Friday, April 30, 2010

Zipping It Up (Z)












(There is a video at the end of this post. You might want to play it as you read. For ambiance. Or whatever...)


Zilch.

Nada.

Squat.

Zip.

That's all I seem to have today.

I've been drained of my alphabetic prose.
I've been struggling along
for 26 days with the crazy ABC song
stuck in my head like a vibrating arrow.

But, I made it.
I posted from A to Z.
And it has been a fun ride.

Albeit, bumpy at times-
and there were a few dark tunnels,
but I kept persevering to the end.

I picked up a lot of things on my journey.
(Other than headaches,
writer's block,
and crumbs in my keyboard, of course)-

I found new friends.
Brilliant, fun bloggers whose wit and wisdom
make my posts look like Mary Poppins at age 8.

I have found my tears again.
My laughter
and my faith.

I have found that sharing feels good.
That my blog doesn't have to be perfect every day.

That it just has to be "Me".

This challenge has reminded me
that I am not here to please the masses.

I am here to calm this
giant voice inside of me.

I am here to tell a story.
...Fragments of life that my children
can carry with them
long after my voice has been silenced.

I am here to be childish...
and grown-up,
humorous and serious,
uptight and let it all hang out!

I would be here
even if none of you were.

That being said, I have come to
love my followers.
(I actually have a few now).
Your comments and kindness
are priceless to me.
And I feel like I've known you all forever.

Just to read your posts every morning
is like breathing new air.
...like learning new lessons-
...trying new food-
...peeping into the windows of another life.

You have made me warm.
Made me stretch.
Made me want to be better-
Both as a person and a writer.

Thank you.

Special thanks to Arlee Bird
for his special vision and unselfish desire
to link us all into a "bloggers bond".
I am anxious for a new challenge
and the opportunity to meet new voices.
Thank you, Lee.

I suppose it is time to zip it up.
To conclude.
To cross that finish line
with a smile on my face.

I'm singing, actually.

That crazy ABC song...
"Now I know my ABC's-
Tell me what you think of me!"

Sorry, but it's time for my nap now.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....





Thursday, April 29, 2010

He's My Yang (Y)




Sometimes I wonder (to myself) how
my husband and I ever got together.

I was a young, innocent country girl,
and he was a seasoned hippie.

I was ready to be an artist-
a college yuppie-
a girl with the map of her life
all plotted out and
headed in the direction of her dreams.

He was cool.
Carefree.
Ready to drive off into the sunset
at the drop of a groovy hat...
with a hundred record albums,
six cans of re-fried beans,
and a bell-bottomed blue-jeaned pocket
full of change.

Face it.
We were opposite.
We were yin and yang.
We were oil and vinegar.
We were salt and pepper.
We were night and day.
Man and woman.

The Chinese define Yin as
a negative female
having the characteristics of
earth, rain, soft, evil, black,
small, even (numbers),
cold, dark, and passive power.

(Obviously a Chinese man
wrote that!)

Yang is described as:
positive male,
heaven, sunshine, hard,
good, white, large, and odd.

But the Chinese also believe that
these two principles of nature
must both exist in a perfect balance
for there to be harmony in the world.

And in the bathroom.

(Yeah. I added that part myself.)

I am not a neat freak.
But, Lordy- can you not put the lid
back on the Q-Tip jar?
Must you leave a forest of whiskers
in the sink?
Do you think I like picking up
sweaty underwear
and crusty socks?
Has your toothbrush ever found its way
back into the cute flowered holder
that sits only two inches from the faucet?

Our Yin and Yang get so out of balance sometimes
that it defies nature.

He's hot.
I'm cold.

He wants chicken.
I want fish.

He wants to watch Rambo for the
fifty-third time.
I prefer a rerun of King of Queens.

He wants to stay home
and play Xbox.
I want to go out and
see a movie.

It's a storm, I tell you!
A virtual tornado
of Yin and Yang.

The Chinese guy says we
will eventually reach "quiescence".
That the waves will recede
and all will be calm once more.
That every rise will fall.
Every jagged edge will become smooth.

And it probably will...

I'll continue being Yin.
The country girl with
dried up oil paints,
no college degree-
and some wrinkled old map
that really never led the way.

And he will forever be my Yang.
An old hippie in Carhartt work jeans
with a pocket of change-
headed off to work.

Crazy thing about this Yin and Yang thing...
it's worked for us.

And how can you deny nature
when it feels so perfect?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Xanadu (X)


















Webster defines "Xanadu" as
an idyllic, beautiful place-
an exotic place of great luxury.

Many people think of castles,
faraway sandy beaches
or mansions in the mountains.

I think of my bed.

Yeah, you heard me right.
My bed.

To me, this spot
is the most comfortable place in the house.
It offers warm blankets during the winter,
and cool sheets in the summer.

In my bed, I don't have to worry
if my pajamas don't match,
whether my hair is done,
or if I snore like a donkey.

My bed is my place of refuge.
When I feel stressed, or sad
or out of control,
I go there to lie down
and meditate on
all that is wrong and good
in the world.

There is something solemn
about staring at the ceiling
or curling into a infantile position
under a sweet smelling comforter
that makes reality bearable.

Luxurious?
Well, that depends on your definition.
To me-
crisp sheets,
a feather pillow,
a colorful quilt,
and a Serta 2 inch
Memory Foam mattress topper
is the ultimate in luxury.

Luxury is having a bedside table
with Vicks infused tissues,
a fresh glass of water,
and the remote control.

Luxury is
cozy slippers waiting at the foot board,
a flat screen TV on the wall,
room darkening blinds,
and a lock on the door.

My bed is my Xanadu because
it is the place that heals me.
Where I rest when I am weary or sick.
Where I recuperate,
rejuvenate
and reanimate.

It is where I snuggle with my husband.
Where we share long talks,
daily squabbles,
giant dreams...
and big love.

It is where my little dog
curls up at my feet.
Where the alarm clock glows
a comforting blue.
Where the smell of fabric softener
and scented candles
permeate the linens.

A bed is where I was born
and probably where I will die.

It is home base.
It is my cocoon.
It is my Xanadu.

Sing it Olivia! "A million lights are dancing... And there you are- A shooting star ... An everlasting world ... And you're here with me - Eternally"...

Xanadu.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Waiting Room (W)


Due to the fact that I will be away from my computer the entire day, I am posting what my blogalicious red headed friend, Dee, calls a Cheater post. I promise fresh material for X, Y, & Z !!










Whoever coined the term "waiting room"
was a virtual genius.
No other name or title could be more fitting
or more accurate.

It is simply that.
A room where you wait.

And wait. And wait....

I usually measure my waiting room experiences
by the number of magazines I can finish reading
while there.

An acceptable wait is a cute
decorating magazine or a
thin entertainment publication.
Two National Geographic's or
a complete Reader's Digest
always gets me worrisome.
And never, ever, under any circumstances
is it acceptable to wait through an entire reading
of the AMA Journal.

I have waited so long in doctor's offices
that even the free pamphlets they provide
start to look interesting.

I've actually caught myself reading about
the side effects of allergy medication,
the working of the lungs,
and the psychological impact on children
who don't eat breakfast.

These brochures are solely put out for reading (
and waiting) purposes only.
They are not meant to be removed
from the waiting room.

I mean, do you really want to be seen
carrying off a booklet entitled, "Bladder Control and You"?

When you actually get back into the exam room
after a lengthy wait- it is like winning the lottery!
You're ecstatic!
You have reached the half-way point!

But, most times the joy is short-lived.
Another type of wait continues.

However, this can be a more comfortable wait.
Here, all alone- away from the shifty eyes
of other patients-
you can take off your shoes,
pick your teeth,
adjust your underwear,
or take a nap.

I have memorized the wall charts
in every exam room I've ever visited.
There's something very empowering
about being able to blurt out the parts
of the inner ear at your next dinner party.
And it may come in handy someday
to know the location of the spleen-
in case you have to perform
emergency at-home surgery.

I have played with the blood pressure cuffs
and weighed myself (and the trash can)
several times in one wait.

I've depressed my own tongue,
swabbed my dirty ears,
and used the cotton balls
to remove stubborn shoe scuffs.

NOTE: If at all possible,
it is always a good idea to avoid
examination rooms that are equipped with
defibrillators, drills, stirrups,
or fine stainless steel cutlery.

After a waiting room experience
of any great length,
it is strongly recommended that
you see a doctor immediately.
Complications such as eye strain,
sore muscles,
and complete lunacy may occur.

I have just discovered that the same genius
who coined the word "waiting room"
also created another very appropriate word-
"Patient".

Go figure.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Where The Violets Grow (V)














I was nine or ten
the first time I ran away from home.

My mother had been sent off to St. Louis
for cancer treatments
and the six of us youngest children
were placed under the stern authority
of my older sister Jewel.

To say she abused her power
may be exaggerating-
but at the time,
she seemed to delight in enforcing
dreadful and ridiculous rules
that Linda and I eventually refused to follow.

Now, I suppose the grief over missing our mother
and having the family unit turned upside down-
may have played a huge part in why
Linda and I remember Jewel
as a savage, belt-wielding commando.

But at the time,
all we could think of is escape.

As a surprise, the oldest kids had decided
to paint the living room for Mom.
That meant two things:
(1. )Linda and I were in charge
of the other little brats
and (2.) No one was allowed in the house
for a whole afternoon.

And. believe me, there are only so many places
to hide from screaming, snotty siblings.

Plus, after being the Indians
and tying those wild, little Cowboys up
as tightly as we dared-
we finally had to let them loose-
or incur the wrath of the Jewel-Nazi.

The living room looked great.
All fresh and pretty for Mom...
But for some odd reason,
we weren't allowed to take our baths
in the bathroom that night.

Instead, Linda and I were directed
to a large, galvanized foot tub
in the back yard.
A bar of soap.
And a garden hose.

That was it.
Revolution was imminent.

There was no way on Earth
that Linda and I were going to
strip naked outside
and take a cold bath.
(Even if we did smell like
sweat and dust and dogs.)

Once Dictator Jewel had round up
the smaller kids for the day,
Linda and I made our move.

We ran away.

Ran and ran and ran.

-All the way across the road
to the empty lot.

There was an old well there,
an empty wooden soda crate,
and mounds of purple violets.

It seemed like the perfect place
to make our new home.

As we sat there in the beating sun,
we made important plans concerning our future.
We would stay there during the daytime...
squatting down to hide in the violets
whenever Jewel came out of the house-
and we would sneak back after midnight
to get food and clean clothes.

But pretty soon the sun set.
The lightning bugs came out.
We were hungry.

And we were getting kinda scared
of the dark.

We had probably been across the road
at our new home
for a full thirty minutes or so.

But,
once it got pitch dark outside,
we had no other choice but to return to our prison
and let Jail Keeper Jewel administer her
methods of madness.

Not long after that day,
Mom returned home.
Jewel was knocked down to her place
on the totem pole
and Linda and I were back in
the circle of love...
...Watching TV and playing in our room
and taking hot baths in a real tub.

We never ran away again.

I learned a lesson those long years ago.
I learned that you can't run away from your problems-
You have to stay and face them.

Even if they are as evil and notorious as
G.I. Jewel.

Yet, there are times in my life, even now-
that I wish I could escape stress and responsibility
and decisions.

And run away to
where the violets grow.

P.S. (You know I love you, Jewel!!!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

˙uʍop ǝpısdn ɹoɟ sı n (U)

¡ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ʇnoqɐ ןןɐ s,ʇı
˙ǝǝɹɟ s,ʇı
˙unɟ s,ʇı

˙pǝʇɐןnqoqɯoɔsıp puɐ
ʎǝןɹıɥʍ-ʎןɹıʍs
'ʎǝʌɹnʇ-ʎǝsdoʇ
'ʇno-ǝpısuı ɥʇıʍ spuǝıɹɟ s,ʇı

˙sƃƃǝ pǝddoɹp puɐ
sɐןןǝɹqɯn pǝsoןɔ
'sʇɐq ʇınɹɟ s,ʇı
˙sǝssɐןƃɹnoɥ puɐ
ǝʞɐɔ ǝןddɐǝuıd s,ʇı˙˙˙

˙sƃɐןɟ xıs ʇɐ ɹǝʇsɐoɔ ɹǝןןoɹ ǝɥʇ ƃuıpıɹ ɹo
'ssɐɹƃ ǝɥʇ uı sdıןɟ ƃuıop
'sɹɐq ʎǝkuoɯ ǝɥʇ ɯoɹɟ ƃuıƃuɐɥ s,ʇı˙˙˙

˙ǝʇɐp ʇsɹıɟ ɐ ɟo ʎʇıɔıɹʇɔǝןǝ ǝɥʇ ɹo
'sɯɹoʇs puıʍ ɟo uoouɹǝʇɟɐ uɐ
'sɐʇıɹɐƃɹɐɯ ɟo ʇɥƃıu ɐ
ɹǝʇɟɐ ןǝǝɟ noʎ ʎɐʍ ǝɥʇ ɹoɟ˙˙˙

˙uʍop ǝpısdn ɹoɟ sı n

Friday, April 23, 2010

Setting The Trend (T)










The air was sweet as I walked outside
to get the mail,
our rural mailbox still a bit cockeyed
from a slight miscalculation
of the lawnmowers turn radius.
(Don't tell.)

Due to some extra daytime siestas-
(which some prefer to call naps)
I failed to fetch the daily mail
for a couple of days.

Yay! There was a magazine!
And a flimsy booklet of
money saving coupons.

I wasn't too excited about those.
It was usually a two dollar savings
on thirty dollar teeth-whitening strips,
or fifty cents off ten cans of cat food.

But as I went back inside the house
shuffling a thin stack of envelopes,
I paused where my daughter was
watching TV.

"Hmmmmm...." I said, turning over the
red envelope with careful examination.

"What?" my daughter Erin asked, "something for me?"

"Hmmmmm....," I said again. "Not sure....
It's addressed to The Household Trendsetter."

I saw her eyes start to roll.

"Would that be me?" I asked, poking a
stiff index finger in the middle of my heart,
"Or would that be you?"
I pointed toward Erin.

"Obviously, it's me,"Erin snorted, "because
just look at you!"

I glanced down at myself
and looked back at her with questions
in my eyes.

"What are you saying, Child? Is there
a problem with my outfit?"

"Mom. Seriously. What's with that
goofy sweater?

"It's warm,'" I tell her.

"Well, for one thing- it's purple.
No one wears that kind of purple...."

"It's magenta." I interrupt her.

"....There's a button missing,
it has a giant hole in the elbow and
it hangs on you funny," she informed me.
"Plus... those jeans haven't been in style
since Donna Summers was on the top ten
pop chart."

"Oh, Miss Smartie Pants, I guess you
would have me wearing something that
shows the crack of my butt every time
I bend over, or jeans that cost more than
our water heater!' I defended myself.

"And...," she added. "Who in the world wears
a tee shirt with a Crisco logo in the front?"

"It was free. With ten box tops.
Plus postage and handling." I told her.

Then she began studying me a bit closer.

"How long since you've had your hair done?
It's got that mullet-thing going on.
And I know that red and green toenail
polish is from Christmas!"

Cruel, cruel girl.

"Well, at least my toes are polished!"
I lashed back. "Your toes look like
Frodo's. And how can you possibly
call yourself a trendsetter when you're
still wearing slap bracelets!'

"Mom, "she said dryly. " It's not a slap bracelet.
It's an awareness bracelet."

"Well, apparently you aren't aware
that it doesn't match your top," I informed her.

"Doesn't have to. That's the trend nowadays, Mom.
I don't have to wear yellow socks with my
yellow hoodie, or carry a green purse with my green dress.
Things have changed since you crawled
out of your fashion-challenged cave."

"Turn that darn TV off! You've been watching
too much Stacy and Clinton or Orange Housewives
or whatever!"

About that time, Erin snatched the mail in question
from my fingertips.
She flips through it and hands it back in disgust.

I quickly glance at the inside cover model.

"Oh, look at that pretty purple sweater! I exclaim.

And I sing-song it all through the house
in my Donna Summer jeans
and tee shirt.
(Free tee shirt, may I remind you!)

I'm the Household Trendsetter.
Yes, indeed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Social Anxiety Disorder (S)























Reading blogs can be great entertainment.

It's always refreshing to hear about
someone's vacation adventures,
favorite recipes,
or views on life in general.

I usually strive to make people laugh-
or reflect.

But today I'm writing this blog
to inform.
To convey something that I feel
is very important.
Perhaps bringing it into the light
and sharing these facts,
can help someone in some small way.

Did you ever get upset and scared
whenever you had to make a speech
in high school?
Have you ever refused to leave the house
because you thought your hair,
or clothes, or your mood wasn't quite right?
Do you ever get depressed- blue-
or feel like no one cares?

Imagine feeling like that everyday-
for the rest of your life.

Social Anxiety Disorders affect
5.3 million Americans a year.
An anxiety disorder is characterized by
intense fear in social situations-
causing considerable distress and
impaired ability to function
in at least some parts of daily life.

Sometimes the fear can escalate
to the point of panic attacks.
Some people cannot hold a job,
go out in crowds,
or even feel comfortable in their own skin.

Those with Social Anxiety Disorder
often rely on drug abuse to cope
with this debilitating phobia.

Social Anxiety Disorder is often
difficult to diagnose because
there is no specific test to determine
this type of metal illness.

However, the American Psychiatric Association
uses the following criteria for determining
social disorders :

Criteria for social anxiety disorder to be diagnosed include:

  • A persistent fear of social situations in which you believe you may be scrutinized or act in a way that's embarrassing or humiliating
  • These social situations cause you a great deal of anxiety
  • You recognize that your anxiety level is excessive or out of proportion for the situation
  • You avoid anxiety-producing social situations
  • Your anxiety or distress interferes with your daily living
(Log on to :http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/
for further information.)

For those of us who lead a normal,
everyday life-
it can be challenging for us to imagine
how this can overtake someone's well being.
We tend to either ignore these people
or avoid them-
or convince them that they are crazy.

And what they need most of all is help.

In today's medical world,
there are a myriad of treatments
and medications for Social Anxiety Disorders.
Antidepressants, like Paxil;
tranquilizers (benzodiazepines),
such as Xanax, Librium, Valium, and Ativan
have all been used to reduce the symptoms
of this disease.

But there is no cure.

The best thing that we can do for
those that suffer from Social Anxiety Disorders
is to get them help.
Be persistent.
Encourage them to seek out
a qualified physician.

And don't allow medical professionals
to sweep the urgency of this under the rug-
to scoff it off with a shrug and a pill.

It is someone's life.

Bob's life touched ours
because he dated my daughter
for a year and a half.

Bob always knew there was something wrong.
He avoided crowds, social situations,
and suffered from depression.
He ended up doing his own research
after doctors neglected his pleas for help.

Bob, like many others with Social Anxiety Disorder,
managed to hide it fairly well.
Strangers would have thought he was shy
or simply quiet.

But we never know what aches
in the hearts and minds of others.
Therefore, every friend and stranger that you meet
should always be treated with utmost
care and concern.

I have composed a slide show about Bob
to impress on others that people suffering
from this type of illness try to lead ordinary lives.

But it is a fight.

One that Bob lost
by taking his own life last June.

I have his mother's permission to post this video,
in hopes that if it helps even one person,
then we will have succeeded in our struggle
to expose social disorders.

There are thousands of Bobs out there.
Maybe you know him.
Maybe you are him.

Please take the time to watch.
And if you are suffering today.
please get help now.














video

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Life-Be Kind. Please Rewind. (R)














Suppose you just found out
that your life had a rewind button...
that you could go back in time
with the press of a dial.

Where would you go?

If my life had rewind, I would go back to the time:

1. that my jean size was less than my shoe size
and I laid outside in a bikini all day,
sipping lemonade and writing poetry.

2. that I played Mrs. Goobeygob with my
brothers and sisters until the mosquitoes got us
or Mom called us in for the night.

3. that Barbies were the coolest, prettiest dolls
in the entire universe, even if they stayed naked
in a cardboard box most of the time.

4. that we all rode to St. Louis with Mom and Dad
and fought over who was going to sit on the "hump"
of my Dad's red and white Pontiac.

5. I didn't have wrinkles, stretchmarks, toe fungus,
hot flashes, gray hair or jowls.

6. that my mom rocked me to sleep.

7. that wishing on a star for Sparkle Paints was all
I wanted in the world.

8. that love was baked into chocolate cakes,
families shared meals, and prayers were heard in school.

9. that my dad donned his tan beret and scurried to eat
at the smorgasbord- salivating over the
ham and beans and stewed tomatoes.

10. that getting a dollar bill from my Aunt Jane
in a birthday card was exciting.

11. that my baby children would look up at me
while nursing- their milky faces smiling in perfect joy.

12. when anorexia and exposed cleavage were
not the ideals of teenage girls.

13. when TV was funny, entertaining, and free.

14. when you knew your neighbors
and weren't afraid of strangers.

15. that I first met my husband- the electricity and
chemistry all colliding into a big bomb of love.

