Thursday, July 31, 2008

Once Upon A Time (2)

“Jack Boback.” He clasped her hand briefly. It was warm and soft.

She looked around the darkening yard. Silver balloons bobbed in the light breeze, cicadas sang in the trees, and a large, shaggy dog wandered aimlessly to and fro, snuffling for food scraps in the grass around the barbecue pit.

“But where is everybody? I thought this was going to be a backyard deal.”

“The kids are in the house finishing up with ice cream and cake. We can go wait over on the patio until the show is over, if you’d like.”

Cindy checked her watch. “The girls are supposed to be home by 9:00, but I guess a few more minutes won’t hurt.” She began walking toward the cement slab. “It’s their first boy-girl party too, and their parents were really upset about having to be out of town. I think they were torn between photographing the whole thing and forbidding the girls to go.” She smiled. “So they called me.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m a police photographer.”

Jack laughed. “That sounds exciting. I’m afraid being just an elementary school principal doesn’t measure up.”

“I’m not so sure. I bet you have your days. You certainly gave me a thrill when I came through the hedge!”


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Once Upon A Time

Guest writer Minnie Chavez will entertain you in Fiorella's absence for the next two weeks:

Someone was trying to slip through the hedgerow again.

Jack strode over to the dense wall of ligustrum just as a bedraggled female figure in cut-offs, an orange tank top, and barely-there sparkly flip flops emerged into his brother’s backyard. Lifting his chin and crossing his arms like a sumo wrestler, he fixed her with a reproving stare.

“Miss, this is a private event.”

“Do I look like gate-crashing teen-ager, you officious idiot?” the woman sputtered, brushing twigs and leaves off her shirt. “I’m here to collect my nieces from the birthday party!”

Jack laughed. He’d been called a lost worse. Even in the dim evening light, he could see that the trespasser indeed was no teen-ager. In fact, she looked more his own age. He relaxed his stance and stepped back a pace.

“Sorry about that.” He gestured toward the hedge. “I was assigned to patrol the perimeter and it’s been a long evening. This is my nephew’s first girl-boy party and my brother recruited me to act as security.”

The woman smiled and nodded. “That’s okay. I guess I sort of overreacted,” she admitted, combing her fingers though her hair for debris, then retying her pony tail. “I’m Cindy Glover, the twins’ aunt.” She offered her hand. “Getting through that hedge was harder than it looks. I mean, the girls do it all the time, but they’re just fourteen and they’d disappear if they turned sideways.”

The tank top showed off her mature curves to good advantage, Jack noted. There was no way Cindy Glover would disappear if she turned sideways.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bon Voyage to Us!

Wish me luck! Husband and I are heading off to San Francisco today. Here are the current states of my three pitches:

PLEASURE: Ann McCoy knows everything about sex and nothing about pleasure. Neil Graham knows everything about pleasure and nothing about love. Ann and Neil are set on a collision course by Neil’s eight-year-old son, Aidan, who needs them both. Meanwhile their relationship must overcome Neil’s vengeful ex-wife and Ann’s guilt about having been raped years before.

TRAIL OF BLOOD: Tally Skiba wants to bring her friend’s murderer to justice so she hires sexy ex-cop Stephen O’Malley to help her. They are attracted to each other, but their relationship runs into problems because he suspects Tally is the murderer, while she insists the culprit is a local serial killer. Besides, Stephen is HIV-positive while Tally is a vampire—and so was her friend.

JUST FOR THE NIGHT: Years ago, preacher's daughter Lauren Harlow turned down bad boy Jase Redlander, but now she wants to turn him on, if only for one night. Jase, who has come up in the world, has always loved Lauren, the princess of Bosque Bend, and wants to make their relationship more permanent. But will he still want her when he learns she is is no longer the town princess--and why? And can Lauren make her own peace with the town that rejected her?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Devotional Hymn

I set this to music, but the Internet can't handle notation yet, as far as I know. FP

Here is my voice--

Use it as you will,

To laud, lament, rejoice;

My voice is yours until--

I can sing no more.

Here are my hands--

Use them as you will,

To comfort, help, and heal;

My hands are yours until--

I can do no more.

Here is my life--

Use it as you will,

To love, inspire, and teach;

My life is yours until--

I can live no more.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Fiorella has left a trail of peach pits all over town. Yes, she has finally scored fresh, gooshy peaches! Bags and bags of them!

Husband craved peaches almost as much as Fio did and neither of them wanted to drive all the way to Fredericksburg so Fio got on the web and charted out the Austin farmers' markets. Surprisingly, there are about five of them, one of them where the old farmers' market used to stand on Burnet Road.

With her heart in her mouth--literally--Fio approached the tables of the lone displaying farmer, actually a farmerette from Mexia. Her family farm apparently produces an abundance of crops, all set out in an attractive display, but especially it produces PEACHES.

After sampling a slice, Husband and Fio bought a $4 bag, which had about fourteen small peaches in it and--get this--they were all ripe and all good! Thrilled, the next day Fiorella returned and bought $12 worth, sixteen peaches of which which she distributed to Hairdresser and Daughter's BF, and the rest she brought home for Husband and herself--well, except for the multitudes she ate in the car driving to and from all these places.

Fiorella is replete. Her summer is complete. And, from all the peach pits she tossed out the window as she scarfed down peach after peach (they ARE biodegradable!), Austin's roadsides with be swathed in peach blossoms for springtimes to come.

P.S. Apparently Fio's back yard will also be swathed in peach blossoms-- Wendy Dog snagged four peaches left on the kitchen counter.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fiorella Makes a Promise

Fiorella is funny, Fiorella is deep--
She'll make you laugh, she'll make you weep,
She'll make you happy, she'll make you sad,
Somtimes she'll make you hopping mad.

Fiorella is up, Fiorella is down,
Fiorella is travelin' all over town.
Whatever she is, she's never quiet--
If you haven't read Fiorella, try it,
For one thing I can guarantee--
Fiorella never will boring be!

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Laptop, My Life

As I sit here with my computer in my lap, I am glad I am no longer of child-bearing age; I'm convinced that the slight heat I feel radiating from the machine is changing my genes even as I write. If I had a baby now, the umbilical cord would be connected to the printer.

I remember when photocopy machines came out. Within a year I had photocopied half the world, all with my groin pressed against the front of the machine, which made me realize that photocopiers were the instruments of a government plot: they were making copies all right--of our genetic codes so we could all be identified for future nefarious purposes.

I am currently so dependent on my laptop that I can't start the day without it. I check my e-mail several times a day, and I write down ideas for Fiorella whenever they strike me (like for more than an hour so far this morning). When I am writing a novel, I live with this thing on my lap from about eight in the morning to about ten at night, with only periodic breaks for food, bathroom, and Husband, who looks lonely, but respects my obsession.

I now understand about burial goods found in ancient tombs, and you know what will accompany me into the Beyond.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Little People, Big Income

When I first started watching Little People, Big World, I was enthralled by the Roloffs.

Matt, the father, was a real go-getter. Amy, his wife, was no slouch, working two jobs and mothering four children: twins Jeremy and Zachary, daughter Molly, and young Jacob. The hook was that Matt, Amy, and Zach are dwarves, while Jeremy, Molly, and Jacob are not.

I appreciated the fact that their house was messy, that the kids, especially teenagers Jeremy and Zachary, were often uncooperative, that Zach failed his driver's license test a zillion times, that Jeremy was almost impossible to get up for school. I thought it was very realistic that Matt and Amy did not always see eye to eye (Amy was worried about finances while Matt was more grandiose), and that Matt's father, who lived down the road, often got irritated with his son.

Topping it all off was the wonderful setting. The Roloff's 34 acre Oregon farm was shown off to its best advantage in time-lapse photography, and I especially liked the warm, charming, yellow farmhouse. And there were the surprises--like the full-size pirate ship and castle and western town that Matt had built for his children.

