Late August in the garden.
The end of a long hot summer. Watering thirsty plants with their withered leaves and wilted stems. Trees dropping leaves, little golden flutters landing at my feet. It is as if everything around me is pausing to take a breath. A moment to reflect. To sit in my adirondack chair, put my feet up and hear the school bus on the corner, picking up precious cargo carrying new backpacks and unopened boxes of crayons.
One season ends and a new season peeks around the corner.
Still. Here in my yard, it is still.
The long Labor Day weekend looms large. Summer lingers in wisps of skittish clouds scattered across the sky. But nightfall has begun to creep in sooner with each day, and I know that there is work yet to be done. There is a touch of sadness in the air, of spent blossoms and the lock on the neighborhood pool clanking shut.
Another season comes to a close.
For each of us, a seasonal change serves as a reminder that some of our dreams may never come true. That some dreams will forever be out of reach, truly impossible to achieve and piling up like little golden wishes around our feet.
Throughout my life, from a very early age, I had a dream, a wish, a hope, to stand on a stage in a large theater in front of an even larger audience and to sing my heart out. To have the kind of voice that catches people off guard, silences the whispers and calms shuffling feet. I wanted to garner complete and utter attention.
I wanted to sing from a place inside me where the music rose gradually, filling me completely, until there was nothing I could do except to sing purely to the final note. I rehearsed in my head. I practiced in those tender moments between eyes closed and sleep.
My repertoire, one of three songs.
The Impossible Dream
You'll Never Walk Alone
If I Loved You...from the movie Carousel
On this particular day in August, just shy of Labor Day, I sit here, feet up, sun on my face, and know in my heart that this dream, this lovely little dream to take the stage as a solo artist, will never be mine.
But as I think on it,
my own personal history rises up to find fault with my assumptions.
I have sung.
On many stages, and throughout the many stages of my life.
With my high school choir and hundreds of other choirs at Soldier's Field in Chicago on a brilliant sky blue morning.
Thousands of voices lifted up together as one.
With my newly wed husband, early days, he on the guitar and I cross legged on the floor,
harmonizing to songs from the Beatles White Album, Pure Prairie League and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
With my two little boys, tucked in twin beds, singing lullabies.
With my students, sotto voce,
hands singing in the air in American Sign Language.
With my son's second grade class, singing and signing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", for the back-to-school Talent Show.
With my family and friends, on Christmas Eve, accompanied by guitars, oboes and pizzacato violins.
And best of all, in my car,
with the radio on,
and my windows rolled up.
I am there.
On the stage.
And if this is as good as it gets, it just might be enough.
You can be.
That voice in the wilderness.
No dream is impossible.
Just pull someone close.
If you sing your babies to sleep,
in the future,
they will send you those songs via email
when they are too mad to talk to you,
too proud to apologize,
or best of all,
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Live and On a Secret Assignment In a Galaxy Far Far Away...
(cue the Wookies and Wake the Ewok Villagers)
"Tick tock goes the clock...time won't stand still. But we can...let's catch up. (my signature opening and very quotable opening line)
It's Yard Yeti Time!!
It's me, your favorite Yard Yeti, broadcasting from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Ha! Had you all fooled. Thought I was about to introduce Han Solo and Princess Leia...even Pepper, my pet parakeet and constant co-host, was fooled. He had on his Darth Vader mask and a long black robe. Uh-oh. He tried to make a leap into hyperspace and landed on his laser. What? What's that you said Pepper? I don't know the power of the dark side? Whose dark side? Ouch!
(Excuse me while I teach this little fellow a lesson in manners.)
Yes, Pepper, the force IS strong with this Yard Yeti,
and don't you forget it.
My apologies to all.
Today's Traffic Report.
All the lights are green and all indicators are set to GO for our walk down Memory Lane, just one block over from Main Street.
Today's Weather Report.
The sun is shining, the skies are clear, and all is right with the world.
Today's Hospital Report.
No bumps. No bruises.
The Historical Hospital Report.
...dated this month of August...
...Star Date...awhile back in Romulen Years...
The birthday of our guest...Vance Voltron...otherwise known as the Defender of the Universe.
Vance...any Defender of the Universe is always welcome in the Land of the Yard Yetis, the Defenders of the Garden.
In your honor Vance, on this your birthday, we have traveled far and wide to fill your visit with surprise and wonder. Therefore we are broadcasting from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
Captain Picard is here with a card from the Federation. Pepper, like the Captain, clad in his Star Trek uniform, is leaning down to speak into his communicator badge. Pepper, since when do you have Ears...Large Pointy Ears???
(BLEEP...TMI...oh...excuse me...you said Spock...Dr. Spock...I know him, I read all of his books years ago, when I was studying to be a Mom. I just don't recall him having such big ears, but he sure had an answer for just about anything. Sometimes I even thought he could read my mind...Maybe they were related.)
We have cake. We have candles. We have balloons.
We have the guest of honor.
We have gifts.
Lovingly carried up from the vault in the basement.
Mr. Happy Apple. Thundercats. Hot Wheels. Construx. Star Wars figures. The X-Wing Fighter. Nerf toys and soccer balls. Michael Jordan high tops. Football jerseys. Baseball trophies and Scout badges. Legos. Thousands and thousands of Legos, in a box, waiting for the master builder's return. Lovable huggable ol' Grover. The Star Ship Enterprise.
All gift wrapped and waiting right where you left them.
Back when you were just a kid.
Back when I was just a Mom.
Everything is always waiting for you, my son, on Memory Lane.
Where the sun is always shining,
and the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is playing.
As I sign off...leaning into the microphone...with just a hint of a tear in my eye...a smile in my heart...and Pepper sneaking into the teleporter with the Captain...remember...
"Your secrets are safe with me,
except for the ones I posted on the Internet!
You can find me on your dial at Station GVWM (Garden Variety Wisdom Media Inc.) with the yellow wellies logo and the Threepots on the Windowsill.
Or like the Captain...lean down and whisper into your communicator badge... Engage!!!
In the meantime, my gift to you...
The Day You Were Born
I smiled inside
And said to myself
This is the best moment of my life
The day you first said my name
I knew no sound
Would ever be so sweet
The day you went to school
I cried when I said I wouldn't
The day you backed down the driveway
I got my first taste of you leaving home
Now you have to bow your head
To kiss mine
And it is my turn to look up
To see you
And to think once more
Thursday, August 16, 2012
...As told by Yard Yeti Emeritus Eunice Everlasting...
...to a small gathering of wanna be Yard Yetis...
...now only ordinary...
....but soon to be extraordinary...
...Daydreaming again. Her favorite. The vanishing into thin air fantasy. Here today. Gone tomorrow. A real life disappearing act. Eunice glanced down at her slicing hand, not the one gripping the cucumber. For a moment she thought she'd done it herself, sliced her right pinkie finger clean off. She dropped the knife and reached for the paper towels, for surely, there would be blood. Lots of it. Plus, there was a finger to locate. The reality of what she was staring at slowly sank in. No blood. No throbbing pain. Just no pinkie finger. Anywhere.
Eunice raised her hand up to the light streaming through the kitchen window. Thumb. Yes. Pointer. Uh huh. Index finger. Secure. Ring finger. Still ringed. Pinkie finger. Gone.
She waggled her four fingers, slid her reading glasses back up from where they had slipped down on her nose. As a final confirmation, an exclamation that felt like a scream, she raised her other hand and pressed her palms together. This is the church. This is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people. Normally there were ten people in the pews. Today, however, only nine.
My. Goodness. Gone.
No. Misplaced, she thought. A careless error of a forgetful mind. Left somewhere waiting to be found. Why just hours ago she'd left her checkbook at the end of the check out counter. The boy, bagging her groceries muttered under his breath, "Ever heard of a debit card?" Eunice blushed and rushed her signature. She shook her head and smiled in apology for taking up so much of his time. In her rush to leave, left her checkbook behind. Maybe her pinkie finger was just sitting there near the pile of plastic bags. Eunice felt just a touch lighter, as though a piece of her went missing, right after she heard the boy follow up with "Maybe we need a special line for the elderly".
Well, no mind. If Eunice made a fuss, she'd probably be accused of talking to herself. Perhaps tonight at dinner, Harold would notice. She set the cucumber salad down. Just the way he liked it, cucumbers and Vidalia onions sliced paper thin with a touch of vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar.
The two ate in silence until Eunice decided to move things along. She would tell him the story, with flashing eyes and hands waving in the air, as he considered her to be a bit dramatic. A touch overly emotional. Easily ruffled. Usually riled.
Losing a pinkie finger, well that was definitely deserving of a few dramatic gestures. Eunice started her story, was just about to get to the good stuff, when Harold rolled his eyes. Her cue to stop. So she did. She folded up her nine fingers and sat quietly staring at her plate. All that was left to do was chew.
When it came time for bed, Eunice pulled the washcloth slowly over her face, patting at the puffiness under her eyes. Patting, not pulling, the magazine suggested. She patted her left eye, then stroked the cloth over her left eyelid. Something was not right. Her eyebrow. Her right eyebrow was gone. Every single hair. Ingrown and out. The very same eyebrow she arched so dramatically at the dinner table, right before he rolled his eyes. Her eyebrow must have rolled up like a window shade and disappeared into her scalp.
Eunice held her four fingered hand at brow level. First a missing appendage. Now an off kilter visage. She grabbed the sink to keep from wobbling. Miraculously, she teeter-tottered her way to their bed. She laid her head on the pillow and rested her hands on her stomach. She waited until she heard the snoring symphony erupt beside her. Once Harold fell into his normal sonorous rhythm, Eunice began an informal sweep of the premises. From head to toe, her eyes squeezed tight to help heighten her senses. Eyebrow. Pinkie. Gone. The rest undisturbed.
Her rest was not. Undisturbed. Eunice lay so still, afraid of slumber. Under the cover of night, a body part might slip out from under the covers and escape.
The shrill ring of the bedside phone startled her. She almost knocked over the alarm clock as she fumbled with her four fingered hand for the receiver. She breathed heavily and somewhat warily into the phone.
It was her son Ewald. Eunice straightened up in bed and launched immediately into "Oh hello dear, you'll never guess what happened to me today..."as she heard him clear his throat and gruffly ask, "Is Dad there?" She nudged the snoring lump beside her and handed over the phone. Suddenly very weary after a particularly wearisome day, Eunice fell back on her pillow and slept.
In the shower the next morning, her eyes stinging with soap, she fumbled for the faucet. She felt the spray sluicing over her face and dripping off her chin. The water was hot. Too hot. Eunice thought the word "Oh". When it didn't exit her mouth, she thought "Oh No". A drop of water dripped onto her chin missing her mouth entirely. For truly, it was her mouth that was entirely missing. As she stepped out of the shower, Eunice caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror. No eyebrow. No pinkie. No mouth.
Makeup, she resolved. I need makeup. I need to redefine the boundaries. A slash of bright red lipstick, a dark sable arching eyebrow. Dressed in five, tucked behind the wheel of her car, Eunice headed to the grocery store, setting her sights on the beauty aisle. However, halfway there, a car packed with teenagers passed her, giving her the finger she wished she still had. Eunice was so angry, she lost her head.
She put the car in park, left it by the curb and trudged the remaining few blocks to the grocery store. Eunice was furious now, fed up to what would have been her solitary eyebrow. She was returning to the scene of the crime and planned to give the check out boy a piece of her mind. Wherever that was.
She only needed a paisley scarf to toss jauntily over her shoulders to distract attention. This time she was armed for battle. Eunice had cash in her pocket.
As she strode confidently into the 10 items or less line, a woman with a loud face and an even louder voice shoved past her and slammed her basket on the conveyor belt. Eunice would have raised an eyebrow if she had one. She would have thrown back her head in disgust is she knew where it was. Instead, all Eunice remembered as her body melted to the floor, was the man behind her yelling "Woman, have you no spine?"
Eunice dissolved into a neat and tidy puddle of sinew and skin on top of her sensible shoes. The man stepped over the puddle and claimed her space as his own.
For one cataclysmic moment, it seemed all was lost. Literally and figuratively. Then, in that moment of wizened whimsy, Eunice realized she had become her own favorite fantasy. Not a leg to stand on. Neither head nor hair. No show of hands.
Eunice felt her spirit rise and float through spaces and places she'd never seen before. No excuses. No pardon me. No waiting and tapping her foot. She would never again have to be "just a minute" or "we'll be with you shortly".
She felt light. Not a care in the world,
When the wind picked her up, Eunice let herself, her true and very visible self, get carried away.
She alit in the midst of a vast and magnificent garden. Bountiful blooming buds, soaring trees, abundant foliage. She stood, equally magnificent in garden gloves, yellow wellies and upon her head, a preposterous pompadour of Everlasting curls framing her face. Intact. Eunice was not only physically intact, but so overcome with the joy of hearing her own voice, she puckered her lips and whispered that once elusive "O".
That tiny little "O" drifted far and wide, to be heard only by other women, Yard Yetis to be, standing on the rim of the canyon between Here and There.
Eunice Everlasting, hysterical headdress framing her tiny "o" shaped mouth, folded her ten fingers into her lap and solemnly nodded at the faces surrounding her in rapt attention.
"Here", she whispered, "Here in the garden is where I go to remind myself that there is in the earth, hope. Wear your floral coiffure with flair. Believe the "o" in wonder. Strut proudly in your yellow wellies.
For here, in the garden, live the Yard Yeti Women,
Seasoned and reasoned and ready to grow.
