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Say “Yes” To The Mess

April 17, 2014
Kitty birthday greetings, courtesy of younger son

Kitty birthday greetings, courtesy of younger son

My knee-jerk reaction when the kids tell me about something they’re planning is, “Oh, no. It’s going to be messy. NO!”

You see, their messy nature conflicts with my craving for some order. My older son’s gym shorts have been in the middle of our living room floor since Monday. I refuse to pick them up; he’s managed to “forget” to toss them in the dirty clothes hamper all four times I’ve asked. My younger son’s shoes are often just shy of making it into the shoe cubbies I bought to keep shoes out of the middle of the floor. As an added bonus, there’s usually a pile of sand from the school playground wherever his shoes landed when he took them off. (I’m half-expecting a bill from the school so they can order another truckload of sand before the next school year begins.)

The last thing I want is to invite more messes, but what I’m starting to figure out (after eleven years) is that, while certainly messy, their grand ideas often come with a lesson.

For instance, they insisted on selling citrus fruit from my parents’ yard, lemonade, and beaded jewelry that they made. I told them people wouldn’t buy the stuff, but they couldn’t be deterred. They made $24 and couldn’t wait to plan their next sale.  A couple weeks ago, a neighbor offered them a partnership of sorts: they sell extra veggies from her garden for a portion of the proceeds. (I’ll let you know in a few years if I’m raising little entrepreneurs or slick con artists :) )

The lesson: I learned that I was wrong (again) and they learned that with the right attitude, you can sell just about anything.

Sammy and Lizzy (sons' cats)

Sammy and Lizzy (sons’ cats)

Their latest mess idea: have a birthday party for their cats’ fifth birthday. I didn’t say yes or no for several days, hoping it would pass (fat chance.) The day before the kitties’ big day, I drove my sons to the store. With their money, they bought the cake/brownie mixes they wanted. They put out a snack buffet while I made the goodies. They sat the cats in chairs and held them against their will while we sang happy birthday (and yes, they called me out when my lips were moving but they couldn’t hear my voice.)

The lesson: They experienced the joy of doing something nice for others (even if they’re “just cats,” as my husband would say) and I learned that I need to focus more on these little moments. I have a vague awareness of our pets’ birthdays, and the fact they are a little grayer and little older.

I need to embrace the mess; I need to celebrate more.

(And I’ll start by enjoying my day off work on Friday while the kids are at school :razz: )

This weekend, I’m celebrating Easter… what are YOU celebrating? 

Metaphorical Winter (Speakeasy #157)

April 14, 2014

04-14 Snow

Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold.

Shortened days chased by frigid nights stacked for months

on end took their toll. The polar vortex, unexpected and swift, consumed me.

The icy barrier layered around my heart- intended protection-

served double-duty as an impenetrable prison.

Rippling streams of affection had long ago

been solidified into distorted memories. I became unsure if the

flutter of newly-planted love was borrowed or owned. I questioned whether I

had been capable of thriving once, or whether an umbilical

noose had ensnared me from the beginning.

If I poured my concentration into it, I could

have spotted a break in the clouds; a pinpoint of light. Promise.

Future. Hope. If I tried, I could’ve engaged in a leap of faith; grasped the thread;

dared the sun to thaw me. Or, I could’ve watched my chance lead

to my demise, as I unraveled at the seams.

Trapped beneath the permafrost of indecision,

I remained rigid in a self-imposed perpetual winter. I could’ve

focused on the light but instead, I closed my eyes. Cocooned in my loneliness,

I tucked in the fetal position, head rested upon my knees, set to

face fate; indifferent toward death or re-birth.


speakeasy-newThis is my response to the Speakeasy weekly writing prompt which  asks us to write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 199) (1) using “Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold.” as the first sentence, and (2) make some kind of reference to the  media prompt:  a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, who also celebrated his birthday in April, entitled Study of a Womb.

The challenge is open to anyone, so if you want to join in, click the badge to the left to check out the challenge details!

Best Friends (Gargleblaster #157)

April 13, 2014

I see her whenever I wear Keds, eat Hawaiian pizza, or glimpse the half-heart charm in my jewelry box with the worn letters:


I wonder if she kept the other half.

“No,” I answer. “I haven’t seen Mary in years.”





gargle157This is my response to the Gargleblaster weekly prompt, which is to write a 42 word answer to this question:  Do you see her much?

While my response is fiction, I am sometimes reminded of friends no longer part of my life.  I know some friendships are just for a season, but they do cross my mind once in a while.  I also owned a “Best Friends” necklace, but it was gold.  I think it’s an ‘eighties’ thing :)

This challenge is open to anyone, but you have to think (and link) fast – the challenge closes once there are 42 responses linked.  Click here to post your own link!

