Saturday, December 4, 2010

Stupid Christmas Tree

I gave it a lot of thought. I really did. That was after I hauled Hub out of bed to investigate the lonely cry for help of – I don’t know – maybe a cow, perhaps a moose, maybe even an elk.

It was not just some bovine creature saying ‘Good Morning World’. Of course it might be a hungry or cold cow among the farmer’s herd down the road, but if it is, there is nothing I can do about it. It can bawl, it can cry, and if I go down there, it can look at me with haunted worried big brown eyes with tears in them, and still I can do nothing. If ribs aren’t showing, if emaciation isn’t extreme enough for a few of the herd to have already succumbed, it will simply have to continue being cold and hungry.

I really hate the way critter cries dig down so deep inside of me and makes me feel responsible. Where in God’s world did I get this annoying notion that if I have the ways or means to fix it, I must – even if it is none of my business and I know it.

I suffer, man do I suffer, when the farmers in the area wean their calves. Babies crying, mama’s weeping. Makes me heartsick until it finally stops. But then I think ‘oh well, now that it has finally stopped the mom must have gone off to the slaughter-house or the calves to the auction mart’ and the sickness of too much concern over what is none of my business starts all over again.

But going back to this morning’s events, you know, of course, what happened after I rousted Hub out of bed to investigate that brutal cry for help I was hearing?

Nothing. Suddenly total silence. No more calls for help. Just utter silence. And with the breeze and the way currents of sound are magnified in the cold air, I have no idea exactly where the call was coming from originally, so that was the end of that.

Except for me admonishing myself in a sad and sickly way with the thought that I should have rousted Hub out of bed sooner so something could have been done.

But how did I get here in this rant? This was not what I intended to tell you.

What I intended to tell you is I have given it much thought. And eventually decided that I am not going to haul that tree upstairs and piss around with it just so a few of the neighbors and a few of my family members can give it a casual glance before I do the worst of that chore. The horrendous and totally despicable task of putting it all back again for another year.

If the kids were coming home for a day or two en masse, I would do it, but this year that is not going to happen. So the tree can stay in the basement. I have enough other stuff to do to get ready for Christmas without that carry-on…i.e. tangled lights, bulbs that need to be replaced (if I ever can find which one needs replacement), missing hangers, crushed garlands, etc.

Besides the food is much more important. There must be turkey, fresh buns, and pies, and cranberry sauce, and truffles, and the best-ever carrot cake with toasted nuts (not just nuts tossed in out of the nut-bag). There must be hand-made cards for the few I give cards to, because that is what I get from them, and they are far more meaningful than store-bought. And all the corners in this house have to be thoroughly mucked out, the furniture polished, the windows and floors gleaming, and table-cloths laundered and starched. Is it not enough, without the Christmas tree routine?

And so, the decision is made. Only our little gift exchanges and our hearts will signify it is Christmas. There will be no Christmas prompts or add-ons like a stupid tree. My mind is made up. I’m very grateful that I am old enough and mature enough to make this decision without sanctification by others. The tree will stay in the basement. And I am much relieved that it will.

But now, oh yeah, always in the crowd there is some impertinent entity of one kind or another who would press for an alteration of that decision. And that is what has happened here.

That stupid Christmas cactus that hasn’t even thought about Christmas or blooming for six years is blooming all over the place. Screaming at me in desperation like that creature down the road this morning. “Christmas is here. Christmas is here. Better get that tree out of the basement. I can't do all this Christmas-ambiance-stuff all by myself!”

“Well, fine and dandy, then. Anything to stop the whining. So there you go. Here’s a tree if you insist. Now I don’t want to hear another word about it.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Fight for Light and Night

Cirrus cloisters, stratus strips,
Fomenting fogs with blacking kits.
Scowling shadows, hoary hinges,
Like savages on drunken binges.
Barb’rous troops, annihilating;
Ghoulish gargoyles, regurgitating.

Puffed up paunches of nimbus naughties,
Wasted wantons, woolpack haughties,
Nebulous nymphs, cumulus hustlers —
Seek revenge and flex their muscles.

Spirited scuds of nautical speed
Shoving and pushing. Nasty indeed.
And the twisting pursuit of a funnel turbine
Wraps all unapparent that won’t fit in this rhyme.

Oh, ‘tis a sturdy force discharging the night,
Against the campaign of that last arc of light.
Victory, too soon, comes to the stronger—
‘Twould be a grand thing if the fight could last longer.

But, ‘No! — all too soon — the death of the day
A brutal fight? — Yes.
But one lovely fray!’

NOTE: Admittedly this poem is a bit rough in spots, but come-on-now, I was writing it in the midst of a battle. All that aside any editing suggestions to smooth the rough spots would be most welcome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter Garden

Winter gardens...what a sight!
Respectful, subservient,
Humble, contrite.
With textures softened and
Colors subdued
An invitation to
Coffee-tea-hues –
That’s how we like it –
Gently steeped and infused
And delicately splashed
With pastel winter blues.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sky Ways 2.


Trespass again; disguise of night
Lift your shadows to hide the light
Night after day, ‘tis totally trite
Yet, I can’t look away.

Seems that other regions pass
Day is shattered like shivered glass
Monsters appear from a dark crevasse
Yet, I can’t look away.

Purgatory –– there’s its bluff
Paradise — in golden rough
Sacred hills — newly stuffed
I can’t look away.

Woolly fold and sculptured frieze
With honeyed middle interleaved
Replete with soul-thought in the weave
I can’t look away.

On hallowed hillock; a golden pillow
And near-to-by –– a burning willow
Waves of glory, seas that billow
I can’t look away.

Now the night is in full bloom
Hung up high –– a silvery moon
Heart-swell for loves who want to
–– I look away.

NOTE: What can I say about this poem except when Pauline told me my inspiration to write sky poems was a “brave” endeavor, I broadly interpreted that as a challenge and immediately snapped another sky photo and grabbed my poetry stylus.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sky Ways 1.

Pastel origami
Inter-folds of
Withered and prostrated.

Breathless tide
In a river lock
Without perfume of
Tangle, or wrack

Fermented rills of foam
Agitate the borders of
A sandwiched abstraction.

Painted in frolic
By a terrestrial artist—
With medium of
Atmospheric suspension,
And a soft brush of light.

NOTE: This poem (and my previous post), gave me an inspiration to try to write a Sky Poem once a week inspired by some changing cloud formation. But to be totally honest, my inspirations, though passionate initially, are usually short-lived (and I no longer do commitments). Still…who knows?

Want to join me?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Moving Mountains

I still remember how fascinated I was the day my Mother talked to me about faith that could move mountains. She who knew all things, believed all things, hoped all things, endured all things – my mom – told me that if one had enough faith, one could say to the mountain, “Be thou moved, and it will be moved.”

I was about seven years old at the time and that was pretty impressive stuff but coming from my Mother it was not to be doubted. Not for one brief moment.

But there were a few hitches. To start with there was a lot of stuff about readiness to give such a command. You know, stuff like faith. Not superficial faith, but real deep-seated-without-a-doubt faith. And of course one had to be humble. And one had to love God more than life itself. Oh, and that faith, had to be so good that you were praising God for moving the mountain before he moved it.

So I totally geared up for all that. Broke no commandments for over a week. Stole no cookies. Was excessively kind. Prayed without ceasing. Chanted faith into my mind to sink it deeply and solidly into my being. Then I looked out on the landscape at the big hill far away on the horizon and said to God, “I want that mountain moved. Please move it.”

It didn’t move. A few days later I said to my Mother, “That hill over there. I asked God to move it. I believed he would move it, but he didn’t.”

Then came the excuses that always come when people want to believe there is no conflict in their convictions, and no falsehoods in their beliefs.

To my dismay this is why God did not move the mountain according to my Mother. I lacked sufficient faith. It was my desire, but perhaps God saw no purpose in it. Oh yes, I almost forgot. There is a time factor when you pray for something. God answers prayer but in his own way, in his own time. And if my longing to move the mountain stemmed from a sense of power or pride, it of course would not happen.

But it should have happened. I was humble, seeking, contrite, prayerful, and exercising faith that I had never had before or have ever had since. And that mountain did not even tremble.

Anyway, children being what children are, the attempt to move that mountain was a radical disappointment and truly puzzling.

I eventually forgot about it, dismissed the situation as no fault on God’s side. Obviously, some flaw in myself caused the request to fail even though all my intensive internal inspection revealed nothing more that I could do. Which only furthered my confusion because I had also begged during my readiness period for forgiveness for any impure thoughts or unkind acts that I might have committed unwittingly.

Now when I was a child I lived way in the North Country of this area and the mountain, or rather very large hill I commanded to move was visible at a great distance from our home. I now live in the Far Western Part of this area, a goodly distance from my childhood home. This is flat country, there are no grand hills here.

Now yesterday, late afternoon, I was out on my deck and I looked out across the landscape, and you’ll never guess what I saw. My mountain had been moved. It was across the field looming on the landscape in my back yard. I examined it closely. Yes, this is the same hill. It has the same contours, the same shadows, the same shape, and boundaries.

Mother had said God would pick his own time. Who would have ever thought it would be some fifty years later? But I needed a miracle today and I got one. The mountain I commanded to move so long ago, was moved.

Hub and I woke up a bit dismal the other day. We laugh today, we laughed yesterday. My neighbour laughed as well. We laugh, we find joy, because the mountain did move. It absolutely did. And just in case you don’t believe me, here is the proof. See it for yourselves.

This is the usual appearance of the landscape from my deck.

And my mountain -- the one I commanded to be moved!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boogeymen in the Closet, Poltergeists Under the Bed

Today I must review my Halloween candy situation and get bags ready for the tricksters and treaters that will be arriving at my door tomorrow night.

Naïve, I am. Long ago I dismissed the fanciful thoughts of boogeymen in the closet and poltergeists under the bed, but wait, not so fast. They were real and they were there when I was a child and they still are.

I know that for a fact because the boogeymen in the closet are stealthily opening boxes of chocolate bars, and mini bags of chips and cheezies, like children do with Christmas gifts. Small discrete tears and carefully cracked seams that make the damage as close to invisible as possible. But big enough that stealthy hands have extracted a large number of treats.

With the closet door tightly shut, who, what else could it be — except boogeymen in the closet.

But that’s not the all of it. While the boogeymen are busily depleting my stash of Halloween treats in the closet, the poltergeists under the bed are chanting whispered spells that have Hub in a restless and wakeful state of terror interrupted by four a.m. screamer nightmares (and sometimes stomach pains) for the past week.

Oh God, I hate this. It’s not enough that Hub is being tormented at night in such a merciless way, but now I’m stuck with having to make the dreaded trip to town for more treats!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Seven years ago I began blogging. And for some considerable time I wrote daily, then every second day, then twice a week, and then once a week…and then I stopped writing altogether several months ago.

I knew and more than once mentioned why I wrote that blog. I wrote it to circumvent brain rot and I wrote with the expectation of forcing myself into a disciplined and self-challenging act that would improve my writing. I think in many ways my writing did improve but what I didn’t realize until now is you can’t keep doing that. Expecting more and more of yourself without eventually burning out. And so I burned myself out and quit blogging.

But now there is something happening that is forcing me to reconsider whether the halt of my blogging is more bad than good.

I am now an elderly – no longer on the cusp, no longer near but yet so far – I am an elderly. My neighbor gets short with me and tells me “you are not elderly!” –but she is wrong. She is as much an elderly as I, but she lives in some kind of material world and technological time, that allows her to circumvent elderly with a little more bling, the latest fashions, the latest internet jokes, and frenzied gizmo aps.

While she endeavors to keep up with this merry-go-round of changes, I do traditional elderly things – writing, knitting, reflecting, spiritualizing, watching the news and ceaselessly groaning, as my mother did, and her mother before her, and her mother before her, “what, oh dear what, is this world coming to?”

And while I thus groan, my neighbor with much excitement and much animation tells me of the latest starlet, the latest song, the latest movie, the latest diet, the latest texting acronym, and the latest bow-flex, stationary bicycle, or stair-climber craze.

So blogging may continue, but it must take on a new face. It will be scrambled writing – no more that concerted effort to make it fun, witty, or wise. That is what led to my burn-out.

So now it will be scrambled, non-cohesive, dull, and often quite foolish, but that is because I now write for only one purpose – to avoid brain rot. No more writing to impress. No more writing to draw in a visitor or two. Because I am in authentic day-to-day reality, not virtual reality.

And in my day-to-day reality, there are far too many senior acquaintances of mine enveloped in dementia, or teetering on the edge of it for me to sit here and ignore how easily it can develop once the forgetfulness and dullness of mind sets in.

And so I return to blogging, but all that aside, a final thought about the distressing what-is-this-world-coming-to groaning I do. ‘Tis sad, but it’s okay. In fact, I’m thoroughly convinced it’s part of the greater plan—an easement as it were that makes the eventual leaving a somewhat welcome event. If all were as it should be I’d be so angry and heart-broken to leave the Garden of Eden.

But that is not the case. And the truth, if we can bring ourselves to admit it, is it’s much easier to depart from a place that is diabolically disappointing and distressing even if the way out is pitch black and sinister.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Big Blog Discouragement

My big discouragement at the moment with blogging is my lack of freedom of speech. It is not that I want to be vulgar. It is not that I want to be crude. I just want to out that which strikes me as the fabric of a striking story.

And what is most discouraging about it goes back to the debate of ‘character’ versus ‘writer’ and the reader perception that what a character does in a story defines what the author would do, particularly when the writer writes in first person as I prefer to do.

So how does one resolve this dilemma? The ‘id’ of who I am, and the “I” in the story? Must I re-christen the character in my story to Jack or Jane to escape the interchange of me with them? I have tried that but cannot do it and still retain the conviction of what I am trying to say. It is only in first person voice that I am able to make the essential part intimate, conversational, and multi-layered. Besides which, switching to another voice is like converting, what to me are fluid thoughts, to some other kind of clumsy dialect. And yes, I could alternatively switch to satire, but that too can easily lead to misunderstandings even more extreme. Particularly since, in an age of texting, no one any longer understands what ‘satire’ is.

But that is not all. The other thing, so difficult to explain, so hard to wrap my head around, but yet it is true, the honesty of the writing is hampered by such glitches in readers’ perceptions.

For example, right now, though seeming quite removed from this discussion, I want to express my dismay over why army troops in a sexually sterile environment want to have the right to be “openly-gay”. To what end in a place where no fraternization, not even hand-holding is allowed? Can I rant about how I explore this question in my own mind?

No way. Too political to write. The slant of the discussion must be politically correct enough not to stain the author. And how can that happen if the reader generalization of the character’s dismay creates a perception that “I” am too close-minded to understand and support the bravery, sacrifice, and efforts of the men and women engaged in war?

In contemplating this, and other situations of the here and now, I realized the other day, I have still so much stuff to write. But it is stuff that will be, (if the “I” is me), self-deprecating to an extreme. And (if the “I” is me), it will be unjust. (If the “I” is me), it will be so arrogant at times that it will make readers want to puke. And (if the “I” is me), I could end up on Court TV trying to explain my warped thinking. And (if the “I” is me), so innocent at times, it will make readers feel too corrupt to ever wear white again.

But I can’t write this stuff. I simply can’t. Not here, anyway.

In the meantime, I am oppressed, anxious, and ill at ease. I need to openly-out controversial writing inspirations. But this is an environment where, in present time, like openly-gay soldiers in the midst of war, to do so would serve no good purpose.

So I am discontinuing this Blog and these are my excuses.
Thank you for the time we shared.

I guess all the rest that I feel so compelled to write will have to have to be shoved under the bed and labeled “Posthumous Papers”.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Total Intellectual Nonsense

Now, wouldn’t you agree that being flattered for the wisdom of one’s mind is indeed a warmer thing than being flattered for one’s beauty?

But here we run into so many problems. The intellectual mind is too conservative to be publicly displayed. And though intellect is a grand collective of sense, of the greatest quantity, and finest quality, yet there is no way to hand it over to others to touch and marvel over.

I suppose one could say, if I was an intellect, which I am not, that I could reveal the extent of my wisdom through new discoveries, grand oratories, a book, and the like. But without one great lot of public exposure, that kind of revelation could take forever.

It all sounds so impossible, finding a way to ‘show off’ intellect. But, amazingly, there has recently developed a solution that bypasses all the difficulties I have already stated. And this solution I have derived from the blessedness of idly watching television.

What I have noticed is a new form of ‘suffix-ality’ used to display intellectuality. I might not have noticed but the effect is a kind of ‘grammar tic’ that pains the ear and interrupts straight talk like a sour note in music. But at the same time, these are interjections that provide inarguable evidence of intellectual prowess.

For example: ‘Carnal’ becomes ‘carnality’. ‘Function’ becomes ‘functionality’ ‘Constitution’ becomes ‘constitutionality’. Words like this have no greater or lesser meaning than the original root word, but the shorter word cannot form the desired perception of wisdom beyond that of men or women of commonality.

So there you have it. Problem of show-casing intellectuality completely resolved. Who could have ever imagined that it could be so easy? Mentality transported with such swift verticality by simply discarding oh-so-dire plain English and replacing it with a new sophisticality of lingu-ality.

All together now in the midst of our happy dance…


Monday, May 10, 2010

Baby Business

My apologies for blogging so sporadically, but it is a busy time of year.

With gardening threatening to take up all my time very soon, I had to rush to complete another task. I wanted to make a welcome gift for a new little resident expected in our community in early June.

It has become a tradition in this area, that when a new wee resident moves in, Roberta makes that new babe a quilt. And so for this latest expectation in early June, I did just that. (unfortunately the picture is not as clear as I would have liked).

