Monthly Archives: January 2015

“I” Tunes (My week in song)

“I” Tunes

Tuesday: I met old friends Jim and Ellen (who moved away a year ago) at Adelita’s for ribs and a year’s worth of talk.

Wednesday: I finally met up with the Mac computer repair guy who comes from Guadalajara to pick up sick Macs for repair.  I have my fingers crossed  that they’ll be able to save the Mac Air I spilled a full Coke on.  Later, I made it to my “Not Yet Dead Poets” meeting.

Thursday: It was a “gas” when my stove broke and I couldn’t get the pilot light clicker to go off.  The repairman had just been here, but I couldn’t find his number and panicked until eventually it just wore itself out. Still, please don’t use that back left burner.  Now it sets off the clicker on the burner in front of it!!  I certainly hope nothing bad happens.

An additional thrill for the day that many of you made your own was  The Thing that appeared on my garden wall.

Friday: I met my friends Betty, Liz and Larry at Viva Mexico for one of their enchiladas and a naughty tiramisu and one of their killer margaritas.  Later, I felt . . .

Saturday: It’s been so long since I’ve seen my friend Audrey,  but we spent a few hours at the new quirky cafe named Chillin’ and talked about planning a summer camp for kids in San Juan Cosala and Chapala.

The highlight of the week, of course, was the revelation of just exactly what “The Thing” was.  Laura M. beat out a few close contenders for the prize by naming my newest addition to my home the “Lurkin’ Merkin.”  This is what it really was.

And that, my friends, concludes my week in song.  Please hit the links to hear the music.  —Judy

The Prompt:  Describe your past week by compiling a playlist of five songs.

“The Thing” Revealed!!!! Winner announced

A few days ago, I posted This Picture:
and offered a prize for the person who could identify what it was.  Answers ranged from toupees to Itt’s second cousin to embedded Smurfs to Chupacabra eggs, but the judge ruled Laura M’s answer of a “Lurkin’ Merkin” as being the most original.  Yes, I had a judge, but I cannot reveal his/her name or the losers would have to kill her/him, most probably, over their disappointment.  So, Laura M, let me know which prize you prefer.  If it is the book, have a look at my book pages and let me know which one and your mailing address. If you want the personalized poem, I’ll need information about the subject or event it is for.

Okay, when you see this film you will understand what this “object” is. It is actually hundreds if not thousands of Daddy Longlegs clustered into an oval a foot long.

I know, hard to believe.  This used to happen every year at my house with the clusters being a couple of feet top to bottom and sticking out six inches or so.  Then they did not come for a few years.  Last night I went outside and this one was completely gone, but nearby they were congregating again in a more sheltered spot.  I’m wondering if the dog or the gardener disturbed them.  I never would.  I find them fascinating.  It is not a mating thing, by the way, but rather a defense measure.  Banded together, they produce an odor (not detectable by the human nose) that wards off predators.  In this case, probably ants. Another speculation is that it is a defense against the cold. If you search YouTube, you can also find a video of one of these guys fighting a Black Widow Spider and winning!  Ain’t nature grand?  It is a continual adventure here south of the Tropic of Cancer.  Thanks for playing with me!!!  Judy

P.S.  By the way, these clusters have been found to contain up to 40,000 DLL’s and in spite of what the guy in the video says, they are not spiders  and, I love the feeling of a DLL on my skin! (Gonna check that number.  It may have been 4,000.)

China Bulldog

China Bulldog

I dreamed last night that we were clearing out my mother’s house.  The front doors of all the kitchen cabinets had been removed and I was puzzled about this.  On the mantelpiece, I found China bulldog after China bulldog that was a replica of one I one my mother had told me to take home with me when I cleared out the house after my father’s death.  “Judy asked for this. You can fight over the rest.” said a note taped to the bottom.  A mayonnaise jar, it was of white glazed ceramic that had a rainbow sheen.  Its head came off as a lid and its bright orange tongue was the handle of a spoon.  The body fit into a depression in its saucer that had the outline of the bulldog’s feet and bottom so it nested a bit.

One of my first memories was seeing it sitting on the small triangular shelf in our kitchen.  My mother never used it and later, in newer houses where it didn’t suit the decor, it always sat within a cupboard.  My mother was too modern for China cabinets or knickknacks that didn’t match the color scheme.  When I was small, her taste went to magenta and chartreuse.  Beige and pink and turquoise marked the seventies, the turquoise and pink traded in for avocado and burnt orange in the eighties and back to a more understated green and beige in the nineties.

Whatever the color scheme, the bulldog never quite fit in, but it was the one object asked about by both of my sisters after the Loma Prieta earthquake.  I I was living in a house near its epicenter, and the bulldog had worked its way from the back of my kitchen cupboard to sit teetering on the edge, but it had not fallen.  It was one of the few things in a house packed full of art and artful objects that I chose to bring with me to Mexico.

I’d like to say that it has assumed a position of importance in my house in Mexico, but sadly, the China bulldog just never quite seems to fit in to the mainstream.  It has sat on a shelf in my studio for the past twelve years, somewhere near the back where it is safe but unseen.  But for some reason, if I were to be able to take one more object from my house, the China bulldog is what my mind falls upon. Perhaps it is time to think about why.

I often dream about a subject that ends up being my blog topic for the next day.  For some reason that topic fits into the prompt and so it is never very difficult for me to begin the day’s writing.  In this case, once I’d settled on the bulldog as my topic, I immediately remembered that in my dream I had found five or six bulldogs on my mother’s mantel.  Some were without bodies, all without their dishes.  Some were smaller than others and lacked the brilliant sheen or bright colors.  One seemed to be almost crumbling, as though it had been under water for a long period.  All were missing their tongues.

In the dream, I imagined my mother combing second hand stores and never being able to resist whenever she found a bulldog in the same shape as the one her older sister had given her when she was a child.  It’s been at least 100 years since she received that strange gift that was the only remaining thing that seemed to have been brought with her when she moved first from Missouri, then to Kansas and then to South Dakota, to marry my father.

She told me no stories about it and as I think about that, I realize she told me few stories at all.  Not about her wedding or my birth.  The stories in my family all centered around my father while her stories seemed safely tucked away on a shelf like the China Bulldog.  Perhaps that is why that one piece of all the pieces of my mother has assumed a center place in our memories. I know that my middle sister, who lived in the same town as my mother for the last six years of her life, has mourned her loss the most over the years.  My oldest sister, who was estranged from Mom for the last twenty years of her life, is in the throes of Alzheimer’s and so never mentions her at all.

It has been fourteen years since her death and I don’t think of her daily or even weekly, but every so often, something happens and the thought comes in a flash that I have to be sure to tell Mother about it; and for the past year, most of my poetry has been written in her joking, rhythmic cadence and rhyme.  Perhaps some essence of her that has been steeping in me for over sixty years has suddenly reached its saturation point and must come out.

And the China bulldog?  The dream? It is as though for all these years she has been trying to get it back, never quite replacing it but nonetheless not giving up the search.  And I can’t overlook the irony that it is these less perfect incomplete bulldogs that she chose to put on her mantel.  Is she trying to tell me something about beauty or the adherence to a dream or about giving up perfection to enter back into the quest?

My mind ricochets without finding an answer, but I continue to feel the prompt.  Perhaps there is reason in the name “wordpress.”  I feel that press to find meaning through words as I feel my mother’s gentle prod and communication through genes or memory or dreams, to leave perfect things behind and to get on with my life.


The Prompt: Burnt—Remember the prompt where your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

What is It????

