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Thursday, October 25, 2012

There Is Nothing Like The Yard Yeti Radio Show








On the Air!

It's the Yard Yeti Radio Show, starring me, your favorite Yard Yeti and my co-host and resident sound engineer, my pet parakeet Pepper. (Cue the Noon whistle!)

"Tick tock goes the clock...time won't stand still. But we can...let's catch up." (My signature opening line)

It's Yard Yeti Time!

The weather report: Cold winds are blowing in from the North. Shivering trees shedding leaves in calico patterns across the road. Branches suddenly bare.

The traffic report: Not a car in sight.

The hospital report: Except for the 1AM arrival of Zoey Zinnia, daughter of Yard Yeti, Zelda Zinnia, all is quiet. All is well.

The Flickering Flame is flickering, but the sign in the restaurant window reads "Closed Until Further Notice". The Ben Franklin windows are dark. The Coast-To-Coast store is shuttered. The street is still.

No sign of Mayor Yoo-Hoo nor Officer Gilbert Dewey.

A casual observer might think that the town simply curled up and blew away, just like the leaves blowing past my window. But here, in my studio suite on the second floor over the Ace Plumbing Company, I can see the big blue neon sign flashing just around the corner. A quick scoot down Main Street, then a left at the bank on the corner. You can't miss the bank because there is a clock jutting out over the doorway and the hands are straight up, palms together, as if in prayer, signaling...Noon...Coming Soon...

And today, that means you are just in time for the Yard Yeti Storytelling Hour.

A Yard Yeti Once Upon A time Tale. 
It goes something like this...

She was eight or nine or ten.

It doesn't matter where. It doesn't matter when.

She was in a place many others have been.

So I will tell you my version of the events that transpired, and let you fill in the blanks I may or may not miss.

Once upon a time, in a city much larger than this, with buses and cars and the busyness of life, she walked to school. She walked to church. She walked to the library and the park. She walked the sidewalks in the light and in the dark. Block after block of pavement beneath her feet. The sidewalks made of blocks of concrete. A gouge separating each slab marked by an insignia of the men who poured the concrete and the date it was laid. She knew that it took two full strides to cross each square. But occasionally, no, truly, quite often, her mind would wander and her foot would land on a crack.

To see her making her way across town, one might assume she was filled with purpose. A singleness of mind to go from here to there. While there was a definite destination, her secret aspirations played out like a movie reel inside her head. For on this journey of steps, her imagination traveled unimaginable distances. From here to anywhere.

Her father, a succinct man, of few but powerful words, taught her well. Always, he said, walk with purpose, with a sure and confident stride, but only where you are sure of yourself and your surroundings.

Her stride was practiced, from walking by his side. Her purpose was sure, from mimicking his posture. Beside him, she was sure of herself. Alone, however, she was not.

So, on her walks, from here to there, one day she stepped on a crack, broke no one's back, and the projector whirred, the lights flickered, and the images appeared on the screen behind her eyelids. It was the beginning of storytelling hour.

She loved words. Words in print. She spent hours and days and weeks in the library. She did not read stories, she fell into them. Lost herself on the page. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Yearling. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. "B" Is For Betsy. Madeline's Rescue. Pippi Longstocking. The Borrowers.
She adored music. Words in the air. She memorized the lyrics and moved to the beat of the song. She listened to the radio late at night and longed for a transistor radio to carry in her pocket.

Words and music carried her far and wide. Her stage much too large for the TV screen, and at that time, in her apartment, her home, would have been in only black and white. The world, her world, her walking world, was in technicolor and stereo sound. It lived in her head and one other place. On the big screen.

She stepped on a crack and broke her concentration.

Right in front of the Lake Theater. She had to step back to take it all in. The iconic blue neon letters, each one taller than she. The single screen and the 1400 seat movie theater with the plush velvet seats and the art deco lights along the walls. The theater where popcorn drizzled with real butter cost twenty-five cents. Red licorice whips a penny a piece.

She had to lean her head back, careful not to step into traffic, to see the marquee.

South Pacific

Huge posters of palm trees and Mitzi Gaynor in short white shorts, a sailor's shirt knotted and tied around her waist. A volcano in the distance aglow in the light of the setting sun.

Bali Hai. 

On the way home, she stopped in the record store and asked if there was music. South Pacific music. There was, so she sat in a little glass booth and listened to "Some Enchanted Evening" over and over for free, until a knock on the glass partition made her realize she had become unaware of her surroundings, but very sure of herself.

That night, at the dinner table, an eight almost nine year old cock-eyed optimist, tried to tell everyone seated at the table, what she had seen, and what she had heard, and what did they think it was like, inside that theater, and where was the South Pacific, and how did volcanoes erupt, and what exactly is an optimist.

Her father listened, then looked her right in the eye and said, an optimist is someone who wishes for things they might have, but probably never will. 

Something stirred in her heart, as she matched his stride and softly replied, " Well I am an optimist, and I wish I had a ticket to see South Pacific...I may not have one now...but someday, somehow, I'm pretty sure I will."

She hummed herself to sleep that night, to the tune of...

"This Nearly Was Mine"....

"One dream in my heart

 One love to be living for,

 One love to be living for,

 This nearly was mine."

Saturday morning came and went. Just before lunch, her father walked into the room and told her to get her coat. We are going for a walk. Just us two. Not her brothers. Not her mother. Just us two.

They did not speak.

They strode. Block by block.

Step after step. In silence.

All the way to the Lake Street Theater.

They looked at the posters. Then her father took off his hat, put his hand on her shoulder and opened the door to the lobby. Popcorn in hand they were ushered to their seats. The theater was full. The lights went down and before the sights and sounds filled her mind, her father's words filled her heart.

He reached for his daughter's hand and whispered,
"You can't be sure of most things in life, but I am very sure of my love for you. "

Here in the studio, the blue light beckons through the open window. Last month, when the International Yard Yeti Convention was in town, some of the girls took a stroll down Main Street, and meandering as they are wont to do, they took a left turn at the clock on the corner and saw the little theater with its boarded up windows. Sometime and somewhere, between striding here and there, when the morning sun kissed the newborn sky, an iconic blue neon sign was erected. Inside a two hundred seat single screen theater filled with red velvet seats. Outside, on the marquee, in bold lettering, the words...

Coming Soon...

South Pacific 

Pepper is perched on the shoulder of his favorite cock-eyed optimist. We are seated in the front row with our bags of popcorn drizzled with real butter, right next to Mayor Yoo-Hoo and his wife.
The lights are about to dim and the projector is whirring.

Pepper is humming "Bloody Mary" and I am...

Signing off.


Your secrets are safe with me. 

Except for the ones I posted on the Internet. 

This one Dad.

This one's for you.

For as the song says...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yard Yeti Membership Is Quite Simply A State Of Mind

,,,All you need...

...To become a Yard Yeti...







A tabula rasa.

An empty slate.

A clean sheet of paper made from a a mix of crushed pulp and water. The pulp from a tree. A tree cut down and stripped of its branches. Branches attached to a trunk. A trunk that grew from a stem. A stem that emerged from a seed. A seed that was planted on purpose or carried through the air for miles. Nourished in the soil. Fed through the groundwater from a nearby creek, a branch of a tributary that flows into a river meandering until it picks up speed and rushes to the sea. The sea, warmed by the heat of the sun, rises as a mist. The mist congregates into drifting clouds. Clouds gather and cool, releasing the ocean's gift, in a shower of rain. Rain that kisses the leaves on the uplifted branches of the tree.

A clean sheet of paper, you see, is not as empty as you think.

A clean sheet of paper is full of life.

Your Yard Yeti Membership Application is simply a clean sheet of paper.

Waiting for you to sign your name.

You can be the Yard Yeti you want to be...

right now

click your heels together

snap your fingers

clap your hands

just say "I believe"

..."in me"...

and it's true.


You can be the Yard Yeti you want to be...

all debts are paid

every road walked upon

every try in trial and error tried.

You can be the Yard Yeti you want to be...

minute by minute

day by day

the very person you feel at home with.

You can be the Yard Yeti you want to be...

right now while you're folding laundry

right now while you're doctoring or schooling

right now while you're taking care of everyone else's business

right now while you're minding your own...

right now while you're ready

in this place

in this time.

 You can be the Yard Yeti you want to be... 

an internal compass sets true North

or South or East or West

left or right

up or down.

A backpack full of shiny new pencils and colored markers.
The storyteller in residence is you.

You can be the Yard Yeti you want to be...

no navel gazing

no struggling inner voices

no push-pull by outside sources

quiet in the stillness

a settling down of self.

You can be your Yard Yeti self...

talented or gifted or plain

wear blue today and green tomorrow

high heels or bare feet

it's not about any of that.

You can be the Yard Yeti you want to be...

...Except you won't know what that is until the moment comes...

...and you won't know the moment is here until you say it over and over and over and over...

...until you sincerely believe... can do what you want to do... can go where you want to go... can stop when you want to stop... can be a Yard Yeti...

...and never answer the question "why" ever again...

...because it no longer matters why...

You will use good judgment because this is you we're talking about...

and you know better

and you know worse

and here you are choosing

to be you.

Just the way you are right now and just the way you might be in a minute and just the way you could be on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday.

This is the incredible sweetness

and the miraculous weightlessness

of the answer to the question...

how do I move from ordinary to...


There is a choice and Eunice Everlasting, Yard Yeti Emeritus is right behind you, tapping on your shoulder with her pinkie finger, one eyebrow raised and her mouth shaped in the "o" of wonder...

...whispering in your ear...

Say it with me. 

I'm a Yeti.

A Yard Yeti. 

A Yard Yeti Woman

You bet your yellow boots you are. 

Gladys Gerbera will teach you the secret handshake.

Wanda Wisteria will guide you through the weeds.

Ida Impatiens will help you make up for lost time.

Fifi-Forget-Me-Not will make you unforgettable.

Elspeth Edelweiss will stamp your passport. .

Nellie Nasternium will poof your pompadour.

And I, your favorite Yard Yeti, Radio Show Host, will signal you with the Noon Whistle...and dedicate myself to honoring your each and every broadcast.

If you want your own personal Yard Yeti nickname...

click on the Yoo-Hoo mail link

at the bottom of the page...

 I'll be right here, prepping for my next broadcast

and painting my toenails...

an I-Can-Be-Whatever-I-Want-To-Be...deep teal blue.

...the same color as the ink in my pen...

...poised over...

Archived Yard Yeti Radio Shows:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How To Relish A Relic




Memory Lane






The old man and I spent the morning wandering through a lost and faded part of town. Once a hustling bustling corridor of commerce, now empty loading docks, crippled brick facades crumbling at the edges. Soot covered archways leading into boarded up warehouses. Train tracks on the outer perimeter and trolley tracks still rutting the cobbled streets. Solid and heavy structures built for purpose yet marked almost poetically with whimsical cornices and architectural flourishes. Inside, rippled glass window panes and wide planked flooring. Narrow wooden staircases and freight elevators in the back.

One can only stand now and imagine what once was.

Someone did.

For here, just under the highway overpass, inside a barren warehouse, a business, like a tiny bloom peeking out through the cracks in a sidewalk, is flourishing. Just one space, filled with what used to be someone else's treasure, is now through the filter of new eyes, theirs. Or maybe hers. Or his. 
You build it and if you are lucky and persistent and believe in what you do, they will come.

The treasure hunters came. Panning for gold. Wandering from floor to floor. Digging into boxes of faded fabrics. Opening the doors of armoires for a peek-a-boo glance at dress up dresses and slightly crushed pillbox hats adorned with demurely matching netting. Rotary dial telephones. Vinyl records rolled up in their original sleeves with the original artists trapped forever in time in the kind of junior high poses our mothers loved to show off to potential suitors and sweeties. The poses that made us cringe. The ones that now take us back to a memory. A prom. A first date. Dancing in front of the mirror when no one was watching.

I step to the side and misbehave.

I eavesdrop on the conversation.

My Momma wore one on her sweater. A poodle pin.

My Uncle Marty's old tool box. The one that sat just inside the garage door.

My Dad kept his shaving brush in a mug on the shelf in the upstairs bathroom out on the farm. A naked light bulb dangling over his head. I used to sit on the edge of the tub and wonder how he never cut himself.

Those are the milk bottles I set on the back porches down our alley, when the milkman let me ride in his truck. I stood in the open doorway holding onto a strap, jumped out quick and swapped the empty for the full.

Oh, look, what do you think that was used for?

Did you put water in this end or that?

Telling tales.

A narrative on the roadmap to the past and the saving grace of a revival.

A slightly musty and dusty sigh echoes through the third floor of the vintage store.

You remember me. 

A treasure retold.

One space. Then two. Almost thirty now. Signs written on chalkboards...promises of things to come. Street vendors spreading thier wares on sidewalks. The beginners.

Food vendors with unusual tastes. Hot dogs and jambalaya. Homemade coffeecake and cinnamon crumble. Hot coffee greets you at the door, or spiced cranberry tea.

The crowd is as diverse as the merchandise. Young and old, well dressed and shabbily chic, denim and leather boots, cotton jackets and secondhand shoes.

The merchandise is a jumble. Old and new. Used and reused. Old. Wooden storage trunks perfumed with a slight mildewed smell. New. Wooden steamer trunks lined with fabric and scrubbed clean.
Once a pending bride's hope chest, now perhaps a child's costume and dress up container. Old.

Embroidered linen hand towels. New. Embroidered linen hand towels starched and stitched together into exquisite throw pillows. Old. Apothecary bottles, corked and marked with faded and curling labels. New. Apothecary bottles, lining the inside of a used toolbox, a single stem in each.

From one purpose to another.


A treasure resold.

An empty warehouse transformed into a living museum.

Much later, close to midnight, I sit here retracing my steps, while listening to a documentary dedicated to the music of the '80s. Background noise. Until I notice my toe-tapping self and realize I am humming along. Singing. The words. The lyrics. I know the lyrics of every single song. Word for word. By rote. I glance up and look at the faces in the crowd. I am expecting to see faces like mine, the faded faithful, and see instead, a crowd as diverse as the treasure hunters earlier in the day. The performers look like me, older and slightly frayed around the edges.

Another nod to nostalgia rings true. Children listen just when we think they are not, and those venerable LP's sure can carry a tune...from way back this spot in the future...and the same singsong refrain...

I remember you. 

The knickknacks lining my shelves will one day fill a box in the garage.

End up in a corner at a flea market or on the third floor of a warehouse.

If I could, I would write collectible tales,

tuck them inside an envelope, for my box of leftover treasures...

Wishing only that some day...

You'll say...

Adirondack Chairs