Monday, December 31, 2007
The cooks are baking resolutions
That taste like nasty convolutions
So long delayed the restitutions
So why not work with substitutions?
The chastening powder of firm resolve
Is granular—it won’t dissolve,
But I’m not lost in futile time
I’m busy, busy, mixing rhyme.
I’ll cook ’08 with slack protraction
And a gentle fold of interaction
I’ll blend and whip into distraction
A sweeter batter of abstraction.
And this is how the mix is done —
With tone of nature, blaze of sun,
With reflux of nostalgic lime,
A bit of sage, a dash of thyme.
That is how you bake ’08
And then you serve it on a plate!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Christmas comes in a flash, and as quickly as it comes it is gone. The cessation of all the action can catch one off-guard like a brutal slap in the face. One moment we are reveling in the excitement and the next we are faced with somber isolation and quiet nothingness.
The shock often brings tears. Tears that are difficult to allay. And even more difficult to understand. But even at that, you and I both know it can happen to any of us – from the youngest to the oldest.
My childhood Christmases were always good though the gifts few. There were generally three gifts in keeping with the number of gifts brought to the Christ Child by the Magi. For me there was a toy, a craft, and new socks, warm bloomers, or a toque.
But my craft gift was more important than the more expensive toy-gift that served to fill an indulgent desire. There was healing to be found for me in the knitting spool, beads, string-art, or paint box and for my brother in a Mechano Set (a precursor of Leggo), modeling clay, copper-tooling or a clock repair kit.
Those craft kits had a vital role to play during the Christmas Season. When the festivities so abruptly ended, they let us down gently. Always, after Christmas, the sudden quiet made me anxious and sad, and that’s when I would curl into a cozy ball in a corner with my craft gift and paint, color, or stitch away until I had emotionally, but imperceptibly, readjusted once again to a normal life and simple existence.
The other thing I remember about childhood Christmases was how, among my three customary gifts, I always had a favorite. With so few it was easy to pick a favorite and the favorite was so special I couldn’t let it out of sight for a moment. That one special thing I hugged to my breast with heart-searing fondness. That special thing came to bed with me, to the dinner table with me, and stood hard by in a visible place when I was doing other activities. Don’t you remember the dump-truck that came to bed and dinner with you? Or the baking set, the egg-laying chicken, the magic whistle, or the paint box? I do.
And so that brings me to this Christmas. My neighbor and I agreed several years ago that we would rally in good cheer one evening during the Christmas Season, rather than exchange gifts. In seemed a much easier fulfillment of duty, without rigid obligation. But didn’t that same neighbor show up on Christmas Eve with a package for me? I reminded her of our agreement.
She responded by saying, “There is no obligation, Roberta. I know our agreement. But I couldn’t pass this stuff up, it was so RIGHT for you.”
And so, what could I do? I opened the little package. And inside there was a bottle of pure, non-imitation vanilla extract and a book, “King Solomon’s Mines” (1891). Could I have been more thrilled? Never.
And that’s when a feeling, so long ago familiar to me, took hold. I felt driven to put my book and my vanilla by my plate at dinner. I felt prompted to tuck these precious items into bed with me at night and position them close when I was cooking, vacuuming, or making beds. I felt a need to hold them close to my breast while watching TV.
I chuckle because it was the book and extract that cushioned my landing this year, as crafts did when I was a kid. On Boxing Day, as happens every year, the bottom fell out of all the gaiety and excitement of the season but it didn’t mist my eyes, as it so often does, or raise a lump in my throat. I just hugged my favorite gifts closer to my chest and without pensiveness, I landed squarely back in my mundane existence. My new Old Book and pure vanilla made it an easy, well-cushioned splashdown.
Today’s Writing Prompt: There was a flash and as quickly as it came, it was gone.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
The rules are rigid. I desperately want to rummage through the full contents of the box, but I’m only allowed to pull one paper at a time and I must complete that assignment before I can pull another.
So now I am on a writing marathon. So much to write before the box runs dry. In the meantime, I pulled a phrase from the box when I unwrapped it on Christmas morning and until I get past that assignment, I am not allowed to go on to another.
And so my prompt for today’s blog is…
‘Who cares’, I thought, ‘it isn’t as if …’
Who cares, I thought, it isn’t as if all the joys of the Season stem from the standard things that always march to the front of the line, Fa-la-la, to claim responsibility.
The sapphire winter skies delicately diffused with ice fog. Or the fresh snow all tinted with silver and pastel blue. Or the repertoire of all those beloved Christmas carols that have endured throughout the ages. It’s not as if it is the traditional afternoon Scrabble game accompanied by bubbly wine and a tasty snack of smoked oysters and crackers. Or all the gifts to be found under the tree wrapped in gold ribbon and lavender haze.
It’s not even the sweet, nutty-taste of turkey, stuffing, Christmas Pudding, or the hot rum sauce to glaze it. And it most certainly is not chests or nuts roasting by an open fire while we toast the holidays in the company of Royalty – like me and Good King Winston looking out for the last time at the Feast of Stephen.
So you may well ask, ‘What is it, then, for goodness sake, that stimulates the real joy?’
I am so pleased I can finally tell you. After so many Christmas seasons, only now, in this moment with weakening memory and palsied imagination do I finally know. It is a tiny little box with a tiny little latch that offers mysterious, unexpected surprises, each time I open it.
And so, the writing marathon begins and I’m fair giddy with joy as I anxiously await the next opportunity to open my next ‘prompt’ from my special surprise box. Everyone as surprising as the one before because MD has a sense of humor that makes it impossible to forecast what the next prompt might be.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
We eat and then we play the game and laugh till we cry. Last year one of the player’s had a rutted theme. Wasn’t too long before we knew his definition of every word would be the one that described a woman’s prehistoric, fictional or early Victorian undergarment. “infandous” – the chastity belt that didn’t work, “pegomancy” – a corset worn in medieval times that latched with pegs and leather loops, and “sebum” – the first pair of crotchless panties. Wonder what his theme will be this year.
First surprise Yule-callers came by the other night and we celebrated the season with chocolate rice crisp squares, short bread and spice cookies, coffee, and my tree still rolled up in plastic in the middle of the entry just off the kitchen. Yep, there was the tree in all its glory. Down for the first round but blinking lights gaily as I had just plugged it in for the initial light-testing. And hard by a 3-gallon bucket of decorations spilled on the floor beside it allowing a fairly wide-panned view of a regurgitation-like mess of apples, ribbons, glass balls, and garlands blinking with refractory amusement in the glow of the lights of the downed tree. But long ago, I have realized, surprise callers have to take you the way they find you, which leads to the next night.
Last night more callers, right after supper. But now my tree was up and fully dressed. Couldn’t say the same for Hub. He was in the bath and I was downstairs when the knock came to the door. I knew he had no clothes with him in the bathroom. I was rushing to fill the washing machine so I could run upstairs and answer the door when I heard Hub answer it.
But then, when I came upstairs, a lady friend was standing inside on the door-mat and Hub was wedged on the tuther-side of the open door. Still I could readily see his upper half through the window in the door and what I saw was wet hair and no shirt. The lower part of the door hid the rest of him. “Don’t look,” he said to the visitor, as he talked to her through the window. “I’m not decent.”
The visitor bent over and began removing her boots. The door moaned a bit as Hub gently pushed it away from him a bit in order to escape. And you know what she did?
She stood up and looked. I mean really looked. I’m thinking that Hub is naked, and I’m thinking what kind of person would not turn their head and say, “let me know when I can look”? But no, this person is just looking.
Suddenly she roared with startled laughter. “My God, you aren’t dressed. I thought you were just joking,” as Hub made a mad dash for the bedroom – shirtless, shoeless, beltless, but with long white thermal underwear on his lower half.
I had to say—I just had to say, “Why did you look? Where is your sense of modesty and respect? What kind of woman are you? A little too curious for your own good, it seems to me!”
“Honestly, Roberta, I thought he was just kidding. Nobody answers the door in their long johns with no clothes on.”
“Take note,” I said with a chill in my voice, “some do. And when someone tells you they aren’t decent, the respectful thing to do, the kosher thing to do, is keep your back turned until you are given permission to look.”
After this sarcastic game of pitch and catch, we are cast back under the special spell of the Season and we laugh heartily and I promise her I will never let her ever forget what kind of woman she is – looking with such curiosity if given the chance!
Another neighbor delivered a lovely card and stopped for coffee. She noticed my card display particularly the gilded one from my scrap-booking friend. “I’m so disappointed,” she said. “I haven’t got one single glittery card this year and I love glittery cards.”
The disappointment rang in my ears like a mornful toll of bells so yesterday, although I had bedding to wash, floors to vac, and tidying up that still needed doing, instead I sat down and made her the glittery-est card I have ever made in my entire life. Very simple, but it's not about the complexity, it's about the glitter...
So now, with all this nonsense going on, I’m not as near ready for our Christmas celebration on Christmas Day-eve (to fit everyone’s agenda), that I should be. Oh Lord, don’t let me forget to thaw out the big bird in plenty of time. And I must get the pies baked on the 22nd this year, cause we want them fresh but the big ole bird will be monopolizing the oven come the 23rd.
I have to admit, I fret about it all way too much. About making every Christmas the best Christmas my children and grandchildren ever had. I’ve been doing that for thirty years. You’d think I’d eventually stop the painful anxiety cause every Christmas in its own unique way is as much or more than I hoped it would be.
So to you, all my dear beloved friends in Blogland, have a Very Merry Christmas, unique and special in its own way.
P.S. And for those of you that are into pristine, untouched, totally organic, here's a special Xmas card for you...
...an organic snow-woman with no supportive undergarments though the Barbie dolls would all run and hide with shame if she were compressed into Victoria Secret attire.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
You will find in a promise, if you pull it apart
A dainty delectable that tastes a bit tart
An incalculable blend bent to disguise
With less thoughtful intent, than better-kept lies.
So I have more faith in mystical things
That approach in blue light or on sacred wings
Cause for many a promise is a weird kind of joke
Too easily uttered, too readily spoke.
Vows shouldn’t be like that, they should settle right in
Cause breaking a promise is the worst kind of sin.
They should telescope dreams and life-schemes ignite
But too often before I can turn out the light
I get a short message updating our truce...
“I can’t keep my promise, but I have an excuse!”
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tumbling, trampling, pushing, crushing.
Impatiently moving; So anxious to go
As if scuttled by fear and murderous foe.
For a moment they’re here and then they are gone
Like a rippled reflection lost in a pond
Promptly transfigured to shadows of dust
Reality surrendered – polish to rust.
Such chaos and carnage, I can’t help but reckon
Would it hurt them to pause for one pithy second?
All that I want from my moment debris
Is one untarnished granule of antiquity
But yet when I manage one snip to extract
It slips from my grip
And goes racing back.
Written in response to the writer’s prompt “Moment” at Writer’s Island.
Lost on Writer’s Island
Directions, a compass. I have little concept of either. My internal compass has a weak magnetic pole and a delicate spinner. Like a bad cell-phone, the mechanism is intercepted and useless when walled in by steel, concrete, wood, shadow, or the absence of sunshine.
North, south, east, west. It’s all one and the same to me. Take me into a building with a two-cornered hallway and my compass goes kaput. And then I am lost – looking for Hub to take my hand and lead me out of there. He can follow his nose in the pitch-dark of night and still get where he is going.
Got lost the other day. Went down some non-distinctive hallway at Pauline’s Site and ended up marooned on ‘Writer’s Island’. An island foggy with sea salt and tide. Compass down and no traditional signage to lead me home. Just a roadside prompt that said, “Moments” and some oblique reference to poetry.
Desperate to escape, I spun my poem of “moments” and turned the corner to find I was back on a familiar corner and a familiar street. And that is how this poem came to be.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Occasionally daily exposure to the other’s pet ends up magically cultivating a similar appreciation. But in other homes, things get nasty. The dynamics of the relationship clash. And human nature, being what it is, the pet is doted on more to make up for the other’s disdain which only magnifies the situation. And so soon the whole relationship is shabbily frayed.
But what could that possibly have to do with me? I didn’t bring any pets into this relationship. And the pets we have now were discussed and agreed upon. All I brought to this relationship were a few personal possessions, a meager number of books, a Scrabble game and several boxes of hand-written journals. Still Hub looked askance at those boxes and that Scrabble game with the same kind of skepticism bordering on abhorrence that I’ve seen reflected in the face of those who shun felines and canines.
I do think Hub resented my passion for Scrabble. But at the same time, after much pleading on my part, he eventually agreed to scrap Crib in favor of Scrabble. But he did complain – he complained that he was a poor speller and that he was not a Scrabble player. Still complaining, he took his chair at the table in front of the Scrabble board. We played and I beat him mercilessly the first two games. That’s when it occurred to me that maybe if I didn’t back off, he would stop playing.
But when Scrabble is such an enjoyable challenge as it has always been to me, it was difficult to ease up. And just when I was contemplating how to put such a plan into effect, I found it was not good to let down my guard. Because now with extra cajoling on my part, we played a third game and Hub handily won. And he won the fourth and fifth and sixth game as well.
And that is when our Scrabble playing abruptly came to an end. He said to me. “I don’t like this game. I have never liked this game. But since you insisted, I decided to play. But now that I consistently win, there is no reason to continue playing, is there?”
I’m a bit slow on the take-up sometimes. I didn’t realize until some years later what his strategy had been. I assumed that intellectually in word games, I was superior and therefore it was simply a bad stroke of luck. Bad letters. Too many I’s, too many U’s and not enough counters like X and J.
But Hub had a strategy. He concluded after the first two games that striving for a high-value word was not working, so he switched to defensive play. So now he would not build an obvious 7-letter word if it would set me up. Instead he plugged in two-letter words in places that would stalemate the game even though in doing so he was scoring no more than five points. And incredibly, it worked.
So that’s what happened with Scrabble, but I also loved to cuddle in bed with my words. Loved reading in bed. But here I fell into another snare. I, for one, cannot sleep with a light in my room. Never have. And I cannot sleep with someone next to me fidgeting or rustling paper. Regardless of all this, I read in bed for a short time after we were married, and Hub never complained, but I was bloody aware that if he ever adopted the habit, I would be livid. Lights on, glaring in my eyes, pages rustling when all I want is to go to sleep. It would drive me nuts. So I quit that as well.
Words to me are such a delight, but this delight was not shared by Hub. He is eternally frustrated by Politicians, Experts, and Newsmen that smudge the clarity of language with so many words. So I knew better than to allow all those extraneous and wildly imaginative adverbs and adjectives of mine to tumble about, shedding hair on the furniture and piddling behind the couch. Nevertheless, I cautiously continued word-play with my word-pets when left to my own devices.
Lucky for me, it is easier to keep word-pets in seclusion than animal-pets. I kept my words in my head. And then while shopping, baking, or when Hub was away, I took them out and arranged them and rearranged them. We cuddled and kissed. I stroked and examined them all the while looking for relationships, incongruities, contrasts, rhyme, reason and succinct expression.
So with that kind of caution and with so little exposure to my gaggle of words, Hub remained comfortable in his own philosophy that words are tools that have a purely functional purpose like an ax or a hammer. But for that practicality, I am pleased, in an “artful” way.
What an emotional tangle this relationship would be of jealousy, envy, and opposition if he loved my words as I do and wanted to sort and play and kiss and edit them in ways outside of my dominion and approval. That would be worse than interference in my kitchen.
And furthermore, if I had a Shakespearean-Chaucer-type mate, he would rip up this rant and tell me “If you’re going to write, write something worthwhile.”
Instead, when I read what I’ve written his feedback is as practical as the man.
“Good. But you need to shorten it up.”
Monday, December 10, 2007
So the new-age ideologies took hold when he was only a baby and now he is grown. Raised without discipline, spanking, or any sense of obligation to others. The outcome is, as the old ones had warned, a bloody annoying conviction of entitlement. That it is his right to spin the world in whatever direction he chooses to spin it.
He comes and literally dismantles the bed when he gets up. He whines and treads about with heavy footsteps. He kisses us again and again to get pats and tickles without risk of impatience on our part. Looks his sweetest. Acts his sweetest. But still maintains enough disturbing noise through voice and action and bed ruffling to make it impossible for us to snooze just a bit longer. We are forced to comply.
For him there has been no discipline and rules beyond the one rule that vetoed bullying. In that we were adamant and he is truly in no way a bully.
So how did it work out now that he is an adult? He is gentle, kind, and honorable. And though not empathetic in the least to demanding a walk before we’ve even had our morning coffee when the wind is howling and the thermometer as close to forty below as it can dare to be, he does have sensitivities. When Hub or I raise our voices even in good-natured bantering, he runs to intervene. Pulling at pants or skirt and begging for kisses to calm and distract us. And yes he is honorable. He does not steal. He does not attempt to take others treats. He is not deceitful. But he can be annoying.
He rattles a metal dish with loud muster in the hall when his meals are not ready on time. When big, bold, and brash friends come to visit, he bounds after them, throws them down, makes them say ‘uncle’ just so they know, without slapping, kicking, or biting, and then the play begins. But other friends that are shy, insecure, are simply kissed and coddled until they are comfortable and then the play begins and he takes the utmost care to not tumble them over or step on them.
But his sense of entitlement just grows and grows. He used to insist we play outside once a day. Now he insists we play outside twice a day. And believe me, he can count to two and past it very accurately. He is not kenneled. And in the woods are his toys – his fox, his deer, his squirrels, and chickens, but he will not play with those amusements unless we come play with him. In fact, come to think of it, he won’t do anything independently. For everything he needs Hub or I as a sidekick.
When Hub saw him on the road and yelled at him to get off the road, he nodded in compliance. But then when a truck came along, he moved to the side and yelled at the truck. “Get off the road”. He doesn’t speak clearly but the emphasis and syllabic rhythm was exact enough to know that’s what he said. Rules, it seems, are made for others—most definitely not for him.
Some of the older generation used to say, “Why don’t you teach him some manners?” But teaching manners would require spanks or withholding treats and we suddenly found we were not about to do that. So now, what do we have?