Now I found while shopping for fabric I couldn’t resist a flannelette of cute black and white sheep. But when the quilt was finished I felt it needed something to make it, you know, a little bit special. More special than just a repetition of black sheep bodies and white sheep bums.

So when assembling the quilt, I used white yarn and made quilting ties at the neck of the sheep. Worked okay but still that quilt lacked some special adornment. Unable to come up with anything, I asked Hub what to do.

I laughed at his suggestion and I continue to laugh at the result. He suggested I give one sheep a mouthful of green grass, and so that is what I did. Is it not both cute and funny?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sating the 'Exploratory Palate'

This wee blurb is addressed to those with exploratory palates that yen for foods not yet tasted, not yet tried.

You don’t have to attend those exorbitantly priced restaurants springing up across the globe (that I heard about recently on the news). – with a mandate “To provide indulgence and satisfaction for those with an exploratory palate” through culinary offerings of braised, basted, and butchered emu, ostrich, kangaroo, monkey, snake, zebra, and even giraffe.

Bah, on that. If you want to sate an exploratory palate that yens for something new and untried, you can come at a bargain rate to my cabin in the woods. There we can feast on cornmeal mush, oatmeal gruel, and a warm chunk of char-basted and ash-anointed hard tack. Have you eaten any of these exotics? Have the like ever touched the sensitive part of your exploratory palate? I expect not.

With the utmost humility, I must confess that this is only a wee sampler. There are virtually an endless number of other innovative culinary surprises I could dig from historical archives and prepare for you as well. But that is not all. There are other enticements as well – beyond the sating of your exploratory palate.

The ambiance is just right and quite likely untried, as well.

Where have you previously dined in the cozy surroundings of an old wood stove, braided rug, and humming kettle? With squirrels peeking in the window and a large woodpecker overhead beating out a rhythm to a hummingbird’s fluid and flighty dance at the feeder.

Now you know, and I know, how much today’s society frowns on the needless death of animals for the sake of snakeskin shoes, a fur coat, or a leopard purse. A sensible rule it would seem to me though I can’t say I am in agreement with the degree of reactionary shunning and deliberate sneering that take place when an individual in such attire (perhaps only through an act of charity), encounters on a busy street. This, despite the fact that that same individual may be, though poverty stricken, of a true and noble heart.

But the other rule, the rule that allows the massacre of animals for the sake of food has always seemed an acceptable rule as well. But don’t you see, this rule is only valid when there is a real need for sustenance, rather than simply an urge at the back of the throat for something untested and untried. The rules are sound when the fox fur is the only coat one has for warmth and zebra is the only thing of sustenance one has to survive. But these rules fully unravel, become N/A, when the only purpose is exploratory desires.

Makes me shun and shudder with dismay when I consider that the force and fulfillment of the ‘exploratory palate’ could ultimately evolve, when too many exotic animals have been harvested, to something even more extreme that I cannot bring myself to say. You know, the ‘C’ word! – big pot, big water, blazing fire.

But that is not to say that you don’t have the right to sate your ‘exploratory palate’ in a less negative way if that is what you need to do.

There are such a host of untried delicacies to choose from that eliminate the massacre of exotic animals. All you need do is come to my cabin in the woods and sop up your after dinner ‘Cornflower Blanc-Mange’ (cornstarch & milk, cooked and cooled), or your Potato Paste entree (potatoes, butter, and an egg), and drink your Dandelion Tea.

And to that repast I say, “Amen and Amen.”

‘Tis all well and good as long as you turn your plate upside down, leave your napkin wrapped utensils untouched, and keep your big mouth clamped shut when it comes to exotic animals.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Budgeting That Which Needs to Be

It has pretty much always seemed to me that life is a long stretch with plenty of time to lolly-gag and putter aimlessly about. And procrastination isn’t a crime as long as it causes no inconvenience to others. Always there are tomorrows, so many tomorrows, endless tomorrows.

And how did I come to this conviction? Easy enough. My sixteenth birthday may have happened in sixteen Gregorian Calendar years, but to me it seemed more like sixty years. Likewise the ten days proceeding Christmas on the Gregorian Calendar are actually more like fifty-four. High school Graduation didn’t happen for about forty-four years, and first job took forever, and marriage took forever, and career advancements took forever.

So of course I had to conclude after all that, that life is more a waiting game, than anything else. Everything is in slow mo, and so with so little time actually usurped by necessity, there is much time to burn.

But eventually all things ripen and as my elderly time of life approached, rather quickly, I must say, compared to my other milestones, I came to a puzzling alter-realization that not only is time sparse, but it moves at breakneck speed.

And so that is when I realized as well that I must move from my haphazard way of reckless burning of that irreversible duration that flows in synchronization with clock and calendar, to a stringent budgeting of time. That is, if I expect to realize any of my outstanding wishes, hopes, dreams, and endeavors. Or even, if I have any intention of completing the half-finished quilts and crafts in my basement storeroom.

Now if one takes the time to find out, there are a whole lot of things seniors should concentrate on. Though it seemed to me, in that which the experts advocated, I found very little scope or understanding of my own particular character, life, and situation. For example, I am the iconic symbol for how to bumble through half a century of living without planning or organization. And so now, what is step 1?

Critical and fundamental is this first step – to “set goals” and “get well-organized” (?).

And from thence, one must speedily get documents in order. Then examine investments and work out solid money plans. And also of critical importance, one must document ‘their wishes’ in some new context that falls outside of my long-understood, and your long-understood original meaning.

Are not “wishes” heartfelt longings? Not in this instance. They are called ‘wishes’ but even the simplest-minded can see that in this context there is some new cast of meaning that falls way outside of the realm of hopes, desires, endeavors, and…heartfelt longings. That is rather perplexing.

And what perplexes me even more is now, with more than a half-century of living-experience under my belt, of a sudden, I now find friendly-advice coming at me from every quarter (not just from the hardware store).

And not only that, when my advisors realize I have not faithfully, and diligently attended to the matters I have stated above, I find my reputation besmirched for side-stepping these ‘important issues’ in favor of doing other unrelated things. Like writing, blogging, crocheting, reading, and knitting.

But if I may digress—I need to tell you that gratefully, despite the nasty criticisms from outside advisors, I don’t have any of my kids sending me planning guides for ‘my wishes/longings’—or other unmentionables such as track-shoes, or exercise equipment, which is damn considerate of them. I don’t mind telling the world that if they did, I would be greatly offended.

But now, returning to our original topic, it seems to me that this is not a time to budget my meager monies, or a time to plan and organize papers, or a time to make wish lists –of a kind I fail to understand. How practical is that? The practical thing is to budget time, cause like I said before—I have too many projects to finish to ignore the compression of time.

And so, I have no time for fantastical ‘wish lists’. Instead, on a restrained budget of time I sit and knit and listen to the clock rampaging off the minutes.

But that is not to say that all that outside advice doesn’t cause painful guilt about whether this is the seasonable and profitable thing for me to do. Especially when I consider that the child’s socks I am knitting can be easily purchased ready-made for about $1.20.

I’m supposed to be on a budget and here I am running all my time-statistics into the red by doing such a stupid, impractical thing. Especially since I haven’t even contemplated the more important task of my ‘wish list’.

I see you nodding your head in agreement. You do agree, do you not?

But wait, not so fast. I have one more thing to tell you.

Last weekend, I had my two-year-old grandson stay with me for three days. When he came he had on the little woolly green socks I knit for him at Christmas time. He wore them on the first day. He wore them on the second day. And so on the third day, when I was helping him get dressed, I said, “Oh my goodness. You need some clean socks.”

I reached into his little overnight bag and got him a lovely pair of store-bought blue socks and slipped them on his little feet. (Amazingly at the age of two, Grandson already knows basic colors).

“Blue socks, no good! I don’t like blue socks!

And with that, he ripped them from his feet and adamantly stated. “Green socks good. I wear green socks!”

So now, say what you will, say what you may, about me being occupied in a tight budget of time on what is really important –getting papers in order, wish lists, etc. etc.

I am doing the most significant and important stuff I have to do despite tight timelines. I am in my chair, rocking, and knitting little woolly socks, while the clock ticks away at warp speed as freely as it pleases it to do.

I am engaged in the most worthy of occupations that fulfill wishes/longings (in a context that I understand), of a grandma and her precious little grandson.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

For The Birds

Day before yesterday, winter returned with a vengeance. And for about 48 hours the wind reeked and roared. Snow whipped about the windows and deck like heavy surf in an ocean storm. I heard trees snapping in the woods. Hub never ties down the barbecue cover and it is gone. With the madness of the storm I have no idea which neighbor to call to see if they sighted it – the one to the north, south, east or west.

Anyway after a delightfully mild spring, we are now well snowed in.

And so this morning when Hub looked out the window, he saw a frenzied mass of tiny birds battling over the bird feeder. Hub could readily see that there were too many for one feeder, so he scattered some extra seed on the ground.

