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23 November, 2016

Charlie's Thanksgiving

                Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday.  Here are the true stories of two unforgettable Thanksgivings in our family.   One, in Scotland is funny, the other, North Carolina, USA, would be funny for adults but not animal lovers This is not for children.  Or those with weak stomachs...
My ancestors were there at the First Thanksgiving!
             My great-great-great (back 10 generations) grandfather, Governor William Bradford, started this holiday, unofficially.  The Mayflower pilgrims decided to have a feast at the end of their second fall in America, and the Indians were invited, too.   Thanks to them, the starving pilgrims had made it through a very hard winter.    Their first Day of Thanks was nothing like the ones we celebrate here in the US.

             They had five deer, according to journals,  and turkeys for sure.   There may have also been lobsters, swans, pheasants and even a seal.    Plus nobody got a “little bit of everything” on their plate like we do today.   Author Cheryl Bowman says,

          “The first Thanksgiving feast would have looked very strange to our modern eyes, consisting mainly of corn and meat … “
         “Common fruits and vegetables included pumpkin, peas, beans, radishes, carrots, onions, lettuce, plums and grapes.  Walnuts, chestnuts and acorns were also plentiful.   Though there was no pumpkin pie, the Pilgrims did make stewed pumpkin.     They had cranberries, but no sugar, so they did not make cranberry sauce.   Sweet potatoes were not common, so those were probably not on the thanksgiving table.”

             What?!!   No pumpkin pie heaped with whipped cream?  Yep, those were very different days way back then in the 1600s.

              When I was married for the first time (of four) my initial Thanksgiving meal totally bombed.   I won’t forget it, ever, but it was funny.

             It was in Scotland, where Thanksgiving was NOT a holiday and folks didn’t have turkeys around.   My husband Tom, a sailor in the US Navy there, had bought a frozen turkey from the Navy Commissary on base.  It was 1966 in Dunoon, Argyll, Scotland. 

           I’d defrosted it and attempted to make my VERY FIRST roasted, perfectly golden, scrumptious Thanksgiving turkey.   In my head, at least, that’s how I imagined it.  It would be just like my mother’s at home.

             The day would have gone pretty well if the propane in the stove had not run out during the roasting process.   I kept checking the turkey frequently over hours and it was still not “done.”   After six long hours, feeling very little heat in the oven in our tiny mobile home (or caravan) I gave up and pulled my poor bird out, sighing in frustration.   

             I set the pathetic half-cooked turkey on the tiny fold-out table in the living room while my husband, Tom, checked out the oven.  (We had about a foot of counter space and that was totally occupied with salad makings.)

             As he was busy poking around, head in the oven, I got distracted with making a salad.  Our Alsatian dog, Brutus (“Pain in the Ass” as I referred to Tom’s dog) was skulking inside our home that day.   He had been sleeping on the living room floor, snoring as dogs do.   But the scent of a nice, partially-cooked turkey woke him right up!    

This is an Alsatian, a lot like a German Shepherd
              His eyes popped open and he sat up, licking his chops.   The pan of turkey was just a foot above his head, right within reach.

                                 My big mistake….

                  When I made a dash into the loo (bathroom), Brutus launched himself, STRUCK fast as a rattlesnake!   He locked his smarmy jaws on MY turkey and swiped it right off the table!

                    Tearing into my precious FIRST turkey, he ripped it in half!   Aluminum foil flew everywhere!  Tom heard the ruckus, banged his head hard, trying to pull it out of the oven to see what was going on.   By the time I rushed out of the potty and looked into the living room, it was too late…  Ole Brutus, seeing my shocked, angry face, and Tom, getting to his feet, grabbed his huge chunk of turkey and bolted right out the open door!   

             The other half of my poor turkey, all dog-mauled and slobbered on, lay ruined on the unclean floor.  Thanksgiving ruined!

            Well, that was my very first Thanksgiving as a wife and it totally bombed, thanks to Tom's unruly mutt.   We ended up cleaning up the mess, snatching the stolen half of the turkey carcass from Brutus, and going into town to a restaurant for our meal.   It was NOT turkey and dressing…  Not in Scotland!

            Our Thanksgiving today, in 2011 would be a traditional gut-busting feast.    Our groaning table would be festive with a giant golden-roasted turkey, with sumptuous mushroom and chestnut bread dressing.  A big bowl of golden yams, creamy mashed potatoes and tasty gravy, green beans mixed with mushroom soup and fried onions would also reign on our table.  

