Friday, August 15, 2014

Fishy Love

After shopping at the health food market, we sat debating what to do about dinner. Tentative plans for fish at Knights of Columbus in FDL had been cancelled. Thai? Mexican? We still weren't sure as we headed south on Richmond. Low & behold, a vast parking lot with a flashing sign announcing the VFW Friday fish fry. Kismet! We parked and made our way across the street to their hall. Funny how after all of these years we had never noticed it before. Wheelchair entrance through the back door, past the kitchen. The waitress greeted us and seated us at a plain old vinyl covered table near the back of the high ceilinged room. "This is such a typical Wisconsin scene" Cully remarked, and it was.

We pondered the menu briefly. "Ooh, perch... pricey though" said he. "So what, you're worth it" said me. He ordered a double serving, what the heck. I ordered the baked haddock Oscar, lured by the crab, shrimp, & asparagus. Not cheap either. We shared a bowl of fish chowder. Oh my gosh, it was divine! Our girl next door waitress brought our food, piled in red plastic baskets. Not fancy. But the food, oh the food was special. 'Wow, great potato salad" Cully commented, extending his fork for me to taste. Yum. "Try mine" I popped a gigantic succulent shrimp into his mouth. And so it went.


He nodded towards a table across the room, along the wall. The 30 something couple was kissing. We grinned broadly and gave them a thumbs up in unison. They smiled at us. We dawdled, nibbled, shared, licked fingers, and generally enjoyed our new discovery. Not fancy by a long shot, just simple pleasures. When the couple left, he swung past the table to wish us a good night, what nice people!

A few minutes later the waitress approached. "You know that couple that just left?" she asked, nodding towards the now empty table. "They wanted me to tell you what a pleasure it was to see two people so much in love as you two are." We were speechless, here we'd been thinking that of them... "They paid your bill, it's been taken care of... the whole thing!" She seemed as stunned as we were.

My eyes filled with tears... of course. We weren't aware of any obvious displays of affection. If anything, we were hungry hungry hippos simply enjoying our food together. Our waitress was moved and delighted as well. Again, faith in mankind and the goodness of humanity shone brightly upon us. What a blessing our life together is. Our love bloomed into something deeper and more meaningful tonight as we were humbled by such an act of kindness from fellow lovers of life.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tribute To Sam Greylord

Sam is dead. The man I loved because he gave me four amazing daughters, not because I ever had the luxury of BEING in love with him.  He made that impossible.  This reality does not change the depths of my feelings about the situation.  His life was more about mourning than celebrating. To finally feel that stranglehold of pain slip away is powerful and poignant.

We don't always have the luxury of partnering with someone who completes us.  Sometimes we end up with an individual that challenges us at every turn. Relentlessly. Sometimes we struggle to translate pain into understanding and forgiveness. Sometimes it feels like an assignment from God, entrusting us with one who needs what they can't give back.  Sometimes it's not equal, or fair.  Sometimes we are stretched beyond all reasonable bounds, akin to birthing a harsh rocky mountain who's pain will stretch far beyond labor and delivery.

We grieve the darling cuddly puppy who gets hit by a car.  It's more complex the gnarly cur who bites your hand every time you offer food.  Who has suffered such abuse that doesn't have the capacity to understand unconditional love and lashes out against it because this is all it knows. Because trust has been annihalated. Sam was such a beast, but he was also a beloved child of God.  People sometimes forgot that.

Oh the damage and pain inflicted are legendary.  There was little sympathy or understanding from those looking in from the outside.  Why waste time loving a being who can't return the favor, at least not the way the rules are written.  Why invest in the most damaged members of the human race, or any species for that matter? Why?

I will tell you why.  Because life's greatest lessons come from leaving our comfort zone.  Because sometimes a mere pebble has more value than a chest of gold and jewels.  Because the sacrifices we make do not diminish us, they teach us to be stronger better members of the human family.  Because one person can make all of the difference in the world.

Beneath his hurt and anguish was the most gentle of souls.  He dared to love and hope in his own unique way.  He knew injustice firsthand, the flame of it burned deep. He was self aware enough to choose loneliness as a way to protect us from the fires of rage that resided within.  He gentled himself over time, he tempered his unspeakable pain with an exile of solitude. And continued to love us from afar.

I am grieving deeply.  I have tried to give voice to his story. There is no happily ever after.  But this is not the end, this is a new chapter and the legacy he leaves is priceless.  I think of our four daughters waking up today for the first time to this new chapter.  They honored him with a most loving death, a true and good death, a perfect transition.  His last act was a classic fish-lipped smooch as he let go.

He will live on in them.  Their children will hear stories of Grampa Sam, they will learn his magic from a slate wiped clean by forgiveness, by this culmination of life's lessons learned the hard way and shared as a family.  The healing and growth I have witnessed are priceless, and I am honored to be a part of it.

You are Loved Sam, deeply so.  I am very proud of you. You stayed true to the very end.

Friday, January 10, 2014

THE FORCE OF CONFORMITY

I know I shouldn't take it personally.  When we moved into this sprawling rural complex four years ago I made sure it was OK to hang my beloved wind chimes.  They  were a gift from Cully, the nicest possible chimes, Music of the Spheres Mongolian Chimes, richly melodic.  They ground me and give me great comfort and pleasure. Hearing them fills my heart.

They reside in a little corner nook outside the bedroom window, a few feet from my head.  I keep my window cracked open, yes even on frigid Wisconsin nights, so I can hear them, even in my dreams.  There is a woods behind us, and other buildings create a somewhat protected courtyard area. Several lush bushy pines surround these chimes as well, buffering them from fierce weather They hang patiently and gently sing when the wind finds them, and I am grateful for this simple joy.

Fast forward four years. The manager of the complex calls to very nicely inform me that we have a new neighbor and they have complained.  Yes, the chimes were there when they decided to rent here.  And yes, nobody else of the hundreds of neighbors has EVER complained.  And frankly, my not being allowed to hang them would have been a deal breaker for me, moving in. Nonetheless, they must come down. 

Cully fetches them, my heart is heavy.  They are tangled in a mute heap in the corner.  Their silence is deafening.  Hark!  Hear the airplanes, low in the sky. We are in the flight path of the international airport up the road. Ooh, the endless thrum of thousands of cars and trucks zooming endlessly around the clock on the TWO major highway systems, within a mile.  Ah, the distinctive sound of the train! I favor the sound of the train at least. I don't however favor the rest of the intrusive sounds of the human rat race. Energetically it is draining.

I feel so defeated.  Intolerance has moved into my neighborhood and raised it's ugly head.  I'm grieving, I'm sad, I'm angry.  Those chimes were Cully's first token of affection, many years back. Those melodies embody this old-ish crippled blind lady's precious connection to nature, to the gently wafting wind.  They were God's whispers to me they soothed my pain.  Suddenly I feel trapped, caged in a place where my spirit is no longer understood or welcome or tolerated. The seed of fear has been planted  I wonder what they will complain about next?

But wait... the birds are singing. The branches are whispering. The spirit must find refuge where it may!


Friday, October 14, 2011

Once Upon a Pile of Seeds; A FABLE

Once upon a time there was a man who had a fine sack of seeds. How he got them is not important. What is important is that he was used to having very little and now he had plenty.

He pondered his seeds, wondering what to do with them.

He could grind them and eat them. That would last him quite a while.

He could plant them all, there was land enough to do that. However he was afraid that if he did so, something bad would happen.

Perhaps a drought would cause the plants to wither and die. Perhaps a flood would drown them. So he thought some more, and decided he should only plant a few of the seeds. That way, if he was very careful, they might last him the rest of his life.

A neighbor stopped by one day and commented on his wonderful and impressive hoard of seeds. "How fortunate you are" he was told, "to have such a wealth of seeds."

He thought, briefly, about sharing some of his seeds, but fear reminded him that if he squandered them he might run out. He would be better off keeping them all for himself.

He worried some more and wondered if he should even plant ANY of the seeds. Perhaps the smartest thing would be to save them ALL. So the bag of seeds sat there, and he sat admiring them. He felt like such a very lucky fellow.

He dumped the seeds into a pile and admired them whenever he could. He felt like a king! Then one day a great wind came and blew many of the seeds away. He was upset about this, of course, and put what was left back into the sack. He tied it shut, tightly, so he would not lose any more.

Time passed and he noticed that the seeds seemed less somehow. At first he thought he was imagining it, he didn't want it to be true. But eventually he had to admit to himself that his seeds were dwindling.

How could this be? Were the seeds shrinking? No, they looked to be the same size. Was a neighbor sneaking by & stealing seeds in the nighttime? He was so fearful this was the case that he decided to sleep outside next to them.

He did this for the rest of the summer, determined to protect what was his. In spite of his best efforts, the sack got smaller & smaller. He did not understand! he became afraid to sleep at all.

People began to wonder what was wrong. He was no longer friendly, it seemed he did not trust anyone. He was no longer happy, all he did was worry. His spirit was shriveling up and he became less.

By the end of summer he was a mess. The last of the seeds had vanished and he was miserable. He might as well be dead, he had nothing left. Life didn't seem worth living.

The townsfolk talked amongst themselves. How can we help our neighbor, they wondered? What in the world is wrong with our dear old friend?

Then they had an idea. “Let's have a party for him and cheer him up!” So they all brought a little food and drink, some music to be made, and their caring and love. However, he was so sad he couldn't even appreciate their effort. “Go away” he said, “I don't feel very lovable. I am a loser, I have lost everything and it is hopeless.”