Now you’ll have to forgive me cause I’m not a bird watcher in any serious sense of the word, so I don’t know what kind of birds they were, all I can tell you is that they were all tiny birds of the same genus and species.

But while watching them rally about the feeder and the scattered seed on the ground, I suddenly realized I wasn’t just seeing birds. Hub noticed it too. We were seeing little personalities. We were seeing in the mix birds of various constitutions –nasty birds, frantic birds, timid birds, and placid birds.

There were greedy birds that had eaten their fill. But despite that, they stood firm at the feeding station, flapping their wings, and threatening with their beaks, in a bid to make all the rest think they were elected as CEO’s of all feeding activity.

There were birds that darted around the food with such reluctance and fear. And there were other non-aggressive birds, but nevertheless sturdy enough in constitution to not be put off by some bully approaching them threateningly.

I noticed there were even birds dashing about in fright, and fluttering away in quite a panic. Yet to the rest of the flock they were invisible.

None cared they were even there cause with such skittishness, it was quite evident, even to me, that if they were to scavenge anything, it would only be the less tasty debris (or empty hulls) because they obviously felt undeserving of the large buttery sun flower seeds in the mix.

Those choice morsels they left for the authoritarian birds of the hierarchy. But still, despite their humility and mannerly patience, this same bunch ate with such a constancy of terror that they could barely manage to get any food down. The drama of it all put me in mind of another occasion many years ago.

It’s not often, but I occasionally tell people about the ‘happy chickens’ Hub’s mom had years ago. Chickens that ran to her, with long proud necks, bright eyes, making soft clucking conversation to her as they perched happily on the edge of the grain pail she carried out to the chicken yard. People blink at my story with the same blankness that you might see in the face of a ‘stupid’ chicken. But those chickens convinced me that chickens have more intelligence than they are ever given credit for.

But because my story usually is treated as a ‘gaffe’, a story lacking any true sensibility, I no longer tell it. And furthermore, I remind myself every time I think of hens housed in small tight cages, without soft nests, and with lights on night and day so they will lay without ceasing, that it is all of no matter. I am the stupid one to feel so foolishly sad.

And so then, because of others reactions, I begin to think I am such a fool. Chickens are nothing more than chickens. So what if they are mistreated. Their brains are too scant for them to know the difference. And if I worry about such stupidity, I am about as stupid as a ‘stupid chicken’.

But no, I am not stupid and they are not only chickens. Admittedly in recent years I almost had myself convinced they were only chickens and that the day I saw ‘happy chickens’ my imagination was simply working overtime. But no, I had to reconsider after watching that bird-feeding episode in the front yard today.

Those wee creatures, with their wee small brains, are not just warm-blooded guts-and-gizzards with feathers. They have feelings, hopes, manners, or lack thereof, and they are able to demonstrate appreciation and happiness.

I hope some day Animal Rights Groups will understand that if you can’t treat seals and whales like that for the sake of dinner that you also can’t treat chickens the way they are treated for the sake of breakfast.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Award Winners and Presentation

I think my blogger friend Joy has been following my blog for so long she can read between the lines as well as on the lines. She must be able to do that, because she always seems to know when I am truly in need of encouragement. And that is when she sends me just that, either by e-mail or as a comment on my blog.

And today, (when I really needed it), there she is again. Giving encouragement, an atta-girl patty-pat, and encouragement to continue writing. And this time the encouragement came in the form of this beautiful award.

And in response I have been asked to write a quick list of ten things that make me happy – so here they are:
It doesn’t take much…

1. A blogger friend like Joy
2. The sound of rain on a tin roof
3. Soft cotton sheets to cuddle into that have been dried in the fresh air of Spring on the clothesline (Mmm – love that smell).
4. Piano music – alone, only piano – no other instruments interfering
5. Liquid chocolate – I don’t want nothing to dip in it Keep the chocolates, or cherries, or strawberries. I just want to dip a really BIG spoon in the stuff.
6. When Hub drives slow
7. When Hub sings ( the garage)
8. Sunsets, sunrises, storm clouds, and rainbows
9. When I can write as long as I like...undisturbed
10. Getting encouragement exactly when I need it as much as I need food, shelter, and other of life's major requirements.

Now the other thing I’m supposed to do is pass this award on to ten people. So which 10 will it be?

Well, I see it this way. It is as pleasant to receive as it is to give, so any one who reads this blog is elected. Collect the award, put it on your blog. Reveal where the award came from and list ten things that make you happy…

We’ve got a positive moment happening here so help the moment endure…and pass it on…

Thank you again, Joy, for the very lovely Bloggy Award!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Foot Pain

If your feet are size 9 or smaller, get out of here. I don’t want you to read this. I am cranky, I need sympathy and I’m not going to get it from you. Besides, you annoy me. You have always annoyed me.

Annoyed me because I have big feet. Really big feet. For an entire life I have gone to parties, to church, to socials and seen your tiny delicate little shoes lined up in the foyer. Man, they irritate me. So small. So exquisite. So dainty.

Disclosing a delicacy of foot that for a certainty is connected to modest limbs and diminutive stature. We may not be dancing today, but I know how your little feet look and act on the dance floor. Floating above the sheen of the floor rather than clomping around.

And when sprawled on beach sand, I’ve seen your small feet tread by, so close to my vision, right there, right in my face. Lithe, sexy, tanned and way too cute. Little feet, with painted nails, and flashing ankle bracelets prettily skipping past me.

When I see tiny shoes, I want to run, I want to hide. When I enter a house, I stash my shoes under the edge of a rug or behind the door. Too many times, some late arrival has yelled out from the entryway. “Whose monster shoes are these?”

And of course, some wit always replies. “Which shoes? Let me see.”

And so the shoes are brought into the front room amidst a large circle of individuals and passed about and examined. Is that not too much already? But then, you must know too, the shoes, though my best, look oh-so-shoddy. Because overly large feet stretch shoes, scuff shoes, warp shoes, and in general make the best pair of shoes age at 10x the rate of tiny feet.

And so, with little else to cheer me, I attempt to find comfort in that old adage my Mother so often cited to me. “I complained about my shoes until I met a man that had no feet.”

But the moral in the proverb is too pungent, even objectionable to my situation. Truth is, I don’t want my annoyance erased by this kind of wisdom. I want to dwell on it, and in dwelling on, learn to deal with it in a sportive way. Besides my Mother could well cite this with good humor—her feet were only size seven.

As for me, in my selfish and woe-begone-state, I cannot look at my feet with or without shoes and feel gratefulness. Not when everywhere I look there are tiny shoes and tiny feet on display. Small shoes couldn’t be more in my face if they rained down from the sky for an hour and a half every afternoon of every day.

Still I can’t help loving shoe stores. But I don’t go in them, at least not as a tourist. Like pet stores, there are too many lovely tiny shoes begging to go home with me, but like the tiniest and most vulnerable pets in a pet store, I cannot adopt them. There is no way I can give them consideration. Yet, I want them—though the thought be totally senseless.

But there they are. Top shelf, right in my face, a painful display of bright straps, delicate imports and exotic leathers meant only for others – not for me. I feel as depressed as a diabetic in a candy store, and if I inquire about a pair in size eleven, I always get the same response.

“We only have those Italian imports in Size 9.”

I want to slap them, but I don’t. It’s not their fault.
I wonder if it hurts very much, or if it bleeds terribly much, if one snips off their toes. And, I wonder too, how good life would be if I just had tiny, cute, totally sexy, delicate little feet.

It’s just not fair that others can get bigger busts, fatter lips, smaller noses, flatter stomachs, but I can’t get smaller feet. And that’s my ridiculous whine for today.

What this rant should tell you, is that life is as good as it gets, and I have little to complain about.

(Size 9 1/2, or larger, only need reply).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Pewter Pitcher


Pauline passed the word to me from here, and so with little else to inspire me I decided to write a poem about a pewter pitcher.

But I should tell you that right now I am creating a nursery rhyme book for my 2-year old grandson and so with my mind entrenched in that arena, my poem may sound a little bit silly and a big bit juvenile.


That old gray pewter pitcher
Is what we use at tea.
But Grandma’s pewter pitcher
Is more than what you see.

The handle curves like her gentle hand
With soft and grazing touch
And overall, sweet simplicity,
Like that dear one, loved so much

And in the delicate laurel wreath
The circle of love we sustain
And in the pursed pout of the lip
Want of kisses seems so plain

And in the gloss of this holy grail
There is a fogged reflection
Fossilized blurs of yesteryear
Curves of the same connection.

(She takes it from the wooden shelf
Sets it on a cloth of lace
Then with a rough, and work-worn hand,
She waves me to my place)

Yes, there are pipkins on the shelf
More polished and more sleek
But only the pewter pitcher
Speaks a language so unique.

‘Cause Grandma’s pewter pitcher
Is more than what you see
That beautiful grey chalice,
Brings crème fraiche and love to me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Do You Do With Wonder and Awe?

What do you do with wonder and awe? How do you release the inner tension it creates? How to you ease the reverence, respect, dread, and weakness of heart that grips the soul in a gridlock of conflicting feelings of sadness and joy?

