An Evening in Paris

I crept quietly towards my sister’s bedroom door and peeked in. Babe was sitting on a ruffled stool in front of the dressing table combing her dark hair into a smooth pageboy. Clad only in a long slip, she looked thin and delicate.

Behind me, I heard Mama coming up the stairs. Tousling my hair, she walked past me into the room inquiring, “Did you want me to help you slip into your prom dress?”

The blue, floor-length formal Babe had chosen to wear for the dance tonight had blue tulle over a silky under-skirt. It looked heavenly. I sighed in admiration. My sister looked like an angel standing in a misty cloud. Slipping into high heels, my sister turned back toward her dressing table, picked up a blue bottle and dabbed perfume behind her ears.

I giggled when Babe’s date came to pick her up. Although I’d seen him before, he looked different wearing a formal suit. Mom retrieved her brownie box camera from her bedroom bureau to take a photograph of them in the backyard. I watched and wondered if I’d ever look as grown-up and sophisticated as they did.

After Babe and her date drove away, I wandered around in the backyard for a while. Despite a small rain shower earlier, the golden rays from the setting sun felt warm. Under my bare feet, the grass felt slightly damp. The scent of blossoming lilacs filled the yard. Sniffing, I thought my sister’s little dab of perfume. Continue reading

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Mother’s a Fickle Dame

We never bothered to turn on the radio when we returned home from church. In the soothing quiet of the living room, the only sound was of the rustle of the Sunday newspaper. I had just finished reading the funnies when my husband Arnie, put the sports section down and announced, “It’s a beautiful spring day. I’m going to go for a walk, do you want to come with me?”

Eagerly jumping to my feet, I responded, “You bet I do! Just let me go and grab a sweater.”

“You won’t need one.” Arne pointed out. “It’s warm today.”

I nodded in agreement as I replied. “This whole month of March is warmer than usual. The last of our winter snow melted away last week.” With a chuckle I admitted, “Once the snow is gone, the refrigerator breezes go away, too.”

Sunshine on the deck behind the house felt as warm as a summer day. The breeze was pleasantly warm as well, so I needed nothing more than the light-weight, short sleeved shirt I wore.   Continue reading

Brain Candy

It was time for me to shut the lights out and go to bed, but I decided to read just one more page. Along the bottom margin I spotted this one-line snippet of trivial information. “There are 140,000 ladybugs to a gallon.”

Despite knowing that no one would hear me, I yelled into the night, “Ew! Who in the world would research information like this? Why? Who cares how many nasty, stinky ladybugs fill a gallon jug?!” Although I protested, I still found it fascinating to know.

Reading for a short while at bedtime helps me wind down from the day. Trivia books, like the big bible-sized book I had on my lap that evening are the best. They’re interesting, but discourage ‘read-gorging’ for hours on end. The last novel I had read at bedtime kept me up until two in the morning.

Sometimes trivia is so interesting I look up more facts on the topic. My house has always been a magnet for Asian beetles. I’ve wondered why. No one else in my family has as many. I researched the topic and learned that lady beetles leave trails of pheromones wherever they go to attract other lady beetles. I have an invisible vacancy sign over my bugs’ inn. Continue reading

Death in a Jar

As I poured myself a cup of coffee, a woman I know who is a dietitian walked up to the counter. Although I knew that most professionals hate being asked for curbside advice, I just couldn’t help myself. After giving her a friendly greeting I said, “I hear that coconut oil is the new wonder food. What do you think about that?”

My acquaintance didn’t seem to mind the question, but she did seem to have a major problem with coconut products. With a grimace she exclaimed, “Coconut oil is very bad for a person’s cholesterol. I don’t think a person should even eat coconut flakes in baked goods!”

I looked concerned and nodded. After exchanging a few pleasantries, we turned and went our separate ways.

What I hadn’t told my dietitian acquaintance, was that I’d recently seen a nutritionist who recommended that I start using coconut oil for baking. Being given two such opposing instructions is unnerving. Which one is right? Continue reading

Gourmet Glorp

My brothers and I sat at their dinner table in the farmhouse’s sunny patio room. Warmed by the heated floor tiles, the sunshine and a glass of Casper’s homemade wine, our conversation flowed freely.

Billy jumped to his feet and went to the kitchen. A moment later he came back with a wedge of cheddar cheese. Dropping into his chair, he cut several slices for us to share. Savoring the creamy flavor of the cheese, then taking a sip of two-year-old plum wine, made me sigh with satisfaction.

Casper was telling funny stories about things that had happened to him while fishing with friends in Canada. The topic of foods they had brought with them somehow devolved into Mom’s attempts to feed oatmeal to Casper when he was a little boy.

He complained, “Most people call it oatmeal, but I call it vile glorp! Every time I opened my mouth, Mom would shove a spoonful of the stuff into my mouth.” To demonstrate how repulsed he felt just remembering this traumatic experience, my 78-year-old brother stuck out his tongue and gagged. Continue reading

Selective Shedding

I stood in the middle of the kitchen munching on apple slices and sipping a cup of tea. “This will have to do for my breakfast.” I told my daughter, Tammie. “I’m in a hurry because I didn’t allow enough time to get ready for my appointment.”

The sound of a cat pawing at the entry door prompted Tammie to get up from the dining room table to open the door. My sleek white and black cat Louie, slipped quickly into the room and made a bee-line toward me.

Taking one step backward, I said, “No. Louie, stay away…ach!” Although I didn’t want it to happen, Louie rubbed his entire silky body from nose to tail against my left leg. I looked down at my black slacks now half covered with white cat hair. He turned around to make a second swipe, this time against my right leg. I pushed him away.

Tammie said, “Mom, he’s just trying to tell you how much he loves you.”

“Yes, I know how much he loves me.” I snapped. “He loves me so much that he wants his scent to be all over me! My problem is that I’m leaving the house and don’t want to look like an unkempt fur-ball.” Continue reading

Cabin Fever

I opened my eyes and saw gray light filtering into the room. Pushing the blankets aside I walked to the window and lifted a curtain to peek out. My monochromic yard looked dreary. “The weatherman was wrong.” I grumbled. “The storm didn’t start at six am. Maybe he’ll also be wrong about it being icy. With any luck we’ll get nothing but snow.” I glared disdainfully at the black evergreen branches, gray tree trunks and white snow. The tracks in the snow were old and no longer interested me. I felt bored with this unchanging winter landscape.

Once a week I clean out my furnace’s ash pan. After dressing, I jogged down to the basement to shut the wood pellet burner off, the first step of the chore. Passing a window, I thought about how excited I am when I see new tracks in the snow around the house. Winter boredom, cabin fever, or whatever you want to call it, magnifies the mundane to an otherwise perfectly normal person. Continue reading