Monthly Archives: October 2013

An Open Letter to My New Daughter-in-Law

Dear Lara,

One of your long-time family friends said the kindest thing about you and your family at the rehearsal dinner. This is pretty much a quote, “I have not known Daniel long at all, but I have known this family for a very long time. I am here to tell you, that as families go, he has hit the jackpot marrying into this bunch.”

To which I replied without missing a beat, “Well, that is awesome for him, but I am afraid that we are all quite dysfunctional.”

What else could I say? With so many ex this and that in the room, not to mention those who refused to come, then throw my crazy friends in there, I should have provided your side of the family with a flow chart to keep it all straight.

Your friend and I had a good laugh about it because it was a joyous time and, well there was just no room for negativity during that weekend. The song that Daniel used to sing all the time as he rode in his car seat in that burgundy Dodge Caravan “This Little Light of Mine” springs to mind. There was no bushel basket, or devil, or six days of pouring rain, or anything that could blow out the little light that showed up to shine throughout your wedding weekend.

Owning up is very different from negativity. When something is what it is….then it just is and I’m too old for pretense.

So, I am here to say, “Welcome to the Family!!!”

Now that you are one of us, I am here to provide you with a list of my newly made up self-imposed mother-in-law rules.

  1. I will always love you both.
  2. I am really looking forward to babysitting someday. The two of you can go away for months at the time and we’ll be just fine. Just give me a little notice.
  3. You have my permission to whack my son upside the head if he needs it. Figuratively speaking, of course, because we don’t need anyone in the family in jail. Let me know if you need backup. No matter how wonderful he is right now, there will be a day when you want to whack him and that is a perfectly reasonable emotion.
  4. Even though it does not come naturally, I will try not to meddle. Well, that’s not true. I probably will try to meddle. But, let’s make a deal. If I am meddling, you can say, “Stop meddling” and then we can laugh about it. I want you to practice right now, saying it out loud, so you can hear yourself. “Stop Meddling!” Now laugh. There, see, it wasn’t that hard. Only then, will I know what you actually mean. If you do the opposite of my meddling advice, I will not understand that you were trying to give me a sign.
  5. Please feel free to give me a whack upside the head if I need it. My son better back you up, or then you will have two people to whack and that usually doesn’t go well.
  6. I will really try….and this one will be hard, not to guilt trip you both for stuff. You know what I mean. “You’re only coming for one night?” with all kinds of guilt laden inflections heard in my tone. I’ll try to hold it down, at least the inflections.
  7. I will only try once to get you to take the things I want you to have, but you don’t want. That old piece of my grandmother’s furniture that you really don’t want, just say the word and I won’t insist that you take it.
  8. I will try not to judge, period. As if……Ha! Ha!
  9. I will love your family, since Daniel has, in fact, hit the jackpot.
  10. I will always love you both!

You new Mother-in-Law,







Funeral People and My New Best Friend!!

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Today I was driving on a country road and I passed an honest to God, old-timey hardware store that had this bird, or one just like it, stuck in the ground out front. So, hear my wheels squealing to turn into the parking lot. I walked in and said to the two nice ladies at the cash register, “I want that white crane that you have out front!”

“You mean the egret?”

“Well, whatever. It looks like a crane, don’t you think?”

“It certainly can be if you need a crane.”

“I need a crane!”

She looked at me as if I had escaped from solitary confinement. “If you need for it to be a crane, then it’s a crane!

I paid for my new best friend and left with my  ”crane” that may actually be an egret, but who cares. I am no ornithologist and I have not been this excited about a purchase in…well, I am not sure when.

I am imagining the possibilities!!!!

So, after work, I went to a fundraiser for Hospice which was a shrimp boil with bluegrass and beer. I took my crane to show my friends and on the way in, I ran into this guy, who immediately asked, “What in the world are you doing with that bird?”

He was wearing an “ANDREWS” shirt, written in a lovely script. In Wilmington, NC , there is no explanation necessary for what Andrews means. It is the Mortuary. It’s right beside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which is unofficially known as St.  Paul’s by the Mortuary. The brand “Andrews” is unmistakable. They have buried generations of Wilmingtonians for ages and ages.. In a city that is old enough for General Cornwallis to have set up his headquarters, history is of utmost importance and “Andrews” has been there to witness a whole lot of history.

The man from “Andrews”,  was genuinely excited about my “crane”.

Mortuary people are my people. I was the undertaker’s daughter and there is a whole bunch of crazy wrapped up in that, let me tell you!!! I tried to explain to the mortician, about my affection for cranes and what they symbolize and that I have a humorous blog named “The Paper Craner”. He came along for the ride. Funeral people can play to any crowd, regardless of  politics, religion, socio-economic status, etc because they are in an equal opportunity burial business. So a crazy old lady walking around carrying a crane to a fundraiser is perfectly within normal limits. There we were, kindred funeral people spirits, happening upon each other for a quick conversation and a photo op. And we were all there to enjoy the shrimp, bluegrass and beer

Ok, is it just me, or is anyone else picking up on the fact that there were people at the Hospice fundraiser wearing “Andrews” shirts? This is what happens when you are raised in a funeral home. You see the world with this kind of slant. Yes, that’s me…slanted, alright!!






What’s Behind All of This Zombie Apocalypse Stuff?

I just didn’t get it! I’m referring to zombies and America’s fascination with them.

I recently posed the question to some young people who have their finger on the pulse of those kinds of things. While they conversed about the new season premiere of “The Walking Dead”, I couldn’t imagine the appeal.

Me: What is the deal with all the zombie crap? Why can you put them in any movie or a book and people flock to it like something being sucked into a black hole?

Young Person: It’s total social commentary. It’s related to how people feel about things.

Me: What things?

Young Person: Fear of government, terrorism, the economy, disease, consumerism.

Me: Ahhhhhh! (see light bulb slowly brighten, but at a low wattage) So, what does all of this mean?

There is actually an English professor zombie scholar at Clemson University. How would you like to be THAT person? The good thing about her job is that she gets as much information from her hairdresser as she does a colleague at Yale. Probably more.

To quote the expert, Sarah Juliet Lauro, a beautiful lady, who looks amazingly normal, “The terror of the zombie was that you’d be attacked and consumed by one. But now people really seem to find catharsis in this survivalist narrative. Would I be able to survive a civilization-ending catastrophe?”.

So…….now I understand.  It’s just thinly veiled fear of not being in control, an age old story, just told by a cast of the undead.

And it also brings one to the logical conclusion of why we are also becoming a nation of Apocalyptic Preppers!  It’s simply a fear of metaphorical Zombies!!!

It’s a whole new vicious cycle.

Just for pure fun, I’ll be at the zombie apocalypse walk on the waterfront this afternoon. One needs to bring canned goods for the food bank. Go figure!!



Read more: Zombie Scholar Quotes – Esquire

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Peace, Love and Gate Crashers

I have this friend named Dana.  What she says is so amazing, that my daughter, who knows a good wordsmith when she sees one, says that I should start another blog called, “Shit Dana Says”.  I agree. It would be brilliant, but I can’t follow her around with a pencil and a piece of paper and then it would be fake anyway. I just have to take the moments as they naturally occur and zzzziiing!  I know “Shit Dana Says” when I hear it. She nails the situation in words that no person has ever strung together in a sentence before. So, hold that thought.

Being across the river from our nation’s capital, I feared the worst from 10,000 trucks inundating the roads, rendering movement from one place to another, impossible on the weekend of my son’s wedding.  One Dude on the news promised me that there would be millions of people taking part…the biggest thing, etc, etc, etc,. But the only report of trucks that I heard, was on Sunday when one of the groomsmen rode his bike back from St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square where he works and yes, that is The  President’s Church. Any president. Pick one. They all worship there because they can walk from the White House. The secret service alerts the church sexton about 4am, they come in and sweep the place and prepare it for the President to sit in the “President’s Pew”.  My son once told me the story of his fellow seminarian delivering his very first sermon in his entire life and there sat the President of the United States. No pressure. Just be yourself. Anyway, the groomsman said there were four trucks sitting in front of the White House blowing their horns. FOUR! Uno! Dos! Tres! Quatro!! That was hardly worth my pre-wedding meltdown. But it was bound to be caused by something, so I will take a fake, non-existent protest any day of the week.

So while very angry people were storming the Memorials in DC all weekend, (on foot, thank God!) some of the wedding guests who had brought their young daughter with them, took her to see democracy in action on the morning of the wedding. She had to write a paper about it, because she had missed a day of school and this was her penitence assigned by the teacher. They walked around and the little girl saw the stormed gates stacked up at the WWII memorial where people had defied the government and made their statement while waving flags and signs and yelled things that were not very nice.

I love a good protest as much as the next person and I do love this country!!  Dana can say all the shit she says and nobody goes to jail. Ain’t America great!!!!

The wedding guests/DC visitors noticed one memorial where nothing was stacked, no one was screaming, there were no vitriolic words on paper, no flags, and no one had even tried to storm the gates. They lifted their daughter over the gate, climbed over themselves and read all of the amazing quotes around the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The little girl skipped from one wall to another, learning about all of the things he had to say about his love for humanity, non-violence and peace.

