On the Air
I want to be an "on the air" radio personality.
I want my own radio program.
I will call it the "Yard Yeti Show", starring me, your favorite Yard Yeti.
I will broadcast from a second floor minimalist suite located over the Ace Plumbing Company on the first floor, a loyal Main Street mainstay and cozy neighbor to the Coast-to-Coast store, the Ben Franklin Five and Dime, Ed's Pharmacy and the Flickering Flame restaurant with the neon flickering flame in the window.
I will sit at an oil cloth covered formica kitchen table, with my microphone, a few handy props, a sound effects machine, a CD player and a stack of CD"s propped up in a wooden CD crate. Perched on my shoulder will be my pet parakeet Pepper, a profanity prone yakker with a slight hacking cough soothed only by a teaspoon of whiskey. I will either have to use a three second delay or a bleeping device, just in case Pepper "peppers" the airwaves with expletives.
I, however, will speak in dulcet soothing tones, with a flat Midwestern accent and nooo distracting ssssibilant ssssssses.
The "Yard Yeti Show" will actually be the Noon Report. Noon, because the Noon Whistle will sound outside my window in the second floor suite, and all the town residents, all my listeners, will register the subliminal signal to turn on and tune in..to Me!
I will open the show with my trademark intro.
"Tick tock goes the clock...time won't stand still. But we can...let's catch up. It's Yard Yeti Time!"
My format will be simple, consistent from day to day so that my listeners will describe me as dependable and reliable, and slightly quirky, as I do have a boozy parakeet as my sound engineer.
I will start the show with the weather report.
Looking out the window I will announce...Sun. Rain. Sleet. Snow.
Followed by the traffic report.
Another glance out the window.
Three cars on Main Street.
Ample parking available.
Then comes the fun part. I will read from a 3X5 index card, the police blotter. Recent arrests. Speeding tickets. Open container violations. Small acts of vandalism. Domestic disturbances. So and so pulled over for a missing tail light. Mayor Yoo-Know-Hoo driving with expired tags. Mr. and Mrs. Councilpersons cited for disturbing the peace with their yelling, turned in by their helpful and caring neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. We-Have-Nothing-Else-To-Do-Except-Watch-Our-Neighbors-Through-Our-Window-Because-We-Are-Too-Cheap-To-Pay-For-Cable.
I will be be an equal opportunity tattler.
Next up, the hospital report. Incoming and outgoing. From simple procedures like a few stitches to larger issues such as an overdose of Viagra. I will provide just the vital signs. No judgment or opining.
I will report and my listeners will eavesdrop.
As I am the Yard Yeti, I will pause for a commercial break from a local seed company. I am in the garden business and feel it is my duty to encourage good crop cultivation and environmental awareness. Every year I will sponsor the "Who Grew the Biggest" contest. Participants will be encouraged to tie their zucchinis, cucumbers or ears of corn to their mailboxes. A select panel of judges, that would be me, will drive by to google the vegetables, and announce the winner on the air. The winner will receive a coupon for a free Maid-Right sandwich.
That's a Sloppy Joe for you city folks.
Next, I will play a selection of tunes sent in by local musicians. An autoharp solo by Mary Alice, a show tune from Edna Ruth, and a track from an aspiring garage band called "Whatchudoin?" I feel it is important to bridge the gap between my younger and older listeners. Expand the demographic, so to speak. Broaden the base. Appeal to a larger audience. Good marketing strategy. Besides, Pepper has a "thing" for heavy metal.
But what is a radio show without a special "Guest"?
Each program will be dedicated to introducing the newest member of the Yard Yeti's. For example, the buzz is still buzzing from last week's guest, Gladys Gerbera, Yard Yeti extraordinaire. A quick and talkative wit, show stealing showoff, Gladys took to the airwaves. That giddy, glib, gaudy and gregarious gadabout Gladys, a fan favorite, until the unfortunate little incident with Pepper, and then...
Gladys Gerbera lost her cool...to a hot flash!
And now another show comes to a close. Taking my hand off the bleep button, I lean into the microphone whispering conspiratorially...my trademark...my Yard Yeti Sign Off...
...Your secrets are safe with me,
except for the ones I posted on the Internet....
See you next week, when my guest will be Nellie Nasternium.
You can find me on your dial at GVWM (Garden Variety Wisdom Media Inc.) with the Yellow Wellies Logo...
...and the Threepots on the windowsill...
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Memorial Day. In remembrance.
A monument to the monumentally brave.
To the soldiers whose testament of service to our country is etched on their tombstone, or simply marked by a solitary white cross in a field of white crosses, row upon row as far as the eye can see. The epitaph of the unknown. The legacy of a life of service.
Memorial Day. A dedication.
To our veterans who walk amongst us, having lived to tell the tale.
Memorial Day. In appreciation.
To the wives, husbands, mothers and fathers, children and pals, brothers and sisters keeping their end of the bargain, waiting behind with the light on the porch always aglow.
Of thee I sing.
I met a man. He walked up to my small gallery and stopped to read a piece titled "My Father". He wore a deep blue cap with an insignia on the brow. Slightly grizzled with age, he stood quietly and wept. He turned his eyes to mine. Tears brimming, he passed one hand over his face. I asked if he was a father. He replied, " I am. I live with my daughter. And I am blessed." He wrote a note in my art journal and left. Later that night, I read his words. Once, more than my lifetime ago, he stood on the deck of the USS Constitution, moored at Pearl Harbor. Stood as the bombs rained down. Survived to tell the tale, but instead, kept it to himself, settling into the loving arms of his family, upon his return.
I met a woman. From Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I was supposed to show my work at their art show. The spouses of soldiers, lives entwined, sharing a common bond and all standing together on the porch with the light on. I missed being with them, so I wrote a letter and sent one of my pieces to hang on the wall in the room where they met. I wanted them to know that as an outsider looking in, not a true member of the club, their courage was to me, a daily affirmation of their stamina, their hope and their resolve.
She wrote me a letter in response. The morning of their meeting, she read my letter aloud to the members and placed the artwork on the wall. The words that followed humbled me. She told me that I was a comfort. That early that day, one of their members received word that her husband had been killed in Iraq. That hearing my words read aloud filled her with "peace". I felt, at that moment, tiny and insignificant. Deeply humbled in the quiet grace of those women who take courage out of the cupboard each morning and hold it with both hands.
Memorial Day. A narrative.
For the record.
An inscription on each and every heart.
For your service.
To those we never see, never meet.
To those we pass in our daily lives.
These are the guardians of the peace.
...a buddy lost
Women weep, display their grief.
Men are resolute, stoic and brave.
Their tears remain hidden, their faces sober.
I worry about the men, my man standing near, swallowing hard,
saying all the right things, quickly before the tenderness
washes over him once again.
I want to tell him, that a broken heart knows no gender.
A hero fallen.
A loved one surrendered to heaven's care.
A buddy lost.
Tears shed for every smile and every mile walked together,
are never signs of weakness,
but rather a sign that men
are capable of great love.
You were the hand on his shoulder.
Now he looks down wishing he could place a hand on yours.
May you both know peace and remember joy.
Make it more than a memory.
Friday, May 18, 2012
the gap between now and then...
the time between stop and go
the seconds between taking a breath in and letting it out...
the fragile solitary pause between what we know now and what we are soon to know...
those singular moments when all there is left to do is to sit and wait...
no movement forward or back, just running in place
not idling really, more of an inner pacing, heart racing, breath holding stretch of time...
I am sitting in a small booth with the door open. I am draped in a foolish cape that has no ties or strings. I am holding it closed across the front of my chest so tightly my knuckles are white and my hands are trembling. I have ear buds in and there must be music, but I cannot hear it over the sound of my heart beating hard within my chest. The first films came back and I need a second round. The radiology technician is a woman almost my age, with a soft yet no nonsense bearing. She doesn't make idle conversation, merely says we need to go again. To be sure.
to be sure.
not a negative or a positive. straight up. no leaning one way or the other.
i am in the gap.
i am nowhere. not lost and not found.
there is nothing i can do but wait.
and i am grateful that i am in this small space seated on a bench with the door open. i would like to know and i would like not to know.
i am in the gap.
i have ear buds in my ears and music playing because i know from experience that footfalls mean someone is coming and the waiting is over.
in most other situations this would be a good thing, to know the waiting is over.
not here in the gap.
here in the gap is nothing.
neither good nor bad.
it is only when i see two feet ahead of my stare that i know i must move.
i see it. in her hand.
the form that says I am okay.
good for another year.
i stand and move into her embrace and feel the sting of grateful tears.
luck. good fortune. genetics. righteous living. chance. a crap shoot. fate.
do we ever really know?
now, with the gap seconds behind, I exhale.
i dress and walk through the lobby, glancing at uplifted faces of those about to be tested.
i would normally smile in greeting, but not here.
here, smiling feels arrogant. If not me, then you, or maybe not you, but her...
there, in the gap,
there but for grace go i
i am grateful...
of all the women who sit alone
draped in a cape
in the gap between knowing and not knowing
i swear my solidarity to this our worthy cause
our bodies deserve such fond attention
and the power of our bravery
... to those who will walk through the lobby without their paper passport, to move to a much different destination, a longer walk, and perhaps a greater struggle...
...we, the women of a certain age, of no particular color, size or shape, must not forget, that we are all in this together...until there is a cure...
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Stickers and glitter
Of Burnt Toast...
I was just sitting here listening to a commercial loaded with suggestions for Mother's Day presents. Actually, the tone of the message was much more ominous than a sweet suggestion. The announcer clearly stated what would happen if Mom was not properly feted and celebrated with a phone call, a bouquet of flowers for $19.95, dinner out at a local buffet, or a ginormous box of chocolate covered strawberries. Serious ramifications.
Sounds like a lot of OBLIGATION and GUILT being thrown around rather carelessly.
I accept the obligatory part of the equation, but the GUILT?
Mothers OWN that department.
However, as we mothers age, we come to accept that the days of guilt-free adulation from our children may have run their course. If you asked me, although no one has, I would share with you my favorite Mother's Day presents. The ones I still have tucked away in a cardboard box in my basement, plus the others stored away in my personal autobiography of memories.
Wallpaper covered sheets of cardboard, tied together with ribbon. A crayon drawing of me, basking in the sunshine, a semi-circle of yellow in the corner of the pages with lines radiating out. Inside the message reads, "My Mom is the BEST Mom in the world!"
Or the colored paper flower glued to a popsicle stick, with my son's pre-school photo pasted in the center surrounded by petals. This one simply states, "I love you Mommy."
A small box covered in beads and glitter, lined with tissue paper and inside a hand painted clay flower. Even as I hold it, the glitter sticks to my hand, and I can see my son with one hand behind his back, telling me to cover my eyes, before the big SURPRISE.
I especially treasure the sheet of paper with a drawing of our house, and four figures in the front yard. I look a little bit fat in this artist's rendering and my high heels are a tad bit higher than I remember wearing, not to mention the color of my lipstick and the SIZE of my mouth. But what is important here is that my child thought of Mother's Day and the words FAMILY and HOME came to mind.
I suppose there is a chance that they remember me yelling once in awhile. Maybe talking too much. Ordering, organizing, prioritizing their lives.
Yeah, well, get over it.
That's my job.I do believe, as I sit here reminiscing, that what gets to me the most is the memory of the smell of burnt toast, the banging of pans, the slamming of cabinet doors, the shushed muttering and the final appearance of two little boys, walking into my bedroom, resplendent in smiles, carrying a tray with a vase precariously wobbling and clanking against the glass with juice sloshing out of its container.
One single rose. A plate of burnt toast and jelly.
I made the toast.
I poured the juice...a little louder.
I PUT THE VASE ON THE TRAY...louder still.Then with a steadying hand from their father and a stern grimace, my children settle the tray on my lap and watch as I eat, chew and swallow EVERY SINGLE BITE with significant rapture, oohing an aahing as they grin like the truly professional caterers that they are. I know, with my third eye blinking, what the kitchen looks like. But with my oversized Mother's mouth, I grin and pull them close.
For me? I say. You did all of this for me?
Now here in the present,
with the popsicle and burnt toast days far behind,
I anticipate the flowers and the phone calls with the same response.
For me? I say. You did all of this for me?
A guilty pleasure.
I am guilty.
I am your Mother.
The truth is, with or without presents, I will love you anyway...
...if you are brave enough to risk it.
For all of the rest of you Moms out there...my gift to you.
A sample of MY original Mother's Day framed artwork,
written with all of you in mind.
Happy Mother's Day.
My Mom is a Nag.
A stream of consciousness, relentless where are you going, where have you been, what are you wearing, what were you thinking, when will you be home, who's on the phone, why are you late, when will you be ready, how could you, why did you, when will you...snoop.
She sleeps with one eye open.
She tracks me on radar. She knows what I am thinking before I do.
My Mom won't ever leave me alone.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
With Mother's Day hovering on the horizon, I find it odd that an old memory surfaced and now bears consideration. Do you remember Children's Day? I do. Back in the fifties, when I was a child, there was one. I am sure of it.
I think it was sandwiched somewhere between Mother's Day and Father's Day. Rather appropriate, somehow, as that was the way we sat in the pew in church, sandwiched between Mom and Dad. My father with his arm draped across the back of the pew with me nuzzled up against the scratchy wool of his suit. Next to me, my brothers huddled over a rumpled church bulletin, surreptitiously playing a game of Hang Man, while my mother, to their right, averted her eyes and sighed.
Children's Day. Children assuming all the grown up roles. Children's choir. An "elder" child sermonizing from the pulpit while standing on a box to reach the microphone. Kids, young people, babes-in-arms singing their favorite hymns. Boys with spit- slicked hair boasting carnations on their lapels, ushering parents to their seats, while little girls in patent leather Mary Janes stood meeting and greeting.
Children's Day with the knee-high-to-a-grasshopper generation leading the celebration.
I must have blinked, because one day I noticed Children's Day had disappeared from the calendar. I vaguely recall someone fussing that "children" didn't need a special day because children are special everyday.
Children too special? Special children?
I miss it.
I know about special children.
You do too.
You mothers and fathers everywhere.
You know about the special children.
I was a special education teacher in my former life. I used a yardstick to measure progress and to post benchmarks. My yardstick, however, allowed for steps to be taken forward on all those infinite little spaces between an inch and a foot. At the end of the year, when others stood in line for spelling trophies, debate ribbons, and scholastic honors, I celebrated Children's Day with my own special children honors. I wrote for them. Each one.
Award: Rising To the Top
Red hair is no guarantee that you will set the world on fire. Red hair does mean that you WILL be noticed. That you WILL stand out in a crowd. That people will remember you. HOW people remember you and what they remember you for...takes COURAGE. Especially when learning means lots of bumps and bruises. When you fall and you must get up again and again. People will forget that you fell. They will honor your courage in rising to try once more. T. has GREAT COURAGE, GREAT RED HAIR and a GREAT BIG SMILE. Why? Because he finished the year not only on his feet, but ON TOP OF THE WORLD.
Award: Most Promising Author
A storyteller. A teller of tales. A master of words. A designer of fantasy. J. creates a world of his own through the wonder of his imagination and lets it all trickle down to the paper before him. Then with one magic breath, he gives the story life. He catches us, one by one, like flies on sticky paper. A good author adds a page to our lives. Perhaps one day we will find his works on the shelves in the library.
Award: The Power Of Determination
A. is the most determined person I know. A. is careful, methodical, and cautious. She knows all the rules forward and back. She keeps me on my toes and at attention. She reminds me when I skip a page or forget a number. A. is my Daily Planner. Some people think being determined means being STUBBORN, or TOUGH or HARD-HEADED. Yup. That's exactly what it means. And that is exactly what A. needed to be. When you're in the BATTLE for your life and your body says ...quit...that's when being determined gets you through...the long hours in the hospital...and the pokes and the ouches and the BIGGER ouches...and forgetting things you used to know and being STUBBORN enough to keep looking for them, long after others might have given up. Life is TOUGH...but A. has been TOUGHER. She was DETERMINED to make this a wonderful year. Together we itched some places that needed to be scratched...we found out how wonderful it can be...to not give up...and we even found out how to laugh along the way.
Award: Faced the Challenge
I don't think everyone understands as well as J. does, that life is a struggle. What separates her from the rest of us is not that she falls nor that she falls many times...it is that she keeps getting back on her feet...no complaint..no pity..no thank you. All she wanted to do this year was to get around without her wheelchair and after doing that, she went on to do what she has always wanted most...to do things on her own and to have someone to do those things with beside her and not behind her.
Award: Character and A Sense of Humor
D. would make an excellent gardener. He would handle each and every seed with wonder. He would dream of the possibilities of what that seed could become. He would be gentle placing it in the ground and each day lean down and tell it a joke. He would watch it grow. He would never stand in the way of the sun. If the seeds were stubborn and refused to come out of the ground, D. would make them giggle. If they grew taller than the others, he would teach them to bend down to be with the other flowers once in awhile. And if there was one flower, less beautiful, or one that had turned from the sun, D. would put it in the center of the bouquet. D. has a twinkle in his eye. I think he was born with it. I think his job is to remind us that life is short. That life is precious. That life is wonderful. He is wonderful. D. helps us all grow.
Special children all.
Special Children's Day.
A fortnight ago, I was in the company of a relatively new Mom and Dad, their son eighteen months old. He began to cry. Not hungry. Not wet. Not sick. Not talking. In that second, I rode the time train backwards to those difficult days, when children are too young to tell you what they need. When there are no books to read, no manual to follow, just your instincts which tell you to hold...to sit...to rock back and forth...to soothe.
Happy Children's Day.