Humor · Poetry · travel · We've All Done It

I’ve Had it!

I’m watching myself run away.

Down the dusty dirt road I go.

Stomping with vexed resolve,

I’ll never come back, oh, no!

 

That’s the last time they dismiss me…

I don’t have to put up with this…

They’ll miss and appreciate me now…

I left with nary a kiss.

 

I overstuffed my favorite backpack

With pain and my precious essentials.

I’ll never even think of them again.

O wait, I forgot my driver’s license!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/planet/

 

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Brothers · culture · Family · Humor · language · Nature · Relationships · Teasing

I’m Not a Fan of Yellow

My friend Shawn is a lovable, flavorful character. A mouthful sometimes. A potentially annoying mouthful.

He’d traveled to Namibia to visit his in-laws whom he only got to see every few years. Several women were in the kitchen wrapping up dinner – there’s nothing quite like a kitchen full of African women. Kwaito music was bumping rhythmically in the background and they occasionally paused their stirring to join in a catchy refrain or sway their hips in choreographed harmony, then burst into laughter, omwikos flailing boiling stew in the air.

Shawn sat in a small living room with 7 other guys at his brother-in-law’s new house. The overstuffed, extra firm couch was almost completely covered with colorful handmade doilies that kept falling to the floor and having to be retrieved. They were arguing loudly about politics, talking over each other, and laughing. Any tentative statements made were promptly challenged and severely scrutinized.

Shawn, a rather verbose character, was the only American in the room, surrounded by locals. Shawn talks. A lot. He has few verbal filters and is bold beyond belief. Admittedly, he had been on good behavior, afraid of being the ugly American. The men kept asking his opinions and he was careful, as his wife had tutored him,  not to take center stage and pontificate, which is his preferred mode. Topics flitted from one to the next and he presently got distracted. If he wasn’t the center of attention, he got distracted.

He was looking around the stark room in the house whose construction was almost complete. He could still smell the cement and the single coat of pale yellow paint on the wall, painted at the last minute to impress the guests.  He thought long and hard about this set up and didn’t notice the entourage of women walking into the room bearing food. He proclaimed absently, studying the walls, “I’m not a fan of yellow.”

His words fell like a giant catfish jumping out of murky waters and flopping onto a muddy beach with a splat. Everybody gasped and swallowed hard in unison. Eyes grew to the size of small plates, extremely embarrassed, and in utter disbelief. Hearts sank and no one dared to look at Mike, the heretofore proud home owner.

The strained, stunned silence in the room was pierced by Joe slamming his bottle onto the glass table as he choked over spewing beer. He had  warm beer coming out his nose and eyes. He didn’t know if he should laugh or cry. He had argued for days with his brother Mike to not paint the room and just yesterday, Mike had spent what felt like hours at the local hardware store deliberating over what color of paint to buy. Never mind they only had 6 selections. Like a keDecember Boss, Mike had ridden his bike proudly toting 2 gallons of “Egg-yolk Yellow,” dodging muddy pot-holes, garbage, and mangy dogs on his 30 minute ride home.

Shawn’s wife Maureen narrowed her eyes and inhaled deeply and then her distressed, heavy chest sank in slow motion and just kept sinking. Her eyes told his that he had erred greatly and that he was a dead man sitting. If she wasn’t holding a tray of food she would have hurled her high heels at him and clocked him right on the bridge of his crooked nose. She shook her head slowly and narrowed those eyes further. Her lips began to furl tightly, controlled by an unseen drawstring, and to quiver with rage.

No one in that room will forget those moments till the day they die. There was no recovering from this one, even for my astute friend who can normally extricate himself from just about any situation with his oratory skills. It changed the mood of the entire rest of the vacation and the trajectory of Shawn’s life.

Fast forward 3 years and her family is bursting out of the vehicle after travelling across the world to visit Shawn and Maureen in the States. It was a glorious fall afternoon and the foliage was stunning to behold. Joe was the first guest to get out of the car. He yawned dramatically and inhaled the crisp air, then shivered in the cold breeze. “You guys said it wasn’t cold!  You mean it’ll get colder than this? Mxm!” He exclaimed. His brothers shuddered in agreement as they streamed out of the car and stretched their cramped legs. Along with the others, Joe hastily grabbed a random suitcase from the trunk, flicking a stray welcoming leaf from his shoulder. They all raced into the house, certain a blizzard would sweep through at any minute.

No sooner had they stampeded indoors and dropped the suitcases in a tall pile, than Mike blurted, “Etche muntu! I thought you are not a fan of yellow, man!”  He held his arms out defiantly circling the yellow room. Everyone else, rubbing their arms vigorously to warm themselves, burst into laughter.

“What are you talking about?” Shawn asked, cocking his head curiously.

“What is he talking about?”, choked Joe incredulously.

“What is he talking about?”, gawked Maureen.

That set the tone for the rest of this visit, and my poor friend Shawn spent a pouty fall feeling picked on; while Maureen juggled the fine line between letting him face the consequences of his often tactless speech and helping him preserve some semblance of dignity among his in-laws.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/leaf/

Death · Relationships

Grief

Reblogged & modified from 2/1/15. This one came to me as I was processing  being at the morgue for the third time for an immediate family member. There’s no place like it. I have several people grieving the passing of their loved ones right now. My heart goes out to you and feels, somewhat, the state of your mangled hearts..
There’s a bog
called the morgue
Whence I slog
blurred senses clog.
Grief is a smog,
A ravenous hound dog.
I trip on  logs
Get caught in cogs.
I think I’ll blog
To flee the fog
The brutal flog
Low, low,
Low on the hog
Aging · Caregiving · Death · Faith · Family · Health · Nature · Poetry · Relationships · sad · Spiritual

Ash Tuesday

This is a tribute to one of the most dignified people I have ever had the privilege of caring for. He and his family impacted my life deeply for almost 2 years. Some people grow deep roots into our hearts in no time…

Our beloved Gorge flares in a fury of flames and ash

Started by thoughtless fun and games

Fueled by bone dry underbrush,

By cowards who then skinked away and hid. No names.

Blazing,

Devouring,

Devastating.

 

On this Ash Tuesday

Another inferno has ran its course.

“I say what I mean and I mean what I say.”

His was a life lived deliberately

With honor, honesty, & humor. No remorse.

 

Simple and humble, hilarious, approachable.

A diligent, brilliant, outstanding human being

With  warmth blazing through bright blue eyes

Fed by a fire in his belly, seemingly all-seeing.

 

His was a no nonsense, kick your ass to the floor, tell-it-like-it-is kind of warmth.

It was fueled by Polish pride and delivered with New Jersey precision.

Fiery and feisty,

Then glowing,

Smoldering,

Simmering.

Spent…

 

Coach.

The man.

The myth.

The legend.

Forever in our hearts, till we meet again.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/crescendo/

Aging · culture · Health · Humor · language · Relationships · Work

There’s a Dead Duck Out There

Robert was a rough-hewn character. He lived in a nursing home outside of Melbourne where I worked as a caregiver.  We heard him before we saw him. He walked with a cane which he leaned into heavily. “Old injury from the war,” he explained, when I asked about the limping hip. The cane tapped a beat on the tiles on the floor and the metal on the sole of his shoe kept rhythm. 

He wore the same shoes every day. “Worn ’em forty years, mate. That’s a good shoe right there,” he explained academically, tapping at the toe of his right one with his cane. “It’s been there for me through the good and the ill.” They were made of very old brown leather and he meticulously polished them every morning. Even the insides had a high sheen with a dark outline where his toes nested. His room had the distinct smell of the Kiwi shoe polish he used.

It was rough being an international uni student and not only having to work to fund my schooling but adjusting to culture shock as well. The job wasn’t much to speak of. A friend had recommended me for it and I’d decided to give it a go. I was grateful for it but it was certainly grunt work. The hardest part was thinking I spoke English but having to learn a whole new version here.

I tied Robert’s shoe laces, and chuckled as he told he about the ‘deadorse” and “wilted rabbit food” he was served for dinner last night. “Where’s the lamb around here? Or how about some roo for supper?” He complained. I liked this crusty man but would like him even better if he quit scratching his nuts  in front of me. He did it every time he put his shoes on, “Only thing is, these shoes make me itch my budgies.”

He loved to talk about his wife. “We raised chooks up north,” he said,  pointing to a grainy photo of  her in her bathers on his old dresser. “She was always full as a boot on the amber fluid.” She was a good distraction while I helped him get dressed, otherwise he’d tell me to nick off. He called me a stickybeak and a perve when I first started.

I shook my head as I left to attend to a buzzer going off in room 24. “I’ll never get over this place.”

Robert loved to walk outside after brekkie. I’d been there about 4 months when he came clicking by the nurse’s station one day. I was enjoying my job well enough and getting a good handle on this culture.  “How ya going Bob? Beautiful day out out there.” I said, replenishing towels from the laundry cart.

“There’s a dead duck in the parking lot,” he announced, adjusting his hat without looking at me. He kept walking.

“Oh dear.” I said, and went back to my towels, thinking it was a good thing the garbo would be here tomorrow.

All of a sudden, my cart was pushed by a nurse of larger build in a tight uniform, running faster than seemed possible for her size. I was thrown against the wall like a rag-doll. She was yelling orders as she ran outside and my fellow off-siders were running behind her in pandemonium, dodging wheelchairs and their occupants. “What was going on?” I asked after I caught my breath, frantically looking around and wondering if I should run or hide. 

Turns out a female resident had fallen in the parking lot and Bob had saved her hide with his announcement! So much for my cultural competence…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/grainy/

Humor · Neighbors · Relationships

“… I’d Love to Chat, Gotta Go!”

I first saw the young couple sitting on the steep outside steps of the Victorian house next door. It had been renovated so the upstairs space could be accessed from outside.

They both looked terribly thin, sitting there sunning on the steps. They smoked and drank their morning coffee. It was a cold morning and she was wearing shorts and hugging herself. Her worn t-shirt was stretched to keep her long legs warm. Her stringy jet-black hair hung limp over the t-shirt and she stroked it nervously.

Their lean bodies were covered in tattoos and piercings. He wore silver chains up the length of his arms. I watched them through my living room window and wondered what they were talking about.  I smiled as they smiled at each other. They were cute. She jabbed him playfully in the side and he held her in a mock choke-hold.

I had no shortage of distractions while trying to get out the door in time for work. I showered, got my breakfast and lunch ready, and tried to lock the door behind me.

‘He really needs to fix this lock,’ I thought to myself, having to slam the door several times and hold it just so before it finally clicked.

I smiled and waved at them as I juggled an armful and got into my car. He waved warmly, almost standing up. She glanced up and quickly looked away, taking a long draft of her cigarette into her cavernous jaw. When I returned at the end of the day, they were still on the  steps, smoking and drinking coffee.

As I walked to my door, I waved at them and he stood straight up and bounded down the stairs, his silver chains clanging as he came. His wore a leather vest with no shirt and I fought the silly urge to look under it. “Look at the eyes,” I said to myself. He stuck his cigarette in his mouth, flicked his shock of long black hair away from his eyes, and stuck his hand out to shake mine.

My hands were loaded with a dirty breakfast bowl and spoon, my purse, work-bag, lunch bag, and who knows what else. I laid what I could down on my front step and reached out to shake his hand.

“That was kind of awkward. I suppose I could have tried to help you but I didn’t want it to look like I was trying to take your dirty bowl or anything,” he said. “My name is DJ.”

I was taken aback. I introduced myself.

“That’s Denise,” he turned his head around and blew a huge puff of smoke into the air. “She thinks she’s shy but she’s actually kind of spicy, hey baby?”, he yelled. “This is our first house. It’s pretty awesome. She’ll keep it real clean while I work. You guys can be friends.” She raised a feeble arm in greeting and quickly looked away.

“We moved in yesterday. This is our first house. We’re taking it easy today coz that was pretty hard moving on the bus. Moving’s pretty hard, you know. Luckily we don’t have a lot of stuff. Just a couple bags is all. For now. I’ll get a job and take real good care of her. This is a great home.”

He told me he had spent several years in jail since he was a teenager and was recently free. “She waited for me, hey baby?”, he turned and yelled again. She looked up and nodded a wan smile. I thought that if he talked to her again she would dissipate into a wispy membrane and disappear. He spoke fast and shifted frequently from one foot to the other.  “She waited for me. I’m gonna get me a sweet ride after a while. I hate the bus. Bunch of creeps on the bus.”

“I saw you leave this morning. That’s what I’ll do every morning. Leave for work and come back in the evening. I’m gonna pump gas or lift bales of hay or work in a bank or something. I’d go crazy sitting around at home. I need to fix things, do stuff. I do like to cook. Denise doesn’t have to cook. You take a steak and put a great rub on it. Then you grab the potatoes and slice them real thin, like this,” he stuck the cigarette in his mouth again and demonstrated how with his elegant hands. “You gotta fry potatoes with a little salt and garlic. I hate vegetables but you’ve gotta eat the stuff, right?”

He laughed really hard and I got the distinct impression he wanted to high five me. I didn’t know what to do so I stupidly started to raise my hand but he didn’t want to high-five me, so I ran it through my hair and into my pockets, feeling an embarrassing rise in temperature to my face. Note to self, don’t high five strangers, especially when they’re not high fiving you.

