Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Laughter is the best tonic

A handful of favorite bumper snickers from head shops and other stops around the country:
  • The more you know, the less you need (Aborigine saying)
  • Imagination is more important than knowledge (Albert Einstein)
  • Urban Sprawl: Plants and animal die to make room for your fat ass
  • There is no way to happiness-happines is the way (The Buddha)
  • Same old circus, different clowns


Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Easter Henhouse

Just before heading to Easter Mass, my younger brothers and I were always led to our grandpa's henhouse.
Ironic in that we were in our Easter finery.
A scratchy, pink crinoline dress, lacy white anklets and patent leather Mary Janes for me. Ill-fitting Robert Hall suits for the boys.
The odor assaulted us first.
Then, the muck.
Holding our breathe, we catiously tip-toed over damp, skinny planks -- being careful not to step in juicy chicken droppings.
Inside, a half-dozen nests miraculously cradled pastel- tinted eggs.
We scooped them out, made the treacherous exit and felt relieved. We'd survived an annual egg hunt unlike all others.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Lettin' the Good Times Roll

Long before Aunt Bobbi made an honest man out of him, Uncle Joey, a retired meat cutter, has been our Italian clan's biggest trickster.
When a pair of his nieces clamored for a pony, he slipped one into their yard--unbeknowst to their amused-yet-irritated parents.
At the biggest family gatherings, he always offered the boys an escape. Let's hit a local watering hole, he'd suggest, and " go pinch the girls."
Perhaps his best gag? Wrapping a dead cat in fresh, white butcher's paper and subsituting it for the roast a difficult customer had ordered. (She probably had it comin').
All the while, his love and generosity towards generations of our families' kids is unmatched.
I got a shiny silver dollar every Sunday that I "took him" to Catholic Mass.
He secretly paid in the '60s for a mind-blowing set of hardcover Time/Life books on everything from the mysteries of the human body to deep space for me and my brothers.
And as you see here, his favor is much sought by our family's fourth generation.
When asked in his late 70's what he might have done differently as a younger man, he smiled and said: "I wish I'd had twice as much money--and twice as much fun."
Thanks, Uncle Joey, for all the fun you've given us. Happy Birthday. :-)
Photo: Courtesy of Uncle Harry

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Rightness of Being

Long before Oprah popularized gratitude journals, I began counting my blessings.
Even in the darkest circumstances, the list picks me up.
Among a multitude of other things, I'm grateful that:
  • My mood default setting is optimistic
  • After a lifetime of fighting a proclivity to be fat, keeping fit is second nature and I've accepted my body style: Zaftig
  • My sense of humor works overtime
  • My phobias are few
  • I come from a large, lively, loving Italian family.
  • Work is my friend


Monday, March 10, 2008

A breath of Spring

The weekend sunlight was as blinding, and as welcome, as it would be seem to a cave dweller.
Add to it a meadowlark's trill. Hawks courting on wings. Pink sunrises. And the high-pitched squeals of emerging rock chucks.

Gradually now, the days will begin earlier and earlier until the sun finally rises at 4:45 a.m. And sets about 10 p.m.

Soon, snowmelt will rush down the mountains, thundering over Spokane's Falls.
put the spell on ice.

Local gardeners keep their eyes on the snowy peaks. It'll be safe to sow seed once the mountains store their white, winter shawls.

The Earth seems eager for the change.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Makes Rose smell sweeter

The steriod scandal that's rocked baseball makes former player Pete Rose's bets on the Cincinnati Reds seem almost innocuous.
A few years back, Rose zipped down the steps of the Marion, Ill., federal penetentiary where he'd served his gambling sentence.
Scores of reporters, photographers and TV cameramen -- some from as far as Japan -- jockeyed behind a yellow crime scene tape to capture the moment.
Rose, in a navy Member's Only jacket, jeans and white sneakers, pretended not to notice, hopping into a hired black sedan.
He didn't do juice, HGH or andro. Nope. He got high on good ole' adrenaline.
So while baseball grapples with whether to let stand home run records set by super-human Hulks, perhaps it's time to absolve Rose and make him eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
What say you?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Promises, promises...

In honor of Super Tuesday 2, here's a bi-partisan joke you'll appreciate no matter whom you support--or detest.

While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance."Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.""No problem, just let me in," says the man."Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.""Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator."I'm sorry, but we have our rules."And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicianswho had worked with him.Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne. Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him."Now it's time to visit heaven."So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns."Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell." So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down,down to hell. Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder."I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a waste land full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning...... Today you voted."


Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Mary Travis, Winner'

When it comes to writing, I think of myself as a bricklayer. My stories build paragraph by paragraph--with time in between to step back and puzzle over their construction.
I regard my daughter, on the other hand, as a virtuoso. She sits at her computer and plays the langauge like music on a fine instrument.
Here's an excerpt from one of her latest short stories. It picks up as the main character, a spinster, embarks on a blind date arranged by her busy-body sister.
"The man's name was Graham – like the cracker! – Joan had cheerfully informed Mary. He was a payroll specialist at the insurance firm where Joan worked, and Joan had arranged for Mary to meet him at 7 p.m. at the diner down the street from Mary's building. It was already 6:30, and Mary could hear her sister's voice rattling around her skull:
Wear something nice! But not too nice. Wear your smart tweed coat, not your schlumpy wool one. For god's sake, wear nylons. If he brings flowers, act surprised, but not impressed.
She sighed before the vanity mirror as her eye dutifully noted every wrinkle and sag. One bristly hair had sprouted below her chin on the left side and she'd been rubbing a finger over it for two days now like a worry stone. She pawed around in the drawer for tweezers.
It was true, Joan was right, it had been a long time since she'd been on a date. The man at the library, Monsieur Amway as Joan called him, didn't count. She used to color her hair in the sink once a month, but she saw now in the mirror that the brown had faded. It was not so much that she'd gotten older, though that much was clear, but that she'd stopped thinking about such things. Her days carried her as if a piece of wood in a creek, from job to home, from book to book, from couch to bed. She had plodded without seeing where she was headed. And isn't that what you wanted? Your freedom? Or did you want a husband like Joan's and separate beds and the same stories over breakfast? Or maybe you just planned on dying alone?
Where she was headed, she supposed now, was to recreate some awkward Coke-with-two-straws high school date."