Category Archives: humor

Birthday Breakfasts

My birthday is approaching. I’m not saying which one. That’s for me to know and you to Google. I will say this much: It’s a significant one.

As I mentioned in my recent post, Birthday’s Silver Lining, my birthday is causing me to ponder many things, such as the passage of time, the meaning of life, and … well, I’ve forgotten the third thing.

All this pondering is having an unexpectedly pleasant side effect: I’m finding extra joy in little things, like sunshine glittering on the lake, and the deep green color of the trees. I’m in a spectacularly good mood. Or maybe it’s just because I’m on vacation.

I’m staying in a trendy part of town, a neighborhood that I used to live in during my twenties. The area wasn’t always this trendy. Now it has cute little shops with names like Tru, and Roux, and Roam, and Hemp It Up. It also has a lot of gardens. Two days ago, after a rainstorm, I went out in search of some of my favorite things, like flowers with raindrops on them.

After taking pictures of flowers, I considered looking for more of my favorite things, like warm wooly mittens and bright copper kettles. But instead, since I hadn’t had my coffee yet, I headed to my favorite coffee shop, Glen Edith. It was only a few blocks away, right around the corner from the apartment I’d shared with three other roommates once upon a time.

As I walked past the old apartment, memories came flooding back: the music, the incense, the bell-bottoms, the vodka-spiked Kool-aid. (Just kidding, Mom.)

I kept walking, dressed in the long skirt, sneakers, and hipster sunglasses I’d donned that morning, and I suddenly felt young, energetic, and hip. Or maybe it was the thought of caffeine that was propelling me forward.

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I also felt rich, since I’d miraculously discovered some unexpected cash in my wallet the night before. I’m not making this up. There’s a secret hiding place in the wallet, right behind my driver’s license. I was looking for my Social Security card (don’t ask why) when I felt something wrinkly. I pulled it out and, to my shock, it was several twenty-dollar bills.

The last time I could remember having that amount of cash on me was on my previous out-of-town trip, and since then I’d lost my wallet and had it returned to me, contents intact. Good people still exist!

I went a little crazy that morning with my new-found wealth, deciding to treat myself to not one, but two breakfasts, since, after all, I have a birthday coming up, and life is short.

Breakfast number one was at the aforementioned Glen Edith, where I ordered a delicious cappuccino. It came with a tiny surprise: a mini-doughnut hole.

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And then, another surprise: a bright copper kettle on the counter!

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After the Glen Edith, I moved on to Jines Restaurant, a neighborhood institution since 1971, and ordered my old favorite, creme brûlée oatmeal.

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The creme brûlée oatmeal at Jines is decadent. Come to think of it, the word “decadent” has the word “decade” in it. Maybe “decadent” actually is a contraction, as in this example: “Did you turn 50 last decade?” “No, I decaden’t.”

Having two breakfasts at my two favorite shops in the neighborhood was a small thing that brought me joy. It was all part of my preconceived plan to pamper myself, since, in case you forgot, I have a rather significant birthday coming up.

I’m Living in a Children’s Book

My two-week Airbnb guest house in upstate New York comes with ducks and chickens. I didn’t know this when I rented the place, but I’ve discovered that I enjoy waking up to the sound of quacking and clucking in the morning. Sure, I have to be careful not to step in duck poop when I enter and exit the building, but I’m getting back to nature!

It had rained overnight. Good weather for the ducks, who were quacking up a storm this morning as they waddled around drinking from the puddles. Then the sun came out, and so did the chickens, clucking and pecking and watching me with their beady little eyes.

One of them came up to me and circled around my legs. She didn’t try to peck at me, so I put her to work as my model. I felt like a professional fashion photographer as I complimented her fine feathers and jaunty gait.

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The photo shoot continued as we headed over to the chicken coop. I was hoping the door to the nesting box would be open so I could collect an egg or two for breakfast. Sadly, the door was closed and latched. I thought about opening it, but I wasn’t sure all of the chickens were out roaming around.

Just then my model chicken started clucking like crazy. Apparently, she really wanted to get inside of the coop. I thought about opening the door for her until I noticed a pair of eyes looking out from an opening in the nesting box. It was a rabbit.

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What was a rabbit doing in the chicken coop? Guarding the eggs? Keeping them warm? Just hanging out? Maybe the chicken and the rabbit are BFFs. I’m dying to know. Could this be the inspiration for my next children’s novel?

The “Frog and Toad” books were a big hit. Maybe “Chicken and Rabbit” would be even more popular with today’s kids … especially if I include illustrations of duck poop.

Any illustrators out there interested in collaborating? If you act fast, I can pay you in fresh eggs.

Seven Ways to Say “Curly”

I am the child of a father with thick, curly black hair and a mother with fine, straight brown hair. So what did I end up with? A head full of not-quite-curly, not-quite straight, fine hair. Thanks, genes! Actually, a better way to describe my hair is “a collection of limp, uncooperative cowlicks that behave badly in public.”

The only time my hair looks good is right after a new haircut. Here’s me straight from the hairdresser’s about a month ago:

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and here’s me today:

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But last week I bought some pomade that smells like limes and makes my wavy, unruly hair calm down and behave. I looked like this for about one day:

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As long as my hair stays exactly this length, I’m happy. I like the simplicity of my current morning routine: shampoo, apply goo, scrunch, and go.

But I know in about two days my hair will reach that stage again where I debate the pros and cons of yanking it back into a pony tail, getting it all cut off, or both.

The reason I’m discussing my hair has nothing to do with vanity, and everything to do with linguistics. You see, the little label that came with my pomade was translated into seven languages, none of which were English or Spanish.

I wondered why the company selected the languages they did (French, German, Swedish, Russian, Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese) and why they omitted English and Spanish. But I was glad to see the less well-known languages included for a change.

Being a language nerd, I decided to take up the challenge of trying to read the label. I still remember some of my high school French, which gave me a head start. The label began with a brief product description, saying it would lend control and shine to curly hair. It talked about how to apply the stuff.

For each language, there was a warning included, which said:

Precautions: Follow instructions. Avoid all contact with eyes. KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN.

After studying the label, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are seven different ways to think of “curly,” depending on where you live.

The French phrase for curly hair is “cheveux bouclés,” which actually means “loopy hair.” If you’ve ever seen a jacket made from bouclé fabric, you know the look. It’s kind of tousled and wild, something like fleece. I like the idea of appearing tousled and wild, so from now on I’m going to ask my hairdresser to give me a “bouclé.” I just hope she doesn’t think it means “blue hair.”

The German phrase for curly hair is “lockige Haare.” That may be where we get the word “Goldilocks” from. And I learned from reading the label and using Google that the German way of saying “control hair” uses the word “geeignet,” which means to make something acceptable. I guess I’d better not visit Germany looking like picture #2 above.

The Swedes refer to curly locks as “lockigt har/god til krollet har.” That means curly/crinkly hair, I think. I found it interesting that the English words for “medium” and “formula” are the same in Swedish, at least on this product label.

Then I came to Russian, a language that completely baffles me. Not only do most letters appear as upper-case, but some like R and N are mirror images of their English versions, and others look more like hieroglyphics. I had no idea which of the Russian words was the one for hair.

However, I did manage to figure out which one meant “Precautions,” since I’d already identified it in the French version (“Précautions”) and it was the only word followed by a colon. So I THINK that the Russian word for “Precautions” is something like this: Cnoco6 npNMeHehNR. I wonder if Donald Trump took Cnoco6 npNMeHehNR when he visited Russia.

Now for Italian. In Italian, curly hair is translated as “capelli ricci.” Rich hair! It makes sense that Italians would think of curly hair as “rich.”

The Dutch translation of curly hair is “krullend haar.” But before you start thinking that Dutch is just a slightly modified version of English, consider that the Dutch word for instructions is “gebruiksaanwijzing.” (It was on the label and I looked it up.)

The last language on the label is Portuguese. The Portuguese translation of curly hair is “cabelo encaracolado,” which almost literally means “hair like a snail shell.” What a great description of my hair! (See picture #2 above.)

The very last portion of the label was a long list of ingredients, and, for some reason, it was in English only. Maybe they didn’t want their readers to understand it. I understood only too well that I’ve been putting something on my hair that’s made with citronella, and is practically radioactive. But it smells good, and it probably will keep the mosquitoes away this summer.

 

 

 

A Little Reptile Music

How are you celebrating New Year’s Eve?

They’re predicting snow and ice tonight, so I’m staying home with my Trader Joe’s frozen hors d’oeuvres, bottle of wine, and internet streaming. And just in case you’re doing likewise, here’s a suggestion:

Log onto YouTube and watch my latest attempt at video stardom, Desert Spiny Lizard Blues. It features a song I wrote about a lizard who uses acronyms. (You may remember it from my previous post, A Lizard’s Tale.) Given enough champagne, I’m predicting you’ll enjoy it even more than watching the ball drop.

If you DO enjoy it, please feel free to give it a thumbs up, and share it with your friends! Once again, here’s the link:

Desert Spiny Lizard Blues

Wishing everyone a happy, peaceful, joyous, adventurous, and successful 2019.

 

 

 

 

A Silly Reminder

I see that the year’s almost finished

my calendar tells me it’s true

and lately my posting’s diminished

I have no excuses for you

 

I blogged every day in November

except for the days I did not

but now, toward the end of December,

I’m finding my blogging skills shot

 

It’s been a long time since I posted

a month, maybe more, I would guess

you probably thought that I’d ghosted

or that my life’s turned out a mess

 

But that isn’t true, I’m just lazy

or maybe I’m just on a break

or possibly I’ve gone quite crazy

or could be I’ve jumped in a lake

 

I don’t believe anyone’s noticed,

I doubt that my presence was missed

it’s not like I’m missing in action

I’m not on the Most Wanted list

 

But nevertheless, I am back now

just saying hello with this verse

to serve as a silly reminder

that I’m here, for better or worse.

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

Mice in the Moonlight

My NanoPoblano2018 post for today is a poem I wrote in response to a prompt by Jessie Stevens. On her blog site, Behind the Willows, Jessie posted a  picture prompt, a photo she took of a red gate latch, complete with a few mouse droppings. She said we could use the photo as a prompt to generate our own writing ideas, and I did. I’ve copied and pasted her picture prompt below, with her permission:

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So now, here’s my poem, with apologies to poet William Carlos Williams. (Be sure to read his famous poem, The Red Wheelbarrow.)

THE RED GATE LATCH

So much depends
upon

a bright red
gate latch

decorated with mouse
droppings

beside the
tall trees

for instance:

if it had been blue
or even green

would the mice have
picnicked there?

and if it had been
v
e
r
t
i
c
a
l

instead of F  L  A  T

where would they have put
their cheese?

and what about the
mouse music?

where would they have
sung their squeaky songs

and danced all night
to mini-violins

if not upon the flat red
dance floor?

where would they have
spun their partners?

twirled their tails?
and twitched their whiskers?

I like to think they
used the gate latch

as a stage, their
little crescent ears

casting furry shadows
on the bears and foxes

who watched them in
the moonlight.

 

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A Lizard’s Tale

Yesterday, I met with my writer’s critique group at a local coffee shop. I was the first to arrive. The second to arrive was a woman I’d never met before. She introduced herself as “Liz” before excusing herself and walking toward the coffee counter.

For some strange reason, I decided I’d remember her name by associating it with a lizard. She in no way resembles a lizard. It was just the first thing that popped into my mind when she said, “Liz.”

Another writer — Elaine — arrived and joined me at our table. While awaiting Liz’s return, I told Elaine that I’d just met Liz, and confessed that I was associating her name (not her!) with a lizard. The weird thing is that a second later I realized that Elaine is another Liz. Her nickname is “Liz Lady” because of the work she does with reptiles.

Liz returned to the table and introduced herself to Elaine.

“I’m Liz,” she said, “but my real name’s Roberta. I go by Liz because of a lizard …”

I was too stunned to listen to the rest of her explanation. I’ll have to ask her more about it next time I see her. But while I was sitting there, in between two lizards, I remembered this photo I’d taken once.

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Did you know that lizards sing the blues, and that they also like acronyms? To prove it, here’s a blues song written by my friend in the photograph.

DSL Blues

Oh, I’m a desert spiny lizard, but you can call me DSL
I’m a desert spiny lizard, but you can call me DSL
My life is hot and dusty, all this crawlin’ in the desert is hell.

Well, I’m strong and I’m fast, and my scales are a colorful sight
Yeah, I’m strong and I’m fast, and my scales are a colorful sight (that’s right!)
But when people see me comin’ I always give ’em such a fright.

Well, they scream and they holler, they run away and hide
It makes me feel bad, it hurts my pride
I wish they would stay, but instead they just go
I think they are so wrong, IMHO

Now, you may be wondering what I mean by IMHO
Yeah, I’ll bet you never heard a lizard say IMHO
It means “In My Handsome Opinion,” so there you are, and now you know.

And the acronym LOL was a lizard’s invention, I won’t lie
Uh-huh, the acronym LOL was a lizard’s invention, I won’t lie (or bat an eye)
It stands for Lizards On Lunchbreak, now it’s time for me to go and catch some flies … Bye bye!

— DSL

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Rejection’s Silver Lining

Today was a very special day. I received not one, not two, but THREE rejections in my email inbox. After the initial sensation of having eaten a truckload of sour grapes, I’ve decided to think of these messages as good omens. Things are bound to get better, since they can’t get much worse.

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To be honest, I wasn’t devastated. I’m getting used to rejection, and besides, the submissions were for low-cost online contests that set me back only $7 for all three entries.

Rejections #1 and #2 were kindly worded and encouraging:

“The road to publication takes many turns, and we hope you will continue your journey. We wish you the best of luck with your writing, and hope to see your work again.”

But Rejection #3 was sort of odd. The subject of the email was:

“Contest Finalists!”

After getting my hopes up, I opened the email only to discover that I was NOT one of the lucky 100 finalists. Yes, that’s right, 100. I think they should have come up with a different designation for the chosen ones, other than “Finalists.” Maybe “Semifinalists”?” “Just above average”? Or how about “Most of the Entrants”? Actually, I have no idea how many people entered, but I hope it wasn’t 101.

Being the humble wannabe writer that I am, I decided to check out a few of the lucky entries.

I clicked on a random entry and found that it had been typed in a weird font that was hard to read. Not only that, but the line spacing was such that the lines were smashed together. It wasn’t possible to read it without getting a headache. I clicked on another random entry.

I was met with the same eye-strain inducing font, and the same migraine-triggering line spacing. It must be the website, not the authors, I deduced. I gave a third piece a try and had the identical experience, but this time I noticed things like exceptionally long sentences, a lack of periods between sentences, and even a subject/verb disagreement. In short, the writing had a certain unproofread flair.

I felt a lot better about not being chosen as a “Finalist” for that contest, since it was clear that I hadn’t understood the rules. It was supposed to be a “first draft” contest, I guess.

I brushed off my rejections and turned my attention to my project for the evening, which was to post something for NanoPoblano (my November blog-a-day obsession). I actually had a halfway decent idea for my post tonight. It wasn’t about my rejections. It was about a movie I’d seen yesterday.

I started to type a title for this blog, changed my mind, and deleted it. Immediately, a message from WordPress popped up on my screen :

YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING YET!

Thanks, WordPress. I needed those words of encouragement, especially today.

Actually, I’m laughing about this whole thing. I’ve developed a thick skin regarding rejection. I know I’m still a novice and have a lot to learn. I still love writing and submitting my work, and I hope I never lose that fire.

So to WordPress, just for tonight, I say this:

YES, I HAVE, AND YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!

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A Pepper and a Carrot Walked into a Bar

I’m excited today because I’ve only got TWO things on my to-do list. One has to do with a pepper. The other has to do with a carrot.

To Do List

  1. Write a blog post for Day 1 of NanoPoblano 2018
  2. Write the final revision of “Mudslide” for Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Today I’ll be able to check off both items on my list with this ONE blog post! And then I can immediately go back to sleeping adding more things to my to-do list.

About NanoPoblano

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to NanoPoblano (a daily blogging challenge that takes place every year in November), and I’ve decided that the key to a good month-long blog challenge is to write about something the READERS care about. I’m really looking forward to doing that.

