Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Succinctly Yours Week 175: When Goats Are Confused

Thank you to Grandma’s Goulash for hosting Succinctly Yours! The idea of this meme is to use the picture to ram a story into under 140 words or 140 characters. The bonus word this week was “wobble.”

When they heard Dodge was planning to race Rams in a televised publicity event, even the slowest decided to wobble onto the road to join the excitement.  126

Even the lamest members of the Billy Goats Gruff union decided to wobble in to picket the proposed road. They’d heard the bridge was going to have a Troll Booth. 132

It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed. ~Ram Dass

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Other People of Walmart

I hate shopping at Wally World. Love the prices, but the experience itself reminds me of Hunger Games-Meets-Honey-Boo-Boo. Some WalMartians, I’ve found, appear to regress to their ancestral roots when it comes to obtaining food. It’s famine time, and they are willing to threaten death-by-grocery-cart for anyone who comes between them and that mega bag of off-brand jalapeno corn twists.

I once tried repeatedly dodging a customer who’d gone on an expedition in the frozen food case. The aisle was blocked with those displays they like to add, so every time the woman would lean in, her derriere jutted out and blocked the aisle like a railroad crossing gate. She was performing major calisthenics in there. When she’d stand up, the path was free again. Up down up down. She was so lost in the frozen tundra of Tater Tot Land that she couldn’t hear me say, “excuse me” repeatedly. So at one point when the path was blessedly free, I darted past. Down came the booty and threatened to ram my cart like a Rocky Mountain Billy Goat—truly giving new meaning to the action of butting something.

Recently I had an errand in one of the nicer parts of town, so I stopped at their Wally World on my way home. I couldn’t believe it. Who knew the wealthy hid such treasures from the rest of us? Shoppers stayed to one side so others could pass. No children camped out in the middle of aisles, unattended. People uttered the magic words, “excuse me.” When my yogurt package broke, three people politely informed me. Three. And they were so nice about it! No one scared me even a little. Oh, sure, maybe it was a tad Stepford-like, but if they had said they wanted to make me one of them, I would have been okay with that.

I dubbed it “Weird Wally’s,” and I dream of going back there someday.

Alas, “my” WalMart is much closer, so I got the bright idea to shop late at night when fewer customers are there. Turns out that’s when the aisles are stocked, so instead of being blocked by oblivious shoppers, they are blocked by forests of gigantic carts and stockers who are possibly on work release programs for those who don’t work well with others.

Not only are they more hostile than the usual clientele, those giant gurneys make a grocery cart look like a little red wagon lost at a monster truck rally. In the paper goods aisle, I feared a TP avalanche that might smother me. Worry about the resulting headline—not to mention my obituary—caused me to abandon the paper items on my list. Then I dodged several convicts, a former roller derby queen, a few meth heads and an angry granny trailing Luna Lovegood’s locks behind her.

When I finally emerged alive from that obstacle course, they added insult to injury by making me do self-checkout…for my entire cartload of groceries, produce and all. Have I mentioned before that I send out Carrie-like anti-machinery vibes that break things? Any time I saved by avoiding shoppers was more than wasted with a scanner that told me repeatedly I needed help.

Well, duh. I bet the people at Weird Wally’s are getting free hors d’oeuvres and massages at the end of their shopping trips.

Life is much trippier than first imagined. ~Anne Lamott, Stitches

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Doubly Dyed in the Wool: Book Signing and Succinctly Yours #174

This is one of the few times I can say to anyone living in an exotic location: Too bad you don’t live in St. Louis, Missouri, because you really missed out on a great event last Tuesday. The Not Your Mother’s Books combination book signing event (NYMB…On Being a Mom and NYMB…On Family) was about as perfect as these things get. We were graced with uncharacteristically cool weather for July—which was a gift all its own because of the way the crowds spilled out of the independent and community-minded bookstore, STL Books, and onto the sidewalks of quaint, historical Kirkwood.

Wine and the most delightful little nibbles and noshes were served while NYMB...On Family coeditor Linda O'Connell circulated around exclaiming, "Eat! Eat!" Several contributors read their humorous stories. If that weren’t awesome enough, owner Robin Theiss donated 10% of all sales proceeds to Family Resources Center in support of their work to reduce childhood abuse and neglect. I admired the selection of books offered in that lovely store: classics, popular, children’s, local. Perfect. And as luck would have it, they ship books! Check it out if you’re so inclined.

Thank you again to NYMB coeditors Linda O’Connell and Dianna Graveman!

Succinctly Yours #174: Baa Wow

Many thanks to Grandma’s Goulash for herding us together once a week for Succinctly Yours, where willing participants are called to spin yarns of photo-inspired microfiction that is sheered down to 140 words or 140 characters. The bonus word this week was “quantify:”

After Granny’s eyesight went, it was hard to quantify the joy she received from her dog, Wolfie. So no one told her that he was, in a sense, a sheep in Wolfie’s clothing.  138
I find I have…a tendency to overwrite, to use two or three words where one will do better. I have to go back and cut and cut. ~John Steinbeck

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Succinctly Yours #173: Tip…Off, or Circum…spect

Thank you to Grandma’s Goulash for hosting Succinctly Yours! The idea of this meme is to use the picture to tell a story that is sliced and clipped to a bare minimum. To be kosher, we must remain under 140 words or 140 characters. The bonus word this week was “earth.”

Charles now understood why he never on earth should have asked the mohel, Rabbi Dumbledore, to remove a splinter from the tip of his toe. 113
(Most people would never on earth guess that, before he became a wizard, Albus Dumbledore was a rabbi at the Godrick’s Hollow synagogue, B’Nai Shaman.)  127

"…I was merely reading the Muggle magazines. I do love knitting patterns."
~Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling