Category Archives: humorous essay

In Absentia Conversations

When we first met online, Forgottenman, in Missouri, serenaded me, in Mexico, over Skype until I fell asleep every night. The illustration above is one from a night when I asked to see his hands strumming the guitar as I fell asleep. Sweet, huh? That ended after a year or so, but over the past seven years, we have had many midnight and post-midnight Skype conversations.  Want to eavesdrop?  Here are a few:

On Skype (After Midnight and 3 Margaritas)

She: maybe I need to take Frida (the Akita) to the snore doctor.
She: Perhaps she has sleep apnea. She sounds like a lion when she sleeps.
She: Have you ever heard her snore?
He: Yep.
She: Do you miss it?
He: Miss your zzzz’s
She: You miss my snores? Sweet.
She: I miss snoring for you.
He: That’s the first line of a poem.
She: I’ll write a poem starting with “I miss snoring for you,” if you will, too.
He.: I’ll try to remember to do so tomorrow.
She:

You Say You Miss My Snores

I miss snoring for you,
stepping on your shoe
when we don’t dance,
miss that glance
from your alternate self
you keep on a shelf
when you aren’t with me.
How can it be
that both of us choose
to leave our clues
in cyberspace
not face-to-face?
Alone together
with no tether,
our way
for today
perhaps forever
internetedly clever.

He: it just blows me away how you can come up with something like that, so achingly beautiful, in less than five minutes!
She: Ah. You inspire it.
He: I muse you whilst i amuse you
She: Ha. That is exactly it!
She: What you just said couldn’t have been said more succinctly or more briefly. It is the tweet
of poetry
She: sweet tweet of poetry—sweet bird of absurd

(After this, the conversation digressed.  No more shall be said.)

Update: “He” has written his version, as agreed. I give a link to it below the short additional conversation below

At Midnight after 4 Margaritas:

She: What is the most dreaded disease of hockey players?
He.: i give
She: Chicken Pucks!!!
He: (facepalm emoticon)
She: What is the most dreaded disease of Narcissists?
He.: I give
She: Me-sles.
She: The most dread disease of martyrs? (Promise, last one.)
He: ?
She: You-rinary tract infections

Note: These Skype conversations are from four years ago.The second one actually occurred the same night as the 3 Margarita conversation, so no, I’m not drinking Margaritas every night.  Also, I mix very weak Margaritas, so they are not totally to blame for the silliness above.  Around one or two in the morning, my mind usually gets on a jag and the best way to deal with it is just to hang up on me, which happened soon after this string of unfortunate jokes.  Corny, but I still get a kick out of them.  Yes, they are all original.  I wouldn’t blame them on anyone but my own past-midnight mind.  Judy

.See Forgottenman’s answer to my “You Say You Miss My Snores”  here.

 

The posts above are copied from blogs posted four years ago. The prompt today was conversation.

Thanksgiving Reflections: Waiting to Be Fed

IMG_5805Waiting to be fed.

When I was a kid at summer camp, we used to sing a song in the mess hall as we sat waiting for our food to be served.  It went, “Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness. Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, waiting to be fed.”  It never failed to amuse us.  For seven years as a camper and two as a counselor, I joined in the refrain and sure enough, the food always eventually came through.

Now, at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, 2017, the strains of that line of music keep weaving their way through my thoughts.  By some strange series of misunderstood communications, I actually have two dates for a turkey meal—both at the same restaurant, but with different groups of friends and at different times––one at 3, the other at 6:30.  I could relate the weird facts of how this came to be, but suffice it to say it wasn’t my fault and that yes, I’ve cancelled one of them.  Sort of. At any rate, I’m saving myself for that meal and although I went grocery shopping this morning, mainly for the cats and dogs, I had unusual restraint in not buying any junk food, no matter how healthy it presented itself to be.  The naughtiest items I purchased were whole wheat bread, low fat thin rice cakes and apples. I splurged on Fancy Feast for Annie, who has been staging a hunger strike since I got home, and got 60 packets of kitten food which should last the other cats a few days and I will probably feed them the Fancy Feast as well, after Annie turns her nose up at it.  I, for one, am fasting until tonight’s meal, doing penance before the act.  Tomorrow I start my new diet.

IMG_2825Also waiting to be fed.

In case you missed it, HERE is my Thanksgiving post from a few days ago of images of Thanksgivings present and past.

