Swiss Cheese

I woke up at 3 a.m. I’d say it was exactly 3 a.m., but Studly Doright’s clock runs fast, so it was likely only 2:57. At any rate, it was early.

Of course I’d gone to bed around seven last night because I hadn’t been able to sleep at all the night before. Do I lead an exciting life or what?

My brain and I have been having some intense discussions lately. The old girl just isn’t as sharp as she used to be. I always dreamed of being one of those elderly women that people would describe as being sharp as a tack. Instead, I fear they’ll compare my mental capacity to a slice of Swiss cheese or worse, a dull knife.

And as they carry me away to the memory care center, I’ll protest that I once was able to memorize Shakespearean soliloquies with the greatest of ease. And they’ll ask, “Did you say Swiss cheese?”

Peace, people.

Memory Lame

Ah, the things I can’t remember:

What I had for dinner yesterday.

The name of the little doohickeys that cover the valves on my tires. I had to pantomime yesterday while having my car serviced.

At least once a day, where I last put my phone.

How to knit. I once knew how, but now I don’t. Apparently knitting is nothing like riding a bicycle.

How to dance the Macarena.

The last time I had real cheese. This one made me cry. If only I’d known it was the last time, I’d have savored every single bite.

Similarly, I can scarcely remember what a Dr. Pepper tastes like. All I’m certain of is that it’s nothing like cheese.

How to diagram a sentence. I once was skilled at this task.

Names. Faces. It’s awkward when I have to ask my husband, Studly Doright, to wear a name tag.

How to play a saxophone. I was never a great musician, but I miss the camaraderie of band. I wonder if I could join an air band…

But I do remember most of the dialogue from Star Wars, A New Hope, and all the words to The Heart of Rock and Roll. I know John Cowsill’s birthday and Studly Doright’s social security number, as well as my own.

I remember the day I realized I couldn’t marry Elvis Presley. Not because of the immense age difference (I was five; he was in his twenties), but because my name would then be Leslie Presley.

I remember how it felt to hold my babies for the very first time. That new baby smell is still fresh in my mind. And I remember all five of my grandkids’ birthdays. Sometimes I don’t remember how old they are, but at least I get the date right.

Going to high school football games in late November when it was so cold I couldn’t feel my cheeks, but loving being squashed in between the grownups in my life, pretending my hot chocolate was coffee just like they were drinking.

I remember saying “I do” and meaning it, even though I didn’t really understand the commitment I was making at the time. Does anyone?

I remember my mom’s smile and my dad’s laugh, and honestly, what else matters?

Peace, people.

Singin’ in the Lane

My back is still not happy with me, but I had to run an errand in Tallahassee. My reward for surviving the trip was a coffee Frappuccino with almond milk at Starbucks.

As I waited for the barista to take my order I sang along with the radio,

“Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can dream of the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again”

The performance must’ve been really good because I received a standing ovation at the window. Well, the barista was already standing, but she was applauding, as well. That counts for something, right?

Peace, people!

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!


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.

%d bloggers like this: