Eggo wafflers are syrupy sweet

Author: natalie  //  Category: National

Recall that last week Tide detergent thieves possessed me to take on quite the snotty persona. So much so that Granny Adcox of Highlands felt the need to send me a pretty, feminine handkerchief to deal with my problem fashionably. Thanks, Granny.

To make up for subjecting you all to such unladylike posturing, this will drip syrupy, pure, sweetness and light. Sugar, spice and everything nice.

But know I’m suffering a bit of performance anxiety as Sun Managing Editor went and called me a real columnist who skillfully and consistently plies my craft. Thanks, Adam, for giving my now inflated ego the jitters. 

I forgive you because you held all of us Sun columnists up discussing a great cause—Baytown’s ultra-successful Relay for Life—and your winning the battle. We’re glad you’re here and healthy.

Deep breath, some sort of pharmaceutical tranquilizer, and on with the show!

Like I knew would be the case this being a national election year, politicking is in full swing. There are no escapes.

And by the time my days have been inundated with national radio and television programming making sure the national candidates —and the issues said programming aims to push—are front and center in my thought process, I’m done. Finished. Cooked, and near burning mad.

Then the local candidates come out and visit my personal home.

 Of what they speak, I have a better handle on because I live here and see it all up close and personal-like. Most of them don’t realize I know who they are and what they’re about before introductions are made.

I sit back rather demurely in my little corner of the world and observe. And my appearance must scream, or maybe giggle, “Like, I don’t have a clue whatsoever!”

You will never know the delight I take in opening up a diatribe about the bees flying about in my political bonnet.  The look of utter shock is priceless and well worth what I paid for admission: paying attention to real life . . . not the fabricated “issues” and non-“solutions” politicians and pundits pose as THE only options available. It’s laughable and disheartening.

Political candidates have agendas: some good, some bad, and others downright ugly. The real feat is ferreting out that agenda when a voting record clearly shows one thing, while a voice speaking states another. 

Many bank on the fact that it’s all so mired in contradiction that folks don’t have the time, patience, or intestinal fortitude to wade through it all. For this, newcomers have an edge with me as I don’t always have as much to consider. But often, they too take their place in having to bend to the will of someone or something big enough.

Yes, I know I reneged on my vow at the beginning of this to exude sweetness. Gotcha.

Today is International Waffle Day. I kid you not. (Originated in Sweden and coincides with the start of spring and the Feast of the Annunciation which celebrates the Archangel Gabriel telling Mary she was pregnant. Yes, breakfast waffles are the celebratory food of choice.)

In the sprit being a smart aleck I usurped and twisted its innocent meaning in honor of all the wafflers.  I wanted to promise one thing and deliver another all while speaking words that ultimately say nothing.

Go ahead politickers, butter me up. Pour sappy sweetness all over me before you eat me alive. But don’t for one second think I don’t know what you’re up to . . . I see the Eggo on your faces!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Don’t mess with my soapbox

Author: natalie  //  Category: Home sweet home, Issues

While I still have my preferred soapbox to stand upon, I come to you this week from atop my box of Tide laundry detergent. Prepare yourself for a rant.

Some years ago I enjoyed the benefits of a cold/allergy medication called Actifed.

The stuff —pseudoephedrine hydrochloride 60 mg and triprolidine hydrochloride 2.5 mg—just worked when my sniffer was having issues and together we had about a 25-year (no) run, as in . . . there isn’t a  lady-like way to put this, no excessive snot.

Then some moron criminals figured out that my favorite, legal drug of choice could be used to make their favorite, illegal drug of choice.  I can’t be bothered in the middle of my hissy fit to research it, but believe it was methamphetamines.

It got to where every visit to any store only led to empty shelves.

I decided supply wasn’t able to keep up with demand and that I’d have to find a replacement.  I searched many labels for a similar product. Those medications were missing from shelves as well.

I marched right up, got in line, and proceeded to wait for near eternity in a local, very large retailer’s pharmacy line for answers.

