Tantrum

Menopause
Brings out the best in me
She proclaimed sarcastically.
Hot, hot, hot
Flashes,
Night sweats to die for.
Dry–everything and everywhere.
No fair, dammit!
Just as she hit her stride:
Kids all grown, gone
Lives all their own.

Care to get frisky?
Sure!
But her body screams,
“Whoa there, little missy!
Not so fast.
Let’s add a few pounds,
Wrinkles in weird places
And configurations.
Boobs that weep
For their youthful
Buoyancy and shape
And by the way
Forget about sleep.”

Well, I’ve got your number
Ms. Men-o-pause!
I’m ignoring your
Anti-passion attacks
On my body, my life.
Intimacy is still on my
Top ten list.
Despite your best efforts.
In the words of Gloria Gaynor
I will survive!

The beautiful and talented Ms. Gaynor

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“I Will Survive”

First I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
Without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
Thinking how you did me wrong
I grew strong
I learned how to get along

And so you’re back
From outer space
I just walked in to find you here
With that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second
You’d be back to bother me

Go on now go walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
You think I’d crumble
You think I’d lay down and die

Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
And I’ll survive
I will survive (hey hey)

It took all the strength I had
Not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend
The pieces of my broken heart

And I spent oh so many nights
Just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
Now I hold my head up high
And you see me
Somebody new
I’m not that chained up little girl
Who fell in love with you
And so you felt like dropping in
And just expect me to be free
Now I’m saving all my loving
For someone who’s loving me
Go on now go walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore

Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with goodbye
You think I’d crumble
You think I’d lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
And I’ll survive
I will survive (oh)

Go on now go walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Cause you’re not welcome anymore
Weren’t you the one who tried to break me with goodbye
You think I’d crumble
You think I’d lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
And I’ll survive
I will survive
I will survive…!

Is Studly Actually a Famous Football Player? You Decide

Studly Doright believes with his whole heart that he and Brett Favre could be twins.

Studly:

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Brett:

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Now, if I squint, I might mistake Brett for Studly’s second cousin’s great uncle’s youngest son. Otherwise, I just don’t see the resemblance.

But, you can weigh in. If he gets enough “yes” votes I’ll get up and make his breakfast on Saturday morning.

But wait, Studly said I needed to use this photo of Brett:

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Personally, I think this view comes closest to resembling my guy:

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Uncomplicated

A Facebook friend challenged me to write a companion piece to his “Uncomplicated” poem. Here ‘s my take on it.

Uncomplicated

Old Ford truck, tailgate down
Levis and a faded chambray
Flip flops, goosebumps
Two Buck Chuck in a Dixie cup.
Fire pit in October
S’mores well done,
Sitting on the back porch,
Drowning in the stars.
Church on Sunday very last pew
Singing all the old hymns
I’ll fly away, oh glory,
Amazing Grace,
And you.

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Daddy and Christmas Trees

In my childhood, picking out a Christmas tree was a family affair, but everyone knew that the ultimate decision was made by Dad. He had this great ability to find the perfect tree every year. And decorating it was his thing.

We could help as long as we followed two basic rules:
1. Evenly space out the ornaments,
2. Make sure the various colors of ornaments were distributed appropriately (i.e. No two reds too close together)

Mom never approved of the way Dad tossed the icicles onto the tree, so he’d wait until she went into the kitchen and with a mischievous grin he’d fling a handful here, another there until it was to his liking. We never had an ugly tree. And, if the eggnog was flowing, the tree became a true work of art.

Perhaps this is why I pretty much spoiled the joy of tree decorating for my own family. So intent was I on trying to make the tree perfect, like Daddy did, that nothing short of perfection pleased me. All moms have regrets, this is one of my biggest: that my children never wanted to help decorate the tree because I had an unattainable image etched in my mind.

My apologies kids. Maybe this year we can have our laid back tree.

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You’d never know it by looking at him, but the man was a tree decorating genius. I miss him so much.

Scurvy

Shouldn’t the word scurvy
Be an adjective to describe
A delicate morsel so sweet
And tasty that other treats
Blanch in comparison?
Gosh, that dessert was scurvy!

Or a nubile brunette reclined
On a chaise lounge
in a slinky red gown
My goodness, she is scurvy
Or even scurvaceous.

Instead, scurvy is a noun;
A disease brought on by a
Lack of some critical vitamin
C or D or K
Or is that rickets?

Anyway, it’s a disease: scurvy.

Rickets, come to think of it
Sounds like it should be some
Kind of annoying insect that
Chirrups in the darkest
Corners of the bedroom.

Darned rickets.

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Still Life

In my grandparents, home
There was a painting of a bowl
Brown, with cream swirls,
Uneven and tilted, spilling its
Contents:
Red apples and green grapes,
Oranges, too, though,
Simply orange, but
In shades that differ
Ever so slightly,
Onto a table set for one
It takes a sharp eye to see
The tiny dimples and
Wrinkles, curves, and lines
Of the woman outside the
Frame.
Still, life is life.

Love, Mom, and the Cabbage Patch Kid

Today is my mom’s birthday. How old would she have been? Well, let’s see, she turned four years old on the day that the Japanese launched a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor launching our country into World War 2. That year was 1941, so Mom was born in 1937. She’d have been 77 today. Sadly, Mom passed away in her mid-50’s, a victim of cancer.

I miss her every single day. I’ll never forget when it hit me that Mom was gone. Many days after her funeral, Studly, the kids, and I were back in Kansas, and one of my students said something funny to me in class. When I got home that afternoon I picked up the phone to call Mom. I even started dialing her number before I realized that I’d never be able to do that again. That’s when I cried until I thought my head would implode.

Now Mom and I were often at odds. As much as we look alike we had very different approaches to life. Mom was a perfectionist, and she never quite understood my haphazard ways. She had the subtlety of a sledge hammer, so even when she thought she was correcting me in gentle ways her message came through like a bullhorn in a closet. But, and every mother and daughter will understand this: Mom was my best friend.

My fondest memories of my mother:

Anytime I was sick my Mom was the very best nurse–she should have been one, but circumstances prevented that from happening. Instead, she worked for doctors for most of her life. There was nothing quite as comforting as having Mom lovingly placing cool cloths on my forehead when I had a fever or cradling me when I had a bad cold. Honestly, sometimes I played sick just to get the attention.

One Christmas, I think I was 7, my California cousins came for a visit. My cousin Gail was a year older, and we were great friends. On Christmas Eve we were excitedly discussing our presents while snuggled into the twin beds in my room. I said I couldn’t wait to see what Santa would bring. Gail told me, in no uncertain terms that there was no Santa, and that parents who told their kids there was a Santa were liars.

My sobs brought Mom in from the living room where the grownups were enjoying an adult beverage or two. I told her what Gail had said, and Mom told me the truth–that parents did provide the gifts from Santa, but that Santa, would always be in our hearts as long as people did good things for one another. I could live with that, and I still believe it was the best Santa explanation ever given.

One of the very best times I had with Mom was the December we camped out all night at a local retailer in order to secure a Cabbage Patch doll for my daughter. I’d gotten a tip from a co-worker that a store in Amarillo was getting in a shipment of 100 of those much coveted dolls. Casually I mentioned to Mom that I was thinking about getting up extra early to try and get a doll. She immediately went into action and said she’d go with me. She packed a bag like we were going into battle: Thermos full of coffee? Check! Two warm blankets? Check! Cushioned seats? Check! Reading material? Check! Extra heavy gloves? Check! Snacks? Check!

We arrived at the store at midnight thinking that we’d be able to sit in the car for a couple of hours, but there were already 20 or so people in line. As we watched, a few more joined the queue, so we quickly grabbed our supplies and staked out our spot. I can’t remember everything we discussed that night, but we talked non-stop. I’m pretty sure most of the world’s problems were solved. Thanks to my mom, we never got cold or hungry, and we each ended up with a doll–one for my Ashley and one for a friend’s daughter.

I’d love to have that impromptu camp out one more time. I’d make sure Mom knew just how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her.

Peace, People. Please let your family members know how much they mean to you. Right now.

Below: Mom and Dad circa 1957.
My daughter Ashley, Cricket the doll, closed-eyes me, and Mom.

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Mom with her family, from left, her brother Jackie, my Grandaddy Carl, Mom, and my Nanny Grace holding my Aunt Nedra.

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Color Change Blues

Yesterday I was blonde
(You know she was blonde)
Today I’m a ginger
(What happened to blonde?)
My eyes get a shock
(A real nasty shock)
When I look in the mirror
(Don’t look in the mirror!)

I’ve got those low down
Hair color blues
(Have mercy! Have mercy!)

I asked for a change
(Oh say it’s not true)
You know that it’s true
(Yes, oh yes it’s so true)
I just didn’t think
(You always should think!)
I’d end up with this hue
(And oh what a hue!)

I’ve got those low down
Hair color blues
(Have mercy! Have mercy on her!)

Those stinkin’
Low down
Nasty clown
Hair color
Blues!
(Oh yeah!)

Garrett’s Day

When Studly and I decided to have grandchildren we didn’t waste any time. Our Dominique was born on September 13, 2002, and our grandson Garrett followed just short of three months later on December 6.

Garrett wasn’t our first grandchild, but he was our first grandson. He restored symmetry to our family. From the beginning our Garrett was a fascinating kid. He started talking very early and his curiosity was boundless. He questioned everything from the moment he started talking, and that continues to this day.

He taught me all the ins and outs of Thomas the Tank Engine, such as the names of every engine and how to lay down a good track. When he outgrew Thomas and Friends Garrett became a Lego aficionado, a true master builder who once told me that every set must be built according to the directions at least three times before the pieces can be used for other purposes.

Nowadays Garrett is a spelling hotshot. He practically eats words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After winning his school’s spelling bee as a fifth grader, he went on to place in the top ten at the regional bee. He’s also a budding oboist AND he can ride a motorcycle. Pretty well-rounded kid. Oh, my favorite thing? He still says, “Nana, I love you.”

There is something he’s not fond of doing–math homework, so awhile back I wrote this little story.

“Garrett Battles the Math Monster”

No one knew about the monster in Garrett’s bedroom except for Garrett. He’d almost told his parents, but he didn’t think they’d believe him. He thought his sisters might be scared if he told them, so he kept it a secret.

As monsters go this wasn’t a particularly awful one. It had but one purpose in life–to prevent Garrett from completing his mathematics homework. The monster didn’t care about English, science or social studies assignments; it just didn’t want him to tackle math.

When the monster first moved into his room Garrett thought he could just ignore it and it would go away. He could see the enormous beast from the corner of his eye as he worked on assignments. It had silver scales, almost like mirrors that winked merrily as long as Garrett practiced spelling words or memorized state capitals. But as soon as Garrett pulled out his math textbook, the scales turned blood red and began pulsing with a menacing intensity. The monster would snarl angrily and poise for attack. Quickly Garrett closed his book and watched the monster mellow out.

“Ok,” thought Garrett. “No math, no problem.”

But there was a problem. Garrett’s math grades began to slip. Then to slide. Then to plummet. Things were serious. It was time to banish the math monster.

Every afternoon Garrett entered his room with the intention of driving the monster out. First he tried to reason with it.

“Hey there,” he said. “I’m in need of a break here. Do you think you could go mess with someone else for awhile?”

The monster showed his fearsome teeth and howled.

Next he tried fighting his scaly nemesis with fists. All Garrett got out of that idea were bruised knuckles and a black eye.

Maybe the monster was afraid of animals. Garrett brought in his cat Lucy to test his hypothesis, but Lucy took one look at the monster, screeched and scampered upstairs to hide under the sofa.

Nothing was working. Then Garrett had an idea. Maybe he needed to attack the math monster with words.

“Hey, Scale Breath,” said Garrett. “Can you spell extrudable?”

The monster looked perplexed. “How about excruciating?”

The monster started growing smaller.

“What kind of monster are you if you can’t handle a little spelling contest?”

The monster shrugged.

“Try this one,” continued Garrett. “Esophageal.”

The monster’s scales began to lose their luster.

Feeling more confident, Garrett said, “Spell Feuilleton.” The monster grimaced and seemed to shrink even more.

“Stichomythia!” Garrett crowed. The monster’s scales were now a dull brown and he was half the size he’d been just syllables ago. “Knaidel!” Shouted Garrett, and the monster shrunk again.

Sensing victory Garrett asked, “What do you have against math?”

The monster hung his now tiny head and said, “I didn’t want you to be good at math. You’re so good at everything else, I just thought that if I could keep you from being a star math student that it would make me feel better.”

“And did it?” asked Garrett.

“Not really,” admitted the monster. “But I did enjoy hanging out in your room.”

“Look man, you can hang out here. Just don’t interfere with my homework anymore. You’re making me look bad.”

“Ok,”said the monster. “Could I ask you a favor?”

“Sure,” said Garrett.

“Teach me to spell?”

Happy birthday, Garrett! I love you! Don’t let the Math Monster win!

Below: Spelling bee stud; Big boy sliding; Hanging out with Dominique

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