he asked. I said, “Look, if we get hit by the hurricane and various twisters that come along with it, I don’t want to be the one caught barefooted and wrapped in only a blanket standing outside in the rubble when the WBTV satellite truck comes to cover the damage for the nightly news!”

As the storm got closer we could see oak trees beginning to bend low to the ground. An entire grove of pine trees across the street was swaying wildly back and forth and in one fell swoop they snapped like toothpicks. I ran outside to get the dog who was so scared he ran from his lot to the carport in the blink of an eye. The rain was torrential. We dried off the dog then went into the house to find the cat and figure out where the safest place would be to ride out the storm. We didn’t have a basement so we closed all the doors to the hall way and huddled together there as the storm came over us. We prayed. We could hear trees snapping all around us as the roaring storm bore down hard over our little abode. It seemed to last forever. It finally passed and we were expecting the worst when we went outside to survey the damage. Massive old trees had been uprooted in the back yard and all around in the neighbor’s yards, too. Trees and downed power lines blocked the streets so travel was nearly impossible. We had no power and no water but we did have each other and by the sheer grace of God our little brick house withstood the weather. I have never been so scared before or since that dreadful day.

Alas, the season of hurricanes and tornadoes is with us once again. When we moved up the road to Hudson a few years ago the first thing we told the realtor we wanted was a house with a basement – no exceptions. Fortunately we have a basement with no windows and have designated the safest corner of it for us and our two dogs to go to should we have a need to seek immediate shelter from drastic weather. We keep our camping equipment such as a Coleman gas stove and battery powered lanterns, glow sticks, and flashlights in that area. We try to make sure there are fresh batteries kept in the vicinity. We have kitchen implements stored in a plastic container and well stocked shelves of food and water as well.

Hurricane Hugo taught us a valuable lesson. My husband and I refresh each other on what to do in the event of severe weather every year about this time so we will know exactly what to do and where to go when the local weather forecaster alerts us to seek shelter immediately.

I feel it’s most important to have some form of identification on your being in case you are trapped by fallen debris and are one of the storm victims who are to be identified for rescue or recovery. That’s why my pockets are usually full of items of identification.

Destructive weather has already begun in the Midwest. Who is to say when our time will come? Discuss with your family where you would go and what you would do in case of a severe weather alert. Make a plan to keep your house pets safe as well.

I once thought hurricanes and tornadoes were highly unlikely for those of us living in the FOCUS reading area. But then again, I also thought we’d never put a man on the moon either.

Take care, be safe mates!

Lipstick, Life and the Queen

May 2, 2013

Lipstick is more than a cosmetic product containing pigments, oils, waxes and emollients. It is the one and only thing I never, ever go out of the house without. If I don’t have my lips on I ain’t traveling.

Lipstick is perhaps one of the oldest cosmetics known to woman (and man – Marilyn Manson, an American rock musician known for his controversial stage persona, is a prime example). In Medieval Europe it was banned by the church and was thought to be an incarnation of Satan. Cosmetics were reserved for prostitutes. Lipstick gained popularity in 16th century England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when the fashion for women was to have red lips and a white face, which brings to mind a visual of Japanese Kabuki makeup. Of course, by the 19th century the Brits had done an about face, promoting the idea that obvious use of cosmetics was not considered acceptable for a “respectable” woman, alluding to their use primarily by prostitutes. For true natural beauties I’m sure that was not a problem, but to be seen in public with no cosmetic enhancement at all probably left many a “plain Jane” out in the cold.

Leave it to the French perfumers to invent the first commercial lipstick in 1884. Guerlain, a French cosmetic company, began to manufacture lipstick for mass consumption the same year. American women did not come to view lipstick as acceptable until 1912.

Personally, lipstick caught my fancy in 1960. I had seen my beautiful young mother twirling what looked like a big red crayon up out of a gold tube and artfully apply it to her lips each time she headed out into public. She never left the house without it. She would always say, “We need to look presentable in public. You never know who we may run into. We may see the Queen of England today.” I would of course believe her. As we piled into our old Plymouth to run errands I would pester her. “When are we going to see the Queen mama? Huh? Will we have tea with the queen today? Huh? Mama…Mama…can I ask Santa for a crown like the one the Queen wears? Will she be in her royal carriage Mama?” (That’s the kind of conversation you get when you try to dupe a 4-year-old.)

One day whilst mom was occupied with her daily household chores I happened to spot the gold tube of lipstick on the dresser in mom and dad’s bedroom. Well mates, the temptation was oh so very great for one little Sara Elizabeth Mawyer. I trotted right over to the dresser, snatched the tube up with my grubby paws, twirled the stick up and slathered it round and round all over my lips and portions of my nose and chin as well. Needless to say I looked like a midget clown.

I was so enamored of the cosmetic I thought I might try my hand at doing a little artwork on the wall with it. That’s about the time I got b-u-s-t-e-d. My mom came through the bedroom door with a laundry basket in her arms and when she saw me her jaw dropped and her eyes got big as saucers. She moved toward me so fast I don’t think her feet even hit the floor. She snatched the lipstick out of my hand and surveyed the damage. The carefully angled tip end of the red stick had been obliterated. Back then I had no idea what the big deal was. Now, of course, many years and hundreds of tubes of lipstick later I know you don’t mess around with the tip end of anyone’s lipstick except your own.

