Category Archives: c R A z Y

You’re Still the One

“We’ve been together since way back when …”

Saturday is our 39th wedding anniversary.


Who knew it would last this long? Bill did. Me, not so much.


“Still the One,” by Orleans is still our song.


Southern Fried Austen


After Lizzy finished her evening gown walking session with Penny Clay, she, Darcy, and Jane met Charlie at the consignment shop. Charlie was grinning, pointing at the sign.

Charlie: How do you like it, ladies?

Lizzy: Wow! This place is huge. You bought the closed up Harris Teeter? I like that. Buy an abandoned building instead of building a new one. One less empty store front. That’s the name of the store? CW’s?

Darcy: Charlie wanted to be a partner in this venture. “C” for Charlie and “W” for Will.

Jane: I like it. Sounds sophisticated instead of stupid.

Lizzy: You mean like Diva Duds? Cute does get old fast. It tries too hard. CW’s sounds classy. I like the sign, too. It’s not flashing neon, begging for business. It conveys, “We have the clothes you always wished you could afford at reasonable prices.” It’s an invitation, not a sledge hammer.

Darcy: This store is another reason you ladies should quit your summer jobs. It’s going to take a good bit of your time to be co-managers. First things first, though. Before we hire staff and open for business, you need to come in and choose what you like. You both need gowns, interview clothes, talent outfits, and competition swimsuits with the accessories. You’ll also need to be well-dressed while you work here. Givin’ you the right clothes will promote the image of the store, so it’s good business.

Lizzy: There must be a light or two burned out on your string if you’re going to just give us clothes, sugar. You’ll never make any money that way.

Darcy: We’ve already discussed this. I want you two ladies in the pageants, and I’m goin’ to pay whatever your costs are.

Lizzy: Yeah, but you’re crazy as a bullbat. What do you think, Charlie? You’re part owner. This is coming out of your pocket, too.

Crazy meds

Charlie: I agree with Darcy. We can’t expect you two to quit your jobs, run this store, and win pageants without the proper clothes, and you have to dress the part in here and around town. You’re walking advertisements now for CW’s. Time to lose the baggy jeans and Walmart tops, Lizzy.

Lizzy: Why don’t you tell me how you really feel? You got a big hole in your screen door. Jane, you ready to take free clothes from your boyfriend? Makes me feel kind of cheap.

Jane: I hear you cluckin’, but I can’t find your nest. We’ve already talked about this. It’s part of the incentive package. We work for Darcy. It’s part of what he pays us.

Lizzy: We work for Charlie, too, apparently. He’s your boyfriend. You willin’ to take clothes from him?

Jane: The guys talked, and Charlie filled me in last night. I know Wickham mistreated Darcy’s sister in some way, and I know you’re an undercover reporter entering the pageants to see if they’re fixed. We’re all four in this together now. Think of these clothes as part of a uniform. We work for the guys, and our uniforms are part of the deal.

Lizzy: It seems everybody’s lost their vertical hold except me, but I’ll go along with it. I’ll join FCU. Lead the way.

Darcy: FCU?

Lizzy: Free Clothes University.

Darcy: You’re crazy as a loon, but I love you anyway. Let’s go in and get out of the heat. I think my nose just melted and it’s drippin’ on my shirt.

Lizzy: Wow! It looks great in here. I thought we were goin’ to help set it all up.

Crazy loon

Charlie: Since Darcy found out yesterday the clothes were comin’ in today, we had workmen in all afternoon and last night to patch the walls and paint. The racks were delivered and set up this mornin’, so I had a few guys come with me as soon as I ate breakfast, and we hung everything up. You’ll probably need to organize it better. Divide it into sizes or somethin’. Caroline would’ve helped, but I didn’t tell her about it. You ladies get first choice. If I’d let her come, half the store would be empty now.

Lizzy: She’ll be mad when she finds out you and Darcy own this place, but you gave Janie and me first choice. You probably already noticed you’re sister’s crazy as a coconut.

Charlie: Yep. She’s crazy as a pet coon under a red wagon, and she’ll be madder than a piano player in a marchin’ band, but she’ll get over it. She already has so many clothes Daddy had to make the room next to hers a walk-in closet, and even then she wanted more room for her shoes. Why does anybody need so many pairs of shoes?

Darcy: Back off that ledge. I have a good many shoes myself.

Lizzy: I’ve noticed you haven’t worn the same pair twice around me. I thought you might be one brick shy of a load where shoes are concerned. Guess I was right. Doesn’t bother me, though. There are far worse things to be obsessed with.

Crazy cocnut

Darcy: About your shoes … We really need to do somethin’ about what you have on your feet.

Lizzy: What’s wrong with my shoes?

Darcy: Nothin’ – if you plan to work in the garden.

Lizzy: You’re about two sandwiches short of a picnic, honey. I bought these shoes only two years ago. They’re just now broke in good.

Darcy: You’re crazy as Larrabee’s calf. Those shoes are so old, when they were new, rainbows were in black and white. The Dead Sea was just getting sick then. And that brand isn’t good for your feet.

Lizzy: You’re such a snob sometimes. Your shoes cost more than I make in a week. I had a choice between wearin’ fancy, brand name shoes, or payin’ rent and eatin’. It’s obvious that I chose to eat.

Jane: Enough. I wondered why we had several racks of brand new athletic shoes in that back corner.  In fact, all the shoes look new. Guess I know why now. Come on, Charlie. Let’s go look at the evening gowns. It’s about to hit the fan, and I want to be out of range.

Charlie: Good idea. All this fussin’ makes me jumpy as spit on a hot skillet.

Darcy: You can wear used dresses, but you can’t wear used shoes. That’s just disgusting, and worn out shoes are bad for your feet. I had my PA get someone to find the shoes at wholesale prices, and I bought in bulk. Pageant contestants need workout shoes and exercise clothes. Everything in here is necessary for girls in pageants.

Lizzy: I think I understand now. You have a shoe fetish. And this rack of designer jeans?  And those high-end, name brand tops?

Darcy: You have to look good when you arrive to compete.

Lizzy: I think you’ve introduced “Build Lizzy’s Wardrobe” by stealth here. You’re plumb crazy, sugar. You got too many cobwebs in your attic.

Darcy: I admit I want you to dress well. You deserve it.

Lizzy: I deserve it? Or you deserve it? Are you ashamed of me?

Darcy: Do I act like I’m ashamed of you? You must be overdrawn at the memory bank. I’ve taken you everywhere I’ve gone, and I’ve told you you’re beautiful over and over. I’ve introduced you to my family, and I’ve told you I love you. This is not normal behavior for me, Lizzy. I’ve never loved any other girl the way I love you, and I want the best for you. How can I walk around in the clothes and shoes I have and not share my wealth with you? I feel like the biggest jerk in the world.

Lizzy: Don’t you like the way I am?

Darcy: I love the way you are. I just want to dress up the outside a little. I’d never change the inside. That’s what makes you special. Clothing is just outside wrapping. The real gift is inside.

Lizzy: I’m curious to know what you’d like to wrap me in. Come pick out an outfit for me so I can see what you have in mind.

Darcy: Really? You’d let me do that?

Lizzy: It seems to be important to you, and I love you, even if you are crazy as all get out. But know this upfront: I won’t wear anything I don’t like.

Darcy: I wouldn’t expect you to, love. That would be very unLizzylike. I want to keep you the way you are, just in better shoes and clothes. I, uh, already put together a few outfits – just in case. Georgie helped me get everything together. It’s all laid out in the dressing room with the pink door.

Lizzy: (Opens door) So, you think I’ll look good in these clothes?

Darcy: Yep. I imagined how you would look. Men are very visual you know.

Lizzy: I’m beginning to get the picture. I’ll be out in a minute. Stay right there.

Darcy: Jane! Bingley! Come over here and give your opinion. Lizzy’s tryin’ on clothes.

Lizzy: (Through the door) Everything fits. How’d you know my size?

Darcy: Georgie met you at the cookout. Remember? She has a good eye for anything to do with fashion. She helped with colors, too.

Lizzy: Hmm… She’s good at this. Ready? Here I come. (Throws open door and walks out) Will? Will? Say something. Don’t you like it?

Darcy: (Staring) I thought I had a good idea how you’d look when I saw you in yoga pants and a T shirt. I mean, at least the yoga pants showed more of your shape than the baggy jeans did, but the huge T shirt really hid you. I truly had no clue my girlfriend was such a knockout.

Jane: He’s right. You’re gorgeous. Maybe I should get Georgie to help me, too. She could be a fashion consultant in the store if she has time.

Bingley: Sounds like a plan. What do you think, Darcy?

Darcy: I’ll ask her. Why don’t you two go look at the front windows and see what you think we could do to draw interest? I ordered some mannequins. We need a few good ideas on what to do with them. Where’re you goin’, Lizzy?

Lizzy: I was goin’ to help them.

Crazy family

Darcy: No.

Lizzy: No? Why not?

Darcy: I want to see another outfit.

Lizzy: Is that my boyfriend talkin’, or is it my boss?

Darcy: Which answer will get me what I want?

Lizzy: You know, down South we love our crazy family members. We don’t hide ‘em away. We parade ‘em out in front of everybody. Proves how much we love ‘em.

Darcy: I’m missin’ the point. There is a point, isn’t there?

Crazy for you

Lizzy: Relationships are everything to us. The closer you are to family, the better.

Darcy: Then I’m guessin’ “boyfriend” is the correct answer. Your boyfriend wants to see you in those stunning outfits his sister put together for you. Family all around.

Lizzy: See? That was easy. You just have to know how to ask, and then I’m sugar in your hand.

Darcy: Can I have a kiss before you go change again?

Lizzy: Of course. I’m crazy about you.

Darcy: That’s my favorite kind of crazy.

Lizzy: You ain’t right.




I’m Confused, and Not a Little Scared



I think there’s something unhinged when grown men are enticed to watch nearly-naked  women gyrate for money, while eating a meal their mothers probably served them when they were kids.

The days are quickly devolving.


My Virtual Cat

My cat pillow companions

Seven cats! Right here on the sofa, thanks to my pillow. 

Virtual: Not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.

The worldwide web is amazing. Who would have thought that strangers could “meet” and become good friends? With the exception of Susan Kaye, I found each of the Jane Started It! writers on-line. And that’s how I probably met you!

So today I will tell you, my virtual friend, about my virtual cat.  And I can see you smirking. I don’t blame you. A virtual pet is kind of in the same class as a Pet Rock (remember those?) or a garden gnome. As in, being for crazy people.

See, I’d love to have a cat, but I am simply too busy. Moreover, living as I do with three men (who do not see or even acknowledge dirt), I do not need one more living creature to clean up after. Plus, cat adoption agencies in this part of Oregon demand that the cat be an indoors-only pet. That hasn’t always worked out so well for us.

Not loud enough? Turn up the volume

See this? It’s a Kindle white noise app.

So instead I have a cat meow on my smartphone. Incoming text message? “Meow!” I chose this sound because I thought it would be unobtrusive.  Wrong! A single meow on the train turns many heads. “Is there a cat in here?” people ask. (I sink down in the seat and put the phone on Airplane Mode.)

And Internet videos allow me to enjoy cat antics. Like the one a friend shared to my Facebook wall recently, showing a cat climbing into the cupboard above the stove. He was like a orange feline spider or something, stretching his long cat body above the range hood to retrieve a bag of cat treats. No athletic cats for me! I want the sleepy, purry, geriatric kind.

Then I downloaded a white noise app for my Kindle. This has my sons rolling their eyes at me. I already talk to myself, and spy on people in public (calling it book research), but now I have purring on my Kindle. That’s right, purring.

It’s a happy sound, purring, like summer rain. For me, it’s been a bedtime stress reducer. And if my “cat” is not purring loudly enough?  I crank up the volume.

Don’t get me wrong, one day I would like to have a real cat–or three. But for now, my virtual cat is company enough. Along with “grandcats” Domino and Onyx. Here’s to Cat Love from afar!

Photo: Ben Lyons

Photo: Ben Lyons

Laura Hile (1)

The Guilt-Trip Menagerie

Photo: Andrew Braithwaite (Creative Commons Flickr)

We had a cockatiel named Chipper. And a parakeet. Photo: Andrew Braithwaite (Creative Commons Flickr)

“I’m going to ask my mom for a pet tarantula.” This was from one of my students, said to no one in particular. His aim was to get a rise out of his classmates.

Ah, but I am wise to the ways of 7th grade boys–and their moms.

“Too late,” I quipped. “You’re not home schooled anymore. The guilt-trip menagerie is closed for business.” Yes, once the kids transition into school, there is no more conning Mom into mind-enriching “live science” projects.

What a dupe I was for boyhood curiosity! Our cat (and one litter of kittens) was not enough. Over the years we adopted birds–yes, the boys taught the cockatiel to say words–and fish and lizards. And garter snakes (caught by them), plus pet store crickets (epic-fail snake food) that somehow got loose in their bedroom and chirped until they died–months and months later. I should probably add that we were living in an apartment.

Photo: Fyn Kynd Photography (Creative Commons Flickr)

We ended up with not one but two garter snakes. Photo: Fyn Kynd Photography (Creative Commons Flickr)

One of the reasons I encourage students to write is the “time capsule” element. Those notebooks are a treasure in later years, filled with details everyone has forgotten. My oldest son transitioned into middle school in 1999, but the home school pets lived on.

I’ll let Michael take up the story in his own words:

I had a snake for about two years, and all of the time the cat would stare at the snake. She would sit on top of the snake cage and try to get in. Having a snake was fun! It was a little garter snake and I fed it live goldfish….The snake would then eat the live fish whole! My friends got a kick out of that.

Photo: Susanne Nilsson (Creative Commons Flickr)

A neighbor’s mom was tired of having  pet lizards. Guess where they came to live? Photo: Susanne Nilsson (Creative Commons Flickr)

Once the cat knocked the snake cage over, and the snake got loose! The cat got in big trouble and was put outside [on the balcony]. It gave my brothers a scare when they found out that it was loose, but we found it and put it in its cage. Another time we had some guests staying over, and the snake got loose in my room where they were supposed to sleep! We caught it again, and it stayed in its cage.

His observations about our cat are more prosaic:

My cat is funny. She is lazy and always wants her way. Every morning she wakes me up so that I will take my shower. Then, after my shower she jumps into the wet bathtub and washes her feet, as she drinks sthe water! On the days that I sleep in, she meows and meows so that she can drink and wash. I just ignore her and sleep in some more. Last night at about 9:00 Flower, my cat, was sitting in the bathtub waiting for me to take a shower in the morning.

One day Michael will write fiction. He is doomed by his DNA, I tell him. He just rolls his eyes at me, but I  know better.

I Had to Laugh … I’ve reached THAT age

HTL_iconwhere everything is suspect.

I found a bruise on my arm Tuesday–after going specifically to a particular store so I could take advantage of the Senior Discount–that I don’t remember getting. It’s not going away so I figure it’s some sort of terminal disease creeping in.

I have had some success getting back into an abandoned manuscript. I have several stories that I have to finish. There is no good reason not to and so I am hacking away at them.

Maybe it’s the bruise/terminal illness compelling me to work and like the girl in the O Henry story, The Last Leaf, I will die when the last story is finished.

See what I mean? I’ve reached THAT age of crazy we all hope to avoid.

But tomorrow is Friday so there may be some new crazy about which to worry.