Category Archives: writing

Raising Cain

Apple pie with pecan nuts

Grandma made them all aprons as a gift, like they’d one day become domesticated. It just wasn’t in the cards, though, much to their father’s surprise. The troika instead grew into independent non-cooks and bakers who didn’t fastidiously keep house. With better things to do, nary a homemade muffin would emerge from their ovens. 

“If that shit’s going to get done, hubs can do it himself. Make his own damn sammich,” the youngest protested. “He’s got two hands.”

No wonder Mrs. Bray warned her mother at first-grade parent-teacher conferences, “I can just hear her griping at her husband one day.” 

100-word challenge prompt:  homemade

100-word-challenge

photo:  Marco Verch via Flickr

1 Comment

Filed under creative non-fiction, life, writing

Out on the town

ale

Beside herself with excitement, Teresa’s group stopped at Willie’s for tacos before going to their hotel on her first trip to the state capital for work. 

“I’d like an ice cold beer,” she drawled. “Listen, y’all … this is my first rodeo. All we have for drive-through in Delmar is Windy’s and McDugal’s. Know what I mean?”

A bit chagrinned at her naivete, Teresa’s co-workers stared at their menus, embarrassed. She was all smiles, though.

“Don’t judge! My husband greased up the bars some to let me out for this little jaunt. Otherwise keeps me at home all the time.” 

100-word Challenge: listen

100-word-challenge

photo credit: Dennis Sylvester Hurd via Flickr

3 Comments

Filed under creative non-fiction, life, writing

Timothy Schande

signage

He wanted to see Jennifer again before everything got all fakakta. Their relationship was building nicely prior to arrest. Now Timothy wasn’t so sure.

He’d see a judge soon and could then cypher what came next. Just his luck to get popped right before he met someone he could finally introduce to his bubbie. A goy, nonetheless. She’d have been surprised.

A guy in the next cell kept yelling about something being “otra bobas,” but Tim knew no Spanish. The fella was de-toxing or still off his nut from a wild misadventure the previous night. Maybe something resembling his own.

100-word-challenge

100-word challenge:  arrest

Leave a comment

Filed under fiction, writing

Check-Up

door.JPG

Jim Earl headed to town bright and early, his patience waning at getting Ginny to her doctor appointment. The antiquarian white-knuckled the wheel at “2” and “10” as if loosening his hold would end disastrously.

Passing drivers never suspected that cowboy hat brim covered a dome with only a few remnant hairs. Jim Earl kept laser focus on the road ahead, his love’s ailments outweighing his own.

An undetected stroke brought on oxygen-deprived dementia, except Jim Earl never went to the doctor himself. Not even his beloved realized. Getting lost that day was the first of many times to come.

100-word-challenge

100 Word Challenge – patience 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under country noir, creative non-fiction, writing

The Whole Kit and Kaboodle

butterflies on poo.jpg

Daddy and Junior got that coon off the road before it started to stink. The July rain they’d gotten and high temperatures four straight days made a quick inevitability. A virtual certainty. It was gonna reek.

Albert would eat it nonetheless. Anything stood fair game on his half-barrel BBQ grill. Leastways without too many flies or ticks.

Them rescuing road-pizza for Albert prompted little chatter around town, as people were used to their quirkiness.

He might draw the line at maggots. They got to his gut one time. Otherwise, his seasoned stomach took it. Some sauce made all the difference.

100-word-challenge
100 Word Challengechatter

4 Comments

Filed under country noir, creative non-fiction, writing

Down State Road 66

shack

Passersby likely suspect the eerie little house. The overgrown yard in a shaded wood within that isolated area lends to its rot being practically sensible by smell. She’d just been unfortunate enough to hit an animal when driving past and not simply write an apologetic note to the pet’s potential owner.
A final suspiration left her lungs as the man pulled her inside the sagging door frame after answering her knock. The woman scarcely deserved punishment for such a deed of Good Samaritanship. Not only would the dog she had fatally struck expire that morning but she would as well.

100-word-challenge

100-Word Challenge – WRITE

6 Comments

Filed under country noir, writing

Flat Straightaways = Easy

Last weekend’s 26-mile ride taught me something that should already be innate knowledge. It’s easier to breathe in through one’s nose when it’s not full of mucus. Blowing snot rockets the week prior became less humorous when done out of necessity. I keep learning on this journey, albeit at a fear of not being able to make it 150 miles in September. The breaks every 10 mile lead me on a hopeful path, but the hills scare me to distraction.

I keep telling myself each small trip will keep building my strength and not to get overwhelmed with thoughts of, “Well, I might be tough but …” I’ll keep going until I can’t, bottom line.

One of the great pleasures of my life has been in meeting some wonderful friends. Just like the Beatles said, we get by with a little help from our friends. These are some brave, resilient, bad-ass women.

Joedie, for whose honor I chose to attempt the MS150 in the first place. She was forced into early retirement way too young because of the disease. Years ago she laughingly warned me how she’d wake up slowly in difficulty while moving first thing in the morning. She’s the same person who, regardless of any physical challenge, helped clean my house before my baby was born. She advised me to take it easy after a surgery, with her first-hand knowledge coming from cleaning her OUTSIDE house windows after having the same procedure done years prior. Family is everything to her, and I hope she has many years left to enjoy them. She is one of the toughest women I know.

My friend, Kezia, mom of a blended family, proves a woman CAN have it all. She juggles her family life with professional responsibilities while honing a balance of the two and grieving the lost her best friend/sister just over a year ago.

Not everyone has the good fortune to have sisters and a niece like mine, three super strong women. Jeanna, Christy and Audra inspire me on a daily basis in everything they’ve endured and overcome. Christy amazed me with her strength in triumphing over health problems the last several years. Days when I’ve felt like a physical wreck reminded me how much of a wuss I was for thinking anything was tough in comparison to Christy teaching exercise classes while going through chemo treatment. Jeanna’s a runner who sticks with her passion regardless of aging’s indiscriminate attempt to slow her down. Audra seeks her adventurous la vida loca with courage I wish I still possessed.

My tribe extends to a family I’ve developed along the way. Alexis and Amy helped care for their ailing parents, served as their caregivers, but have still shouldered the societal judgement of choosing a childless life, which is their right as human beings. These amazing women rise above that nosiness with a class I could never muster.

My oldest and dearest yayas include Dena, Karen and Lisa. The other Karen, left this earth in 2011. We miss her like crazy but carry on our antics as often as possible. These girls, and I can say “girls” because I’ve known these women since we were girls, are part of my foundation and especially important in that regard.

Rhonda and Shelli support their friends even when their own self-care may wane. They’ve nurtured both the physical and emotional wellbeing of many a friend and family member.

My friend, Kay, recently introduced me to her delightful daughter, Jess. This plucky pair has endured a bout Jess had with breast cancer after losing their beloved husband and father. They did so with a style and grace I can’t imagine ever being able to encompass, and I admire them both greatly.

Marci, Shannon, Tina, Amanda, Robin, Amy & Dianne all manage households with smiles on their faces, many of whom lost their parents entirely too young. And, as everyone surely knows, Boy Moms can totally take anything thrown at them.

Another Amy friend searches for a treatment to works for her congenital heart condition while an unsuspecting person would never know there’s anything the matter with her. She’s also a Boy Mom who takes on the mental health care and sustenance of hundreds of high school students in her job and claims to love every minute of it. Who can love their job that much? I’m so jealous of her satisfaction there and the grace and hope with which she accepts the health hand life has dealt her. 

Last but, much like Baby, never ever put in the corner or last in line, is Sandy who motivates me and cheers me on, regardless of my latest hair-brained scheme. She packed her car full of sound equipment and TDed my “Brace Up, Girl” spoken-word showcase in May. Even on her own birthday, she spent the day “working” and called it fun. Not many will do that shit for somebody else AND drive them to the airport at the drop of a hat! Y’all should be jealous of me if she’s not your friend.

These women help enrich my life on the daily. They keep me grounded and grateful with where I’m at in this world. Yet I must also acknowledge those who got me here in the first place.

My mom labored harder than any woman in my life. She literally worked herself to the bone. I heard evidence of it through that grinding in her back with each agonizing step she took in the last months of her life as she struggled to maintain even an inkling of mobility and independence.

sorghum

accidental sorghum patch

The toughest person I will probably ever know was my dad. Beyond working a full-time manual labor job, he broke horses to ride, plowed gardens for people, grew row crops, and raised some livestock from time to time. He took care of that livestock until his cancer-ridden body would no longer allow him his labor of love and wracked his slight frame and he died at the “ripe old age” of only 55 years. I often sense his presence, even if it’s simply seeing a cattle salt lick in a field I pass or an empty cigarette pack that just happened to be his brand, and the love he instilled in me of the outdoors through which I pedal my bike.

Completing a 150-mile ride over two days this autumn is a lofty goal, but I’ll keep going until I just can’t any longer. That’s all I can try to do. The words in my head, “I might be tough, but …” need to stop. I can only try to keep getting tougher, similar to the people I admire.

I just look forward to the point when I can find some riding Zen and enjoy the process. In the meantime, my path makes me smile in rare fleeting moments.

Chicory growing along the shoulder of the road reminds me of my mentor, Bill, who served as a surrogate father for me at a time in life when I needed one. I spy other glimpses in the woods that make me think of my parents and them reassuring me how I can do this.

chicory

Those fleeting times may get me through when the other times suck and I can’t get out of my head. Much like life, this “bike-athon” (what we’d call it back in grade school) will be full of ass-kicking hills instead of the flat straightaways I enjoy so much. Kathy tells me each person’s ride is her own. Coach Cass says she turns on her favorite song and enjoys the day. Maybe one day I can, too.

5 Comments

Filed under biking, life, writing

Get Her Freak On

a porch swing

Tiny red and blue dots vibrated inside Joleen’s eyelids and fixated her in a false somnambulant stupor. Her consciousness stopped at the intersection of wakefulness and sleep when the screen door’s slap brought her bolt upright.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jed asked.

“Catching some z’s before tonight’s party.” She blocked an offending sun ray with a skinny arm gone tingly from its perch across the porch swing’s back. She gave him that suspicious sidelong glance often given people like him who can’t read without their lips moving.

“Don’t worry,” she assured. “”I’ll be ready to lap-dance soon enough.”

 

100 word challenge:  skinny

100-word-challenge

photo: pinterest.co.uk

1 Comment

Filed under country noir, fiction, writing

Back in the saddle

The firsts just keep coming and coming. Tonight I’m claiming myself an expert in the fine art of snot rocketry after having blown my first two in the entirety of my lifetime. If I were an Olympic judge with this gross performance a qualifying sport, I’d give myself high marks for trajectory and aim. That’s what happens when a person tries to get back at it after a week with a summer cold, no cycling, and then going without tissues the first time back on the bike.

The good news is I always see beautiful things on my rides. Like the neighbors’ flowers. Exhibit A:

1CI stop and smell flowers from time to time, literally and figuratively, even at the risk of not remembering to kick out of my doggone triple-link pedals. Why is it so tough to remember “Kick Out?!”

What I do know is Karma is a big be-yotch, although I don’t usually like to use that turn of phrase. Just seems every time I get all judgey, like mentally berating the a-holes who though similarly enjoying my favorite Lacroix Pamplemousse sparkling water are inconsiderate enough to toss a can along the road. Gravity pulled me back down to earth to check my superior attitude for a bloodletting. The top scrape came from pavement, and the bottom one layered drying poison ivy breakout yet healing there.

Exhibit B:

1A

Laughing helps when I think of my son quoting Napoleon Dynamite asking the bullied kid, “How’s your neck?” I felt like the kid answering, “It stings,” only about my knee and elbow.

My country adventures lead me to ponder the sights and smells. Such as, “Is that mixed leather/Freon smell in the air actually someone cooking meth in the woods?” Being an avid reader, I recently learned how to gauge how much daylight is left by the number of finger-widths of sunlight on the horizon still visible. Riding with my shoes clipped to my pedals doesn’t allow to test that theory, though. (See Exhibit B above.)

I wonder whether the big four-wheel-drive truck’s driver will follow and kill me, or if I can subdue him with mace tucked in my tank top. Such is a woman’s concern riding her bicycle alone at dusk. Men don’t usually feel the need to carry weaponized pepper spray on a ride, do they? Think about that for a minute.

A passing truck has large red letters marking the vehicle as “ANGLER AID,” as we live near a lake, and I consider whether I could need “CYCLER AID” from a similar but non-exist truck in the future. A mysterious man behind the wheel of yet another large 4WD pickup parked in a church lot stares curiously at his phone. Is he still there since Wednesday night service (it’s the Ozarks, after all), is he lost and consulting GPS, or does he simply have a wife who makes it difficult to want to go home? I’ll never know.

Exhibit C:

1D

Not the actual church in question. I saw it during the 26-mile ride & liked the name. (Note the burnout marks from teens doing donuts.) Hurts, don’t it?

Finally, I returned home for my nightly walk with Woody during which I enjoy many gorgeous sunsets. He’s hearing-impaired and can’t see very well but is so patient with my dawdling to pulls weeds at walk time. He waits with bated (and weighted, poor sot) breath at the driveway’s end, his heart seems to explode with pure joy at just getting to sniff the neighborhood. The poor boy is over the moon at getting to go, such simple pleasure at life. I wish I could be more like him.

Exhibit D … for “DOG,” of course

1B

It’s hard to get an antsy pup to stand still for focus!

 

2 Comments

Filed under biking, life, writing

An Inopportune Accident

rain ring.jpg

Rain fell for days on end. Its pallor hung like a sopping blanket left on porch rails in perpetuity.                                                                                              

She knocked tentatively on the door, both fearing someone might answer and still hoping they would. Tires on wet pavement caused the slide and bad news to deliver to a potential dog owner. 

A curtain pulled sideways as someone inside held as much dreaded curiosity as she did near to bursting. The hand proffered a glimpse at his visitor and wiped hungry slobber slipping downward.

Canine not on the menu, he’d order up roadkill regardless. The driver looked even more appetizing.

100 word challenge: order 100-word-challenge

3 Comments

Filed under country noir, fiction, writing