The Gift

If you are a man, consider yourself a gift. Most men (in my opinion) live a much easier life than women. Now there are exceptions to the rule, but being born a male is truly something special. I wouldn’t give the world for the experience of carrying a child or being the main one to nurture our kids, but outside of that, females have it hard. What makes me think this? A few nights ago, as I was working in our kitchen, Lee was fast asleep (as a woman, I don’t need sleep), & heard a knocking outside. It wasn’t a knock on the door, it sounded more like a knocking on the side of the house. Concerned it was someone playing a prank or an animal, I awakened Lee to tell him I heard something. As a man, I feel he should be the first to know, the first responder of our home. His reply was he thought he heard something earlier. All this happened after 9pm, which was a little late in the evening for him to be walking around the inside of our home lol listening for a noise. He walks through quickly & goes back to bed without a solution. I heard it again & told him before he could close his eyes & he says in an illbox tone, “what do you want me to do about it?” Every single time I have woke that man up to investigate a noise, he gets ill. I’m sure he’s not the only man to do so. I don’t know what your experience was like if you raised babies, but mine went down like this-I stayed home with all three kids, nursed them, fed them for every feeding because they were hard-headed like their Daddy & wouldn’t take a bottle. This meant I had to wake up all during the night to feed. Was I ill, yes I was. Did I get visibly upset with him, sometimes, but the difference was I did this multiple times a night & never got a full nights sleep. I hear noises outside all the time, but only poke the bear once every six-eight months if that. Not a ridiculous amount of times. A little compassion would be nice!

Maybe it’s a southern thing, I really don’t have enough interactions with people from different areas outside the south to know either way, but men are spoiled. Again, let me reiterate that this is my opinion. I hope there are men self-sufficient, I suppose the single ones are & have to be (if their Mama’s aren’t still living). Women hold so many responsibilities just in the home. Most are the sole chefs, accountants, receptionists, taxi drivers, house cleaners, caregivers, & wear so many more hats. A man can come in from work after having slept 10 hours solidly & peacefully the night prior & fall asleep as soon as he kicks back the recliner. A woman comes in from work to start or manage supper, take the kids to various practices, pay a few bills, referee the kids, then has to clean the kitchen, make arrangements for everyone else for the next day while Daddy is fast asleep. Do you think the woman got a full nights sleep the night prior, let me answer this for you, no! Women, historically, have a harder time sleeping than their male counterparts. Doctors say it’s because of hormones. I say it’s because of hormones & because we have so many more things to do that keep our minds in overdrive. Anytime I’ve ever been to family gatherings, who are the first people to be in the recliners after a meal nodding off, men! Who worked the hardest preparing the meal, shopping for the meal, unloading the car, & then guess who cleans the kitchen, women! What an injustice! If you don’t have these experiences, more power to ya, please reveal your secrets! You have unlocked the code most women since the beginning of time have wished they could. I’m no feminist (obviously), but daggum men, step up your game!

Am I writing a personal letter publicly to my husband, no! He knows exactly how I feel, I am merely venting to a larger sized audience. When I need an appointment with my dentist or a mammogram, I call myself & setup these appointments. When hubby needs an appointment of any kind, I get asked to schedule it. Then if it’s at a time not feasible for him, I have to call back. How ridiculous is all of this? I can see me asking Lee to schedule my yearly pap exam. Women have nothing else going on, what is one more thing. Being a secretary was a personal aspiration of mine outside of working at the Food King grocery store-back in my days of youthfulness, it was Lowe’s Food. I loved the way the cash register keys sounded when the girls waited on me when I went in to purchase a carton of Vantage cigs for my Mama & Daddy at the old age of 6! In the 80’s, most women worked as secretaries or in a mill. My Mama did both, but as I was growing up, she mainly was a secretary, then became an office manager as her last paying job before retirement. One of her jobs when I was around age 7 was with a trucking company. It was a large building that housed several women & their desks. Each dark brown desk was equipped with a telephone (my first love), a file cabinet, a typewriter, my favorite was the desktop calculator, pens & paper galore, a huge desktop calendar (to write hubby’s appointments on), the ever important ashtray & let’s not forget the dark brown paneling because that only added to the oppression of women-picked our by a man no less! If women are nothing more than objects meant to work 24/7, then they need to be more depressed with brown paneling & brass door knobs. Then you add in the packs of cigarettes being smoked in an 8 hour shift & you’ve got yourself the makings of a country music song! The office would sometimes look like the VFW on a Friday night it was so thick with smoke. I despised the smoke, but I wanted to operate that telephone, calculator, & typewriter. It was the buttons. Mama could fly with that calculator, I wanted to be just like her! I also loved sound the typewriter made when pressing the keys, I loved the texture of the push-button keys on the phone, I loved that you could put a person on hold-I could not do that at our house. Our phones were rotary dial phones (if you’re a young person, you had to stick your finger in the appropriate number & turn the dial to call someone). I could press mute at my Mama’s office! She knew shorthand, now that was a gift. Mama was a master at it like she is at all things, & my sister Jodie who is 9 years older than me but looks 20 years younger than me took it in high school & was a master at it as well. Shorthand was phased out by the time I got to high school, just my luck! Why did they do shorthand? To write down what “the gift” was telling them in a quick manner so the woman could type it up because “the gift’s” hands were too busy smoking a cigar most likely. Being a secretary was glamorous in my eyes, now I know different! My dream did somewhat come true, I am still pushing buttons both literally & figuratively! I love operating our cash registers at The Berry Patch, I’m almost as fast as my Mama was on her desktop calculator.

Getting back to household chores, it has been my experience that women typically do the cooking & planning of meals. I giggle sometimes thinking about Lee worrying about whether I have eaten or not. As women, we worry about all the people living with us whether or not their nutritional needs are being met. Do the men worry about such? No, they are too busy sleeping! Most men never worry about the baseboards getting clean, the bathrooms being all sparkly, cleaning out the pantry or wiping down the cabinets, washing the sheets, curtains, the list goes on & on. Do I belong to a club accosting men for being men? No, I’m simply pointing out differences in men & women. After big meals at my parents house, we ladies say, “I wish I was a man”. So why don’t we take a stand & just not wash the dishes, plan the meals, vacuum, stop it all? I really don’t know why I’ve never personally done this. I do enjoy cooking, organizing, grilling, but it all gets sort of robotic because it is done so frequently by the female sex that the enjoyment gets sucked right out the window. I would certainly never hang a wreath under a billboard with a friend lifting me up in a bin box like Lee did in this picture. Just one of the reasons I love him!

Please don’t think I am giving Lee a hard time, the above goes for most of the ladies I know. Lee works very hard, often leaving before the sun comes up & not getting home until well after dark. I am not perfect by any means. I am extremely anal about most things. If something is crooked, it must be fixed immediately, I don’t like overhead lights on whereas Lee does, we fight about whether the big lights or the lamps should be on all the time, I have no tolerance for foolishness (outside of Jack), I complain all the time (obviously lol), & I have gotten very upset with Lee before because he washed clothes (stupid, right?). Don’t get me wrong, being a “gift” comes with a certain amount of assumed responsibilities just as it does being female. The physical labor men do on a day basis is often more strenuous in some ways. I could never do some of the things my husband does like put together an irrigation system, change a carburetor on a tractor, kill a snake, or crawl under a house. Being a certain gender comes with assumed roles. I am okay with some of those roles for both males & females, but I do think the house rules need to change & it is my hope that the younger generation can do that. Everything inside the house should not be left up to the woman, as everything outside the house shouldn’t be left up to the man, there should be shared responsibilities. Ava (our daughter), remember this! Maybe this wasn’t a note for Lee, but for Ava instead! Will I continue doing all of the above, yes! Will I continue to wish I were a man, yes! Will anything be changed because of this post, no, & I’m okay with that. I’ll carry on attempting to hide my grays unlike men, who gray very handsomely yet another thing men have been so graciously gifted with. So in the end, I guess you could say we are all “gifts”. Men, how about making an extra special “gift” for your wife & dust the baseboards tonight!

