Friday, June 26

Six-Word Memoirs

Can you tell your life story in six words? You can browse my six-word memoir and that of others here.

Laugh outloud today. Go ahead, I dare you.

Tuesday, June 23

Flight Mode

The Shit Fairy laid a big one last week and sent me into flight mode. A typical Libra trait, it means dropping everything and getting the hell out. Luckily I already had a weekend planned with the lovely Linda, so the timing was good.

I threw the dog and some stuff in the car last Thursday and pointed us east through the Great Smokey Mountains and beyond. We played tag with a vicious storm along I40 and pulled into the lovely Linda's driveway just in time to get ourselves and the luggage inside before the sky opened up.

If you have been visited by the Shit Fairy and find yourself in flight mode, here's a recipe to reclaim your joy:


1 - SUV
16 gallons of gas
1 - 50 lb dog (ripe with unconditional love)
2 to 4 lanes of good road

Mix together and drive for 6 hours into the waiting arms of someone who loves you.


Comfort food (nachos and guacamole are good starters)
Walking in the sunshine
Taking a nap (or two) together
More dogs (as many as your SUV will hold)
Shared silence
Bird song
Rushing rivers
Soaring mountains
Massage oil

Mix 2 or more into the same day and savor until your joy returns. This may take longer for some than for others.

Sunday, June 21

Happy Un-Father's Day Dad

For all the times
you dangled me in front of your friends
like chattel, thank you.

Your willingness
to trade my innocence
for some small measure of acceptance
has made me the woman I am today.

For all the times
you berated me, my mother, sister and brother,
thank you.

Your proclivity
for choosing a public forum
to trumpet your disenchantment
taught us the meaning of shame.

My inheritance from you is rich…
intelligence, charm, distinctive blue eyes,
wiggling my ears and yes,
the ability to hold a grudge.

For all the times
you confided in me
during our private talks, thank you.

Your oratory skills
were unsurpassed
as you recalled wistfully
the women you’d bedded, besides my mother.

For every un-Fatherly gesture, word or act,
I thank you for teaching me
how to become numb.

You’re the best un-Father I ever had.

Yours most truly,

The Absent Daughter

Wednesday, June 17

Seriously Y'all...

Yesterday, I was evaluated for vocational aptitude. The testing took 3 hours and covered math skills, spelling, reading comprehension, vocabulary, spacial relations, hand dexterity skills, etc... Believe it or not, this is part of the a program I've applied to that would pay for knee replacement surgery. It's really a proactive program based on the premise that the state would spend less money providing restorative medical care to folks than having to pay out social security, disability and housing for the rest of our natural lives. Job training and placement after the restorative medical care is part of the program. That's all fine and good except I already have a job and restorative medical care will help me keep my job and housing.

I was concerned about being tested for math. It wasn't my strongest subject in school and I actually considered buying some flash cards to brush up. Pause for a moment and have a seat at the multiplication table without a calculator. See? I shouldn't have been so concerned. I whizzed through the addition, subtraction, multiplication and long division problems. Then I froze. Before me were fractions, percentages, problems involving fractions and percentages, solving for "n", solving for "y", solving for "x" and then the dreaded pi (and I don't mean apple). The room went dark, I saw stars and thought I was going to faint. I looked at the kind-hearted state employee in charge of the testing and mouthed the word "help".

Sweaty palms and a dry mouth didn't deter me. We plowed through his neat pile of papers and then we came to what I can best describe as a questionnaire. A list of 60 or so statements that I would read and then indicate whether the statement was: a) very much like me, b) somewhat like me, c) not like me at all. The focus of the questions seemed to be skewed toward learning/study habits, i.e. "I like to learn in a room with bright lights." or "I like to sit at a desk when I am studying." You get the drift. So I'm plowing through these soul-revealing questions when I get to one that causes me to burst out laughing and utter, "You have got to be kidding me!" Here's the statement:

"Lifting and moving things helps me show others how strong I am."
Seriously y' took a few minutes to recover from that one. I was so throwed off I answered "a" instead of "c".
But I've saved the best for last...the Manual Speed and Dexterity test. Seriously y'all...I asked the dude if I could have a copy of it to post on my blog, but he firmly said, "no". The best way I can describe it is ugly geometric wallpaper from the 70's. A patter sort of like this:
This pattern was printed vertically on the page, 28 sets of these inverted V's and 19 rows of them running left to right. (really sorry I don't have the visual for you). Anyway...the instructions were for me to draw a vertical line from the bottom of the v to the top of the inverted v as many times as I could in a 5 minute period. Seriously y'all...I just looked at the dude and asked, "really?" He said, "yeah." So off I went, drawing straight lines, the whole time talking to the testing dude and letting him know what I'd really like to do is draw some diagonal lines, maybe a few flowers and a smiley face. Testing dude was amused.
So...after 3 hours of testing, the end result was I had the greatest aptitude in the following professions:
1. Poet
2. Fish and Game Warden
3. Radio/TV Announcer
Seriously y'all...could that not be more perfect?

Thursday, June 11

Afternoon in the Park with George

you register first
as the sound of gravel
yielding under the weight
of deliberate steps

the cadence of your pace
across the promenade
informs the beating of my heart,
my trembling hand

What does the writer care
of scandal
in the City of Lights?

a wisp of dust rises
from the toe of your boot
as you halt
at the hem of my skirt

the arch of a raised eyebrow
articulates your advantage,
me sitting on a park bench
you standing over me

backlit by the afternoon sun,
you radiate aristocracy
from the cut of your trousers
to the fine weave of a brocade vest,

its onyx buttons gleaming
like the eye of a crow
who’d gladly steal away the ruby pendant
nestled in the hollow of your throat

a pulse point causes the jewel
to quiver slightly
as baron/baroness takes
my gloved hand, upraised

lovers we are not
yet there is an intimacy
the onlooker may infer
as we stroll arm-in-arm

through the park
on a warm spring afternoon,
the sighing of leaves in the willows
co-mingling with our own

passion for words
passing between us…

We cannot tear a single page
from our life
but we can throw the whole book
into the fire.

Tuesday, June 9

Pausing for A Moment

Day 5 of Home Again...Home Again is on it's way. Really. Could use a wifi connection out here in the woods.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 7

Home Again...Home Again

Day 4

Celebration Day

Ouch! Driving a stick shift on Day 3 took a toll on my knee. It was a tough night that pain meds barely touched. When I woke up the morning of Day 4, it wasn't much better.

Leanne had risen early to retrieve Venus and Emma, so it was puppy love all around once they hit the door. Emma is a chocolate lab that's a month younger than Miss Mocha. Thank goodness they were playmates as puppies. I don't think anything chewable would have survived in either of our households had we not had regular play dates with the two of them. Venus is the latest addition to the family and she is a sweetheart, full of play and kisses. Neither dog minded I was piled up on the couch with a pillow under my knee. It gave them easy access for petting and snuggling and that's just good medicine in my book.

We spent a leisurely morning with the newlyweds, hearing more stories about their trip to Niagara Falls and catching up on life since the last trip to the Lone Star State. Soon other friends would be arriving for the celebration and I knew this quiet morning was a gift to be cherished.

The Lovely Linda and I ventured out to run errands and either the meds or the heat and humidity hit me half way through. I broke out in a cold sweat and thought I was going to be sick. We finished up quickly and I went straight to bed for what I hoped would be a restorative nap. This was too important a day to be less than 100%. The nap worked and I awoke refreshed and ready to resume the festivities.

By early evening, we were driving on the Old Galveston Highway to the restaurant where 60 of Holly and Leanne's closest friends and family were gathering to celebrate and bless their union.

***Pausing for a little rant***

It is ludicrous that two people who love each other have to go to another state or country to get legally married. Suffice it to say those who filled the tables that night felt the same way I do...that love is love, this world needs more of it and it's a violation of a person's civil rights not to be able to legally wed and receive the benefits of such a union. One day this will change. And when it does, we will sing a song of emancipation so beautiful the ivory towers built on myopia, hatred, fear and self-righteousness will simply crumble.

***Rant concluded***

Like any wedding reception, this celebration dinner served as an important bridge between family and friends. A humorous, but heartwarming speech by Leanne's sister had us all laughing through tears. This was an "official" welcoming of Holly into Leanne's family and I can tell they treasure and love her as much as her biological and chosen family do. Likewise, Holly's father gave a short but powerful blessing for the couple. Here's a sweet photo of them dancing:

Friend after friend stood up to celebrate the wedding of Leanne and Holly with raised glasses and happy hearts. They have a strong foundation of love and support from family and friends that will help sustain a long and happy life together. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Holly's father and we spent a large part of the evening in conversation. A former major league ball player, I wasn't sure we'd have much in common, but we're both talkers and sure enough we hit it off and I even talked baseball with him. [For those of you who know me, you may now pick yourself and your jaw off the floor.]

The meal was divine and the spirits flowed and as I look back, a poem has risen from my spirit to yours...

To Holly and Leanne,
Leanne and Holly,
your life of wedded union begins
surrounded by your love
surrounded by our love.

There is no force sweeter,
greater or wiser.
There is no force more forgiving,
patient or skin-tingling.
There is no force
more powerful than love.

It is alpha, it is omega,
it is worthy to stand wedded
before those who walked with you,
at times carried you
to this place.

On this day,
and a lifetime of tomorrows,
we celebrate and honor you
as Holly and Leanne,
Leanne and Holly,
on this blessed wedding day.

Day 5

Ride along with us tomorrow on our trip to Galveston

Saturday, June 6

All I Could Do

You knocked the wind out of me
light played golden notes
with your words
on the grass

All I could do was walk,
until music awakened
until white noise
a warm hallelujah
stopped roaring in my head
in my soul

All I could do was fly,
it was then I knew
reaching for the cabin door
the prayer inside me
and freedom from pain
had been answered

A Warm Hallelujah

Light played golden notes
on the grass
until music awakened
a warm hallelujah
in my soul

it was then I knew
the prayer inside me
had been answered
as the words, “I love you”
poured from your lips

Thursday, June 4

Home Again...Home Again

Day 3

The Lovely Linda has an inquisitive mind and likes geography, not just a pinpoint on the map or a collection of stories, but the place itself. What it looks like. What is smells like. The color of the air and the people. The way towns are laid out.

For this trip, she had a request. "Show me where you grew up." She's been hearing stories about Brookshire and Katy and Hockley and Waller and Cypress for two years and even seen pictures, but now, she wanted to see it firsthand.

So Day 3 was about going home.

From the looks of the morning, it was going to be a hot one, so we jumped in Holly's Jeep (which has air conditioning!) and headed northwest. First, we had to wrangle with the soft sided windows, but figured it out and off we went!

Suffice it to say, the small farming communities of my youth are no longer small farming communities. The urban sprawl of Houston has closed the gap between these small towns and the nation's 4th largest city. When I was little and we drove into the city, there was nothing, nothing, nothing and total darkness for the 32 miles between Katy and Houston. Now it's "planned communities" and cookie-cutter subdivisions for as far as the eye can see. All developed on top of once fertile rice fields. And they wonder why it floods so bad when it rains. Here's a tip's supposed to flood.

Rather than bore you with the mile-by-mile trek, here are a few highlights:
  • Heavy industry seems to be grabbing up land and setting up shop out on the prairie just as rapidly as the housing developers
  • The United Rock Salt Mine is still operational in Hockley and is the home of Ranch House Salt. It's at the end of the same road as the family farm.
  • Rice dryers still dot the landscape, but of all the ones we saw only one appeared to be operational.
  • Hearing the hum of a rice well and getting caught by a local walking through their fields in search of rice. We picked the wrong field to drive through, but the rice was there, just down the road a piece
  • Walking around the house I grew up in. It's now a dentist's office. They were closed, so we got to peak in the windows. Although he's done some cosmetic work to the outside, the bones of the house are the same and the pin oak trees are HUGE!
  • Lunch at Dozier's for authentic Texas barbeque
After a late lunch, it was back to the city. Good friends Larry and John were up for a visit, so we spent a leisurely afternoon with them and their 3 miniature schnauzers. Afternoon turned to evening and dinner at a local Mex-Mex (vs. Tex-Mex) place and I was in heaven! Texas barbeque and Mexican food in the same day! And they didn't send us home empty handed. Larry and John are voracious readers and loaded us up with bags of books. Thanks ya'll!

By now, Holly and Leanne were home so we headed to their house, excited to hear about their wedding and see pictures. They were levitating after 5 days on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, which climaxed with their wedding ceremony overlooking the falls. Thanks to the digital age, we were able to view all 500+ photos on their wide-screen TV and hear about their adventures and firsthand accounts of how warm and affirming the Canadian people were.

Congratulations Holly and Leanne...your love it a beautiful thing!

Exhausted, we fell into bed because...

Day 4

Let the celebrations begin!

Tuesday, June 2

Home Again...Home Again

Day 2
After a 12+ hour car drive the day before, we awoke (in Texas) to a morning filled with gentle, cool breezes bird song, blue skies and the possibility of coconut cake for breakfast!

Mom was up first and it was the sound of her tidying the living room that woke me. It got suddenly quiet, so I knew she'd slipped outside were I'd find her tending to her plants. The woman never sits still.

I switched on the coffee pot as I walked through the kitchen and headed for the deck. I couldn't wait to see the view and get a good morning hug from Mom. She is a champion hugger, as was my grandma, and I wasn't going to miss a single one since we'd be at her place less than 24 hours. The view was spectacular as the level of the lake was up from the spring rains and the new owners of the marina had done some long-overdue improvements to the shoreline.

On my second cup of coffee, I heard the Lovely Linda stirring, so went to wish her a good morning. Once she downed her first cup of coffee, we went for a walk around the Marina so she could get a sense of the place. Dropped deep in the thickest part of the Piney Woods at the tip of a peninsula on the Toledo Bend Reservoir, it's a sight to see, with the juxtaposition of deep green forest growing to the shore of a sparkling lake and a variety of water and shore birds to hold any bird watcher's interest. Oh, and there's the fishing.
Photo courtesy of

This is an aerial shot of Texas Island in the Toledo Bend Reservoir, which runs north to south along the Texas/Louisiana border.

After a leisurely breakfast on the deck, the Lovely Linda was ready to see more, so we hopped in the Mom bus (her beloved Suburban) and headed to Hemphill for an up close and personal look at a small East Texas town dependent upon the timber industry and tourism for survival.

The drive over the the bridge to Six Mile was spectacular with the morning sun creating ripples of silver on the water. The horizon I so deeply missed was before me and my minds eye drank it in. I have to have ready recall of the expanse of the Texas horizon during Tennessee summers, where I can only see as far as the edge of the yard.

There original town square, complete with courthouse was a great place to start on our "tour". We found a parking space under the shade of a pecan tree and headed straight to jail...the Sabine County Jail, which is now a museum and library. One of the few "hanging jails" in the nation, it's been restored by the local historical society and gives one pause to reflect on the wisdom of capital punishment, exacted at the end of noose.

After a sobering visit to jail, we toured the courthouse and saw the handy work of a prisoner who was in for a long stint. Seems he passed the time using his skills in woodworking, building and restoring the banisters, benches, desks and jury box of the courtroom.

No trip to a small Texas town would be complete without a stop in the local feed store. There, we were greeted by the cheep, cheeps of chicks and ducklings and some curious kittens. A little more driving around town, looking at turn-of-the-century homes in varying stages of restoration (or tumbling down) and it was back on the road to Mom's and lunch.

On the way back, we stopped in at Mom's church (Oak Hill Baptist Church). This is a one room church set deep in the woods with an adjoining cemetery where my step dad Bill is buried. A bit of sadness fell around me, thinking of him out there under six feet of red clay soil, but I couldn't bring myself to walk over to his grave site. I think Mom sensed my mood and quickly diverted my attention to the air-conditioned portable building the church moved in next to the sanctuary to house all of her decorating supplies. Mom's in charge of decorating the church on Sundays and holidays. She needs a lot of working space for all her stuff.

Back at the marina, we prepared for a late afternoon lunch on the deck. It was a feast and gave us the energy we'd need to make the drive to Houston.

One of the highlights (besides the coconut cake) was the spotting of a male summer tanager taking an afternoon bath. I wasn't quick enough to grab the camera, but here's a photo I found on the internet:

What a handsome bird!

All too soon, the car was packed and pointed in a southwesterly direction to Houston. Arriving well past dark, we fell into bed to sleep off the road fatigue and prepare ourselves for the friends, celebrations and adventures to come.

Day 3

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment...a trip back to my youth.

Monday, June 1

The Alone Place

You knocked the wind
out of me
with your words
all I could do
was walk,
walk until the white noise
stopped roaring in my head

All I could do
was fly
fly into the night
with my hand
reaching for the cabin door
and freedom from pain

With my hand
grasping the luggage
(they’d bought us for our honeymoon)
all I could do
was stumble
stumble into the waiting car
that would take me

To the alone place
away from you
and the words
and the white noise
and the pain
To the alone place
I'd created