Of the Great White North

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Merv moved south from a meager beginning outside Lake Huron. He’d grown crestfallen from eating nothing more than corn in Farmville, Iowa, after an upbringing of butter tarts.

She who rescued him named the stone figure after a pervert destined for prison. His legacy followed suit, a life, albeit a still one, in the Midwest much like incarceration?

Only the path through Chicago, a few drinks and a smoke along the way, quelled his sentence, a future with a pipe smoker and frog sidekick. He’d rather live with a spotted blue skink. It would be better company than elfin kind.
100-word challenge: lizard

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Ebony & Irony

Me and my black bike are still at it, though my own words have come back to haunt me. I told my friend Joedie to go travel as much as possible while it was possible. She has the terrible misfortune to have Multiple Sclerosis. I gave her my unsolicited advice several years ago to see as much of the world as possible, starting with a Las Vegas trip she considered taking. “Girl, go down that strip on your own two feet in case you ever end up in a damn wheelchair” (I’m paraphrasing from memory, here). She’s since taken a couple road vacations  that I know of and seen both the mountains and the beach.

How could I push my opinion off on her like that without heeding my own urging and put my butt on a bike saddle instead of the recliner where it’s usually perched? Now I’ve committed to doing the MS150 Ozarks in September 2019. One hundred and 50 miles in the less-challenging yet still formidable rolling Ozarkian mountains. I now contend perhaps I should be committed.

“Training” is happening, if not at break-neck pace. I use the word in quotes, as I’ve never trained for a darn thing in my life. Past efforts amount to being an athletic supporter, aka high school cheerleader a bazillion years ago, and yogini at present. Yet I continue getting all geared-up for the current biking venture by buying triple-link pedals and gloves yesterday. My new Schwinn helmet came in the mail, too. Prince could have gotten me the old  purple one, partying like it was 1999. It WAS 1999 when I got it. 

And in case anyone asks or even mentally assumes it (you know what Buttermaker said about assuming, right?), this effort is not just a shopping opportunity. All my sporting exploits have consisted of movie-watching and admiring dudes in various tight pants at Kaufman and Arrowhead stadiums.

More of my soapbox harmony is also back in my throat. Kinda stuck there, as a matter of fact. In Kansas City the recycling community used the slogan, “If we all do a little, we’ll all do a lot.” I chirped that as a mantra or sorts. So now I witness a plethora of discarded trash along my so-called training and began to accept some personal responsibility to my community in this setting. Instead of simply singing “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” ala Woodsy the Owl in my head, I usually find a disgusting plastic bag discarded along my route and collect somebody else’s McDonalds or Taco Bell trash, even a housing insulation package and though of my grandpa and his favorite cartoon when I saw the Pink Panther on it blown away by recent storms.

If we all do a tiny bit, we can all do a collective lot. It starts with one. While I’m blasting my quads and thinking of Flo from the Progressive commercial doing the same, I laugh while trekking down the terrain and hope not to face-plant. Neighbors might wonder about that crazy biking woman and grab their phones in case I need an ambulance. Continue reading

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Un-mending the wall

“I thought you died, stupid cur,” Marie muttered as she walked Woody past the house next door. She hated and cursed it since the bulldog mix attacked her Lab. He’d simply tried to make friends, invisible fence or not. Its instinct taught Woody canine manners and territory.

Just like his owner.

Another neighbor said Tom wasn’t such a bad guy. Marie couldn’t deny what Robert Frost claimed about fences and neighbors.

“I’d sure hate to beat you both with a plastic bag of shit …” She flashed them the side-eye and brought Woody to heel.

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Farm Road Wisdom

Even though sunrises generally took place in my long-ago Girl Scoutian past, my friend Kezia thinks she’s going to turn me into a morning person. That woman coaxed me into believing the far-fledged notion I could potentially drive 150 miles at my pedal power propulsion. I asked her, “WTH, are you kidding me?”

She was not kidding. She could sell ice chips to a polar bear.

The road teaches you a few things. Not so much in a Jack Kerouac sort of way, but early-morning bike rides impose both mental and physical training. My past involves lots of the former but none of the latter. Let me just say if I ever wanted to go on a run, it was down the driveway to get the mail.

Step one meant attending an informational meeting. Kezia had me at “Best of Luck Beer Hall” FB invitation. How prescient that name may become. It’s like the universe cursing me and laughing under its breath all the while. “Ha, ha, ha, you mere mortal. Dare you contemplate this ride!”  

I’ve tentatively accepted the challenge. Can I cobble — better yet, maybe cudgel — something out of that chaos?  

