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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Succinctly Yours Week 197: Not the Brightest Apple in the Barrel

Thank you to Grandma’s Goulash for hosting Succinctly Yours! The purpose of this charming meme is to dip into the recesses of our creativity to retrieve a story of 140 words or 140 characters or fewer. The bonus word this week was “echo.”

The horror of Al's New Year's Eve party would echo for years. The decorations were sad, only the cat showed up, and bobbing for apples after 6 zombie shots was a bad idea. 140

Al’s New Year’s Eve activity was seeing whether apples echo. They don’t, but the fallout from viral online photos does.  100

Q: What do you call a guy with his head in a barrel of apples? A: Bob.  54

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things. ~Ray Bradbury

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

You Better Watch Out, Santa

I’ll say this for them: they are rather polite as yellow jackets go. Not like the seething ones I discovered while cleaning out the gutters last summer that taught me I can do an awesome jump from really high up a ladder, sort of like a stunt person. If the stunt person were a middle-aged Scooby Doo. This was just after I’d discovered that my hornet spray does not, in fact, shoot 20 feet like the label says, but instead sends out a dribble that goes “pffst,” and extends maybe five feet, tops. The stuff they should warn you not to spray willy-nilly directly over your head during rapid descent from a ladder.

Though my hair has remained yellow jacket free, my house has not. They started appearing whenever it was cold out, these drugged, sluggish insects congregating on the inside of the patio door. I have transplanted virtually dozens of them to the other side of that door thanks to my expert catch-and-release weapons that include an empty plastic sorbet container and an ad for bargain denture replacement.

I’d originally assumed the yellow jackets had made a nest somewhere within the passionflowers that frame the back door in the warmer months, and somehow they were squeezing in behind the screen. But after the vines died back, I was surprised to find not even a small hive.

It wasn’t until the door remained shut that it became clear what this Christmas season had brought down my chimney.

So this year, I have rediscovered my fireplace. No question there is more than one kind of comfort in a nice, cozy fire! Sorry, critters, but this Christmas Eve, I need to be sure not a creature is stirring…up a hornet’s nest.

Wishing you a calm, peaceful Christmas. The cootie-free kind.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
~”Twas the Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Clarke Moore

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Succinctly Yours Week 196: A Christmas Carol: The Sequel

Thank you to Grandma’s Goulash for hosting Succinctly Yours! The purpose of this charming meme is to use the picture to create a story of 140 words or 140 characters or fewer. I’ve attempted to participate in SY for the past few weeks but always seem to end up too overwhelmed to get it posted—so here is last week’s as well. The bonus word this week was “grumpy.”

When Tim was no longer tiny, he and his family enjoyed singing Christmas carols. Unfortunately their singing was such that it made Ebenezer grumpy all over again. 136

Succinctly Yours Week 195: Tisn’t the Season

Bonus word was “urgent.”

It was no longer urgent to get all the Christmas shopping done, wrapped and mailed. They had made early January into their favorite season.   116

Ron and Edna liked to do their Christmas shopping in the middle of the night. A lot of stores were closed, but at such a romantic hour, nothing seemed urgent.  129

Some thought it odd that they had no urgent need to buy each other gifts. Few knew that for forty years, this stroll was their gift to each other on Christmas Eve night. 135

Far too many people are looking for the right person instead of trying to be the right person. ~Gloria Steinem

Sunday, December 14, 2014

All I Want for Christmas for My Two Front Teeth

 “Where is it!? I will f-ing die if I don’t get it! I mean it,” she turns to me. “It’s like a f-ing fix, you know?
I look over at her, startled, wondering if this girl is trying to shock me with all of those f-words. I decide she doesn’t even seem aware of them. She is a tall, thin, pretty girl maybe in her late twenties, with braces and glasses, edgy-intellectual looking. In a movie, I would cast her as the cool-quirky girl. We are alone in a Target aisle, almost alone in the store late on a Saturday night with the first snow of the season coming down in wet, lazy flakes in the dark parking lot. The “fix” she is talking about is, of all things, dental floss.
“No sh-t, I mean it. This stuff is so good, I’d buy up every last one the store had if they ever discontinued it. And not just because I have braces, but because I almost need my dental floss to, you know….”
“…gouge that stuff out of there,” I finish for her, nodding. I’ve been standing in front of the floss display, lamenting the fact that my last good brand has apparently been discontinued (again!), willing another good one to appear. And by “good,” I mean serious floss. None of this namby-pamby stuff. No cutesy little spools of thread. Not the gentle kind. I don’t want my floss to hurt the food particles’ feelings a little. I want it to decimate them with what appears in the pictorial blow-ups on the label as miniature medieval weaponry.
She explodes with the shock of finding a commiserative sister-in-dental-floss-obsession. “YES! I mean, I don’t care how hard I have to dig into those f-ing teeth, I need that f-ing sh-t out of there. People don’t realize you can smell it if they don’t get it out. Their f-ing breath smells!” She is clearly appalled by those filthy mouths. “But this sh-t”—she locates her brand, and I feel the briefest disappointment that her brand is different from mine—“this is the bomb.”
I study the one she is offering. Unconventional packaging. I like that, but I’m wary. I’ve been fooled before. “It isn’t the kind that’s like tiny pipe cleaners that poke between your teeth, is it? Or the kind that’s like a long rubber band that flings food particles across the room like a slingshot?” I ask. I’ve tried them all by now and I especially hate that kind. Who wants to catapult masticated food across the room with a little band of elastic? Eww.
“NO!” She explodes again. Is she drunk? On drugs? Or merely that excited about dental floss? I honestly can’t tell. “Oh, f-k, I can open it, I’m buying it anyway. No sh-t, it’s the f-ing bomb.” She opens it to show me.
I admire the dental floss, thank her, and take some to try. She strolls away, this patron saint of dental floss, this paragon of clean mouths.
And—go figure—the girl knew her floss. It really is the f-ing floss bomb.

This drives me crazy, that God seems to have no taste, no standards. Yet on most days, this is what gives some of us hope. ~Anne Lamott, Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith