Friday, December 3, 2010

The Colander's Masquerade

Poem 2 for my Creative Writing class this semester. I had fun with this one, although I found it even more difficult. Now I just have to pick one of the two to use for my final portfolio. Decisions, decisions.

The Colander's Masquerade

She spends many of endless moments,

Trying to find something she needs

really needs

It keeps her from getting to places-

important places

without which she cannot succeed.

A colander resembles her poor brain-

leaky brain

Which hinders her quest to recall

So please help her find her lost car keys

Yes! Those keys.

Thanks! Goodbye, there's a really great sale at the mall.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

putting up the tree

The time has come, at least for me to begin the preparations for the holidays. It means that Thanksgiving and the youngest child’s birthday have both passed and I can now set up decorations for Christmas, putting up the tree, stringing up some lights around the place. I also can now get the presents I had purchased early, out of hiding, and get them wrapped. Our tradition is to put things up after Thanksgiving and then take it all back down right after Christmas, that way we give the November celebrations the attention due them without another sign of a pending holiday already in place.

But back to the tree. I have long used artificial trees. They are re-usable, do not bother anyone’s allergies, and I don’t have to worry about keeping one watered. Given my record with house plants, a fake tree is the way to go.
What I hate about them is the setting them up. We must first drag the box out of the attic and down those tiny pull down stairs. Ok in reality we hope there is nothing in the box’s path and just let it fall down the stairs. The tree is not breakable and the box is amazingly heavy. Then comes the putting together of the branches. I have one of those older style trees that you have a base, then these poles and all these branches that you stick into slots arranged around the pole in specific places. Somewhere along the line you need to “fluff” the branches. Some do it after placing the things into their slots, others do it before. We are divided in my house, which is the proper time to do so. Either method will result in scratched up hands as the fake needles on those branches are just as scratchy as the real ones, only minus the pine tar.

Then comes the time to string the lights, those damned lights. I sent Megan to the store for new lights this year because most of my old ones were not working any more. It took two trips as she realized after she got them home that the kind she had purchased weren’t the kind that you could connect together. Why do they make lights that you can’t connect together? That to me makes no sense, as I never need just one string of lights on anything I use them for.
It usually takes two of us putting the lights, and as has been the case in the past three years, at least one small cat. The two people are to wrap lights around the tree in an even fashion, the small cat to attempt to pull branches out of the slot, rip the light cord out of someone’s hand and cause general mayhem.

The beaded garland came next. We applied it to the branches of our tree in much the same fashion as we did the lights. We then took a several day break in hopes that the little cat in residence would get bored with the tree. It took all those several days and several repairs to the placement of lights and garland before he got bored.

Finally we put all the ornaments and made a sad discovery. My tree topper wouldn’t work on my tree. I downgraded to a smaller tree and the one I had bought for the big one, now at Ashley’s house was much to heavy. The topper being a filigreed cross-like item would just tip right on over on it’s way to the floor. I had to improvise and used the biggest bow I could find. It turned out ok. What I do miss is the angel I used to have. It was purchased at a specialty shop in Brevard and was made out of corn husks. She was really quite pretty, so lightweight and was painted a soft blue with gold accents and pretty gold wings. I had her for years. Then one day a kitten in residence, or one of its cohorts, decided to climb the Christmas tree. His foray into that artificial pine wonderland dislodged my pretty corn husk tree angel from her place of honor. I discovered an angel wing a good fifteen feet from the rest of her, gnaw marks clearly visible. No cat confessed to the crime.

I don’t doubt that this year the pristine quality of my little tree’s d├ęcor will only last for a little while. There are already signs of brightly shining balls being dislodged and making a feline induced exodus away from my tree. I can only hope that they leave the presents in a shred free state, or that I am not awakened at three a.m. By the sounds of ornaments and fake tree hitting the floor, being compromised by the weight of too many cats.

Every year, I vow to forgo the tree, because my tree and its decorations always seem to come out on the losing end of things with the furry members of my family around. But every year, I simply cannot resist the lure of a pretty tree all lit up with presents for my children underneath. By the day after Christmas, when I’ll take everything down and lug it back up to the attic, my tree will demonstrate just a fraction of its former glory. But it will all be worth it. We all will enjoy the tree while its up. Besides I have mostly non-breakable ornaments this year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do I feel old yet?

I happened to be one of those women who had all her children young. By the time I was 30, I potty training my youngest. This coming Saturday that youngest child of mine will be turning 21. She can’t wait and has been counting down the days for two weeks now. I’ve already gotten the request for what kind of cake she wants and what to fix for her breakfast. Wow, my baby girl, 21, a full blooded adult, with all the rights and privileges thereof.
How did that happen? Just last week, she was protesting putting on anything I suggested for her to wear, thinking staying in dirty pajamas, and slightly damp diapers was just find for a day of play. Just yesterday I was enjoying getting to embarrass her in front of her friends at middle school. Now she is just months away from having a degree and, her first grown up job, and (gasp) moving out into her first apartment.

When my oldest graduated from high school, I had just turned 37. I was asked by someone,”Do you feel old yet?’ I quickly answered. “No I’ll feel old when my youngest graduates high school.” Obviously I wasn’t thinking too quick on my feet that day. Seven incredibly short years later, my youngest graduated high school, and that stupid question was asked again. In perfect timing I answered. “Of course not, I’ll feel old when she graduates from college.”

Fast forward a couple of years, and I find myself on the crux of yet another educational milestone. Megan will be graduating from Spartanburg Methodist College in May. The chances that certain question will be rearing its ugly head again, is fairly high. I am not looking forward to it, as it is now quite obvious that I really wasn’t thinking through my responses in the past.

I called to wish my son a happy birthday this summer, and when I hung up the phone I was horrified to realize that in three years he will be 30, THIRTY! I am not supposed to have kids that age! But then I remember that I am well past the age that my son is now. I just find it keep finding it hard to believe how quickly I got from his age, when his youngest sister was a baby to now.

So back to that question, “Do I feel old yet?”. Does the fact that I have children old enough to own homes and to have kids of their own, mean I have to head right to the little old grandmother section of the local clothing store and picking out a housecoat? Does the fact that the actual color of my hair is a well guarded secret, or that I really don’t get the music some people listen to mean that I have arrived at “old” yet? Does the fact that my body is starting to display small signs of natural degeneration mean that I am old? I certainly hope not, because I am simply not ready for that label.

In reality, I don’t feel old. I do feel tired as my schedule is crazy, and having asthma can slow me down, and keep me from feeling rested. But old? Old to me is more a state of mind then how many candles it takes to set of the fire alarm. There are youthful 90 year olds and ancient 30 year olds. For them it is more, at least I think, on how they look at life and act within their views of how life is then the state of their health or their physical age.

Personally I think that I am just hitting my stride in life, embarking on a what I call my Brand New Future. I figure I still have enough left in me to be able to work a few more decades, and enjoy the challenges that may come my way. If I am fortunate, then my genetics will resemble that of my dad and his mother, ages 76 and 96 respectfully. Both are still active, vibrant, and highly talented people. If that is the case, I’ve got a whole lot of life yet to live yet. I am sure that one day I will willingly admit that yes, I am old. I just haven’t gotten there yet, nor do I plan on arriving anytime in the near future.

As for that dreaded question, “Do you feel old yet?” My answer this time will be, “No, I’ll feel old when my grandchildren graduate high school.” Chances are that I’ll give a new answer when that day arrives.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fooling Herself

I have been taking an introductory class in Creative Writing, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It is of course a prerequisite for the Creative Writing major I am working to pursue. We have been spending the last few weeks working in poetry. I freely admit that I am not the best poet, as I find other writing styles much easier. However one of the reasons that I write is to share, the other is that I really enjoy the process. Hopefully feed back that I receive will help me continue to improve what I do. One of my goals is to be a better writer, and how else to improve but to try different styles, such as poetry. This poem is the first that I have really spent real time trying to make it perfect. It isn't of course, but hopefully I can improve on later efforts.

Fooling Herself

she stands before her bedroom door
in yellow striped pajamas,
deciding how to fabricate
the lies he made her promise.
but first she must herself convince 
the hazards of her failing.
she smooths her hair, and sees the phone
which beckons from the table
a different choice it offers her
To freedom dipped in promise 
not settled yet which way to go
the known or one uncertain
It is herself she must convince
the one she keeps on fooling.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Citizen Spartanburg hold First Chalk Talk Event

Last night Citizen’s Spartanburg hosted an event called “Chalk Talk”. The speaker for the event was Abraham Goldberg who is the associate Political Science professor at USC-Upstate. His chosen subject was entitled “The importance of Social and Community Connection, Finding Happiness”.

