Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Semi-Formal


[This is more-or-less the way I remember this Winter's Tale. See others at Sunday Scribblings.]

I did not attend a lot of dances when I was a teenager. I think there was one or two a year in junior high school, one formal and usually another was a "sock-hop." In high school there were no more than two each year: homecoming in the fall for all classes and the junior-senior prom in the spring.

So I didn't have a lot of experience with dances when I got to college in New England. I went to a few parties in the fall, one on campus to celebrate the new college president, the rest were at frats in town. My dorm planned a semi-formal dance for February. While I was home for winter break, I made sure to pack a fancy dress to take back with me.

We planned food for the party, and had someone coming from Boston or Cambridge to be DJ. We had people signed up to arrange the furniture in the living room so there would be plenty of dance space. And there were dates coming (mostly from Boston and Cambridge). Not all of us had dates, but practically everyone in the dorm was going to attend anyway.

So, early in the day of the dance it started snowing – hard. In fact, it snowed so hard that we soon got a call from the D.J. telling us there was no way he could make it. But we rolled with the punches: a search of the dorm turned up some pretty decent stereo equipment and everyone chipped in records and tapes.

The food was already in the building (nothing for that was last-minute) but the roads were terrible. Soon we heard that no one was going to make it out to the suburbs that night. We were on our own.

I don't think it crossed our minds to cancel or postpone the party – there was too much going on at school to move it. So we threw a party for ourselves. We got dressed up and danced by ourselves in the living room. We had the curtains open so we could watch it continue to snow through the wall-sized windows.

A bunch of us finally couldn't stand it anymore. We went back to our rooms and traded semi-formal dresses for snow clothes. We slid down the snow from the dorm slightly uphill from ours toward the living room. We threw snowballs and chased each other and totally wore ourselves out.

When our fingers started to get numb, we went back inside and bundled into snuggly nightclothes. We took handfuls of party food up to our common room and settled in to play cards. One person taught most of the rest of us how to play Hearts. She whupped us completely, but we had a blast. We adopted the game completely and continued to play frequently all the way through college.

There were other semi-formals, at our dorm and at others. But that first was one of a kind.

Second Hand


[This was written in response to a prompt on Cafe Writing's Jewels Project.]

Second Hand

She had what she needed,
a paid-for house,
a new car and a golf cart,
and enough money to last
her whole retirement.
a roof over her head,
a pickup truck in good shape,
and enough extra for
a vacation once a year.

Every week
she tried to stay
out of the way knowing
she would do it differently
if she cleaned it herself.
she pulled up in the truck
to dust and sweep
and mop and wipe as if
it were her own place.

And then
she heard her cleaning woman
had multiple sclerosis
and would have
her doctor told her
she had M.S.
and was advised

to stop working.
She gave away the
fur coat she had not worn
for years.
She tearfully said
goodbye and accepted
the generous gift.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dental Limerick


[For Mad Kane's Humor Blog and the Dental Limerick and Haiku prompt.]

She hated her teeth were not brigher
and so sought out a way to go lighter.
The hygienist did preach,
but the dentist used bleach,
and now no one has teeth that are whiter.

Dancing Through Time


photo credit: Janet Spering

This was written in response to a prompt from Cafe Writing's Jewels Project. ]

Dancing Through Time

The three sisters danced in the dappled arbor,
early summer breezes cooling them
as their twirls sent gossamer skirts whirling.
Grace was in every step as they moved
in perfect and intricate counterpoint,
sparking inspiration and joy in everyone who saw them.

They danced in paint on a canvas,
captured mid-spin by the painter
who had herself been captivated by them.

They danced into the mind of the cameo-maker,
who saw the painting and felt the breeze they stirred.
They helped tease rhythm out of stone.

They danced in a brassy ring on a grandmother's coat.

And now they dance on mine.

Pieces of the Landscape of My Youth


[This was written in response to a prompt from Cafe Writing's Jewels Project. For Option 1 I used the following words: landscape, paper, museum, touch. ]

I was anxious to leave my hometown, something that might have been in my genes.

My great-grandparents left the area, taking their children west to homestead in Oklahoma. That didn't work out for them and so they came back to the area of southern Illinois that eventually gave birth to my mom.

She, in turn, wanted to leave and finally managed o do so, though not until her husband retired.

I left sooner, happy to be from there – it is a great place to be from – and happier to be living elsewhere.

But since I left small pieces of the landscape of my youth have followed me east. Some are quite concrete like my baby blanket or the folder of stories and artwork I created on lined paper in the first grade, and some other tidbits of my own creation – old in my life but new in the timeline of my family's history.

I have my mother's high school ring. She gave it to me years ago. Although I finished high school and college I never had a class ring of my own. Hers has three colors of gold and an element of age about it – it doesn't look like the most modern school rings. I wear it on my pinkie from time to time.

But the pieces that drag people and places out of the past belonged to my grandma and great-aunt. They are mostly kitchen things – hardly museum pieces.

There are some old brown crockery bowls – nothing special. I don't use them much, but I love seeing them every time I open the cabinet my measuring spoons are in.

The old, once-white, oval plates, one small and one medium, send me down memory lane when I use them. The small one is perfect as a spoon rest, though I don't remember what it was used it for before. But I can't touch the medium one without seeing it piled with chicken-fried steak, sitting on Grandma's dining room table.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Things I've Done


Last seen at The Miss Rumphius Effect. She says she got it from Libby. You are welcome to play and pass it on if you like. The things I have done are in bold [with some comments.]

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower [I've only seen one shooting star!]

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland

8. Climbed a mountain [I didn't make it all the way to the top, though]

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea [but I've had an ocean-side view of a hurricane]

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch [glass-etching]

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty [been in it, but not up it - renovations were going on when I was there]

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train [I was on an overnight boat ferry]

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort [I always got too tired before getting very far!]

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon [I ran a 1-mile fun-run when I was a teenager]

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run [a double is the best I can really hope for]

32. Been on a cruise [thanks to my parents for taking me when I was young]

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors [depends on how far back we're talking. One great-grandmother was born in a country house just a few miles south of where I grew up. But I'e never been to the "home country" of any of relatives not born in the US.]

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo's David

41. Sung karaoke [but only with the on-demand feature of my TV while folding laundry]

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight [and tripped over a baby coconut tree!]

46. Been transported in an ambulance [I guess that's how I got to the hospital when I got hurt the 1st weekend in college, but maybe it was a station wagon - hmmm.]

47. Had your portrait painted [not painted, but drawn by my sister at least twice that I know of]

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris [only part-way up]

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie [guess home-movies don't count...]

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies [more than I care to remember!]

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving [not at all interested!]

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp [I have too vivid an imagination to want to do this]

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy [my dog Waggles is in the basement now]

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar [but I was too young to remember - will have to try again]

72. Pieced a quilt [I keep wanting to do this.]

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job [does being laid-off count - job reductions due to budget cuts]

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London [I've seen the Guards, just not the changing part]

77. Broken a bone [no but a torn ligament takes longer to heal.]

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper [growing up in a small town made this easy]

85. Read the entire Bible [I think I made it all the way through the Old Testament, and I've read at least the first 6 books of the New Testament.]

86. Visited the White House [just from the street]

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating [catching fish is the closest I've come, but I wouldn't even touch them to take them off the hook.]
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life [I was a lifeguard and am thankful that yelling at people was the most I ever had to do. I did once ride in the back of a vehicle with a kid we thought might have a severe back injury - she turned out ok (whew)]

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day [or in one night!]

I think that is 42 out of 100, but I'm too tired to try and count again!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins 99


1. The last band I saw live was too long ago to remember, but the last performer I paid to hear live was Carrie Newcomer.

2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is
stuffing, pie, rolls, and pie.

3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is
only a faint un-formed thought at this point (I'm a last-minute kind of shopper).

4. Thoughts of holiday concerts
fill my head.

5. I wish I could wear pajamas and slippers to work.

6. Bagpipes
are really cool and I wish I had the patience to learn to play them, but my neighbors are probably happy I don't.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to
making homemade pasta noodles, tomorrow my plans include playing host to some friends for the afternoon and dinner (when we're going to eat those noodles), and Sunday, I want to relax, but I've been invited to sing at an interfaith worship service in the evening!

You can find more fill-ins here.