Day Three-Camp Kay-Athens, Georgia-2015

In years past Camp Kay might last a week or even two weeks but now that I’m a big girl things have changed. We didn’t have Camp Kay last year. Everybody was too busy being busy.  I think the three day abbreviated Camp Kay we just experienced we can hold in our UGA hearts a long, long time. I’m not too sure about how long the memories will last for for Uncle Ben because I overheard him telling Aunt Kay he thinks he might not live more than a couple of more weeks. He called us the Precious “Princesses of Primp” and he said we were doing great at it because we took the obligatory two to three hours to get all that war-paint and Fuji-water splashed on this morning right before we ate two water melons, four pounds of tomatoes, a pound of boiled peanuts and enough grapes to make five gallons of good wine if you stomped on them hard enough (he said). Then we packed our bags in twenty-seven seconds flat and left.

FullSizeRender222As Uncle Ben later said, “All good things must come to an end. the Bulldog Lovers Club have packed up and are heading back to South Georgia in the sleek white “Escape-mobile” with the “Ego-Boost” tag on it. It was not quite like the old Western movies he said he used to watch where John Wayne got on his trusty steed and moseyed off into the sunset but it had to do. We blazed out of there in a cloud of dust and with one long honk on the horn we were out of sight. I’m pretty sure Uncle Ben hid all the chips and candy we took to Athens with us. I think he has to sneak around and eat chocolate because it isn’t good for him. He tells Aunt Kay he has a lot of trouble keeping his ‘weight up.’FullSizeRender225

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We had a good time downtown before we left for home. I’m not sure what this rope we are swinging on in the pictures is attached to but we heard on the radio as we were leaving the Athens City Limits that a huge water tower had toppled over near Broad Street and rampaging water had washed away over twenty businesses that are now all stacked up together down on the campus on Lumpkin Street.

Oh well. As was said in the movies a long, long time ago, “Tomorrow is another day!”

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You should be able to simply click on the lovely blue shawl of this sweet old grandmotherly woman and be taken without further ado to Amazon.com where they just so happen to sell copies of this adorable little book. If you don’t know how to go “Click” with your mouse just forget about it. You won’t understand the book either.

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International Vulture Awareness Day is Here!

I’m not sure if buzzards indulge in tongue in cheek humor or if The Athens Banner-Herald newspaper article that appeared in Friday’s paper is for real but I do know that it was a pretty weird article even for a college town the size of Athens. It was written by André Gallant and Gallant has interviewed Suki Janssen of the Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Recycling Division. That is a mouth full even for a kettle of buzzards. That’s what you call a group of the big birds circling the landfill according to Suki Janssen. If they all pile up in the trees, they are then referred to as a venue.

Amazing what you can learn in the newspapers but first you have got to half-way believe what you read and I’m not really good at believing what writers of the news attempt to translate from the person(s) they are interviewing (what they thought they heard) to what is true because generally the writer really knows little to nothing about the subject. That’s why I just like to make up things as I go along.

I know absolutely nothing about buzzards and vultures other than if you hit one on the road the bird is likely to cause serious damage to your car not the least of which is throwing up vile carrion all over it that has a stench which can probably never be erased.

Anyhow today is International Vulture Awareness Day at the landfill in Athens and I purposely waited until this late moment to tell you all about it because I cannot imagine anybody I know wanting to ride out to the landfill to visit one of the vulture education stations that has been set up by The Bear Hollow Wildlife Trail and The Oconee River Audubon Society. They even have binoculars for close-ups.

The only thing I remotely considered of interest is learning buzzards do not go to work until 10:00 AM but why should they worry about going sooner? Their meals are ‘ready to eat’ and breakfast will wait until brunch.

So here’s what you’re missing: the enchanting odor of rotting trash that emits sulfur fumes strong enough to knock you down (and to attract a vulture); If that doesn’t floor you these bad boys can use projectile vomit to run you back home; the vomit is so strong the stomach acids will kill botulism and melt the buttons off most shirts; buzzards have bald heads so they can poke around in large carcasses without ruffling lovely cranial feathers; last but not least in case you were still considering a buzzard instead of a cat or a Yorkie as a pet, buzzards defecate on themselves to keep cool.

Now that you have been given the ‘Vulture Culture” from a distance, please don’t thank me. In fact if you never mention it again I will be happy.

This interesting, thought-provoking article was beneficial to me in clearing up a serious concern I have had since we moved to Athens. The article gave the address of the landfill and it apparently is not too far from our house. For months I have set out on the back deck and watched dozens of buzzards circling overhead (in large kettles). I often thought they were watching me and, on occasion, I would leap to my feet and do wild Watusi dance steps while screaming whirling dervish chants of deliverance just so they would know I was still too agile to be dinner. Now I learn they’ve been out there circling the landfill the entire time. I was safe but just like Fats Waller always said, “One never knows, do one?”

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Tripping the Light Fantastic or…..Flipping Out On the Filipino Tinikling.

Filipino Dancing

These gals look pretty good doing the Filipino Tinikling. They are not as nimble as I proved to be when I got my ankle caught between those bamboo sticks.

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I tried dancing outside the sticks because I thought they were trying to hurt me.

Athens, Georgia, the town where you would naturally  expect the assimilation of all things cultural and if you did, you would be right on. The Culture Clubs recently strutted their stuff in Downtown Athens during the International Street Festival.

I had to be there. I am an expert at the Filipino Tinikling. I’m sure you’ve seen film clips of folks in the Philippines doing the Tinikling.

It’s relatively simple. You get two brain dead bozos to hold two bamboo poles parallel to each other and as these clowns clap the sticks together you have to dance, quickly I might add, between and in and out of the sticks without getting tender ankle flesh entrapped between the poles thereby suffering an injury that can lead you to becoming non-ambulatory. That would result in a serious need for crutches or a wheelchair.

I tell you I had to go. I just knew the Tiniklingers would welcome me with open arms once they saw my skill and grace as I performed this daring dance of the Philippines.

There was just one thing I did not take into consideration. I had forgotten Americans are not welcomed with open arms (by just about anybody) in the world anymore and the Filipino men who were in control of the ankle bashers did not seem to appreciate the fact that a tall, dark, and fairly ugly Americano could do their dance so well.

I was really getting into it (this would have been in the first three seconds or so) when things began to fall apart. They started banging those sticks together so fast that even Fred Astaire would have grabbed his top hat and run like hell.

I was at their mercy. I made my slickest move but it didn’t work. They had my right foot in a vise. I wear a size twelve shoe but by the time those guys got through with me just my left foot was a size twelve.

My right foot was only two inches wide at the widest part and it was almost seventeen inches long. I rolled around on the floor a while and cried a little bit and then crawled over and leaned on a wall while angrily protesting they had changed the tempo on me and fouled me all up and ruined my favorite foot.

They answered my accusations with what seemed to me to be quite a bit of joy and one of them said. ‘Oh no, meester, the Filipino Tinikling is in three quarters rhythm and you were trying to dance in four-four time.’

I called Katie Mae to come get me but she told me I should have known better than to go down there and act like an old fool. She sent me a cab about an hour later.

My foot will never be the same. I think it is gradually reshaping itself but it’s kind of scary because the new shape resembles the long face of a nine year old mule my Daddy used to own.

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I think these clowns have hit this poor girl on the right foot too. It looks like she is about to wear them out with her shoe when she finally gets it off her foot.

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Learn To Do the Tawny Crazy Ant Dance.

Aunt P, Bob Fowler and Ben

Coach Bob Fowler, Ben Swilley, Priscilla (Aunt P) Fraser Swilley at Albany (GA)High School Class of 1960 Reunion, 2010. Ben is not telling a lie. His lips are not moving. We lost Coach Bob way too soon and he is much missed.

Recently Katie Mae and I made a trip to our old home town of Albany, Georgia. While in Albany we visited our dear and wonderful sister-in-law, Priscilla, who is the widow of my late beloved brother, William Ashley. We affectionately refer to Priscilla as Aunt P.

