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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Little critter

Living in a rural area certainly has its advantages.  Not only do we occasionally get a ringside seat to atmospheric anomalies like Thursday's cold-core funnels, but more often we get to see animals.  Raccoons, possums, armadillos, deer, groundhogs, skunks, snakes, lizards, and large turtles are all fair game here in the Bootheel, as are a plethora of birds and your more elusive creatures like coyotes, foxes, weasels, and occasionally beavers.  Malden was once home to a large air force base, and Mama and I like to drive out that way just for kicks on afternoons after work.  We've seen our fair share of skunks out there, but none quite like this!
Apologies for the iffy picture, as this little feller was constantly on the move and thus hard to photograph.  He's just a baby, y'all, no bigger than a kitten!  Oh wait, he IS a kitten; baby skunks are called kittens or kits.  He was standing in someone's driveway when we drove past, and when we went by he arched his back and held his tail up (just like this), ready to squirt his juice.  Of course Mama and I have never seen such a tiny skunk, and so we backed the car up to get a better look at him.  We watched him for a few minutes as he mosied on up the driveway and into the homeowner's front yard.

Even though our neck of the woods has plenty of skunks we don't often get to see them.  They're creatures of the night and Mama and I prefer to be inside with the curtains drawn and the doors locked by the time the sun sets, so we don't often see live skunks.  We're more likely to smell them from a distance or see them creamed in the center of the road.  Thus this little guy was quite a treat.  I just hope he made it back to his mother safely!

Best wishes,

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Weather spotting

"So how have you been?"  a patron asked me at the library today.

"Oh, fine.  I've been out chasing tornadoes," I replied, reveling in the disbelieving look on the patron's face.

Okay, they're cold-core funnels, not tornadoes, but if it's one thing I love it's a good cold-core funnel.  The story begins around noonish when I had to take Bella back to the vet (her incision has a minor infection).  On the way back a small but hard rain shower came and went, and as Mama and I headed out for lunch I pointed to the cloud that had passed us and remarked "If it were April I'd be a bit more concerned about that cloud.  It's awfully low."  Neither of us thought much more about it until we got to the local Hardee's and had our order placed.  Out of sheer curiosity I glanced towards the east and saw this.
I jumped out of the car and snapped one more picture while Mama paid for the food.
Given the size of that initial funnel I half-wondered if it had enough juice to touch down, and I subsequently ordered Mama (yes, ordered her, LOL) eastwards.  The initial funnel did not touch down, but it shifted shape and color constantly.

We pulled out onto Highway 25 and I got this picture of the whole storm.  The funnel is present in this picture but is very difficult to see.  Also noteworthy are the rain shafts.
Around the vicinity of the local Pentecost church I saw the funnel reforming, and we pulled into the church's rather ample parking lot.
There we settled in, tucked into our lunch, and watched the funnel twist and turn.
At one point I panned back again to catch the whole storm, which wasn't really too much of a storm.  There was a fair amount of rain but no lightning or thunder.  The funnel is faintly visible on the right in this picture.
Look very close to the rain shaft now.  There appears to be a second funnel.
Here the second funnel has come out to play a bit more.  It's the thicker one on the left, while the original one persisted on the right.
I wondered if the northern funnel might have enough chutzpah to touch down, but fortunately for those chaps out there in rural New Madrid County both funnels stayed aloft.  The pair dissipated a few minutes after I took that last picture, leaving me late for work and praising the good Lord for such a sight.

Cold-core funnels are fairly common in this part of the country.  Indeed I photographed one a few years back that was even more spectacular than this, though I'd have to dig through four thousand other pictures of clouds on my FB page in order to find them.  What can I say, sky photography is a hobby of mine.  I've only got the camera in my cell phone, but it does the job fairly well.  Anywho, these high-based funnel clouds can look scary but they are rarely cause for alarm.  They do rotate and they do occasionally touch down (as one did in Roswell, New Mexico three years ago), and when this happens they usually cause only minor damage.  I've yet to hear of a violent, Joplin-caliber tornado coming from one of these cold-core funnels, but they're still worth keeping an eye on.

In addition to the Heavenly Father above for allowing me to view these vortices, I thank my beloved mother for being kind enough to drive me out to the country to goggle at clouds.  Granted, we only had to drive about a mile, but I'm still thankful for the trip.  Thanks, Ma!!!


Monday, August 6, 2018

Poor little puppies!

Bella and Sonic made it through their respective surgeries with little fuss and are now home with their mama.  Here they are, all decked out in their Elizabethan collars.  Sonic is the black and tan one, and Bella is all tan.
Bella is still pretty loopy, so I'm letting them rest on my rather unkempt bed.

Grandma's funeral went off without a hitch.  We had about fifty people, a large turnout for a graveside service.  Both my pastor and my mother's cousin-in-law preached, and we sang a hymn, and we laughed and hugged and said a lot of thank-yous and went out separate ways.  It was really quite pleasant, much more so than I was expecting.  The weather even held...and just as I'm typing this my weather radio is going off.  We may have severe storms tonight and tomorrow.

Now I'm going to take a nap with the puppies.  I should be back to regular blogging next week.


Barbie Fashionistas #88 "Unicorn Magic" review

I don't usually review Barbie Fashionistas since they're largely "you've-seen-one-you've-seen-'em-all" in terms of quality and construction, but I was in a lousy mood last evening and needed to "find a way to forget reality," as Project Zomboid would put it. I forgot to take my anxiety meds, never a smart thing to do, and a number of small but annoying things happened, and that all pulled together to form a day that was about as pleasant as having a kidney stone. Add to that the fact that Grandma's funeral is today, and that a lot of family and friends will be travelling (even though we told them NOT to), and that's pushed my anxiety level up even more. Jeez, I'm such a drama queen! I've done a lot of talking to God lately, even though I feel so...far...away from Him. They say that when you feel far away from God that's usually when He's the closest, and I desperately hope that's true.

Anyway, I need something to perk myself up, keep myself busy, pull my head out of my rear, so today y'all get a brief glimpse of one of the new Fashionistas. She's #88 "Unicorn Magic," and Jewel is her name, in honor of C. S. Lewis and a character in one of his books.
I really need to read The Chronicles of Narnia. My sister did read them and says they were good, and I like fantasy so those books might be right up my alley. Anywho, I've been excited about this wave of dolls for quite some time, as Mattel is kicking it up with colors and hairstyles. I've already got these two, whom I call Duckie and Sam...
...and I'm still looking for this one, whom I may jokingly name "Dandelion."
"Dandelion" appears to be this wave's It Girl, by the way. Every Fashionista wave has an It Girl, one that everyone either loves and wants to own or hates and wants to boycott, and this one appears to be the one. She's very, VERY pale and has that huge white-blonde Afro that won my heart, and she appears to have an all-new head as well. I've yet to see "Dandelion" anywhere, but she's definitely very high on my wish list. Since everyone appears to want "Dandelion" I may have to wait awhile, and patience is not a virtue I've been blessed with (LOL).

Regarding Jewel now, I initially thought that she had a tall body, which would've been interesting since she's got high-heeled feet. Most of my tall dolls have either completely flat feet or feet with a slight heel, like Francine here does.
However, when I paired Jewel with Gertrude and Francine I realized that Jewel is not tall at all.
She's got an original body. I was duped by those short shorts that make her legs look longer than they are.

Now this hair...this hair was the determining factor in my picking this doll up.  It's beautiful.  Pictures don't do it justice.

The style is as simple as pie and as timeless as a pair of blue jeans, just a side part with no bangs, but this dye job is amazing.  Jewel's hair is a lovely combination of indigo and azure, with strands of tinsel incorporated into the style.
It's smooth tinsel too, not the old kind that some early Monster High dolls have.  I'll love my old Cleo de Nile doll until the day comes that we part ways (hopefully that day will never come), but her tinsel was/is bad about catching in hairbrush bristles and becoming snagged.
Oh, brief aside:  see Cleo's new clothes???
That cute little dress managed to survive half an hour in my puppies' jaws.  Two other dresses that came with it did not.  LOL, anyway, from a distance Jewel's hair looks lavender or blue (dilly, dilly) depending on the light.  Thus I absolutely love this hair, but I also am more than a little confused.  Why is Mattel pulling out all the stops to make Barbie look more and more original but at the same time cutting corners with cheap bodies and cheap clothes???  I mean, this hair is fabulous.  So is the face.
This head should be on an articulated body!!!  And if I get a wild hair, I may do just that and put this head on a Made to Move body.  But for now let's look at this paint.  Jewel has medium brown eyebrows (meaning that she'd normally be a mouse-brown brunette like me) and periwinkle eyes with long lashes and no shadow.  Her eyes are on straight, unlike the eyes of my poor little Blorange girl, Suika.
Jewel has a very wide mouth, about as wide as Norelle's.  Her lip paint is very matte and...oh, I'll say that color is mauve.  Not a great lip color as it makes one look a little short on oxygen, but it's better than bubblegum lips.
Here's Jewel with Norelle.  See how their mouths compare?
Katti's Dolls doesn't have a cutesy nickname for Norelle's head, but she compared it to Duck Lips (oops, did I say that out loud???) Julia Roberts, so I may just nickname this head the "Julia" head.  For the record, Norelle is prettier than Julia Roberts is by a long shot, but as usual I digress.  I'm about eighty percent sure that Norelle and Jewel share a head mold, but being a bear of very little brain I'll have to see confirmation online.  LOL, Winnie the Pooh reference!!!

Since Jewel's body is the same as the majority of Barbie bodies I'm going to move on to clothes now.

This outfit reminds me of the reason why I wanted to be a cheerleader when I was a toddler.  When Daddy asked me why I told him "Because they wear little clothes and have big bumps on their chests!"  Kids really do say the darnedest things, don't they?  Anywho, Jewel is a bit more scantily clad than I'm used to with Barbie, though it's not quite as bad as some of the goofy styles the Bratz wore (and keep in mind that I'm a Bratz fan).  Her style consists of Daisy Duke shorts and a white top with a unicorn on it, plus some accessories.  Going from the top down, this top is the reason why Jewel's official name is "Unicorn Magic," as it has a unicorn printed on.  The unicorn is white and...wait a minute, that's not just a unicorn.  That's a pegacorn, also referred to as an alicorn by My Little Pony.  The ALICORN is white with a rainbow mane and tail, and the rest of the material is speckled with tiny blue and pink polka dots.
To my delight, the tiny specks appear on the back of the top as well as the front.
The bottom hem is reinforced with this plasticky stuff, which I'm very thankful for.  This fabric is pretty loosely woven, and it would probably ravel like mad even with the hem sewn the way it is.
The neck is embelished with lavender stitching, which I find odd since none of the other hems have this.  Too bad, too; it's a lovely shade.
Ooops, I lie.  The armholes are also trimmed in this purple stuff.
Lastly, the bottom of this top is sewn into a faux tie, not unlike the kite blouses that I wore when I was a little girl.
The shorts are your typical Daisy Duke shorts (an article of clothing that y'all wouldn't catch me dead in), with fringed hems and a faux fly and pockets.
It has a nice uneven fade pattern all over, which I do like.
Jewel's accessories are few, just boots and a bracelet.  The boots are glorified cowboy boots with molded fringe and molded studs.  The heel is insanely high, like the heels of so many Barbie shoes.
These shoes fit Jewel's feet closely and thus would be a pain in the posterior to pull off, but they have nice big slits in the back.
As for the bracelet, it's fairly nondescript with a big unpainted gem and a wide band.  It's cast in a pretty translucent plastic that would make a nice pair of shoes...or earrings.
Yeah, earrings.  This plastic would've made a great set of earrings, but Jewel has none.  Few of my Fashionistas do.

I think it's unneccesary to play Dolly Dress Shuffle with Jewel since she's got the original body and thus will be easy to dress.  So now we've come to the end of this somewhat cursory review.


*Has the same old stiff body that all Barbie Fashionistas have
*Clothes are pretty cheaply made, though they lack some of the frustrating shortcuts that Barbie clothes can have
*Clothes are also fairly scanty, though I've definitely seen worse in the doll world.
*Few accessories


*Clothes, while fairly cheap, are hemmed in all the places they should be, and the hems are reinforced in places.  The top is also printed on both sides, which we don't often get to see with Barbie clothes nowadays.
*I love the face too.  I always enjoy seeing relatively new molds get used, if this is indeed the head mold that I think it is.
*Few accessories.  That's both a good thing and a bad thing, as it's fewer things to play with, but also fewer things to get lost or swallowed or choked on.