I snapped back to attention as he was still talking. “… it’s been a long day and pretty soon we’ll be heading to The Plaid to buy some smokes and milk. Anyway, I’d love to chat, gotta go!” And he spun on his heels and ran up the stairs.

I cocked my head and stood there a minute, rather dazed, then looked around as if to see if anyone  had witnessed what I just had and could confirm that I wasn’t imagining it.

No one, darn it.

I fumbled with the lock and kicked the bags through the door, stepping over them with my milk-caked Cheerios bowl, and chuckled to myself, “That’s a good one. Love to chat, gotta go!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/spicy/

Poetry · Summer

Haze

A heavy haze hangs over our heads

Leaving me heaving and hanging my head.

Smoke from infernos, in lands far away,

Is drifting downwind, so the weatherman said.

Though it drafts fiery sunsets and moonrises here

Enflaming and sparking this poetic thread,

We sigh for our Oregon sweet summer days

Begone smokeyhead, begone with your dread!

IMG_20170808_065704799.jpg

 

Brothers · Family · Humor · mothers · Relationships · sons · Teasing · Uncategorized

Orange Flying, in Slow Motion

It all happened so fast, so I’m not quite sure why I recall it in slow motion. My boys were fooling around and laughing. They rarely play together so I relish these times. I was standing by the kitchen about to open the fridge.  James, moving at his usual 300mph dashed by the kitchen counter and grabbed an orange then flew the next few feet into the living room. Paul had just hopped over the arm of the red recliner  and was bouncing on it, looking out the nearby window into the yard and telling a funny story.

This is where things slowed way down: out of the corner of my eye, I vividly saw James in his blue and white striped shirt and grey camo shorts. He took on very impressive form, swinging his right arm with the orange in it while he stepped off his left foot, rotated his shoulders so the left one synchronized forward to power the left one which was lunging back as it propelled the orange at an astonishing speed  straight towards the back of his unwitting brothers head, just as James’ right foot planted onto the carpet. Wow!

Dictionary.com describes a symphony as “an elaborate musical composition in three or more movements, similar in form to a sonata but written for an orchestra and usually of far grander proportions and more varied elements.”

What I was witnessing, my friends, was a mesmerizing movement symphony of grand proportions!

In no time, Paul, with a discordant whelp, raised both hands to the back of his whip-lashed head and tumbled off the chair and onto the floor like a stuntman.

“What was that for?” was his loud, prolonged, barely articulate lament. Babe Ruth’s eyes grew to the size of a large orange and he jumped up and down like a yoyo, “I’m sorry Paul, are you okay? I’m so sorry, are you okay?” He repeated this about 8 times without taking a breath, bouncing in place the whole time and becoming more frantic.

Our stuntman rolled back and forth, clearly in the throes of death, moaning his final words, “Whhyyyy?” and never letting go of his fatal wound.

I snapped out my daze and yelled, “that is the most unintelligent thing you have done all day!”

He answered with the most unintelligent thing he had said all day, “I didn’t mean to hit him!”

I chimed, “What, where you planning to hit the window a foot away from his face?”

“No, I didn’t mean to hit him.” He said that 8 times, still bouncing up and down, but now big tears falling straight from his eyes onto the floor.

“He does it to me all the time and he never gets in trouble.”

“What, he kills you with an orange all the time?” I stuck a pointing finger at Paul in his pitiful predicament, and glared at James, “Is this the time to bring that up?

“I didn’t mean to,” he wailed woefully.

Paul’s howling reached a deafening crescendo and James cried all the harder. What a cacophony!

I leaned down and touched Paul for many reasons. The first was the principle. If he didn’t die, and I didn’t think he would, he would in years to come be sitting at a counselor’s couch recounting this trauma, and she would ask him, “And what did your mother do?”

It would be terrible to have to answer, “She laughed so hard she fell on me and smacked my forehead with hers.”

Secondly, I needed to embrace the victim and distance from the perpetrator. That would not be the time to say, “James, that was amazing! I wish you could have seen it.” No. That would have to wait ten minutes.

I finally pried a gasping Paul’s fingers from the gaping wound so I could inspect it and he was disappointed and shocked to learn there wasn’t as much as a mark. And I looked really close, for a really long time, the whole time repeating, “Wow!” in monotone.

So the melodrama died down eventually. We hugged as Paul reiterated that he didn’t trust his brother to be in the same county, for obvious reasons. I slapped my hand across his brothers mouth as he dried his tears and started to say, “He does it all the…”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/symphony/

horror · Humor

This is Where They Cook People

I sat patiently at the small table.

I was in a Thai restaurant I’d wanted to visit for sometime. I was in the mood for quiet so I ordered my dish to-go. I was going to sit in my car and savor the goodness. The rapturous  flavors and amazing textures blow my mind. Every time. Without fail.

I had parked in the back parking lot and had had to walk  a long way to come in through the front. I resolved not to look at my phone while I waited. That’s hard to do, anymore. I kept starting to reach for it and almost had to slap my hand on several occasions. What a silly game I was playing with myself.

I was enjoying watching patrons through the dancing incense smoke emanating from the Buddha shrine. A loud lady at the table beside me had been smoking far too long. I kept clearing my throat to help soothe her raspy one, ‘Or at least take a sip of your Thai iced tea,’ I thought. She was carrying on about being wronged by Sandy again, vividly relating the offense in an almost drunken drawl. She was so disgusted with Sandy she was spitting nails and pad Thai.

As I eavesdropped, in the back of my mind I wondered who got to determine how long a casual glance may last before it becomes rude? I was long past that line.

And what was with the garish blue eye-shadow? I found myself so sucked into the saga that I was startled by the waitress, Sue, tapping on my shoulder. She was a pretty Asian lady and she smiled as she handed me my order in a white plastic bag with “Have a nice day” written across it in red. I was a little irked by her interruption and inopportune timing but I smiled back, noting her jet black hair.

As I gathered my belongings, I asked if there was a short-cut to the back parking lot. She bowed and pointed to a grey wooden door behind her. I smiled again and nodded as I walked by her.

‘That is really black hair,’ I thought.

The flimsy knob almost came apart in my hand and the rickety door swung open faster than I anticipated. I stepped into a  small dimly lit room and the door sprung shut behind me with a dull thud.

Old binders were scattered on a crooked shelf beside fake flowers.  My eyes adjusted to the darkness and after a few seconds I made out another door a few feet before me. I swallowed deeply, glanced back at the shut door and stepped forward praying to God I wouldn’t step on a cat. Or a rat. I hurriedly grabbed the next doorknob and turned it. It turned several times and nothing happened. I swallowed again and turned it the opposite direction. It turned several times and nothing happened.

My mind played terrible tricks on me and I heard people speaking loudly in a foreign language and laughing. Were they watching me? Was I even going the right way? What was this place? Panicked, I threw my shoulder at the door and it groaned. I stepped back, really lunged at it and went bolting clear through it. I took a deep breath of relief at the blinding light,  and looked around, grateful to be outside.

But I wasn’t outside.

My heart raced and dropped at the same time.  She didn’t look up. A dank smell filled the huge room I found myself in. Black mold crawled on the wall to my right and there were puddles on the busted concrete floor. A withered old woman sat contorted in a rickety rocking chair in the corner. She looked like she had been sitting there for centuries.  Her few hairs were held in a tight bun but her deep wrinkles still flapped as a home-made cigarette dangled from the side of her mouth. She spoke and rocked rhythmically in an unfamiliar language, tending to a large pot of smoldering oil that was bellowing smoke in her face.

I froze in place, rather stunned. It seemed that I should say something, but what? I didn’t want to startle her. I swallowed deeply again and clutched my warm food to my chest. A strange  noise squeaked out of my mouth and she immediately cackled and threw her head back, stirring the pot the whole time. She had 3 teeth in her mouth. The cigarette bobbed up and down as she rattled off words and fell to laughing her head off, never once looking at me.

I glanced at the door beside her. I tried not to look into the pot. I didn’t want to know what was in it and how many people were stupid enough to not merely walk out the front door of the restaurant and back to their normal lives. I was afraid I would see a residual sludge of blue eye-shadow floating in the hot oil. What was this place and how many doors would I have to walk through to get out? Was I trapped here forever, condemned to an eternity of room after creepy room?

I looked at the door again and ran for it, knowing that any minute a net would drop from the ceiling and trap me in this hell hole. The door was locked!

I started to cry as she crowed her wicked laugh. I looked at the door and saw a small lock high up on it. My desperate fingers fumbled for it, missing it several times, so close yet so far. I jumped up and hit the latch. It flipped right off and I tried the door again.

I stepped out to the glorious sunshine and the dirty parking lot. I was about to set my food on the ground so I could kiss the blessed soil when I saw a small group of wait staff, decked in their black and white uniform, smoking cigarettes on their break.

“Have a nice day!” said a young man with a mop of dark, heavily gelled hair. I looked over at them and attempted a smile and an answer. I looked questioningly from him to the door I just walked through and back to him but my eyes were intercepted by Sue’s.

She smiled and winked at me.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/