16. that my sister Barb was alive and we were
laughing over a yard sale find or chatting on the phone.

17. that I didn't care what kind of car I drove, jeans I wore,
or house I lived in.

18. that there was only a handful of breakfast cereal,
toothbrushes and light bulbs to choose from.

19. that my kids thought I was beautiful and wise.

20. that I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up
and wasn't afraid of change.

21. that a ten cent Snow cone on a hot summer day
was the ultimate in selfish luxury and complete contentment.

22. that my mom and I loaded up in the old 64 Chevy pickup
and went to town every Friday for groceries.

23. when people didn't need pills to make them skinny,
help them sleep, or alleviate their "feelings".

24. when teachers, adults, government officials
and the elderly were respected.

25. when I knew innocence, the beauty of nature,
the love of family, and the certainty that everything
was going to be okay.

Now... about pushing that Fast Forward button...

Let's not.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Quiet World (Q)

3428882996_8256cafd82

Sometimes I feel alone in this world.

Voiceless.

Detached.

While the crowds around me chatter and mumble, I keep to my path.

I simply smile and follow the road to peace and quiet-

open that huge, loud door and step into a cloud of silence.

I like it there.

My ears rest.

My voice relaxes.

My mind breathes in soft, slow rhythm.

In my quiet world, I can hear bird songs-their musical language like a hypnotizing chant- the flutter of gray wings and the gentle tapping of their beaks on scattered seeds…

In my quiet world, I know the difference between the wind rustling in the maples and it whistling through the pine boughs.

I listen to the beat of the water upon the pond bank, the iridescent ripples kissing the cattails with steady strokes.

I can hear the honeysuckled breeze tickle the wind chimes,

the black crow cawing over the freshly turned pasture,

a distant dog barking for an overdue treat.

In my quiet world,

I am in tune with the moonlight,

the sunlight,

the splatter of rain drops on thirsty clover.

I hear my own heart,

my hidden melody,

my beckoning dreams.

Sometimes my quiet world is so deafening

that I am overwhelmed by its miracles.

And that is when my soul writes…

-finds an unobtrusive voice

and shouts without sound.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

You Ought To Have An Ottoman (O)

footstool

One of the most misunderstood pieces of furniture in American homes today is the ottoman.

Probably because it has a strange name that conjures up images of exotic sultans or a pudgy looking butler.

Neither hassock or tuffet are any better names for indicating the versatility and usefulness of this quaint living room accessory.

I like to refer to these puffs of comfort as footstools, although they serve utilitarian purposes for every facet of family life.

My footstool might sometimes be used as a butt stool. It is always a light weight and easily available source of seating when unexpected company arrives.

On frequent occasions, my ottoman has been mistaken for a newspaper or magazine rack, suddenly hidden beneath the debris of reading material to the point of virtual obscurity.

Ottomans are ideal places for using serving trays. Their usually flat surface and low stature make a great place to serve coffee and cookies to lazy guests, or a platter of cheesy nachos to the guys on game day.

Some ottomans even have the added bonus of a hinged lid, which makes a perfect hiding place for the TV guide and six remotes -and cleverly helps to lessen the eyesore of various clutter.

Some ottomans have cute stubby legs. Others have gathered skirts or even ruffles.

Some are tall. Some short.

Square, round, rectangular and triangular.

Ottomans run rampant in style and size.

I happen to own one of those ottomans that look like a fat block of heavy upholstery. It never rarely gets vacuumed under.

Of course, there are many things that can be substituted for an ottoman.

A stack of unused encyclopedias, old suitcases, a pile of pillows and the dog.

Outside ottomans can smartly be crafted from log stumps, lawn chairs, discarded tires and picnic coolers.

Just as long as it supports your feet in a comfortable and relaxing way, any object may serve as a makeshift ottoman.

Sofas and love seats and sectionals have all had their day in the sun. Even Lazy-Boys have been the most-wanted craze in the furniture industry for awhile.

Well, I think it’s time to praise the ottoman.

I think it should be on the top of every wish list and shopping agenda.

You will thank yourself later when it’s time to sit back and relax and rest your tired feet.

Nothing says comfort or home quite like this essential piece of furniture.

You really ought to have an ottoman!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Nose Knows (N)

 

This morning while taking out the trash-
that consisted of burnt fish grease,
some gangrene-colored ham,
a rotten potato,
and the remnants of some
really-good-spaghetti-gone-bad-
I realized that smells
are a giant part of our lives.

It all starts when we're born.
Somehow that smell of our mama
is so special
that we reject most other people's
attempt to cradle us.


And at the point where we start
eating food,
we already know by the smell
that we do not want the
organic creamed peas with
tender carrot chunks-

and if we are forcibly fed
such a putrid concoction-
we will either puke it up
or throw it against the wall.


If it wasn't for our sense of smell,
mothers would have a hard time
managing the personal hygiene of
their infants.


Other than the fact that the kid is
semi-hidden behind the Little Tykes
princess castle
grunting like a Sasquatch
and turning a funny shade of red,
how would anyone know that
it's time for a diaper change?


Again, it's that gift of smell
that leads us to look down to find
the flowing diarrhea pooling dangerously close
to the TV remote.


If it wasn't for the smell-
who knows how long it would be
before a busy mom starts to
change the TV channel
and realizes that it can't be
pudding on her hands.

Because they haven't had any pudding lately-
She takes a whiff and then says - “Oh, I bet the baby pooped.”


If you think about it,
smell can actually lead us to our life mate.

When I was dating, I personally found
that kissing a guy who just had
a Big Mac with extra onions
to be totally unattractive.

And anyone who came near me
whose mother had smothered his
winter coat in mothballs,
might as well get lost.


I can almost remember knowing
exactly how my husband's skin smelled
when we met.

It was musky and manly and
made just for me.

It's difficult to pin point it now
because our smells have fused
together into one.

I think that happens when you're
in love.

The seasons all have their unique smells,too.

In Spring, we love the smell
of daffodils and lilacs
and the sweet air after a rain.


In Summer, it's the freshly mowed grass,
the odor of a chlorinated pool,
the earthy dirt of an upturned garden.

In fall, it's the sassafras and cut hay
and pumpkin pie.

Winter brings us sugar cookie smells
and the essence of pine and spice and
gingerbread.


If food didn't smell so wonderful,
I have a sneaky suspicion
that we'd all be thin and healthy.


We'd choose water to drink
over the double chocolate cappuccino
with chocolate sprinkles and
mountain of whipped cream.


We would have tofu and granola
over a grilled cheeseburger
with extra special sauce.

Our nose would know no difference
in the expired milk or the new jug-


between a fart cloud and cotton candy,


between last weeks lunch meat
or the fresh bologna.


Yeah, I started thinking about smells
when I tackled that darn trash bag
and wrestled it out the door
and into the garage.


And suddenly...
I am starting to get
a funny whiff of …

...a rotten fish…

or ...

a...

puff of B-O-ish type fragrance...

…that might possibly be
what has soaked the entire left side
of my pajama pants.

Good thing I can smell.

Because how else would I know
that it's time to take a shower?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mama's Hands (M)



Even though the years have passed,
I recall my Mama's hands then-
The tiny lines so deeply pressed

into her leathered skin.


Age and time and work had left
their memories behind.
I studied well
the hands so frail
that she cradled within mine.


I thought her old- (although she wasn't)-
But I felt sorry, none the less,
That she had the hands
that held the scars

Of too much time and stress.


Now that I'm no longer young,
I see the years take hold-
Time and pain and memories-
Like clay, my hands they mold.


But time passes in a silent way
that no one understands.
I suddenly looked at myself today-

I have my Mama's hands.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Light My Fire (L)

gas

 

We were blessed to live in the country when we were children.

There was always something to do.

A winding creek to wade in on a hot day, wild blackberries to pick for pies, and lots of trees and bushes and barns to make hide and seek more gratifying.

Having lots of brothers and sisters may have made for frequent sibling rivalry, but it also made for some great team work.

And there was seldom a dull moment.

We had a big lot on the north side of the house where Dad had experimented with gardens and miraculous growing shade trees- and even a whiffle ball field.

A couple of times a year, he would burn it off instead of mowing it.

I remember him taking the rusty metal gas can and his trusty Zippo and setting the side yard on fire with a poof and a whoosh.

And then he would stand there and guard it- careful not to let the flames lick up too high or crawl across onto the neighbor’s property.

A quick thump of a shovel or the claw of a rake seemed to keep it all in check, as us kids watched this fun, new game.

My little brother Tim must have been about eight or nine then , and apparently very impressionable.

Because a few weeks later, he decided that the yard needed another dose of incineration.

Now, don’t think for a moment that my mom was not a good mother.

She watched him as well as she could, considering there were probably seven of us fully active at that time.

I assume that one of the older kids was supposed to be keeping an eye on Timmy, but was distracted by something a bit more interesting than a bratty little boy.

My mom went flying out the door with a rug and an apron, trying to suffocate the flames before they reached the tree line.

Her face was full of terror as she kept pushing the soft sweaty hair from her forehead between the forceful pounding of the kitchen rug.

Luckily, a few neighbors noticed the inferno and came running over to help.

By evening, the yard was just a charred black canvas of smoke and ash.

(And Timmy’s butt may have been a little uncomfortable to sit on for a few days.)

But, that experience didn’t stop him.

Mom caught him frequently with stolen matches and even spotted him sniffing the gasoline can on occasion.

Once he had a semi-drunken conversation with the neighbor girl Mary after a giant whiff of fumes-

and Mary was no where around.

Mom witnessed it all from the kitchen window.

I suppose when Dad got home, there was a serious discussion, because somehow my parents immediately succeeded in putting a halt to Tim’s pyromaniac tendencies.

Thankfully the whole fascination with fire was nipped in the bud -or else who knows where Tim would be today.

But somewhere amid all our childhood memories, we always remember the day that Tim caught the side yard on fire.

I think because we were all secretly glad that it wasn’t us who was going to meet Dad’s wrath.

There were lots of ball games and races on that side yard in the years to come.

Until we all grew up…

and moved away.

*******************************************

L is also for Linda.

My sister and best friend. My confidant. My drinking buddy. My source of laughter. My pal, my judge, my counselor…my teacher, my tutor, my partner in crime…

Happy Birthday, Linda!

I love you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Kitchen Table (K)




I think everyone in the world
should have a kitchen table.

It doesn't have to be large
or fancy
or even comfortable.

It just has to be a welcome spot.
An anchor.
A haven where families can retreat
after a hard day at work
or school
or play.

I remember the kitchen table of my childhood
better than any other piece of furniture that we had.

The big chrome legs
were a metal forest to hide in
when my brothers
were chasing me with a bug.

The red and gray vinyl chairs
made great ladders-
and a perfect perch to watch mom
mix cake batter.

The red Formica top
with it's little silver swirls
was an ideal spot
to stretch out with poster paper
and a box of crayons-
or thick yellow Play-Dough
and a wooden rolling pin.

But sometimes the kitchen table
was a place for adults only.
Days when old relatives
or church people came-
and us kids were shooed off
to play on the swing set.

My dad would always spring for
Dixie Cream Donuts-
placing that fragrant blue and white checked box
in the middle of the kitchen table-
the jelly donuts inside
oozing with sweetness-
our mouths watering for dessert-
our little hearts hoping
there would be plenty of leftovers
once the adults had their fill.

And there always was...

The kitchen table became a hub
of hot, black cups of coffee.
A place of sharing and friendship.
Where there was the
clink of spoons in the sugar bowl.
The fog of cigarette smoke.
The heartiness of laughter.

Dad had his very own chair at the head of the table
and we would sit all around him at meal time
and watch him press cold pats of butter into grape jam-
spreading it on Mom's famous canned biscuits.

We respected him and loved him
and knew that rude behavior would not be tolerated
at the kitchen table-
or anywhere else, for that matter.

The kitchen table was a magnet we were drawn to.
A safe place where we shared stories and dreams.
Where we released our joys and our tears.
Where we spoke of the past and the future.

Where we knew- without a doubt-
that we belonged.

The kitchen table held tender roast and potatoes
every Sunday afternoon-
and maybe a pineapple cake afterward.

And I remember platters of pork chops,
bowls of tomato soup,
thick slices of fried Blue Bell bologna
slapped on fresh, white bread.

And Mom's quirky French Toast,
dipped in egg and corn flakes
and butter fried till crispy.
I still love it that way now.

We were never hungry.
Neither physically, emotionally
or spiritually.

Our kitchen table was a circle of love.
A meeting place where family bonds
were forged and founded.

A place where we finger painted
and polished shoes-
and bowed our heads to pray.

The kitchen table was our heartbeat.
Our refuge.
Our place of contentment.

I can still feel the cool surface of the table top-
the smiles of my brothers and sisters-
the affection between my parents...

and the treasure of growing up loved
around the kitchen table.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jars of Light (J)


















I remember a time when summers were forever.
When those three months between school terms
stretched out like a slow motion movie...
...when time gathered into a bundle of memories
that is eternally tied up inside my heart like velvet ribbons...

Those days are like a childhood clock that is still ticking-
Like a faint pulse that forever whispers of hazy days gone by-
and crisp blue nights beneath the wishing stars.

When my heart travels back to a favorite time,
it always stops to savor my years as a young child.
Maybe eight...ten...
An age when the world was a giant playground.
When colors were vibrant and flowing...
Days were soft and cocoon-like...
And nights were heavy with the orchestra of crickets...

My sister Linda and I would stay out late
on those sultry summer nights-
the freshly mowed grass sticking to our bare feet
in a wet mixture of dew and dust,
our long hair tangled from the honey-suckled breeze-
and our clothes smelling of sweet sweat.

In that immense world of darkened sky,
there were tiny points of light...
flashing miracles that teased us into following...
glowing fireflies that seized our attention
and amazed our learning minds.

It was our favorite summer game-
to gather jars of light...
to capture the fireflies and make them our own.

We would poke holes in the rusty tin lid
with a stolen hammer and a crooked nail,
carefully making breathing holes
for our twinkling bugs.

