Friday, September 19, 2008


Up at 3 AM, home anytime between 6 PM and 7 PM: every day, 7 days a week. This has been going on since I got home from Texas but I'm not gonna complain because I realize that I'm in better shape than a lot of other people. I know a lot of families making getting by on low wages who would love to be in my position. Yeah, I knew all this and more, but this article in MSNBC really opened my eyes. You should go read it and count your blessings. Here are a few highlights:

Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they've experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007, according to a report by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The group says the problem has worsened since the report's release in April, with foreclosures mounting, gas and food prices rising and the job market tightening.

*The relatively tony city of Santa Barbara has given over a parking lot to
people who sleep in cars and vans.
*The city of Fresno, Calif., is trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood.
*In Portland, Ore., and Seattle, homeless advocacy groups have paired with nonprofits or faith-based groups to manage tent cities as outdoor shelters.
*Other cities where tent cities have either appeared or expanded include include Chattanooga, Tenn., San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio.

The article goes on about how an unbelievable number of folks have lost their homes. Being homeless no longer means being a drunk or drug addict who doesn't work much less bathe. It now means whole families who couldn't make their house payment sleeping in the family car.

Thankfully I have a good paying job and a home that's paid for. It's easy to complain about high gas prices and long work hours but sometimes we need to be reminded that we're lucky to have a job and a car to put gas in and a roof over our head when it rains.

We (and the rest of the world for that matter) think of America as the land of the entitled. When we see pictures of homeless people, starving children, people sleeping on the ground with no clothes and nothing to eat we think of a third world nation but Wake up folks, this is happening here in the USA!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I reached West ½ an hour before Jackie was due to get off of work, so I decided to cruise around on my own and check things out. One of the first things to catch my eye was the Family Dollar sign and a light bulb went off over my pointy little head saying: “Hey, didn’t Jackie say that she worked at the dollar store?” So I parked, walked in and the first thing I see is Jackie at the register holding court with 4 or 5 people surrounding her. So there I stood in the middle of the store waiting for her to notice me.

Notice me she did but didn’t know who I was, thinking that I was there to see Inky. She pointed me out to Inky and he was “Who’s that?” when Jackie finally figured out “That’s Junebugg” and ran around the counter to hug me. I hung around Family Dollar until time for her to clock out and then we met Babs for get-to-know-each lunch where I had my first skunk egg (a wonderful tennis ball sized wad of ham, chicken, bacon, cheese and who knows what else that's been breaded and deep fried). Then it was on to Jackie’s house where I met and was approved by Queen Annie, one of the most regal felines on the planet.

Let me tell you people, Jackie fed me like a queen while I was in Texas. Country fried steak with all the fixings, ring bologna & cheese, the woman cooked up a storm; when she wasn’t cooking we were going out for kolaches (wonderful things, kolaches, I do they’re addicting). She made me feel pampered and spoiled and I dreaded going home where I’m the one doing all the work. It’s a good thing that I don’t live in West or I’d weigh 300 pounds!

The next few days were spend getting to know each other with Jackie taking me on a grand tour of West, pointing out all the highlights and giving me a running commentary on every building’s history and introducing me around to the local citizens. I believe the woman knows everyone within a 50 mile radius! The town’s not that big and traffic is almost nonexistent, at least until Friday. When the crowd showed up for Westfest Jackie would sit at a stop sign waiting to pull out going “Fucking Tourists, fucking tourists, damn it go home!”

We both got to march in the Westfest parade but I kept losing Jackie. She was handing out the candy instead of throwing it and stopping to talk to everyone (I told you she knew everyone!) Babs had put me in charge of making sure that Jackie didn’t overdo because of her high blood pressure but when I tried to fuss she told me “The hazard pay ain’t high enough and I don’t need a MAMA." so I gave up and let her be. We had made “Obama Mama” t-shirts the night before when she had made signs for the democratic float, but the markers weren’t waterproof. So I look over at Jackie about half way through the parade and she’s got black streaks on both arms from sweating and rubbing her arms across her boobs (big boobs are a bitch sometimes). We both about melted in the Texas sun and afterwards went to get some water but all the stores had already sold out.

Gady (another one of Jackie's blog buddies) drove down to go to stay with Jackie and go to Westfest with us. Lucky feller, staying all night with two women and all. So off we go and he keeps losing one of us in the crowd. First I wondered off and then we lost Jackie. I almost chocked when he panicked and told me that he was an “Alpha Male” and it was his job to take care of the women. I can’t remember the last time that I needed taken care of and I don’t think that Jackie was ever helpless, but men can’t help being men what with all those male hormones messing with their brains. Besides, it was kinda sweet.

I learned to do the Chicken dance, drank 3 Pevos (beer) and had a great time. Who knew that polka was such a big draw? The place was packed and everyone seemed to be having a blast, I even ran up on a guy from Alabama! I watched in amusement as an older gentlemen went around kissing all the young girls on the hand as he leered down their cleavage and there was a young man dressed in costume leaning on a tent pole holding a sign that said “Will dance for pevo” who Jackie tried to give some money to.

After Westfest we dropped in at a bar that Jackie knew. Gady was a little hesitant about going in because the lot was almost empty and dark and the building was “rustic”; but we females started in without him and you know that an “alpha male” wasn’t about to let the females go alone. Of course Jackie knew everyone inside and we all shot several games of pool. Jackie kicked my ass and then she played Gady. He won but I’m almost positive that she was sandbagging so as not to hurt his delicate male pride.

Home again; me on the couch, Jackie in the recliner and Gady in Jackie’s bed. Wonder how long it’s been since there’s been a man in Jackie’s bed??????? He leaves out first thing the next morning and we girls laze around and gossip about the night before (ain’t that what women usually do after a night out?)

I leave West in the leftovers of Hurricane Gustav. The weather doesn’t get bad until I’m leaving Dallas (thank Goddess, I hate driving in Dallas) and I had serious doubts about making it home that day. But all the rooms are taken up by refugees from Louisiana and the radio keeps promising that by the time I reach Memphis the rain will quit so I drive on. Visibility is nil, 18 wheelers are throwing up sheets of water and the interstate is flooded so I’ve got a death grip on the steering wheel driving while peering through the monsoon. I call Jackie at a rest stop to let her know that I’m OK so far and I can tell that she’s worried but I’m a stubborn cuss and keep on driving.

I made it home in 12 hours and 15 minutes, not too shabby for driving so far in a hurricane without any “alpha male” to hold my hand. I’d love to visit Jackie again, but I think that next time I just might fly.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Lord, it’s been so long since I’ve flexed my writing muscles that I think they’ve atrophied (lets hope that brain-rot hasn’t set in also!). For those of y’all who’ve had the patience to hang around waiting for me to post, thank you from the bottom of my little old southern heart. I love y’all for your tolerance and promise to try to do better, but as you’ve heard before: "The best-laid plans of mice and men” - not to mention us females. Now for my long delayed Westfest post.

I left North Alabama on Wednesday morning (8/27) driving to the town of West, Texas, for a much anticipated visit with Jackie Sue (aka Yellowdog Granny) whom I’ve been online friends with for years but hadn’t actually met face-to-face. Friends, family and coworkers were all freaking out about me driving so far alone but really, what’s the big deal? Most accidents happen just miles from home because familiar territory causes us to let our guard down; you’re just as likely to get mugged at Wal-Mart or the grocery store as on the interstate, and if I drive solo I can stop when I want and drive all day if I feel like it. I’ve never had a problem with the fear of being alone and I’m a firm believer in “just doing it”. I truly think that if more people would just do what they want instead of being hampered by fear of the unknown, worrying about what someone else thinks is right, waiting for the perfect time or weight or age or income, yada, yada, yada; if you just do whatever the hell it is that’ll make you smile, then the world would be a richer and happier place.

Everyone was also tripping about me going to visit someone who was practically a stranger; going on and on about how Jackie Sue could be an ax murder, psychopath or bull dyke lesbian (did I point out what a vivid imagination they all have, plus I think some of the guys were using my trip as an excuse to concoct some major girl-on-girl fantasy action. When I mentioned that another female blogger lived in the area one of my coworkers got all excited and exclaimed “You mean that y’all are gonna have a “Ménage a twat”. Yeah, I work with a bunch of redneck hard ankles). The fact that Jackie Sue and I had had multiple phone conversations, exchanged gifts and cards and so on and so forth for a long period of time didn’t seem to mean a thing to anyone but what the hell, let ‘em have their daydreams.

I took the southern route, driving down to Birmingham and then swinging west through Jackson, MS and Shreveport, LA. Traffic was light and the weather was beautiful with the sun shining behind me and the car’s A/C keeping the 90+ heat outside. I had the cruise control set on 80 MPH and the stereo jacked up loud, singing my heart out with no one to tell me how off key I was. People everywhere I went were friendly and I didn’t have the first minute’s trouble with anything or anybody.

I crossed the Texas border that evening and spent the night in Marshall, with plans to drive cross-country on minor roads and do a little sight seeing the next day. I didn’t have a problem getting a room; as a matter of fact since I was a single female the hotel put me on the ground floor close to the desk where someone would always be close in case I had a problem. The desk clerk said that starting Monday that everything was booked because of the oncoming hurricane. I didn’t realize then that I was going to wind up driving home in Hurricane Gustav.

This is going to be a multi-part post, so stay tuned and I’ll let you know about all the doings at Westfest.