She smacked my hands until they stung and uttered one sentence over and over: “Wait until your daddy gets home!” Times were tight and she only had that one tube of lipstick so I was sent to purgatory until Dad got home. The afternoon turned to early evening when I heard the sound of wide white wall tires pull into the drive. Dad came in the house wearing his business suit and a tired, workday expression. He hardly made it past the front door before hearing all about the great lipstick debacle. I was subjected to a mild lecture and from that point on the lipstick was kept out of my reach on a tall chest of drawers.

I’m a semi-old lady now and I can have as many tubes of lipstick as I like. Some women indulge in shoes, purses or jewelry but the allure of lipstick has always been my weakness. When I need a little pick-me-up I’ll indulge in a tube of lip color. And, the choices are endless: Simply Spice, Perfect Plum, Red Brick, Pink Bouquet, Mystery Mauve, Rich Ruby, Velvet Vixen, Caressing Coral, Red Embrace, Uptown Pink, etc., etc. I have a bathroom drawer full of tubes of lipstick, each one to be used for a special occasion or season. Ironically, I don’t own a single tube of red lipstick. While I loved the way it looked on me at the age of four, it really clashes with my complexion now.

Sometimes I’ll spot elderly women who love their lipstick as much as I love mine. Funny thing is they seem to apply it in much the same way I did at the age of four because they have a hard time coloring inside the lines I suppose. “That’s me when I get to be their age,” I think. If I live to be 100 and never go any farther than the front porch of the rest home, I’ll still have my lips “sticked.” After all, you never know who you may meet!


New Year Checks & Balances

January 10, 2013

The year 2013 has arrived and I wasn’t even done with 2012 yet! I swear it seems the faster I go the slower I get. Yep, around December 28th I felt the hand of Father Time pressed firmly on my backside pushing me toward January 1, 2013, whether I wanted to go or not.

As a wizened AARP membership cardholder I have found down through the ages that is best not to make rock solid resolutions about what I will or will not do in the new year. I certainly don’t make any proclamations written in stone because when they don’t gel by the end of the year I am both disappointed and embarrassed. It’s never a good idea to say something like, “Yeah, this year I’m going to lose 100 lbs. and learn how to play classical piano.” It just simply is not going to happen.

Instead, I prefer to pussy foot around with my so-called resolutions by putting them into two categories: 1) Things I’d like to do and 2) Things I’ll try not to do. It’s a system of checks and balances, more or less. (It’s often less and very seldom more!)

The things I’d like to do are as follows:

Make homemade bread.

Return to my home town of Charlottesville, Virginia, to take photographs on the grounds of the University of Virginia and other historic sites.

Write more in my journal, blog and for publication.

Discover the joy of French cooking. Find myself a Frenchman (or woman) who teaches it.

Use proper English more frequently, ya’ll.

Refer to Mopeds as lively little gadabout scooters.

Use the library instead of buying paperbacks I can ill afford and have very little space for.

Ice cream...more, more, more!

Eat more salads.

Buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

Learn how to better use my home protection device instead of relying on my Louisville Slugger.

Not lose my temper over dumb stuff that doesn’t matter in the long run anyway.

Use better posture.

Eat a better diet.

Things I’d like to try not to do are as follows:

Secretly make fun of people who wear shorts, flip-flops, and a hoodie sweatshirt to pump gas on a frigid January day.

Use the “F” word, the “D” word, the “A” word, and the “B” word. (You can figure those out on your own because they would be censored here.)

Use my middle finger as a form of sign language.

Eliminate two of the most overused adjectives in today’s vocabulary when describing anything considered good: “awesome,” and “super.”

Refer to Mopeds as “liquor cycles.”

Eat less ice cream.

Run away from the world.

Use my home protection device for frivolous things such as every time I lose my temper over dumb stuff.
Sit in the floor Indian-style so long my toes go numb.

Consume fewer processed foods and diet sodas.

Among a lot of other things I’m planning to do this year is to be on time; be here now; and remember that everywhere I go, there I am. I’d also like to work on the problem of procrastination. As you can tell, that one is already slipping away from me, as I should have submitted this column the last week in December, 2012.

Also, I’m stealing a line from one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs as my credo for the new year: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need.”

Okay friends…Hut! Hut! Hold up. I used to refer to you gentle readers as “friends,” but that reference has been consistently borrowed out from under me. Hmm…what should I call you as we journey together into the new year? I think I’ll go way, way back and pluck one from my British heritage. Henceforth you shall be known to me as mates.

I’m going to wrap it up here with a quote from Sydney Smith: “Resolve to make at least one person happy every day, and then in 10 years you will have made 3,650 persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment.”

I could not have said it better myself. Come to think of it mates, forget all that stuff you just read before you got to Smith’s quote. I think I’m just going to stick with the “make one person happy” route. It’s a lot easier than messing around with best laid plans that may never reach fruition!

Happy new year and peace be with you always!



Sara Mawyer 2012

Sara Mawyer 2011

Sara Mawyer 2010

Sara Mawyer 2005-2009




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