Monday, September 30, 2013


Cate lives in a state so far away from the homeland that the mélange of melted processed cheese and Rotel with a dash of Cumin has not yet been discovered by the masses.  I don't even know if Rotel is on the grocer's shelf.  With her recent what-used-to-be-her-home homecoming, she definitely wanted to partake of the delicacies her home state has to offer.

For years and years, I have not darkened the drive thru of Taco Bell or the front door.  Not interested and not happening.  Obviously, my business was not a true barometer of the Bell's success.  I think it was the dog.  And then, the wonderful Dorito Taco Shell for Taco Supreme was invented, one of the best food inventions in a long time and such a natural pairing.  A taste sensation.  Delicious.  Taco Bell has my business again.  I could eat a taco every day, any taco, but I love beef and avocado.  Or a tamale everyday.  Or a lobster (soonverysoon!)  I am not wired to go nuts over the mention of a hamburger and French fries. 

But now I love my Taco Bell Dorito Taco.  I grew up eating Mexican food while other folks were gumming tuna casserole.  Today was the day to go get some tacos.  I even gave up my Dorito Taco love affair so that my child could have the Mexican food she wanted and was raised on.  When I was expecting this little bundle of joy, I would go to this fine establishment after my Dr.'s appointment and have the biggest, yummiest, spiciest taco salad in existence.  While waiting for my salad, I would consume mass quantities of the perfect salsa with a chip or two.  I could have poured the salsa into a glass and drunk it with my meal, I love it so.

Burt is sent on the taco run to the establishment producing great salsa, cheese dip and tacos which now resides in a drive thru business only.  But good tacos and salsa have not been diminished by the cars only atmosphere.  When he gets home, I'm standing there salivating, anticipating my weekly tacos while he opens the Styrofoam holding six succulent tacos as we pull containers of dip, beans and rice from the sack.  What?  Where is the salsa?  You call that a bag of chips for a medium cheese dip?  People, people. 

We are eating our fast tacos in preparation for our trip to the airport to say good-bye to our only child so she can be whisked back to her home fires, where the husband and the puppy are patiently waiting.
There is no time to drive back to the establishment and correct the situation.  I pick up the phone and tell them what happened just so they know what happened. 

About this time I'm considering giving up on drive-thru which is wonderfully convenient but often incorrect.  How often is the consumer going to return back to the scene of the shorted bag of chips?  If you give every third car a bag that is half empty you will save a little money but still rake in the same amount of pesos?  And if, whoops, you forget the salsa, too bad, so sad.  But I am generally a fair and considerate person.

And then I found it, one of my pettest of peeves.  Bad lettuce with black stuff on it.  Once again, this is the waning hour of my best girl's visit.  I just take a picture for proof which I offer for your review.  Whenever I serve a salad for a meal, I don't use bagged lettuce.  I prefer real greens and keep my eye out for grossitivity.  This lettuce was about the size of my first knuckle.  What if I had eaten it and then gotten sick?  I don't do bad lettuce well. 

This is the lettuce that has broken my drive-thru desires.  This and the no salsa and the half empty bag of chips.  And another wrong order at another place, over and over. 

One summer, I briefly worked for a major fast food corporation, wearing a Parisian inspired rust and white polyester pantsuit with matching white restaurant shoes that stuck to the grease on the floor tiles behind the counter.  And a fetching cap.  There were no computers.  I had to know the price of every item, the dairy and the beef fluctuating based on the national market prices.   I had to mop the front lobby, more than once.  There was no button marked milkshake on the register.  There was not a machine loaded with premixed milkshakes, just vanilla ice cream ready to go.  Every product was assembled in excruciating detail.  The grease was hot and might pop out on your hand even if you were careful. And I had to make my own change at a time when a dollar would buy a small meal with pennies leftover.  My fast-food career was over when my hours were cut because of a new restaurant opening just down the street, with the newest innovations - a salad bar, soups and baked potatoes.

And in all fairness, the major fast-food corporation is not what it used to be.  We do not subsist on drive-thru fare but it is convenient, especially when your house is turned upside down in renovation.  That tide is turning, finally.

Tonight I fixed a healthy meal of ham steak with cranberry sauce, baked sweet potatoes and green beans.  Not exciting but there were no surprises in the ingredients.   

I will probably go back to this taco spot but I don't have to.   Once, they were one of the few offering this new type of cuisine.  There was not immediate seating available.  You would stand in the lobby, smelling platters of sizzling fajitas as the staff carried trays to the tables.  A basket overflowing with warm chips was put down on the table just as you were seated.  The salsa was never ending.  Many happy hours were spent around the table.  Now, new folks have come into the state, bringing authentic menu items and whole families working hard to provide a consistently, pleasing product.

Thankfully this piece of corroded lettuce was hanging off and not touching a taco.  After thorough investigation, we ate all of the tacos and lived to tell.  But we ate them without salsa and just a handful of chips.  This is not the first wrong order and it won't be the last.  Their salsa is still my favorite.  I figure enough garlic can kill anything. 


a woman whose next summer

job was working for a radio station and being trained on the very latest in the new world of computers, a Word Processor 

Sunday, September 29, 2013


I can hardly keep my eyes open.  Don't you just hate that feeling?  All day long, I wanted to put my head down on a table and close my eyes.  Now I'm writing this blog to keep myself awake until I have to rally and get up and go out to dinner with family.  Not a hardship at all, my favorite steak place.   

Sleep has not been my friend lately.  Four hours at one time is about my max but certainly not my optimum.  I try not to get up out of bed but after awhile I think a glass of milk would help.  Sometimes I'm hot and thirsty and craving a Coke at 3 a.m.  But not very often.  A couple of swigs can hit the spot.

This very early morning my eyelids opened before 2 a.m.  Tiptoeing into the kitchen, I turned on my middle of the night lights and grabbed a glass of water.  I sat down in my chair, wide awake.   The dog wouldn't even recognize my presence.  I picked up a piece of stitching lying on my ottoman.  I love to cross-stitch and started this new piece last week.  Recently, Cate said, "Your stitching is probably missing you" because of all my writing these days.  I worked a few stitches on my linen and stopped. 

Then I spied my Nook HD, a very indulgent, improper gift for an English Major to purchase for herself.  Books, books, books has been my rallying cry for years.  I would put my fingers in my ears and start singing Tea for Two whenever anyone tried to sell me on an E-book.  After two Writer's Conferences extolling the virtues and the necessities of owning and using such a system, my underdog sad face knew I couldn't stay ignorant forever.  Choosing stubborn ignorance is a lovely way of hiding out from pushing myself to try the new and different.   A place that is tried and true and ancient is my favorite dwelling place.  I talk a big game about change but...

Hesitantly, I have to say that getting my Nook has been a good thing (said very swiftly and running all the words together so as not to be understood).  Yes, change is good.  My reading has quadrupled in the past few weeks.  One of my favorite tools is the e-dictionary.  Any word available at my lazy fingertips.  How many times did my mother tell me to look it up?  I think this still counts because I am looking up new words, which is like chewing meat for a writer, feasting on the protein need to fuel my mind.  And the Nook keeps a record of the words I look up.

But there is one item I didn't consider when I purchased my new fancy reading book!  I've always considered a person using a cell phone or an Ipad as a movie or television screen absolutely nuts.  How in the world would a little bitty screen serve up anything of entertainment value?

This morning, at 3 a.m., I was holding the Nook in my lap, mesmerized by the little jewel box of Downton Abbey on a screen as big as the "add extra postage" size postcard.  It was a tiny version of my old television but I have to admit, still charming and interesting.  All the brilliance of the show seemed to be magnified even on this Lilliputan network.  I wouldn't want to do all my viewing in that format because I am usually cross-stitching while I watch any t.v.

Now it is Friday.  Yesterday I found out that D.A. will be returning to the American screen in January 2014.  Whew.  A relief because I will have more time to watch Season 3.  We were out of town and I was showing my father-in-law my Nook with all of its bells and whistles.  And it froze up entirely.  Zilch.  No turn off or any change of anykind.  The battery heated up and it died.

When you are becoming accustomed to a new gadget, sudden death is debilitating.  This Nook had already made me say in writing how much I was enjoying the e-process.  It's like being in sixth grade again, and having this cute boy walk me to class for a couple of days and tell me how much he likes me and how impressed he is that I'm on page 175 out of 610 pages of Look Homeward Angel, oh, I
mean that he might want to go steady and then poof.  Zilch.  Heartbreak.  Jerk.  The joke is on me.

However, this story has a better middling.  We aren't to the ending.  The store where I purchased the dropped dead device (I never dropped it, in truth) replaced it with a newer, better conditioned version, we hope.  I still have not been home long enough to figure out how to transfer my 1st Nook library into my 2nd Nook Book.  But between blogging and nooking, I'm learning new tricks, I hope. 

Lessons learned:  Change is good.  New words bring new ideas.  Downton Abbey is delightful and entertaining even on a postcard.  Many happy returns occur.  No caffeine after six.  A mean boy's name is easily forgotten.   

The summer before sixth grade, vacationing in Colorado

Friday, September 27, 2013


The Playhouse

there is a dog lying on my foot

in the sunshine on the floor

inside the open door of my nook

my special place

where I come to pour words out

and thoughts cover paper

penciled in

in the quiet of distant cars

an acorn drop

dog stepping on leaves

people flying away

climbing higher

pushing air and machine

too many thousands of feet

dog stands up looking

for lunch leftovers

tossed out in the yard

lapping up water

from last night’s rain

a spider’s webbing shining

spun between two grounded leaves

diamond beads

dropped from a cloud

drying gutters full of fire when hit by the noon sun

I can count the trees

but not the leaves

magical scarlett

browning on the ground

overhead but not overheard by me

people traveling speeding time higher

but I can’t even

count the leaves

pushed from my trees

no man can

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


After dinner I called Burt.  He could hear the exhaustion and anxiety in my voice.  We agreed the best thing for me to do was to kick back.  I even considered a Jacuzzi soaker but I was so tired I thought I might melt into the water.

Nothing interesting was on t.v.  I turned on my Ipod.  I had progressed past the rudimentary cell phone and computer.  Cate and Finn had spent a part of their Christmas visit helping me learn this new fangled device. My son-in-law was much more patient with my learning curve than my daughter.  I love my Ipod in the loud environment of the gym and an airplane.  Getting ready to go on this trip, I decided to purchase an Ipod radio.  I don't like to get very far away from my music, especially my Music Man, Dan Fogelberg.  Every night that I had been away, I had covered over any bumps in the night by falling asleep listening to his music.

Hot tea sounded good to me.  Walking back to the sofa, I spied the guest book.  One of the fun parts about staying at a B&B is reading what other guests have written and thinking about how you will sign out.  The book had caught my eye earlier, but I decided to read it later, at my convenience.

Now it was convenient.  Curling up on the sofa with my travel blanket, I put my mug down on the antique chest.  It was great because you didn't have to worry about making a ring.  The music was playing softly.  Finally, after such a crazy day, I felt myself relaxing.  After reading a little bit, I would turn in early.  Tomorrow I would have to pack up before 10 a.m. but then I could relax and enjoy the weekend in the new place.

I took a sip of tea, putting it back down on the box.  The coffee table chest had become my writing spot because of its size and height. It was perfect for the sofa and almost as long.  My laptop and paperwork were stacked about and a couple of new magazines.  I had a cozy little nest even with all the lights on.

The B&B property was close to town and just as old.  The leaves had barely begun to pass their budding out and in the distance, a massive sculpture of Jesus stood on a ridge.  I did not make a pilgrimage and I didn't need a sculpture to buoy my faith, but it was nice to look out and see Jesus standing on the hill, day and night.

Settled in, reading everyone's comments, I grew calmer by the minute.  And then the review, a couple of pages into the book.  "We loved the casket!  That is so cool to have an old casket in the living room as furniture."  Yes, I had to reread what had been written.  And then came the major realization that I had been enjoying the same antique box all week and it was a casket.  Oh, Lord.  And thank you Jesus, for standing on that hill two ridges away, even in the dark.

By this time, I was not still sitting on the sofa.  I was jumping all over the room, calling Burt on the phone who was trying to make sense of all the shouting.  Finally, I was able to relay what was occurring, the current tense of the extremely tense situation of dealing with an antique casket just feet from your bed.  Even thinking about it now makes me throw up my hands.

One person remained calm.  More reading in the diary revealed more references about the old box.  Burt kept saying, "But it's never been used."  Whoa.  Well, duh.  But then he wanted me to lift the top off and look inside for the extra pillows and blankets which had been mentioned.  Maybe if he had been there and I was in the bathroom with all the water running, singing Amazing Grace as loud as I can and holding two Holy Bibles, maybe then the lid could be lifted, to look for the pillows and blankets I thankfully, had never needed.

We would hang up and then I would call him again.  Here was a big old wooden casket in the middle of the room and I was never forewarned there would a coffin in the middle of the room, a lovely bed and breakfast room.  Oh my gosh.  Mr. Logical, who is hours away, said calmly, "Amy, it's been there all along and it hasn't bothered you."  But I didn't know what I didn't know, but now I did.

Of course, I slept with a light on, only sleeping when I fell over onto my pillow.  The sun woke me up, three hours later.  I got around, packed and made coffee.  Three hours is absolutely the bare minimum necessary for me to be able to open my eyes, form words and fall out of bed with hot or cold caffeine waiting on my nightstand. My sleep is precious and well-guarded.  It helps my life run smoothly.  I woke up wild and wired.

Later in the morning, I moved to the new house, a neat old place with plenty of personality.  My favorite room was the old dining room with a baby grand piano.  I was kicking myself for not bringing my sheet music because I did know about the piano.  But I didn't know I would have the house to myself.

House to myself.  Not one of my favorite things, by myself, at night.  In a large house.  The front door would remain locked and my bedroom door had a keyed deadbolt.  But the other rooms upstairs were not yet reserved for the weekend and I was asked to keep the two back doors unlocked for easy access.  Never willingly or knowingly have I lived or slept in an unlocked house.  Growing up in a big city, we locked our doors, coming and going. 

I took a tour of the house to become familiar with my surroundings. Unfortunately, I found the basement door in the hallway near my room, which I thought was a closet.  Others might have ventured down the stairs but I didn't want to know how many vampires slept down there.  I actually scooted a nearby chest against the door.  No one was coming up that way.   

I tried to play the piano.  All I wanted to do was sit in the pretty room and play my D.F. music which I had been playing all my life, but never memorized.  I knew that would make me feel better.  Frustrated at my lackluster ability to remember the notes, I abandoned the idea.

I tried to write but I couldn't concentrate.  Then the weather calls started coming in.  I was wired, wild and now I was worried.  I wanted Burt to leave early and come up this weekend.  He was in an all day meeting and couldn't leave until after 5 p.m. and what about the dog?  I called the manager, asking if dogs were allowed because my dog is wonderful and would be an excellent house guest.  No dogs. Of course, dogs would probably scare whatever was in the basement.  And there was an odd odor in the potting shed.  Nothing got better as the day wore on, not my mental state, not the weather, not the color of the sky, not the possibility of a rescue.  I was in such tunnel vision that I didn't consider family that lived a couple of hours away.  I wanted to go home so badly but I also wanted to stay and finish my trip.   

After hours of back and forth phone calls, about the weather and questions about if I was going to leave or if Burt was coming up, I realized my stomach was caving in from only drinking coffee and water all day.  Everything was still up in the air.  And the air was turning green to the far west as I made a run to a gift shop on my way to an early dinner.  I had a hamburger, guacamole and a frozen margarita.  And the combination did calm me down a notch or two.  But I still had no answers and the weather was marching in.

This system had produced tornadoes in the next state nearby.  Tornadoes are a huge fear of mine but I've never been in one. In six weeks, I would be involved helping family clean up after the Joplin tornado.  After seeing that horrific devastation, my fear would be compounded.  But for now, I felt absolutely frozen in not knowing what I should do.  Burt decided to stay put.   I told him I couldn't decide which way to go but I would call him back.  The clock was ticking.

Fifteen minutes later, my phone rang.  "Amy, did you decide?"

I was pumping gas into my car for the trip home.  The car was full to the brim with everything I had gathered up and tossed into the car, about four trips back and forth into the house.  He was shocked, not believing I could move so fast.  But as anyone who knows me will say, when I make up my mind to do something, look out.  At the station, people said there had been a tornado two counties over.  The sky was darkening and turning green black, always my favorite sky color.  I told him I would call him when I got settled, wherever that would be.

My best plan of action was to head east and hopefully stay ahead of the storm.  At the next town, I would have to decide whether to stop or keep going ahead of the storm, until I got to the next big town over an hour away.  If I kept going, I would be driving through a national forest area, sparsely populated with few places to stop even on a good day.

As I drove the highway I had come across on Monday, the storm was behind me but coming around the sides.  It was as if the night darkened at the same rate that the storm darkened.  With new prosperity in the area, I hoped to find a new motel.  At the farthest edge of town and no new motel in sight, I pulled into a station and went in and asked the clerk.  She told me to turn around and head to the only decent place in town.

I pulled up to the office.  Another first.  I had never gone into a motel and gotten my own room.  I stuffed some twenties into my pocket.  For the last thirty minutes, I had been talking to the storm, looking over my shoulder as I drove, praying out loud.  Now I was facing the coursing clouds, feeling the wind as it pushed into the vicinity and seeing the lightening.  My heart was racing.  I wanted shelter.

Just as I walked in, the wind slammed the door shut and lightening flashed.  The little lobby had a television with a weather alert on the screen.  Windblown and wild-eyed, no doubt I probably looked crazy when I came in talking about the weather.  Seriously, at this point, it all became like a dream sequence to me.  I asked the price.  The manager couldn't have been nicer.  I pulled out my money and took a pen to sign in.  I looked down and saw my hands but couldn't believe those were my hands shaking and wondered if anyone had noticed.  He said he'd put me downstairs in a central room where I would feel safer.  Maybe.  Why don't we name tornadoes or rate them ahead of time?  With hurricanes, there are warnings, and initially days to prepare.  Tornadoes are just there, bam.  Although, the digital radars have helped pinpoint storms, no one has found the ability to predict when they will fall out of the sky.

The rain was beginning to come down.  I opened the back of the car and with all of my adrenalin, grabbed in order of importance, my purse, my unopened can of Coke, my medicine, my computer, my umbrella and my coat.  I practically ran to my room and all the protection a cinder block building can afford.  It was old but it was clean and dry.

The tornado sirens started sounding about thirty minutes later.  I had already talked to Burt and left a message for the B&B.  I called Burt again while he was looking on the radar to check out the storm.  In a waking dream, you lose track of time.  My lack of sleep was serious.  The tornado  warning passed.  I took my medicine with my last sip of Coke, laid my jeans and top out on the other bed and crawled into the cool sheets wearing my underwear and my tennis shoes.  Relief for the first in over twenty-four hours.  And no big old boxes anywhere.

The sirens went off again just as I was dozing.  I got up and put on my rain coat for a house coat and crawled back in bed.  Middle of the night thinking - with my shoes on I could jump up and run into the bathtub and when I was found, at least I would be wearing my raincoat.  Even later into the early morning, I woke up to the sirens, again.  I decided the storm could have me, there was no more fight left.  I had been in flight mode for over twenty-four hours.

The April morning was like gray November.  After eight hours of sleep, the dream was over and life felt more normal again.  On my way out of town, I grabbed breakfast and sat in my car thinking about everything.  My first thought was that my only success was in my failure.  But then I thought about the craziness of being IN three storms, progressively worse each time.  In my favorite town, the people I had visited with, especially running into the bride and groom later that afternoon, taking pictures for them with their camera, and the light in their eyes and the party he was giving his bride and their friends in a month, on an island in a nearby lake.  I remembered what it felt like to be married for one day and walking the sidewalks, buying peppermint fudge.  What it felt like to be on my own and be productive and actually spend six nights all by myself, a first in my lifetime.  And one of those knowing a casket was just feet from the foot of my bed. 

And the hilarity of how I had packed up the car - my purse, my phone, two suitcases, a floor lamp, a computer, a printer, pillows, hanging clothes, a large tote of books and office supplies, a sack of groceries and a coat and umbrella and an unopened can of Coke.  I even remembered to scoot the chest away from the basement door.  And how I drove to the gas station and was pumping gas, all in less than fifteen minutes, all fueled by fear.  I had survived, everything, all by myself, with a little help from the angel in my pocket. 


a photographer who forgot to ask the bride to show her red tennis shoes!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Sacred Grove by D.G. Womack
I checked my car thoroughly.   Except for two very small dings, the car had not been damaged.  I brought my purchases in and put the floor lamp together.  Thankfully, the three socket light cheered up the dark room.  After washing my hands, which I always do after any outing, I plopped down on the sofa, propping my feet on the antique chest.  My wandering for the day was done.  I called a few folks and relayed my storm adventure.  After a supper of scrambled eggs, I opened my laptop.  Upon my arrival the day before, I discovered that there was no Wi-Fi at the cottage.  Facebook would have to wait until I could get to the library.

My days continued, very quietly and simply, at the pace of my choosing.  As soon as the sun woke me up, I would work on my writing.  The morning of the Royal Wedding I set my alarm to wake me up, bringing back memories of watching another royal wedding thirty years earlier.  Cate called and we chatted back and forth, as if we were in the same room together.  Photos of Prince William had been taped to the back of her bedroom door when she was younger.  When I was her age, David Cassidy had been the center of my photo collection.  If she couldn't be the princess bride, at least they shared a name and a love of Saint Andrews.

One afternoon, I took an easy stroll up to town.  An old hotel sits in the center of the oldest part of town.  A gazebo and a wrought iron fountain stand in the crescent shaped plaza next to the hotel.  Long, wooden and iron benches, painted green, are generously placed in this cool cove, a welcome respite after walking along the cobbled sidewalks placed long ago, unforgiving of the hilly terrain.

I have three favorite galleries - one is located at the edge of the plaza.  My favorite galleries have a good mix, especially local artists.  My parents and grandparents always favored something original.    Usually, the piece that speaks to you is not the latest model of whatever the Jones' are purchasing.  Cost may affect what you can afford to pay but it is not the jury and the judge for what is true art.  There are some items on Antique Roadshow that were ugly when they were first purchased a zillion years ago.  Time and rarity may bring value but ugly doesn't change.  Buy the notecard set from a museum and frame a card.  Use your sense and cents wisely to surround yourself with art you love.

When I walked into the gallery, it was love and amazement at first sight.  One of life's pleasures is to be stopped in your steps, your attention riveted to a painting, a print, a melody, a sculpture or piece of literature that stops the cogs in your brain.  Where did that idea come from?  How did they master the medium?  For a moment, to be all about the wonder and the beauty.  The color and unique style caught my eye.  The title, Sacred Grove.  Painted the year my Daddy died.  I was hooked.  But I was just looking.

The cottage had a little patio area where I liked to sit and drink coffee and write.  I started an outline of a book already in progress.  I submitted a couple of pieces to a writing contest and reviewed pieces I had written in the past.  One day while I was sitting there, the manager nicely asked me to move because the lawn needed mowing.  He introduced me to the yard man.  They were both distinctive looking, reminding me of the description of Ichabod Crane, twisted scarecrows with bad teeth.  Nice but kinda' creepy. 

Thursday morning had hardly begun when both mothers started calling about the pending weather, headed for my part of the state.  Burt's mother is good to keep us updated on the weather but for my mother to call, well.  They weren't sure I got the Weather Channel on my television.  I did.  Don't worry.  If there is any weather pending, I have a sixth sense and I am high up in the crow's nest checking it out.  And then Burt started calling.  Three calls were okay but by mid-afternoon I was receiving county by county updates.  Early notice is good, but when you are in the county where everything is headed, what are you going to do?  Move?  I didn't even have a good hidey hole anywhere.   

The weather station had this storm system pegged.  Whenever the sky turns green-aqua, it is not for photographic purposes although it does make for dramatic pictures.  Here I am, Miss Independent Writing Lady, knowing not a single person in this town I love so.  Nothing like a good storm, ha.  With no where else to go, I stayed put.  Which was really my only choice but in the middle of the storm, the sweet little marble library built into a cliff side came to my mind.  Next time.

Living on the fence line of Tornado Alley, spring storms are like the green pollen that covers everything just before April bursts.  This is how life rolls in the South, and April is always one big stormy ball bouncing across, and up and down, and finally bouncing into Mississippi and Tennessee.  For me, this Thursday was unique for the amount of lightening inflicted on an area I was hiding in and also, for the hail.

My little protected hidey hole was nothing more than a glorified garage, albeit, a lovely, glorified garage.  Of course, there was plenty of parental warning.  When Burt called, the thunder and lightening were shaking the ground so badly that I had crawled under the bed, not into the bed but under the bed, for cover.  I was afraid a bolt would come through the ceiling.  He stayed on the phone, trying to calm me down. 

At some point, the hail started.  Now I had to worry about the car, again.  There had been nowhere to take it for safe keeping.  I was in the garage, remember.  And then the hail started falling so fast and at such an angle that it was naturally attracted to all the windows in the cottage.  I can still hear the pings and cracks.  I stayed under the bed until the storm passed.  Then I grabbed my umbrella to check my car, with fear and trembling.   Once again, I thanked Ford Motor Company for their quality craftsmanship.  Just a tiny, little dent or two.

I was exhausted.  Eleven panes of glass had been pocked or cracked by the hailstones.  Two hail storms in four days was almost too much.  Anxiety is an issue.  A good, hot meal would help and it would be good for me to get out.  A Chinese restaurant called my name.  Enjoying old standbys reminded me of Burt.  Our first date was Lobster Cantonese.  He was coming up at the end of my stay, to spend the weekend.  But this weekend I would be on my own.  I had already picked out a church to visit on Easter Sunday.       

Tomorrow I would pack up for the weekend and move into a house managed by the same owner.   I knew this when I made my reservation.  The manager would help me move out and back in on Sunday night.  But as Sister says, "We don't know, what we don't know."


the owner of the beautiful painting, purchased at a later date

Thursday, September 19, 2013


The whole state is on their knees, praying for the rain that is tempting the weather folks to speak extra fast and with more giggles than usual.  I was driving down the street and thought to myself, "It feels like snow."  But it is 93 degrees right now.  But everyone is all atwitter about the possibility of a raindrop hitting them on the head.  If I were to go to the grocery store I might see a run on bread and beer. 

I wrote this little piece a few years ago but exactly on this date so there is hope. 

This could happen!

I have just returned home safely, which is no small feat.  After almost two months of no significant rainfall, the city streets are awash in the culmination of oil dripped from engines, splatters of gasoline from overfilled tanks, pulverized tire rubber from speedy getaways and sudden stops, leaves who have left dry trees, tossed banana peels, an entire city’s refuse of ozone from underarm deodorant and hairspray, and the last leavings of DDT sprayed to kill the deadly West Nile Virus.

Going south on the interstate, the northbound lanes were slowing to a stop, the result of an 18 wheeler having  traction issues on a sloping, curving, six-lane freeway which has always been slick even if the Devil only thinks of sneezing.  I was almost to my exit but not yet up to speed when my tires danced sideways.  Later on, a big ruby Caddy passed me on the left, throwing half of Niagara Falls on the windshield.  

When I was a freshman in a college out of state, I turned on the radio to hear the National Guard had been called out to my hometown because of floodwaters.  Until that day, I had only thought of tornadoes as a threat, not flashfloods.  A call home verified the shocking news of innocent people carried away in the swift floodwaters, in places usually safe. The flood’s result was newly engineered drainage culverts and storm sewers.

Changing my route home in order to avoid the tail light road show up head of me, I
passed above a city park, just blocks from the historic flooding area.  Thinking people devised the park entrance/exit to pass through a low water bridge, years before the flood.  Perhaps they were thinking it would add to the park’s sense of adventure. 

A drenching rain washes out the sky, and some people’s brains.  Either ignorant of the past or just ignorant, people purposefully drive to the park.  “Hey Charlie, let’s go watch the water rise and see if we get caught!”  Or “Wow, we could have fifteen minutes of fame,” at the least, a 30 second spot on the news.  After all, there is nothing pleasant about sitting home on a rainy day, when you can risk floating sideways down a fairly non-threatening, but nonetheless, flooded creek.

At a time when the police are busy with real needs, like Med Flight and the Jaws of Life and gigantic traffic tie ups, the lucky traffic policeperson is standing in a yellow raincoat rolling her eyes at J.S. Public fjording the low water bridge.  Even though the trees in the crook of the creek will catch the car, he still has to be rescued from his costly prank.  The city should erect a large sign, “Hey You! Don’t even think about it!  Everyone knows this creek floods if the Devil sneezes.  If you get stuck in the flow, you pay for the tow, the time and the trouble, and one year of detention, to be served standing next to this sign, every time the creek rises, day or night.” 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Monday afternoon I headed down the road to find a lamp.  As I temporarily left my favorite little berg, I noticed the afternoon was now overcast. Cate and I had made the same jaunt to the next town several years earlier.  We had come up to this part of the state on a quick girls' trip.  The confinement of a speeding car offers an ideal environment to visit with your teenage daughter, after turning off the cell phones.

Travel time to that next town is less than thirty minutes.  One item we purchased was a new set of colored felt tip pens, arranged like the rainbow and drawing paper.  She rolls her eyes whenever I mention office supplies.  Yes, they are a weakness.  When we returned, the evening's entertainment consisted of me doodling our names in different colors and patterns.  Her nameplate was taped to her bedroom door through high school, graduation and into marriage.  We get in trouble when we call it the guest room, which it is now.  Of course, it will always be her room even though everything has changed.  Our original guest room is now my office.

My windowful little cottage

With graduations, weddings, family health issues and travels, my last visit had been with Cate.  While some things looked familiar, nothing stays the same, except for the fact that I do love this place and its ability to refresh my batteries.  The delightful French-style  bistro we discovered on our honeymoon and enjoyed for many years, even a later visit with our teenage daughter, was now empty.  Crusty bread, salad, quiche, French onion soup and our first chocolate crème brulee were served atop crisp table linens with cloth napkins.  Many businesses had struggled during the economic downturn but others had run a well-executed course.  A shopping mall and entertainment center had finally closed, "someone's dream" as my mother would say.  Our honeymoon bed and breakfast was for sale, as was another B & B we had visited.  The roadside was weary with for sale signs but then another curve would be the booming, newest, largest gas station.  Here and there, new was beginning to replace the old because someone always has a new and better dream but unfortunately, most dreams do not last forever. 

I went into the store and and because I was on my sabbatical with nowhere to be at any time, I let myself wander the aisles of this large retail market place, picking up this and that.  When I stepped out of the store, giddy with my new purchases, I was surprised to see a new bank of clouds in the western sky.  The colors were not pretty, the blue, green, grey of nothing good will happen.  Hopefully, it was all look and no storm.  I had no choice but to head the car back in the direction of my home for two weeks, right into the threatening storm.  

The highway travels at the top of a hilly mountain, flanked by green meadow valleys and the occasional old two-story farmhouse and even a couple of old, filled-in dogtrot houses built way back by original settlers.  When the day is pretty and no clouds overhanging, this is a pleasant drive, back down into the valley below and up again, with an expansive view like the child in Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Swing."  

.....Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!       
One of the places I had noticed on my earlier journey was an old, small cemetery.  My mother says I'm observant and I do try to notice where I am in my surroundings.  The rain started and then the hail.  I remembered the cemetery which was overshadowed by large cedar trees.  Hoping the thick branches would be protective, I turned off the highway and onto a small gravel drive, waiting under the sheltering trees.  For a minute, I thought the cemetery would be my answer but I soon realized I needed more protection.

 Pulling back onto the highway, I headed for the nearest shelter which I had seen a couple of hours earlier, the huge, new gas station.  A large network of metal canopies covered the pumps.  Every car within driving distance had pulled in.  I could not get my car completely under the canopy but I was close enough to partially block the hailstones hitting my car.

My well-loved car had never experienced a hailstorm.  This was the first, brand-new vehicle either one of us had ever owned in our lifetime.  We had always driven late model used cars  and done very well in our choices. We also had a very good buying agent.  This car was my ink exterior/camel interior dream come true with a sliding sunroof and heated seats, and my favorite - automatic lift rear gate.  High cotton. 

The hail was smacking so hard against the sunroof it sounded as if glass were breaking.  With each strike, I waited for the tinkling sound of sunroof failure. At the same time, hail was ricocheting off the windshield.  If anything broke, I would have to pack my bags and go home for repairs.  Sometimes the hit was so loud, I would shriek.  And it seemed to last forever.  We were all huddled under the canopies together but not together.

And then the hail stopped and I drove away, too afraid to get out and look at the damage.  Two miles later I was back in town and the roads were hardly wet.   I stopped the car and opened my door and stepped up on the running board, trying to prepare myself for the outcome.




a woman turning off the lamp next to my desk, purchased that afternoon

Monday, September 16, 2013


photo by Steve Martin

A teaspoon of whiskey from every bar in town.  That’s not what I said, although the reaction has been the same as if…What I said was “I want to eat my way down the Midway.”  I do not want to toss corny dog trailers and fried butter vendors into the air.  I do not care to spin all the cotton candy, green, pink, and blue, into one sugary ball and roll it all past a goldfish in a bowl that will be won and carried home, named Elvis and live for one year.  I wouldn’t dare throw up smoked turkey legs pretending to juggle- though be advised, if you decide to take a ride their greasy effect is not subtle.  I do feel crazy when diners are too lazy, squirting mustard and ketchup from big jars of condiments all over fries and corny dogs, letting it drip and mix,  – just too icky.   Please clean it up quickly. 
Don’t blame the hot dog rolling on a stainless log or the “fresh” corn bobbing in a watery bog.  Shirts and shoes required for service.  I am nervous about “used by” dates though I won’t pull the plug at Steak on a Stick but at another fair it once made me sick.  It’s really just a Middle- Eastern kabob grilled for the mobs.  Fresh kettle corn!?  I’ll fight for the first bunch of that buttery, warm, sugary, salty, crunch.  Fried twinkies and snicker bars won’t earn my attention. 
But I’m headed for detention when I unhook the little cart frying funnel cakes.  Will I make it through the gates?  Could it be the powdered sugar on my hands and face?  I did not plan for this sudden escape.  And someone thought I would be trouble.  All I wanted was to take a walk down the Midway, have a bite of this and that and watch other people do the same.  Funnel cake larceny has gotten the best of me.  I won’t give them my real name.  What will a respectable woman do?
a woman who is not trouble as long as she gets a funnel cake and a State Fair of Texas Corny Dog
(From the very best State Fair in the World, I bring you Big Tex, who will make his return to the Texas State Fairgrounds on September 27, after last year's flaming demise.)


Saturday, September 14, 2013


Gurgle, gurgle, bump,bump.  Drippy, drippy, drip, drip.  This is the sound of my magic elixir machine brewing the pot of liquid jolt necessary to begin my day.  Maybe not necessary.  I can jump out of bed and function in an emergency situation but not by choice.  In that case, I grab a cold Red can from the fridge and perform the same task but with a cold start.

I remember drinking my first samples of coffee when I was very, very young at my great-grandmother's house.  Maybe I was 4 or 5, with just as many tablespoons of sugar and milk and a couple of dollops of hot coffee.  She had the cutest little wooden spoon holder of a Dutch boy and girl.  That is a place I would love to go back and visit.  What a great way to get hooked on caffeine. 

When I was growing up, caffeinated beverages were a treat, not a daily part of my life.  Even though my grandparents owned a hotel and had a cold drink box in the corner of the lobby, I had to ask permission before I could reach my hand into the freezing water and retrieve a bottle.  When I was six, we took our first big camping trip to Colorado.  I had my first fountain drink of Coca-Cola (nectar of the gods).  Being in the mountains, this new type of drink became a "mountain" drink in my vocabulary.   

My serious coffee drinking began in seventh grade using freeze-dried nuggets.  It is a wonder that I kept drinking the stuff.  I do keep a small jar in the pantry for cooking purposes or to grab for the allusive camping out experience, just like the plastic box in the garage containing all items required to equip a camping kitchen big enough for a small regiment.  Always, the just in-case, never must throw out or give away an item that may be necessary if a camping excursion were to commence on a moment's notice.  This is required to keep an old Boy Scout in good standing.  And the sleeping bags of uncertain condition after twenty years of little use.  I have become a real bed person.  Tie that to the top of the car.

Speaking of travelling like the Joads.  Once on vacation in Washington, D.C. I remember all of us climbing out of our brand-new minivan, which was packed to the gills.  Burt had just managed to park the car, which is no small feat in that city were the majority of the vehicles are small and convenient.  When travelling there, one will notice the rarity of the SUV's, trucks and vans that we Southern folks are partial to. Our niece was also travelling with us.  Princess and her cousin had been fighting over who was sitting where, almost for the entire trip.

A couple of  "sophisticated" young Washingtonians walked by and laughed, remarking about our license plate and the President.  It was a very tacky thing to do, especially to a tourist but more is the pity.  Afterall, I doubt they had ever been to the President's birthday party or stopped to offer him a ride on a cold January morning when he was jogging.  Bless their heart. 

We had more camping equipment than luggage.  On the return trip home we were driving through the Carolina's and we already had a camping spot picked out. 

                                                   An earlier trip to Carolina

Burt had only heard tales about this magical nook, the world's most beautiful camping spot, nestled in the mountains.  Away from the dirt-packed campsite, a green lawn of  moss led down to a cold, mountain stream which shimmered when a slice of sun filtered through the trees, reflecting off the smooth chips of Mica glistening   Nearby, a small swimming lake held waters too cold to swim in, even in August.  A bath house offered showers so frigid that young children were not required to bathe, especially after the experience of a screaming mother.

My family made the trek twice to camp in this very same spot.  For many years, we exchanged Christmas cards with a neighbor camper, a woman who pitched a tent in that same beautiful glade, and resided there as long as the NPS would allow.  Despite our best preparation, the rain would keep us away from the hallowed campsite on this trip.  Hopefully, Burt will someday get the chance to set up camp there.

When one is driving home from Maine, a diversion through the Carolinas is a must.  And a blessing in disguise.  My mother, father and I had not traveled this scenic route in decades.  The road wound along the very edge of a rushing mountain river full of boulders that looked like a gully God had rolled His marbles down just to see where they would land.  A metal guard rail clung to the most precarious edges as the curves prevented any high speed.

We saw the sign for the swimming lake first.  It still looked cold.  The bathhouse was still standing.  We got back into the car and drove to the campsite.  The Thursday afternoon was fairly quiet and not yet impacted by the certain influx of campers that would soon seek a beautiful October weekend.

I pulled into the parking spot beside the campsite.  Decades of growth had encompassed the site and with all things when looking back, the place seemed smaller.  A favorite of my father, native son Thomas Wolfe said, "You can't go home again."  And it is better not always knowing, the last.

But with memory, I walk the laurel-lined pathways of the campground of happy times.  With my sister, my parents and my cousin.   I see tiny garnets shaking together in the bottom of a cup.  The smell of carrots, corn, onions and potatoes cooking with hamburger for our camping goulash.  The feel of the slips of mica peeled away in delicate layers, a fairy's mirror.  The gurgle of a moss-banked stream and water too cold for feet.  But the perfect temperature for submerged cans of sweet refreshment.  Tucked into a warm sleeping bag, the sounds of the night in low voice.  Just in sight, on the other side of the table, my parents sitting in folding chairs with their feet propped on the outside rocks of a campfire, each cupping a small, plastic cup with steam rising, and the smell of coffee on the camp stove, as they each pause and take a sip between the words of their life's conversation as it drifts high into the trees, forever caught in the canopy of this magical glade.


a woman who will return

In memoriam of the 75th anniversary of the passing of Thomas Wolfe, a reception will be held Saturday, September 14, 2013, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site followed by a viewing of his childhood home.  Ashville, North Carolina

( I discovered this by accident today, when I was doing research.)

Friday, September 13, 2013


Stop!  This is not part 2 of  "The Bride Wore Red Tennis Shoes."  This is a sweet blog written by a matron wearing her red Nikes.  Actually, it is also a quick view of one of the almost finished
bathrooms.  The plumber and the electrician are two of my favorite people right now.  The plumber came yesterday and installed all the new plumbing.  We are "3" again.  The electrician is coming in the morning.  My two favorites for the week would have to be my red shoes and the plumber.

This has been one of those days when any given norm or concept about what is supposed to be happening next will change.  I know this is not earth shattering for anyone else or important to world peace but it is my little plot of dirt and my peace of mind.

I am terribly behind.  Yesterday I had one of those kicker migraines that slaps you into bed, languishing beyond the simplest of functions such as forming words when trying to talk to your husband on the phone.  I don't know when Tyelenol has laid me so low.  I think the bleach fumes got me when I was cleaning the tub, which all the workers have stood in from day one, despite the canvas and plastic covering.  "Hey, they are having a tub party in here, bring your dirtiest boots."  Which is a big deal because the one item we didn't replace was our cast iron tub that is still in good form.  Maybe better now a la bleach.

Yesterday, after the plumber left, I was going to the lighting shoppee to pick up the new lighting for the Princess bath.  But I couldn't even raise my head up off the pillow.

This afternoon I made my trek across the river into the land of builders' nirvana.  I was so excited this light was in because I'm trying to get the Princess bath finished before her highness arrives on the scene.  The electricians and the painters are all set up for the last triumphant executions necessary to finish this task.

A three light, not a four.  I had checked out the big box store early on and decided to give this large local company a shot.  I am all about local and American made, when possible.  First visit a few weeks ago, I ordered a 3 light and I purchased a 4 light already available in the store.  Bring it home and a globe is chipped.  New 3 light comes in. I drive over, pick up the new 3 light, return chipped 4 light and order new 4 light. 

They call me Tuesday and I drive over today to pick up my new 4 light.  Nope.  It is a 3 light.  There have been many hiccups as with any major project.  If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all.  I have learned how to say a lot of things, nicely.   Remember, I can say "Bless Your Heart" with a smile on my face, and you'll never see my lips moving.  I left the store and got in my car and sat down for a minute.  "Wait a minute."  You do get more flies with honey.  I walked back into the store, pointed out my original purchase was a 4 light, it was chipped so I had to bring it back, and I had ordered a new 4 light and now the order was wrong.  Please and thank you, I would like to get this new light as soon as possible before my Princess arrives.  I didn't add everything about the electricians and the painter because I don't always remember the good stuff when I'm thinking on my feet. I kept my promise to myself to stay calm and hurried to the Dr. Pepper Iccee store down the road.  That employee told me to "Hurry back, honey!"  We shall see how fast I get back over the river to pick up the new lighting.

Now I was home, trying not to throw a big hissy fit because everything was falling apart.  The Dr. Pepper Iccee was working!  The process can continue without the light, at this point.  But my nerves were almost shot, between the headache yesterday and all the jazz this afternoon, looking at another big disappointment.  And then the dog started barking, but not his usual "oh look, that dang dog from across the street is running around looking stupid and I'm in the house" bark.  A thunderstorm cloud had darkened the house and I went to see what the dog was coming undone about.  In the dark foyer, a man's figure appeared in the sidelight, backlit in the grey light.  Dog Protector jumped at the window and I screamed, startled to see the man at the window, ringing the bell.  Well, all of that excitement for the UPS man.  I think I scared him too!  We are all on a little edge because of uninvited people doing their holiday shopping in the neighborhood, but that is another story and project not to be shared further.

The UPS man left a good size box at the door.  I wasn't expecting anything so it totally surprised me.  Burt's folks had sent us a waffle maker.  I guess because I was still unnerved by the UPS man and the afternoon, I just started crying.  Yes, I cried over a waffle maker, a most unintentional result of a lovely intentional gesture and as Honey said she "finally found something we didn't have."  Which is true.  Anytime anyone has waffles, I sigh and wish for a waffle maker. 

And the reason for all the celebrating with my red Nikes is because I'm dancing with happy feet today.  Today is my one month anniversary of blogging.  I almost made a cupcake.  On Thursday, around 6 p.m. I hit a big number.  I don't really know what all the statistics mean, but it is my nice little start that has me excited.  Years ago, our newspaper had a local columnist who was very popular.  One evening we were at the same gathering and I was excited to go up and talk to her about her column.  I will never forget her words to me.  Reminds me of my Barry Manilow story but we won't go there for awhile.  Miss Popular Columnist turned and smiled at me (and all of her invisible followers standing in line behind me to speak a word) and said "Thank you for your readership."  Her words left a huge impression on me, and not for good.  She would have been better off to say she didn't like the hamburgers being served.  Oh, perchance to even wink at a dream of having a regular paying position with a newspaper. 

So all I can say, from the bottom of my grateful heart, is thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you to anyone who takes a minute out of their busy day to even think of looking me up and giving my blog a read.  This blog is like having a four week old baby.  I'm extremely proud, tired and protective of my work but inside of me is such joy at being able to use my talent.  I am selfish. I am writing to get these stories out but most of all, happy that someone is enjoying my effort.  Thank you for all of your positive encouragement.  One thing I promise, you will never hear me say  "Thank you for your readership."  Even if I don't like the hamburgers, I will always have the time to say thank you.  At the least, "Bless Your Heart!" And I mean that nicely!

a woman looking for an Iccee Machine     

Thursday, September 12, 2013


The bride wore red tennis shoes.  And she was running down the street, as genteel as a bride who is running down the street in a long wedding gown and veil, clutching a bouquet and her groom, followed by outfitted groomsmen, can run.  The groom had a ball cap on, backwards.  And they were very young.

