Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prom: 1977

It may surprise my readers to know that Betty was not always the beauty she is now. These things take time and attention. This means that in high school Betty was still forming into the attractive butterfly you see now. Unfortunately, my fellow classmates of the male variety did not appreciate the larval stage through which I was passing.

The all-important Prom was approaching. In the vending machine of possible dates for prom, I was not the high end snack, the exotic bag of Funyuns, the popular Snickers, nor the fun pack of mini-doughnuts. Alas, I was the off-brand of Life Savers called "Five Flavors" on the bottom row. The dusty ones. The stale ones. The item in the vending machine that you pick only if you are short of money, desperate and perhaps in a desolate, fluorescent-lighted waiting room at the hospital at 3 am awaiting the impending death of a loved one and it's the only thing left in the vending machine.

OK, OK, it wasn't that bad, but as the days to prom clicked by, it felt like that.

My fellow female classmates were all getting snapped up by the limited number of boys in our class. Now, keep in mind that our entire graduating class consisted of 27 people and most of us had gone through all twelve years of school together. It was just not a good situation. I kept waiting for my personal dream boat to ask me, but he had not taken any interest in me the entire six years that I had thrown myself in front of him. He had not even succumbed to the militaristic charms of my band uniform nor the allure of my prestige as vice president of the Foreign Exchange Club.

So there I was in the hallway when ML came up to me. He was a boy who had come to our school that year, a gangly, skinny, boy with a pinched face and the social charms of a tick. My friends and I had nicknamed him Fly Face because of the purple-green-blue aviator sunglasses he wore all the time. They matched his voice which was high-pitched and wavered in the air, fly-like. "Hey," he said in that slightly buzzing, fly voice, rubbing his hands together. "I know YOU don't have a date to the prom. Wanna go with me?"

The subtly!
The romance!
Remember, this is what I was looking at:

What would you have done?
What would you have said?
Ask yourself: WWTBD? (What Would Teen Betty Do?)
The answer: tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: "The Wish to Be Generous"

The Wish to Be Generous
                          --Wendell Berry
  (For Jim)

All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to the mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dog Trilogy: Part III Maddie, Part III

Maddie's hunger for food was surpassed only by her hunger for affection.  As she saw it, when we were not serving her food, our hands should be upon her, stroking her fur.  She often came up and used her snout to move our hands to her back.  When we had the audacity to stroke the cats, we heard about it.

Now, in the first few days the boys and I had no trouble dishing out the affection.  We fell in love with Maddie immediately.  How did the reluctant HOB do in accepting the new dog in the house?  Here's the timeline for you.  Imagine a Bull Moose calling out the commands.  

Before Maddie arrived in the house:  "The dog will spend all its time outside.  No dogs in the house."

When Maddie arrived:  "The dog will spend all her time in the garage"

One day after:  "The dog may come into the house for limited times, but will still sleep in the garage." 

Fast forward two weeks.  The scene: I am getting into bed for the night:  "Uh, you're going to have to move over, because that's Maddie's spot.  That's her pillow too, by the way."

Oh yes, Maddie's main source of affection came from HOB himself.  Maddie had won him over completely.  He was devoted to her and vice-versa.

Now, Maddie has been with us for nine years.  She is about thirteen years old now and we love that dog we picked up from the pound those many years ago.   She is the dog my boys will always remember.  She is their Cedric.  Her constant presence in our lives is comforting.   She is there when we awake in the morning; she is there when we go to sleep.  She greets us when we come home.  Well, these days sometimes we find that she is sleeping when we come home, but she rouses herself immediately and the tail starts wagging.  

Maddie still loves affection though she is not as insistent about it these days.  Perhaps we have filled that desperate need in her.  Perhaps she knows that she is a permanent member of our pack and no longer needs that reassurance.  She is content to sleep beside our bed and pad around the house after us, sitting patiently until we move to another location and then she moves with us.

Maddie has brought a lot of love to our house and has even been a conduit for HOB and myself as well.   How?  

Well, Maddie is a long-haired dog and once, HOB got the idea to shave and sculpt the hair on her rump in the shape of a heart.   That way, he explained, when I took her on her walk, I could see the heart as I walked the dog and be reminded of the love he has for me.  

Now that deserves a good meal and a belly rub.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dog Trilogy: Part III Maddie, Part II

Maddie's first act at home was to bless HOB's study with a large steaming gift she had apparently been saving for a long time. Why she chose there I will never know. I cleaned it up quickly and prayed that wouldn't happen again.

I took her to the vet the next day to check her out. She had the black tongue of a chow and that worried me since we had been warned against chows around kids. The vet proclaimed her healthy, estimated her age at four years old and said that whatever retriever was in her outweighed the chow in temperament. We made the appointment to get her spayed.

Maddie (we had named her on the way from the pound) made herself at home right away. We quickly learned that she had three priorities:

1) Eating

2) Walking

3) Procuring affection

1) Eating: Eating is Job One with Maddie. She adores her food and begins intense observation of the bed at approximately 5am to detect any movement at all of the humans who can be propelled out to the food bowl. Since her first day with us, she has made it clear that this is our duty: to supply her with food. The smell of bread in particular drives her to distraction.

2) Walking: When you are at our house you must never stand for more than three seconds in the entry way. This indicates "walk" to Maddie. You must never say the word "walk" (use "alkie-way" instead.) Do not place a baseball cap on your head. I have to hide to put on a particular pair of shoes that she relates to walks. When we first got Maddie, my goal in life was to wear her out on our walks. One mile did not do it. Two miles did not do it. Three miles did not do it. I was the one worn out.

One evening the four of us took her to a nearby park where there is a large series of tennis courts. The courts are not sectioned off from one another so there is a large expanse of concrete. Dan and Evan got on one end of the courts and Sonny Boy and I got on the other one. We took Maddie's leash off and Sonny Boy and I called her from HOB and Evan's end. She came running full tilt to us. Then HOB and Evan called her and she turned and ran as fast as she could to them. Back and forth she ran for over twenty minutes. We thought we had worn her out completely, but after a short rest, she was ready to go again.

