I’d been waiting on the Sears Fall 1965 catalog for days.  Daddy’s income was barely enough to feed our family of six and there was not much for clothes, but I could dream and the catalog was my window into the world of colors, textures, patterns and designs.

When it finally came, I poured over the catalog, studying hemlines, styles and colors.  School that semester included Home EC sewing and with my babysitting money and fabric at $1.98 a yard, I was hopeful.  I spent hours at the drug store with the McCall’s and Simplicity dress pattern books and fingered all the fabrics.

“Are you sure you want this fabric?” Mother asked, a frown on her face.

We were in Greenbrae Drug Store, in front of a red satin fabric that glistened in the store’s bright lights.  Around us the murmur of other mothers and daughters swirled as they searched for the right sewing pattern and fabric, while from the overhead intercom Andy Williams crooned “Moon River.”

I stood there in my cut-off jeans, sleeveless, cotton blouse and white Ked’s tennis shoes and longed for some class beyond cast-offs, beyond plain, durable and serviceable clothes.  If I could make this dress, like Audrey Hepburn’s, maybe I’d find sophistication.  In one hand I held the A-Line pattern and in the other, a button card with two large buttons.

“Yes,” I said “this is what I want.”

“Ok, but it won’t be easy to sew this fabric,” Mother said, “and I’m not sure about the bright color.”

Undeterred, I labored.  Finally, my beautiful A-Line dress finished, my make-up perfect, hair washed, curled, teased and sprayed into place, I slid the dress over my head, pulled up the zipper, took a deep breath and went to look in the full length mirror in Mother and Daddy’s bedroom.

“It’s bright, isn’t it?” Mother said, putting on lipstick, her slim figure in a straight skirt of periwinkle and a flowered blouse of blue, periwinkle and pink, both of which she had made.

In the mirror, the stiff satin of my dress just hung there, no nice drape, it just ballooned out.  It had an orange tint to it I’d never noticed.  Like a huge tomato, I stood there, mother’s reflection behind me looking rosy and healthy in her periwinkle and me looking wan and washed out in reddish-orange.

I was devastated and embarrassed but I put on my best smile, after all it was Easter Sunday morning and we couldn’t be late for church in our new Easter dresses.

Creating my own fashion did not improve with time.  There was the double breasted coat dress that looked sophisticated in the Simplicity pattern, but the gray, cotton-linen blend I’d chosen wouldn’t hold its shape.  Then there was the red, long sleeved blouse with a Peter Pan collar I’d made to wear under a gray, wool, sleeveless shirt dress.  Sounded perfect, but the sheer fabric I’d chosen was too thin and delicate to be paired with the wool dress.

I was frustrated; unable to turn my desire into a garment that worked, with the correct drape, the right fabric, the tailored look.  The ability it took to make something classy was beyond my skill and patience level.  I felt impotent, ineffectual, depressed and drowning.  I pushed my way through the bleakness.  I would not let this beat me.  If I couldn’t make the look I desire, I would find a way to get. it.  I swam my way back to the surface, changed and energized.

I’m sure anyone who looked at my life today would agree I’ve reached my goal.  Here I am; a shining example to hundreds of troubled youth who are sent to my Care Foundation by concerned parents and the courts.  Some say I’m too harsh, but I believe the results speak for themselves.

Their tacky tee shirts, skinny jeans, leggings, exposed bra straps, baggy-low-riding pants, midriff baring, cleavage-enhancing bustiers, dreadful leather with chains, dresses with uneven hemlines that scoop up in front, short-shorts; all these are left behind. There are so many of these misguided ones who’ve marked up their bodies with tattoos our plastic surgeon stays busy. Their hair is tamed and trimmed and dyed by our stylists.  Oh, they might resist at the beginning, but they soon learn that the way to food and rest and peace is through obedience.  My staff makes sure of that.

Yes, I’ve arrived at my goal as I stand here on the balcony above them in my periwinkle Dior suit, matching Manolo Blahniks and a flowered Hermes scarf, with Wagner’s “Der Ring” sailing across the air from the sound system.  I blow through the whistle in my hand and my charges come to attention.  They’re stretched out below me, a sea of black-haired crew cuts in dark blue, tailored jumpsuits, with Peter Pan collars and wide leg trousers so eyes are not drawn to their curves or bulges.

There are those who say this intervention costs too much, but how can you put a price on perfect fashion?  I’ve saved these poor wretches from themselves.  One day they’ll thank me that they can make good choices, though they’re not ready for that yet.  They make such a good contrast to my color palette, don’t you think?

[3rd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #12]


Elastic Hands



The dishwasher swish-swashed through its wash cycle.  Still, the rainbird drank from full water pressure that spit out flowers and tweeting birds that flitted across the lawn.  Just as all the flowers had landed and the tweeting birds had found the high wire, it was the dishwasher’s turn to flush soapy water down the drain and take a long drink of fresh water that began the rinse and the feral cats ran to escape.

I hopped, one footed, diagonally across the kitchen tiles, counting the beats of the swish-swash, and avoiding the cracks in the timing of the rainbird.  One foot might work, but only if I had enough hands.

Mother asked for a bag of ice from the freezer in the garage.  Hand 1 gripped the key to the side garage door and reached towards the garage.

Mother can’t reach behind her toilet to clean the bathroom floor.  Hand 2 swiped the Lysol drenched sponge around the base of the toilet in the hall bathroom.

Mother has decided to work on some art and needs fine point, colored markers.  Hand 3 took the Visa card and headed for the corner Walgreens.

Mother will only drink purified, filtered, reverse osmosis water.  Hand 4 balanced the three empty, two gallon water bottles and left for the grocery store.

Mother’s scoliosis has twisted her back and made walking painful but she can walk enough to see that there are empty spots in the flower garden, so seeds and plants from Armstrong Garden Center at the ready, hand 5 digs holes in the garden soil.

Mother rests well at night, usually somewhere between eight and twelve hours.  The house is quiet and dark and it is the one time that I can block out her needs and try to rest.  That is I might rest if I could find a bed large enough for all these hands.  They get in the way, getting tangled under me when I turn from side to side in my sleep.  They remind me each day I’ll need to stretch.  In fact, I’m sure there’s something else that needs doing because this morning when I woke up, there was a sixth hand.  There had to be, or else how could I type this?

From Here to There

Sparkly flits and spurt bugs have run wild,
brandishing a trail of psyche inevitably.
Grapple hooks flat,
impenetrable brain’s surge
drain dense and sluggish,
once jaunty and fresh they swarmed and skirted until
today’s rest, their gray now flogged.

But despair not, the hot-cold soiree may seem wryly random
but does it not whelp a shine,
a flight with no observable track?
Is it not the grunge gate that purges and solidifies?

If there’s no tree identity,
no purpose basket,
no goal spire,
is not all refrain?
What gain where there’s jellies
easy slide?  The track stalls on the gum.

Will beyond the blue
spring and dance those ids?
Prick away the dung towels for fragile?

It hails: squish the eyes,
catch the spring;
beckons that later gateway,
to yearn and hold during
Terra’s slog air
that began tiny, white,
on its tattering to its end,
where wasted away to minuscule,
all the in between fluff and bluster
have erasure swap,
it’s begun its morph.

image: google images

image source: google images

The ether burst is bright,
unvarnished, yet savvy.
The flight arrived,
the exodus completed
at last deemed quit.

But, hark!  It’s not quit,
it’s just begun,
this time without the drag,
the sobriety chip,
the overweening searchlight.

Welkin punches no such tickets.


image:google images

image:google images

The moon filled the entire sky. Its shine lit up the ice cream peaks below me as I curled my toes around the high-wire, my bunny rabbit in one hand, the other hand outstretched towards Roger Miller who labored over ebony and ivory as he and his piano kept disappearing into a cloud, then reappearing just at the crescendo of the chorus.

I couldn’t see the end to my journey but I walked on, my six-year-old toes curled around the wire. They seemed to work like Velcro while Roger played, but in the rests they loosened and felt more like silk on the high-wire. I held my breath until the rest gave way to melody and my feet Velcroed once again.

The air began to warm as we left the ice cream peaks, but I’d captured some of the creamy vanilla in my pocket so I wasn’t worried. A huge dark peak poked up into the sky. The wispy clouds around its top saw me and rushed to surround me with their warm aroma that made my stomach rumble. My energy was sapped; I was ravenous and parched, weaker by each step. If not for the Velcro and Roger, I would swoon at any moment.

With a sound of rolling thunder, the top of the volcano peak burst off and a jet of chocolate sauce shot up then fell ground ward in splurts of thick sauce, Hershey’s Kisses, Butterfinger bars, chunks of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Reese’s peanut butter cups and M&M raindrops.



Were my arms too short to reach? With my free hand, I dug in my pocket, pulled out the creamy vanilla and reached out towards the jet spurt. My little muscles straining, aching, lengthening out, twelve inches, eighteen inches, twenty-six inches, thirty-three inches until, yes! The rich, brown, steamy sauce drenched the ice cream, the smile on my face matching the length of my reach. I drew my hand to my face, the bunny in my other hand-held straight out to better my balance and took a bite of my Dairy Queen Dilly Bar.

The joyous, rich flavor surrounded my teeth and filled my brain with a cold sweetness, my hunger and thirst forgotten, my knees bent in enjoyment and my toes and hands smoothed out. My bunny floated away. I had paid no attention to the three-quarter rest in Roger’s music so Velcro and balance on the high wire were lost.



I belly-flopped into the spew of sweet. I sank downward, the chocolate ooey-gooey bounty swirling around me as we descended, filling every pore, every crevasse, coating my hands, my face, my legs, my arms with sweet.

I fell, fell, fell, fell, until slowly the chocolate candy river faded away; brightness pressed against my eyelids and strange sounds began to beat against my eardrums; a digital intermittent beeping, a ping of electrical equipment, a drip of fluid through plastic tubing, faint worried voices.  One sonorous nagging voice broke through clearly,

“There is a balance to managing Diabetes,” the doctor was saying, “and binging on chocolate is not included in a healthy lifestyle.”

“Will she recover from the coma?”

I recognized my oldest daughter’s voice. It had that same urgent, irritated tenor she used when scolding her small children. It was the same tone my mother used to correct me when I was six.

“Possibly.” The doctor said.

Should I go or stay?  In the distance I could see that chocolate river, bumpy with round, square and oblong candies.  I had been a champion swimmer in high school.

3rd Place Award, LinkedIn Writing Contest #11


The funky chicken squawked the song of early morning reveille, shook the window panes and jarred the coins in the glass jar on the bedside table.  The jingle, jangle jarred and jerked, until woken bleary eyed, groggy, grouchy, she grabbed away the sleep mask to seek the spot of the source of the racket that wrecked her rest.

Where was that funky chicken with his bugle blast?  She’d wring his neck, whack his bugle, burst his early morning, joyful gurgle.  Last she’d seen him he was paddling his pretty canoe down placid streams past private porticoes with their dangling modifiers hanging over the balconies.  Why now so loud?  What upset his rest, his swoon on elbows against pillows of drowsy delight?



Her eyes cleared, her head reared, all she saw was the bed, the mirrored closet door reflecting the rumpled duvet, at a jaunt on the right, softly pooled on the hardwood floors on the left; and there, the fingers of light filtering through the wood blinds told the tale of the early morning sun, not yet high, not yet bright, not yet hot.  No water, no streams, no floating past curtains of moss trailing their dross on the surface.

But wait!  Again the racket railed, the sound clanged and banged followed by squeals of machinery, the roar as an engine kicked in and the garbage truck moved five feet up the street, then puffs of air brakes and clang and bang, the symphony continued in four-four time.

She collapsed on the bed, drew up the duvet, pulled down the sleep mask.  Wait, funky chicken in your pretty canoe, wait for me, she breathed as she dropped back towards dreamland, take me down those placid streams past private porticoes.  Take me away.




Rock ward they come, flashes of green and turquoise,
flapping, squawking, on pillowed flight dives
t0 crash with shale splitting and crumbling.

Crabbing up; down; jolting into spars and squabbles,
attacking in nibbles to sharpen, scrape and toughen,
swirling away again in brilliant pinks and purples.



Round breath pushes through the watery murk,
iridescent, swift, gliding past, flitting up and down,
smoothly cresting, diving, frenzied
at the red until all is devoured;
again just murk, gliding swift, innocent and smooth.

image;google pics

image;google pics

Buried by multitudinous greens and yellows,
life crawls, hops, flits, scampers yet
some indeed change before the unannounced pounce.

The brilliant tomb rises
a heavenward peon, masking its
scarlet, turquoise, emerald,
gold, silver progeny;
some will emerge and soar,
others hide in its canopy greenpeace org

Creation’s circular splurt feeds
saplings and seedlings that giant
into green and yellow hues
that ever creep onward,
swallowing up the forward path, oozing out moisture, each drop falling
up, up, up, gathering at the top on its way to slide down, down, down;
new life ever buds and bursts and reaches.

Ode to GERD*



Performed daily by Mother

Swallow a pill with a small sip of water and begin at verse 1 –

Mezzo piano:

BURP, cough, SPIT, gag.

BURP, cough, SPIT, gag.

Swallow another pill, Go back to the Coda:

BURP.  Cough.  SPIT.  Gag.

BURP, cough, SPIT, gag.

Soar on the refrain, sink into the verse and repeat the chorus with each pill swallowed.

[Caught up in the music, listening ears ponder the birth of the tune and so slide down the dark, damp tunnel of genius for a glimpse at the engine that powers the ditty, where they see……

Tiny troll like creatures grab stomach acid molecules with each swallow, trot through their paces and bounce on the trampoline that is the esophageal sphincter as it malfunctions and force the air and acid upward, where on its collision course with the swallowed water and pill heading downward, they meet and crash!]

FORTISSIMO,     the forces collide, the symphony continues with a bang of

BURP, cough, SPIT, gag.

BURP, cough, SPIT, gag.


*gastro esophageal reflux disease – commonly known as – Acid Reflux

As The World Turns



Shimmering, gleaming, sweltering, steaming, the waves of heat rise up from the soft pavement to swirl amid the branches of the trees, lifting and separating leaf from leaf, fluffing out the billow of the flag on its pole, searing the eyes that scan the horizon for any sign of relief from this onslaught of unnatural air that feels best suited to the breath of a stove-top or the wave from a furnace, white hot in its power to shrivel and fry all it touches.



Fanning the air for breath and staggering through the days as they tread through the minutes that fill the hours, the days and the months, lamenting the heat until in time that shimmering, gleaming, the sweltering has caught a cold breath and has intensified in billows of white that spew forth fluffy flakes floating downward to collide with a colder upstream that freezes them whereupon they plummet, ground seeking missiles that can crack a windshield, layer a road with blackness that scatters cars and feet and eradicates any effect of tread so that travelers who dare to venture there are in danger of spinning off in all directions, lamenting the cold as they go.



But that icy air has no power against the turning of the axis that that draws ever closer to a pale yellow ball, and emboldened and enlivened, the tiny seed, the brash stem, the brave bud begin their burst into life and the gray, wet cold and the white frigid air begin their retreat against the bright, brilliant green as it springs forth and buds into beautiful blues and red and yellows and pink and purples that color the world to a softer, vibrant, pulsing, vivid factory of a fanfare of renewal of new birth, of a brand new chance to begin again.  We lament, what took the beauty took so long to arrive?



Yet when the new chance has fully burst into new growth and brilliant life, the blooms mature only to begin their fade into pollen, their seeds falling to the ground where digging in, they hide against the oncoming onslaught of warm, then hot, then sweltering that burns their flesh and dries up the last remaining vestige of that green world that lived until that yellow ball comes ever closer and turns the air, the ground, the sky into sweltering, withering, un-breathable air.  So the cycle revolves and we hang on, lamenting, yet believing our seared eyes and skin, even our parched tongue will survive, for the orb ever swirls and rotates and this too shall pass.

Ode to Click and Clack



Click and Clack kicked the squeaky ball of car maintenance across the sticky plateau of the airwaves brackish shine through clever clogs of crafty and dowdy manikins that stood quick and stiff against detection by delirious and defective, yet curious onlookers.

The belly laughs erupted with their clownish stroke against the pins that bound the screws, the gears, the nuts, the belts, the levers, the pistons and the valves and once instructions were completed, motion broke boldly into clarity that reverberated across the airwaves.

The murky under-body when plumbed revealed mechanisms swiftly sliding, swishing, scraping, sluicing, grinding, gashing as they pushed and pulled through their revolutions and the entire mess somehow propelled swiftly forward, if at all.

image source:Car Talk

image source:Car Talk

It was the common, ordinary need of the clever, knowledgeable, unsuspecting general populace that fueled the zany, zealous, wacky and wild, weekly laughter and gave birth to glimmers of truth that glistened gaily and alleviated the cramp, the crimp, the pain, the drain, the frustration, the emasculation in those trips, factious and fractious, to a mechanic.

Daylight broke through, light beamed clearly, knowledge was birthed and car woes resolved.  But, alas, the sage has aged and now tired, retired.  Who will bear the standard through the murky, bleak forest of car breakdowns in the dawn and the twilight?  Who will lead the procession of cessation in progress to its rebirth and resolution, its restoration to forward movement?  Or is there no end to our end by the end of the road?  Alas and alack, without Click and Clack, we’re undone, undriveable, unmovable, stuck, stopped, clogged, clobbered; we’re finished.  Dead by the side of the road.