Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Watch out for those Silver Foxes.



This is a fiction response to two prompts given by Yeah Write for their Week 159 challenge. One prompt was to make a reference to a picture of a fox and the other prompt was to somewhere in the piece use the complete sentence, "It fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still.”.


The Reverend Les Brown did not look himself laid out in the coffin. The dark skin tone make-up evened his normal red face and blended all the freckles on his scalp and face into an unnatural smoothness. He died of cardiac arrest on a bright sunny day after his daughter had retrieved his two grandchildren from a visit . He had sat down in his lounge chair, leaned back and passed
from this world to the next.

Dean Rankin was cruising the Brown's wake. At weddings, there is a chance of a picture of the lone male eating and drinking lingering on someone's camera. He originally dropped by people's homes on the day of the funeral, watched them leave, stepped in and took what he could use from their homes. He was careful not to put anything askew and often people did not know he had found their little nest egg or what had happened to grocery money. Word had gotten out about the funeral thief nonetheless.

The first time he came to a wake, it was awkward. A small group of family, no friends attended. It was hard to ad lib to such a sparse crowd. The deceased had been sick and bedridden for many years before going to the great beyond.

This was a large crowd and a tough lot, car doors were locked. He casually checked rear right side passenger doors to see if an errant child left the door unlocked. He went straight to the restroom and then strolled back out again so as to appear to be retrieving something or locking his car. Briefly lifting door handles as he walked by. He paused in front of one unlocked door, opened the door, sat down opened the glove compartment, stood up and looked under the seat, lifted the car mats, ten bucks in the ashtray.

He walked back to the wake. an elderly woman who seemed to be present in body only greeted him." How did you know Leslie?"

He remembered the age in the obituary to be about his at 53 and that the deceased attended Montrose High. “Oh we were friends in school. I always had a crush on her.”

The crows feet deepened around her widened eyes. She seemed to see something far off or just plain did not know what to do next. She gestured for Dean to walk along with her then motioned for him to sit beside her. Dean's eye scanned the people and the floor looking at where people had stowed their purses. It looked like this night would be a waste.

He watched the people shuffling around in small groups that gathered, broke apart, regrouped. People would step up to the casket usually joined by another before acquiring that face of resignation he recognized. One woman stood looking at the casket and the crowd as if she was on guard.

"Are you going to Roberto’s?" The older woman's voice was old and deep but it struck like a sharp chord.

I don't know.”

Oh come on,” she leads,”I have put my mad money in this purse to cover the bill. It is the Brown family way as my late husband would say, God rest his soul. Let's go see Les one more time.”

Oh no, I want to remember her the way she was. I remember all that hair blowing in the breeze one day at Montrose. It was a sight glistening in the sun.”

Didn't she use hairspray?”

Oh tons of it, For a moment I thought her hair was a live creature one day in the wind, “it fluttered for a moment, magnificent in its struggle, then wilted and lay still from all that hairspray.”

My you do have a memory.” Leaning on her cane, she smiled and gingerly walked away.

Lo and behold, her purse on the settee. Dean had the patent leather clutch under his left armpit and left. He debated emptying the contents in the men's room and returning the clutch. She was such a sweet old lady.

Driving home, Dean chuckles at his story about the hair, and pats the purse. Thank God she was senile. He notices blue lights behind him, not another speeding ticket.

Sir can you step out of the car and walk to the back and face the patrol car.

The older woman from the wake nods. The funeral bandit was caught by a silver fox.   

Monday, April 28, 2014

Stopping Time



42 word story based on question, Have all your clocks stopped? This is from an Alice Munro's short story A Real Life.

Since I got taken off the links because it is family free month and I have written about family, I've added a few words.



Mom says I'm a night owl. Dad said anyone who did not have their feet on the ground by 6 am was headed nowhere. They are chatting as they eat oatmeal, take meds, drink coffee and read the paper. Quietly shuffling through the kitchen.

Sleeping on their old bed in the back bedroom, I hate to open my eyes. Clearing the house out today for the people who have bought the place. I'll sleep late, one last memory so close yet so far away.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blondes really do have more fun.

I know this is true. I am a former brunette. When asked my hair color, I say dark brown. It hasn't been that color for years. I would like to say I am a silver fox, but I am not. I have gray hair.

I would color my hair dark. I don't care how old it makes me look. Just as long as I had that jet black hair again. Well it was never black but it was dark and lovely. All the time in my youth I was so aggravated my mom would not let me use summer blonde. I had pretty hair as she said.

The advertising ploy "Blondes have more fun." is the biggest and cruelest brainwashing campaign the beauty industry ever released.

And I will tell you why =

One day you will have to go blonde or accept that gray hair. Dark hair is temporary as well as that carrot red hair. Eventually, you will color with the light blonde hair so you don't have to fight white, bright roots. Go too dark and your hair is fine, you'll look bald.

So believe it if you will. But believe me, enjoy your dark hair. It won't last.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Greener Pastures and the Writing Life

I'm one of those people who planned to "Someday" write a book. I worked so hard and stayed so busy, I did not really think about all the responsibility I took. When I retired, it all imploded on me. 

It is amazing how having time to think is important. It was really too late to unload some of my obligations. That is another post. Hell that is the most boring tome I could write. Anyway, I was lucky in that unplanned early retirement put me into writing before it was too late. Most of us don't have Grandma Moses in us. Lots of memoirs are written. Now whether anyone but family and friends wants to read it is something to consider.

As I work on this post I have two people talking to me. My trajectory into writing is rocky to say the least.

The first books I read about writing was all about selling your writing. I was all revved up and had nothing to sell. 

Then I learned there were actually books on how to write a novel, screenplay, etc. 

Then I learned winning the lottery was almost as easy as making a living writing. Did I say that one of the reasons I wanted to write was to supplement my retirement check. 

It is expensive supporting other people besides yourself. One friend told me I got lots of money from the government. I said, what government are you talking about.  Believe it or not, I have to supplement it big time. 

Which loops back to why I take care of these folks. There aren't good situations for them. I cannot be happy in the world knowing they have to live that way. Plus, two of them are not going to behave and will be thrown out. One will appreciate the opportunity and will drift from overpass to overpass up and down the interstate.

Anyway, I am more successful trying to read a short story or non-fiction book. I read an e-book the other day and it was a fun read. I am a million miles in my journey. Well at least I hope I have the opportunity to travel another million. The last couple of million have been great most of the time.

Wherever you are in your writing career, you will enjoy these ladies. No, I don't agree with everything. For one thing, my life has never gone by what you should do so neither will my writing career. I see this as more of a guide I will follow a little better than Old Lady Albert did with her canned diet milkshake. She had to put ice cream in it to make it taste good enough to drink.

Take care and the book is - I hear a drum roll, do you ;=).

How to be a Writer in the E-Age: A Self-Help Guide [Kindle Edition] Anne R. Allen (Author), Catherine Ryan Hyde (Author)

Yes, I know it talks about the business of writing and not the How To. I'll write future posts on books that have helped me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rightness eclipses



This is my submission to Week 158 Speakeasy. The two requirements for the fiction is to make a reference to the trailer to the movie "Love in the Time of Cholera" and use a specific last line. The last line is at the end and my reference is unrequited love.

   Scarlet O’Hara couldn't stop loving Ashley Wilkes. You have to give her a break. Her love began when she was 16 and he didn't get the presence of mind to tell her he did not love her back until his wife. Melanie, lay dying. Scarlet was all of 26 when Melanie died.

I understand unrequited love. It is sort of my life grudge. Everyone has one. You can be an octogenarian and still have something of your youth you never got over. If Margaret Mitchell had written a second book, Scarlet's would still ruminate over Ashley Wilkes.

My business partner, Darlene talks about her mom being a maid, a black maid, a woman who stood on the street corner available to work for whoever. People who would try to give her old clothes to not pay her for her day's labor. She would talk about old man Slocumb who was her mom's last employer and her first. From what Darlene would say, he was a good man and employer. Slocumb gave Darlene a $100 the Christmas before he passed.

I understand her anger. My brother once worked for a man who didn't pay him for his week's work. He laughed when he asked him to pay. He said, “You asked me if you could work here, you didn't say anything about paying you.” My dad spoke to him and then called the police. My brother never got paid.

Darlene has a right to be angry about how black people have been treated. I'm not black but I know the sneaky meanness of racism. I just hate the same old stories over and over again. My mother did the same thing. Constantly talking about how her Aunt Naomi could have helped her mom but never did. What can I do about it.

I cook vegetables and meats. Darlene does deserts and rolls at our restaurant, Mama's Home Cooking.
Different teenagers worked here making salads over the years. They were noisy and would talk our heads off at times.

Larry Dinkins was small, pimply, red faced, freckled with sandy red hair. Not too smart but he would work without so much talk. Darlene likes gospel music and it fills the air better than talk as we get the food ready for lunch. I thought I got to know Larry better than Darlene in that he was also responsible for chopping cabbage, and preparing potatoes for baking or frying. He was a natural as a bus boy and helping people to a table with a tray.

One afternoon, I noticed he squeezed in between Darlene and her husband Joseph in their truck.

Another afternoon after the lunch rush, I was sweeping around a table. Darlene works the register and I seat the customers, supervise the serving line and activity in the restaurant with a sharp eye on who walks in the front door. Larry was fixing his plate as he usually did. As he walked by, he leaned in against Darlene and her arm reached around his skinny shoulders in a hug. He had already started eating a chicken leg. Darlene never allowed anyone to eat next to the serving line.

I lock eyes with Darlene. She stands and kisses that kid on the top of the head.

“He done real good Laverne. He got all A's on his report card. I couldn't be prouder of him if it was me myself being called a hero.”

I picked up a rag and started washing tables. Yep life moves on. Like Scarlet, I still feel the sting of unrequited love when I see David Hill with his wife Norma. It's not lost on me of Norma's likeness to myself. David is the lead Deacon for Slow Branch Baptist. I don't know that I could have taken the pressure of being a deacon's wife.

I have to keep my burden shut up. My husband Ron knows my pain and we talked once. Ron Jr. would find out who fathered him if he did the math and I talked. Lawd I wouldn't want that Norma to get wind of it. I remember her showing me her engagement ring. She swallowed David's story that my pregnancy was my cheating on David with Ron.


Ron was with me and I remember what he said even though it didn't make much sense at the time,The rightness eclipsed every mistake made along the way.”

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stray Cat Strut

I want to write a poem telling why the stray cat struts. But the phrase is so used. I'll probably write it anyway. This blog post will be fodder for the poem which needs to be humorous.

I am a stray cat. Well not a cat but have lived the human equivalent of being a stray cat. I have met others read about someone really famous who is also a stray cat. You're not a loner or particular peculiar. We are all peculiar to a degree. Those who are the football captain or lead cheerleader in life usually share quickly their eccentricity.

Being comfortable with having a quirk is probably an American trait shared by Canadians, Brits, Scots, Aussies and of course the Irish  Being half Scot-Irish, it is no insult - just the truth. Other cultures probably have the trait but there are so many peoples in the world, it is a national geographic  research project that would rival the human genome project.

So I have given three broad ranges of people - but, I will stick with the stray cat.

I am a stray cat in that I have never really belonged where I have lived. Like a stray cat, I did not belong but I was there.

I grew up in a military town where people were from all over. Your parents would retire there but we all left. You just sort of felt that was your destiny in such a transient place.

I never married or had children which is a huge anchor for most. This factor singles you out. The haunting question of why you never married is such a haint. I dunno, life happens. Why have you got a double chin?

I don't think telling them I am a stray cat would make sense to someone who asks that question. I wanted to get married and have children. For some, I can see the cruelty of one man upmanship. I've had some women to think I was a complete idiot for not achieving that level in life.

I have felt like a success in life. I've had a career and withstood the twists and turns in life. I've got three very frail people in this world that benefit from my single status. Anyone with a husband would know they would not tolerate the amount of time I give to them.

