A Little Birthday Celebration

It’s hard for me to believe that Life on the May is approaching its first birthday. I thought that, to celebrate its special day, it would be fun for you to hear a different voice with a slightly different take on one of the things I think about a lot…..electronic devices. The voice is that of our son, Chip, and, as the father of two teen-age girls, he speaks from an up-close and personal perspective. I find encouragement in what he sees and says and hope you do, too.

A Shiny Glimpse Into the Modern Teenage Mind

My wife, Carrie, and I recently had the occasion to host 6 teenage girls (ages 13-15) on a week’s vacation at the beach in NC. Two of them were ours, and the other 4 were friends/guests of our 14 and 15 year-old daughters. As the only male in the house, I had some of the guests’ fathers wish me luck, tell me I was crazy, bid me farewell, etc..   But…I lived to tell about it, and what I have to tell is quite promising.

If you’ve seen a teenage girl lately, you’ve noticed the new permanent appendage they use all the time, namely their cell-phone. They are constantly “social-mediating,” as I call it, checking Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, text-messages, etc.. These are now all part of their everyday lives like none of us have ever seen before. To be off-line from these apps is to be disconnected, out-of-the-loop, and perhaps even anti-“social.”   So, we knew that the phones were coming on the trip with us, and we knew they would be present a good bit of the time.

Now, keep in mind, these are good girls – they are ALL really good girls. They have manners, they work hard in school, they pursue various passions, they say hello/goodbye/please/thank you…all that stuff. But they also find themselves heavily involved in all their friends’ lives through the various media on their phones morning, day and night. In some instances, they would all 6 be together, but not talking due to their focus on pictures, videos and funny comments appearing on their respective phones. And, because they are all friends with each other, some of the things they were seeing/reading were posts from one of the other girls sitting right there NEXT to them. Crazy, right?!

Some time back, my mother had the courage to ask all the kids at the Thanksgiving dinner table to put their phones away, select a card from the box being handed around the table, and participate in the conversation that would proceed from the reading of each card. These conversation-starter cards contained great questions that ranged from ice-breakers to probing queries to right-out philosophical dilemmas. And, because somehow I have managed to surround myself with amazing women in my life, Carrie made a mental note to bring these same conversation cards along with us on this vacation.

It was baked-potato night, and the girls were so excited as they loaded butter, sour cream, bacon, and salt (lots of salt) onto their hot baked potatoes. This might have been part of Carrie’s great plan, using the yummy food as an initial distraction from the phones so that she could play her next card – the conversation card(s). She asked the kids to keep their phones down, select a card each, and one-by-one read their question aloud, waiting for conversation to have its way on the preceding card before engaging in a new question.

“Would you rather have a great wardrobe or an amazing car?”

“Is there life on other planets?”

“Is it better to be popular, or respected?”

The questions went like that, and they were all great, but the response was even better.

These girls – as though they had been starved for intellectual engagement/discussion – jumped on these questions so immediately, it was a delight to see. They each – to a one – had compelling responses, follow-up questions, creative thoughts, and even a respect/interest in what the outnumbered adults at the table had to say on each topic.   The table of 8 yielded multiple conversations at the same time on each question such that it was hard to even hear/focus on the one conversation you were in…and Carrie and I enjoyed a couple moments of great gratitude as we caught each others’ glance across this most-impressive scene. It was magical, in a way…or at least it was inspiring.

And for all that talk, all that engagement…it made for the best night of the trip…

…until 2 nights later when they asked if we could do it again! 🙂


I’ll see you next week…..


My Three Felons

There were three of them, born within three years of each other to a mother who was clueless. Naturally, you would assume that they turned to a life of crime.   You would be right.

Let’s begin with the middle one. (So many things began with the middle one!) Many years ago, he was picked up one summer evening on the suspicion of illegally (underage) transporting, and possibly (probably) drinking, beer. Taken to the station. His parents were notified. The child was remanded to their custody after a pleasant and understanding exchange with the arresting officer.

Two days later, the youngest child was picked up and taken to the station. Seems he was playing on a swing set that didn’t belong to him or any of his young friends. They all ran and escaped capture except for him. He said he was afraid the cops were going to shoot him. His parents were called. We told the officer that we were busy and that they could jolly well keep the suspect for a little while, perhaps giving him some milk and cookies if they were so inclined (they weren’t). Maybe even offer him a little tour of the jail for future reference. After all, we’d just been to the station two short days ago to reclaim the middle child. We needed a break.

Later that summer, the cops caught the oldest child scaling the wall of a house and attempting entry into a second floor bedroom. From the edge of the window sill, the child politely (as he had been taught to do) introduced himself and was cordially acknowledged by the officer. He was asked for his driver’s license, which, regretfully, he didn’t have. He was then asked for the registration of his car, which, also regretfully, he didn’t have since the car he was driving wasn’t his.

Now while this sounds ominous, the explanation was really quite simple.

Seems there was a party in the ‘hood. The young man whose bedroom was being entered wasn’t in attendance and couldn’t be reached by phone. The other party-ers decided he needed to be there so our son was sent to “fetch” him but since our son had walked to the party and didn’t have a car, he borrowed one. Officer wished our son a good evening, told him to be careful climbing down the wall, and went on his way.

Small town, obviously. Kids and parents known to all. A sense of safety and well-being. Trust. Families looking out for each other. Respect for the community, its history and its leadership.

Not to say bad things didn’t happen there. They did and I can tell you every single detail of two overwhelmingly tragic events. Even after all these years.

But, all in all, I think we were very lucky to have had that time, in that town, with our kids, growing up together in that environment.

I have achieved perfection!

Well, with the exception of two jarring items. Those would be the jar of pickles and the jar of ketchup.

Otherwise, my refrigerator has nothing but white things in it. That’s exactly the way I like it. Yogurt, cream cheese, butter, pasta, a little chicken salad, a round of Brie, some extra-creamy Redi-whip.

Freezer’s the same way: vanilla ice cream, frozen cheese cake. I threw out the frozen peas. They didn’t belong.

White food. All white. Perfect.

It’s bliss to open it up and look at it. I can actually feel my blood pressure going down.

No green vegetables to disturb the peace. No strawberries or blue berries. No wheat bread. Just white food.

But I saw a list…..made out by the other one who lives here….and it has alien items on it. Furthermore, he mentioned a trip to the grocery store. I feel a sense of un-ease coming on.

But, if I’m careful and keep an eye on things, those colorful foodstuffs will go bad before I’ve had a chance to use them, and I can throw them out, once again attaining peace and harmony in my refrigerator-scape.

Oh, please….I know this is unhealthy. But I’ve lived this way for a long time. So far, so good, right? If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The Dark Side of Life on the May

Just when I thought I’d run out of things to write about, the Hilton Head Island Packet delivered an inspirational care package. Perhaps you, who live here, saw the article I’m referring to in the Crime Reports section earlier this summer.

It concerned an altercation at Brighton Beach between a tattooed-man and an un-tattooed-man.

We are told in the police report that the un-tattooed one approached the tattooed one and informed him that he had a misspelled word in one of his many tattoos. The tattooed one took exception to the criticism and punched the un-tattooed one in the face. The tattooed one then took off, leaving the un-tattooed one with a seriously swollen mouth and several loose teeth.

The tattooed one remains at large.

Many issues and questions also remain at large.

First, there’s the matter of the misspelled word. The un-tattooed may have been correct in addressing the issue but correct does not always equate to smart.

Second, how can the tattooed-one remain at large since, according to the report, his entire body is covered in ink? Surely, in this hot weather, there are body parts exposed that should be easy to identify. Especially since there’s a grammatical error on one of them.

Third, one of the parties was an Islander; the other was a Blufftonian. Are we talking major cultural differences here or was this just a one-time, punch-‘em-in-the-face, get-it-over-with kinda thing?

Fourth, do we imagine that beer was involved? Perhaps too much beer? Nah….that’s not an issue or a question. That’s a given.

Finally, it’s clear I’m going to have to start reading the Crime Report on a regular basis. I’ve occasionally been tempted to cancel our subscription to the Packet but I’m renewing for a lifetime. It’s just way too much fun.



You can’t go back.

I mean it. You really can’t go back. We tried to do just that, recently, for a special wedding anniversary.

It did not go well and that may be an understatement.

We knew there had been major changes made to the lovely place where we’d met, knew it had gotten quite fancy, had put on airs, but we still thought it would be a fun to return on such a special occasion. We could retrace our steps, pretend it was still a sweet little island, eat well, bask in the sun and just remember our first days together.

We weren’t doing badly until we went to dinner, at the resort’s fanciest restaurant.

It began with the wine service. The sommelier opened and returned many expensive and highly acidic, tummy challenging, bottles of wine. When we said that our favorite was an inexpensive one that we buy in quantity at Sam’s and surely they had something like that in their vast cellar, we lost her.

Then the food service began. Teeny-tiny plates, with teeny tiny forks and teeny tiny bites of food. By the time you’d decided whether or not you liked it, you’d already eaten it. And I don’t think seconds were part of the deal. Even teeny tiny ones.

At some point they brought me a teeny tiny stool upon which to put my not-so-teeny tiny purse. I knew…I mean I just absolutely knew…that I would trip over it when I left. But then again, I hadn’t planned on such a dramatic leave-taking.

We daintily nibbled our way through dinner. For dessert, we asked if we could share a piece of peanut butter pie. A teeny tiny slice arrived for me on a teeny tiny plate but nothing….not one single thing…for my husband. No plate, no fork, no nothing!

At that point, I rose, I thought rather grandly, and announced (apparently in a loud enough voice that everyone else put down their teeny tiny forks to watch the scene), that my husband had been kind enough to bring us back to this lovely place and they didn’t even have the decency to bring him a teeny tiny plate so we could share the teeny tiny piece of pie.

As I turned, dramatically, to leave this elegant dining room, I tripped over that teeny tiny stool, (you already knew that this was going to happen), catching both feet in the straps of my not-so-teeny tiny purse. We (I) were now the restaurant’s feature attraction.

I unraveled myself and went, now less than grandly, out the door. As I looked back to see if my beloved was coming with me or had disowned me completely, I was surprised to see the sommelier, her assistant, the maître d’, the chef and our waiter following in my wake.

I was leading the parade! With an audience! Oh, how I wanted a majorette’s baton. The power! The exhilaration! Where were the drums and the tubas when I needed them?

They asked what they could do. I vaguely recall saying that they could use this as a teaching moment.

But it wasn’t over yet.

We returned to our room. To our wonderment, it was now afloat with rose petals…thousands of them…in the living room, the bedroom, the hall, the bathroom and, of course, the bed. Have you ever walked, or slept, on fresh rose petals?

We spent the next half hour on our knees scooping them up so we wouldn’t break our necks when we got up in the middle of the night. (We’re over 50, remember?)

All those lovely pink roses gave up their lives only to be jammed unceremoniously into trash baskets. What a shame.

But it still wasn’t over.

At 11:30 p.m., (yes, 11:30 pm!) the doorbell rang. In my newest and best David M. Carmines Seafood Festival T-Shirt, I sleepily staggered to the door. It was a very nice man from the dining room, bearing champagne and cookies, complements of the chef. He realized he’d woken us up and apologized.

Still hungry from our teeny tiny dinners, we scarfed down the cookies, longing for a big glass of milk and did our best to get back to sleep.

You can’t go back. Too many things change. We’re not their target market anymore and that’s fine. Give me a giant bowl of pasta with a little fresh basil and a steak for my husband. Nice big napkins. No teeny tiny plates or forks. Throw in some good company and a bottle of wine from Sam’s and we’re good to go. Cheers!

His and Hers

We’ve been married for many years. There are things on HIS side of the closet that have been there for every one of those many years. And I know for a fact that there were things that came with him…sort of like a dowry but not really…..with an edge of age and patina already on them. Who knows how old that stuff is now?

Conversations between us about “buying new things” have been occurring for all these years. Usually to no avail.


You really need a new pair of loafers.

No, I don’t.

Yes, you do.

No, I don’t. These were just re-soled (again) five years ago. They’re perfectly fine.

End of conversation.

You can substitute any item of clothing for the loafers…..khaki pants, tennis shorts, button-down shirts, polo shirts.   The answer will be the same; only the reason or the excuse will change. New is just not going to happen.

Aggravating, annoying, frustrating, useless conversations. We should have made a tape and played it on appropriate….or inappropriate….occasions. Could have saved a lot of emotional energy.

But something’s different now. No, he’s still not going shopping. Yes, many of the things hanging in the closet are seriously frayed and faded.

Yes, we still have the conversations and, no, they’re still to no avail. But, for some reason, I now find them comforting. I know what to expect. I know he’s not going to replace those beloved and well worn things and it doesn’t matter. He’s happy with his old things, his old loafers and polo shirts, his familiar and well-loved stuff.

And besides, that may be an indication that he’s still happy with his old wife, frayed and faded though she may be. I sure hope so.

Wish You Were Here

The day before yesterday was just a regular Friday with a regular trip from Bluffton to the Island for a regular afternoon bridge game.

Except it wasn’t. Regular, that is.

I always listen to NPR on my way across the bridges and last Friday afternoon was no different. But what an extraordinary and exceptional little voyage it turned out to be.

That afternoon was the funeral service of Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, SC.

In those 30 minutes in the car, listening to the radio, I went from full-body goose-bumps as the church soprano reached a note that stopped your heart, to admiration for Senator Pinckney’s many accomplishments, to listening to a requiem that could not be matched by any composer, to eulogies that turned phrases upside down and touched your soul, and stories that got you laughing out loud and then put a foot on your throat and caught you up short in the loss.

I was grateful for the lack of traffic on the bridges, for the sun in the sky, for going to a place I felt comfortable.

But, at that moment, I simply wanted to be there, in that arena. To be in the moment. To let it take me over, give me grace and release me from the sadness. And the madness.

To feel, sway, hold, be held, sing, cry, laugh, remember, renew, forgive.

But I wasn’t there.

So I’ll listen again, and again, to the music and the stories. I’ll listen to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and be moved, as always, by its evocative and melancholic themes. I’ll listen to the harp and the alto sax play together in the Requiem and marvel at the creation of such a piece of music. I’ll remember the story told by one of his college buddies about their treasured, fun-loving, and life-long friendship. I’ll do all that.

But, I still wish I could have been there.

And I wish they were all still here.

My Nook.

Here’s the cozy spot in this old house on The May where I have so much fun. (Click on the image above and you’ll see my nook in its entirety.)  The cubbies hold all my papers…pretty cards, fun stationery, cookbooks (which remain unopened), all kinds of colorful pens and pencils.

A friend’s painting of a sassy lady hangs above my desk. She speaks to me everyday and welcomes me into her world. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, a cat sits on the desk with me.   I like my little space. A lot.

I have a file in my desk drawer that’s labeled “stuff.” Don’t you? Mine is fat and needs purging. Once a year or so I look at it. At my age, I can never remember what’s in there so it’s always new to me, sort of like being re-introduced to old friends.

The first thing that I always notice is that I seem to keep all the kind and thoughtful notes that we’ve received. Many were written for no reason at all. Sweet notes, loving notes, unexpected notes. I could hardly throw any of those out, could I?

Then there seems to be a theme of friendship. Little torn-out bits from magazines, newspapers, books.   One of my favorites says, “A friend is someone who asks the second question.”

Another favorite is a reply to a letter I wrote in 1987 to the editor of the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle. I had finished the puzzle and had no idea what it meant. I wrote the editor and received in the mail the most charming response….written on his ancient typewriter, its e’s and o’s full of old black ink, with an apology for having had to Xerox his answer since so many of us were confused. Could I ever throw that out? For a crossword puzzle freak, that would be like pitching a letter from George Washington.

And so the file of little treasures grows. There will be no purging this year. I just can’t let any of it go…not quite yet. It’s comforting to know that all my old friends will still be there next year when I decide to visit and be introduced to them again.

We try.

We really do try to lead a peaceful, law-abiding life. One that doesn’t rattle any cages or ruffle any feathers. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

See there’s an animal that’s living in our yard making strange crop-like circles in the pine straw and grass and we think it’s an armadillo but we’ve never really seen it so we’re not exactly sure what it is so we borrowed our neighbor’s have-a-heart cage with hopes of trapping whatever it was to move it away so it would quit doing damage to our yard but we trapped a raccoon instead and now we had the problem of where to take the raccoon since we couldn’t just open the trap and let it stay here because of the potential danger to the precious chickens next door so my husband took it way way way way down the Route 46 and released it into to what he thought was the wild but apparently it wasn’t wild enough and a woman who lived nearby saw him and followed him all the way home for several miles and pulled right into our driveway and got out of her car and gave him the what-for for releasing the raccoon into her neighborhood and told him he was guilty of trespassing and catching a wild animal and releasing it where he shouldn’t have and she reported him to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s office and she went on her way and then in a couple of minutes the Deputy Sheriff pulled in our driveway and my husband held his hands up high and told her he was guilty as charged but he thought he was doing the right thing for the animal and the Deputy told him that she would not report him to the DNR this time but if she did he could be fined close to $1,000.00 for his offenses so after all of that we decided to skip town and go down to Jekyll Island and we had lunch which was a complete disaster because my husband never did get the correct or even remotely edible food that he’d ordered but even though he was still hungry we changed our clothes and went down to the beach to relax and they said that renting a beach umbrella would cost $30.00 for a measly little two hours which seemed a bit pricey but we needed an umbrella since he had just had a little thingy removed from his face and the doctor said to stay out of the direct sun for a few days but it turns out they were totally out of umbrellas anyway and they also didn’t have any more chairs but they said we were welcome to sit on the sand so I said let’s go home and we did.

