Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quill #94 - Upon the Marriage of Our Son and the Gaining of a Daughter (2006)

As a babe, your eyes were lined with care.
At two, you knew more than a child should bear.
Your voice, throughout the years, has grown more strong,
Deep enough to share another's song.

We enjoy the addition of a heart.
A daughter more will be a blessed start,
To what we hope will be a happy life
With young ones, pets, a warm and loving wife.

Just don't forget that you are still our son,
And more than that, were sibling number one.
No pow'r on earth can take us from your side.
We stand by you, your children, and your bride.

If future trials make your song feel weak,
To carry on as needed, do not seek
A path that takes you ever far from home.
For solace, there is no need to roam.

What we can, we will do; it's our role.
May your songs, joined together, make you whole.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quill #93 - Dreams of You (1974)

When witches on brooms
Creep into my room
And the skies are darkest blue,
I become a fairy child
With magic that is strong and wild
And go to visit you.

I chant a spell ages old,
Wave a wand as bright as gold,
And you know I'm here.
Turn in circles just three times,
Say a mystic magic rhyme,
And I have you near.

Spirits wander in and out,
Magic spreading all about,
And you belong to me.
Misting and fading ere long,
Spell now almost gone,
And there's nothing more to see.

Then I'm back in bed
Where I shake my head
And all has been a dream of night.
Lightning from the skies,
I slowly realize,
And I wonder if I'm right...

...That all the magic was my love for you.

(image from Dover)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Quill #92 - Autumn Nights (1983)

I sing a new song,
A song of joy,
And love that soars the skies.
Springtime passion,
The days of summer,
Turning to Autumn nights.
We sing an old song,
A song of content,
And moonlight reflecting on snow.
Winter romance,
Dancing the slow ones,
Watching the children grow.
I sing a new song;
We sing an old song,
Both songs singing of life.
Our love's the same love,
Changed in but one way,
Built by the sharing of strife.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quill #91 - Every family has one...

My parents, grandmother, middle brother and I were walking down an Omaha city sidewalk toward the optometrist's office where I was supposed to get new glasses. I was twelve or so, which meant my brother was about ten, old enough to not have his hand held constantly. He fell somewhat behind the rest of us and nobody really noticed or worried, assuming he was following along as he should.

My grandma started noticing, first, and then my parents, that every person walking the opposite way was giving us dirty looks, staring at us with outright hatred in their eyes. Puzzled, Grandma looked behind us and discovered Bro
walking as if crippled, using other behaviors to suggest a mentally challenged person, as well. Everyone who passed us thought we were ignoring our poor handicapped child!

I don't know why he bent his intellect toward causing trouble, but he was always a master at that skill.

(images from Lolcats)

Quill #90 - Choices

You know how people like to try to cover all their bases? I did that with my kids. I follow a philosophy that has some congruences with Christianity, though it is not close enough that many Christians would agree. However, I'm aware that I'm a fallible person. I wanted to make sure my kids could be saved if it turned out I was all wrong.

Both of them were baptized. Actually, they've both been baptized twice, by two different churches. Just in case. And then I encouraged them to study religions and decide for themselves. We're a hodge-podge family.

Kyrie decided to follow an ancient Egyptian goddess. Spooky chose to follow the Taoist philosophy that I do, though he may have evolved from that since we last spoke of the topic. I -think- my dear-daughter-in-law is Wiccan and hope she'll correct me if that's wrong. And Peregrin is agnostic with leanings toward atheism, if I understand correctly. Grandson and grandchild-on-the-way are both too young to decide, yet. One of my bestest friends is Wiccan, eclectic-style, and her husband is open-minded Christian. Their child is learning many paths to prepare for making her own choices.

I grew up in a household where a minister would be called to deliver a lecture if I even asked a question about other forms of Christianity. I'm still afraid for my children and friends being openly pagan because, in my head, society is not far enough advanced for them to avoid persecution. I fear for them about on par with fearing for an openly gay teen.

I realize things will never change -unless- people like them are courageous enough to stand up for themselves. And I only have to look at their father to see how my kids became heroes. But I'm their mom and I'll always worry.

(images from public domain sources online and Lolcats)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quill #89 - Native Ancestors

Like most Americans, we're mutts. Our family tree looks like a map of Western Europe, almost. One of my lines is Swedish and German, mainly. Another is Native American, Scottish, Irish and German. Peregrin adds more Native American to the mix, as well as English and French ancestors. Thanks to him, our kids have the blood of three tribal nations and more NA heritage than I do.

When I was growing up I wasn't told about my native lineage. We lived near a reservation where the Indians were shooting at cars that passed through their lands if the drivers weren't obviously residents. It was considered a bit shameful to be an Indian and my parents were afraid I would tell everyone. They were right. When they did finally tell me, around age twelve, I was so pleased and excited that I told all my classmates the next day.

I went to the library and checked out everything I could find on "my people." I knew the basic history of mainstream textbooks. I didn't know, then, of the ongoing abuses. This search for my roots turned into one of the most depressing tasks I've ever forced myself to do. In the mid-seventies, small town library, midwest, there were no positive or uplifting messages about natives. New age books were not available. Books on NA religions were scholarly works, very rare, and not available to a girl with no money. Much of my later research was done at the university I attended after high school.

For many years, based on the books I read, I believed that I wouldn't be welcomed by reservation natives. About the time Kyrie was born, that error was corrected. I was told that anyone could take classes on reservations now - or at least the one nearest me. But, by the time I learned this, I had changed. My life was already too busy to add more obligations and my beliefs were somewhat settled. I chose to wait for a quieter time that never came.

(Images from Lolcats, public domain images, and personal archives.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quill #88 - Halloween Memories #8

Our first Halloween, as parents, we lived in an apartment complex in Denver. Peregrin was taking AIT to learn electronics calibration and repair at Lowry Air Force Base. I'm sure a lot of our neighbors thought we were after candy, but we really just wanted to show off our special little kid.

"Spooky's" third Halloween, he really wanted to be Liono from a cartoon called Thundercats. We found clothing and accessories that worked, but Peregrin bought a red clown's wig and molded it into the distinctive Liono sweep. He did a great job, though few of our base neighbors knew who Liono was. The fourth Halloween, if I remember right, was He-Man. Again, we made a costume that outdid anything storebought.

Spooky gave us enough practice, over the years, that it really wasn't abnormal for us to do similar costumes for Kyrie. Unfortunately, we have few pictures of either of them on holidays.

I think the best costume was made the year I sewed a yellow Pikachu outfit for Kyrie. Peregrin made the lightning-bolt-shaped tail stand out exactly like the cartoon. And then, I cross-stitched all of Ash's patches for Spooky to wear inside a vest.

They were in the Halloween parade that year, marching side-by-side as Pikachu and Ash. I wish we had kept that costume rather than donating it to Goodwill when she outgrew it. But, who knew Pokemon would still be popular when I'd have a grandson to wear it again?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quill #87 - Editorial from October 1995

Written for my college newspaper, my editorial was slanted for non-trad students. I was a non-trad at the time. I had several editorial pieces over a couple of semesters, but none of them were saved online - only in archives at the college, if that - and my own copies are dying yellow paper deaths.

Age doesn't matter; follow your bliss!

Veni, Puer, disce sapere! (Latin - Come, Boy, learn to be wise.)

For non-trads, the question is often not whether we should come seek wisdom (higher education), but how far we plan to go in the time remaining to us.

By the time this article goes to print (went to print), I will have "celebrated" another birthday. At my age, many traditional students are well into their careers, perhaps receiving raises and other perks for successful employment histories. I still have years (and many commuter miles) to go before graduation and won't enter the workforce until several years from now.

Furthermore, I'm still considering several career options, including the pursuit of a masters or doctorate. I could delay my income-producing years for as much as six years longer, which would mean I'd have approximately twenty-five years to build for a retirement nest egg and help my children through their college educations.

I'm lucky! In twenty-five years, given the right profession and financial decisions, I may be able to achieve my goals. But, what about the person who enters college for the first time at age fifty? Should they even consider a masters? What about sixty? A doctorate?

Many people would say that a graduate program is wasted on someone with few years left for a career. Looking at the situation from a purely pragmatic viewpoint, I'd have to agree. A doctorate is not going to financially serve a sixty-year-old student as well as it would serve a thirty-year-old.

Set aside money for a moment. (I know that's hard to do, but you can always pick it up again after reading my column.) Assume for a moment that knowledge has value in addition to the wealth it can bring. I have read a study showing that an active mind, one that continues learning throughout adulthood, is less likely to suffer the ravages of Alzheimers (Skolnick, JAMA, 1992). Males, in particular, who practice memorizing (an activity often encouraged by professors) are more able to remember important data as they continue to age (Discovery Channel, TV, 1994).

If slowing the process of aging is not enough reason to educate older students, let's consider some other benefits. Earning a degree gives the student a higher self-esteem (College 100 Handbook, PSC, 1994), provides the student with a better understanding of the world and more solutions to problems that they may encounter (My father says so, Branson, 1995). College-educated people are likely to be more open-minded toward their children, have a greater awareness of political issues and are usually healthier than their less-educated age peers (ask any college student, here, now!).

The best reason, however, is a step beyond these tangible observances. Personal fulfillment, following one's "bliss," is worth more than all the golden cadillacs in the world! (Are there any, really? I think it's a myth.) Okay, so my attitude is idealistic. But, consider for a moment, if you're not planning to improve yourself, why are YOU here?

(Images from free sources online.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quill #86 - Tip for Cooking Pumpkins

My daughter-in-law knew this trick from childhood, but it was one I discovered for myself, just a few years ago. I'm passing it on just in case I'm not the only person who hasn't encountered it somewhere else.

We live in the city in a neighborhood where we can't leave anything outdoors. Lamps get stolen or destroyed, our cars have been vandalized more than once. We even sometimes get fights on the street next to our house. Therefore, I don't dare leave pumpkins on the porch as decorations. We'd likely find them smashed, possibly through a window.

Even so, I can't bear not to have a few every year and I hate to see them go to waste. After I enjoy them inside for a while, it's time to use them. The easiest method I've found for cooking pumpkins - far easier than the stovetop method my mother taught me - is to clean them out and use the gourds as pots for baked rice dishes. Gumbo or Spanish rice works well, or something with a sweet spice to it.

I measure their capacity using cups of water, then use two cups water per cup of rice, add the other components and stir, then bake with the "lid" on top. That seems to hold the moisture in better.

If you want an easy sweet, add sugar and pumpkin pie spice to the rice. I prefer to make a savory dish for our evening meal since that takes care of two projects at once. When the rice is removed, the remaining pumpkin is easily scooped and removed from the rind that I used to spend hours cutting away. This really saves my hands, too.

If I'm not ready to bake pies with the cooked pumpkin, I measure one to two cups into freezer bags and store them frozen till needed for holiday baking. And I'm sure everyone in the world knew this trick before I did. I give you permission to laugh at me and feel superior - this time. (grin)

(images from free images online and Lolcats.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Quill #85 - Halloween Memories #7

If you've ever seen the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis, with Judy Garland, you probably remember Tootie, the youngest daughter in the family, the mischievous troublemaker. Tootie had an obsession with all things ghoulish, though not of the harmful kind. Real danger frightened her just as much as anyone, but she had spunk. Tootie and my daughter could have been best friends, albeit competitive ones.

When Kyrie was eighteen months old, she memorized a poem called The Teeny Tiny Ghost by Lilian Moore.


A teeny, tiny ghost
no bigger than a mouse
at most,
lived in a great big house

It's hard to haunt
a great big house
when you're a teeny, tiny ghost
no bigger than a mouse
at most.

He did what he could do.

So every dark and stormy night
the kind that shakes the house with fright -
if you stood still and listened right,
you'd hear a
teeny tiny


She would recite the poem and act it out, ending with a big jump on the "Boo!" She also had a black silk shirt that she borrowed from her daddy and she'd run around the house, arms outspread and flapping, with the silk streaming behind her yelling, "Bust, the Big Black Bat!" The red plush carpeting in our living room was lava and you couldn't walk on hot lava, so she'd build bridges across the living room out of books and toys that would help her navigate across the danger.

At two, my adorable daughter insisted on being a zombie for Halloween. At three, she wanted to be a werewolf. Similar progressions continued until she actually witnessed blood spurting from a stitch-worthy gash on her father's hand. After that, she was not quite as interested in lab experiments and dissecting.