Chronicles of Corona

Do you know what is heartbreaking? As I’m just getting home one evening this week, I walk in to find Lee in Jack’s room, they are having a little chat. Jack is talking to Lee about jobs. Jack says, “do you know a place where epilepsy children can work?” Talk about tearing your heart straight out of your soul! Coleman has been & Ava is a part of The Berry Patch employee line. They each were made to work starting at the young age of 9. We both happen to think working at a young age instills so many values you can’t learn sitting at home eating tater chips on the couch. Working youth are awesome & if they have good guidance, working youth make awesome adults. Learning responsibility at a young age produces confident, productive members of society. Coleman helped implement several high tech business techniques at The Berry Patch during his reign, Ava is on her way to being a future manager in the ice cream shop-which I can not wait for! Since Coleman left for college (and is now graduating college without a graduation ceremony 😢), I’ve worked harder than ever before on the produce side. I wish he could of stayed 17 forever! Getting back to Jack’s statement about working, we’ve tried to go that route before. Back when Coleman & Ava were in grade school & Jack was not, I would need to be at The Berry Patch. This was before I had help with him. I would take Jack to work with me & give him jobs, paying jobs at that. Things that he could do & do well if he had the motivation & desire-he had neither. Jack hated his job. He was our candy bagger. As much as he loves money, we thought he would love earning it. NOT! I wish Jack had the temperament to give it a go again as our candy bagger. He is simply too wild & girl crazy to take down there. Jack doesn’t visit The Berry Patch ever, he is like a literal bull in a china shop, he would also ask for the phone number of every teenage female we employee & that’s a lot!

When I think of Jack’s question about where he could work, it makes me want to weep for days. Lee told Jack he’d have to think about it, something we tell Jack often when we don’t have the answers to questions he asks. Jack is in a good place, currently. He is using manners, interacting in polite ways, not being inappropriate. We live for times like these, theses times make you appreciate them even more. I guess you could say we are truly fortunate. Some people don’t know what it’s like to experience the fortune of the gift we are receiving this week. We know the highs & lows all too well of life. We deal with such bad times on a regular basis that we know how to cherish the good moments.

One of the most used words in our household is inappropriate. Ava started using it when she was three years old. I laugh so much when I think of her little self running around talking about Jack being “inappropriate”. I’ve used that word with Jack since he was four to describe his behaviors. If he acted like his hand was a table saw & my leg was a log, I’d say “that’s inappropriate”-he still does this to this day, multiple times a day! If he’d talk back, I’d say “that’s inappropriate”. We love to use that word, even Jack uses it from time to time to describe an “inappropriate” outfit that J Lo might be sporting or about lyrics in a song. Jack simply can not work anywhere because his behaviors are “inappropriate”, but how can we explain that to him? I know there are places that do employ people with developmental challenges, but Jack doesn’t fall into that category. It would be so wonderful if he had place he could be employed, a place where he could meet other “like” people, a place where he could learn to interact “appropriately”. There are so many people in the world that don’t want to work, it hurts my heart to know the limitations Dravet has forced upon Jack.

I’ve encountered a few issues with the public during the Corona ordeal. As business owners of an ice cream shop, a produce stand, & a farm, we need stuff to be operational. By stuff I mean bottled water, drinks, Oreos (for ice cream), Reese Cups (for ice cream), butter, milk, just to name a few, so when I go shopping for our business, I buy lots of the same items. If we are low on Oreos for our delicious Oreo ice cream, it’s not unusual for me to roll out of the store with 100 packs of Oreos. The same goes for water, drinks, & milk. I have never minded getting this stuff until Corona. Prior to Corona, I was asked by random shoppers if I was having a party, how many kids do I have, do I run a daycare. I’d sometimes be an illbox to the people inquiring about my buggy purchases & say something like, “we eat a lot at our house” or I’d roll my eyes & say nothing at all to the nosettea’s. My entire wardrobe from March-November are Berry Patch shirts. One would think the nosy-tail people would identify my shirt & know why I make such large purchases. Now that Corona is a thing & people are going to the grocery stores like they are giving away free food, the looks & questions I get are horrific. Going to do my weekly shopping at places like Aldi & Walmart have given me PTSD because of some ol’ heifer I had a run in with at Aldi. There have been limitations on bottled water since the pandemic started. Last week, the limit was lifted at one of my favorite stores, Aldi. I loaded up 13 cases in my cart, I minded my own business like I always do, made sure I wasn’t close to anyone, moving through the line swiftly like Jerry on Seinfeld when he dined with the Soup Nazi. While waiting to be checked out, the ol’ heifer I referred to was behind me in line. I did not know who was behind me until the cow started tapping my back aggressively. I turned around to see who on earth was trying to bore a hole in my back, it was a masked elderly woman in a nightgown. She said to me in a very hateful tone like she worked for the FBI during an interrogation, “what are you going to do with those waters?” Before I ever walked into that store, I had a feeling I was gonna have troubles on that day. So I told the woman they were for my employees & asked her if she went around asking everyone in stores what they were going to do with their groceries? Her response was “no”, to which I said, it’s none of your business & turned around & walked out. Now I hated to be rude to the woman, but when she touched me so aggressively, I nearly lost it. I wanted to say so much more, like why are you wearing a mask but yet touching me? Why are you in your nightgown? Why are you a heifer? The list goes on & on. Do you understand now why I hate shopping for The Berry Patch? It is so embarrassing & confrontational all in one. People think I’m a hoarder! The mean looks I get are scary & I can’t take it, the looks & questions bring out the worst in me. I’m liable to be on morons in the news before this is all over with, with me being the moron of course!

Since my reading audience is full of highly sophisticated followers, I know none of you need to know this, but I’m writing it any way. Do not ever ask people what they are doing with anything in their buggy’s-you may not like the answer, & trust me when I tell you that the buggy-pusher does not want to share that info with you. I swear if someone asked me what I was going to do with a box of tampons that were in my cart, I’d say for your butt! Do not look at the buggy-pusher funny, it makes us mad. You do not need to know what or why they are purchasing anything. It’s none of your business! Corona has made us all ultra sensitive, be careful out there. You don’t want to make the wrong person mad, you don’t know what they have already been through. Stop being concerned about what other people are & are not doing regarding this virus, do what you feel like you need to do & don’t worry about other people. Stop worrying about why employees or others are not wearing masks, this is the south it gets hot in those things. I personally & our employees have felt very light-headed after wearing them for our job outside. That decision is made out of personal safety. This is a friendly reminder to all, mind ya business! There is most likely a backstory for decisions people make. Whether or not you agree with these last few statements, makes no difference to me, mind ya business. 💜

Lucy & Ethel

Jack just took a quiz via Facebook, the question was “what Looney Tunes character are you?” His answer revealed Bugs Bunny. They got that dead wrong, why didn’t it say the Tasmanian Devil? Folks, these quizzes are wrong, don’t take them, don’t waste your time. Proof is right here! I challenge y’all to find me a human being more aggravating than Jack Berry. Several years ago, Jack went through a phase of complaining that he was hot all the time & needed a ceiling fan in his room. At the time he had only a light, no fan. It was really more about being like everyone else in the family & having what we had in our bedrooms. Always forced to comply with his every whim, we purchased that aggravating heathen a ceiling fan with a light. He was satisfied-with that only. He can’t get any satisfaction in any other arena most of the time,so at least he was off our backs about that fan for a few years. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about the Bermuda Triangle of dry land being The Berry Patch, our home is also the Bermuda Triangle. We’ve had all the fixtures in our home since we moved in in 2010, but the one that decides to need replacing is the one in Jack’s room of course-just our luck. Jack’s fan has been on the brink for few weeks now. The light has been flickering on it ever so slightly & very infrequently, but enough to run Jack into a full mental breakdown & us as well. Even the slightest bit of something being wrong or out of place causes him to have a breakdown-he may or may not of gotten that from me. Lee tinkered with it, my MacGuyver couldn’t patch this one up. We were hoping Jack wouldn’t become addled with it, because we really didn’t want anyone unnecessary in our home due to Corona, but Lee was forced to call in our favorite electricians Larry & Terry (reminds me of the Newhart Show, Larry, Darryl, & Darryl for some reason) to try to salvage the ceiling fan. Being cursed as we are, the light part of the fan could not be saved.

That in itself gave Jack a whole new mission, a whole new purpose in his life. He demanded me take him to Lowe’s to pick out another one, then he thought about Corona & quickly changed his mind. Corona is an evil woman. Without her presence, all of this story I feel could of been avoided. Jack & I could of gone to Lowe’s picked out a fan & most of the hassle Lee & I endured & the poor employees of Lowe’s would have been less painful. Over the next few days, Jack worried the pure-t fool out of all of named above, including Larry & Terry. When the electricians came the first time, Jack noticed one thing about them & one thing only, their T-shirts. They were wearing shirts that advertised their business. Unfortunately for them, Jack got their phone number off their shirt. He also asked them if they sold their T-shirts, he is a shirt hog after all. It wouldn’t matter if the shirt was advertising a pile of poo or for a strip club, he would want it! Jack’s light/fan ordeal took place from Friday-Sunday. He started inquiring about Lowe’s delivering his fan. Jack wanted me to go pick it out using the guidelines he gave me, pay for it, then have them deliver it. Jack is not a person anyone with a head can rationalize with. He knows it all & has all the answers. I foolishly told Jack Lowe’s doesn’t deliver fans, I honestly thought they only delivered appliances & big stuff. Of course he had to prove me wrong by calling the store to confirm what he told me. What I couldn’t get him to understand was if I went to the trouble of going down there, I could bring it home since it is not a large box. Nothing would do but to have this fan delivered. Jack called Lowe’s for three straight days worrying them to death about setting up delivery & getting a fan. This is one of the conversations I overheard. I was dying laughing & fuming inside all at the same time.

