An homage…

My mom was one of nine siblings and I grew up surrounded by cousins, with our maternal grandparents at the center of the circus, always. It was one of those families where the Christmas presents fill up half the living room and the dining tables take all the space that’s left. We were raised on humor, hugs, and a knowing instilled by farmers and former military that we were expected to suck it up and survive.

But Grandpa died of lung cancer… and then when Grandma, the Queen Bee, left us at age 95… all the air went out. We went from time-honored massive family reunions to none, literally in a heartbeat. The Clan has dispersed itself around the globe over the years, so there are generations of cousins I’ll never know, even by name. And it’s sobering to realize that most of the cousins I grew up with I’ll never lay eyes on again. They’re there… I’m here… neither of us is going here nor there for all the reasons… so the last time we saw each other… was the last time we’ll ever see each other.

People change. Life changes us if we’re living it at all. We assume we know the humans with whom we share a gene pool, but it’s a delusion of youth and immaturity… the longer we live, the greater the distance between us. And sharing a bloodline doesn’t mean we’ll get along, or even like each other. The current mood of the planet has soaked into every part of society by now, making family dynamics a minefield… therefore, at least half my extended family considers me “better in theory than in practice” at best… and I’m good with that.

Everything ends. The most beautiful things in the world – like a big crazy family with love coming out its pores – don’t remain static, they can’t. So I’m paying homage to a dynasty that was and is no more. It was never what we purposely remember it to be… but close enough for family and fairytales.

WHERE IT STARTED…

WHERE IT WENT… x 3 or 4 by now

Possibly the last big reunion we had. These are all 1st cousins, about half the total at the time.

Fall melancholy… moody rambling… somber thoughts…grieving the losses… celebrating what was. All respect to a big ol’ family that’s tried as hard to be human as any I know. And on we all go…

Image

Good hearts are safe homes…

I have brazenly committed a crime this morning and I have no shame, because I stole a piece of writing (and life) that’s too exquisite to keep to myself…

Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.” Well — one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,” said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly. “Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — from her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an Old Country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate — once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye

Image

A fractured fairytale…

Once upon a time, long long ago, on a farm far away, there lived a little girl. The girl’s early childhood held much of what today’s world calls “going through some things,” silently shaping her psyche and setting her future in motion.

From the outside, we observe that the “wild and free, who cares??” mindset of farm children earned the girl her share of dings and cuts, but it’s in hindsight that we see her defining moment… a water-skiing accident at age seventeen that rearranged the molecules in her body in ways that would make themselves known over the ensuing years. Hotdogging for friends, she skied too far onto the sand and when her skis stopped she flipped out of them, impacting earth with the side of her neck and right shoulder, and flipping again onto her back on the beach. We know it couldn’t have been pretty, but any landing you walk away from is a good one.

The girl blithely greeted life as if she weren’t a ticking time bomb, and her naturally sunny nature saw her through much. She married a good man with PTSD, just home from Viet Nam, and they had a blond, blue-eyed little boy and continued the farming life, with everybody pulling together to make it work. When the girl was 29 years old one of the concealed bombs from the accident exploded in the form of a ruptured aneurysm under her skull, and following cranial surgery she found herself walking away from another one. Thin, bald, but under her own strength, she started to entertain questions about what else fate might bring?

One weighty answer came years later when the farmer perished in a harvest accident. The girl then left the farm and her world spooled out in entirely new directions. Life had been totally rearranged, and after a year and a month alone she met and married a California surfer-dude, natural caregiver, friend for life, and best boyfriend ever… that’s what she said.

Meanwhile, areas of damage continued to make themselves known. A once-nagging back pain was now a constant source of torment, and a couple of small back surgeries aimed at relieving pain changed nothing. Her right shoulder became unbearable, so more than thirty bone spurs were removed and a few tears mended. Countless lumbar injections and epidurals on her left side have had negligible effect.

The little blonde farm girl turns out to have a fatal flaw… she’s something of a klutz. This only became more pronounced after the accident, which put her gyro out of whack, so throughout her lifetime she’s had many interesting falls… one a memorable escapade on ice that shattered her other shoulder, cracked two ribs, and smashed her face into a large potted plant. Now both shoulders get regular steroid injections to deal with Arthur, who makes himself at home everywhere, uninvited.

The little girl from long ago is old or on her way, and now another bill has come due. Our story tells us that the scar tissue from the cranial bleeds and surgery has a life of its own and is generating something called focal seizures… oh joy for the girl. She realizes by the symptoms that these seizures have been building in intensity for five years or longer… and that the accompanying aura is the same as when the aneurysm first ruptured out there in the stillness of the prairie. She says it feels like waiting calmly in the presence of death… and there is no fear in the room. The good news is “there’s an app for that,” and better living through chemistry is panning out so far.

Moving our tale along, the girl who is now an Old got to see her own spine last week in stark relief, which answered all but a couple of questions because there’s nothing like black and white for instilling reality… and now the Girl and the Dude have a few things to talk about.

So, boys and girls… life is long, day by day, but a brief candle when viewed from the other end of the telescope. Early on, we think everything will get right when we’re finally adults, which is one of the saddest, funniest misconceptions of childhood ever. Only gradually and often at a late date do we start to grasp that life is about the moments and each one is steadily making us who we are. Sometimes the way we handle life makes us prickly and insufferable… sometimes life comes at us so hard and fast we struggle to sort things out in time to deal with them the right way. And sometimes we’re just jerks. At least that’s what the little farm girl said…

THE END

Image

An awed “Ohh… “

“Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable… I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours… Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unbearable sound of the roses singing… If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”- Mary Oliver

Image

The Tale of the Topless Dancer, the Baby Clown, and the Cross-Country Heist …

Someone reminded me of this recently… worth a rerun.

In the end it was the rain that did it.  Her breath stopped short that morning as a thread unraveled in the middle of her chest and let go. Water kept falling everywhere-all-the-time-non-stop and she instinctively knew one more day of it would finish her.  That and the asshole she lived with.  Him more than the rain, because when things were new and intoxicating between them the incessant rain had felt nurturing and cocoon-like and hadn’t sent her mood into the toilet.  Zoe had to face it, The Asshole was the cause of her angst, and just like that she couldn’t wait one more second to get far, far away from him.

Fragments of escape possibilities, the kind every smart woman hangs onto for eventualities, jumped around in her head.  When the guy shopping for groceries who persuaded you into his bed on sight… or had it been the other way around… lets you know, none too subtly, that you’re replaceable… a girl has to start reviewing her options.  There weren’t many, she didn’t even have a car, but she was pretty sure she could recruit Teresa and Bobby Lee, whose jobs happened after dark, to help her with the plan she was hatching.

Turned out things were currently loosey-goosey for her day-tripper friends. They’d just been hanging out ’til the next opportunity, and picking up a U-Haul day-rental sounded like a fun little diversion.  So while The A-hole was away on a job, she and Teresa and Bobby Lee – who was strung out enough to let the girls do most of the work, not that he was all that helpful under primo conditions – loaded her stuff, what there was of it, into the truck.  Zoe was possessed by a sense of urgency – go, go, get it done, get out of here – but it wasn’t easy keeping her helpers on task, especially with her brain zinging like a sparkler. Teresa was wearing her customary 6-inch heels, and although Zoe had to admit her friend was as skilled at navigating her spikes on the ground as she was on the pole, all she wanted was to keep moving and be gone before he got home, leaving no trace of herself behind.  

In the kitchen she made a snap decision not to leave him so much as a fucking knife and fork.  She was done.  Finished.  Tired of being played, tired of living at the frayed edge of the law, tired of people she didn’t know showing up at her house at all hours, sleeping there, drinking her beer like it was water, stinking up her bathroom, leaving everything for her to clean up.  And the guns – she was weary of all the firearms. The Big A, until recently The Desired Beloved, kept a .357 Magnum in the bedroom, handy but out of sight, and that had been preying on her thoughts more and more, not because she especially feared finding herself on the business end of it, but because – HOLY GOD – she had a small son who was nothing if not curious.  Her SON!!  Her almost-four-year-old Jacob was at the circus with his second mom, her closest friend, and she had to figure out a way to pick him up on her way out of town!

The rain took a smoke break, they wrapped up the load-out, and she got ready to say her goodbyes, but Bobby Lee had other plans.  By now, the three of them had tacitly acknowledged that this was no day trip, and Bobby Lee, the proverbial good-hearted gangstah, who would find himself cooling it in prison not long after, was reluctant to let her set out cross-country without a companion.  So when Zoe rolled out of the driveway, ensconced in the passenger seat was Teresa, decked out in her CFM spikes, little ankle socks, and one of her eclectic outfits.  The three extra thongs she carried in her battered model’s bag would have to suffice for the duration.  And of course more stilettos and their adorable sock friends – a girl goes nowhere without options.  The tops and little shorts and scarves and vests she favored for covering her lusciously-acceptable assets took up barely any room, and what self-respecting artist leaves home without her makeup?  TRIP. ON!!

The day was getting away.  What if he came home, saw what she’d done, and started tracking her down? The girls navigated their way to the circus, located Jacob laughing with his friends Izzy and Marc, and whisked him away as unobtrusively as they could considering that he was having the time of his life.  Second Mom had taken the boys down to the floor for face-painting and not only was Jacob in clown-face, he’d won Best Award for the incredible look he’d given himself.  Irony of ironies, it ended up as a full-page photo in the local paper, but not until after the little entourage was halfway across the country.

It must have been a hilariously harrowing trip from the coast to the heartland… the falling-apart country girl, the miniature clown who declined to have his face washed in any service station restroom, and the drop-dead-hot topless dancer.  God only knows what Teresa cooked up to keep Jacob entertained with along the way, but she’d never been accused of lacking in creativity and she had a nurturing streak.

They managed to get across the state line before the truck started breaking down and losing A/C.  With no other choice and facing potential defeat, they pulled into the first U-Haul place they saw, where not only did the gracious employees put them into a brand new truck, they transferred the load for them.  Meanwhile, Teresa nabbed the paperwork from the office and had a private moment with it in the Ladies, changing just enough numbers to keep law enforcement in the rearview mirror for as long as possible.

Okay… back on the road.  Drive, catnap, get junk food… drive, catnap, get junk food… straight through to the middle of the continent.  Zoe wished Teresa would get behind the wheel once in a while, but she trusted herself more so she kept her mouth shut.  Mile after mile over the next two days, through dark and light, her mind was occupied with the immediate past, the slightly-unhinged present, and the murky future.  “How – really, time to be honest here – did you end up as a 21-year-old single mom living with a big-time coke dealer who finances his operation by stealing and chopping high-end cars?  I mean… really. Let’s talk.” Despite being more adventurous than most, she’d always seen herself as a good girl.  And notwithstanding a couple of rough patches with drugs, binge-drinking, and heartbreak, resulting in a few ill-timed decisions and close-call extrications, she still knew she was a good girl.  She just needed to get away from a bad situation and clear her head and she’d be fine.  She had to get clean, too, a process that was already underway since she and Teresa had fled with only so much stuff.  Zoe knew she’d be crashing about the time they reached their destination and this wasn’t going to be pretty… but when you need time and a fortress, you head home.

She didn’t call ahead, her reasoning emotion-driven … what if her mom or dad sounded dismayed at the news that she was on her way back to the farm?  What if that much warning was all they needed to head to the mountains?  What if they said, We can’t do this, you’ll have to figure it out on your own.  She knew, worn down as she was, that anything less than love and acceptance at this point would break her, so she kept her foot jammed in the gas pedal and her eyes on the road.

Halfway through the third day out she turned in at the farm, her little clown asleep in a crumpled heap on the seat, his face paint smeary and faded, and the dancer folded up against the door looking shaky and shop-worn.  And surprise, surprise, no mom and dad. Genuinely stunned that her instincts had been right for once, and so exhausted her knees would barely keep her upright, Zoe decided to pull a Scarlet and think about it tomorrow.

Sure enough, show up on the morrow they did, the parental units, visibly distressed to see a U-Haul truck in the yard and their daughter and grandson right there in the flesh, big as life and twice as natural.  Oh WELL, Zoe thought, so much for ready acceptance and a port in the storm… time will have to be my friend.  Wonder how much slack they’ll cut me on that?

As it turned out, slack-cutting was in Zoe’s favor but Teresa had to go. One look at her exotic, tall, blonde, stacked loveliness, legs all the way to her ass, starting with the six-inch stilettos and those baby-doll socks that promised everything, and Zoe’s mom decreed that Teresa would need to be on the next flight out.  She was.  They drove her to the airport the following morning, however much her dad may have inwardly wished for a week or so to get acquainted.  Back to the coast ma’am, end of story, thanks, and all that.

Zoe and her dad off-loaded the truck into an outbuilding, and after a couple of days had passed he asked, “Shouldn’t we be getting that truck turned in?”

“Well, no,” Zoe said, “it isn’t going back – that’s… the rest of the story.”

So at dusk she filled it with gas from the farm tank, and with her mom and dad following she drove, drove, drove, drove, far out into the countryside, parked it where it would eventually be discovered, and in the pitch dark carefully wiped it down, leaving it unlocked, keys in the ignition. While she industriously removed DNA from the truck, her dad was fretting and urging her to hurry.  He kept saying “I just know we’re gonna get caught.”

Her mom finally said “Oh, hush.  You’ve watched entirely too much TV.” That and her general enthusiasm over the night’s shenanigans almost moved Zoe to forgive her for her initial coolness.  But no… not ready yet, and she had too many overwhelming things to figure out before she’d know who she was again. So she crawled into her parents’ back seat, fell asleep on the way home, and proceeded to lie on their couch in a fetal position for a couple of weeks while life took a vacation.

Eventually one morning she woke up to sunshine and her old self-mocking mantra popped into her head, “Good girls go to heaven.  Bad girls go everywhere.”  Well, hell, she thought… I’d better get going.

And she did.

{Not exactly fiction — you can’t make this shit up.}

Image

A bunny tale…

Easter was three months ago but we all pretty much missed it so this lightly-edited return to 2013 seems okay… and yeah, still feeling sentimental. A piece I wrote seven years ago…

Yesterday for the first time in memory, Easter Sunday buried me under a huge pile of nostalgia.  You’d think Thanksgiving and Christmas would have considered that their sacred duty, but no, it was innocent pastel little Easter that blindsided me.

I’m the eldest of three sisters.  Our brother is gone, our parents, too, all of our grandparents have passed away, a lot of aunts and uncles, a few cousins, and without warning yesterday a tsunami of loneliness sent me rolling end over end.  My sisters, although close in spirit, don’t live nearby, my son and Kim’s are long hours away in different directions, so it’s just me and Pa, which is ordinarily more than fine.  The KIMN8R himself is now an “orphan by default” — grandparents, parents, step-parents, sister all went off and left him via death.  His niece and nephew, cousins and aunties live far away.  So.  We manage, and we have a very good time at it.  Yesterday was just one of those days.

The growing-up years.  Depending upon the whims of the calendar, Easter morning sometimes dawned sunny and mild, but more often cloudy, gray, and chilly.  Regardless, we four munchkins threw jackets and hats or goofy little headscarves over our jammies at the crack of sunrise and ran across the driveway to our grandparents’ big yard where Grandma was waiting with our Easter baskets.  The hedges and trees and other hidey-holes yielded up an abundance of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, candy eggs and assorted Easter-y gifts until our baskets were full. Then back home for a breakfast of waffles and bacon, followed by a mad scramble to get into our new dresses – made by our mom – white anklets, and patent-leather shoes. Our little brother was stuffed under protest into a pair of pants and a jacket, and the tie that always gave him a church headache.  As for the three of us girls, we could be found complaining bitterly about the way Mother did our hair — it looked dumb, too curly, too straight, too not right.  Caught up in the joys of motherhood, she continued the grooming ritual on the drive to church, straightening or smacking anything within arm’s reach and using Mom Spit to clean the ears of whomever was fortunate enough to grab the middle position, front seat.  When she managed to get dressed is a mystery for the ages, but at least our dad knew enough not to sit in the car and honk the horn the way one of our uncles did every Sunday.  I have to wonder if he would have lived to see another glorious Easter morn.

Once there we sat in a row, with Grandma in charge of keeping order through the judicious application of Juicy Fruit gum, pencils and church bulletins.  Our parents were in the choir shooting us the stink-eye if we whispered or giggled too much, while we pinched each other under cover of the pew in front of us.  Grandma gave it her best shot, in her Sunday dress and hat and one time wearing a pair of earrings lovingly shaped out of flour-salt-and-water paste and gifted to her that morning.  Grandpa went to church with us about once a year, at Christmas time.  He always said he wasn’t cut out for church because “When I work, I work hard. When I sit, I fall asleep. And when I go to church, I sit, so… ”

Our parents would leave the choir loft and sit with us for the sermon, during which time Daddy invariably found it imperative to clip his nails. That little task accomplished, his next aim was to free a piece of hard candy from its crackly cellophane wrapper.  His painstaking efforts to keep the whole process quiet only resulted in its taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r. … one tiny explosion at a time.  If I’d been the pastor I’d have marched down from the pulpit and thumped him on the head, but I couldn’t think about it or the giggles would do me in.

Church blessedly over, we all piled back into the station wagon, our brother sighing loudly and claiming a window seat so he could stick his head out and breathe again.  He’d already ripped his tie off on the way to the car.

We’d come back home to the aroma of the Sunday dinner Mother had somehow put in the oven that morning — another mystery of time and space — shuck out of our good clothes, and start sorting our Easter basket haul.  Pretty sure we managed to stuff a goodly pre-lunch portion of it in our faces.

The afternoon usually consisted of endless egg hunts of the boiled-and-dyed variety, culminating in the cracked and battered dregs getting thrown at whichever sister, brother or cousin veered into our line of sight.  It was all fun and games until somebody put an eye out, of course.

I’ve been contemplating what sort of cosmic convergence might have set off yesterday’s blue mood, but nothing momentous stands out.  Just a little too much, maybe.  A little too much perfect day, a little too much sunshine, too much quiet, too much capacity for remembering, too much of not seeing people I love for too long.

The earth is back on its axis now and life goes on …

1951 – the year I fully realized I was no longer an only child. My sister Susan was about 3 months old that Easter.

