Tuesday, May 26, 2015

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair

After all the storms and flooding around us the last many days in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, I feel compelled to pull up something I wrote quite a while ago. I am reminded that no matter what, God is still there and still concerned for our well being.


I was asleep. Sound asleep. The deep sleep where ones experiences seem to meld together and people and places from different eras seem to float around with the present and everything appears so normal. The noise penetrated my muddled dream with such force that I was no longer certain whether I was asleep or awake and experiencing some horrific nightmare. It was an electrical storm. I heard the frightening noise again and discovered that I was sitting straight up with my hands clasped tightly over my ears.

“There was not supposed to be a thunderstorm, just rain,” I said to no one in particular, “not tonight. The weather man had said it would be clear and sunny by morning.”

The sky thundered again, sounding as if a section of the world had broken off and that at any moment the sky would come crashing down, not as rain but huge chunks of broken shards of pottery, their sharp edges penetrating the atmosphere like a sci-fi movie gone bad, vomiting toward earth only to break apart again in smaller equally destructive chunks.  Instinctively I covered my head and melted under the pillow, bracing for death only to find it didn't come. I peeked out from the covers just as another round of noise reverberated against the house causing it to shake from fear. For a brief moment I felt as if I were at a rock concert, too close to the stage, the sound eradicating what little hearing I had left.

Looking out the window, expecting to see mass destruction and pieces of pottery crashing down upon me, I could only see blackness. Total blackness, even on this city street. The power was out, yet the power was there. I could hear it and was confused.

Another sound barrier blast shoved me away from the window, but this time I saw a yellow tongue flicker across the horizon, like a Gila monster catching it's meal. The tongue searched the dark recesses of the sky after each sonic boom, desperately trying to find anything it could lash onto. I tried to blend into the wall, hoping it would not smell my scent and seek me out for it's next appetizer. I stood there frozen in place, afraid that any movement on my part would be detected and life as I knew it would suddenly come to an end and the tongue of this evil monster would find it's mark.

Then I noticed it was almost daylight and I got to experience something I have never seen before and probably never will again. The sky still felt as if it were falling apart and that I would be sucked through the hole created by the explosion, left to float eternally in empty space, but there was light appearing in the distance, through this hole. It penetrated the black sky slowly, angering the darkness that skulked away whimpering.


I stood mesmerized as the aquas melted into the oranges and yellows and blues of a new day being reborn. The sun was rising and all the glorious colors of sunrise began to push the electrical storm away. True, the storm was still there, angrily lashing it's tongue toward the golden orb that boldly subdued the night sky.
  This light was more powerful than the terrifying darkness.
  This light was conquering the electrical storm and I was thankful that there was a God who cared for us and gave us hope for a brighter tomorrow. 
 All this reminded me of a hymn we sang at Dry Creek as a teenager: "Peace Be Still" by Mary A. Baker
"Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high.
The sky is o'reshadow with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep,
When each moment is madly is threatning
A grave on the angry deep?
The winds and the waves shall obey his will,
Peace be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No water can swallow the ship where lies
The master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey thy will,
Peace be still!  Peace be still!
They all shall sweetly obey thy will,
Peace, peace be still!"

Saturday, May 23, 2015

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.


Quote from Erma Bombeck: My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.

In 1983 I found myself jobless. I had been teaching art to Jr. High students for three years. 

As art teaching jobs frequently went back then, I was laid off. Or as the school board said, “eliminating the unnecessary classes that are not important for learning. After all, it isn't like you are really teaching." 
but I really steamed once alone. 

I took it in stride, (my joblessness, that is).  I became a stay at home dad for Marty, age 4 . “I can be a free lance artist," I told Frances... I should have kept my mouth shut at that point...but I didn't.I even have better plans as to how to run the house.” I smiled, clueless. Why I bet I can keep the house cleaner and neater!”  
Darts flew from her eyes and she gave me an evil smile as she whacked me upside my head.

Week one and two: Frances left for work at her school. I took Marty to preschool, whipped back home for a quick cleaning and straightening up around the house (including making his and our beds and doing laundry), then I sat down to draw and create before having to pick him up at noon. I even set the table ahead of time for his noon meal; soapy water at the ready for dirty dishes. I picked him up at noon, fed him and put him to bed for his nap and went back, joyfully, to my free afternoon drawing and creating again. It was a breeze. The second week,I even lined up carpooling with a friend down the street. Marty and I would sit and swing on the front porch singing silly songs while waiting for him to be picked up. Then off to drawing until noon when I did the honor. The afternoons went smoothly. By the time Frances came home, Marty was awake and everything was wonderful. I bragged about how efficient I was. The house was spotless.
Again, that evil smirk from Frances.
Week three: There were school parties. I didn't know about school parties! Frances said I should volunteer. I reluctantly attended, and, yes, even volunteered to help. 

The mothers all gathered in one little corner, huddled together. 

 Every now and then one of them would turn her head in my direction, stare and then go back to the huddle like football players planning the destruction of the enemy, or better, like a gaggle of hens trying to oust the rooster.  They were discussing what to do with me! I was an anomaly. The only male present.  I was relegated to taking care of trash and cleanup. Man stuff. I felt out of place. I tried to make conversation but was met with awkward silences. This was before stay-at-home dads were cool...also just before the movie, "Mr. Mom".  I didn't have as much time to draw or paint either. Meanwhile,Marty started skipping naps. Life began to unravel. What happened to my perfect plan? Didn't he read the memo? I had to sit and entertain the little rascal every day. When Frances got home, the toys were still scattered all over the living room. The breakfast and noon dishes were still sitting dirty in the sink. I forgot to wash the clothes.   Frances,with that ever present smirk asked how my drawing was going. 

Week four: I left his bed unmade. After all, he would be back in it at noon, and there was no point in making it because he would be in it again that night. I eased up on the cleaning routine . Frances could do laundry after supper, I reasoned. Besides I had art work to do. I was behind on my schedule AND I was tired! I forgot about cleaning his noon dishes. I kicked toys off the sofa. I was cranky. I was exhausted!
  I napped while he played around me.
   Art stopped. He no longer was taking naps!   I discovered the TV. It could entertain him while I fixed lunch.
Soon I found myself watching “Days of Our Lives”while Marty played at my feet.

 My life was falling apart and I was clueless. Frances complained about coming home, making supper, having to clean dishes and laundry while I excused myself to my studio space. I said the little one never gave me time to myself and when he did I was too tired so I napped. Frances gave a sinister laugh. I promised to get my life back together. I still watched “Days of Our Lives”, however. I was hooked. Besides he was busy playing.

One year later: I was still unemployed and still following that same Mr. Mom routine. The ladies, however, had accepted me more and, during parties, assigned me other duties besides clean up. We had meaningful conversations concerning the education of our children and life in general. I had more to talk about when Frances came home instead of complaining about how hard it was being at home all day with a 5 year old. I cleaned up my act and kept things neater...well most days. I was good at laundry. I learned to love straightening up the house before Frances returned.   But, I was still watching soaps while Marty “slept” in the afternoons. I still was not getting much accomplished as far as art but I didn't really care. I was into this routine of watching the boy grow up. I enjoyed his company. I knew that soon he would be going all day to kindergarten and I could have my rest and possibly find a real job and if not, then I would continue concentrating on free lance art.
  Sure, this staying at home with a preschooler was a lot of work and I was gaining a tremendous amount of respect for stay at home parents.

Kindergarten: Since Marty's school was just two blocks away we decided to walk. I was excited about having the whole day all to myself. I could create again. Hallelujah! The first day, at home, I found it hard to concentrate, wondering what the little bugger was doing. At 3:00, I stood outside with other mothers, waiting for Marty, anxious as to his day and excited about mine. I was thrilled. “He can't wait to tell me how he loved school,” I told the lady next to me. She smiled. The bell rang. Marty came running out all animated, yelling, “Dad, Dad! What happened to Stefano?” Heads turned. Stares bore through me. Unkind remarks burned my ears. The mothers moved a few steps further away. My heart sank. He had NOT been sleeping those afternoons. “Mr. Mom” was busted. I haven't watched a soap opera since then. Lesson learned.

I know, you're saying, “What were you thinking?” Well, apparently, not much. I blame it on my lack of sleep.   Staying at home is exhausting work! I have total respect for anyone, especially moms who have to endure this exhausting job of staying at home and taking care of all that tremendous work that is unappreciated. And then doing it again and again.

That evening, Frances just smiled and shook her head wondering why I was bowing down kissing her feet when she returned home. 

 I took her out to eat that weekend and learned to do my share of household chores even better. I became a good, no, make that... a great, husband.

Now that I am retired I have all the time in the world to create. Frances has since trained me to cook and I have a meal on the table when she returns from her part-time job tutoring. NOW the tables have turned. Marty is now a stay at home dad taking care of a 4 year old and a 2 year old. He feels the same frustrations I did except that his generation is more accepting of stay-at home-dads. He is not an anomaly. And NO. He does not watch “Days of Our Lives” and he limits the children's TV time. He has become a better dad than I ever was. Kudos to you son. I must have taught you well. But truth is Frances taught us both.
© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair.

 I just need to get a pet peeve off my chest...well, one of my many pet peeves...I may list them some day for you...this time it is about freezer spaces.
Tonight I was trying to add something to the freezer and well, that is where the problem began.

 Our freezer is located on the left side (the correct side in my left handed world) of the refrigerator, next to the refrigerator side where we keep our milk and other things that I like to organize according to my world.  It has two doors...delightful to use...sits in the kitchen right next to the sink and the island...just like most every other refrigerator in every other house...the problem is the shelves are narrow and not everything that we freeze is in handy little boxed containers that can stack easily in those narrow places...This is a very sore point with me.  I like things to be neat and tidy in my world - when I want it to be. And my world means the way I perceive things to be...not the reality view.

Anyway, back to the problem.  Some of our frozen items are in zip lock bags that we forget, way too often, to label as to the contents.  They don't stack well and, if bulky, tend to be shoved wherever they might can fit...which puts them in odd shapes and makes me, unhappy.  And when unhappy, I make lots of fussy little sentences that are completely illogical. 

THIS IS SO WRONG!  Bulky little zip lock bags don't belong in a freezer. They create hazards!   When you try to place a nice neat box in the freezer that you got from Sam's or somewhere..you have to move the frozen blob and then try to force its unyielding shape into another space. Awkward.  They don't want to fit into a new space.  They have become molded to the old space.  So I tend to quickly shove them in and slam the door.  Of course, the next time, as soon as the door is opened, the blob quickly escapes causing a hazard to my feet as it slides merrily to the floor..  I hardly ever - no make that never - wear shoes in the house unless it is a very cold day then I might wear socks...cold frozen blobs hurt an awful lot when they land on feet that are too slow to move out of the way, even with socks on!  It feels as if an 18 pound shot put were thrown directly on the feet.

   MAJOR OUCH!!!  Maybe I should design freezer boxes that fit neatly in narrow shelves....oh wait, you say,  that has been done already...ah, yes, plastic containers,  I think they are called. Duh!  Well then maybe I should learn to use those containers. But that takes time.  I need instant gratification.  But I am off the subject now...so back to that freezer. 

Frances loves frozen bananas, which started this whole problem.  In order to freeze bananas you have to place them in the freezer.  They don't come in neat little boxes that fit on narrow shelves.  "Why oh why don't they make rectangular bananas?", I shouted.  "Bananas should come in nice little boxes the size used to hold toothpaste.  Boxes that will stack neatly?"   Frances just laughed.  "Are things not fitting according to the way Nippy thinks they should fit, darling?  Poor baby," she mocked. 

So, do you understand where I am going here?   Yes, I could have put them in containers, but that would be too easy.  All this leads to me shoving those dang bananas into the freezer, in a hissy fit, around other awkward blobs that aren't neat and tidy, demanding that they be eaten as soon as they are properly frozen before they become a disheveled mess in my world.  With the overripe bananas in one hand I jerked the door open...yep, you guessed it....two blobs, that had no label as to their secret, slid happily out of their forced contained areas and landed smack dab on my feet. 

So if you visit me tomorrow you will see the scrape from the frozen, unlabeled, item on my feet and a nice blue spot.  I'd even be happy to eat a frozen banana, if you bring it to me.   But, I'm not opening that freezer door.  I might be attacked!

*NOTE:  All of this nonsense won't mean a hill of beans, in my little world, until the next time I need to put something in the freezer that requires my moving things around.  Welcome to my world.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

© Nippy Blair 2015. Posts and pictures on this blog cannot be copied, downloaded, printed, or used without the permission of the blog owner, Nippy Blair

Madame Zulu Voodoo Jones

Luke 6:18 Those troubled by evil spirits were cured.

The yard was bare of any grass. There were chickens scratching about on the hard, dry earth enclosed by a fence that long ago had lost all of its usefulness.

The house had seen better days but still had a little life left in it...maybe.
The sign, crudely painted on an old sheet of plywood in the front yard said: Madame Zulu Voodoo Jones, Faith healer, Palm Reader, Treater of all illnesses, Remover of the Devil, Reader of the stars.

I had passed this forlorn place many times while traveling down highway One, only to laugh at the ignorance of others who might have stopped there. This time, curiosity got the better of me and I stopped, laughing to myself.

The old hound dogs greeted me, at what used to be a gate, before I could get out of the car. One obviously had recently given birth to a litter from the looks of her and the fact that seven pups were chasing closely behind. 
The other looked as if he could tear the tires right off the vehicle if so inclined - he must have been their daddy. 
The brutish dogs began making their rounds, barking and growling and relieving themselves  on my right rear tire While the mother sat there scratching and trying to make the puppies leave her alone.

Someone came out.  I rolled down my window enough to speak. “Is Madame Zulu in,” I shouted, “I would like…..” “Yes, yes, don’t leave. I will get her,” interrupted the animated woman, on the porch, as she spat upon the ground. “Get out of the way, dogs, we got company,” she hissed. I waited while the guards continued manning their post.

About ten minutes later, the same woman, or her twin sister, returned dressed in a garish dress, wrapping a bandanna around her head. She tugged at the tight skirt and rolled it up enough to walk barefoot over the chicken droppings while fastening a metal belt made from beer tabs around her waist. In her best “Haitian” accent she began a singsong monologue as she ushered me upon the porch while kicking the dogs away. “Welcome, welcome, mon amis. Yes, I am the Madame. Welcome, welcome. Yes, I can read your palm. I can tell you do not need a healing for you have no major illness.
She pointed to her sign:
" $10.00 before we look into the crystal ball.  No!  You must pay first.  $10.00" 

I smiled my best nervous smile and explained that I did not wish a reading today and did not have $10.00. I mainly wanted to know her prices for future references.

She turned on me with a vengeance that would make the devil himself take notice and forgetting her Haitian accent cursed me for interrupting her soap opera. She shoved me away while she called the dogs and reached for a broom. I twisted my ankle as I stumbled down the steps, landing right in the middle of fresh chicken droppings. The dogs surrounded me, barking madly, while she swung wildly with a broom barely missing my head several times. She continued swinging and cursing as I stumbled over the chickens, causing them to cackle and flutter around my head, scratching my neck. I crawled over the bare ground and what was left of a gate barely making it to the car. The male dog tore my bluejeans while the female stole my shoe. I sat there in total distress with chicken feathers and chicken poo all over my body.   She cursed and demanded I leave.

As I drove away, I saw her removing her wig and bandanna while tugging at the skirt, slamming the remains of her screen door and cursing at the top of her voice. “Nosy old white trash, interrupting my program. Hope the damn dog bit him good, yes sir, interrupting my program. Dirty white trash. How can a woman make decent money with people like that.”