“We can’t keep it on the shelf. We order, put it out, and within an hour it’s all gone. And inventory tracking shows the products are not being scanned at the checkouts.  It’s all being stolen and authorities across the nation believe being used to make other illegal drugs.”

Fast forward a few months and I hit upon the mother lode one day—four boxes of 24-count Antihistabs, which were a generic, but worked just as well. I was giddy as I completed my shopping. Snot free days were in my immediate future.

With great expectations I piled my booty onto the counter and watched my prizes scanned and bagged.

But wait, there was a problem: A special, “I’ll have to call the manager” problem. There was a secret code and a flashing light. Store management was on me and my loaded basket lickety-split.

“I’m sorry ma’am but we can’t sell you all four boxes of the Antihistabs AND that bottle of children’s cough syrup. You will have to put two of those packages back.”

I had to contain my outrage lest I wanted a pair of silver bracelets and a chauffeured escort to BPD’s Crossbar Hotel.

The drug-making morons could walk right out the front door with enough to last them through the Armageddon, but I—honest PAYING customer with a snotty nose (and attitude at that point)—could not!

The Statute of Limitations has run out, so I’ll admit to stopping at another store on the way home and buying not one, but two cough syrups. I might have been inconvenienced, but not deterred. Take that, Mr. Store Manager who treated ME like the criminal!

Go forward another few months and to get anything even remotely helpful in the cold/allergy department, we were required to scan our driver’s license at the pharmacy where the over-the-counter meds requiring no prescription were now behind-the-counter. And, by the way, purchases were (still are) tracked by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and don’t go over your “allotment”. Or else.

Try taking care of allergy-ridden or sick kiddos who are not old enough to have a driver’s license and take care of yourself. I can personally attest: not possible at the height of allergy season when five people are popping pills. Like any mother would do, I have done without  . . . the drugs, but not my own snot.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering just what my problem is.

This past week it’s been all over the news how Tide laundry detergent is being stolen, sold on the black market, and possibly tied to the illegal drug trade by no fault of its maker, Proctor & Gamble. An FBI spokesman likened what has been happening to that same scenario with the cold/flu/allergy drugs just a few years back. Task forces are being formed, the problem and what to do about it studied.

It snot cool to mess with my world, thieves!

If I catch a one of you, why you’ll have one snotty woman on your hands!

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

Sprang from darkness

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

I’ve never been able to figure out the strange phenomenon that is me tied to the weather and/or our messed up southeastern Texas seasons, but on any given day a look outside pretty much mirrors my inside.

The getting dark early: I’m tired of it and was more than happy bidding it a fond adieu as I slumbered through the wee hours this morning.

Add to that the worst drought in decades dried out and burned up not only on my exterior dwelling, but interior as well.

Outside, my lawn and flowerbeds took a severe beating as did my pocketbook via the increased water bill as I tried to keep at least the major players hydrated. I was only mildly successful and greatly disappointed over the not-so-good return on the time and money spent.  

I’m more than thankful for the recent quenching rains that finally brought some relief, but now I’m left with death and decay surrounded by teeming, lush weeds.

A look inward shows the same. I’m more baffled by what survived versus what didn’t.

I’ve been dragging out the gardening tools and waiting impatiently for the “longer” days. I’ve never been more excited about springing forward.

Our tiny daylight savings leap into the future makes me giddy as it puts the past a little further behind me with minimal effort. Even I can’t mess anything up in the golden hour that passes in the seconds it takes to reset the clock.

While I’ve always had mixed feelings about whether or not I’d really like to see myself in the future, I woke and stole a glimpse right as we made the transition.

The vision was a non-event. I was on my side, curled up in the fetal position, possibly drooling, and I even heard a snort.  Just scary, so I did what I do: closed my eyes and hoped it would all be better when I reopened them.  Maybe I caught me at a bad time.

But the best part is that the longer days are finally here and I can get to the work of surveying what survived, assessing what’s healthy enough to salvage, and digging out all that needs replacing. Then comes the harder part of determining what to plant in the gaping vacated holes.

Some folks seem to have an eye for what would do best. Unfortunately I’m more the trial-and-error type. Heavy on the errors.

I’m reminded of a cute poem I read many years ago by Robert Fulghum entitled, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”.  Look it up if you have the chance. It truly brings daily life down to its most basic and the best way to get through.

I’ll have to work on my own version—something along the lines of, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned from Gardening”—even though I’m not much of a gardener I’ve got several in my family who I’ve watched over the years. My thumbs are only green with envy.

Life really is a constant tilling up of the foundation, fertilizing, cultivating, planting, watering and pruning. The list goes on, and I probably don’t even have that all in the correct order. I may never get it right.

But I’ll get to plowing because even I can create the errant blossom once spring has sprung me from darkness.

© 2012 Natalie Whatley

My noodle says it’s ill-eagle

Author: natalie  //  Category: From me to you

With spring officially starting in a few weeks, I’m looking forward to warming temps (not that we really had much of a winter) and spending time in the great outdoors.

I don’t necessarily have to be involved in any specific activity, but the centaur in me prefers being outside the confines of walls.  Is it any wonder I get a little frisky when spring beckons? And the birds, they have been a chirpin’.

Having more males than females in my life, I’m often introduced to things that woman-kind finds off-putting if not repulsive.

 Yes, it’s difficult at times managing my southern-belle femininity in combination with that fact, but it’s a cross I gladly bear. I hate to shop, so I don’t exactly fit in with the girls, either.

So, imagine my thoughts when I received a text message late one night from a young male who sleeps down the hall from me, “Hey. Guess what? Noodling is no longer illeagle (sic) in Texas. You go with me?” I’ll address the misspelling of illegal before I close, but I must dive right into this noodling.

No doubt some of you have already heard about it or have seen folks performing it right on the television screen. I was aware of the practice as I had watched . . . hold on.

This is going to sound terribly stereotypical, but blame the TV producers for not using the college-educated, fully-teethed and might I add fully-clothed members of the noodling subculture for their documentaries.

Anyway, I had seen the long, scraggly-bearded, dentally impaired “Nearly Nood” Billy Jim-Bob in nothing but a pair of ratty, cut-off denim shorts (one leg slightly longer than the other . . . the shorts, not the legs) diving into a river, shoving his arm down a hole and wrestling out a flapping, whiskered giant (50-60 pounds) of a catfish.

I’d even heard it was illegal in most states and came to learn that getting caught fish-handed in Texas meant charges of a Class C misdemeanor and a $500 fine. But that’s no longer the case as of September 1, 2011. How did 6 months of my life go by and none of you informed me of this?  

“No one knows why it was illegal,” said Houston representative Gary Elkins, the author of the legislation legalizing the practice in Texas.  

Some rod-and-reel anglers worry the practice hurts the catfish population because it occurs during the spring and summer spawning seasons. However, Texas Wildlife officials stated we had plenty of catfish as this legislation was being considered.

 Bradley Beesley, Austin-based director of noodling documentaries said, “The fish nest in holes along riverbanks to defend their eggs from intruders.  The hiding spot makes them easy prey, but “when attacked”, Beesley adds, “they bite”. Ya think? And catfish are equipped with bands of small, but very abrasive teeth.

I think I’d rather take on lions, tigers, and bears, (oh my!) before the snakes, snapping turtles, and muskrats noodlers routinely encounter.

And one man received thirteen stitches in his chin after briefly battling a beaver. That’s more fun than anyone should be allowed. Have you seen the teeth and claws on those critters?

So, lawful or not, my noodle says you have to be one sick bird to go against all logic, stick your hand into a dark hole, wiggle your underwater worm-looking finger as bait and shove your hand down the gullet of whatever bites you in the process.

Jeremy, you know I’m adventurous and all, but the answer is no. How about we sit by the riverbank and work on spelling instead?

© 2012 Natalie Whatley