Overcoming Bloglessness

Puff, The Magic Dragon

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Daily Prompt: Always Something There to Remind Me.

A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.  Photographers, artists, poets: show us PAST.

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Puff the Magic Dragon

I spent the night next door, at Melody’s house whenever she babysat me.  We usually slept in her mom’s double bed, since her mom worked nights.

We were looking at Mad magazines, hanging our heads off the foot of the bed when Puff came on the radio.  As soon as we heard the first notes we  squealed simultaneously and threw ourselves back up to the head of the bed, closer to the radio which Melody turned up loud.   Puff the Magic Dragon was our favorite song.

After we’d fallen asleep Melody’s older brother Richard came in and scooped me up out of bed.  “Do you want to sleep in my room now, in the bunk beds?”  Well, you bet I did!  I’d never slept in bunk beds.

I wanted the top bunk, but Richard said we had to share the bottom bunk because I might fall off the top.  He turned off the light and we spooned in the bottom bunk.

It was cozy, cuddling like that, but I was uncomfortable, unused to this kind of attention from Richard who usually shooed me away.

I laid still and tried to fall to sleep, but I couldn’t figure out what I was feeling, pressed up against my backside, between me and Richard.   Was it a toy?    I couldn’t imagine what kind of toy would feel like that.

Then I felt something wet and  I wondered if he’d wet the bed, just a little.

He sent me away after that, back to sleep with Melody in her mom’s bed.


Supernatural Ladybug

Ladybug

Ladybug (Photo credit: Susan NYC)

Dotter told me that Lizzy had been asking questions about death since Aunt Jody died; questions like I wonder what it’s like when you’re dead? Dotter told her it was probably like being asleep, only you don’t dream and you don’t wake up. Dotter’s husband offered his explanations too. Then they saw a ladybug. In the house. In December.

And Lo, they were amazed.

It was so weird because Lizzy is our Ladybug Girl, always finding ladybugs, and here we are having this deep, spiritual conversation, and a ladybug appears! In December!

Lizzy’s dad says, See… magic is everywhere if you just believe.

Divert! Divert!
Lights flash and warning sirens wail in my head. Don’t go there! Dotter senses my skepticism as the words are coming out of her mouth. Now she feels dumb telling me this story. “You’ll think it’s silly”.

I don’t remember how, but we veered away from this danger zone. I was trying to think of an acceptable response. Oh, wow?! Cool! I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I was just trying to wrap my head around what they were thinking.

Was she suggesting that the ladybug was some kind of Messenger from Beyond? Do they think Aunt Jody sent the ladybug? Because, if that’s the case, Yes! I think it’s silly. It makes for a cute story, but let’s think about more realistic explanations.

I recall the day Lizzy took me up to her bedroom to see the ladybug she was keeping in her doll house. Maybe the miraculous winter ladybug is still alive in December because it’s been living inside the warm house. Unless the ladybug was talking or texting or something extraordinary, I wouldn’t think it was a Supernatural Ladybug.

It reminded me of the Owl Seers. After co-worker Pat died, Ron told me that he and members of Pat’s family had all seen owls on their separate routes home from the wake. An owl flew low across the road in front of Ron’s car. What does it mean?! The owl-seers were elated! They believed that the owls were a sign from Pat. Maybe it was Pat, waving good-bye! They seemed to believe that when you die you get some kind of power over the animal kingdom and you can send critters on errands. Or maybe you can turn your dead-self into to an a bird and visit your old friends.

I wonder how that squares with their Christian beliefs? I suppose, if you believe in Eden’s talking snake and the talking ass and bears god sent to maul naughty children, it’s not that much of a stretch. Religion sets people up to believe just about anything.

Another True Story. Jay was walking to his car after buying some weed, when he spied a snake on the ground by the driver’s side door. He’d had a dream about a snake, and now there’s a snake by the car door! OMG! He made it into his car via the passenger door and peeled outta there. He was freaked-out by seeing this snake after buying the pot after having that snake dream. He decided the snake was a sign, a warning that he shouldn’t have bought the pot. He threw the baggy out the car window.

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in Oz. When Ron first found out that I’m an atheist he was surprised and said, “but you seem so well adjusted!” He thinks I’m the weird one because I don’t believe in gods or Messenger Owls.

