Friday 13th… Pushing Your Luck

saso-tusar-130051Photo by Sašo Tušar on Unsplash

Have you looked at the calendar today? It’s Friday, the thirteenth! You are NOT superstitious, of course, are you?  So, why miss an opportunity to prove it?

Having an unreasonable fear of something for no logical reason at all is just plain silly. Friday the 13th is another day exactly like any other Friday, nothing different, nothing special.

The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have reputations for being unlucky, a belief that dates back to ancient times. So when the 13th of the month falls on Friday, it is a double whammy, so to speak, and thought to be especially unlucky.

But what is luck anyhow? You make your own luck, don’t you, good or bad? You make your own choices control your own circumstances, have control of your own fate. There’s really no such thing as “luck.” How can unrelated outside events control our destiny?

How can something like a four leaf clover, broken mirror, or a black cat crossing your path make any difference whatsoever in how your life goes? Such things are absolutely ridiculous. But…

Believing that Friday the 13th is unlucky is one of the most common superstitions in the United States.

Many people think, why invite bad luck if you don’t have to? But others like to push their luck with a negative number like Friday the 13th and to show there is no luck, good or bad, associated with the day.

If you want to push your luck, you should not mind walking under a ladder today — or even walking under three ladders if you want tom even though people often believe that the number three is unlucky and that bad things come in threes.

Don’t worry about that black cat that ran across your path. Thank goodness, you are NOT superstitious as a black cat crossing your path is considered a sure sign of bad luck to come.

Superstitious people often believe you should not open an umbrella inside your house. I’m not sure why this is considered bad luck, but umbrellas are really for outside and not needed where it isn’t raining.

Everyone has heard that spilling salt will bring bad luck. There are ways to break the spell, but that would be superstitious, and you are NOT superstitious, are you?

So, go ahead and put your shoes on the table and your hat on the bed. Do I need to say why? I guess we will all die at some point, but hopefully that will be too far in the distant future to result from shoes on the table.

Remember, superstition says, if mirror is not covered and you look into it, it might steal your soul. Speaking of mirrors, breaking a mirror is one of the worse possible curses and brings seven years of bad luck to those unlucky enough to believe in superstition.

It may be difficult to avoid stepping on the cracks which are pretty much everywhere. I’m happy to say that so far, no backs have been broken as far as I know. If you are NOT superstitious, I’m sure you know why. Maybe you should call your mother and check, just in case.

It’s okay to open the window even if a bird might fly in and bring bad luck with it. Don’t let it land on your bed or you may not make it until the day ends before impending doom overtakes you, according to superstition.

If your lottery ticket doesn’t win, it is nothing new and you can’t blame it on bad luck, just on chance not working out for you this time. Winning the lottery is always merely chance and luck has nothing to do with it, unless you are superstitious.

When you leave, walk out the door where the horseshoe is turned upside down so any possible luck that remains will spill out, and you will be left with none at all. Don’t break a leg when you do.

If you missed this fantastic opportunity to prove you are NOT superstitious, don’t feel bad. Friday the 13th will come again and you will have another chance to dance with the devil if you dare.

How lucky can you get when you are NOT superstitious?

Copyright 2017 Sheila Moss
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The Redneck Kosher Hotdog

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The other day I was down in the “Boro” and decided to stop in at the Home Improvement Warehouse on the parkway to check for a light fixture. The light fixture in the bathroom has been blinking and winking for some time and finally died. I wanted to get another one that would fit the same space, but have been having trouble finding the right kind.

I didn’t have any luck finding the light at the warehouse either, but that’s not the story. As I left with my partner, we noticed a hot dog vendor outside on the sidewalk.

“Kosher Hot Dogs,” it proclaimed on the red umbrella. My partner, being Jewish, is always looking for Kosher things.

“Ever have a Kosher hot dog?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I admitted. I have no idea what came over me next. I never buy food from street vendors, but suddenly, on impulse, I heard myself saying, “Wanna get one?”

So, there we were, on the parking lot of a hardware store buying hot dogs from a street vendor. I don’t even like hot dogs.

“Regular or Super?” asked the vendor.

“What’s the difference?” we asked, showing our hot dog ignorance.

“Super is twice as big!”

“Well, in that case, make it super.”

Those Kosher dogs were HUGE, on a large gourmet roll – not a regular size hot dog bun, and with all the fixings – mustard, onion, and sweet pickle relish for me.

“These are not like the ones you get at the ball park,” proclaimed the vendor. We were pleased to hear this as ballpark franks are not all they are cracked up to be.

“My hot dogs come all the way from Chicago,” said the vendor. We were properly impressed.

“But the price of gasoline is killing my business,” he confided. We were properly dismayed.

He wrapped the giant dogs in silvery paper and money was exchanged in the customary manner.

“Where do we eat them?” I asked my partner.

“Right here,” he said.

So there we were in the hot parking lot, dining out in the sun.

“I’ve finally become a full-fledged redneck,” I thought, eating hot dogs on a parking lot. Residing in Tennessee, I kinda figured the redneck transformation might happen some day.

But that was the most delicious hot dog I’ve ever eaten! It was large, plump and juicy, nothing at all like a regular hot dog. “This is GOOD!” I exclaimed!

“I told you that Kosher dogs were good,” replied my partner smugly. I think he was pleased with himself for being right for a change.

Now I can hardly wait for Saturday to go back to the Home Improvement Warehouse again. I sure hope that vendor is still there. If you want to eat out for lunch, I know the perfect spot. Bring your pickup truck and we can sit on the tailgate. A carton of RC might be good too, seeing as how we are admittedly doing this redneck style.

Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss
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The Scenic Train Ride

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While we were on vacation in Colorado, my sister was looking through travel brochures and found a narrow gauge train trip. “This should be fun,” she said, “Let’s do it.” I was already tired of sight-seeing. But anything would be better than more steep mountain roads with sharp curves which made me feel as if the car was going to go over the edge of a cliff taking my stomach with it.  A train has to stick to the rails unless it jumps the tracks or runs into the station, a possibility I refused to let my mind dwell on.

The locomotive was an old steam engine from the 1800’s fed with coal shoveled into a boiler to create the steam that powered the engine. “Narrow gauge,” I discovered means the rails are 3 feet wide instead of the usual 4 feet 8 inches. This enables the train to make sharper turns in steep mountain passages. Oh, goody!

According to history, and travel brochures, the trains were originally used to serve the gold and silver mines in the area. After the mining rush ended, most trains were scrapped. Only a few survived, one of which was the one we were riding.

The seats were hard and the ride bone-jarring with nothing to cushion us from the metal wheels on metal rails. Not only one of the longest surviving trains of the era, it was also one of the longest surviving rail lines, taking about eight hours to go from beginning to end. I was beginning to wonder if I would be one of their longest surviving passengers.

The old engine was barely able to make some of the steep climbs. We were in the first car behind the engine and could hear it huffing and puffing, reminding me of the children’s story the “Little Engine that Could,” “I think I can, I think I can,” it puffed. “I hope you can, I hope you can,” I thought.

We opened the windows so we could have an unobstructed view to make pictures.  Sometimes a whiff of the engine’s smoke came inside and tiny cinders settled on the window sill, a reassuring occurrence. At one point we stopped to take on water at a tank reminiscent of the old TV show, “Petticoat Junction,” except there were no petticoats. After the boiler heated up, there was a large blast of steam and a rainbow appeared in the steamy mist causing “ooh’s” and “ah’s” from the passengers.

The mountain scenery was spectacular, to say the least. We snaked along on heart-stopping narrow ledges that were carved into the side of the mountains especially for the train. Sometimes the rails followed a creek which had managed to find a passage between mountain peaks. There were so many vistas of rocky peaks and broad valleys that I wore out my finger snapping pictures, not to mention killing the battery in my cell phone.

After my heart restarted, I saw the green spruce trees creating forests of Christmas trees on the hillsides. Due to the high elevation, the aspen trees had already changed to fall colors and the white bark and gold leaves stood in magnificent contrast to the evergreen trees. The round leaves of the aspen trees resembled gold coins hanging from the branches, an enchanting sight even when scared out of your wits.

There were hundreds tourists filling the cars of the train. We couldn’t figure out where they all came from. My sister overheard the conductor say the engine was pulling the maximum load that it could carry. I must have been right about the puffing of the engine. I didn’t want to think about what could happen if the engine gave out.

The trip took eight hours on the slow-moving old choo-choo. For the return trip, we boarded a sleek and comfortable bus that took only about an hour to return us to our starting place. Thank goodness we no longer have to depend on old steam trains for anything other than sightseeing, and possibly an occasional heart attack.

Copyright 2016 Sheila Moss

 

 

 

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Rocks and More Rocks

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Last year I went on an auto trip to the state of Colorado. After crossing the flat nothingness of Kansas, we had our first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, which seemed to spring up out of the plains like a blue mirage. Honey, who had never been west before, was so excited by the vision that he tried to take pictures and drive at the same time, running off the edge of the road onto the safety warning strip, which didn’t go over too well with me or the other passengers.

Arriving in Colorado Springs, Honey wanted to drive to the top of Pikes Peak. But I’ve done that before and I promised God that if I got down alive I would never go again, one promise I intend to keep. My sister felt the same way as sudden changes in altitude made her sick. So Honey decided to drive up by himself and leave us chickens behind to stew in the motel’s hot tub. This was fine with me as in my book no view is worth risking the  dangerous mountain roads and sharp drop-offs — and I’m happy to be a chicken instead of an eagle.

I always thought Tennessee was “Old Rocky Top,” but Colorado has outdone us. We saw rocks and more rocks. One gigantic drive-through rock garden near Colorado Springs was called Garden of the Gods. We didn’t see any Gods there, only large red rocks with unusual shapes and long geological explanations. Different formations had different descriptive names, such as, Three Graces and Sleeping Giant. I liked the one called Kissing Camels. It took a little imagination, but if you squinted enough, it did almost look like two camels.

We saw many mountain bikers, hikers, rock climbers, and old people galore. I was wandering around on a trail taking pictures of various rocks and probably appeared lost. An old guy who looked about 90 was hiking with a group and stopped to ask me if I needed help. I must look older than I thought as the old man looked to me as if he should be the one needing help.

The next morning we went to Royal Gorge, which is a deep rock canyon made by the Arkansas River. It was something like the Grand Canyon except not as large. Like many scenic attractions, it has been commercialized. We rode a gondola over it, which was not too scary as it was all enclosed. There was also long suspension bridge across it which was 1250 feet high, the highest bridge in the U.S. It was rather long to walk across, so my crazy sister rented a golf cart and drove us across. “Woman at the wheel. Watch out,” we laughed. The most recent claim to fame for this particular amusement was that the entire place had burned down in a wildfire, everything burned except the bridge.

Later in the trip we visited another canyon called Black Canyon of the Gunnison, 2250 feet deep, no bridge. It was similar to Royal Gorge, except the rocks were gray. It too was rocky and deep with a river at the bottom. The road was along the canyon rim, not too close to the edge. It was interesting but very wild and remote. Unlike Royal Gorge, it is a National Park and has not (yet) been commercialized.

Now for the rant. Too many scenic places have been fenced off, made into commercial attractions, and admission is charged to see them. It seems to me that natural resources should belong to everyone and should not be developed as private property. Any charge should not exceed the reasonable cost of maintenance.

I have no idea how this can be accomplished as even our National Parks are threatened by entrepreneurs, greed and over development. Guess this is another one to write my congressman about.

Copyright 2016 Sheila Moss
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Table for Two

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Ever notice how obnoxious people do not know that they are being obnoxious? The other evening my honey and I were dining at this great little Italian place we know about. Good food, good service, reasonable prices, you know the sort of place.

We were quietly sipping a glass of wine while we waited for the food. Next to us was a large family celebrating a birthday or some sort of special occasion.

Problem with great little Italian places is when they put you at a table for two right next to a family of eight with all their children. We are used to it. Some of them are actually cute, crunching up their food, eating with their hands and throwing food on the floor.

I don’t know why this family brought kids to a popular dining spot for a birthday celebration instead of taking them to McDonalds where kids would much rather go. But anyhow, there they were. In this case, the kids were being pretty good, for kids. It was one of the adults who was misbehaving, talking loudly, asserting opinions and issuing orders.

