Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It started with a manila file folder . . .

It started with a manila file folder.

I needed one to store some of my papers.
It was the Saturday morning before Christmas - no sign of garlands strewn about the house,
but several preschool papers, crafts, and gifts from parents, in addition to unread mail
strewn across the kitchen table and countertops.
Most teachers will understand.  

"Okay.  I need to do something about this," I said to myself.

So, I went in search of a folder.

I had an idea where they were - underneath some papers, piled up on top of my desk.

In order to get to the folders,
I had to TOUCH the papers,
which caused me to NOTICE the papers,
which caused me to READ the papers,
which THEN caused me to SORT THROUGH the papers . . .

ONE-BY-ONE.

I, THEN, decided I needed to sort through all of the OTHER piles of papers,
spread around
   all about,
and throughout
my office.

And, somewhere (during this process), 
I noticed the artwork on the walls.

"I should move THIS picture here, and THAT picture there," I thought.  

So, I did.

But, I decided I liked it better the OTHER way,
   so I moved them back.

"I should HANG this picture (that had been sitting on my desk, collecting dust for an eternity),"
   I thought, too.

But, I need a nail.

And, a hammer.

So, I opened the drawer to get a nail, and discovered the pile of manila file folders.

A HA!  Just where I left them.

So, I pulled out the files, took them into the kitchen,
   and began to sort through my school paperwork.

Later on that day . . . 

"Why is this hammer lying on the counter?"














Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cottage Number 4

It is my place.
My place where I feel inspired, where I feel at peace, where I feel grounded.
And, like holding a favorite coffee-filled mug in my hands, there is sweet comfort in its familiarity.

It had been too long since my last visit, and with the kids away for Thanksgiving,
   it seemed the perfect time.  I packed up the car, and Charlie and I hit the road,
joining all of the holiday traffic.

As I suspected, 95 South was a mess, but once we hit the 295 split, the road opened up.
The sudden opportunity for space was too enticing to ignore,
   and I challenged my car to speeds we had not reached before.

Maybe I'd better slow down, I thought.

Maybe . . . not.

It rained steadily throughout the drive, and by the time I reached the bridge,
   I was feeling the lateness (or the earliness) of the hour.
When I reached the other side, I pulled into a 7-Eleven for a bottle of water
and something to eat, then continued on to search the dark and empty beach road
for cottage number 4.

As I pulled into the driveway, the rain was falling heavily, blowing sideways from the wind.
With no rain jacket on, I stepped onto the tiny little front porch, in search of the lockbox.
Too dark to see, I used the light from my cell phone to read the tiny little numbers
   on the combination lock.

It was 3:00 in the morning.  

As I attempted to open the box, Charlie yapped from the inside of the car,
   and I suddenly realized I really had to pee.
It took me six tries before I finally opened the lockbox, and out popped the key -
   the key to my cottage, my humble abode, my love nest, my writing lair,
my quiet little space for the next several days.

I unlocked the door, and after making several trips to unload the car (and use the bathroom),
   I stood very, very still.

Breathe in, breathe out, and just . . .  NOTICE.

Charming, quaint, cozy, eclectic - perfect.

Cottage number 4.





Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Who" Done It? Top 10 (plus 2) "Things I Can't Blame on the Kids"

It's summertime.
One kid is at college, one is on a school trip, and the other is at the beach.  
It is just ME and the DOG.
So, who do I BLAME (besides the dog)???

Top 10 (plus 2) "Things I Cannot Blame on the Kids":

12) WHO moved my KEYS? I put them RIGHT THERE. WHO MOVED them?
11) Dishwasher needs emptying.  Whose turn is it?
10) And, whose turn is it to take out the trash?
 9) WHO USED THE LAST OF THE TOILET PAPER??!!
 8) Who left the light on?
 7) Who . . . FARTED?
 6) Would somebody please let the dog out?  If only he had hands . .      
 5) WHO FORGOT TO FLUSH??
 4) WHO MADE THIS MESS??!!
 3) WHO LEFT THE TV ON?
 2) WHO IS LICKING MY TOES? Oh, wait. I guess that WOULD be the dog.  

And, the Number 1 "Thing I Cannot Blame on the Kids":

WHY IS NOBODY ANSWERING ME??!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Today, We Walk


I was feeling worn down by the day-to-day, and I needed to get out of my head.
One hopeful stare from Charlie, and I read his mind.
Or, maybe it was he who read mine.

We were both longing for an adventure.  

  "Let's go," I said, as I grabbed his leash, and the two of us hopped in the car.

Sunroof, open.
Windows, down.
Charlie, with his face to the wind.

As we turned down the familiar drive, Charlie could barely contain himself.

  "Easy, Charlie," I said, as I pulled the car into park, and hooked his leash to his collar.

Together, we stepped out into the day, and I was immediately consumed.

The blue of the sky,
   the green of the trees,
the stark white of the clouds -

FILLING ME WITH VIBRANCE.  

Charlie was eager to experience all that awaited him.
As we stepped out onto the dirt-covered path, he pulled against his leash.
He was expecting to walk at our normal, fast pace.

But, today, I was not in a hurry. 

Charlie looked back at me with anticipation.

   "Come on!" he seemed to say.  "What are you waiting for?"

Today, Charlie, we are taking it slow.  

After a few gentle tugs on the leash, he seemed to understand.

Today, we walk.
Not for exercise, or to work up a sweat.
Not to see how fast we can make it around the lake.
Today we walk to relax, to be in the moment, to clear our minds.

Disappointed, at first, Charlie settled into the slower pace.
Now, we were in sync.
And, my mind was in a quiet enough place to notice.

I noticed the gravel, loose and shifting beneath my feet.
I noticed the sun, warm and soothing against my face.
I noticed the clouds, softly floating across the sky.
I noticed the lake - glistening reflections, about.      
And, the fragrance of the flowers, softly carried on a breeze.

I noticed all of these things.  

And, OH, THE CHILD-LIKE JOY!
   of walking up and over each small trestle.
That marvelous archway raised above the trickling and tranquil sounds of the creek.
With each strong step, the familiar awareness of the worn, wooden planks, underneath.

Yes.

Today, Charlie, on this GLORIOUS DAY, we walk.
We walk to appreciate.
We walk to renew.
So that when we return to the day-to-day, the weight of our troubles is not so much.
Today, we just . . . walk.  







Monday, June 2, 2014

Don't Leave Your Knives on the Stove


It was a normal morning.

I came downstairs, let Charlie outside, and filled his bowls with fresh water and food.
I filled my Moka pot with fresh water, as well, and freshly ground coffee, placed it on the stove, and turned on the burner.

It was a normal morning, except . . .

Normally, as I would wait for my little espresso maker to perform its magic,
   I would sit at the kitchen counter and check my e-mails on my laptop.
This particular day, however,
I went into the next room to use my desktop computer.

A good amount of time had gone by.

I am not sure how long.
And, I heard a strange noise.
I walked into the kitchen,
   turned the corner,
and to my surprise . . .

THE ENTIRE TOP OF THE STOVE WAS IN FLAMES.

I was extremely calm, considering.

I stood and assessed the situation.
The flames were well contained on top of the stove.
I cleared the area around it, and turned off the electric burner.
As the burner began to cool down, the flames began to dissipate,
   only burning on top of the burner that had been turned on . . .

   the burner that was SUPPOSED to be the burner where my coffee pot stood . . .

   the burner where, INSTEAD, all of my good knives had been laying out to dry,
      from when I washed them, the night before.

I have never watched knives burn, before.

It does not smell good.

It does not look good.

And, it creates a thick, gray smoke that makes your eyes burn.

