Two nephews; brothers. Both announced weddings about the same time. Both for this year. Four months apart. Their mother is very glad to be mother of the grooms and not the brides! Here are a few of my favorite pics I took of Wedding No. One: Peter & Mary
How to avoid mixing your metaphors?
It’s not rocket surgery.
First, get all your ducks on the same page.
After all, you can’t make an omelette
without breaking stride.
Be sure to watch what you write
with a fine-tuned comb.
Check and re-check until the cows turn blue.
It’s as easy as falling off a piece of cake.
Don’t worry about opening up
a whole hill of beans:
you can burn that bridge when you come to it,
if you follow where I’m coming from.
Concentrate! Keep your door closed
and your enemies closer.
Finally, don’t take the moral high horse:
if the metaphor fits, walk a mile in it.
Saw this today on FB and had to share on OLWG #105 [attributed to Brian Bilston, “Frequently described as the ‘Poet Laureate of Twitter’, Brian Bilston is a poet clouded in the pipe smoke of mystery.”]
Carly and Bet felt like they’d been driving forever. Lunch at the rest stop already seemed like a distant memory. The landscape dramatically changed from the lush green and varied scenery when they dropped down out of the mountain pass and crossed the bridge over the river. The trees, leafy shrubs and meadows gave way to wide, flat plains of red clay, gnarly yellowed scrub and a seemingly endless cloudless sky stretching out all around them. Heat waves rose off the road in front of them. The farther they drove, the thinner the traffic became until all they encountered was the occasional semi headed the opposite direction toward the big cities on the coast. It was as if they were the only vehicle headed south on their stretch of highway.
Bet and Carly were on a trip to the barely-there one-stop town where Bet spent her early childhood with her grandparents. Bet drove. Carly was quiet, deep in thought with a permanent look of uncertainty since they’d crossed the river. Bet reached over and gave her a pat on the leg and smiled. Carly tried to return a smile, but couldn’t. She turned away, slouching in her seat and staring out the passenger window for the rest of the trip.
“There it is,” Bet said in an overly cheerful voice. The faded state highway sign indicated an exit for the town of Bergsland. Carly let out a long sigh.
In the distance the flat plain rose to an outcropping of several low rolling hills. As they got closer, a few dilapidated ranch houses dotted the sides of the road. Just as the countryside morphed into a desolate town center, a caution road sign read “Stop Light Ahead 500 Ft”
“It’s to the left. Funny how I remember that,” Bet said. As she turned their car at the blinking red light, Carly tried typing the address into her phone’s GPS app.
“So, no network out here?” Carly asked
“That surprise you?” Bet replied. Carly tossed her phone on the dashboard in disgust.
Bet slowed down as they approached the end of the road. Standing like a grand mansion at the end of a long dirt driveway was a fairly large home painted a bright turquoise with white trim and gables. Even from this distance, they could see the large picture window sill lined with what looked like various colored antique bottles. A dog lying on the stoop stairs sat up and looked expectantly at them. Bet stopped the car and turned to Carly.
Prompts this week are: Gnarly; Antique bottles; Flowers wilted and dogs panted in the shade.
By the way, summer is my busy time at work, but the month ahead is particularly busy with a nephew’s wedding hoopla and then I’m going to take a little time off. You might not “see” me until August. But I’ll keep in touch, so you keep on writin’ and promptin’!
My Darling Children,
I’ll start the way I’ve seen so many times in movies: If you are reading this, it is because I am dead.
My precious, precious kiddos, you are learning the hard way that not all “forevers” are the same. Trust me. This is not how I saw my forever-after playing out. If there was any way to forestall my departure from this world, I would have done everything in my power to stay with you as long as possible. The Fates had another plan for me.
As I write this, I ache knowing how frightened you are, and how much you must be hurting. Even a simple thing, like what tomorrow will be like, must seem a terrible prospect. All I can tell you is this: As you read these words, imagine me holding you close, just as I am imagining myself with my arms around you as I write this letter. I’m telling you, whomever doubts time-travel never had someone to love so completely as I love my children. Believe me when I say I am there with you, even now.
Do you remember, when you were young, when something made you cry, and after you dried your tears, I’d stand you up and tell you to go splash some water on your face and then get on with the rest of your day? Well, here I am, telling you again to do just that.
