Category Archives: Life

Nature must take its course … even when I don’t want it to.

I tried to save a baby bird today.   Don’t know if I did.  I saw it while walking two unruly dogs.  The poor little thing was flopping around in the street curb, under the warm Alabama sun.  Today it reached 87 degrees.  My heart sank when I saw it, and I told myself to walk on and that birds die all the time, even when I’m not there to witness it.  But even as I passed it by, I knew what I was going to do.

I took the dogs home, got a wash cloth, and walked back to the piece of curb where I had seen the little thing.  I wrapped it in the cloth, it didn’t even struggle.  My first inclination was to set in down on the grass not far from where I had found it, but then I thought, if I were going to die, I’d rather do it under the shade of a tree.  So I took it back to our house and set it under a shady bush.  It couldn’t hold up its neck.  Perhaps it had a broken neck, or wing.  Every twenty minutes or so I went out and checked on it.  Eventually, its eyes opened and it looked right at me.  I let myself believe that it knew I was trying to help.  Then it occurred to me that maybe it would like some water.  So I got a little dish and took it out to the small bird.  It couldn’t seem to drink, but it started chirping.  I thought that a good sign.  After an hour or so, it was able to hold its head up just a little, and I had hope that it was getting better.  Maybe it was hungry.

I googled what to feed a baby/hurt bird.  That’s when I learned about the fledgling stage.  And how well-meaning people often mistake baby birds learning to fly as injured birds.  Several articles said that fledglings live on the ground and hop around trying to get the hang of flying, and this stage can last anywhere from 5 to 15 days.  I also learned that you’re not suppose to give them water or feed them.  Just put them under the tree where their nest was, because mother birds still feed fledglings.

Dammit.  Everything I did was wrong!  I moved it from its tree, I tried to give it water, I was going to try to feed it, and meanwhile the poor mother was probably searching for her baby.   The mother?  Then I remembered that when I went back for the bird there was a fat robin sitting on the curb near the baby, but flew off when I walked up.  Must have been the mother.

So it started over.  I got my wash cloth, took the baby back down the street and placed it under a tree in a neighbor’s yard that was not far from where I had found it.  The tree sat on a slight hill, and if I were a crime scene reconstructionist, I would guess that the bird, after jumping from the nest, fell to the ground trying to fly, and rolled down the hill, landing in the gutter on the street.  I put the baby under the tree,  between two big roots, so that it wouldn’t roll away.   At that point, the baby was able to sit up on its own.  Proving to me that it wasn’t injured, just originally uncoordinated.  I left it, hoping that I had put it under the right tree.  But who knows?  A couple of hours later, I checked on it, and again when I walked up, a big fat robin flew away.   Please, be the mother.  The baby was still in the same area where I had set it, but it had moved and was facing a different direction.

I’d like to think it will be okay.  I guess I’ll check on it tomorrow, and pray that tonight no stray cats find it.  I’ve been telling myself that, in the end, I did the right thing.   Left alone, the baby probably wouldn’t have been able to get itself out of the street before getting hit by a car.  I have no idea why trying to save this little creature struck me so hard today, but I was simply unable to leave it flailing in the street.  And tomorrow, if I should find that the little guy didn’t make it … I will remind myself that nature has to take its course, even when I don’t want it to.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, the little birdie didn’t make it.  I found it at the bottom of the hill.  I don’t know if its original injuries were too great to overcome, or if it fell down the hill again.  This may sound crazy, but I buried it in the backyard.  I just couldn’t leave it dead on the sidewalk, and it didn’t feel right to throw it in a trashcan.  So, it’s buried among the azalea bushes.  I’ve been thinking recently how insane it was for the mother bird to build a nest on a hill, near the road.  How are any of her babies supposed to survive?  I feel like reporting her for child endangerment.  Maybe this was her first chick.  Maybe she’ll learn.  Hope so.

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Filed under Creative writing, Humor, Life, Loss, Love, Nature, pets, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Evil Irises! I think they’re taking over the world.

The irises that will not die.

 When I moved into my house four years ago, irises surrounded the lamppost in my front yard.  Now, I have nothing against irises, but I’m not a big fan.  Sure the flowers are pretty, but they only last a couple of weeks, and then for the rest of the year what’s left are a bunch of tall, leathery leaves.  By August the leaves are brown and lazy.  They flop on the ground, and separate from each other in a most unattractive way, and no amount of watering gets them up.  For this reason, every spring I pull them out and plant impatiens or some other annual around my lamppost.  But every year the irises return.  Every year!   They simply refuse to die. 

This year I haven’t even tried to pull them out.  What’s the point?  They’ll only return with more vigor next year.  Besides, I don’t have the energy or the will to kill them yet again.  I have become convinced that they are evil.  Pure evil.  I think they are trying to take over my yard, and eventually the world.  I urge you all to beware.  They cannot be killed!  As proof to my claim of their evilness, I have taken a close-up of a budding iris flower.  This is what I found:

Consider yourself warned!!

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Filed under comedy, Creative writing, gardening, Humor, Life, postaweek, postaweek2011, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Daydreaming of Paul Bunyan and a T Rex

One of my favorite passages from On The Road, by Jack Kerouac is at the end of the novel, after Sal sees Dean for last time “under sad and strange circumstances.”

So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? 

When I first read this passage, many years ago, I loved it because as a child, Pooh Bear was my God.  Each night I worshipped at the altar of A.A. Milne, and snuggled my Winnie the Pooh close.  But what gets me now are the images of the road, and travel.  …raw land that rolls…all that road going…the immensity of it…  I write this because today I had an ache in my heart for the open road.  Since my father became ill, over two years ago, neither my mother nor I have been able to travel.  And lately, since the weather has turned warm, I crave the open road, cruising towards some destination.  I don’t even know where, but going .  Perhaps, the best part of any trip is the anticipation.  The sense of freedom.  The hum of the tires as they speed along on a warm spring day.  Passing other cars, knowing they’re headed to work while you’re headed to the coast, or the mountains, or wherever your heart desires.  They look like suckers.  You feel like a king. 

I read a blog the other day in which someone from the UK lambasted Americans for being uncultured and untraveled.  He claimed most had never even been out of their own state, let alone to another country.  I wondered at his statement, and considered it a gross exaggeration.  If he had statistics or facts to bolster his claim, he didn’t state them.  While I will concede that many Americans haven’t travelled outside of the country, I will argue a good number of them live near the Canadian or Mexican boarders.  Also, isn’t Cabo San Lucas one of the most popular spring-break destinations?  Maybe the blogger didn’t consider trips to Canada and Mexico counted as “world travel.”   Or perhaps he just didn’t think his argument through.

What I fervently disagreed with was the idea that most Americans have never been out of their own state.  While I could possibly give you names of a couple of people who have never been out of the country (and I said ‘possibly’), I know of no one who hasn’t ventured out of their own state.  No one.  Hell, it’s what we, Americans, are about.  Cars.  Open roads.  Resorts.  Amusement Parks.  Sandy Beaches.  National Parks.  Grandmother’s house.  We live for this stuff.  We plan it.  We record it.  We post it on YouTube.  We build bigger and better interstate superhighways to enable us to speed along to our destinations.  Most states have “Welcome Centers” for weary travelers to stop, take a break, use the restroom, get a snack, and snag a brochure or two about local attractions.  Cottage industries have sprung up close to our highways to capitalize on the American traveler.  Restaurants.  Truck stops.  Gas stations.  Seedy motels.  Gift shops.  I’ve even seen farmers markets and fruit stands. 

I’ve always wanted to travel the length of Route 66, from Chicago to LA.  Sure I know a lot of the highway is in disrepair now, but I’d still like to see the fiberglass Paul Bunyan, the statue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and The Wigwam Village – the motel that has teepees instead of rooms.  Maybe what I want most of all is to feel the sun on my face, land moving below me, and the anticipation of embarking on a new adventure.  Don’t we all?  But don’t tell me that Americans don’t travel.  We do.  However, unfortunately for me, for some time at least, I won’t be one of them.  Oh well, maybe I’ll settle in with another read of Jack Kerouac.

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Filed under caring for the elderly, comedy, Creative writing, Family, Humor, Life, postaweek2011, Random, Travel, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Fuzzy Babies

A group of women gathered around the jewelry counter, like clucking hens.  As they gossiped and laughed, I hung big red banners from the ceiling.  Anniversary Sale.  Everything 25% off.  My ladder wobbled just a little as I reached towards the sky to secure the sign with a cable tie.  I disturbed dust-caked ceiling tiles and the particles floated around my face.  My eyes watered and I spat out the dust.

Banners hung, I climbed down the ladder and wiped my dusty hands on my jeans.  I could wear jeans on my job.  The hens wore skirts or slacks, with silky and frilly blouses.  They were adorned in dangling earrings and long necklaces.  Their shoes had heals, and made clomping noises as they walked across the sales floor.  My shoes had thick rubber soles, and usually a drop of paint or two on the bottom.

My back to them,  I folded my ladder.  All at once, they swooned, “Oh, how cute.” 

My brain raced through the possibilities of what could be so cute to make them all squeal.  The only thing I could think of was a puppy – a white fluffy puppy with a big red bow in its fur.  Don’t ask why.  I don’t know myself.  I imagined that a customer, or employee with the day off, brought the said puppy in to show her off.

My heartbeat quickened.  I smiled as I leaned my ladder against the side of the escalader, anticipating holding someone’s new little fuzzy baby.  I crossed through rows of socks and  purses, to the jewelry counter.  The hens stood in a semi-circle “oohing” and “aahing” over the object of their admiration.  I pushed in between them.  A couple of them stepped aside to let me butt in on their party.  My eyes widened, taking in the scene. 

 There was no puppy.  Just a woman with her hands on a baby stroller.  The pink, chubby baby lay under mounds of blankets,  like an overstuffed burrito with ears.  My heart sank.  It’s just a baby.

“How cute,” I told the proud mother,  half-heartedly. 

As I left the hens to fawn over the baby that looked like a  Taco Bell combo-meal, I wondered what was wrong with me.  Why was I disappointed that the baby wasn’t a dog? 

I didn’t have the answer, but that was the moment.  The moment I knew I wasn’t going to be a mother.

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Filed under baby, comedy, Creative writing, dog, Family, Humor, Life, motherhood, Parent, pets, postaweek2011, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Showgirls of Elkton, TN

Heading north on I65, not far after you cross the Tennessee state line, sits a tiny town called Elkton.  Driving the short stretch of highway from Athens, AL to Elkton, you will see a barrage of signs for showgirls and exotic dancers.  They promise that exotic entertainment awaits, just take exit 6, past the large chicken with the missing fork.   

The club is aptly named, The Boobie Bungalow Gentlemen’s club.  No joke.  Although, I fear that visitors of the establishment probably see very few boobies, and even less gentlemen.  

I often wonder as I cross the Alabama state line into Tennessee, to purchase my lottery tickets, what kind of exotic dancer you can expect to find in Elkton, TN.  Let’s face it, Elkton isn’t exactly Las Vegas.   It’s not even Atlantic City.  Elkton, with a population just over five-hundred, is a city for weary truck drivers, looking for grub, a tub, and a rub.

Mainly, the use of the word ‘showgirls’ in the advertisements is what puzzles me.  When I see ‘showgirls’ I think of tall, statuesque, model types, wearing big feather headdresses and sequined costumes.  I envision feather boas, and stilettos, on stage behind an act like Wayne Newton.  Why would women like that travel south to a truck-stop town to perform?  Let’s face it, they wouldn’t.  This can only mean one thing.  The advertisements are wrong.  These aren’t showgirls.  They’re young, or probably not so young, women, with few to no choices.  Oh, I’m not trying to pity them, or turn them into some sort of commentary on how women in disadvantaged socio-economic situations can become exploited or used, although I do believe they can, I’m just trying to point out that perhaps the word ‘showgirls’ doesn’t apply.

I don’t suppose an advertisement with the phrase “Girls with no other opportunities get necked for a few bucks” would have the same appeal.  In fact, it might even make the “gentlemen” stop and think for a moment, “Do I really want to see this?  Yes, I do.”  But at least they would have thought about it.

Elkton does have a couple of gas stations, and a fast food joint or two, and Shady Lawns, a truck stop with the aforementioned giant chicken in front.  The chicken, who has seen better days, at one point had a giant fork and a knife tucked under each wing, but the fork is now missing – stolen is the official story (probably hanging in someone’s dormroom as a memento of a wild night spent at the Boobie Bungalow).  The chicken’s paint is chipping, and he’s faded, much like the town of Elkton.

I must admit here and now that I have never been inside the Boobie Bungalow Club, so I can’t with any expert knowledge say what the ‘showgirls’ really look like, or what they do, for that matter.  I’m just making a broad assumption based on observations of the kinds of women small, depressed southern towns have to offer, and a worn out chicken.

So, the next time you’re taking I65 North towards Nashville, or South towards Athens, turn off on exit 6.  Have a look around.  Then let me know if you ventured into the strip club.  I’d like to know of the exotic offering of Elkton, Tennessee.  Drop a line.  And don’t forget to snap a picture of the big chicken, sans the fork.big chicken with his knife

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Divisable by Orange

 

My friend told me that he sees numbers in colors.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“I see every number as a color.  Odd numbers are fiery and hot, mostly oranges and reds.  Even numbers are cool and soothing, a lot of blues and greens.”

“How does this help?”

“Well, when I’m having trouble with a math problem, I think in colors instead of numbers.”

I laughed.  “So you can multiply yellow and blue?  I thought yellow and blue made green.”

“No.  Yellow and blue make forty-two.  Yellow is seven and blue is six.”

“What color is forty-two?”

“Forty-two is green.  Aren’t you paying attention?”

In a weird way I understood – not how he could figure out fractions using colors, but how one thing connected with another. 

I confessed, “The months of the year are in a circle in my head.   November is at the top, probably because my birthday is November 13th.  As the year progresses along I see myself traveling around in a circle.”

“I see the months as shapes.  December is round and sparkly.  January is jagged.”

“I once knew a woman that saw an animal in every person she met.  We worked at a clinic and she would say things like, ‘The quail needs a blood test.’  I would walk out into the waiting room, and sure enough, there would be a quail thumbing through People Magazine.”

“I wonder what kind of animal she would see in me.  I feel like a monkey.”

I hated to tell him that I was afraid of monkeys, but admitted, “I was born in the year of the monkey.”

“I’ve been told my aura is orange.”

“What number is orange?”

“Why… five, of course.”

“Of course.”

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Moving Forward…

Maybe I shouldn’t have stayed. 

I suppose I should have known better,

but after the rain, the night fell quickly.                                                    

I was too confident.

I ran as hard as I could, but I couldn’t see my way out. 

Not lost… trapped.

 Alone.

I thought I was smarter than this.  I honestly believed that I was better.

Even the horses are gone.  They knew better.

And now the only way out is to move forward. 

Don’t stop.

There’s no time to cry, worry, or pray. 

Just keep moving forward.

“What’s behind the trees?” 

 Thoughts out of control.

“And what happens if I don’t make it out?  What becomes of me then?” 

Mustn’t think like this. 

Just keep moving forward.  The only way out is forward.

Legs grow heavy and stiff.  My back aches.  The soul is tired, but I don’t stop. 

I can’t.

Soon there will be a light to guide me out.  I know it.  It’s what I have to believe.

Soon I will find my way.  But for now, and until I can see…

 Just keep moving forward.

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The difference is…

My soul is empty. 

Eyelids close over eyes that are dry.

Days are short while nights grow longer.

My heart races from fear.

Afraid of what is to come and what has been.

I am

alone.

No.  Not alone…

lonely.

There is a difference.

The hunger

is endless

and exhausting.

Not about love, but what’s lost…

passion.

My passion.

That’s the difference.

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Little Yellow Flags

Wolfgang and Bunny

Crisp air swirled around us as we strolled arm and arm in his back yard.  Kicking up yellow and brown leaves as we went, I positioned my hand higher to give him more balance.  This is good, I thought. He needs fresh air. 

At long last fall had wrestled control of the days away from summer, not a small feat in the south. He stopped to pull his sweater tighter around himself.  “I wonder what the flags are for,” he said fastening a black button and pondering the little yellow flags waving near the back edge of the yard. 

Leaves crunched behind us as a little black and white fuzzy torpedo came running up with a ball. I picked up the toy lain at my feet, and gave my father the simplest answer that I could, “The landscapers put the flags there.”  Tossing the red ball as far as I could, Bunny, the shih-tzu torpedo, took off with her tail high in the air.

“When were landscapers here?”  He never remembered.

We had gone over this several times, but the cardiac arrest had left him with some brain damage.  Now there where huge gaps in his memory, and often times my visits were spent filling in those gaps.  Usually, the holes were monumental: who I was, where he lived, what had happened to him.  Today he simply wanted to know about the flags again. 

“They came when you were in the hospital, Pop.”

“When was I in the hospital?”  Bunny danced around his legs for attention.  I picked her up.

“Late September through most of October.”  The little dog squirmed and wiggled in my arms.

“Oh. I don’t remember any of that.”  He always said that.

“I know.  It’s probably better that way.” 

“I guess so.”  He patted Bunny on the head as I reminded him about the cardiac arrest and the CCU.  When I explained about his pace-maker and defibrillator he touched his chest, feeling the lump that was about the size of a deck of cards.  “I wondered what that was.”

“You’re the bionic man now.”  He looked amused.  It was better to keep things light, otherwise he became overwhelmed.

Bunny begged for attention and he took her from my arms.  “I haven’t seen Wolfgang today.  He must be under the bed.” 

I considered ignoring that observation, only to decide that the truth was best.  “Wolfgang passed away, Pop.”

Pain crossed his face.  “I didn’t know that.”

I told him gently, “Yes, you did.  You’ve just forgotten.”

His occupational therapist had said that repetition was the key.  She said eventually it would start to sink in.  I sure hoped that was true. It was excruciating seeing him discover over and over who was still here and who had passed on.

“It doesn’t seem like I can remember anything.” 

“That’s a side-effect from the cardiac arrest,” I said trying to reassure him.

Stroking Bunny’s ears, he asked, “When did Wolfgang die?”

“In August.”  Just over a month before the event that changed his life.

“Where is he?”

“You buried him, and then you planted a daffodil to remind us.”

“I did?  Where?”

I pointed to the spot in the yard.  “Over there.  Where the little yellow flags are.”

He walked towards them, setting Bunny down as he went.  She followed.  Stopping in front of the flags, he took in the prospect. 

“The landscapers didn’t want to upset his grave, so they marked it.”

“That’s thoughtful.  He was a good dog.”

I tucked my hand under his arm again.  “Yes he was.”

He grinned.  “One time he stole a loaf of bread off the counter top.  Reached right up and pulled it down with his teeth.”  Funny the things that did come back to him.

Smiling, I added, “But he put the half-eaten loaf in Rusty’s bed to hide the evidence.”

“Rusty,” he gasped.  He had forgotten about Rusty.  “So, Rusty is gone too?”  That was a good assumption.  If Wolfgang was gone, then Rusty, who was older, must be gone too.  Sometimes his reasoning skills worked.

“Yes, two years now.” I walked to the other side of the flower bed and pointed to more little yellow flags. “He’s over here.”  Bunny tromped through the garden, unaware of her predecessors. 

“And that must be Teddy,” he said pointing to another set of flags.

“Yes.” Pleased that he had figured that out, and that there were no tears today, I considered that maybe somewhere in his sub-conscious it was sinking in.

My mom and I could have taken the flags down weeks ago, but we didn’t.  Perhaps, we wanted to remember too.

“You know,” he said turning to me with a twinkle in his eye.  “I don’t think you’re allowed to have a pet cemetery in the city.” That he remembered.

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Filed under Cardiac Arrest, caring for the elderly, Creative writing, dog, Family, Father, Life, Love, Parent, pets, Starting Over, Unemployed, Writer, Writing