She's still unique and fun, an interesting person to know, and she's planning on doing the Zombie Walk whenever possible. But, thankfully, I no longer have to worry about her becoming a sword-wielding murderess. She has a very kind and generous heart, eeeeeeeeevil laugh and all.

(Meet Me In St. Louis image from Reel Classics)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quill #84 - Public Stocks (2010)

It was too good to last,
This Maudie from the past,
Though I still love my part,
I am suffering for my art.

The director's nice enough,
Though sometimes a bit gruff,
When he doesn't get his way
Every second of the play.

He thinks all should know his mind
And respond to thoughts in kind
By moving just the way he wants.
If you don't, he gives you grunts.

The he yells to drop the books
And proceeds to give us looks,
Tells us, "Just walk over here."
"You, there, don't come near."

And instructions never given
Become cats that must be driven,
When it's all reality,
One he first refused to see,

That dealing with child actors
Requires patience, other factors,
Like directions, blocked on stages,
Or else children just learn pages.

And they stand in place, refraining
From any rudeness, that's good training.
But the cast is just confused;
All the pleasant ones amused,

At this train wreck of rehearsal.
Many sane ones want reversal
Of their membership in Bird,
But we gave the man our word.

(pictures from lolcats and royalty-free images online)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quill #83 - Halloween Memories #6

Peregrin, upon his return from a year in Korea, was stationed at Ft. Huachuca in Arizona for two years, most of which son and I spent with him. Our first year there could easily be titled "The Year in Which a New Army Family Learns Base Rules." For example, the sameness of every single house is how things are preferred in the military.

Thus, when we planted pumpkins in our back yard and they took over our property, we were not the most popular family on the base. We were the subject of much higher level discussion, apparently, and it was decided that we would be allowed to keep the pumpkins as a form of helping ourselves, much like a garden might, but we were warned that the vines would have to be chopped and removed as soon as the gourds could be harvested. It was also suggested to us, strongly, that, in turn for this favor and leniency, we might take a few pumpkins or a pie to our base commander in gratitude.

When the pumpkins had turned orange and were about the size of cantaloupes, our leniency ended. We were ordered to harvest and clean up the yard. I would have liked to let them grow another couple of weeks but we weren't given a choice in the matter. We did as we were told. I don't remember if we gave any to the commander. I may have given a pie or two. I was not the most docile member of the community, often bristling at rules and orders that didn't seem fair to me.

My second year on base was better, but I was glad Peregrin decided not to make a career out of the military. One four-year stint was more than enough for me. Too many people don't realize that when one member of a family serves, the whole family serves with them, apart half the time and living within strict guidelines if together. The Army didn't just own him; it owned all three of us.

Veterans do deserve a lot of respect for the service they give to country. So do their families.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

According to my friends who were there...

Zailin had the coolest visitation. His family dyed their hair blue (his favorite color), wore superman shirts and tails, and played all the songs he liked without worry that some of them may have seemed inappropriate to others. They were, indeed, appropriate for him.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Quill #82 - Halloween Memories #5

My parents never drank alcohol. Maybe they didn't need it to enjoy their lives, but they were vehemently opposed to anyone drinking it. When my grandfather died and Grandma began having one glass of wine with her evening meals, it sparked a controversy in her five children and their spouses. My parents were, as far as I know, the only ones opposed to her imbibing. Even back then I thought my folks were being a little staid. Grandma was a grown woman, old enough to make her own decisions, and it wasn't like she'd suddenly added a bottle-a-day addiction to harsh whiskey.

After growing up in that household, I was very careful with alcohol when I was allowed to drink. At parties, I still limit myself to two drinks or less, usually much less. I've had two drinks in one evening possibly three or four times in my life. One of those times sparked a story other than the one I'm telling you now because I also get drunk very easily. However, the first time I drank "too much," I had only swallowed about a half a shot glass full of wine.

I was at a party at my friend, Cindi's, house, along with my roommate, N, my boyfriend, Peregrin, and a half dozen or more acquaintances. I had a glass of wine I was slowly sipping until it was time to leave. When N, Peregrin and I returned to my apartment, I wasn't feeling very well. My tumbly was rumbly and I decided to take a dose of Bromo Seltzer to settle it. Bromo Seltzer was a lot like a powdered form of Alka Seltzer with no catchy commercial jingles, but it helped quickly. Only, suddenly, I was falling down laughing, giggling uncontrollably, and acting wasted. Peregrin and N were rightly confused because I hadn't had enough alcohol for a child to be drunk, much less an adult female! They could not figure out what was wrong with me and I wasn't helping any.

Cindi was studying to be a nurse. N and Peregrin called her with my symptoms, very frightened because I absolutely was not acting like myself. She told them I was drunk but they protested on the basis that two ounces of wine wouldn't be enough for ANYONE to be like this. Given their concern, and because she's a good friend, she rushed over to check on me, leaving her own party to be my nurse.

Turns out, the culprit was the Bromo Seltzer. Its fast-acting bubbles pushed what little alcohol I'd had into my bloodstream all at once. My drunken state lasted about thirty minutes. By the time Cindi arrived, I was calmly reclining in bed, watched like a hawk by my two bemused guardians. Thankfully, Cindi was more amused than angry.

Peregrin often teases me about that night. He claims I'm the cheapest drunk in history. He may be right.

(wine drinking images from Google's royalty free images online)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quill #81 - Halloween Memories #4

My middle brother was visiting me at college. We were walking together through the alleys and city streets near my off-campus apartment. It was dark and cold, but not particularly late. We were bundled up in jackets and gloves and just being companionable, for once.

We passed the exit of a bar just as three soused college students came out. For some reason, they encircled me and started teasing, not letting me pass. I grew angry, mostly upset that they were spoiling a rare fun time with my brother. I pulled off one of my soft fuzzy mittens and began flapping it across the face of the ringleader, several times. It probably tickled him, but did no harm. I think I was also furiously repeating, "Let me go, right now!"

He laughed, threw up his hands and backed away, nodding to his friends to release me. I hooked arms with my brother and we continued onward, leaving the amused threesome behind. I don't know if Bro was looking at me with respect or borderline horror, but he seemed impressed that I had stood my ground (as if I had a choice) armed with only my gumption and a white cloth glove.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Last Zailin update.

Zailin's struggle ended at 7:30 am on Wednesday, October 13, 2010. I appreciate all the support and help he received throughout his life. His family could still use healing thoughts and prayers if anyone wishes to continue. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And even as I posted this update...

Word came. The hospice nurse has been called to their house to watch over him during his last day.

Another Zailin update.

The news from my friend is bad:

"I just talked with Libby. She said he doesn't like to go anywhere anymore and doesn't like to see people. It would just stress him out...if he's even still alive in a few days. The doctors told her that he may show signs of a small burst of energy in his last days before passing. Yesterday, he had that uncharacteristic burst...and he's paying for it today. His breathing is worse...gurgly and congested. Even when we saw him on Sunday, it sounded like he was drowning. She said the only thing he wants to do is either watch his dad play video games or just be left alone."

Any who are watching for news of him, please continue sending good thoughts and prayers to his family. Thank you.

Quill #80 - Skeletons (2010)

Dana and I walked through the haunted house.
Mechanical ghouls jumped at us,
Vampires sprang from coffins,
Ghosts floated on wires to spook us.
Then we came to a completely dark room.
We were just nervous enough,
Knowing that something more, as yet unseen,
Would surprise us anew that
We couldn't move forward.

In spite of the silly nature of all
We had encountered, we knew,
Just knew, that the next ghastly thing,
Whatever it might be,
Would be the last straw.
Frozen, Dana and I waited for
Someone to save us, another customer,
An employee, anyone who would
Step ahead of us and trigger what we could not.

We stayed there until the owner came
To investigate our long presence in his
Fun House attraction.
Slowly, kindly, he led us the
Six feet through the last room,
Empty of all but darkness and air,
To the exit door which had been
Just one fear too far away.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Quill #79 - Halloween Memories #3

My brother cooked up a scheme. We had seen kids going around with cans to trick-or-treat for UNICEF. They were always given money instead of candy. He wanted to see if we could get some quick cash, too. I didn't often agree with his nefarious plans but this time I did. I knew my dad didn't like UNICEF, the organization, and I figured he wouldn't be too upset over this ruse if we were caught. Plus, in our little town, UNICEF cans were rare. What could go wrong?

We tried it one time and never again. Our very first house, we knocked on the door, smiled our innocent best, and - in unison - said the magic money phrase, "Trick-or-treat for UNICEF!"

The elderly man we had just accosted with our cuteness immediately noticed our lack of a papered collection can. Bro, the cannier of us, replied that we had forgotten it at home. Our neighbor peered at us with suspicion but dropped two nickels into each of our bags. We were ecstatic. Twenty cents on our first gig!

But then, the man continued. I guess he felt guilty about accusing us of fraud. He told us he hadn't had time to go out and buy any candy but we should wait a moment. He went back into his house and brought out an unopened package of cookies, put them into my bag and asked me to be sure to share with my little brother. We said we'd share and thanked him several times for his kindness.

At the car, Mom wanted to know what had taken so long. We told her everything except our deception. But, when she said the man had probably given us the only treat he owned for the next month, we both started crying. The guilt was too much to bear.

We had a short journey that night. My brother and I never told our parents and never spoke to each other about what we'd done. We held the shame silently. I don't know if he even remembers now. All I know is that I keep four nickels and a package of cookies on hand every year at Halloween, just in case.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Update on Zailin's condition

Zailin had to be rushed to Omaha this weekend.
The doctors told his family he might have two weeks left.

Quill #78 - Guest (2010)

I couldn't see,
The room so dark there were no shadows.
Three globes of light rose from the floorboards,
Hovered two feet from my face.
My heart tattered in my chest;
My mouth hollowed.
I didn't blink once.
And, moments later,
The lights floated slowly toward the door.
For a few seconds, they left me in blackness,
Then I saw a gentle glow from
The other side of the door,
Luminescent yellow, which slowly faded.
There was no light source anywhere
To create such a display.
And when I told my hostess,
The next morning,
She scoffed at me.
She knew her house was haunted,
But didn't believe I could have seen anything.
In her mind, apparently,
She was the only living person
Allowed to perceive oddities.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Quill #77 - The Castle (1980)

It stands there,
Crying for a time past,
Crying for what was
And is no longer.
The silence hides it.
The wind explores it.
The shadows comfort it.
Out of the silence,
It speaks.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Quill #76 - Halloween Memories #2

I was very little, fewer than five years old. My middle brother was under two, just old enough to walk with a hand but still mostly carried. Mom and Dad decided we'd brave the slightly icy streets for a brief trick-or-treat walk around the neighborhood.

On our way to the first house, Mom slipped on a short flight of stone steps and cracked her ankle. Somehow, we all managed to hobble home, where Mom spent the next week with her legs elevated. I'm pretty sure that was the first time I had seen my mother in bed in the daytime.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quill #75 - Halloween Memories #1

There are always houses you don't visit.

Houses with no porch lights are generally avoided on Halloween night. You expect fun tricks from well-lit domiciles, but nothing mean or nasty.

When I was eight or nine, I went trick-or-treating to a well-lit house. Halfway up the jumblied sidewalk, the porch lights went out. In the sudden darkness, I fell. Sharp pain lanced my palms
and I found myself picking thumb tacks from my hands. Crying, I went back to the car and showed my mother. We left and never returned to that house.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I won an award!

This is my first, possibly only ever, award, thanks to Tress at Jumble Mash.

The award is for being a versatile blogger. Who knew I was versatile? I'm absolutely thrilled. I don't care if I'm being silly. I feel like I won the lottery. Yay! Thank you very much, Tress!

There are, however, rules to these things, as follows:

1) Thank and link back to the person who gave me this award.
2) Tell everyone 7 things about myself
3) Pass this award to 15 other bloggers
4) Contact the bloggers that I've picked and tell them about the award

Seven things about myself:

