Friday, July 30, 2010

I Feel I MUST Go to Antiques Roadshow

Apparently I'm ahead of my time. And by that I mean that I'm an old lady trapped in a young woman's body.

Jason and I have a new obsession: Antiques Roadshow. (I know you're laughing right now, but don't knock it 'til you try it.) I love the people who actually visit the Roadshow. They show up in their pleated-front khaki shorts, tall tube socks and velcro sandals and talk to some "expert" about a set of ancient Chinese jade sculptures their grandpa got when he traded a guy for a pack of Lucky Strikes while serving in the Korean War. I kid you not, that was a real one on last week's show. Grandpa hit paydirt with a jade set valued at (get this) $20,000. That poor little Korean man only wanted a smoke! He had no idea what he had in his possession and he let it go for some cheap cigs. Shame, shame. Here in the South, we know better than to get rid of great-grandma's china cabinet and silver set because no dollar amount is worth our family's history.

Last night's episode was particularly interesting. There was a chubby man who brought in a sofa that had been handed down through his family. He thought he'd get good news, but it wasn't worth squat. There was a bearded gentleman who had a Navy Colt revolver with the original firing pins, powder flask and velvet lined wooden box. Jackpot! Valued at $30,000! I nearly choked! But apparently Colt collectors are K-N-U-T-S (as my high school eco teacher Mr. Hinkle would say) and will pay major jack for items in "such pristine condition."

And then came a lady in a floppy hat. She conjured up visions of a 50-something Blossom Russo. And with her to the Antiques Roadshow she brings a blue vase she found at a yard sale for five bucks. I'm thinking to myself, "She got ripped off." This crooked blue vase was as ugly as homemade soap. The appraiser asks the history of how she acquired "the piece" and what she knows about it. (Obviously she didn't know much about it. Otherwise why would she be at Antiques Roadshow?)

So here's what we learned about this unfortunatley unattractive pottery:

It was made at Tulane's Newcomb College around 1925. We deduced this fact by the giant NC stamp on the bottom of the vase and because of the "swamp scene and full moon" depicted on it. We also learned that it was "thrown" by a man (can't remember his name) and painted by little Sally Irvine (her initials were on the bottom as well).

History from Tulane's website: "Newcomb Pottery is considered one of the most significant American art potteries of the first half of the twentieth century. Influenced by the English Arts and Crafts movement, Newcomb pottery was exhibited around the world, sold in shops on both coasts, and written about in art journals throughout the United States and Europe. Newcomb potters (always men) and designers (always women and girls) were awarded eight medals at international exhibitions before 1916."

This deformed blue vase that Mrs. Floppy Hat paid $5 for at some random yard sale is worth (drumroll) $3,000! I nearly fell off the couch! If I'd found something that ugly in my grandma's attic, it would have been doomed for the garbage can. I couldn't believe it.

Moral of the story: GO TO A YARD SALE! There are plenty of poor schmucks out there who don't know what they have on their hands! Don't you know whoever sold that thing was glad to get it off their hands at the time. They probably even chuckled to themselves as Floppy Hat walked away with it. "Huh. Sucker. That was a quick $5 we just made!" Now they must be kicking their own butts (that is, if they watched last night's Antiques Roadshow).

And if you don't think your neighbors are harboring any priceless treasures at their summer sales, hit up Fort Payne August 5-8 as the "World's Longest Yardsale" takes place. I can't imagine a 450-mile stretch of people's junk. But who knows? You might find yourself a true piece of American history. Happy hunting!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mama Needs a Vay-cay-shun!

What's worse than the sound of the alarm clock going off in the morning? How about waking up to a trail of lower-GI explosion left in the living room by your beloved bulldog? Oh yeah, that's worse. I'll take the alarm clock any day over that.

Did you know a dog could develop colitis? Funny...neither did I. But apparently it's not only possible, it has happened to my high-maintenance Sophie.

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "When it rains, it pours." Well, I've got one better. My daddy says, "If it ain't piss ants, it's cockroaches." After this past week, I'd have to say we have an infestation! If only poop were as easy to get rid of as a cockroach...

Bless her heart, when Sophie is dead and gone I swear I won't have so much as a goldfish living in my house! My new theory: Houses are for people and people only.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yes, but will I ever use this in the REAL world?

I don't know exactly how old I was when I started learning basic math skills. I suppose I learned to count somewhere around preschool. I remember practicing counting money in the first grade sitting next to Josh Moore (who was much cuter and more interesting than fake quarters). And I'm pretty sure multiplication tables came into play in about the 3rd grade.

I'm a product of the Morgan County Public School System, and yet, somehow, I can count all the way to 20 without consulting my fingers and toes! (This is in no way a slam to all the very fine educators that shaped my impressionable young mind throughout my school years.) For those of you who may have grown up near Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, I'm sure you learned to count even higher with all those extra digits!

At this point in my life, I couldn't tell you an x-axis from my elbow! Yes, I breezed through high school calculus. Why? Because I have a knack for retaining information for only as long as I need it. I could memorize a formula and regurgitate it for a test just long enough to make an A. Then it flew out of my mind faster than a cockroach scurrying away when someone turns on the light!

When the final semester of my senior year at the University of South Alabama in Mobile (pronounced Mow-Bee-Yul for you Yanks) rolled around, my advisor had some bad news. I was one math credit short, so I'd have to take a math class during what was supposed to be my "cruise control" semester. So, I did what any respectable college senior would do. I took statistics. Mistake, especially for the summer semester.

I rolled into the 8am statistics class on the first day only to be confronted by a 23-year-old excuse for a professor in a denim mini skirt and high heels. Everyone else in the class had the same glassy-eyed look on their face. It should've been relatively simple, right? "If you have 12 marbles in a bag, and Sally is dating Tom, and the sky is blue on Wednesdays, what is the probability you'll draw a yellow marble from the bag?" Well, Malibu Barbie's evil brunette twin made it way more complicated than it ever needed to be! Imagine the voice of your kindergarten teacher...that's how this lady talked. And my favorite all-time quote from her was, "This is soooo easy. I just don't understand why you all don't get it." All I can say is, thank the good Lord for study groups! I squeaked by and passed the class just in time to get that nice little piece of paper that cost me several thousand dollars (but proves to the world that I'm educated).

My question about math is this: Will I ever use this in the REAL world? I can't imagine a time since high school that I've ever had to plot a line on a graph or actually use Pi for ANYTHING. Utterly useless to me in my day-to-day. I couldn't rattle off the name of one single function (sorry Ms. Jester) and I don't really care to know the value of 'y' in an equation.

And I'm pretty sure that the one and only reason I learned anything about percentages was to figure out the sale price of items at a department store! However, that was more of a practical lesson instilled by my long line of shopaholics.

Moral of this somewhat lengthy story: unless it helps you figure out the final markdown price of that killer pair of shoes on the red-dot clearance table at the mall, you'll NEVER use it! Now, why do I have the sudden urge to go to Blue Ribbon Shoes?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Like most people raised out in the sticks, the men in my family embrace the hunter-gatherer role. So when I got a text message from my darling husband at 2pm yesterday that simply read, "Dinner at the Willis house," I unfortunately knew what was in store - wild game in some form.

My brother is seven years my junior and lives by the Duck Commander's motto: Arise. Kill. Eat. If there's an open season for it, he's got the ammo to handle the job. Squirrels fear him and ducks don't stand a flappin' chance. But on last night's dinner table was a deer he harvested this past winter. Now to be fair to the poor deer who sacrificed his life for my family's southern fried dinner, if it has even the slightest hint of an antler Jon Wesley Brasher will pull the trigger. He doesn't subscribe to the school of thought of taking the "grandfather buck" and letting the others grow to maturity. In fact, I'd be willing to be a new pair of shoes that the pubescent specimen in the cast iron skillet barely had time to grow chest hair, much less strut for the ladies, before Wes took him.