Men who would have ignored me in my twenties are wild about me or perhaps my care giving skills and/or financial assets. Different qualities are important at different stages of life. One of the ironies of life is that men need women more late in life and women need men more when they are young.

An older woman can only be so attractive. Well maintained and presented is a better word. Old people dress up everyday for two reasons. One is you are judged by your appearance and thrown together at a certain age is unappealing. Two, what are you saving the outfit for. It will outlive you and you've thrown out barely worn outfits that were incredibly out of style.

Back to being a stray cat, it is more of a feeling than a reality. We all belong where we are at. A homeless man was hit by a car in Warner Robins a few months ago. So many people grieved because they had met and made a connection with him. We all fit in the fabric of society.

I guess I could rewrite John Donne's poem, "No man is an Island"

But I will post it here instead -

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Soap operas and God

The soap opera comes on as I mop the kitchen floor. An older female character intones, "In the sight of God ...," You think really. In a soap opera there is no happily ever after. After pursuing so many roadblocks for their love to mature, one immediately steps out on the other.

Canola flower
Being a caregiver is a mystery for most folks. You really don't know what it looks like until you do it. Plus it is different for different people.

Many people don't step up to the plate because they have past issues they can see past. For the one that does do the job, it takes awhile to accept this. At first there is anger. This same individual will usually see their help as needing to tell people how to do it.

You have to sit and take it because the usually elderly parent is thrilled to have you straightened out or more likely they just are so lonesome for this individual they will tolerate everything they have to say. The person you take care of may not recognize the sacrifice you are making.

I am lucky in that my parent recognized what I do for her. I take care of two handicapped siblings and my mother. My biggest job is being there when they need something. I fight for a little time to write or read a book. I have so many distractions and interruptions plus enough housework to keep me busy ten or twelve hours a day.

I made a huge mistake in not retiring earlier. I miss getting out and meeting the public. But you cannot hire good help. You get lucky sometimes but they are expensive. It was just cheaper for me to quit and do what I needed to pay people. Plus pare down my spending.

It's difficult to clean up. My mother starts cleaning which requires my assistance. I no longer have that energy level to push into the night cleaning. The filth that repulses me early in the morning really does not look that bad when I am pooped. In other words, I don't look at it.

I'm at a good place mentally. I know I set the tone. I have a family member that feels aggravated with the insular nature of our group. It has a name "Keeping the Peace". Not being a caregiver, they have no comprehension that my first goal is to keep everyone feeling happy.

This is why I say to anyone who is not physically taking care of frail family members is to make a place in you life to really help. Most who don't do not realize how much they are needed.

 I can tell you what real help is.

1. Ask the caregiver not the person who is being taken care of what is needed. The person doing the job knows how you can help. They really don't need you interfering and telling them how to do what they are doing. To give a perspective, how would you like the caregiver to come in your home and rearrange the furniture.

2. Actually do a suggestion of the caregiver. Don't tell them the person gets on their nerves and the caregiver has the nerves to take it. They don't. They just know the alternative the person they care for needs their time, help and patience.

3. If you can't help, keep your mouth shut. Don't let guilt make you criticize. There is a reason caregivers often die before the person they care for. The stress, loneliness is unbearable at times.

4. Don't complain the caregiver doesn't want to chat with you. They may have been up since 5 am and spent a big day running in circles. It takes time to rub a back, walk a dog, wash dishes, work as sous chef for an elderly parent who loves to cook. Sure I am more fun to talk to but these other people look forward to talking to you.

5. Recognize talking to me does not equate help. Don't get angry because I don't change how we do things because you might visit for fifteen minutes when you choose.

5. If you say you will come by for a few hours and watch the individual, be dependable and show up. One excuse happens, over and over, no one can make plans based on what you say. It's been awhile since mom has been OK to be alone. Yes she has her wits, it is more when she needs help, she needs it soon not later today or tomorrow.

6. Quit making suggestions over interesting jobs available or volunteer opportunities. I have a 40 plus hour a week and I am closer to 60 than I like.

7. Do not tell the person being cared for your requests. It makes them feel bad. The result is the caregiver stops telling you anything.

There are benefits of being a caregiver which will be a later post.  I know, I know, I have made the complaints why not the benefits.

There was a custodian I worked with whose mom had dementia and lived with her. At the time, I thought she had a sorry attitude. Ten years later I recognize she was burnt out. I burnt out as a teacher but needing a paycheck I pushed through.

I have had burnout with this phase of my life. A different sort of burnout but it comes across as a sorry attitude. Its called being human.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

mirages

Sometimes you have been fooled  by a familiar trickster, what you want to see. This mirage shakes how you look at the world in that you recognize so much of your awareness is colored by what you want to see.

There are studies that indicate a familiar object will mask another use of the object. We've all used unusual objects in an emergency.  An example used in today's NY Times quiz by Steven Pinker was a woman bludgeoned a man with a frozen leg of lamb which she promptly cooked and served to the investigating officers who were none the wiser.


I got 6 out of 10 on the quiz of psychological principles. I would have gotten 7 but hell somehow this computer moves in curious ways and all I am doing is running my finger across the touch pad.

Steven Pinker's quiz in NY Times



We had a hole in the gas tank of our car as we traveled out west the summer of 1975. My mother improvised. She saw a screw on the ground and cut a piece of leather from a shoe. The leather acted as a seal and the grooves of the screw held the screw in place. What my mother did was think outside the box. We drove from Arizona to Georgia with the screw in place.

What got me on this train of thought was my sister. She has schizophrenia and the medication only goes so far. Like all of us, she needs human interaction, hope, a purpose and optimism to really thrive. She has been doing well.

I got in a crunch with a doctor's visit. She went alone for the past two visits. To make a long story short and less sad, I realized it had been a big mistake when I went with her on her last appointment. Not one that can't be corrected.  Luckily, she goes to a great nurse practitioner and doctor. But that jolt of reality in that she is not doing as well as I thought.

Anyway, I usually wear rose colored glasses, at least I'll enjoy the trip.

The 567 Center on Cherry Street in downtown Macon. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What kind of bitch are you?

Having retired from teaching, I am acquainted with the "bitch" term. I've come to terms with being called a bitch. It is always someone who has no respect for a teacher, their position and only want what they want. I knew one teacher who was proud to be called a bitch and she was. I wasn't.

Any way, what you came for - the quiz. What is my expertise? Well I am the white bitch, the fat bitch, the big tittied bitch.  I have known the black bitch. She is a lovely, keenly perceptive person. Skinny bitch can be nice too; but, nyah, nyah ney, everybody likes her better and I am ENVIOUS. There is a special voice for that in addition to shouting it.

Question Uno:    Are you male or female?

2. For those who answered male, are you straight or gay? Straight guys go to question 16. Gay guys go to question 42. Females, you are right on track. Have you ever noticed there is no such thing as you gorgeous bitch or you beautiful bitch?    a. yes        b. no

3. Have you ever been called a bitch?   a yes      b. no

4. Have you ever been made to feel like a bitch?     a. yes       b. no

5. Are you tall?      a. yes      b. no

6. Are you short?     a. yes      b. no

7. Are you a dog?     a. yes     b. no

8. Do you work? (Paid or Unpaid - housewife)      a. yes    b. no

Now add up all your yeses. Write it down somewhere so you wont forget.

Subtract your yeses from eight to get your nos.

Throw that number away. Because only a yes to number 7 counts. Not the "no count" that made you feel like one or called you one. Because standing up for yourself, doing your job does not make you a bitch.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Foggy Day

This is a response to flash friday prompt of the following photo,
Mill Creek Watershed
Mill Creek Watershed 1949. Public domain photo by Helmut Buechner.


Can you see the road through the fog Howard?

No. 

We could go back. I don't want to get lost on this hill. It's a hell of a climb back to this outcrop of rock.

Sam we could but the buyer wont return if we don't deliver some roots.

Sam sits on the ground as Howard teeters on his haunches looking.

Howard you know the difference between a road and street is that a street has businesses and a road leads to a destination?

Houston Road has a lot of businesses.

Well, it also is a destination.

Sam, I grew up in a town where it was boulevard this boulevard that. All of them were small winding two lane roads, no trees or multi-lane roads.

Sitting in silence, Sam leans forward “Ginseng, Here's a whole mess of ginseng.”


Hot damn Sam, Lets start digging, no one that can see us through this fog.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

Flea Market Dreams



Flash fiction in response to the garglemaster prompt, "Who dunnit?"

With one shoulder lower from a heavy bag, that gnomish woman heads straight to my “Beautiful Woman” cosmetic booth.


I yell, “People look older when your “Youth Elixir” wears off.”

Repeat customers are my bread and butter”, she says smiling.





.”

Sunday, April 6, 2014

shocking cosmetic surgery disaster

Shocking surgery disaster or face it - literally, old age.

The hardest part of being a senior citizen my once sleek roman nose looks more like a pronounced bird beak and my face looks a little horsey. I can't explain how an older woman's face get horsey but I know it when I see it. It is equivalent to some faces becoming porcine. Note, no cute bunny, kitty faces describe aging.

Character lines are more fun on other people. I'm getting my first serious wrinkles. The one that creeps me out is the one that looks like a stretched rubber band across my brow. Like a teenager, I know its not a good thing. Sort of a dastardly dance of the macabre on my face.

I think I'll live. Celebrities get unusual looks as they grow older because they do cosmetic treatments to relatively perfect faces. Their appearance is their payday.

I remember when I discovered that sleep does improve your apppearance. Gone were those days I stayed up half the night and except for a blunt on my alertness, I looked good.

Character lines do tell on you. Droopy skin of a two cocktails or beers a night or a smoker's wrinkles or sun worship with cute agespots blend with your favorite expression. Mom was right. Don't make those faces, your face may stay that way. It's a good thing to be a smiler than a scowler. However too much of a good thing could make you look like the "Joker".

And to the celebrity with a shocking cosmetic surgery disaster. You look good and so do I. We have our health. Well most of it. lol





Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Water under the bridge

One important step to success is having an openness to listening to others whether it is a critic or praise bearer. There is something to be learned from both.

We hate a critic but it can be a fast forward into correcting a flaw. It can be a reaffirmation of what we believe in. It can also be discouragement from doing what you love. Wisdom is knowing where that puts you.

I taught at an evening high school and I had three girls that were little witches. They were friends with the principal's granddaughter. The principal could be a jerk with her power. In other words if I wanted a job, I had to play a daily check mate with Hilly, Ghetti, and Suwillie. Not their real names of course.

For one week, I had incredibly painful stomach cramps about thirty minutes before class. I laid down on the floor in my office space the first time. I thought I needed to go to ER. The pain eased, I taught all night. So on the second day, I knew it would pass. This is when I learned your body reflects your emotional state.

What did I get from Hilly, Ghetti, and Suwillie besides stomach pains? Perfect worksheets with no mistakes. I was able to reuse everything twice a year. I did not get better at taking crap. I don't care how long you get it, it never is easy. I can think it has everything to do with the person dishing it; but, I still hate it.

I don't believe in Karma. I do believe we reap what we sow. I think people do nasty things and get away with it. I think eventually they get careless and can lose it. We all know stories of wealthy old creeps who succeeded on the backs of others.

What I do know as time passes, you have choices. A friend of my dad who had a mentally ill wife, somberly talked about life deals you a hand of cards to play and you play them the best you can.

What I remember most about the man was his humor. He would take his false teeth and clatter them at you as a child. Swoop you and kiss you flat on the mouth as a 13 year old. No he wasn't a dirty old man. He knew to make merry and leave everyone laughing.

What I learned from him was loyalty and the choice to laugh. I learned loyalty from my parents as well as other traits. Some of them I thought were stupid since other people did not care. As I get older, they were right as rain.