1. I love poetry more than any other form of writing, especially haiku, because each poem is a puzzle that must be solved to be understood.
2. As a child, I abhorred assignments from teachers that utilized my name. I knew more about robins than any child should ever have to learn, unwillingly.
3. My favorite movie is "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao" with Tony Randall and Barbara Eden. Even as a child, the philosophy of the story resonated in my soul. I was entranced by Merlin's magic far more than anyone in the story.
4. I know how to fish, from baiting the hook to gutting and cleaning the fish. I've been fishing since I was old enough to hold a bamboo pole, thanks to my dad, and I carry a pocket fisherman in my vehicle, just in case the opportunity arises.
5. I was a good shot. Whether it came to target practice with guns, bows, or basketballs, I was pretty darn accurate. I couldn't dribble worth beans, but there was only one location on a half-court that gave me much trouble - directly under the basket.
6. I've been running AD&D games since 1980. My personal universe and system is so heavily modified from 1st edition that the main resemblance is names of spells.
7. I'm part of a theatre teaching troupe called Catwalk Muse. We put together theatre workshops for all ages, intended to teach every part of the stage experience from building sets, makeup, warmups, stagecraft, and more.

Alright, on to the next part - choosing 15 award recipients. I'm somewhat new to blogging and have been all over the map looking at other people's work. Hopefully, I'll choose well and some new bloggers will join this ever-expanding ring of fun.

I choose:

1. Aux DemiLunes
2. Barefoot in Portland
3. Cat in the Bag
4. Chow Down Right
5. Coffee With the Hermit
6. I Can Has Catboy?
7. I Make Soap
8. Luke, I Am Your Father
9. Plus Size Barbie
10. RockinJer
11. Sixbears in the Woods
12. The Day Flew By So Fast It Was a Blur
13. The View From Treesong's
14. Vagabond Creations
15. Wandering Amylessly

There were others I could have chosen. One of the criteria I used to make my choice easier was current activity. I could easily have 15 more honorable mentions.

Off to write all the winners, next.

Thank you, again, Tress!

Quill #74 - Solipsism, Or Reverse? (2010)

When my husband sleeps
His body drifts away.
I can turn over in bed
And pound the mattress on his side.
I strike nothing.
I can stand and look for him,
Even moving the covers,
And he doesn't exist.
When his work calls for him,
Because he hasn't yet arrived there,
I can honestly say he must have
Already left because
He is not in bed.
But the moment I call his name,
He wakes, reappears, and answers,
From the very spot I was hitting,
Under the covers I moved to seek him.
And he's frustrated now
Because he must hurry,
Speed everything up,
Or the boss will not believe us again,
The next time he disappears.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quill #73 - Chip Off the Old Block

One night, a few winters ago, I was kept awake particularly late, chatting with a friend through our computers. I heard a loud crash and investigated. On my bed, right where I would have laid my head, was a very large, heavy chunk of plaster from the ceiling of my bedroom. It was part of a much larger section, not only what landed on the bed. The piece missing from the ceiling, including the pumpkin-sized chunk that could have killed me if I'd been sleeping when this happened, was exactly - exactly - the size and shape of a child's coffin.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Quill #72 - Spectre (2010)

A woman in a lacy white dress
Sat at a spinning wheel.
When I walked into my playroom

She nodded to me.
I was shy and ignored her,
Choosing some toys from my chest
To play on the braided rag rug.

She watched me as she worked.
After a while I drew some courage.
"Are you a friend of my mother's?"
I asked.
The lady smiled and stopped work.
"Lela knows me," she said.

I stood and walked to her,
Almost brushing the wheel.

Up close, her dress was like sheer curtains,
Sunlight shone through, making no shadows.
I put out my hand to touch
Nothing and saw nobody but momentary glare
From the windows behind me.

Perhaps I was lucky she disappeared
In the aurora of the day,
Before a shadow that meant me no harm
Could prick my finger.

I was not ready, then,
For the hundred year sleep.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quill #71 - Soap Dish #3

I realize that no house today would be built without one or a dozen showers in it but there was a time when an indoor bathtub was the bee's knees. I grew up in a house built around 1910, with 47 bedrooms, plenty of extra closet space, and one teeny-weeny little bathroom with a tub. There was also a drain in the floor of the storm cellar if the men were desperate and didn't mind fending off spiders, snakes, coyotes and rabid bunnies.

I took baths until I left home. The occasional exscursion to relatives, or even rarer motel stays, acquainted me with the workings of indoor showers, but they were the makings of fairy land and required large amounts of an absinthe-colored paper that was seldom found in our household. My parents finally installed a shower the year after I graduated and went to college. I really have to wonder at the timing of some events.

Anyway, I was finally away from home. I was at college. I didn't have to use Zest green bars as my sole brand of soap anymore. I could explore a little on shampoo and deodorant brands. The world was my oyster shell! I went power crazy, to be honest. I bought Irish Spring green soap and shampoos that cost more than $1.29! I showered and scrubbed all over myself every day and I thought I was CLEAN! And I smelled GOOD! And I walked around campus like I owned the joint because I was a free and independant WOMAN.

And then, one day, the boys in my dorm decided all the girls needed to be showered. Nobody paid attention to me, so I knew I was safe. I sat in the common room snickering about all the girls being carried, fully clothed, into their... Hey! Wait! Not me!

Yes, I was given the treatment not once, not twice, but three times. I even hid in my dorm closet with the doors shut to avoid the third time, but my roommate ratted me out, the incipient chemical engineer loser that she was. Only, by this time, I was pretty damp already. This time, when the guys picked me up by my bare arms, the dead skin just rolled along the length of my upper arm, completely shaming me. I turned bright red, took a deep breath and nodded, then told them to give me that shower.

And when they were done fooling around with all the females on floor, I took a real shower, and scrubbed hard, and tried to understand why I hadn't been the clean and independent woman I had thought I was.

Turns out, I have skin that really does have to soak a while. Zest was the only soap that would actually get that dead skin off me. My grandma and I talked about it and it was true for her, too. I know this is not true for everyone and many people - well, I don't talk to THAT many people about my... about... never mind - don't believe that someone can scrub hard with a rough washcloth and not get clean, regardless of the cleaning agent used for the battle against dirty bodies.

But, when I switched back to Zest, back to the cheap harsh shampoo my mother used, and the cheap deodorant she'd always bought for me, I actually was a lot cleaner than before. This isn't an ad for Zest. In fact, that brand has changed formulations often enough that I'm just about ready to learn how to make lye soap.


My parents loved to go camping and fishing. There are home movies on 8MM film of my aunt and me wearing bikinis, standing in a Colorado mountain stream, with her bouncing and dangling her... niece's little six month piggies into frigid water, hanging onto the sheer cliffside by the tips of her toes and willpower alone! Actually, the camera was turned sideways to get a better shot; we only look like we're walking straight up a cliff. But, that wasn't my first camping trip. By then, I was already experienced. Every summer, like the turn of the seasons or something, we were on the lake or in the woods, tramping and fishing and whittling and whistling, except I couldn't whistle, and doing whatever Dad thought would elevate our childhood souls. If he caught an eight-pound trout or two along the way, so much the better.

Well, when you're a kid, you shower when your parents tell you to shower and not a moment before, by God! Not only did we not really like campground public communal shower facilities, it just would have plain been weird for a ten-year-old to pop up with, "Hey, Mom and Dad, how about we hit the showers tonight?"

So, one night, around that age, I was laying in bed in my grandparents's camper and I was itching all over my body. I rubbed at one of the spots on my neck and dirt rolled away. That spot didn't itch as much anymore. I decided to rub more away. It worked! I was getting less itchy, and I spent the next half hour or so trying to remove dirt, until my grandmother hissed at me in fourteen decibels of pain to go to sleep.

Next day, Mom came to me and asked me why I'd spent the night before touching myself all over. At first, I didn't even know what she meant, but light finally dawned, and I said I was dirty. My mother gave me the strangest look for about a full minute. It was a very suspicious and calculating evil eye and, back then, I hadn't seen it enough to evaluate its meaning. At that moment in time, I just knew I'd done something horrible. I didn't know why rubbing my skin to get clean was such a big deal. If Grandma was really upset about dirt on her sheets, I'd probably be doing the laundry, anyway.

After a good long scrutiny, Mom finally asked me what I'd meant about being a dirty girl. I swear to you, it took me a number of years before I finally put together what they THOUGHT I was doing that night. Every time I found out my parents and grandparents had minds that strayed to gutters, it was a shock to me. Once I explained a little more, I was exonerated and told to quit rubbing myself, which wasn't a problem because she also ordered nightly showers. And, though showers taken while wearing a bathing suit didn't get a person truly clean, they did take care of the itching problem.