Shopping at The Mall OR The Delights of Having Granddaughters

I took my 14-year-old granddaughter, my 8-year-old granddaughter, and their 12-year-old cousin shopping.  We went to the mall—the big one.  The one with all the hip stores.

As we were nearing the parking area, I asked a question, “Where are we going first?”

The 12-year-old said, “Park near Macy’s. It’ll be more convenient to start from there.”

“Yeah, we have a list of the stores we want to go to.  They are in order, by location,” the 14-year-old added. “We looked at the mall map online.”

The first store was the “PINK” store or at least that’s what I thought it was called. It was very interesting—virtually every item had “PINK” written somewhere irrespective of the color of the clothing.  The sales clerks seemed more like waitresses. They were all dressed in black and were wearing a large belt with a holster holding an order pad.  A 45-year-old dad walked in and announced that it was his daughter’s birthday the next day.  This smallish girl-in-black pounced on him like a dog on a bone. She had dollar signs in her eyes.  It was expensive. My granddaughters got several items, all with “PINK” emblazoned somewhere. It was expensive.

The young girl at the cash register looked to be about 12.  She handed me the receipt and I was stunned.

“Girls are expensive,” she said. It wasn’t the amount of the bill, it was VICTORIA’S SECRET. I had taken my granddaughters and their cousin to Victoria’s Secret.  This is the store men go shopping for their thin wives or…well you know.  I should hide this receipt from my daughter, but everything has PINK emblazoned on it.

With extra care, we were on to the American Eagle Store. I announced that torn and ripped jeans were not allowed at Brandon Oaks and I was adhering to that policy.  Luckily, skinny jeans without holes were on sale.  Also, Tees were on sale—buy one get 2 free. This selection took 30 minutes and two trips to the dressing room.

A young female sales clerk was lurking nearby because she wanted her name on this sale. She was wearing black ripped jeans. I asked her what was so cool about ripped jeans.  “You noticed them’ didn’t you? I like to be noticed.” I am still thinking about that comment.

With three tees and some blue jeans plus a cute little charm bracelet for my 8-year-old, we set off for the Hollister store.  This store has everything that is current in California.  It used to take several years for fashion trends to move in from the coast, but now it is instantaneous thanks to globalization or something. Interestingly, this store had young guys as sales reps and were they polite. “Hello, sir.” “May I help you, sir.” The 14-year-old found a great pair of skinny jeans, but they had one hole in the knee.  The pleading began, but she had an ally—the guy was telling me how amazing it was that the jeans only had one hole.  I was outplayed and overwhelmed. My 8-year-old was mostly disinterested, but she sighted a shirt that she liked.  She felt like a big girl heading off to the dressing room.

With three stores under our belt, it was time for a break. Universally, it was a vote for Chick-fil-A. It was the smallest check of the day.

Next ONE! Aeropostale! I felt a small surge of energy after some chicken and a restroom break. Basically, it was the same drill. Look at the tees and shirts. Grab two or three and head for the dressing room. It’s two for one so why not get four. While I was waiting one of the clerks gave me a lesson in the proper pronunciation of the store name.  “It is not the postal which means losing it in front of everyone—it’s more like pasta but not quite. You know.” “AEROPASTA!”  “That’s right, now put the L on it.”  She left with a sense of real accomplishment and left me as confused as ever.

My 8-year-old bought fake fingernails in Christy’s. What a store—how do they make it.

WE left the mall to find our car and head to Dick’s Sporting Goods. I had no idea why, but we headed in that direction.  At Dick’s, we ran into Kelli, my son-in-law’s sister. She has this wonderful habit of rescuing me on these adventures with my granddaughters and their cousin, who happens to be Kelli’s daughter.  The first time was at the trampoline park which was very dangerous for an old guy. This time it was exhaustion—we had been shopping for 4 hours. They all disappeared, including Kelli. I sat on a counter for 45 minutes

Kelli looks at me and says, “When are you going to learn?”

With my granddaughters, probably never, but I plan to enjoy it all.  It is so wonderful to love them without condition.

A BUTTERFLY

Yellow Butterfly

A few weeks ago, I encountered a caterpillar crossing a busy intersection at Brandon Oaks.  I remained with him until he made the trip and I talked to some of my neighbors about it.  It was a good experience in being interrelated to another creature in nature.

In mid-August, I went to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. This is the monastery that Thomas Merton entered in 1941.  I wanted to immerse myself in his work.

As I was sitting on a bench in the larger garden, a black and yellow butterfly flew toward me and perched on my hand.  Words can’t come close to describing its beautiful wing span and color. I tried not to breathe or move.

“Hello there, traveler, I AM a butterfly.”

The two days of silence had finally broken me.  “Shhhhhh, this area is to be silent.”

“Not for me, I am a butterfly and a messenger. We talk when there is something to say. You probably didn’t know that.”

“No, I didn’t.  Who is the message for?”

“You, my dear friend.  You see Merton wants you to find your True Self and diminish that False Self.  That unkempt, ugly long hair is part of the mask. Get it cut no later than August 19.  This will keep you on the path. HE will teach you many truths.”