Things I’ve learned over the last two (morning) six-mile bike trips:

  1. Girl, you don’t know what training means. Better “brace up,” just like Momma said!
  2. Shut your fly-catcher. Open-mouth breathing can do some damage.
  3. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Just like in yoga, breathe like you heard a dad tell his kid at the recent Almost5K you walked. (That’s right, “Almost5K,” and “walked.” No shame in my game.)
  4. When taking pix along the route, trust your gut in assuming it’s probably not a good idea to snap a quick shot at a house with “NO TRESPASSING” and “PRIVATE PROPERTY” signs out front.  That lonely beater car out back almost covered in weeds didn’t get there by accident, and the purple plastic tape around poles doesn’t only mean no hunting.
  5. Instagram isn’t everything. Don’t flood your feed with multiples you find cool. Not everyone thinks an ironic Axe Spray container in the ditch is as funny as you do.
  6. You are not that funny … just funny looking on a bicycle at 6:30 am raising a leg over the crossbar to walk a country road incline while laughing at yourself.
  7. Mother Nature gives you a church in every second of silence that only birdsong breaks.  

Lucky seven. I’m gonna need that luck. Or something. Maybe my head examined.

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Blind Faith in Tomorrows

My 22nd birthday blurs into distant memory’s oblivion. Ancient history, it seems. Why did I ever trust that drunken punk enough to fly down a county highway on the back of his crotch rocket? Woe to imagine our parents’ horror at having to identify the remains in morgue boxes had one gravel slide caught narrow tires just right.

Naive bravado haunts me, though. The innocent ignorance of not caring about a possible tomorrow, just the next beer tab to be popped. A boy to kiss. No future prospects considered. Yet another night of fun.

photo by Jake Lichman

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Abandonment Issues, part 842

“Great, here we go again,” Anna lamented, kicking at the dirt with her sneaker toe. She unfailingly let Louise get under her skin, with disappointment seeming to seep from her. “Why do I allow that jackdaw to get a rise out of me?”

The woman glanced to her right, where Ken and Francie both cast her a sidelong glance. “Holy shit, did I say that out loud? Sometimes I don’t realize when I talk to myself,” Anna chuckled, embarrassed, as her cheeks became crimson.

“No worries,” said Francie, shrugging. “We just wondered if we might see that old crow somewhere.”  

100 Word Challenge – holy

photo by abaicus via Flickr

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Guilt

“Owww, dammit!” Glenda howled, hopping on one foot and landing to limp on the other. “I’m gonna feel that later.”

Kicking that cedar stump was one way to take out frustration felt for Don. “It ain’t hurtin’ him none, though,” she told it. Controlling his behavior came as easily as conquering invasive plant infestation. Chopping at it soothed her feelings little though.

“I may never forget what he said, but I better get over it or cut him out of my life. Just like this non-deciduous crap I’m fighting here.

Except the Kudzu of her heart she fought even harder.

100 Word Challenge – guilt

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Saved by Art & Mother Science

I saw my mom outside today, although she died last year. Kind of supernatural how she draws me outdoors. Almost serendipitous.

A doctor said I’m okay, just grieving. Actually recommended this therapy. I’m going back again to make sure.

These moments of self-professed genius are her doing. Practically a doctor herself, just without the initials. Said so herself, passed on that confidence. Had to find it somewhere. Mother was my biggest cheerleader, champion actually.

Now I hear her calling me through nature, a cardinal’s trill, dirt under my nails. I’m glad springtime is here. And kindly brought Mom with her.

100-Word Challenge: Beauty

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Karma’s Cut

“Damn!” Mandy hollered when the sharp-nozzled vacuum hose cascaded to meet shinbone flesh already scarred by early-teen shaving hacks. “That’s gonna hurt me,” she lamented.

Stooping to retrieve the utensil, she peeked under her armpit in case anyone witnessed her sucking up passenger glass Pam kicked out the night before. “Just act casual. Can’t have anybody see me clean the blood.”

A high cost would come with suspicion of just what evidence was actually being purged. “A little bird might sing to the cops,” Mandy mouthed under her breath as she pulled of the Quick Wash and onto the street.    

100-Word Challange: Bird

Image courtesy Heath Parsons (creative commons) via Flickr

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Working out the demons

“The most bitter irony of my situation,” Kelly told the intake counselor at the homeless teen shelter, “is that Roderick broke up with me. Now I’ll have to live on what strangers give me.”

The social worker’s face seemed genuinely compassionate, as far as she could tell, doubting her instincts now. Her father supposedly loved her but sent the girl packing after finding her ex-boyfriend’s text message.

Dad knew his family though they were from the other side of town. “My daughter will not mix with blacks,” he’d said. “You’re no longer my child.”

Love did her wrong twice.

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