And later, it would glow under our bedsheets
like a yellow-green fog-
and fill us with peaceful slumber.

Sometimes we were cruel.
(Without meaning to, of course.)

We would gently squeeze
the throbbing bellies of light
and pinch them off
in a pop and a trail of slime.
We would stick them to our fingers and wrists
to make glow-in-the-dark jewelry
that eventually faded and fell off
before the night was over.

In my adulthood,
I am still an audience of the fireflies.
I am still captured by their flicks
of silent light-
still amazed at their patterns
above the clover fields
and across the moon...

I often dream about each firefly
making it's own tune.
Blinks of musical notes
that would all combine in the night air
into a symphony of glorious sounds.

And I think to myself
how enchanting it would be
if they each were a different color.
Then spots of purple, blue, red,
green, and pink lights
would cover the sky
like splashes of radiant paint.

But I will settle for the way they are...
for their innocence and beauty everlasting.

I will always be content with my memories
of those lost summers-
that still glow inside my heart
like a silent jar of light.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Imaginary Friends (I)


This entry was previously posted to my blog last year, but I'm utilizing it today since I normally take Saturday's off. I didn't want to be alphabetically out of sync! Have a great weekend!




A few months ago, while I was
flipping channels,
I ran across the old black and white
version of the movie "Harvey".

It's the story of Elwood P. Dowd
and his imaginary friend Harvey-
who happened to be giant white rabbit.

Although Harvey seemed to
constantly get Elwood into
sticky predicaments,
there was a bond of sweetness
and trust between them.

This reminded me of my girls
when they were little-
of a time when they both
adopted imaginary friends.

Yet, their invisible companions
were not giant rabbits-
but other little girls
that were elfish and ornery
in character
and became the scapegoat
for every bad thing that
was ever done in our household.

After cleaning house one morning,
I was angry to find all the
couch cushions piled up in
the middle of the floor.

"Okay, guys- who did this?
I'm trying to clean!"

Becca replied, "D.B."
Erin said, "Beckle."

And so, for months,
D.B. and Beckle took full
responsibility for spilled milk,
muddy shoes,
fights,
and outrageous misbehavior.

Luckily, D.B. and Beckle
were short-lived-
and one day they simply
ceased to exist.

Studies have shown that
65% of children have had
an imaginary friend by
the age of 7.

Twenty-seven percent of
the children studied
described an imaginary friend
that their parents did not know about.

Fifty-seven percent of the imaginary
companions of school-age
youngsters were humans
and 41 percent were animals.

One little girl had inherited her
imaginary friend from her older brother.
When the boy had started school,
he told his mother about a
little girl named "Margarine"
who had helped him get through
the scary first day of preschool.

He talked so convincingly
and with such vivid description,
that the mother thought Margarine
was a real little girl -
until she tried to
contact her parents to thank them.

Margarine became part of
the family stories and lore-
so much, that she eventually followed
the younger sister to school.

Most children lose their imaginary friends
by the age of twelve and experts
feel that it is not unhealthy
unless it exists into adulthood.

Invisible friends that
continue into adulthood may
signal a serious psychological disorder.

(Ya' think?)

One such adult tried to
sell his imaginary friend on eBay.
This guy's imaginary friend was
named Jon Malipieman.

The man that sold Jon lived in the UK

and said that he was selling his invisible pal

because he felt like he had out grown him.

In the listings for the product the seller
stated the following:
“My imaginary friend Jon Malipieman
is getting too old for me now.
I am now 27 and I feel I am
growing out of him.
He is very friendly.
Along with him, I will send you
what he likes and dislikes along
with his favorite things to do and
his personal self portrait.”

His self portrait is the picture
you see above.
Amazingly Jon Malipieman got 31 bids
and ended up selling for over $3,000 dollars.

If you ask me,
that's pretty good money
for a lot of nothing.

Hmmmmm....
that got me to thinking...
I wonder what D.B and Beckle
would sell for!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Home (H)




H
ome is the house
whose smell you memorize-
whose familiar sweetness
seeps into the woodwork
and saturates the walls
with fragrant memories.

Home is the smell of
Christmas cookies
and maple bacon...
of sauerkraut and cinnamon toast...
of pungent garlic-
or lilacs-
or lemon fresh Lysol.

Home is the house
where your key fits in the lock
like a perfectly tuned instrument...
where the Welcome mat hugs your feet...
a place where the door opens
and the lights shine -
and the kitchen table is
an old friend.

Home is the house
where there are musical sounds-
like the hum of the fridge.
the gurgle of the coffee pot-
the incessant drip of the bathtub faucet.

Home is the sound of peaceful snoring,
uninhibited laughter,
shared sorrows,
and giant hopes.

Home is the place
where the comfiest chair
is molded to your shape,
the bed yields to your weariness,
and the fridge abounds with goodness.

Home is the place
where your roots run as deep
as the oak tree by the drive,
where you bloom like a flower,
soar like a bird,
fit like a glove...

Home is the place
you are drawn to...
that whispers to you
at the end of a long journey.
It's the place that speaks
of sanity
and solace
and sincerity.
It knows your language-
and it understands your silence.

Home is the house
that approves of bare feet,
elbows on the dinner table,
cobwebs in the corner,
and pizza crumbs on the sheets.

Home accepts imperfections,
impulses
and indiscretions.
It will catch you when you fall,
cushion you when you stumble,
encourage you
when you're disheartened.

Home is the place
of family videos,
scrapbooks on the coffee table,
and photos on the walls.

It is volleyball on the lawn...
Scrabble on the floor...
cartoons blaring so loudly
that the windows shake.

Home is the place
where your pets greet you
with a slobbery kiss,
your laundry smells like a mountain spring,
and the coffee is as smooth
as melted chocolate.

Home is the place
that you never outgrow...
that never forsakes you...
that always embraces you.

Home is where there's
a pile of shoes by the door,
lunch meat in the crisper,
and Popsicles in the freezer.

It's a place of impromptu omelets,
midnight snacks,
crooked chocolate cakes,
and chicken and dumplings.

Home is the place
where you're not afraid to cry-
not too timid to laugh,
and never too pretentious to pray.

Home is your skin-
it's your blanket...
your cave of contentment.
It's your umbrella,
your life saver...
your utopia...
your paradise...
It's your water wings-
your oxygen...
your net
and your perfection.

Home is a bowl of funny,
a plate of passion,
a pitcher of pride
and a cup of grace.

It's a spoonful of laziness,
a pinch of boredom,
a sprinkle of habit
and a platter of peace.

Home is the diary
where you write your life...
where every single day
is a secret treasure,
an adventure,
a humble story-
and a bountiful bouquet of love.

Home is the place
you run to at the end of a long day,
the place you dream of when you're awake
and escape to when you are burdened.

It's your compass...
your lighthouse...
your base...
your very heart and soul.

It's the place
where you kick off your shoes,
loosen your tie,
and throw aside your troubles.

It's where you stop.

Slow down.

And
breathe...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.....

GourdLady (G)


I've always dabbled a little with pen and paint,
but a few years ago, I saw some painted gourds
at a town craft fair and thought to myself,
"I can do that."