Lowe’s employee: This is Lowe’s how can I direct your call?

Jack: I need the electrical company. (They transfer him to electrical surprisingly)

Lowe’s employee (a woman named Robin who is a saint): How can I help you?

Jack: I need a fan. Do y’all deliver fans?

Employee: Yes we do sir.

Jack: What kind do you have?

Employee: What kind are you looking for?

Jack: A bedroom fan. (I’m thinking “Lord, please don’t let him make this inappropriate”).

Employee: We have white, brown, chrome. Why don’t you look online for some?

Jack: Thank you for your help, God bless you & have a great day.

Now this was only one of his conversations of multiples & that went on & on. Kudos to the employees of Lowe’s for having the patience of Job to indulge Jack & his barrage of questions. Jack’s ending statement to the employee of Lowe’s made me think I have done a little something right with raising that boy! On that day after Jack tried to arrange a delivery with “Robin”, I sent Lee to Lowe’s because Jack was riding our tails so bad, plus he was being mean & aggressive towards me & one of his caregivers. This is what the smallest things do to Jack. They get him so out of sorts & wound up that his emotions come out as aggressiveness. Anything out of the ordinary works him up, this is why we try to get his needs taken care of before he hurts one of us-this is all because of Dravet Syndrome, not because we have spoiled him. To curtail any further threats on my life, I sent Lee on a Sunday to pick out two fan options. The plan was for Lee to drop them off at the house since Jack stays in his room most of the time, he would never know that Lowe’s didn’t deliver the fans. Lee was FaceTiming me from Lowe’s making sure he was purchasing the right ones. I later called Jack after the fake Lowe’s delivery & said Lowe’s came but y’all didn’t answer the door. Wouldn’t you know it, but Jack didn’t like either fan! Outdone & mad as fire, I went back to Lowe’s the same day to purchase yet another fan for a fake delivery. Everyone in that whole store knew about Jack & these fans-how embarrassing! They were like, “did Lee not get the right ones?” Of course he didn’t, Jack is just that picky. I then purchased a fan similar to the one in our bedroom since he said he liked that one. By the time I got it loaded & back on the highway to head to our house, Jack calls to tell me he was going to keep one of the original fans that “Lowe’s” brought the first time. I still “delivered” the fan & he didn’t like it either. I felt like Lee & I were Lucy & Ethel trying time hide our purchases & do something sneaky from Ricky & Fred! Now that made me even madder than the first fire made me! Once Jack had his mind made up on his choice of fan, he didn’t even glance at the second delivery. Jack’s fan selection is enormous. The fan on high will blow you straight out of the room. It looks like a propellor on a WWII airplane it’s so big. He is so impressed by the fan, he has to show it off to the few people that come into our home. He acts like one of the models off The Price is Right when showing it off too-he is proud!

Jack’s sleep has even been disturbed due to this fan ordeal. First thing that following Monday morning, Jack called the electricians. He knew their number from their T-shirts & arranged a time for installation. It would be a day before they could come, however. Once the fan was installed, Jack’s sleeping pattern leveled out & he is getting back to normal, he has also become nicer & hasn’t pressed his plastic Power Ranger sword against my carotid since. Our day to day lives are ever changing with Jack.

As much as my day is the same, it can also be so different, scary, weird, and/or downright funny & all this can occur in the same day! I will close with another one of my Bermuda Triangle of dry land stories that just happened today at our home. I came home a little early to do some paperwork, I was sitting on the porch for a minute working on my blog & noticed a strange car riding by the house. What made it so strange was the man driving was going super slow & staring a hole into our house. I knew he was going to do what he did before he did it. He turned around in the neighbors driveway & headed back to my house staring yet again. Being the proper “hawk” (that’s what a friend calls me) that I am, I snapped a picture of the man’s car & sent it to Lee. I told him creeper alert. Guess where the man went straight to? The Berry Patch! Lee got a picture of his tag, we know his name, he’s a local, but that’s it. Neither one of us has seen this man before. Now how strange is it that I would notice a strange man riding by our house & then went straight to our business. A coincidence, I think not. Hopefully this story will fizzle out & nothing will come of it & it won’t have a need for a blog, but stay tuned just in case!

Chloroform? Anyone?

We’ve been living in quarantine for several years now, Covid-19 quarantine has not been difficult for us really at all outside of not being able to eat out & escape the wrath of Jack in the evenings. The same challenges we are facing now are the same challenges we face on a daily basis with Jack all year long without Corona with one exception-there is a possibility of one or all of us contracting Covid-19. I haven’t let Corona worry me too much. I avoid all media so my mind won’t be infiltrated with Covid-19 thoughts. In the back of my mind though, I keep thinking about a young life that was taken due to Corona, a fellow Dravet child. She was 13 years old. Like all Dravet patients, each one suffers from a compromised immune system. Many develop pneumonia from a simple cold or from aspirating during a seizure which is what happened with Jack a few years ago. He complained of a headache one night & six hours later we were on an ambulance to Chapel Hill (worse ride of my life, it was like riding in a John boat during a category 1 hurricane). We had no idea what was wrong with him. He had a high temperature & kept convulsing. We thought we were going to lose him, it was a touch & go situation for a while. When the doctors said pneumonia I was like, no, he wasn’t sick!

Of course any life taken during any situation is sad, but this really hits home when it is one of our own is taken from Corona. It makes the reality of Covid-19 more real, less sci-fi. So to curtail overwhelming thoughts about this pandemic, I listen to happy, upbeat beach music, relax & unwind in the evenings when possible with Real Housewives of whatever, & protect myself as best I can when out in public. But there is no protecting myself from Jack himself. He goes through cycles of behaviors, most unwanted. When he’s good, he’s great, when he’s bad, he stays that way until the next good wave rides in. He’s currently riding a tidal wave & that wave often comes crushing down on me solely which then creates a tsaumi effect on other people making me short & irritable with everyone else, especially the ones closest to me. This is an unfortunate side effect of Dravet or from being a caregiver in general that is not listed under side effects. This past morning, Jack held one of his plastic Power Ranger swords up to my throat thinking he was being funny. He was trembling he was pressing the sword so hard in my throat. This is why I was such an illbox on that day, the lady that complained about the price of my chocolate covered strawberries needs to count her blessings that I was not there to give her a tongue lashing! Not only was my carotid threatened, but Jack wouldn’t stop hitting me either. He literally has karate chopped my butt every morning for two weeks now, follows me around the house hitting me each morning. His sleep is screwed up, which makes for poor behavior as well. Not only that, he messaged a friend of ours & asked her some pretty obscene things the other day. How embarrassing! Just a few days ago a Dravet Mama asked on the Dravet Facebook page was there anything to do for your child that hits you all the time? The answers were all the same mostly, no was the unanimous response, it’s part of Dravet. What a terrible disease to have. He can’t control himself & it’s heart-breaking knowing that there is no medication to help ease the worst side effect of Dravet Syndrome.

Here it is 1am as I work on this blog & the power is out…again. I’ve written more blogs about power outages than anyone ever! Being out of power is nothing anyone wants to be without when Jack is awake. This time it was a scheduled outage, they did call to say repairs were going to be going on. The house is completely dark, Jack & myself are the only ones awake. I scurry into his room to move the 25 objects he has collected throughout the day off his bed in hopes that he will nod off since the power is out. Of course no such luck, he uses this time to sing to the top of his lungs. Sleeping pill was given at 10:20pm, nearly three hours later, he’s still awake.

Mornings are so very tough with Jack. The torture he inflicts on me & now Ava that she is an online homeschooler truly causes us an overwhelming amount distress. I don’t allow him to mess with Ava, she stays in her room when he is like that, which is another cause of worry in itself. I want this part of my life to vanish. The trauma of dealing with Jack’s abuse every single morning makes regular, ordinary day stuff 10,000 times more difficult to deal with. How long can ones mental strength last before the band breaks? I seriously envision myself in a mental institution for having a nervous breakdown one day but I keep reminding myself that too many other people depend on me to not go insane! And if I snap, it’s going to be over something silly, not the major stuff like Jack’s abuse. Running away is truly my only daydream. I can’t do simple things like trim my nails, brush my teeth, even wash dishes. He takes me away from normal life stuff. By the time evening rolls around, I am too mentally exhausted to give two cents about my nails or the dishes. I had one of his helpers come to the house earlier than usual on Saturday because Saturday’s are busy days at the Berry Patch. I was hoping he would stay in his room with her while I got ready & could scoot out a little early. No, this could not be done. He started hitting on his helper, rather hard, too. Plans were ruined, the day was ruined. I couldn’t leave at 11 as I had planned. I won’t plan for that again. I would rather he hit on me than anyone else. This is such a frustrating situation.