My dear parents in North Carolina.  They are both gone now.
          There would be other dishes, yummy cold salads, tart crimson cranberry sauce, and pies, LOTS of pies.   I always fix a mincemeat pie just for my husband William, these days for our Thanksgiving dinner, plus pumpkin.   Whatever we had to eat would be as close to what my Mom would have made at home many years ago.  A true feast!  She was a fabulous, traditional Southern cook.

            My parents were thrifty people, as I recall, growing up.  They bought food and household supplies in bulk and they always were on sale.   Two freezers and a gigantic walk-in pantry bulged with food in our home.   We had so much food stockpiled we could have fed the WHOLE US Army! 

         Thus, it was not surprising that my parents decided on buying a LIVE turkey for Thanksgiving in 1954.  They finalized this plan one fateful visit to the Farmers' Market in Asheville, a few days before Thanksgiving.  The turkeys there on display for sale were monstrously huge.   I could not believe they were getting a LIVE bird.  No, not frozen for my Mom that year.  Fresh!

          At fifty cents a head, the turkeys were a bargain neither of my parents could resist.     Dad picked the biggest turkey of the flock and paid for it.  So, “Charlie” the turkey became ours.   My Dad loaded the trussed bird into the back of our station wagon, where I sat.

       I remember crouching among the bags and lugs of fall produce in our 49’ Chevy station wagon that day.   I was staring at the biggest, ugliest bird I had ever seen in my life.  This turkey was white, with a blue, totally naked head.   It had beady red eyes and a rose-tinged wattle hanging down grotesquely, bobbing under its beak.   Its feathers were snowy, and soft except where poop had smeared on its backside.   Well, hey, it was trussed up.  That wasn’t its fault!

       That live turkey was a wonder.   I just sat staring at it all the way home.    Me and the turkey, both in the back of the station wagon, just staring at each other.  A-mazing…

Charlie looked just like this handsome fellow!
         I don't know why I didn't protest at the start, the very real, eventual demise of this bird.   I guess I was just too stunned, realizing that at last, even if only for a few days, I might actually have a “pet!” 

        I would make it MY pet, even if it was going to die and be eaten.   Such was the mind of a 9 year-old.

          They installed "my" turkey in our deep, huge basement bathtub (slave quarters in our antebellum old home) with a bowl of water, on a bed of newspapers.   Still fettered, the turkey assumed a somewhat ruffled stance and just glared at me.  His ruby eyes blinked a challenge.    Yeah, poop on his feathers and all, he was a regal sight in my childish mind.

             I named my turkey "Charlie.”   Rapidly “Charlie” began to grow on me.  After just a few hours, I knew he was MINE.   At first that blue-headed fiend hissed at any approach of my hand.  A few blows from his sharp beak discouraged my initial attempts at petting him.  Finally, hunger wore him down.  I won.

           I raided our bread box, the freezers where more frozen bread was stored, sneaked all the popcorn I could find, and my father's precious hoard of fishing worms in the spare fridge in the basement.  (Good thing it wasn’t fishing season.  He would have lit my tail on fire!   Fishing was my father’s only escape from my mom’s nagging.)  I stuffed "Charlie" with everything he wanted to eat that I could pilfer.

            “Charlie” and I developed a special relationship in the days before Thanksgiving.  Things were coming to a head.   He would look at me with his soulful, wise, red eyes.   He would turn his head gracefully and peck gently at food I procured for him.   I knew the day was approaching when “Charlie” would be a pet no longer.   Hey, I didn’t even LIKE eating turkey!

           The fateful day arrived that “Charlie” was to die.  It was the day before Thanksgiving.  My parents made preparations.    I fumed.  Reality hit home.

          My father had sharpened his axe.   He had pounded some long nails into the tall pine out back of our garage.  “Charlie” was to be hung from these nails and whacked in the neck.   I had heard him tell Mom that she should begin several trips to the huge cellar garbage can with boiling hot water.    That was to facilitate stripping poor dead “Charlie” of his feathers.  I shuddered at the vision.

Mom and I a few years later.
             My Mom was an Alabama girl.  She had wrung many a chicken's neck.  She would expertly scald the feathers of my pet, and pluck him for dinner. 

           Mom had Dad convinced she was a professional “killer!”  Of course, this was something she’d never admit to her cultured friends.  After all she was a LADY.  A lady who kept certain talents a BIG secret.

           My “Charlie” would be a “piece of cake” for her to pluck, she boasted.

          Dad heroically announced that HE would do the “dirty deed,” out back.   He would chop off "Charlie's" head, gut “the turkey” and carry the carcass into the basement.    UGH!!!    Mother would be in charge of scalding and he'd help her pick the feathers off.   They'd roast “Charlie” for Thanksgiving tomorrow after his poor body had chilled in the fridge overnight.   

              It was unimaginable to me.  I began to get really upset!

             It was too much for my young heart.  I stroked “Charlie's” soft white feathers and looked him right in the eye.  Those beautiful red eyes, framed by that bumpy, blue, naked head – he was MY “Charlie.”  I could bear it no longer.    Hot tears began to flow.  A deluge of them.

                  With a trembling chin, I followed Dad out back of the garage as he carried “Charlie,” who was flapping his wings, hanging by his feet from Dad’s grip.   My heart thumped wildly and I began to sob loudly.   Dad ordered me to leave.    I refused.   I had tried pleading, begging.   No avail.   So, he got down to business.  He hung “Charlie's” feet up on the nails on the tree and got the axe ready to swing.

                    I SCREAMED!  Shrieked with anguish!   The language that spewed out of my nine-year old mouth would have MELTED a sailor’s buttons!    I called my dear Dad every bad word I had ever heard ANY grownup speak in anger.   Mid-swing, Dad took his eyes off the turkey and for a split second glanced over at me.   

                   He MISSED his perfect strike!  The axe nicked the side of “Charlie’s” neck!   In terror and pain, he launched himself right off those nails on the tree!

                 His feet may have been tied, but “Charlie” still had WINGS.   He flapped his wings, bounced with his feet, and swiftly evaded my Dad’s wild lunge at him.   Spewing blood out of his neck, that poor turkey began bounce-flying through the woods behind our house.  My Dad, still clutching his axe, chased him, running until he was out of breath.

                   The neighbor’s Boxer dog saw the action, burst from his yard and joined in the pursuit.   Dad fell down, too winded to chase “Charlie” any further.   The boxer whipped past Dad and kept on going, rapidly gaining on my dying bird.   I gave in to hot angry tears, turned away and stomped back toward my house.   

                        It was OVER.   I could not stand to see the final desperate minutes of “Charlie’s” life.

                     Mom came out of the basement, wiping her wet hands on her apron, asking where the turkey was.  I was crying so hard I could not have said a word. 

                     Pretty soon Dad came up, carrying a disgustingly mauled, dog-chewed, bloody, totally dead “Charlie." 

                   That nasty Boxer trotted close on his heels.  The aggressive boxer had brought my bird down and enjoyed chewing and shaking him until he expired.   It was a ghastly, horrible way for my beloved pet to die.   I was speechless with agony.   

                  Never again could I look at a big dog the same way.

                 Not wanting to waste the turkey, my frugal parents carried the carcass down into the basement and immediately plunged him into the boiling water Mom had prepared. 

                  Wow!  It wasn’t two seconds until they BOTH came flying back out of there - with green-tinged faces! 

                  In their wake from the basement outside steps, billowed out the most horrendous STENCH I’ve ever smelled.   

                   It reeked so bad, they gave up after a few minutes of angry exchange between them.  Apparently, that dead, chewed-on turkey was really stinking up the place after they put it in hot water!   Mom ran to the bathroom, to vomit, and Dad had to bend over and gulp fresh air, eyes bugging out.   I ran to my room crying in anger and grief, but smiling inside.    
                             Even dead, "Charlie" had his revenge!

                  “Charlie” ended up in the garbage can outside by the garage, wrapped in burlap (plastic bags were rare in those days).   Dad would not let me touch "Charlie", the body smelled so awful.  They were afraid I'd end up stinking like the carcass.  For the rest of the evening Dad hauled buckets of gross, stinking, bloody water out of the basement until Mom’s turkey feather-stripping container was empty. 

                  Even grosser and Dad suffered doing that nasty job.   I was glad.

                Mom showered and sulked upstairs, for the rest of the evening.   She knew they had planned to wait until AFTER Thanksgiving to buy up lots of on-sale frozen turkeys, and there wasn’t a spare frozen one in their freezers.  

                Now we had NO turkey at all to eat for Thanksgiving Dinner.  The local stores were closed already that late Wednesday afternoon. 

