Memory Glitch

Memory is an odd thing. There are happenings from my past that I remember with certainty, and I’d argue vehemently with anyone who suggested that my memories might be corrupted by time or experiences pre- or post-event. Or even that the memory wasn’t even my memory.

The truth is, though, that memories are subject to outside influences. Perhaps we’ve heard a story so many times that we believe we actually were part of the story. We’ve incorporated the ideas into our own psyches. I knew of this phenomenon, I just never had real evidence of it until recently.

Studly Doright and I were reminiscing the other night about an event that occurred twenty years ago when we lived in Great Bend, Kansas. Our dog had developed an infection in one of his toes and I walked him over to the veterinarian’s office just around the corner from our house. Our daughter, Ashley, accompanied me.

The vet took us back to the examination room immediately and looked at Snapper’s puffy paw. Apparently the dog had gotten some sort of seed embedded in his nail and it had become inflamed and contained a hefty amount of pus that needed to be drained. I held Snapper while the vet swabbed the dog’s paw with antiseptic and Ashley looked on, the scent of alcohol heavy in the room.

All went well until the moment the vet lanced Snapper’s paw and blood-laced pus came pouring from the infected area. I heard my daughter moan and watched her eyes roll back in her head as she began falling to the floor. I was holding the dog and grasping for my daughter’s arm to keep her from hitting her head on the floor. Meanwhile, the damned vet stood there laughing!

Somehow I managed to slow Ashley’s descent without dropping Snapper, as the vet calmly told a story about watching a big strong cowboy faint watching his horse undergo a similar procedure. Ashley still ended up on the floor, but not at full velocity. The vet bandaged the dog’s paw as poor Ashley lay unconscious. She was only out for a few seconds, but woke up thinking she’d overslept and missed a band concert scheduled for that evening.

We paid the vet (who I never took any of my pets to again) and slowly walked the block and a half home. Ashley, other than being a little disoriented, didn’t seem to have sustained any injuries, and we related our story to Studly Doright in full gory detail when we returned home.

Over the course of twenty years, Ashley and I both have told the story dozens of times. Never once has Studly Doright been at that vet’s office with us, that is, until he told the story during our little trip down memory lane. According to him, he was the one holding the dog. He was the one who kept Ashley from hitting the floor. He was the one who became exasperated by the vet’s silly nattering. No amount of arguing with him could convince him that his memory was false. Hell, I began wondering if I was the one with the faulty memory.

Then while at Ashley’s home in Illinois for Christmas I asked her to recount the story. She did, almost word for word the way I wrote it above. Studly couldn’t believe his ears; although, in the face of such strong evidence he began to realize that perhaps he had internalized the details of our story to the point he’d convinced himself that it had happened to him. He won’t quite admit that he was wrong, but he is no longer adamant that he was there.

It’s kind of fascinating, isn’t it? That the brain can trick itself into believing something. It makes me wonder what memories I have that aren’t accurate, or that aren’t even my own. Like that memory I have of Han Solo and me kissing on board the Millennium Falcon as we evaded Imperial ships on our way to Cloud City. Don’t you dare tell me that never happened!

Peace, people!

Forgetful

Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something, but you can’t remember what it is you’ve forgotten, so you stumble through your morning with that little nagging thought tugging at the back of your mind?

Now, if you made it through that mess of a sentence/paragraph above you might be thinking, “Hell, I know what she forgot. It’s the punctuation mark known as a period. That woman forgot how to use a period to end a sentence.”

You could be right. That sentence definitely could’ve used a period, but what I remembered as I was writing it was that I had forgotten to write anything at all for the blog today, and while this blog post was meant for tomorrow it now has to be pressed into duty for today, and yes, I still need to remember to use a period every now and then. Kind of like breathing.

Now I just need to remember that I haven’t already written something for tomorrow. Oh! Will it never end?

Peace, people!

Designing Woman

My mother had two hobbies: reading and rearranging furniture. I shared her love of reading, but never understood her passion for decorating. Once I get my furnishings placed appropriately they might remain in the same place for years. The only times I've moved furniture around are when we've been transferred to a new location. I wouldn't do it even then, but I can't afford new stuff every time we change houses, and no one ever seems to want our old stuff.

Mom never had a budget for decorating, so our furniture was about as basic as it could be. We had a sofa, a love seat, and two chairs in varying shades of brown, tan, and black, but by simply rearranging the pieces from time to time and adding a new throw pillow or a crocheted afghan she'd create a completely different look.

Not long after I left home Mom bought a floral sofa. It kind of pissed me off. For all those years I thought furniture had to be a solid color and at the tender age of 18 I discovered florals exist! Had I not been worthy of a floral sofa? Was she making an exchange? Me for a sofa of flowers and leaves?

Studly Doright and I inherited my parents ugly black sofa when we married, but when I had the opportunity to buy a new one, it had flowers everywhere. It was ugly as sin, but at least it wasn't a solid. That'd show 'em.

Honestly, I have no skills in decorating. I never thought of it as something I'd enjoy doing for fun, but recently I was looking for an online game to keep me from overthinking everything in my life, and I found Design Home. Now I'm obsessed.

Here's how it works. Every few hours a design challenge is posted, usually with some criteria attached, i.e. two metal items, three rustic pieces, etc. Players select pieces either from their own inventory, from the inventories of friends, or from the shop, and then try to create a pleasing room. Players also get to vote on other designs. I get a kick out of seeing how others interpreted the challenge.

Here's one of my designs:

Isn't it pretty? My mom would have loved this game. Would she have chosen a floral sofa? I'll never know.

Peace, people. Go hug your mom.

Summer Day on the Farm

Plucked me an apple
Firm and red,
Forked up some hay
To store in the shed.
Climbed an old oak tree
Surveyed the land,
Scratched a mosquito bite
On skin smooth and tanned.
Hitched up the pony
To a little red cart,
Hied to the meadow
Where I left my heart.
Played chase in the rows
Of slender bean stalks,
Slipped out in the dark
For a sweet summer walk.
One brilliant summer day
From my innocent past
Lingers forever
In my memory vast.

One summer, maybe when I was eight or nine, I took a trip to California, Missouri, with my paternal grandparents. I remember very little of the trip except one magical day spent in the company of a distant cousin whose name I cannot remember.

Even as I near the great age of 60 this day stands out as one of the best of my life. I hope this simple poem conveys a little of the wonderous experience.

The Fabric of My Life

  
My first pair of blue jeans, begged for and purchased in my 14th year of life, came with a double pronged tongue lashing from my mom: 

1) Those #%*!@ jeans will have to be ironed, and 

2) She wouldn’t be doing the #%*!@ ironing.

Apparently Mom had been traumatized after being forced to iron her elder brother’s jeans during their own teenaged years.

I didn’t care. Never mind that in 1969 the only jeans I could find that fit me were made for boys. Although Levi’s for women were marketed as early as the 1940’s, the handful of stores in my little town didn’t seem to carry them in string bean size–I was all legs, no hips, and so out of luck unless I shopped in the young men’s department.

But the moment I broke in that first pair of jeans–sitting in a bathtub filled with icy cold water while the pants shrunk to fit me–I fell in love. There was simply no going back. 

For the very first time in my young life I was making a statement about who I was and what I wanted to wear, rather than what my mother thought about such things. Jeans equalled independence and freedom, well as much freedom as a 14-year-old girl in a one horse town could have.

And I never ironed the darned things, having found that an extra tumble in the dryer with a wet towel smoothed out the worst of the wrinkles. That made me feel immeasurably better at solving problems than my teenaged mother had been. You see, I didn’t realize that the clothes dryer of her youth was a line strung between two poles.

Now in the last year of my fifties I find myself still in a mad love affair with denim. I own three nearly identical pairs of  cropped denim pants from Chico’s and my only clothing dilemma is which tshirt to pair with them on any given day. 

Thanks to modern fabric blends, these jeans don’t even need an extra tumble in the dryer, or if they do, I have a steam setting to de-wrinkle them. We have come a mighty long way since then, and most of it was in jeans.

Ode to Blue Jeans

Faded blue or indigo

Cuffed or frayed or pressed

Even with a rip or two

My jeans remain the best.

At break of day I slip them on

To wander hither and yon

I’ve napped in them and swum

In them in someone’s backyard pond.

Take away my beer and wine

Confiscate my magazines

But keep your damned hands off

My ever-loving jeans.

  

Taking Stock

Taking Stock

I can’t remember
was this the afternoon the
sun obscured my view?
was this the time I
needed to shade my eyes
with the flat of my hand?

some evenings I brace
myself for sol’s onslaught;
moving to another chair
would be too simple
instead, I squint and grumble
while sipping Merlot.


but I’m almost certain
that clouds obstructed
the rays yesterday,
and left me in peace
for once.


Glimpse

she saw him stopped at a red light
dull green army jacket over a

white t-shirt with AC/DC emblazoned
boldly across his thin chest.

she can only imagine the list of
tour dates on the back.

this isn’t her boy
she knows that,

but the glimpse is enough to bring
a smile to her eyes and

the taste of salt on her lips
memory’s gentle nudge.

better, she knows, to have
spent this life with another

carry on Angus
rock on Bon

Bon Scott

This poem was inspired by photographer/graphic designer, Julie Powell, whose blog I follow on WordPress. Check out her work and insights at https://juliepowell2014.wordpress.com/

Perfect

Some things don’t need fixing
they’re fine just the way they are,
like mornings in the mountains
And evenings by the fire.

We don’t get perfect lives,
or even perfect days,
but moments of perfection
to savor along the way.

The trick is to recognize
these moments when they come:
a baby’s smile, a lover’s touch,
and acknowledge their existence.

To chase perfection is to lose it,
hold on too tightly and it’s gone
just smile to yourself in acceptance
and tuck the memory away in your heart.

  

Parade

She sat on the tailgate
of an old green Ford,
her narrow denim clad hips
wedged between an Igloo cooler
and a box of faded red rags.
Scuffed boots swinging.

The whoop whoop of a siren
heralded the coming display
of a starched color guard,
eliciting a respectful salute,
grandparents demonstrating
flag etiquette for the young.

Then came beauty queens smiling,
perching precariously on the
pinnacle of a tissue paper
decorated semi-trailer in gowns
of taffeta, satin, and lace.
Tiaras glittering in the sun.

She waved at those high school
princesses, pulling funny
faces to make them laugh.
That was her talent, after all.
Hardly anyone took her
seriously as the parade passed.

Marching bands from rival
schools vied for favor
as the sun heated the summer
Texas day; twirlers in spangled
shorts tossing batons inspired
ooohs and ahhs from the crowd.

Reaching inside the battered
Igloo, she dug deep, found an
icy cold Schlitz and disguised
it with a red rag. The Baptists
sitting at the curb on either
side would cluck if they knew.

A string of politicians came next,
esconced in the finest vehicles
the local car dealers could offer;
bright smiles plastered on their
faces as their well-coifed wives
wilted in the climbing heat.

Following close behind came tykes
wobbling on bikes, spokes decorated,
festooned with ribbons and crepe
paper and baskets overflowing
with flags or stuffed animals. She
called out each name as they passed.

Finishing her beer, she craned her
neck to see tractors and combines in
John Deere green compete with those of
International Harvester red in a show of
the latest in agricultural technology.
The parade’s low point, she thought.

At last she heard the clip clopping of
hooves on the WPA bricked street and the
bright clanging of a bell, as the old cowpoke,
Zeke, sang out. Smiling she popped the top
on another Schlitz, hopped down from the
rusty tailgate, and joined the parade.