However, this time my onward-and-upward speech includes assuring you that you are not, and will not be all alone. Your aunt will be there for you every step of the way. She is now your legal guardian. But…you must start thinking of her from here on out as your parent. Yes, you will be 18 in just a few years and allowed to be your own person, but I ask you to never stop thinking of your aunt, and yes, even your uncle, as your primary family. Your cousins, I know, will be more than happy to share them with you.
Yeah, so, your uncle. I know, I know. A real horse’s ass. But you have to admit, a hell of a painter. At least he’s done very well in that regard. It gives him quite the undeserved ego, of course, given all his shortcomings, but, there it is. Again, forever-afters are very different from one person to the next, and your’s now includes your uncle.
Don’t worry about how you will cope, because your aunt has got it all figured out. She is always the clever one. You will learn she as all sorts of schemes in place and contingency plans should her schemes not work out, not the least of which is half-ownership of every single one of your uncle’s artworks, including the right to reproduce, etc., etc. The way she sees it, he can get up to whatever misery he wants. As long as she’s got a hold of the purse strings, everyone else will be able to land on their feet. It’s all about the money for her, so you’ll be OK.
Now, having laid out what your immediate future will look like, I will finally, at long last, tell you about your past; about your father. I apologize that I was so tight lipped about him. It wasn’t that I didn’t want you to know anything about him. He was a wonderful, wonderful person. It’s just that, whenever I start to talk about him, I choke up. The only solace I have leaving the two of you now, is that I will get to see him again sooner than later.
As I said, your father was wonderful. Kind, even-tempered, generous and reliable. Handsome, too! At least, I though so. And funny! He never took anything in life too seriously. He was an only child and never talked about his parents. I think he had been brought up Morman, or maybe Amish. Something like that. He never clarified, but I knew it was some sort of strict, cloistered community. My guess is he was cast out when he left the life and therefore chose never to speak of it again.
Anyway, he worked his whole life like a dog for barely above minimum wage, and when he was between jobs, he’d take care of me and you kids as if being a house-husband was all he ever wanted to be in life. His loss was, and still is, a shock and an unbearable heartbreak. I truly wish you got to know him.
I met him when I was working as a concierge at a big resort on the coast, saving my nickels and dimes so I could go to college to major in Hospitality Management. We met during a freak snow storm. Everyone at the resort was expecting the storm, of course, but being right on the coast, nobody was prepared for snow, never mind several inches of it! Resort staff was frantic trying to work through all the demands our guests were making, plus figuring out how to manage requests from employees to leave so they could get home before they got stuck at work, and absences because others couldn’t get to work. It was a mad house.
To make matters worse, other travelers and locals stranded by the storm started walking in looking for a place to get out of the weather and warm up. We had people camping out in the lobbies, hallways and in the restaurants. The kitchens were down to the last of whatever food was available and bartenders shut down the bars before things got unruly. I was running around like a crazy lady doing whatever I could. It was a mess.
At one point, a man approached me, and with a smile, asked if he could be of any help. Things being such as they were, I said sure, and literally handed him a mop from the janitor’s closet and asked him to clean the restrooms. Can you believe me! How rude!
Anyway, you probably guessed the man I sent off with a mop was your father. As things started to settle down, he found me out again and asked if I needed anything else. I asked him to follow me. Thinking I was going to give him another task, he followed me to the employee lounge where we had our own stash of food and drink. I thanked him (finally!) and insisted he partake. He said he would, but only if I would take a break too, and join him.
We sat there and talked and talked. Hours went by, but I didn’t care. I think I was already in love! I remember him saying to me, “I came here after my truck got stuck because, as I got closer, I heard this fantastic Latin music coming from the club and thought, that sounds like a good place to get out of the snow!” I said something about how much he must be regretting that decision, given the work I made him do, and he said, “It will end up being the best decision I’ve ever made if you agree to meet me again.”
Coming from anyone else, I would have recoiled at such a cheesy pick up line. But, your father was such a genuinely nice person, his sincerity was unmistakable. I remember the look on his face. Happy and hopeful. And, so, here I am. His wife, then his widow, and forever your mother. I never did go to college. Your father had plans to be his own boss, so I was too busy getting him set up in business. It didn’t pan out, then you two came along. Life was pretty rough for us for a while there, but I have no regrets about marrying him, my darlings. None, whatsoever.
I’m not sure what my point is, except maybe this: Somewhere between going with the flow and planning everything down to the second on the clock, actual life plays out. And it’s not an even-Steven, middle of the road deal, either. You’ll find, as you live and grow, that sometimes drafting careful plans makes everything come about just as it should, and sometimes not being bothered with the details and letting the chips fall where they may makes for some of the most wonderful stuff of life.
Like I used to say, which always made both of you giggle, if someone says to you, “Don’t throw that egg,” remember to take a moment before you respond to think. What the hell that even is supposed to mean?
Seems like I have a new habit: Leave off writing for a while and then jump in full force and make up for lost time with 3 weeks of prompts. The point of inspiration for this post was the “don’t throw that egg.” So weird! I had to figure out how to work with it. The prompts are bolded (did a lot of editing and formatting on my phone. I’m sure there are oddities as a result!)
“You’ve Been Polka Dotted!” by the Seattle Procrastinkniters
It was just another night, like all the rest. The town’s rebels-without-a-cause, whose unofficial leader was a kid called Mini Mike (because, who wants to be Mike Jr. anyway?) gathered at The Rocket Surge, a homage to the Apollo 11 moon landing greasy spoon that didn’t know the meaning of loitering, or, in reality, didn’t give a damn. The place was more like a club house for Mini Mike and his bunch of goof-offs. They’d watch the TV situated above the kitchen pass through, or stare into their phones, or play old video games in the tiny dark space in the back that used to be a bar, or shuffle between one booth and another, pulling pranks and being disruptive for lack of anything better to do.
The place was run by Mini Mike’s father’s second ex-wife, Maddie. She was a nice girl when she met Big Mike, but life with that sonofabitch turned her hard. She was Mini Mike’s favorite of his father’s ex-wives, and she took to him, too. Probably because he was a such a cute and happy little guy at the time. Maddie knew she would be the closest thing Mini Mike would have to a real mother, so she let him and his friends hang out at the diner. So what if it cost the place business. At least the boys were where she could keep an eye on them.
This night, like I said, was pretty much the same as all the rest. The boys were hanging out, making a scene, per usual. People came and went from time to time, picking up their orders to-go. A few haggard truckers ate their burgers and fries at the counter with a couple of beers while watching the game on the TV and trying to make time with Maddie. Old Mrs. Finklander sat in a front booth quietly reading her torrid romance novel with a cup of coffee and slice of blueberry pie, occasionally casting disapproving looks at the boys’ and their antics.
Maxwell bellowed from the kitchen that the sink was clogged and if Maddie didn’t get a plumber out, like now, the whole place would be soaked in no time. As Maddie yelled back at Maxwell to try a plunger before calling the plumber, Nadia Yvonne Campbell walked in.
Nadia stood six-foot-five in her spiky pumps. Her long slender legs tightly encased in skinny jeans left pretty much nothing to the imagination. She had on a puffy winter jacket she consciously wore dropped off her shoulders in order to better show off a fuzzy sweater stretched to the max across her perfectly formed double-D’s. Her jet black hair hung down to her waist in soft ringlets, and her wide, glowing amethyst eyes seemed to reach out and grab you by the throat.
She strode to the middle of floor and stopped. The unusual site of such an Amazon in The Rocket Surge froze everyone to where they stood or sat. A couple of Mini Mike’s gang cautiously moved closer to get a better look.
Nadia walked up to Maddie at the counter. “I’m Big Mike’s wife,” she said.
“Which one?” Maddie flatly replied.
“Is little Mikey here? My husband wants to know if little Mikey is here.”
Juvenile giggling and kissing noises rose from a group of the boys in the booths. “Hey hey Little Mikey Wikey!” they teased as they punched the boy and pushed him out of the booth. Mini Mike tried standing tall, but his head fell to his chest. As he looked up, he caught Maddie’s eyes. Her stomach dropped when she saw his desperation and humiliation.
“He’s called Mini Mike. Call him by his name!” Maddie scolded Nadia.
Nadia shrugged and turned to the boy. “Your father wants me to take you home.”
“Why?” the boy asked with typical teenage snark.
“Because he said so.”
“You ain’t my mom.”
“And neither is she,” Nadia quickly replied, giving Maddie a look. “We are family now and your dad wants you to come home.”
Maxwell had come out from the kitchen and stood behind Maddie. “Son, best you go with the lady. I don’t want Big Mike down here tomorrow ripping me and your momma a new one.”
“She’s not his mother,” Nadia snapped. “I’m the mother now!”
Maddie did her best to get Mini Mike to look at her so she could say she was sorry and to hang in there, but the boy pushed her away. She knew he felt let down. The gang started snickering again. “Hey hey Little Mikey Wikey…”
“Shut your traps!” Maddie yelled. “In fact, get out. That’s enough of you guys tonight, anyway.”
As the boys shuffled out, Maxell gave Maddie a little squeeze across the shoulders. “Don’t worry. I don’t trust a woman like that to stick around for very long.”
“Or my ex-husband to stay married, for that matter.”
But the days, and then the weeks went by with no sign of Mini Mike. A few of his gang came in to The Rocket Surge every now and then, but the boys said they didn’t see much of him these days.
The months turned into years. Maxwell retired. The Rocket Surge sold to the Apple Alice chain of restaurants. The very nice woman from HQ in Boise made all sorts of promises about job security and seniority so Maddie would feel like one of the “Apple Alice family,” but Maddie had no interest in becoming a cog in anybody’s wheel.
“We could marry,” Maxwell offered. Maddie agreed there were worse ways to live out the rest of her days.
On a stormy February day, a young man stood at Maddie & Maxwell’s front door ringing the bell. Unaccustomed to visitors, the pair peered out from the curtains to see if it was anyone they knew. Maxwell opened the door, prepared to turn away a solicitor or signature gatherer when Maddie gave out a little yelp.
“Mini Mike! Is that you!?”
Mini Mike smiled. “Mind if I come in out of the snow?”
Weak ending, but you can’t win them all. There are 7 prompts in there, somewhere. I started this a while ago and have since lost track which prompt weeks I used! I know apologies aren’t necessary, but my mind’s distracted these days. Writing is not rising to the top of the priority list. But I’m still here!
[Stretches her arms forward, cracks her knuckles and shakes out her hands]
Three weeks behind on nine prompts: Treat him like a sister; In case of fire; Getting out of hand; Do the authorities know you’re here?; As you slept; What became of forever?; Los pobrecitos; The present was poorly wrapped; Bottle of emotions.
[Sighs] Let’s see what can be done with all that. [Sighs again]
[Stares out the window for 10 minutes. Turns on the TV, channel surfs, turns off the TV. Gets up and pours a glass of wine. Throws a proverbial dart at the prompts to determine which one goes first]
What became of forever? Seriously, when did, “I have all the time in the world,” become, “No time like the present, for there is no knowing what tomorrow will bring”? The problem is, like a poorly wrapped gift, the present is not an enticing offer. Unless you are talking about getting some tedious chores done. No. The sort of fertile ground needed for the seeds of tremendous things in life to grow is not here, not now. Maybe I’ll just float along until after elections next year. See how I’m feeling after that.
See, the thing is, I’m just a bottle of emotions these days. God forbid, should someone shake me and loose the lid? I’ll spew all over. I’m just sayin’, in case of fire, do not, under any circumstances, break the glass. Just let me burn.
Take last weekend. We gathered at my sister’s for a family wedding; her eldest, finally past the failure-to-launch phase with a decent job and a nice girl. But, because my nephew has always had the lion’s share of his parent’s attention—desperate as they were to get him grown, out of the house and on his own two feet—there is an underlying resentment about attending the little pobrecito’s wedding. If it were up to everyone else, they’d just assume he and she elope so they can avoid yet one more family event where he is the center of attention. He’s a lot like my sister, his mother, that way. The two of them. Sucking the air out of whatever room they walk into.
Anyway, there I was at my sister’s, nerves maxed to the hilt after a day of being forced to pay attention to only them while the rest of the famn-damily went on bickering, bitching, yelling, slamming doors and giving each other the silent treatment. Wide awake at 2:30 in the morning while everyone else managed to have finally passed out drunk. All I wanted to do was bolt. Just run. Out the door, down the street, down the next street, and the next. Just keep running until I couldn’t run anymore. Or, the police stopped me (Ma’am, we received a report of a woman in her nightgown running in bare feet down one street and another. Sorry, but we’re going to have to bring you in for making an ass of yourself).
This whole hysterical state of mind is getting out of hand! I have to pull my shit together and just, whatever. Let the rest roll off my back, as they say. The family will always be the family. The job will always be the job. Nothing is perfect.
And, so, here I am. A lovely, sunny spring evening. I guess it’s true. There really isn’t anything like the present, no matter how it shows up.
Disclaimer: bits of “nonfiction,” to be sure, but this is entirely a fictional piece!
[From free image site “Unsplash”]