Saturday, April 30, 2011


My final post for the A to Z Challenge, at which I pretty much sucked ;).

Well, much like the challenge, this trying month is over.

Dad's memorial service was today. It was fairly short and sweet - much as he'd prefer. Lots of old familiar faces and awkward but heartfelt words. I managed not to cry while I was there. I worry that Mom is crying right now. Or perhaps that she isn't. We are not very proficient processors of overpowering emotions, either one of us.

I spent time with my brother, nephew and neice this evening. We played Trivial Pursuit and had a fun time. It feels good to laugh and love with my blood. I don't see them nearly enough.

The difficult month that draws to a close tonight has changed me in ways that will never reverse. I have aged, and my heart has lost a few irretrievable shards. I've said goodbye to people I love - people I cannot imagine not being here.

But I have a husband, and a little boy, a dog, friends and family who are here. They love me and I love them. I continue to mourn. But I will do my best to return to the living.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Weary (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter W.

My Dad passed away early Saturday morning.

I've been continuing with my previously mentioned running to Mom's, now to help her with arrangements. He wanted to be cremated, which simplified many aspects of the planning. If you can really do that. Very little is simple about laying a loved one to rest.

My brother will scatter Dad's ashes in the Colorado Rockies, which Dad did not propose himself but would no doubt approve of as his point of re-entry, becoming one again with the Earth.

I have drawn a lot of comfort in knowing Dad is no longer suffering. He was in incredible pain and discomfort with his cancer. He was so weary from his fight. While he didn't want to leave us, he seemed to know it was coming sooner than later. I truly think he was ready to be at rest - perhaps even willfully ushering himself there.

My Dad and I shared a delicately balanced, eggshell-filled, and often tumultuous relationship. Not often close, not even always speaking to each other. But he was my Dad, and I his daughter, and in these last few years we have mended or otherwise let go of the static between us. I have had nothing but love for him during these final years, and I know he felt the same.

I have begun mourning a little bit, but the bulk is still to come. This is a big one, and add this blow to the fact that we've lost yet another close family member only a week ago (I had not blogged about this out of respect for family privacy), I truly have not even been able to get into the grieving process very deeply yet. I have a way of holding it together for the sake of being strong for everyone else until it's all done and life can return to normal. But then many days later something will flip the switch. I will probably see an amateur radio license plate on the freeway, or hear Sultans of Swing (one of Dad's favorites) on the radio ... and it will hit me. And I will fully grieve then, because that's when the time will be. It just needs to come to me on its own.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the weary, for they shall find rest.

Rest in Peace, Dad.


Sunday, April 24, 2011


~ ~ Happy Easter ~ ~

A to Z Challenge Letter V - Victory over the Grave - He's Alive!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quiet Reality Screams Terrible Unknowns (A/Z)

I'm cheating again, using 5 letters at once (Q,R,S,T,U) for the A to Z Challenge, but these little shortcuts are necessary for me right now. I've barely been online, let alone been able to blog - and my alternative is to fall behind with poor hope of catching up again ... and while I know this isn't exactly keeping up, I don't want to just abandon the challenge - because it's been fun :).

I don't speak about my personal life here much deeper than little anecdotes that reflect quaint little life lessons. But I feel like going deeper today.

My Dad is dying. He's all but lost his battle with cancer, which began in his colon and liver a few years back and then stealthily spread to his lungs and bones. He had many months of quality time left only last week. But then he suffered a fall and fractured his neck. This seems to have led to a dizzyingly rapid decline. He now lies in palliative care in a neck brace the rest of his life, which was quickly reduced to an estimated six months, then two months, and now only a few weeks. Only Monday he was quite himself, joking around with me, flirting with Mom and charming the nurses. He is now out of it with pain management medication way more than he is conscious. Still, I talk with him like he can hear me, hoping that he does despite the lack of outward cues. I hold his frail hand and tell him I love him each time I leave, hoping it rings through the fog for him. Hoping (selfishly, perhaps) it's not the last time I can do so.

Just as difficult to witness, my Mom is falling apart before my eyes. Always a pillar of strength and faith throughout our lives, she is crumbling in the face of reality - her valentine of 53 years, her husband for 51 of those, is failing. she is losing her partner, her right arm, her heart. She is devastated. I can be there for support, but I cannot stop her pain. She is not well either and I'm afraid she will lose her own will to live after Dad is gone. I don't know how to help her.

My Dad is being moved from the hospital to a nursing facility near their home later this afternoon. There he will receive hospice and round-the-clock care he will need to be as comfortable as possible for the remainder of his days.

Sunday is Easter. My Dad loves Easter eggs. This is the first time ever my Mom didn't make Easter eggs. She just didn't feel like it. I guess I don't blame her.

I don't know whether to wish for more time or for a quick release from his suffering now. Any alternative is almost too horrible to think about.

I love you, Dad.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Scattered to the Winds

For Velvet Verbosity's 100 Words Challenge. This week's prompt is IMP.

She made her way though the empty outbuilding with the stragglers brought in by the auction. It had been a lucrative day. Even the box of ancient snapshots and postcards had been bought by a vintage photo collector. She wasn't sure why something lacerated inside her as she let go of the box, when she didn't recognize a single person in them. She watched the last buyer pull away as her parents' cherished Imp squeaked arthritically behind him. A slideshow of summer memories flipped through her mind. She felt her heart fold in on itself like that leaky old boat.

LMNO Puppies (A/Z)

"ABCD puppies?"
"LMNO puppies."
"OSAR puppies, CMPN?"

-- childhood play-with-letters joke

Does anyone remember this? The rough translation is 'Hey, Bee, see da puppies?' 'Hell, them ain't no puppies.' 'Oh yes they are puppies, see 'em peein'?' It was so naughtily funny to tell a joke about pee (not to mention the implied bad word) in grade school.

The above joke is totally unrelated to anything at all, and I fully admit this is cheating by the rules of the A to Z Challenge, using 4 letters in one post ... but some emergencies have come up in my life and I need to consolidate just this once. I'll try to get back on track as soon as possible.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Klansman? Me? (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter K. Warning: Rant below! :)

I have just about had it with the race card.

I'm not saying racism doesn't exist, because it most certainly does. But just because I expect answers doesn't make me a racist. Neither does expecting a leader to make responsible decisions. Pass responsible laws. Handle the national budget with sense. Refrain from lavish vacations for himself and his family on the country's dime during times of fiscal crisis. Demanding that the will of the people be taken into consideration. Remember that whole not the color of my skin but the content of my character thing?

Many people question his citizenship. Supposedly born in Hawaii, the question has been raised he may have been born in Indonesia or somewhere else - rendering him disqualified from being President of the United States. To be honest I don't really have a strong feeling either way on which is right. But I will tell you I have a very low tolerance for bullsh*t.

Listen up: If you were born here, prove it. Not with relatives swearing by it, not with xeroxed newspaper announcements, not by chuckling dismissively and saying you're getting picked on by racists. You're wasting my time. You're wasting America's time. Ante up your proof with original, doctor signed docmuents and settle the matter if you very well can so we can get on with important business.

And by the way, sticking up for a sub-par, expect no accountability president just because he is black (*ahem*, half-black, but you never hear mention of that), IS in fact, also being a racist.

Jack (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter J.

Enough said.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Insidous (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter I.

Everyone knows I love a great horror movie. Everyone also knows that I don't think there's been a decent horror film out in years and years (unless you count the SAW movies ... which I LOVE but consider them more to be psychological thrillers than true "horror" movies). Horror films have been so stale for so long that every time I waste two hours of my life on one I swear it's THE. LAST. TIME.

Needless to say, I saw Insidious on opening day.

This movie is the one I've been waiting for. Part Poltergeist, part Shyamalan-style, and with the exception of a scant few cheesy cliches and a possible Darth Maul makeup ripoff, it was exceptional.

What's been done that hasn't already been done? Well ... not much. But I jumped out of my skin several times, and a chill trickled down my spine way more than once. And that's what I paid for.

Great flick.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Hats (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challege - Letter H.

A few generations back, everyone wore hats. Take a look at old films and photos. Women and men alike seemed to never leave the house without some sort of hat. Most were typical, even identical flat straw boaters or felt derbys - but many were so ... awesome looking. Ridiculously large. Overburdened with feathers and thick satin bands.

I'm really not a fashion addict. But I wish hats were still a wardrobe staple above and beyond bitter winters, bad hair days and casual sun protection.

Do you have a favorite hat? I don't mean your old lucky Dodgers cap with the mustard stain on the bill. I mean a cool style of hat.

I always thought cloches (most popular in the 20's and 30's) were really cute, not to mention having a high potential for sexiness. You could do some bigtime mysterious seduction peeking out from under that snug brim.

But my all-time favorite hat is the top hat. I mean that's some serious badness right there. If you're wearing a top hat, you have self-confidence to spare... You know it and so does everyone else. I love 'em. In fact, I think I'll wear a top hat to my next business meeting. Talk about making a statement. Who's going to doubt someone wearing a ultra-cool hat like that?


For Velvet Verbosity's 100 Words. Just for fun, I'm going a little silly this time. This week's inspiration is BROKEN.

Meandering blearily through the tight maze of shops bursting with cheap trinkets (made, ironically, in China) and bilious tropical wear, she struggled to collect her thoughts. She couldn't recall where she was exactly, but knew it had to be deep in town, far away from tourism areas. She tried not to think about the tender new tattoo of a tequila worm in a sombrero and ridiculous mustache nagging at her bikini line. A tawny flower showed her a collection of beads. She ignored the sales pitch and dug deep into her broken rusty spanish. "Vender bragas?" Do you sell panties?

Friday, April 08, 2011

Guts (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter G.

Most writers and artists will tell you there is a palpable vulnerability to sharing your work, particularly within a large arena of viewers. Summoning the guts to do so can be good. Constructive criticism is every bit as helpful in helping the artist grow as appreciation, if not moreso. But there is also the fear that people will scoff or insult the nudity of your soul.

I joined a poetry writers' circle on Facebook, thinking it might be good for feedback as well as inspiration. I was thinking of sharing my haiku cluster I wrote last weekend, and then as I started reading through the page.

Many comments left by other members are helpful. But some of the members are bluntly nasty. A few of my 'favorites' are as follows:

"Trivial piece. I don't care for the topic or the way you presented it."

"I ahbor end line rhymes."

"Terrible metaphor." (That's helpful.)

"If I didn't leave a comment it was because I didn't care for the poem at all and had nothing to say that could make it better." (Really? Was it necessary to say this?)

I'm not so sensitive that I can't take constructive criticism on my writing. But, I don't know. To me these sorts of comments are not helpful. At all. But should one expose one's self to those as well? Does brutality fortify your guts?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Fan (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter F.

Music is the way our memories sing to us across time. - Lance Morrow

I would take music over every other form of entertainment without a moment of hesitation.

I was raised in a wildflower field of musical styles. My mom loved The Everly Brothers, The Sandpipers and Peter Paul & Mary. My dad loved Johnny Cash, The Who and Grand Funk Railroad. My brother, 6 years my senior, was into The Beatles, The Ohio Players and AC/DC. He brought home KISS ALIVE! when I was in first grade. He only listened to it a few times, but I was changed forever. But all three saturated my little soul with this bouquet of styles, and I love it all.

Fan is such a tiny word. Music is more to me than music. It is memory and identity, blade and bandage, joy and breath. It is as much a part of my life force as my blood and my thoughts.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Extreme Couponing (A/Z)

For rhe A to Z Challenge - Letter E.

Have you heard of this? It's not new, but there's a big boon in its popularity of late. People collect coupons from papers, magazines, websites, swap groups, and anyone not fast enough to run away from them. Then they scour store ads for all the sales, and strategically orchestrate a battle plan to swoop into all markets and marts within their area and cherrypick the best deals. Some extreme couponers save 90% or better on their grocery bills and get many items for free.

Ya know, I think that's great. I mean, I cut coupons, sure. And I usually save between $20 and $50 a trip by using them. But it takes some planning, and a lot of comparison shopping. And to be honest, I just can't make my shopping trips a full-time job, I don't care what the bill adds up (or down) to. I go to one store - the one I think has the best prices overall - that's it. Besides money, my time is valuable to me as well, and I've got other crap to do.

Hey, Godspeed to all you extreme couponers out there, though. Can a borrow some money? I spent all mine at the store today.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Distance (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter D.

I had a nice long chat on the phone today with a good friend. She works in the editing business, and we share a common love of snark, the Steelers, good music, travel, and proper grammar. She's been one of my strongest supporters in following my writing dream, and does a great job of convincing me I really can do it. We've been buddies for many years now. Yet I have never met her in person. We met on a music message board and a lovely friendship blossomed from there.

It's curious to take note of how people come into your life. Even more curious that geographical distance seems much easier to bridge for me than emotional distance.

Even when I was a kid, I have always made very dear friends who live far away - by pen palling before the days of email and Facebook and message boards. Technology seems to make it even easier. Sometimes I wonder if it prevents me from making friends, in real life. Then I remember that I am indeed friendly ... but no one seems interested, in real life.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Currents (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter C.

Inspired by another blogger, I thought I'd jot a haiku cluster for my A to Z Challenge today. I wrote this in the car while Incrediboy was at a birthday party, so don't expect much ;).

Currents running on
Perpetual, as clockwork

Slide in, then suck out -
Or is it down? Leeching to
Some otherworld place

Currents running on
Indifferent to this place
As any other

I imagine, hard,
Body evaporating
My soul running down

Now part of the sea
Flesh, memories, burdens, life
All left behind me.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Burley-Belly (A/Z)

For the A to Z Challenge - Letter B.

Here's a fun (and possibly funny) fact about me for those who didn't know: I love bellydancing. I wanted to learn since I was a teenager, and for the past few years I've been taking the occasional class and have amassed a "few" (ahem) DVDs focusing on learning the art.

To be honest I suck at it. But I don't really care. I have fun trying, and it's a deceptively demanding workout. Best of all it makes me feel great about myself - something I haven't felt enough of.

I spent the afternoon today doing a Burley-Belly Fusion Workshop. As the name suggests, it fused the sensual fluid movements of bellydance with the flirty sauciness of classic burlesque performance. (No stripping, just teasing.)

It was an absolute blast. We had so much fun bringing out our playful sides, but man did we work hard, too. The snake arms, shimmies and concentrated hipwork are already stiffening up my poor old muscles - but it's a sweet sultry pain.

And I felt like a superstar, no matter how ridiculous I looked.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Ancestors (A/Z)

My first installment of the super-fun April A to Z Challenge. Are you as excited as I am!?!? :D

There aren't many things I love the way I love the old family photos and jottings that have found their way to me.

I am the youngest child of two youngest children, which means most of my elders were gone before I got to know them. While I was born in the Age of Aquarius, my grandfather was born in the 19th century. He died an old man when I was only in first grade. My memories of him are only tiny vignettes themselves - whisps of a waist-high view - my eyes level with the pocket of his houndstooth coat as he'd sneak me a piece of candy. The bright jewel colors of his blanket, always on his lap in his last months.

In the photos I have, he is handsome and commanding. Hair inky black instead of winter white. In one he holds a baby that looks just like me. My mother.

Another of my favorite photos is of my grandmother and her best friend. They were all of twenty years old, wearing tweed pants, vests, ties and big newsboy hats. In an age where so many photos were stiff and posed, these two were mugging it up - fat cigars clenched tight in their teeth, laughter in their eyes.

Grandma gave me her cookbook before she died. It was published in the twenties and had revolting recipes with ingredients like suet, tripe, and chicken feet. Frugal times commanded a frugal kitchen. I imagine I'd be much thinner with entrails on the table.

What I love about this book though, are her notes. Some stuck haphazardly about the pages on scraps of paper, others written in margins or inside the blank cover sheets. Reminders scrawled in her confident, jagged cursive. As identifiable as a fingerprint, and even moreso.

In some ways, having a snatch of handwriting is even more precious than a picture. My ancestors weren't just ghostly images on brittle photographic paper. They were real. Their writing left like footprints, like whispers. Like pieces I've been looking for to complete the puzzle of who I am.