Shoes Shmooze

Daily Prompt: These Boots Were Made for Walking

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The shoe racks in the Thrift Store

Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes, and where they’ve taken you.

A couple of days ago, my husband and I were discussing the fact that I am just not a shoe nut. I asked him, “Does the fact that I really don’t care about shoes make me less of a woman?” He admitted that he and his wallet are thankful that they’re no big deal to me.

Oh, I’m sure that there are some cute ones in the thrift store that I manage, and that’s the nice thing about running a thrift store, you get first dibs on all the cool stuff. I scored a pair of brand new tennis shoes once because I really needed them, but otherwise, I really don’t give all those shoes a second thought other than to straighten them up after someone ransacks the racks.

My best friend though, Artsy Susie; that girl loves shoes. She goes crazy for shoes. Shoes are the first thing that she notices about a person’s outfit. We totally differ in that respect.

My daughter is a shoe hound as well. As a matter of fact, the whole conversation about my indifference toward shoes stemmed from the fact that she has 3 pairs sitting by the door, a pair in the back of my van, a couple pairs in the shoe basket in the closet, and 2 full bags of them in the trunk of my husband’s car. She doesn’t even wear half of them, but she sees a cute pair and just “has to have them”.

That’s never been me.

My own shoe arsenal consists of a pair of black pumps for special occasions, my black knee high boots, my good tennis shoes, my work tennis shoes, and my flip flops. That’s it. Five pairs. Now that I think about it, even that seems like too many for me. I’ll have to cut back.

I’d have to say that my favorite pair out of the 5 would be my black knee high boots. Those boots have history. They’ve been places. They’ve attended several Sunday church services and potluck dinners. They’ve gone out for anniversary celebrations with my husband. They’ve traveled across the ocean to the Bahamas and back on at least 4 different cruises. They were there when I gathered a group of old co-workers together back home that I hadn’t seen in 10 years. They danced with long lost friends at my 20 year high school reunion. They’ve also seen me 40 pounds less than I am now, so they’ve literally been with me through thick and thin.

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My work shoes, though, those are the most important shoes of the bunch. They’re covered in paint and falling apart, but they’re well used and abused because I’ve busted my tail to earn the almighty dollar. They’ve gone with me into some pretty harsh places. They’ve walked on some of the grungiest carpets known to man. They’ve stepped in gum, poop, oil, mud, paint, and countless other nasty things. These shoes are tough. They’re hardcore. They keep me from ruining any of my other pairs. So, in essence, they’ve taken the bullet for the rest more times than I can even count. These shoes deserve a medal for bravery.

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Considering what most shoes goes through during any given day, however, maybe they all do.

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Daily Prompt: Life Line

Daily Prompt: Life Line

You’re on a long flight, and a palm reader sitting next to you insists she reads your palm. You hesitate, but agree. What does she tell you?

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I’m nothing short of bursting at the seams with excitement as I sit and wait as patiently as one with “ants in their pants” could possibly wait. I chatter continuously at my husband, as has always been my custom when I’m filled with sheer elation at the prospect of a joyous event that has finally been set in motion. He responds by playing the latest game that he’s downloaded to his cell phone, never bothering to glance in my direction, but often throwing in the occasional “uh huh” or “me too, dear” as I ramble on, as has become his custom over the years. I don’t allow his lack of interest to tarnish the silver lining surrounding the cloud on which I’m currently riding. I’ve been looking forward to this trip for far too long, and nothing can curb my highly elevated enthusiasm at this point.

It has always been a dream of ours to visit Ireland. So much so, that it’s one of the 3 things that I can now contentedly cross off my miniscule bucket list. I have yet to find buried treasure or learn to drive a stick-shift automobile. I likely never will. I consider this for a moment. Well, 1 out of 3 isn’t terrible, I muse, and I’m about to embark on an adventure of such epic proportions  that the other 2 list options can just fade off into oblivion as far as I’m concerned.

Ah, Ireland. The rolling hills, the beautiful countryside, the sheep in the fields, the castles, the food…oh my goodness, the incredible Irish dishes, yes please! The quaint little pubs with local elderly gentlemen regaling visiting foreign folk with fantastically spun tales of wild Irish youth and love gone by, in thick Gaelic accents. I want to drink in the sweet nectar of all this and more.

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The calling of the first class passengers and those needing special assistance snaps me back to reality from somewhere inside my grand daydream. “I still can’t believe it’s finally happening!” I exclaim to my husband for quite possibly the 50th time today. He just smiles and nods as he continues to busily work his fingers over his phone screen.

The kids are finally grown and gone, and we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in January. We’ve had our hardships over the years, but we made it through all of them and we deserve this special treat to celebrate how far we’ve come. To celebrate us.  We’ve managed to painstakingly pinch every last penny until Lincoln screams in pain to make this trip possible. I lean over and give my husband a peck on the cheek, before resting my head on his shoulder for a moment. He presses his cheek against the top of my head. I’m proud of us both for finally turning this amazing dream into reality.

I check the time on my phone and fidget in my seat, before deciding to make sure that my passport, I.D., and boarding pass are at the ready for the thousandth time today as I wait for our seat assignments to be called. It’s hard to say if this newfound ritual is compliments of my OCD, or the adrenaline fueled excitement that I’m currently running on. Likely a little bit of both, I surmise.

They finally get around to calling rows 20 through 25. I nudge my husband with my elbow and say, “that’s us.” We proceed to gather up our belongings and head toward the quickly lengthening boarding line.

We finally reach the robotically jovial stewardess at the front of the line, who looks over our boarding passes with an obviously overworked smile. She repeats our seat assignments to us as though we are feeble minded and couldn’t possibly read them on our own, and wishes us a safe and pleasant trip through her gleaming pearly whites.

We make our way down the long gangway, my husband whistling a Christmas tune the entire way as has been his habit for the 20 years that we’ve now been married. It’s July. I stopped bothering to point this fact out to him years ago, and now I just smile and shake my head.

We are greeted by yet another methodically friendly set of flight personnel at the door to the airplane, who welcome us aboard and once again wish us a pleasant journey.

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We inch our way toward the back of the aircraft from among the throng of inconsiderate individuals stopping in the middle of the aisle to fight with overhead bins or argue with other passengers and flight attendants over confused seat assignments. I can see frustration growing on my husband’s face as we shuffle along. Finally, we arrive at seats 24 B and C. I feel a little pang of sadness as I realize that neither of them are a window seat. Ah, well, you get what you pay for I suppose, and we did our best to cut traveling expenses as much as possible so that we could fully enjoy our 2 weeks exploring the lush green land for which we are about to embark. I hand my carry on over to my husband, and he makes quick work of shoving it into the overhead compartment, before we settle into our seats. My husband has Closterphobia issues, so I know he’ll want to sit in the aisle seat. He always does in crowded places.  So I grab the middle seat and proceed to try and get as comfortable as possible, not really paying much attention to the person that already occupies the window seat.

I barely get myself situated before I hear a strong, cheerful, feminine voice  from my left announce, “Hi, I’m Anna.” This boisterous greeting is accompanied by a slim fingered hand boasting pale pink polished nails and 3 over-sized silver cocktail rings extended in front of me. I turn slightly in my seat so that I may comfortably surrender my right hand in acceptance of her handshake.  We make eye contact for a moment and I take in Anna’s friendly features while quickly looking her over.

She’s perhaps 50, Caucasian, taller than I by a good 6 inches, and fit. Her long, frizzy, grayish blond waves are held back from her face by a pink, orange, and black oriental flowered silk scarf wrapped around her head and tied at the nape of her neck. She has a wide pink-lipped smile accompanied by a beautiful set of large, dark grey eyes with soft creases gently nipping at the corners. I take note of her clothing; a bright pink tank top under a thin white cotton off-the-shoulder shirt, with small pink, orange, and yellow flowers embroidered along the neckline. This was tucked into a matching, floor length, gypsy-style skirt held securely around her waist by a tied woven hemp belt. She had kicked off her silver-beaded leather sandals that are now shoved partially under the seat in front of her, and I can just barely make out her perfectly pedicured and pale pink polished toes peeking out from under her the hem of her skirt. In truth, she looks somewhat like she just stepped out of the 1970’s.

I smile and introduce myself in return. I then point to my husband next to me, and introduce him as well. He leans over me and offers a hand for her to shake. After the proper introductions have been made, I point to her skirt and tell her, “My daughter would absolutely love your outfit.” She flashes her brilliant smile once again and says, “Your daughter sounds like my kind of girl.”

The next words out of her mouth admittedly catch me off-guard. “You’re very short,” she proclaims. “Excuse me?” I say. While this is an all too true observation, I’ve yet to have a practical stranger make that assessment so boldly.  I wasn’t quite sure I had even heard her right. She laughs off the expression of shock that must be noticeably written on my face. “I mean your life line; I was noticing that it’s quite short and shallow.” She must have then noticed my expression change to concern because she goes on to quickly add, “Oh no, no. It’s nothing to be concerned about. It doesn’t mean that you have a shortened life-span; it simply means that you have a tendency to be controlled by people and situations.” She extends her hand once again, palm side up, and says, “Here, let me see your hand. I’d be happy to give you a full reading…”

She had misread my cause for concern. The words, “Oh, no thank you, I don’t…” barely escape my lips before my husband, who had, to my surprise, been listening to the exchange over his phone follies, interjects with, “We’re Christians. We don’t have anything to do with astrology or palm reading or any of that sort of thing.”

“Ah, okay,” she rather impatiently snaps, and proceeds to pull out and open a thick paperback novel that she had apparently jammed between her thigh and the armrest before we sat down.

That’s it. The conversation has been called to an abrupt halt. I could read a lot into her tone and half smirk though, which said, “I’ve dealt with you closed minded freaks before, and I’m not about to travel this road again.”

I look at my husband. He peeks over my head at Anna leaning her forehead against the window, now quietly and rather quickly engrossed in her novel. He then looks back at me and shrugs as he shakes his head no.

I knew exactly what he was thinking. Though my husband has been known to dive into a religious debate with all of the passion and fervor of an Olympic gold medalist, he wouldn’t be pressing Anna in further conversation. It was clear that she stood firm in her convictions and had closed off any further exchanges at that point. My husband and I both knew that pressing people that were not at all open to hearing what you had to say would just push them further away from wanting anything to do with God and those that serve Him.

I close my eyes and lean my head back. It’s going to be a long flight. I silently say a prayer for our safety during this flight, and for Anna. May she have a life filled with peace and perhaps, someday, be receptive enough to at least listen to a Christian point of view.

Closed minds comes in many different packages, after all.

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Note from the author: This story is completely fictional but has several truthful ideals and undertones. Though I understood that the point of this prompt was to accept the offer a palm reading and write about what my future may hold therein, for certain obvious reasons, I could not.  I chose to take my story in a different direction, and I hope that those of you that are spiritual and non-spiritual alike are still able to enjoy my story and accept it…open mindedly. 

The Rubber Band Effect Has Snapped

Well, here we are again.

Willie Nelson sang a hit song back in his glory days that pretty much sums up this situation. ‘On the Road Again’ is what we are, although I’m not entirely sure that I agree with the ‘just can’t wait to get’ part. The Hubster and I, 3 kids, and Ray Darr, the rabbit that even Elmer Fudd wouldn’t bother to chase, all stuck in a vehicle for 19 hours. No, this is definitely not ranking high on my list of formulas for fun and excitement. I put the experience on par with…oh…stapling my eyelids to my bottom lip. I have my feet comfortably propped up on the dashboard, though. My hubby absolutely loves it when I do that.

Ray smells like onions and armpit, as usual, therefore, the aroma wafting toward me from the back of the minivan is about the equivalent of a Saturday night Rave party at a Taco Bell. There has to be something wrong with this rabbit.  I’ve raised rabbits before. The cute little, fluffy, cuddly dwarf ones, though. I suppose the fact that Ray is a massive, hulking beast might explain the reason for his enormous stench. He’s so large, that my mom and dad’s 5 full grown Collies ran in fear when we first let him out of his cage. We’re thinking of investing in a saddle and riding him, since gas prices are so high.

Needless to say, Ray did have a big-time bunny blast on this trip, being a general nuisance and doing what rabbits do. See for yourself:

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Rotten Ray strikes again.

Good ol’ Ray Darr. My dad will likely be filling in yard holes for the next week or two. The local gopher population is probably scratching their fuzzy little heads right now and thinking, “What in the world? This is not our handy work.”

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The aftermath. Well, some of it, anyway.

So…

My husband swears by what he calls “The Rubber Band Effect.” That’s where it supposedly always takes less time getting back to point A from point B than it originally took to get to point B to begin with, like a rubber band snapping back into place after it’s been stretched out. I think it might just be wishful thinking on his part. We won’t be proving his theory correct this time, anyway, thanks mostly in part to yours truly.

Here’s a tip for you future travelers out there: Don’t eat greasy carnival food the night before you have to embark on an excruciatingly long road trip. We’ve had to stop every 45 minutes since we left 8 hours ago, and I’ve left a wake of destruction behind in several McDonald’s restrooms along the way. I’ll just leave it at that. I’m sure your imagination can fill in the rest. You can thank me later for imparting this helpful information.

I have to admit, though, that the Pronto Pups might just have been worth the pain.

What is a Pronto Pup, you ask? Well, let me show you:

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Hellloooo Gorgeous x 3!

Now then. Let me explain the awesomeness that can only be summed up as local legend and Yankee tradition in the town where I was born and raised. Don’t you dare say that it’s ‘just a corn dog’, either.

The quaint little waterfront stand that sells these delicacies hasn’t changed a bit in the 66 years since the amazing Chuck Nelson sold his first secret recipe serving of awesome on a stick. The stand is still family owned and operated today by Chuck’s son, Carl, and Carl’s wife and kids.

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The Famous Pronto Pup Stand

In the summertime, people flock in droves from miles around, even from the neighboring towns, to partake of the yumminess that is the Pronto Pup. The line usually spans at least a city block or more. If you mention the name of this tasty treat to anyone within a 50 mile radius, they immediately know what you’re talking about and have likely eaten one…or one hundred… in their lifetime.

They’re made with top of the line frankfurters flown in in huge quantities. When the stand first started, Chuck had searched the world over to find the perfect frank. Many years ago, the brand that he used was discontinued, so, once again, he searched high and low to find a match to his traditional dog. He finally found one that came pretty close, and, because his little stand was so popular with the locals, he sold SO many of them that the owners of the frankfurter company flew in to see exactly who was purchasing such a massive amount of weenies. They took one look at the itty bitty waterfront hovel and said, “are you serious?!”

Now, years later, this little seasonal stand is still so insanely popular, that they open up for one week during the winter so that their thousands of demanding fans can get their Pronto Pup fix. You can get them naked, with ketchup, with mustard, or both. I opted for just ketchup. I’m such a rebel, what can I say…

In other, not so amazing news, I did realize on this trip that my teenage girls believe that they are supermodels, and any and every new location that they set foot upon instantly becomes the setting for an impromptu photo shoot:

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Amazing Amber

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Glorious Grace

Oh em gee, mom…Instagram…helllooo!

Apparently, to the under 18 crowd, I’m what you’d call “lame”. This point was proven true when the girls were floating around on rafts in front of the dock, and I said, “Come on, ya’ll. Get out of my fishin’ hole,” to which my daughter responded with, “Geez mom, give us a sec.” Without really thinking it through, I said, “I’ve given you lots of secs.” This resulted in 4 sets of jaws hanging agape for a second or two. I say 4 sets because those within ear shot not only included the girls, but also my son, and Matt; the teenage neighbor boy that followed the girls around ceaselessly, and that I now apparently looked like an idiot in front of. Their shocked expressions were immediately followed by peals of uncontrollable laughter from them, and a really red face from me. Rotten kids. They know what I meant!

Well then. I have to admit that I slightly dread walking in the door when I get home. The bugs probably realized that we were gone after the first 24 hours and threw a wild party. The spiders likely tipped off the cockroaches, and then things got completely out of hand I’m sure.

I can’t wait to crawl into my big, comfy, king sized 4 poster bed, though. I’ve missed my mattress. Well, my back has missed my mattress, anyway. I think that through a sleep induced haze I vaguely recall a caveman standing over my parents’ guest bed demanding his boulder back.

As far as I’m concerned, aside from unpacking Ray Darr and his rabbit paraphernalia, the rest can wait until my bed and I get reacquainted for a while. That could take at least a day or 2.

Don’t wait up!

Road Trippin’: This Isn’t The High You Were Looking For

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A few hours ago, we set out on our grand adventure toward Grandma and Grandpa’s house; one hubby, 2 out of 5 kids, one stupid rabbit, and…yours truly. We’ll pick up the red-headed child that flew up a month ago to spend some quality summer time with the grandparents, and bring her back with us. So, that’s 3 hours down, 16 to go. Twelve hundred and something total miles to cover. All the more time for writing, I suppose.

Our trip didn’t get off to a great start. I was admittedly in a terrible mood when we left. As I was cleaning up the house before we embarked on this little 10 day excursion, I discovered that at some point this past week, my son had spilled cherry lime-aid on his bedroom carpet and didn’t bother to tell anyone…or clean it up. Hello…OCD here. When I saw the stain, my anxiety level shot up somewhere around an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. I did the best I could with a can of carpet cleaner, wash cloths, and my own salty tears, but the stain had just had too much time to set in and will now forever be a blaring pink reminder not to let an 11 year old take anything more colorful than water into a room with light beige carpets.

I’ve calmed down quite a bit over the course of the few hours since we’ve left home, though. I can’t change it, and there’s nothing I can do but except it, so on with the show I must go.

The smell of feet starts wafting up from the back seat. One of the “youngins” has likely taken their shoes off in an effort to get comfortable. Or maybe it’s armpit that I smell. Or maybe it’s Ray. Ray Darr. The rabbit that Satan would choose if Satan decided to own a pet rabbit.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE bunnies; those cute little balls of fluff with their smooshy little whiskered faces, floppy ears, and cotton tails. As a matter of fact, my husband has called me “Bunny” now for the past 10 and a half years that we’ve been married, because of my extreme love for those cute little critters. The ones that make you say, “Awwww” out loud and kick in some internal desire to pick them up and hug them, no matter who you are, or how hard hearted you claim to be.

Ray, however, is what happens to those cute, fluffy little balls of fur if you get them wet or feed them after midnight. He’s isn’t just enormous in size, he’s an enormous menace. He never stops eating, and he leaves a wake of destruction behind him wherever he goes; along with clumps of fur and a continuous trail of food-fueled rabbit ‘gifts’.

We’ve only had Ray for about 6 weeks now; 6 excruciatingly long weeks.

My husband walked into a vacant apartment at the property that he manages a few days after he had evicted the former tenant, and there sat a very hungry, very thirsty, very lonely Ray. My daughter happened to be at the office with my hubby that day, and as soon as he made the mistake of showing her what he had found, we were officially doomed to a life that now included the world’s worst excuse for a pet.

The very second Ray’s teeth touch anything, that item has officially become useless trash. In his first few days with us, he managed to destroy a phone charger, 3 sets of headphones, a TV remote, half a book cover, and my magazine basket. He likes to pull movies off the shelf and extract them from their cases, too. He inflicts this damage faster that the speed of light. He’s like a hairy hurricane. I shut him in one of the bathrooms to try and keep him out of trouble while I cleaned his cage before our journey, and when I went in to get him, he had the contents of the garbage can spilled all over the floor and was just finishing off the last of a tampon wrapper. Yeah, you can say it…gross. Good ol’ Ray. Well he might be good…with a side of roasted potatoes and baby carrots. I glare at him. He twitches an ear and tries to look innocent. I heave a sigh.

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Ray being a nuisance as usual

I have two choices at this point. I can either grin and bear the stench assaulting my nostrils from the back of the minivan, or I can roll down my window and breathe in the fresh Georgia air. If I roll down my window, though, I’ll end up eating my own hair; that wispy stuff along the sides of my face that absolutely refuses to stay caught up in my hair clip along with the rest of my greying mane. I opt to silently suffer and maintain my current position as the Mayor of Stinkyville.

The Hubster would like me to converse with him more, to keep him entertained. He isn’t the best conversationalist, though, often responding with no more than the occasional, “yep” or “uh huh”. Now, as adept as I am at running my mouth until I run out of breath, I’m just not skilled enough to hold up both ends of a conversation for 19 hours straight. So, he’s opted for the second best choice to keep himself functional enough to drive…sunflower seeds. He claims that having to work his jaws to get them out of their salty shells keeps him awake while driving. He tries to throw his shells out the window after he’s extracted the nutty goodness inside. This somewhat alleviates the odor problem created by the 4 legged nuisance behind me, but half of those shells fly back into the vehicle and land in my lap. Thank you, honey. I love you, too.

We just made a stop at a gas station to fill the tank in the minivan and empty our own personal tanks. One of the gas station employees was walking out of the restroom as I was walking in. Once inside, I noticed all of the used paper towels lying all over the floor. Really? You couldn’t have taken 20 seconds to pick those up while you were in there? There was human excrement on the floor behind the toilet in one of bathroom stalls. It looked to have been there for a day or 2. Just another reminder that I live in the land of the free and the home of the lazy. My obsequiously friendly hubby was snubbed by the rude, grumpy cashier as he paid for our gas, too. Does no one in this country have work ethic anymore?

We’ll be on the road again all of 5 minutes before someone in the back seat will say, “When are we gonna stop somewhere? I’ve gotta pee.” The Hubster and I will glance at each other, roll our eyes, and vow to stop letting the offspring drink so much on long trips. It’ll never stick though. We’re just a couple of softies.

At one point, we spent some time stuck behind a tractor moving at a slow crawl down a 2 lane stretch of country road. I refrained from rolling down my window and reminding the well-tanned gent behind the wheel with the dirty ball cap and wad of chew packed tightly into his cheek like a gathering chipmunk, that the speed limit is 45, not 4 or 5. Road rage really just isn’t my style. I opted to exhibit saintly patience and just counted corn fields as we waited to pass. I lost track before we were finally able to extract ourselves from John Deere’s convoy and be on our way again.

I should probably quit rambling and get in a couple hours of sleep so that I can take my turn behind the wheel later.  In case I forgot to mention it, we plan to travel straight on through the night. This runaway circus train won’t stop until we’ve reached our final destination.

So, I’ll end with that eternal question that must be asked at least two dozen times per hour while on a road trip to anywhere…

Are we there yet?