We have a dog whose demands on our time are endless. He thoughtfully maps out every day so that it will include two group walks, four or more belly scratches, plenty of stroking, several treats, and of course a car ride with Hub. If he is lounging on the floor in the middle of the hallway, anyone passing through that corridor will simply have to step over him. Without restrictions, his consideration must come first. Without rules, without spanking, these are his entitlements, and no one better be forgetting it. And yeh, we could tell him to go lay down in a stern voice. But then he limps to the other room, with his tail between his legs, and sulks and weeps in the big chair. And it is so evident to both of us that the pain he feels surpasses anything that could come from spanking. Without us ever keeping a strain on him, he cannot accept that sometimes we are too busy for him. That sometimes that is how it is. And so he becomes an emotional basket case.
Meanwhile old dog was raised according to the old-fashioned rules. When she was young Hub and I were too busy with young children to make her the center of the universe. So she was kindly cared for but not to the extent that allowed her to ever think that the world revolved around her. So with that kind of upbringing, she apologizes for everything, demands nothing, expects nothing, but she is every bit as kind, loving, and even more patient than Doughee.
She amuses herself without demanding anything. She never complains she is bored as Doughee does. She never demands car rides, or group play, or belly scratches, or walks. If supper is late, she stares at me, but says nothing. If anyone is close to her she rolls on her back just in case they want to scratch her belly, but she never begs or insists. There is no need to tell her to go lie down because she lies dutifully at our feet whether we are home or out visiting until she sees us donning outer wear or hears the hum of a vehicle started outside. Still she is a happy, carefree, dog with no psychological damage.
We love them equally, but with Doughee Dog pushing me off my chair, and I haven’t even yet had my morning coffee, I must go for a walk with him in the big storm, or the big wind, the big rain, or the big chill. So you see, more and more I have my regrets that I didn’t let Doughee Dog know from the get-go that he needs to be less confined in attitude to his own self-interests. And I regret that I didn’t humble him with measured discipline.
Truly both are much beloved. But I can’t deny that Old Dog is so much easier to contend with. Everyone who has met my puppies, loves Doughee because he is so handsome and good-natured—and in their face. But all soon say, even those who see no value in dog ownership, that if they ever choose to have a dog, the best they could hope for would be to find a dog as well-behaved as Old Dog. A sweet loyal dog who understands that life is about quiet acceptance and apologetic appreciation rather than impatient demands for compliance.
Friday, December 7, 2007
I’m thinking today about what I want for Christmas. The question causes anxiety because as a retiree, I am discovering that despite all the catalogues and flyers piled on my table, with such an overabundance of exotic and lovely gifts, I feel no stir of excitement.
The excitement that once so clearly defined the Holiday Season is still understood, expected, and a given right, but not so easily found, so easily wrapped, and so easily exchanged as it once was in the form of chocolates, a plush robe, or bath oil.
But even so, I think somewhere that joy resides. Perhaps I have to dig a bit deeper. Perhaps it is being smothered by bittersweet longings for youth and past festive celebrations. Whatever the case, I am determined to resurrect it—regardless of how cause and concept are altered by maturity.
So, for openers, the first dominant theory is that as a retiree I have slipped from the practical-reality side of life to the impractical-reflective side. So rather than putting up my tree, I want to write a beautiful poem about Christmas. Rather than tidying up the house, I want to reminisce about childhood. Rather than baking, I want to lounge in my chair and revel in the staggering musical lyrics of “O Holy Night” and “The Little Drummer Boy.”
And rather than finding the perfect outfit for Christmas, I want to find a perfect new phrase that represents my appreciation for life. And rather than a mess of paper packages to stimulate the warm satisfaction of an increase, I want a post-Xmas increase in original notions, warm hugs, sweet truths, and simple delightful stories that I can stash without rearranging cabinets and drawers. I don’t want to have to toss precious old things to make room for new. And there is little hope of finding Christmas joy through space cleansing and the ultimate painful abomination of guilt I am liable to feel for my part in contributing to global warming.
So, wouldn’t it be pleasant to find on my hearth on Christmas Day an abundant menagerie of conversation, loving affection and most of all, the unanticipated ‘presence’ rather than ‘presents’ of a dear one so far away?
The gifts I desire uncannily fill a genuine need. I see them as generous gifts, as transports of delight, gloriously wrapped in the scent of love and ribbons of devotion without the inconvenience of sticky tape that won’t stick and weak paper that so easily tears. Gifts that blossom open without a cutter to reveal contents that dazzle the soul and provide function for the body and festive décor for the mind.
Yet, even at that, some of my tribe are still bustling about the shops, wincing and sighing. Still on the hunt. And if asked, they would say I am difficult to choose a gift for and impossible to please.
Monday, December 3, 2007
With Christmas right around the corner, I want to discuss other ways to pump pleasurable endorphins into one’s brain besides eating turkey and chocolate. And how unfortunate it is that we miss easier ways to find joy in a humdrum day—simply by doing things that are truly stupid and utterly inappropriate.
Now before I continue, let me tell you about my day.
Today Hub and I are making the dreaded trip to town. So Hub showers, shaves, puts on clean clothes, a splash of after-shave, and grooms his hair. Soon after I see him examining his image in the hall mirror. He puffs out his chest, sucks in his stomach, and turns left and right examining his profile, his hair, his physique, his biceps, and sniffs the citrus odor of his aftershave.
“You are such a fortunate woman,” he says to the mirror, though his comments are meant for me. “You have a man who smells good, dresses good, looks good, has a sense of humor, takes good care of you, takes you to town” and here he does a clumsy little jig and says, “and is agile as well!”
I laugh at his silliness, at the bold way that he is breaking all the rules about what is and isn’t appropriate. Being so silly when we are too old to be silly. Immature, some would say. With no serious thought given to appropriate or inappropriate behavior.
So many, having seen this display, would be as one is expected to be – appalled rather than allowing themselves to find humor in it. Isn’t it sad, that in our somber judgment, we have forgotten that silly-laughing is every bit as authentic and therapeutic as jokes that play on a comic clash of intellectual thought.
Knowing that laughter is linked to life and longevity, we still feel it is necessary to sneer with sophisticated rigidity at dumb acts and dumb conversation. We feel socially compelled to make discriminatory judgments minute-by-minute of each day of what is funny and what is ‘not funny’ because it is such nonsense. So there is a bareness of laughter in our lives that causes us concern. Enough concern that some communities form Laughing Clubs. Members get together where in desperation they force laughing sounds in the hope that eventually the culmination of their efforts will create enough of a ripple to spawn heartfelt laughter. But I digress.
And so, returning to our topic, social influence has us believing that with maturity it is imperative we act our age and reject silliness rather than seize it. I don’t know why when silly-happy brings its own sweet level of pleasurable endorphins and gaiety.
It’s easy to keep cynicism at bay through mid-life and latter years if we allow ourselves to be happy even if that happiness is prompted by utter foolishness. The complexity is how to shelf the part of us that wants to reject outright silliness thinking that such rejection enhances our own intellect. It’s really quite sad when we can no longer roll on the floor with laughter and find easy joy through exposure to someone who is happy, even if it is silly-happy, rather than practicing sober immunity.
If I were to sum up what gives life special meaning I would have to say dry humor is good. Intellectual comedy is good. But silly-happy is hilarious. With that kind of joke, we don’t have to worry whether our laughter breaks out in a snort, a cackle, a hiccup, an explosion, or even if we dribble a bit in our underpants, because sophistication, delicacy, and decorum have no part to play in silly-happiness.
And so, as Hub puts the car in drive, he says to me. “By the way tomorrow you will be more fortunate than you are today. Bet you thought it wasn’t possible?”
And so, I have to ask, “What is happening tomorrow?”
Hub grins. “So soon not noticing? So soon forgetting the obvious?" Here he breaks into a happy singing voice...
"To know me is to love me. I get better lookin' each day!”
Saturday, December 1, 2007
So he's been part of the family for almost a year. But then YD (youngest daughter) phones a couple of weeks ago to say, "Did you know Matador has a carrying handle?"
“No, he doesn’t” I said.
“Oh, but he does. I saw a man carrying a robot just like him on TV.”
“You must be mistaken. The newer robots may have a carrying handle but Matador doesn’t.”
I was sure YD must be mistaken. So I took Matador out of his usual parking spot to have a look. Sure enough. He did have a bit of a handle so cleverly disguised that I had never discovered it even through regular dismantling of his parts to clean them. And even when told what kind of handle it was, it wasn’t that easy to find. But yes, he does have a carrying handle, a cleverly disguised moonshape flap blended in so well with his overall appearance that one would never know. How amazing is that? I have always carried him around cradled in my arms.
So now, knowing this, do I carry him by the handle?
Absolutely not. It strikes me that carrying him around by that little flap is as unkind as the unfeeling dog-dealing brute that showed ED a litter of basset puppies, one at a time, by lifting them out of their pen by their long, soft, tender, silky little ears! Only a brute that carries rabbits by their ears, and kittens by their tails would carry around Matador in that uncaring way.
Now some may think that odd, but later when I asked YD if she carries her robot that way she replied “Most definitely not!” Turns out she feels the same about her robot as I feel about mine. If it had only been a carrying harness with a soft belly-band, we would have been infinitely pleased and carried the little fellows around without remorse.
