Sunday, June 29, 2008

Squeamishness, Or ?

In my callow youth I made the decision I would never be one of those typical female types who squirm and squeal at the sight of snakes, mice, bugs or a myriad of other paradigmatic ingenue, shriek-inducing crawlies. Nope, not me! I sniffed in disdain when school chums chorused protest at the mice in science class. I was first in line to touch the snake or hold the lizard. I routinely dispensed lectures beginning "They are not at all slimy," and secretly patted my ego as other girls shuddered, quailed and quaked.

Insects have been my bugaboo. Not all insects, mind you. I can admire butterflies, and have enjoyed the delicate grasp of their feet walking across my hand. Ladybugs will also receive delighted permission to walk my arm and launch themselves into the air from my fingertip. My tolerance goes rapidly downhill from there. I can observe, at a decent distance, grasshoppers and crickets, caterpillars and sowbugs. I can appreciate the jewel colors of dragonflies and exchange gazes with a praying mantis, with no wish to narrow the gap between us. Spiders require an whole new level of self-control. I can summon curiosity for watching but will screech in alarm at an unexpected arrival of one on my person. My juvenile vow gets lost in a disconcerting buck and whinny. I reach the bottom of my forbearance with bees, wasps and hornets. No pledge of the past can hold up to what those around me insist is puerile panic. "Just hold still it won't bother you," is insufficient assurance against the irrational fear. I try hard to remain still but inevitably break and run. Darn! Did it again. How undignified, immature, unreasonable!

As I cower in craven consternation my ego rushes to justify: my mother was allergic to stings; it was a startle reflex; I was simply getting out of its way. Yes, that last one was weak but I'm desperate! How can I be so silly? Why didn't I just ignore it? How embarrassing.

"Well," I say, "at least I wasn't squeamish. That was understandable fear, not girlish squawking." I repair my self-respect from its tattered shreds and renew my promise to myself. "Next time I won't whimper. Next time..."

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yard Sale

Everybody loves a yard sale, right? Sellers get rid of their junk for
money. Buyers buy the junk for money, take it home, and put it in
their yard sale hoping to get money. I'm so glad there are folks out
there looking for a bargain and attending yard sales. Without the
annual event produced in our neighborhood think of all the stuff that
would still be sitting around my house!

Has anybody ever done a sociological study of this phenomenon? What
sellers offer: that 6 ft. hunk of barbed wise, that wigless doll,
that hideous bridesmaid dress? Or what buyers will buy: just about
anything if it is cheap enough! There has to be a college paper, or a
PhD thesis in there somewhere.

The lure for me, besides a few bucks for things I might otherwise
throw out, is people watching and general chit-chatting. Meet your
neighbors! Try to guess what their house looks like from the items
they are drawn to and buy. The yard sale is a great American sport
and I'm enjoying ours this weekend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A good night's sleep? I wish!

Last night was one of those nights when I went to bed late (11pm -
late for me!) and tired, expecting to close my eyes and not awake
until senior bladder sent out emergency signals, usually sometime
between 1 and 2:30am. The one hour sleep button was pressed on the
clock radio so I could fall asleep to Bach, or Mozart, or whatever
public radio sees as fit for my nighttime listening. I snuggle down
and sleep? No, sleep hitches a hobo ride on a boxcar to somewhere
else, and I begin the toss and turn.

Toss and turn. I move pillows. I twitch at the blanket. I pet the
cat. (This part is somewhat satisfying since she is obviously
determined and ABLE to sleep if I leave her alone but Hey! I'm awake
so... ) The cold air coming in the window is too cold. The blanket
over me is too warm. My knee hurts. My back aches. The arthritis in
my hands is bothering me. I can hear one of the lambs in the pasture
bleating for its mama. And my brain, wallowing in the dearth of
sleep, revs up for a session of creativity.

Why do good ideas come in the middle of the night? If I were one of
those shrewd folk who keep paper and pen beside the bed and who
scrawl those brilliant middle-of-the-night thoughts down you'd not be
reading this particular blog-bit. I'm not and you are. I've tried
that prepared approach but morning revealed a notepad that contained:
Sotry dea - gurk fins ear on cooklish fnelberkud. I still haven't
developed that into an essay, poem, or story. Aren't you glad?