A few times we had the plan that both HOB and I would take her out for a walk, but for some reason or another, one of us would come home earlier. This did not work at all. Maddie stops and refuses to go on until all who were with her in the beginning of the walk are assembled again.

Now that she is older she has slowed down on her walks and we CAN get her worn out, sometimes too easily. She still lives for that nightly walk and at the door her enthusiasm knows no bounds when it we grab that leash and she gets to go on her alkie-way.

Next Time: Discussion of Maddie's Third Priority in Life: Procuring affection.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dog Story Trilogy: Part III: Maddie

So Betty grows up, falls in love, gets married and moves to California.  There she and Husband of Betty (HOB) go to school, move from town to town, live in rental units, get part-time jobs, finally get real jobs, have children and then buy a house.  What is it time for?  A dog of course.  I had lived far too long without one.  HOB was not all that thrilled about the prospect, but conditions were right and I had two boys apply Pester-Power to the situation.  Soon HOB agreed that we could "try it."

Sonny Boy was ten years old and Evan was five so I took them to the pound with me to search for the perfect dog.  We went pen by pen looking and naturally we all had different ideas about what kind of dog we wanted.  One thing we all agreed on was that we did not want a tiny dog.  I didn't particularly want a puppy since I knew they would be adopted out anyway, and just coming off the baby years, I was all done with intensive training of any living being.   

We kept searching. We saw the jumping boxer, the snoozing hound-looking dog, the yapping terrier.  The boys wanted nearly each and every one of them, and so did I, but I knew I had to get just the right one so that the boys would enjoy the dog and so that HOB would become a full-fledged dog person, setting the stage for future (hopefully multiple) dogs.

We were just about to leave the pound when Sonny Boy looked over and saw a medium-sized dog, sleeping on her side.  She looked like a very short retriever, with some other breeds thrown in for good measure.  She was so docile and sweet-looking.  I went to the office and asked if we could meet this dog.  

There in the fenced-in yard, this dog very calmly greeted us, immediately rolled over and let us pat her on the stomach.  The worker at the pound said she was probably about two years old. Her records said only that she was a stray who had been picked up in Oxnard and it was clear she had recently had a batch of puppies.  She would need to be spayed immediately and she also really needed a good bath.  I looked into her calm face, and those big tranquil brown eyes and one hour later, papers signed, a temporary leash on her, she was led to our car.  The boys were happy and so was I.  The pound worker loaded her in the car, took off the leash, wished us good luck and slammed the car door.  

Apparently, the sound of that car door indicated to Maddie that she could let her true personality come out.  The calm dog we had met in the yard was gone and a frenetic, excited, determined dog had taken her place.  She began scrambling about in the car, bouncing from person to person, licking, and slobbering.  Her energy knew no bounds.

Her plan had worked.  

She had secured her new family.  

Now it was time to start training them.

To be continued....

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dog Story Trilogy: Part II, Blackie, Continued

Still Not Blackie (Obviously) But Yet Another Picture to Establish My Credibility As a Dog Person and Isn't This a Cool Dog?  We named him Sampson.

And now, back to our story of Blackie which we started yesterday...

(If you didn't read yesterday's post, do so before going on!  I mean it!)

The driver of the car stopped too, got out and stood over Blackie.  My father gave me strict instructions to stay in the wagon.  The driver of the car apologized and and watched as my father dragged Blackie's body into the nearby deep ditch. I stayed in the wagon, crying. We pulled away and went to the co-op as planned but I could think of nothing but Blackie, that black streak of light across green fields, now in the ditch cold and dead. 

My father took a different route home and when we got to house he explained to my mother and sisters what had happened. There was complete silence as they heard the news and the next few days we sorely missed that black dog who each morning had come so eagerly to the door to greet my father and head out with him for the day's work.

About a week later later, one of my older sisters was vacuuming in the living room when I passed by her and went to the front door. There on the porch was a medium-sized black dog. I stood there, startled at the unexpected sight. He was dirty, tired and definitely needed a good meal. Through the screen door, I looked closely at the familiar face and white spot on his head and then tentatively called, "Blackie?" His weary eyes met mine directly and he managed to wag his tail.

I immediately went to get my sister who turned off the vacuum to listen to my story.  She looked at me and said sharply, "Listen to me. Blackie is dead and it's not funny to make up stuff like this." She flipped the vacuum back on and turned away.  I went back to the door to look at the dog again then went back over to the vacuum and shut it off myself. "Just come and look," I implored. She sighed heavily, rolled her eyes and and walked with me. At the door she stopped short. She called my Mom who called my Dad who proclaimed it was indeed Blackie.

After he came home, Blackie took long swims in the pond to restore the beauty of his coat. He had plenty of good meals and long naps and soon was back to his old self, running back to the fields with my dad, stopping to play in the creek, and taking the perimeter of the pond at top speed. (I am not sure the frogs appreciated his return as much as we did.)
Oh, and on the day he returned to us, Blackie also got something else: a new name.  

From that day on, he was no longer known as Blackie.  

We called him Lucky.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dog Story Trilogy: Part II: Blackie

 Not a Picture of Blackie, but Establishes my Credibility as a Dog Lover From a Young Age, Don't You Think?

Blackie was a stray someone had dropped off on our country road.  He was tentative and hesitant when he came to our door, but soon he joined our other two dogs and became part of the family pack.  

He was a fun, medium-sized dog, completely black except for a distinctive white mark on his forehead.  He was young and  frisky, and happy to run with our other dogs and to come in the house occasionally.  Unlike Cedric, though, Blackie was not content to stay in the house for very long.  He wanted to be out and involved in anything farm-related.  He loved to go to the field, to run at top speed and play in the creek.  Whenever I went down to the pond, Blackie went with me, circling the edge of pond quickly, forcing all the sun-bathing frogs on the outer rim jump in, making tremendous splashes.

