Tag Archives: friends

Unvarnished Truth

The prompt today was “varnish” and whenever I hear that word, I think of a certain lady in my far past. Here is a story from an early blog that will tell you why.

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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 wringer 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.

 

The prompt today is varnish.

Who Walks into Your Life

 

Some force that is called Karma by some, fate, coincidence or synchronicity by others, and God, Allah or The Great Spirit by others, determines who walks into your life. But it’s up to you to decide whom you let walk away, whom you let stay, or whom you refuse to let go.

 

IMG_1266The prompt today was  coincidence.

To Gather Together

img_5823Over the river

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and through the woods. to our good friends’ house we go.

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When we stopped for lunch, if we hadn’t known it before, we would have known by the menu that we were in the south!

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And when we passed the rockets, we knew we were in Huntsville! 

It is most appropriate that the prompt word today was “Together,” for yesterday, Forgottenman and I drove from Missouri to Huntsville, Alabama, to be with two of our favorite people–our friends Tony and Allenda who lived right next door to me in Mexico for eight years before they moved back to the states. We had a wonderful time during those eight years, talking daily, meeting a few times weekly for Allenda’s incredible cooking or games of Mexican Train.

Tony and I wrote a book together and Allenda and I were in two different art groups together.  With our friends Audrey and Linda, (Forgottenman and Ron when they visited,) we formed a tight “posse” that gathered at the drop of a hat or an invitation.  And when we gathered, the one given was lots of laughter. Side-splitting, aching laughter that feels so good and that seems now to be the most necessary ingredient in friendship–coming right after trust and  loyalty, which was certainly there as well.

Unfortunately, they all left Mexico on the same year, and I’ve been missing them ever since.  Luckily, Audrey eventually came back, but two isn’t a posse, and we miss the rest of them.  Always will.  Hopefully just once more before all of our leaves fall from the tree, we’ll  be together en masse at my house, as it should be!  In the meantime, I’ll wander over the border now and then to come check up on them.  This time, it was Tony and Allenda and Forgottenman I’ve herded together.  Not the entire flock, but what lovely wooly creatures they are!


To Gather Together

To gather together, I flew on a plane
for seventeen hours, then flew once again
for another nine hours, then got in a car
and drove for five hours and now here we are!

Gathered together with three old time friends.
Now we’ll be together until our time ends.
Allenda’s lasagna and laughter with Tony
and all of Forgottenman’s verbal baloney.

I have been missing this madness for years.
All of their banter falls on my ears
like light verbal rain that gives birth to attention.
I soak in the comfort of each thing they mention.

There’s no time like idle time spent with a buddy.
We may not be sprightly, our memories muddy.
We tried to share book titles that we forgot,
Yet Google remembers all we have not.

Movies and TV and sports scores and then
we start to remember all over again
past times with invites thrown like a ball
with no prior warning, over  the wall

that was all that divided us three years ago
when life was easier–free-flowing, slow.
“Let’s get together for a meal or a game.”
No prior planning, no traffic to tame.

The folks in our posse would gather like sheep.
The talk wasn’t serious, organized, deep.
Light chatter and silliness, cleverness, joking.
Side-splitting laughter ’til we were all choking.

Linda and Audrey, Tony and Allenda.
Forgottenman (when we were on his agenda)
and me like a housemother, guiding them all
so they didn’t wander, stumble or fall.

A sterling example when I wasn’t stumbling
or tripping or falling, forgetting or mumbling!
For the value of good friends you’ve formerly had
is that they remember the good, not the bad:

the train games that lasted far into the night,
driven in by the moths drawn in by the light.
Hot tubs at midnight, margaritas or rum,
counting up tiles until  minds were numb.

Ridiculous movies of Allenda’s choosing,
raunchy and scandalous, but most amusing.
Collaborations over writing or art.
When we weren’t silly, damn, we were smart!

All of these pastimes special and shared—
All of the truths of our hearts that we bared
didn’t all end when you all went away,
for all of the memories have chosen to stay.

Now I’m handing them back to you, right here and now
and hoping you’ll all make a pledge, take a vow
that next year you’ll  make the journey to me
so all of the “us’s” can once more be “we.”

 

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We knew we were in the right place when Allenda served up her famous lasagne,

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when Tony fell alseep in his chair before the night was over,

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and when we found the flowers and chocolates our gracious hostess had left on our bed table.

Good night.  All’s well in this world. We are together.

Appropriately, the prompt today is “Together.”

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving Leftovers

IMG_8727Leftovers. (Except for the dessert we hadn’t dipped into yet in the background.)

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I’ll make these turkey and dressing  leftovers into a casserole to freeze and take to my writers’ retreat at the beach next week.

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IMG_8755 IMG_8759Thanksgiving Leftovers

Much as I loved your thankful wishes,
I wish that you had done the dishes!

Actually, I’m kidding.  Many asked to help and I said no, I’d listen to a book and attend to what I needed and Yolanda would wash the dishes the next day.  Darn.  I wish I’d remembered to save more dessert for her.  I kept telling people to take it because I didn’t want to eat it myself!  I did get her a bit of pumpkin and pecan pies and whipped cream.  Should have saved her a “little of everything.” 

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Party in full swing. Too busy to get many pictures.

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Party winding down.  Everyone had fun by the looks of it and brought wonderful food, as you saw in my last post. The party started at 2 and by 7:30, it was just I and three very happy dogs–let out of captivity.

Show me how you spent the day!!!!

Happy Things: Sunday Stills

Happy Things

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Working in my art studio makes me happy, although I haven’t done so for almost a year.  I wonder why?  Too caught up in blogging, I fear.  I need to consider that question in the upcoming months.
IMG_5344 copyWhat I make in my studio.  “Juguetes.”
DSC05397Trees make me happy.  Especially palm trees that provide shade but don’t block the view!!!  And create a beautiful view all their own.

DSCN2469I love entertaining friends and family at my house.DSC05291 (Including those who won’t let me take their pictures as well as those who do.)

IMG_3969 (1)Friends who are there to greet me every time I come home.
DSC08846And their friends, as well.
IMG_3606And, of course, blogging makes me very happy, so if you are reading this right now, you are one of the things that makes me happy, too!

The Prompt: What Makes You Happy? *

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Celebrate Good Times.” You receive some wonderful, improbable, hoped-for good news.  How do you celebrate?DSC00212208171_1653270418343_3518364_n
Idyllic Schemata

If I won the lottery–just scads and scads of money,
I’d take my friends off to some isle beautiful and sunny.
I’d hire a house with many rooms where everyone could sleep.
I’d hire a housekeeper and cook, a chauffeur and a Jeep!
We’d swim and snorkel every day, take walks and collect things:
shells, driftwood and starfish–whatever the sea brings.
At night we’d drink and eat and sing, play dice or Mexican Train.
Next morning we would sleep in late and do it all again.

We’d rent a boat and captain and sail away to sea
to examine the horizon–to have fun and merely “be.”
When we’d stop at island markets, I’d give everybody money
to shop for anything they want–beautiful or funny,
delicious or fantastic, things to wear or play or see
and then I would give prizes for what most pleases me.
What I would buy are paint and tools, wood and nails and glue–
all the things needed to do what we could do

to transform all our treasures into jewelry or art.
Each person choosing just one thing closest to their heart
and letting it draw other things with which to tell a tale,
then joining them together with glue or cord or nail.
Then I’d mount an exhibition and ask everyone around.
Food and drink and music and good humor would abound.
Everyone could tell us what they make of all our art,
Which pieces touch their funnybone, which pieces touch their heart.

And we’d give the pieces all away to those who love them most.
We’d dine and raise our glasses in a final toast:
Here’s to all good friends that are and friends who are meant to be.
Here’s to the sand and sunshine, moonlight and the sea.
Here’s to all the luck we share in being here today,
to the freedom that we all possess to simply sail away.
And then I’d build a house somewhere and all could live there free–
each doing what we want and being who we want to be.

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DSC09714Found Art Nude

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Fealty

Fealty

When I’m having a fine day
and good fortune comes my way:
that hundredth view, retablo sales,
party talk of special tales,
lottery winnings, publications,
plans for future great vacations,
cute things that my dogs may do,
films especially fun to view,
pounds lost, friends gained, birds I see,
a new fantastic recipe,
or, if perchance I’m feeling yucky,
first person whom I call is Duckie!
And though I know he won’t agree
in granting this last wish to me,
because of all the joy he gives me,
I sure do hope that he outlives me!

The Prompt: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious–You get some incredibly, amazingly, wonderfully fantastic news. What’s the first thing you do?
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/supercalifragilisticexpialidocious/

(Who is Duckie? He often comments here as okcforgottenman. I wrote another poem about him here and talk about him here.)