Do you know what this is??? Want to guess? Please do so via comments. If no one guesses what it really is, funniest answer wins. Winner gets his/her choice of two prizes:  1.) a poem written on any subject–could be a card for a friend or a poem for a special event or, 2.) a free copy of whichever of my books you prefer. No fair entering if I’ve already revealed to you what it is unless you want to enter in the funniest answer category.  Judy

See a video HERE: (Believe me, you don’t want to miss this.)
Update: I reveal the mystery and announce the winner in this new post.

The Sticky Fingers of Things

The Sticky Fingers of Things

Over the past year, I have started to feel so encumbered by things that I feel like they are choking me.  Even my art-filled and carefully arranged house, which I love, has started to make me feel like I’m trapped in one of my own collages.

I once wrote that I like to do assemblage because it is an arrangement that is glued down so other people can’t rearrange it, but recently I’ve begun to feel like one of those objects.  I just can’t get myself unpinned from my present life.  It is not that there is anything terribly wrong about it.  Just that I no longer have a feeling of freedom..

Recently, I was asked what I would save if my house were on fire and I could only save five things.  My answer would be an album of childhood pictures, an album of pictures from Africa and Australia, my computer and two backup drives.  Then I’d put them in storage, buy a new computer and go on another trip around the world with no planned itinerary and no planned start or stop dates.

Why can’t I do this on my own?  Who knows why we let ourselves be controlled by things? Maybe it is because we know we can’t take them with us and so we strive to get as much pleasure out of them as possible while we can.  Perhaps it is because we fear that without things, we ourselves are nothing.  Perhaps it is because we cannot see that the beauty is within ourselves.  Perhaps it is because we fear that others give us value simply because of the things around us.

I once heard my eleven-year-older sister tell someone that she liked to visit her younger sisters because they both had such interesting lives and friends.  I felt so sad that she hadn’t said that she loved to visit me because I, myself, was interesting and loved.  I think this has influenced my feeling for her ever since.

My sister is now in the stages of dementia where pretty much everything has been taken from her.  She no longer knows what most common objects are for, but my niece recently told me that she had been given a life-sized baby doll that she holds and rocks and talks to and that the other day she called it Judy. I guess she waited too long to express any feelings of love she might have felt for me. Now, she is seemingly expressing that love toward an object when all these years she could have been expressing it to the person who could have returned it.  Is this what I’m doing by refusing to surrender the objects that fill my life?  Maybe it is time to find out.

The Prompt:  What five objects would you \save from your burning house?

New Word for the Day: Chronopromptophobia

New Word for the Day: Chronopromptophobia

Chronopromptophobia is the fear that your prompt will not be posted in time for you to write it before you need to get on with the day.

Etymology:  from the Latin roots chron: having to do with time;  prompt: to urge forward (ironically, this also designates  timeliness, as in “on time”); and phobia: fear.

The original term was coined in 2014/2015 when a major world blogging site experienced a series of breakdowns wherein prompts were either not published or were published so late in the day that the world economy suffered from the number of bloggers who called in sick to work to enable them to sit home and check every few minutes to see if the prompt was posted.

The Prompt: Play Lexicographer–Create a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Play Lexicographer.”

Fresh Worms for Sale

Fresh Worms for Sale

Many have not come to terms
with the benefits of worms.
They find them repulsive and squishy.
Revolting, creepy, crawly, ishy.

But these folks tend to just react
without examining each fact
of all that folks could find to do
with worms if they’d just buy a few.

Granted, worms that wad and mingle
lack the charm of just a single
worm that can be used for bait
on a hook and with a weight,

but every person knows this use,
which always calls for worm abuse.
Worms, however, also toil
to break up and aerate the soil.

In jars with holes poked in the lids,
worms make good pets for little kids.
Good for hours of watching, they need
little care and little feed.

Worms don’t need collars, leashes, dishes,
never go against your wishes.
They are not barkers nor run-arounds.
None of the nastiness of hounds.

They have no hair to grow and shed.
You do not have to pat their head.
They have no other nasty habits
like gerbils, hamsters, cats or rabbits.