I sprinkled a little water on the flame, to see how it would react.
Then, I sprinkled a little more.
Until, finally, I poured water from a glass, until the flame was gone,
   leaving only the remnants of knives,
their rubber handles melted into the glass-topped stove.

Then, began the mad rush . . .
opening every window and door;
grabbing chairs from random rooms to reach the smoke detectors
that were blaring out my stupidity to the world.

I have never liked the smell of air freshener.

But, if anytime there was a need for one, it was now.
I remembered my daughter, and her love for Febreze.
She used to spray it around the house, to everyone's displeasure.
I grabbed the blue bottle from the closet, and began spraying it around the house,
   running away from the fragrance, as I sprayed.  
All the while, I held my breath, until I felt I had thoroughly deodorized the entire house,
whence upon I made a mad rush to the fresh air, outdoors.

EXHALE.

Sirens in the distance.

SHIT.

INHALE.

Closer, CLOSER, CLOSER, FARTHER, FARTHER, Farther . . . gone.

EXHALE.

It was a normal morning.

I grabbed Charlie, jumped in the car, and drove to Starbucks.

Don't leave your knives on the stove.























Friday, May 23, 2014

Broken Glass

I had a dream.
Not the kind that delivers meaningful and powerful words of wisdom, inspiration, and hope.
But, I am searching for its message, nonetheless.

I don't remember the details, but I do remember that I broke not one,
   NOT two, but THREE glass vessels.
I say "vessels" because their uses cannot be narrowed down.

A bowl, a glass, a vase?

A candle place?  

They did not break completely.
There were no broken pieces on the floor.
Cracked and damaged - yes.
But, not completely undone.

Still, the jagged, fractured lines caught me off guard.
Once strong and seemingly unbreakable pieces,
   suddenly fragile and frail; exposed.
















Sunday, May 4, 2014

Oysters, and Mussels, and Peppers . . . OH my.

I used to love Oysters. 

AND, Mussels. 

And, PEPPERS of every kind.

I remember being younger, wondering . . .
          why do old(er) people always carry a stash of Tums?

“Need a Tums?” one would ask, as if offering up a treat.

“Sure!” one would say.  

“Pass one my way,” would say another.

Recently, I went to the beach with my 
partner/love interest/boyfriend.

[Sidebar:  My next story should be “what to call your mate when you’re over forty”.]

We treated ourselves to some oysters. 

Mmmmmm, with just a dash of horseradish.  

And, of course, a nice cold beer to wash them down.  

Not long after, however, I had this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. 

Uncomfortable in a knotted up, twisted up, menstrual cramps (except, not), sort of way.

We stopped at a gas (station) for some Zantec. 

Fortunately, that seemed to relieve the discomfort.

I haven’t had oysters, since.

On a separate beach trip, with my girlfriend . . . 

[a girlfriend is a girlfriend, at any age]

we ordered some mussels (not to be confused with muscles).

And, of course, a nice cold beer to wash them down.  

They were delicious. 

But, similar to the experience with the oysters,
   my stomach started to turn before I was even able to finish my meal.

This time, I went home and took a Tagamet. 

I haven’t had mussels, since. 

Maybe I’m developing an allergy to shellfish, I thought. 

But, then there were the peppers. 

I was not convinced the first time (and probably in denial),   
but it was after the experience with my favorite Greek salad,
   loaded with Kalamata olives, pickled turnips, diced cucumbers,
GREEN AND BANANA PEPPERS;
topped with juicy, grilled chicken,
   and sprinkled with feta cheese . . .
             [Sigh]
that I knew.    
   
So, good-bye, peppers.  

Farewell, oysters, and mussels, too.     

How I will miss you.

I guess I AM getting old(er).

Tums, anyone???



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Turnstile

It hit me like a 2 x 4,
although, the mark it left was measured at 2 1/2 x 1 1/2 (inches).
I was convinced it was the BIGGEST, most GNARLY bruise EVER.
Not to mention, it was MOST impressive in both shape and color.

Were it entered as an Olympic event,
it would have scored GOLD for "good form".

Westminster contender?

"Best In Show", for sure.  

It happened at the ice rink.

Though, I was not on the ice when it happened.

I was not even wearing skates.

I was on a mission - to pick up my son's hockey blades.
All I had to do was walk in, go to the counter,
   hand over my claim ticket, pick up the blades,
and walk out.

But, I walked in the wrong way.  

I walked in on the OTHER side of where I was supposed to be -
   the opposite of where everyone else was going.

   I don't know why.

And, there was one of those THINGS.

You know . . .
   about waist high, with metal bars that move FORWARD when you walk into them,
frequently seen at sporting events, metro stations, amusement parks, and . . .
ice skating rinks.

And, if you walk into one from the wrong SIDE
(much like slamming into a defensive hockey player),

     YOU do not move IT.

     IT moves YOU.
 
And, people who witness it may laugh.

But, the humiliation is not nearly as bad as the physical pain.

I told my son about it.

I had to share my humiliation with someone,
   otherwise, besides for the battle wound on my right thigh,
it would be a wasted opportunity.

   "Oh, I do that all the time," was his response.

Apparently, the "apple" does not know how to walk through a turnstile any better
   than the "tree".

http://monkeypickles.com/2014/02/21/adventures-in-walking-through-a-turnstile-and-the-olympic-sized-bruise/

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

You May Think It's Funny, but It's Snot (and It's Frozen)!

The text came in at 4:30 a.m. :

TWO HOUR DELAY

Several hours later . . .

   "Mom, can you drive me to school?" asked Sam.  

Charlie:  Drive?  Drive?  Did someone say, "Drive"?
                 Can I go?  Can I come?
                 Please, please, PLEASE let me come!

   "Charlie, you want to come?" I asked.  

Charlie:  Yes, yes, YES I want to come!
                 Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
                 I get to go!  I get to come!

Charlie nestled into Sam's lap, in the front seat of the car,
   pressing his cold, black nose against the hard, glass surface -
his favorite spot to view the outside world.

The temperature on the car thermometer 
   read 7 degrees.

"Mom," said Sam, "Charlie's snot just froze to the window."


Wha-at?

http://monkeypickles.com/2014/01/31/you-may-think-its-funny-but-its-snot-and-its-frozen/


Friday, January 24, 2014

Post-Tonsillectomy Party Update - BYOP

Due to the "polar vortex" . . .  

I can now say WITH CONFIDENCE
that the beers (in the cooler)
   are "ice-cold".

In fact, the cooler, itself, is FROZEN SOLID.  

Please bring your own ice pick (BYOP).














And, no worries . . .  

There are still plenty of
POPSICLES and Italian Ice
   in the freezer.

There is still plenty of
JELLO and PUDDING
   in the fridge.

You won't need an ice pick for those,
   though the little foil covers
on the JELLO and PUDDING cups can be tricky ;-)  

http://monkeypickles.com/2014/01/27/post-tonsillectomy-party-update-byop/

The Tonsillectomy (Part 3) - The Party


The patient has gone back to college.

Left behind . . .
is a refrigerator filled with
JELLO AND PUDDING.

Left behind . . .
is a freezer filled with
POPSICLES AND ITALIAN ICE.

And, the cooler on the back deck
   is still over-flowing with beer,
though the temperatures have risen above freezing
so I lack the confidence to tell you that they are still
   "ice-cold".

However . . . 

I am considering having a "post-tonsillectomy" party.

Pro hockey players, babies, and the elderly . . . are welcome.

http://monkeypickles.com/2014/01/21/the-tonsillectomy-part-3-the-party/

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Winter's Stay


Just an hour’s drive from home . . .

From a distance,
I notice the snow-touched mountains,
   calling; beckoning.

Like taking a step back to appreciate a work of art,

I soak it all in,
Until, suddenly, we are
   navigating through the winding,
Snow-covered roads.  

Lightness turns to dark . . . 

White crystals, sparkling, beneath a magical, star-kissed sky.

Guiding the way – the moon; so big and bright,
   it hardly seems real. 

To our cabin, our cottage, our bungalow . . .

Our winter’s stay. 


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Tonsillectomy (Part 2) - Wine Doesn't Smell


My daughter could not eat a thing,
                           though she frequently fantasized about it.

So, I tried to refrain from cooking,
for fear that the aroma might cause her unbearable torture.

Her sense of smell, however, had suddenly taken on a canine quality.

She would send me texts from two floors up, asking me what I was eating.
Turns out, carryout food has a much stronger smell than I realized.

So, I tried eating non-smelly foods:
                    salad, raw fruits and vegetables, nuts, and cheese.
Fortunately (for me), all of the unhealthy, non-smelly foods (e.g. potato chips)
had already been consumed.

There could be an advantage to this, I thought.

As my poor daughter was being forced to survive on ice chips, popsicles, and jello,
   maybe I could lose a few pounds, as well.

One problem.

Wine doesn't smell.

At least, not in "that way" - that lures starving tonsillectomy patients from the other room.  

And, wine goes well with salad.
And, wine goes especially well with nuts and cheese.
And, there is plenty of wine in my house.

Willpower . . .

There is, also, a cooler on the back deck that is overflowing with beer,
   exceptionally chilled by the recent snowfall, courtesy of mother nature.

Beer doesn't smell (in "that way"), either.  

Willpower . . .

Currently, I can only fit into one pair of jeans,
   and a hole is developing in a very . . . conspicuous place,
which means that I either need to reduce my eating (and drinking) habits,
or buy a new pair of jeans . . . shhhhh (in a larger size).  Gulp.

Willpower . . .

Maybe I should host a post holiday party to get rid of some of this stuff.

In the meantime . . .
   if I wear a long shirt, I think I can still get away with wearing the jeans.

In the meantime . . .
   pass the pistachios; they go really well with red wine.

But, I must crack those pistachios quietly.

My daughter has developed canine hearing abilities, as well.  













 



Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Tonsillectomy (Part 1)


After they filled her IV with "sleepy drugs",
   and wheeled her away . .
I paid a visit to the tiny little coffee shop, located in the lobby of the medical center.
I ordered a nonfat latte - LARGE (and, they actually called it "large"),
   because I anticipated a long wait.

Hmmm, and something to eat.   

What I really wanted
   was one of those golden-brown, flaky, buttery croissants
(staring at me through the glass case),
but it was January 2nd
and, though I am not a believer of New Year's resolutions,
   I could feel the results of all of the holiday partying
pressing up against (and spilling over) my jeans,
                  so . . .
   I grabbed a banana, instead.

I found a nice, intimate, light-filled window seat, and settled in.
   
One sip, however, and . . .
                                            yuck.

My "latte" tasted more like a cup of warm, nonfat milk infused in flavorless coffee.

But, it was all I had, and I needed my caffeine.

Unfortunately, about a quarter of the way through,
                                        my stomach was not very happy with me.

I could see the local headlines:

"While waiting for her daughter's tonsillectomy, mother dies of food poisoning
caused by hospital coffee.  Daughter is extremely sore, and wishing for her tonsils back, 
but is expected to make a full recovery." 

Fortunately (after a few trips to the bathroom), the episode passed,
   and aside from the unfortunate experience with abrasive hospital toilet paper,
I survived, unscathed.

My daughter, on the other hand, has been reduced to sucking on ice chips,
   and unsuccessfully satisfying her hunger (not to mention, self induced torture)
by watching Food Porn.

She was most recently quoted as saying (via text message):

   "This was the worst thing that I have ever experienced.  
                                                 Can I PLEASE have my tonsils back??!!"