"What are you talking about", they asked? "Look around you!" And he did, for the first time in a long long while. As far as he could see, there were lush happy plants, bursting with new seeds. His friends all pitched in and helped him with the harvest. At the end of the day he had a pile of seeds bigger than he had to begin with.

I guess I don't need that much seed after all” he thought to himself. He decided it would be wise to share what he had with the others. "Help yourself " he offered. "Take what you need. There will always be more."

Everyone went home with a sack of seeds, and he still had a good pile left. Now, he thought to himself, I must figure out a place to put them where the mice can't steal them all... and he did.

(He hangs them from a tree, & the birds steal them instead!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

THE REST OF THE KIMCHI STORY; ODE TO STINKY


On September 28, 2005, I made my first & only batch of Kimchi and posted an accounting here.  Please allow me to update you.  In due time, I bottled up most of the Kimchi & stashed it in the fridge.  MOST.  I ran out of jars so the last bit of it remained in the bottom of the crock.  The crock resided for a couple of years in the bedroom, just sort of lurking over by the closet, snuggled up to miscelaneous piles of STUFF. 
 
Then I acquired a sidekick; Cully.   He has a more discerning nose than I and routed out the crock eventually.  This beautiful big Harsch pickling crock, oozing of extremely fermented garlic & then some, was relegated to the kitchen.  Where it sat for another couple of years.  Yup.  I beg to note that at one point I opened up the water sealed top & tasted the contents.  It was still food, extreme food but food nonetheless. 
 
A few weeks ago eldest daughter Anoush & hubby Yoda were visiting.  We are in "waiting for new grandbaby mode", anticipating a home water birth in our dining room area.  Their arrival was in response to youngest daughter Mollea's contractions, which eventually petered out.  Mollea eventually went home, Anoush & Yoda spent the weekend helping us prepare the house for the big event.  You can never be too ready.
 
We, Anoush & I, detected an icky odor between the fridge & the freezer... the recycling zone.  By Saturday morning it was smelling like a dead mouse.  The little kitty, Qmii, likes to catch mice or play with them to death, and then leave little piles of "mouse parts" arranged to her liking as gifts, or perhaps offerings to the Gods, or just showing off.  So I sucked it up while everyone else was doing the coffee & pastry thing in the living room & pulled the recycling bins out into the open, isolating & sniffing each one.  Nope.  There was a dread-filled anticipation as I cleared the space, not knowing what I would find. 
 
Hah.  A smelly towel lay balled up on the floor, used to wipe up milk or something & then forgotten... stank.  I tossed it out the back door.  Anoush sniffed around & said that wasn't the whole stink, just part of it, so I resumed the search.  Ooh, there on the other side of the fridge, my pickling crock.  I created a batch of Kimchi four and a half years ago, & never completely emptied the crock.  It must have gotten jostled enough to let some air in & oozed a bit of odor.  Rank STENCH, coulda been used as biological warfare.  Anoush dumped it way out back, could maybe have sold it on Craig's List as the perfect weapon of revenge, maybe bait for something... vultures or flies I guess.  ha ha ha
 
As a result that entire area got mopped & the house is breathing a sigh of relief.  I managed to manufacture poop without benefit of an intestine!  Looked like poop, smelled worse.  If the dogs decide to go roll in it, they are never coming back into this house.  Such excitement!  

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

IDEAS ABOUT IDEAS

I frequently have good ideas, but don't know how to actualize them. My ideal job would be Idea Person. When I was a kid having ideas, my dad told me "Never tell anyone your ideas, someone might steal them."

This after I imagined a handheld hairdryer with brush & comb attachments. That dandy idea was a result of having my five year old brain broiled via a hairdryer that encased my head in a Helmet of Raging Inferno, for what seemed like hours. (The price one pays for beauty, according to my mom)

I KNEW it was a killer idea. Tis a shame my dad didn't listen & apply his Industrial Design skills. There was a fortune to be made, years later when blow-dryers hit the market. Yup, I invented the blow-dryer when I was five. Figured that an Invisible Industrial Spy had heard me tell my dad & stolen my idea. After that I kept my ideas to myself, and there were plenty of 'em, mostly conjured up to save myself from dying of boredom in school.

During my early hippie emergence I had a revelation. An untold idea is a waste of muse; if you can't manifest it, release it into the wild. I have freely practiced this ideology henceforth, experiencing a motherly pride when one of them is birthed somewhere, by someone.

Long ago the concept of Audio Porn came to me, not only for the blind, but for those who like to multitask while jogging or driving or cleaning house as well. I imagined CD's of erotic lovemaking sounds, all different sorts, marketed like magazines. Inexpensive to produce, high mark-up, compact display units, happy repeat customers of every imaginable genre. Overhearing sex is a part of most of our histories and has a forbidden aspect that has not yet been tapped by the industry. The imagination is our best sex organ.

Today I read that someone has launched a porn site for the blind. Good for them! Another of my stray ideas has found a home. From now on I am going to post my ideas on this blog, to hasten them along. Stay tuned, the next one is a real doozy.
smooch
Auntie Hattie

I DO IT TO MYSELF

We bought an 8-pack of Activia the other night. I've been trying to convince Cully to give it a try for the past year or so. More often than not he spends a good part of the evening sleeping in his recliner to compensate for the gurd that plagues him. One night/morn last week he showed up in bed ten minutes before the alarm was due to go off.

While excessive farting & burping have great entertainment value, heartburn does not. I hope the stuff works. Started me thinking tho... I've been wanting to try it myself, since it came out, having a high regard for probiotics. Now that we have it in the fridge, do you think I am indulging as well? Nope.

Many moons ago I was at the bottom of the food heirarchy. First hubby, then the kids, then the dog, then me. I've actually moved up a notch... now I get a shot at the pizza crusts before the dog does.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Cheesy Goodness

May 30, 2004

"The weather brewing this morning is stygian, the wind buffeting the trees about in a most dramatic fashion, and the atmosphere is oppressively foreboding. I am beginning to think that summer will never arrive. It is brisk within, I chanced opening my windows a few moments ago and the parachute ballooned like the mainsail on a schooner.. tis bone-chilling, and no relief in sight. I refuse to turn the heat on.

Teale took my bedding today to Anoush's to wash, it has been all too long, and my simple frocks as well. I have but a thin cotton sheet to contain my nakedness, my shivers a pathetic attempt to generate heat. Golly has preferred the company of Mollea this morn, they at least are warmly snuggled within her thick fuzzy blanket. I should have kept my comforter, but it begged to be washed and I could not disagree... twas much needed.

I had a huge mug of bitter hot chocolate for breakfast, favoring unsweetened beverages... sugar is not the way to begin my day. I loath syrup, preferring tomatoes with salt and lots of pepper on my pancakes and French toast, or grated (pungent) cheese. M'thinks I got this quirk from my mom, aka Ooma... she who uses cold slabs of butter, like cheese, on her toast."

Today; May 8, 2007

Speaking of pungent cheese, we picked some up a month or so ago at the Weyauwega Star Cheese Outlet in Weyauwega (WI). If you live within range, it's well worth an excursion to this eclectic store. Besides a vast array of cheeses at appealing prices, they stock Mexican groceries (great tortillas, chips, & tostada shells), flash frozen fruits, gaudy souvenirs, and gigantic creamy ice-cream cones that the local folks line up for.

I have not yet met a cheese too gross... Used to spend my allowance at Gerber's Cheese, Main st. Hartford, in the 60's. Hilda was a ballsy German lady with a great accent & the Koch Kaise she sold me on Saturday mornings was a ripe snotty nasty caraway ridden glop that I was absolutely addicted to, scooped out of the container with penny pretzel rods whilst window shopping... finger licken good stuff.

So we journeyed to Widmer's in Theresa and picked up a whole mess of overly aged Brick on clearance. Each piece was sturdily shrink wrapped, the gasses had ballooned each to a comical degree, and I bought all they had for a buck apiece. Lasted me for years, they remained inflated at the back of the fridge patiently stewing in their own juices. It's a wonder these cheesebombs did not detonate. I wonder what the record oldest edible cheese is? That stuff was pretty rank. hee hee

Another trip to Weyauwega Star Dairy coming up this weekend, time to restock... the perfect excuse for a mini road trip. We are the ultimate Cheeseheads... Cheese is indeed a religion here in Wisconsin.  Also favored, the outlet store in Gibbsville. They have some super duper bargains including their "Mystery Cheese" at $1.50 a pound, which are the transitory mixes that happen when they switch from one batch to the next. yup yup
Smooch
Auntie Hattie

Friday, May 4, 2007

ALL THAT GLITTERS

Jen stuck the key into the battered door of room 17 & felt the cheap doorknob wobble as she twisted it. Dang it all, a good kick would have done just as well! She didn't bother looking into the mirror as she swiped off most of her makeup. She really didn't want to face the person she knew she would find staring back at her. Her feet rejoiced as she kicked off her shoes. She let her clothes puddle on the floor as she stepped out of them, too tired to bend down & pick them up.

The double bed was inviting, but oh so empty. She turned on the TV to chase away the loneliness & lit a joint. As usual, it was way too late to call home & talk to her kid. Home. She felt like a kid herself, playing at being an adult. Sometimes it was so tempting to go back to her folks, and her old dog Queenie, and everything that had slipped away somehow. Sometimes she wished she could reclaim her innocence.

She slipped between the sheets, and her hand drifted between her legs as she pondered the evening. Tips had been pretty good, though at the moment she was too pooped to remember where she was. BumFart USA. The circuit was sort of like the merry-go-round she used to adore when she was younger, spinning til everything became a blurr.

She smiled as she remembered the one guy who stood out tonight. How could he not, he must have been six and a half feet tall, and hefty. His lush beard was a nice contrast to his shiny head. But it was his friendly smile that got her. And his eyes, his sparkly eyes looking into hers, like he saw the person within. You would think she had more than her fill of attention, with all of the lusty adulation & cheering! What she craved most was some simple loving.

She felt herself becoming aroused as she pondered the looks he had given her as he watched her dance. Golly, he was HUGE!!! A big sexy teddy bear, someone she could have gotten lost in. Jen sighed deeply as she moved her hand slowly & surely. Yes, she had power of sorts... the power to turn men on. Even women for that matter. Even herself.

She imagined kissing him, and him kissing her back deeply & passionately. mmmmmmmm... nice! Was she just another lost princess, looking for her prince? Jen had learned all too early in life that most princes turned out to be toads, and that the possibility of happily ever after was slim. She had learned to stand on her own two feet, or to dance on them as the case may be. She had learned to depend on herself.

As she moved towards her fulfillment, she imagined his vast body, his weight pressing down on her, pushing her into the mattress. Ooohhhhhh... yessssssss!!!! Her heart pulsing deeply, Jen slipped into sleep, to a kinder place where her feet didn't hurt, where her butt wasn't bruised from bawdy drunken pinches stolen when she let her guard down.

Slumber allowed her to forget how it felt when she had gotten up the nerve to approach him, her heart thudding, and asked him to spend the night with her. He had been kind... "Sorry sweetheart, I'm married." Tomorrow would be a new day!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

VENGEANCE

He wasn't much to look at, but, ah... he fancied himself a playboy. His shiny red sports car didn't make him any more attractive, although it inflated his ego in a way that gave him definition. That he chose to spend weekends with our family spoke volumes about his social life. Dad had befriended him at work; brought home a stray.

Stretching meals to feed nine rather than eight was just another creative challenge to my mom. She was good at making more out of less. She was gracious if not warm. There were times when it seemed strangers got the best of her and we got the leftovers. This was one of those times.

Even the most self-absorbed cad had to realize eventually that he was wearing out his welcome. But hark! A golden opportunity for him to redeem himself. He coaxed them to leave the nest. Offered up a token of his indebtedness. A romantic dinner for two. Candlelit. No spilled milk. Away. It was their night, to dance.

He sent them off smoothly, into the cold blustery night. Reassurances that he would take care of us dripped from his tongue like honey. We were left with our mother's coral lips imprinted on our cheeks, and an empty feeling in our stomachs that hotdogs couldn't fill.

My five siblings were dispensed with immediately following supper. "You can stay up, you're older", he whispered in a silky voice, smoky breath wafting through my hair as he leaned too close. His oily scent snaked out at me, swallowing up nearly all of the room's air in one gulp.

I barely hear the words that sift through the thrumming in my ears "….pretty hair…" His flaccid fingers fumbling fawning "….such big brown eyes…" The better to see into his cool green reptilian soul. I tried to smother my panic, but it escaped in a hiccup of a giggle.

"…..ticklish….lish...ish???" Creeping, creeping, creep. In a flash, he was on me, trembling hands forced beneath my clothing, probing my armpits, my sides, my belly. "SSshhh……..shhhhhhhhsh…" hissed he, suffocating my shrieks with his cold clammy lips, sucking my panic, feeding on it.

"Oh look, you've peed your pants!" Hot urine covers me in shame. "Your mother will be angry, won't she.…." he slinks away, away, away… "Here, let me help……." He looms, sloshing hot soapy water in a bowl. "…….it will be our little secret….." laying me across my parents bed "………take it easy…….." pulling down my panties "…….she will never know……." pushing my legs open "…….never……."

His ministrations were oddly tranquilizing and conspiratorial. So fastidious as he washed & dried every nook & cranny. His eyes red & glassy, bulging as he concentrated on his task, trembling as he smoothed powder over me, bringing his face close, his steamy breath burning me, quaking..... "Aaaahhhhhhh........ ohhhhh.... ghhhhhhhhh....." he gasped convulsively. "That smells better now, doesn't it?" Helped me into my nightie. "NO ONE will ever know." His breathing as ragged as I. "It will be our little secret, won't it!?"

The blackness of the night was punctuated by blinding white snow the next morning. It mocked me, covering life's filth, pretending it wasn't there, hidden underneath. Ice crusted over my soul, stole even the memories of warmth.

I felt invisible. Battered by bubbling breakfast banter. I picked at my pancakes, cringing at his too loud laughter as everyone feasted. Shrank into myself as they vied for attention. No one noticed. No one noticed. NO ONE.

Plans for sledding percolated, erupted into a flurry of mittens, hats. Snowpants, boots, scarves. The men dawdled over coffee. Contemplating the merits of several nearby hills. My mother finally hustled them all out the door, and she and I basked in the sudden silence.

"Are you sure you don't want to go?" I shook my head. We worked together quietly. I plunged my hands into scalding dishwater. Perhaps she chatted. "CAN'T YOU SEE?" I was screaming inside. "Can't you see, I'm different, can't you see…..???"

They returned sooner than expected. "His sled hit a big rock, out in the pasture", Dad explained. He stood there, a quivering mass of agony, as I stared, victorious, into the filmy eyes that had been avoiding mine. TRIUMPH. He was quickly gone, and never returned. Zoomed off into the horizon in his sporty red car.... . .

Crushed like a nasty little bug.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

THE LAST WORD

The late fall chill finally crept past the threshold of thrift. As reluctant as I was to acquiesce to winters’ seductive whisper, the alternative was less savory; the whine of icy toed rugrats. But what should have been a simple matter of flip a switch, push a button, light a match became a quandary.

The hoary behemoth that squatted in the basement, hogging more than its fair share of space, farted and belched but refused to cough up any heat. The whiff of gas that I detected was not quite the sort that finds itself trapped between the sheets. What had been an old but reliable friend now stared back at me with bellicose belligerence.

Many things are best savored when left ‘til the last moment. This was not one of them. Visions of impossibility mingled with prayer as I dialed the Power & Light people. I hoped for the best, but expected the worst, trying to gentle my query. They were not about to be fooled into complacency, however.

The lanky serviceman found his way to my stoop with amazing speed, considering his leisurely gait as he slid down my stairs in a molasses-like manner. He finally reappeared in my kitchen to announce the discovery of a loose fitting, and his trip to the truck to get a wrench reminded me that these guys charge by the hour. No surprises so far.

But wait! His eventual reappearance brought unexpected news: The chimney was full of dead birds, which were keeping the flue from opening, and I would have to clean them out. He tried to be subtle as he snuck that last bit in, a fruitless attempt to cloak his distaste. The offer was made to shut off the gas and return when I had accomplished the task.

Ah, but female wiles prevail and he reluctantly admitted that he was authorized to remove them. At an additional cost, of course, and only after phoning his supervisor from the truck for official permission. I was to be responsible for their disposal. Of course.

The task, once settled upon, took on the aspects of a ceremony. Gloves were gathered, and exactly the proper box was sought out. One that was sturdy, and big enough to hold them all, although he couldn’t guess at the number. It needed to have a cover to contain the anticipated stench. I was surprised he didn’t ask for a puke-bag as well, but the time for procrastinating was over. He slunk off in a cloud of trepidation, leaving me to speculate on how a flock of unintelligent birds had found it’s way down my chimney.

I was ready to hunker in for the duration, but he came galloping up the stairs almost immediately, carried by a blast of relief, box in hand. “You’ll never guess what it was!” he crowed as he pulled back the flap. I was first hit by the lack of malodorous fumes, and second by the sight of a lone mummified mallard, sequestered at the bottom of the vast box.

We both speculated on this once majestic bird’s unseemly fate, and it was with humor and cheer that my handy-dandy service guy departed. I tried to picture this beautiful bird flying through the air, perhaps suffering a fatal heart attack and falling into our chimney. Or perhaps in the throes of old age, stopping up there to rest and just keeling over, leaving friends and family to wonder at his whereabouts. It was obvious from its condition that it had been there for a very, very long time.

Are you thinking this is the conclusion? Well think again. I was, and suddenly the scenario hit me like a kilo of marshmallows. A quick inspection confirmed that the bird had indeed been shot, and a knowing rose swiftly and surely from the depths of my being.

I thought back, to a past, foolish fling: Rich with titillating energy, safe in its lack of expectations, a time of na├»ve pleasure. It was a bit of a memory that could have had a happy ending; one of life’s lessons that is served to you unexpectedly on a silver platter. A reminder that there is usually a price tag attached to the whole shebang.

He was a handsome, lusty fellow, and a bit of a drunkard. He perceived himself a great sportsman, and though his ability to kill could not be argued with, his ethics could. The lustiness had run its course. The drunkenness had not, alas. Alas. And handsome is, as handsome does, in the eye of the beholder.

Hiring a roofer should probably not be based on friendship, nor how his buttocks will appeal as he kneels above, framed by sky and treetops. A charming French smile, kissed with beer, seduced my sensibilities. “Don’t worry darlin’…” was his smooth reply to my queries and concerns. What a ninny I was.

Have you ever seen a roof full of men clutching cans of beer, swaying with the breeze? Scary. Have you ever seen a roof done by men, clutched by beer? Not a pretty sight. The job staggered to a halt, bitter words shattering any vestige of friendship. I gritted my teeth as he was paid for a job poorly done. Gritted my soul as I tried to absolve my rambling roof.

Fast forward through the year, a year in which I kept my eyes on the ground. I had reached a balance of forgiveness and detachment. Bygones were bygones, after all. Now i dredge from my reluctant memory the sound of their braggartly laughter, souped up on testosterone & Miller High Life as they headed for the pond. The muffled echoes of their shotguns reverberate still in my mind's ear, harmonizing with the distant sound of the noon whistle.

Standing in my kitchen, staring at that bedraggled mass of bones and feathers, I wasn’t nearly as floored by his act as I was by the fact that he had gotten the last word, so to speak. I bundled the innocent corpse into a smaller box. There was a childlike pleasure in winding gobs of tape around it. The typewriter keys clacked delightfully as I addressed the label. Indeed, the taste of the stamps was as sweet as the satisfaction I felt as I paid the neighbor boy a few bucks to ride his bike to the post box.

Monday, April 30, 2007

STATIC ENERGY

I am a samurai held in abeyance
for purposes of spirit
resigned containment
costuming a passionate potential
my pugnacious warrior
is anesthetized for now
toned down & tenuously tethered
this gladiatress waits
for her golden winged chariot
to sail into thine heaven

Sunday, April 29, 2007

MY HERO!

Two Days. Two days at McCormick Place, costumed as Huggy Bear. Cute and cuddly on the outside, hot and sweaty on the inside. Every so often I'd escape into the bathroom to gulp some air and splash the perspiration off of my face. "Let me in," I pleaded as I gazed into the mirror. The eyes that looked back at me were the eyes of an interloper. I slowly blotted the beads of moisture from my face. My mask slid back into place as I was sucked back into the swirling sea of folks who swarmed the Convention Hall. My stint as purveyor of hugs was almost over.

Time and reality can become distorted when you get caught up in pretending. Oh, the promotional hugs were real enough, yet I had been pressed into a strange place, like a violet between the pages of the dictionary. Later, as I stood in the hotel room shower, I felt the water drum it's beat, lavished in it's ancient song. I was a shapechanger, merging back into myself, but with a new dimension. Huggy Bear had built my confidence, but the real test was now to come. How would it feel to enter that space forthwith, as a person? My insecurities, doubts, and anxieties taunted me, and I felt a surge of determination. I was as good as anyone else! "Dear God, be with me," I murmured as I pulled my clothes on.

Pushing through the glass doors, the change I sensed wasn't just with me. There was a winding down: Business had been accomplished and this was more or less the schmoozing hour, before the big push to pack em up and move em out. I searched the thinning crowd and found Jeremy, the sweet young boy who viewed the world from his own perspective. His hugs had been precious, and he was just as receptive to me, now, as he had been to Huggy Bear. His eyes spoke volumes as they sparkled at me, spoke more than the rest of us say with the voices we take for granted.

Suddenly a hush fell over the crowd. A whisper fanned over the room like a flame.

" Carey Grant... pst.pst.pst." "
"................HERE! ..psst ...psst ....psst.."
"...spokesperson for... pssst ... pssst... pssst..."

It was like the parting of the Red Sea. This was a splendid orchestration of public relations, complete with press. His entourage included a dozen of Chicago's Finest. These spiffy cops formed a circle around him, hands on hips, elbow to elbow like a water ballet. I looked past them, to a man who wore a costume every time he was in public.

"Excuse me," I murmured as I gently pushed past two beefy arms and slid into the circle. My heart was beating wildly. "Mr. Grant, I'd like to give you a hug." The crowd had closed in and was rapt in the moment. There he stood, bigger than life. My idol, my first crush. He took me in his arms and as he embraced me I felt reality click into place. Here was someone who had spent most of his life pretending. I felt a sadness in our hug.

As I unwrapped my arms, he tipped me back and stared into my eyes. Looking up at the crowd he drolled, "Isn't life grand?" Then, bending over me, he pressed his lips to mine. I was transported into the movies i'd grown up with. For a glimmer of a moment I became his Katherine Hepburn! As I slipped back into myself, back into the crowd, I heard a very young woman comment to her friend, "Who'd want to kiss HIM? He's OLD!!!" I smiled inwardly, and then I hunkered down next to Jeremy's wheelchair. "You're the best hugger here" I told him, tears flooding my eyes as we said our goodbyes. He threw himself into my arms, and hugged me for dear life. My Hero! ~finis~

LIP SMUCKERING GOOD

It started out as such a simple common sense good idea. Raise a handful of hogs for market. After all, they eat just about anything, and pretty much entertain themselves. Course, the bigger they got, the more they ate. And the more they ate, the bigger they got.

Well, working nights at the Jelly Factory offered up an opportunity that was too sweet to resist. Fifty five gallon drums filled to the brim with grape jelly. Free for the taking. What wasn't suitable for human consumption was surely fit for this kingdom of swine.

A glut of delectable preserves, hauled home in the back of the old Chevy pickup truck. Tipped into the feeding trough, glistening jewel-like in the sun. The scent was divine. Snouts quivered in anticipation. Talk about hog heaven!

They frolicked and cavorted, lapping up this sensational ambrosia. Hogwild. Not for a moment did they stop to consider that they were destined to become the sweetest hams on the planet. Night after night, an endless supply. Day after day, a perpetual sugar high.

In fact, you could say they were living high on the hog. They lurched about, sloshing syrupy slop to and fro. They wallowed in it. Every fly in the county came to share the abundance. These porkers were oblivious. Up to their eyeballs in luscious goo.

Well, come Auction Day, they were plenty big. The truck was all fueled up and ready to go. Ma already had that money mostly spent, in her head, on new furniture. With great anticipation, Pa and Junior set out to hose em down and load em up.

Guess who had the last laugh. Not half the county, that's for dang sure. Those glorious purple pigs got a reprieve. Pa got all red in the face. He was fit to be hog-tied. Ma didn't dare look at him for the rest of the day for fear he'd remember it was her idiot idea in the first place. But oh, what a tale she'd spin for the girls tomorrow night at the plant. And that's no hogwash!


~finis~

RHUBARB FACTOIDS

I was pleased to find online vast enthusiasm for rhubarb. I found ideas for rhubarb pudding cake, rhubarb ketchup, rhubarb conserve, rhubarb strawberry crumble (I adore anything with oatmeal in it), rhubarb nut bread, rhubarb pancakes, frozen rhubarb daiquiris, and spicy rhubarb shortribs. And that aint' even the tip of the iceberg. Rhubarb has been popular for thousands of years, and other than in modern day America, shows no sign of losing it's status as the most loved pie fruit in the world (tho it is not a fruit). . .

Thanks to the Romans, the word "rhubarb" takes its name from the latin rha barbarum. rhubarb grew along the banks of the river rha, the ancient name of the volga. Back then, the region was considered foreign, or barbarian territory. Thus, rhubarb literally means "from the barbarian, Rha."

The use of the word "rhubarb" dates back to the early days of Shakespearean theater, a use that carried forward to present day. Dictionaries first define rhubarb as the lovable, edible plant that it is. Then the slang definition follows. To prepare yourself, get into the feeling behind it. say RHU-barb with attitude!!! Now you can see how the word became synonymous with a heated argument or squabble. One dictionary even went so far as to link rhubarb to baseball, where a rhubarb meant sparks were flying between the umpire and the pitcher.

Besides it's tasty possibilities, the oxalic acid in rhubarb is effective in controlling aphids, and in breaking down & neutralizing the CFC's that threaten the ozone layer of our atmosphere. The moral of the story: Even though the pie plant's flavor might be "barbarum" to some, never underestimate rhubarb!

Smooch
Auntie Hattie

Saturday, April 28, 2007

UBER-KIMCHI

SEPTEMBER 28, 2005

I FINALLY put together my first batch of Kimchi the other day. Whoo woooh! My fifteen liter Harsch Fermentation Crock is about three quarters full, not exactly the small trial batch recommended. No worries, my daughter predicted last night after a heady sniff that it will disappear in no time. I did loosely use The Ultimate Kimchi Recipe by Eric Armstrong... most importantly, the attitude & techniques.

First, the most daunting part about this for me is that I have never seen, smelled, nor tasted Kimchi. So I was heartened when Tansy stuck her face into the opening & bobbed up all excited exclaiming "WOW, KIMCHI!" I have been preparing for this culinary adventure for a couple of years... btw, another daughter, Mollea, piped up "HEY, shut that, it STINKS!" LOL

I began with my largest stainless bowl, it is pretty huge (12 quarts?). 3 large Napa cabbages quartered & cut into one inch strips filled it up. I rescued the cores & sliced them thinly, hoping for a variety in texture. Then I incorporated the Celtic sea salt. Next a few small heads of some form of red cabbage my daughter was given by an elderly Hmong couple, loose & curly heads with lots of white mixed in with the red. It wanted to be included.

Most of the ingredients came from our local farmer's market, & our garden. Our daikon radishes grew only to be a few inches long, so a generous amount of kohlrabi was added as well. Three apples from the orchard, minus the worms. Four lovely fresh beets. Three HUGE bunches worth of the nicest green onions I have ever seen (a good two feet long), but mostly the green part.. a tiny acorn squash peeled & sliced, so crisp & sweet.

A half of a jicama begged to be included. A variety of fresh peppers, some sweet & some hot, slivered. Fresh living carrots so sweet & crisp. as I incorporated new stuff, the mixture continued to settle down so that the bowl never got to overflowing but just about. I did use one thin oriental eggplant, my only trepidation. I hope that wasn't a mistake. My intuition said to add it. Lastly, one of the kids went down to the creek and harvested an armful of the freshly renewed watercress that is so abundant. It goes to seed in the summer, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. The spiciness and deep green color were the final needed touch.

This Kimchi created itself, I was but the facilitator. I dissected a grapefruit (had no lemons or limes) & mangled it in another bowl. Added 9 huge fresh cloves of crushed garlic, locally grown here in Wisconsin. Part of what is so neat about this is all of the love that went in to growing the ingredients, literally dozens of people had a hand in this ultimately. Some unrefined rice vinegar, generous handfuls of sesame seeds, sesame oil. Then I ground in my coffee grinder 5 varieties of hot dried peppers I had on hand, and added a few handfuls of the very fragrant chili/paprika blend that is a staple for us. All in all, about a dozen different types of peppers are included. Lastly I grated a generous amount of ginger root. And added a dribble of raw apple cider vinegar.

I tasted the veggie mix and decided it needed a teensy bit more sea salt. Then I massaged the chili paste into the veggies. Couldn't resist licking my fingers when I finished, a perfect blend of spicy peppers, garlic, sesame, & ginger. YUM! The amount of seasoning covered the mixture perfectly, couldn't have planned it better. Altogether I spent seven hours lovingly participating in this process. After all of my worries about doing it "right" it turned out that I knew exactly what to do (felt very familiar). My crock rests on the floor next to my bed, and the fall weather is crisply perfect for slowly fermenting.

I am bedbound, and in quite a bit of pain usually. I covered my bed with a crisp white cotton covering & sat Naked Goddess/Buddha style making the most glorious mess! Twas a healing/spiritual experience, very Zen. I wanted to wait a few days before tasting it, perhaps today. The smell is intoxicating, very seductive. I am salivating just thinking about it.


UPDATE: The Kimchi turned out FABULOUS... very intense with a wonderful array of textures, visually pleasing, nearly intoxicating. We bottled it in smallish jars, the sort filled with Nutella & olives & such. There are a few still stashed in the back corners of the fridge (for special occasions). BUT the real corker is this... due to lack of enough jars at the time, a fair amount (perhaps a third) was left in the crock to be dealt with later. Now, precisely one and a half years hence, the Kimchi still lurks within my lovely crock next to my bed, and I am terrified to open it & see what's happened. Perhaps it is the veggie equivalent of Limburger cheese... but then, I adore stinky cheese, perhaps I will adore super aged Kimchi as well.

Oh yah.... I am no longer bedbound, or housebound! Thus is the power of Kimchi, moreso the power of LOVE!!!
smooch,
Auntie Hattie

BABIRUSA

I remember one neo-pubescent August dawn. The thundering of a train about to break through the bedroom wall shattered my dreams. What a heartstopping sound that yanked me out of my bed in the wee hours. It took me some chest thumping moments to realize that the nearest traintracks were four mile off. Faint whistle whispers wafted through the dead of night occasionally. This was another matter altogether.

The sound of the hogs squealing to beat the band set my feet into motion. There was something surreal about the monstrous livestock truck laying on its back, wheels still spinning, filling up our yard. I stood in my nightie, watching the sleepy eyed driver crawl through the window of the cab, cursing a blue streak.

His story cracked off in chunks. "…Up all night loading prize hogs at the state fair…" They are running as fast and as far as their little legs will take them, in all directions. "Must've fallen asleep….." eyeballing the guardrail he had ripped through, and the embankment that had flipped his rig. "Holy shit, my boss is gonna KILL me…" He looked as if he were hoping it was a bad dream.

The early morning calm had been transformed instantly to adrenaline laden chaos. To six kids living an isolated country existence, this was a reprieve from the mundane. Add the County Sheriff, lights flashing, radio crackling, brass badge gleaming, holster bulging. Wow.

I guess my parents had a different view of things. "No, you can't chase the pigs." "Stay away from the truck." "Get back here." "I SAID GET BACK HERE!!!" "Leave that poor man alone..." We were every bit as excited as those hogs.

That was the first time I ever saw a grown man cry, when he called his boss. The Grand Champion Boar had been crushed beneath the trailer. It took all day to put the truck right, catch & load the livestock, mend the guardrail.

And I sat vigil with that boar, watching it swell in the hot August sun, waiting for the rendering people to come. It took on gargantuan proportions. People driving past slowed to a crawl and gawked at this pig the size of a hippopotamus. I guess if it had taken much longer, the poor thing would have exploded. They stuck it in the gut and it made a funny sound and spewed pink foam and a smell you only want to smell once, a smell that changes you forever.

~finis~

TELESEX OPERATOR

DEAR TELESEX OPERATOR........My wife and I went to the doctor today to see if we could bring back the excitement in our sex lives.. I am 84 and my wife Gert is 83. He suggested that we might want to try sex in a public place and we did and we were thrown out of Burger King and told we can't come back.. There was one bright spot in this mess. My wife said that she had forgotten that I had such a Whopper......That's not the EMERGENCY.....I called the doctor back and explained the situation and he suggested that heights and thinner air can drive the hormones to a new level......and he was right...we had wild sex except that Gert is now hanging by one hand from a 50th floor balcony and I don't have the energy to pull her up........WHAT SHOULD I DO???????? PLEASE LET ME KNOW RIGHT AWAY!!!!!!!

HOT and AFRAID of HEIGHTS.......HAROLD

Dear Harold

What goes up must cum down, which I imagine you have discovered for your self, if you were fortunate enough to get it up in the first place. Whilst it was a mite unchivalrous abandoning ole Gert on the 50th floor balcony, by now she oughta be frozen firmly in place & you can probably feel safe leaving her there til the spring thaw.

I do hope she managed to put on some clothing after the Burger King incident. If not, there may be a problem as I hear that President Shrub has issued a Purple Alert and appropriated 999 Apache Helicopters to shoot down any suspicious unidentified masses that may be terrorist bombs attached to the outer walls of high-rise buildings. Your beloved wife probably looks like a blue shaved goat right about now, which unfortunately is the terrorists favorite new ploy. I have it from very reliable sources that the Al Kaida Smurf Suicide Goat Herds are running rampant.

If you could blindfold yourself & venture out onto the balcony briefly, I would suggest peeing on her. this will serve two purposes; first she will be frozen more securely in place, assuring her safety over the long haul. Secondly, she will be transformed into a lovely ice sculpture. Just hang a "Happy Bar Mitzvah" banner on her & I'm pretty sure they will leave her alone. Then you can haul your sissy ass back to wherever you came from, and you & your Whopper can rest up til spring. BEST WISHES & regards to Gert

smooch
Your Sexologist Extraordinaire

SUPER-JESUS-LAND

Before the last presidential election I wrote a sour grapes fantasy about the right-wing-nuts, tis fun to be childishly petulant once in a bit... o.o

Here's a peek into my somewhat vengeful heart:

About these so called Christians; a favorite fantasy of mine is that when everyone ends up at the Pearly Gates, many excited because the end times finally "came about", there are two lines; one for the souls who supported Bush & gave him his power, blind to the truth, and the other for everyone else. Of course, the Bushies are all eager and pleased with themselves, they even have a crew "monitoring" the line to make sure nobody sneaks into their queue who doesn't belong there, particularly gay people and poor people and colored folks and such who are lacking the proper credentials.

St Peter is in charge of the general line, greeting us individually, willing to forgive the sins of the humble. The line is long but moves along easily, much to the building consternation of the "moral majority". Finally God himself makes an appearance and personally unlocks a beautiful golden door, way off on the right, telling them somberly that they have earned their eternal just reward ten times over.

Crowing with delight they stampede through, onto a vast & long spiral slide the size of a mountain, well oiled, pitching themselves down into a Hell beyond their wildest imagination. Still pumped with a frenzy of spiritual adrenalin they manage to fool themselves into thinking that Satan's Amusement Park is their exclusive club, and it IS in a manner of speaking.... .

They are stuck with each other for ever and ever, with nobody else to point fingers at or force to pay their debts, no minions to take advantage of for minimum wage, nobody to do their chores for them, or their dirty work.

Oh yeah... alas, the commissary and concessions only take Euros, the new world money standard, so even those who figured out how to take their hoards of wealth with them are wretchedly poor, unable to ride any of the rides, or buy even a hot dog. Their dollars may as well be confederate! They are forced to eat out of dumpsters, and perform degrading acts just to survive. They get to wallow in the fear and hatred of their own making. The angels who watch over them are gay...

Everyone else lives happily ever after, finally, amongst kindness and truth and plenty.
The End o.O

Friday, April 27, 2007

MIRACLE OF SORTS

One wintery night I was laying in bed reading a poignant book entitled "Small Miracles of Love & Friendship". Breathtaking vignettes of occurrences that defy an easy explanation. the sort that affirm faith. Spiritual nourishment. Anyhow, suddenly there was a soft rustling outside my window. It's midnight, inky dark... The dog is instantly alert. After a minute or so, a more persistent thrashing against the pane. And again moments later.

I'm doing a mental inventory. Is someone locked out? Impossible, we never lock the doors. Has the cat slipped out, clamboring atop the bushes, trying to get back in? I expect it to stop, but it does not. I hold onto Golly, she is more curious than agitated, ears cocked high. The cat appears from nowhere, equally alert. The energy in the room ZOOMs. So, it's not the cat! LOL

There is a curiousity to the timing. Silence, then a more persistent battering. It's so frigging cold, I don't want to leave the warmth of the bed. My book lays on the pillow, and I want to lose myself in it once again. Getting up means painfully navigating around the bed, moving a bunch of paintings, scrunching aside the parachute that covers my walls. Icy toes, icy EVERYTHING! I clasp the silky fabric in my hands, can't see a dang thing out the window. Only reflections of the room.

I slip behind the parachute & cup my hands against the window, pressing close. My nose flinches at the icy glass. My eyes adjust to the darkness and move beyond the glass, out into the spiky green shrubbery. Suddenly there appears before my eyes the most glorious bright red cardinal, a huge male. He beats his wings against the glass once more, inches from my face. We look directly at each other as he hovers, sandwiched between ferny green and glass. If I were to open the window he would have come in. I do not, and he flies away into the night.

Cardinals are not nocturnal. How amazing. He is gone, but leaves something nebulous behind. Weird. Neat weird. Magical. A sign m'thinks. I only wish I had a clue WHAT!
smooch
Auntie Hattie

A SCENTUAL TALE

Well you will never guess, not in a million years, what we came cross a while back. We being my friend Karrie and myself. She stopped by, with a couple of those monster travel mugs filled with steamy coffee, for a Sunday morning gabfest. This is a rare and much appreciated event. She mentions she's been having trouble sleeping, and I offered her a Sobakawa pillow; I'd bought a dozen and had a few to spare.

So, they were stashed behind the pie-shaped loveseat. In the corner of my room. Sealed in plastic bags. Thank goodness. We pull one out, and she starts sniffing it. Not that it took any special talent or sensitivity to notice. In fact, it would take a rare talent NOT to observe the scent that emanated in a most profuse manner.... from the plastic bag.

It touched her jeans, her jeans reeked. Her hands. My hands. My comforter. The fan picked it up, and wafted it about. My nose touched the plastic, now it lingered there. "Pee?" she pondered. Hmmmm... "The cat?" I mused... "Heavens no, I would know if it were a cat..." She is a critter person. "So familiar, I just can't place it" She is intent on solving this scentual puzzle. "Fox?" Some male spray...? no male I know has stood on the couch & done his business!

We tick through the whole gamut... not doggish, and anyhow this is not an area accessable to dogs. Nor rodential. YAY for that! "Sheep?" (me) "Goats?" (her) "Camel?" (me) It smells almost like very cheap incense. Sort of musky. We ponder it back and forth, it is almost growing on us. Well, literally, it has covered us both, this most peculiar and haunting odour, by this time.

I have hauled a second pillow out, & it too is smelly. Every inch of both of them, not some spotty little spray. It is thoroughly imbedded throughout the plastic. Some polyvinylchloride gone awry? I am embarrassed; a stinky gift... but she is a farm gal, and shrugs it off. "Not so bad" she assures, "I have smelt MUCH worse"... and I agree, it is musky. Not Jovan White Musky... nope. Primally animal musky.

She leaves a bit later, pillow in hand, promising to air it out when she gets home. I toss the other back behind the couch, it is the best place for it, for now. I wash my hands. And my nose. I change the shift I was wearing. I am not about to change my comforter, tis on the far side of the bed.. I spray it with orange oil, the fan still plays games spinning molecules through the air. And then CLICK, it all makes sense.

I grab the phone & dial her cell, she can't be but a mile down the road. "The ERMINE" I exclaim! She laughs... "I was just thinking.. MINK?" (Her dad raised mink, and foxes as well, how strange is that?) We laugh together... YES!!!

Last year, between cats, we were overrun with rodents. Mice, voles, and probably rats as well. Late one night I got up to pee & settled in to watch a troupe de meese cavorting & frolicking in and out of the shower, vinyl curtains parted for perpetual encores of mousecrobatics. They gleefully celebrated having outsmarted my poisons, assorted traps, and various spells & curses. Seriously, somersaulting whilst thumbing their noses at me.

That this scenario had become the norm was the last straw. I threw my hands up in utter defeat. "I give up GOD, these are your creatures, and I trust you to handle this in your own wise way... just please do SOMETHING!" Then I trooped back to bed, relieved to have handed my rodent burden over to a higher power.

Within two days a most magical creature presented itself, a midnight cavort so enchanting twas as if transported from a beloved fairytale. Fur whiter than snow, black tipped tail fit for royalty, inquisitive eyes that probed my own as if to say, "worry not m'dear, tis a piece of cake." Within a week the house was as quiet as, well, no mice.

We saw him several times over the course of that surreal week, & then he vanished. The ermine hole is right there, in the corner, behind the pillows. Of course, he made sure all the other critters knew it! Indeedy. "They" have been absent since, & the new kitty is added insurance.

Karrie suggested she bring the bag back & we stuff pieces of it into the remaining mouse holes... better to be safe than sorry. Ha ha ha... Yeppers, tis a very musky scent. It is almost pleasant, almost perfumey. In small doses. Almost...

MY ARMENIAN HERITAGE

I grew up a mutt actually, half Armenian, half German Swedish Danish etc. My folks were both artists & we were raised in a huge old brick one room schoolhouse in rural Wisconsin. I think my dad was trying to protect us from the shame & humiliation he felt as a kid, being an immigrant. He insisted on raising us "American" even tho we begged him to teach us Armenian. My grandfather Ohanas committed suicide by drinking a bottle of lye shortly before I was born. My other grandfather (Hentry Kohl) was hit by a drunk driver & killed around the same time. Shall we say I was born into a chaotic angst?

I loved my gramma more than all the stars in the universe. Because we did not share a spoken language, we spoke the language of love. That included her braiding my hair, teaching me how to crochet & make Armenian pin lace, and feeding me weird things. She smelled funny, like pine tar soap and mothballs and garlic. She loved me unconditionally & beyond measure.

They were not happy people; in his homeland my grandfather had come home one day to find his wife and children had been raped, massacred & beheaded by the Turks. He convinced them to spare himself because he knew how to cook, and had a fine hand hammered brass pot in which to do so. He traveled with them after that, witnessing their atrocities, feeding them in order to stay alive. He had two gold pieces which he kept tucked inside his rectum. They are still around somewhere, as is the pot.

Eventually he met my grandmother Rebekah, in Constantinople. She was in love with a Turkish soldier, which was a no no and destined not to be. The two of them decided on a marriage of convenience in order to qualify for passage to the United States, where they had been told by missionaries the streets were paved with gold. Single folk had little chance of securing passage on these mission boats. There was no love between them, just the common goal of survival.

Their first son, Arturo, was born on the boat. It was a slow boat. When they arrived in Boston, my grandfather, Ohan, was devastated to find the streets were not actually paved in gold. He was bitter ever after that, about being lied to. My father was born in Boston & named Katcheek. Years later, after too many years of being called "cat shit" by schoolmates, he changed his name to John Jack. It was as American as he could come up with. This was made simple by the army, who could not find a birth certificate and made a new one up for him.

As a child his first day of school was the first time he was exposed to the English language. They had Armenian neighbors & friends, shopped at Armenian stores, went to the Armenian church. My grandparents never did learn English, and my grandfather in particular was a very unhappy and unfulfilled man. Because of his lack of education, and the depression, he was scrambling to feed the family working whatever manual jobs he could find. When the public relief people came to the house & humiliated them, my dad wrote a letter to the Whitehouse describing how they had made his mother cry by treating her badly. President Herbert Hoover wrote back personally, apologizing and promising to change that, and the state welfare folk actually came back to the house & apologized!

My father joined the army but only lasted several months. In basic training, it was his job to show the Venereal Disease films to all of the new recruits. It was bad enough watching them once, but a steady diet of this hastened a mental breakdown. He got a discharge for being homesick basically, and returned home to attend the Layton School of Art on the GI bill, where he met my mother. He met her in the elevator, she had a long blond braid that he tugged on & pissed her off royally. Neither of them could recall being apart after that day. They wanted a dozen kids, they settled for six. I was the eldest.
Smooch,
Auntie Hattie

A FRIEND IN NEED

My cell phone rings as I sit on the john at a 7-11. Don't ask! *Ring* is a misnomer, the phone plays a rousing rendition of something or other by John Phillip Sousa. Luckily this is one of those uni-stall bathrooms with a lock on the door, so our bifurcated conversation has no audience. I can tell from the caller ID that it is my delightful & beloved Goddess/wife Althea.

"Howie honey, I am just leaving the Fetish Mall." I picture her lush body wedged into her teensy car. The black leather seat, heated by the afternoon sun, nearly scorching her thighs as it caresses her tender flesh. I think I grunt softly. "I just ran into Larry at Whips-R-Us" she continues.

Her voice has that throaty Lauren Bacall quality to it. Sultry. I hear her start the car, and I sense her attention shifting to the traffic around her as she pulls into it deftly. I hate it when she drives & talks, but I know better than to criticize. "Are you wearing underwear?" I blurt out without thinking. My mind is still on the hot leather beneath her heavenly bottom, enviously so.

"HOWIE!!!!" she screeches into my ear. "I'm trying to tell you something important!" I hear her inhale deeply, and I know she is smoking. I won't say anything though; I am better off pretending I do not know about her secret vices. "I don't like the way Larry is behaving" she continues. "I am afraid he will do something drastic. This divorce is taking a terrible toll on him, and it's barely begun."

We met Larry & Darlene at a local Bondage Munch, and had subsequently gotten to know them better at a private play party. From that point on, we became best of friends and did practically everything together. The funny thing is, Larry presented himself as Dominant, even though it was obvious to us that she wore the pants in the family. Complicated power issues are not uncommon within alternative lifestyles however, and nobody gave it a second thought.

Then Darlene announced one night that she had found a slave who made her happy, and that she no longer wished to submit to Larry. Poor sap. We all saw it coming a mile away, but he didn't want to face it. Instead of working things out together, they sort of erupted into a big damaged mess. Now, his attourney and her attourney are having a blast tossing hot potatoes back & forth.

"Ironically, they are fighting over their TOYS. Not the house, not the furniture, not even the pets." She inhales again. "He was at Whips-R-Us, trying to find a duplicate of that gorgeous nine tailed braided number they both like so well." I'd had the pleasure of feeling the biting lash of that very flogger across my shoulders & buttocks on several occasions, and I could understand why neither of them wanted to give it up. "Anyhow, I invited him to dinner. Pick up a bottle of Speyburn, we're out."

"May I also buy a couple of Partagas?" I venture hopefully. At $8.95 apiece, I'm not often allowed to indulge. She had convinced the neighborhood liquor store to stock them for me, for those special occasions. Not that this was a special occasion. However, Larry enjoyed the spicy peppery smoke with faint cedar aftertones as much as I did, a perfect accompaniment to a premium single malt Scotch like Speyburn. "You know how much Larry loves a good cigar" I wheedle.

"Sure." she is distracted now, I can almost hear her mind ticking along at million miles an hour. "Listen, I want you to get the house spiffed up and make dinner. Everything you need is in the fridge, I left the recipe on the counter." It's a good thing domesticity is my forte. "I am stopping at the spa for a facial & massage, Larry will be there at six." I hear her shutting the car off and opening her door. "See you later!"

We may as well have served spaghettios. The pan of made-from-scratch lasagna I fussed over for hours is congealing, unserved, on the dining room table. The candles that hours earlier sent ethereal shimmers dancing over the polished walnut surface were now puddled rivulets of hardened wax, a testament to this abandoned feast. Larry had swum through two tumblers of Scotch, sans rocks, before nearly drowning in his own maudlin angst.

Luckily, the Goddess of the household has a solution for everything. Althea hauled Larry over her knee and gave him a good old-fashioned spanking. First he cried, then he howled, then his sobs subsided as her hands worked their magic. I'm sure you don't want to hear the details.

She listened while he spilled his heart. Then she gave him a piece of her mind, and plenty to think about. Later she handed him a beautiful hickory paddle, shaped like a heart. "Give this to Darlene. I've talked to her, and she is willing to take you back, on her terms. She will be here to pick you up in a few minutes."

Well, all's well that ends well. Larry followed Darlene out of here like an obedient & adoring puppy. I got to smoke two fine cigars as I sat out on the patio alone. Hey, it was a long night out here by myself, and when would I ever get a chance again to smoke TWO Partagas again?

Althea and Larry had been so caught up in the drama they never noticed. "Oh, hello dear..." I see she is still all worked up, her energy is supercharged. Her eyes speak volumes as they spark across the two fragrant butts reposing, spent, in the ashtray. "How may I please my lovely Goddess?"

~finis~

Thursday, April 26, 2007

JUNK LUST

He perches, on the edge of the mattress, intently scanning “The Farmers Trading Post”. “FOR SALE: Pr. of McCormick 1020’s, can make one complete, one runs. $800.” His tongue glides back and forth over the edge of his sandy moustache. A tiny mouse scampers boldly past his knobby toes, unnoticed. “1959 GMC ¾ ton pickup, needs restoring, runs. $750 firm.”

Eyes aglaze, a soft moan escapes past his flickering tongue. “GAS ENG.: 6 h.p. Fairbanks H. 2 ½ Fuller Johnson, 2 Fuller Johnson w/mud pump, 3 McCormick M.” The mouse’s name is Herman. Pimply legs twitch, topped by his fart stained underwear. It used to be white, long ago and far away. Before she met him. He has a whole collection, lying in a discolored heap on the grime littered floor.

She gazes into the closet, at shiny orange Fleet Farm bags filled with a hoard of crisp new clothes he refuses to wear. Her eyes lock with Herman’s. A knowing look passes between them. His eyes glaze over again.

“ ANTIQUE REFRIG. $150. GE 1930’s model, coil on top.” She stares out the window, past shabby sagging sheds, to the scrap spewed field. Old stoves, TV antennas and bikes, twisted by the tornado, heaps of siding ripped from homes, the shambles of countless lives.

Herman creeps quietly to her side. Mesmerized by the past echoing into the future, she blinks back her hopelessness. STOMP! Her huge foot crashes down, bits of hair and guts oozing into the carpeting. “That’s nice dear,” she murmurs.

A FOND FAREWELL

Every kid has an awesome opportunity to learn about the facts of life when they own a hamster: Squirrel away as many goodies as you can. Everything goes in a circle. Avoid people who squeeze too tight. Even your best friend will poop on you once in a while.

A mother blocks out a few of the myriad of colorful details that her children enrich her life with. At least I did. But kids remember all. His name? Harry. Favorite food? Peanuts. Pastime? Running on his wheel. Death? One fateful fall day…..

Poor Harry was done in, in an untimely fashion, by his passion for peanuts and by his beloved wheel. His hoard of peanuts had gradually dwindled, to the point where peanut anxiety was escalating to frenzy. And there, in the corner, on the far side of his wheel, was a whole pile. Just out of reach. You could say he was suffering from peanut envy.

These peanuts had taunted him for quite some time. He chased those peanuts for miles, like a greyhound after a mechanical hare. He could see them. He could smell them. He couldn’t quite reach them, no matter how hard or long he ran.

And so one fateful night he got clever. There was no room for a lateral attack. Over the top was out of the question. Although he loved to climb, the wheel wasn’t exactly climber friendly, and I suppose even a teeny-brained hamster could picture how idiotic he would look trapped upside down in the corner of the cage.

But hey, hamsters are burrowers by nature, and the obvious approach to those peanuts was to sneak under the wheel. It was a tight squeeze right quick, but he was already halfway there. Tighter and tighter, he pushed onward and felt his body being forced against the glass by the wire framework, almost there, smell them, almost…

That critter, air squeezed out, guts squeezed in, trapped by greed. He was a hairy little pancake when Tansy found him the next morning. Wanted to play with him. So did the dog. Daddy has a better idea. A funeral.

Not just any funeral. The first order of business was the coffin. Skedaddle around the house searching for a little box. Line it with a holy old sock. He was laid out with an inkling of dignity. My sweet seven year old genius, thinking to protect her sweet friend, wrapped him neatly and thoroughly with nice shiny black electrical tape. At this point she’s pretty sure the dog won’t be able to chew it open.

All the while Daddy is taking the opportunity to expound on funeral customs around the world. And so, after a short discussion, a decision was reached. A funeral Pyre would take up a good bit of time. Might as well milk this to the max, they concurred.

A gaggle of four sisters spent that full morning gathering twigs and branches egged on by Daddy. The chill autumn air nipped at their noses and frosted them pink, but they were too caught up in the preparations to notice. Everything was about set when they scrambled into the house to slurp some soup and eulogize.

Finally the big moment was upon them. They gathered in the middle of the driveway, filled with anticipation. Harry’s life was well memorialized by their excitement. The shiny black casket sat solemnly placed onto the stack of tinder. Daddy appeared with the charcoal lighter fluid and matches. After dousing the whole works thoroughly, a match sparked it into a roaring inferno. Oohh.. Ahhh!!!

Everyone backed up, flames dancing in their awestruck eyes. After the mandatory admonitions (stand back, don’t burn yourself!) Daddy retreats to the rare solitude of a quiet house, knowing sometimes a parent has to step back and let life happen

They watched from a distance briefly, then drew closer like moths, heat seeking, enchanted moths. Tansy grabbed the perfect sturdy stick that she had set aside. This was her show, after all, and she began to tend the fire, pushing here and there, keeping an eye on Harry the whole time. They gathered up dry leaves and added them for a wonderful smoldery effect, and eventually banked the coals around the dearly departed.

I doubt that anyone else could have taken the task more seriously. By now she realized the folly of the tape, poking at the tenacious mass in the center of the fire, willing it to burn, knowing it wouldn’t. She’d roasted enough weenies to realize Harry was well done. Impaled on the end of the charred branch, she lifted him gently, reverently suspended over the ashes, rocking him to and fro as she contemplated a fitting ending. Then hoisting the stick above her head she swung with all of her might, lofting Harry majestically over the ledge into the trees, a grander send-off than a soul could hope for.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

THE DEAL

The folks at The Sunshine Shores Used Car Dealership watched as the old gentleman tottered down the street. "He looks like a gust of wind might carry him off," mused Dolores. His white seersucker suit draped his body, whispering upon his tenuous flesh, what little of it was left. Everyone breathed a collective sigh. They watched him almost flicker in and out of the picket fence as he moved past it and turned to cross the street. This was a special spot in the morning, a lull of expectancy hovered as he wafted toward them.

The Assistant Manager moved to open the door with a grand gesture. "Welcome to our establishment, Mr…" "Mathias, Benton Mathias." Their hands gripped each other resolutely. Then Mr. Mathias turned in a courtly manner toward the reception desk. "Well Miss, aren't you a sight for sore eyes." Bowing to press his tissue paper lips to the back of her hand, his eyes met hers as he bobbed back up. They were clear blue, sparkling as through a looking glass, reflecting 80 some years of living. She met his gaze, saw his soul dancing.

She saw him as a baby, pulling himself up on his Mama's skirt. Saw him running out the door of his youth, letting it bang behind him. Saw him nervously kissing his first girl; kissing her again years later at the altar; kissing her lifeless cheek goodbye many years later. "Don't you look dapper, Mr. Mathias." She looked away, feeling like a voyeur, smiling at the crooked knot in his nubby azure tie. She reached out, lovingly, to straighten it. This was her Father, her Grandfather, her Uncle, her Son in fifty years. "How can we help you?" she asked gently.

