I really only like cities at night

I really only like cities at night

Give me countryside by day

But at night the city changes shirts

and puts on a tuxedo jacket

At night the lights come on and set the stage

and remind us what movies used to be

The night covers up decay

The grit becomes glamour

the ghosts of Bogart and Bachal waltz

under the light of street lights and neon signs

preforming to the rhythm of the city

In the spaces between the shadows

they remind us what romance should be

The orange hue of halogen street lights becomes key lighting

on faces of passersby and ghosts

of champagne nights, mink fur coats and cigarette smoke

To remind us how the years have passed

The band has played the last number 

The rouge and lipstick have worn away

The modern world has gotten out of step with the sway

But at night, in the city

we can catch our breath

And for a few hours we can hear the band strike up again

Playing As Time Goes By 

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Creamed Peas

When I first got engaged to Travis, his grandma Georgia, decided I needed to be trained.

“When I first got married to Lee,” she said, “my mom taught me how to make white gravy and Lee’s mom taught me how to make brown gravy.”

Georgia is a first-rate farm wife, former hair-dresser, small business owner and fabulous cook.

And she’s tough.

At 5’10 with short, slightly spiky grey hair, Georgia is not afraid to tell you exactly how it is. (I aspire to be like Georgia)

Georgia was raised the youngest of ten siblings in Humphrey, Neb. Her dad was the town veterinarian. After 35 years of living on the farm she and her husband Lee moved back to the house she grew up in in Humphrey.

It’s two-stories, red brick, with a big front window and a nice front deck that you can sit on in the summer and passing neighbors will wave and comment on the weather. It has a small rectangle of perfectly trimmed lawn in the front and an unobstructed view of the neighbor’s equally well maintained lawn in the back.

And there is no better place to be, than Georgia’s kitchen.

Georgia cooks the old dishes Norman Rockwell’s idyllic families would be proud to serve. Golden brown turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy at Thanksgiving; slow-cooked pot roast done to perfection with cheesy hash browns and green bean casserole on Sunday; Ham with green salad (always served with Dorothy Lynch) and Jell-o dessert at Easter.

The first dish she taught me to cook was creamed peas.

I, being from California, where the closest thing I ever got to creamed peas was pea soup, was rather astounded at the thought of adding white sauce to canned peas. And by white sauce, I mean butter, flower and milk.

And, guess what, it’s awesome! Creamed peas are fabulous!

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Two of the toughest women I know, My mom and Georgia.

Scenes from the Mill

“Deb, I said, this is Lincoln. We got it good here,” said the man in the expensive peacoat.

I love coffee houses. I love coffee houses, because there is not better place on this planet to people watch. And the best is the Mill.

Located down town in a literal brick and mortar building that anywhere in California would have come with a sign alerting you to the danger of occupying such an establishment during an earthquake. The floor has seen too many shoes and too many spills, too many college students and too many business men. It is more board than varnish and has large chunks missing, but its got a story and its the better for it.

The interior has eclectic on lock. There are antique coffee grinders and a Schwinn bike in the window, and as you walk up to the counter a variety of vintage toys critically disdain your beverage choice.

The Mill is divided into two rooms, the one you walk into is long and narrow with a wooden counter. It is the one with the toys. The second is wide but has a corridor that leads to a back room and it looks like the inside of a pole shed with a vaulted tin roof being held up by 4 inch round peeler-core posts. There is a well used couch and a slouchy chair. This is the coffee shop of coffee shops.

There is the contractor in his carpenter jeans who is attempting to appear casual and at ease in his quarter-zip fleece and equally adept in his steel toes that have obviously never seen a construction site.

There is the busy little lawyer, in his busy suit, with the giant thermos.

Then there is the ad man. He works at a shop up the street. His khaki pants, Columbia jacket, and top of the line hiking boots are to give the impression of a man meant for the outdoors. He is not. Nothing about his outfit has been any further outdoors than the half-block walk to the Mill.

There is an interview going on behind me. The girl in that booth doesn’t know, but I am interviewing with her.

No one here is in any hurry. This is not Starbucks. If you want a rush go there.

1224 Fox Slippers and Coffee

My name is Ashley and I have always wanted to do something important with my life. I am, however, a recent college graduate who is completely and utterly unemployed. So this is what I do. I write. Only, I currently want for inspiration.

I work at my kitchen table, drinking way to much coffee (because Keurig’s are too easy to operate), and surf the internet. I would go outside but I live in Nebraska and its about 28 degrees F with a windchill of 0. If I had a job that forced me to be out in this abominable weather, I would be. So to my farming and ranching friends, know that I admire you in all that you do.

So why 1224 Fox Slippers and Coffee.

Simple.

Because nothing summed up my currently unemployed lifestyle as completely.

1224: Is actually supposed to be 12:24 but apparently spaces and special characters are frowned upon in internet-speak. As it turns out12:24 actually stands for a lot – including:

Religious: Acts 12:24 (But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherents), Mark 12:24 (Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?), John 12:24 (Something to do with perpetuating the word of God with an analogy to wheat), Luke 12:24 (God feeds the ravens, which, according to Luke, are apparently useless animals, and aren’t you better than a useless bird), 2 Samuel 12:24 (the Conception of Solomon). 12/24 – Christmas Eve (obviously), There is also a Proverbs 12:24Joshua 12:24, and Hebrews 12:24. Just incase anyone was curious.

Non-religious: 12-24 – Some terrible sounding horror movie from 2008 where a variety of characters are heading home on Christmas Eve when the dead begin to rise and are hungry for human flesh (imdb.com). The 12:24 Club – which is apparently a 12 step program out of Casper, Wyo. You can also buy a 12/24 Volt Truck Starter, a wide ranging variety of industrial equipment, or you can participate in the Saratoga 12/24 Ultra-Biking event.

And all of these have exactly nothing to do with my blog. 12:24 was, literally, just the time that I happened to look at the clock.

Fox Slippers, because I am wearing a pair of bright orange, faux-fur slippers with fox faces my friend brought back from Japan, and they may just be the best slippers in the world.

And Coffee, because I now have a Keurig which can brew a perfect cup of coffee in under a minute which is awesome and sucks at the same time because it means I consume way more coffee than any human being should.

I was thinking about calling it, “12:24, Fox Slippers and Coffee in a Beatles Mug”, but that was just way to long.

So why do I write?

I collect stories.

I am a story collector.