               So, after all her hard work, making ahead her dressing,  three pies, several salads, casserole of beans, cranberry sauce, and all else, there would be NO golden roasted turkey to adorn our table.  (All that was left for Thanksgiving Day had been roasting her turkey and fixing the yams and white potatoes, and gravy.)    

I grew up in these beautiful North Carolina mountains.

                    She did what ANY hardworking American housewife would have done:  she pitched a FIT and demanded that Dad take us out to eat on Thanksgiving Day!   

                    Well, it would have all worked out just fine if there had been any restaurants OPEN!     In the 1950s, in my town, family restaurants closed on holidays, not like today.

My Dad back in that day.
          After we got all "dolled up"  the next morning on Thanksgiving Day, dressed in our finery, and loaded into our baby blue 1954 Buick Road Master, we drove into Asheville, N.C.   Restaurant after restaurant that we passed was closed. 

        We drove all over town.   Mom began fuming.   Dad was grumpy, and I was starving, hunkered down in the back seat, watching steam coming out of Mom’s ears.   I kept my big mouth shut for once.

                 Two hours later, we finally ate, but it was very disappointing.   A Chinese restaurant happened to be open (and not a nice one either.)    We all choked down greasy, second-class oriental food, and went home very unhappy and cranky.    Mom went to her room and didn’t speak to Dad for DAYS.   

                   I stayed out of range of both of their BAD  tempers.    I thought of “Charlie,” of what could have been – a real PET.

                  Dad disappeared the day after Thanksgiving.   He came home late, with a TRUNK LOAD of frozen turkeys, hams, trout, salmon, AND beef roasts!   He was not taking any chances on Christmas dinner.

                  Me?  I still HATE eating turkey.  And I still mourn my “Charlie.”

Welcome to my blog!!

          Here you will find wacky but TRUE stories of my amazing life: an incredible romance that started online!  The crazy days of growing up in the 1950s and 60s in the South before integration. True and funny family stories which my grown sons are now sharing with their families. My adventures in Scotland from 1966 to 1968, in Dunoon, where the USS Simon Lake subtender was docked. Some of my poetry from later in my life, even the 1990s. Finally my art work, what little survived, from the 1960s to 1990s.  

        I hope you will laugh with me and enjoy what I have shared.  

25 December, 2015

The Best Ten Dollars I Ever Spent!

Here’s the story of the best $10 investment you will ever hear of.  This isn't about money, it's about LOVE.  I bought a hot man!

My three sons and I back in 1992, a divorced mom then.
This is the first of a three part absolutely TRUE romance.  The second part is "What Happened to That Hot Guy I Bought Off the Internet."  Don't miss it!   

In the year 2000 I graduated with highest honors from Heritage College in Toppenish, Washington.  Going to college with Yakama Indians had been interesting.  I didn’t get scalped, molested or knocked in the head!   (When I was 20 and wanted to take a job on an Indian Reservation in Montana, my Father had stopped me, warning that I could get beaten up, raped and maybe worse.)  The Yakamas had treated me well and I came to love them.

It felt so good to be a college grad and be done with classes and tons of homework nightly!  Just to complete my rigorous college classes I had to survive health problems, legal challenges from my ex husband, frequent car breakdowns, and grinding poverty.    

David and me bottom, Brad left, Austin on right 1999. Yeah, we were all Dweebs then.
Finally, despite all adversity, I had finished my Bachelor of Education.  I graduated with endorsements in Elementary Education, Bilingual Education (Spanish) and English as a Second Language.  

 My middle son David had gone to live with his father.  My oldest son Brad lived and worked up in Moses Lake, WA, 100 miles to the North East.   I missed them terribly.   Having two less “vacuum cleaner stomachs” to feed was good, though, and my life was tranquil.

My sons about 2007. Austin left, Brad center, and David right.  My best life's work.
    There was only one little bird left.  He was perching on the edge of the nest, screeching and clawing frantically.  It was just my youngest son Austin and me at home.   Much of the needed physical support during those six long years while I had gone to college full time, sometimes part time, and worked two jobs, had come from him.  

           He was a funny, gentle and outgoing boy.  We had a great relationship and were close.   He had stopped visiting his dad in Spokane, 200 miles away.  It was his father’s decision.  That was his dad’s loss but our gain.

    Austin had only been 11 when I’d moved to Yakima from Moses Lake in 1996 to pursue further education.   Like his older brothers, I had taught him young to pinch pennies, do a little car fixin’, handle tools, clean up his messes, iron if needed, wash his own” drawers” and even cook.  