That dry sounding topic proved to be quite fascinating as professor Goldberg showed the audience an interesting connection between personal happiness and connections one has available to them within the community. Using a survey done by a South Korean entity, that polled people in ten different cities around the world, Professor Goldberg showed how things such as close availability to shopping, religious organizations, public amenities and volunteer opportunities had impact on a person’s happiness. The closer and the wider the availability the more happiness seemed to be scaled.

He acknowledged that things such as the wider impact on automobiles and the exodus from the inner cities have played a part as people have put more space between each other in recent decades. Now it is more difficult to interconnect because things such as shopping, homes and parks are not close together, or found in multiple use facilities. Several other factors have played a part as well, but the connection of these factors was the focus.
He also pointed out that the GDP or the gross domestic product, or what tracks income, does not necessarily ensure happiness, but it can help. What was found to be more important was things like living standards, health, education, personal activities, political and social voice and connection and the environmental issues. All of these are things that tend to be interconnected within communities. The more they were available, the more happy people tended to be.

The fact that technology has tended to pull people apart instead of together also seems to be a factor. Things like social networking via the internet, online classes and telecommuting, longer commutes to and from work, and the fact that busy lives tend to reduce the amount of time families spend together, all demonstrate a trend to insulate ourselves from others rather than connect. This trend seems to correlate with reduced happiness.

While Professor Goldberg offered no solutions, what he did was point out something that Citizen Spartanburg has already recognized, that community is vital, and a community that interconnects can be quite the happy one. During the question and answer session it was pointed out that Social Media such as Facebook can be a very helpful tool to bring people together into the same room, to discuss how we can help our community grow and thrive. It was in fact how many of the audience learned about the event.

Having data presented, and information given that suggests that caring for our own communities is important just reemphasized what several of us already know. We know that our community matters, and when community matters more want to be involved in that community. It was pointed out by several in the audience that Spartanburg is a bit unique, and that is not a bad thing. In some ways Spartanburg has bucked the trend to move away from the inner city district, and is recognizing the value of what is offered within that district. There has been some progress made at making a community more interactive.

In just our downtown area, more has opened up, within just the past year, to give residents more options without having to get into a car and drive somewhere else. There is of course more that we can do, much more to help foster businesses, and residents, and governments working together to encourage a trend towards more rather than less interconnectedness. What can be done in the city limits of Spartanburg can happen in every community and neighborhood in the county.

Will it happen? Probably not completely, as dynamics in the suburbs and rural areas do not offer nearly as many practical options for things as multi-use buildings as if found within towns and cities, but it is quite possible to encourage such development where it is possible

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Joining the Tea Party

You’d think that after the election all this talk about The Tea Party would have died down by now. But apparently pockets of tea party enthusiasts are still going strong. In fact I was recently approached about attending a tea party event. I started to resist, but their argument for my attending was so strong that I just didn’t have the heart to say no. Who knew that I would walk away being a convert for the cause?

Wait, I know what you are thinking!

Before you dismiss me as someone who’s views on the tea party just flip-flopped so violently a landed bass couldn’t do better, let me introduce you to my recruiter. She’s very persuasive, her cause was just, and damned if all she had to do was look at me with those big blue eyes of hers and I was hooked. Plus she’s three, how can you say no to attending a three year old’s tea party?

This boys and girls is what the tea party is supposed to be about. It’s not voters who are angry at the government and attend rallies that hire speakers to get them even more angry, but offer little in the way of real solutions, other then voting people less conservative then them out of office.

Its about sitting around eating little sandwiches, drinking out of undersized cups, pinkies up of course, as you watch or share in the play of adorable children. If you are wearing a silly hat, then so much the better, and in this party silly hats were mandatory. You spend the time socializing, celebrating and simply enjoying time together apart from all the craziness of life.

You can’t rush a tea party, you slow down, especially if it is for a little girl’s birthday party and she is opening presents. She takes her sweet time opening presents, despite our urging for her to move on to the next one. We were told a firm “slow down!” by her. Good advice actually. She took the time to examine all the fun stuff, paying little attention to the practicable, such as clothes. She knew Mommy would ensure that they would be worn. She sat patiently, ok, only kinda patiently, as an adult struggled struggled to remove a toy from its child and adult proof packaging.