That sums up the wedding weekend. While the world outside the seminary walls may have been filled with hate and dysfunction, inside there was nothing but love for humanity, love for the happy couple and just love in general.

At the wedding reception, my friend Dana leaned over to me and said, “Rhonda, I am here to tell you that there is no amount of money in the world that could buy what we have here in this place tonight!”, with her usual dramatic flair and a fake pound on the table.

“Wow, Dana! I think that’s the nicest shit you’ve ever said!” As usual. She nailed it.

By the way…is it just me, or was Sarah Palin wearing hair extensions?


We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long,but it bends toward justice- Martin Luther King, Jr.



Shit people write!!!!



Wildly Wonderful Wedding

St. Francis of Assisi had a blast!!!

St. Francis of Assisi had a blast!!!





The wedding was so wildly wonderful, that I am material-less! That’s right! Material-Less!! Yes, it was that fantastic. I did have the chance to decorate St. Francis of Assisi before I left. I think he’s just lovely!!!

My Redemption


Those wild and crazy theologians!! Let the bachelor party commence!!!

My Redemption

On the front of the birthday card, there were three nuns, crosses dangled on their chests; faces peeked through the severe mixture of black and white coverage. They prayed fervently, without ceasing.

Oh, I am already excited!!

On the inside, the message read:


Hope your birthday was so much fun that it still takes a team working around the clock to pray for your redemption.

Happy Birthday!!! I hope it was a blast.

Love You,


The great thing about this is that my son is at Virginia Theological Seminary to be an Episcopal priest. So, I would say that’s one heck of a perk when it comes to praying for my redemption. Lord knows, I need it.

To make my redemption even sweeter, he is marrying an Episcopal priest and yes, she is a female. I learned that I needed to throw that out there when people heard me say that he was marring an Episcopal priest.  At first, it didn’t occur to me that there was  anything strange about it and then I saw how many raised eyebrows or just how many incredibly awkward stares I had. I learned there was a  need for clarification. Not because I care.   Heck, I wouldn’t care who he married, as long as he’s happy. Looks like he was just born that way. But it just catches people off guard. First a priest getting married and then to a female priest. So many misunderstandings, so little time.

The birthday card from my future daughter in law had a bunch of face creams and treatments…Eliminates Sagging, Eliminates Wrinkles, Eliminates Fine Lines, Puffiness, Aging, the usual. Then in the inside, there’s a picture of a Martini and the sign over that says, “Eliminates Caring”.


I am looking forward to the rest of my life! Wedding week….game on!!!



Women, Dudes and Weddings

Wedding Women, Hear Us Roar

I don’t know about you, but when my first child, a son named Daniel, was born, I was filled with a sense of woman-ness, for lack of a better term. And by that I mean that I could NOT believe that women all over the planet since the beginning of human time, had experienced this amazing, overwhelming physical accomplishment that was wrapped up in the most deeply profound feelings I would ever know.  Immediately the world looked different and women were now Goddesses all wrapped up in motherhood.

And now this guy is getting married and I am again reminded of how many weddings, in all cultures around the world, occur on a regular basis. I am back in awe of the woman-ness of that. And I am only the mother of the groom.


Daniel and Lara, just before the actual proposal in Alexandria, Virginia.

I mean, let’s face it. Weddings don’t happen because men are consumed with the intricacies of the color palate or the seating chart and who gets along with whom, etc. etc. Well, at least not Dude men. And Dude men are my point of reference for this particular conversation. My non-Dude men are a different conversation and I am blessed to have a bunch of them involved. Being a Dude is a wonderful thing. It really must be. So, if you are one, please don’t take this disparagingly. I am trying to help you understand and forewarn.

So, while all of the women are running around, stressed to the maximum level, making this happen and bossing around the Dudes in our bitchiest voices ever. Here are ten words of advice. WE DON’T CARE IF WE DON’T MAKE SENSE TO YOU!!! If you try to throw your “Dude Rationale” in earshot and make things simple, when we have made it all complicated, you may get a stiletto through your eardrum.

Truth is, at least for me, as I don’t speak for all women. I am envious of your willingness to throw out a keg, some pepperoni slices and cheese blocks and call it an amazing event. In our wildest dreams and fantasies, that would be acceptable. But I have to live in the real world and nachos and cheese sauce just don’t work, but we love you for it.

Weddings and funerals can just bring out the primitive in all of us.


So Daniel, please pick up the keg for the rehearsal dinner.  I love you. –Mom.

Couch Surfing

Couch Surfing

Yeah, it’s a thing. If you are under 30, you’re already aware. If you’re my age and a parent, you know it’s a deranged sociopath’s dream come true and someone is going to end up buried in the backyard.

And this is the story of how I was talked into doing it.

For those of you, who live blissfully unaware of couch surfing, let me explain. You go to and you find people in places all over the world, who will let you stay in their house…for free…..while they are also there. It’s considered a “cultural exchange” program and one would get to see a place through the eyes of its host. The summer my daughter graduated from college, she and her BFF went all over the USA on Amtrak, couch surfing their way through some of the most fabulous cities across America. Yes, I had my neurotic Mama Bear hissy fit. (Pointless, since she used her own money.) So, I took her itinerary, told her if she didn’t call me every single day, I would notify the police to hunt down her hosts and I would have been relentless. I think she believed me because she called me every day. It went something like this.

Me: Hello
Laura: Hi Mom. I’m alive. Gotta run. Love you. Click.

Now let’s fast forward a year.

I recently drove from Wilmington, NC to a little town, deep in Pinot Noir country in Oregon. Google Maps says that’s a total of 3,053 miles. As a result of my daughter’s cross country couch surfing experience, she decided to move there to work for a year before graduate school and I have no one to blame but myself because I passed my wanderlust gene to both her and her brother.

I have to own up that I can be a bit neurotic sometimes. Case in point: I cannot stand to ride with my children. I have to drive, as in HAVE TO drive!! I am pretty sure that I drove 3,000 of the 3,053 miles in Laura’s pickup truck that was old enough to have radio antennae. The bed was loaded down, Clampett style, with all of her worldly goods packed in plastic crates and held in place by an intricate web of bungee cords. She was in charge of music and taking pictures when I would scream, “Oooo …ooo…get that! Now! Shoot! NOW!!!! Did you get it?” as we drove past it at 80 miles an hour. Poor thing.

Laura Rockin' her DJ/Photography gig

Laura Rockin’ her DJ/Photography gig

When planning this trip, I decided how far we would try to get each day and the approximate location that we would pull into a cheap interstate motel for the night. My 23 year old daughter didn’t understand at all why I was vehemently opposed to couch surfing the whole way and save tons of money. She is absolutely determined that I need to couch surf, because it is so much fun, you meet the coolest people, blah, blah, blah.

That conversation went something like this:

Me: Have you lost you ever loving mind??? I am not staying on a couch in some random  25 year old dude’s apartment!
Laura: Mom, seriously, you should broaden your horizons.
Me: Are you kidding me?? If my horizons get any broader, I am going to fall off the edge of the planet!!
Laura: I can’t believe you won’t be open-minded about meeting really cool people this way.
Me: I love to meet really cool people and when it’s time to go to bed, I don’t want to still be in the house of the really cool people that I just met!

And it went on and on and as these things usually go, I agreed to give it SOME consideration. And I got to make the rules, because we had to have rules!!

So, here were my rules:
1) We would do it ONLY one night.
2) The hosts had to be a married couple.
3) They had to be over 40.
4) We would have our own bedroom/bathroom.
5) It had to be in Park City, Utah, because the coolest of the cool people must live there.

I was so impressed by my cleverness with the rules that would rule out any potential for couch surfing, when son of a gun, Laura found the perfect couple with the perfect house in Park Effing City, Utah!!!

Turns out, is a lot like, only you’re turned on by their house.

Driving into Park City, we passed the barn with the huge American flag and the Olympic ski jump. I was headed into Sundance Territory, the land of the free, the home of Robert Redford. This was a huge bucket lister for me, and now I had to be worried about a date…with a house…with owners….who are letting us stay there. Who does this??

We arranged to meet our host couple at Wasatch Brewery on Main Street, right down from The Egyptian Theater where the Sundance Film Festival happens. Pinch self, now back to what the hell was I thinking?? I strategized that if they were awful people, I could feign a deathly contagious illness and that would be the end of that, just like a date/ditch scenario.

All My Friends Know the Lowrider!!!

All My Friends Know the Lowrider!!!

I figured it would be better to piss off a sociopath in public, than behind that secret door they had built just for us.

It didn’t help that we had our one and only argument of the trip, right in front of the outdoor dining section at the brewery. I don’t even remember what it was about, but it probably had something to do with my mood. I wondered if any of the outdoor diners watching this exchange, were our sociopathic house date people, who now sensed our weakness and knew just how easy it was going to be to divide and conquer. Serial killer piece of cake!!! In my mind, we would be dead by morning. At least, I could scratch Park City off the list before they kicked my bucket and poured lyme all over my body.