So crowded around the dinner table we have 9 people. We had to bring extra chairs from the kitchen table and sit elbow-to-elbow to make room. There's country fried deer steak, field peas, creamed potatoes, fresh tomatoes as big as a softball, and cathead biscuits with molasses. Anyone else might of thought they'd died and passed through the Pearly Gates, but a Southerner knows that this is simply what Wednesday night dinner ought to look like. Dinner passed without a hitch. The only interesting topic of note was whether or not using "city water" made a difference in the growth of nanny's cousin Janice's tomatoes. All decided that it must, in fact, contribute to their divine flavor, as none of us could recall a tomato that ever grew as fine from our meager NE Morgan Water Authority hoses. There was also a brief discussion about turducken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey) and how my hubby thought it'd be a good idea to have his own version: Dove-Duck-Goose. (Are you thinking of the children's game Duck-Duck-Goose? We all were and a nice laugh was had by all.) However, this will be unattainable until my poor husband actually kills a goose. The closests he's ever come is having a loaf of bread at Big Spring Park. And somehow I think the city of Huntsville would frown upon the clubbing of geese.

The conversation stopped short when Birdie decided she'd had enough of the peas and potatoes and threw her fork across the table. Mom took her to the porch swing so the rest of us could eat in peace. Nanny apologized for not having pie, but with mouths full of buttered molasses biscuits we all decided there was no need for the empty calories. When the plates were empty, we made our way to the living room.

The matriarch and patriarch took their places on the couch and in the recliner, respectively. And the rest of us took to the floor. Because let's be honest, when you eat a meal like that you just need to lie down and let it "settle." Meanwhile, Wes has fetched a stunning piece of jewelry from the rearview mirror of his pickup truck: a necklace made of parachute cord with six woodwinds (his waterfowl call collection) attached with keyrings. It was then that my precious little 14-month-old got her first lesson at calling wood ducks from Uncle Wes. It was indeed a proud moment for Unk and an entertaining one for the rest of the brood. I must say, I think she's a natural but I don't think Max-4 camo is really in her suggested color palette. With her skin tone, I'd say she's more of a spring or summer.

At 7:45, we'd had all the fun we could handle for one night. So we packed it up and headed home. It's nights like this one that make me proud to be from the South, where families are so close-knit that you still have to call your momma to let her know you made it home alright - even though it's only 12 miles down Alabama Highway 36 between our houses.

I hope you've enjoyed go call your momma and tell her you love her!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And Here We Go!

I know what you're thinking. How riveting can the life of a nearly 30, future soccer mom from the Heart of Dixie possibly be? And the honest-to-goodness truth is that on some days, it's as boring as watching the grass grow (but with this North Alabama heat, my grass is brown and dying).

Now with that said, some days are quirky. Some make you smile. Some make you cry. And some days just make you so mad you could take off your high heels and pearls and slap somebody across the face (like their momma should've done years ago).

I can't promise deep, insightful wisdom that will guide you through life's trials and temptations. As the words go from some gospel song I remember from my childhood is that "life is easy when you're up on the mountain" and I don't intend to take you to the mountaintop here! In case you're wondering, my mother played piano for a gospel quartet when I was a tot and I often piled into a full size van - the kind with a round table and blue velvet curtains in the back - as they traveled the Southeast to tiny churches for "singings."

I can, however, offer you a little bit of entertainment as I muddle through the day-to-day of my ordinary life as I see it: my View from the South.

I suppose this is the point where I tell you a little about myself. Quick stats: 27, wife and mother of one + a bulldog, Southern born and Southern bred (thank you Randy Owen). That's pretty much all you need to know at this point. I feel the rest will reveal itself as the journey continues.

In my opinion (and Lord, everybody has one) I'm the modern Southern Belle. No, I don't wear hoopskirts or make my dresses out of the green velvet drapes a la Miss O'Hara. But I do: 1) say "Well bless your heart" often, 2)know how to make chocolate gravy, 3) prefer SEC football over any other Saturday television programming, and 4) dress my daughter in something smocked every chance I get complete with a matching bow as big as her precious little head.

I look forward to sharing with you my experiences. Hope you enjoy!