Somebody to love

If you ever loved something, you know it’s impossible not to talk about it constantly. New shoes. New boyfriend, baby, house. New pet.

I just might be more obsessive than most when I latch on to something that interests me, and now, the thing that I have latched on to, has literally latched onto me.

Raphael, cuddling.

Python regis. The Royal Python.

Oh yes. One python in particular. His name is Raphael and he came to be my little darling completely by accident. My son Christopher took him from a friend, who was going away to college and his parents, apparently, weren’t willing to dangle mice above a reptile at regular intervals.

So Christopher took him, placed him at my house and thus he became mine.

I had to warm up him a bit, I admit. I’ve never been afraid of snakes, and in fact, I used to save garter snakes from the family cat when I was a teen. I also enjoyed spying occasional rat snakes or racers in the fields next to our home. More recently, my last house seemed to be a particularly suitable environment for garter snakes because there were bunches of them. I would show them to the children for an instant nature lesson.

But snakes are objectionable to a lot of people, for several reasons, but most seem to have a visceral reaction, and I think it’s because we’re just not used to the way they move.

They’re not like mammals, dogs, kitties, that sort of thing. They’re not even similar to most other reptiles. I mean, iguanas and the like are a little startling, but they’ve got legs and stuff, so there’s no slithering, sliding, wrapping. Also, the no eyelids thing can unnerve the more fainthearted among us.

Lots of women scream at the sight of even a photo of a snake; my own mother won’t have anything to do with him for fear she’ll start having snake-borne nightmares.

But snakes — if I may modify a quote from Finding Nemo, are friends — not foes. And once I’d been around him a bit, I have to admit, a little bit of a maternal instinct kicked in and I knew I had to care for this innocent little creature who needed help.

Today, Raphael definitely knows me. People ask me this all the time. But how do you know, they ask.

Well, when I pick him up he reaches toward me and takes a good helping of my scent. You may know snakes “smell with their tongues.” They actually use them to grab scent particles then transfer them inside their mouths to something called the Jacobson’s organ, where the actual smelling takes place.

So he sniffs me, then calms right down when he’s in my arms. He sleeps there contentedly in the evening when I’m watching TV. He permits me to touch and stroke his head, which he shied away from when he first arrived.

To quote my son Tras, “He may have a little brain, but it’s like 90 percent love.”



Unbelievable though it may seem — I, Ellen, am the owner of a pair of  ridiculous, platform sandals. They are red. They are, as I mentioned, ridiculous and I, of course, love them.

And I paid only one dollar.

Indeed, how it all went down was a little unbelievable and, of course, it happened at Shoe Carnival, home of the ridiculous when it comes purchasing shoes.

To quote someone I worked with long ago, if I only wore them to take out the trash, I’d be getting my money’s worth. But of course, I wouldn’t be doing that. I’ve got other shoes reserved for trash-taking duty.

So there I was at Shoe Carnival buying my son Tras some shoes, and to get to the children’s department, you have to pass Ladies Shoes. Well, to get anywhere you have to pass Ladies Shoes, seeing as it takes up fully the middle two-thirds of the store. On this particular day, there was a sale table and I won’t lie, I did stop to see if there was anything there I had to have.

Ta-da!I found these.

Just $10! Marked down from $39.99. Pretty sweet deal. And though I woudn’t be wearing them, as Audrey suggested, to convey rubbish to the curb, if I traipsed about in them two or three times in the coming summer it would totally be worth it. So I tried them on, posed a bit in the mirror —

And, pronouncing  them fabulous, tucked them under my arm and we continued our journey to Children’s.

But lo, what is that I hear, blistering my ears over the loudspeaker? It’s the Shoe Carnival Barker, announcing a that all pink-tag shoes, for the next 10 minutes would be marked HALF OFF. Just bring it to a carnie, and they’ll mark it down.

Back to the sale table I went, and my shoes were duly marked down to $5.

Can I get an AMEN?

We resumed our trek for Trassie’s shoes, selected them in short order, and were drifting cash-registerward when again, the loudspeaker doth proclaim —

“Contest! All women wearing sandals come forward!” So, since I was wearing sandals, come forward I did and took my place in a quickly forming line.

“We’re having a pedicure contest!” brayed the carnie – and immediately, two women bolted.

The rest of us laughed; I a bit more jovially than most because, owing to the fact that my sister Leah had recently gotten married, I sported only the second pedicure I’d ever had in my life.

I stood there glorying in my French-manicured toes, confident that I could be A CONTENDER.

So maybe you can guess the rest. One of the carnies looked over our tootsies  and narrowed the field down to another lady and me. Being (as I believe I have mentioned before) ridiculous, I did a little pirouette, and the other woman, whose toes were every bit as nice as mine, said, “Give it to her!” And so I won, and so I spun, and was handed a coupon for $4 off my purchase. My $5 purchase.

Loud and proud

This wasn’t the only time Shoe Carnival has made me dance for my coupon. Well, what I’ve done in the past is sing. Once it was “I’m a Little Teapot” which earned me a $5-off coupon. Another day, anyone who knew all the words to the theme song to Spongebob Squarepants was invited up to caterwaul for those assembled.

My children have gone from being oblivious to my antics, to being embarrassed by them, and now have muscled their way through the gag reflect and are merely tolerant when I sing or dance in public, which thankfully (even to me) I do only rarely.

Although it makes you kind of wonder, doesn’t it, what I could get away with if I went searching for my old tap shoes and really cut loose.


Kangaroos, mate

I do a blog for work, about the programs we air. Today, I posted a series of adorable kangaroo photos from the BBC series Kangaroo Dundee, which begins tomorrow, June 3 on KET. If you’re not in Kentucky, check local listings to see if your public television station is airing it.

As I said, the photos are extremely cute.

I can’t stand it!

Click below to see them all, and learn more about the program Kangaroo Dundee. Enjoy!

This needs wider recognition

If you know anything about American country and folk music, you know the name John Prine.

He’s famous for, among other things, penning the lyrics to his early song “Paradise,” which I always sing when traveling to the western part of the beautiful state of Kentucky and across the Green River —

And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

You may not have heard this song, entitled “In Spite of Ourselves,” which he sings below with Iris DeMent. I hadn’t. As you’ll hear in Prine’s remarks, the song appears in the end-credits in the 2001 movie in which he co-starred with Billy Bob Thornton, Daddy & Them.

Fun fact about Mr. Prine: Along with Ed Wood, of “worst director in Hollywood” fame, he and I share the same birthday, October 10. Mark your calendars, now — and celebrate for a month of Sundays.