Haiku Friday: Worry

haiku pic 1Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Worry:

 

worry can hurt you

scratching the same bloody sores

creates mental pus

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Compost: Peas, Carrots, and Cold Mashed Potatoes

peas and carrotsHere’s another short essay I wrote for my family about the little everyday happenings that I hope will make those long-ago times come alive again.  I call this one “Peas, Carrots, and Cold Mashed Potatoes.”

Peas and carrots! To this day, the thought of peas and carrots served together makes my gorge rise and my blood pressure soar. Peas and carrots were an early battleground in the long war between my mother’s taste and my own.

To my mother, raised poor during the Depression and WW2, being able to buy already canned vegetables was a mark of luxury. She could open a can, pour the contents into a pan and just heat it on the stove. What a miracle! No picking, washing, shelling, peeling, chopping, boiling, bottling or capping. No sweating in a hot kitchen on a summer afternoon. Just poof and abracadabra, your children are served a nourishing vegetable in a mere five minutes.

In the sixties no one cared about any sodium or preservatives packed into those cans. No one cared, either, how awful they tasted. At least our mother didn’t seem to care, because no matter how much my brothers and I complained, canned vegetables appeared on the dinner table every night. Canned green beans that tasted like soft tin, canned creamed corn that tasted like gritty mush, canned beets that stained your teeth, canned spinach with a dark metallic taste and the texture of slug slime, and my least favorite of all, the dreaded canned peas and carrots medley.

The mushy, pillowy peas were bad enough, but the carrots – no words can describe their awful texture and worse taste. Even their shape was nauseating – tiny uniform cubes that could never have come from a real carrot.

I hid peas and carrots underneath my mashed potatoes; I swept them surreptitiously into my napkin; I fed them to the dog (which never worked because as soon as they hit his mouth he spit them out on the floor – he was no dummy); I transferred them to my brother’s plate and threatened him with evil looks that promised torture if he complained; and finally, when she just would not stop serving those cubes and pillows of hell, I graduated to outright rebellion. I simply refused to eat them, no matter what. I made a principle out of canned peas and carrots, a principle I defended with 10-year-old fervor.

I even wrote a story about a girl who died rather than betray her right to her own individual taste. It was an affecting story, heavy on funeral details. The poor child lay nestled in a small pink coffin, surrounded by pink rosebuds. Beside the coffin sat her mother, weeping over her dead child, so sorry now that she had ruined her daughter’s short life by making her eat canned peas and carrots.

My brothers Mike and Steve had their own food issues, but they didn’t have food fights like Mom and I did. Mike just smiled his charming smile that always worked for him (dammit), and left whatever he didn’t like on his plate. Or he’d find enjoyment in poking fun at the food – I remember him banging an undercooked chicken leg on the table, using it as a literal drumstick, and chortling with glee. His laughter was so infectious that even Mom would have to laugh. Then he’d go eat at his friends’ houses, or eat snacks of what he did like out of the refrigerator.

By the time my youngest brother Steve was old enough to have food tastes, Mom had become more aware of nutrition issues, and he drove her absolutely crazy because when he was 5-6-7-8 years old, he refused to eat anything for dinner except cold mashed potatoes with no butter or seasoning of any kind. He even specified that they couldn’t be mashed when served to him – he had to mash them himself on his plate. They had to be peeled, of course – god forbid he should get any nutrients from the potato skins. His invariable routine at the dinner table was this: he pushed the meat and vegetables off to one side of the plate, then he’d mash the plain boiled potatoes with his fork, then he’d sit there looking at them until they were stone cold, and then finally he’d eat them – the potatoes only, never anything else. Sometimes he’d relent and drink a glass of milk.  I think this was Steve’s way of waging a food fight with Mom; not as in-your-face as my way, but very effective.

It’s amazing how much you can tell about a person’s personality by knowing their tastes in food, isn’t it? 

Ghostwriting for a Dog: New Car, New Rules

car croppedAlex Terrgi here. My human got rid of her old car and got a new one. She seems happy about this, but I am not happy at all. This is because she made up new rules for me about this car. I don’t know why, but it has something to do with money – which humans spend way too much time thinking about. “This car cost money, you know,” she says, even though she has to know that I don’t care about money, not one little bit.

What I do care about is going for rides in the car to the dog park or the beach or visiting our friends – cars take you to fun places. (Of course they can also take us to the vet, but I try to forget about these times.) Our old car took us some great places.

But here is a new rule. In the new car she says I cannot have my rightful place in the front seat. Instead I have to sit in the back seat, where I can’t see what’s going on and I’m all alone. And another new rule: I not only have to sit in the back seat, even then she doesn’t let me get in the car until she checks my paws for fir needles and dirt and brushes them off.

Just to show you how nuts she is about this new car, she even told me not to shed in the car! Like I can do that! I mean, I got hair, deal with it.

I miss our old car. Who cares that it was 15 years old? It just proves that things are better with age, and fir needles, and dog hair.

Haiku Friday: Prance

zen gardenHere’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Prance:

 

ride a prancing horse

all around the center ring

you may take a bow

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Compost: Little Dick and Other Backyard Creatures

Bantam RoosterI write short essays for my family, which includes not only my own children but my brothers and their children. I want them to know the stories of their family’s past. Somehow I have become the holder of all these stories, and I feel it is incumbent on me to pass them on. We all need to know where we come from, and the little stories of everyday life tell us that just as much or more as the “big” events. So from time to time I will share these everyday life stories of my own, or my parents’ or grandparents’ past. Here’s one set from my, and my brothers’, childhood in the 1960s. I call it “Little Dick and Other Backyard Creatures.”

 

When my brothers and I were growing up, Sundays were Family Day. It really didn’t matter what we did; what was important about Sunday was that Dad was home and shared whatever he did with us. Even when all he did was “work outside,” he could make it interesting.

On Sundays Dad could indulge his fascination with the natural world, which he missed while penned up in an office all week. He’d grown up raising cows and pigs and chickens for food, he’d always had dogs, and he loved planting vegetables and pruning trees. He felt a kinship with anything alive and growing, from plants and bugs to crows and chickens to dogs and human children. (According to Dad, dogs and children were quite similar.) All children and animals loved Dad; it was his unique combination of fun and authority, plus his completely sincere interest in their worlds that made him sought after by anyone with feathers or fur, or humans under the age of sixteen. 

Before we got chickens, my girlfriend and I made a caterpillar farm in the unused chicken shed, hoping to raise butterflies, which of course we never did because the caterpillars kept escaping; we were never able to find out how. But Dad encouraged us in our endeavor and often pointed us toward where we could find cocoons, which he said would eliminate the need for corralling the caterpillars. He just laughed when this didn’t work either.

When we had to give up on our butterfly farm, Dad appropriated the dilapidated shed and bought a few banty chickens, he said for the eggs, but really because he found the chickens so entertaining. The chickens didn’t like the shed any better than the caterpillars, so Dad let them just roam the yard clucking and pecking at bugs. On Sunday mornings he gently chased the hens toward what he called “good bug pastures” and then watched them as they enthusiastically gorged, his nostrils twitching with amusement. The hens learned fast; every Sunday morning they gathered outside the back door waiting for him to emerge, and then followed him around in the sure knowledge that he knew where the best food was. How they knew it was Sunday I don’t know. Perhaps chickens are smarter than their reputation.

Dad’s favorite chicken was the rooster, who he named Little Dick. (The double-entendre went right over our heads at the time.) Little Dick loved Dad so much he’d sit on his shoulder for hours while Dad worked in the yard. He even stayed on his shoulder perch when Dad turned on the gas-powered lawn mower. When Dad talked to him, which he did frequently, Little Dick would cock his head sideways and lean down so he could look into Dad’s eyes. I am not exaggerating.

Maybe I should write about Dad killing the chickens for dinner by chopping off their heads, which he only did once (he didn’t like doing it), and how my brother was alternately fascinated and appalled by the blood and the hopping headless chicken bodies. But this is a happy essay, so we’ll leave it at that. 

Compost: The Creativity Salon

creativity photoYears ago, when in graduate school studying European history, I read extensively about the Salons in France that flourished during the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and then again in the early 20th century. The salons were filled with writers, artists, and philosophers; and included women, who were a vital force within them, often leading them. Those salons seemed so alive with culture, ideas, and passion. I was jealous. I thought, “Gee I wish I could have been alive then and attended those.”

Well, I’m alive now and I’m starting my own Salon. I’m calling it a Creativity Salon. We’ll meet one Sunday a month, at my home. We will focus on all kinds of creativity – writing of course, but also drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, collage, music, drama, creative cookery, creative gardening, creative carpentry, creative scientific experimenting, creative exercise routines, creative parenting/grandparenting – creativity in any form. The only area I can think of where creativity should not be encouraged would be “creative accounting” – probably not a good idea.

My vision is that it will be a “come when you can” drop-in kind of group, pretty informal, in which we’ll talk about our dreams and plans, obstacles, opportunities, whatever comes up regarding our creative urges. Maybe we’ll even have an informal workshop on someone’s particular art once in a while. But mostly we’ll encourage each other by listening, and by listening we’ll be inspired ourselves.

The first Creativity Salon will be held in September. I’ll keep you updated on how the Creativity Salon is going – in case you want to start one yourself.

Haiku Friday: Whispers

haiku pic 2Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Whispers:

 

last night’s rain whispers

morning mists on the ocean

forgotten dreams die

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.

Serial Fiction: Hiatus

mole mask correctIf you have been following along on my work-in-progress Grandma’s Masks, I’m taking a three-week summer hiatus, to give me time to finish another chapter or two. This is one of the benefits to the author of writing a serial – if I wasn’t writing a serial, I might be tempted to procrastinate longer. I hope you will return in September to read the exploits of Emma and Lucy, and the strange stories of their grandmother.

Next Wednesday I’ll be sharing a piece of a different Work-In-Progress – I have a lot of WIP! I think all my WIP is pretty good, or at least promising … I guess I’ll find out.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: My Friend Nutmeg

NutmegAlex Terrgi here. Last time I was here I blogged about my new little human girl who is living in my house. Well guess what? It gets even better, because she comes with her two dogs, Nutmeg and Rocky. Rocky is really really old and can’t see or hear much anymore, so I just leave him alone to dream about being young again. But Nutmeg is fun to play with, almost as good as my now-dead sister Goody Beagle. Nutmeg likes to run, just like me, and she likes to play chase and tug-of-war, and she hoards rubber balls and makes me try to figure out where she hid them.

Nutmeg is a lot bigger than me (her last name is Pitbull) but I am not scared of her because she is a softie inside. And believe it or not, she is scared of floor that does not have carpet on it! What a funny thing to be scared of – I like the floor because I can hear my toenails click and it lets my human know that I’m around. So anyway Nutmeg is not perfect, which I like because neither am I. That just makes us more lovable, right?

I was sad for a long time after Goody went away, but things are looking up.

Haiku Friday: Hope

haiku pic 3Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Hope:

 

try to regain hope

take one baby step toward

a place of goodness

It’s Haiku Friday again.  For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose.  I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog.  Just write it in the Comments below.  The only rules are:  1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those).  That’s it.