Monday, June 30, 2008

My Name Is Fiorella. I'm a Write-a-holic

I write silly, I write deep,
I write pricey, I write cheap,
I write highbrow, I write low,
In the house and on the go;
I'm nothing but a writing fool,
Completely irrepressible.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Storage Units

I read with interest that someone is planning a nationwide program to replace nursing homes with old-age settings that are smaller and more individualized. The idea is to move older adults into more positive environments where they can socialize freely and pursue their own interests.

The idea sounds good, but it's built, I think, on sinking sand, that hoary old Hollywood plot of eccentric but still-functioning elderlies (read Mickey Rooney) being committed to nursing homes by their greedy and/or insensitive offspring.

My 94-year-old father has been in a nursing home for about three years. Before that he lived independently in a very nice retirement residence. Then , after brain surgery, he was in assisted living until a bad fall moved him into a nursing home. No one else would take him. At this point, he is half blind and three-quarters deaf, cannot walk, and is incontinent. Increasingly senile, he often doesn't recognize me.

But, you say, surely if I took him into my own home and cared for him personally, he would recover his physical vitality and mental acumen. Sorry, that's not going to happen; I have my own health problems, plus a work schedule that does not give time off for parental health care. And call me squeamish, but I am not going to change my father's diaper. I'll let Julia Roberts do that.

Old age is not just like youth except for the white hair. It is a time of physical and mental deterioration. Many older adults need the nursing home environment. It's where you store the bodies until they die.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I'll tell my story straight--
I'm carrying too much freight;
Maybe I'd lose some weight
If I stopped stepping up to the plate--
Oops--dinner bell--too late!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fiorella's Alter Ego

I see no problem with becoming young, slender, and beautiful. All I need is hormones, a lap band, and plastic surgery. (I've given up on being tall.)
Tweet, tweet, toot, toot--
I'm being published in Goblin Fruit!
But if you look, you won't see me
'Cause I'm not who I seem to be;
Writing this blog is Fiorelle--
Behind the curtain hides Jeanell.
My brain is weird and wonderful,
It's output is quite bountiful,
Some might say fantastical;
And oftimes even I'm amazed--
Which rhymes, I will admit, with "crazed."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hair Trigger

The pick-up roared up close behind them and honked. Burke moved more toward the center of the narrow, two-lane blacktop and tapped his brakes, jerking the Volvo to a momentary stop and slamming Sue against her seat belt.

"You've been doing that a lot lately," Sue said as she reset her belt. "I'm afraid that we'll end up getting rammed some day."

"It's a common courtesy of the road," Burke replied airily. "It's a polite way to let someone know he's tail-gating." He smiled and dropped his speed another five miles.

The pick-up honked again.

Burke slowed down a little more. Nobody was going to tell him what to do.

Suddenly the pick-up veered into the oncoming traffic lane and sped around the big Volvo, then cut in and tapped his own brakes. Burke was able to stop in time, but only just.

"Damn asshole!" He yelled , waving his middle finger at the front windshield.

The driver jerked his truck to a dead stop about five yards ahead and got out, striding back toward Burke and Sue. He was really angry, she realized. This could be bad. The man looked about forty, hale and hearty, while her Burke was sixty-five and had a bad heart.

Burke seemed pole-axed. Then suddenly he came to life, floored the accelerator, swerved around the pick-up, and sped down the road toward the highway intersection. Sue turned her head to see the pick-up driver still standing in the road, waving his fist and shouting.

"That guy has a severe case of road rage," Burke commented, turning sharply onto the highway and sending the speedometer up past seventy. "Maybe I'd better start packin'."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On Visiting My Father in the Nursing Home

Oh please!
Spare me the clips of white-haired elderlies--
Trim, tanned and toothsome--
Whacking tennis balls across a sunlit court.

Old age is a scorpion of multiple stings--
The last one, merciful.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Fruits of Paradise

Having grown up with three Elbertas in the back yard, I know what a real peach is--a heavenly fruit so soft it bruises to the touch, so juicy that that you have to wear a bib to eat it.

Take it from me, an encounter with a peach should be an experience bordering on religious ecstasy. You don't eat it as much as you sink your mouth into its succulent flesh, let the golden pulp gush all over your face, the amber juice dribble down your chin, and the taste fill your soul.

So what then, you say, are those cold, stone-hard things sold by the supermarkets? Granted, they look like peaches and sometimes they even smell like peaches (a parfum Paris should be so fortunate as to duplicate) , but they taste like cuttle-bone. They are unripe fruit, picked before their time, and putting them on the window sill until they rot doesn't do the trick. If Husband and I didn't live within an afternoon's drive of peach-growing country, our offspring would never have known what a real peach tastes like.

I grant that a peach's prime is about the same as a Mayfly's, but surely we can work this out better. Please--let's allow the little fellers to get a touch of color in their cheeks of tan before we load them in the big trucks with the logos on their sides.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Romancing Professionally

Writing a romance novel is harder than you might think. The romantic encounters have to be planned like military campaigns. I've been told that many prolific romance writers burn out from the pressure of having to write the sex scenes. I mean, how much acceptable sexual variation can you devise for 36 books?

I knew my mother's taste in books because I grew up reading everything in the hall bookshelves. She would have enjoyed every throbbing page of my romances, but died of shame if she knew who had written them. But then, we lived in Waco.

Just ran off all 320 pages of my latest magnum opus. There goes another rain forest.

Ding dong, the book is done!
I'd like to say that it was fun,
But I bet that you would smell a rat
'Cuz I'd be lying though my hat--
I wrote and read and wrote again,
I beat my brain and cursed my pen,
I yelled and screamed and threw a fit--
But now that I am done with it,
Yes, of course, I've begun
To write myself another one!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Snippets Too

I will not read anything that does not have at least a semi-happy ending. The rest is life.
Husband just lost ten pounds. I found them.
Husband spent two hours last night grunting and maneuvering to install our new heavy-duty garbage disposal. Ten minutes later he realized he had left out a vital gasket and will have to redo the entire job today. It's funnier on the sit-coms.
Hummingbirds are the chihuahuas of the bird world. We have two families of the little blighters feeding off our sugar water dispenser, and they don't like each other big time. Husband calls them the North and the South. Right now the South is winning. But just wait till Gettysburg.
Yes, I know I misused the word "pithy" in my DNA Tribes rant. I've misused it for years, even though Husband set me straight within historic times. Somehow I had gotten the idea it meant something was meaningless and weak, which it doesn't--it means something is basic, an entirely different concept. Anyway, the word just crept back into my mental lexicon with the incorrect definition as I typed in my blog yesterday, and I didn't realize what I'd done until after I'd posted, when one can't correct. Sorry. Mea culpa.

Postscript: Since then, I've learned I CAN edit posted blogs, and I've been having a great time doing it all morning. But I think I'll leave in my misuse of "pithy" and the above apologia just to educate everyone--and remind myself.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

DNA Tribes Turkey

Monday will be Husband's birthday. I prepared for this a couple of months ago by investing big bucks in a DNA cheek swab through DNA Tribes. What a loser.

How interesting this would be, we thought. Husband had done the same for me for Christmas, and we had been fascinated that my Eastern European heritage was confirmed in spades--I'm a Belaruska kind of gal. Now it was his turn.

In their later years, his parents had exhaustively documented the family heritage in three thick spiral-bound books. His blond, blue-eyed father's background was mostly British Isles, but no royal secrets revealed here: the founder of the American branch of the family, as the story goes, had been a Lancastershire innkeeper who fled England after accidentally whacking one of his guests. Husband's dark-haired, dark-eyed mother's background was more varied and included a Mayflower ancestor as well as a Cherokee maiden (at a suitable generational distance).

Husband and I, being of a new age, were interested in more scientific information. Thus we participated in the National Geographic genome project, and Husband's male ancestral wanderings were traced to Western Europe, specifically the Celtic areas. However, because the Project tests only male lines for males (and female lines for females), and because his mother and sister are both dead, his maternal line could not be traced. Enter DNA Tribes.

I was excited about a month later when I received a message that that Husband's results were being forwarded to me by e-mail that very day. I printed them immediately, planning to present them to Husband in a nice three-ring binder, as he had done mine.

Shock. Laughter. The results showed him as almost completely TURKISH in origin--ON BOTH SIDES! I knew there had been some mistake and thought it was probably our fault. We had misplaced the special inner envelope we were supposed to put the swabs in and just mailed them wrapped in a fold of cardboard that had been included in the kit. Someone had handled the cardboard before us or after us, perhaps in opening the mailing envelope, I theorized. I e-mailed DNA Tribes , explaining the problem along with my theory. I was angling for a free re-test, but expected a notification that since the error was our fault, we'd have to fork over another testing fee.

The reply was immediate but pithy and smelled of the boiler-plate. Basically it said that Husband's results were accurate and that DNA genetics are deep background and thus do not reflect modern allegiances. It also implied that people often have unpleasant surprises in their genetic heritages.

Granted, we all probably have more variation in our genetics than family genealogies admit, but Turkish is scarcely a family scandal. However, 98 percent Turkish on both sides, no matter how many centuries removed, is more hilarious than anything else. And, for us, useless.

Happy birthday, honey. I've ordered you a nice chocolate cake and we're going out to dinner.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Eyesight Aftermath

I discovered that those childhood freckles I thought had faded through the years are still there. Pass me the lemon juice--or is that a remedy long out-of-date?

I also discovered that I had missed a swathe down the outside of my left leg while shaving blind. My only consolation is that no one looks at my legs anymore.

And I discovered that those twenty-year old electric rollers I am still using were nasty filthy. An old toothbrush and 409 remedied that, but now I'm worried that when I plug them in again, I'll either electrocute myself or burn the house down.

"Now, how about the other eye?" my ophthalmologist said. But I don't know if I'm ready for a second set of revelations quite yet.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's In the Y Chromosome

Two boys were sitting unattended on a couch in the doctor's office. They were about eleven, big boys with soprano voices and baby bottom smooth jawlines, but pubescence was hurtling down the pike.

"Do you have a girlfriend?"

"Yes, do you?"

"Two of them."

"I have three of them."

"Three of them?"

"One of them isn't my girlfriend anymore. She cheated on me."

"So you have just two girlfriends?"

"Three, but one cheated on me."

"I have more girlfriends too."

"How many?"

"Four, but one doesn't live here anymore."

"You said you just had two."

"I forgot."

"Yeah." Poke.

"I can beat you up." Poke back.

"No you can't. I beat up another guy once."

"I beat up two guys." Poke.

"I beat up six guys all at once." Poke, poke.

"I beat up my big brother, and he's fourteen." Poke, poke, poke.

"You know what? I've got a yellow belt in karate." Push.

"Well, I know how to wrestle." Push, grab.

"I do too." Shove.

"I know better than you." Mutual shoves.

"Better watch out. I'm tough." Continuous shoving.

"I'm tougher then you are." Throws weight on other boy.

"I'm the toughest." Heaves back.

Rough and tumble begins. Couch creaks.

The woman sitting across from them, the one who's been writing down everything they say, speaks up. "That's enough, guys. Don't damage the furniture."

Both boys look up, their faces startled and innocent. "Huh? We weren't doing anything."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


My computer is running slow today and so am I, so I'll just give you snippets that amuse me. But then, as Husband says, I am easily amused.
It's hard for Daughter and me to communicate. She isn't interested in what I'm doing, and she sure doesn't want to tell me what she is doing.
Husband knows nothing about Britney Spears except that she flashed her shaved crotch and it's on the Internet.
Whatever I think or plan or dream is going to happen in my life, will not. Whatever never even occurs to me, will.
I frequently read claims from people, usually show business types, that they have "old souls." I think that if souls actually do have ages, mine is a mere toddler. Otherwise I wouldn't have done so many dumb things in my life.
Five dog treats went through the washer and drier in the pocket of my housecoat yesterday. It's amazing what good shape they're still in--and a little frightening.
Health news keeps getting better and better. Now chocolate (at least dark chocolate, which I adore) is good for us, as is coffee (which I hate--too bad). The reputation of brisket has also been redeemed. Soon to be announced: the nutritional benefits of fried chicken.

Not that I have a chance anyway. I'm destined for Alzheimer's, diabetes, and stroke: short arms and legs, belly fat, coffee aversion, overlarge babies, sedentary lifestyle. The doctors are after me about the latter, but, hey--sitting on my butt and writing all day is what's going to pay their greens' fees.
Who am I?
I am a future lottery winner.
I look domestic, but am not.
My goal in life is a full-time housekeeper.
I lull myself to sleep at night planning plastic surgeries
I am writing a book (but then, I live in Austin. Who isn't?)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


At the Beach

At dawn I walk the ocean's edge
To find my place along the shore,
The place where I will sit all day
And sculpt my kingdom made of dreams
Until the evening tide returns
And sinks my castle built on sand.


I pull it 'round me like a cloak of null,
This numbing void, this fine despair of mine,
A somber blanket folded thrice to dull
The knife-sharp edges of my dark decline.
I need a nothingness, a time of naught,
A comfort place, an anesthetic buffer,
To suffocate my sense, my every thought,
For if I do not feel, I cannot suffer.
For if I do not try, I cannot fail,
And if I do not care, I'll have no pain,
And if I do not trust, then no betrayal
Can pierce my unprotected heart again.
And if I do not hope, then no defeat
Can mortify me in this sweet retreat.

Monday, June 16, 2008



I'm flying on wings of wax
Right on up to the sun
Watch out, Icarus!
Here comes another one!


I'm drunk on the wine of glory
I'm red-nosed and wobbly and gay
So what if I die tomorrow
At least I have lived for today!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Adventure between the Acts

In the intermission after the first act of Austin's version of Die Fledermaus, I strolled into the lobby to take some medication. I retrieved a shotglass from my purse and filled it from the water fountain, then set it down on a table stacked with Fledermaus T-shirts while I fumbled for my pill box.

"Would you like to buy a T-shirt?" the very earnest-looking young man sitting behind the table asked.

"No, thank you. I just need to take some medicine," I said, breaking the pill in two.

I dropped the half pill before I got it to my mouth. "My pill!" I exclaimed. " I dropped my pill!"

I searched the carpet visually but couldn't see it anywhere. The young man, his eyes wide with alarm, stood up behind the table, ready to rush to my aid. "Are you all right? Will you be okay?"

"Oh yeah, it's just vicodin. I still have the other half." I tossed it down with my shotglass of water.

He looked at me in horror.

Taking mercy on him, I decided to explain: "I take half a vicodin after the first act so my legs won't bother me during the rest of the opera."

He continued to stare at me. I was getting annoyed.

"But if you find the other half, it's all yours! Enjoy!" I winked and double-timed it back to the auditorium.

Bet he had a good story to tell over lattes the next morning.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Mothers in My Neighborhood

The mothers in my neighborhood
Are skilled with stake and twine--
To brace the wilting saplings straight
And tie the erring vine.

The mothers in my neighborhood
Are skilled with shears and string--
To prune the wayward leaning twig
And nip the buds of spring.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Imminent Visit

Her temper smoldering, the nursing aide sat down at the ward desk.

"Honestly, some people have no hearts at all! It's like she's torturing the old lady, always promising to come visit and never showing up! You'd think she'd have a little more consideration of her own mother!"

The charge nurse looked up from her paperwork. "Who are you talking about, Maureen?"

"It's Mrs. Hennessy's daughter. The poor old dear told me she got another phone call from her, that she said she'd be visiting her soon."

The charge nurse nodded. "I heard the phone ring. Wondered what it was. Mrs. Hennessy doesn't get many calls." She put down her pen to consider the matter. "The daughter--Diane Something--used to visit regularly. Up until about three years ago, I think. I don't know what happened. Maybe she moved out of town."

"Well, I would think she'd keep in better touch, with her mother in her nineties." The little aide blinked away tears. "She's not going to last much longer. Next week might be too late."

The nurse pulled a thick three-ring binder from the shelf above the desk and started leafing through it. "Well, let's see if we can do something about it."

The daughter's phone number had been disconnected, but there was a granddaughter listed in California.

"That's probably where the daughter is too, lying on the beach, soaking up the rays!" she aide exclaimed.

The nurse dialed the number.


"I'm calling from Fairbridge Care Facility on behalf of Marjorie Hennessy. May I speak with Diane Harris, please?"

"Diane Harris? Is this some kind of sick joke? Mother died three years ago."

And down the hall, Mrs. Hennessy's phone began to ring again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Breathe Deep

We buy topsoil for the garden,
We buy channels for TV,
We buy water by the carton--
Thank goodness air is free
For now;
But how
Long it will remain ,
I haven't heard them sayin'.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Eight Eterna

As a child, I was remarkably mature. I read Time from cover to cover from the third grade on, the same grade in which I started reading paperbacks (The Sheriff of Painted Post and The Fan Dancer's Horse were my first two). I scored well on achievement tests, made top grades, performed in plays, wrote poetry, and drew pictures. And I was usually the tallest girl in my class.

Not all of my days were happy. I was also an extremely anxious child who, needless to say, didn't fit in well with her peers. But third grade was good. I remember standing on the back steps of North Waco Elementary, in the line going in for something or coming out for something, and deciding that that I liked being eight and wasn't going to get any older.

And in many ways I haven't.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fiorella's Complete Profile

I am young, slender, and beautiful.

My eyes are sky blue, gray when life is cloudy, purple in passion. My golden hair ripples down past my waist--on good days, down to my ankles--and on really tremendous days, it's long enough to fling out the tower window for my lover to climb up.

I was not born, but sprang full-grown from my father's brow. On my left cheek, I have a small birthmark, my only connection to the imperfections of this mortal coil.

I am built much like a Barbie doll. My breasts are ripe melons that totally defy the laws of gravity. My waist is so tiny that you wonder how I breathe. And my shapely legs are not only incredibly long, but come equipped with naturally-pointed toes. No brains, of course, but that's not part of the package.

I am as graceful as a gliding swan, have a voice like angels singing, and walk in beauty like the night.


Monday, June 9, 2008


Heaven was, well, heavenly. Each day was just as wonderful as the day before. The sunrise was always a blushing gold, the sunset, a drama of orange and black. The grass was always green and smelled of eternal spring. George golfed with his spirit guide every day and always won. His wife never whined and his children were always polite, obedient, and happy.

Everything was the same, day after day after day. In fact, after a while, perfection got somewhat boring.

"I really didn't realize heaven would be so much the same all the time," George finally said to his spirit guide.

His guide looked at him in surprise. "What made you think this is heaven?"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sweet Summer Night

The old wheezing window units were all the air conditioning anyone had when I was a kid. Often it was cooler outside, especially on dark summer evenings when there was a light breeze.

Then my father would unfold two vinyl-webbed lawnchairs on the front walk while my mother mixed up a pitcher of iced Lipton's. Lugging their own vinyl-webbed lawnchairs, the neighbors would begin to drift over--the Hickses, the Paules, the Rollins, the Crims, sometimes the Scarboroughs. And their kids would join my brother and me in our nighttime games.

We would run recklessly across the front yards in the mysterious dark, calling taunts back and forth, emboldened by the nearby sound of our parents' voices, the rumble of adult laughter. Bill and me, Elaine, Ellen, David, Dale and Bevely, little Fleming Crim.

Somehow our games were more exotic in the dark--and more desperate. We knew it was way past our bedtimes. We could be called in at any minute, whenever the adults' conversation drowsed down and chairs started being packed away for the night. Every minute counted. We played as if we would never have a chance to play again.

I dream sometimes about those evenings. I am running across the dark lawn, stretching my stride until it becomes longer and longer--three feet, six feet, nine feet, ten. And still I stretch. Finally I realize my feet don't ever have to touch the ground again, that my magical stride can stretch forever.

Forever into the dark, sweet summer night.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. It was Saturday (although I sorta thought it was Sunday), a new day, and I'd gotten seven good hours of sleep last night.

On the way downstairs to feed the dog, I remembered that Husband's silent anger had so permeated me last evening that I couldn't even write. Then, as I went out to get the newspaper, I spotted two pairs of shoes he had left just inside the front door. Another pair of shoes was neatly paired in the entry to the kitchen. One of his moccasins was under his recliner, another in front of it. I seem to remember carrying another pair of his shoes upstairs when I went to bed last night.

Then I noticed that the bathroom door had been left open and, during the night, the dog had strung half the toilet paper roll out into the hall.

The den is a mess, and not just from shoes. My desk is piled high with papers, manuscripts, and notebooks. The coffee table likewise is a depository for my recent--and not so recent--projects and responsibilities. In the kitchen, the dishwasher needs to be emptied and the counters cleaned off. And I'd better finish recovering the big foam cushions which are still sitting on the counter between the kitchen and the den before they turn moldy.

Then I started reading the paper. More news on Hillary's demise, and you know how I feel about that. The economy is going from bad to worse, which any idiot except the one in the White House could have predicted would happen when billions were poured into a bottomless abyss. Jobs are down, joblessness is up, caretakers drop babies on the floor, respected civic activists abuse children, kosher meatpacking companies behave in un-kosher ways. And I don't think anyone is reading my clever, wonderful blog

I decided to write about how depressed I was, how everything is going to hell in a handbasket. I thought about how I felt, what I would say. And the cold within me began to warm up.

Yes, I can write again! And if I focus on just my own private today, all is not lost--after all, I'm just 80 pages away from finishing the first draft of my latest romance novel, I have two others in the hopper, and I'm going to be attending the RWA conference in San Francisco, where I hope to pick up an agent or publisher. Not only that, but I haven't checked my lottery ticket yet.
Hope springs eternal.

My heart is like a little boat
That sails upon the sea,
Rocked by waves and ocean float,
Swamped by adversity--
But still the staunchest little boat
That ever sailed the sea.

Happy sailing!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Plumville in Mourning

There is no joy in Plumville. Mighty Hillary has struck out.

The pundits are currently punditizing mightily on how she, the initial frontrunner, lost, but I don't think they need to go any further than the word she. Too many people disliked her because she was an assertive, competent, ambitious woman. She was a lawyer, the first Arkansas governor's wife to work full-time while her husband was in office. She headed the ill-fated national health insurance program--partially ill-fated because many people didn't like the First Lady of the land participating overtly in government affairs.

Americans have traditionally preferred their First Ladies to be just that, ladies, and very little else. Think of how reviled the activist Eleanor Roosevelt was in her time. The invisible Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower were much more the norm--and the public preference. The charming Jackie Kennedy was revered to the point of obsession, of course, but she wasn't a lawyer and she didn't try to get anything done but redecorate the White House. Lady Bird Johnson was charming too, and was instrumental in cleaning up America's highway scenery, but she wasn't the point man for national health care. Pat Nixon was a throwback to Bess and Mamie.

Betty Ford was more controversial, but the things that made her so--speaking out about breast cancer when the very word was considered obscene (breast, not cancer), her face-lift, her addiction, were personal, not governmental. Rosilyn Carter was probably more of a co-President than a First Lady, but again, behind the scenes. Nancy Reagan knew all about scenes, and played hers well, always portraying the (well-dressed) adoring audience to her Ronnie. Barbara Bush was more energetic and engaged us with her candor, but still, no governmental activism. And Laura Bush seems to be a very private person, perhaps a direct descendant of Pat Nixon.

Cindy McCain, director of a multi-million dollar beer distributorship, and Michelle Obama, a highly-paid attorney, owe a lot to Hillary. She paved the way for high-profile First Ladies--and she paid the price.

Now she has to make nice to an effete upstart. Our Hillary. My Hillary. The world is grayer today. As long as she was in the race, I was. Now I'm not.

I've been weeping on and off all day and wondering--did I jinx her somehow. Cookies I like disappear from the shelves, department stores I rely on close down, the only space shuttle take-off I ever watched went up in fames.

Oh damn, my pen's out of ink.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Poem in Black and White

I won first place in my hometown's high school Poetry Day contest because my poem was the only one that met the contest's length restrictions: no more than four lines. I'd like to think they were four good lines, but I don't remember the poem.

I do remember that another girl from my high school won second and a boy from the colored high school won third. Yes, this was back in the days of segregated schools. Thus it was a very progressive of the contest sponsors to invite Moore High students to participate.

The three of us met at the local television station, where we were to be interviewed by whatever noonday hostess was on duty. We talked together beforehand, all a little ill at ease with each other, but acting as though we weren't. The boy was very polite, holding the door for us girls, which we politely thanked him for. I don't think any of us would have been that punctilious on our own home ground, but we all knew we were representing our schools--and our races.

After a few minutes we relaxed and were just three teen-agers, laughing and exchanging stories about our schools. Then the contest sponsor joined us for a few minutes before we went onto the set. She complimented me and the other girl, then turned to the black boy. "Your people have such good rhythm!" she said.

The world turned upside down. No longer were we three teenagers, but two whites and a black.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rainday Lament

Somehow I've managed to disperse
Umbrellas across the universe,
But golly gee, it could be worse--
At least I've never lost a purse.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Let Us Pray

A friend of mine told me she recently sat in on a class on how to pray. The leader said that often people hesitate to pray because they don't know how to pray except as a group in church.

The leader listed appropriate topics and suggested each person try to pray once a week.

Once a week! I pray all the time--desperately!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Nursing Home Diary

My father, of course, is closer to his caretakers than he is to me. They are the ones who are with him every day. They are the ones who feed him, bathe him, change him, the ones who hold him close to their bosoms as they transfer him from bed to wheelchair, from wheelchair to bed. I am the one who visits twice a week and asks him to remember what he can't remember, that he had a wife, that he has children and grandchildren.

I sop up his drool and try to understand his gurgles, and I continue to visit him because I love him and it is the right thing to do, whether he knows me or not. And I also visit him from guilt, because I was the one who signed off on his life-saving surgery five years ago.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hillary and Obama

Hillary is bright, articulate, and committed, a real person, good bad and ugly. We know far more about her than we would ever want anyone to know about ourselves. She knows the ins and outs of DC politics, how to get things done. And we know what she wants to get done. The Clintons have long espoused forward-looking initiatives, such as universal health care. And they have also backed old-fashioned virtues, such as fiscal responsibility. Like Shakespeare's realistic love, Hillary "treads on the ground."

Obama we know virtually nothing about except what he has decided to tell us. But he does have charisma and that Opie grin. He is a phenomenon. Situations that would sink other politicians, like his decades-long friendship with a race-baiting preacher, slide right off him. Shakespeare said he "never saw a goddess go," but Obama is so unbelievably perfect that, like--was it Campion's love?-- his feet never touch the ground.

However, his organization is less elevated. In fact, they're like a column of army ants. Hillary won the Texas vote, but Obama won the precinct conventions, and I saw it happen. The precinct conventions, held right after the voting, are usually poorly-attended, but not this time. Obama supporters turned out in droves--because they had been told, often by activist pastors, that this was what they needed to do to support their candidate. Someone had done his homework and figured out what Obama could glean Hillary's Texas victory .

Meanwhile Hillary's organization has yet to send me that "free bumper sticker" she promised a month ago--and I'd like a second one for Husband, who has become disillusioned with Obama.

Bumper sticker notwithstanding, I'm still supporting Hillary. Keep up the good fight, babe--you're worth it!