Eunice lifted her pinkie, raised an eyebrow, nodded her head, straightened her spine...and giggled...rising into the night sky like a fiery ball of light. Visible to all the women below.
...The once ordinary...
...Yard Yetis of Lore...
Thursday, August 9, 2012
I sat down to write. Knew exactly what I needed to say. Put the words down on the page. A simple message this week. A simple expression of exasperation born of endless weeks of searing heat and months of drought. I thought, perhaps, if I said what so many of you are thinking, just like me, maybe, maybe, maybe with all our wishing might, with all our fervent hope we...could...do ...a rain dance together.
So I wrote:
I miss the rain.
I miss the raindrops splashing outside my window.
I miss shaking the damp off my umbrella.
I miss brushing up against the bushes in the yard, when they drip drop a tiny shower on my sleeve.
I miss puddles.
I miss the mist on my face.
I miss the mud on the bottom of my boots.
I miss using words like wet and soaked and drenched, and the sound of swish swish swish my windshield wipers make.
I miss the way the leaves turn their faces skyward in anticipation of an approaching storm.
I miss the smell of wet grass and the air washed clean of soot.
I miss the rinsing cleansing generosity of falling rain.
I hold up my empty glass.
Thirsting for a drink.
I close my eyes really really tight and offer up a humble request.
Make it rain.
For all the folks down here baking in the heat and the sun.
For all the people in need of a ride in the wash cycle.
For all the critters roaming dried up creek beds.
For all the trees shrugging off leaves like an overcoat.
For all the blooms that have lost their blush.
For all those who garden, reap and sow.
Make it rain.
This is where the goose bumps come in.
I put a period after the word rain.
A clap of thunder.
A bolt of lightning.
My computer screen went black.
Outside the wind howled and the sky opened up.
The temperature dropped twenty degrees.
There were puddles.
Over in ten minutes.
The final meteorological measurement.
Less than a quarter of an inch.
I was wearing goose bumps twice that size.
It can't be that easy can it?
To make a wish and have it come true?
To ask for a favor and then to receive?
Maybe it was one of those...
In the right place at the right time scenarios.
I thought about scrapping the blog all together, until this sneaky little thought crossed my mind.
I had truly good intentions.
So I'm going out on a limb here...
For all of you that missed out, or need a bit more than a thimbleful of relief...
I realize I am being greedy, but I mean it in a truly selfless way...maybe, just maybe, if we all...play the old game of telephone...whisper from one to another...the same words...
Make it rain...
We might just give each other goose bumps.
For you doubters out there...you don't have to believe...but keep a bucket handy...
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Yes, it's me. Your favorite Yard Yeti broadcasting live from the Summer Olympic Games. Today, in honor of the festivities, I will be substituting the Noon Whistle sound effects with the peals of Big Ben ringing out over the airwaves. A personal thank you to Big Ben Franklin, our proud sponsor, for the loan of their Big Ben alarm clock, a $3.95 value on special today,
Aisle 3, lower shelf.
"Tick Tock goes the clock...time won't stand still. But we can...let's catch up." (My trademarked and truly original opening line.)
It's Yard Yeti Time!
...Sitting here in my front row seat at the 40th Main Street Olympics, clad in my yellow wellies, my American Made Designer Overalls, my incredibly chic argyle leg warmers, matching terry cloth sweatband and wrist guards. I would like to thank another sponsor, the Main Street Women's Guild, for using their sewing circle time (SCT) to create an exact replica of my Olympic garb for my trusted pet parakeet, Pepper. I cannot believe how you all managed to make those stretchy anklet socks that look just like my yellow wellies. Pepper would thank you, but he keeps sliding off his perch and is less than appropriate when he tries to stick the landing and fails.
(Looks like I will be using the MUTE button instead of the three second delay as Pepper's Tasteless Tweets are trending on Twitter.)
And now the local weather update. Hot and dry. Dry and hot. Heat Lightning and Hot Flashes. Arid.
In desperate need of a cool drop of...
Pepper just said...no water for me...I prefer mine NEAT.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have little or no control here, so excuse me while I tickle the little guy's tonsils with tequila and then maybe we can get on with the show.
The police blotter is particularly full this week as Main Street was shut down in both directions while the grandstands and the bleachers were erected. As our only policeman, Gilbert Dewey, has no patrol car, he was hospitalized mid week for heat exhaustion and a nasty thigh rash after chasing down speeders on foot.
An update on his condition will be upcoming in the hospital report.
Cue the ambulance sirens. Woo. Woo. Woo.
Officer Gilbert Dewey was released this morning and has returned to active duty as the Chief of Security for all Olympic Events. Thanks to the Thursday afternoon Card Club members for needle pointing the official SECURITY insignia on the brim of his bright yellow mesh ball cap.
Unfortunately, the metallic thread set off the metal detector at the Flickering Flame Restaurant and a mild panic ensued, until everyone was assured that the Flame had not gone OUT. Just flickered.
The OFFICIAL FLAME OF THE OLYMPIC GAME is FINE.
It took three extension cords and some duct tape, but the light shines on.
Well, a little off and a little on,
but that's what flickering means, for heaven's sake.
Mayor Yoo-Hoo, dressed in white belt, white shoes and burgundy polyester slacks is our Master of Ceremonies and the infamous 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 will be the official Olympic judges as they are, well they are the MOST judgmental folks we know and jumped at the chance to rate their neighbors imperfections on a scale from one to ten. Perfect.
Our competitors hail from all four corners of the world. We secured these Olympic Games as we are the Heartland of the America. Main Street USA. Where doing our personal best everyday is our motto.
Actually, our motto is more succinct.
"Don't just sit there, DO something".
OUR champions are outstanding in their fields.
Well...yes...there they all are...
Out standing in their fields.
The Dream Team? The Yard Yetis. The top qualifiers. Brimming with confidence and dripping with sweat. How do they achieve such notoriety? With the sweat on their brows. With the dirt under their fingernails. With back breaking labor from before the sun rises and well after the sun sets. Practicing their routines on the apparatus and arm wrestling with Mother Nature. Strong. Proud. Ruthless and Restless Warrior Women. Athletes of the Acreage.
Yard Yetis Extraordinaire.
The Schedule of Upcoming Events:
A Synchronized Activity Of Some Sort...TBA
Tractor and Weed Pulling
Fence Post Sitting
Aquatics at the Aquatic Center just north of town a mile off the blacktop turn left at the sign for the Bountiful Buffet and Resort.
Can You Hit The Side Of A Barn Basketball
Garden Drainage and Pest Management
Garden Gnome Volleyball
...and the Olympic favorite...only for Senior Yetis...
The Grow A Beard Contest
Under strict management rules, our Olympics will be tape delayed, and all the scores will be posted on the Internet BEFORE you actually witness the events. That is, we have to wait for Pepper to sober up.
We hope that you all will come back next week once we have time to tabulate all the scores, all the participants have been released from the hospital, and traffic on Main Street has returned to normal.
I, your favorite Yard Yeti, will be on hand with my faithful and slightly sick sidekick, Pepper. I warn him again and again about riding the TIlt-A-Whirl on a stomach full of corn dogs...but...noooooo
I, myself, will be competing in the 400 meter freestyle. If you could see me waving through your radio, I am sitting here in my swim goggles and swim cap, practicing my strokes. My nickname is " The Minnow". That's all I am going to tell you, just to wet your whistle! (Pepper just perked up as he is ready to wet his whistle. Naughty birdie. Wait until you see him in his neon Speedo and matching swim fins.)
And now for our special guest of the week and fellow Yard Yeti,
A high FIVE for FIFI!
Better make that a high ONE as she forgot the other FOUR.
Fifi is wearing a string around her little finger and her wrist and her ankle. The first to Remember, the second as a Reminder to Remember and the third as a decorative ankle bracelet with her name and address on it for the day she is so lost in her thoughts she can't find her way home. Forgetting, they say, is a sure sign of an aging addled brain, where pieces of personal history hide in a locked cabinet in the middle of a maze.
Forgive and forget.
Forget and forgive.
Or as Fifi would say...just forget it. Fifi knows about missteps and misspeaks that she would like to blot out forever. Well, get out your shovel. Find a nice shady spot. Dig a hole. Drop in the error of your ways. Smooth things over with the toe of your boot. Turn your back. Walk away.
And just like the line from the movie "Goodfellas"...foggeddaboudit.
Follow Fifi's advice...and mine...keep your name and address securely tied to your ankle and you will always find your way Home. Even through a yard with so many holes it looks like a bad case of moles.
Home. Here behind the microphone. A tired BROAD at the end of another BROADcast day.
Ready to lean in to whisper my trademarked signature sign off...
"You're secrets are safe with me,
except for the ones I posted on the Internet. "
You can find me on your dial at Station GVWM (GardenVarietyWisdomMedia Inc.)
... with the Yellow Wellies Logo...
...and the Threepots on the windowsill...
In the meantime, flex your muscles and then just like me,
schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.
For all of you new to the show...I have archived the shows for you here...so you can "catch up".