He turned back to the rest of the staff as they waited expectantly. "This is the big day!" he announced, pride puffing some substance into his form. He pulled his checkbook from the inside pocket of his jacket with a flair of anticipation. "Today I am buying the car of my dreams." His eyes were drawn out through the window, to the old pink Cadillac parked in the lot. They saw not the scrapes, the dull luster of the paint, the worn seats and tires. "Isn't she a Beaut!" And in his vision she was. "Now let's dicker!"

The Lot Jockey caught the keys in mid-air. "I'll check everything out for you, sir, top off the gas." He grinned to himself, whistling as he pulled the car up to the door. This was the best part of his day, although he would never have guessed at such a possibility when he first took this job two years ago. Every morning he went through the same ritual, every day it thrilled him just a tiny bit more. He looked down the block to Mr. Mathias' bungalow, to the driveway this very car had left it's mark upon. He could feel the remembered crunch of shells under his feet as he quietly went to retrieve the car each day, at nap time.

Inside, in the crisp cool showroom, a deal had been made. The fountain pen was as much of a relic as it's owner. It wobbled a bit as the check was drawn and signed, wafted to and fro to dry the ink. "Well, now, isn't it a glorious day!" He beamed with anticipation and excitement. " I've always wanted to buy myself a wonderful car like this." He looked thirty years younger. "This is the best day of my life!"

"Let me drive you home, Mr. Mathias." The manager opened the showroom door and walked out with the sweet old fart. Dolores took the check, voided it, and opening the cash drawer, laid it in it's own special spot, with all the others. There was one for every day since Mr. Mathias' concerned children had brought the car in and sold it to Sunshine Shores. She gazed out the window, and in her mind she could hear the words spilling out of his heart as he bent to get into the grand old car. "This is the best day of my life!"

Monday, April 23, 2007

IF DEATH WERE A MAN

If Death Were a Man
by Kathy Lukasavitz

If Death were a man
He'd come like Pan into my garden
smelling of Cedar and Raspberries
Although He would not be invisible

I'd blush at His nakedness
His directness
His intent

When in an embrace
I'd place my nose in His ear
and realizing my maturity
finger His animal body hair
then we'd peel my veils away
one by one

Peace, Shanti;
Love, Kathy


She was closer to my mother's age than mine, but she was the dearest friend I could hope to have, from our first meeting when I was a teen. In the wee hours of the morning, late in the fall of 1995, I had a dream of her begging me to "Take care of Luke" her husband... WEIRD. A few hours later she called to tell me she had been diagnosed, that morning, with advanced ovarian cancer and likely wouldn't live to see the next summer.

Over the course of the winter I indulged her in a whatever special treats I could find; she loved nature, her gardens were her passion. when I visited, it was always she who would end up comforting me. We would listen to native music, talk and laugh and cry, nibble on exotic fresh fruits & such... the last time I saw her, she could barely breath, that was really hard to watch. She told me how terrifying it felt... and I felt so helpless. She spoke of flying through the pine trees, how she looked forward to being free to do so. She promised the first thing she would do was try to find me and get a message to me. And she gave me a book, The Soul of the Night by Chet Raymo, and her poem. It was our last visit.

In the late spring of 1996, I awoke early one morning, around 3 or so. There was an eerie chill in the house, icy really, tho it was warm outside. I walked naked through the darkness of the house, wondering where the cold was coming from. In the kitchen window was a light, about the size and shape of a football. I couldn't tell if it was outside or in, and I tried to touch it. It was a beautiful blue and as I reached for it, my hand went through it. I could feel her energy, it was amazing.

I went back to sleep, and was awakened in the morning by a phone call telling me she had passed on at about the time I had experienced this. The circumstances of her passing poignantly matched the version of the poem she had written. Luke had carried her upstairs to the bathroom; it was a great old ramshackle farmhouse with the bare necessities. He brought her back down to their bedroom, and before he could tuck her back into bed, she died in his arms.

A poetic demise

ENVELOPMMENT

ENVELOPMENT
from Cully to Hat
when first we met

Rising in the yet unlit morning
encumbered by the past’s weight of
countless judgments
of symbols without and within.
We seek love and meaning.
.
We know each other not,
and little of ourselves,
Seeing each only in the world’s vision
that is cast upon us in shadow.
We approach each other in the darkness,
as if lost, hoping to find in each other
a place that we recognize
in order to gain the light. .

THE CHAMELEON

he settles upon a leaf
hoping to turn it
but it turns him

he explores a branch
hoping to stick with it
and finds himself stuck

he flees on the ground
hoping to gain some
without losing himself

he clings to the past
hoping to find
that which he lost

he toys with the truth
hoping to change it
but it changes him

he is an enigma
reflecting his fears
to hide his desires

THE TOUCH

His Clothing was unremarkable, as was everything else about him. No one noticed him arriving or leaving. No one knew the color of his eyes, the sound of his laugh. The thump of his footprints. His smell. His thoughts. He had never blown out a birthday candle, made a wish or a toast, opened a present. Never given nor taken anything. Never offered, never asked. Never broke a rule. Never argued.

He took care of his own needs. Shopped, cooked, cleaned. Always in the same time, place, manner. No surprises. Cut his own hair, had no need for a doctor or dentist. What he was was what he was. What he knew was what he knew. Period.

And then one day everything changed. He slipped on an icy patch. Fell. A woman swooped down, helped him up, touched him. He was in a daze. How strange to be touched. It almost hurt. More so than his elbow. She gently pulled back his sleeve, looked into his eyes, saw his soul. She hustled him into her house, dabbed at his scrape with iodine. "This will sting," she warned gently. Bandaged him caringly. She kissed him on the forehead and sent him on his way, never knowing what she had done.

The next week he went to a barber. His elbow was still stiff and it wouldn't do to let his hair get unruly. It was time. He marveled at the caress of someone's fingers on his scalp, running through his hair. He tried to hide from the small talk behind his newspaper. Felt awkward. A funny, buzzy feeling ran through him.

Stopped in a restaurant. Marveled at being asked what he wanted. Being waited on. Having his needs noticed and cared for. He left his first tip and was surprised by the good feeling he left with. At the corner, a baby smiled at him, and he smiled back. There was almost a bounce to his step and he started to hum. "Shine your shoes, mister ?" He sat breathing in the smells, hearing the sounds, seeing the sights. And feeling. Feeling hands on his feet. Touching him. Touching him. Feeling. Feeling…

AMENDED HEART

"Remember my turtle, the one we rescued? The one that got run over?" It is a stretch to go back over all of those years, sort through all of those turtles moved to safety, out of harms path, always moving them along in the same direction they were going, so they didn't have to turn around and start all over again.

What made this turtle special was my daughter's innocent idealism. It is difficult to ignore a passionate three-year-old in the throes ofdetermination. She had learned her lesson in caring well, and was about to learn an even harder one now. Or so I thought.

"He's dying," I told her gently. "NO HE'S NOT!" she screamed, tears splashing down swollen cheeks; boogers bubbling out of her nose and onto he lips. "Let's move him into the ditch," I suggest. "Let's take him home," she insisted!

This turtle had been creased down the middle, cracked in half. Not a happy camper. None of us were at this point. Putting him into an old burlap sack seemed to be adding insult to injury, and there is no kind description for the smell of a freaked out, broken turtle.

I pictured a somber funeral under the lilac bush. He wouldn't fit in a shoebox. I glanced over at my sweetie, lapping up traces of snot, eyes shiny bright like the world after a cloudburst. My heart is swelling with all of life's lessons that lay ahead.

This one became a lesson in faith. I expected the worst. She knew better. Put him in a tractor tire. Tended him. Named him. Loved him. Set him free.

Now, years later, she returns from a stroll around the pond with her boyfriend. "Remember my turtle?" I stare into the past. Time merges that headstrong tot with this confidant young woman. She smiles. "When his shell mended, it grew in the shape of a heart." The shape of possibilities.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

SUNDAY MORNING RANT

I like starting my Sunday mornings with my beloved Cully, & Charles Osgood. CBS News Sunday Morning is more palatable than most of the media onslaught generated now-a-days. Today Cully was in poke & push mode, titty twisters & wet willies, boogers & farts. I escaped the bed briefly to pee & make coffee... hoping the coffee would tame him. SNORT. As I type he is threatening spitballs and making fists, offering to rumble. Yup. Asshole mode is looming.

So Rachel Carson is featured, an homage to her foresight. GRRRRRRRRR!!! This woman of simple truth KNEW fifty years ago what the greedy bastards who run things are still in denial about. I remember reading her Silent Spring as an adolescent; it affirmed my consciousness about the splendor and wonder of this marvelous planet and the stewardship necessary to ensure a thriving future for all beings, not just the most self-serving of humans. Here are a few of her quotes:

"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life."

"For all at last returns to the sea ~ to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the everflowing stream of time, the beginning and the end."

"Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life."

"If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow."

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

"It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility."

"Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species ~ man ~ acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world."

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts."

"Like the resource it seeks to protect, wildlife conservation must be dynamic, changing as conditions change, seeking always to become more effective."

We wonder what's gone wrong, why we seem to be losing respect for each other & life itself. I lay, ears filling with tears. Mankind, especially in this society, is losing touch with nature. Instead of feasting on God's bounty, grown in the backyard & lovingly prepared, we chow down chemically laden corporately produced profit driven CRAP. We drive a block to buy something we would have made for ourselves just a few generations ago.

Who takes the time to lay on the ground, smelling the earth & the grass, staring at the wonderment of the stars? Who bothers to notice a neighbor in need, of help or resources or even just some simple attention. Who can afford to even care anymore? Because it feels like it's just too late to turn things around, and perhaps the planet would be better off without us.