Recruiting family members to call Jack in the mornings & talking as long as possible to him are my only options outside of using chloroform! There is a meme floating around now that parents are homeschooling due to Corona about using chloroform as a science experiment on your children & it reminds me of my Aunt Sue (mama’s sister) to a tee! She was watching the kids one evening for us while we went to a funeral around the corner from our house. My phone started ringing off the hook, it was Sue screaming for me to come home. The kids were ages 11, 10, & 5. Jack had one of his violent outbursts, Sue couldn’t get him to calm down for anything. When we returned, she was upset, naturally so & crying as was I. Sue was always so funny & never meant to be. She said something so hilarious that broke the woe is me spell. She said “he needs chloroform”! I died laughing over that then & still do to this very day. The funny thing is she meant it & so do I! With that being said, y’all got any chloroform I can borrow? 💜

Side Hustle

Y’all I have been dying laughing about this story with Jack so many times over the last few days. I have conveyed to y’all in my previous blogs Jack’s penchant for money, he lives to spend our money daily & multiple times a day. He’s been known to call in orders at Dixie Burger twice a day & everyday & if we refuse to get them, he’ll call aunts, uncles, whoever until he can get someone to buy his food for him. It’s a no win situation, telling Jack “no” only resorts to more aggravation & suffering. His love for spending money runs deep. He wants us to take things like comic books, old coloring books, toy cars to sell at The Berry Patch, he thinks we run a consignment shop! Jack has sold stuff on eBay for years, of course it’s my responsibility to pay for shipping & handling, he doesn’t grasp the full concept-all he sees are dollar signs. Jack’s need for buying junk items started when he was only 4 years old. I left my desktop computer open that was in a computer desk with doors & eBay was up on the computer. Jack typed in the Wiggles (his first true love) & ordered over $500 in Wiggles merchandise. Items he purchased were a comforter, sheets, movies, books, & more. Luckily, I was able to explain to the sellers about my son doing this on accident & the orders were able to be canceled. Then there’s Avon. I’ve always loved looking at Avon books, but I’ve had to hide the books since Jack was about 5 because he demanded everything in them-excluding makeup. He has always wanted a pile of junk even if that junk has no meaning to him, it was & has always been about the all mighty dollar, either him making one or spending someone else’s. Not only does he love to spend our money honey, he loves to make money not just on eBay either. My Aunt Sue & I used to have yard sales all the time. It was a quick way to get rid of clutter & make a few bucks. We’d start at the crack of dawn & work through lunch with the kids running around like heathens. Jack would want to sell silly stuff like one sock that the match had disappeared or a toy that was broken beyond repair. He’s a money hustler. While Jack’s penchant is money, my penchant is laughter-nothing any better. There are so many times that I lie in bed at night & think of a funny story & start belly rolling so hard I wake Lee & what Jack recently did is one of those times.

My parents gifted Jack with a metal detector this past Christmas, he has tore up our yard looking for something valuable that he can sell no less. He’s not found anything to date but a few rusty nails & some sort of rusty pipe. There are holes all over our yard, particularly in the back where I hang clothes out on a daily. I’m just waiting for the day I twist my ankle because Jack’s holes are deep. They aren’t bury a body deep, but they are spend $3,000 in the ER & a lifetime of agony deep. My dear friend Judy Cloninger text me the other day wanting to know if Jack had a metal detector. I screenshot our conversation so that y’all could read it, it was too, too funny. Make sure you read our conversation so you’ll know what this blog means.

What a wheeler & dealer! Being the wonderful people that Judy & her sister, Linda are, they gave the money for the metal detector “rent”! It won’t be long & he’ll be posting on Facebook that he has a metal detector for rent. Where did Jack come up with the $15 figure you may wonder? Well, the previous night, Jack was tracking the Easter Bunny like you do when you are actively seeking a wife & noticed the app he was using just so happened to be selling Easter Bunny T-shirts-which is another thing Jack lives for. He has more T-shirt’s than Walmart! Guess how much those shirts cost? $15! Jack wanted me to buy it but I told him I was broke. He gave me $15 of his money to buy the shirt, this all worked out in Jack’s favor. He lost $15 for something he wanted but made it right back the next day-pretty smart business man! He may not have an IQ higher than a toddlers in some areas, but he’s a pretty staunch businessman.

Now of course Jack gets his business techniques honest. If you are my Facebook friend, you know that I sell stuff all the time. In my defense, 90% of it is NOT mine, it’s my Mama’s. Years ago when I was a full-time stay at home Mama, I sold stuff on eBay myself. I would go to the QVC store in Fairmont, NC that sold items customers returned from QVC (they have probably seen a lot of my returns). The big ticket item at that time were Spanx. I purchased the Spanx cheaply & sold them on eBay. I made quite a good hustle on the undergarments. There is one funny but disgusting story about the Spanx I sold that is truly outrageous. I didn’t take the Spanx out of the box when I purchased them, I simply listed them by size & packaged them up as they sold. One customer contacted me after her purchase arrived to complain that there was a maxi pad stuck to the crouch of her Spanx! Omg, I was totally embarrassed! I have never left a pad in anything I own or returned, why would someone else do this, but I work with the public so nothing is out of the question! I issued a full refund & from that point on, I inspected every pair of Spanx as if I were #44 in the Hanes underwear quality control line.

Things aren’t always doom & gloom with Jack. He makes me laugh sometimes when I’m not too angry with him inside to smile. We had a bad storm to pass through the south this week, losing power for a while. This is no big deal to me, I know it will eventually come back on. My family has dealt with power outages for many years for weeks at a time. However, losing power with Jack is a different story. This is no situation anyone wants to be placed in, not even your worst enemy! Our power was off for about 6 hours, mostly in the morning hours when he is so aggravating, wild, & at his worst. There was nothing electronic to hold his focus. I went outside to listen to the birds & hopeful that my hummingbirds would soon return after their winter vavcation that morning of our power outage, Jack followed. He started punching me in his playful way but it was still hurtful, sitting on me, then karate chopping my Easter wreath which he broke some of the eggs off of. People that complain when the power is out, need to be thankful they don’t have a Tasmanian Devil in the same house as them during the outage!

It was such a beautiful day after the storm passed, that I wanted to grill that evening. I did some jalapeño poppers & grilled steaks & zucchini. For some reason, Jack wanted to help. He had to put the pan in the oven for the jalapeños which could of been a disaster, he had to put the steaks & zucchini on the grill. He would not let me touch the grill at all. He parked himself in front of the grill like a pit bull guarding his territory, he sat vigil. I couldn’t even think about getting close. Good new is Jack actually are what I cooked or what he cooked rather. What I thought was cute way to end the night, & tied it all back to the inspiration of this blog was what Jack did in this video. He was imitating Mr. Krabs on Spongebob. He is Mr. Krabs, he wants money & lots of it!

Now the next day, I was not laughing at all, in fact, I couldn’t wait to get the heck out of my own house. He was into everything in the world, messing with his oxygen tanks that I have on reserve should he need support during a seizure, hitting me yet again, following me everywhere I went in the house, being rude. I had had enough! So out I ran when his caretaker arrived to go make more money to feed Jack’s addictions! One more quick story about story about Judy & Jack. Judy was wearing a BB&T banking T-shirt recently & of course Jack begged & pleaded with Judy to get him one. She couldn’t find one anywhere so she did the next best thing, had him one made. It even has his name on it & the name of the bank. The shirt he’s wearing in the video is the shirt she had made for him. You don’t find many people that are true to their word, but she sure is. Judy couldn’t wait to make it in one of my blogs lol. This was meant to be! 💜

Bermuda Triangle of Dry Land

One of my theme songs in life is from a beloved television show from my youth that aired on Saturday nights, Hee Haw. It was the best, those were my people until I grew older & discovered that Jerry, George, Elaine, & Kramer were really my people. Hee Haw had a group of fellas that sang a song where the tune was so catchy, you found yourself singing it on non-Saturday nights! Gloom, Despair, Agony on Me! Now if you’re under the age of 40, you may not of been lucky enough to know the song, click here to get catch a listen. It’s a good one, fits my life/The Berrys life to a tee!

Most of you know Lee & I own & operate the world’s largest strawberry in Ellerbe, NC also known as The Berry Patch. All small business owners have had to face the same challenges like finding reliable, good help, maintaining a customer base, & financial hardships. All of this has been true for us, but one of the main issues we have had to face is what I call the Bermuda Triangle of dry land which is The Berry Patch existence itself. The Berry Patch was formerly at a location on family land a mile south just down the road from where we are now, but due to highway construction, we were forced to move the big berry in 2012. We purchased a plot of land that is oddly enough in the shape of a triangle. I didn’t know at the time that I would one day allude to the world’s largest strawberry as the Bermuda Triangle of dry land! I refer to our business as the Bermuda Triangle at least 10 times a week. If you’ve never heard of the Triangle, just know that nothing good comes from it! The B.T. is in the Atlantic Ocean. It is said that ships & aircrafts mysteriously disappear when using that route of travel. Unexplained circumstances is a good way to describe what occurs in the Atlantic Ocean & at The Berry Patch! The only difference between Devil’s Triangle & our place is there has only been one death at our place…to date.

Our business & farm has been plagued by troublemakers, break-ins, car troubles, thievery, one death, did I mention car troubles? We are a “berry” busy place from spring through the end of August & we love it. We see all types of interesting people, I love to be busy, the hustle & bustle that goes along with it, is my jam. With a busy business, we often (very often, like daily) see crazy town! I think it’s my crazy energy that draws these people to us. Between my crazy town magnetism & the Bermuda Triangle of dry lands magnetism, their is an invisible pull that draws the people in. The big strawberry & the produce stand have been broken into countless times. Once, the ice cream shop was broken into twice in one week by the same person. People drive through our entrance gates all the time even though we have orange hazard cones placed well in front of the gates. The drivers run through them & keep on going, they don’t think twice about our repair costs. Back in January, I wrote a blog about Jack going to the eye doctor, while we were there, someone’s truck rolled backwards through our wooden fence, busted it to pieces. There was a passenger inside the truck when it hit the fence, I bet she thought that was fun! Did they offer to pay for repairs, of course not. Summer of 2019 was particularly devastating on one of our farmlands. Lee grew a field of hemp, a group of lowlifes stole & stole & stole from that field over a period of about two weeks. They were caught & prosecuted thanks to cameras. It even made the Morons in the News segment on my favorite podcast, Bob & Sheri to my surprise. North Carolina’s very own Bermuda Triangle brings a host of car problems from people running out of gas, dead batteries, flat tires, & totally dead cars on more than a weekly basis. And of course none of these people know how to manage these problems with their cars. Thankfully, our full-time mechanic Lee Berry does! There’s some sort of magnetic pull at The Berry Patch, just like in the Atlantic! Only a few months ago, a car was abandoned at our business, the man who owned it was later declared missing. Sadly, he was found deceased across the woods from our parking lot.

The latest series of unfortunate events occurred only a week ago. We are actually very fortunate to have two standing buildings to operate out of between this story & the Corona! Last Friday afternoon (04.03.2020), I left The Berry Patch around 2pm to pickup Ava after she completed her homeschooling session. As I was leaving the business, I saw a woman walking on the side of road pilfering through roadside trash, like she was reading papers & then throwing them back down. I only thought it weird, I didn’t realize this gal would be impacting our lives 12 hours later. As Lee was opening up the business the following Saturday morning, he noticed a few odd things. One, a partially eaten cantaloupe was thrown on the cement, a jar of jelly had been opened & eaten, some clothes were scattered about, & as he was inspecting for other abnormalities, he noticed our big yellow hauling truck was gone. To answer your questions, yes we have an alarm system & a camera system. After contacting the sheriffs department, Lee also noticed that the above mentioned gal turned off some of the breakers that gives power to some of our deep freezers, thankfully we did not have ice cream in them at that time. One of the deputies that was helping with the crime suggested it might be the woman I saw on the side of the road the same day, said he ran her out of town. Well, he ran her right to us! I would love to know what she did for 12 straight hours because there is nothing between where I saw her & The Berry Patch but a few houses. Any way, the Richmond County Sheriff’s department sent Rockingham PD over to this gals house to see if big yellow was there. She was stepping out of it as they pulled up! The woman that was responsible for all this is a known drug addict bless her heart. Lee would have to forget & leave the key in this truck that same night! What was so wild about the whole story is as the sheriff’s department was watching playback of our security cameras, they noticed she kept circling around the building. She drove around in a circle for over 2 hours trying to figure out how to get out of our driveway & wasted a 1/2 a tank of gas! Now you understand my statement about being fortunate to have both the farm stand & ice cream shop still standing! The woman that did this was so strung out she couldn’t figure it out. There was damage to our truck, of course we will have to pay for it since she won’t be able to, just like we did the fence that those sorry rascals tore down & never offered to pay for. It’s part of owning a business, but doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow.

Why is it that we continue to get hammered? Is it so that I can write more blogs? To teach us a lesson? To give us something to laugh about when times get tough with Jack? Whatever the reasons, I am just glad that we can laugh at most of them. Next time you see Lee around town, ask him if he can fix your flat tire, change your oil, build a fence, or take his truck for a joyride! Or just take your chances & come shop with us at the Bermuda Triangle of dry land, we’d love to have you! Who knows, you might have a story to write yourself about it!

Ain’t Nothing Nothing

This has not been a good Corona vacation week. We had such a good run with Jack lasting a few weeks even. He was the sweetest, saying things like yes ma’am & no sir, not calling us 100 times a day, going to bed early, sleeping in past 11:00am, not doing anything foolish. It was a good time! Now, that has changed & this is how the Corona virus has affected us.

Since our business is considered “essential”, we have been busy with it, so up until now, the virus hasn’t actually felt real to us because we are still working everyday. Now, Jack has gone off the deep end so to speak & the confinements of home have hit hard. Ava’s homeschooling started last week, so the end of March. She is required to be in front of the computer interacting with her teachers & classmates from 9am-2pm daily, with a lunch break incorporated in. A few days after Ava started her online classes, things went downhill with Jack. He is no longer going to bed at a reasonable time even with elephant strength sleeping meds plus, he’s waking up early. For the last ten days, he hasn’t gone to bed before 2:30am which means I have to be up as well. I’ve worked so hard since the virus quarantine started with doing all my regular required duties of The Berry Patch & now trying to get a delivery service started for those that are in full quarantine. I’ve been so tired that I haven’t been able to sleep at all & I don’t or won’t take any medications (I’m a hard-headed Libra after all). This has made me an ill-box (my Daddy’s words to describe us ladies in the house). Not only has Jack’s sleep cycle been messed up, but he has become the Tasmanian Devil yet again. It’s amazing how much you can enjoy being with a person & all go so well & overnight you hate the very air they breathe. How can I say that about my own child? It’s so incredibly hard to imagine the torture we are all forced to deal with when Jack is storming. Imagine living with Bugs Bunny, the Roadrunner, the Tasmanian Devil, & Elmer Fudd-chaos, violence, crazy-town, evil, destruction! I’ve always said if Jack makes it out of the bed right after he wakes up in the mornings, he’s going to have a bad day. This morning (04.06.2020), Jack bound out of bed like a stick of dynamite was under him. From the moment his feet hit the floor, he was a terror. He immediately went to the stove & turned on two eyes. Then he caught sight of my robe that has a tie on it to keep it closed. I have on my nightgown underneath, I wear a robe every morning because he tries to tear my clothes off. He can not tie nor can he untie thank heavens. Not just this morning, but every morning that he is wild, he grabs both ends of the tie & pulls them as hard as he can trying to get my robe undone. Pulls them like he is in a tug-of-war contest. This morning he pulled the ties so tightly that I could not get it unknotted. I was stuck in my robe! Right after that, I tried to seclude myself from him in my locked bathroom to get ready for the day. As I was brushing my teeth, Jack demanded to come in to use the bathroom, never mind that there is another bathroom downstairs. I left him in there, he then locks the door to the restroom so I couldn’t get back in, he’s not in there nor am I. He didn’t want me going back in there so he locked the door. Lee jimmied the door lock so Jack couldn’t get in locked doors in case we needed to get away from him, I couldn’t unlock it-Lee had to. Once Lee got home, he had to unlock the door & untie my robe! His energy has no limits. Next thing he was onto was stomping through the house, jumping on the bed, banging pots, iPhone music & games going at the same time, TV blaring with a volume of 60 or more, then talking to a foreign man named “Ricky” that Jack claimed is his friend. What a morning!

This is one example of the loudness we have to deal with. We were trying to watch tv, but Jack barrels in & pays us no mind when we ask him to stop.

