Thursday, March 15, 2012

Treasure Amongst the Hollies

Earlier this week I helped with the landscaping at our local bridge club. The club building is a utilitarian cement block structure landscaped with mature holly bushes. I spent a couple of hours crawling around the bushes pulling weeds and picking up debris. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable.

Behind one of the bushes and up against the wall, I spied a black piece of diaphanous material partially covered with dirt and pea gravel. I gently tugged it out into the open, shook it, and discovered the gauzy fabric was a beaded halter top.

I hung it on the rail of the front porch and crawled back under the bushes to consider the potential of this semi-buried treasure as I finished weeding. The man who was working with me happened to walk by just as I finished.

"Look what I found." I said and held up the halter. He started laughing and slapping his knee. "Thank God." he said. "It's hot today, and when I saw that hanging on the rail, I was afraid you had brought it and planned to change into it after while."

I'm positive he used the word "afraid". My ego was bruised.

Back home, I soaked the delicate garment briefly in cold water in the mop bucket, and then gently rinsed it. It only lost three or four beads in the process. I had it hanging on the drying rack before my husband came home. I didn't show him my prize. I was still mulling over what I wanted to do with it and nursing my wounded pride.

The halter was dry the next morning. I brought it in the house with the morning newspapers. "Look what I found back of the hollies at the bridge club." I said to my long suffering spouse. He looked up over the top of the Wall Street Journal. Fully clothed in gown and denim robe, I held the garment up to my chest to give him the full effect. He paused a moment and then asked, "What is that? A bib?"

His response was worse than the gardeners. I'll admit the garment was made for someone of less generous proportions than mine, but nobody ever beaded a bib.

I consulted several of the Powers That Be at the bridge club. The suggestion was made to put the halter in the club's lost and found along with all the misplaced scorecards, gloves, pencils and sunglasses. It will be interesting to see how long it will take for someone to find it and to hear the reaction.

As always,

City Mouse Marries Country Mouse

My name is Jackie Lee Ellis. I grew up on a cattle ranch in central Texas and married a man from the big city of Memphis, TN.

My beloved is a total urbanite. To his credit, he knows chocolate milk does not come from brown cows but has no knowledge whatsoever about plants or how anything grows.

I love gardening. In our house, we call it "digging in the dirt." My husband sees no need to maintain the lawn. It's just grass and grows of its own volition as far as he is concerned.

The crowning glory of our first house was a magnificent two story tall magnolia in the front yard. Some of my fondest memories of the 1970's were spent working around it. With the baby in the playpen in its shade and her toddler sister playing nearby, I trimmed hedges. The process was simple: trim for two minutes, put down the clippers and chase the toddler, trim for three minutes and tend to the baby. It wasn't a bad way to spend an afternoon.

I also planted spring bulbs and annuals in the front beds. Petunias were my best "crop". My spouse begrudged any funds spent on gardening. "We have no money for mulch." he declared.

The beds needed mulching badly. An elderly man with a pickup truck load of mulch went door to door in our neighborhood selling really rich, black mulch. I weakened and bought the least amount I could to cover the two bald beds in front of the house. The man reassured me the mulch did not come from the stockyards. I knew he was lying, and he knew I knew he was lying.

Our family went out for sandwiches that evening. It was spring. We left the windows over the newly covered beds open a couple of inches. It drizzled just enough while we were away for the stockyard aroma to permeate the entire house.

My husband tends to be a bit dramatic. His reaction to this earned him the "Best Dramatic Performance of the Day" award. Only he would ask, "What is that smell?"

I thought it was pretty obvious and gave the most outrageous, sarcastic reply I could think of on the spur of the moment. "Once a year for about eight hours when the magnolias are first in bloom, they can occasionally give out noxious fumes."

He believed me! When he pulled out the directory to call the tree surgeon to have the tree removed, I had to confess. It's one thing for me to know how gullible he is and quite another for him to flaunt it outside the family.

That incident has become a benchmark in our relationship. I'll explain something and get the skeptical response, "Are you sure that's not another magnolia story?"

As always,
Jackie Lee

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Interview

In high school I belonged to the Future Business Leaders of America. I participated in the group because the typing teacher who sponsored it was one of my favorite teachers.

The meetings were held once a month before school. I depended on the bus for transportation back and forth to school. One spring morning the bus was somewhat delayed, and I slipped in the meeting a little late to learn that our group was responsible for the next month's general assembly for the entire student body.

There was no discussion. The teacher announced we were going to demonstrate the correct and incorrect way to interview for a job. She went on to declare I was to open the program as the bad example.

The assignment was a no brainer. It was an easy assignment. My granny made all my clothes back then. She had an unfortunate sense of color and was addicted to the remnant table at the fabric store. This is how I wound up with a sheath dress made of drapery fabric. Drapery fabric isn't made to be washed regularly. It shrank every time it got wet.

So I wore the sheath with big flowers for the assembly. My brown hair was stuffed under a puffy white wig. I put on every piece of jewelery I owned; used a trowel to put on my makeup; and stuffed an entire package of chewing gum in my mouth. I also wore my first pair of high heels.

I made my entry from the audience by wobbling up a short series of steps to the stage with my back to the audience. Some boy in the audience made a remark about my rear that prompted my brother to stand up and announce "That's my sister."

I smacked gum through the interview and asked about the pay and vacation without inquiring about the duties required for the position. I may even have sat on the corner of the interviewer's desk.

I didn't stay to hear the correct way to interview. I was too anxious to wash my face and change my clothes. I passed the vice-principal in my rush to the girls' room. "You're hired." he said.

As always,
Jackie Lee