Monthly Archives: July 2014

Luddite (Within Reason)

Luddite (Within Reason)

Resurrect the Luddite gene!
Raise the axe! Kill the machine!
Its use is seldom credible
in products that are edible.

A bread machine for making bread?
Ban that idea from your head.
Bread manufactured should be banned.
The nobler loaf is shaped by hand.

Lasagna, too, it is a fact,
is better manually stacked.
Those frozen ones from Costco? Toss ‘em!
For no machine knows how to sauce ‘em!

Torillas handmade pat by pat?
You simply can’t improve on that.
But I admit I’m not that keen
on ones that come from a machine.

South of the border, arts abound
on almost every wall they’re found.
All over town, the artists stand
creating murals there by hand.

Art that’s produced digitally?
It will simply never be
as satisfactory to me
as this handmade artistry.

The stately dome, even and round,
in Mexico is often found.
With bricks, cement and lime and sand—
it’s true that they are made by hand!

I admit that a brick wall
is hardly any view at all.
The only worse thing in a town
is when you find one tumbled down!

But Mexico excels at walls.
Hand-stacked, a stone wall rarely falls.
And they are things of beauty, too,
and add, not detract, from the view.

I find that I can best assuage
my aches with a hands-on massage.
Our massage chair bought for beaucoup bucks?
Truthfully? It really sucks.

And yet, I know that many lean
in preference to the machine.
I must admit, though I am wary,
that certain ones are necessary.

Elevators beat the stairs.
Electric shavers best cut hairs.
(Those signs extolling Burma Shave
belong outside a caveman’s cave.)

And I admit the movie sector
clearly needs its film projector.
Doctors? X-rays. Dentists? Drills.
Pharmacists? Machine-made pills.

And I am sure I’d really balk
If I were forced to always walk,
so cars and trucks would make my list
of machines that should exist.

I could live if forced to brave
this world without my microwave,
but take my Wifi? Don’t you dare!!!
Some things are better sent by air!

The Prompt: Handmade Tales—Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?

Lame

Lame

It’s been three months since first I came
to make these daily posts my aim;
and though I do not seek to maim,
to damage, libel, slur or blame
the reputation or the name
of the guy or of the dame
who promised they would fan my flame
(increase my fans and spread my fame)
if I would join this posting game,
I fear the prompts have turned too tame.
Do any of you feel the same?
These prompts are getting pretty lame!!!!

Daily Prompt: 190 Days Later—Back on January 21st, we asked you to predict what day #211 would be like. Well, July 30th is that day — how have your predictions held up so far? If you didn’t reply to the prompt at the time, is this year turning out to be as you’d expected?

Away

Away

Written in the morning, long before the day
sneaks in like an intruder, intent to have its say,
words born in the nighttime flower on their own,
bursting into bloom as soon as seeds are sown.

Truth is there behind us before it ever shows—
in words before they’re spoken, in wind before it blows.
Once recognized, I free these words to flow over the world—
off on their own to have a life wherever they’re unfurled.

Sent swiftly to their different spheres to live a life apart
from one who followed after, like a horse without its cart—
I like to set my words loose to canter on their own,
to feed upon wild grass that also roots where it has blown.

The Prompt: After an especially long and exhausting drive or flight, a grueling week at work, or a mind-numbing exam period — what’s the one thing you do to feel human again?

Church Thrift Store

The Prompt: It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!

Church Thrift Store

Caught short by the rainy season, I should have known better.
Though I’d left home high and dry, I knew I’d soon be wetter.
Defenseless  in the downpour, I ducked into a store.
Just to get some shelter,  I rushed in through that door.

I felt that I was lucky as this store was full of stuff,
though finding what I needed might be sort of tough.
The store clerk shuffled up to me, though he could barely stand—
an umbrella just as old as him held up in his hand.

Lucky when I chanced upon this ancient wrinkled fella,
he happened to be carrying a really big umbrella!
I opened up my pocket book and located a fiver.
Now I wouldn’t spend this day wet as a scuba diver!

But when I left that thrift store with my practical new find,
I found that I was actually in the same old bind.
For opening up my parasol, I uttered “What the heck?”
As rivulets of water ran down my head and neck.

The purchase I’d just made, I found, would be no help at all.
I hadn’t noticed that the shop was St. Vincent de Paul.
The fault was no one else’s.  I know it was mine, solely.
I should have realized sooner that my purchase would be holy!

(Please note: St. Vincent de Paul is a secondhand store run by the Catholic Church.)

Justification

Justification

I spent all day in town today for business and for pleasure,
so by the time I got back home, I felt I’d had full measure
of driving-selling-trying on, shopping-eating-walking;
so I just thought I’d have some time that didn’t include talking.
I put my suit on thinking I would jump right in the pool,
but then the cat began to whine, the dogs commenced to drool—
sure signals it was feeding time—in this they were united.
They’ve learned their human serves their supper faster when invited.