Last night I pushed the sleep button again at midnight. The lamb was
still bleating. I shut the window; changed the blanket; annoyed the
cat. )In her opinion, she is long suffering. I've told her that is
the cost of living with humans.) A short-story plot was developed and
several blog topics popped into mind. I catalogued those for future
reference (all gone now!) and mused over a To-Do list for today (also

The button got pushed again around 1am. Stupid lamb still
complaining. I should call its owner in case there is a problem but
the phone is in another room and the lamb, most likely velcroed to a
blackberry bramble, can just wait it out. The blanket still isn't
right so I toss it off. Kitty senses more attention looming and
leaves the bed before I can braille her again. I compose a pretty
decent limerick which will never see print.

At 2am and there is no more radio. JPR is off for the night. Kitty is
asleep on a chair across the room. The lamb is silent (tuckered out?
saved? dead? do I care?). I make the trek to the bathroom, take some
Tylenol PM, and (apparently) eventually, finally, ultimately, fall
asleep. I awake at 5:30am destined for a bleary day of wanting, and
not being able, to nap.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why I haven't written much

The universe has put in extra time lately doing a tap dance on my
ego. Anything I've felt confident to say, think, or do has been a
recipient of the old step-shuffle-ball change directly to the sense
of self-worth. This leaves my emotional state fluctuating, generally
hovering between dismal, despondent, and downcast; with occasional
spikes into giddy. That last is my consolation. Those wretched beings
of spiritual instruction that have targeted me have to at least work
up a sweat. They will win in the end. They have access to some major
jabs with which to batter the stubborn noggin. My ears are ringing,
but I'm still doing my slow bob-and-weave while they Ali across the

(Bell) Round number ... golly, I've lost count! ... coming up.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


It's like this, your honor. I mentioned an Everly Brothers lyric and
my husband immediately picked up a nearby guitar and began playing.
We warbled one chorus of "Walk Right Back" - savoring the signature
Everly Brothers harmony. He put the guitar back in the corner, turned
to me and gleefully pronounced "Now you have the earworm!" - and I
shot him.

Life on the farm can be so entertaining...

I just witnessed a strange happening in the yard. A large crow with
something edible in his beak, perched mid-way in our chicken yard and
dropped the edible, which thereupon created chaos among the dozen or
so hens below.

Did the crow do this on purpose or was it an accident? That is open
to interpretation and I don't hesitate much to anthropomorphisize. It
certainly looked to me as if he'd had something in mind by the
action: he flew to a post outside the chicken yard fence, turned to
change flight direction, made the short swoop to a post in the center
of the yard, opened his beak, and plopped the irresistible tidbit
among a group of avid hungry poultry. He then waited to see the
ensuing kerfuffle. It did not at all resemble an "Oops! Dropped
that!" sort of action as much as a "He-he, watch this!" sort of
thing. I'm sure there was an accompanying crowish chuckle at the
avian gotcha. Caw, caw, caw!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

To a reader:

Yesterday I got this comment on my blog:

"I think if you have all that hardware for just 2 people you can
afford your own dental without forcing me to pay for it!
BTW - We've got you beat on the hardware, but then again it's all a
business write-off."

Dear Reader,

Most of "that hardware" was gained either through gifts from close
friends or as hand-me-downs. I did mention that none of it was new,
didn't I? None of it can therefore come off taxes. As for the teeth,
yes, that was a spurious comment. We don't have health insurance so
we pay all our own bills.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

And another addiction

My husband and I have computers. The room where this is being written
currently contains 3 desk-top and 2 lap-top machines, 3 printers, and
2 scanners. None of them up to date, top of the line models, we're
retired and on a rapidly shrinking budget (Will the republicans
please pay for the dental work required by the gritting of teeth?),
but all the mentioned computers and peripherals (a couple of added
hard drives, trackballs, speakers, etc.) are functional and in use. I
didn't mention that there are several more elderly, but still able to
limp along, computers upstairs, did I?

To continue: we have computers, which in our cases means we lack a
life away from the keyboard. The internet is a feeding tube connected
through the keyboard directly into each of our brains. I break away
for the weekly writers group meeting and my time as a volunteer at
the library. We escape briefly each evening for a few hours in front
of a different screen: Television. Otherwise you will find us glassy-
eyed at our desks. I'm a junkie for an online game where my real life
identity as a fat, arthritic grandmother is unknown. The husband
mainlines world news, weather, and anything Apple. It isn't drugs, or
alcohol, pornography or gambling but certainly could be classified as
a vice. By someone else, of course. As a user I will say - pass
time, recreation, hobby, entertainment. He will add - amusement and
educational activity.

We could give it up. Sure we could. I'm sure I could stop anytime I
wanted. (And you'll pry my keyboard away from my cold, dead hands!)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Tarot Card Am I?

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Short Conjugal Play

Him: (referring to which shirt he chooses from the closet) I'm
always grabbing whatever is in front of me.

Me: (attempting coquettish humor) Did it ever occur to you that's why
I'm always standing in your path?

Him: (quick retort) I thought it was why you're always ducking to one

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"He didn't like the casserole"

Here's a question for you: How much humor would pass around the
internet if everything sent or quoted required a valid attribution?

Here's an answer: Not much.

Humor zips around cyberspace with a speed beyond comrehension. There
is some great stuff out there but much of it seems to have escaped
its creator and taken on a life of its own. I like to give credit for
cleverness whenever possible but once a quotable comment has lost its
hallmark it is on its way to meme-hood. Case in point, the wonderful
little "woman's poem" the first line of which is quoted above. A pal
e-mailed it to me yesterday. Google it, as I did, and you'll find
pages of references to the poem which you can look at until your
forehead hits the keyboard. You won't see any author credited except
for "so-and-so sent this to me" which is too bad, because the so-and-
so who authored it was very witty.

Now I have a dilemma: Do I continue the process of sending it on un-
ascribed or allow this tendril of the cyber-humorvine to wilt?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Gustatory Orgasm!

Many thanks to the gentleman in the wool shop on Saturday who
shared... no, he enthused, effused, and rhapsodized about the UMPQUA
LEMON CREME PIE ICE CREAM he'd just had at Langlois Market. I was
somewhat skeptical at the time. He'd also just confessed to having
one of the hot dogs from the market deli and that in itself will
transport your taste buds to a paradisiacal state. Could they get

Skepticism annihilated: they can. Try UMPQUA LEMON CREME PIE ICE
CREAM and prepare, once you recover consciousness, to wander about
looking for your socks! I'm used to be more of a Jamocha Almond Fudge
sort of gal. Then the husband had us on a Cherry Garcia kick from
whence I discovered the Umpqua cheesecake ice cream, Oh! and
Blackberry Revel. But this UMPQUA LEMON CREME PIE ICE CREAM (sorry, I
can't say it in anything but capitals) is toe-curlingly delicious.
Wrap your tongue around some and see.

Or don't. No, don't you dare! Please don't bother. (That will leave
more UMPQUA LEMON CREME PIE ICE CREAM available for me.)

Monday, June 9, 2008


Today is the weekly meeting of writers anonymous. Okay, the group
isn't called that but it might be an appropriate appellation.
Authorship seems to be an addiction and we've been hooked.

My addiction began with a pen dependence, a simple infatuation with
the actual tool. Crayons and pencils didn't satisfy, but the
ballpoint? That was a pleasure. I sampled fine points and broad tips,
various ink colors, roller balls, felt tips, and had a short
flirtation with fountain pens. All were delightful to the senses but
only drew me closer and closer to the abyss as I jotted notes,
scribbled lists, inscribed letters, and composed term papers.

I moved on to the heavy stuff when I discovered the keyboard. From
the more innocent typewriter I soon plunged into full time computer
use. Copy and paste became daily occurrences. I wrote words,
sentences, paragraphs - and finally full blown poems and fiction. I
resisted calling myself an author and insisted I could stop at any
time. "You won't catch me writing a novel," was my cry! But it is no
use. After almost a week of cold turkey - well, okay, I did make a
shopping list, and there have been some e-mails - last night my
dreams were of drafting and editing a story, complete with plot and
character development. Am I beyond redemption?