“Good, grief, doesn’t that guy realize how loud he is?” Obviously, not. As I said, obnoxious people are oblivious to the fact that they are obnoxious. I could not really figure out what he was doing in a nice restaurant anyhow. He did not seem like the type. He was more of a redneck sort of person.

“Bubba must be tired of the Catfish House,” I said sarcastically. “Wonder why he didn’t go next door? They have barbeque ribs over there.”

Bubba proceeded to loudly assist the children, playing with their toys, blissfully unaware that he was spoiling the dining of all around him. Perhaps he was accustomed to dining at places where they have wooden puzzles on the tables to entertain the customers. Or perhaps the children’s toys simply intellectually challenged him.

By then, we were giggling as the absurdity came into perspective. “Maybe he will be gone by the time the food arrives,” I ventured.

I hate to admit it, but normally these loud people are women, ranting loudly so that all around can hear their conversation, as if everyone in the restaurant is interested. Invariably, if you turn to look, the woman will be wearing a red dress.

Manic personality types, we used to call them in psychology 101. The lady in the red dress talking loudly to call attention to herself and imagining that other people are really interested in overhearing her conversation about her love life, marital problems, financial endeavors or whatever other mundane personal topic she has decided to air.

About that time, the desserts arrived next door. Bubba remember that he had to pick up Shelby and left. We still don’t know who Shelby is, but I’m very grateful to her for needing a ride. Bubba managed to exit noisily just before the check arrived leaving the others in his party to take care of the essentials. Perfect timing.

“Bye, Bubba,” I whispered, as he left the room.

“Fresh ground pepper for your salads?” asked the waiter. Our food had arrived. Perfect timing again.

Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss
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The Case of the Curly Cut

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Ladies, I’m talking to you here. Men, just put your fingers in your ears while we ladies have a chat.

Men just do not understand the problems we ladies have with our hair, do they? Oh sure, guys have their bad hair days, but chances are they will just slick it down and go on. Ladies, however, are supposed to look beautiful. Our hair is our crowning glory. When our crowning glory refuses to cooperate, it becomes a disaster that can ruin your life, or at least a day of it.

Now, here is my problem. The other week I decided to get a haircut. My hair has always been thick and fast growing – in other words, BIG hair. I have a favorite hairdresser that I always go to who always cuts my hair the same. Unlike most of them, she doesn’t think “the shorter the better” and try to cut it all off.

This time I decided that I would go to someone different for a change, someone more convenient to where I live. You ladies already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? Yes, she tried to cut it all off!

“Your hair is really long! How much do you want cut?”

“Just a trim.” They always cut three times as much as you tell them to.

“It is really out of shape! Want me to shape it up for you?”

Well, sure, I don’t want my hair to be out of shape, do I?

“Do you want me to layer it a little bit?” It is really long on top. It is going to be flat if it isn’t layered.”

Well, sure, I don’t want to be flat on top, do I?

So, scissors snip and hair falls as I watch in horror! Soon I am up to my chin in clippings. In practically no time at all, it’s all over. I open my eyes.

“Doesn’t it look great?” she says, fluffing and fixing.

“Yikes!” Who is that person in the mirror? She is nearly bald! My big hair is merely a distant memory now. I repress the urge to sweep my mane up off the floor and try to put it back.

“You could wear it curly,” says the hair guru. “Just moose it and scrunch it like this!” She bends over and demonstrates the scrunch technique.

“My hair has always been straight, unless it is permed.” I say, looking around desperately for the nearest exit.

I feel a little lightheaded. Is it merely the absence of the excess weight of my big hair? I pay the ransom and leave, wondering how long it will take for my beautiful tresses to grow back. I can’t believe I paid someone to scalp me.

At home my hair refuses to cooperate. It tries to curl. Why is my hair curling? It has always been straight. At first I try to pull it around curlers, but it is so short it won’t stay. Finally, I give up and decide to give the curly routine a try. It is the weirdest thing. It curls just like a perm. What did she do to my hair?

“I like your new perm,” say the girls at work.

“I don’t have a perm!”

“Oh sure, wink, wink,” they laugh.

It’s true! My hair has suddenly become curly, after a lifetime of being straight. It makes no sense at all. What a mystery. How can hair change completely all on it’s own just from a haircut?

I’m starting to get used to it now. Maybe I just wasn’t ready for such a drastic change. Just call me “Curly” – or “Frizzy.” I promise, if it ever grows back, I’ll never complain about my big hair again.

Copyright 2001 Sheila Moss

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The Pep Talk

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Photo Frank Steele – Flickr – CC BY-ND 2.0

Okay, men, it’s time for The Big Game. I want you to go out there today and knock ‘em dead!

 

But…Coach…

No objections! We’re a team! We need to act as a team! We need to play as a team!

But…Coach…

Remember, you have the power to win if you believe in yourself!

But… Coach…

Shut up! When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

But… Coach…

Yes, I know they beat us 35 to 0 the last time we played. That’s behind us now! We are going out there to WIN this year!

But… Coach…

Yes, I know we have not won a single game all year. Today is the day we will turn that around!

But… Coach…

It’s attitude, men, ATTITUDE! You have to have a winning attitude.

But…Coach…

See yourself as WINNER, not a loser. If you think you will loose, you will!

But… Coach…

QUIET! Don’t let them force you into playing THEIR game! We’ve practiced OUR game! Now we have to go out there and PLAY our game!

But…Coach…

You know what the problem is? FEAR! You have to conquer fear! You have to conquer fear with practice, skill, knowledge, and experience! You have to control your fear instead of letting it control you!

But…Coach…

You are only as good as you think you are!

But… Coach…

Think positive! Think BIG! Think WIN!

But…Coach…

Yes, yes, I know they have not lost a single game in three seasons. So what? No one can win forever. Today will be the day that their winning streak ends. We can make that happen!

But…Coach…

With the right attitude, we can’t lose! We must refuse to have an attitude of defeat!

But…Coach…

I said, NO OBJECTIONS! The trouble with you men is that you won’t listen! You get a negative attitude and you won’t listen!

But…Coach…

You cannot let the past determine the present! Just because they beat us every time we play does not mean they will beat us this time!

But…Coach…

We can’t lose them all. The odds of winning are in our favor now. We can do it! We’re a team! We are winners! Never forget it!

But…Coach…

Why do you keep interrupting me? How can I motivate the team when you keep interrupting me? What is it? What is your problem?

But…Coach…The Big Game is NEXT week! It’s the WRONG DAY

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss
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I Hate Football

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Yes, that was me at the Titans’ game last week. So what? That does not mean that I do not hate football. It is just that I had not done much of anything for a long time and I really needed to get out.

We got there early to find parking but still had to walk for miles to get to the stadium. We were looking for a place nearby to eat breakfast but couldn’t find one. I was starving. No wonder I hate football!

Okay, so I ended up eating popcorn for breakfast. So what? You eat corn flakes all the time and think nothing of it, don’t you? Is that much different from popcorn? I’ll admit the diet coke was not my usual choice of a breakfast beverage, but I had to drink something, didn’t I?

It was a hot day. It was a really hot day. Okay, it was sizzling. It definitely was not football weather. When I think of football, I think of shivering and drinking hot coffee to keep warm while my toes freeze off. It was much too hot a day to be playing football. As I sat there sweltering in the sun with perspiration running down my back, I hated football more than ever.

When the game finally started, the Titans didn’t play worth a hoot. They got so far behind by halftime that I figured they didn’t have a chance of winning. After every play, somebody was lying on the field injured, and it was always Tennessee. Titans were dropping like flies.

I was getting sunburned and wanted to leave. Morris, of course, was enjoying the stupid game. He bribed me with one of those $5 cokes to get me to stay and didn’t even care about how much I hate football.

As I looked around the crowd, I noticed that most everyone was wearing Titan colors. As usual, I was out of fashion. It seems the big thing is to wear a jersey with the name of your favorite player on the back. I wonder how much those jerseys cost? I do sort of like them, even though I hate football.

As the game began again, the repugnant college-age commentators sitting behind us got wound up on beer and began spouting their opinions of each play. Why do these obnoxious people always seem to show up at ballgames? And why do they always have to sit behind me?

But the game was staring to pick up now and the Titans were making a comeback. Yes, I was screaming and yelling. I figured I might as well join in and cheer since everyone else was – even though I hate football.

As the excitement level in the stadium grew, the yelling was so loud that my eardrums were vibrating, especially when the other team was trying to make a play. They tell me that fans yell loudly so the opposing team can’t hear the directions for their plays. Seems like cheating to me, but the fans didn’t care. Obviously, they don’t hate football like I do.

By the last of the fourth the enthusiasm was intense. Yes, I was starting to enjoy the game. Hard to believe, I know, but you just had be there to understand. I was almost having fun yelling and screaming for every 10 yards gained and trying hard to hate football.

When the Titans scored that final touchdown the crowd went wild. Fireworks exploded and the stadium pulsated with noise. WE WIN!

The talk in Tennessee is already about the Titans going to the SuperBowl this year.

Hate football? Me? Oh, yes, I almost forgot.

Copyright 2002 Sheila Moss

 

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See Ya Later, Alligator

IMG_5343I’ve been watching the weather channel again and have come to a basic conclusion: People who live in Florida need to get out – permanently. That entire state is a storm magnet. What possesses people to live in a place that sooner or later is going to end up under water? It’s beyond me!

Equally stupid are television weather reporters who fly to the target areas to be in the big one. They stand outside in the rain with trees blowing behind them or waves crashing over a seawall and tell us that it is not safe to be outside. That is right before they are cracked on the head with flying debris, which gives them an even better reason to warn people to stay inside.

Some people decide to evacuate and spend the hurricane in a hundred mile long traffic jam looking for a motel that is not full of people escaping the hundred mile long traffic jam. If they get to Tennessee, we will be having yard sales along the evacuation route to take advantage of the extra traffic.

Some people defy the storm who don’t even work for the weather channel. Surfers ride the hurricane waves on closed beaches. Others decide to weather it out. They overwhelm the grocery stores buying supplies like bottled water, gas for their grills, plywood for their windows and Spam for the alligators. “It isn’t going to be that bad!” they declare, as a two story tidal wave rolls up behind them. “We don’t want to leave our home and possessions.” Folks, you don’t need a home and possessions if you are dead.

In a state with a 100% probability of being hit by a major storm, why are there more mobile homes than in any other state? And where are these mobile homes? Usually in low lying areas not suitable for building permanent structures. Mobile homes are not mobile, for Pete sakes! They are temporary structures, at best. I just don’t get it! It is sure thing that they are going to blow away if a storm comes, but people continue to buy them as “low cost” housing.

As soon as the disaster is over and the state is once again reduced to piles of mud and splinters, the reporters will descend like ants to interview the weeping residents. Without electricity there is no air conditioning in the heat. Sewers fill up with storm water and back up. Looters pick through whatever is left. The rest of the country rushes to their aid with shovels and bottles of water to help them rebuild, hopefully in time for the next hurricane.

Florida defies the weather like the surfers who ride the waves before a hurricane. They enjoy the pleasures of a tropical paradise and forget the agony of the price that is paid in loss of property and lives. It seems to me that they would rethink the wisdom of a lifestyle begging for disaster. I suppose as long as there are a few years to grow complacent between storms, people will forget and continue to move there thinking it won’t happen to them.

I saw only one person on television that seemed to have any sense at all. A new resident of Florida, he proclaimed while packing his car, “This is it – three strikes and I’m out of here.” That’s my kind of guy! Give it back to the alligators and move to dry land!

 

Copyright 2004-2017 Sheila Moss

 

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Jack Daniels

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It was on a Tuesday that we decided to visit Jack Daniels Distillery. Jack Daniels, in case you have never heard of him, was a whiskey maker back in the day. He learned his skill when he left home while still a child. He was put in the care of a preacher who ran a still on the side and taught Jack everything he knew about whiskey making.

Read the story on my newest blog: Blogging Across America

*Starting tomorrow, August 23, I will be on vacation and traveling west.
I plan to blog the trip on Blogging Across America.

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