The designs were simple.
Smiling Santas with protruding bellies.
Southwestern vases,
bird houses,
flowered bowls,
and long necked geese.

So...
I went to the local orchard
and bought a trunk load of gourds.
But I wanted to do something
different than the folksy yard art
that I had witnessed.

And this is what happened:





So,
if I'm not blogging,
I might be "gourding"....
But- chances are-
I'm probably napping!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Flashback (F)


I look out on the pond now-
the grass is starting to creep up
around the muddy banks
in tufts of green bouquets.

A gentle breeze blows sweetly,
making silver ripples on the water
that disappear beneath the old dock
which surrendered to the
elements long ago.

I seems like only yesterday that
you were my baby boy-
that I held your hand securely
as we walked around the pond
searching for little frogs
and glistening dragonflies
that fluttered toward the clouds.

Then you grew old enough
to run ahead of me-
Strong enough to bait a hook-
delighting in the snap of fish on the water-
dipping your bamboo pole into the sunlit pond-
hoping for a giant bass
or a slick, gray catfish.
I applauded from my lawn chair-
clapping with praise as your eyes grew wide
and the smile overtook your smooth, pink face
in utter joy.
Then we'd celebrate with soda and chips,
making sure to capture a photo
to show Dad later.

Then the time came
when I merely watched from
the kitchen window-
now seeing a growing boy
whose catch was not announced with a scream,
but with a slight wave toward the house-
and a quick release of writhing scales
back into the water.

Later, I saw reflections of a man-    
as he walked around the pond
in thoughtful meditation-
secretly counting dragonflies
and considering the passing of time.,,

...a young man who has come to know
that life is not just an idyllic pond,
but an immense ocean of continuous wonder.

It is like a dream I watch-
fast forwarding...
rewinding...
savoring its bittersweet memory
like a familiar song.

I smile when my ears
remember your youthful laughter-
when my arms still feel your little boy hug-
and my eyes forever see
that adventurous, generous, and loving son
that I remain proud of...
...that I love immensely
with this old sentimental
heart of mine.

Today the pond overflows
with last nights rain-
bursts with fireworks of green wonder.
I look out the window-
half expecting to see you out there fishing.

But today there are only shadows
that the sun makes.    

And dragonflies that flutter
toward the clouds.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Electrolysis 101 (E)



While standing in line
at the grocery store the other day,
I couldn't help but notice the straggly beard
of the customer in front of me.

I'm not judgmental,
but let's get real here.

It was a woman.

Apparently blind.
Or tweezer challenged.
And obviously oblivious
to the chin hairs
that protruded from her face
like a porcupine in heat.

I just wanted to wrestle her to the floor
and pluck those babies-
and be done with all the nonsense.

But instead,
I decided to channel my disgust
in a more constructive manner.

I have written a little primer
for all women who may be
teetering on the edge of
Testosterone Valley
or ascending Menopause Mountain.

I'm here to share a bit of it
with you nice folks today.

 Chapter One: FEMALE FACIAL HAIR

Even if you are fifty-something, living in a twenty-something world on a thirty-something budget, mourning your forty-something years- there comes a time when you must look in the mirror and realize that middle age has arrived. 
And while you are contemplating those crows feet and laugh lines, please check the chin area for stray eyebrows that incredibly descend to the lower face area without prior warning.
DO NOT ignore them.
Even if they are so tiny that you need to utilize your ten-times- magnification-mirror, you must eradicate them before they blossom into a full blown beard.
Years Months of experience has taught me that a chin hair can be
soft and microscopic one day, and as strong and as long as twenty pound fishing line the next.
Don't let their innocence fool you. No good will come of chin hairs left unchecked.

Chapter Two: PLUCKING
As with any job done well, the proper tools must be utilized in order to obtain successful results. It is best not to cut corners here if you value your health and safety.
Many women, in a state of panic, tend to use the first thing available as a plucker. This is totally unacceptable. And often times dangerous.
Believe me, ladies, I am sharing this with you, based on first hand experience.

DO NOT use pliers. 
Even though they may seem larger and more durable than the Tweezerman tweezers, their brute force and  blunt nose can inflict large wounds and gaping, bleeding sores that only call more attention to that particular area.

DO NOT use cigarette lighters.
Even though a butane lighter seems to work well on rope and fishing line, it is not the tool for ridding yourself of facial hair. Third degree burns can occur, along with elimination of perfectly good eyebrows and lovely lashes.

The booklet goes on to describe first hand accounts for learning purposes:

Once when I was in the ladies dressing room trying on clothes, I glanced at myself in the mirror and noticed a chin hair that was long enough to use as a scarf. I was terrified and embarrassed! How long had that ginormous hair been there? How had it not strangled me in the middle of the night?
Being the stupid resourceful woman that I am, I rummaged hysterically through my purse for something that would amputate my newly-formed hairy third arm.
All I had was a lighter.
Click. 
Click. 
Swoooooooossssshhhhhhhh! On came the sprinkler system!
I suppose it wasn't difficult to pinpoint the perpetrator by the large blister on my chin.
A really nice looking young policeman escorted me to the station while I attempted to hide the blister- with hair follicle still intact- beneath my turtleneck.
After much paperwork, interrogation and intimidation, I was finally released with a warning.

"You're free", the cop said to me, escorting me to the door.

"Free
You say I'm free?" I exclaimed. 
"How can any woman with chin hairs ever really be free?!"
 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Days of Deliverance (D)


A few years ago,
our entire family somehow
got hooked on camping.

Oh, yeah-
it all looks so adventurous
and romantic on TV.

A sweet RV,
moonlit nights around the fire...
singing Koom-By-Ya
and wading through a crystal clear stream
to pick fresh, plump blackberries
or throw in a fishing line,
wriggling with live bait.

But,
just as most things in our family,
we did camping differently.
The normal and more modern way
would be too easy...
too forgettable...
too...well..too normal.

While most families were spending
their summer vacations at the Best Western
or on a clean, peach-colored beach-
we were somewhere deep in the woods-
where no one but Bigfoot dared to tread.

With my husband in charge of the packing inventory,
you would have thought we were blazing a trail
across the country
instead of spending two nights
in the forests of Missouri.

Besides a tent, sleeping bags and cooking utensils,
we loaded the truck with the weed eater, chainsaw,
gasoline, oil, 4-wheeler, air mattress, pillows,
two full-sized coolers, a shovel, rake, gun,
charcoal, firewood,
fishing poles, buckets,
lawn chairs, groceries,camera -
and everything else (besides the kitchen sink)
that might become necessary
within our 48 hour excursion.

I will admit-
it was a bit exciting at first.
The fresh air,
the cool river,
the taste of hot dogs over an open fire,
the smell of burning wood-
the pleasure of a tiny sunburn,
the comfort of a relaxing getaway.

But- here again-
my family couldn't just pick
a cute little campsite
next to fellow outdoorsmen
where a bag of chips
and a bathroom
were within running distance.
(And in my case,
that would be about ten feet.)

No.
We trekked ten miles into the woods
where no one could hear you scream
if by chance wild bears came to drag you off
or a tall pine tree fell on your tent.