We had to yell through a window to get her attention . She ran and opened a door for us and then she charged back into her laundry room where she went back to doing this amazing dance routine. I thought it was a new kind of Yoga Boogie. I had never seen anything even close to this except in old movies from the 1920’s.

She was putting a 21st century twist on dances from the Roaring Twenties. Aunt P was bringing back the Roaring Twenties of a hundred years ago all by herself in a laundry room in Albany, Georgia.  It looked as if she was dancing The Charleston, The Lindy Hop and The Black Bottom all rolled into one. I was fascinated. I had not seen Aunt P move that fast and for that long since 1972.

We finally pulled her over to our side of the room and got her to stop before her heart gave out. We thought it was best to stop her before we had to drag her lifeless body out of the wash room.

“My Gosh,” I yelled. “What has come over you?”  She kept pointing back toward the laundry room while all the time gasping, “We’ve got to get ’em. We’ve got to stop ’em.”

So I went back into the little room and sure enough, there were literally thousands of strange looking tiny tawny crazy ants running erratically in all directions. The only way you could attempt to control this mad invasion, if you didn’t have any ant spray on hand, was to stomp them. I even took a shot at it. I broke into a wild Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly inspired tap dance for at least 14 seconds. That’s about all the energy I could come up with on such short notice. I think I smashed three ants and I wear a size 12 shoe. My method seemed to be lacking.

It was kind of fun at first but I couldn’t last as long as Aunt P. She’s almost three months younger than I am. I quit dancing and attacked them by swinging wildly with the faithful old fly flapper. I was killing hundreds of them but there seemed to be an endless supply. I finally went out, got some super ant spray and subdued the mad masses.

Now I learn that we are being invaded by these new ants. I won’t bore you with the scientific name of this marauding invader but I can tell you the generic name is really “Tawny Crazy Ant.”  They are going to become so invasive that they will displace or eradicate other ant species. They may even wipe out fire ants. They are smaller than fire ants and they don’t bite (we are told).

Our problems are going to be their craving our food and our inability to keep them out of our homes. Another big problem is they are attracted to electrical boxes and outlets and this can cause electrical short circuits that are bothersome, costly and dangerous.

The good news for me is they probably will not come as far north as Athens because it gets colder here but for all my South Georgia pals, “Look out! Seal all your doors and food containers  and barricade your pantries.

Meanwhile, Aunt P is getting our musically inclined children and grandchildren to put together a YouTube film clip of her doing her version of “Aunt P’s Tawny Crazy Ant Dance.” She figures if a short fat kooky Korean kid who used to ride a stick horse can use that same stick horse riding motion to create a sensational international dance fad  and call it Gangnam Style and make tons of money with it, she knows her unique style of twisting, turning and ant stomping is going to make her one rich woman.

I’m going to be her manager.

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Mardi Gras, The Real Deal – Mobile, AL, Not Athens, GA

I have to admit I embellished a bit (more like lied a lot) when I wrote about Mardi Gras at a downtown bar in Athens, Georgia but I have actually been to Mardi Gras functions in Mobile, Alabama. Mobile holds the claim to fame when it comes to the first Mardi Gras celebrations in the US of A.

Mobile began their Mardi Gras carnival celebrations in 1703. This was fifteen years before New Orleans was even thunk of.

Katie Mae and I lived in Mobile for a few months after we were wed back in 1974. She worked with a printing company whose owner was an old Mobilian and a member of one of the Mardi Gras secretive mystic societies. The mystic societies throw all the big dances and balls and organize the parades during Mardi Gras. I’m unsure of the name of his group of mystics. I think it was a secret.

His daughter who was a young sweet native of that wild and wicked old town took me and Katie Mae to her father’s society ball. The girls were all dolled up in much finery and big bushy dresses and they smelled so sweet I kept swooning and falling down. Maybe I fell a lot because  I drank an alcoholic beverage……….. I drank a few alcoholic beverages.………. I got drunk.

There was no doubt in my mind that I was looking good but I think the real reason I kept falling down was the rented tux coat was for a guy about the height of Shaquille O’Neal and it had tails and the black tie and a lovely neat white shirt with a hand full of funny little buttons that came with it. It even had fancy buttons for the cuffs which came in a separate box.

The tails kept dragging the floor. If you ever want to really understand the word “comeuppance,” just wear a coat with long fish tails in a room full of older, heavy-set people. I finally had to sit out the dances which made both me and Katie Mae much happier but it took me a month to get over the whip-lash.

Anyhow we made it through the ball and all that jerky dancing (for me) and on Fat Tuesday our wonderful little hostess took us into town to watch all those wild parade floats go by. The masked members of the mystic societies stand on the floats as they pass by and they grace the great unwashed commoners standing in the cluttered streets below with “Throws.” Throws are colored beads, and Frisbees, and sweet cakes and faux gold doubloons and all kinds of other trinkets and sweets but most cherished of all the throws, I have learned, is………… MOON-PIES.

The first mistake made was mine. I saw a tiny old grandmother figure of a woman with a small boy who looked to be three or four years old. I decided I would give her a hand catching some trinkets and sweets thrown from the floats and then she could give them to the little lad. There were so many excited younger people thronging the streets you could see the reflection of colored beads and moon pies in their feverish eyes and I felt sure Granny was going to have a difficult time catching any of the throws for the little boy.

As soon as the first fist full of beads and moon pies hit the sidewalk, Granny knocked me on my ass. I never saw her again but I felt her run up my back and step on my head as she followed the float down the street. I thanked God that Granny was not a heavy woman and I had survived that severe stomping.

Things pretty much leveled out after that, parade wise, and as I watched the floats go by, I tried to sink my back deep into the granite facade of the bank where we were standing so no more old Grannies could attack from the rear.

As the parade began to wind down our hostess grabbed us by the hands and we ran through a couple of alleys to a spot on a street corner where we could watch the parade’s grand finale.

The grand finale consisted of these same masked men throwing more sweets and trinkets off the floats only this time I began to experience an odd feeling as if something frightful and sinister was afoot. Something told me to be careful. I think it was getting knocked on my ass by a 75 year old woman.

I was cautiously backing up a step or two when I realized the guys on the floats had an abundance of moon pies and they were picking them up by the box full to throw to the crowd. As I looked around I saw this crowd consisted of only small black children roiling like hungry minnows at the sides of the floats.

The guys on the floats began to dump box after box of moon pies into the thickening school of minnows at their feet. That harmless pool of small fishes instantly transformed into a shark frenzy of black kids trying to see who could grab the most moon pies. I was amazed and transfixed to the sidewalk as if I were paralyzed. Then to my utter astonishment we were stormed by the kids as one of the moon pie throwers unloaded a case of them right on top of Katie Mae’s head. Katie Mae and our young friend were suddenly swept off their feet and they almost instantly disappeared across a wave of backs of the black children. It looked as if the two girls were being swept away by rogue waves at the beach.

The Lord was still with me. At the last second I regained my senses long enough to shut my gaping mouth and reach out and grab each girl by a foot. I dragged them back across the undulating backs of all those moon-pie hungry kids and when I got them back on their feet I hustled them as far from that crowd as fast as we could limp away.

The last thing I saw as I looked back was a lone girl about ten years old screaming and cursing and holding an empty moon pie box as high as she could hold it. If her curses could have exacted revenge on all those who made off with the contents of that box the city of Mobile would still be trying to identify the bodies of all those little boys who had literally trampled her to seize the booty. I was glad my Mother was not there to hear that rant. I still blush when I remember the things she screamed in outraged anger.

That’s how we learned an old and cherished tradition of Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama. We were part of that tradition for only a few minutes but that is also how I learned a valuable lesson. Moon Pies can kill you and you don’t even have to be eating one.

If you are ever having a good time down on that old Gulf Coast around Mardi Gras time, remember two things: Rip tides can be extremely dangerous. Some you’ll encounter at the beach, however, some will occur when you least expect them so always keep an eye out for waves of small children driven like hunger crazed sharks. It can happen when there is only a whiff of a moon pie crust in the air.