I wasn't expecting to buy too many of the dolls from this wave, just Duckie and "Dandelion" (if I can ever find "Dandelion"), but...looks like I'm having to eat my words!  Jewel is not perfect (few of my dolls are), but the problems she has are common to the majority of Barbie dolls these days and can be overlooked.  She's certainly eye-catching, enough so that she could probably hold her own against the brightly clad Rainbow Bright (Duckie) and the big-haired Varsity Plaiditude ("Dandelion) if the three were on a shelf together.  If any of y'all are up for a violet-haired doll with a Daisy-Duke-meets-the-Shibajuku-Girls vibe then Jewel would be perfect for you.  She'd look great in the Sanrio-themed fashions that are still popping up in stores.

Probably by the time this post goes out my puppies will be at the vet's preparing for surgery and I'll be trying to get my hair straightened for Grandma's funeral.  In accordance with her wishes we'll be doing a graveside service, but I'm still dreading it.  A, it's supposed to be hot tomorrow, B, the location is next to an active rail line and a crossing where engineers HAVE to sound the whistle, and C, I'm just not a huge fan of funerals for people I know.  I learned from what little mortuary training I got that if it's someone you don't know, it's easy to detach yourself and just do what needs to be done.  If you know the person, it's NOT easy.  Anywho, y'all keep my family and me in your thoughts and prayers tomorrow, as we close out the final chapter of our loved one's life.

Tenderest love to all,


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Random post about Barbie clothes and life in general

SPOILER AND DISCLAIMER:  some of the dolls in this post will not be Barbie.  That said, time for a random post.  Hey, gotta kill time while Second Uncle forces the rest of us to watch a boxing match that he's got turned up to eleven.  I loathe boxing.  Anyway, here's the outfits in question.  Sindy, Tammy, and Pepper are wearing them.
These aren't cutting edge fashions, but they do the job of keeping my dolls' nakedness covered.  The little shorts set that Pepper is wearing has an adjustable halter tie at the neck and can subsequently fit a wide range of dolls.  By contrast, the Hello Kitty outfit was baggy around Pepper's waist and looked frumpy on her.  It flatters Tammy's wider hips and chest.

I paid eighteen bucks for all four of those dresses, and they came from OnlyDollThings.  They make stuff for the old-style Ken dolls too, which I didn't know before buying from the shop.  Since I've got Ken dolls that need new duds I may hit this shop up again in the not-so-near future.  It'll have to be the not-so-near future since I'm having to pay vet bills.  On Thursday my oldest cat Callie had to go to the vet due to ingrown claws and the resulting infection (which I thought I'd caught early but didn't).  Warning to any of y'all who own Hemingway cats:  MIND THOSE CLAWS.  They sometimes grow too much or in the wrong direction and cause a lot of trouble.  I did not know this beforehand; if I had I'd have been more diligent about cutting Callie's nails.  She's home now and healing nicely, but I'm mad at myself for letting it happen in the first place.  And that's not even the end of my vet woes!  This coming Monday it'll be time for Bella and Sonic to be spayed and neutered.  Jeez, seems like it was just yesterday I was carrying them both in my arms and making sure they didn't chew on something or pee in the floor.  

Now I'm going to listen to Second Uncle harp at the television and talk about himself all night long.  Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get to see a repeat of the 1982 Duk Koo Kim/Ray Mancini fight.  LOL, am I sick or what???  I hold a very low opinion of most boxers.  MOST, that is; I like Lennox Lewis okay due to his class and his stance against domestic violence, and I like Manny Pacquiao because he's not afraid to speak his mind even if his opinion is unpopular.  But that's it for the most part.  Go figure; my favorite part of a hockey game is the fistfighting that sometimes breaks out, but I despise boxing.

Much love,

Thursday, August 2, 2018


I wish to thank every single one of y'all for the thoughts, prayers, and positive vibes, and I ask that you keep them coming.  For as of this evening, I am no longer someone's grandbaby.  Grandma passed away earlier this evening, apparently in her sleep, which is how we prefer it.  She didn't die on the floor like a family friend did, nor did she go screaming and fighting tooth and nail.  From what we're hearing it was a bit sudden but peaceful.

My grandmother's full name was Alta Jeanette Hester (referred to hereafter as "Jeanette"), and she was born on September second, 1927.  Here's what she looked like as a young woman; Mama thinks she was about nineteen or twenty.
Jeanette had five brothers and four sisters, three of whom (two sisters and a brother) are still with us.  She lived to be ninety years old and spent forty-four of those years working at Malden Library, where I now work.  When she was...I think it was about two years of age she was severely burned while playing with matches, and she spent a good portion of her childhood in a hospital in Kansas City, being cared for by the Shriners.  Indeed, she was gone so much that when she came home for good her youngest brother, who had been born while she was away, looked her over and demanded to know who this "new girl" was.  Jeanette didn't talk much about this time but did share one story about a power outage.  In the hospital there were several children with polio, and back in those days polio was treated with an iron lung.  Iron lungs ran on electricity, and when the power went out that was bad news for anyone in an iron lung.  Jeanette was able-bodied by this time, and hospital staff set her and several other children to work manning the iron lungs until power was restored.  Jeanette got paired with a fifteen-year-old girl, and while she worked the two girls chatted back and forth until the power was restored.  Jeanette also reported that the girl she helped did not survive her battle with polio, though she did survive the power outage.

Jeanette Hester became Jeanette Wright when she married army engineer James Willis Wright on May 22nd, 1949.
Of course there was a story behind that too.  The time frame between May 15th and May 22nd of that year saw a nasty tornado outbreak sequence, and on the 21st one particularly nasty tornado caused a lot of trouble up in Cape Girardeau.  Both James and Jeanette were in downtown Malden shopping that night on opposite sides of the same street when the storm came rumbling up from Arkansas.  Man and wife-to-be stepped out of their respective stores to watch the tumultuous storm, and both wondered if they'd survive to be married the next day.  Malden was blessed that night and did not get hit, but Cape Girardeau lost twenty-one people.

Survive the storm the couple did, and they went on to have three children.  Life was happy for the most part, though Jeanette did suffer one miscarriage during her fertile years, and a few years later a near-fatal blood clot.  The latter event was witnessed by First Uncle, who happened to be up early on a Saturday and was firmly told by his father to go back to bed.  The blood clot was caused by birth control pills.  PLEASE be careful with those if any of y'all use them!  Anyway, Jeanette lived as a housewife for most of her adult years.  James became a schoolteacher and later a principal, and thus the family had to move a lot, though the family was reportedly happiest at Piedmont, Missouri, which is indeed a lovely little town with lovely people.  Jeanette was loved and respected for her babysitting skills and for her beautiful singing voice, though she herself was a bit shy about singing in public.  The childhood burns had left some nasty scars, some of which were visible on Jeanette's neck, and she was always afraid people in the audience would stare at these scars.  Nevertheless Jeanette lent her voice to weddings, funerals, and church gatherings, and as far as I know no one noticed the scars...or they may simply have thought the scars were birthmarks, as I did when I was young.  But Jeanette was self-conscious about those scars for her whole adult life, even after she was out of the public eye.  During her years as a singer her sister Clara helped provide some on-stage support by playing the piano.

Neither of my uncles married or had children, and Mama married in her early thirties so my sister and I were Jeanette's only grandchildren.  She and Grandpa doted on us, giving us our first nicknames as children.  I had a prissy attitude when I was a toddler and subsequently earned the nickname "Duchess," while my sister was "Dumplin'."  Indeed, we were Duchess and Dumplin' up until Grandma had to go into the nursing home...and come to think of it, Grandma still called my sister "Dumplin'" when she asked about her schooling.  Anyway, Grandma and Grandpa served as babysitters and caregivers when Mama and Daddy were busy, providing us with clothes and toys during birthdays and Christmas, and with money during the college years.  Grandma insisted on putting both my sister and me through college ("I can't take it with me," she always said), but I always felt bad taking money from her.

Oh yes, Grandma also actively encouraged my doll collecting.  She provided Sister and me with American Girl dolls, and after Sister decided she didn't like dolls anymore Grandma kept me in them.  The first one she got for me was this one, a Swan Lake ballerina.  I think this Barbie is supposed to be Odette, but I named her "Margot" instead, after Dame Margot Fonteyn.  My Margot is friends with Steph and Poison Ivy (LOL).
Then came Astrid the flower fairy, a present for my sixteenth birthday.

Astrid resided in the gift shop of Dexter Hospital during an unpleasant period in 2003 when Grandpa had to have some heavy-duty surgery.  Everyone was in a bad mood, and this doll cheered me up quite a bit.

Next came Petronella, during the summer of 2004.

I was sick with a kidney stone, and Grandma had a cancer scare that summer so we spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital.  On the day that Grandma had to have one particularly unpleasant procedure I begged to go with my parents to the hospital, so severe was my cabin fever.  The cancer scare proved to be just a scare, and on the way home Grandma turned to me and said "Oh, by the way, I've got something for you at home."  Upon reaching her home Grandma presented me with this Gibson girl-style doll, whom I named Petronella.  Here's a closeup of her little face.  She usually wears glasses, but I took them off for this picture.
Maxine came along after both Daddy and Grandpa passed away.  She's a large flapper.

I'd spent the day up at Cape Girardeau with Grandma and with obnoxious Second Uncle, who on that day was hell-bent on having everything his way.  He wanted to eat Italian food or know the reason why.  He insisted on visiting Barnes and Noble three times.  He bought a chess set, even though he neither could afford it nor knows how to play.  Bottom line, I'd had just about enough of him by the time we were ready to leave West Park Mall.  Oh, did I also mention that he had a fit when I wanted to go into ONE lousy store???  He was ready to leave by then, and he huffed and he puffed and he pouted while I browsed said store.  The store had several Madame Alexander Alex dolls for sale, the first (and only) time that I'd ever seen Alex in person, and there was also Maxine.  When Grandma learned that I'd seen a doll I liked, she handed me a twenty-dollar bill and said "Go and get her!  If you don't I will!"  So that's how I ended up with Maxine.  Both Grandma and Mama fell in love with this face.
There were others that don't have interesting stories but are nonetheless well-loved.  There's Makayla...
...Rosalinda (left) and Holly...
...and several little Indians that I briefly donated to the library.  The little girl in blue ("Butterfly") is not one of the gifts (I bought her myself), but she looks good with the other little Native dolls.
Oh yes, how could I forget Yoshiko?  Grandma's sister Barbara and her husband were stationed in Okinawa during the Korean War, and Barbara sent this doll back as a gift.  Grandma kept her for many years, and now of course I have her.  Her name means "good child" or "joyful child."
There are others that I'm undoubtedly missing, as she kept me well supplied in dolls and doll clothes.  As y'all no doubt saw above most of the dolls Grandma gave to me are modern-day porcelain dolls, which are often derided among doll collectors as being garbage.  True, these girls have no resale value, but the sentiment behind them makes them special.  I'll treasure them and the memories they hold forever.  And hey, I haven't even touched on Shirley Temple yet.  Remember her?

Shirley's review can be found here (it contains some eerie foreshadowing), and the story behind her purchase can be found here.  She was a special little doll for Grandma.

Earlier this evening when I took the puppies out to do their business I saw a shooting star.  It wasn't a big one, just visible for a split second, but I did see it.  In some cultures shooting stars mean that a death has occurred, so I can't help wondering if the one I saw tonight was Grandma saying goodbye.  Maybe not, but the timing is a little uncanny.  Grandma will no doubt be missed, particularly during the upcoming wave of holidays since we always spent them at her house.  But she is out of pain, out of suffering, eternally in the arms of Jesus and in the presence of her beloved husband, her equally loved son-in-law (Daddy), her brothers, sisters, and parents, and the child she never got to know.  We as a family take solace in that.  

Please continue to pray for my family since members will be traveling in to pay their last respects.  If any of y'all would like to pay tribute to my grandmother (even though you didn't know her), give a small donation to the Shriners or to St. Jude's Hospital, two charities that Grandma always loved.

Very truly yours,