Montezuma Well – Haiku

April 9, 2014

04-09 Sycamore

Camouflaged in rings,

Aged Sinaguan secrets live.

Dwellings abandoned.


Several weeks ago, we visited Montezuma Well.  From the natural spring, to the vacant Sinagua cliff dwellings, to the Arizona sycamores, I found so much to take in.  (My blog header this month depicts some of the cliff dwellings.)  That visit inspired the haiku above.

We learned that Arizona sycamores grow where there are constant water sources.  This is probably why I don’t recall seeing them desert climate of Phoenix during the twenty-five years I lived there.  Several of these huge trees grew along a stream near the well.  I believe I saw on a sign that the Arizona sycamores are also known as ‘Arizona giants.’  In the photo above, my eight-year-old posed near one of them.  (Even though I call him my little monkey, he doesn’t really have a monkey’s face.  It’s an edit prompted by my paranoia about my kids’ photos on the internet.)

I found the design of the tree bark fascinating as well.  The photo below shows a close up of the bark.  I’d love to know the stories of the past concealed behind the camouflage!

Arizona sycamore tree trunk

Arizona sycamore tree trunk

I may write more about Montezuma Well in a future post.  Have a beautiful Wednesday!

‘Hare’-Raising Adventure… (Speakeasy #156)

April 7, 2014
Crouched by the gate...

Crouched by the gate…

Her heartbeat thudded in her eardrums. “I swear, I heard a noise,” she whispered.

“You’ve become too uptight for this business, Meredith.”

She scrunched her face into a frown, but he couldn’t see it, as he scanned the yard with his back pressed to hers. That in itself distracted her senses and threw off her game. “And you’re just so smooth.”

His back stiffened. “Shhh. Footsteps.”

Tension transferred from his spine to hers. In that moment, they mimicked two young hares, rump to rump like duelling pistols, crouched by the gate. They ducked their heads to avoid the illumination from the backyard patio lights.

The crunch of footfall on gravel grew fainter and they both exhaled and gulped in a deep breath of air. The daytime case of the yard told them the gravel began about ten feet away from the grassy lawn by the gate, so they knew how close they came to discovery.

“Surely I can do this. It’s just we haven’t done it since…”


“It’s just been a few years, okay?”

“You still want me,” he said.

“Stop it, Roger.”

“You ready to make your move?”

“Excuse me?”

“The house. You’re supposed to disable the cameras.”

“Oh. Uh… yeah.” Thankful for the cloak of darkness, Meredith felt her cheeks flame. The combination of adrenaline and lust made concentration nearly impossible. She and Roger had carried out heists dozens of times before they got married a decade ago. That was supposed to be the beginning of forever and ever. Their vows included staying on the right side of the law. He began a security consulting company, and she worked as a home builder’s office manager. The normalcy drained passion from their lives, leaving divorce their only option. They’d been separated for nearly a year now, neither willing to pull the trigger. The fact he could still kindle passion within her came as a surprise, and made her second-guess their separation.

“Well?” Roger gave her a nudge.

“I’m scared. The guard’s alert. What if I get caught?”

He didn’t answer right away. “You’re the best. Don’t let other stuff get in the way.”

“There’s so much more at stake…”

“Don’t go there, Meredith.”

She couldn’t help it. Their daughter, Lydia, slept under the watch of a trusted babysitter. Jail never frightened Meredith, but fear of failure paralyzed her now.

“You’ve done this many times before,” Roger whispered.

“I know.”

He sighed. “You’re still not moving.”

She relaxed into him. “I can’t.”

He turned to embrace her and kissed her neck.

She tilted her head, leaving herself vulnerable.

“I still love you,” Roger whispered, his lips brushing her ear.

“Give me a reason to love you…”

His lips covered hers with a greedy kiss reminiscent of their early days. She didn’t fight it, but gave in as her nails clawed his back. He guided her to the ground.  The moist grass soaking through her clothes didn’t deter her at all. She tugged at his shirt as his hands found their way under hers.


They squinted against the blinding flashlight beam.

Roger released Meredith and they both sat up. “Oh, uh… yeah. Great work, Quin. The Harringtons will be pleased to know the security plan we devised for them cannot be penetrated.”

Quinton Hall raised a skeptical eyebrow. “That’s not all you can’t break through.” His overt stare rested on Meredith’s disheveled blouse.

She blushed again. “I’ll see you at home, babe. Happy anniversary,” she whispered in his ear, giving his lobe a gentle nibble. She avoided Quinton’s judgmental leer as she pulled herself up, and then over, the six-foot-tall block wall.

“We do need to adjust the lighting so this back corner by the gate isn’t shadowed,” Roger said, ignoring his employee’s observation and his wife’s invitation for him to come back home. “We should also suggest a dog.”

“They already have a dog.”

“Security shouldn’t fit in a purse,” Roger said, remembering the nearly-deaf black teacup poodle from the consultation meeting.

Meredith leaned on the other side of the wall, shivers soothed by rubbing her palms over the backs of her arms. She couldn’t determine if her chills originated from the cool cinder blocks, the timbre of his voice, or the buzz of their near-reconciliation.

She broke into a jog toward her car parked several blocks away. A smile played on her lips as she imagined him crawling through her bedroom window later.

Oh, yes, she hoped he’d do the window again- for old times’ sake.


speakeasy-newThis is my response to Speakeasy’s weekly prompt, which is to write a response in 750 words or less (mine is 749) with (1) “Two young hares, rump to rump like duelling pistols, crouched by the gate.” used anywhere in the story, and (2) some reference to the media prompt, the song Glory Box, by Portishead.  For this, I made two references to lines in the song:  “…the beginning of forever and ever” and “give me a reason to love you.”

The challenge is open to anyone, so if you’re intrigued, click the badge at left to check out the guidelines!

Thanks to all who read beyond the lame title (I swear I could hear the chorus of groans.)  This is racier than what I normally write, but I guess the hare prompt lead me down the fast lane.  Hares… fast… get it?  Ooh, more groans!  Seriously, though, I feel this supports marriage in not-too-graphic detail, however, if this offended any readers, I apologize.

Thanks so much for reading!

Oh, Lizzy! (Gargleblaster #156)

April 6, 2014

I spy another lizard sprawled motionless on the tile- sans tail. With a shudder, I prepare a napkin burial. It scurries from my fingertips.

I squeal.

My giggling sons, the obvious suspects… until I discover the culprit waiting for another “toy.”


04-06 Lizzy


gargle156This is my response to the weekly Gargleblaster challenge, which is to answer the following question in exactly 42 words:  Who dunnit?

Not only did we discover Lizzy is our lizard catcher, we also found that we need to do some weatherstripping repairs.  She will sit in this position for hours waiting to play.  Forget the catnip mice- those are for amateurs :)

The challenge is open to anyone, but there is a limit of 42 links, so if you want to join in, you have to be quick!  Click the badge to the left to check out the guidelines and add your link!

Old Ladies Aren’t Strangers or Kidnappers (Apparently)

April 3, 2014
Dead Trees?  Easy to spot.  Adults with bad intentions?  Not so much...

Dead Trees? Easy to spot.   Adults with bad intentions? Not so much…

Last week, my eight-year old crashed on his bike. He plays drama to the hilt, so even a stubbed toe comes across as I’m-about-to-die, with a pain level of 85 on a scale of 1 to 10. I always check for broken bones and send him on his way- lingering will just encourage him to cry longer.

He’d just lost the scabs on his face from a skateboard crash a couple weeks prior, so I wasn’t surprised when he came hobbling in the house with my older son right behind him. Doubled over, my younger son announced he fell on his bike. He lifted up his shirt, and sure enough, there was a scrape. (With the way he screamed, I expected his intestines to be hanging out of the wound or something equally horrifying.) After I sent him to rest on the couch, I caught sight of a car outside.

“Um, why is there a red car in our driveway?” I asked.

“An old lady gave him a ride home,” my older son said.

My eyebrows shot up to my hairline. “What? You know you’re not supposed to get in the car with strangers!”

“She’s an old grandma,” my younger said through whimpers.

So I went outside to meet this supposed not-a-creepy-kidnapper-killer-grandma. She didn’t look familiar and I’ve not seen her around. It turns out, she dog-sits for a woman who lives down the street. She thought it was funny that after my son got inside the car, he turned to her and asked, “You’re not going to kidnap me, are you?”

It’s sweet that he had the innocence to think a kidnapper would say, “Why yes, kid, you’re never going home. I’m going to take you, do horrible things to you and leave you in the desert.” I love his innocence, but it’s a dangerous thing. After the woman left, I had a chat with the kids.

To my younger son:

Me: “You seriously asked if she was going to kidnap you- AFTER you got inside the car?”

Son: “She said she wouldn’t.”

Me: “You think a kidnapper is going to tell you the truth?”

To my older son:

Me: “And you let him get in the car?”

Son: “I didn’t want to be rude.”

Me: “You don’t have a problem with rude any other time. This morning, you told me I looked fat.”

It’s alarming to discover they didn’t get the message we thought we’d conveyed. From a kid’s point of view, I can see the confusion. We teach them to respect adults and be polite, but then if one gets too close, we expect them to push away- even if it’s rude. Reading social cues is hard. I know adults who haven’t mastered it.

Yes, we have more work to do.

Now, I’m off to make sure they understand that if someone pulls up in a car offering candy in exchange for help finding a lost a dog, they shouldn’t approach the window and ask, “What kind of candy?”


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