Image

A Sunday…. page 62

Day 122 – 07/12/2020

When nostalgia hits (see yesterday), my mental viewfinder fills up with images of family and the farm where I grew up, or at least came of age. If you liked my Memorial Day post, these photos are for you. (Link follows)

https://playingfortimeblog.com/2020/05/23/remembering/

The people in the image above are my Grandma and Grandpa Wagner, my dad and his dog Sarge, in 1933 when my dad was 11 years old. The garden in the story was north of the house but you can see my grandma’s pretty fish pond in the background, filled in before my memory because of the dust off the cattle pens and the hazard to toddler grandchildren. Grandma had plans that didn’t always suit farm living, but she never gave up.

My grandparents, my dad, about 6 yrs old, and his brother Ed, eleven years older. They had a good relationship as adults.
The Dierking sisters – Nora, Ruth, and Clara (my grandma)
My Great-aunt Ruth in flush times
The dugout/livestock barn/root cellar where the three girls grew up, shown during a visit by family in the late 50s or early 60s, long after it had been abandoned. It was outside a little town about an hour SW of where I live now.
Caroline Dierking on the right, mother of the girls – and my great-grandmother – with her sister Emma.
In Sheboygan, Wisconsin with my Great-aunt Emma and a little relative on her right whose name was Colleen.
My cousin Katie, Uncle Ed’s daughter, and I after playing dress-up in Grandma’s big upstairs closet. I was about 5 and worried that my dress would end me as I negotiated the steep stairs.
The Wagner munchkins, Rita, Judy, Susan, and our brother Danny in Grandma & Grandpa’s shelter belt north of the garden. Says 1957 so I was ten years old. And our mom was obviously curler-happy that day.

Tomorrow… barring anything unforeseen… my mom’s people. 💙

Image

An epic love story… *

*…but not the one you think

It’s story time, boys and girls, so pull up a sunny patch of rug and help yourselves to coffee.

The soothing Sunday morning sounds washing over me from the other side of the wall are brought to me by a Southern California kid with a lifetime guitar jones. He got enough Christmas cash when he was eleven to buy one of his own and his dad drove him to a strip mall on a Sunday afternoon to see what they could find. He brought home a little Kawai with nylon strings and shut himself in his bedroom to figure it out.

There was no internet of course, no guitar backing-tracks, no online instruction, not even the thought that someone in the immediate area might give private lessons, let alone how a kid might pay for those. He did start at the Boys’ Club woodworking shop with his dad when he was eleven, but that was gratis except for the experience.

Without benefit of social media and the kind of advertising we take entirely for granted now, he was unaware that many famous guitar makers were based right where he lived. Later, thoughts of missed opportunities shot through his brain. Rickenbacker was in Santa Ana, Fender was in Fullerton, he could have walked there! How much would a job at one of those places have altered his life?

He was out making his own money by thirteen washing dogs, then a paper route, followed by Kaplan’s Bakery, the dream of being a guitar player eventually a low-banked fire, as the music scene in Southern California took on a life of its own and he went off to Viet Nam so he could come home with his head held high. When he got back of course, everything had changed and the mood of the country was a little hostile toward dreamers, so first order of business was a responsible job, and from then on life looked like a series of management positions, entrepreneurial projects, marriage and family.

The guitar thing refused to leave him alone, however, and by the time I discovered his presence in the world he owned four of them, plus amps, mics, speakers, recording equipment, the whole nine yards. Our shared love of music conspired to bring us together in a band setting, and for the past nearly sixteen years I’ve had the joy of watching a small parade of beautiful instruments make their way in and out of our house, and of marking his progression from wannabe to still-shy pretty-wow-player. He’s traded and strummed his way from a high of thirteen worthy guitars to a current eight that he lovingly pays attention to, giving them rotating places of honor on stands within reach.

I’ve sat on one of Ed Roman’s black couches in his Las Vegas guitar store (now gone) more than once while Kim played all the incredible guitars he wanted to touch and hold and hear. He hangs onto the blonde Strat that kissed him back – he might never part with her for the way she draws the music out of him, much like the little Taylor he came across last year just as a windfall blew through for him. He picked up an antique lap steel in the same deal and started taking lessons to challenge himself – that’s how a guy keeps rolling.

My respect for his desire, determination, and hard work knows no bounds. He’s put in the hours, day after day, year after year, to figure out how to do what he wants most to do. On the flipside, my beautiful little grand piano sits silent while I let body pain and hearing loss keep me off the bench, and that’s all I’m sayin’ about that, life being what it is.

My husband has been my hero since the Easter Sunday he walked into my house to cook dinner for me, decided first things first and kissed me good, then got down to the business of looking out for me because I was so clearly in need of same. He knows what he wants, doesn’t always get it, but has never been afraid to work his ass off for it. So if plump 2020 isn’t the year I put mine back on that bench, it prolly isn’t gonna happen. Pray for me, kids. 💋

Image

Catharsis is good…

Here we are in the doldrums, the no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year’s. Nobody ever knows what to do with it – do we have our employees work? (Mom & Pop shops) How many hours CAN we crank out of our employees? (NOT Mom & Pop shops). It’s clearly a dilemma for all concerned, and for me personally it just feels weird. The world outside my windows looks gray and listless, like everything’s shut down, but maybe that’s only because it’s 13º out there, all things considered, and I’m a drama queen. I’m sure I can find bright shiny things to get me through until December 31st, I’ve managed every year until now, and as soon as the KIMN8R gets home from the gym it’s all good anyway – he brings the party with him, yes it is that way, that’s why we got married, to spend all of our best minutes together.

Just for grins, I could get an early start on the resolutions I will knowingly break in 2019. I’ll fail to measure up in various categories throughout the year, but with these I’ll squirm when it happens, having named them publicly. Sooo, off the top, and in no particular order…

  • Stop letting email pile up in folders. You are NOT going to retroactively deal with a fraction of it.
  • Stop procrastinating. Do it now. It’s not like you have carte blanche on the future, so face reality NOW.
  • Stop NOT playing your piano. PLAY it. Like every DAY play it.

