Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Like the First Time

"Load up, girls". Them dogs love nothing better than a ride in the Camry and they jumped in quickly when Liza gave the order and threw the doors open. Those dogs love their Momma better than pigs' ears. Pets, unlike kids and men, never bite the hand that feeds 'em and adore you just because you love them. Of course they could have walked to the sunset spot, but this is their solemn ritual. Besides, sunset comes quickly in November when you're hoofing it.

She eases the car onto the field road that borders the cotton field across the lane. Faith and Butterbean are eager to explore whatever Momma has on her mind, and they hang out the windows with the breeze blowing those puppy ears every which a way. They've been running and playing in the yard like kids, pickin' at each other and chasing away the day. Butterbean has this funny little gangster limp from a broken leg as a puppy, but she can keep up with her big chocolate lab sister any day of the week. Liza's special spot is about midway around the periphery of the cotton field , where the sun shines just so through the little forest that is home to those cows her Daddy raises. The dogs pile out into the woods, and she clears the dead wood out of her path.

Lumpy is in jail now, for thirty days this time. Last time she saw him, if she didn't recognize the truck, she wouldn't have known he was the man she was married to for twenty years. Ravaged by crack and meth, he had shown up one day to give back the furniture her family had donated to his home away from home after the divorce. He always was a prideful sort like that, which probably explains why the marriage died a slow and painful death. Lacey puts on a brave front, but when the subject of her daddy comes up she usually cries. Who wouldn't be sad about that kind of thrown away life?

Liza stops to examine a tree she's never noticed before. The limbs resemble the branches of a Christmas cactus, like segments on one of those worms she studied in college and couldn't identify now if her life depended on it. The rays of the setting sun are gentle and lazy. Full of shine that bounces off of the reds and golds of the leaves in a way that makes her feel full of...what, exactly? Awe, perhaps. Peace. Gratitude for the luxury of a lifetime in a paradise that others only dream about.

Something catches her eye moving across the still lucious green pasture down below. At first she thinks it is a hawk on the wing, but it seems to be lower to the ground and the dogs are standing at attention. Smiling to herself, she realizes that it is the deer spot and of course, it is a fawn scampering back to its' mama. Tis the season...there will be more of that in the coming months for those faithful enough to come and watch in the stillness. Across the bean field and through the next thicket is Bubba's duck blind, skillfully camoflaged and waiting for the perfect moment when the water is right and the birds fly back home. He is the middle child, and the older of the two boys that have grown up with her, alternately delighting her and pissing her off. This farm is their legacy, and one that they don't take lightly. The younger boy, Harold, has moved away to Virginia. Lord have mercy! What a pain them little brothers were when she was growing up in their midst.

She makes her way back to the car for a bit of mood music. Hmmm...what shall it be to commemorate this beautiful occasion? The console is full of CD's fit for an eclectic music lover. She shuffles through them and spots the one she wants... Josh Groban and his beautiful voice. This particular disc is one of the few that she has been able to afford to buy, but he has never disappointed her. Neither have James Taylor or Carlos Santana or John Mayer. She likes the bluesy girls too, like Kathy Mattea and Pearl and the Dixie Chicks. Joni Mitchell and Carole King. Patsy Cline. Music always has made her step a little lighter.

Popping Josh into the player, she settles back into the seat and watches the day melt away into a giant fusion of autumn vibrancy mixed with pink, blue and orange. Tears begin to stream down her cheeks and she doesn't know why, exactly. She must be having a moment, like she's prone to do. Like when it all seems too good to be true and too bad to believe and she whispers "Amen" as he croons You Lift Me Up.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Letter to my Creditors

To Whom It May Concern:

I cannot and will not pay you as long as your company continues to charge me late fees and illegal interest and harass me with calls from India. My loyalty and dollars will go to those who have helped me during the hard times. Go ahead and sue me. I have no assets, like most of the victims of your promises of easy money.

First and foremost I will pay the following:

The local drugstore which allows me to charge co-pays for a couple of months so that I can take the meds that I need. 1.5% interest.

The neighborhood grocer, who still believes in credit for folks with a job who are trying very hard to survive. No interest.

My ex-dentist who charges 8% interest so that his children can remain spoiled rotten.

10% tithe. Not to a big organized religion, but to the work of the Lord as I feel led to contribute.

My family and friends who have loaned me cash and goods since my divorce to keep me solvent and comfy. Too many to list. When I hit the lottery, I’ll pay them all back. Plus interest and homemade cookies.

Should you decide to take legal action, I will gladly take you on. My attorney loves the little people. He doesn’t charge interest either.

Yours truly,


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Hey sugar

I'm totally zoom impaired so I can't send you a pic of today's birds, but I can tell you about it. Does that count? The small sanctuary out by the front porch is still attracting cardinals and goldfinches. A chickadee took a bath there today, but usually it's a big old bowl of water for the dawgs. Hummers are gearing up for the battle of the sugar water.
a watched bird never lands
I look forward to hearing from you...is that sad or what? I suppose I should just get some ambition and take a contract to the farthest town that pays well for an MT. Any sensible girl would do that.

I tend to be quite unsensible, as you well know. Listening to the heart is my hallmark and it's usually followed by the opening of my big fat mouth speaking the truth. My fear of love is well founded, and so I cry when I feel vulnerable enough to trust and say what I feel. No man has ever felt that way about me. Most days, I'm okay with that. Sometimes though...umm.

you've got mail
Sometimes I just wait for a letter.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Special Fried Rice

I can create the damndest good things in the kitchen when I'm in the mood. Tonight it was fried rice Chinese style with pre-cooked ingredients from the freezer plus a few fresh thihngs like cold rice and soy sauce and eggs and onions.

From the freezer I found Italian carrots and chicken and some green onions: Here's the recipe:

Brown a cup of onions in one T of oil. Stir in 4 slightly beaten eggs until almost set. Put aside.

In 2 T oil, brown chicken ( or pork or shrimp ) and some cashews plus carrots. Add soy sauce til it simmers just right.

Pour in 4 cups of COOKED cold rice and stir it good. Then add the egg'n'onion stuff. Stir some more. It there are chives around, chop 'em up and sprinkle on top. It'll work without them.

Eat. Pat self on back. Eat some more.

Take leftovers to work for the hungry bunch.

Plus Sister Schubert's :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Happy Anniversary McVeigh

I'd Love to Change the World
Ten Years After

Everywhere is
freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity?
Tax the rich, feed the poor
Till there are no rich no more?

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do...
So I'll leave it up to you.

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleedin, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, skies are sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, Monopoly ?

I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you.

World pollution, there's no solution
Institution, electrocution
Just black and white, rich or poor
Them and us, stop the war
I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


According to his babygirl, Mr. Frog had no peripheral vision. If it wasn't straight in front of his windshield, he couldn't see it. That particular winter day it was cloudy and rainy as he took off down the hill and over to the crossover on that busy highway in his truck. His wife and grandson were behind him on the mission to town.

The truck loaded with logs came out of nowhere on the road to somewhere important and Mr. Frog never knew what hit him. There's a blessing in everything and that was a big one for all concerned. When tragedy strikes that quick, you gotta look for those blessings real hard.

His girl was hanging out at work when her husband called with the news. They took off like a shot to the scene of the accident 20 miles south. What they found was a cleanup effort on a major highway with her Daddy's life in question. Rescue workers pried him out of the truck and loaded his limp body into the ambulance to head for the nearest hospital. By the time Lynn and Mike got there they were ambulance chasers to the next town.

The ER doc begged Lynn not to put herself through the torture of seeing her lifeless Daddy. She was already hysterical and didn't even know he was dead. Daddy's girl picked up his flannel shirt and held it for years every time she missed him.

"Help us", said Mike when he called. Liza knew what he meant and tracked down the doc for some drugs to ease the shock. Liza and the Little General piled up and drove to the scene of horror. They found Lynn standing on the edge of the highway in shock. Slowly, the story unfolded.

Frog's wifey Fran had been buggin' him to get the car worked on. Fran is a high strung kinda woman who doesn't give up easy on what she wants. She and her grandboy Brad piled up in the car to follow Frog to the shop and get that thing done. They saw the huge truck mow him down in the middle of the highway while they waited to cross over.

It rained all day on funeral day.... not just a trickle but a damn downpour that made the tents and umbrellas imperative for the faithful. There were family members from all over and church members galore. Liza and Joe followed all the way to the burial in the mud.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

P.S. I'm Sorry

This time of year always makes me think about "heart attack day". Remember? It was cold like now but almost spring. If you'd given me a clue the night before, well. I never knew. You slept on the couch while I went to bed and drifted off to face another day in paradise.

That particular day, I went to work and you called in. Not unusual, really. You didn't feel good and had a bit of chest discomfort. About an hour into the day I called to check on you and things seemed worse. I talked to one of the ER nurses and she said for me to go get your ass.

By the time I got home you were layin' on the bed in terrible pain. Once we got in the car, you seemed intent on living, kickin' the dash and screaming at me the whole wild 10 minute ride. "RUN that mother fucker!". I was stopping for red lights while you were dyin'. Go figure.

They did all the right things at the hospital. EKG...tombstones. Cardiac markers, negative. Morphine for the pain and chopper on the way with Activase doing its' magic. You were the poster boy at 39 for modern medical miracles, including the follow-up 3 months later for early closure w/o stenting. Doc was in a hurry that first time, okay? We watched NCAA ball from the top floor of Methodist North and I slept in the window.

It began to unravel quickly after that. We both knew that our "reunion" was about $$$$ and our Babygirl and not at all about us. I think that there at the end of it, you finally DID care about me. I reckon that's why you cried so when I told you I couldn't do it anymore.

I'm happy most of the time now. I walk outta work and look ahead to what's at home with my dawgs and the seasons on the farm. The asparagus is about to come up. I still like beer and cooking.

Thanks for never mistreating me. Thanks for being a terrific Dad and not such a terrific husband. I accept my part in the whole deal and I'm just grateful that you're still around when I say "Hey You...I just needed to hear your voice."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Notes from a Pity Party

The darkness comes upon me in fatigue, and usually when I least expect it. Today's cue for melancholy was an answered e-mail from weeks gone by. Full of the condescending attitude that permeates corporate America, it was one of those "I'm sorry you feel that way" type of things where the writer/speaker accepts no responsibility for any part of it but shifts the action back to the "feeler".

I'm always the feeler, it seems.....and when I feel it, I usually say it. One of these days I will learn ( probably from my nursing home bed ) to keep my trap shut and expect nothing. Perhaps by then, it won't matter to me and I will expect no validation other than a periodic visit from some good old church soul or a distant cousin wanting to relive the past that is ours.

One who is made differently from myself could have, and certainly WOULD have given much less to a career and much more to self gratification. I often wonder why I have felt the need to get back up and try it again after being knocked flat on my face so many times. The only way to live that life is to rationalize that faith and hope are the keys to successful living. Many times, I feel that I will go to my grave holding onto those things with good intentions and dreams as my companions in the end.

Sitting through Lacey's orientation on the "benefits" today sort of threw cold water on my face. She is young, and much smarter than myself. Her childhood was filled with my quest to be everything to everybody and my miserable failure to everyone.....including myself. I see a wisdom and independence in her soul that I lacked at her age. It's one of the few things that gives me comfort these days, knowing that she will not tolerate the crap that she saw her Momma live.

I guess that means I've done my most important job well.

Now, bring on Prince Charming!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Present tense

I realized today how very long I've been living in the past. Part of that is the grief process but part of it is just plain old stubborness...a failure on my part to give up the ghost and accept responsibility for my own care and happiness.

Heard through the grapevine that Fred's dad died. He was elderly and it was "expected". He chose not to talk about it....not to me anyway. Why would he? I'm just a gal at work. That's pretty much a contrast to Tim and his very present wife and daughter(s). PENNY. KATIE BETH. RYAN MCKENZIE soon to be born.

Fred's family is a big mystery, except for the babygirl who seems to be on his mind 24/7. He has spoken of a sister by name, but the wife is nameless. She's just "my wife...the homemaker."

That strikes me as very sad. Even in the past tense, my husband has a name. We spent 20 years together and half as many gettin' apart so there's some shared territory there. We have a child....we will share grandchildren someday.

It's March and the grass is growin' again. My lawnmowers are in the shop. I have one and a half dawgs, two cats, one Babygirl, and a family complete with brothers and parents and cousins. My job is not bad most days and I live in paradise.

It's all good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ending the war...by Ms Doris

Just had to write you to tell you of my plan. There has been a young girl on CNN all day playing and singing a song that she wrote. It is entitled YES WE CAN. Her playing leaves much to be desired, her voice is terrible and the piano is out of tune. I don't think that i can stand another repeat performance. So, the last time I heard it, I decided that we could drive the
Taliban and leaders of Afganistan crazy if only we would make a million tapes of her performance and play it over really loudspeakers constrantly and in no time i feel sure they would vow and declare they would never attack us again if only we would destroy all of the tapes. If you have not heard her you can not appreciate my suggestion but if you have heard her i feel sure you will agree to my plan! It sort of reminded me of the time the mayor used JJ to sing his commercials. I was not surprised when his business made a turn for the wrose!!!! Then, I can not imagine anyone in their right mind requesting Jesse Jackson's presence to solve any problem. I know now that the taliban has to be made up of a group of crazies. Maybe they want him to come over so they can have him for the entertainment at their soccer field that money fromthis country helped to build. Afterall, they have been using women who have commited adultry for the entertainment as they shot them so why not use Jesse - is there a difference. They could put him in a robe and a long veil and no one would know the difference unless he opened his mouth and they would hear the lisp when he said "dont shshshshshoot me"!! Glad to have news of Lacey. No, you have not repeated yourself. So glad she has a steady - surprised she has not had many by now. Give her a hug for me. I still remember her Easter present to me. Tell her to be sure to include me on her graduation list. Not that i will be there but i want to send a present. Glad you mentioned peggy. I had wondered about her and it seems this has been going; on forever. Give her my love. Going to walk at the family life center. so must go now. Oh, thanks ;for the news of the Yarbro house. I bet there was nothing left in that old house but a bunch of absolute junk . You know that family would not have left anything valuable. I wonder what happened to the rats that Cube told mother years ago lived ;in the house. She told Mother that they were larger than cats. I think that was when Frankie Ann and Chucky lived in the house and you know how many years ago that was!! Gotta go. Love Doris

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Way deep down in her soul, Liza had always wanted to be a Daddy's girl. When she was little her momma kept things covered up on the girl front and her Dad Willy just ignored the whole female element in his houseshold. He worked two jobs and grabbed a little fun here and there bowlin' and playing penny ante poker. An ex-Southern Baptist, he threw himself into Methodism as a servant. Liza and the boys went to that Methodist church every Sunday 'til they were old enough to say no. Willy sang in the choir and was generally everybody's upstanding go-to fella for anything and everything concerning service.

Poverty and hard times during childhood can do a number on a man...and that happened to Willy. His Daddy was a sharecropper who drank a bit too much to suit his wife, but who could blame him. Sharecroppin' is a hard life. In today's lingo, he'd probably be known as co-dependent.

Liza knew that her Dad was everybody's favorite clown and friend when he was in high school. Her momma and the faded black and white pictures told her so. He worked his way through college and came out with a degree before going into the Air Force as a supply man in the Azores.

This was all great stuff for a depression era boy making good. It was also emotional disaster for a fella with a family who needed him to care and show it. Poor Willy just didn't know how.

He's an angry man, to this day. About what, nobody's sure. Maybe it's the childhood poverty or the way he was treated himself. Who the hell knows. All Liza ever knew was that he made her feel stupid. It took a coupla years of therapy and alots of tears for her to realize that who she was didn't have a damn thing to do with what he said to her.

"What are you thinking??? You're an idiot for doing that." It was never quite so much the words as it was the tone of voice that he used that could cut her down to the nub in an instant. Never "I love you" or "I'm proud of you". The absence of the put downs was replaced with total avoidance by reading the newspaper or watching football.

As an adult, Liza found herself still looking for that support. She "loved" many men who weren't capable of loving back and always...always played right into Willy's anger and came out feeling like shit. Emotional unavailability in a man was like a magnet for her.