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Month: May 2013

Rainy Day Thoughts

There is a person inside of me who sits on the sofa like the little boy in the back-in-the-day commercial who says, “And I can’t find my socks.”

There’s also the girl who wants to pull on her wellies and stomp through the puddles, umbrella resting on her shoulder.

There’s the granddaughter who wants to shake a wet frog at her grandmother, making her jump, and the old lady gardener who wants to weed while the roots are wet, yanking their stricken whiteness so easily from their chosen home.

There’s the frog who resents being shaken, and the inchworm who wants to crawl across the underside of the wet leaves, dodging pearlized droplets of water.

And me, who wants to sit at the windowsill watching the rain run down the pane imagining all the beings who dwell inside of her.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

The Killing of a Coastline

Standing in a thrift shop so stuffed with used clothes I can hardly breathe, I’m reading the warning signs (“Customers, Watch Your Young ‘Uns”) while the proprietress smokes cigarettes and a motorcycle roars by outside and I’m thinking this is worst thrift store I’ve ever been in. Outside, stray cats roam. When we pass the Old Carrabelle Inn trying to make a go of it, it seems the type of place where you’d vacation and, believing you’d found a little piece of paradise, you’d buy the fixer-upper, only to discover the town is infested with motorcycle gangs and fire ants. When the bottom later falls out of the local economy, you’d be stuck with the mortgage and no customers, your own little nightmare come true.
*
Atlanta’s unrelenting sprawl is choking the life from the Apalachicola River. The increased salinity of the river is killing the oyster beds that make the town of Apalachicola thrive and from which comes 90% of Florida’s oysters. Atlanta don’t care. They urge their U.S. Senators to file legislation cementing their claim to the water, and the Corps of Engineers takes the position their only obligation is to maintain water flow at the level required by the Endangered Species Act. I guess the oyster—not to mention the towns all along Florida’s Forgotten Coast—aren’t considered endangered.
*
In the future, we will fight over our water like bickering children until the time comes when the federal government realizes this is the exact type of thing they must mediate. But by then we will be in an Israeli settler situation. Those living where they should not be will buy guns and proclaim, “We won’t budge.” Meanwhile, downstream, there is no stream.
*
The fire ant bites ache. “Itch all the time?” the pharmacist wants to know when asked about a remedy. The bites don’t itch. They hurt. Hurt to touch, hurt to even look at. Like the “For Sale” signs and boarded windows up and down the Forgotten Coast, a place we’ve grown attached to over the last five years. In the patches of spiky grass beside the boarded-up restaurants, the poisonous fire ants—drawn to dry conditions—lurk, waiting for unwary tourist toes, eager to finish what Atlanta started.

Tidbits from My Trip

oddest sign: “No Livestock Released” at a Tennessee rest stop, which was something of a disappointment as I’d have liked to see some cows wandering about

oddest sound: in the fancy bathroom of a fancy Charlotte restaurant Elvis singing the “Dixie” portion of An American Trilogy

oddest recurring conversation: about the mother, daughter and toddler grandchildren arrested walking nekkid down Providence Road because God told them to (it wasn’t clear which one God spoke to)

oddest consistency: from North Carolina and back to Memphis, through 8:00 traffic in Charlotte to 5:00 traffic in Memphis, the traffic was always going in the opposite direction

oddest birthday present to Daddy: mine
sweetest reaction to the oddest present: Daddy’s

oddest coincidence: my needing a “Full Service” gas station and looking up, in a city of over two million people, to see such a gas station on the corner

oddest task: sweeping ants off the car with a broom

oddest thought: what if I carried around a tape recorder and asked strangers to sing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” into the recorder then put it on YouTube—that would be funny

oddest experiment: standing a silver spoon in a glass of almond milk (bought by my mother to conduct such an experiment) to see it the silver would tarnish

oddest newspaper headline: see the nekkid story above

oddest sight: Tex wearing a translucent cone of shame, looking like a doggy satellite dish

oddest on-the-road occurrence: getting hit on in the Waffle House by a man old enough to remember party lines on telephones

oddest new fact: my Daddy and Evangeline were born on the same day, 87 years apart

oddest outfit: the country dress on the 6 foot wooden bear in the front yard two blocks down from my parent’s house, which was weird because I thought the bear was male

oddest smell: the scent of just-baked cake for ten hours in the car thanks to the slice of strawberry cake in the backseat warming in the sun

oddest compliment: “You look like James Dean.”

oddest new sensation: taking a pill with yogurt because I am a lazy girl and I didn’t have any water yet I had a carton of yogurt in front of me and I’d seen my daddy take it that way

oddest sorrow: visiting my 83 year old mother and 88 year old dad and only tearing up when looking at my older sister, thinking, what would I do if anything ever happened to my sister?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Oh, Don’t Do That