I see three stop signs I put up there that are really GO signs, so for starters, today will be about (the process of) dumping several thousand emails (again, yes) and also taking the cover off my beautiful little concert grand. It’s a story inside a story inside yet another story, but for now I just need to sit down and play it because since I first learned how to make a melody happen, that’s been my truest form of catharsis.

Whatever makes you feel better and frees your heart to hold more happiness, start doing more of that and less of whatever doesn’t make you feel that way. So simple, and it has nothing to do with failing or succeeding. Whatever’s ahead for all of us is on its way, and it’s good.

We’re going with that until further notice, tribe.

Image

Sum-sum-summertime!

A nice thing happened last week – one of my sister’s besties shared two pieces from my old blog and it was a huge encouragement for at least two reasons:  1) It touches me that she saved them, since I only vaguely remember writing either one, and 2) It didn’t make me cringe to read them again from this vantage point.

Reposting one here:

Kim and I have been catching some advertising on TV that has us scratching our heads.  The ads are for a well-known outdoor-recreation merchandiser of colossal proportions, touting their store-sponsored summer camps.  The footage shows happy children and their parents sleeping in tents, toasting marshmallows, going fishing, and participating in other fun activities associated with the open-air experience – all of it taking place

INSIDE THE STORE!

I’m all for exposing kids to new experiences and the joys of outdoor living, but somehow the ads only succeed in making me feel sad.  I grew up camping with my family, so I know it doesn’t have to cost big bucks for the real thing unless you require everything to be first class.

First class we weren’t – more like a band of gypsies – but I wouldn’t trade those summer idylls for anything.  My dad was an irrigation farmer, making it difficult for him to get away during the over-heated summer months; however, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Three or four times a year, between May and September, my parents, an aunt and uncle, and a raft of kids would load up and go to the lake for several days of sun, swimming, water-skiing, sleeping under the stars, and eating food cooked outdoors.  There was a little fishing here and there, too, and we were usually joined by other relatives and friends at various points during our stay.

My grandpa had stocked up on Army surplus items when the gettin’ was good (and cheap), so we had access to a big green army tent that was hot as blazes after a day in the sun but did a good job of sheltering us from the elements; kerosene lanterns; cots and smelly sleeping bags; portable cook-stoves; ammo boxes for storage; and most anything else a few days without the comforts of home might require.

After loading the station wagon with everything from soup to nuts, the first stop was the grocery store for all the real food – bags upon bags of it.  Then with everyone crammed into the vehicles we caravanned to the nearest large body of water, an hour and a half away, happy as clams, singing, laughing, and playing travel games, and with much “discussion” over who got the spot between Mother and Daddy in the front seat.

We kept a small ski boat and a big old (with the emphasis on old) ramshackle trailer house in a storage area at Cedar Bluff Lake, towing both down to the water upon arrival.  The boat would be launched, the trailer leveled insofar as was possible, the tent(s) set up, the charcoal grills placed on standby, and all things put in order for an extended stay.  We kids, of course, barely noticed that these things were happening.  We’d either worn our swimsuits on the drive up, or shucked into them the minute the wheels stopped rolling, and we were happily jumping off the dock, dunking each other, yelling, running around … and asking what we could have to eat.

Our mom and aunt seemed to do little besides cook the entire time, when they weren’t busy grabbing a streaking, flailing kid at every opportunity in order to slather him/her with sunscreen, but they were nevertheless visibly more relaxed and laid-back about life than at home.  Everyone who’s experienced it knows there’s something about food cooked and consumed outdoors that enhances its flavor many times over, and we feasted like royalty.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and fruit for breakfast, baloney sandwiches, chips and veggies for lunch, grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks or chicken with all the extras in the evenings.  And a steady, day-long supply of cold soda and Black Cow bars, plus anything else we could manage to ferret out of its hiding spot.

The babies played in the sand.  The little kids banded together and pursued their own enterprises of hiking, exploring, sharing secrets, and defending each other from callous onslaughts by the medium-sized kids … who obviously dedicated their time to harassing the little kids.

The bigger kids’ hours were defined by transistor radios, water-skiing, sun-tanning, and keeping a close watch for interesting-looking members of the opposite sex.  The kicker was that our parents preferred going to the lake during the week rather than on weekends in order to avoid the crowds, so the pickings were slim.

Our dads spent their time trying to keep the boat motor running, hot-dogging on slalom skis as a reward for their efforts, and consuming quantities of cold beer.

And our moms, who were known to do a little sun-tanning themselves while catching up on their reading and talking, were no doubt simply thankful to survive it all one more time.

The time always passed far too quickly, and after three or four days of non-stop sun and water everything would be packed into the cars again for the trip home, each and every item either wet or coated with gritty sand, or both.

Unlike on the drive up, there was no singing; there was barely a word spoken.  We were all sunburned within an inch of our lives, AGAIN, and God help the child who inadvertently touched a sibling on any part of his or her person.  We were well-acquainted with the misery of sun-burnt skin and we swore each time that it would never happen again, but nobody in our acquaintance yet knew how potentially deadly the condition was, so we were not nearly as careful as we should have been.  On the way home, the only reason anybody vied for the middle spot in the front seat was because that’s where the A/C blew the coldest.

It was rude, it was crude, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  We loved every minute of it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat … if only to have all those people back with us for one more lazy summer.

Not every child will be lucky enough to experience the kind of summers we did, but I do hope they realize that there’s more to life than a pseudo camp-out in a retail store.

 

Burntside-Lake

 

Image

How bad is your OCD?

indecision1

Over the years together Kimmers and I have gradually realized that we’re both assorted shades of OCD. His shows up, fortunately, as a desire for neat and clean so we’ve saved serious coin by declining to engage the services of a Professional Domestic Engineer since his Mom-&-U.S.Navy Training rendered him eminently qualified. He also prefers being alone in his kitchen while he works his magic according to nose and feel. It isn’t nice to interfere with the Zen, not to mention that it would be foolish, so staying out of the way and maintaining partial radio silence is no sacrifice on my part. I read yesterday that “he who feeds us is our personal god.” I’ll buy that, especially since Kim’s an entirely benevolent one and those are hard to find.

