Cast in Stone (No Rewrites)

Times are, when no one believes in me; I cease to exist. I become invisible to the naked eye, such a marathon of years mapped across my face, no one sees me clearly. Or if they do, they take in the gray-blonde sand of my hair & wander away from greeting. I’ve said it before: to go gray (as a female) is to go stealth in life.

“Another old woman; another useless eater,” I almost hear the thought. No longer fecund of body, no longer generating taxes for a ravenous System, I am a bean in the bean-counter’s world. Into the slot of disposables I go, but still being alive, I vociferously protest the disregard.  

If you’re going to dismiss me, you’ll have to put me in the red bucket, the one with the radioactive syringes, the impossibles, the distortions in the fabric. Put me with the zippers that won’t close, the dress with crooked sleeves & a pulled hem. I’ll never fit your mold.

I cannot sit with a TV remote in my hand, watching dreams in which I have no place, no time, no empowering feelings. I don’t have a favorite show anymore. My internet radio features some two dozen channels I wander among. My values are invaluable & unsettling to the crowd. Everyone looks quizzical when I announce my decisions. Many ask for explanations I cannot give, for my value system is not theirs.

Some reach out to fondly pat my hand. One accused me of having a non-working brain, which so hurt I snapped immediate walls up against her. Many friends melt into a landscape where I can walk no longer; somehow discernment has barred my path. My hours are no longer stolen from financial productivity. But I’m not like B, walking her dog seven times a day because she’s forgotten she walked the beast as he manipulatively pants by the back door. I’m not like G, who sits smoking on her porch among the refilled oxygen tanks. I’m not like R & K & C who work every day for earnings, putting dreams on a ticking blinker hold. They may never take the call, and this frightens me for them.

I’ve answered too many calls! I’ve moved too many times, I’ve worried too much about how I can do things just before I did them because the worry was so fractious to my heart. I’ve run out of money & watched as sometimes it flooded back & sometimes trickled, but there has always been enough.

I no longer expect understanding. I’m patient in the face of others’ doubts about me. No one else is walking the miles in my shoes, finding my opportunities, holding the pens I write with. Feeling lonely is redundant when I am society’s answer to becoming obsolete. I am no longer useful in the worldly ways I once was. I support no one, believe in an omniscient range of possibilities at which others roll their eyes just before launching into a list of why these are actually impossibilities.

But I’m not ossified or moribund. I’m not helpless in the face of change. If one thing does not suit, I’m on to the next with a blink & a nod to circumstance. In a world frozen in place, I bring the sun that cracks open the ice & frees the fish to swim. In a sky gray with worry & layered separations, I peek through a ray of the only light there may be that day. I ride the beam in delight & blessing.

There’s no question for me anymore about all this. I am not one to surrender & simply sink into a chair. I love to be a part of it all, but only on my own terms. If this is my definition, rewrite the damn dictionary.

My life energy is mine to spend. My coin is not of this realm & whether I am right or not about that remains to be accounted. Others can sing “My Way,” but I have a legitimate claim to the phrase, & the ability to write an explanation in fifty words or less. I don’t do shades of gray! My life is vivid with color, light, sound, fullness, creation & walking time around like a crow on my shoulder. It repeats, it requests, it demands, it prays.

What I collect cannot be pressed into books or slipped into glassine envelopes. I am who I am with an expectation of being more in every moment. So it may seem to the casual observer that I’m doing little, while I am actually rolling full steam ahead on so many levels.

Even with all this, people argue me: you have to charge for this, you shouldn’t think about that; you’ve got to love [fill in the blank], find a man, find a life, find a lost city of gold in the Peruvian rain forest & taste the fresh ayhuasca.

Leave it! Just take me as I am or put me aside for the next good deed you want to accomplish. Not much is gonna change here. I’ll never be a specimen you can pin down or predict.

But I’ll never be bitter, resentful, hateful or unmystified by all that/about all that life offers. I’ll always share the humor in any moment of blessing.

I’m tired of being disapproved, tired of being criticized & ostracized. It would be nice if someone else were in charge, but there’s only me in this life. I don’t know about the rest of you. Where would I begin to find out? But I can extrapolate how people have lived by what they’ve left behind. Just check the secondhand stores if you want to find out about that. Pretty few surprises here, but always something useful…no way to know if it’s the people or the stuff that smells so musty. Very likely both.

 

Owl Morning

I squint like a mouse

When I am the twitching tail of the cat set to hunt it.

I gaze at my life with a pauper’s hunger

While I live as a queen within it.