Who decided that to get a doll out of the package one needed a very sharp implement? Maybe the political style tea partiers would be spending their time well working on overturning such a ridiculous idea.

My granddaughter’s tea party themed birthday event was the hit that her parents knew that it would be. Helene’s mom and dad pulled out all the stops, even making a very cute, but barely edible tea pot shaped cake, as well as some very pretty and quite tasty other treats. We had lemonade instead of actual tea, and even got the use of some tea sets provided by one of Helene’s great-grandmothers. That her daddy was there made it even more special. He is home on leave from Afghanistan and will fly back after Thanksgiving. It was extra special seeing that family reunited again after such a long absence, even if they will be separated again for a time.

Now you can see why I am an ardent tea party-er. With events like that how could I not be?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dressing Mr. Dunwiddy

Ok, You will be reading a short story I wrote for my creative writing class. Why a short story instead of a ancedote about my kids or the cats or the fact that I lost my carkeys again? Why am I not writing a serious minded piece on stuff I find important? Well for a couple of reasons, the most obvious is that I had already written the short story, and time these days is in constant short supply. Posting something already done, and edited to my professor’s standards, is the easy way out, and leaves me some time to study for a test I have tomorrow. Plus we’ve had a lot of serious stuff, important things we’ve been discussing here and at Flying Oskar. That is of course great, and we welcome that input, but every now and then a change of pace is needed. So I thought maybe a bit of fiction would offer that change of pace. Besides, its been a few months since I’ve delved into the world of fiction here. So a short story is what you get, like it or not. 

Dressing Mr. Dunwiddy.

Nicole Jamerson walked up to the front door of the house and rang the doorbell. As she waited for someone to answer she absently adjusted her glasses that had, yet again, slid down her nose, then smoothed down the small wrinkles from her skirt. A few moments later, the door was opened by a middle aged woman in a blue sequined gown.

“Err, Hello, I am Nicole..”

“I don’t care who you are! Just get your skinny butt in here. I need you to get my husband dressed and out the door.” The woman opened the door wide enough to let Nicole in.

Nicole stepped into the foyer. “He’s not dressed yet?”

“Of course not, that’s your job.”

“But, I’m not,” But by now the woman had started to walk away and was halfway up the stairs that curved upwards from the entrance.

Nicole, paused for a moment, not quite sure what to do next, but realizing she was being left behind, and that she wasn’t going to find out standing there, hurried after the older woman.

Stopping at a door the woman turned to Nicole, who now that she’d had a chance to get a better look at the woman, readjusted her age in her head by at least 20 years. “Surgery,” Nicole thought, “and lots of it.”

The woman nodded in the direction of the door. “He’s in there. And please make sure he wears socks and a damned tie.”


“Naturally! and they better be black.”

“Mrs. Dunwiddy,” Nicole, began. “I am just here to ensure that your husband arrives at the awards ceremony on time and is prepared to give his acceptance speech. The agency said nothing about dressing him too.”

“I can’t help it if the agency neglected to tell you that part of the job! Just get it done and fast. I have a red carpet to walk down.” With that the woman, turned on her stilettoed heel and strode quickly down the hall, the sequins of her gown casting reflective lights along the hallway. Reaching her own room, she entered and slammed the door behind her.

“I see you’ve met my wife.”

Nicole squealed. Turning quickly she saw Mr. Dunwiddy. There stood 72 year old humorist whose books had been on multiple best seller’s lists and had been adapted into three movies. He had abundant silver hair, dancing blue eyes and was wearing only what God had given him at birth.

“You’re, you’re,”

“Naked, I know. Come on in. I know why you’re here. You are going to try to talk me into going to this award thing, so give it your best shot.” He walked to a large desk and sat down behind it, to Nicole’s relief.

Nicole took a couple tentative steps into the room and tried to focus only on his eyes. “Mr. Dunwiddy, I was sent here by the agency to ensure that you were prepared to attend the awards ceremony, and that you had a prepared acceptance speech, and to provide transportation for you and your wife. Dressing you is not part of my job description.”

“Call me Howard. Just how old are you?

“How old? I’m 29.”

“Damn,” He said, shaking his head. “They get younger every year. My granddaughter is just two years younger then you.”

“Mr. Dunwiddy.”


“Mr. Dunwiddy, err, I mean, Howard, I need for you to get dressed so I can take you and your wife to the awards ceremony.”

“I know. I am just not going to go. I never attend those damned things. They are unbelievably boring, but every year my agent tries to convince me. Every year he fails. Trust me, young lady, I got better ways to spend my evening, like taking a nap in a comfortable chair.”

Nicole pushed her glasses up from where they had slid again. “So you are telling me that every year Mr. Kibble, or an assistant like myself, comes to your house to try and convince you to take your,” she waggled her fingers towards him, “ un-naked self to an public ceremony, where you often are a winner of an award, and every year you turn them down?”

“That’s right.”

“And just how long have you been doing this?”

“I’ve been naked for five years.”

“Excuse me. What?”

“I had prostate cancer five years ago, and the treatment gave me weird side effects where wearing clothes felt like lead weights on my body. So I stopped wearing them. Then I decided that even after the treatment was over, I was more comfortable this way. Now I only wear clothes when I absolutely have to.”

“What does your wife think?”

“Oh she hates it,” Howard said with a grin. “Which just adds to the pleasure of not wearing clothes.”

“I am guessing that You two don’t like each other very much, do you?”

Howard, picked up a photo of his wife sitting on his desk. “We used to love each other fiercely.” He put the photo down. “But then we had kids, they grew up, and started having kids of their own. Somewhere along the way we just grew apart. Now we just aggravate the shit out of each other.”

Nicole, couldn’t help but smile at that. She took a breath. “So nothing I say can convince you to put clothes on and attend the awards ceremony?”

“Nothing at all.”


“Nope, wasting your time. Elaine can just go without me again.”

“Oh, I do believe she is counting on you not going. Thank you Mr. Dunwiddy for allowing me to try to convince you otherwise. I’ll just go now. It was,” Nicole paused. ”Interesting meeting you.” She was already out into the hall, when she heard. “Wait!” Hiding a smile, she turned back.

“What do you mean she’s counting on my not going.”

Nicole walked back into the room, and sat down, for the first time on one of the leather chairs facing the deck. “Have you ever watched the award shows you are supposed to attend?”

“Hell no! They are nap inducing in person. Why would I subject myself to watch that crap on television? Hell, even the commercials are boring!”

“So you’ve never seen your wife accept an award in your absence?”

“I try to avoid watching her talk in person, why?”

“It has everything with why I think you should go, Mr. Dun, I mean Howard. It’s a very good reason, one that would make the evening quite enjoyable for you, if you choose to attend. One even you can’t deny.” Nicole said, feeling success on the horizon.

“Ok. But I smell a con, but you have me curious, what reason?”

“Your wife.”

“My wife? What does she have to do with this?”

“She doesn’t want you to go.” Said Nicole, as she pulled a nail file out of her purse and began fine tuning her nails.

“My wife has nagged me for weeks to go this thing!” Howard pointed to a black tux hanging on a stand in one corner. “She took that torture device to the cleaners, accepted invitations for us to three after parties, and has spent a small fortune getting herself presentable. How can you say she doesn’t want me to go? ”

“She doesn’t.”

“Of course she does! And if I go I’m stuck in a tux being bored out of my mind and trying not to look it!” Howard looked at Nicole, who by now wasn’t even trying to contain her smile. “Dammit girl, what in the hell are you smug about?”

“Your wife is counting on you Not to go. She only makes such a fuss because she knows you would be suspicious otherwise.” Nicole crossed her legs, and examined her fingernails making sure no snags remained. “She then goes to the awards without you and puts on a big show about how you work so hard that you can’t pull yourself away from your work, blah, blah, blah. Her dramatic, often tearful acceptance of your award almost always goes over the set time limits.” Nicole put her nail file away. “She has the time of her life at these things, because it is her getting all the attention.”

“So, if I go?” Howard started.

“You get to steal her thunder.” Nicole finished.

Howard stared at Nicole for a moment, then burst out laughing. “Ok, young lady, you win. Now get out of my office so I can get dressed. And tell my wife I”ll be down in five minutes.”

“Yes sir.” Said Nicole, as she walked to the door. “And Howard,” She added with a wink. “If you got any, wear the loudest color socks you can find. Your wife will love them.”