No.
We had to be somewhere
that was so dark at night that you
couldn't see your hand in front of your face.
A place where there were giant mosquitoes,
huge lizards,
deadly leeches
and ticks as big as Volkswagens.

...And you had to go uphill
through the poison ivy trail
to poop in a muddy hole.

What seemed like adventure
turned sour quickly.

The days passed like molasses...

I read my magazines three times,
memorized War and Peace,
braided a full size rug
with cattails,
scaled thirty two catfish,
and ruined nearly two dozen
perfectly good marshmallows.

I lost sleep.
I laid awake listening to barn owls
and chatting raccoons-
fluttering bats
and slithering snakes,
coyotes and wolves
and something that kept humming
like a flying saucer.

I was bitten,
bruised,
blistered and bored.
I was beaten by the elements.

I was zombie-fied.

By the second afternoon
all I could do was sit in my
broken aluminum lawn chair
and babble something about
a real toilet and hot shower.
My eyes were fixed and dialated.
My crazy half-smile froze permanently.
I rocked myself gently...
oh, so gently.

Even on the last night of our journey-
when I heard dueling banjos in the distance,
I was too tired to care.
I was in Deliverance country-
what did I expect?

Luckily,
my family outgrew camping.
We phased it out along with
organic gardening,
roller blading,
and kite flying.

But the scars remain.
The sound of banjos haunt me to this day,
the smell of Off gives me goosebumps,
and the word "camping" makes me vomit.

But, I think I'm really in trouble now, people.
My family wants to take up para sailing!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oh,Captain, My Captain ! (C)

I am taking my first cruise very soon,    
and I thought it not only necessary-
but also psychologically therapeutic-
to personally address the ship captain
with my concerns.
Here is a copy of the letter
that I am forwarding to him.

Dear Captain,

Although I have been assured that you are very experienced in the mastery of high seas sailing, I cannot help but be reminded of a good friend named Skipper who was also misled into believing his nautical skills were beyond reproach.

You and I both know this is not a simple three hour tour, so I fully expect that you have made all the crucial arrangements in case of a possible unplanned land collision.

First off, make sure there are no Gingers aboard. I have an aversion to beautiful Botox bombshells  with fake beauty marks and the rare talent of walking on sand perfectly in high heels. My husband has shown no weaknesses in the roving-eye department, but why even provide that temptation? I'm just saying.

Secondly, I prefer not to be stranded with someone as wholesome and goody-goody as Mary Ann. Contrary to popular belief, there are still women like her out there in this world- and their syrupy sweetness is enough to make the pope gag. I seriously feel as though I could not stomach the gingham, hair bows, and permanent positive attitude for any length of time. So please plan your manifest accordingly.

I wouldn't mind being shipwrecked with someone like Professor What's-His-Name , but could you please make him look like George Cloony or Gerard Butler? And it would also be advantageous if he could cook like Emeril, build like Bob Villa, swim like Flipper and entertain like Brian Reagan.

Most importantly, please inform all millionaires to leave their money in the bank, and instead bring more essential items in their luggage. Such as: Coffee and coffee maker, flat screen TV, 300 thread count sheets, expensive shampoo and blow dryer, (and- if you fear the deserted island may become our new home- please supply Clairol #9 Super Blond hi-gloss, moisturizing  hair coloring), ipods, cells, magazine subscriptions, laptops, sunscreen(of course), q-tips, floss- and a treasure chest of chocolate bars.

Lastly, please forewarn all passengers with the name Gilligan, that they will be forcefully and premeditated-ly drowned at sea before reaching the sandy shoreline.

In addition,all cruisers with the name of Locke, Jack, Sawyer, and Kate are to be avoided and ignored at all costs. We can't afford to be Lost.


In the unfortunate occurrence that there are not a sufficient number of lifeboats, I want to remind you that the captain does go down with the ship. So mark your position accordingly.


I sincerely hope our journey will be a safe and memorable one. I just wish we weren't sailing on Carnival's newest ship- the S.S. Minnow. I totally have concerns.

Here's to smooth sailing. Bon Voyage!













Friday, April 2, 2010

Breaking Bread (B)



Easter Sunday is just another
chance for my family to declare
that cooking is not my forte'.

Although everything I cook
is quite edible and often tasty-
I have never been one of those super moms
who can fry pretty eggs,
bake a beautiful cherry pie,
or create a casserole that
can make you lick your lips.

My favorite cooking tools are
the can opener
and the microwave-
Both of which my family
frowns upon
and adamantly assures me that
Rachel Ray would not approve of.

I suppose I may have been denied
a few of those cooking genes
that my grandma possessed.

She was a wonderful cook.
A large Slavic woman
who always wore a dress and an apron-
and whose pale skin was
as sweet and as doughy
as the bread she kneaded daily.

My fondest memory of my grandma
is her bending over the oven
and pulling out a tray of hot, brown bread...
Loaves as big as an arm
and as comforting as love.

All the years I spent in
grandma's kitchen
and bread is the only thing I remember.
(Oh-
and cinnamon donuts from Schnuck's grocery.)

But grandmas house smelled of bread.
Sweet, solid slices of yumminess.
It was a part of the woodwork-
and the fabric-
and the soul of the family.

It was satisfying and savory.
A heritage and a tradition.
Perfect and pleasing-
grandmas bread
was greedily consumed
at every meal.

I suppose I should go on with the story.
About how I accidentally found out
that I didn't inherit my grandma's
bread cooking skills.

It was in the first year or two
of being a new bride.
I was still starstruck and invincible-
eager to please and willing to go the extra mile
to please my darling husband.

One day he requested bread.
Whole wheat bread.
Good, healthy,
Mother Earth News Says It's Great For You bread.

I smiled.
Piece of cake.
A given.
Easy Peasey.

I had often been told how I
resembled my grandma-
so it was only logical
that her baking talent
had been passed down to me also.


I had video daydreams
of those flawless loaves of bread
being snatched from the oven.
Oh...The praise!
The glory!


Well, I decided that to be whole wheat
it would have to be totally whole wheat
which apparently makes the bread heavy and dense.

Apparently.

So heavy, in fact,
that even our sharpest kitchen knife
could barely skim the surface.
It turned out being
a giant, brown, mishaped blob
of baked concrete.

Being the sweetheart that he was is,
my husband assured me that it
wouldn't be wasted.
I blushed with the thought
that he would eat it anyway-
simply to avoid hurting my feelings.

But instead of bringing out the butter,
he headed for the tool box
and proceeded to hammer a nail
through the firm rump my petrified prize.

"The birds will love it", he said,
adding a piece of string
and tying it from the porch rafter.

I am not sure if I laughed
or I cried,
but I knew for certain
from that day forward-
that bread baking was positively
not my legacy.

For several years later
we noticed wild birds
with broken, craggy beaks-
and even the woodpeckers
could not invade
the impenetrable force field
of my whole wheat wonder.
They suffered disturbing mutations
and distorted peckers beaks.


Well, that's my story.
Gotta go now and run errands.
Buying a nice ham,
fresh asparagus,
and some sweet corn.

Oh-
and of course I'm making
a special trip to the bakery.

Happy, blessed Easter!