The meeting this morning will find the writing junkies huddled
together, clutching rough drafts and blue pencils. We'll be prepared
to polish, adapt, and revise. We will share our agonizing hazards and
ethereal trips in poetry and prose.

Hello. I'm Martha, and I am a writer.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A note of appreciation

My husband has a wry, weird, twisted sense of humor that comes at
things from, not left field, maybe from the back of the bleachers or
somewhere behind the animated scoreboard. There have been plenty of
days in the 40 years we've been together that his peculiar wit has
helped get me through the day. I get the blahs, which progress into
the blues, then darken down to an indigo desolation. Along comes the
hubby with one of his strange observations, or better yet his just-
between-you-and-me silly dance attack. I struggle to maintain my
gloom, and can't. Laughter happens, often accompanied by tears, which
I think of as a precipitation of relief from that tight knot of misery.

Thank you, Sweetie. For all those times you boosted me out of that
mire of melancholy. How does that song go? You are the sunshine of my

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Recycle? Help!

We try to do the politically correct thing with our waste in this
household. The thought of a world where my grandchildren have to live
among piles of garbage has horrified me since long before I had
grandchildren. When we lived in a city and had curbside recycling it
was easy to see that cans, bottles, plastic and paper went into the
bins. Men in trucks came once a week and made it disappear.

Country living brings advantages and complications. All the peels and
leftovers that once went down a garbage disposal now get efficiently
turned into compost via the internal machinery of chickens. But the
rest of it, mostly humongous amounts of packaging from food products,
is less easy to process. The "local" recycling requires toting cans,
bottles, and paper the thirty mile round-trip to town. Plastic
ratchets the problem up another notch. Soda bottles can go back to
the market; milk bottles are accepted at the recycle facility; and
those countless other plastic containers that have replaced glass
jars? The plastic that surrounds catsup, mustard, jam, peanut butter,
mayonnaise, dish soap... the list is frightening... what about those?
The dump accepts them but how many are either incinerated, spewing
toxic sludge into the air, or end up in landfill somewhere? Or,
worse, how many find themselves in the northern Pacific Ocean gyre
( Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and
will eventually be part of everybody's food chain?

Onward to the thought that precipitated the above: Peanut butter
jars. Yes, There *IS* a point here somewhere. This household consumes
peanut butter in quantities. Large, enormous, mammoth, Brobdingnagian
quantities. To save money we get it in 4 lb. jars. Plastic jars.
Washed and dried these are wonderful, clear, lidded, reusable
containers for storing... things that need to be stored. And I have a
continuous supply. I'm looking to find someone with a continuous
need. Got a workshop that needs storage for nuts, bolts, nails,
brads, or screws? Have a kitchen where you need bug-proof, see-
through canisters? Got kids who need to put away their crayons,
Legos, pennies. or barettes? Better yet, do you have a home with
shop, kitchen, and kids? Let's get together!

And oh, with fuel at $4.15 a gallon we'd better be able to cross
paths easily!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Another Earworm

After days of waking up with "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" marching relentlessly through my brain another dandy tune has been substituted. The past two dawns have found me coming to consciousness hearing "Button Up Your Overcoat".

Where do these things come from? I haven't heard that song for a long time. I mean a REALLY LONG TIME, like maybe 30 years or more? But here it is, floating up to the surface like an oil slick from a forgotten sunken ship. After a few hours on repeat in my head it is about as welcome.

Of course I had to look it up in the cyberspace encyclopedia of everything. I found out that it was originally a Helen Kane song - from the late 1920's. Now her Boop-Boop-aDoop has appended itself to my internal version. Believe me, this is not an enhancement to an already annoying ditty.

Anyway, for the benefit of you who may be susceptible to the earworm phenomenon:

Button up your overcoat,
When the wind is free,
Take good care of yourself,
You belong to me! (Boop-Boop-aDoop!)

And TAG, You're it!