One day when I was about seven or eight years old,  it was time to take a load of corn to the local co-op.  The trip there was about 12 miles and since we did not have a truck, my dad took the tractor and wagon that was loaded up with corn.  I was allowed to ride in the wagon, a rare treat.  It was a clear, sunny day and I was Queen of the World sitting atop all of that golden corn.  My brow furrowed, however, when Blackie followed us down the rock road from our house.  I shooed him back; I pretended to throw ears of corn at him.  However, it soon became clear that he was not going to go back home.  He loved being with my dad and the tractor.  When it was time to turn on to the paved highway, I got really worried.  Even though the road was not heavily traveled, there were lots of hills with blind spots and cars tended to go fast.  

We had just come over the first hill when it happened.  A car came speeding up behind us.  The driver, his eyes probably on the wagon,  didn't see the small black dog following it.  I watched in horror as the car slowed some, but still hit Blackie, causing his body to fly forward and land with a thud on the pavement.  I sat there in the wagon crying as my father got off his tractor and came back to find Blackie's lifeless body.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dog Story Trilogy: Part I: Cedric

Sisters left for college, classmates moved away, grandparents died, but there was one constant throughout my childhood: my dog Cedric.

I don't remember ever not having a dog on the farm. My father loved dogs and inevitably strays would find us. Some stayed and some did not. The life of a farm dog is not easy and expensive vet visits were only for the income-producing cattle and pigs. Cedric was the only dog we ever actually set out to get. He was a puppy when we picked him up from a family from our church who was giving puppies away. I was only about five years old, but I remember that day vividly. I got to hold him in the back of the car as we drove away in our old rusty Ford. I nuzzled my face into his side and felt like the richest kid on earth.

Most of our dogs spent their days with my dad out in the fields and down at the barn, but Cedric loved to spend time with us in the house, just being with my mom, sisters and me. We doted on him and he liked just hanging out with us, being the house dog. He was always there to be petted, to be loved. I hung on him constantly, kissed his nose, scratched behind his ears, and on more than one occasion, cried into his fur. Best of all, he always there when I got off the school bus, wagging his tail, welcoming me home.

During my adolescence, I talked to him a lot. He helped me figure out problems, gave me unconditional love and was my constant companion. He went with me when it was time to get the cows for the evening milking. We walked the path back to the pasture, the wheat on one side, the hay field on the other, the blue sky above us. He and I strolled side by side until we got to the field. Once there, I gave him the signal, and he went to work, rounding up the cows, nipping at their legs, urging them up the path. When they were all headed in the right direction, he came to my side again and we headed home, watching the sun just starting to set, listening to the cicadas just tuning up for their nighttime session, just two friends walking, spending time together.

In the summers of my junior high years, I would awake with the knowledge that my mom was at work, my dad was already in the fields and my sisters were at their jobs. I'd roll over, knowing there was no other human in the house, but there at the side of my bed, was Cedric, waiting for me to get up so he could follow me down the stairs and be my companion throughout the day. The mornings would find us at the barn or at the creek and every afternoon would find us together, sprawled out on the couch or the floor. I held a fat library book in one hand and read, while I stroked Cedric's fur with the other. We passed hours and hours like this.

Cedric lived for about eleven or twelve years. I was sixteen the night I went out to find him on his side, panting heavily on the front porch. I leaned over him and put my face into the fur on his side. I somehow knew it was the end though I could not admit it. I wanted to take the scissors and cut off some fur to keep, but I didn't, thinking it might somehow signal to him that I was giving up on him and I would never give up on Cedric.

The next morning I was alone in the house, no dog by the side of my bed. I heard the distinctive sound of my father's tractor and I got out of bed and went over to look out my upstairs window. Below, I saw the tractor pulling the the narrow wagon, slowly away from the house. In the back of the wagon was Cedric's body. My father was taking him back to one of the fields to bury him. I stood at the window, crying, watching the wagon getting smaller and smaller amid the fields. I bid goodbye to the dog who had been a constant in my life. Watching the wagon until it nearly disappeared, then turning to face the empty house, I knew in my heart that something had shifted, something had ended, and life would be different from now on.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: "Ode on the Whole Duty of Parents"

Ode on the Whole Duty of Parents
                                             -- Frances Cornford.

The spirits of children are remote and wise,
They must go free
Like fishes in the sea
Or starlings in the skies,
Whilst you remain
The shore where casually they come again.
But when there falls the stalking shade of fear,
You must be suddenly near,
You, the unstable, must become a tree
In whose unending heights of flowering green
Hangs every fruit that grows, with silver bells;
Where heart-distracting magic birds are seen
And all the things a fairy-story tells;
Though still you should possess
Roots that go deep in ordinary earth,
And strong consoling bark
To love and to caress.
Last, when at dark
Safe on the pillow lies an up-gazing head
And drinking holy eyes
Are fixed on you,
When, from behind them, questions come to birth
On all the things that you have ever said
Of suns and snakes and parallelograms and flies,
And whether these are true,
Then for a while you'll need to be no more
That sheltering shore
Or legendary tree in safety spread,
No, then you must put on
The robes of Solomon,
Or simply be
Sir Isaac Newton sitting on the bed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Morning Flower Delivery With Quotations Thrown In At No Additional Charge

My friend Susan sent my this beautiful bouquet just before Easter and it's still going strong. I thought I'd share it with you on this first day of a new week. Hope it's a good one!

"A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers."

--Chinese Proverb

"Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another."
--Elizabeth Cody Stanton

"Whatever you are by nature, keep to it; never desert your line of talent. Be what nature intended you for and you will succeed."
--Sydney Smith

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Betty's In Love...With Buckwheat!

Buckwheat and me:  We got a thing going on.  

Oh my, oh my, Betty had some fun with this grain.  