So, in the comments below, please leave a word or two about what you’d like to read in my November blog posts. I’ll do my best to work all of your suggestions in.

About Mudslide

Mudslide is a story I’ve been working on for Carrot Ranch Literary Community.  It’s a writing challenge designed to torture inspire, educate, and motivate writers.

The Mudslide challenge began with a 297-word story about a mudslide, which then gets pared down — first to 99 words, then 59, and then an unbelievable 9 words, while experimenting with writing techniques such as changing point of view, analyzing important “nuggets,” and interjecting words of emotion.

If you’re interested, you can read those earlier versions by looking at my previous blog posts. Or, you can just read my final challenge below, a 495-word story about a mudslide, cascading all the way to the end of this page.

MUDSLIDE

I sat bolt upright and stared at the bright red numbers on the alarm clock. They stared back at me accusingly, unblinking. Two-fifteen. What had awoken me?

Slowly, it dawned on me. I’d just had that dream again, the one about the mudslide.

I’d had it four nights in a row, ever since moving in with Jake – the man I’d promised to spend the rest of my life with. I knew I should tell my shrink about the dreams, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what she’d have to say about them – especially if I told her the whole story.

I looked over at Jake, snoring softly beside me. I touched his shoulder; he didn’t move. What – or who – was he dreaming about, I wondered? But I needed to stop thinking like that. Who was I to be jealous? I lay down and tried falling back to sleep, but I was still haunted by images of the mudslide in my dream.

It was strong – a torrent of devastating mud, carrying everything in its path down with it into an infinite abyss. There was no escape.

What did it mean? Was it some kind of a warning? Did I have to start watching my back – again?

I was lying still, but I felt uncontrollably dizzy. Unable to stop my swirling thoughts, I got out of bed, tiptoed from the room, and pulled my phone from my purse. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to try an internet search of dream interpretation.

I’d just Googled the words “mudslide dream” when Jake startled me, coming up behind me without a sound and kissing my neck. I jumped and dropped the phone.

It started buzzing as soon as it hit the floor. I quickly reached to pick it up, but Jake beat me to it. He stared at it a second and then held it out so I could see the screen. Caller ID said “SLIM DUDE.”

The phone continued to buzz in Jake’s hand. Finally, it stopped.

“Who’s ‘Slim Dude’?” Jake asked, not expecting what I said next.

“My husband,” I said, feeling ashamed.

“You have a … HUSBAND?!” Jake said. He’d started out whispering, but his words were choked at the end.

My mouth went dry and I couldn’t answer. Instead, I saw a vision, flashing like a neon sign in my brain. It was my husband’s nickname, the one he’d gotten in prison, the eight letters in SLIM DUDE tattooed on his fingers.

I knew then that SLIM DUDE would never stop calling me, never stop haunting my dreams. SLIM DUDE wouldn’t rest until he’d found a way to worm his way into my head again, scrambling up my happiness, and converting my life into a MUDSLIDE of despair.

And now the worst had happened. Jake knew the truth. I took one last look at him and said goodbye forever to my happy life, giving in to the power of the mudslide.

nanopoblano2018-notrim#NanoPoblano2018
#NaBloPoMo2018
#teamtinypeppers

REBEL WITCH — a poem

Today I took up Colleen Chesebro’s challenge of writing a poem that uses synonyms for the words “color” and “creepy.” I chose the words “hue” and “sinister.”

Writing a poem that included both color and creepiness was quite the mental exercise. Color is fun, and creepy is not fun. When I put those two concepts into a pot and stirred them up, a conflicted character materialized.

Here’s the final brew, which took the shape of a double etheree. An etheree is a 10-line verse with a syllable count of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. A double etheree adds another verse of 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

REBEL WITCH

skirts
swirling
in the streets
red and orange
yellow, green, and blue
indigo, violet
now that I have named them all,
which hue is the one you favor?
I am forced to dress in black myself —
for that’s what all the other witches wear

and who am I to go against the grain?
witches must look sinister and plain
no colors in our closets, no!
bright colors are forbidden
prisms warrant prison
what’s a witch to do?
make rainbow robes?
break the rules?
why not?
POOF!

 

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