Laura and I decided to end our heated conversation the old fashioned way,  just shut up and drink a beer. Nothing says “Welcome to Utah” like a round of Polygamy Porters!! Why have just one!IMG_20120829_202431

The host couple turned out to be really cool, just like Laura promised. We had a delightful evening that continued on the deck of their gorgeous home. I loved their stories about rafting the Grand Canyon and spending months on wild rivers all over the world. The house was fabulous and the bed was to die for. I still covet that thick memory foam mattress. I have to admit that overall, it was not a horrible experience, although, probably not the best way for a neurotic Mom to see the world.

When it was all said and done, the only one who had behaved like a crazy lunatic was me.

Laura with our lovely host, Pam admiring our bungee skills.

Laura with our lovely host, Pam, admiring our bungee skills.



Deja Vu 2013

Have you ever had a serious déjà vu experience? I have. And it was weird!! 

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of spending some time traveling around Scotland. Driving through the Scottish Highlands, I was so sure that the further north I went, the more I had an incredible sense of home that I have never felt before when traveling. And I have never felt it since. One of my girlfriends told me about a similar experience she had in Greece. She couldn’t explain it, but she knew she had been there before and that she was at home.

​Ok, so perhaps we are all pretty much bat #$*& crazy!

​But, on the Isle of Skye, way up there where the tides are extreme enough to leave fleets of boats high and dry, where the sun can set at 1 am and rise at 4am, I knew I had found the place from whence I had come. And just how did I arrive at this conclusion. 


​There was a buffet. They had cooked their string beans to death in fat back. The rutabagas tasted just like my Mama’s. The rice and gravy could have come straight from Alice’s kitchen. The turkey, sans steroids and antibiotics, (because they have sense enough to outlaw all that crap over there) was just as flat chested as the ones we had when I was a kid. And, are you ready for this??? Collards!!! Also cooked in fat back!!! Yep, I had come home alright…at soul food central on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

​Maybe the strong déjà vu was subconscious from equating it with the time, when I was 11 and we went to the mountains for a vacation. We happened upon the Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain, NC. It was the closest my mother ever came to leaving the country and her excitement over all of those bearded, kilt clad lads running around throwing heavy stuff was almost too much for her to contain. I certainly get that now!!! It was the mid ‘60s and the world was huge and enormous. Men in skirts may as well have been men from Mars, at least to us.

Maybe I was recalling that my all-time favorite outfit when I was a child was a kilt with a pin, which I wore with knee socks that had a tassel on them. It came from the Children’s Shop on the courthouse square and I thought it was AMAZING!!
I need to swab my mouth and send that sucker to, give them 99 of my hard earned dollars and settle this once and for all. True story, I have a friend who did that recently and they actually told her that she shared DNA with BONO! SHUT UP!! That’s worth $99, right there, because she is kind of musical.
​But, go figure. It turns out that I do have that heritage. I was sprung from some crazy Scots (explains a whole lot) and perhaps my mother was having her own déjà vu experience when we went to pretend Scotland in 1967. And now that I think about it, there is no way that my mother “accidentally” happened upon the Highland Games. Miss Alice was way too savvy for that!!

​So on October 12th, my son will be getting married in Alexandria, Virginia. He’ll be wearing a kilt for the clan McDonald from which he has descended on his father’s side.  If my mother were alive, afterwards we could set a spell and have some string beans cooked to death in fat back, rutabagas, collards, rice and gravy and dry turkey. She could fiegn being a teetotaler and I'd sneak her a beverage. Yep, that's what we'd do.​

The Paper Craner?

50fbfdb6c414905ed584f7ceb78ba1d1 Why the Paper Craner, you may ask. It’s very simple.  The origami crane is a symbol for happiness, good luck and peace. That pretty much covers anything that interests me.

This crane is made from construction paper, which is way too heavy for origami, but it’s what had. I looked up paper cranes in wiki-how, and realized that there were 24 steps that were not as easy as they looked. As a result, this crane is a little wonkier and big boned, kind of like me.

So tonight in the pursiut of happiness, good luck and peace, this paper craner went to the Satellite Lounge for bluegrass, beer and people watching. I would say that the cougar (is that too derogatory?? Nah, if you were there, you would agree.) gets the most interesting person award. I mean, she even dressed like she was a member of the cat family, wearing a very tiny cheetah print dress with steep heels in a bluegrass bar. She rocked the place for sure.  And I am pretty sure she didn’t go home alone.

Sooo…Sunday nights! Free bluegrass and incredible  people watching, although you have to pay for your beer. It’s a hell of a good time.

Wishing y’all  a great week, happiness, good luck and peace.