 

 

Ode to His Rudeness, Monsieur the Raccoon (With Backstory)

Found Art Sculpture and Photo by jdb

The Backstory

                  The magnetically locked cat door was our attempt to block his nightly visits. Once he’d pried off all the magnets and entered anyway, we foiled him for awhile with an uninstalled door propped up like a fort against the opening at the top of the stairwell. The night he knocked down the seven-foot-high door and the sculpture which held it in place, toppling my jewelry display cabinets that stood next to it like dominoes, he frightened himself into a rapid retreat down the stairs, leaving the trail of feces he’d scared out of himself.
                     Having propped the door up with heavier reinforcements, we have been deprived of his company for weeks. Our cat food has gone unmolested. No muddy footprints mar the pedestals. No trails of cat food crisscross the kitchen floor. Imagine my surprise, then, when I awoke this morning and, believing myself to be walking into the kitchen, walked instead into chaos: Red chilies strewn across the counter like dead soldiers, one of them with its head bitten off. My Chinese porcelain teapot shattered in the sink. His muddy handprints all over the tiles and sink corners.
                  I move around the kitchen, finding further devastation: all of the baskets pulled down from their window hooks, my cookbooks spilled like shuffled cards. And, the final indignity: on top of my Cuisine of Colorado Cookbook, the pile of excrement––his revenge for the head of that red chili he ate?
                  In the living room, he has cleared the windowsills of the black Egyptian fish from the Louvre gift shop, of the Ethiopian wooden coffee jar, of the Lombok wooden and coconut shell implements, of the four yarn spool candlesticks. The steel-tipped African arrows and the wooden-tipped bamboo New Guinean arrows are spilled like pick-up-sticks on the floor, except for one rammed point first into the wood surrounding the hearth. This is raccoon terrorism of the worst sort: devastation, feces, and barely veiled threats.
                  In the den, the four-foot-high West African Spirit carving lies toppled over onto its face, feather epaulets now horizontal, horned forehead still blessedly intact. Now I remember finding the Kalimantan dragon lying on the bed in the guest bedroom when, coughing, I’d moved to the guest room half way through the night. I’d blamed the cats for knocking it off the window ledge, thankful for the bed beneath to cushion it. Now I know it was Monsieur bandit, moving out into new territory. Now I know that already he had been here and gone.
                  I move to the computer room, not expecting the devastation I find: the cover spilled off the printer, poetry spilled like leaves over the floor, a basket of family pictures distributed randomly in front of the file cabinet, the aluminum blinds tilted at crazy angles at the windows, the phone knocked off the hook. Then, finally, I hear the front door open––Bob home from his early Friday morning foray to the flea market. Together we examine the evidence, find more feces on the kitchen window frame, far up next to a perfect raccoon handprint on the glass. In the hall, we see the impossible: the door still in place with only a ten-inch opening at the top. The only possibility is that Monsieur raccoon has climbed the vertical batts of the redwood wall of the stairwell up to the door top and jumped over the door to wreak his revenge––to display his superiority over our greatest security measures. Then, when he sought to leave, there being no walls rough enough to climb on this side of the door, he tried each window in the house before climbing the large iron sculpture to the hanging lighting track, walking the track like a tightrope walker across the room to the huge Bobo butterfly mask which now hangs crookedly high up in the hall, then onto the top of the door and down the stairs again, through the cat door now flapping easily, devoid of magnets that formerly kept it closed to all but our own cats with their magnetic collars.
                  Again, Monsieur raccoon, you have bested us. Thus this ode to you––for all the clay flowerpots you’ve sent careening off our porch railings to shatter on the railroad ties below; for all the bushels of cat food you’ve managed to purloin from their storage place in the locked garbage can by wrestling it sideways and reaching one small black hand up to pull the plastic bag out by the hem, spilling cat food by the handful until you’d emptied the whole can; for all the leftover wet cat food you have licked from the cat dish and the kitchen floor; for all of the cat doors we’ve replaced, only to have you find a new way to circumvent them; for all of the handprints we’ve 409’d from our pedestals after one of your midnight art tours; for all of the leavings of yourself you have left for me to clean up, I construct this ode:

To his Rudeness, Monsieur the Raccoon,
Winner of Last Night’s Battle,
This Ode to Mark the Resumption of our Warfare.

Bob has brought the sheet of plywood to measure.
I have marked off the proper size and shape,
sawed it on the band saw.
Now, Bob brings the wire and the hand drill.
We are boarding up l’avenue de chat,
more recently l’avenue de Monsieur Coon.
No more will you dine in our bistro.
No longer will our cat door be your Arche De Triomphe
No longer will our studio gallery be your Louvre.
You, masked traveler, will need to find fresh boulevards to roam
at midnight when our household rests.
We have scrubbed your hand prints from the face of our house,
boarded over your only hopes of entry,
cut you off from your free meal ticket.
Had you have been a polite guest,
we might not have been driven to these extreme measures,
but Frenchmen will be Frenchmen and coons will be coons­­––
neither one of them with the manners to survive in polite company.

And so adieu, Monsieur Coon and bon voyage
into new avenues.
I leave you to the night owls
and the cougars
and the other dark prowlers
that we close our doors against each night.
May you dwell with each other more sociably
than you have lived with us.
May you find a tree hollow for the winter
and sleep peaceably throughout the rains.
May you have the best of coon lives without ever again
darkening our doorstep.
May you defecate in the woods and eat in the woods and sleep in the woods.
May a mantle of trees be your gallery, the bottom of a rotten log your table.
May your hand prints remain on your fingers,
may my flowerpots remain on my railings
and may never the twain meet.
Adieu, Monsieur the Coon. Adieu.

(Note: Less than a week after boarding and wiring up the door, we found the four boards and wire with which we had closed it removed and piled in a neat pile outside the door. The cat door swung freely, but there was no evidence that the raccoon had entered the house.)

for https://dversepoets.com/

Memory Games

 

Memory Games

The only thing that makes my present memory lapses at all bearable is that all of my friends seem to be having the same problems. I lose my keys, find them and before I make it out the door, lose them again.  When I drive into town, I usually forget at least twice where I am going and end up repeating again and again, “Bank to get money. Bank to get money,” or “Pick up Glenda.” The other day, however, I reached a new low.

I was about to Skype a friend to tell him where I was going and why I wouldn’t be home for the rest of the afternoon. I was going to the awards luncheon for a local news magazine. I’ve been reading this publication monthly for 16 years and submitting work to it for nearly this long. Long story short, I am very very well acquainted with its name, but suddenly, I could not for the life of me remember what it was.  I shook my head, trying to shuffle and refile my memory, but nothing popped into mental view until suddenly, the word “ajo” popped up. Ajo what? “Ajo del Agua.” It sounded sort of right but something seemed wrong. Ajo?  Garlic? Agua? Water? Why would a paper be named garlic water? Yet it seemed so right.  Ajo. Ajo. It was driving me crazy.  Oh, wait, I was already crazy.

It was disturbing me greatly and then, suddenly “Ojo del Lago” slipped into the right slot in my brain.  Yes.  “Eye of the Lake” sounded much more appropriate than “Garlic Water.”  Oy Vey.  That phrase is starting to feel ever more appropriate to express the events of my life lately.

El Ojo del Lago is a cool monthly publication also available for free online. Here is the link:

 http://chapala.com/elojo/

If you have a story or poem you think might be appropriate, they are always looking for submissions.

Crunchy, Soft and Piquant

                                          IMG_9321

                                                Crunchy, Soft and Piquant

Potato chips, ketchup and cottage cheese! I imagine this pairing came about by accident one day at a school or church picnic on a too-small plate, and some flavor memory insists there were baked beans and a hamburger on the same plate; but somehow the vital ingredients came to be the salty-crunchy chips, the creamy-soft cheese and the piquant perfection of Hunts Ketchup. (For the uninitiated, the process is to dip the chip in the ketchup and then scoop up the cheese.)

I don’t usually keep potato chips in the house anymore because I can’t be trusted with them, and cottage cheese is so expensive in Mexico that I don’t usually buy it; but when I make a trip to Costco in Guadalajara, invariably I’ll come home with one of their huge containers of cottage cheese and somehow, magically, potato chips appear (If you buy it, they will come) and the house echoes with the strains of some culinary Indian Love Call coming from the heart of my fridge, “When I’m calling you u u u u u u.” And so it is that the unlikely trio are reunited once again, probably late at night when even the dogs are fast asleep and no one is looking.

(This is a rerun of a posting on the same subject two years ago.) And, in case you missed it, potato chips seem to figure predominantly in my postings about guilty pleasures.  Here is a different one. Potato chips are so versatile, aren’t they? : https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/11/09/old-sins/ 

The Prompt: Tell us about a guilty pleasure that you hate to love.https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/hate-to-love/

 

Cast in Potato Salad, Carved in Stone

daily life color083 (2)
Cast in Potato Salad, Carved in Stone

The last thing I ever thought I would do would be to pose for a nude sculpture, but when I married a sculptor, I guess it was inevitable.  Since I never had children, this probably marked the longest period in my life that I ever lay nude being observed by a second party.  I remembered having no reservations about doing so, in spite of the fact that I am really rather modest–that is about revealing myself physically. Words are another matter all together.

My husband first sculpted me in plasticine clay. (No, not the ubiquitous Sculpey, but a very dense artist’s clay used to make the originals for bronze sculpting.) He then made a plaster mold followed by a rubber reverse mold that would enable him to make further plaster molds once he destroyed the plasticine original so he could reuse the plasticine.  After mastering the intricacies of wood carving, bronze casting, welding, clay, sandblasting, paper making and stone carving, he was in a difficult spot.  A tool junkie, he had already purchased or made every tool necessary for working in these media. How could he justify buying any more tools or building another studio addition to add to the seven studios he had already set up?

The answer came when our artist friend Diana moved to town.  Her medium was cast glass and Bob soon became fascinated with the process.  Of course, this necessitated the purchase of dozens of large jars of different colored glass casting pellets as well as books, chemicals and other supplies necessary for the process. Unfortunately, we already owned a large kiln, so he couldn’t justify buying a new pristine kiln to be used only for the melting of glass.  True, some molecules of clay might permeate the glass castings, but he decided at least for his first project, to use our existing kiln.

I can’t remember what his first few castings were, but after a few experiments, he decided that his first large glass project would be–ta da–a glass casting of his recumbent nude wife!

The thing was, this necessitated ordering a good deal more glass, and in the meantime, he had this wonderful rubber mold just sitting there unused!  He tried to busy himself with carving stone and wood, but meanwhile that mold beckoned!  Enter fate in the guise of the next show at the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center, where we were both members.  And the next show was–Edible Art!  In addition to food-centered art themes, there was to be a cookbook of artist’s favorite recipes and the piece de resistance was–an edible category, to be consumed at the reception!!!  Thus it was that I came to be cast in potato salad–first molded in “the” well-washed and disinfected rubber mold  and then fine-sculpted by Bob’s hands.

I must admit I felt some trepidation about first being viewed nude, then being consumed by my fellow artists and friends.  This smacked of the Donner party or some sort of sixties orgy, but how we suffer for our art.  I requested Bob not reveal who his model was and all went well.  Later, the judge told us that he would have won first place for edible art if I had not forgotten and used some of the water I used to boil the eggs to add moisture to the potato salad. I had forgotten that I always put a half cup of salt in the water to seal the eggs in case they cracked during the boiling process and that addition made the potato salad totally inedible.  The judges could do nothing but award his sculpture fourth place prize in place of first, right ahead of a jellybean mosaic in the Byzantine style, but behind my third place for my “Garden of Earthly delights!”

Yes, the glass grains did arrive and yes he cast the sculpture, but what happened during the further fiasco of my chain of nude effigies must be left to another time and post lest this one grow too long for certain (unnamed) friends to read.    Suffice it to say that once cast in potato salad, twice in glass, it seems only appropriate that my grave be marked by my magnificent if inedible body rendered into stone!!!  It will be the sensation of my little town, I can promise you.
daily life color084 (4) Version 2(photos and copy above taken from the Valley Press)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Immortalized in Stone.”Your personal sculptor is carving a person, thing or event from the last year of your life. What’s the statue of and what makes it so significant?

Eating Out

         daily life color109 (1)                                                  Contemplating my next order?

Eating Out

I do not remember the first time I ate out at a restaurant, but I have heard a story over and over about the first time I ordered for myself.   I couldn’t have been over two years old when my folks took me out to a movie and then to Mac’s cafe for a drink and a visit with town folks afterwards.  We lived in a town of seven hundred people in the middle of the South Dakota prairie.  Our sole entertainment, other than church and school ballgames, was the Saturday or Sunday night picture show in the small theater on Main Street.  It was the social event of the week, and visiting with friends afterwards at Mac’s Cafe across the street from the theater was as much a part of the evening as the movie.

Later, in college, one of my best friends was the granddaughter of the man who owned the theater and she revealed to me that it never had made a profit.  He just kept it running to give the folks in the town where his wife had taught school as a young woman something to do.

Probably 200 of the 700 citizens of our town were members of a pentacostal church who didn’t believe in dancing, movies,  or even TV, so at twenty-five cents per ticket, I’m sure if everyone in town had gone to a show one time a week, it still would not have paid the overhead, so we should have figured that out long ago, but we hadn’t thought of it––at least no one in my family ever did.

I had two older sisters, so if I was two when this story happened, one must have been about six and the other would have been thirteen.  They ordered Cokes.  My folks ordered coffee, and when it came to me, I responded in the only way I knew to respond in a restaurant.  “Amgooboo an tabey dabey!” I ordered.

The waitress looked puzzled.  “She said hamburger and potatoes and gravy,” said my father, deadpan.  The waitress looked at my mother.  If that was what I wanted at ten o’clock at night, my mother was all for it.  The waitress left and my family struggled to keep straight faces but it just didn’t work.  They all exploded in laughter, which was fine with me.  I’d been entertaining them for as long as I could remember–and I think perhaps I still am to this day!

The Prompt: Tell about the first time you ever ate out in a restaurant.  https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/13075952/895361496