You don’t have to change their litter.
When traveling, you don’t need a sitter.
No vet bills when your pets are worms–
no fleas nor ticks nor mites nor germs.

Worms take up very little space
and may be trained to run a race.
And if you make a well-placed bet,
they just might get you out of debt.

The benefit of worms now told,
May I consider this worm sold?
Surely you’ll find much to do
with one or two that leave with you.

If you’re not a  fisherman
and if a pet’s not in your plan,
If you are a sadistic sickie,
just put one down your girlfriend’s dickie!*

*for the youth among us, a dickey is a turtle neck or collared inset
that may be worn under a vee-necked sweater or jacket to create the illusion that one is wearing a sweater or blouse under it.

The Prompt: Embrace the Ick–Think of something that truly repulses you.  Hold that thought until your skin squirms.  Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.

Revelation, Writer’s Block and Tweet, Twitter, Ping!!!!

I had a revelation the other day that I actually enjoy writing about life more than living it! I used to dream about achieving this state, but now it rather bothers me.

okay, a further thought: My (unfortunately deceased) husband was a poet who promptly stopped writing as soon as we married. A few years later, I asked him why. He answered, “I think it is because I can only write when I’m unhappy.” There was not much I could say to protest his writer’s block after that, but I did start worrying when he started writing again.

These are two comments I wrote in Listentothebabe‘s blog.  A friend told me they were tweet-worthy, but I think they are too long and no one reads my tweets anyway, so forgive me for tweeting my own song here.  (Babe, if you’re having to read these over again, sorry. Next time I’ll just ping you.)

Damn, now there is something else I just have to say:

Twenty years ago, would any of us have dreamed that one day we’d be using the words “tweet, twitter and ping” so frequently?

Okay.  Over and out.  Promise.  I’ll go watch an episode of something sent to me by a kind benefactor. —Judy

South Dakota Gumbo

South Dakota Gumbo

When the rains came in hot summer,  wheat farmers cursed their harvest luck, for grain sodden by rain just days before cutting was not a good thing; but we children, freed from the worry of our own maintenance (not to mention taxes, next year’s seed fees and the long caravans of combines already making their slow crawl from Kansas in our direction) ran into the streets to glory in it.

We were children of the dry prairie who swam in rivers once or twice a year at church picnics or school picnics and otherwise would swing in playground swings, wedging our heels in the dry dust to push us higher. Snow was the form of precipitation we were most accustomed to–waddling as we tried to execute the Xs and Os of Fox and Geese bundled into two pairs of socks and rubber boots snapped tighter at the top around our thick padded snowsuits, our identities almost obscured under hoods and scarves tied bandit-like over our lower faces.

But in hot July, we streamed unfettered out into the rain.  Bare-footed, bare-legged, we raised naked arms up to greet  rivers pouring down like a waterfall from the sky.  Rain soaked into the gravel of the small prairie town streets, down to the rich black gumbo that filtered out to be washed down the gutters and through the culverts under roads, rushing with such force that it rose back into the air in a liquid rainbow with pressure enough to wash the black from beneath our toes.

We lay under this rainbow as it arced over us, stood at its end like pots of gold ourselves, made more valuable by this precipitation that precipitated in us schemes of trumpet vine boats with soda straw and leaf sails, races and boat near-fatalities as they wedged in too-low culvert underpasses.  Boats “disappeared” for minutes finally gushed out sideways on the other side of the road to rejoin the race down to its finale at that point beyond which we could not follow: Highway 16–that major two-lane route east to west and the southernmost boundary of our free-roaming playground of the entire town.

Forbidden to venture onto this one danger in our otherwise carefree lives, we imagined our boats plummeting out on the other side, arcing high in the plume of water as it dropped to the lower field below the highway.  It must have been a graveyard of vine pod boats, stripped of sails or lying sideways, pinned by them.  We imagined mind soldiers crawling out of them and ascending from the barrow pits along the road to venture back to us through the dangers of the wheels of trucks and cars.  Hiding out in mid-track and on the yellow lines, running with great bursts of speed before the next car came, our imaginary heroes made their ways back to our minds where tomorrow they would play cowboys or supermen or bandits or thieves.

But we were also our own heroes.  Thick black South Dakota gumbo squished between our toes as we waded down ditches in water mid-calf.  Kicking and wiggling, splashing, we craved more immersion in this all-too-rare miracle of summer rain.  We sat down, working our way down ditch rivers on our bottoms, our progress unimpeded by rocks.  We lived on the stoneless western side of the Missouri River, sixty miles away. The glacier somehow having been contained to the eastern side of the river, the western side of the state was relatively free of stones–which made for excellent farm land, easy on the plow.

Gravel, however, was a dear commodity.  Fortunes had been made when veins of it were found–a crop more valuable than wheat or corn or oats or alfalfa. The college educations of
my sisters and me we were probably paid for by the discovery of a vast supply of it on my father’s land and the fact that its discovery coincided with the decision to build first Highway 16 and then Interstate 90.  Trucks of that gravel were hauled  to build first the old road and then  the new Interstate that, built further south of town, would remove some of the dangers of Highway 16, which would be transformed into just a local road–the only paved one in town except for the much older former highway that had cut through the town three blocks to the north.

So it was that future generations of children, perhaps, could follow their dreams to their end.  Find their shattered boats.  Carry their shipwrecked heroes back home with them.  Which perhaps led to less hardy heroes with fewer tests or children who divided themselves from rain, sitting on couches watching television as the rain merely rivered their windows and puddled under the cracks of front doors, trying to get to them and failing.

But in those years before television and interstates and all the things that would have kept us from rain and adventures fueled only by our our imaginations, oh, the richness of gumbo between our toes and the fast rushing wet adventure of rain!

Writer’s note:  I know my sister Patti is going to read this and cry, and so I want to present you with this mental picture of her, college age, Levi cuffs rolled up above her knees, surrounded by five-year-old neighbor kids, enjoying her last big adventure out into the ditches of Murdo, South Dakota, during a July rain.

But wait!  A mere two hours of digging and another hour of editing has produced this proof of my former statement, so to augment your mental image, here is the real one:

Patty in mud 001-001

Not quite the gusher depicted in the childhood vignette, but nonetheless, Patti’s final puddle adventure. She had taken my visiting niece out. The next day the neighborhood kids rang our doorbell and asked my mom if Patti could come back outside to play! Ha.

The Prompt: Free Association–Write down the first words that come to mind when we say . . . home. . . soil . . . rain. Use those words in the title of your post.

Enough’s Too Much

Enough’s Too Much!!

Enough’s too much when it comes to fish
or any other smelly dish.
Too much for castor oil in spoons
or relatives on honeymoons.
Amoebas?  Any one’s too much,
and a date who wants you to go Dutch
clearly tells you he’s not “it.”
One mosquito, when you’re bit,
is not “enough,” but “one too many.”
when your preference is “not any!”

Kids with colds and snoopy neighbors,
tiresome chores and heavy labors,
bitter pills and jerked-off scabs,
rainy days with no free cabs,
diarrhea, scabies, gout?
Too much! Too much, without a doubt!
“Enough’s enough” is repetitious,
obvious and almost vicious.

So don’t go spouting it at me.
I hate cliches from A to Z.
I won’t have any said to me.
If you use them, you’re dead to me!
“It is sufficient” I will accept.
“I’ll have no more”  is most adept.
But don’t go muttering platitudes
at folks like me with attitudes,
or I promise we’ll be getting rough
enough to prompt, “Enough’s enough!”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Enough Is Enough.” Wow, this sounds so grouchy.  It is meant tongue-in-cheek.  I’ve probably used the phrase hundreds of times myself—usually directed at myself when I have lost my keys or glasses for the dozenth time that day!