I was fascinated by the Little People of America conventions, excited by Zach's soccer team beating the top dog L.A. Breakers, educated by the family's dealing with various physical problems associated with dwarfism.

Of course, after a couple of seasons, the well began to run dry and the family started doing the television inevitable--taking trips with not-so-discreet product placements. Then there were Matt's high-dollar purchases at the drop of a hat. When things got dull, he got a DUI ticket and was hauled into court. And we saw Roloff Farm become a financial success as a pumpkin farm and tourist attraction. Last season Matt's half-finished remodel of the no-longer-yellow farmhouse into what looks like the Taj Mahal was left hanging when he ran out of funds.

Will Matt come up with the cash to finish the job next fall? Of course, he will. After all, he has a successful reality show. He doesn't have to sell computer systems any more, and Amy doesn't have to work outside the home.

But to me the show has lost some of its charm. There is so much money being thrown around-- and Matt is becoming more and more megalomaniacal. I was appalled when he spouted off about the plural form of "dwarf," which is "dwarves." His contention was that, as a dwarf, he should be able to decide what the plural is, and he preferred "dwarfs." But the word "dwarf" existed before the LPA decided it would be the preferred term, and the plural has always been "dwarves," as with "whorf/whorves," "leaf/leaves," "hoof/hooves," etc. One can't change the language just to suit Mr. Roloff.

The show may have run its course. The twins will graduate from high school this year and Zach, at least, will be off to college. Molly is reaching a very interesting stage, though, and maybe Jacob, who has been monumentally ignored throughout the series, will come into his own.

I admire what Matt and Amy have been able to accomplish with their family and their farm, and I tell myself that if they, with their various handicaps, can do all this, maybe I can reach my own goals. But can I do it without a reality series? Hmmmm . . . .

All in all, I still like the show, but I used to like it better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Short and Squat Wins the Day

I am short and squat.

I seem to spend most of my life standing on tiptoe. We have five stepstools scattered throughout the house, plus a neat little toe-kick dealie in the kitchen I devised to give me an extra three inches so I can reach the second shelf of our cabinets without throwing out my back. And there's an actual ladder we store between the wall and refrigerator which I regularly resort to.

It wasn't always this way. As I always say, I was born five feet, four--which made things a little uncomfortable for my mother. I got my growth early and was usually the female steeple on the top row of my elementary class pictures. But it was lonely up there in the stratosphere.

Then, just when the other girls started growing taller and, more important, the boys started shooting up, I stopped growing. By high school, I was on the front row of the school pictures, often toward the end of the line. As an adult, when height is so important, I am, to put it bluntly, short. Five-four used to be average height for a woman, but the number has gone up through the years, just as I've gone down. Yes, I'm only about five-two now. And all my length is in my body; my arms and legs are short, and the weight accumulates in my belly, betraying my ancestry--I'm built for winter famines in northeastern Europe.

I console myself with the knowledge that if a new Ice Age sweeps the country, I'm more likely to survive than those tall, long-limbed, bikini-clad models whose hands and feet are half a mile away from their bodies.

But, to tell the truth, I'd rather be the tallest girl in the class again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sorry, Darling

Fiorella is different but she strives
To be the same--
She studies other people and tries
To look like them,
To act like them,
But just when she thinks
She has the charade down pat,
The quintessential Fiorella bursts through,
Embarrassing her daughter.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Makeover Reveal

Once upon a time there was a slender young woman, a good woman, who was married to the man of her dreams. Her best friend was fat and unmarried.

"If you lost some weight, your true nature would be revealed and you would be able to attract a husband as wonderful as mine," the slender young woman said. "I will help you."

So, with the encouragement of her friend, the fat woman dieted away one hundred pounds to become a devastating beauty. She was so devastating, in fact, that she was able to seduce her friend's husband, who left his wife for her.

"How could you do this to me?" the slender young woman complained to her formerly fat friend. "I have always been a good friend to you, and I was the one who helped you diet to reveal your true nature."

"Yes," the woman replied, "but my true nature is evil."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Geriatric Snippets

I hate being an old cow--bad eyes, bad feet, a bobbling head, and a ton of pills to take every day. Moooooo!
I remember the first time I realized my parents were old. They had driven up to visit relatives in Ohio, where my mother had to be hospitalized for the liver cancer that eventually killed her. Brother and Older Son drove their car back to Texas while Mom and Dad flew home. When their plane disembarked, two old people with what looked like baggage tags hung around their necks tottered toward me. In shock, I realized they were my parents.
Daughter checks me over for obvious signs of aging every time we meet. She wants to be sure I keep my hair from going gray, that my make-up is up-to-date, that I'm not doing anything or wearing anything that reminds her of Grandma. Daughter is in constant rebellion against me, but I am her mother, the cornerstone of her universe, and she doesn't want her universe to go off-kilter.
I think when someone makes his offspring promise never to put him a nursing home, he is really making them promise he will never get old, incontinent, or senile.
The first thing I do each time I enter Dad's room is check to see that he's still breathing. He doesn't see, doesn't hear, doesn't know who I am. But still I visit twice a week. Once the daughter, now the mother.
Every time I visit my father, I think "This is my future." Somehow it seems a better way could be found to leave this world than old age and death.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Sonnet Sonnet

A sonnet is the clever use of rhyme
In patterns such as Petrarch might employ
Or Shakespeare's playful whimsy intertwine
For centuries of lovers to enjoy.
A sonnet is an unrelenting beat,
The blood's intrinsic pulse of weak and strong,
That runs full-tilt for five iambic feet
In three times four, plus two, a discipline of song.
A sonnet is a message of the heart,
Of Wordsworth's wonder, Milton's heavy hand,
Of Keats' classic skill, of Shelley's art,
Of Browning's love songs from a foreign land.
While others seek the chessboard of a day,
The sonnet is my choice of game to play.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gnawing at Zion

Back to the Mormon fundamentalists, the ones at Yearning for Zion. I just can't help gnawing at that bone.

It isn't just the women who are abused. Everyone is, except the man at the top, the "Prophet," the guy who supposedly receives direct word from God on everything from marriages to underwear to work assignments. It's very feudal. Even a man who's squirmed his way politically up near the top, can have his whole life rearranged in a second--his income confiscated, his wives and children reallocated to other men, his eternity damned to hell.

And people go along with it-- because they think it's right and correct and true, that banning the color red (because red is God's color, according to Warren Jeffs) is pious, that killing all the pets is God's will, that throwing 400 boys out of the only life they've ever known will get everyone else into heaven.

How do these people support themselves, you ask. Where do these people get their money? From us. They specialize in "bleeding the beast," as we are called. They get Social Security payments for women they designate as "single mothers"-- women who are actually bigamous, tri-gamous, hundred-gamous wives--and their many, many children. And they buy businesses with this money and sell services to us--with their children and workhorse wives doing the grunt work.

And, at the same time, they consider us as the enemy, the damned, not just because we have tried to disrupt their lives, but because we are different. How odd--they do not accord us the same tolerance that we seem hellbent to extend to them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fiorella's Birthday

Fiorella's friend Paula paid for Fio's lunch at Dan's last Thursday, explaining to Earl, the manager, that we were celebrating Fiorella's birthday. Halfway through our hamburgers, Earl got on the microphone and invited everyone in the place to sing "Happy Birthday" to Fio. The room resounded with song and Fiorella was thrilled.

Tuesday, Fio's actual birthday, she wasn't feeling as thrilled. Feeling Time's winged chariot hovering near, Fiorella was a little down, but she reread the card from Cousin, and then there was the phone call from Daughter, and from Ellen, and from Elaine, and from Younger Son and from Daughter again. Then Husband came home with the chocolate cake from Upper Crust and the ice cream from HEB and Fiorella pigged out as only a birthday girl can. Then Brother called, and Daughter again (who is setting up a joint celebration with her own upcoming birthday), and finally, after a little nudging, Older Son called, and, just when Fiorella's day was almost perfect, Paula called with a final birthday greeting.

Fiorella slept well Tuesday night. She hopes everyone got the message: the only thing Fio needs to make her happy is all the attention in the world.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Undercover Incredibles

Friday night Husband and I watched two videos, Undercover Blues and The Incredibles. Undercover Blues is an oldie starring Dennis Quaid and Kathleen Turner as a married espionage team on vacation with their toddler in New Orleans who, of course, get embroiled in an espionage situation of world-wide importance. The Incredibles is an animated film about a family with super-hero powers in an era after super-heroes have been given new identities and blended into the community, which, of course, doesn't work.

Both flicks are very enjoyable.

Undercover Blues is the ultimate feel good movie. Even when things seem to be going wrong, they're not. The plotting is tight, tight, tight, which I enjoy and appreciate. Everything is foreshadowed. There is nothing extraneous except the excursions into the New Orleans local scene, which are not long enough to be annoying. And every single thread is tied up appropriately at the end. The movie has no deep meaning, but it is extremely well-crafted. I adore it.

The Incredibles is a lot of fun too, but it is what I would call more episodic, almost like a continued story. The foreshadowing is not quite all there and the excursions into cuteness for the sake of cuteness can be tiring. But then we are dealing with a cartoon here--a lot of loud noises and exaggerated reactions. Stereotypes abound. I am particularly annoyed by the jive-talking black superhero. Nevertheless, the movie gives me pleasant dreams.

I do find it odd, though, that The Incredibles was so highly rated by critics while Undercover Blues was virtually panned. I would suggest the critics watch each of the movies three times in one week and see which one holds up better then.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Fiorella!

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday, dear Fiorella,
Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me,
I have just turned forty-three,
Yesterday I was the same,
And forty-three I shall remain.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Fiorella Plum is feeling glum--
In recent days, she's become
Tired of home-bound tedium,
But being more adventuresome
Can also be more worrisome--
She'd like a happy medium
'Tween manic pandemonium
And everyday hum-drum.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Catching Pitches, Plus a Few More Throws

Pitch answers: First was "Cinderella," then "Snow White," then "Red Ridinghood." Yes, I am twisted.

What I am doing is practicing "pitches" for my meetings with agents and editors at the Romance Writers of America conference in San Francisco later this month. Try these on for size:

PLEASURE: Ann knew everything about sex and nothing about pleasure. Neil knew everything about pleasure and nothing about love. And the two of them were put on a collision course by his eight-year-old son, Aidan, who needed them both.

JUST FOR THE NIGHT: Bad Boy Jase Redlander has changed his lifestyle for the better over the past fifteen years. Reclaiming high school sweetheart Lauren Harlow would be dream come true, if he can accept her as she is now, so different from what she was then. Both Jase and Lauren must come to terms with their painful pasts in order to have a future together.

BLOOD TRAIL: Tally wants to bring the murderer of her friend Helen to justice so she hires sexy ex-cop Stephen O'Malley to help her. Tally is immediately attracted to Stephen--but it's a natural: he's warm-blooded and she's a vampire.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Throwing Pitches

Here are some "pitches" for classic stories. Do you recognize them?

1) She knew who he was, but no one even know her name. After one magical night of love, will he ever find her again?

2) Her old life had been destroyed by another woman's petty jealousy, but the love of a passing stranger awakened her to new hope.

3) She was doubtful of everything about him except his desire for her. And then she found him in another woman's bed.

Answers in tomorrow's Fio.

Friday, July 11, 2008

True Grit-itude

You are so kind to always think of me,
To let me know the error of my ways,
To guide me, chide me, Procrustes' bed-ize me,
To nip my heels whene'er my footstep strays.
Five minutes alone in an alley, you snit,
And I'll show you how much I appreciate it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yearning for Cinema

Carolyn Jessop's autobiographical account of her escape from the same polygamous cult that spawned Yearning for Zion is being made into a movie, thank goodness. The media can present stories that affect people's thinking far more effectively than the courts and law enforcement. And it's only fair--the Fundamentalists did a real number on the press, which did a real number on the public a couple of months ago. And the cult knew exactly how to do it--use their women, as usual; this was a tried and true method: when the cult was raided fifty years ago by the state of Arizona, it used the same tactic to wiggle off the hook.

Make no mistake. These people are not Donnie and Marie. The Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints are not just Amish with polygamy. They are a cult based on the sexual exploitation of women. They believe that in order to become a god in the afterlife, a man must marry as many women as possible and beget as many children as possible. Women can only become goddesses in the afterlife by their husband reaching down a hand to pull them up to heaven (where they will still serve their master). Oh, and apocalypse is near--the White Indians will slay everyone except those who are wearing special underwear, which is why all of Warren Jeff's tribe above the age of diapers wears those longjohns morning, noon, and night--yes, even when having sex.

And the women buy it all. They were born into it and raised in it and know nothing else. Their only salvation is being perfect wives. If they get sick or go insane, it is God's punishment for them not being perfect. If their husband is abusive, it is the wives' fault.

And we thought the Taliban treated women poorly!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Serious Snippets

I was interested to note that it's hit the national news that many Hillary supporters are considering sitting out the November elections. I don't know what I'll do yet, but I share the anger. Like Fiorella, Hillary has slogged through the fog. All Obama has done is smile, lift up his head and his pointer finger, then let the magic fairy dust take care of the rest.
Anyone who thinks of the Yearning for Zion sect as a modern-day Little House on the Prairie should read Escape by Carolyn Jessop. Married at eighteen to a fifty-year-old man with three other wives, she was finally able to escape with her eight children five years ago. The religion is weird--the men strive to sire whole tribes of children so they will be gods, each with his own planet, in the afterlife. The wives are in constant power struggles with each other. The children are denied any show of affection. It really brings it home what a sham their whole performance was for the TV cameras a couple of months ago.
RE THE ABOVE: People through the ages have done such horrible things to each other in the name of religion. Think about the Aztec bloodletting, the Inquisition tortures, the Crusades, the Muslim jihads, Ireland, Bosnia, etcetera, etcetera. We definitely do not live in the best of all possible worlds, but it doesn't help to dwell on it. Just go tend your own little garden. Me--I'm rearranging bookshelves today.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Dump Yodel

I've written the lyrics to an up-to-date country-western song. Now, you set it to music:

Dumped ya, didn't she--
Coulda told you how it would be,
Knew you wouldn't listen to me;
You thought you had everything all set,
But your hot romance turned out all wet
'Cause she was just an internet fantasy!

Yodel-odel-adee- odel-a-adee!

Dumped ya, didn't she--
You thought her voice sounded extra sex-ee
But it turned out she wasn't even a "she";
You thought you had everything all set,
But your hot romance turned out all wet
'Cause she was just an internet fantasy!

Yodel-odel-adee-odel-a-adee, odel-a-adee!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dinner with the Old Belle

Joyce was sixty-eight. She looked like a bag lady we were treating to a decent meal. Her head shook and so did her voice. Her hands were gnarled from arthritis, and big purple blotches mis-colored the skin on her arms. Some sort of blood problem she said. Her husband, her parents, and her God had all deserted her

She sat across the restaurant table from us, chewing on her hamburger steak, then spitting it into her napkin, which she emptied discreetly beneath the table. I knew from past experience that when she finished her meal, she would wrap the leftover rolls in a tissue to take home. Sometime it was hard to stomach eating with her, but she was family, and we knew our obligation.

Joyce had once been beautiful, a debutante, the belle of the ball. Now she dyed her hair red in the bathtub and tried to pass it off as natural. She dressed in bargains from the thrift store, although she could afford better. Around her neck this evening was a cameo she had attached to a chain by a large safety pin, which winked at us every time the cameo turned.

She asked us for ideas on where she could meet older men. All we could think of was antique car shows.

As we left the restaurant, a flurry of white-haired women came in--plump, laughing, well-groomed and vibrant women enjoying each other's company. They recognized Joyce as an age-mate, called her by name, smiled and reached out to her. She shrank back from them in horror, not even allowing their outstretched hands to touch her.