My OCDness is sort of what it looks like – oddness. Odd Cranial Disarray. That’s me up there with too many things taking up space in my brain, sorting priorities, trying to stockpile enough spoons for whatever’s ahead. When it all gets to be a little much I start asking myself what needs to go, either for a while or for good. This month it was my long-term addiction to Facebook, something that felt unbreakable until now. In a bold effort to rescue myself from the slough of despond over politics, which is to say daily life, I shut the door cold turkey on February 1 and the only thing I miss is comments from my real friends there. If I go back when March blows in it will be with a far less engaged mindset. No rush.

The most obvious clue that I’m at least a little OCD is that whatever toy grabs my interest and attention gets the “You’re my favorite thing in the world” treatment until the shiny wears off. Disclaimer: The preceding statement does not apply to people I love – distractions only.

First obsession I remember was learning embroidery from my grandma, making quilts with her, making my own clothes, and then in my little old lady days falling victim to the counted cross-stitch fever that took the civilized world by storm. It was fun, expensive, and I got good at it, but alas, in the end too much work for the eyes and neck muscles, so bye-bye trunkload of fabric, floss, and patterns, hope your next mistress isn’t so fickle.

Having grown too young at that point for needlework I got my first computer and the world was new again. It turned all that industrial-strength bookkeeping on the farm into a sweet walk in the pasture, and it was chock full of games, including an elaborate DOS setup that taxed all my brain cells even as it entertained. Then…years later, when I was even younger, social media burst onto the scene in all its primal glory and began its scorched-earth march to the sea, incinerating all in its path. And hasn’t it been a barrel of laughs, boys and girls? Still is, some days, and I’ll wander back soon, to touch base if nothing else.

I have fond memories of the adorbs farming app in the early days – I lived that silly game, fretted when my crops failed because I was, incredibly, away from the computer when they ripened, took pride in arranging everything just so. One day it dawned on me that I was exerting a godlike control unavailable to me as an actual farm wife and I quietly left it to the birds and bunnies. Then came Candy Crush, the game that ate my soul.

In my current iteration as an adolescent I’m bouncing from one fill-the-blocks app to another, working an endless selection of online jigsaw puzzles and crosswords, dabbling with Twitter, and still ending up with plenty of focused hours to write. Shocking how time-devouring Facebook alone is if you think you have to see every.single.thing that passes through your feed.

I started out to say something here but it got lost in the spaghetti, so let’s do this – if you have reason to think that you, too, may be eligible for the OCD Club, raise your hand, introduce yourself, and let’s have a meeting.

 

 

Image

The Right Stuff…

family-togethering-in-joy-old-christmas-wallpapers

 

The magic was always in the secrets and the rush and the crazy, trying to make each holiday season the best one ever, the gifts perfect, the food exactly according to tradition, all for that elusive (illusive) Old-Fashioned Christmas.

On this December 24th, in the year (of our Lord?) 2016, the magic lies elsewhere. It’s in the big messy bed, the fog hanging outside our windows, the Salted Caramel Bailey’s swirling into the coffee mugs, the Kim Breakfast because Saturday, the spa tub filling.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, Santa will bring the Zen all over again – Black Forest ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, lovely rolls, easy munchies. Vino, always. A Pentatonix Christmas, we love those sweet babies. And later, when we’re in our cups, Bad Santa. Saving Hudsucker Proxy for New Year’s, 2017 apropos.

The Real Christmas was always at my maternal grandparents’ house, where one long, very long, table was set up through the living and dining rooms, and pretty packages spilled far past the tree while Grandma and her daughters and daughters-in-law still frantically wrapped gifts in a spare bedroom, giving the door a kick once in a while to keep nosy grandkids away. My mom was one of nine offspring, who were themselves fairly prolific, so Christmas dinner could involve 40 people or more, with additional afternoon drop-ins.

The women cooked the enormous meal, the kids raised hell, and after dinner my good-looking uncles rolled up their sleeves, stored food, picked the turkey carcass clean for leftovers, and washed the dishes, no rugrats allowed in the kitchen. The uncles, former Marines, Korean War, could be intimidating when they put their foot down, and were no doubt laughing up their collective sleeves at us every year. Omigod, we were insufferable.

They’re gone, those people, and I can’t even find a photo this morning to honor the first Christmases of my heart. The pictures are here somewhere, in an album online or on a shelf, old Kodachrome color snaps – upwards of 60 or more of us crammed into one glorious photo with the tree barely showing in the back and wrapping paper still strewn. That’s how my heart remembers it.

I hope your Christmas, old-fashioned or otherwise, will be sweet. Tuck it into your heart…those memories belong to us forever.

 

christmasmemoriesofyou_pic

 

Image

So just be real…

I read a story today, shared by a friend whose granddaughter dictated it to her daddy, and was struck by how on the mark this small girl is. You’ll see what I mean:

“We flew on an airplane to Albuquerque to see Ian and Jordan and Ashton and Uncle Doug and Aunt Jill. Will got diarrhea. 

Then we flew to Chicago to see Aunt Beth and Grandma and Uncle Billy and Josiah and his sister and the dad of the baby and those two with a jacket and glasses. Then we flew home. Grandma threw up.”

 

 

Her story illustrates important tenets of writing:

  1. Tell it like it is. If people want us to write kindly about them, they must learn to be behave well.
  2.  Engage your readers by telling them things they would not otherwise learn.
  3.  Illustrate with plenty of pink.

So simple, really, and once again a little child leads us.

 

Image

Whimsy…who doesn’t need some?

A psych-out when I start feeling weighed down by nonsense is to “brighten the corner where I are.” It’s the equivalent of Spring Cleaning without the lifting, bending, and sundry other exercise I like to refer to as work. My desk and I are good friends, so of course I ignore it and treat it like crap most of the time, but there always comes a day when the windows have to be flung open and the detritus swept away. Today is that day – AGAIN – in my world, and lucky you, I love to (over)share.

We start with our big honkin’ desktop because EYEBALL FEAST EVERY TIME WE SIT DOWN HERE. You can immediately see what a crucial first step this is, besides which everything from this point hinges on it. (Gah, I always hope my readers are note takers.) Nobody else’s desktop will suffice – it must speak to me, personally, in some way, and most tell me “You are freakin’ nuts, lady” which is when I know I’ve found THE ONE.