The problem was, the dog food was still up in the car,
so I ran out to get it. (It wasn’t very far.)
I fed the dogs and cat, then found new flea collars I’d bought,
and so, of course, I had to put new collars on the lot.
Then, finally, the pool was mine—aerobic exercise
kept my body busy while a movie wooed my eyes
to disregard the time that passed while bending, kicking, flopping,
for when I am distracted, I am less intent on stopping.

With no prompt to finish early, I just went on and on.
Two hours passed so quickly that the setting of the sun
(and the ending of the movie—I guess I must admit)
finally gave the signal that it was time to quit.
But as I climbed the ladder, something poked my breast—
something sharp and lumpy that had made a little nest
there between my cleavage all my hours in the pool;
and when I drew it out you can’t image what a fool

I felt like, for this faux pas cannot help but win the prize
of all the times that I’ve done stupid things in any guise.
As teacher, daughter, writer, artist, sister, lover, friend,
I’ve committed stupid acts impossible to mend.
But this one takes the cake, I’m sure, as stupidest by far.
I’ve told you how I went to get the pet food from the car,
then fed and put flea collars on protesting dogs and cat.
(I doubt you’d do much better when dealing with all that!)

When I went out to do all this, I didn’t want to lose ‘em.
That’s why my car keys (with remote) wound up within my bosom!


Try as we may, those little indicators of age will sneak up on us.  There is no plastic surgery for a sagging memory!!!  (The Prompt today was:  “Age is just a number,” says the well-worn adage. But is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?”)

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Wonder of wonders, when I put the key in the ignition the next morning, it worked!!! Saved on this one!

Do You Know Someone from Greenland?

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Do You Know Someone from Greenland?

Do you know someone from Greenland? Please write them if you do
and tell them that I need someone from Greenland who will view
my blog for me so I can get it lit up on my map;
for on my statistics page it leaves a shocking gap.
Italy is lit up and the rest of Europe, too.
Mexico and Canada and Poland and Peru.
(But not, I fear, Afghanistan or Chad or Katmandu.)

I have fans in India, in England and in China.
Readers in the States from Oregon to Carolina.
Africa, The Emirates, in Russia and Japan,
and even in Australia, I have one loyal fan.
But no one from that Island has ever viewed my blog.
It seems that my well-oiled machine is missing that one cog.
I know that Greenland’s icy—that it’s Iceland that is green,
and perhaps that oxymoron may make Greenlanders mean.
Yet I’d think in winter, when there is so much snow
the Internet’s the sort of place that they would want to go!!!
My blog may not be noted for being really hot,
and if they want X-Rated, my blog is not the spot.
But if you’ve friends in Greenland, please tell them this for me:
my blog may not be steamy, but it’s guaranteed frost-free!

(And while you are at it, please have them stop by Shawn Bird’s blog at shawnbird.com/blog She’s missing Greenland as well!)

The Prompt: Road Tripping—‘Tis the season for road trips — if time and money were out of the equation, what car-based adventure would you go on? (If you don’t or can’t drive, any land-based journey counts.) . . . I interpreted the prompt loosely this time, more as a road trip of the mind. After almost 18 months of blogging, I keep noticing that very big block of the world called Greenland that still sits blankly staring at me, resisting my blog. When Shawn wrote to me after reading my blog about statistics, (read it here) saying that she was waiting for a viewer from Greenland, I knew that was my cue. So although I doubt anyone from outside has ever taken a road trip there, if you’ve journeyed there by some other means, please drop a clue to any friends you may have who live there to take a mind trip to our blogs and shut us up!!!!

First Friends

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The Prompt: Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

First Friends

I am three years old, lying in my Mom’s room taking a nap. I can hear voices in the front room. The world comes slowly back to me as I rouse myself from the deep sleep I swore I didn’t need. I hear my mom’s voice and the voice of a stranger. I slide my legs over the side of the chenille-covered bed, balancing for a moment like a teeter totter before giving in to gravity and letting my feet slide through space to the floor below. I creak open the door, which had been left ajar. My mom’s voice gets louder. I smell coffee brewing and hear the chink of china coffee cups in the living room.

I hear a dull rubbing sound and move toward it—through the kitchen to the dinette, where a very small very skinny girl with brown braids is sitting at the table coloring in one of my coloring books. She is not staying in the lines very well, which is crucial—along with the fact that she is coloring the one last uncolored picture in the book which I’ve been saving for last because it is my favorite and BECAUSE I HAVE IT PLANNED SO THERE IS SOMEWHERE IN THAT PICTURE TO USE EVERY LAST COLOR IN MY BOX OF CRAYOLAS!

I sidle past her, unspeaking, aflame with indignation. Who could have—who would have—given her the authority to color in my book? I stand in the door of the living room. My mom is talking to a mousy gray-haired lady—tall, raw-boned, in a limp gray dress. My mom sees me, and tells me to come over and meet Mrs. Krauss. They are our new neighbors. They are going to live in Aunt Stella and Uncle Werner’s house two houses down. Did I meet their daughter Pressie in the kitchen? She’s just my age and Aunt Stella and Uncle Werner (who are not actually related to us, but just friends of my folks) are her real aunt and uncle.

The gray lady calls Pressie in to meet me. She is quiet and I am quiet. Then we go back to color at the table together. We drink orange juice and eat potato chips. We will be best friends for what seems like a lifetime but what is really only until we approach adolescence. I will have a love-hate relationship with her mother, who will continually set up competitions between Pressie and me to see who will win. She will try to coach Pressie first; but still, I will always win.

Pressie and I will play hollyhock dolls and dress-up. We play, sometimes, with Mary Boone; but her parents are too religious and don’t think we’re nice enough to play with her very much. I want to put on neighborhood plays and circuses, but none of the other kids want to perform. I want to play store and school, but Pressie eventually goes home to help her mother varnish the floors.

Pressie’s house is full of loud brothers and a sulky teenage sister. It is full of high school-aged cousins who tease us unmercifully and old ladies who come to play Scrabble with her mother. It is full of a missionary sister who comes back from South America and married brothers who come from Florida with babies that Pressie and I take charge of.

Pressie’s house is full of slivery floors that are always in the process of being varnished or de-varnished. There is one drawer in the kitchen full of everybody’s toothbrushes, combs, hairpins, hair cream, shampoo tubes, old pennies, crackerjack toys, rubber balls, lint, hairballs, rolled up handkerchiefs and an occasional spoon that falls in from the drain board above it.
They have no bathroom—just the kitchen sink and a toilet and shower in the basement, across from the coal bin and the huge coal furnace. Their toilet has a curtain in front of it, but the shower is open to the world.

Sometimes when I am peeing, someone comes down to put coal in the furnace or to throw dirty clothes in the washtub next to the ringer washer. I pull the curtain tight with my arms and pray that they won’t pull it back and discover me, my panties down to the floor, pee dripping down my leg from my hurried spring from the toilet to secure the curtain. To this day, I have dreams about bathrooms that become public thoroughfares the minute I sit down. To this day, I get constipated every time I leave the security of my own locked bathroom.

Pressie babysits with the minister’s kids for money. I go along for free. She spanks them a lot and yells a lot. I think I can’t wait until I’m old enough to have kids so I can yell at them, but when Pressie is gone and the minister’s wife asks me to babysit, I don’t yell at them.

At Christmas I can’t wait to have Pressie come see my gifts: a Cinderella watch, a doll, a wastebasket painted like a little girl’s face, complete with yarn braids, books and toilet water from aunts, a toy plastic silverware set from my sister, stationery from my other aunt, playing cards, sewing cards, paint by numbers, a new dress. I run over through the snow to Pressie’s house to see her presents: a new pair of pajamas, a coloring book and new crayons, barrettes and a comb. In her family, they draw names. Quickly we run to my house, but she doesn’t pay much attention to my presents. She is funny sometimes, kind of crabby. The more excited I get, the more withdrawn she gets.

Later, I want to make snow angels in the yard and feed leftover cornmeal muffins to the chickadees, but Pressie wants to go home. Pressie always wants to go home. What she does there, I don’t know. She doesn’t like to read. None of us will have television for another five years. She doesn’t much like games or cards. I don’t know what Pressie does when she isn’t with me.

When she is with me, we take baths together and sing the theme music from “Back to the Bible Broadcast,” washing our sins away in the bathtub. We play ranch house in our basement. We pull the army cot against the wall and put old chairs on either side of it for end tables. We upend an old box in front of it for a coffee table. My grandma’s peeling ochre-painted rocking chair faces the army cot couch. We sneak into the hired man’s room and steal his Pall Mall cigarettes and sit talking and smoking. We rip the filters off first, which is what we think you’re supposed to do.

Pressie will always stay longer if we smoke. I blow out on the cigarette, but Pressie inhales. We smoke a whole pack over a few weeks’ time and then go searching for more. When the hired man starts hiding his cigarettes, we discover his hiding place and learn to take no more than four at a time so he doesn’t miss them. When he has a carton, we take a pack and hide it under the mattress on the army cot. My mother wonders where all the filters are coming from that she sweeps from the basement floor, but never guesses our secret.

Pressie spends more time with me than before, drops by almost every morning and always wants to go to the basement to play and smoke. Then the hired man finds another room and moves out and when Mrs. Church’s granddaughters come to visit, I will want to play with them but Pressie won’t. Then we will pair off—Pressie with Sue Anne, the girly one, me with Kate, the boyish one. We have a little war—mainly instigated by the sisters.

When the new farm agent moves in with two daughters—one a year younger than Pressie and me, the other a year younger than my sister Addie—I want to ask the girl our age to play with us, but Pressie won’t. I have a slumber party for everyone—all the girls we know. I invite the new girl, whose name is Molly, but no one talks to her much. She is shy and doesn’t push herself on us. No one else ever wants to include her. I go play with her anyway and spend the night at her house. Her mother is nervous, her dad cocky. Her older sister laughs nervously under her breath a lot, as does her mother.

Many years later, by the time we are in high school, everyone has accepted them. By then, all of those girls have parties where I’m not invited. They are always a little reserved when I come up to speak to them. Maybe they’re always reserved. How would I know how they are when I’m not around? Later, they all got to be pretty good friends. But in the beginning, I was everyone’s first friend.