Not as young as the crowd gathered on the steps of the tiny Carnegie Library, cheering on the wedding party.  We call them the "Wa-Wa's," the junior high age group new to all the experiences in life, enjoying every activity with noise and abandonment.

 I had just pulled up to the curb on one of the tight roads of this quaint and quirky little village, one of my favorite places in the world.  The town is full of windy roads, some of them hanging on to the edge of the cliff sides in this hilly metropolis.  Parallel parking places are a premium.  The narrow roads are carved out like canyons between the city buildings and the Victorian homes built in another century when carriages and wagons brought folks here for the healing springs.

I jumped out of the car, grabbing my camera and got some shots.  This was my daily sojourn to the public library for internet service.  I was in the right place and the right time, in more ways than one.

This was just a few days into my "writing sabbatical" which almost everyone within shouting distance had heard me talking about for over a month.  A clever idea, I devised on a bleak, cold January day to help me keep my sanity.

The idea of a grown woman getting in a car and driving to a destination of her choosing is no big shocker.  Afterall, I had driven to my homeland and  taken weekend trips with friends.  I love to drive.  But this was the very first time in my life that I had driven off to spend time all by myself, without friends or relatives.  I think of myself as an independent woman but I lived in dorms or at home during college and got married and moved away without ever living in an apartment or supporting myself.  Those are just the facts. Now at fifty-ish I wanted to spend time on my writing.

The perfect location was procured, the lists were checked and doubled checked. Burt was very supportive, one reason being that we both knew my favorite place well - we spent our honeymoon there, subsequent anniversaries (one with a bonus) and other trips throughout the years.  He helped me pack.  I left on Sunday afternoon after church, for two weeks.  (I kept thinking about "a two hour tour.")

My adrenalin always picks up when I drive into these city limits.  I pulled up to the little house where I would be spending my sabbatical.  When I got out of my car, I felt like I was going to bust.  I have driven thousands of miles on other trips to exciting places but this was my trip.  Two weeks for my writing, an affirmation of my renewed belief that I was supposed to be a writer.  I was a writer, whether I was successful or not.  This was a big part of who I was and despite being sidetracked, by the fun things life had thrown my way, this necessity had never gone away.  Time to get with it.

I unloaded the car, set up my printer and found a perfect writing spot for my laptop, an old antique box in front of the sofa.  The one room cottage was as picture perfect as promised and charming in the fashion of this popular bed and breakfast mecca where uniqueness, artistic freedom and spiritual enlightenment mesh together harmoniously.  I met the manager, ordered pizza from a watering hole up the street where I could occasionally hear laughter, and spent my first evening in my little house, gleefully happy.

An unexpected red glow greeted me very early on my first morning.  Even though I had pulled every blind and drawn every curtain, the myriad of wood framed, single-paned glass making up the front wall, burned brighter and brighter once the sunrise fell on the red silk curtains.  This was not a problem because I love windows.  The former carriage house, turned cottage, was one large room, with a bed in one corner and the kitchen area on the opposite corner.  The rest of the room was the living area with a sofa, the antique coffee table, a desk, a television, a fireplace and assorted chairs.  Each side had three large windows (photo in part 2)  A modern bath had been built in a lean-to at the back of the place.

I had not made my journey to stay in bed all day.  One prerequisite of this particular spot was the ability to easily walk up to town and not have to worry with finding a parking place.  This was the week before Easter and the shops that closed during winter were beginning to open up for the tourists season.  My location was perfect except for the four flights of stairs I had to climb up to get to street level.  At that point, I was within easy walking distance.  After spending the bulk of the morning leisurely strolling in and out of artists' galleries looking at jewelry, paintings, glass and metal sculptures, I walked back home with one or two small purchases, a special bar of soap and some peppermint fudge from a favorite candy shop.  I would have two weeks to finish my shopping.

During the coarse of the previous evening, I discovered the lighting was on the dim side, especially for any writing or computer work.  I have a strong relationship with good lighting.  There is a great and extensive local grocery store where we always pick up any groceries we might need.  I had already been on Sunday, after my arrival, and had the supreme necessities of Coca-Cola, coffee, milk, orange juice, bread, apples, eggs, butter and the next level of items required for the hard work of writing and television watching - the week of the Royal Wedding.  M&M's, Wheat Thins, Mint Milano Cookies, Cinnamon Rolls and Peanut Butter.

But I knew I would have to go in search elsewhere for my much needed lighting.  I couldn't take two weeks of dark nights.

The Bride Wore Red Tennis Shoes  (Part 2) A continuation of a "normal" getaway

Monday, September 9, 2013



One year ago, today, was the last Monday.         Their very last Monday.           The last Monday back to work after the weekend.         The last lunch with friends.           The last time to fill up the car.         The last headache over a deadline.           The last glance at the work clock ticking to five.         The last chore of washing everyone’s coffee cup.           The last project to put off until tomorrow.         The last trash to empty.           The last toilet paper holders to be refilled.         The last ink stain on the best shirt.           The last cocktail party to beg off.         The last time to set the answering machine.           The last mop buckets to fill up.         The last flour to dump into the bin.           The last leftovers to bring home.         The last view of the September sun reflecting from the highest windows at the top of the city.           The last paper to add to the copier.         The last sound of cola cans rolling into place to fill the drink machines.           The last call home to see what’s for supper.         The last shirts to pick up at the cleaners.           The last light switch turned off.         The last turn of the key to lock the office.           The last package of gum to pick up at the newsstand.         The last drink at a bar to avoid going home.          The last steps descending the subway stairs.         The last routine night at the station.    


The last cuss at afternoon traffic.         The last excitement over a date for dinner.           The last wait in the grocery line.         The last delivery of quick pizza.           The last evening news worrying about the world.         The last empty home to come home to.           The last night for Monday Night Football.         The last bills to be opened.           The last night to put on something comfy to cook dinner.         The last cork to fly out of range.           The last night to call a mother.         The last shouts of glee from welcoming families.           The last battle over homework.         The last detergent to run out of.           The last instruction to a youngster learning to set the table.         The last sink full of dirty dishes.           The last bed to jump on.         The last clothes to pick up off the chair.           The last briefcase bulging with a few hours work after dinner.         The last laughs over vacation pictures.           The last bag zipped  and ready to go.         The last evening prayers.           The last “no” to another glass of water.         The last sigh to finally sit down.           The last harsh words over nothing at all.         The last call to a girlfriend.           The last nightcap.         The last check of sleeping children.           The last kiss goodnight.         The last eyes to close, in slumber.









This was written on the one year anniversary of September 11.