I don’t mean to spoil your magic moment, it’s just that I look for factual explanations. I don’t feel the need embellish the real world with magic glitter-twinkle-sparkles.
The very fact that there is such a thing as a ladybug, an owl and a snake; and that the ladybug, the owl, the snake and you and I are all hurtling through space together on this weird, magnificent blue speck, isn’t that magic enough?


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A Mouse Tale

Title illustration from The Tale of Two Bad Mice

Title illustration from The Tale of Two Bad Mice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daily Prompt: Daring Do.

Tell us about the time you rescued someone else (person or animal) from a dangerous situation. What happened? How did you prevail? Photographers, artists, poets: show us BOLD

A Mouse Tale

I’ve never saved a human life, but I’ve saved umpteen cats, one rabbit, a pigeon and, my most daring animal rescue ever, two mice. It was daring of me to think I could secretly transport two mice in a small cardboard box in my pocket,  from Missouri to Oregon, on a Greyhound bus. I was fourteen years old.

I’d rescued the mice from Grandma’s chickens who’d uncovered their nest and were gobbling up the naked little babies like candy. A city girl, I was shocked to learn that chickens would eat mice! I shooed the vicious birds away and grabbed two little survivors, all pink and bald and blind to the perils of the cruel world.

Grandma humored me and found a little box I could keep them in. I made them a cozy nest and fed them milk with a little straw. They grew fast. Their grey fur had come in and their eyes were open by the end of my stay at Grandma’s house.

Great-grandma accompanied me on the three day bus ride home. She didn’t know I had mice in my pocket. The trip was going well, until the second day when I heard a kerfuffle in the back of the bus. A lady screamed, “A mouse was crawling up my leg!”  I checked my pocket. There was a hole in the box and only one mouse inside. What was I to do? I kept my mouth shut.

The bus rolled on through the night. I sat in the very front seat, wide awake while Great-grandma snoozed in the seat behind me.  The bus driver saw the mouse first.  It was on the steps by the bus door, in plain sight.   Without a thought for my own safety (or getting kicked off the bus) I hopped down the steps and scooped up the runaway mouse. The bus driver glared at me. You’d better keep that thing to yourself, he grumbled.

I did. I got those mice all the way home without Great-grandma finding out.

But then I had to face my dad. He didn’t appreciate my daring mouse rescue. He was not impressed with my dedication or the heroism of my actions.

He let the mice go, in the field behind our house where, I believe, they lived happily ever after.

Daily Prompt: A Horse

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Daily Prompt: Keeping up with the Jones’.

Tell us about the one luxury item you wish you could afford, in as much detail as you can. Paint a picture for us.   Photographers, artists, poets: show us COVET.

Horses

A Horse

I seriously coveted Becky Palmer’s collection of Breyer model horses. Her dresser was crowded with playful, straddling foals, serene mares and majestic stallions with wind-blown manes. They pawed the air and tossed their heads, they gazed lovingly back at admirers like me.

I invited Becky to my birthday party thinking surely she’d give me a Breyer horse. That’s what we love, right?  What a let-down!  I don’t remember what gift she gave, but it wasn’t a horse.

I read all the horsey books I could find.  Flip was the first.  The Black Stallion series fed my fantasies for years. I dreamed of mucking out stalls. I wouldn’t mind! Horse poop is the best.

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Alas, I was a city girl. We had no room for a horse in the yard or in the budget. Dad used to take me riding now and then and he promised we’d take a camping trip with horses someday, if I learned my multiplication tables. The promise was forgotten, or expired before I learned my tables, in my twenties.

Now I live in a place where I could have a horse. But when I think about the expenses; fencing, shelter, feed and veterinary care, saddle, bridle, halter, ropes, blankets, grooming tools and on and on; well, a horse ain’t going to happen here. Even a miniature horse would take a huge bite out of the budget.

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If money were no object I’d buy the acreage across the road and build a deluxe barn with an upstairs apartment for a full-time stableboy caretaker. I won’t buy any expensive, pedigreed breeds. Instead I’ll adopt wild horses and whisper them into docility. I’ll take in neglected and abused horses and give them a forever home.

And I’ll buy a whole dresser-full of Breyer horses. Neener-neener, Becky Palmer!

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Daily Prompt: Clean House 2

Daily Prompt: Clean House.