“So, you want me to believe that this message is from Merton or maybe God?”

“It’s from those that love you.”  He flew away.

 

DOUBLEWIDE ON A HILL

DOUBLE-WIDE ON A HILL

My grandparents had a farm in Mercer County, West Virginia.  They had a nice little valley surrounded by very tall hills, some would even say mountains.  From about five on, I climbed those hills with regularity in the summertime.  I spent at least two months each year on that farm until I was 16.  The discovery of girls changed my attitude about quiet country living.

When I was 15 or so, I was standing on one of the hills on the western side of the valley.  The day was clear, it was hot on the mountain top, and the sky was high and blue.  You could see all the way to the Virginia line on the east side and at least to Welch on the west.

After sliding down the hillside, I met my grandfather on his way to the barn.

“Hey, granddaddy!”
“Hey, Boy. You been up on the ridge?”

“Yep, you can see forever up there.  Man, I would love to have a double-wide up on that hill with a nice big front porch and some rockers.”

“Listen, you got bigger fish to fry than a double wide on a hill.  You need to get on with that book learning your momma says you’re so good at.  You are going to work with your mind, not your hands and your back.”

“But Bud’s got a really nice double-wide and that pretty wife of his.  Looks pretty good.  Mine would be even better cause of the view.”

“Boy, you are just 15; what do you know about a view. Besides, Bud is an idiot—dumb as they come.  His momma didn’t have very good taste in men. That whole Maddox clan over by Bluewell is dumb as posts and she married the dumbest of the lot.  I know you think Bud is cool because he is your cousin and been in the Navy and he can’t help being dumb—it’s just part of who he is–just dumb.”

“But, granddaddy!”

“Listen, Boy, no more talk of a double-wide. Make yourself useful and milk Betsy.”

I listened to my grandfather.  But on particularly rough days in my calling as a financial advisor, I day dreamed about a simpler life on that hill.  I could have married my third cousin, Bobbi, a really pretty blonde girl I was chasing after that summer.  We could have had three or six kids and I could have worked on the railroad.  What a view.

As things turned out, when she was in an alcoholic haze, Bobbi killed her husband with a long-barrel .357 magnum.  My life is truly wonderful after all, market cycles included.

http://www.tmichaelsmith.com

 

THE CATERPILLAR

THIS CATERPILLAR

This caterpillar was crossing a roadway in my little retirement village.  He was simply beautiful.  I suppose I had always undervalued and underappreciated the caterpillar.  This fellow was yellow and black and was moving at a slow steady pace.  It seemed he had an objective to reach the other side.

I was fearful that he might be squashed by a passing automobile, so I stood around waiting for him to cross over.  Several of my friends came by, stopped their cars to speak, asked if I was okay and then inquired about my purpose in directing the traffic this day.  I told them I was protecting a caterpillar that was moving to the other side of the road.

One of them smiled and inquired, “As in relocating?”

“No,” I said, “He thinks the grass is greener.”  The window went up and a broad smile appeared.  Two bad jokes in a row.

This unusual dude had three pairs of legs and several leg-like appendages. He was also hairy in spots. He will be a butterfly soon.

Caterpillars are the larval stage members of the order Lepidoptera (the insect order comprising butterflies and moths).

As with most common names, the application of the word is arbitrary and the larvae of sawflies commonly are called caterpillars as well.

Caterpillars of most species are herbivorous, but not all; some (about 1%) like insects and may be cannibalistic. Some feed on other animal products; for example, clothes moths feed on wool, and hoof moths feed on the hooves and horns of dead cows, sheep and pigs.

Caterpillars as a rule are voracious feeders and many of them are among the most serious of agricultural pests. Many moths are best known in their caterpillar stages because of the damage they cause to fruits and other agricultural produce, whereas the moths are obscure and do no direct harm. Conversely, various species of caterpillar are valued as sources of silk, as human or animal food, or for biological control of pest plants.

Most likely, this was more than you wanted to know, but the caterpillar is one of God’s interesting and unusual creatures.

Potato Pancakes Like Ernie’s

BLOG: weaver1888.com  

I used to sit at the counter at Ernie’s on Market Square in Roanoke and marvel at the delicacies that came off that grill. One of those delicacies was a potato pancake. They were crisp, brown and delicious. I didn’t even use ketchup. After Ernie’s closed, I decided to make my own.  Here are the ingredients and the simple recipe.
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
Salt, pepper and powdered garlic to taste
chives, optional
Canola oil for frying
DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl mix together the mashed potatoes, egg, flour, salt, pepper, garlic, and chives if using.
Preheat a large skillet with 2-3 Tbsp. of canola or enough to give an even layer in the pan.
Form the potato mixture into patties and fry them for a couple of minutes until they are golden brown. Turn them over and fry on the other side. Serve hot with a sprinkling of chives.
SIMPLE and EASY.

BY THE WAY, I have written several books. Take a look at them at www.tmichaelsmith.com.

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