Today’s springboard, our dominant image:

wallup.net

That’s merely the start, although admittedly an auspicious one. Now that we have an arresting vista in front of us at all times, we must upload that same image as our Facebook cover picture. Done. And, since we use a sweet add-on called Facebook Purity, we get to upload a background image for all of Facebook. Furthermore, since the name of today’s game is *cheer,* we’re using this one:

HD-Plain-Yellow-Background-with-Flowers

Is that not an enjoyable little kick in the shorts over and over? When you spend a lot of time somewhere it’s powerful to make it yours.

Next up is our Facebook blog page, which obviously has to coordinate with the overall theme we’re developing here, and this will do quite nicely as our cover photo:

abstract-digital-art-top-hd-wallpapers-in-widescreen-free-hd-artworks-desktop-images-art-wallpapers-for-mac-1805x1015-736x459

All of our Facebook pages share a background, which is working out swimmingly, as you can see. We are ON A ROLL, boys and girls. Add this same image as the header for our blog page, tweak the background, and violas!! Moving on…

What shall we do next? We have choices:

  1. Two Gmail accounts whose non-coordinating backgrounds are piteously crying “Pick me, pick me!”
  2. The big loud Twitter header, or is that just my monitor? But yeah, there’s that.
  3. And we have to go get a new Chrome Theme.

Oh, haha, I forgot, this is my page, I choose! We’re doing the Twitter header next and there’s an outstanding reason for that – IT’S GONNA BE IMAGE #1 UP THERE AGAIN! See how simple this is? See a pattern here? Give a shit?

So now we’ll tackle the whiny Gmail accounts. Okay, pay attention because this is where this stuff gets tricky.

WE’RE GOING TO USE TWO OF THE SAME BACKGROUNDS WE’VE ALREADY UPLOADED. If I didn’t crack myself up I’d have no fun whatsoever. And I did try to warn you up top via words like whimsy and psych – which is like a twin or something to psycho, right?

And here’s where you get in on the fun – you get to decide which two of the three backgrounds above you want to use for your mail! You know, when you redesign it all according to what speaks to you.

Okay, all we have to do is find a new Chrome Theme and we’re set – there are a million of ’em and it’s fun. This one’s perfect and I’m happy. Cheery, even. For all the reasons.

Screenshot 2016-07-28 at 03.27.00 PM

Hope you are, too.

 

Image

The Tale of the Topless Dancer, the Baby Clown, and the Cross-Country Heist …

shoespikesframe

In the end it was the rain that did it.  Her breath stopped short that morning as a thread unraveled somewhere in her chest and let go, while water kept falling everywhere-all-the-time-non-stop, and she instinctively knew one more day of it would finish her.  That and the asshole she lived with.  Him more than the rain, because when things were new and intoxicating between them the rain had felt nurturing and cocoon-ish and hadn’t sent her mood into the toilet.  Zoe had to face it, The Asshole was the cause of her angst, and just like that she couldn’t wait one more second to get far, far away from him.

Bits and pieces of past escape plans, the ones every smart cookie stores for eventualities, hopped around in her head.  When the guy shopping for groceries who persuaded you into his bed on sight … or had it been the other way around … lets you know, none too subtly, that you’re replaceable … a girl has to start reviewing her options.  There weren’t many, she didn’t even have a car, but she was pretty sure she could recruit Teresa and Bobby Lee, whose jobs happened after dark, to help her with the scheme she was beginning to hatch.

Turned out things were currently loose-goosey for her day-tripper friends — they’d been hanging around for the next romp and picking up a U-Haul day-rental sounded like a nice little diversion.  So while The A-hole was away doing a job, she and Teresa and Bobby Lee — who was strung out enough to let the girls do most of the work, not that he was particularly chivalrous under primo conditions — loaded all her stuff — not a huge quantity — into the truck.  Zoe was possessed by a sense of urgency — go, go, get it done, get out of here — but it wasn’t easy keeping her friends on task, her brain was zinging like a sparkler, Teresa was wearing her customary 6-inch heels, and although Zoe had to admit her friend was as skilled at navigating her spikes on the ground as she was on the pole, all she wanted was to keep moving and be gone before he got home, leaving no trace of herself behind.  In the kitchen she made a snap decision not to leave him so much as a fucking knife and fork.  She was done.  Finished.  Tired of being played, tired of living at the frayed edge of the law, tired of people she didn’t know showing up at her house at all hours, sometimes sleeping there, drinking her beer like it was water, stinking up her bathroom, leaving everything for her to clean up.  And the guns — she was weary of all the firearms. The Big A, so recently thought of as The Desired Beloved, kept a .357 Magnum in the bedroom, handy but out of sight, and that had been preying on her thoughts more and more, not because she particularly feared finding herself on the business end of it, but because — HOLY GOD — she had a small son who was nothing if not curious.  Her SON!!  Her almost-four-year-old Jacob was at the circus with his second mom, her closest friend, and she had to figure out a way to pick him up on her way out of town!

The rain took a smoke break, they wrapped up the load-out, and she got ready to say her goodbyes, but Bobby Lee had a different plan.  By now, the three of them had tacitly acknowledged that this was no day trip, and Bobby Lee, the proverbial good-hearted gangstah, who would find himself cooling it in prison not long after, was reluctant to let her set out cross-country without a companion.  So when Zoe pulled out of the driveway, sitting in the passenger seat was Teresa, decked out in her CFM spikes, little ankle socks, and one of the off-beat — some might say bizarre — outfits she loved so much.  The three extra thongs she carried in her battered model’s bag would have to suffice for the duration.  And of course other stilettos and their adorable sock friends — a girl goes nowhere without options.  The tops and little shorts and scarves and vests she favored for covering her lusciously-acceptable assets took up barely any room, and what self-respecting entertainer leaves home without her makeup?  Trip.ON!!

The day was getting away.  What if he came home, saw what she’d done, and started tracking her down? The girls navigated their way to the circus, located Jacob laughing with his friends Izzy and Marc, and whisked him away as unobtrusively as they could considering that he was having the time of his life.  Second Mom had taken the boys down to the floor for face-painting and not only was Jacob in clown-face, he’d won Best Clown Award for the amazing visage he’d given himself.  Irony of ironies it ended up as a full-page photo in the local paper, but not until after the little entourage was halfway across the country.