Let's review:  Untoasted, the grains are called Buckwheat Groats.  Toasted, they are called Kasha.

At this point I am so enamoured with toasted buckwheat that if I had a daughter I would name her Kasha.

First of all, I was making some peanut butter cookies, so I toasted some buckwheat up and threw it in the dough.  Yummy!  

You could do this with any cookie to give it some crunch and nutty goodness without the nuts.  You don't have to toast the kernels, but, oh, come on. Make the effort.  I am going to toast some up and have them on hand to throw into salads and on top of ice cream too.  

Oh yes I am.

Then, I made Buckwheat Burgers for dinner. These are HOB approved! 

I added Thousand Island Dressing to mine.  

Yum!  Here's the recipe from the Natural Health Website:

3 1/2 cups steamed kasha (see below), cooled.
2 medium scallions, finely chopped.
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves.
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.
Salt and ground black pepper.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Place cooled kasha in food processor and pulse until grain becomes doughlike, about 10 seconds. Scrape kasha into medium bowl and add scallions,cilantro, Worcestershire, and salt
and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

2. Divide mixture into four balls with dampened hands, and shape into compact patties.

3. Heat oil in large skillet until shimmering. Add patties and cook over
medium heat until browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until browned on the other side, about 3 minutes.
Serve hot.

STEAMED KASHA: Place 2 cups water,a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon oil
(optional) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, heat a wok or thin-bottomed skillet and toast 1 cup buckwheat over medium-high heat, stirring it constantly. Toast for about 3 minutes or until it is aromatic and a shade darker. Slowly (to prevent sputtering) pour toasted buckwheat into the now boiling water, reduce heat,cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to steam, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Go crazy on these burgers and add your own spices, etc.  I tried another batch with shredded potatoes and an egg as a binding agent.  

Last, here's a recipe from The Whole Grains Cookbook.  I've made this a couple of times.  The trick is not to go crazy with the food processor and keep the texture coarse.  Sorry, there are no pictures!  We ate it up too fast.  

Rich and Tangy Buckwheat and Chevre Gratin

1 TB olive oil
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1 1/2 chicken stock (I use the vegetarian kind)
1 sprig thyme or rosemary
2 oz (1/4 cup) chevre goat cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat and then add the shallots.  When they start to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often.  As they soften, reduce heat to the lowest setting, and stir every five minutes.  Oil a medium gratin pan or 8-inch square baking dish.

In a 2 quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the buckwheat over high heat.  Swirl the pan to heat the grains evenly.  When the groats are fragrant and hot to the touch, quickly dump them into a wire-mesh strainer, rinse, drain, and put them back in the pan.  Carefully add the stock (it will boil up when it hits the hot pan, so hold it away form you and go gradually).  Add the thyme and bring the buckwheat mixture back to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

When the shallots are carmel colored and have cooked down, remove them from the heat.  When the buckwheat is tender, and all the stock is absorbed, take off the heat.  Scrape the warm buckwheat into a food processor and pulse to coarsely puree.  Add the chevre, salt, and shallots and pulse to mix.  Spread the mixture in the prepared baking pan so it is in a thin layer.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the gratin and back for 20 minutes until the cheese is golden.

Oh my, Betty had a good time with this month's grain!  Hope you did too!  Before too long we'll be able to order the Buckwheat Platter at Chili's and it all started here....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Looking at This Photo and Hoping It's Grain of the Month? Your Dream Comes True!

It's Almost Too Exciting!

Ready to live on the edge?  
Ready to cross over to the exotic?  
Ready to sit in the back of the classroom and be the rebel you were meant to be? 
Then you're ready for Buckwheat.

You see, in order to ride with the Buckwheat gang, you gotta be willing to bend the rules just a bit.  Technically, Buckwheat is not a grain, but a seed.  Yeah, it's been labeled a pseudograin by the professionals, but what do they know?  Can they really understand what's at the heart of this native of Asia?  Can they understand the stamina it takes to mature in only two months?  Do they even see past the tough outer shell to see the high B-vitamin, Vitamin E and the outpouring of manganese and magnesium in every little seed? Nah... But You Do.

The brave Buckwheat that came together to stand firm and be photographed for this posting is hulled and can be found at your local health food store.  The hulled seeds are called "groats," which, let's face it, is not the most attractive label. The pretoasted groat is called Kasha

Unroasted Buckwheat is soft and subtle, like a kindly aunt who wears white gloves and admires your china collection.  Roasted Buckwheat has an earthy, nutty taste, like the rowdy uncle who comes along for the visit and spends most of his time outside trying to shoot down squirrels.

Betty's all into Buckwheat.  She admires its beauty and its bravery in this world where people try to define and categorize you.  Listen: if your heart and soul tell you you're a grain, then you're a grain.  Define yourself.  Live it.  Love it.   Stop by the store today and get yourself some Buckwheat today for tomorrow we Cook it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Looking At This Picture and Hoping It's Grain of the Month? Sorry, No.

Here in the Land of Good Weather, it has been unseasonably chilly and we do not like it one bit.  Worse, this cold front has coincided with the disappearance, or at least the dwindling of Easter candy.  This is not a good combination.

When it's cold there is a biological imperative to eat, to pile on the fat and reduce all activity to conserve energy.  Onion Rings. Cookies. Cheese. Candy.  These, eaten in front of a television set, the consumer in a Snuggie,  is exactly what nature intended in cold weather.  

Since moving to California from Kansas, my temperature gauge has reset itself.  58 degrees now qualifies as bitterly cold. When we went to chilly Nashville for Christmas my mother-in-law presented me with a one pound slab of fudge and I regarded it as I would a regular-sized Snickers Bar and then went snuffling for the large bag of Ruffles just to clear my palate for the on-coming cheese log.

So now, unseasonably cold winds are blowing in California at the same time our beloved Easter candies are leaving us.  It's sad when all the chocolate bunnies hop away, the Peeps disappear and the empty marshmallow egg cartons rock like empty locusts' husks on the shelves.  

These candies are all good and will be missed, but my absolute favorite is Mini Robin's Eggs.  To me, these are the perfect candy and the one I would choose if forced to make the all important "if-you-could-have-only-one-kind-of-candy-for-the-rest-of-your-life-what-candy- would-it-be" decision.  Tragically, these precious little jewels are only available for a short time during the months of March and April.  I literally do a little "Welcome!" dance in the aisles of Target when they arrive and when I see that last bag there on the shelf near Easter, well, let's just hope that small, cute child is not reaching for it, because I'll rip that little arm right off if he/she is reachin' for my Robin's Eggs.

The picture above is of the last of the jelly beans that remain in our home.  I can only hope this cold weather passes and we won't be forced to consume them all at one time out of a drinking glass for fast and easy consumption, but I may.  I would have taken a picture of my beloved Robin's Eggs, but, well, they were the first to go when the inborn, feast-or-die urgency came upon me.  Oh, I miss them already. 

I wonder if Evan has any hidden around here.

I feel a chill in the air.  
I gotta go check the weather channel. 
(and Evan's room)

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls...

In celebration of Ev's six month anniversary of getting his license, I present this post again....

Evan got his driving permit recently and so I took him out yesterday to drive the streets around our home. Oh boy. This rite of passage is tough on a parent, but I am doing much better than I did a few years ago when Sonny Boy took me down the same path.

There was one evening I remember in particular. HOB was out of town and I was teaching late. Sonny Boy, 16 and Evan, 11, had been on their own for the evening. I came home, exhausted and I immediately changed into sweats and slippers and plopped on the couch, planning on going to bed within the hour. However, the boys informed me they were hungry and wanted to go to Taco Bell. "No way!" I said. "I'm exhausted."

They wheedled.
I said no.
They pled.
I said no.
They whined.
I said no.
They applied guilt.
They had been all alone, in the house, with no food, no parents.

Working Mother caved.

If a couple of tacos and an order of nachos would relieve the feeling of criminality of being a Career Woman/Working Mother, even temporarily, so be it.

Sonny Boy jumped up and offered to drive. He had his permit and was ready to use it, but needed a parent with him. "OK," I said, "but don't get into an accident because I've taken off my bra and shoes and I'm not putting them back on."

We got into the car, SB in the driver's seat, Evan in the back and me in the passenger's side. Of course, I had ridden with Sonny Boy before, but never at night and never with Evan along. I discovered the seat I was sitting in was positioned as far back from the dash as possible--the position SB nearly always put it in to accommodate his long legs. Try as I might, I couldn't get the seat to slide forward. I felt small and disconnected from the front of the car. I found myself hanging on to the handle above the window as we drove, a position I have always associated with nervous grandmothers.

Now, any parent can tell you, it's just plain startling to find yourself on the passenger's side after years in the driver's seat. But the situation became surreal when we pulled into the drive-thru lane of Taco Bell and Sonny Boy turned to ask me what I wanted. I was shocked by this reversal of roles. I hesitated and fumbled with my order. I could tell he was getting exasperated with me. "Come on, Mom. Don't you know what you want?" he said in a tone that was more than vaguely familiar to me. Could that be my impatient tone coming out of the boy's mouth now? He turned to Evan, demanded his order and then turned to the speaker box to place the order.

At that moment, some strange, primitive hunter/gatherer instinct arose in me and overwhelmed my senses. An alarm as old as our species went off. Not only was I not driving, but now I was displaced as the provider of nutrients. I should be the one speaking into the metal box, procuring food for my offspring. Instead, I was the one waiting to be fed, my thin white knuckles still wrapped around the handle above the window. Not only that, but like a aging convalescent, I had slippers on, my legs seemed to dangle in front of me, I couldn't reach the dash, and was it my imagination, but were my unsupported breasts sagging even more now, nearly touching my knees? Could it be that this brightly-lit alley, decorated with giant pictures of tacos and burritos under the purple and yellow lights was some sort of time tunnel? I strained to see my reflection in the side mirror. The lights above cast weird, ghastly shadows around my eyes. I looked up and over. Had the sign above the drive-thru window actually changed to "Taco Hell"?

Sonny Boy drove to the window, and turned to me for the money. Ah, at least there was some normality in this act. I dug through my purse (another old lady act) and finally found enough. SB handed the bag of food to me and Evan wanted to start eating his in the car. "No," said Sonny Boy authoritatively, as he turned the wheel. "We'll eat it at home."

I thought about this episode as I drove with Evan yesterday. I know there will be times like this ahead, when he naturally assumes the mantel of authoritativeness while I sit, watching in amazement and bewilderment.

But for right now I ride with my youngest son at the wheel as he drives slowly around the familiar, uncomplicated streets of our neighborhood--no heavy traffic, no major intersections. The decisions and moves he needs to make are relatively easy ones. I sit on the passenger's side, offering encouragement and advice. Fully dressed, seat pulled up parallel with his, I am ready (well, almost ready) for what the future holds.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comments, Creatures, Cacti, and Conchords

OK, We have a few things to cover today so please have a seat and try to pay attention.  For your convenience and entertainment, I have categorized our subjects and employed alliteration as a captivating, attention-sustaining device.  

So, hang on as we go through these seemingly disjointed topics and please, try not the get "C" Sick.  (Oh!)


For months now I have heard "I tried to comment on your blog, but I couldn't."  

Now, I am not sure if that means these people were too appalled, or nonplussed by what they read or just couldn't work up the interest, fortitude, or mild strength to comment.  I prefer to think it was because of the glitch in the system that allowed some but denied others.

They may have just told me this to get to to stop following them around asking if they had read my blog.  

In any case, I played around with the comment thingy-ma-doo and I think everyone should be able to comment now.  My regulars will notice a slight change.  You can handle it.  We embrace change here at Betty.  


These two guys were left over from my wild arcade days.  I wish I had gotten a wider shot because both of them were on a tiny merry-go-round by a window in a desolate corner of the gritty arcade.  They were both looking longingly out the window, at the vibrant harbor and at the beautiful ocean beyond.  If this does not tear at your heart and cause at least one of your tear ducts to quiver, well, you may be less than fully human.

Look at those facial expressions and then turn quickly and look into a mirror.  Do your eyes bespeak the pain of not living the life you were meant to live?  Are you stuck on your tiny "merry"-go-round in your own gritty Arcade o' Life, but long to head for the open waters, or at least the Fish and Chips place around the corner?  Oh, learn from our hard plastic friends! Throw off your funny little hats and free yourselves while you can!


I promised you more pictures of cacti.  Here's one.  Oh, Betty could really get started about this prickly heart, but I think I've started you down that path of extended metaphor already today.  You can take it from here.  Do me proud, my people.


If you haven't watched "Flight of the Conchords" yet, run, RUN to do so.  (OK, I am not sure where you are going to run to, but you get the idea.)  You can probably rent the first season on Netflix, or perhaps at the video store.  Here's a little taste of them:  

Betty salutes you all and wishes you the very best!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Music For Your Wednesday

I don't know about you, but there's nothing that gets me moving in the morning like a good rendition of Cher's "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves."  I like this version taken from the "Sonny and Cher Show" because of the set which includes a real fake fire, and Cher's expression at the very end of the video when she looks directly into the camera.  I have practiced this look for hours, thinking it would come in very handy if I am ever surrounded by people applauding one of my lectures on comma splices, but I but can't quite seem to master it the way she does.  I'll keep working on it.

I remember listening to this song when it first came out and loving it for the drama and intrigue presented within the lyrics.  "Papa would have shot him if he'd knew what he'd done."  What had he done?  Stolen a library book?  Smoked a cigarette?  Written graffiti on the side of the wagon?  Thrown a Butterfingers wrapper on the road?  Then three months later she's a "gal in trouble"  Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.  Then, of course, comes the the incredibly sly, meaningful, emotion-packed pronoun shift in the final verse.  When you're fourteen or fifteen, it's the kind of lyric that makes you stare at your friend's face when she is listening to it to see if she really got it.

Bossy Betty hopes this song gets inside you and helps you through your Wednesday.  If this doesn't work, slug down some of that Dr. Good you've got in your medicine cabinet.  That should work too.

 Gypsies,Tramps and Thieves

I was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
My mama used to dance for the money they'd throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good

Gypsies, tramps, and thieves
We'd hear it from the people of the town
They'd call us Gypsies, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Picked up a boy just south of Mobile
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to Memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he'd done


I never had schoolin' but he taught me well
With his smooth southern style
Three months later I'm a gal in trouble
And I haven't seen him for a while, uh-huh
I haven't seen him for a while, uh-huh

She was born in the wagon of a travellin' show
Her mama had to dance for the money they'd throw
Grandpa'd do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: In Praise of My Bed

In Praise of My Bed

                --Meredith Holmes

At last I can be with you!
The grinding hours
since I left your side!
The labor of being fully human,
working my opposable thumb,
talking, and walking upright.
Now I have unclasped
unzipped, stepped out of.
Husked, soft, a be-er only,
I do nothing, but point
my bare feet into your
clean smoothness
feel your quiet strength
the whole length of my body.
I close my eyes, hear myself
moan, so grateful to be held this way.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bossy Betty Took a Hike

It was a fine Easter Day for a hike. The weather was just right and my shoes felt great, so we set out on a trail around here, heading to Lizard Rock, named because it's a rock looks like, well, a giant lizard sticking his head out of the side of the hill. Below is just one of the sights we saw as we started the hike.

Below is a picture of HOB and Evan on the trail. They had a race up to the top while I stayed back to get a picture. I am sure HOB just pretended to lose the race so as not to damage our son's self-esteem.

After a long climb, there they are on the top of Lizard Rock.  I got there eventually!

On our way back we passed by some tremendous cacti.  You'll be seeing more pictures like this in the future since I got some great shots.

So, I head back to work this morning after a good Spring Break.  Let's hope the hike to the end of the semester is as interesting as this hike was and that my vigor to conquer the Lizard of Grading is strong and lasts until the end of the trail.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bossy Betty Plans to Take a Hike

HOB and I ventured out to the Outlet Mall in our town today. 

On the average weekend, we, like all natives of our fair city stay huddled in our safe homes while the hoards of shoppers descend upon the Outlet Mall, dropping cash on Coach Bags and Nike Apparel, pushing their decked-out strollers, mindlessly eating $3.00 pretzels and $2.00 cookies and generally regarding their weekend of shopping like a trip to an adult amusement park, dropping their hundreds and thousands of dollars in our tax coffers. (Thank you very much!)  

Normally, we townspeople wait until Monday to peek our heads out like Munchkins and urge others to "Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are."  So what possessed me to get out there and shop today?


Last night I had the sudden, intense desire to become Hiker Woman (starting on Sunday)  and I needed to have the appropriate accessories.  I marched right into Hush Puppies and tried on the first pair of Merrill hiking boots I could find and I bought them.  Yahoo!  My friend once described hiking shoes as SUVs for the feet.  What is it about hiking shoes that just makes you feel like you can take on the world?  

I'll be hiking around the house in them this afternoon and around the block this evening and tomorrow I will put them to the test on our Easter Hike.  

Stay tuned! You'll hear all about it

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back From Sac

I am home again after my big, exciting trip up Highway 5.  I had a good time seeing my buddies and I wormed my way into some cleaning and organizing in which I got my bossying ya-ya's out big time.  

I meant to take a lot of pictures along the way, but it didn't happen.  I am sorry about that since the drive back on Highway Five was an All You Can Eat Buffet for the eyes.  The sky was gorgeous, the hills were green and the mustard was just starting to show itself on the hillsides. 

What I especially love about this stretch of highway is that there are gifts all along the way.  In addition to fields of vibrant produce and I saw fields of:
1) Cows
2) Sheep
3) Goats (!!!!!!)
4) Horses

There were many big trucks sharing the road, many of them carrying pipes, stacks of lumber or boxes of fruit, stacked up interesting patterns.  There were lots of semis, some clearly marked with the contents and some not at all.  This brought back memories of Sonny Boy at age 5 who insisted that I tell him what was in each and every truck.  He would persistently ask from the back seat and would not take "I don't know" as an answer, so soon I started saying things like "feathers," "macaroni," and "balloons."  Soon, he started making up his own answers, pointing at trucks saying, "Crayons!"  "Stamps!"  "Christmas Lights!"

However, the biggest thrill was seeing the Camera Van on Highway 5!  I did not get to take a picture of it, but here's one from the Camera Van Web Site:

Isn't that cool?  It's completely covered with cameras, some of them working to capture the looks on people's faces as they look at the van.  You can check out the entire web site for the full story.

So here I am back home, fairly exhausted but grateful for my good friends and good times too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Poetry Tuesday: Highway Five Love Poem

Highway Five Love Poem

                                     -- Ruth L. Schwartz

This is a love poem for all the tomatoes
spread out in the fields along Highway Five,
their gleaming green and ruddy faces like a thousand
moons prostrate in praise of sun.
And for every curd of cloud,
clotted cream of cloud spooned briskly
by an unseen hand into the great blue bowl,
then out again, into a greedy mouth.
Cotton baled up beside the road,
altars to the patron saint of dryer lint.
Moist fudge of freshly-planted dirt.
Shaggy neglected savage grasses
bent into the wind's designs.
Sheep scattered over the landscape like fuzzy confetti,
or herded into stubbled funnels, moving like rough water
toward its secret source.
Egrets praying in the fields like
white-cloaked priests.
A dozen wise and ponderous cows
suddenly spurred to run, to gallop, even,
down a flank of hill.
Horses for sale, goats for sale, nopales for sale, orange groves for sale,
topless trailers carrying horses,
manes as loose and lovely as tomorrow in our mouths,
and now a giant pig, jostling majestic in the open
bed of a red pickup,
and now a fawn-colored coyote
framed between the startled fruit trees
who looks directly at me before loping back
into the world he owns.
Even the bits of trash are alive,
and chase each other in the wind, and show their underwear.
Even the sparrows hop like the spirit,
sustain themselves on invisible specks,
flutter and plummet, rise straight up like God.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Break Road Trip!

Bossy Betty hits the road tomorrow morning to go see some grad school buddies up in Sacramento.  It's a solo flight: just me, my audio books, suitcase and assorted snacks and I am pretty darn excited about it.

 According to Mapquest, my trip will be 388.5 miles and will take me 6 hours and 1 minute.  341 miles of that will be on Interstate 5--a stretch of road that some find tedious and boring, but I'm the type of person who seeks out these long roads, the straight paths, the stretch of highway rolled out in front of me like a roll of aluminium foil dropped on a long narrow kitchen floor.  

After years and years of preparing for trips and packing suitcases and backpacks for kids, there's a certain pleasure and selfish thrill of packing just for myself.  I went to the library to pick out books on CD's, and I have loaded up on snacks. (For those concerned friends who have examined the above picture carefully, that's Trader Joe's Green Tea in those bottles, not white wine.) 

I will be self-contained there in my Ford Focus, rolling along Highway Five, my car and brain on cruise control. When I get tired of listening to a book, I'll get out some of those CD's that only I enjoy and belt out some tunes at the top of my lungs.  (I do an especially good "Mandy" with Barry and John always loves it when I sing with him on "'Rocky Mountain High.")

Best of all, when I reach Sacramento, there will be the smiling faces of my friends who hold a special place in my heart from an especially good chapter of my life.  We'll eat, we'll talk, we'll stay up entirely too late and we'll argue points that only English Majors would argue.

Then, after my visit, I'll get in the car again, head back down south where, on that end of the journey await HOB and Evan, waiting to welcome me back home. 

Man, is life good or what? 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Theme Week: Woman Songs! Ends Today!

Oh, you knew this one was coming, didn't you?  

It's our final song, so sing it loud, my people.

(Helen Reddy and Ray Burton)

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back and pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
'Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul

Oh, yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh, yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Now a Word From Our Sponsors

Before our final installment of "Theme Week: Woman Songs," we pause for these fine commercials.

Do you remember this one?  Did it influence your decision to continue your education?  Manage your meat consumption?  Renew your commitment to Alzheimer's research so that the constant reminding of your mate's gender would not be necessary?

This next commercial stuck in people's heads like a rat's paws on a sticky trap.  Why?  What was Charlie's allure?  Was it her strange attention-seeking Gatsby-like car?  The shiny jumpsuit and mock hardhat?  Why was she unable to write more than her first name?  Why was it she could not focus on the lines on the paper and had to scrawl that name on the sign-in sheet at an angle?  In retrospect, should Charlie have been tested for a learning disability?  Tested for drugs?  You decide.

Please compare and contrast the following commercial to Glen Campbell's "Everyday Housewife" ballad and then ask yourself if the smell of Aviance can really cover up the smells of fried chicken and household cleansers?  Could it be that those very smells actually entice the men who are in love with their "Everyday Housewives"?  Would she be better off with a shot of 409 or Glass Plus wafting from her decolletage?  Perhaps a freshly fried chicken leg placed inside the cleavage would produce that much needed "Aviance Night."  (By the way, who IS that guy at the door?)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Theme Week: Woman Songs! Today's Lesson: "Mess with My Man:Set Your GPS for "Fist City!"

Communication.  It's the foundation of every good relationship and the basis for a true and lasting friendship.  

Good solid relationships between women can be one of life's greatest joys.   The recipe for a suppportive, nuturing friendship between females includes an ample helping of honesty and and a big heaping tablespoon of sensitivity.  

This next video demonstrates how just a little delicate heart-to-heart can clear up any sort of misunderstanding between the gals.

Loretta Lynn Fist City lyrics

You've been makin' your brags around town
That you've been a lovin' my man
But the man I love, when he picks up trash
He puts it in a garbage can

And that's what a you look like to me
And what I see's a pity
Close your face and stay outta my way
If ya don't wanna go to fist city

If ya don't wanna go to fist city
Ya better detour around my town
'Cause I'll grab you by the hair a the head
And I'll lift you off the ground

I'm not sayin' my baby's a saint 'cause he ain't
N' that he won't cat around with a kitty
I'm here to tell ya gal to lay offa my man
If ya don't wanna go to fist city

Come on and tell me what you told my friends
If you think you're brave enough
And I'll show you what a real woman is
Since you think you're hot stuff

You'll bite off more than you can chew
If you get to cute or witty
You better move your feet
If you don't wanna eat
A meal that's called fist city

If you don't wanna go to fist city
You better detour around my town
'Cause I'll grab you by the hair a the head
And I'll lift you offa the ground

I'm not a sayin' my baby's a saint 'cause he ain't
N' that he won't cat around with a kitty
I'm here to tell ya gal to lay offa my man
If ya don't wanna go to fist city

I'm here to tell ya gal to lay offa my man
If ya don't wanna go to fist city

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Theme Week: Woman Songs! "I Enjoy Being a Girl"

Thanks to all my readers who played along with my April Fool's joke yesterday!

Now it's time to get back to the serious business of our theme this week: Woman Songs. The video today is rather lengthy, but if you stick with it, you'll not only get a new loop tape for your day, you'll also get to see the AMAZING staying-put power of the little white towel. Plus, there are some jazzy special effects.

When I was a girl, this song was popular at every talent show and we sheep in the crowd would herd into the whatever gym or multi-purpose room the show was being held in to see the doe-like creature who sang it in a perky, flirtatious kind of voice. We'd tap our hooves and swoon over the lyrics. This was the ultimate Woman-In-Training song.  I sometimes I stop to shudder when to think of the messages ingrained by this song, but then I strap on my little white towel and dance in front of my three big mirrors in my all-white bedroom and then I'm fine.

So put on your little white towel, and sing along. 
You know you want to.

I am girl, and by me that's only great!
I am proud that my silhouette is curvy,
That I walk with a sweet and girlish gait
With my hips kind of swivelly and swervy.

I adore being dressed in something frilly
When my date comes to get me at my place.
Out I go with my Joe or John or Billy,
Like a filly who is ready for the race!

When I have a brand new hairdo
With my eyelashes all in curl,
I float as the clouds on air do,
I enjoy being a girl!

When men say I'm cute and funny
And my teeth aren't teeth, but pearls,
I just lap it up like honey
I enjoy being a girl!

I flip when a fellow sends me flowers,
I drool over dresses made of lace,
I talk on the telephone for hours
With a pound and a half of cream upon my face!

I'm strictly a female female
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a brave and free male
Who'll enjoy being a guy having a girl... like... me.

When men say I'm sweet as candy
As around in a dance we whirl,
It goes to my head like brandy,
I enjoy being a girl!

When someone with eyes that smoulder
Says he loves every silken curl
That falls on my ivory shoulder,
I enjoy being a girl!

When I hear the complimentary whistle
That greets my bikini by the sea,
I turn and I glower and I bristle,
But I happy to know the whistle's meant for me!

I'm strictly a female female
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a brave and free male
Who'll enjoy being a guy having a girl... like... me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Betty's BIG Announcement! New Blog! Same Address!

Betty's Arcade Review!

Introducing My New Blog! The address is the same, but now Betty's Blog will have a different focus! Let's face it: I've done all I can in providing cookie recipes, how-to videos on femininity, and general elegant living tips.

My new blog will focus on The World of Arcades. 
The Lights!
The Sounds! 
The Prizes! 
The Unsanitary Buttons and Levers!

I've always been fascinated by these seething dens of borderline iniquities and now you'll join me as I travel across our fair land gathering information about them.  I'll expose the underbelly of these establishments, asking the tough questions.

 Is the Wheel really a Wonder Wheel?  
What makes it so?  
Is this a fact or opinion?  
Is that "Wonder" as in "Wonderful" or "Wonder" as in "To Question"?  
It seems to me people need to know.

What do the signs on this machine really mean?  
Is "No Work" a commentary on the harsh economic times ahead--especially for animated cartoon animals dressed as people?  
Is the "1 Token" sign a derogatory comment on the unidentifiable dancing animal?

And let us pause to consider WHY it is so many machines use "Stompin'" and "Jumpin'" in their titles?  
Is this a code of some kind?  
Is this drug talk?  

Examine the picture below and ask yourself:
 Why DON'T Sharks give tickets?  
Are they shellfish selfish creatures?  
What are they doing with all of their tickets anyway?

Just what ARE Skeeballs made out of?

Join me on my new adventure as I focus my time and energy on such vital questions as:

What are the laws of physics governing the claw machine? 
Is it better to drop on the leg of Winnie the Poo or the ear of Lilo?

Electronic Ticket Counters:  Scam or No Scam?  
Should you insist that the man in the stained t-shirt behind counter count your tickets instead?  Is it not ironic that he is standing behind the COUNTER but not doing any ticket COUNTING?

Which provides better lumbar support: 
Death Race Monte Carlo or Screaming Flames of Speed?

We'll take the black light to the inside of instant photo booths and give the petri dish treatment to tokens.

Ready for a year or so of spinning the wheel with Betty as she travels to arcades all over the country, uncovering the truth, collecting tickets and meeting the fascinating staff members of these establishments?

If you said "Yes!" to Betty, here's a treat for YOU--a Great Big Sucker.

Come back tomorrow! (Pretty Please?)