            Before I ever had my sons, I decided I would teach them to be self-sufficient, very capable in many areas and to take pride in hard work.  (Ah, child labor is so great!)  Today, all three are hard working, honorable men.

Brad on left, me and Austin on right, in 2001
As soon as I graduated I had plenty of jobs substitute teaching.  I continued to sub at four school districts in and around Yakima.  Soon, I came to love the freedom of substituting versus taking a contract teaching a classroom of the same students for a year.  

 If I needed time off, or didn’t feel like working, I didn’t have to.  Even better, I could CHOOSE which teacher, which school, which grade level of students I wanted to work with, on any particular day of the week.  My life was the best!

            As of the next year, 2001, I had been divorced from my THIRD husband for about 14 years.  Here I won’t go into how I got snookered into THREE marriages, that’s a story for another time.   By 2000, I was so sick of men that if one had looked at me sideways I would have CLOBBERED him!   I was content being a mom and working as a substitute teacher at the schools of MY choice.

Husband #2, in 1972.    Number one's photo is probably hanging in some Post Office!
  I could do what I wanted, when I wanted and never you mind, no how!   I had a nice two bedroom apartment, two cars that ran well, lots of girl friends, a church family, money in the bank and a good life.  So why mess it up?

It was my two best girlfriends’ fault. 
Us, the "Three Musketeers" in the 80s.   Carol, left, Nan in center and me, on the right.
 Nan and Carol, my divorced long time friends whom I had known for nearly 23 years by then, lived hundreds of miles away.  They had both been divorced for many years.   We were like the “three Musketeers,” getting together over the years now and then.  We had a lot of good fun.

The three of us in the late 80s.  They were hot.  I was not.  (No, I wasn't juiced here, either!)
 In the summer of 2000, Carol came to see me in Yakima, while on a job interview.  My dear long-time friend Carol, who owned a house in Spokane, WA, was the perfect “catch.”  She practically had to beat men off with a club.  Beautiful Swedish blonde with a sexy voice, super educated, a world traveler, talented, funny and with an eye-stopping figure, Carol was every man’s dream.   

         No sooner than she got settled in my apartment, she nervously announced to me she was thinking about getting married, again!

Carol and I in 98'
  She had been pursued for a while by an older widower she had known for years and he was seriously hinting at marriage!

You could have scraped my chin off the floor I was so shocked. 

 I couldn’t believe she was possibly “succumbing” to the lure of marriage again.  Her first one had ended miserably, many years ago through no fault of her own, leaving her with a little son to raise.     

Her husband had been a total bum.  (Yeah, I had a couple of THOSE!)  I think after she told me she was contemplating matrimony,  a couple flies flew in my mouth, it was hanging open for so long. 

 My mind swirled with thoughts of losing my girl buddy to a MAN, an older man.   No doubt that would curtail our future fun together as single women.  Oh, CRAP!   It wasn’t looking good for us “Three Musketeers” staying single anymore.
 Oh, well there was still Nan and she had moved closer to Yakima, only 100 miles to the north a few years ago.    She had been single for even longer than Carol and I had been.   She had been dating a guy for a few years, but I never heard it was serious. 

Looking totally stupid, me on rt and Nan, looking cool, left.

Nan seemed to have long relationships but none ever went anywhere.  They’d part after a few years, friends forever.    Like Carol, she was gorgeous, fun-loving, had a nice figure, and was well-educated and very independent.

   Nah, my buddy Nan would stay single like me, forever.  Or so I thought.
Around Thanksgiving when I hadn’t heard from Nan for a few months, and repeatedly got no answer at her house, I called her mom.    She said, “Didn’t Nan call you?”    Uh oh.    She then told me that Nan had MARRIED her boyfriend over the holiday week and was out of state!!  

 What, without TELLING either Carol or me?  Again, chin burn, BIGTIME.  Where Carol was just thinking about it, Nan actually DID IT!  That really bummed me out, for a while.

 Well, Nan was happy, I learned when she came back and I was glad for her.   We were all getting up into our 50s and maybe it was a good thing both of my girlfriends would have someone to take care of them. 

Feeling like I’d lost something but relieved that she was happy, I had congratulated her.   I was so used to my gal pals being single like me, for so long, it kind of shocked my mind into pensive consideration. 

Did I want to get married someday, after THREE failed marriages?  No.  HELL NO!

If I had known then what I knew now.  Me, 1963.

Then about three months later Carol called to say they were getting married for sure, her and the older but handsome widower friend, Rob. 

That bombshell finally rocked my entire world.  BOTH my long time girl buddies - off the menu, out of action, kaput?  

It devastated me.  Two of my other local girl buddies had moved out of town to take jobs recently, and were too busy to get together.  

 My world was collapsing!   I had to re-adjust my thinking.  So I did.

I started thinking that maybe not ALL men were the enemy.

 I decided I might like to have a man “in” my life, like a friend I could talk to or be an email pen pal.   I just didn’t have time for dating.  Austin was 15, still at home, very much a part of my life and he needed me.   How would he feel with a new “man” in my life?   If it wasn’t serious and the guy wasn’t physically around, he probably wouldn’t mind, I figured.  Besides, I was NEVER going to get married again.

Then there was the TROLL in the mirror.  Me.  I had gained a lot of weight, was at the lowest physical point in my life, no energy, and even had a “handicapped parking placard.”   Yeah, I’d make a great girlfriend for somebody -- who lived in a nursing home! 

I wasn't always a TROLL.  1972, me the skinny girl.

That’s when things really hit bottom.  I was tired of being tired.  Tired of being fat.  Tired of not feeling well, tired of taking tons of pills.  Tired of not being able to climb stairs without feeling like I needed to call an AMBULANCE!

So I did what any fat, out of shape woman could do.  I would lie in my bed at night doing leg exercises on my back while watching Johnny Carson!  Out in my living room was a passive exercycle that I’d been using as a COAT rack.  I tried riding it but was as winded as a race horse after three minutes.  (No, I lied.  I was winded after one minute of hard pedaling.  It seemed hopeless.)

I didn’t give up.  I started trying to park my car farther every day when I worked somewhere, just to make me walk more.  Fats, junk food, sugar became my enemy.  Fat free yogurt, homemade tomato vegetable soup, apples, cantaloupe and fake crab meat became my friends.   Austin, himself overweight then, adjusted and he didn’t complain.  The pounds started slowly coming off!  He lost weight faster than I did.  Heck, he was 16, and a guy!

One day when I was cruising on the Internet, I happened across an ad for a singles group.   I decided I’d look for LDS single groups.  (LDS is the nickname for Mormons, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  LDS stands for the “latter day saints” part of the name.)  One thing I was serious about was my faith and I didn’t want to make any connection outside of it. 
So, it happened that one day not long after, I joined a couple of LDS singles websites.  It cost me $10 each, a price I could afford for something I didn’t really believe was going to be anything but casual communication.  I posted OLD, really old, skinnier photos of myself and tried to write something clever in my bios.  Probably nobody would even care.  Especially since I put that I was “just looking for friendship.”

              I looked for widowers.

See, if a man has been BROKEN IN for a few years, I figured he’d be okay, tractable at least.  If the trainee, his spouse had died, she left him the better for me.   He’d be looking for somebody for a serious friendship, a relationship, not somebody to play around with.  You have to understand that in the eyes of the world, good Mormons are prudes.   We don’t live together, don’t have sex before marriage.  We make great friends!  That was what I was looking for.

Nothing much significant happened for a while.  The best thing in my life was that I had reached a milestone in another area: I had lost 25 lbs and my clothes were loose!  That spurred me on to keep on losing more, exercising even more.  I did it for ME, not for any potential male friend. 

As I started feeling more energetic, had less pain, and had physically more stamina, I worked even harder to restore my good health.  I was proud of me!  And there was a lot less of ME period!  Soon, I had lost 40 lbs.

One bottle of hair dye later (I was 56 and gray), some new smaller-sized clothes and I felt on top of the world.  Then, I began getting down on the floor and doing sit-ups, leg lifts, arm lifts with small weights, and really sweating!  It had been so long since my floor and I had made that close of an acquaintance that I swear the carpet almost smiled!

Me, one bottle of hair dye later and 60 lbs lighter, with all my makeup sweated off....
It was a Friday night after work that I was browsing online at LDSSO (LDS Singles Online website) that I happened across a photo of a man I couldn’t stop staring at! 

He was six foot two, nice build, had a full head of thick gray hair, wide full lips, an impish smile, huge dimples, and really nice blue eyes.  He was HANDSOME!    Better yet, he was a couple years younger than I, had been a widower for four years, and had been married 32 years.  His name was William.

"Graywolf" on LDSSO 2001.

                    I contacted him online but didn’t hold my breath.  Why should I sweat this?  I only wanted a FRIEND, right? 

Imagine my shock when I opened my account email the next day and saw a reply from William, or “Graywolf,” as was his nickname online.   
He told me he’d been searching for four years, had found a few women, but things didn’t work out and this was his last week on LDSSO.   He was giving up.   

 Why, I wondered?  He was a knockout for his age, extremely handsome in my eyes.  Must be something weird about him, no doubt.  So, I wrote him back.

William from Denver, CO in 2001.

His emails were funny, confident, well written, revealing intelligence, and a lifestyle I admired.  Pretty soon, the best part of my day was coming home and opening up his email messages.   

This was exactly what I’d been looking for: something to spice up my days.   We seemed to hit it off, and amazingly found we had an uncanny number of things in common: our social background, childhood experiences, likes, dislikes, adventures, and interests.   I really liked hearing from him, “talking” to him online. 

I had found my "man friend."

Of course, he admitted he had several other women he was in contact with. Yeah, right!   I bet none of them looked like Shamu the WHALE – but I did!  He pressed me for more “recent” photos and I got up the courage to get a friend to take one.  I had to chase my face for an hour just to catch it to put make up on....   Oh, boy...

That would be the end of him, I was sure.   

 Remarkably, it wasn’t.  He started sending me photos of him at different ages, as I had requested.  He was darned good looking in all of them, and some were dated electronically as quite recent.  I counted myself lucky that he was even corresponding with me.  Surely a hunk like him would want a beauty queen, not a LARD queen.

The man of my dreams, in person.

Then something amazing happened.  One photo of him that he sent me was taken at age 21.  

 Stunned when I looked at that photo, I realized that I had SEEN him!  (No, not in person, but in dreams.)  


 I had this recurring dream now and then for TWO years of someone who looked EXACTLY like him at that age!   

This was the guy I'd been dreaming about, literally.

Talk about Freaky Land.... that blew me away.  How could that even be?

It was his next question in an email that really got my panties in a wad:

He asked after a few weeks if we could talk on the phone, at his expense.  Hey, as long as it was HIS nickel, I thought, well, maybe......

I hesitated and then gave in, having a ‘good” feeling about him.  He lived in Denver and I was hundreds of miles away in the middle of Washington State.   I felt it was okay, what could go wrong?  I was curious if he sounded as good as he looked and communicated.

He phoned.            We talked. 
                                                            And TALKED.....
Hunky William at age 18.

His voice was deep, like velvet.  Charming, funny and full of personality, just like him online.  He made me laugh and LAUGH... and feel great.  

William was such fun to talk to that I found myself on the telephone for hours with him.  We began talking nearly every night and I stayed up until the wee hours of the mornings sometimes, just listening to him, and talking, laughing.

It was like being in high school all over again.  Only I was 56.
He had a look that melted my panty hose.....

It sure made my days fly, even if I was exhausted for lack of sleep.  I started walking outside as the weather got warmer, gaining strength, and losing more weight.  As the pounds dropped off, I was more and more motivated.   I felt great.  It was unbelievable for me the day I actually walked THREE miles in the heat!   Talk about an adrenaline high!

ME?  Time was just a few months before this that  I could barely drag my lardy butt a whole block.   A-mazing.....

He said I was “not as heavy” as he’d imagined in the new photo.  (I WOULD HAVE SMASHED HIM, but it was true.  I was still fat.)   I made sure he understood that the weight loss I’d achieved and hoped to continue to have, was for ME, not him or any guy. 

                                      He liked that.  
He had a "scruffy Look" that melted my panty hose too....

                     Our friendship grew.

Then, came the shocker.  He asked if he could fly out and meet me!  WHAT?   That wasn’t a requirement for a “pen pal” or phone friend.  I hesitated for a few minutes and like a TWIT I said yes.  When I got off the phone I hit myself with a wall, then my door.   What was I thinking?  He could be an axe murderer!  Besides, I was nowhere near looking great.   I still needed to lose a ton more.  Well, what the heck.  Maybe we could still be friends. 

Except for one big problem: I had only told him about two of my previous marriages.  Not a THIRD!

Somehow this “friendship” seemed to be morphing into a courtship.

We arranged for me to drive to Portland in Oregon because it was the most direct flight and would give us more time together.  He arrived very late on a Thursday night about a week later.   I was a nervous wreck. 

Here I was, NOT cool, meeting a very cool guy.  What was I thinking to do this?   He would probably take one look at me, turn around and get right back on the plane!

When he got off the plane, I almost fainted.  He was A HUNK in person!

 He was dressed in denim shirt, jeans, and carrying a stuffed talking wolf as a gift – for me.  I think my chin was doing the rug burn thing, because he walked right up to me where I was rooted to the floor.  

Before I even had time to hug him, he laid a big kiss on me!  And he was a great kisser. Uh HUH!!!    (Right about now my sons and grandkids are saying "EEWWW!,  TMI!")

       He totally swept me off my feet that night.  
 (Again, more "EEWWWS" from grandkids and sons here.)

We drove in the dark several hours back to Yakima. He was so charming and I was so sleepy, that we missed our turnoff and ended up over a hundred miles from home in the wrong direction!  By the time I pulled into the motel back in Yakima, where I’d rented a room in for him, it was 7:30 am!  At my place, I was not able to sleep a wink.   My head was swimming from fatigue and excitement.  I was falling for this guy!  He got a couple hours of sleep and looked rested when I picked him up. 

I looked like a fried cat!  The bags under my eyes were nearly meeting my KNEES.

We both were so tired; things just went downhill from there.  We did sightseeing, dined out, talked for hours.  Unfortunately, we were totally bushed!  By Friday night I was mumbling, looking like something a dog had dragged in.  He kept falling asleep sitting on my sofa.  We made an early night of it and split up to get rest, in our respective abodes.  I was still not able to sleep well.  I had feelings growing for him, but it was hopeless the way things were going.

Saturday was even worse.  I had opened my big mouth and when he asked me if I liked hiking, I had said YES!   (I had NOT been hiking in 27 years, but I wasn’t going to TELL HIM THAT!)  

                                    So, I bluffed.

  We went hiking up in the mountains above Yakima at a beautiful spot.  He was a HIKER.  I was a FAKER.   Even with my increased physical activity over the last three months, and losing 45 lbs by May, I was DYING on that hike!  Every step upwards was like dragging concrete blocks.

  Sweat poured off every inch of me in the May heat.  I dripped like a yard sprinkler.  I had to stop every 25 to 30 feet, suck up the water he was packing, and pant like a dog.  (He said later on that he wondered what on earth was WRONG with me!) 

  Somehow I made it to the top of a mountain spring and JUST KNEW I was not going to make it back down.   I really, seriously thought I should tell him right there, “CALL AN AMBULANCE!”

I prayed like I never have before.  “Please, don’t let me die here.  Don’t let me ruin this.”  

 God smiled on me that day.  Hours later, I had actually wobbled back down that mountain (without dying) and we made it to the parking lot.  Back in the car, I passed out, DROOLED on myself, and snored while he drove my car to my home! 

Yeah, that must have been really attractive!  I also smelled like a fat Sumo wrestler in a sauna.   It just couldn't have been any worse.

  I was also really stressed on how I was going to tell him I had not just two failed marriages but THREE.   If I thought I blew that hike, wait till I told him that!

The rest of the weekend went equally weirdly, badly, I thought.  I took him to church and introduced him to my church friends, who had NEVER SEEN ME WITH A MAN, all the 5 years I’d lived in Yakima.  They were TOO welcoming.  I was so embarrassed, because I knew I would NEVER see him again after I put him back on the plane.  They’d gotten their hopes up for nothing. 

My heart ached because I was falling for him and I probably would never see him again.  I had ruined everything.  I got up the courage to tell him about my THIRD divorce.   He seemed to take it in stride.  In my mind I had just "put my foot in it." Ruined everything!   Yeah, that was me, a complete TWIT!  What man in his right mind would want anything to do with a “three time loser” like me?

He left on Sunday as planned, and I expected never to hear from him again.  Why did I even open my mouth about being married THREE times?   What was he REALLY thinking when he heard that?   Hmmm.  Was he too calm?   
 He said he had a “good time and enjoyed meeting me.”   I had a glimpse of the possibility of love again and I had blown it.  

                    I didn’t hear from him.

My doorbell rang about 6 pm on Tuesday.    When I opened my door, there was a man with a huge bouquet of flowers!  They were from William!  Well, surely this was a gracious “Goodbye” bouquet from a man who was a real gentleman.  Shortly after that, my phone rang and it was him.   He said NOTHING about all the mishaps, blunders and my bad news of the weekend. 
                      We became good friends.

Wonder what happened after that?  Read the next post. 
Only a numbskull like me could have such a wacky life.

Click here to go to next part of the story:

Me at 65 a few years ago, then a blonde.