ClownBoy

It must have been a harrowingly hilarious trip from the coast to the heartland … the falling-apart former country girl, the miniature clown who declined to have his face washed in any service station restroom, and the drop-dead-hot topless dancer.  God only knows what Teresa thought up to keep Jacob entertained along the way, but she’d never been accused of lacking creativity.

They managed to get across the state line before the truck started breaking down and losing A/C.  Having no other choice, they pulled into the first U-Haul place they saw, where not only did the fine employees put them into a brand new truck, they transferred the load for them.  Meanwhile, Teresa nabbed the paperwork from the office and had a private moment with it in the Ladies’, changing enough numbers to keep law enforcement off their tails until later.

Back on the road.  Drive, nap, grab junk food, drive, nap, grab junk food, straight through to the middle of the continent.  Zoe wished Teresa would get behind the wheel some of the time, but she trusted herself more so she kept her mouth shut.  Mile after mile over the next two days, through dark and light, her mind was occupied with the immediate past, the slightly-deranged present, and the murky future.  “How – really, time to be honest here – did you end up as a 21-year-old single mom living with a big-time coke dealer who finances his operation by stealing and chopping cars?  I mean, really.” Despite being more adventurous than most, she’d always seen herself as a good girl.  And notwithstanding a couple of rough patches with drugs and binge-drinking and heartbreak, resulting in some ill-timed decisions and close-call extrications, she still knew she was a good girl.  She just needed to get away from a bad situation and clear her head and she’d be fine.  She had to get clean, too, a process that was already underway since she and Teresa had fled with only so much.  Zoe knew she’d be crashing about the time they reached their destination.  This wasn’t going to be pretty … but when you need time and a fortress, you go home.

She didn’t call anybody, her reasoning emotion-driven … what if her mom or dad sounded dismayed at the news that she was on her way back to the farm?  What if all they needed was that much warning to head to the mountains or somewhere?  What if they said, We can’t do this, you’re going to have to figure it out on your own.  She knew, worn down as she was, that anything less than love and acceptance at this point would break her, so she kept her foot jammed in the gas pedal and her eyes on the road.

Halfway through the third day out she turned in at the farm, her little clown asleep in a crumpled heap on the seat, his face paint smeary and faded, and the dancer scrunched up against the door, looking shaky and shop-worn.  And surprise, surprise, no mom and dad. Genuinely stunned that her instincts were right for once, and so exhausted her knees would barely keep her upright, Zoe decided to pull a Scarlet and think about it tomorrow.

Sure enough, show up on the morrow they did, visibly displeased to see a U-Haul truck in the yard and the shock of their daughter and grandson in the flesh, big as life and twice as natural.  Oh WELL, Zoe thought, so much for acceptance and a fortress … time will have to be my friend.  Wonder how much slack they’ll cut me on that?

As it turned out, slack-cutting was in Zoe’s favor, but Teresa had to go.  One look at her exotic, tall, blonde, stacked loveliness, legs all the way to her ass, starting with the six-inch stilettos and those baby-doll socks that promised everything, and Zoe’s mom decreed that Teresa would be on the next flight out.  She was.  Zoe’s parents drove her to the airport the following morning, however much her dad may have inwardly wished for a week or so to get acquainted.  Back to the coast, end of story, thanks and all that.

At home again, Zoe and her dad off-loaded the truck into an outbuilding, and a couple of evenings later around the table, he said “Shouldn’t we be getting that truck turned in?”

“Um, no, Dad, it isn’t going back — that’s the rest of the story.”

So she filled it with gas from the farm tank, and with her mom and dad following she drove, drove, drove, drove, far out into the countryside, parked it where it would be discovered, and in the pitch dark carefully wiped it down, leaving it unlocked, keys in the ignition.  The whole time she was industriously removing DNA from the truck, her dad fretted and urged her to hurry.  He kept saying “I just know we’re gonna get caught.”

Her mom finally told him “Hush.  You’ve seen entirely too much TV.”  That and her enthusiasm over the night’s shenanigans almost moved Zoe to forgiveness for her initial coolness.  But no, not ready yet, and she had too many overwhelming things to figure out before she’d know who she was again … so she crawled into her parents’ back seat, nodded off on the way home, and lay on their couch in a fetal position for a couple of weeks while time took a vacation.

One morning she woke up to sunshine and her old self-mocking mantra popped into her head, “Good girls go to heaven.  Bad girls go everywhere.”  Well, hell, she thought … let’s get going.

uhaul-in-desert

{Not exactly fiction — you can’t make this shit up.}

Image

Previous Older Entries

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

John Wreford Photographer

Words and Pictures from the Middle East & Balkans

Live Life, Be Happy

Welcome to my weekly blog on life's happiness. We are all human and we all deserve to smile. Click a blog title or scroll down. Thanks for stopping by.

Wild Like the Flowers

Rhymes and Reasons

The Last Nightowl

Just the journal of an aging man looking at the world

Jenna Prosceno

Permission to be Human

Flora Fiction

Creative Space + Literary Magazine

tonysbologna : Honest. Satirical. Observations

Honest. Satirical. Observations.

ipledgeafallegiance

When will we ever learn?: Common sense and nonsense about today's public schools in America.

The Alchemist's Studio

Raku pottery, vases, and gifts

Russel Ray Photos

Life from Southern California, mostly San Diego County

Phicklephilly

Dating, Relationships & Stories from my Life

Going Medieval

Medieval History, Pop Culture, Swearing

It Takes Two.

twinning with the Eichmans

Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature: over 400,000 monthly users

rarasaur

frightfully wondrous things happen here.

FranklyWrite

Live Life Write

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Drinking Tips for Teens

Creative humour, satire and other bad ideas by Ross Murray, an author living in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Is it truth or fiction? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

john pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs To Be Said

Drifting Through

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind

KenRobert.com

random thoughts and scattered poems

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

Musings of a Penpusher

A Taurean suffering from cacoethes scribendi - an incurable itch to write.

Ned's Blog

Humor at the Speed of Life

Funnier In Writing

A Humor Blog for Horrible People

%d bloggers like this: