Tag Archives: essay

Love Letters to Bad Men by Gloria Palazzo

I love this piece written by my friend Gloria Palazzo, pictured above.  She doesn’t have a blog but has given me permission to present it here:

 

Love Letters to Bad Men

I love Bill because he tried his best to be a good father. He worked long hours to bring home money. He taught me how to ride a two wheeler. It was an old green one with fat tires and the boy who owned it got killed in the war. Bill  called me, “Hatface.”  He said I looked good in the ladies hats he made in his factory.

I love my mother’s second husband, Albert, because even though he was not a nice person he took good care of my mother while she was sick with Alzheimer’s.

I love my half brother Ted because he is very kind, He is also very big and even though he is so much younger than me, because of his size and teddy bear gentleness, I can make believe that he is the older brother I always wished I had.

I love my first boyfriend Ronnie Unger because his parents brought him to Rockaway and he used to keep me company while I baby sat. I was twelve and he was thirteen. When the family returned the following summer, he still liked me. I was surprised.

I love Henry Nellon because he used to sit on the railing on the boardwalk and smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes. He was seventeen and looked like James Dean. I was fourteen and taught myself to smoke just so that I could ask him to light my cigarette. I still loved him even after he told me that he loved this red head who I thought was ugly.

I love Jimmy Corrigan because his sister introduced us and he became our high school president. We were so popular that the kids on the bus saved seats for us. His parents did not approve of me and so he stopped coming around. I went to his house on Halloween and they didn’t know it was me behind that silly mask.

I love Robert Hutter because he was the smartest student in his class and he was studying to be a brain surgeon. He bought me a dictionary for my birthday, I once sneaked out of my dormitory to go with him to watch Syracuse and Cornell play football. He slipped out of my life but surfaced in my thoughts every day for eleven years.

I love Jules Schussler because he is the father of my children and because his mother was a great cook. He helped me to escape my home because I did not have the guts to run away. He was a good dancer and taught me to dance the Mambo. He also had an infectious laugh.

I love Steve because he was my first baby. He is very handsome. When he started to walk he looked so cute waddling around with my big old coffee pot. He didn’t like toys. Only the coffee pot. I once heard his brother say he was a chrome magnum. I do not know what that is.

I love Robert because he was a beautiful baby with big blue eyes and curly blond hair. He looked like an angel, but the devil got into him for a while. It was in the form of beer, marijuana and pretty girls. Later he became the best driver that UPS ever had. My grandson Jason calls him dad.

I love John because he was my last baby. He was such a good baby. His dedication to his studies and his devotion to me were a treasure. His affection and loyalty kept me on a sane course when everything around me seemed to be falling apart.

I love Fred Hollis because he taught me how to drive long distances in a big truck carrying heavy machinery. He also taught me how to put a worm on a hook, catch a fish, unhook it, clean it, and then fry it up right there on the beach and savor the solitude of togetherness in nature.

I love Jim Palazzo for all the right reasons. He adored women. He also liked them. I carried acres of sadness and anger when we met and he taught me to love and trust with truth and honesty. Thank you, Jim. And thanks too for the name, PALAZZO.

I love Dell Krietel because he lifted me right out of Walmart’s where I was demonstrating Kodak cameras. We made love the way it is described in steamy novels. That was one hell of an awakening. The affair lasted 3 months, but the residual lingers on.

I love Perry Frankland because he was funny and very rich. We met by chance in Bimini where we enjoyed a three day love affair. It was supposed to end there, but it didn’t and we hop scotched in Tampa society for two years. Fate separated us when he didn’t recover from surgery. His death shattered my dreams but be continues to visit me every time I see a butterfly.

I love Archie because his wagging tail and loving eyes never faltered even though he was often scolded for messes and spills. He pawed his way into our hearts and barked dutifully to protect us.

My last great love leaves a trail of smoking dust and jagged tears as this broken heart tiptoes, ever searching for just one more “bad” man.

 

Love that this piece pretty much becomes Gloria’s autobiography.  I challenge anyone who might be interested to write their own piece of this type—a love letter to bad anything: food, pets, relatives, hats, choices—you name it.  If you do, please post a link in the comments below.

Bought but Never Sold

You’ve probably all seen this very gracious editorial in The Star (Canada) that is a response to the recent visit of some Americans’ president, but just in case, I’m representing it here:

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2018/06/12/dear-america-come-on-up-we-still-like-you.html

It shows that there are still some gracious, generous commentaries left in our charged-up world. And that the whole world doesn’t hate us for losing control of our country, somehow. Some of us are trying to get it back again. Bought but never sold!!!

Planning Meeting at the Senior Citizens Center

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Concerted: contrived or arranged by agreement; planned or devised together. A concerted effort: done or performed together or in cooperation.

Planning Meeting at the Senior Citizens Center

Has anyone else noticed that it is much harder to make a concerted effort after the age of 65?  Plans somehow get skewed, no matter how much harder we try. One person forgets the meeting. Another is ill or merely having an “off day” and can’t get out of the house.  Yet another shows up but has forgotten to do the tasks they have agreed to do. Once at the meeting, one or two people can’t hear. Another is dealing with a phone call that has just come in on her cell phone.  Two others ignore their calls but either can’t figure out how to turn off their phones or actually don’t hear the drone. 

The leader of the meeting keeps forgetting the last word of her sentences,  but luckily her friends are accustomed to this and they take turns filling them in for her. When she switches to a power point demonstration, the pictures seem to have turned themselves upside down and the man switching to each new photo has problems coordinating them with the vocal cues.

Several who can’t see move forward to a seat closer to the screen. A man in the front row falls asleep and everyone is distracted watching him as his head bends lower and lower. His next door neighbor wonders at what point she should put an arm out to catch him lest he pitch forward onto the floor. 

The meeting seems to go on for longer than usual and at five minute intervals, women work their ways from wherever they are situated in the rows of seats, past the stiff legs of those they must pass on their way to the aisle, trying not to stumble over feet whose owners seem unable to shift them far enough out of the way. Their panicked eyes and the speed with which they move reveal that they have waited a bit too long to begin their journey.  This serves as a lesson to several other women who rise and work their way out behind them.  As each in the group returns, at least one other audience member stands to work her way out in the same direction.  Occasionally, a man just leaves for a short stroll out into the garden. Everyone finds this suspicious.

Neighbors ask neighbors to repeat what was just said. Questions are asked that have already been answered minutes before. Men make suggestions that are widely agreed with, to the chagrin of the women who have made the exact same suggestion earlier in the discussion with no response.

There is a disagreement and one of the participants remembers that it is time to go home to feed her dog.  Another person wants to get home before dark. Another has arranged for a taxi that will be there in five minutes.

Meeting adjourned.

If you are looking for a daily prompt, try this one.  It posts daily, is easy to post your answer on and stays active for a month.  The Daily Addictions prompt today isconcerted.”

Generational Redux

As I sit in my art studio surveying the drawers full of the tiny objects I use for my assemblages, I often think of my Grandma Jane. Midwife, mother, knitter, crocheter, tatter, embroiderer, Chinese Checkers player, master at whipping up meals making use of whatever was at hand, in her old age she became a hoarder and was given to confusing liniment with vanilla when baking cakes. Consummate martyr, she was fond of muttering something in Dutch that to those of us other than my dad, who spoke Dutch, sounded exactly like “Mama milk my goat.” It came to be a family retort anytime one of us seemed to be feeling sorry for herself, and it was not until I returned from college, amazed that none of my friends had ever heard the phrase before, that my dad laughingly admitted that what she was actually saying was the equivalent of “Mama might be dead!” in Dutch. It was his little joke on us that he had never corrected our misquoting of the phrase.

Toward the end of her life, my grandma was not an especially pleasant person to be around and although we took her meals to her, had her over for Sunday dinner and holidays and took her shopping and for rides, we spent less and less time with her. At my 50th class reunion, a woman who had been in my class at school who had grown up in a house near my grandma, who came from a family of 13 children, told of how they’d all go over to grandma’s house to watch TV at night, and it was comforting to know she had not been as lonely as she always professed to be. As a little girl, I, too, had loved to visit her as she struggled to make me into the knitter or stitcher I’d never be, but as I grew into my teen years and as she became less of a pleasant companion, we spent less and less time together. She died at the age of 96 when I was 16.

Buried Treasure

She always wore a navy dress of heavy crepe with dozens of small black buttons down the front. Her jewelry, turned dull black by some body chemistry that I share, lay abandoned in her dresser drawer, the food stains spilling down her front, her new adornment.

Trunks in her house were filled with ill-stitched pillowcases, her handiwork rendered less carefully year-by-year as her eyesight failed— her useless glasses repaired at the bridge with thick amber glue she bought by the box to sell but never did.

Every Christmas, her gift to me was one more from her cache of dozens of small plastic lamps powered by batteries— another failed scheme received in the mail that had promised to swell her fortune.

Her china cabinet was crowded to each edge with 96 years of carnival glass, milk glass and heavy Dutch beer mugs, green dishes from soap boxes and cut glass jelly goblets— treasures doled out to us one per visit towards the end, as though she sensed the inescapable. The day of the fire, she didn’t want to leave her things: canning jars full of Cracker Jack prizes and other treasures mined from her pockets after a neighborhood stroll. They carried her, kicking and screaming, from her house and put her in our car. “All right, old girl,” my dad said, and drove her 50 miles to the nearest residence for the elderly.

I remember all of this after a Christmas gathering with friends as I clean food spills
from my Mexican-embroidered blouse: how they bulldozed her house with most of her treasures inside and built a hospital on the land; how it, too, now lies abandoned in the dying town, its cobwebbed rooms giving no testament to that which lies below: trunks filled with yellowing embroidered sheets and pillowcases, shelf upon shelf of Mason jars filled with the collection of her lifetime: buried riches whose containers have acquired a worth far beyond the trinkets they contain.

For RDP#1 Prompt.

Who Knew?

Who Knew?

When new was new, I was crazy about it. A new friend, new dress, new favorite food. But what I liked best was new places. I yearned to travel, even if it was just to the next town. Strangely enough, as tiny as the towns were in my part of South Dakota, people from neighboring towns did not mix. We went rollerskating in Draper, 7 miles away, but when our eyes chanced to stray to Draper boys, we were taken aside by several of the “popular” Draper girls–the cheerleaders, in fact, and told to stay away from their boys. This really happened. We played their school in sports, went rollerskating every Sunday in their school gym, even went to movies in their tiny theater, but we did not mix. When we tried, we’d been warned.

I think I visited Presho, Vivian and Kennebec–all 20 to 40 miles away–no more than once in the 18 years I lived in Murdo, population 700. White River, 38 miles away, we more regularly visited since they had shows on Mondays as well as weekends, and the movies were just ten cents, whereas ours cost twenty-five cents! But, never did we ever socialize with White River girls. The boys, however, were a different matter.

The first boy I ever kissed was from White River, and we went steady for two years. I think I’ve told the story of that first kiss in another blog posting. Suffice it to say that after putting it off until age 16, it was about time. And, it worked. I was literally dizzy and he had to hold me up for a minute afterwards. He had opened my car door, helped me out, then folded me in his arms and kissed me. I was so discombobulated that instead of walking to my own car, I opened the back door of his car and started to get into the back seat. Not for the reasons you might think. My best friend and a boy who (as I recall) later turned to cattle rustling were already in the back seat. I just did so in utter confusion. And no, I had never had a drink in my life at the time.

At any rate, this story has veered off in a direction unintended, so just suffice it to say that after that, life continued to present new after new and I accepted most of them. I traveled widely, loved a few loves, pursued a few careers and wound up in Mexico. Now, at age 70, I suddenly find that new isn’t as necessary to me. The older I get, the more I realize that everything is everywhere. You just have to look for it closely.

No longer is it necessary for me to travel to far-off third world countries. It is exciting to take the same walk on the same beach day after day since the sea presents new treasures each day. I love getting up each morning and writing first thing, having Pepe come each Wednesday to give me a 1 1/2 hour massage after which I plop into the hot tub. I love spending hours at my desk and sometimes hate having to leave home even for activities I have enjoyed in the past.

The point is, that the older I get, the more I want to spend all my time doing what I love most. Writing. Art. The fact that each endeavor creates a new piece is getting to be enough “new.”

 

This is a rewrite of an essay I wrote so long ago that I only had one viewer.  If it was you, you must be one of my first followers! The prompt today is suddenly.

Rings of Saturn: Daily Post, the Final Day of 2017

Rings of Saturn

I had taken off my wedding ring years before. How typical of me that I would finally put it on again after he died. I don’t know why I do these things. Perhaps it was easier to be married to a dead man, or perhaps I felt he had finally atoned for his bad behavior, but suddenly that symbol had more significance than it had come to have in life. That sainthood of departure? I’d seen it happen again and again, but I had never been one to run with the pack and so it surprised me so much when I looked down one day and saw his ring on my finger again that I took it off and it has resided in my jewelry box ever since—that hinged red leather lips-shaped jewelry box that opens in a kiss to reveal a  little slit-compartment for rings. A next-door-neighbor of my childhood  had brought it as a hostess gift when she came to Mexico to visit me during that long year after his death when everyone came out of the woodwork to come visit.