She was too young to be so old.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Keeps the doctor away

That little old lady named Grace,
Who has such a sweet little face--
If again she calls Dad
My brother, egad!--
I'll rip off her sweet little face!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A limerick a day . . .

It's time for another cute ditty,
For something clever and witty--
Can't think of a thing
With just the right ring
So I'll stop right here--what a pity.

Friday, July 4, 2008


I consider myself a practical, even prosaic, person. I eschew mushy emotionalism, and patriotic jingoism leaves me cold. I know I am fortunate to live in the United States, but I always considered my allegiance to be logical rather than sentimental.

One winter, Husband and I visited Older Son and his wife in Massachusetts and checked out the historical sites--Massachusetts is chock-full of them. It was a bitter cold day when we drove to Concord bridge, and crunchy snow covered the ground about six inches deep. Grudgingly, I trudged up to the Minuteman statue to read the inscription:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard 'round the world.

And I cried like a baby. Even now, rereading, I'm tearing up. I guess I'm nothing but a mushy sentimentalist after all.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Eyes that Can See

I am always amused by the irony of a "seer" having an office right next to my ophthalmologist. Two types of vision here--the physical and the metaphysical, representing science and faith, reality and fantasy, medicine and scam.

Okay, I watch TV too. I know there are some purported psychics who police say have been very helpful with investigations; however I've never seen any money changing hands , at least on camera, regarding these situations. I have an idea the scop shop squatting beside my ophthalmologist's office isn't as public-minded.

Texas used to have a law against professional fortune-telling, and I wish it still did. The garish "Madame Zelda"- set-ups seem to be on every corner now. But not all the oracles are that flamboyant. I had a friend who went to fortune-tellers regularly, but only the most high class ones. I went with her once because she was my friend. The "psychic's" office was in a modern, elegant building also housing insurance offices, entrepreneurial enterprises, and the like. There were books in the bookcase and plants on the tables. She met with about ten people at once (at $20 a throw) and gave us all a ticket with a number on it. We were supposed to memorize our number. Then the numbers all went into a container which she pulled them out of one by one and, supposedly not knowing whose ticket she held, gave us advice, encouragement, and warnings for the coming month. She even did one person in absentia, with someone else carrying the message.

I had read that psychics watch their customers' reactions for clues and proceed accordingly. Therefore, being a born skeptic, I decided to relax and sit there with a slight smile on my face the entire time . Needless to say, the only message I got was that next month would be good for new beginnings, which is pretty non-specific.

I say I'm a skeptic, but really I'm just like everyone else. I WANT to believe. I would really like there to be someone out there who can key into my future and help me make winning decisions. I'd love to be able to top off my visit to the ophthalmologist with a visit to someone who could tell me for sure which lens to choose and what the outcome of the cataract surgery would be.

But, alas, nothing is that easy. Except for Zelda, of course. She can fold her tent and slip away in the night any time the pickin's get slim.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Bubble Dreams

I'll put my dreams in bubbles
And send them up so high--
In iridescent bubbles
That float up to the sky--
Until I cannot fathom--
Until I cannot spy--
The darkness and the damp,
The foul earth where I lie.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rhythm of the Road

Just load me into the car and send me off to the grocery store and the ideas come flooding in. Don't drive me there--I fall asleep when someone else is at the wheel. Don't ride shotgun --I'll talk to you. Just send me off alone and my ever fertile (fevered?) subconscious will swing into action. A month after my mother's death, speeding down MoPac Expressway gave me the seminal line for a sonnet about our relationship.

Of course, I have to pull over to record my clever ideas before they dissipate into highway miasma. Driveways, parking lots, rest stops--they're all fair game. In the city, I pray for stoplights or stop signs. (Please don't honk.) If I don't have a tablet, I'll use my the deposit slips in my checkbook (what else are they good for?) or the palm of my hand.

I think it's something about being alone with the rhythm of the road. Hey--is that a good line or what!