Is there “junk” in your life? What kind? How do you get rid of it?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us JUNK.
crochet

Purge

This is my mother’s handiwork. She crocheted a lot when I was a kid, always this same pattern. She didn’t even have to look; her hands just went on auto pilot, working the needle, working the needle back and forth like a machine while she watched the afternoon movie. She made doilies and dresser scarves, tablecloths and bedspreads. At least, she’d say it was going to be a bedspread or a tablecloth. I don’t recall seeing one on a bed or table.

This piece had been in my linen closet forever. I don’t know if it was meant for bed or table. I wouldn’t have it on either. It looked unfinished, too small for bed or table and lacking a border. The only time I’d ever used it for anything was when I pinned it over the patio for a bit of shade on a hot day. That’s when I took this picture. After that day it went back into storage.

I kept the piece because I respect handiwork. I kept it out of a sense of obligation. It was the only thing I had, made by my mother, but I felt no fondness for it. In fact, it annoyed me every time I saw it, taking up precious storage space. Why do I keep something I have no use for, made by someone I couldn’t stand?

I chucked it one day during a cleaning spree. I didn’t want to be bothered with shuffling it around anymore. I took the thing to the garbage can, I dropped it in and I dusted myself off. It felt good. It felt cleansing. And I kind of wished she could have seen me do it.

Daily Prompt: Standout/ Singled Out

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Daily Prompt: Standout.

When was the last time you really stood out in a crowd? Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us STANDOUT.

Singled Out

Mrs. Mustard always addressed her students formally when taking roll-call.

“Mr. Anderson?”

“Here!”

“Miss Brown?”

“Present.”

“Miss Douglas?”

“Here!”

But when she came to my name, she slurred over the title, using an awkward sort of Ms. long before Ms. was politically correct. It was subtle; other students may not have noticed, but I did. She was uncomfortable, I suppose, having a Mrs. in her class of high-school seniors.

I was seventeen. I only needed three credits to graduate. So, after my baby was born I registered, mid-year at the nearest high-school, eager to finish up and get that diploma.

I knew nobody at that high-school and nobody noticed me.

Until Mrs. Mustard singled me out.

After a couple of weeks of awkward roll-call moments, Mrs. Mustard could stand it no more. She came out and asked, when she came to my name on the roster, “Do you want to be called Miss or Mrs?”

The entire class turned and looked at me. You could see it in their faces. She’s married?! I had been noticed.

I remember turning red, wanting to vanish. Why couldn’t she just call me Susan? I wasn’t ashamed that I was married or that I had a baby. I was humiliated to have it pointed out to the class that I was an anomaly.

Mrs. Mustard meant to be respectful by addressing us formally. She probably didn’t realize what she’d done by spotlighting me like that, but it was the last straw. I quit school.  Instead of a high-school diploma, I took a test and received a General Education Diploma. It was quick and painless.


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Daily Prompt: In Good Faith

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Daily Prompt: In Good Faith.

Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us FAITH.

I Never Believed

The first doubts came with the first day of Sunday school. I remember the moment, singing “Jesus Loves Me”, unconvinced that it was true. I didn’t love Him and I didn’t like the notion that I belonged to Him.

I doubted that the Bible was the “Word of God”. I doubted that exactly 144,000 souls would be sucked up into heaven when The Rapture comes.

Doubts are the work of the devil, I was told. Don’t let the devil lead you astray.

I felt guilty. And scared. What’s wrong with me? Am I so weak? So wretched? I prayed hard. I tried to believe, but I doubted when I went to the altar at church camp and I doubted when I got baptised.

When I tried to teach my children the basic Bible stories, because I felt I should, they asked the same sensible questions I had asked at their age. I couldn’t give them the same unsatisfactory answers I had been given. I wouldn’t teach them something I didn’t believe.

After my father died, when there was no one left to disappoint, I acknowledged the fact that I am an atheist. I said it out loud.

“I am not a Christian. I am an atheist.”

I remember the moment. I was making the bed.

Little by little, I freed myself from the need for a supernatural experience.


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Daily Prompt: Hi, Mom! Here’s Your Letter

Daily Prompt: Hi, Mom!.

Daily Prompt: Hi, Mom!
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Wherever in the world you are, write your mother a letter.
Photographers, share a photo that says mothering.

Dang you Daily Prompt!  One thing I like about Mother’s Day is that I don’t have to write to my mom.  I did  it, but I didn’t feel like publishing it yesterday and spoiling the mood for those who have wonderful moms.

It’s almost hard for me to believe those moms exist; they seem like fairy tale moms.

To Mom

Hey,

I’m supposed to write you a letter, for Mother’s Day, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to you. I found myself looking back to the old days and the kind of mother you were.

Remember that time, I was about ten years old, we went to a drive-in movie and smoked cigarettes, one after the other. The Rambler’s ashtray was overflowing! Boy, I thought, my mom lets me smoke! Cool!

And, how old was I that time I got puking drunk on vodka and orange juice at your house? Fourteen, I think. The next morning I had to ride the Greyhound home, sicker than a dog. I can’t believe Dad didn’t smell the booze on me. If he had ever known what went on at your house, he never would have let me visit you!

Remember when I was fifteen, you had that Army boyfriend, Harvey? He brought his younger buddy over and we all played cards and got shit-faced drunk. Then you and Harvey went to bed and left me alone with that soldier boy. What do you suppose happened while you were bangin’ away in there?

Boy, those were the days, eh? I used to think it was cool that there were no rules at your house.   Stealing, lieing, cheating, drinking, smoking, sex, anything goes.

Then I became a mom.

At age seventeen.

And I realized, as I was raising my own child, what a terrible mother you were.

So, here’s your letter.

The F Letter

Sincerely,
Susan


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Daily Prompt: Cringe-Worthyness

Daily Prompt: Cringe-Worthy.

Do you feel uncomfortable when you see someone else being embarrassed? What’s most likely to make you squirm?

I don’t mind watching someone else be embarrassed.  It’s interesting to see how they handle it.   Some people are able to laugh it off, some blush, some cry, some lash out and some run away.

I cringe when I see people who should be embarrassed, but aren’t.  When Pat Robertson claims that demons may be clinging to your second-hand clothing; that makes me cringe.  This is in a category known as “species embarassing”.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/26/pat-robertson-goodwill-sweaters-demons-praying-video_n_2766810.html

Squirming indicates a more personal level of discomfort, when the conversation gets perilously close to some secret truth about me.  For example, when I was a teenager,  Dad and Grandma, in the front seat of Dad’s car, were lamenting legal abortion, while I squirmed in the back seat, pretty sure that I was pregnant.  That was probably my squirmiest moment ever.

Daily Prompt: Do-over!

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Daily Prompt: Do-over!

Go back to a blog post you always thought could be better, or were unsatisfied with — now, fix it.

This is one of the prompts I never got around to. 

Iconic Shoebox 

There was a shoebox in Grandma’s hall closet that used to transport us back in time, to the days when my grandmother was a little girl living on the North Dakota prairie. In the shoebox were sepia tone photographs, some a hundred years old. We’d sit at the kitchen table carefully handling each precious photo, Grandma fondly recalling the names and I, memorizing them. It was important to me to know the names and stories. I longed to visit the grand, old farmhouse my great-grandfather built, to see the kitchen where little Alma, her mother and sisters cooked and baked and ironed. I wanted to play in the hayloft like Grandma had and ride to town in the horse drawn wagon with my great-grandfather.
The shoebox of photos meant as much to me as it did to my grandmother. When she died, the family shoebox became mine. I put the photos in a proper album with acid free paper and wrote down all the names, places and dates I could. I added to the album as new treasures came my way. A cousin sent letters written by my grandmother in the early 1900’s. She also very kindly sent a thick hank of my grandmother’s wavy brown hair, cut when all the ladies were getting The Bob. I have her diploma from nursing school and Dad’s baby shoes and wool cards from the farm. The collection outgrew a large drawer and now is barely 149715_1448139367488_6355040_ncontained in a large rubbermaid tub. There are six generations in that tub. I’m not sure anyone cares. My son and daughter have never shown any interest in the old photos and stories. They don’t know any of the names.

I hope one (or all) of my grand-daughters will care about the tub of old photos and mementos.  I hope they don’t wind up unknown and unloved in a yard sale.   I think I’m going to  have a Dia de los Muertes celebration so the girls can get to know their ancestors. They love a party and they love to decorate, so they can help me arrange some old photos, flowers and candles in a beautiful display and I’ll tell them the names and stories.

Those are my people and I love them as if I had known them, outside the shoebox.