So I’m walking through the bookstore trying to find a gift for my dad, and I remember the year I talked my sister into giving my grandmother an air conditioning filter for Christmas.
I think we were in Sears, and when I saw the air conditioning filter, it reminded me of those collage photo frames (very popular at the time) with lots of little openings where the faces could show through. Except with the air conditioning filter, blue plasticky stuff showed through. And it was cardboard.
Undeterred, I proclaimed it a perfect gift for Mamo.
My sister demurred.
I remember flailing my hands around the air conditioning filter, remonstrating. “Oh, yeah,” I said. “We can fix it up, put some stuff around it, like, you know, here. It’ll be great.”
She gave me the skank eye, she gave the air conditioning filter the skank eye, but I must have been persuasive because we took it home.
Why was I so committed to the air conditioning filter? This was not a young child inspired to create a handmade gift for her grandparent, doesn’t matter what it looks like, Mamo will love it. I think I was in college. And I was the older sister, the one who should have been setting a good example. What part of “doll up an air conditioning filter and give it to your grandmother for Christmas” struck me as a good idea?
I don’t know. I do remember my sister jerking me aside Christmas morning.
“Did you see the look on Mamo’s face when she opened that thing?” she hissed. “She thinks we did that on purpose, giving her that mangled up gift!”
I admit, it didn’t turn out as well as I had imagined. I seem to recall some use of Saran wrap to replicate the glass cover on the real photo frame.
I’m happy to report that my dad is getting a tote bag that says, “Happy!” I don’t know if, at age 88, he still totes stuff around or not. But I do know he’s happy. All the time he’s happy. Which makes me wonder if I thought my grandmother was the type of person who needed to clean out her vents . . .

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Here’s the question:

Can one make a “social business” out of writing?

By which I mean:

Can I successfully link my short stories with charities engaging the theme of the story?

Will our modern desire to do good when spending our money extend to literature?

Do readers read for anything other than entertainment?

Here’s the answer: y’all will let me know.

Stages

The oaks and maples and ginkgos make me gape. Add an overcast sky to their new growth, and you’ve got “vegetation.” Unfortunately, I’ll get used to it as the season progresses; thankfully, I’m not there yet. I crane my neck, gazing at the lush canopy. I’ve never had a wreck watching the trees, but I could.
*
I do not shiver. I hunch. And as I hunch, I grumble, becoming for the moment one of those characters who talk to themselves on the sidewalk. On my way to the gathering where eager writers will plot their professional careers, I yank the string on my hoodie, I curl my wet toes in their sandals. How, I scold myself, could you have ventured forth so ill-prepared? Do you have so little love for your cold toes?
*
Back at my house, the river rises, invading the trees. We are in a flood but because two years ago the water seeped into storage sheds, rolled across the cemetery, triggered the building of emergency earthen dams, no one’s crediting this pitiful performance. “Ennh,” they shrug it off. The next day when I take my dog for a walk along the edges of the island, she peers down the riverbank and pulls up short, shocked by developments.
*
Moving my niece from her college apartment into our guest bedroom, I cart in a box containing a translucent UFO that might be a table lamp and—I swear to God—a ukelele. Everything goes up the stairs and into her new quarters where she can sort what she needs for the summer and what she doesn’t. As I set a jumbled box of papers on the futon, I think, if this were my life, that box would still be sitting there, untouched, come August.
*
“Stages,” they call it when the river rises and falls, as if the spreading water were just another actress searching for her rightful place in the floodlights. I think they’re wrong—surely I can find a way into the business of life without giving up life—but what to do I know? Then I remember: here at my house, I have a pair of green wellies.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Just Wondering

* does everyone automatically lift their foot from the accelerate when they see a cop, or is it just me?
* have we ever measured a dog’s blood pressure to see if our presence makes her pressure go down?
* why did the salesman let me buy a black and blue shirt with a black and blue tie to go with “black” pants that would be revealed to be brown once in the sunlight?
* why didn’t I read the tag on the pants that clearly said “Brown”?
* why does almond milk tarnish silver?
* do people really hate beets or is it the vinegar they’re usually soaked in?
* why does baby apparatus (car seats, strollers, etc) have to be so mechanical?
* is there a plural of apparatus?
* why is slow service at a restaurant considered sophisticated?
* would I be happy driving a Cadillac?
* can anyone do something about my obsession with puns?
* when did “tight” become the only jeans fit?
* do I sound like an old person?
* why does the dog lick Tom’s head?
* what did I not do that I should have done to keep clover from growing in my yard?
* will this unknown mistake haunt me all summer?
* who hit my car?
* why did I spend all of April worrying about the fact I’d used up my WiFi minutes only to get a bill $17 over my regular bill?
* where do I buy cool sneakers now that R. Sole is out of business?
* does anyone realize these are not rhetorical questions?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Terra firma info:

Launch date: Thursday June 27th
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: The Booksellers at Laurelwood
Memphis, TN
What it is: collection of award-winning short stories written and read by the author (me) and made available on CD

Ether info:
Launch date: earlier than June 27th
Time: anytime I choose
Location: on the ethernet
What it is: a collection of award-winning short stories written and read by the author (me) made available on iTunes, YouTube, my blog, email links, podcaster sites, my website – wherever sound is found.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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