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1. Life imitates art

On occasion during our run of the mill existence here on planet earth, life imitates art. This was the case during a recent visit from a plumber to unblock a bathroom drain. The visit was routine but there came a point during a conversation that seemed straight out of my play, “Gin: an Allegory for Playing the Game of Life.” You know how it is – that Twilight Zone/déjà vu feeling we’ve all experienced at some point where a conversation seems familiar and you’re not sure if you’ve heard it before.  

Here is the scene from the play where Lyle, the super, arrives to address the blocked sink of Becky, the main character and the cynic. SARAH, another character is one of those people who always sees the good in everyone and everything. I cut and pasted parts so the formatting isn't ideal. This is one of my favorite plays but then that's what I say about all of them.


                         BECKY opens the door to LYLE, the super, who is leaning on
                         the side of the door, engrossed in music coming out of earphones.
                         His dress is grunge with long stringy hair and grimy
                         clothes

BECKY

Well, well. Look who the wind blew in. Hello up there? Anybody home?

                         BECKY taps him on the shoulder and he jumps in response

Forgive me but you do remember why you're here? To unblock my pipes? Lyle super - me tenant?

LYLE
I know that

BECKY
Of course you do and I'm Madonna

LYLE
Hey – and they tol’ me your name was Becky Bitch. Oh… I see. Becky Bitch Madonna!

                         LYLE pushes Becky aside

Okay…what and where's the problem?

BECKY
You for a start but I gotta take what I can get. My sink has been blocked since last week

LYLE
Okay… hold it a sec…this is a good part

                         Lyle starts gyrating and playing an invisible guitar

BECKY
My God – the kid has overdosed on drugs right here in my apartment. Call 911

LYLE
(stops abruptly)
That was the best part of the CD. Bet'chu wash your hair in this sink, don't you

BECKY
And your point is? Most normal people wash their hair, Lyle, but there are exceptions, like you for example

LYLE
Ladies your age never wanna admit it but we supers know better. If I had a dollar for every time I've unblocked a sink and removed a big blob of the stuff, I’d be a gazillionaire. Wait a sec’…

                         LYLE begins gyrating

BECKY
I hope I'm not disturbing your musical interludes or anything. Listen, there's no way, my hair, blocked that drain. Maybe you don't clean the pipes often enough, did that occur to you? So? Fix it. Hello? Lyle!

LYLE

This band is like… fab-u-lo-so… We'll try chemicals first and if that don't work, we'll use the snake

BECKY
You're gonna use strong chemicals in my sink? Come to think of it, you're probably no stranger to chemical mixes

SARAH
OhmyGod! They use poor defenseless snakes to clean out drains, now? But I'm sure you use the non-poisonous type, right? Do the animal welfare people know about this?

BECKY

Sarah dear, count your cards or something. Just do what you have to do and unblock it?

LYLE
Got some news you won't wanna hear, lady

BECKY
If it means you're quitting your job after unblocking my sink, it's good

LYLE
I'm wrong about the blockage

BECKY
Told you it wasn't hair. I'm not a plumber and even I knew as much

LYLE
It's deep down in the main pipe system, under the sink

BECKY
And this means that…

LYLE
…it's gonna cost. Might hav'ta call in a plumber

BECKY
Can't youfix it? What are they paying you for?

LYLE
I'll try but I ain't making no promises. I'm gonna go look for my tools, downstairs. Whoever you get to do the job will take a half a day, at least. Maybe more

BECKY

This is really good. A handyman with no tools


0 Comments on Life imitates art as of 4/17/2014 11:57:00 AM
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2. A Single Red Sock

There was a young husband who took a young wife to live in a shoebox beside a busy thoroughfare. The young man attempted to treat his wife with utmost sincerity and kindness, but often found that his tongue got in his way. Dull and ill-advised words suitable only for bachelorhood unfortunately found their way from his mouth to his young bride’s ear.

While the ever-patient bride overlooked most of the offenses, the stupid young husband constantly felt it necessary to pay penance for his outbursts by aiding his wife in her chores. After one particular peccadillo, the husband took it upon himself to do the laundry.

Knowing at least that colors and whites must go separately, he sorted the clothes into piles and decided to begin with the whites. In went the slightly dingy load while the hopeful husband added soap and waited nearby. When the buzzer rang, he jumped to his feet expecting to pull out gleaming white clothes. What to his wondering eyes did appear, but a washer full of pink. Pink, the color of panic. Nothing was the same as it had gone in.

1338192848

With his bride due home soon, he frantically searched the load to find an offending single red sock. Casting it aside, he loaded the machine with bleach and ran the whites through once more. Bing – cycle over, no change. Pink panic.

A key at the door

A smiling bride

A kiss before the confession

Disappointment, accusation, regret

“My favorite shirt!” she exclaimed as she held up a blushing blouse. “Ruined!”

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” pled the husband. “I’ll buy you another. What else can I do, my darling?”

“I will tell you what you can do,” she fumed. “You can promise you will never, ever, ever do the laundry again!”

“I swear it, my love,” promised the young man on bended knee. “I will never touch dirty clothes for as long as you’ll have me.”

One score and two years later, the older husband is still bound by his oath and forbidden to use the washing machine with the following exception: his rag towels.

With a family so large, the machine seems to run day and night, but can he help? Not besides folding.

I ask you the following, was the young naïve husband really so foolish decades ago, or did he craft a cunning plan sure to guarantee a life of marital slackness? Could you place that much credit for forethought on the brash youth who couldn’t keep his pie-hole closed? Would the wife’s version tell a different tale?


9 Comments on A Single Red Sock, last added: 4/17/2014
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3. Paula: Easter Bunnies at Work!

Just a little bunny fun for Easter!

0 Comments on Paula: Easter Bunnies at Work! as of 4/16/2014 9:19:00 PM
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4. Tax Day – But I’m not Bitter

I think April 15th would be the worst birthday to have. There are two kinds of people as it relates to taxes – those who get a check and those who have to send a check. If you have to send a check (like me), you grudgingly hold onto it until the last minute and mail it on April 14th, leaving you broke and unable to buy a present for your friend with a birthday the following day. If you get a check, you filed in early February. Since you considered the return a sudden windfall, you blew it on something frivolous like a snowcone maker, leaving you no residual to buy a present for your friend with the worst birthday of the year.

Conversely, there would be something extremely cool about being a leap baby and having February 29th as your birthday.

1040_formThat tidbit is irrelevant today since I just had to write a check to the United States Treasury! Oh, I understand that it costs to provide government services. I know it has to come from the citizens. I just hate filling that out on the check – and then they want me to Fed X it or pay extra for a return confirmation. I’m sorry, but aren’t I paying for the postal service to be sufficient to deliver your money to you? If you have any doubts whether the man in blue who just took my envelop can discharge his duty properly, shouldn’t you institute a better employee screening process instead of charging me another $4.50?

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all.

But while I’m on the subject, I remember when I took my first baby home from the hospital in mid-December. When I did my taxes, I felt like I had cheated the world since I got a deduction for the entire year and she only cost me for two weeks. That was eighteen years ago. So this year I lost the tax credit for her because she turned eighteen. I love her dearly, but like most children, she is complete financial dead weight – all cost, little contribution. And let me tell you Mr. United States Treasury, she costs considerably more now at eighteen than she did at one. I’d trade diapers and formula for cell phones, clothes, gas and car insurance any day.The_taxes_by_Orlov

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all.

I could go on, about paying into a social security system that I am assured will not exist when I am of age to need it. That’s why I had four kids, they are a kind of a retirement plan for me. I figure I can rotate a week a month at each of their houses and mooch off them just to pay them back. I’ll refuse to wear pants, make odd noises and smells, and sit on the front porch complaining about the government all day.

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all…

Man_in_a_Rocking_Chair,_from_Robert_N._Dennis_collection_of_stereoscopic_views

Photo credit: Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views
Artwork: The Taxes by Orlov

10 Comments on Tax Day – But I’m not Bitter, last added: 4/15/2014
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5. Monday Review: POISON by Bridget Zinn

The first and only time I had the privilege of meeting author Bridget Zinn was during Kidlitcon in Portland a handful of years back. About my age, she was sweet and funny and quiet and one of so many kindred spirits I met that weekend, my first ever... Read the rest of this post

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6. Chinese Fables: The Dragon Slayer and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom | Book Review

This collection of pithy tales is multi-layered. The stories linger in the mind the way a good poem resonates. They are ancient Chinese fables Shiho S. Nunes has expanded into longer tales.

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7. Father of Nations – Terrible Babysitter

I like to think I was a good sitter for the kids when they were little. I mean, I’m dad, so I should be able to provide for their basic needs on occasion. I remember a particular Saturday when our first was a toddler. Instead of playing the usual dolls and house (which I was excellent at, by the way), I decided that her tummy, back, and arms made the perfect canvas for a jungle mural. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We drew and drew until elephants, lions, and zebras were marching all over her flesh. Great, giggly, tickly fun.

Great fun until Mom came home and the little fink sold me out. My lovely wife hadn’t gotten two steps into the kitchen before the scamp had pulled her shirt up to reveal the masterpiece. I don’t recall if it was the classic grocery bags hitting the floor or not, but her fury stretched across the room and melted part of my ear. Something about her perfect, beautiful baby looking like a tattooed Harley rider.

That was the day I received a fairly detailed list of appropriate activities for times when mommy was away. I also learned the difference between permanent and washable markers.

That was a “first child” thing. She’s mellowed about keeping them in pristine condition and maybe I’ve matured a little. Either way, I pale in comparison to the worst babysitter ever. Some of you look for deep meaning in Bible stories and I applaud you. My infantile mind reads some of the odd ones and starts playing Paul Harvey – looking for The Rest of the Story.

When I read Genesis 22, I am awed by Abraham’s obedience. To listen and follow God at the expense of the one thing he had waited a hundred years for, his baby boy, is incredible. For so long he had begged and schemed for a son, but couldn’t have one with Sarah until he completely gave up his own plans and got to a place where he put his utter reliance on God and not himself. Only God.

obras maestras de la pintura - juan carlos boveri

We know how the story goes. Just before he offers Isaac as the sacrifice, God shows him a ram to use as a substitute, sparing his son’s life. Can you imagine the sheer joy? Can you picture the relief of his heart? Do you think Isaac flinched when the knife went up? Do you wonder at what Sarah said when they got home?

Seriously, how do you relay that to your wife?

“Hi Honey, we’re home.”

“Oh, I missed you two so much. How was the camping trip?”

“It was fantastic. You’re never gonna believe what God did. First, he told me to sacrifice Isaac. So I built this altar and put him on it. Just as the knife was about to come down…”

“YOU DID WHAT???”

 

The Bible omits that part of the story. But I wonder sometimes.

 

I wonder what things I hold too dear to put on the altar. I certainly wouldn’t put my kids on there. (Heck, I won’t even draw on them anymore.) But there are other things too precious to me that I hold back. I know it – and so does God. Lord help me to have more faith and obedience like Old Abraham. I just pray I’m a better babysitter.

 

 Artwork Credit: Ferdinand von Olivier [Public domain]

 

 


10 Comments on Father of Nations – Terrible Babysitter, last added: 4/14/2014
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8. Shit Rough Draft

I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working through a humor piece for the school paper and was in the midst of a rough draft. My deadline was in a few hours, and instead of [...]

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9. Shaking Hands with your Urologist

My first experience with Dr. P was a week after we discovered our surprise forth pregnancy. I found myself seated uncomfortably on the metal table being interrogated by a very contemplative man half my height, but with an IQ obviously twice mine. He spoke with a fairly thick accent and seemed dubious of my procedure of choice.

Dr. P, “Missa Myers, you seem very young. How old are you?”

Me, “I’m thirty-four.”

Dr. P, “How old your wife?”

Me, “She’s thirty-three.”

Dr. P, “Oh, that very young. You sure you want this?”

Me, “Yes Doctor, I’m sure.”

Dr. P, “You know, this permanent. You might want reversal, but it maybe not work.”

Me, “I know. I’m sure.”

Dr. P, “Your wife sure? She know?”

Me, “Yes, she knows.”

Dr. P, “Okay, you sure. Just one more time I ask, because you maybe not go back?”

Me, “Dr. P, we just found out we were pregnant with our fourth child.”

Momentary pause for contemplation.

Dr. P, “Oh. In that case, why you not come see me sooner?”

He checked a box on his form and left. The procedure came a few weeks later. I’ll mention no specifics except to say that once I was prepped and ready, the quiet, secluded corner room seemed to turn into Grand Central Station. Nurses, accountants, inspectors, magazine vendors, interns, dog walkers, board certifiers, and I think a few pharmaceutical sales reps all of the sudden had important business in my room. Finally the good doctor came and did his work. I left hoping to never see Dr. P again. No offense, but I thought seeing him again meant a fifth bundle of joy. I was wrong.

My second trip to see him came after experiencing some discomfort during a long run. Until then, I had no idea that Urologists did everything! When I went back to the very same room, there sat my friend, Dr. P. who remembered me distinctly.

“How your baby?” Dr. P asked.

Me, “She’s doing great. Six years old now.”

Dr. P, “How old are you?”

Me, “I just turned forty.”

Dr. P, “You know, Missa Myers, we start thinking about prostate health at this age…”

 

I’ll leave the rest to the imagination. Based on my experience with Dr. P, I have some advice for men.

First, when your Urologist asks you your age, consider consider the ramifications of the question.

Second, when you are greeted by your friendly Urologist, remember that his hands have been places that my dog’s nose only dreams about.

 

A_handshake

 

I poke fun at my interaction with Dr. P, but men’s health issues are not a laughing matter. Fortunately, I only had a couple of kidney stones that were easily blasted out. Get checked when it is time to get checked, men. Others are counting on you!

 


10 Comments on Shaking Hands with your Urologist, last added: 4/8/2014
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10. Monday Morning Edition

In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com, from new features to great blogs to discover.

4 Comments on Monday Morning Edition, last added: 4/8/2014
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11. Johnny Reb’s Revenge

Welcome to the South! But beware – we have some surprises for you. If you are just passing through on the way to the beach, leave your car parked in Chik-fil-A’s parking lot long enough to get a sandwich and you’ll find it. The yellow nightmare that welcomes spring here every year: pollen.

 

Halictus_ligatus,_F,_face,_Philidelphia,_PA_2013-01-04-14.44.36_ZS_PMax_(8354392738)

 

We are used to it. We don’t love it, but accept it as one of the few drawbacks of living in God’s Country. I wonder what the Union soldiers thought of the yellow cloud in April of 1864. Did it slow them down or just shock the troops and make them sick along the way? I can’t imagine muskets are easy to aim anyway, but I’m guessing more than a couple Southern soldiers escaped the bullet because of the itchy eyes and runny nose of the enemy.

Despite our ideological divide, the Confederacy was short lived and we are united. This unity allows many Yankees to set up residence here when they get sick of the cold weather and frosty attitudes up north. I’m told they were called ‘carpetbaggers’ back in the day. We have nicer names for them now (when they are in earshot). We sell them our cow pastures at over-inflated prices and say things like “Bless your Heart”, which they think is nice but is actually a veiled insult.

Just kidding (except about BYH) – everyone is welcome here.

I had a humorous run-in with pollen at our first home. It was a cute little starter home that had one issue – when it rained, the run-off from the street came down our driveway and off into the side yard to a retaining ditch. You can never see something like that unless you happen to be visiting in the rain before the purchase. We weren’t and the community real estate agent didn’t share that fact. He was from Connecticut. Anyway, the first time it rained in April, our entire driveway and yard was painted yellow with pollen run-off. Being an inexperienced home-owner and relatively dull anyway, I marched up the street in the rain to confront whoever was spilling yellow paint into my yard. I figured it out fairly soon.

Now I have a new boss moving from New Jersey. He seems like a really nice guy and I look forward to working with him. I wonder how he and his family will feel about Johnny Reb’s revenge. They will mostly likely wait to move until after school is out and will miss it this year. So the question is, should I warn him?  Or let him enjoy the surprise in 2015…

 

437103661_5f98b5227a_z

 

Photo credits: “I Heart Pollen !” by Brooke Novak & USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory from Beltsville, USA

10 Comments on Johnny Reb’s Revenge, last added: 4/6/2014
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12. Survival

t_rex tie shoe 450Alas, “survival of the fittest” would not be a concept that worked out for Rex.

The Illustration Friday theme of the week is “survival,” so…


3 Comments on Survival, last added: 4/7/2014
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13. I Won’t Do That!

The season my first daughter was born, Kentucky won the NCAA championship. Two years later, along came daughter number two and, lo and behold, UK hoisted another banner. I joked with my lovely wife at the time that with all of the rich basketball fanatics in my home state, we could surely find a patron who would sponsor future babies if Kentucky kept cutting down nets. Alas, no such luck with numbers three and four.

Kentucky_Wallpaper

You’d have to know my wife, though. She loves babies. She would have started looking for real estate in Lexington had they won with our third. Her baby wanter gets turned on just by the smell of hospital soap. If she gets to hold one, I practically have to pry the child out of her hands. I came home not too long ago and she was holding a baby I had never seen with a contented smile on her face. I looked around…no one else in the house. For the briefest of moments I truly thought she had finally stolen one. (It turned out we were babysitting a teacher’s baby for a night.) Me, I like ‘em okay. I liked watching a game with one sleeping on my chest, but they always felt too fragile in my oversized mitts. I preferred the toddler years where we could wrestle and play.

Much to my delight, my beloved Wildcats have made it to the Final Four again this year. I said at the outset of the tourney that I wouldn’t be surprised if they got beat in the first round and I wouldn’t be surprised if they won it all. It’s been just that type of up and down year. I don’t keep up with sports like I used to, but I still watch my Cats when I can.

I’m sorry Cats. I love you and want you to win with all of my heart. But my baby days are behind me. I won’t do that!

(A little Meatloaf just for fun!)

 

Good luck to the Wildcats this weekend. I hope you cut the nets down on Monday. You just have to do it without my progeny this time.

 

Speaking of my progeny, I was set to post this yesterday until we got news related to the health of our youngest. We haven’t gotten an exact diagnosis yet, but have further tests next week. I appreciate the prayers and words of affirmation from my friends here. We’re hanging in there and she has meds now to make her feel better…  


10 Comments on I Won’t Do That!, last added: 4/4/2014
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14. Profile: Long Awkward Pause Is Anything But

Group blogs like Long Awkward Pause shine on WordPress.com -- and now you can say you knew this comedic confab before they hit the big time.

10 Comments on Profile: Long Awkward Pause Is Anything But, last added: 3/31/2014
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15. In Praise of the Mom-Traffic Controller

Yesterday was one of those days. It is beyond my man-sized mind how everything fit together. I had nothing to do with its success or organization. But like a giant fuel-guzzling puzzle, the last piece set in perfectly about nine o’clock. Until then, my family ranged in different directions all across the metro area. The amazing thing is that the MTC (Mom-Traffic Controller) was absent for a good portion of it.

I had business on the other side of the city that kept me away until most of the flights were filed and done. If you know Atlanta traffic, you know that being on the other side of it on a weekday means that, while only thirty miles away, I may as well have been in Guatemala in case of an emergency. Sometimes, there is just no getting home. But the MTC needed me not.

flights

The Grandaddy taxi (my kids’ favorite ride because it often stops for a milkshake) had a few trips, she called in a favor from another middle-school parent, my nephew’s girlfriend made a pick-up, and I think there were two dog sleds and a rickshaw involved. Of course, this day involved multiple after school activities for every child that required extra commutes. Here is where I think the MTC was just showing off – she drove an hour north of the city on a college visit and took the only other driver of the house with her. So she wasn’t even around to oversee her masterpiece!

Through some mystery of mother magic, everything worked out. I counted two children when I got home and the other two trudged through the door soon after. They looked haggard but familiar, so I’m fairly certain they are mine.

Men, lest you think you could handle this task, let me recount for you my experience on Saturday (Car Day). I had one assigned job, ONE: pick up dancer daughter at 12:30. The brakes took a little longer than expected, but I finished and went inside to wipe the grime off of my fingertips so I could handle food. While at the sink, my phone lit up with a missed text. Instantly, I had that “Oh Crap!” moment when I saw the digital readout. You guessed it, 12:40. I forgot my one job, along with my daughter who sat waiting twenty minutes away. The forgotten child’s next text went to the MTC, who was at a play. I had planned to bribe my daughter’s silence with ice cream. But on the frantic trip to get her, I received from the MTC saying, “Nice job, Dad.” Exposed.

 

So, all hail the MTC! I don’t know where you received your degree in family flight management, but the entire (and somehow intact) family is glad you have it!


10 Comments on In Praise of the Mom-Traffic Controller, last added: 3/25/2014
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16. Fish Noir

red-herring_color new 450

RED HERRING

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is “red“ and the first thing that popped into my addled brain was ”red herring”. So I thought, hey,  I’ll redraw and repost this from a couple of years ago. What the heck, I’m on a roll.

Most mystery novel and film buffs know that a red herring is a plot device used in film noir, murder mysteries and suspense films, to distract the audience away from the more important aspect of the plot. The red herring can sometimes be a character, believed by the audience to be the killer, only to discover later in the film that they are innocent and another character, never even considered is, in fact, the murderer.

Now that you have your twist ending, do you know where the term red herring originated?

Wikipedia tells us:

A tradition whereby young hunting dogs in Britain were trained to follow a scent with the use of a “red” (salted and smoked) herring. This pungent fish would be dragged across a trail until the puppy learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (which has a much stronger odor) across the animal’s trail at right angles. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent.

I’ve also heard that British fugitives in the 1800s would rub a herring across their trail, in order to divert the bloodhounds pursuing them.

All this talk is whetting my appetite for a bit of kipperes and toast (NOT!) and a Hitchcock film or two (YES!).

 


12 Comments on Fish Noir, last added: 3/26/2014
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17. The Portlandia Activity Book

With activities like "How to Crowdfund Your Baby," diagrams such as the "Artisanal Diet Pyramid," and tools for anyone looking to get in touch with their inner Portland (see "Bird Stencils"), The Portlandia Activity Book, like the TV show, will amuse, perplex, and possibly even prompt a spiritual awakening. Books mentioned in this post

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18. The Manliest Day of the Year

Cue the Led Zep, let loose some fragrant belches, drag your nose across your sleeve, and get ready to scratch something! It’s Car Day, YES! The manliness day of the year that doesn’t involve a chainsaw. YES! Line ‘em up – three cars, three oil changes and a brake job. YES! Can you just feel the testosterone surging?

I felt it yesterday – a perfect Saturday for Car Day. I drove to the auto parts store to get my supplies and surround myself with other manly men. I didn’t shower, I wanted some manstink. I plopped brake supplies and three jugs of motor oil on the counter, grunted a few times, and swapped tales of bravado with the snaggle-toothed clerk. Yes, a day for men, indeed.

image

I love working on cars but there are only about four things left I can do on today’s automobiles. If anything else is wrong, I can only raise the hood and say, “hmmmm” before calling a tow truck. But on Car Day, I get to use my limited knowledge (aided by YouTube) to be a master mechanic. I refuse wash my hands after. Even though Car Day plus one is Sunday, I leave the black gunk under my nails. When I shake the preacher’s hand, he’ll know: ‘That’s a car guy.’ Oh yeah.

I started with my truck, affectionately called the Blue Pearl.  After I drained it and changed the filter, I checked three times to make sure the plug was re-installed. I’m very diligent to check ever since the unfortunate day I poured ten quarts straight through the engine and onto the pavement. Yes, the plug was in this time. Car one complete.

Our van, Russell’s oil change went quickly. Next was Kevin, our oldest daughter’s car. I don’t like to drive Kevin, mostly because of the frilly, purple monogram on the back. Not so masculine. This would be my inaugural oil change on Kev. I surveyed the little white car, noticing just how narrow the gap between it and the ground. Man, it was low. All of the sudden, I remembered ramps! I have ramps and rarely get to use them. Car Day just got better.

I set the ramps at the edge of the concrete, inched Kevin up to them, checked their position, and proceeded to roll right over top of them. Uh-oh. Now the ramps lay wedged between Kevin and the ground with his front wheels dangling in the air. That’s bad.

I’ve heard of superhuman strength caused by adrenaline rushes in life-or-death situations. Maybe that would work here. I spit on my hands and rubbed them together before lifting  just because it looks tough when they do it in old movies. Abject humiliation must not qualify as a life-or-death situation because I couldn’t make it budge. I gave up and let it sit there a few hours while I pondered. A neighbor’s garage jack came to the rescue.

My machismo waned mightily. Don’t tell the guys at the auto parts store, but I decided to bag it and go to Quicklube where a young man with a tattoo of Charlie Brown shooting himself in the head changed my oil.

“Nice decal,” he chuckled as he wrote down the license plate number.

“Just change the oil,” I replied gruffly, hoping to salvage a slice of manhood.

He complied and descended to the pit underneath me. “Dude, where’d the yellow come from?” he asked when he discovered scratches left by my ramps.

“Crap,” I mumbled. I hadn’t noticed.

“No, it ain’t crap,” replied Charlie Brown’s killer, wiping at the marks. “That’s like, paint. It ain’t coming off. But how’d it get down here?”

“Just change the oil, Dude…”

Man, I’m sick of cars.


10 Comments on The Manliest Day of the Year, last added: 3/23/2014
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19. Another tasty morsal of "Neighbors"

Another snippet from "Neighbors."

Following yet another verbal confrontation, Portman has invited Taylor for a friendly drink at the neighborhood bar. Enter Joseph Martini, a customer, who after listening to the pair discuss their views on life and the garden, makes them an offer they decide to accept.

The place is Patty's Place, the bar co-owned by Patty and Portman.



MARTINI

I think I got the big picture. Don't know how'd you feel about this, but would you consider using the services of a mediator?

 
PORTMAN

Ain't that a person who makes street dividers – what's that gonna do for us?
 

TAYLOR

You'll have to forgive my good friend here, since his vocabulary is somewhat limited. A mediator, dear neighbor, is a person who's not familiar with the parties involved, who listens to two sides of a story and then presents an unbiased opinion. Do you happen to know anyone who could do that for us? I’ve already contacted somebody who knows somebody at City Hall but if you you’ve got someone you could recommend… Of course she or he would have to have some experience with property disputes…
 

MARTINI

Believe it or not, it so happens that I'm a semi-retired land surveyor by trade, and I've listened to hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories involving issues like yours. I'd be willing to investigate in the way of thanks for your warm welcome here

 
PORTMAN

Go on! Now you tell me that this ain't fate, Taylor! Here we are in the middle of tryin' to find an answer to our problem and Martini here just happens to drop by for a drink. I mean – what are the odds of that happening, huh?

 
TAYLOR

Indeed. A little too convenient if you ask me

 
PORTMAN

Chalk it up to fate, is all
 

TAYLOR

I dunno - a supposed stranger shows up out of the blue and…

 
MARTINI

I can assure you, sir, that this is the first time I've visited this bar. If you'd rather pass on this opportunity…

 
PORTMAN

Of course he wants to get your legal opinion. Listen Taylor, if Martini here says he made a living settling arguments like ours, then he's the man for the job

 
MARTINI

I'll need to examine the house plans first…


TAYLOR

It's just too convenient for my liking. Do you have anything that says you’re a surveyor?

 

PORTMAN

Do you ask your trash collector for identification or the local delivery guy? Why should our new friend here, have to prove to you that he is who he says he is? Don't pay no attention to him. The man’s got no manners whatsoever


MARTINI

I understand your suspicions and need to know more about me professionally but I have to tell you that I'm very busy doing contract work. So if you're not interested…


PORTMAN

Hang on a minute – I'm willing to let Martini here study the situation - and I'll even go along with his findings. How's that for blind faith, huh?

 
TAYLOR

The only thing I'll agree to is that he can listen to both sides and offer an opinion, period. Let’s see what he comes up with

 

PORTMAN

You were the one who threatened to call a land surveyor just this very morning. Well – here he is! Any land surveyor you call in is gonna be a stranger. D'ya want this man to medicate our dispute, or not?  We're here to fix fences, not build new ones


TAYLOR

You mean mediateour dispute…

 
PORTMAN

See what I mean? There he goes again. Medicate…mediate…what's a 'c' between friends?


TAYLOR

I didn't mean to insult your professional integrity, Mr. Martini

 
PORTMAN

Well, Ihappen to believe that friends take each other at their word, so I say - let's get on with it! Why don't we drink to…Mr. Martini's -

 
MARTINI

- Joey -

 
PORTMAN

- Joey's findings. Line 'em up Miss Patty and lemonade again for you Joey boy? And whatever my neighbor wants here

 
MARTINI

That's it for me or I'm gonna have to swim outta here. So, how we gonna do this?

 
PORTMAN

Listen – here's a plan. Why don't we wait 'til early evening, once the sun goes down, when it'll be cooler for you to measure our land.  We could hang 'round here for a while and catch the bodacious babes playing volleyball on TV
 

TAYLOR

I haven't agreed to Mr. Martini becoming involved yet

 
PORTMAN

Of course you have! You wanted a meditator and now you got one! What more could a person ask for?
 

MARTINI

Sounds good to me. It'll certainly make my job easier waiting until things cool down a bit


PATTY

In more ways than one

 
PORTMAN

So, it's agreed? We might as well stay here. Patty here will take good care of us

 
TAYLOR

I suppose it can't hurt. As much as I would love to hang here with you guys, my green peppers need staking and my tomato patch needs de-weeding. How 'bout we meet later, say about…seven?


PORTMAN

We won't have to worry about workin' in the dark since my neighbor installed flood lights near his garden, to scare away veggie thieves


TAYLOR

It's to discourage a family of groundhogs that steal at night. I don't spend all those hours to have all my stuff eaten by animal

 
PORTMAN

You do know that you're insultin' me again, Taylor. We're supposed to be getting' to know each other and I'm being ditched for some peppers and tomatoes? 


TAYLOR

It's not that I don't appreciate your invitation, but I've got a lot to do around the house. Like I said, we'll meet in my back yard if that's okay with you, Mr. Martini?

 
MARTINI

Sounds like a plan to me

PORTMAN

Perfect-o-mundo!. Me and Joey...I mean, Mr. Martini will get to know each other better, right guy?


PORTMAN

Then it's settled. We meet at seven on your territory. By the way, I'm out of salad. If 'ya happen to have an extra head or two lyin' around…

 
TAYLOR

Nice meeting you Mr. Martini

 
PORTMAN

You into beach volleyball, Joey boy? Wait 'til you get a look at those players. Mama mia!


MARTINI

Do they carry volleyball on basic cable?

 

After switching on the television, PATTY brings over two drinks. TAYLOR lingers for an instant and then leaves

0 Comments on Another tasty morsal of "Neighbors" as of 3/14/2014 10:19:00 PM
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20. Wise Guys

wise guys redeux 450

(click to enlarge, or fugget about it.)

BADA-BING BADA-WHOOOOOO!


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21. Can you Fart at Cotillion?

My two oldest are in the show, Bye-Bye Birdie and a rather uncomfortable situation presented itself on opening night. I took my dancer daughter and sat in the patron’s section, making sure to look down upon the common folk in general admission. I don’t get to be a snob in my town very often as most of the houses around here are twice the size of mine. But with two in the high school drama program, the dues required made it about the same as paying to be a patron, so we joined the club and now enjoy reserved seating.

Last night I learned it is not advisable to eat risky foods prior to a two hour show. I love spicy foods and had been able to savor two distinct ethnic cuisines on this particular day. I don’t know exactly which one was the aggressor, but one of them crossed the line, instigating a border war deep inside. It started midway through act 1 and I did everything possible to keep the war contained to one front. At some point during the second act, one of the combatants wanted more territory like Hitler invading Russia and tried to open an eastern theater. I shifted in my chair so many times the poor guy behind me probably thought I was dancing with the actors, even when there was no music. Somehow, I managed to keep the entire battle to myself.

After the final bows, Dancer and I congratulated her sisters and friends on a wonderful show, took pictures, and left. I explained the raging war of the past two hours to my thirteen year-old, who rolled her eyes and said, “Dad, you need to go to Cotillion.”

800px-Hans_Thoma_003

I have only approximate knowledge of Cotillion. I looked it up and found out that it is classes designed to educate children on social skills, proper etiquette, manners and dance. As an adult, I am all for manners, especially for the boys who someday might want to date my daughters. The boy inside of me can think of nothing I would hate worse, though. I wonder what happens if you have to pass gas there. Do they have Cotillion police to escort you out immediately?

On a note related to boyhood, I got a fantastic review from a children’s lit blogger this week. Since I had sent the book in December, it came by surprise, precisely at a time when my spirits needed it. LINK.  In her review, she ponders this question:

This book captures the essence of boyhood very well. I had to laugh numerous times at how well the author knows what it means to be a young boy. He either has a very good memory, or he never grew up, I’m not sure which one.

I would like to thank Mrs. McMahon for taking the time to read Virge and write such a glowing review. I can put her question to rest in two ways. First, my memory is terrible except for completely irrelevant movie and song trivia. Second, take a look at the title of this post.


10 Comments on Can you Fart at Cotillion?, last added: 3/16/2014
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22. Watch out for Rabbiby

I’m reading through the New Testament this year. I’ve done the Bible in a year plans and tend to read quickly just to get finished and don’t focus on the text. So I thought I would try a plan on my iPad for just a chapter a day and try to soak it in. Yes, I’ve gone digital. Sometimes I miss the onion skin and writing in the margins. But I like to take notes and be able to find them again. I can categorize and sort on the iPad. I also enjoy shuffling translations on the fly.

Sometimes, digital bites you in the behind, though.

Take this morning. My text was Matthew 23. Almost completely in red. Jesus said it, I’d better pay attention:

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbiby others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:5-9 ESV)

Liturgical_codex_Louvre_E10094

After finding a suitable definition for phylacteries, I moved on to define rabbiby. Stumped. Nothing on the web but alternate suggested spellings. Why is it in the Bible if I can’t get a definition? Get behind me Satan, I’m going to figure this out. I plugged away at the word and searched. Twenty minutes of painstaking research has brought me to the following conclusion that I would like to share with you:

1. Rabbiby could be the plural of Rabbi.

2. Rabbiby might be a term of derision used by average citizens.

3. Rabbiby possibly is a greeting given between brothers who are both scholars of the law. “Hey Rabbiby, you gonna finish that?”

My research is incomplete on this matter, and I welcome any insight. I have but one other theory – that print editors are slightly better than the digital ones. Butthatisonlyatheory.


10 Comments on Watch out for Rabbiby, last added: 3/17/2014
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23. Deborah Underwood & Claudia Rueda Discuss “Here Comes the Easter Cat”

It's rare that an author and illustrator get to work closely together while creating a picture book—this makes it very fun to get a peek into a conversation between a picture book duo that have been paired together by an editor and live in two different countries. In the case of the adorable Here Comes the Easter Cat, bestselling author Deborah Underwood wanted to know how award-winning illustrator Claudia Rueda managed to capture both Cat's crankiness and his sweetness.

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24. Book Birthdays, Sick Kids, and Selling the House

If you don't want to listen to a writer who is completely overwhelmed go on and on about being completely overwhelmed, then stop reading now. Don't read one more word. But if you want to read and find out why this really nice writer is feeling stressed out and why she posted on Facebook, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade or use them to squeeze into your vodka tonic," then please keep reading.

Full disclosure: I am a very lucky girl. I know this with all my heart. But sometimes, sometimes, life is so overwhelming.

On with the story. . .within one week, actually within four days, these events did and/or will occur:

  1. My 3-year-old has the stomach flu.
  2. The young adult novel I worked on for 7  years is finally born into the world. (Title is Caught Between Two Curses, and you can check it out here: http://www.rockinghorsepublishing.com/new-release.html)
  3. The closing date of the house we have been trying to sell for 3+ years is finally going to occur, and we are thankful we didn't lose "too much money."
  4. A book launch party 
 Here's the deal. I'm just going to admit it. I have a hard time with balance anyway. Being a writer and editor and a stay-at-home mom are all full-time jobs. I have help from my husband and grandparents, but it's still difficult to balance and keep the guilt in check. When I have a thousand things to do this week with the closing of our house and the book launch party--both happening at 4:00 on Friday!--I am well. . .feeling a little crazy.

What can I do?

Here's the part of this post where I am supposed to come up with some words of wisdom for you. Something like: take care of my family first, ask for help with the closing and book launch party, do as much as I can and focus more on book markeing next week, etc. This is good advice, right? This is what I am telling myself; but really, did you come to this blog post to get advice from me? OR would you like the opportunity to give advice? How often do you really get asked for your two cents?

I am asking you for your two cents! What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed with your writing career and your personal life? How do you manage? Please share with me. I will be forever grateful. I will try your advice! I bet others will benefit from your advice, but they are just too scared to ask.

And if you want to check out Caught Between Two Curses--well, that would just make my day. It's a young adult novel for ages 14 and up. It's about:


Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it’s not just any-old-regular curse, either—it’s strangely connected to the famous “Curse of the Billy Goat” on the Chicago Cubs.

Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time.

Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family’s future, and her own love life—and time is running out!


I'll owe you one! 

0 Comments on Book Birthdays, Sick Kids, and Selling the House as of 3/20/2014 5:05:00 AM
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25. The Bickering Sisters

There once were two lovely young girls, sisters in fact, who lived in a spacious abode that seemed, too often, to close in around them. They were two of four daughters, not the golden-brown edge ones, but the soft, fair-haired, middlest sisters, mixed and squeezed together so much that they couldn’t get along. In fact, they bickered constantly.

Kou-Kou_by_Georgios_Iakovidis

They bickered near, they bickered far

They argued things trivial, humdrum, and bizarre.

“I’m sick of your manners,” one would often yell.

“I don’t like your meddling or dubious smell”

The other undaunted, her resentments would list

And sometimes erupt in a tirade of fists

Finally the lady of the manor (the loveliest, fairest maiden in the land) had had quite enough. She threatened, cajoled, and punished the two sisters. In frustration, she assigned them chores in the hopes of building teamwork. The clever mother’s schemes worked…but only for a season. For the enmity between the two sisters had grown as great and thick as their noble father’s ample chest hair.

He, the master of the house, was wise on his own account and took action to solve the embarrassing bickering once and for all. He tied the legs of the two sisters together with red silky ribbon, telling them to write down ten things each admired in the other. Only then would the ribbon be removed and their freedom attained.

He congratulated himself on his shrewdness and saw to the other important tasks of the manor, little knowing that the two cunning sisters conspired against him. Each composed a flowery list detailing their own most praiseworthy virtues, swapped scrolls, and beckoned their father back to their dungeon. So pleased was he that he released the two fair girls immediately with a tender kiss on each brow.

He boasted to his lovely wife in their bedchamber that night and wondered at how she could possibly resist his dashing charm. While choruses singing praise echoed inside his swollen head, the lady heard the familiar bicker, bicker, bicker from the other side of the door. The master and fine lady gave up! Would the two sisters ever be confidants or were they doomed to dwell in the moat of antipathy ever after?

Alas, one fine day, something came into their hands that brought the two together better than any silk ribbon ever could. It was warm, imaginative, and likable to both parties. They loved this thing, pondered it, and discussed it non-stop. Oft in the evenings, side by side they could be found on a blue, fluffy throne doing nothing but soak up the enjoyment of this thing…together. Yes, together.

An amazing light shone over the humble manor – the light of peace.

What was this wonderful thing of harmony, you ask? What could it possibly be? It was a book, then another, and another. It was literature that bound their squabbling hearts and imaginations together.

The lord of the manor, a brilliant novelist in his own mind, felt it important to pay tribute to one of the tomes that brought reconciliation to his home. To celebrate Divergent’s theatrical debut, I give you Virgil’s take on one of the wonderful works that put hatred asunder.

Not coming to a theater near you….

image

Artwork By Georgios Iakovidis (1853-1932)
Imitation Artwork yet unclaimed

10 Comments on The Bickering Sisters, last added: 3/21/2014
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