Momma said there’d be days like this.

A Memoir

It seems everyone’s doing it these days. Writing a memoir, that is. You know.…spill the family beans. Air the dirty laundry. It would seem that having been physically or emotionally abused is a requisite for writing a memoir….at least if you expect it to sell. So, let me confirm, in these opening words, that I have been abused. And abused. And abused.

But, first allow me to introduce myself. Some of you know me. Some of you have sat on me. In spite of that level of intimacy, you might not know my name. I am “Russell’s Chair.” (Russell was Sallie’s father.) I came to live with Sallie and her family about 15 years ago.

When I arrived, I was pristine! Covered with a taupe silkish/linenish fabric.   My clothes weren’t new but they’d been beautifully maintained in my former life. Fresh as the day they were stitched on me. No stains, in spite of Russell’s smoking habit. Sometimes, he’d fall asleep with a cigarette in his hand and I would quake with fear. But not one ash ever fell on me. No, the abuse I suffered was far more dire than a silly little ash.

You see, it all started with The Cat. The one Sallie brought home a couple of years ago from the Humane Society with a promise not to remove its claws. Now you see where I’m going, don’t you?

I find myself getting emotional here so I’ll cut to the chase. The Cat put me at the top of his list of things to destroy. The family noticed but hoped he’d quit. Au contraire, Dear Reader. On and on it went, the tearing and shredding. My back, my arm rests, finally my seat. They had to act. Oh, not on the precious cat but rather on me.

New clothes were picked out. Wolfgang, the master upholsterer, did his magic and I looked grand, once again.  How long do you think it took for The Cat to go at me again?

This time, he started with the roping around my legs. Now here comes the ultimate abuse. Instead of dealing with The Cat, they bought some paint !!!!. Paint that matched the color of my new suit. And they “touched me up” so no one would notice the damage, the ripping, the shredding. The silent abuse.

I’m sure you understand my trauma. By now, of course, The Cat has, once again, moved on to my back, my arms. I’m waiting for the seat. It won’t be long. And I overheard THEM talking about it yesterday. There were two horrifying words: More Paint. Have they no mercy?

So, do you think I’ll make the best seller list? Perhaps the royalties could pay for a new suit. Or, even better, and I know this is evil, the mysterious disappearance of The Cat?

A Model Prisoner

When the youngest of our boys reached the age of 7, I knew I had to get out of the house, had to go back to work….at least part-time.

I got really lucky. In front of my very eyes appeared an opportunity to start an organization to help women return to the work-force.   So I got to return to the work-force and help others do the same….what could be better?

The funding came together and we gathered a staff of three. We were armed and ready to go.

Then the phone rang. It was the government calling. They had a deal for us.

If we took their money, we would, in return, help primarily poverty-level women.

We would also hire a fourth person, a counselor, and she would be of their choosing. Strings. Many strings. But we accepted the deal. It would ensure the organization’s viability and our salaries.

We inquired about the “new hire.” What was her background, her education? Where did she last work?

We were told that she had not worked for the last four years. Really? Why not?

The answer was simple, if not alarming. She’d been in a medium-security prison and was just being released.

Well, we said. What else was there to say? We were told that she would be joining us the next Monday at 9 am and that would be that.

We caucused. How do we manage this? We need to welcome her…whether we want to or not. What should we wear? We don’t want to intimidate her with our newly-acquired working-women’s clothes but we don’t want to be too informal either. We agreed not to wear stripes. We were, collectively, more than a little apprehensive.

Monday morning arrived. We waited. At 9 am on the dot she walked in the door….all 5 feet 9 inches of her. And that was before the three-inch heels she wore no matter the weather. Her hair was pulled back in a chignon, perfect make-up, pencil-slim skirt, smart white blouse, slender as a reed except where she shouldn’t be. Seems she’d also done time in Paris. On the fashion runways.

Her smile was easy. Her hello warm and gracious. In a nano-second, we went from we-three to our-four. And we stayed that way for ten years.

Oh, by the way, the “crime” she did four years for was a victimless one…..today she would get a gentle slap on the wrist. But that’s another story.

Parts is parts.

I just put away my winter stuff to make room for summer stuff and wondered, yet again, why jeans and tee shirts fill my closet. I think I finally figured it out.

And I put the blame squarely on my three sons.

You see, when they were first driving, we wanted them to have safe cars so we got Volvos for them. Used, of course. Seriously used. They’d all been rode hard and put away wet. They were “Centurians”….100,000 miles or more on each of them. As a result, we were always in the market for “parts.”

Now, I had lovely friends, who, with their lovely daughters, went to lovely stores, not for “parts” but for pretty things, fluffy things, soft things. Things like dresses, sweaters, ribbons, shoes, jewelry.

I can just imagine that they received phone calls like this:

“Good morning, Mrs. Smith. It’s Mrs. Jones calling from La Petite Salon, calling to tell you that we just received some of those sweaters you and your daughter wear so well.  I’ve set aside several in your sizes and colors. I hope to see you both very soon. It’s always a pleasure doing business with you.”

A typical message for me would be:

“Sallie. Beastie’s parts are in. Call me.”

That call would be from Gary, our Volvo mechanic/doctor. No need for him to identify himself. We were long past that. No need to leave his phone number, either. He was on speed dial. And Beastie, (we had to name them…you couldn’t just say The Volvo), the oldest of the tribe, was always in dire need of “parts.” In fact, they all needed “parts.” Oily, dirty, mysterious, and, expensive, “parts.”

Nothing was ever set aside for me, unless it was “parts.” Sometimes from the Napa store.  Sometimes from the Volvo people. The UPS man delivered “parts.” Same for FedEx. “Parts.” Always “parts.” No money or time left over for “pretty.”

Oil and lube changes filled our week-end hours. Revolving the tires on one or more of the old Volvos was always a special treat. At least for the car. Heating cores were treasured as were brake pads and transmissions.

So, now I understand everything. I never knew “pretty” from “parts.” It’s good to put blame squarely where it belongs. It eases the angst. And explains my wardrobe. Or lack thereof.

Please Meet Ann

Ann is a long-time friend from Dayton. She’s always the star of a party whether as guest or hostess.

Well, let me back up on that hostess thing for just a second here. No issues as far as having fun. That was always a given. But things can happen in Ann’s kitchen that are inexplicable and, even, sometimes cause for alarm. Remarkably, a single head of broccoli, cooked in one pot, can become bi- or even tri-colored. Lemon bars can come out of the oven upside-down for no apparent reason. Everything still tastes good, but one does wonder.

In all fairness, I’ve had my share of oopsies in the kitchen, too.

So, when Ann and I decided to have an engagement party for a good friend’s son, we wisely decided to have a professional caterer prepare the main dish. The young man’s fiancée had not met any of us and we wanted to impress her. We knew that bad things could happen to good people…(us)… in the kitchen.

Despite our good intentions, things went a bit awry. As we opened the oven to check on the status of the professionally-prepared dish, a little hot oil splashed onto the burners. Flames exploded, setting dish, oven and, almost, us, on fire. My husband was quick with the fire extinguisher. Thank goodness.

But now, the food was covered with a thin gray chemical icing. (As were my beautiful navy blue counter tops but that’s another story.) Ann and I quickly set to work with spoons, carefully scraping off the offensive anti-inflammatory stuff so as to get on with dinner.

Someone (who wasn’t even supposed to be in the kitchen) rudely suggested that even a small amount of that substance might not be good for our guests….might, in fact, be poisonous.   Go away, we said. We have hungry, and now seriously over-wined, guests. Let us get on with our work.

That same individual had the gall to call the poison-control center.

Alas. We had to present ourselves to the hungry crowd, without the professionally-prepared and now-determined-to-be-poisonous dinner. Of course, they all knew that with us in charge danger could lurk in the kitchen. We watched as eyebrows went up. Furtive glances were exchanged. We heard murmurings of “Oh no, not again.”

To appease them, in addition to pouring a little more wine, we offered a financial reward to any one who could correctly guess what went wrong this time. No money exchanged hands.

And no pizza delivery person was ever more warmly welcomed.

Just One Too Many Uh,Oh’s

Once upon a time, we had decided to become glider pilots.   We would buy a two seater glider, spend our Sundays blissfully aloft, guided only by soft clouds and thermals. Far above the madding crowd. No cars, no people, no noise. Just the two of us. Swaying and swinging in the gentle breezes. Sun warming our shoulders. Alone, together. What could be better? Have I lulled you to sleep yet? Well, wake up because it didn’t exactly turn out like that.

Apparently, one doesn’t just become a glider pilot. One must have training. So we signed up. What you see in that picture is me, smiling, getting ready for my first lesson. What you don’t see is this:

The day before that first glider lesson, I had had some measure of irregular heartbeats. Doctor said “Go to the hospital tomorrow, early, they’ll outfit you with a Holter monitor and I’ll look at it in a day or so. In the meantime, don’t worry.”

Did that. Now had wires snaking out from my shirt, a clunky little box attached to my waist and a note pad to write down any “interesting” events that might cause heart rate to change. Does going up in a glider for the first time count? I thought so.

Upon climbing into the glider, with my wires and my notepad, the pilot expressed concern. Said “Uh,Oh.” Now, I have to calm him down. Assure him I’m in no danger. Isn’t this the wrong direction? I’m the one who’s nervous. Note to notebook.

Okay, now I’m strapped in. Pilot says “Uh, Oh.” Now what? “You don’t weigh enough.” Well, it’s a little late to do something about that, isn’t it? No, he says, we’ll just pile a bunch of bricks around you and that will give us the ballast we need. More scribbles in notebook.

We secure our rope to the tow plane and take off. Several seconds later, pilot says “Uh, Oh.”   Seems the tow plane just lost altitude. Apparently this matters because if it doesn’t attain altitude, neither do we. We release the tether and pray. Nervous scribbles in notebook. Happily we’d gained enough lift.

So off we go into the wild blue, thermal-laden, sick-making sky. Around and around we go. Up, down, again and again. Bricks scrunching my feet. Hot sun beating down. Tummy churning. Madly writing in notebook.

At last it’s time to land. We turn and glide toward the runway. Pilot says “Uh Oh.” Really? Again? Yep. Now there’s a one engine Cessna (hey, one is one more than we’ve got!) sitting on the (only) runway. Gliders have “right of way” because they only have one shot at landing. Then call them, I say. Can’t, says pilot. Then for pity sake’s, honk. No answer. No writing in notebook either. Too scared.

Is this the way it ends? Not with a whimper but a bang? Strapped in a glider, surrounded by bricks, notebook in hand, wires hanging out, green-ish from thermals, longing for land?

Obviously not. But, pilots (and hairdressers) should never say “Uh, Oh.”   Thought that was in their training manuals. Which, quite frankly, I never got to. I’m sure you understand why.

Lost. And Found.

I love socks. Always have. I have “popsicle toes” so socks help.  Golf socks. Knee socks. Bobby socks. Doesn’t matter. I don’t discriminate. I love them all.

My favorite shopping web site is www.joyofsocks.com The colors, the designs, the craziness.   Almost too much to bear. But I manage. Quite well, actually.

And, oh, how I hate to lose a sock. Was it eaten? By the dryer? The dog? The cat?

To paraphrase Ms. Peep: “Where, oh, where did that little sock go? Where, oh, where could it be?”

I have a friend. She’s a poet. Her name is Elizabeth Robin. She wrote a poem about the overwhelming joy of finding that long lost sock. She said it so well. I hold her poem close to my heart and in my sock drawer. It helps me stay upbeat and positive about finding the lost one. With her permission, I am sharing her poem with you. I hope you, too, will find comfort in her words.



A Simple Pleasure

today i found that sock

the one that disappeared in the laundry months ago

the one i sifted and sorted and searched to recover

the one that was cushy and fuzzy and warm

the one that brought piggly wiggly joy


reunited with its lonely twin

the one who’s been waiting in that dark, cold drawer, alone

so patiently, trusting her double would return some day

abandoned twin haunting the sock drawer

taunting my helplessness, my haphazard wardrobe control


and just when i’d abandoned all hope, there, just there

inside the form-fitting folds of last season’s sheets

there, yes there, better than graduation and trophies and christmas morning

euphoria, because today

i found that sock


©Elizabeth Robin