I have light, food, cash tucked in a blue sock

While I rattle the pig-bank to gauge my wealth.

This sums up what it is to be human

To live duality, even breathing in & out.

I cannot claim silence while music leaps from my pen

I cannot fear the words will disappear as they burble over the cookpot.

 There are horns from afar summoning me to war

Yet this has been a hard-fought peace to choose.

Let the winds of change breeze my bird’s nest hair

For all I have not done, more rises to accomplish.

As every day leads to every night

I gather up my life & wander on.

 

The owl wakes me again this darkling morning. She must have found my window alluring, yet there are no trees behind me at all. She sits, perhaps, on the crest of the warehouse roof, or upon a rung of the antenna tower. Her call is soft but urgent.

I protest: it’s too early! But I shift in my narrow bed & stretch my toes out straight. Would I climb with them to her perch if I could?

She has been silent up till now. She has eaten the mice in the storage yard; whence her eye fixed on my window to whoo-whoo to. She is calm, insistent, steady in her calls for me to waken.

But what will I do with such a cold morning? Too dark it is for even a streamer of dawn bringing light. I want to keep my eyes closed, listening. I cannot regather the shreds of sleep for wishing a dream. I rise & tuck my chill into a shawl.

I pad downstairs to a silent kitchen, flick on a nightlight. I pull everything out of the cabinets & begin to rearrange the contents by its sparse illumination. First, all the sauces are put together, the tuna stacked up. I take inventory to attend to restocking later: two cans of mismatched beans, a package of stiff spaghetti. I seek a pen & pad to make a list.

Dropping the emptied, crackling bags into the trash, I return to the counter to use up the last of my empty honey jars, a medium for the Farro, a small for the Panko, a large for the unsalted pistachios (how can everything end in an “o” this morning?)

I open boxes of teabags to place these into the big jug on the lazy susan. I pull out the frozen chicken to have it defrost by Sunday dinner.

I wet the sponge & blot the spills of grain. The coffee is ready now, its aromatic heat a blessing to a half-waked brain.

Last night I washed my laundry late. Returning upstairs, I fold & sort & in the sleepy darkness, put away the clothes. The dreams of my neighbors brush up against my silent walls. I feel their steady breaths over my feet, along the floor.

My house is tidy, tucked up & softly gleaming in the streetlamp’s outside glow. The owl has gone quiet, has her morning winged away?

I’ve made the bed but eye it in longing. As a meal unfinished, that last dream awaits.

 

 

Tech

When I left my room in Hillsboro, I predicted being left to my own devices; I did not realize this meant no devices…

Half-January & I am out of data minutes on my phone. A fit of craving momentarily seizes my frontal lobe. No! Back to writing with a pen! After speeding all over the keyboard, after being reduced to pecking with a stylus at tiny buttons on my phone…I am wading out of the river of data in which I so recently immersed to a dry & sandy shore where the water is just a wash of noise behind me. From the swift whitewater current of following a dozen blogs & vlogs, to the shallows of a few daily emails (with occasional swirls of enabled research), to this dry stretch of a scratching pen on real paper. O, Lord!

My home is ultra-quiet. The heater turning on is a rumble above which I quickly subdue, turning down heat & reaching for a jacket. I moved here in the primal drive of having heat over the winter; however, the temps have been so mild as to almost preclude the need for this miracle My 40-watt bulb blinks in a Morse Code, telling me it is a refrigerator light & not a real bulb…and in its tiny filament of estimation, I’ve had the fridge door open far too long for it to sustain all 40 watts. There is such a thing as over-saving, perhaps? But all the times I was snide about the cranky words flung at me  “I’m on a fixed budget” are crabbing at me now, pincers clicking brightly, pinching on the checkbook.

Scribing on in the dark is easy; I’ve written in semi-darkness for years as the drive continues when the light changes in either direction.  For if the Muse is pushing me to take it all down, I pay no attention to ambient light.

It sounds relaxing. Yes, it bestills me to be in this way isolate. This original habit was overtaken by tech, like driving after walking. With walking, though, more details come into view. I yearn to fly on the keyboard instead of this careful forming each letter, almost drawing them one by one. There, I use profane abbreviations – “n” for and, “tho” for though…I leave words half-formed & uncooked. By hand, I cannot bear this untidiness. It becomes the omission of parts of a recipe. A pinch of salt ignored may mean the bread will be lumpy.

Sadly, January 15th sees me with a phone to be used as only a phone (here an old lament rises, I hardly ever get calls); a laptop to be used as a typewriter only. None of the connections so benevolently granted by utility companies are affordable right now on my budget (as I’ve said, consisting of one lightbulb burning at a time.) I even bought a battery-operated lantern at a yard sale. It is more reliable than my refrigerator bulb straining to fulfill the function of a real light.

All this, and the world breathless with change, my alternative news sources screaming from the cusp of Great Transformation, pension funds refusing to invest in oil (what a predictive indicator), indictments vibrating in pouches of process servers, big-name politicos wearing camouflage orthopedic boots supposedly covering their GPS trackers.) I am news-less, praying friends will notify me when it is time to plant good seeds, check my account for the prosperity funds, release thoughts of nuclear fission powering the grid, bombs & chaos landing ‘pon the heads of my fellow world denizens. It is somehow fitting to my fate that I am learning to release tech at a time when it is releasing its severity of need to us. For indeed, two steps back from the brink can never be enough. We need to turn our backs & seek peace, love, & compassionate living in the most human of ways, simple touch, divine regard.

So, my descent into handwriting is more of a hand-made handicraft than a cybercrime sin. The flowers of an over-perfumed garden have devolved into a dandelion seeding a field.

Tech is convenient, seductive. Even though its blue light hurts my waking eyes, I was drawn to its 6 a.m. crystal gaze. What I lose in quantity, I gain in quality. Vocabulary assumes importance, thoughtfulness chivies reaction right out of the ring, squeezing it through the ropes with a “pop!”

The river well behind me now, I click the top of the pen, just as final a move as closing the laptop clamshell. I re-shelve the journal as I eagerly stuff the computer into its black carry-case.

I’m on my way to the computer lab, ostensibly to volunteer – a thin excuse to re-entering the seductive world I am missing with every written word. Back online, submerged in a room marinated by the radiation of fifteen-plus computers, a WIFI box in the cabinet, a server steadily lub-dubbing its beat on a desk.

Addicted, after all my fine words of freedom.

Twelve steps closer to my world…

 

Of Ruins & Resurrections

CARA MIA

 My angels wring no hands together…

No palms clasp in prayer, no eyes downcast,

My angels do not wear robes of saffron & rainbow

Or tilt their heads, listening to prayers

My angels are bare-breasted,

Afire, ululating atop mountains

My angels are ridge runners

Light-footed & glowing.

My angels are powerful,

They carry spears.

They have no time for the puny wants of men

The small prayers of old women…

They carry orders from God!

They drive us on with buffeting wings

Like northern winds, they bite & tear our only flesh

With unholy voices they demand & command that we also

Become angels, they

Cry out to us in terrible thunder, rumbling

“Get there & do this & DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP!”

Don’t you even THINK about that

I am behind you, these are my teeth & claws,

Don’t you dare but that you dare all for love!

 

SCREAM

I do not go gently into this dark night

I plant my feet & my hands against the doorframe

& I scream for the devils of hell to surround me

To give me strength to fight!

Even though the angels have not yet given up on me

I need the kind of raw power used when devil fights devil

I need the kind of atomic strength

And nuclear decision-making ability

That blows apart unaltering planets &

the worlds where small-minded people dwell

for this is not me,

I am Eternal Survivor,

I am the basket weave trunk of the royal palm

Dancing in the Category Five hurricane of now.

NINE MONTHS FROM CHRISTMAS

The morning breaks open

Like a dozen eggs dropped on the floor

As my conjurings arise from their yolky mess

Of raw & yellow ooze,

I will derive a sunshine of words such as has never lived before,

From ruin to resurrection,

Back to the light from which my soul began.

I know now I did not arrive on a sunny day,

Sequestered in a sweaty room while my mother dreamed of the beach,

I rode in on a storm that breathed darkness

Into blankets of rain

Shadows threatening all alive.

I know this, how?

Storms create days that enliven my soul

I speak poetry as though reciting nursery rhymes

Every stick a sign, a message,

Every hope a dream of worlds

Daring to be spoken aloud.

LA MER

I walked to the beach to cast myself upon the water:

A crust of bread for fishes to devour

For gulls to scrap over

For salt to consume.

I walked to the water & I walked in

And the water spoke thusly:

Get out of here, leave me now!

I am not your sin-eater,

You have nothing to do with me

You are here to partake of me as friend? Lover? Confidante?

A sequestered cloud upon which you walk at will?

I wish none of your molecules dissolved in me,

I want no DNA from you, no “sharing”

None of your mud-thoughts to cloud my pure waters

 

I want none of your shit-ass perspicacity

I am pure, as you were before you took all this upon yourself

& decided to carry it as a life.

 

Now, if you want to come in here, get clean

Go out & fix up the world,

That’s a diff’rent story:

Then I’m all yours, Baby.

Enter at will.

SAID SMALL, FROM THE CORNER OF THE ROOM

I don’t know anyone else will ever hear these as I’ve said them

I do know that when they went through me

They were filings roughening a smooth surface

Acid drippings across my soul, ripping shreds of my life to raw,

Rendering me impossible to live with

Untenable to remain with

Beautiful only in the way of a volcano is…

Lava scraping away a mountain is…

In a way all terrible & delicate & tender, a rendering to ash.

I know I will never be forgotten for the world herself has heard these words

I’ve cried them all aloud today, bowing to the rain

I watched her take them in, smeared across her face,

like runnels of tears, a striped tattoo

Or the scars of strip-mining

And I knew these words were never mine,

Nor belonged to me,

But only sliding across the furrows of my brain

To elide from my face, finding their way

A blind man headed downhill

Surrounded by mischievous goats.

They were only a blessing for I could not bring them to be a curse

To use these to destroy would implode the world.

would destroy civilization

But then, we have never been civilized to our memories…

(For Christ’s sake, we have not ever had civilization

Tho we pretended, pulling & tugging on just the one string

Till the whole thing unraveled

As we hung onto each other’s throats

Ignoring the scrape & itch of the hunting knife

Sliding between our ribs.)

We have always shaved our dreams to blood

Too closely down, pushing into places they should never go

Where others come upon them unaware

& leaning in to see them, all are burned.

ONE ENDING TOO MANY

My broken halo is scattered at my feet.

I tore it off my head this morning, I stomped it but good

I will no longer be the representative of God’s grace

Having turned into her most terrible wrath

In a day when my beauty no longer sustains who I am

My face a roadmap to new lands & languages,

When my breasts stand no more, but flat

Against my chest like twin sacks of rice

I know that I am old. I have accepted this

Because old is only on the surface, never reaching the inside

Where the bright of me lives

And the soul of me dwells

And the answers to every question I ever asked

Glow like sparks in a fire of my own making.

I will not give up.

 I will always be here, doing this

And I will have done forever.

As You bring me forth each day,

Awakening again to earth,

It will be to dwell in the past I have created,

Through the future I have not.

I am a ravine down a sharp shale hill

You can ride me to the bottom – woohoo!

Or you can scale me to the heights – Aha!

So here you are, God, here y’are,

I don’t want it anymore!

Just can’t handle it.

Just don’t want it.

Here’s the soul – take it back

Do whatever You want with it.

I don’t care

Give it away, bury it

Stick it with the stars & make it shine

I really don’t care.

The life you gave me

Has been too beautiful for words

And the life I claimed to live

Has at times not lived up to this

And the world around me that was fine

Has turned to bargains in thriftshop windows.

But you know I wore them out my own damned self.

I put them there,

Here you go, God. I am but Your face in this world…

I have moved oceans & torn down heavens,

I have grown trees & plowed meadows,

Digging up Your holiness & scattering it about

For others to find.

I’m done now.

I’m done.

(To be blinded with blessing is not the worst of a life

It is a one more in a world of one mores.)

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

For the price of a tank of gas, America lives

Lives in its cars & campers & broke-down trailers

Still now, with not a round tire among them.

And who has done this to us?

What heinous crimes are committed against us

That we are washed up on our glorious beaches?

Bent & twisted, medically unsound, mentally unfit

From wars not of our making

From meds not of our shaping

Whitened by the salt of our tears

Twisted by fear & lack…

How do we overcome this?

O come, God! Bring us into our living aloft as angels.

We will bend the light no more, pour it out upon us as love!

 

Runes

RUNES

Were runes the first secret alphabet of mankind? I associate runes with Vikings & what with Norse being a difficult language, they likely kept secrets in runes quite well.

If we think of runes as letters carved on tiny, flat rocks, it must’ve taken a Viking shipload to put together a note. Not to mention trying to glue these to the fridge.

Therefore, runes became symbolic – like using a heart icon to say like/love/dearie, etc. Runic shorthand is quite fun & was revolutionary in language learning, jumping the Norse ahead of the Chinese who scribed long before their northlander cousins, but used up much ink & wore down brushes, necessitating frequent trips to the pig bristle hut.

Runic tools lasted. Hammers & chisels hardly fit into pencil cases & must have been difficult for the children to carry to school.  While the Norse might stop along a coastline, it was mostly to steal sheep & hardly ever to replenish rune-writing supplies.

Many aboriginal cultures never codified words in writing. They used clicking & guttural sounds to speak. These conveyed meaning, carried through jungle undergrowth & cut tribal noise barriers in the villages. It must have been hard to whisper, though.

Runes & other symbols have gone through a difficult time lately. Witness the evolution of the dire warning of skull & crossbones indicating “poison!” into Halloween candy. Since runes dropped from favor & parchment plus bird-feather nibs have also eroded their market share, we have wound up with computers and spell-check. It is obvious that spell-check cannot spell, yet we continue to use it to mix homonyms into a language evocative of illiteracy plus one. This, plus people’s advanced inability to spell on their own has rendered written language somewhat comedic. Mixing words like “there” & “their” obscures meanings effectively. Is AI trying to divide & conquer or are we all so lacking in English skills now?

As to the spoken word, there are far too many verbal Tourette’s tics in conversation, like “y’know?” “got that?” [the ubiquitous] “like” & the ever-present, “um.”

Not me! I learned English at the end of a bladed 12” ruler wielded by a woman who wore rosary beads as ornamentation, probably had headphones blasting AC/DC under her wimple, purchased on my Catholic School March of Dimes money. The nuns I knew collected teeth for misspellings, cut off ears for talking in class & used arcane ritual in curing them to string under the habits. It’s been recently revealed on the Internet that they maintained the purity of the language through threat & the all-effective follow-through of nightly detention. The only thing worse than school all day was school all night, too. In all, what they DID achieve was a kind of immortality of race memory in a group of kids already burdened with confession, confirmation, & breathing chalk dust from clapping erasers.

So, while Vikings used rocks as language – cairns meaning, take a left at the fir tree forest to find more sheep, the Chinese rolled their Gone With Mist Wind manuscripts into thick scrolls & tied them with facial hair. Americans used to be fancy, but now we scribble/scrawl with the best of them. We use language carelessly, ignoring actual definitions, making up more words to misspell & randomizing spelling in general. I won’t even approach gratuitous besmirching of rules of grammar here.

Even as we attempt to simplify language, it becomes more complex. Imagine your average Norseman disembarking his elaborately carven boat to order a pumpkin mocha with turmeric… It was a different time to communicate for sure.

Now I must pull my tongue out of my cheek & I hope you will do so as well. I had to get this off my, um, chest.

Thank you.

The Great Tag-Cutting Caper (Or, What Has It Got In Its Toolbox?)

Ok. I confess: I did it. I deliberately brought scissors into the bed & bathrooms & cut the tags off the new bedspread, pillow shams and towels. Not stopping there, I also carefully trimmed off the tags wrapped around the electrical wires, you know, the ones that say “URGENT! Do not run this appliance under water!” I don’t want to say the word “stoopid,” but hey now! How often do you run your wires through the shower when plugging things in? Do we really need a reminder?

Firstly, why are all the tags 4×6 inches? The instruction books are printed in .2 font – what I call “insurance font,” fitting 47 annotated pages onto four five-inch sheets stapled in the middle. The print looks rather like an insect walked through an ink jar, then across the itty-bitty booklet, turning around a couple of times to get comfortable. Don’t you love instruction manuals with one page in English, one in Hindi, one in French? You’ll never see one in Chinese because they made the thing there & don’t need instructions.

I am not one to take chances on doing repairs much, other than replacing the occasional lightbulb. My idea of a power tool is a long lighter. I’ve taken a picture of my “Hello Kitty” toolbox above. Look carefully. In the front are all the doodads (Latin term) I have no idea what they came with, but they were in little plastic bags, so they might be important. One never knows when a man will come into the house, notice something out of whack & ask, ‘where’s the doodad in the plastic bag that came with this?’ Momentarily, however, I keep them sealed in the original plastic & fully anticipate they will remain tidily so for eternity.

There are a couple of flat metal things. Ditto on the having absolutely no clue what they are from, but may be plumbing, so better keep ‘em. The day I moved into this apartment, a spigot-thingie fell right off whatever it was attached to under the bathroom sink. I saved it under the cabinet for when the landlord cometh, because I could lie on my back under the sink for three hours & now know from whence it unscrewed itself. And why on MY watch?

Then there’s a layer of unknown wires – plugs to nowhere – like that Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska. Don’t you hate to throw away a good wire? It can’t be just me. I know when I worked in the thrift store in Delaware, bags of wires came thru the slot daily. We simply tagged them 50 cents & put them onto the special rack with Useless Unknowns. Once in a while, someone would come in & say, “Hey! Don’t you realize this wire plugs in the Christmas Tree on the White House lawn? And you have it marked fifty cents?” All the ladies nearby this person would round on him (always a guy) with fingers across lips. We marked it that to get rid of it. If you want to buy it & use the rest of your dollar on postage to DC, be our guest, but shut up already because if the manager hears you, he’ll make us mark it up & it will be in the store until death do us part.

Ok, Hello Kitty. There’s three elastic bands for fastening down tablecloths on outside tables or, what I bought them for, to hold down flat sheets on a massage table so they won’t roll over with the client. However, immediately after purchasing them, I realized I should just buy fitted sheets. See? Not totally stupid, merely unskilled in the arcane.

There are two packages of picture hooks, the little gold ones. I need two packages because most of the nails fall down behind the floor heating units, or into the carpet, upon which they immediately & mysteriously become invisible to the human eye. For every hook I get into the wall, four nails have gone stealth in the universe. I could no more drive a straight nail than I could build a house with plumbing that worked…but you may have garnered this from the sparse collection of functional items in the toolkit. But if the occasion ever does arise, I have a little spigot thingie to start the ball rolling.

Make sure you gaze with envy at the $17 tape measure which is too heavy to hold in one hand while using it to measure. A boyfriend of long ago remarked disdainfully on my using cloth sewing tapes. Hell, I can’t measure anything without closing my eyes & doing it six times, so what use to have a real tape measure? But, stung by his mockery, I made it a point to buy the most expensive one at the hardware store, made for manly men with the pecs & biceps to hold it over their heads while they use their monkey arms to pull it out to five feet so they can say, “Take this down, honey, I think it’s 5 & ¾ across & 67 down. Well, dude, I know from my own experience things don’t come in 67 down. The world has standard weights & measures & no amount of influence of the European Union is going to introduce meters & litres into America. Uh uh, no way. 67 down indeed. Is this guy doing a crossword puzzle?

I have an Exacto which I use VERY carefully & always facing away from me, with visions of slicing clear through 6” of skin & bleeding out over the cardboard box from Amazon (that clearly says, DO NOT CUT.).

There’s a car adapter for plugging in the computer which the boyfriend mentioned above used once on a long trip. That cost $25 & I am not parting with it. Note it is in original packaging. The thrift store that winds up with that upon my passing will definitely get fifty cents for it.

I have a couple of packages of the Command magic tape sticks because these are my go-to hanging hardware. It is a miracle to have the option to rip something right off the wall to straighten it when it’s hanging crooked because my one eye is near-sighted & the other far-sighted which renders properties like depth perception uncertain in real-time & impossible otherwise. My goal in hanging stuff is to keep the margin at that ¾” minimum tilt I mentioned…the eye perceives it, but it’s not enough for most people to actually say something about. Look, this is not my lifetime to be handy; I was meant for other duties of a more intellectual bent. This means that I am helpless in fixing anything unless I can sell enough words to pay someone else to come in & DO.

I once had a friend who wore a toolbelt made of leather & a painter’s hat. She’d strut around nailing this & bulletproofing that. She once planted 100 trees in the desert which her husband let die right after she left him. Oh, not right away, it took a little time, but not watering 100 baby trees in the desert usually kills ’em. I remember that when she walked by in full gear, I almost fell to my knees. I liked her up until the time she told me the best way to discipline my panting dog was to stick her finger down his throat.

My toolkit is colorful, mysterious, decorative & seldom of use. If repair guys don’t bring their own tools (and be assured I watch to see what they pull out of their trucks. If they’re empty-handed, I run old excuses, trying to remember which ones worked with the last handyman.) Recently a fix-it guy who here to hang pictures assumed I’d have a hammer. In this we both were lucky. I do have a hammer & it works. How about it? (When he asked if I had one, he looked a bit quizzical when I replied under my breath, “barely.”)

I don’t expect anyone in the general population to dig up my little plastic bin of gadgetry & rebuild a town after an earthquake. I probably should tape a couple of prayers on the lid, since these would be more useful – like praying for someone to come by with real tools.

And I fully intend to cut the tags off whatever & wherever I find them. If you want to report me to the Tag Police, have at it. If they don’t come in with a toolkit, they can’t take me to jail.

So there!