Wild vines trailing long-
Thriving unfenced, untended.
Animals don’t feast?
Several weeks ago, during a walk around our neighborhood, we spotted a cluster of strange vines growing on an empty lot. Upon closer inspection, we identified it as watermelon.
Of course, I had to take pictures because our watermelons never made it this far. We had two garden areas last year, both fenced in. One garden was ravaged early on by rabbits, who squeezed under the fencing. They were greedy – they ate the plant sprouts before fruit could begin to develop.
Our second garden survived most of the summer. While neighbors lamented the destruction of their plants by various wildlife, I declared that our garden thrived. Neighbors commented on our beautiful zucchini and tomato plants.
And then the elk came. They ransacked the garden and what was left died within a couple weeks.
This is why the wild watermelons are so perplexing. It made me wonder if the animals around here prefer a challenge. You know, bragging rights amongst their kin when they outsmarted the ridiculous attempts to deter them. Or, perhaps they have become so accustomed to the good stuff being locked up (like expensive wine) that they don’t bother to look outside the fencing.
Then another thought occurred to me: I might be over-thinking it. Maybe the wild watermelon is just one of those unexpected things in life to make us take a pause. Perhaps it’s not meant to be understood- just simply enjoyed.
After watching the news this weekend, I’m all for simple enjoyment. I’m trying to shake a hopeless feeling… the restlessness I feel whenever I’m saddled with the weight of current events. Watermelons flourishing when all logic says they shouldn’t distracts me from the beheadings, bombings, civil unrest and earthquakes.
To me, these watermelons are more than just plants. They are hope.
And I hope your Monday brings you joy!
P.S. If you came here looking for fiction, I hope you’ll check back later this week – I’ll be posting a story for another of Emilio Pasquale’s photos. This is the third in an unofficial monthly challenge :)
Bernadette Thibodaux stood in front of the house she’d just purchased, key folded in her palm. “This is it,” she exhaled. She turned to her best friend, Chris, to read his reaction.
“Well. It’s a nice place.”
“Who said anything about a ‘but’?”
“Come on, after twenty-two years, I can tell.” She didn’t have to mention their years as high school sweethearts and their failed marriage; that always lingered in the back of her mind.
He shrugged. “Birdie, don’t you think four acres might be a bit much for you to maintain?”
Birdie. No one else could get away with calling her that. “I just bought my first place. Don’t ruin it for me.” She grabbed his elbow. “Let me show you the house!”
He nearly knocked her over when she came to an abrupt stop at the wrap-around porch. While she fumbled with the key in the lock, he shook the railing. “Sturdy support,” he mumbled. “A porch swing would be nice over there.” He pointed to the right.
She glanced over her shoulder. “That’s exactly what I thought.” She pushed on the door but it didn’t budge. She thrust her hip against the door twice and it popped loose with a creak. When she entered the foyer a new wave of excitement rippled through her.
Chris opened and closed the door several times and rubbed his fingers along the door jam. “I think a little sanding right here and a re-paint and it’ll be good as new.”
Thunder rumbled overhead, shaking the windows. Intermittent rain drops pelted the glass.
He peered at the track of the large window to the left of the entryway. “Might need some tightening.”
She threw a playful punch at his shoulder. “Critical much? You talk like the house is falling apart.”
“I just think the place on Church Street would’ve been better for you.”
“It was sweet of you to look at it for me, but it was a condo. No privacy at all.”
“But it was in town.”
“This is only twenty minutes away.”
He opened his mouth, but then closed it again. “May we continue the tour?”
She nodded. “Follow me, then.” She led him into the kitchen. She expected him to comment on the worn finish of the cabinet doors or the discolored laminate counter tops, but he said nothing. When he saw the guest bathroom, he let the missing drain stopper go without comment. The smallish guest bedrooms drew not even a murmur of criticism.
“So what do you think?” Bernadette asked when they circled back to the front door.
“It’s perfect for you, Birdie.”
Something in the smile he gave her, or the wistful tone of his voice, made her cheeks color. “You know I want your honest opinion.”
I learned so much this week, I decided to break it up into two posts. If you missed the first one, and you’re curious about what else I learned, click here to read it.
Teaching an almost 12-year-old to be grateful rather than entitled is an exercise in futility…. but I’m stubborn enough to keep at it
I overheard my older son counting his dollars before the birthday cards. (If we were zoned for chicken coops, perhaps he’d have counted chickens, too.) I explained that birthday gifts were…well, gifts and shouldn’t be expected. Money is tight for several family members so I reminded him he needs to be grate regardless of the money he receives. When I told him I’d invited my best friend to his birthday gathering, he was a little too excited… when I informed him I told her not to bring a gift, the disappointment was apparent.
I. Won’t. Give. Up.
I stumbled across the line between atrocious and appalling, and I don’t ever, ever want to go there again
My younger son’s table manners are atrocious. Despite my constant
nagging reminding, he’s just a little piglet. He drops crumbs everywhere. He wipes his hands on his shirt (leaving a clean napkin ready to be looked at during our next meal.) He scatters his empty wrappers on the table – it was bad enough, I threatened to make him eat his Pop-Tart wrapper if he left it on the table again.
Then, on Saturday night, I saw his friend eat fettuccine alfredo. Oh my. It was appalling. I lost my appetite a little bit. I’m not sure if he used a fork or not, but he had sauce all over his chin. Finally my younger son said, “Dude, you need to wipe your chin. Do you need another napkin?”
The irony made me laugh. So much so that I had to excuse myself from the table to pull myself together.
Boys act brave, until coyotes howl
Each of my kids had a friend spend the night on Saturday night. I put them all to bed in our pop-up camping trailer. Around 11 pm, I heard coyotes howling. I remembered I didn’t send a phone handset out with them, so I decided to leave it with them, if they were still awake. (ha- if they were still awake…. what was I thinking?)
As I neared the trailer, I heard voices, so I stopped and listened.
Friend #1 – “There’s safety in numbers. We should stick together.”
Friend #2 – “What if they try to get inside?”
My older son – “The coyotes would have to be like six feet tall to get in here.”
I started laughing, giving my presence away, so I continued to the trailer. The only child asleep was my younger son. The other three were huddled together in one bed and boy did their imaginations freak them out! They were grateful for the phone and I assured them they were safe.
As I walked back to the house, my evil streak surfaced in the form of a temptation to scream in terror.
The thought of the four boys squeezed into MY queen-sized bed nixed the impulse real quick!
Kids are to egos what needles are to balloons (confidence must come from within)
I got a haircut and, for the first time in months, I liked the result. It’s longer in the front and cut short around the neckline in the back. As I type this, I realize it does sound like an odd haircut but it works for me- I feel like I have some hair, but it doesn’t get all bulky and hot around my neck (this is huge in Arizona; especially in the summer!)
Older son: “You got a haircut.” (With a look on his face like he caught a whiff of rotting food.)
Me: “Yes, and I love it!”
Older son: “Okay… but did you see the back?”
I laughed. Good thing I didn’t come home looking for approval from a critical almost-twelve-year-old. Come to think of it, I don’t even know what my husband thinks of it…. I never ask :)
And there it is; all the things that life has taught me over the last week. I’m sure there’s more, but sometimes this student’s mind wanders.
Have a beautiful Monday!
I had fun with my first post of wisdom gained that I did a few weeks ago. I jotted down notes throughout the week so I could share more
useless realizations things I’ve learned. Here goes:
Not all kids think I’m lame- just the ones I gave birth to
My kids’ friends happened to come over when the kids weren’t home. (They had gone on a bike ride with a neighbor.) Since I expected them home soon, I let them hang around. After replacing a Band-Aid that had fallen off, one of the boys commented that I was “like the nicest mom ever.” Oh, but I didn’t let it go to my head. See the next bit of wisdom.
Don’t fall for flattery from 11-year-olds (they will eat you out of house and home)
Woody Woodpecker announced a text message on my phone. When one of the kids identified the voice, I expressed my surprise because it was “an old cartoon, from my generation.” He said his mom watched it and she was thirty. I laughed and said, “oh, I’m much older than that.” After revealing my age (41) they proceeded to feign shock and assured me I didn’t look that old. (Seriously, I didn’t buy that load of flattery, but it was a good effort.)
After the kids had played outside for several hours, I had expected them to go home for lunch. They didn’t, so I fed them. One of them ate two Velveeta mac and cheese packs and then asked if he could take some home. I said no because they were for the kids’ lunches.
I have a feeling we’ll have visitors for lunch again soon. Just a hunch.
Sometimes bad housekeeping is a good thing
As we ate dinner on the patio one evening, I kept my eye on a wasp hovering near by. (This means I had my butt barely balanced on the chair so I could dash into the house.) It went into a vent cover that was near my husband. I stared for several minutes but it didn’t come out. “Oh, there better not be a nest in there!” I said in a near-panic. When I crept over to the vent and peeked in, I saw the wasp tangled in a web.
Spider webs aren’t just for Halloween…. I’m happy to have another excuse for leaving them up year-round!
The AZ Motor Vehicle Division operates by computer, not reason
Ah, a government agency. What could possibly go wrong there, right? Well, I figured after over a year of living in our new location, I’d get a new driver’s license with the correct address. When my online attempt failed, I called the MVD. I explained that the message said I couldn’t get a duplicate license because my photo needed updated in 2011. I told them how I had done it a couple months prior to the due date after receiving the notice in the mail. Apparently, they put in the computer that it was a duplicate with no indication of a photo being taken.
According to the MVD, my driver’s license photo is from 1998. If that were the case, I could see my photo being used in an upcoming anti-drug use campaign – as a shocking “after” photo of a 25-year-old who made bad choices.
I knew that hour at the MVD office was one I’d never get back, but I had no idea that, years later, I’d discover it was like it never happened.
Life really stepped up its game in educating me, so tomorrow, I will post a follow up with more things I learned. What have YOU learned this week? I’d love to read your observations (funny, frustrating, or anything in between.)
Amy rolled onto her side, the foam inside her vinyl-covered bean bag chair squeaking as she moved. She flipped another page in her book, anxious to find out if the rumor of Tiffany cheating on Brad was true.
“You should be outside, it’s a beautiful day.”
Amy glanced at her mom standing in her doorway. “No thanks. This is a really good book.”
“Go play with your friends. You sit around the house too much.”
“I don’t want to.” I don’t have friends, and twelve-year-olds don’t play, she wanted to say.
“You’re not going to spend the whole summer inside.” She motioned toward the front door. “Go on.”
Amy contemplated arguing, but could see by her mom’s folded arms that it was no use. “Fine. I’ll get my bike.”
With a satisfied nod, her mom turned and retreated toward the kitchen.
As soon as her mom’s footsteps faded, she tucked the book into the front of her khaki shorts and pulled her baggy t-shirt over her hips. “Be back in a while,” she called as she slipped out the front door. She rolled her bike out of the side gate and thought a little prayer that she would make it to the park without anyone seeing her. Several streets away, she spotted four blonde heads and knew her luck had run out.
highs and lows-
predictable becomes unstable.
rumbling on the horizon-
just before atmospheric tension thickens.
I haven’t written much poetry lately (inspiration comes and goes for me on the poetic front.) On Sunday afternoon, I pondered what to write just as rumbling thunder teased me with the prospect of a monsoon storm. I remembered this photo from the 4th of July, taken a few hours before rain happened and delayed the fireworks display. I thought it went well with this poem.
As I wrote this, I had in mind the similarities between weather storms and the emotional storms we encounter in relationships. Perhaps my crankiness this past week prompted me to go there! Seriously, last week was stressful with one annoyance after another. I let it get to me, until I finally was able to let it go (mostly). My husband was smart and kept his distance. My kids (older son especially) were not as wise and chose to challenge me. Next week has to be better!
I missed writing a story last week because my mind just wasn’t there. It was a creative flat line of sorts, which I haven’t experienced in a while. I won’t overreact and call it writer’s block- I’ll just chalk it up to being preoccupied with the competing priorities that are life. I’m hoping to come up with some fiction for later this week. I really need my mind to rescue me from the “daily grind.”
Have a beautiful week!
relentless for months on end-
we went underground.
Over the weekend, we went somewhere that forced me to face a few of my fears all at one time. It wasn’t exactly by choice… I was kind of out-voted, and majority rules. I don’t know why no one wanted to stay home and clean our tile floors.
We went on an excursion to the Lava River Cave (near Flagstaff, AZ.) Fears aside, I looked forward to one thing: 40 degree temperatures inside the cave. It’s been quite warm (okay, hot) in Arizona for a few months, so being cold without standing in front of the wide-open freezer sounded rather nice.
Good news: I only bumped my head on low ceilings twice (you’d think I’d have learned after the first time, but no,) and despite my older son’s effort to freak me out with claims of seeing bats, none nested in my hair (I checked.)
My older son led the way and as usual, I was the last of our group. There is a danger of being left behind when you’re last, but I had insurance: I packed the snacks in my knapsack. Yep… that’s one way to make sure they keep me close.
I mentioned in the beginning that this one mile walk would have me encounter several fears. You might guess that bats is one of those fears. Now, I’m not afraid of bats per se… just bats deep inside a cave. This brings me to another fear that I break into a sweat just thinking of: enclosed spaces. I only had one near panic attack in area that was about three feet high. My family was there for me… well, my husband at least- he held my hand and talked me through it while my kids laughed at me. (Charming little men, they are…)
I am also not a fan of the dark, or rather the things I can’t see because it’s dark. I had this covered, though. I carried two flashlights and a baggie with twelve AA batteries. Hey, when facing fears, I didn’t intend to go down without a light, I mean fight :)
Oh dear, that was terrible. I really should see about writing my posts earlier in the evening!
Do you share any of these fears? Have you explored caves?