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Devil Cats & Horse Racing

Sheree Burlington4 Comments

I grew up in Salem, NH. The only thing Salem was famous for, other than not  being the Salem where they burned witches, was the race track. Rockingham Park was a huge piece of land right in the middle of town. Surrounded by chain link, it was the on again, off again home of a large community of nomadic horse race people.

This curious group of dream chasers came from all over the world. Many lived on the track, sleeping in tiny, dark tack rooms, thick with the musty smell of equine. Some stayed in hotel rooms, mobile homes or in the many studio apartments that surrounded the track.

When we were kids, my parents would park the car along the fence where we would watch dusty men feed & groom these magnificent animals. They'd clip those tired creatures, slick with sweat, to what we called the merry-go-round, where they'd walk in listless circles as they cooled down and dried off after a race. We would eat ice cream & wish we could work there some day.

Decades later, I found myself living in a studio apartment next to the track. I could look out of my kitchen window, through the chain link fence and onto the same scene I watched as a child. The place was tiny - one room with a kitchenette that included a refrigerator too small to hold even a six pack or box-o-wine. It had character - floors that sloped in an easterly direction, a stain on the ceiling shaped like Texas, a shower stall the size of a small coffin. Me and my little life fit in there, but just barely. On summer days, I would throw open the windows and the rich scent of horses & hay would waft in on the breeze.

At that time, I was attending community college full time and waiting tables at a local restaurant & bar. Life was a simple routine of classes, study, work and hangovers. One night, one of my regulars approached me at the end of my shift. A cute transplant from Philadelphia, he needed a favor - just this one and he would owe me forever. Watch his cat for two weeks while he was in Florida. I like cats. I said ok.

I don't remember what Nicky called his cat, but I called him Devil Cat. In the short time he was with me, he pretty much destroyed my house - literally pulling down curtains and knocking pictures off the walls. Devil cat was an outdoor cat. He reacted to being kept inside like I was running a prison camp, making a mad dash for the door every time I came and went. Keeping him inside was a fricken nightmare.

So, it's a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning. I'm getting ready for work. I open the windows, feed the cat and hit the shower. When I emerge the first thing I notice are the kitchen curtains fluttering in the breeze. Then I see that the screen is gone. So is the fricken cat. I run outside. I'm in my bathrobe. I have a towel on my head. He's sitting on the otherside of a fence that has got to be, what, six feet tall? I cannot believe this. I want to kill this cat and stuff him down Nicky's throat. I walk along the fence calling him in my most soothing & comforting voice. I am starting to feel crazy woman coming on.

I reach the back corner of the fence. There is no fricken way around it. The only way I'm getting that cat is to go over it. As if by cue, there is actually a cut log lying the in grass and a cinder block on the other side of the fence. The decision is made. I'm goin' over.

Ok, so why I don't go in the house and put on clothes before I do this - I can't say. I forge ahead. Throw the towel on the grass. Start climbing & somehow make it over the top. As I jump to the ground, I don't see my bathrobe catch the top of the fence. When I hit the ground, it is literally torn from me. I am standing on the other side of the fence, on racetrack property, completely naked.

I look around. The yard is empty except for one small, dark man standing in a sunny doorway, holding a rake. I let out a shriek and start yanking on my robe - it is not coming down. Horrified, I look back at the man. A friend has joined him - he shades his eyes & smiles. I feel like I'm in a bad movie - I cannot believe this is happening. I turn my bare white ass to them, drag the cinder block over, climb up and free my robe. Let me tell you this - when you're standing outside naked in front of strangers, you cannot cover up fast enough. Unbelievably, Devil Cat walks right over to me. I pick him up, wanting to squeeze him until his eyes bug out, climb onto the cinder block and throw him over the fence.

I don't remember much about the return climb. What I do remember is that Nicky never did come for Devil Cat. Ever. I heard he'd moved back to Philly. I moved to Vermont, where being naked outside was both common and legal. Devil Cat moved in with my neighbor, Shirley.

The men in the yard that day? They've probably returned to a land where the sun bakes the earth dry & the nights are cold and quiet except for the sounds of their horses. They'll tell stories of their years on the road, of races won and lost and of the all people they'd met. And they'll smile when they tell the story about the naked woman in Salem, New Hampshire.

New York, Yew Nork

Sheree Burlington5 Comments

Last week I spent a week in New York. Because enough hasn't been written about the Big A, The City That Never Sleeps, I'm compelled to add my take: There are a shit load of people in NY. From my room on the 21st floor, on 34th and 8th, I could look down upon enough tiny people to populate my entire town. Most of them were walking.

Unless being led around by their dogs, people in my world walk under these circumstances: 1. Dead car. 2. No car. 3. No license. While there may be exceptions - those who trudge through snow up to their knees along unplowed terrain because they want to, these people are generally crazy and should be avoided. If you get too close, they may ask you to join them. My best friend Janet, falls into this category.

My trip into The City was flawless. I hit the road at 7:15 and arrived in NY State at 11:30. Drove right past my hotel on the way to the Javits. Pulled into the Javits Center and right into a parking spot. After dropping off my load, I asked one of New York's finest for directions. He was pleased to tell me that I look just like Lauren Holly. I had no idea who she was (it's lonely under my rock) but since it's rare for someone to say that you look just like some dog, I received his compliment in a most charming way. When I arrived at my hotel, there was a parking space out front. I handed my keys to some guy and watched it drive away.

I won't bore you with show details. The best part about it was the great company in my booth - Larry of Clay Design and Victoria of Dream Fabric Printing. All three of us are pretty much non-stop talkers. Sometimes we actually listened to one another. They were great company and I can't wait to see them again in August.

As planned, I had dinner at Chez Veasey, home of the wicked famous LorrieVeasey and Sexyhusbandomine. Here is the real scoop on the Veasey family: Sexyhusbandomine = Hunk. And he fed the kids and did the dishes while we talked. He should host a husband/boyfriend bootcamp. I'd immediately sign up Ireland. Oh, and those cute kids she blogs about? Seriously cute. And polite. We may think Lorrie walks on water, but she's a regular gal like the rest of us. I hugged her and those Beautiful Berthas moved right out of the way just like regular, non-famous boobage.

Cut to the last day of the trip. I call for my car - which sounds almost as cool as my agent. Two hours later, I'm still waiting. I'm beginning to wonder if the guy in front of the hotel drove it to Jersey and cut it into tiny pieces. Eventually it shows up. Whew. I'm not an idiot. I drive to the Javits and find it in absolute grid lock. No way to get anywhere near it. I drive around the block and approach it from a new angle. Not happening. As I prepare to make another 1/2 hour pass around the block, my gas light comes on. I see a entrance to the parking lot. I don't wonder why no one else is taking advantage of this clear passage. I just drive right in.

"License and registration, please." Do I know what I just did, he asks? I just ignored a Do Not Enter sign. (Ok, I am an idiot.) As I reach for my papers, I hear him say "Hey, you're the one who looks just like Lauren Holly." I flash him my most convincing LH smile. I still don't know who she is. That's ok, he says. Why don't you just back right into that space over there.

I heart New York.

Off With My Head

Sheree Burlington11 Comments

For those of you who are new to this blog, I am the practically famous Sheree Burlington, self employed artist, single mom, subjugated girlfriend and now, award winning blog author. Sheila, another opinionated broad from Ma Vie Folle has nominated my blog for the Marie Antoinette award.

For centuries, Marie has been reviled as a partying slut who lived a lavish life of excess. Of course I'd be given such an award. While my life and reputation are less historic, Marie and I have a couple of things in common. At her rustic retreat called the hemeau, "porcelain bowls were cast using Marie Antoinette's own ample breasts as their mould." Pottery. Breasts. Marie even rhymes with Sheree.

So, in honor of The Girls, I would like to recognize the following Blogs for their mammary contributions: Miss Thystle for her Remarkable Rack & bawdy sense of humor. Our Name is Blog for her Beautiful Berthas, her mojo & for inspiring me in everything she does. And though I know nothing of their boobage, I'd like to express my appreciation for Debbie from Suburb Sanity for her endless optimism & Kristin of kwr221 for listing religion as her industry while simultaneously drinking coffee out of a Bite Me mug.

If you would like to accept this award, the original giver has asked me to post the following rules. I don't like the word "rules," it brings out the non conformist in me. I prefer to call them suggestions:

1) Please add the Marie Antoinette award photo on your blog.

2) Place a link to the person from whom you received the award.

3) Nominate 7 exceptional blogs to receive the award.

4) Put the links to those blogs on your blog.

5) Leave a message on their blogs to tell them they are the chosen ones!

Thystle, Lorrie, Debbie & Kristin...Off with your heads.

XO

Sheree

Droppin' Like Flies

Sheree Burlington4 Comments

I was a wicked unpopular kid. I was a tall, skinny red head with freckles, big ears and buck teeth. I was loud, obnoxious, insecure and would do just about anything for attention.

Decades later, I've evolved into a tall, matronly dye job with freckles & wrinkles. Four years in braces have tamed the overbite. While I have mellowed a little, I'm still basically a big mouth. I've brought my attention seeking down a couple of notches. I dance, but not on tables. I have sex, but not with your boyfriend. My attempts at securing your attention are more subtle.

As a kid, I collected friends, real or imagined. In adulthood, I have a new fascination. Followers. I covet each and every one of you. You're what I think about when I should be sleeping/eating/working/painting/cleaning or bookkeeping. You're my validation. You give my life meaning. I need you.

Sometime this week, I lost one of you. Gone. Poof. Oh God. I'm boring! My writing style sucks. Wait! Was it the F word? The fact that I mentioned my boyfriend's dick? My jugs? Not enough contests? My header? What? WHAT?

Whew. OK. I'm alright now. Look. All I'm asking is that if you're going to leave, if you're not happy, if there's someone else, tell me. Don't let me be the last to know.

Waiting For My Grasshopper

Sheree BurlingtonComment

“Wow. That is cool. I would so  buy that if I saw it in a store.” It was a turkey platter – I’d spent hours on it, covering the entire surface with words of thanks and gratitude. It was cool. Once finished, I placed it on the drying rack and poured myself a cup of coffee. After two sips I was back at the rack, admiring my work.

It was 2005. I had spent the last three years in pursuit of my dream – owning a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio. The dream had taken flight and we ended up with three, opening a new studio every year. I was working my ass off.

Some weeks later, I was on my hands and knees, scraping chocolate cake off of the floor - remnants of a party of screeching 9 year old girls. Jillions of tiny black ants had materialized & were crawling around the mess with crazy purpose. As I sat on the cold floor with a butter knife in my hand, I thought about the turkey platter. I squashed a few ants. I made a decision.

A couple of years earlier, my business partner and I took a trip to New York to visit the studio of Lorrie Veasey; owner of Our Name is Mud. Lorrie was actively involved with CCSA – a professional organization that supports and educates owners & planners of PYOP studios. She also owned a large and growing finishware company and was selling her hand painted pottery to thousands of accounts all over the country. I told her of my dream to someday create my own line of finishware. “When you’re ready,” she said, “call me. I’ll walk you through it.”

Museware Pottery is in its third year. During its infancy, Lorrie & I exchanged many dozens of emails. I'm sure I was a complete pain. She reviewed my business plan & pricing structure; guided me through months of packing and shipping issues; warned me away from some costly big ideas; praised and encouraged my best efforts. She called it building good pottery Karma.

With her guidance, I've gone from painting at my kitchen table to a 1500 square foot studio. We need to double our space. Last year, business increased almost 300%. I'm working my ass off. I’m also waiting for my Grasshopper so that I can pass it on. If it weren’t for Lorrie’s generosity, I’d still be scraping chocolate cake off of the floors. Fricken ants.

Thanks, Mud Chick.