I have this sense of awe and wonder when I see my grandkids coming up the walk. But thankfully it is easing by throwing my arms around them and their gentle kisses on my cheek.

I have this sense when Hub gives me an unexpectedly card or bouquet, and I ease it with a blend of smiles and tears, mutual joy, and his hovering presence. I have this sense when my double peony blooms, but it eases as the blossom over-ripes. And so, for such situations, there is a way of escape.

And that be all good and well, but the tension and tight grip of awe and wonder is not so easily resolved in other situations. There are many for which there is no release.

I remember when Hub and I went on vacation one fall. I remember seeing snow-capped purple mountains shoed with golden russet trees bordering a glistening turquoise lake in west coast country. I remember how it was and how the tension of wonder and awe gripped my heart and mind and soul. So tight that it was racking, throbbing, and tormenting.

I feel the agony and ecstasy of that tension again, when I recall the loveliness of it all. But there was no way to release the tension when it hit.

I recall at the time when Hub and I stopped at the edge of those emerald waters how driven I felt to fling myself on the grass, and pound my fists on the soil, and kiss the ground, and weep. All of which I could not do, must not do, as such a reaction would inflict Hub with an even greater torment and tension—over the well-being of my mind and health.

But there just has to be a way to release the tension of wonder and awe. It comes upon me with a gentle wash that ever increases in temperature and duration till I feel scalded, but yet there is no escape. No release—from the joy coupled with dread. I almost hate it. It leaves me in spasms of sadness and gladness interchanging at breakneck speed—like a Drop of Doom roller-coaster ride.

Now it’s been years, close to eons, since last I read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” I read it again last night. I wept with sorrow, then cried with joy, as I did that first time I read it as a child—the line that I love, that breaks me so into pieces is that gentle, sweet, most lovely line— “and when I awoke, it rained.”

And now, from that reading, this morning and through the night, I have been racked with the painful conflict of heart-sorrow and head-joy. And rather than abating, the tension of wonder and awe goes on and on. I am as close to the brink of frenzied hilarity as I am to the brink of a grand and copious wash of tears.

The tension is as like to a dead albatross around my neck as anything can be. In fact, I think this poem mirrors the tension of awe and wonder and in doing that, only increases my awe-and-wonder tension. God, I almost wish I had a toothache or a pulsing migraine to distract me from the absolute beauty and total horror of that poem that I so recently read.

But how can I find release? Hug the book. That isn’t going to work.
Kiss the page. That isn’t going to work.
Erase the poem—can’t do that either.
It is emblazoned with permanence in my mind.

I want and I need to be free of this tension. It is hampering me. It is crippling me. It is tormenting me. But how, pray how, can it be done?

Maybe if I read the poem three more times. Do you think?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Ways of The Elderly 4.


And what are Valentine-like-loves? They can be of a Romantic nature but often they are not. They are simply people I have known throughout a lifetime that gave me confidence, courage, comfort, and worth.

Simply put, what you might call easy friendships with the kind of people that always, and forever, give comfort and security without a trace of aggravation or qualm.

I came to realize this Valentine-like-love representation only this morning in discussion with a friend who dropped in for coffee. In our conversation a name came up so familiar to me because the name mentioned was a fellow who lived near my parents’ house throughout my childhood years.

The name was Mr. Jolly. One of the friendliest, jolliest people one could ever hope to find. He lived alone for many years but eventually when I was in Junior High, he married a dear, sweet lady, as jolly and friendly as he. Wonderful people they were in every respect.

But after I married and moved from my childhood home district, I seldom saw Mr. Jolly and his jolly wife. But nothing changed. Even at that, he and his wife forever remained as friendly and jolly and open to chatting with me as they always had, despite geographic separation and infrequent encounters.

Now I was quite taken aback this morning when Mr Jolly's name came up in a coffee conversation. Surprised that a neighbor in this area that I now live in also knew him. Immediately I expressed in glowing terms how much I honored Mr. Jolly's goodwill and generosity. My coffee-friend listened and heartily agreed with my assessment, but then…and that’s when…she asked me if I was aware that Mr. Jolly passed away some years ago.

Immediately I was so deeply saddened – my soul awash with dismay, loss, and even a kind of isolation. But then slowly, I came to the realization that I knew that. I did. I already knew that. But with that blessed failing memory, I had forgotten and the forgetting was truly sweet.

I have thought and continue to think of the Jolly Man and his jolly wife so often. And when I do I smile and I am so happy when I think of them. Happy because I remember them only in the present tense. How lovely they ‘are’, and how lovely the discourse in my mind of their easy friendship, easy pleasantness, and jolly nature.

It is so nice to be comfortable with present confidence, and unmindful that Mr. Jolly is gone and she in a retirement place. I prefer it that way. Sorrow and loneliness eradicated. All that so direly chills the heart with the loss of good friends tucked away out of mind.

I am well aware that to others, this is a derogatory thing, this living a life of ‘fancy’ rather than ‘fact’. All I say to that is, “Excuse me, Sophists of Society, insist if you must on factual and scientific data for youthful years, but not for the elderly. Being old is not an easy path and in treading it, fancy is what softens the pains of physical and mental impoverishment.


And so, in conclusion, in Way IV, I give you only this one small sample of February comforts and Valentine-like-loves. There are more. Many of my dear friends are gone, but I forget that as I ponder special times we once shared when we conducted heart exchanges like Valentines.

And so what I am left with is a discriminatory memory that allows me to ponder what lovely friends (in present tense) I have. How fond I am of them, how strong and comforted I am because of them. How fixedly they remain an immortal abstraction within my heart and mind.

And so, I wonder if perhaps, in some oblique way, that here, in Way IV, we factually and scientifically found the fundamental cause of the oft-found-conviction of after-life immortality in the hearts of the aged because long-term memories are immortalized and short-term memories die such a premature death.

So Old Age? – Bring it on! In as many ‘Ways’ as there may be. And in that, let me be short-term-forgetful, as long as with long-term-memory, I retain the immortal companionship of all my many Valentines.

[“The Ways of the Elderly” could, I think, be a rather grand epistle. I invite you to do a “Way”. There is nothing sophisticated about my blog so if you have thoughts to add, post them in my comments section and I will pull them out and add them to the other “Ways”. Or post them on your own blog and let me know.

I say this half-jokingly, half-serious, because I don’t really know if anyone will use this prompt to divulge the secrets of present time and place that the Elderly are so disinclined, or unable, to tell.]

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Ways of the Elderly 3.


What seems to have really intensified since “Way I” and on through “Way II” and now into “Way III” is forgetfulness.

I know I am forgetful. Hub knows I am forgetful. And my children and neighbors know it as well. They have too often seen the missing pepper grinder in the fridge, the fresh lettuce blasted in the freezer, and the missing cookbook in the knives-I-no-longer-use drawer. But one small comfort is my long-term memory is reasonably in tact.

In light of that and assuming that this is common among seniors, could this explain why seniors are so secretive about the present? And why they cannot divulge out-takes of present time and place? Maybe there is no present because as quickly as it comes it dissolves into forgetfulness. So quickly that there is no time to take it up, turn it over, and have a good look at it.

But I digress. In my particular circumstance so far, all that occurred in Way I and Way II was so self-deprecatory and depressive. And so I begin to wonder, ‘Is there not an upside to this elderly stage of existence?’

Oh yes, there is. Very much so. But only just today, I came to that realization and I must quickly get it down before it escapes from memory.

Now I already know from blogging and reading others blogs that some kind of aura exists that directs commonality of mood and thought of humankind according to calendar times and seasons. While I was writing this I found a surprising number of other blogs contemplating similar subject matter, although from widely diverse perspectives.

But, unfortunately, contemplation of aging can be somewhat depressing to those of us nearing the climax of life. And then, if you add to that, the dreariness of February, that desperate time when Spring is too far away to look to the future, and Winter too fixed in place to look to the past, the whole conglomerate of it all becomes rather debilitating.

But be of Good Cheer because between the Dumbo ears, behind the bulbous nose, and above the skin-wizened neck, there is a bit of a G-Spot, locked between long-term memory and short-term forgetfulness. To explain further, this is the spot that magnifies, amidst all the awful changes in appearance, something to be truly grateful for among the ‘Curses of the Fullness of Age’. A tiny spot stimulated to a frenzy at this time of year by, what I choose to call, Valentine-like-loves.


Friday, February 5, 2010

The Ways of the Elderly 2.


The first elder realization came about two years ago. That awful day I woke up to find, when I gazed at my mirror reflection, that my smooth and delicate ear lobes had suddenly transformed into monster blobs—without cause. There was no malady, no infection, no chaffing, no heavy embroidery on my pillowcase, in fact no exacerbation of any kind.

But nevertheless, I had seen earlobes like this before. Oh yes, now I remember. They flagged the drooping heads of so many of the dreary souls I had once seen at a rest home. That’s where I had seen them.

I was so—not pleased. This new outgrowth was in no way comparable to the slow, creeping pace of outgrowth in my 13th year, and 14th year, and 15th year, that finally, finally, in my 16th year, resulted in sweet, flattering, and lovely swollen breasts. The ear-lobe-happening was a quick-take in no way comparable to that tardy breast transformation.

With the ear-lobe thing, there was no wait. I hadn’t yet reached any point of expectation and already it happened. I went to bed with delicate ears one night and woke up with Dumbo ears the next morning. Egad!

But as awful as it is/was, I am truly glad that I did not in my youth, wear those great honking ring-implants in my ears that I now see some young people wearing. What will become of them, when they reach “Way II” of their senior years and their earlobes explode?

But, all that aside, within “Way II”, the education has only just begun. Cause yesterday, just yesterday, I took a peek in the mirror to see if I was okay for the dreaded trip to town and guess what?

Now my nose has exploded. It is no longer the angular delicate silhouette it has always been. No longer the reserved profile of a perfect balance within the spectrum of once-large-eyes, no somewhat reduced, and once-full-lips, now somewhat reduced, and once-full-face, now somewhat reduced.

Yeh, you guessed it. Now I have this gawd-awful nose, that obviously happens as one ages, whether one avoids alcohol, steroids, cabbage, jumbo onions, or boils lexicons with cosines and drinks the reckoning warm without sugar.

And, so now, the conclusion formed within the context of these latest circumstances is that within “Way III”, or should I say a week or two, I will find a great honking coarse black hair growing out of this bulbous nose with all good will and dedication.

NEXT POST: — we continue on our way — to WAY III.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ways of the Elderly [Way 1.]


In ‘Way I’ of this series, I first want to reflect on my own peculiar attainment of an understanding of life realizations.

Suffice to say that at a young age, through diplomatic conversations with my mother, and less diplomatic conversations with older sisters, I found out that within my lifetime, I could expect several stages of change.

There would be a stage of adolescent change, and soon after stages of love, marriage, childbirth…and then…little else. Nothing actually. Because after that, life-stage-instruction fell off, as it were, into a deep chasm. There was no discussion from Mother or siblings of what I might expect in that latter period of my life.

And so the learning was hampered right from the get-go with a kind of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of thinking, not only from my Mother who maybe as yet didn’t know, but also from Elders in the neighborhood. And so that silence made old age seem so irrelevant. So unrelated to me—my life and my own physical and mental development.

Sure I encountered a few old people, some very old indeed, but ‘twas said about the town that ‘they are totally senile’, and indeed, they appeared to be. It was obvious even to me in my tender years that they all were so-of-another-mind, and another time, and another reasoning, and a square-and-unyielding-lack-of-acceptance of the magic of modern-day thinking. So much so, I concluded they must be no more a part of my phylum or sub-species than a rock or a tree.

Appearances alone supported this conviction. So many of them had hunched backs, a shuffling gait, bulbous noses, over-large earlobes, and folded sagging necks shaped in all respects like that of turtles. None of which physio-features I possessed.

And furthermore, when I engaged in conversations with them, like turtles they withdrew from present time and only discussed with me times of their-now-distanced youth.

They were mum, in fact, secretive of their own particular thoughts and feelings in present time. Even my own parents became secretive in that respect in their elder years. Pretending, as it were, that they were still in a youthful space. Dipping only into circumstances of the past. A kind of pantomime acting out without the modern-day stage costumes of jogging outfits, face-lifts, tanning agents, hair coloring, and only God knows, what else.

So, despite even one-on-one discussions, the ‘stage of elderly’ remained a complete blank slate—and my understanding as limited as that of a something as inanimate as a rock or a tree.

And so, with no knowledge of what to expect in my elder years, I likewise gave no contemplation to that stage of life. But eventually realizations came. Not gently, but explosively.

Next Post – you guessed it – WAY 2.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Root Cellar - Part II


[In Part I of this story I told you how my brat brother played an evil joke on my Mother, and for this he was thrown into the root cellar and the cellar door shut tight…]

And so, now as I write this, I wonder. ‘What would today’s psychologists say about a child that would play that kind of nasty trick with a rope tied to a rock in the well? And would root-cellar-discipline head the discussions for weeks, even months on prime television?’

If there were to be any media discussion, it should be no more than three minutes. After all, Brat Brother got no physical beating. He simply got modern-day sanctioned time-out. And boy, did he get time out. I’m certain sure he would have preferred a good thrashing. I know I would have.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I did not have to press my ear to the cellar door to hear the muffled cries and sobs from that cold chilly ethereal pit of hell. My brother was trapped in an Edgar-Allan-Poe-nightmare with only darkness and the beat of his heart. And I was glad, so very glad, it wasn’t me.

But still, I couldn’t in my wildest imagination think how scared my brother must be. And although I so often told him that I hoped some day he would be so far removed from me that it would cost a thousand dollars to mail a letter, I did feel truly sorry for him and begged for his release.

But Mother was adamant that he would remain there for a time (long enough I guess for remorse to set in because remorse is important). But, of course how could he even for one New-York-second consider the weight of his actions in a place that so seriously threatened survival. Was there sufficient air? And I know he was thinking, ‘If I mold and die in here, they’ll be sorry.’

And so after hopeless raking and clawing at the root-cellar lid, and screaming until he could scream no more, and crying until his face was thorough soaked, he moved to the more dire thought of what would he eat. The eating part, to Brat Brother, was the most fundamental of survival. To survive one must eat, one must eat much, and one must eat often.

And if the experts are right, that eating is a remedy for other distresses, Brat Brother’s distresses at the moment were overwhelming, and so his next clear conviction was no matter what else, he must eat.

And so he felt around in the blackness of the cellar and had one flash of relief when he found a tin can with a lid. He managed to pull the lid off. He felt the stuff. It felt like jam. He tasted it. It seemed to have a weak sweetness. It was hard to know for sure what it was by taste, but because it was stored in the cellar, it could only be one of two things – pork lard or jam. And though questionable which it was, that weak bit of sweetness convinced him it must be jam.

And so, he commenced dipping and licking his fingers. Taste was of little matter. One MUST eat.

Now I expect my brother was probably in that cellar no longer than ten minutes but I’m sure, and quite understand, how to him it must have felt like many long hours. He was in survival mode and so he was eating jam. Unfortunately when the cellar door was eventually cast back and he was released, he found to his dismay, the meal he had partaken of was in fact, finger servings of, what was called in those days, axle grease.

So this is where we’ll leave this story, but now as I watch Court TV, and see so many suspects of child murder and abduction refusing to talk, I am so dismayed. Seems to me that within the Geneva Convention and the Fifth, the authorities have no way to force confessions, and no way to get to the truth – though that truth might redeem an innocent child.

But wait, maybe there are acceptable ways of making people talk. And it is not by locking them in cellar-holding cells in Remand Centers with painted walls, air-conditioning and concrete floors. These conditions are totally false misappropriations of what a cellar is.

The Geneva Convention and the Fifth (which admittedly I know little about) must be upheld, even when childrens lives are in danger. But, at the same time, society accepts without protest or qualm the new discipline of Time-Out.

So for those who refuse to talk, why not time-out in a damp, fusty, funereal, black-mold-lined, dirt-excavated cubbyhole five feet square and four feet high, piled with rotting carrots, potatoes, and turnips, inhabited by fungi of all slimy convictions, and misty demon-like poltergeists...crowded into a darkness as thick as black-strap molasses?

And if that be not enough to make them talk…
Dry bread and axle-grease for dinner!

Thursday, January 21, 2010



It was a secret door, almost secret, except for the metal circular ring that lay flush with the floor in a round shallow cut of the same size. You had to bend and look closely, within a certain line of light to see in the lino, the outline of the little square door that led to the secret passage.

When the ring was lifted and the small door pulled open, nothing could be seen but a few steps and a hole of black darkness. The coolness was such that when the door was opened, spirits rose from within in wispy transparent death-dress. Hell’s hole. Pretty much. But still, t his is where my Mother sent us for carrots, potatoes, and on one occasion — for disciplinary measure.

The root cellar smelled earthy, fusty, funereal. The five wooden steps were slick with black mold that made their sturdiness questionable. And when I descended gingerly with pail in hand, I shivered with horror and a definite foreboding. Multiple times, I offered my services to do another’s chores, or my small monthly allowance to a sibling to avoid the split-second task of getting vegetables for dinner. Descent into that tomb? Not if I could avoid it.

Always my greatest horror was someone would shut the door before I was resurrected to the light. And it would bind and stick as it so often did. And I would thus find in my crouched position on the upper steps a law of physics that in my mind was already suspect. That without methodology, instruction, or Newton-theory or Einstein-understanding that ‘an upward pressing force is far less efficient than an elevating lift’ –particularly if some stupid fool is standing on the door and cannot hear the pounding of my fists on sodden moldy wood or my yells to be released forthwith.

Monsters under the bed? So what?
Boogie-Man in the closet? With one eye in the middle of his forehead, and a pitchfork, and a black stallion for quickness of movement? So what?
In these matters I can be so brave because all of it and none of it was comparable to the horror of the thought of being trapped in the cold cellar.

And so a day came, when these theories were tested.

In one act of parental desperation my brat brother was put in the cellar and the door was shut. On that particular day, he chopped a hole in the ice in the well with an ax. He then tied a length of rope to a large and heavy rock. And when I disappeared for a time in the quiet of my upstairs room with books and dolls, that was the opportunity he was waiting for. That meant it was time to perform what he thought was a wonderfully witty joke on my Mother. And so then, while my Mother busied herself in the kitchen, from outside my brother sent up a terrible howl from the yard.

My Mother ran to the door to see what the problem was. There was my brat bother holding a taut rope some twenty feet from the well.

“Help Mom! Oh Help!”, he screamed. “Roberta is in the well and I can’t get her out.”

Without donning shoes or coat, my mother ran to the well leaping through the snow in bare feet to the bottom of a hill as fast as her legs would carry her. Meanwhile my brother was screaming, “The rope is slipping. I can’t hang on. The rope is slipping!”

And then, just when my Mother got within five or ten feet of the well, my brother let go of the rope and there was a horrendous splash as the rock he had tied to the end of the rope descended deep into the well.

By now, I heard the commotion and came running from my upstairs hideaway to see what all the hullabaloo was about.
Now my Mother was a very patient and kind woman. I don’t remember what was said, I know my mother wept loud sobbing cries of relief when she saw me. And then my brother, grinning sheepishly, was firmly grasped by one arm and tossed into the root cellar and the door was slammed shut.

That is the only time anyone was ever in there with the door closed that I know of.

(to be continued...)

NEXT POST: 2. The Edgar Allan Poe Nightmare

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January Desperation

Do you remember how fast time was flying from December 1st to January 1st?

It was speedier than Hub’s most frenzied driving. The G-force drove my hair back and pressed my lips and nose into flat tight lines. And then, before I knew it, before I was even ready, New Year’s Day arrived and it was all over.

And then the world stopped spinning. Time stopped. Even the sun no longer rose and fell in the sky. It didn’t seem worthwhile for Old Sol to climb so high, so slowly, with no height of day to rest before a return to hiding on the western horizon. Days dragged in 2-second increments with the sun in hiding and the sentry of night and day nothing but a cloudy moon. A cloudy moon that permitted no differentiation of night from day.

And still January progresses at a pace too slow to know, see, or observe. It seems a drag of too many minutes and too many hours; too many monotonous days, and too many monotonous nights. Nights that are far too long for restful slumber.

In the space of the Christmas rush, this is what I longed for, but now it is far too extreme, in reverse, to be appreciated.

And so what must be resurrected is a sense of humor. Oh yes, easy said, but not so easy done. Hub and I have just gone through whirling days of phenomenal feasts, grandchildren chatter, arrivals and departures from the front door, and lovely surprise offerings under the tree.

We have gone from Christmas carol-bells-ringing, tinsel glowing, lights glittering, endless and very busy activity to this dull, slow-crawling, and meaningless creep of time.

And so there is a new kind of desperation for humor. I didn’t realize how desperate until the situation of Hub’s lined-jeans-exchange. Hub was so happy when he got a pair of lined jeans for Christmas. He loves lined jeans because they eliminate the need for donning underwear. But the new pair was snug so yesterday he went to town and exchanged them for a larger pair.

Now the wee bit of disappointment for him in that exchange was that the original jeans had blue flannel lining, and the larger pair he brought home yesterday have red flannel lining.

So this morning he puts on the larger pair and says to me, “I wonder why these jeans have red flannel lining instead of blue? I’m not sure I like that.”

Of course, my response, (while thinking to myself – ‘silly old fool’), is…


“Because,” says Hub, “when I am out in the snow I might get them wet and they will turn my legs red. And then people will laugh and poke fun at me. They will taunt me. I can hear them already.”

‘There goes red legs. Ha-Ha! There’s that old boy with red legs again!’

If you didn’t laugh, you better. You were supposed to.

This is Motif 1 in Hub’s desperation (and mine), to find the sense of humor we had before the laggard tempo of January 2010 virtually stopped the clocks.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Ejection, or should I say Rejection? (III-IV)

Part III – The Search for Redemption

For three days I punched every link I could find. I tried search engines from every possible angle and direction. I even went through these rituals on all three computers, but no luck. Yes, it was all too true. I was solidly shut out. No way to crash this party with that kind of 24-7 security.

Now I had one wee bit of fragile hope in all this. Hub and I are here alone most of the time so when my computer stalls, or cycles some kind of stupidity, or takes to flashing nothing but pop-ups, or refuses to be cooperative in a thousand other ways, I say to Hub, “I am having a problem with this computer. Will you have a look at it?”

And so Hub looks at it and always says the same, “What the hell did you do to it? You must have changed something. This wouldn’t be happening otherwise.”

And of course I say, “I didn’t touch a thing. Honestly I didn’t. I changed nothing.” And it is the truth. I didn’t change anything.

Then Hub, who fully understands computer hardware, virus control, and all the other behind the scene aspects of computers, goes to my computer and does his bit of magic, and we are back up and running in good form. Sometimes it is simply manipulation from the keyboard, sometimes it is installation of a new bit of hardware, but when he attacks a troublesome computer, the trouble is normally short-lived.

Now one of the truly most enviable things in the mind of a computer is that, if it royally screws up, or gets a really nasty virus, Hub can subtract the computer’s moments of irresponsibility or disease and reduce its life to only the good times. He can erase the errors, the mistakes, the blight, and actually subtract from that computer the memory, and all of the segments of its irresponsible past that interfere with its performance.

I so often think now nice it would be if human beings could do that as well. This day it would be particularly nice to be able to so easily recant something I may have said.

But Hub tells me that being shut out from anothers blog cannot be cured in that way. That is their right, that is their choice, and without an e-mail address, there is nothing that can be done to re-establish contact.

Part IV – The Come Back

I am so utterly heartbroken. I cannot believe how heartbroken I am. It is stupid, utterly stupid, how sick at heart I am. At the same time I am so techy-dumb, dumb, (and forgetful as well), that I wonder if I could have changed something on my own page that caused this?

Anxiety over all of it plagues me like a nasty head-cold stuffling my mind. And then, a few days later, quite by chance, I notice in my archaic tracking system that although I can no longer visit my friend’s site, my friend had visited mine. Now I know, though I seldom do it, that if I highlight the site that visited me, occasionally that will take me back to their place. And so I try, and oh glory, it works. But now what?

The site name was not altered in any way, but nevertheless, I cut and re-pasted it on my links and suddenly we were back in business. No door slams in my face. No barred threshold or virtual voice screaming, “Get away, get out of here, and don’t ever, ever come back!”

But that is computers for you. They screw up and Hub thinks I did something to make them screw up. And as for me, I suspect he inadvertently did something to make it screw up. But he is as persistent that he didn’t change anything as I am.

So I have to accept that computers, like myself, are not always lucid. And within their incredible brains, they sometimes reflect in ways that cross signals and alter synapses. And in doing so wrack horror and rawness on people that is beyond belief.

And so now, as a final thought, if my friend really did want me out of there (which I am quite certain was not the case) – then all I can say is that, like the Salahis' at the White House Dinner, I too, have crashed the party.

But my mind is at rest that all is well. Since that horrible time, we have spoken often, and our conversations are as delightful and openly friendly as they ever were in the past. This was obviously nothing more than a friendship thwarted by some kind of inexplicable computer interference.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Ejection, or should I say Rejection? (Part I-II)

Part I – The Nightmare Begins

To begin with, I’m a strong believer in good courage. Of chucking one’s chin in and getting on with it. With the belief that things can only get so bad before they have to get better.

Still the courage I have is not always so deep-seated as I may lead others to believe. The self-confidence I have is not so deep-seated as I may lead others to believe. And the goodness I want to have. And the faith, appreciation, and strong work ethic, I want to have. I guess we’re all like that to a certain extent. If all our attempts to be all that we would like to be are not sufficient, we apply a bit of make-up to more than just the face.

Now I’m telling you this because I had a really raw moment a few weeks ago that I wanted so much to tell you about. But I hesitated to do that, because the rawness I felt at the time completely reduced to rubble the embodiment of courage that I need, and feel obligated to maintain.

And when I write in the moment of that kind of conviction, I can spread rawness like a wildfire, because rawness is pouring out of every cell of my body. And when that is the case, I feel like I could literally drown my readers in my own sorrow. But I am no longer saturated with that rawness and so I am finally ready to tell you what happened.

Part II – Me, and My Big Mouth

I have been blogging since March 2003, and since that time many blogger-friends have come and gone. Quite often there are clues in their final post. Some simply need to take a break. Others find a new significant other, move to a new job or locale, and suddenly fall silent. But the little clues of what happened to them are enough that I can deal with it. And yes, a few discontinue because of health reasons and when that happens I am very sad, yet all of it is understandable enough to accept.

What is harder to accept is what I am unable to understand. And so I was less able to accept the situation of going to a blogging site, that I frequent more often than most, only to find that I no longer had access. When I hit the link on my page, I got a message that said, “No Access”. When I googled the site, I got the same message – “No Access.”

But yet I had a rather strong confidence that this was not the type of person that would just disappear without a ‘fill-in’ or friend letting readers know what was going on. This was a person to ‘into blogging’ to just erase and shut down his/her rants. So what does that mean? It must be me. Me—and my always-at-an-obtuse-angle-big-mouth.

It must be something I said that was too sassy. I mean all I say in good humor, but what I say is easy to misconstrue. I must have somehow inadvertently put one foot in my mouth and the other over the line where enough is enough is enough.

I raked my mind and could think of nothing offensive that I might have said that would drive a person to such a radical reaction. I tried again and again to stop by, but it was like getting a door slammed in my face again and again. The discard of friendship and the bolted passageway hurt. And what also hurt was the foregone conclusion that I was not welcome there. Not wanted there. Like – “please leave and don’t ever come back!” There was nothing for it except my strongest suspicions that my ‘friend’ was still out there, but they were absolutely, completely, unalterably done with me.

I won’t tell you that I wept bitter tears. That sort of thing is too intimate and private to tell. I will tell you that I said to myself, in my extreme disappointment, that if I was so careless that this could happen, I best not blog. ‘Twould be best for me to shut it down, and go back to the furnace room and write only for the sake of writing, for myself, and no other.

To be continued....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Too 20th Century

Now you just can’t take someone as reclusive as I prefer to be, and have been for the last three years, and yank them away from familiar things and redeposit them in the fast lane without some thought, consideration, and re-orientation.

Now Christmas usually gives me a jolt. That’s when small discoveries and new discoveries are revealed to me that can be most puzzling.

The grandchildren come wrapped in tiny wires with little boxes with buttons and sometimes ear phones, maybe heart monitors, for all I know, and yatter at high speed in excited voices about the new gift. But despite all their garbled speech of excitement as they wave it in the air, I have no idea what it is, what it does, or what is so entrancing about it.

They rush past me at the stoop, head straight to my living room, seat themselves in a chair, plant the thing in their laps, and then go into a trancelike state. I can’t help but wonder if what comes up on the screen is nothing more than a hypnotizing silver ball on a string swinging back and forth and a low beep whispering in digitized voice, “You are getting sleepy, very sleepy….”

And there they stay in their trance-like state till dinner call. And when I ask, no one got a doll, no one got a truck, no one got a book, no one got a watercolor set, in fact no one got a thing that looks like anything from the 20th century.

I tell you this just so you realize how out-of-the-loop I really am. But I guess that is to be expected for someone who has avoided public places, shopping malls, and the whir of the city for several years now. It is enough for me to make the dreaded trip to town every two weeks. It is enough for me to stop on that dreaded trip at the one-person post office, the 2-clerk drugstore, and the 3-clerk grocery store.

But on New Year’s Eve, all that changed. Hub and I went to the city to stay with Youngest Daughter (YD) for a few days. Her house was quiet, warm, peaceful, like my own so I was grateful that for the first couple of days YD and Hub left me at home while they went on cruise about, gad about, shopping trips. But they are schemers and behind the façade of quiet submission to my desire to maintain the reclusiveness I am used to, they were scheming to get me out and about.

The sessions of re-orientation to get me back into the swing of modern life and the real world started New Year’s Eve with an introduction to the World of Wii. YD and I played Wii golf, tennis, bowling, and even jazzed for a while with Wii rock band with guitar strapped to my chest.

It was fun at the time, but when our performance wound up, it was a bit discomfiting for me. YD was loudly applauded for her singing, while I was rudely booed off stage. They said it had to do with my guitar playing – it most definitely did NOT!!

They’re a bunch of dummies. The notes I played are important and add depth and a sweet resonance to the music and I played them for that very reason. Though other band members skipped over them. I played Minor chords at mostly appropriate times. And Minor chords are not so 20th Century as the younger crowd may think!

In the Wii World, the Sporting Wii World, I paid little attention to the avatar gawkers watching our games. I was too involved in technique and accuracy to worry about those little people scurrying about me. They probably poked fun at me then as well (because I’m old and less than graceful of movement), but I was oblivious to their disdain.

Then we went to a Wii Village and hung out. I thought that would be nice. In my youth I always liked sitting in a food court in a busy mall and people-watching and that is more or less what we did.

Watching the avatar inhabitants, I noticed that they wore brightly colored clothes (rather out of vogue with fashion in the real world) but none wore lovely plaid or paisley. I noticed they did not cluster with close friends as real-life mall-crawlers do. I also noticed they walked about with determination, like persons of independent will, strong mind, and strong purpose. Clusters only happened by chance when walkways were overcrowded.

I smiled cause I could tell they were happy little villagers. Friendlier, in some oblique way, than people in real life. Though not clustered in gangs, or hand-holding couplets, they happily looked about them for reasons to approach and interact with others.

It was, for me, quite comfortable mingling there. More so than in real life in a crowded mall or airport. I had no underlying dark suspicions of them, or they of me. I fit in so easily. I had no fear of being followed, harassed, or having my open purse rummaged behind my back. It was a nice place to hang out. Really it was. And I had a comfortable feeling that here friendships could be easily formed.

The next day Hub and YD started a marathon of cruise about, gad about, shopping trips and sight-seeing tours. They took the puppies to the park, and came home from their frequent circuits full of gay laughter and adventure.

But then, oh yes, on the third day, having run out of excuses why I should, and could not go, I was compelled to leave the house. So that is when YD and Hub dragged me away for a dreaded shopping trip. I bumbled after them through parking lots and crowded aisles, (where did all these people come from?), with panicky fear that I might get lost. Of course neither would hold my hand – that would be too 20th Century!

Eventually we went to an incredible shop with every nature of kitchen appliance and furniture ever invented. Then as I followed close behind, YD paused by a large black recliner and told me to sit down and relax for a moment or two.

I leaned back in the comfy chair and as I began to unwind, something, or someone gripped both my legs firmly with a warm embrace. And then knuckles crawled up both sides of my spine in a rolling, circular movement.

When they reached the back of my neck, the knuckles unfolded and paddle-hands gave my shoulder blades and neck a patty-pat like those given in family hugs. They caressed the back of my neck at the sides slowly first, then rapidly, but still gently. They patted and circularly stroked my back some more.

Meanwhile my legs were compressed in spurts that put me in mind of a forward making a pass at me under the table skirts in a crowded bar. My feet were elevated gently and then lowered. I felt the warmth of the other body caressing me. No pinch of the thigh, but a gentle rub and firm nudge rather than pinch – and yes, it was located on the fleshy part of my upper, outer thigh.

After a few minutes, the chair released its grip on my legs and pulled away and I knew my lover had left. I wanted him to come back. I wanted to oil my body and sit naked in that chair. (Did I say that out loud?)

Now maybe another day when tempers are worn thin, I might not have reacted as I did. But today was a particularly good day. I was so enjoying the company of both YD and Hub once I realized they were not going to allow me to get lost. They were both so affable. In extreme good humor and so mindful of my comfort that when we exited the shop, I looked sideways at Hub and grinned.

I had no wish to purchase that chair. None at all. And I knew that back home no dogged and unsurpassable niggling yen would rear whispering without abatement, “I want and need that chair.” That isn’t going to happen because I have all the delights of that chair in easy reach – though so 20th Century it may be.

I have the comfort of such caresses without spending in excess of two grand to get a warm hug, a patty-pat and a wee nudge in the fleshy part of my thigh. The chair is good, but somehow it still lacks something in the ambiance, though I have to admit, what it lacks is not easily understood or described. And seems to me, without a strong sense of inner soul, and spiritual intuition, one could too easily supplant the delights of one with the other – and perhaps find warmth and human comfort as much in a chair as in a physical embrace.

But I think you now see what is happening here. Through all these experiences I am getting up to speed. Getting back in the loop of life outside of my own reclusive world of reading, blogging, and weaving in knit stitch, crochet stitch, and tatting stitch, threads of 20th Century nostalgia.

And so then we went to another shop. Here we looked at virtual gardening lamps and plant trays. One growing kit was half-price although there was only one left. We bought it. Hub and I brought it home. Seeded some tomatoes in the magic, dirtless, compounds of nutrition, stabilizer, water, heat, and light. I picked up the empty box to discard it and saw written on the box, "Dirt is so 20th Century”

So despite all that I have done, despite all that I have seen, despite the avatars that sought to draw me in, despite the chair that wanted to love and comfort me, sadly I choose to remain in the 20th Century. I happen to like plaids and paisley, minor chords, flesh to flesh patty-pats, and dirt. But I wouldn’t mind having a few avatar friends if they are as dear to me as my blogging friends are!