This Old House

This Old House

yellow and white concrete building
Photo by Ali Müftüoğulları on Pexels.com

This old house rests in
obscurity at the elbow,
on the narrow, the dusty, tatty lane

Battle-scarred and war-weary,
shutters dangle at the windows,
fleshy- paint peeling, contorting.

Passers-by seem indifferent,
or of a detached curiosity,
Some dismissive,
deemed not worth a second glance.

Yet a second glance is warranted,
look past the pummeled shell
that once housed a celebrated belle.

Few rarely glance to discern an occupant.

Old Robert’s road diverged I’m told
my travel does not have the pleasure,
but a path, straight and narrow,
briar-patched, imperfect measure.

The beautiful ones, shallow;
proffer pity. In secret thank God
the battle-scarred, war-weary, dilapidated
is not their coating.

The Maker sees what lies beneath,
my Darling, glimmering glow.
Few discern the occupant.
See, my Darling?

Look past the pummeled shell,
for what exists within the crust.
I am human.

To some, it doesn’t matter.

 

So, This Happened.

Now what?

It’s been an arduous journey, but I now have a BA in English/Writing  Specialization and a minor in Journalism. Notice it’s Writing Specialization, not Writing Expert! 🤓

BedPans and Walther P38s

(The conclusion)

The families were leaving, and I was informed by unanimous consensus I was to send a screenshot prior to all purchases for their children. My four-year-old self’s inner monologue screamed, “You’re not the boss of me.”

Instead, I shouted that I wasn’t in an assisted living home yet and asked, “What’s next? Taking car keys away?  Don’t forget who will be having to taxi me around town, if that’s what you’re thinking!” 

I stopped just short of threatening to have an appointment every day when I remembered the party scheduled the next day and abruptly changed my tone to be as sweet as Royal Icing on a sugar cookie. I reminded them to drop the littles off at 4:00 p.m. They weren’t sure if that would happen.

“But we always have a Mad Hatter’s Tea party on Christmas Day,” I implored, “Since you were knee high to a grasshopper. It’s a thirty-something-year tradition.” 

They weren’t convinced. I slammed the door. I heard engines roar and tires squeal. 

Four o’clock Christmas Day came, and grandkids filed into the house, all in smiles and costumes appropriate for the Mad Hatter. But I suspected their attendance had more to do with quiet time and free babysitting––their parents looked quite disgruntled and no one spoke. 

“Don’t mind them,” Holliss, a precocious child, piped up and hugged me with the strength of a baboon and within a split second I was cocooned in a group hug, “You’re the best Gram ever. Parents just don’t understand.” 

Bedpans and Walther P38s Part 3

Part Three of a Family Christmas Past

The moment the kids had waited for 365 days arrived. I beamed at my family­­–– mostly for the expectant joy on all faces. I donned my Santa hat and began dispersing gifts. The family rule was to wait until everyone had all their gifts piled at their side. The teenagers offered to play Santa’s elves to speed things up. 

I gave the traditional secret Santa signal and madness ensued. The neat freak son-in-law trailed behind, best he could, crumbling shreds of wrapping paper into large, black trash bags. 

Holliss, seven, shrieked, “How did Santa know I like red foxes?” 

Her mother, Rebecca, the family baby, gave me the look that she was famous for and I asked what was wrong. 

“Really, Mom? You gave my daughter a water bottle that reads “‘What the Fox’?’’ 

I couldn’t answer. 

“Mother!” 

It was Christa, my second-born and mother to seventeen-year-old Janessa, who screamed, “What are you thinking? The Kama Sutra? A book on sex? She’s seventeen!” 

Oh boy, I thought, I know I’m in BIG trouble. Still, I said nothing.

“Gram-Gram.”

I turned toward the voice. It was Nathan––his face was as white as Christmas snow.  He told the room that Cohen had just opened his present. As he spoke, he twirled what looked like a toy gun in his hands. Nathan, 15, was a sharp shooter whose goal was to become a Special Ops sniper. 

“Did you know this gun is real? It’s a Walther P38. You bought a five-year-old a gun?”

The room was still, not-a-creature-was-stirring, not-even-a-mouse kind of still. And quiet.

I felt the blood drain from my face as I stammered, “I-I-I.”

“This is a mistake, Amazon doesn’t sell guns,” I yelled, and I snatched the gun away, “You all how Amazon is, remember the fuzzy elf slipper incident?” The details are best left unknown. 

I proffered a weak defense that I knew nothing.

Dylan started blubbering. His mother clutched him at the elbow and escorted him into a bedroom. 

Everyone began gathering their things. The grandkids begged to stay and be entertained by the annual reading of The Night Before Christmas, and the parents acquiesced. They helped themselves to a glass full of my home-brewed eggnog. I was thankful this year’s batch was alcohol-light. (The cook may –– or may not have––consumed the 32 ounces of rum the recipe called for.)  I noticed a flask being extracted from Rebecca’s pocket. 

I was called into the bedroom and Dylan tearfully told me the tale. He noticed my Amazon page open and thought he was being helpful. When questioned about the book he said he added that to the cart because Janessa likes to exercise, and the book cover looked like people were exercising.

He admitted he looked at toy guns for his cousin because he knew Cohen wanted to be a policeman, but insisted that he didn’t order one. I knew he was being truthful, making the mysterious appearance of a real gun even more puzzling. 

“How did you order?”

“Easy. Buy now with one-click, Gram-Gram.” 

“What about your mother’s stack of ten road signs that read ‘Drive like your kids live here’?”

“I have little sisters.” 

I was thankful he didn’t order a sleigh full of toys. Or an Oozie. 

Gram,” Dylan added, “When I was playing Minecraft, you got an email attachment that I clicked on. They might have downloaded spyware.”

“It’s O.K., Dylan. I’m not mad and you’re not in trouble,” I comforted, “I’ll get to the bottom of this after Christmas.”

 I remembered getting a package that didn’t quite look like it came from Amazon, but the gift inside was in wrapped in Santa Claus paper so I shrugged it off.  My imagination exploded like gas on flames and visions of ruthless arms dealers in Nigeria popped into my mind. 

As I turned to the hopeful crowd waiting for their story, memories of my own childhood prank streamed like an Amazon Prime movie. When I was nine, my little sister, Lisa, and I walked across the field to Gramma’s house. She was outside hanging clothes on the line and unaware of our presence. I had a flash of brilliance and coerced Lisa (so she claims) into making the house appear ransacked. Then we hid while waiting for Gramma’s reaction. 

No one laughed at that either. 

Bedpans and Walther P38s–Part Two

BedPans and Walther P38s
(Part Two of a Christmas Past)

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Photo Credit: Jessica McCollam jessicasvisionsphotography.com

It was seven days before Christmas, and I still had to purchase gifts for 21 grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and 10 adults. Technically, Christmas was eight days away, but our family gathers for dinner on Christmas Eve, opening gifts after the grandchildren wash the dishes.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Oh, here I go. I snuggled into my favorite love-seat position: blanket; feather-pillow; pajamas; steaming mug of coffee latte at the ready, with the Amazon page brightly shining and resting on my lap. Christmas / Saravejo 12/24 by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra transmitted via Apple TV. The music  was so loud that I thought I heard the neighbors singing along.

I read that Amazon Prime members were extended an offer-of-the-day to have purchases gift- wrapped for free. I started to clap my hands. I had forgotten I was holding the latte, and nearly doused my shopping cart.

The doorbell rang. I was greeted by a small crowd; my third-born daughter, Angela, her six-month-old twin daughters, Annakate and Adeline, and her ten-year-old son, Dylan. I welcomed them in, and as they were seated, Dylan spied my computer and asked if he could play Minecraft on it.

“Of course,” I said with a wink at the platinum-haired boy, “That’s why I downloaded it, silly Dilly.”

He carried the laptop to the dining table and I set my attention to oohing and awing over the twins.

They left. I returned to my Amazon shopping, made my selections and set about washing dishes, making the bed, and tossing clothes into the washing machine.  As I cleaned, I made a mental grocery list for the big dinner. Then, it came to me; a jolting revelation, so jolting I swear I heard the angels sing. I could order all my groceries on Amazon.

*     *      *     *     *

I opened the door to the UPS delivery truck driver asking for my signature and I happily signed, although I wasn’t sure why this particular delivery required a signature; she didn’t look happy. She must have made 12 jaunts––truck to doorstep, using a dolly–– getting more red-faced each time, as I gawped. Her parting words were something about why I thought I needed 42 Christmas hams and concluded with a caustic Merry Christmas as she offered a hand signal that may or may not have signified her IQ level.

I smiled, dripping with saccharine to shield my consternation, I called out something about her job security. I ogled (my face as frozen as the hams) for a few minutes at the mass covering the front porch and decided the Amazon SNAFU could be dealt with in the morning and began dragging the boxes inside.

The new day arrived; the sun shining in a clear blue sky despite putting my order with the Big Guy for snow. I wondered if I should have checked for availability with Amazon Prime.  I hoped and prayed that the one special gift would arrive before dinner as I baked all day for the expectant, hungry horde.  The gift was delivered at last, and I placed it upon the swollen mound that exceeded the ‘under the tree’ notion.

I rang the Amazon office contact number only to reach an automated response: closed for the holidays, please try again December 26, 2017.

Walther P38s and Bedpans

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Photo Credit: jessicasvisionsphotography.com (Jessica McCollam)

Bedpans and Walther P38s

(A Christmas to Remember)

Part One
*A short story that is loosely based on true events of Christmases past: 90 percent pure fiction.

Many people escape via expensive out-of-the-country vacations or by weekend get-a-ways. Some escape by watching movies or by playing games. Me? I Amazon. I’m addicted to seeing that brown box (the box with a questionable phallic logo) resting on my front porch as if to say, “Pick me! Open me!”

Amazon’s intrusion began several years ago. My ‘old-school’ wariness would not release me to commit such sin as shopping online. The realization that I could stay in my pajamas and get the all the grandkids their Christmas presents convinced me to risk everything.

True joy begins from that moment I see a screen-full of possibilities on my lap-top or iPhone, items to feed my addiction. The beautiful (sometimes ruinous) journey is afoot.

It didn’t take Amazon long before they offered the best marketing scheme ever: Buy Now With 1-Click? If ever a sentence could be described as delectable as hot chocolate topped with marshmallows this would qualify. But they didn’t stop there ––Prime Delivery––why, you can have this in two days for “free.” Free for an annual fee––ingenious. A recent addition is the all-you-have-to-do-is-tap-it button, ‘buy again’ red circle. Extremely convenient. What will they think of next? Telepathy?
I mesmerize.

As I sit pondering potential deliveries, I remember past disastrous purchases: the Christmas ornaments that looked huge on-screen but arrived a mere one-eighth inch diameter; the children’s farm-animal book that failed to pique interest of a one-year old; weirdly (and putrid) colored shoes; wall décor, museum-sized, for the 12 x 18 inch empty spot near the window, so large it could have covered the entire window. I have learned to read with care (and read between the lines) as my hand hovers over the keyboard ENTER key, I think twice¬¬––three times––before making the final click. That is, unless I have a Freudian tap.

I choose my items, and proceed through the steps: would you like the arrival date to be this Tuesday, postage-free; for $3.99 more you could have this on Monday; add to your dash (just tap it) button? It would be ever so easy to reorder. Thanks, Amazon!

I’m always eager to help family find just what they are looking for.

“Gram, you need a bedpan? Let me look for you.” I’m giddy.

If only hindsight had been my guide. I now have a bedpan in my Face Book feed; subject lines of countless emails read: because you bought a bedpan; just click here or tap to buy again; people who have purchased a bedpan have also purchased the following items; and finally (although, I’m sure it won’t be) I have a picture of Gram’s bright, shiny––thankfully still unused––bedpan in that blasted buy again? button. Or just tap it.

*Stay tuned for part two, coming soon.

Quest

 

 

Letters float and bubble up,
they string on weathered thread,
like popcorn strands on Christmas trees.
I clutch and nick and chomp and chew,
subsequently disintegrate,
with painful, funny, contorting moue.

Letter float and bubble up,
black on white in cytoplasmic fill,
they string and coil as DNA that replicate
I mush and mash and press and pound
a finger-tip from coherence,
little faith, am I not to be crowned?

Letters float and bubble up,
with orange threads of goo
like momma’s lava lamp.
Before my eyes I mesmerize,
I hook and hasp and snap and clasp,
Exasperated, I bowdlerize.

Q hovers and glides aside.
Me thinks Q is longing for U.

 

Day 364

I am ending day 364 doing what I love: writing for the pure joy of writing.  The little ditty below contains 16 names familiar to my childhood. Can you guess what they refer to?*

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16 Candles.  Who am I kidding? It’s 61 candles.

Through the days of my life,
I have ascribed to a guiding light,
While leading all my children
through the edge of night.

The young and the restless,
Search for tomorrow.
The bold and the beautiful,
Look in dark shadows.

As the world turns,
Ryan’s hope rests
In another world,
In secret storm.

One life to live,
Yet, love of life
May end within the general hospital
Hounded by the doctors.

* Before the days of talk shows, cooking shows, courtroom dramas and game shows, American day-time television was dominated by the juicy drama of the soap opera. The sixteen listed above are some of the longest running. A few soaps continue today: General Hospital (1963); Days of Our Lives (1965); The Young and the Restless (1973); The Bold and the Beautiful (1987). My mother loved to watch As the World Turns. I can still see the spinning globe on the small electronic box as the show came on the air as I was scurried outside to play.

Ode to September

September

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Jaydan

We wonder, September, who, what star will sing new,
And who, what star will wax far away.

Your third sapphire day’s star arose shimmering bright
only to apex and implode
into the heavens and dissipated.
The black it left is as bright as the light.
This, too, is to your ode.

Star light, star bright,
We wonder how you are tonight.

A new sapphire day’s star birthed and shines high, distant,
As if this new star would behold
The morning’s glory for an instant,
Our witness that we forget-you-not.
This, too, is to your ode.

September, your eleventh sapphire day’s star
Has darkened halls, the crowds gaze
Ever looking with mouths agape,
Searching beyond black heavens mar;
The blackness in the night stays.

Stars light, stars bright,
We wonder how you are tonight.

Sapphire days, autumn’s equinox, falling foliage,
chilly beginning, sweltering afternoon, asters wilting,
brown and spent. September sapphire days have
forever changed the history of our family lineage.
This, too, is to your ode.

A niece and an uncle’s star away were scurried
To mark the anniversary of my September birth,
Grand-ma-ma’s star flittered away one day after
the thirteenth anniversary of the same. All buried.
This, too, is to your ode.

Stars light, stars bright,
We wonder how you are tonight.

Your third sapphire day’s star arose shimmering bright
only to apex and implode
into the heavens and dissipate.
The black it left is as bright as the light.
This, too, is to your ode.

We wonder, September, who, what star will sing new,
And who, what star will wax far away.

Reviled and cursed is your third sapphire day, September.
Jaydan Anthony, we wonder how you are tonight.
On earth where you mingled, was your glowing ember.
May you light the heavens beyond our sight.
This, too, is to your ode:

WE MISS YOU JAYDAN.