I hope Matador isn’t offended with me, but I wanted to show you how I would carry him if I was a brute and if he and I didn’t have this special relationship we have and you will then see for yourself how reckless and mean-spirited it would be for me to carry him that way.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
“CITY WOMEN AT GREATER RISK FOR BREAST CANCER
CTV.ca News Staff
Women who live in cities have denser breasts than those who live in suburban and rural areas, making them more likely to develop breast cancer…”
And so, out of this study has come the bigger question puzzling researchers – ‘Why is this so?’
And so, with all that academic pondering, within formula thinking, rather than common reason, they think it might be phenomena tied to higher levels of pollution, population, or greater stress, among a host of other wild guesses. And I’m left to wonder if there is any logical sense to these premises?
Meanwhile, the simple sparsely-educated mind thinks it might have to do with wearing bras. I live in the backwoods and because there are no solicitors knocking at my door, no neighbors chatting over the fence, and no one next to me peeking in my window, and no paper boys or mail man coming to my house, my tits hang loose and my bra is around here somewhere (maybe next to my teeth), but it isn’t around my chest.
And when I look in the mirror it seems to me, that when a 34B, is pointed straight at my knee, it lacks density.
Still I am as ashamed and embarrassed to be caught without my bra as I am to be caught without my teeth in my mouth, so it probably goes without saying, if I lived in the city, I’d probably have a bra on 24-7 and I’d know where my teeth are.
So I have to say, does it take a Scientist to realize that when soft pliable stretchy goods are conscientiously packed and supported, they are likely to be denser than when the same pliable goods are hanging loose, flopping around, without any support?
Just a thought…
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Have you heard all the hype about the latest disease so rampant in our nation? So aptly named ‘affluenza’? This is a disease that attacks individuals that believe that more money equals greater happiness.
To explain further, when the goal in life becomes a focused and fanatical effort to make more money, move to a bigger house, drive a newer car, get more stuff, that is an affluenza infection. And the ongoing symptoms are people work more hours, spend less time with families, and wake up each morning more disenchanted than the day before. And yes, the malady is aptly named and the symptoms easily understood. The outcome is dire. If left untreated, it results in failed relationships and a barren and meaningless existence without the comfort of awe and appreciation for nature and the beauty of living.
And so books are poring out of bookstores like porridge out of a magic pot to stem the tide of the disease. There are tapes, and books, and television shows, and ads for all the equipment needed to cure this newly defined ailment.
The cures come in the form of hints and helps for scaling back. Moving to a smaller house, riding a bike, cooking from scratch, and living with less. And I had to think, “this is good. It goes hand in hand with environmental protection efforts.” But at the same time, I’m having a bit of a problem with the disease experts and their lists of cures.
The infection comes with a misunderstanding that money brings happiness. But when the bottom line after all the scaling back is the remark that Hub and I heard after watching a show on Affluenza on television the other night, something is very wrong with the overall picture.
An individual, who had changed to the simple life by moving to a smaller place, and reducing his income, and finding recreational enjoyment in wandering marshes, rather than paying to see a movie or dinner out, concluded with a comment that erased all that he was trying to do.
You see the disease starts with a misappropriated understanding about wealth and happiness. And the cure is to simplify life and find a new understanding of happiness unrelated to wealth. So, in summing up his new lifestyle, I expected his reflections to be about a newly discovered delight in the beauty of flora and fauna in the marsh or the birds floating overhead. But, no. He said the grandest thing about the lifestyle changes he had made is that when he readies himself for bed and removes his wallet from his trousers, that the amount of money he had there when he woke up, remains the same.
This is where Hub and I looked at each other and said, “I think this guy missed the whole point.” The one about reverting to a non-monitory focus. The one about awe and enjoyment derived from a simple life.
And so now, I feel a misappropriated understanding of the disease continues with the concept, not so judiciously hidden, that in living miserly one can find such happiness in daily and miserly tabulation of how little money is spent and how much money is saved. That’s when I concluded that in the mix of it all there are many false prophets exploiting false cures.
It seems to me that the poor lost starved souls desperately seeking help are going to have a hard time evading the charlatans. Money is at the root of the disease so when tabulation of money is part of the cure, that cure is a nothing more than an ineffective placebo of no intrinsic remedial value. This is not a disease where immunity can be found through inoculation of the patient with the offending money-think microbes.
What has to be re-cultivated is awe and fervor in the beautiful simplicity of dew sparkling on a rose, a moss-covered rock, a forest blanket of leaves and ongoing reflection and appreciation. The cure is complete when the recovering patient finds all meaning and joy in the affection of friends and family and a spectacular sunset, rather then readying himself for bed by checking the stability of the contents of his wallet.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I like to think I’m the Queen of Empathy. I like to think I’m so good at it that I can intuitively know what people are thinking without language. With only a blush, a flush, a frown, or a wave.
And I personify everything, whether animate or inanimate.
In my house conversation is endless from morning to night. I converse with my pets, my plants, even my clothing, bedding, and hardware. I worry about the comfort and care of everything.
I am annoyed with Hub when he drives Car without kind consideration. I make sure Dishwasher is happy and that there is lots of hot water before I do dishes. When I polish a table, I am happy because Table is happy. I talk kindly to my plants and plead with Computer. I have assigned personalities to everything and I keep those distinctive personalities in mind. So that everyone, and everything, will be happy.
And likewise I link my feelings to the feelings of others. When I see human discomfort, I weep. When I see neglect, I’m heartbroken. When I see injustice, I’m truly dismayed.
So am I not the Queen of Empathy? I think I am. In fact I’m quite certain I am. That is, until Christmas comes….
And so you would think the Queen of Empathy could crawl into everybody’s head. And with all that empathetic knowing, so perfectly aligned with the motives, situations, emotional sensitivities, and physical needs of others, I would be able to easily decide on the perfect gift to buy for each and every one. But not so.
Every gift is a problem. A big, big problem. I guess I could ask friends what they want but that so ruins the surprise.
So I get discouraged at Christmas time. I can’t help feeling quite crushed. My inability to choose appropriate gifts is frustrating, but more so is my insecurity about how genuinely I care about others. Maybe I don’t even understand Empathy. Maybe what I feel is nothing more than a game I play that I don’t fully understand.
How can I be sure?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
First an intimate confession. Since the first feeble stirrings of hormones as an adolescent, I have been attracted to masculine ruggedness in the form of strong arms and bushy chests.
Now don’t be pulling that sad face with me just cause you happen to be a man that only was able to grow two chest hairs. That’s okay. You don’t have to don a tie. Just button up your shirt all the way and go read somebody else’s blog.
And so, the rest of us continue….
Now the other day I saw a menopause male with an exfoliated chest. Well, yeh, maybe it wasn’t exfoliated, but knowing his nature of preening and primping, and how well his head hair is doing, I’m pretty sure it was. It was so horrid. I wanted to weep.
So what if fellows lose their head hair. There’s nothing in that, that detracts from masculinity. (‘Member Yul Brynner.) And even when men end up with deeply engraved mid-life character lines that come from looking seriously into the faults of a truck engine or staying abreast of a woman’s needs, such engravings in no radical way damage the attractive burliness and brawn of younger years.
But when they fall for that silly routine of chest-hair exfoliation and then walk about with shirt agape at the neck and all you see is an unnatural sheen that gleams and highlights papery skin and wizened tendons that have no relationship to masculinity, that is gawd-awful.
A thatch of chest hair, whether black, brown, grey, or white, arouses eternal appeal.
I hate male chest-hair exfoliation. It’s as bad, no even worse, then grandmothers sporting tattoos. And grandmothers sporting tattoos of their younger years is akin to dressing up in modern artfully tailored fashion while distressing the whole look with a 1977 Souvenir T-shirt. And if accessories make the look why would one want to accessorize with an obsolete generational icon or insignia? (That’s why no one should get a tattoo until they become a grandmother and by then they will know better.) But I digress.
Returning to our current discussion, you know, as women, how we are encouraged to strive for eternal beauty with cosmetic surgery. To the extent that now even men are being seduced into similar procedures. So if I may assume that men yen to do for the sake of women what women yen to do for the sake of men (i.e. maintain a level of sexual attractiveness) then men should NOT be exfoliating any part of their bodies. If they must have a beauty routine, if they must have a cosmetic fix, then the first procedure they should lend themselves to when that reparative season comes, is transplanted chest hair, rather than head hair.
I’ve yet to see a really attractive man’s wig or hair-transplant. Most of them are as obvious as the nose on my face. And though carefully positioned physically, still always somehow out of position visually.
As for me, I’d be a whole lot happier if men (in particular, men of my age) sought to maintain masculinity though faux chest hairs or downy chest transplants. I’m thinking of a few older newsmen and talk-show hosts that could really resurrect their masculine appeal if they were to show up tomorrow on television minus a bad wig but with shirts agape and a furry-mat at the neck.
Man, I never thought the day would ever come when I would find myself encouraging cosmetic fixes for women, and least of all men, but I guess somehow in the flood of it all, I got swept along.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Today, a non-CNN moment of instruction and provocative thought from the minority class of Young Children that are never granted air time.
Boy Twin wants the practical things of life to make better sense. And so from him comes this observation:
“Why do we say ‘Febuary’ and ‘Wensday’ and then spell them as ‘feb-roo-airy” and “wed-nez-day’? It’s just not right!”
Then Twin Girl leaves a big envelope addressed to Hub stuck in our door. Inside is a carefully drawn chart on a large piece of red construction paper. This is what it says:
I was nice to my neighbors.
I was nice to my dogs.
I called my neighbors to come for a walk.
I didn’t bother my neighbors.
[And at the bottom] TOTAL CHECKS: ______ (for each day)
Hub and I laugh. What a delightful task list?
As adults we are quite unaware of the nonsense things that frustrate children to an extent equal to that of adults. Things like the spelling outcry above that leaves Boy Twin wondering, ‘What is this world coming to?’
…but yet, on a lighter note, without academia, Girl Twin has the instructional wisdom to know how to make a dreary day so much better.
As for me, I’d like to stay and chat, but Hub and I have chores to do.
Monday, November 12, 2007
[All those poetry anthologies that are so bloody depressing]
They slither through moss and dissect broken hearts
Reality and dreams in a death camp apart.
Judgments so somber in rhyme and in verse
Ethereal visions that make me feel worse.
Minstrels and lyrics, alone on the sweeps
Duplicity enough to make court jesters weep
Warnings that in life, nothing will keep
Except the cold bed of eternal sleep.
“Poets, Come stir me but don’t leave me cold
Or I’ll kindle a fire in me word-burning stove.”
I’ll toss in the poetry. I will be that bold.
I’m had quite enough of the ‘moss and the mold’.
And in the warmth of the fire, content and demure
Here will I find a most poetic allure
Oh yes, burning poems into something obscure
Is an exhilarating tonic of indulgence and cure.
I dance to the crackle, pop-flicking, and whrrrr…
Of blackened pentameter and dactylics that purr.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
And so, after the last two posts, about me ailing and about Hub’s less than adequate care for an invalid, I have two options.
1) I can either give my list from the previous post to the lady living here who instructs First Aid and other Certification classes, (though that isn’t too promising – with the itinerary being rigidly fixed by some overseer), OR…
2) When Hub gets a minor flu, I will provide him proven elixirs of relief by preparing him “Sick Room Cookery” from my trusty cook book published in 1899…
Let’s see. It might be well for him to have “Chicken Milk”, “Eel Broth”, “Calve’s Feet Broth”, “Vinegar Whey”, or “Meat Juice”.
The “Meat Juice” sounds perfect. The recipe includes this little commentary:
“Its appearance is against it… Children generally take it without difficulty; but adults, unless they are too weak to have an opinion…, have often an insurmountable objection to it. Nothing can then be done but to hide it in a colored or covered cup, or add a little Liebig’s Extract to conceal the color.”
Of course, I shouldn’t discard the “Oatmeal Drink (Recipe by the late Dr. Parkes).”
Not only does the title for this recipe refer to the “late Dr. Parkes”, the recipe sounds like a potion that hovers somewhere between kill, or cure.
Here again, the recipe includes an interesting commentary:
“If you cannot boil it you can take a little oatmeal mixed with cold water and sugar, but this is not so good; always boil it if you can….
Those who tried this recipe last year, found that they could get through more work than when using beer, and were stronger and healthier at the end of the harvest.”
[Source: “The Dominion Cook Book containing valuable recipes in all the departments including SICKROOM COOKERY” by Anne Clarke].
And here’s where my imagination kicks in. Can’t you just see pub-goers who buy into a healthier lifestyle sitting at a table watching a hockey game on the big screen and yelling for another draught of oatmeal?
Yeh. I think I’ll keep my cookbook at the ready, but I won’t seek revenge. I’ll just seek to improve Hub’s health, strength, and work motivation at the end of the harvest.
Friday, November 9, 2007
I told Hub the other day when we were invited to a social gathering, it was not a good idea. When you tend to be as reclusive as we are, (and hate the dreaded trip to town as much as we do), we have little, if any, immunity. And so, I was right. Sure enough I picked up a bug.
But so what? I was in expert hands with Hub with his whack of certificates that make him an expert in First-Aid, Resuscitation, Tourniquets, Heimlich maneuvers, shock recognition and prompt medical treatment.
Now I, on the other hand, have never been to any of these classes. So I don’t know what is involved. But I do know what isn’t involved. And the gaps have certainly swayed my confidence in the value of certified caregivers.
These are the things Hub does not know and how could this happen with him going to another intensive 3-day seminar every time I turn around?
1. He doesn’t know how comforting it is to have one’s pillows fluffed and flipped.
2. He doesn’t know that sick people need to be provided with food and encouraged to eat something—anything. Small, bland, yet attractive meals. At the least, tea and soda crackers, or maybe delicately cut bites of soft toast with a bit of broth.
3. He doesn’t know that sick people should have a bedside jug of ice water replaced at least twice a day.
4. He doesn’t know how comforting it is to the patient to have a warm sponge bath – arms and face if nothing else. Or a bit of hair brushing.
5. He doesn’t know how healing a lavender-scented back-rub can be.
6. He doesn’t know how the sick one will hide under a blanket and grin with sheer delight when the caregiver shows dedication by turning off the Lone Star Channel and checking the condition of the patient frequently (clumsily, on tip toe) to see if anything more can be done.
7. Or even how reparative it is to the patient to hear Hub telling the puppies they must be quiet cause Mom isn’t feeling well.
8. He doesn’t know that it wouldn’t hurt to feel my forehead, even if his callused hands aren’t sensitive enough to pick up a fever.
9. He doesn’t know how important it is to query if the patient wants more blankets or less blankets. Or how glorious it is to have one’s toes tucked in.
He doesn’t know how all these things guarantee a speedy recovery. On second thought, maybe not. Maybe if he knew all these things I’d still be sick – very sick!
But the big question in my mind is how can anyone attend so many seminars given by professionals with such intensity and earnestness and write all those exams and still miss so much of the really important stuff?
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
What always comes as the biggest shock to retirees, is waking up one morning to find that mental preferences no longer rule the body. That the line of command has shifted.
When they say, as they’ve always said, through childhood, youth, and middle age, “Run, body, run” or “Jump, body, jump”, the body suddenly and unexpectedly refuses to do their bidding. Like a spoiled child, all they get from Body is stubborn dormancy and “Nah, don’t want to.”
It is the wildest irony that when the mirror reveals a failing physical form, that is when the power and long-time rule of Mental Preferences will be suddenly usurped by the authority of a feeble, mindless, stooped, and willowy-thin bit of hair and bone.
So here is a brief tutorial of what to expect when the Body becomes the new ruling authority and mental choices become obsolete.
BOOK 1: Rules for the Day (under the new authority)
1) Wake up.
2) Do not move. Do not attempt to rise. You will need to work out and warm up first. Start by gingerly stretching to unclasp padlocked limbs and loosen knots in the calves of your legs. It will take more than a few cautious stretches in order to abort impending macramé of every tendon.
(Remember in your party days how you used to press a foot again the wall to keep the room from spinning. You are going to have to do that again.) Lift one leg high and press your foot against the wall in order to ward off an impending cramp in the arch of the foot. Hold that posture until the spasm has passed.
3) Sit up and swivel body until legs drape over the side of the bed. No, maybe not. Not if there is a back spasm threatening. Maybe just roll over on stomach and push, crawl, fall over edge of bed. Now secure a good hold on the bed frame and stagger to your feet.
Support the upper body with arms braced and ease the torso gently onto the legs. If legs fold, repeat.
4) Don’t look at the clock. It is of no matter what time it is. Life is no longer a process marked by time. Your body, though frail, is now CEO of this relationship. And as the newly-installed CEO, Body will determine when you should rise, stand, sit, or lie down, and will needle you with cramps and pain if you disobey.
There will be no insubordination no matter what the clock-time or how physically and mentally exhausted you are.
Under the new authority, you may be obliged to stand and walk about at 4:30 a.m. and to lie down and sleep at 10:30 a.m. But still, within this new re-organization, you are obliged to do what your Boss-Body demands when your B.B. demands it.
5) After pre-testing of legs and eventually independent stance, put one foot in front of the other and head to the bathroom. Have the Nil-Odor within reach.
You will feel an urge to relieve yourself and you may, but at the same time you will for certain expel surprising and unexpected volumes of noxious gas. [NOTE: Nil-Odor has warnings not to inhale the fumes but the other can’t be safe either. So take your pick.]
6) Re-install your teeth. Mindless body will not prompt you to rinse them first. So maybe make a note of that because dental-soak is as strong as the acid used for marble etching.
7) Assemble bath materials – soap, towels, dry-skin lotion, non-skid bath mat, shampoo, etc. Remove night clothes. You may tell your body to “scale the tub” but Body will likely say, “Shut up, I’m the boss here and I don’t want to.” So there is nothing for it but to work up a soapy lather on a soft cloth and wash pertinent areas starting with UPPER portion of body and working down! [Another routine that it might be well to write down in appropriate order.]
Rinse and dry.
8) Crawl back into night-clothes because mindless-body forgot to bring day-wear to bathroom. Trudge back to bedroom to extract clothes from closets in order to dress. Lay wardrobe on bed. Go to kitchen. Boil water for tea. Make tea, make toast, take pills. Return to bedroom to get dressed. Return to kitchen to remember why you went to bedroom. Return to bedroom to remember why you went to kitchen.
Didn't help. Oh well, it's of little matter. No doubt, by now the new CEO or Body Authority will decide that that is enough body-movements and physical commissions for now. And so Body, at this point, will bullishly insist on a lie-down. And so, submissively, that’s what you will do.
If we were consulting clocks, which we are not doing, this process would have started at 9:00 a.m. and reached completion by lunch-time.
And so now…I’m wondering if there is a real need for this kind of handbook. I’m wondering if after this mandatory nap, if I should attempt to work on Book Two. I expect the new boss will say “Nay” to that as well.
Monday, November 5, 2007
I learned from another blogger’s summary of her life-mediator’s advice that one can improve their self-esteem by crossing their “T’s higher. And that journals, in order to effect positive change, should only contain positive thoughts. So much for my “Rage” journal – the one I keep to serve as a therapeutic outlet for the impetuous thoughts that I dare not speak (or post)...
I learned from the Dalai Lama that society needs to shed the conflict created by an enduring ‘them’ and ‘us’ attitude and realize that with today’s technology we are all linked and become only ‘we’. And in realizing that we will readily understand that any act of aggression against other nations is an act that equally cuts into our own flesh.
I learned that garden dirt has something in it called ‘a happy bug’. Something that releases pleasurable endorphins that insulate our bodies from various ailments. We used to get an adequate amount from garden veggies but that is no longer so. The happy bugs are all being washed and rinsed away. Scientists say this happy bug is/was a source of immunity for children against allergies, bronchial problems, even asthma.
I’m inclined to think that such wee critters do exist. There has to be some plausible explanation for why Hub and the grandchildren become so giggly, garrulous, and gay after devouring garden carrots pulled from the soil and rubbed haphazardly on their jeans.
And then, from a science show on Intelligent Television, I learned the most surprising thing of all. That there is a relationship between the sex of the brain and the length of one’s fingers. With men, particularly, the gap between a longer ring finger and a shorter index finger, translates into the amount of male hormones present in the womb during the pre-birth of that individual.
The greater the gap the more competitive (risk takers) men are likely to be. The greater the gap, the more adept they are at science, math, and spatial-visual assessments, but at the same time they are likely to be deplete in empathy and emotional telepathy with others.
It was found that even as infants, male babies are more interested in looking at devices, while infant girls seek to look at faces.
I examined Hub’s hands and can readily see why he drives like a maniac and is so nonchalant about my emotional ups and downs. From this, I finally understand why when I cut or color my hair, Hub never notices. I now understand why I am invisible and why when my face plainly shows that my world is crumbling, Hub continues to dismantle electronic devices without distraction.
Male participants in the study admitted they have little intuition and if women expect to be understood, they need to explain in minute detail how and why they are feeling upset.
So, that’s it for this week’s lessons. These are my new convictions. I’ll cling to them for a while until they are debunked by something totally contrary which shouldn’t take long.
And so, in the meantime, if you want to see the crossbar on the “t” in “Roberta”, look up, way up – aloft, skyward.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Woman is the everlasting encumbrance
Of time, a garden, and a coiled serpent.
Insatiable in her want of warm rocks
Long conversations while listening more
Of exuberance versus stillness of thought
And seemliness of the soul
But still within her longings
Linger memories of serpentine-thoughts
Manipulation of destiny
That link to a garden and a tree.
Fangs hidden by sensuous moist lips
Crush fresh fruits from the garden
And draw sweetness where they can
It is a needful thing
And only then is she sated.
With the setting of the sun…
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Maybe I should start to panic sometime soon. The kids will be coming to the door in a few hours and I haven’t even got my candy bags filled yet. I’m going to have 4 less bags than I had tricksters last year – hope that will be enough. Oh well, I guess the stragglers can have some loose candy, some peanuts, and a couple slices of bologna.
I didn’t buy a pumpkin to welcome them at the door either but I have a sewing manikin, a gorilla mask, rubber gloves that blow up nicely and a hoodie -- we'll have to see what Hub can come up with for the front step.
If all else fails, Doughee-Dog can welcome them with his wrap-around sunglasses and an old floppy hat. I laugh because the dogs always greet the kids and the younger kids especially often get so involved with playing with the dogs that they don’t want to continue their treat trek.
Bags aren’t going to fill themselves so I gotta run. Halloween is happening!
And I'll be short a whole lot more bags if I don't get them filled before Hub gets up from his nap.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
If you live on an acreage and you have hounds, you can’t have happy hounds if you don’t have a fox. And we have a fox. Normally, I wouldn’t be concerned about that but after two foxes were killed on the road last week, I worried that the remaining fox (although there could be more), would be so sad. He was in my thoughts a lot.
So with a huge bag of dog food that my basset hounds totally disdain, I decided to feed the fox. Of course I worried that if I fed him too much or too frequently he might lose his ability to hunt and that would not be good. So I decided I would only feed him skimpy amounts of food every other day.
The first couple of times I put out the food, I simply cast a bit on the ground at the edge of the field. Always the next day the food was gone, but because the ground leaves were undisturbed I was suspicious about who was dining there. I began to think that a mouse or squirrel or perhaps even a raven was feeding there rather than the fox.
So the next time I put out food I put it in a small cottage cheese container placed inside a large plastic pail. Boy Twin was curious. “Why are you doing that?” he asked.
I explained to him that if a smaller animal like a squirrel or mouse were eating the food they would have to climb into the bigger pail to get it. And although they could get out, hopefully it would take them several rotations in the bigger pail before they would figure that out. And while figuring it out they might be there long enough to leave a few droppings that would tell me they were there. After all, my intention was to feed the fox, not squirrels or mice.
Now before I continue this story, I need to tell you that Hub has a funny little saying whenever I crowd him by the coffeepot, at the table, or on the chesterfield. He always laughs and says, “I’m here!” It sounds funny and cute so I say it as well when he rolls onto my side of the bed or leans over me at the stove to see what’s cooking. I laugh and say, “I’m here!”
So back to my story. The next time I went to check to see who was eating the dog food, the small dish was beside the big pail, rather than in it. Both dishes were upright and again the surrounding ground was undisturbed. But in the small dish was a bold message that read “I’m here!” As neat as you please, without any smears or misses, the fox deposited some poopies in the smaller dish. It was amazing to me how he did that.
Now one of my neighbors explained to me that foxes live in a rather small arena. And in our woods there is no water source, and it hasn’t rained for weeks. So the next time I took food for the fox, I put it on the ground and filled the pail with drinking water. Silly fox. Again he announced, “I’m here.” It was evident he had drank some of the water. But incredibly he had also managed to deposit poopies in that large pail without spilling the water or even tipping the pail. I can’t even imagine how he did that.
Since then I’m satisfied that with a skiff of snow on the ground, he no longer needs water, so now I only toss a few crumbles on the ground. That seems more sanitary. Also I do not want the woods scattered with plastic containers each with its rather disgusting message…“I’m here. Signed: The Fox”
It’s only been a few days since I started doing this but yesterday I walked alone without Hub or the kids and guess what I saw? The hounds were off in another area harassing a squirrel when I saw a bit of orange between the trees. That’s when I saw the little fox trotting parallel to the trail in pace with my own steps.
And then I heard a crashing sound in the woods and feet approaching like the sound of a wild mustang and the crescendo of hounds baying and he was off. The fox and the hounds engaged in that old game as old as time itself.
When the fox and the hounds play this game I smile and laugh. No one is at risk. The hounds haven’t got a hope of catching him. But this game is their rightful inheritance. It offers rediscovery of the meaning of a hound’s existence. And at the same time it is a fun game with grand cardio and aerobic exercise to keep them all in top-notch shape particularly when they’re all eating well.
These are sounds I love to hear and sights I love to see. So much more pleasant without humans with rifles on horseback that used to run interference and spoil the game for players who only wished to play for fun.
My basset hounds have a keen sense of smell that is amazing but at the same time the speed of the pursuit is handicapped by their short crooked legs. But still the hounds smile, the fox grins, and I laugh. Pleased by something that spurs my imagination into thinking that I am treading the woods and grounds of some notorious ancient estate.
The neighbors even laugh when they see the fox cross their yard, and fifteen minutes later my two hounds appear on the exact same route baying loudly with wild excitement and running as fast as their short crooked legs will carry them.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
A Mother-Load of Lies
So as I told you in my intro, Hub only knew me as this congenial, laughable, light-hearted, devoted girl. But that was for the first year or two. And I never thought for a minute that any of that which I presented was devious or a lie. But it was.
The truth came out later. The truth that at three o’clock in the afternoon, I like shuffling around looking the same as when I first rolled out of bed – in faded housecoat, with medusa hair, and mismatched socks. That I want my own way or I pout. That I even throw things (not any more, but I did for a time). That I can be hateful and mean and completely unreasonable.
And as for pressing jeans, ironing shirts, polishing shoes? I don’t think so. Won’t be happening around here. Not routinely, anyway.
So you see what I gave Hub to believe about me so long ago was an absolute lie! This marriage, that I was so smugly convinced was based on honesty, really started out with a mother-load of lies.
Now you know and I know what they all say. “You can’t deal with a liar” and “you can’t build a relationship on a lie.” And that is true except in this case there was a bit of a twist.
While I was lying to him he was also lying to me. What he led me to believe about his exceptional patience and long-suffering demeanor was as much of a stretch as my stint at the ironing board, my good humor, and my fixation with flawless grooming.
And another thought. I think we all readily assume that whoever authored the lyrics of that little chant… “Liar, liar. Pants on fire,” was simply writing a nonsense rhyme for juveniles. But perhaps that isn’t true. Turns out the phrase is a shrewd description (and discernment) of the dynamics of the lies that I told.
So now, with an expectation of doing better, I feel compelled to tell you how red-faced ashamed I am. I’m ashamed of all my lies and devious acts. And if I were to offer an excuse it would be this. ‘Lovers, through no fault of their own are inadvertently cast into a highly emotional state that cannot separate right from wrong.’ But that won’t do either because, for liars, there are NO excuses.
So I must live with my shame, confess my shame, apologize for my shame and promise never to do it again. I’m willing to do all that, but in the end there is an evil piece in my soul that I cannot purge. What is lurking there in a dark corner is a desperate marauder that longs for the good old days when Hub and I lived each new and glorious day with such wickedness and complete disregard for truth.
So in conclusion, there you have it. And even though I’ve apologized and humbled myself to the level of a ground crawler, I still can’t find a way to feel the teeniest, tiniest bit of remorse.
Friday, October 26, 2007
The Posture of Truth
I have always prided myself on being honest, so finding out so late in life what a liar I am is downright upsetting.
I certainly can’t blame my dishonesty on my upbringing. My Dad was so honest that it was sometimes to his detriment. I remember how his face beamed with relief, and release, the day he shook hands with his neighborhood financier because the loan for the house was finally paid off.
But upon reviewing the figures, he realized the mistake. And in a flash, those twinkling eyes clouded over. And so I watched him get into his truck and drive to the lender’s place to expose the error. The loan was not fully repaid as originally concluded. At the time I was only a child but I couldn’t help thinking what a stupid thing for my father to do.
But as I grew older, deeper in my soul, I had to admire such moral perfection. And I longed to be like that.
I determined to match that standard and ultimately thought I had. Didn’t I take the boss aside one day when my supervisor was harshly disciplined for a careless mistake? Didn’t I boldly inform him that I was equally responsible and should also be punished? That it was my mistake initially? That my supervisor was only guilty of signing off my error without noticing?
The boss listened to my ‘wholesome’ confession then just shook his head and said, “Roberta, I have never known an employee quite like you.”
I took it as a complement. And then he told me it was up to him, rather than me, to determine who should be disciplined and he wanted no more discussion about it. Of course, I now suspect that at the time I had an ulterior motive – mind expansion for a boss that consistently hid all his screw-ups in the hope that they would never be discovered.
But I am talking about my own determinations here and more specifically I am talking about the day I had to face the realization that without knowing it, or realizing it, or understanding it, I lied and lied and lied some more.
You see when I met Hub, I deceitfully hid the real me. I only allowed him to see that part of me that I felt he would find attractive. A girl, light at heart, flexible about plans, highly attentive to his needs. A girl that smiled through pain and laughed through disappointment. A girl always carefully groomed. In those days I even accepted criticism as a positive thing – a way for me to know how I could readjust to be more pleasing.
I creased Hub’s jeans and polished his shoes. I pressed his shirts with sweat dripping from my brow I slaved over the ironing board while thinking to myself…“What delight in doing this special thing for someone I love”.
And I suppose right now, my dear reader, you are beginning to feel skeptical. Well, don’t. These are the things I did!
(to be continued…) Part II – A Mother-Load of Lies.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I was cranky yesterday but I’m not cranky anymore.
Last night I made a fresh banana crème pie. (No whipped cream – whipped cream not necessary). And before it was properly chilled Hub and I ate it all.
Hub said “It was perfect. The best crust, the best filling and I know ‘cause I’m a pie expert!”
“How could you be?” I said. “You've never baked a pie, rolled a crust, or even looked at a recipe?”
His response, “I know cause I EAT pies.”
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The media looks with sneering dismay at Putin, Russia’s Prime Minister, taking the time and effort to meet with Iran’s leader. What is surprising to me is that no one in North America would ever think this might be a new twist in the old game of Diplomacy.
It would seem to me one can get more accurate information about any situation through diplomatic infiltration (or befriending the enemy) than one can gain by hiding out in one’s Great White House and uttering war threats. Mr. Putin may be a whole lot smarter than we think.
And about “Planet in Peril”…
So there he is, Anderson Cooper, flying over an Amazon jungle and so dismayed at scattered patches of forest being cleared and burned. Isn’t it a shame? Yes, it is a shame.
But excuse me, the last time I flew over the American continent, although I saw far-reaching crops and cultivated fields, at the same time in this great huge far-reaching expanse I saw no “virgin” land. Yes, there are a few National Parks that pretend to be virgin forest. But they’re not really. Even here there are engineered modifications and clearings done in proprietary ways to make the parks more financially sustainable.
Even farmland is becoming so compressed that within a few years I may have to grow and grind my own wheat. So who are we to get in this kind of self-righteous snit?
I live in the back country and even here the coyote, the wolf, the fox, and the deer are so squeezed they cannot find enough space for safety or food resources.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I can never forget the day I realized the chain was broken. The day I suddenly became, without warning, the link at the end of the chain.
My mom and dad passed away within a year of each other. And when that happened, I felt such an emotional instability when I realized I was no longer solidly connected to my parents on one side and my own offspring on the other. It was devastating to realize the chain of life was broken and I was now the last link at the end of the chain.
It was a raw feeling. It drew me back to the place of my birth but rather than finding comfort there I found my desolation magnified 30X. The old house, vacant for only a few years was burned down by an arsonist, and when I saw the charred remains, the full reallity hit me of broken chains and lives in ashes. As if they had never been.
As if the games had never been played, the songs had never been sung, and the laughter had never rang in that place. That’s the day I felt an overwhelming conviction to write.
Perhaps through writing, I could re-establish connection. Perhaps I could replace the missing link of my parents with another chain-link of sorts to avoid the isolation of disconnection and to make life meaningful. It wasn’t the best solution, but it was all I could hope to do to reconcile the heartbreak of broken chains and vanishing points.
That was many years ago and now I find myself at a similar aperture. But this time what isolates me, and retraces the pain I just told you about, is my moral and mental disconnect from the stream of the progressive thinking of modern life. Once my perceptions of life and philosophy comfortably tied with the mandate of the society I lived within. But no more. Once again I’ve become a disconnected link. Unity severed by my lack of understanding of what is happening around me.
The link on the left of me began to weaken with stupid stuff. The shocking business of rugged men dressed in pink polka-dotted shorts followed by girls in pant-garb that made plumber’s pants look like high-risers. And the mutation of romance stories from prose that misted the eyes and stirred the heart into nothing more than graphic descriptions of physical connections between individuals, that left the heart cold and stirred only the groin. The rapid transition of religion from that initial solid belief in God to a Godless reverence for nature, and ultimately to self-Gods or celebrity gods.
When truth, that thing that so many honored, and paid homage to, turned aside from forthrightness to blatant denial. Denial, with such fervor, that eventually falseness morphed into truth and suspicions were forgotten. When humility and contriteness were put to rest in a place of decay with empathy and diplomacy. When language became either so vulgar or so ornately scripted that any and all meaning could come out of its convoluted form.
Now I see the anarchy of Political Correctness marching across the land engaged in genocide of language terms. But its domination is nothing more than a mask – a façade to hide the evil in men’s breasts. It is really no more of a cure than a sugar pill.
But we had a cure as good as Bantam and Best before this. Evil was contained through an active conscience and a mandate given to every child in their formative years that one must treat others the way they hoped to be treated. But now, even the meaning of that old adage has been skewed by adopting a new educated, yet ignoble, way of handling bullies that too often boomerangs into greater violence and more confusion.
It’s all too much. You see how the link of my relevance to life on this planet is breaking. And without relevance how do I participate? How do I integrate? How do I postulate? Or even capitulate?
I swear it’s like a new strain of Attention Deficit Behavior that I wasn’t born with but was cast on me by modern strain to see how well I would fare. A super bug or a staph-infection passed on by society rather than a medical facility. My mind is anxious, my thoughts disruptive, and I am unable to focus.
Society had no right to do this to me. They are bullying acts. And how dare they, within the sweet tolerance of a politically correct society, continue to still refer to me in terms so demeaning? ‘Old and feeble’, ‘Mentally Unstable’, ‘Confused’ or ‘Obsolete and Antiquated’?
It’s lonely here. Being, once again, at the end of a chain, without any connectivity to unite my existence with others. But that’s okay. I will use my writing and my imagination to reconnect the chain. I will fashion a link of an uncommon alloy that will return my strength.
I’ve done it before. I can do it again.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
When I have no inspiration
And I can find no calibration
For stylus, writ and imagination
Still I write.
This is, for me, a forced conscription
It’s who I am. It’s my conviction
Still I write
So still I write, I’m writing still
Though prose is sick; and poetry ill,
Wit is ailing, plot is failing
Still I write.
Perhaps I should lay down me pen
And never take it up again.
Roll it in a winding-sheet;
Prepare a spot in the mossy peat.
Then with dignity, I can mourn my loss
By a gargoyle-stone sarcophagus.
Wipe your tears, unbend your knees
I only wrote this poem to tease.
And you should perhaps take extra measure
To wipe away that look of pleasure…
Still I’ll write!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I returned to the old place. They said I would find the landscape much altered, but nothing had really changed. Steep paths, though less visible, still descended to the ocean sand.
I recalled the plunge down those same paths. Paths so steeply vamped that it took such courage for a child to descend. But I did it. Rushing with monster steps and flying feet, in order not too plunge or tumble.
Faith was important as well. Believing I could run. Believing I could fly. Only one fleeting moment of doubt or hesitation and I would tumble end over end down steep cliffs, over sharp rocks, and into the briars.
I think about how enviable I could have become if gravity could be slightly skewed so that my feet could fly with the same rapidity on a flat track.
And perhaps if the gravity in the human mind could be skewed in a similar manner, we could likewise make unbelievable strides. Strides large enough to accomplish all we ever hope or dream. As long as we don’t hesitate and begin that self-perpetuating tumble – down, down, down. End over end over end.
It is surprising to me that this old haunt offers such philosophical and academic import. Study notes, as it were, promoting an understanding of how the character of the soul can find agility through a memory that cements the belief that ‘I can fly’.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Common sense is as refreshing as a gentle rain. I say that because this year, along with family members, our Bush Man Friend (BMF), spent Thanksgiving at our house. After dinner we engaged in conversation.
Now before I continue, I need to tell you that I knew BMF since childhood. We went to the same tiny country school, but BMF had such difficulty in school that he quit long before quitting time and since then, despite so much solitary time in the bush, he has gained an enviable and most interesting education.
BMF’s tales of solitary bush life are both fascinating and original. I challenge the busiest of socialites to tell me stories about their busy lives half as fascinating as the escapades that he has to tell.
Part of the appeal of what he speaks is his jargon. He tells stories in a lovely new gendre of literary prose, refreshing and innocent. And because of this, it is quite impossible for me to retell with authenticity or titillation the stories in like-manner as they were told to me.
Whether written or spoken, he has always treated language in his own unique way. That was the problem in school. He was way too offended that ‘cow’ was not spelled ‘kow’. Being always a simple philosopher of common sense, he could not be satisfied with the feeble academic explanation the teacher attempted for such stupidity. “Why isn’t it spelled with a ‘k’?” he asked, and even yet wonders why.
And although, too often among classmates, he was a source of ridicule, it seems like the unfair criticism of how he spelled ‘cow’ cut his gentle soul the deepest. I say that because he still mentions it so often and when he does his face clouds and his lips quiver.
The other thing I need to tell you about our BMF, is his sense of graciousness. If graciousness is class, he has more class than anyone I know. When he spends time with us, we generally receive within a few days, a note of gratefulness. Written with thought and care. Each word spelled out, not as grammar dictates, but with common sense and his own phonetic interpretation. An encrypted message but easily understood, sincere, and touching to the depth of my soul.
So when BMF brings up the subject of the frustrations he has with language, as a lover of language, I tend to listen closely. This weekend he shared his own unique perspective on the standard usage of the phrase, ‘back and forth’. And, I have to say, as always, common sense ruled his thinking.
“Why do people say ‘back and forth’?” he asks, with that sweet innocence that makes all that he speaks so endearing.
“It makes no sense at all. To first go back? One can go forth and back, forth and back, forth and back. But it is impossible to go back if one has not yet gone forth!”
As a final note, BMF is too often taken advantage of because he is a dogged worker and of such a good nature.
This weekend he told us a story about compensation promised but never delivered. As it turns out, after he graciously and repeatedly asked for payment for his work, he eventually concluded that the promised payment would never be forthcoming.
But didn’t BMF tell that former employee? Yes, he did. Not with rage, or anger, or with retribution in mind. Later, much later, at a large gathering, when his former employer greeted him like an old friend, BMF looked him straight in the eye and gave him something to think about in one simple cutting statement:
“You don’t have enough man in you to make a small boy!”
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Thanksgiving is over. The monstrous turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce are all gone and the houseguests have left. Now its oft been said that turkey produces sleepiness and that feel good byproduct called serotonin. But there is more to turkey-lurky than just that. There are other things turkey does, that I am now more aware of as an ‘old fart’.
I worked hard last Friday. Baking and tidying up everything for the Thanksgiving event. I washed all the floors, but that was downright silly. I should have washed the chandeliers and ceilings instead.
Cause yesterday was a day of levitation. Even the puppies, after eating all those turkey scraps, hovered over the lawn instead of resting on it when I looked out the window. Hub jokingly asked this morning if it was finally safe to cut the mooring lines that kept us from floating near the ceiling.
Of course by now you’ve figured out that the reason we were all levitating is because turkey-gas is lighter than air. Exactly like helium, it would seem to me except for one small difference. Helium is odorless.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I never did understand it. But I am older now so closer to a state of understanding (maybe?). The most obvious thing I can put my finger on is a perception of a change in identity that none of us welcome with open arms. A feeling of deteriorating physical beauty – wrinkled skin, gray hair, a limp, or a much slowed walking pace – and thus a wish to escape before the changes are too obvious. The only way to preserve the identity of what we once were is to get away before any one really notices.
But as for me, I’m staying. I find that an amazing number of people older than I still remember how lively and curious I was as a child. Others remember when I worked here and when I worked there. Others (a mighty few), remember even more unique things – a conversation we once had, a meal we once shared, a laugh, or a cup of tea. Some remember better than me how I looked when I had rich brown hair and a long ponytail. Hub certainly does. And of course some remember the mistakes I made, but I remember them a whole lot better.
That’s comforting. But what is even more comforting about my home community is the loyalty my neighbors have always shown me and still do. It’s as sweet as mothering comfort to know how readily they will come to my aid, if aid is needed.
Sure I hate to hear the things I hear now. Remarks like, “Roberta is looking pretty peaked, don’t you think?” “She’s certainly aging fast.” I would like to be smug enough to say I don’t take these things into account, but I do. But instead of packing up and dashing away to parts unknown, I just disassociate more. Stay more out of sight. And so I only make the dreaded trip to town on odd, and sparse days, when I am particularly well rested and feeling a little more energetic than usual. Pleasant days, that for a brief moment, allow my wrinkled skin to look reasonably ruddy, and a day when sunshine casts sky-lights on my gray hair so that it looks like enviable[?] silver gloss.
Old, but vain, you might say. I prefer to think ‘not’ but at the same time maybe I am wrong. Maybe it is vanity that applies in indirect ways to all of us – whether we stay, or whether we leave.
Bottom line for me is I am going to stay, if for no other reason, because of the great fun and amusement Hub and I find in the company of kids. Particularly in the close companionship of the twins next door and the pleasant thrill my grandchildren get from sleeping in the same room, playing in the same yard, eating in the same kitchen, as Mom did when she was little. These kids love everything about this place and they make us laugh and that would be the sad thing missing if we moved to a distant or modern villa for retirees.
Who can deny that the gaiety of children is certainly the most effective anti-dote for the drudgery and disparity of old age? The ‘Comedy Channel’ is so often nothing more than remakes of the same old joke. With children every hilarious antic is fresh and new and original. It doesn’t get any better than that.
I didn’t get a picture yesterday but I certainly wish I had. Girl Twin asks Hub, “What do you want me to do?” Hub replies “Follow the Yellow Brick Road, follow the Yellow Brick road.” And with that cue to start, Hub and Girl Twin skip down a trail of solidly blanketed golden leaves singing loudly “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz”.
Hub is too funny leaping with such wildly exaggerated steps, arms loosely raised, and flipping his head of sparse hair while singing in a simulated high-pitched, yet child-like, squeaky operatic voice. Ditto for Girl Twin. And here comes Twin Boy and I behind singing as loud as we can in falsetto, “Because, because, because, because – Because of the wonderful things he does!" All our troop barely able to sing for laughing.
So, as I’ve already said, Hub and I wish to stay put, but if anyone had seen us, for certain, we would have been packed up in short order by some charitable-minded community citizen or physician and moved to some other locale.
So, it goes without saying, if we intend to stay put, maybe we need to be just a bit more careful. Old people, despite allowances for their eccentricities and peculiarities, are nonetheless expected to be slightly more demure, and a bit more mature, than we tend to be.
To sum this all up, the nicest part of it all is later, after dinner, Hub and I sit in the livingroom and relax. The old hip is aching, the stomach is unsettled, the back spasm is still there, the heartburn is back, feet are swollen, but still we smile and smile because it was such a funny day. Hub asks with a grin, “What are you grinning about?” and I don’t even answer. We just laugh some more.