How does this tie into Corona you may ask? Well, Ava is upstairs trying to do her online classes everyday, while doing so, she is being constantly disturbed. Who knew when I washed Ava’s school uniforms nearly a month ago would be last time? When I washed her last load of clothes it made me so sad for her because there were no school uniforms in her basket. Ava loves school. School was her respite from Jack. At school there were no worries at that present moment. It hurts my heart that her learning has to be done in her bedroom with a closed & locked door now isolated from all human beings other than virtual ones for five hours. That may not seem like a lot to most, but it is to us when home can be a such a volatile, hostile, & disruptive environment. By the time Ava finishes online school, I have left for work. There are no other arrangements for Ava unless she goes to work with me. No teenager wants to do that everyday. This virus sucks! This virus has robbed so many. I don’t care about myself, I can deal with it, but it is worrisome for those dealing with mental health issues such as ourselves. Isolation is not a good thing when it’s not the norm. But there is absolutely nothing we can do about the circumstances. Lee & I often ate lunch together to talk, not for the food. We usually ate together five days a week prior to the virus. We did this because we don’t get to see each other without Jack’s interruptions. We don’t have husband & wife time. We allowed 45 minutes with one another five days a week so that we could chat about our plans for the day, business matters, & life. I could prepare us something & we eat in our car, but mornings are so tough with Jack that I run out of the house when his caregiver gets here. I simply have had enough by the time she arrives.

Jack lives to eat food from other places outside our home. Now that stay at home orders are in place, that Jack wants to eat all three meals out. He expects takeout everyday & night. He called Dixie Burger everyday last week & most nights for pickup orders. It’s like he is revolting against the order. Just like with him locking my bathroom door this morning, he did that so I would be forced to spend time with him. He really is a conniving child, would be one heck of a defense attorney or a criminal if circumstances were different. Here’s an example of how he sits in the recliner.

I was visiting with my parents a few weeks ago during the lockdown & Entertainment Tonight came on, it was running a repeat. I stated that all the shows were reruns, Daddy says “ain’t nothing nothing”! That was so funny to me, I have said that statement in my head everyday since then & laugh about it each time. It’s so true for us, ain’t nothing nothing. Lee & I can’t go out to eat for a little r&r, Ava & I can’t have a fun outing to forget our Jack troubles, we can’t go to Mama & Daddy’s for Sunday lunch, can’t ride to Southern Pines for a quick trip to TJ Maxx with Mama, can’t go see Coleman. Ain’t nothing nothing, but yet nothing is something for us & I don’t like it! Hope that makes some sense!

Tales of a hypochondriac

Anyone that was raised the 80’s or lived during the 80’s knows that a lot of talk was done about HIV/AIDS. The media reported constantly about it, schools talked about how to avoid it, there was so much hype about the disease that I was terrified I would get it. Imagine how small children must feel with the Corona virus information now. I was around the age 10 when I first starting hearing about HIV. I did not fully understand how the disease was transmitted, I didn’t know what a blood transfusion was-we only had three channels & that was iffy, nor did I understand drug usage & I certainly didn’t understand what safe sex was all about. We had a huge blue medical book for laymen at our home that weighed about 10 pounds that I studied all the time as a child. I can see the book now. The pages were thin like rice paper, the type tiny, illustrations harsh, however, I loved reading it. I learned about so many disorders in that book, but it was an older edition, way before the HIV/AIDS pandemic was talked about. How I didn’t know what a blood transfusion was is beyond me & how I was such a poor student is completely bizarre. I knew/know about medical conditions that most people have never heard of, I’ve been diagnosing people since I was a child! With all the news & shut downs due to Corona, it got to me to thinking about the time I thought I had HIV. Before you gasp & start rumors, PLEASE read this all the way through, I think you’ll find this story amusing. I think about it quite often & always die laughing reminiscing over this tale.

I’m going to be like Sophia from Golden Girls. I could tell you the story in a few sentences & be done with it, but picture it…1984, back in the 80’s, most kids growing up were latchkey kids, meaning we tended to ourselves while both parents worked or the guardians you lived with worked. 1984, the same year Mary Lou Retton won gold at the Olympics. I watched Mary Lou through the fuzziness of our television over & over again for years thanks to our VCR. We lived in the sticks of the country & I was deathly afraid of death out there. A prison camp is & was located near my parents home, the home I grew up in. There was always a prisoner escaping or someone was lost, mainly soldiers that were dropped out to find their way back to camp, or a car breaking down. Invariably, there was always someone knocking on our door & typically it occurred when my parents were at work. I was scared of my own shadow. I’d call Mama at work regularly telling her I heard something or someone was outside. I know she hated when school was released because that’s when I’d start calling. We used to live in town, actually just two houses down from where our current residence is. The neighborhood was lively in town, kids playing in the road night & day. We walked across the street to our neighbors house which was the Parsons family, as in Benny Parsons the former NASCAR driver. I skated up & down our road in my strawberry shortcake roller skates, it was just a fun place to live. Our house was small & was a rental, our parents wanted a bigger home & a place of their own, so they built a house on family land-the boondocks as I call it. The road to get to our home was once a long dirt road that was about 6 miles long. There were no neighbors, no other kids, nothing.

I spent many a summer, vacation days, & sick days at our house, alone! This is also the same land where my Aunt Dot & Grandma lived, right down the road actually. Dot still lives there, Grandma passed away a few years ago. I loved going to their house. This is where my love for the Young & the Restless began, my passion for reading The National Enquirer after school, & that’s where I got the best fried cornbread with a fresh slice of tomato after school. When I got off the bus, I would be famished. The lunchroom didn’t usually have country cooking & I WOULD NOT eat foods normal kids ate. My lunches were typically packed unless the cafeteria had vegetable soup, chili or succotash. My lunchbox looked like Jethro Bodines. A tomato sandwich was often my choice because I didn’t like sandwich meat (still don’t), but the tomato had to be packed separately so the bread wouldn’t get soggy, pickles, a thermos of Pepsi because I hated milk & this was before water was considered trendy. Who knew in the 80’s that you could drink water unless it was out of a hose pipe! Without fail, the Pepsi would always spew, my sandwich wrapper & potato chip bag were always wet with drink, or the chicken noodle soup thermos I sometimes took would be covered in Pepsi. I was & still am a difficult person to feed! My school days were highly distracted because I was thinking about what I would eat when I got off the bus. If I went to Grandma’s, it would be fried cornbread or soup. At home, I would either eat the leftovers from the previous night or whatever Mama was planning on cooking that night. Mama would plan her meals the night before, but when she came home, there would only be one can of the Le’Seur green peas with onions in the cabinet instead of two, I ate them every time! She would be fit to be tied! I think this is why I wasn’t a good student, all I could think about during school was Victor & Nikki Newman, when the world was going to end thanks to the National Enquirer, & what I would eat after school. Funny story about the the world ending which may or may not be soon nearing. I remember reading in the tabloid the National Enquirer around age 10 that the world was going to end. Honey, I called all my girlfriends & cried my heart out! We were scared to death, we actually thought the magazine knew something. The age of 10 was very memorable for me!

Back to the original reason of this blog. I was home alone, laid up on the couch after a full morning of Sally Jesse Raphael, Price is Right, Card Sharks, & The Flying Nun chased down with Pepsi, Doritos, & pickles for breakfast & brunch. Noontime brought the news, I remember what channel & who the broadcaster was that made me think I had AIDS. Remember, I was/am a pure country girl with hardly any insight on the real world at that particular time & how this disease was contracted. It was channel 2 news, WFMY, the newscaster was Sandra Hughes-she was like family to us, we only had three channels at best & watched the same ones everyday several times a day! Any way, Mrs. Hughes was interviewing a man with HIV. They were discussing his symptoms. This immediately made my ears perk, I was fascinated by this disorder because I had not read about it in the big blue medical book I read as a leisure activity. The gentlemen she was interviewing stated he had bad cramping in his toes. Well folks, that’s all it took. I called my Mama that worked at Ellerbe Telephone Company & started crying & told her I thought I had AIDS! I am in no way making fun of anyone that has/had it, but this story is hilarious to me when I think back on it. Can you imagine your 10 year old calling you at work confessing they think they have a sexually transmitted disease or one caused by using contaminated needles? I can only imagine the look on her face & her thoughts! She wanted to know why I thought that, I explained the situation & she told me to stop being foolish. I was a bit of a hypochondriac at one point in my life thanks to that big blue medical book!

In the mid-80’s, that was all that was talked about. Every time we turned on the news they reported about HIV/AIDS, newspaper articles were flooded with information about it, Maury, Sally Jesse, Jenny Jones all dedicated their hours to the disease. Similar to Corona, but certainly not to the extreme that we are now experiencing. I still can’t believe this is our life now. We are all doing life differently because of Corona. Our poor kids, our marriages lol, our socialization. Of course this is all petty stuff to a certain extent, it’s depressing nonetheless.

Ava has driven me crazy cooking things during the quarantine. Let me tell you about her experience preparing a tiramisu. When she said she was going to be making one of these, I knew my kitchen was doomed! I don’t bake mainly because everything in the cabinets is used & the kitchen is a disaster area. This dessert was a two day process I was told. The first step was to make ladyfingers, which is basically a cookie shaped like a wide finger. That did not end up well, burnt on the bottom, but no problem, she carried on with the next step.

Ava is always early to bed, early to arise. It was going on 11pm when she began step two which was MAKING mascarpone cheese. Now who makes that unless you live in Italy? However, I let her carry on. It was when she began to make the cheese that I saw a pair of ladies underwear on the kitchen bar. Odd I thought, but figured Ava must of forgotten she laid them there & was taking them with her for after her shower. Nearing midnight, she comes into the living room to declare she is going to strain the “cheese” in her underwear. After I protested, she said, “but they are clean”. I didn’t care if they had been soaking in Clorox for two days, she was not going to strain that mascarpone in a pair of used underwear! I finally showed her the finer sieve for straining that blooming cheese. I was beyond ticked at that point. It was almost 12:30am & this was what the kitchen looked like & she wanted to use used underwear to strain cheese! I hate waking up to a kitchen full of dishes. She couldn’t clean them because Jack’s room is just across the kitchen & all the noise was keeping him up.

Day 2 of the tiramisu project, whilst Lee & I were at work, Ava completed the cream layers part. Tiramisu calls for rum. I am not a drinker of alcohol although I need to drown my sorrows often, I just don’t like the way it makes me feel. Lee does partake in a drink a few nights a week. I used to like to make him fancy drinks so I had a few things in the liquor cabinet. Both have been in our cabinet for years. One was blue curaçao & the other choice was Rock & Rye for colds. This child improvised the above two liquors in place of rum. This is the finished product. The completed dessert look magnificent, just like a tiramisu should. There was one HUGE problem, the inside was green like the color of snot & it tasted funny according to Lee. Lee was the guinea pig for this one, it did not touch my lips. It was then we found out she used actual alcohol for her dish! She got a 100 on presentation though.

Ava has too much time on her hands like the majority of the population during the quarantine period. Imma need this whole Corona thing over pronto. I’ve got a severely depressed son (Jack) & I am not being facetious at all about that & a daughter that is doing all sorts of extra stuff! There is a bush in our yard that I’m obsessed with the smell of, it is purely heavenly. Again while I was at work, Ava did an awful (pun intended) gesture, she tried to make me a perfume from that bush. How sweet of her, but she ain’t Brittany Spears or Katy Perry, why she think she can make perfume! She also “made” yet another concoction to ward off bugs whilst the diva was “laying out”. This concoction stayed on the deck until guess who cleaned it up, me! Ants were everywhere, they had taken over our deck. It would only have been a problem if I was able to actually spend time on it though.

How has Corona changed your life? Are you enjoying the downtime? Are you secretly or openly hating the people you are secluded with? Have you developed a new talent or love? Have you diagnosed yourself with Corona every single day since all this started? I start each day when I wake up saying, that’s another day without Corona-that is once I figure out what day it is. What is it with this virus that has made people forget what day it is? I’m so thankful I can laugh about all these stories, grateful for the memories, thankful I can write them down & look back on them when I get older & grayer. Hair appointment tomorrow, praise Jesus! 🙌🙌🙌. Ava mentioned tonight she was going to be making homemade Reese Cups, stay tuned!

We must, we must, we must increase our bust!

Are you a chosen one? You already know I am. Let me explain. My life of oddities along with the cruel & unusual circumstances I face are no secret to any of you reading this. I tend to always be the one that gets tied up with the weirdos. I could be in a place where 10,000 people were in attendance & that one nut job would pick me out to either harass, ask a strange question, or actually do something to me. I use the number 10,000 because that’s the number of people that seemed like was in attendance at my local Walmart a few days ago. Ava & I were meeting my parents there to pick out some material for a project for one of our Berry Patch remodels. Mama, who is a master seamstress is making a huge curtain for what was once our office that has now been torn down & we need a curtain the size of a wall to cover up the junk left behind from tearing down the office. This is a perfect time for Mama to work on the curtain during quarantine! While we were waiting on Mama & Daddy, I ran into a former coworker of mine from my teenage years. While chatting & catching up, a shopper of “the Walmarts” walked up to us, specifically me. He was holding a bottle of L’Oreal’s finest Garnier Frutis shampoo with a picture of an avocado on the bottle. This man was dressed in what I refer to as pure country attire, had long hair, a very country accent, & there is nothing wrong with any of that! He apologized for interrupting in a kindly manner & asked “is this shampoo for babies?” Or so I thought. I just shook my head yes & thought, “sure, babies can use that”. Ava informed me after the the man walked off actually asked me, “is this shampoo for white people”? Was I being punked? Why didn’t he ask the friend I was talking to or Ava, didn’t I pass this gene down to her? Out of all the people inside the Walmarts, why did this man choose me to ask this to? The store was completely packed with Corona shoppers, surely he could of asked someone else this question. I wasn’t even on the shampoo aisle, I was on the shaving cream aisle. There were other people there, but no, as I say I am the chosen one every. single. time.

Onto more Corona news as if you haven’t had enough! Our business has been doing well despite the bans. We were & are so very concerned about a lack of business which could mean we can’t pay our bills & our employees would suffer as well. So far, people have been buying beans, onions, & taters like they are not going to be coming out for months. This could be a possibility. What we are more worried about is the continuing spread of the virus & possible shut down. We are coming up on prime strawberry picking season soon & wonder if we will have a place to sell them out of or even any customers to sell them to. We are all scared of the uncertainty of this virus. Jack keeps talking about the government, specifically l wanting to know why the government wants to shut down everything & put curfews on us. He obviously doesn’t understand what we are dealing with at all. I’ve gone crazy with Lysol & hand washing like the rest of you, just not toilet paper or paper towel hoarding. I vow not to be like those people on My Strange Addictions & start eating tp as a craving if this gets worse since the only meats for sale at the grocery stores are cow tongue & chicken feet! Some of these tp hoarding nuts might have a lot of paper to eat when this has passed-if it does!

This all seems so weird, like a Sci-Fi movie. I’ve never been too worried about germs-until now. Dravet kids catch everything, Jack has been hospitalized for pneumonia before & when he gets a cold, it wrecks his breathing capability. So I am super worried about this virus. What unchartered territory we are all facing, but the only cool thing about it is, we are all facing & learning from it together. No one has any more answers than the other. There will always be the people that defy what we are being told in order to protect ourselves, those types of people are everywhere in any situation & that is unfortunate-especially in this case. Not only are we worried about the health of the elderly, pregnant women, & those with compromised immune systems, I think most of us are worried about our finances. This whole fiasco could be a wake up call from our Creator. We all need to be humbled & reevaluate our lives. It’s so nice to see kids, teens, & adults back outside again. I’ve seen more people walking in our neighborhood this week than I have in the 10 years we’ve lived at our house. I get so tired of hearing all the stuff on Facebook & tv about the virus, the negativity about our country, the news, it’s all too much, particularly during a national crisis. We need to be encouraging to one another, help each other out, & be understanding as we go through this learning curve. Our lives have changed & will continue to change. Coleman is going to graduate this May, but we won’t be able to see him walk. What an accomplishment for him & us. He will just have celebrated his 20th birthday & he will be a NC State graduate. We are all in awe of him. He is so bummed about missing out on this. Think about the proms, high school graduations, weddings, funerals, American Idol (not on the same scale but that is someone’s dream that will be missing out due to Corona), the athletes that have trained their whole lives for what was the summer Olympics, church, homeschool (I do NOT want to do that), kids missing their friends, elderly being secluded & alone, & the plain old fellowship we are all going to be missing out on. This is going to be especially hard on Ava because school was her out from dealing with Jack. Readjustments will be made, we will carry on, but it doesn’t make the load any lighter.

I’ve been sick with a sinus infection for a while now & won’t go to the doctor because of all of the potential Corona’s floating around. I can’t call my doctor because I don’t have one, I never go (mainly due to me not wanting to know what I weigh). It’s not until you get into situations like this that you wish you could foresee the future. Ava has been wandering around aimlessly. She goes to a small private school that is still uses books (which is awesome btw). They are working on a plan to do things electronically, it’s going to take a minute to figure it out though. Jack has actually been getting more involved in things that don’t apply to electronics, I wondered if he has seen people doing things like this online. I came in from outside & found him doing a puzzle which is so unusual, but so welcomed. Sadly, I finished my taxes earlier this year, I cleaned out about everything I own, vacuumed drawers, washed things that need to be washed a few times each season earlier this year, I did everything I could do before Corona because of my downtime from The Berry Patch. Now my days consist of find funny Corona memes to send to people, sitting in the sun, birdwatching, drinking the water I didn’t have time to drink, & eating. Rest assured, I have gotten plenty of exercise fetching for Jack & walking back & forth to his room for me to look at something. I don’t like being quarantined. I love being busy & having things to do. Lee is having to hold down the fort at the farm as usual. He is taking all the precautions he can in order to come home as healthy as possible, but we just don’t know-I feel we will all come in contact with the virus sooner or later. Coleman is quarantined at his apartment in Raleigh, it’s times like these you want your whole group home even more. Thankfully, Jack has been calm this week, not acting foolish in any way.

I am no stranger to natural disasters, most southerners aren’t. We can’t drive in an inch of snow, school is canceled at the first flake of snow, not too mention hurricane season. When I was a big haired teen donned fully in Rave hair sprayed to max, we went weeks without power or water after hurricanes (several times) out in the boonies of Ellerbe, NC, been through snowstorms where we couldn’t get out for a while, then as a business owner, we survived (just barely) during the aftermath of hurricane Matthew while the beaches were closed due to flooding. Our business is about 90% beach travelers, that was an extremely difficult fall financially for us. We know how to prep-the hubs is a farmer after all & I’m a cook, just not sure if we know how to prep for this long & now with a mentally challenged child who doesn’t understand the complexity & seriousness of Corona. I feel like I am prepping for a perpetual snow/hurricane day each & everyday. I find myself making sure all clothes are washed up everyday, make sure my toothbrush is charged, all dishes washed, but there ain’t no snow or hurricane-it’s a scary virus!

Obviously thus far, Jack & I have survived our Chinese restaurant buffet adventure, but that’s only been 7 days ago. The countdown is on, will we truly know even after 14 days since I have been to the grocery store & The Berry Patch? I wipe & spray down everything like I just wiped a raw chicken thigh all over the house! We survived the one bedbug by not getting an infestation, will we survive Corona as easily? The Berry Patch plans on being open through this crisis, taking all necessary precautions. Remember not only us, but all small businesses as we try to wade through these murky waters. Learn to cook, watch some of my cooking videos on how to cook dry beans that everyone in the world is buying up or some of my other ones. We’ve sold more dry beans in two weeks than we have all summer, fall, & winter put together! If you’re like me, you have several return bags riding around in the backseat of your car to take back to favorite places like Belk & TJ Maxx. I am hopeful for quick reopening of my most liked escapes when this all passes.

Here’s a funny story to close & the reason why I picked this title. I don’t like to always post doom & gloom in my blogs, laughter is a huge part of my life, hopefully, my blogs are well balanced with laughter & sadness. I am BIG into natural health. I don’t take prescriptions unless absolutely necessary, I’ll try to find a home or natural remedy for something in a heartbeat. Many friends already have experienced my holistic remedies. Don’t ever post that you are sick, I will try my dangest to cure you with celery juice or glycerin! I had been reading up on the benefits of pumpkin seed oil to help with urine incontinence. You Mama’s know what I mean. You cough, sneeze, or run, you pee on yourself & I happen to do a lot of the latter two. I’ve always been a well endowed gal, I’m no Dolly Parton, but I’m not far behind! After only a few days of my pumpkin seed regimen, I started experiencing terrible, awful pain in my chest, like in the muscle. It began around my collarbone, even into my arm-I was convinced I was having a heart attack (which wouldn’t be unusual either). I went through the normal-did I pick up anything heavy, sleep on that side wrong, what’s new in my supplement world? Bingo!!! I forgot during my research that pumpkin seed oil can increase the breast tissue. My breasts had already increased one whole cup in just a few days! Once I stopped, I deflated back to my norm. Being a saggy old Dolly Parton runner up is not so bad after all, especially when it was terribly painful. I was glad to be back at home in my C cup. All you girls that want to have implants, try pumpkin seed oil capsules. They will plump you up…quick! It’s too risky to go have plastic surgery now anyway! Increase your bust the natural way! Stay safe my friends!

Death on a plate???

Corona virus scare, talk, media overload, hoarding is in full effect! Whether you believe there should be shut downs & closings is neither here nor there. This is my last will & testament-just kidding, or at least I hope so. Jack has been the studying this Corona since it started in China. He began by counting the daily infected & the daily deaths country by country. Every morning that is the first thing he checks, even has an app on his phone to keep track of it all. All of this is fine by us, means fewer moments spent online chatting with strangers. Ava bless her heart developed a cold about two weeks ago. No fevers, just a run of the mill cold that we are all afflicted with at least once a year. When Coleman, Ava, or Lee catch a cold, it’s awful. They cough for weeks. It is loud, continuous, & I hate it. I’m the type of person that is easily annoyed by sounds, even people breathing! Now I have the cold Ava had. It began last week with a sore throat, lots of drainage, some coughing, sneezing, & runny eyes-NO fever. I feel it necessary to announce that I do not have Corona if I sniffle or sneeze. Ava is on the tail end of her cold. Please Lord, don’t let Lee get the man flu!

Back to my last will & testament & death on a plate. Jack decided he wanted me to take him to our local Chinese buffet on Sunday evening. He tried to get my Daddy to take him but he told Jack he didn’t want to get “the” Corona. I, was the next alternative. There was a surprising number of people out even amid the warnings of the virus. I love Chinese food if done right, I don’t love this particular Chinese buffet. I’m not a fan of much fried food & am very picky about what meats touch my lips. I filled up on noodles, rice, & green beans & I was left ravished after about two hours because I didn’t intake any protein. After all the warnings & deaths Jack has read about, he stated “I ain’t afraid of no Corona” when I tried to get him not to go. I’m not much of a scaredy cat when it comes to germs, but all I could think about were the tongs & serving spoons on this buffet line (reason for the blog title). The media has got us all not scared, but “skeered” to death! I’m not discussing whether they are right or wrong with their delivery or concerns, I just know they have infiltrated my brain.

Jack was very pleasant at the restaurant, he fixed two plates of food & ate every last morsel drowned in soy sauce no less. He was not quick about it as always while eating, he had diarrhea of the mouth. He didn’t act weird like he did last time we went out to eat at the fish camp, it was a nice outing for the two of us.

What was not unusual for me, was the man sitting in the booth behind us. He was dining with a friend I suppose. The first thing that caught my eye was his hat, read closely.

I have to say, I like the concept! I was waiting on Jack to ask him something or read his hat. It would of been on either way. I am thankful he didn’t notice the man’s hat. I think we (my family) need shirts, hats, pants, pajamas, & socks to wear around Jack. Maybe he will stop calling us with foolishness all day long. The very next night after we ate out at the Chinese restaurant, he calls in an order to Mama Noi’s in Ellerbe. He ordered $30 worth of food & of course he didn’t eat it all. I’m going to have to go up there & tell them if Jack calls them ever again for a call-in to call me before they cook it. He’s got to have the high cholesterol in Ellerbe! His diet consists of takeout only. At one time it was strictly frozen egg rolls & egg & bacon sandwiches, now he lives a life like he’s Richie Rich calling the three restaurants we have in town all the time placing food orders & awaiting someone to bring it to his room on a silver platter. I made roasted red pepper soup the other night for the rest of us. Jack surprisingly wanted a bowl. He finished & said, “Mawmaw (his nickname for me) can cook”! I nearly died! He hasn’t eaten anything I’ve cooked for the family in so long. It was so good to him that he ate another bowl before going to the Chinese place.

Last summer, The Berry Patch made a donation to one of the local factories that produces paper towels & toilet paper. As a thank you, they gifted Lee & I with two huge boxes of toilet paper & two huge boxes of paper towels. They aren’t your Bounty or Charmin brands, but we are so thank for those boxes now even more so than when we received them. It was a blessing in disguise. I’m just thankful I don’t have to go around asking people if they can “spare a square”! #seinfeld #elaine This precious commodity that everyone in the free world is fighting over will splinter your tail (literally), but I ain’t getting involved in that fight…yet! We haven’t had to purchase TP or PT since August of last year. We have so much I have to store it in our junk room.

Have Jack & I sealed our fate for Corona? Will this be my last blog? Am I still hungry? This is beginning to sound like the end of the old Batman & Robin episodes from the 60’s. Any who…stayed tuned for the answers to all of these burning questions. The answer to the last one is yes, continuously!

I am taking the virus scare seriously, mainly for Jack’s sake. He has such a poor immune system, he can’t fight infections like the rest of us. Fevers can be life-threatening for Jack, but I couldn’t convince him of that prior to going out to eat. He doesn’t know or care about the seriousness the impact could have on him. We can only hope he doesn’t want to go out to eat any more. The virus is scary to us not only as parents of a medically fragile child, but as small business owners. Get out & support the small businesses when & if you can. In the meanwhile, spare a square! I will if absolutely necessary!