Draw a ring around the old. Ring in the new in multiples. Duplication has become such a science—the craftsman thrown out of the ring. With the new three-dimensional copier, what cannot be duplicated, if plastic is your creation material of choice? A plastic gun—complete down to the bullet in its chamber. A perfect functioning model of anything with moving parts. Can each grain of gunpowder be duplicated? One ringie dingie, two ringie dingies. Floating away on the surface of the lake of forget. Is that giving up? Ringing the final buzzer? Burning the evidence in a ring of fire? Burning bridges? A phone rings and rings in the distance. It has that ring of authenticity, but that does not mean it is real.

Ring of thieves. One by one, the days steal my life away. Time is that one thing no one has control over—even Einstein or Hawking, who perhaps understood it more than anyone. Estee Lauder, Timex, Time Incorporated—all profit by time but none have conquered it. We are all in the ring with it whether we know it or not. Others may suffer the black eyes or sound the buzzer, but we are all really fighting the same fight. The smoothest face still wrinkles and the most beautiful voice cracks with age or disappears. Buzzers finally go silent and the arms holding up the signs go saggy. Ring around the rosie. Ring around the rosie. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

 

This is a rewite of an essay originally written three years ago. The prompt today was finally.

A Roadtrip Through Five States (Cee’s Share Your World Prompt)

Click on any photo to enlarge all:

Today I’ve been a lazy passenger as Forgottenman has driven us from Alabama through Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. In one 45-minute period, we crossed 4 rivers: the Cumberland, the Tennessee, the Ohio and the Mississippi and saw two huge dams––the Kentucky and Barclay—both TVA projects I had studied about in the sixth grade. We have gone from 77 degrees in Huntsville to 53 degrees and rain. We’ve seen 13 dead deer along the interstate and over a dozen stalled cars as well as countless huge tire strips from semis—more than I’ve ever seen in a day of travel before, although Forgottenman thinks that is about par for the course.

The trees of every size, shape and variety as well as every hue of green, gold, yellow, red and brown have been spellbinding in their beauty. I don’t know that I’ve ever taken a ride through an autumn landscape this varied and extensive. Would that skies had been sunny and clear, but nonetheless, it has been a wonderful ride. In a little over an hour, we’ll be home and I can share photos of my day. Until then, I’m gritting my teeth on this rain-slickened two-lane road with no shoulders and fairly heavy traffic. Forgottenman is a good driver and “Mother,” our GPS, has not led us astray so far, although I must admit she has in the past.

Now that it is nearly dark, the traffic has thinned and the puddles on the road deepened. I can hear the water splashing against the undercarriage, as though we are driving through a car wash. Bug splashes on the front window that I’ve been trying to shoot photos around all day have been abolished by heavy rain and windshield wipers, but too late, too late. A stiff neck slowly Improved over the past two days again starts to seize up in the tension over oncoming car lights, unceasing rain and deepening puddles.

I’m glad I’m not driving and glad a good driver is, although I am wishing he was not using the cruise control. We’ve had this discussion before with me maintaining that it should not be used in rainy weather, he insisting this is an old wives tale. Since I am neither a wife nor old (in some eyes, namely mine) I reject once more his statement. But he is driving and so I surrender the argument in his favor, not because he is right but because he is driving.

Forgottenman is anxious to get home so he can look at a map to try to understand why Mother has directed us off Highway 62 onto this hilly, winding tiny two-lane road. More of a technophobe, I never go anywhere without a map along, but he is more trusting of the powers of technology to steer him aright, in spite of a number of experiences in which she hasn’t. In less than an hour, all mysteries will be revealed. In the meantime, I’m going to close my eyes and pretend I’m anywhere other than where I am.

Ha!! Finally home seven hours after we started out from Huntsville. We unloaded the car in a light drizzle, thankful for the fact that it isn’t the heavy rainfall of the past few hours. Cold wet grass made us grateful for a dry carpet and relatively warm house inside, as well as Wifi and electricity so I can post this message. We had a wonderful time with old friends but there is no place like home.

 

Cee’s questions for the week:

Would you rather take a 2 week vacation with an organized tour or take a cruise of your choice? I’d rather take an unorganized tour–going where I wished to.

Did you like swinging as a child? Do you still get excited when you see a swing? I lived across from the playground for my entire growing up years.  I loved swinging and hearing the sounds of the swings across the street when I was at home lying in bed or in the grass.

What is the most important thing that you ever learned ? (I bet it’s not something you learned in school) It is wise not to say everything you think and to think about everything you say.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. See above!! And, there will be more tomorrow.

 

For Cee’s Share Your World prompt.