Where have you been?

This question plagues us throughout life in various contexts with all kinds of underlying currents and connotations. A parent sitting up at midnight while a young teen slinks in.  A woman sulking over a cold dinner while her spouse puts down a laptop bag and cell phone. A basketball player on the school steps frowning at Dad when he’s fifteen minutes late.

But who cares about all of them? You’re all wondering where I’ve been! (You are, aren’t you?)

Up to my armpits in alligators. Not quite. Piranhas nipping at my pectorals? Eee-gad! I hope not!

Nothing so terribly melodramatic or cliche as any of those, of course. (We have neither breed of aquatic life in Illinois. And whew! for that!) Simply life and too  little time getting in my way. Between the dust of new flooring and the subsequent pain of stripping wallpaper, taking care of the kids, and a thousand other obligations all teeming with urgency or importance, MP didn’t get the attention it deserved. Plus, I’ve been filtering through contest submissions and making selections, with the input of several colleagues. So much to do!

Yet, I have time and energy to hope you’re all well as the season’s change rolls through our lives, bringing fall’s chill in the north latitudes and spring’s rebirth in the south. Hats off to all of us for being jugglers and dynamos even when life gets its most insane. As a reward, I suggest you go out and enjoy whatever delights the new season offers–golden leaves or golden daffodils–and just breathe the marvelous air. Quiet moments are important too.


Yes, I said, dirt. Is it that we have pets? Too little time? An old house with enough dust and spiders for an entire suburban subdivision? Children? Clutter? (I watch those hoarder shows and wonder where we’ll be in ten years if I can’t get the girls to throw away more things or put them in the great garage sale pile–reluctant is such a tiny word.)

I’ll be honest with you: We live a humble life. We have a decent 110-year-old house, a car needing to be replaced soon, a van that’s well past the 50,000-mile mark, and not enough hours in our days to do all we must do. So, I’m here to ask you, how do people with larger incomes (for argument, we’ll say over $90,000 annually) and larger houses on acre+ lots do it? How do they stay tidy and organized and uncluttered? Is it the money? Do they pay for cleaning services? Do they tell their children, “Hey, let’s get rid of that. If we need one later, we’ll just buy one.” (After all, they can afford it, right?) How is it when you visit their quarry-tile coated homes with big flat screen televisions, leather living room suites, hall tables, cobweb free 12 ft. ceilings, and baskets of freshly laundered clothes never in sight, they appear to manage so well? Is it the space? Is it that they have 4,000 sq. feet to spread their stuff around in? Is it their walk-in closets and four bathrooms? (Hey, who cleans all those toilets? I wanna know!)

Surely they’re as busy (or busier) than we are. Is it purely personality? The Type A clean-aholics vs. us less-anal  slightly-more-bohemian types?

No matter how many ways I spin it, I keep coming back to time. Either it’s they use it more wisely, or that somehow, their incomes allow them to ‘buy’ it by reducing their burdens. For instance, if they want their deck pressure-washed and stained, they are more likely to hire it done. We’re in the do-it-yourself bracket all the way. With one regular income and one work-from-home-catch-as-you-can, you can’t hardly pay somebody $18 an hour just to wash and paint your deck for you. Yes, I really think that’s it. You make $100,000 and you pay someone else to clean your toilets or strip your wallpaper and paint your 12-ft. ceilings. (You also pay someone to move all your shit before you get the painting done.)

I’ll admit it: It would be nice to live like that. And I really hope sufficient success finds us and before we die we get that comfortable. In the meantime, I’m sitting with my back to a house disrupted by floor tile installation we can only sort of afford. We’ve got our dining room furniture (and a measure of assorted clutter) and kitchen appliances crammed into the rest of our downstairs. We moved all the stuff ourselves–even the dishwasher (Paul was undoing it at 11 PM last night when he was already dog-tired from hauling antique cabinets). My dog and cats are nearly apoplectic over the rattle thunk of pry bars and burr of saws. When the tile’s done, I’ll be stripping my own wallpaper, dusting my own ceiling fan, priming and painting my walls and ceiling, hanging my own mirrors and pretty plates and photographs, and trying very hard to not put back all the crap we had to move to get this project done. (Please, someone order me a dumpster!)

Pray for me, ladies! Whether your address a holy Him or a sacred Her, attract the power of the Force or draw from the well of the Earth, send me your well wishes! And whatever trials you have, I’ll send you mine. I know in the scheme of things, my current situation is modest–many of us have much worse to endure. It’s our hanging-together and offering support–no matter what our income or housekeeping devotion–that sustains us. Long live the dust and cobwebs! All hail a bit of clutter to keep us human! And goddess bless our hairy, four-footed friends who I’d not trade for anything.

Now, I think I’m getting high from the adhesive fumes they’re using to attach the sub floor, so I better go visit my dishwasher (a mid-range model that I’m sure those other folks would just replace since it’s, gulp, all of six years old) on the front porch and get a breath of air.

PS I am rejoicing in my new refrigerator and stove–they arrive on Thursday. We can only sort of afford those too. They’re not stainless-steel-clad or fancy by any means. Again, mid-range expensive–just enough features to make us feel special–but they’ll be new and I shall love them!

Mwahs, everyone! :)

Can’t believe…

It’s been more than a month since my last post! Cripes, you all must have thought I’d gone on permanent holiday (don’t I wish). Nothing of the sort. Only one of  THE busiest Julys on record–if I were keeping records. I hope you’re all happy and healthy as the summer begins to wind down, and you’ve got just a tiny bit of color in your cheeks and on your thighs (not too much–we want vitamin D but no skin cancer, thank you very much!).

As you probably saw, the August issue is up and full of superb art and imaginative poetry and a bit of prose. Enjoy the read.

Oh, and while I’m at it–a reminder that the new deadline for contest submissions is looming. August 31 will arrive before you know it, so don’t forget to get your entries in! I’m looking forward to reading more of your outstanding work!


It’s more than just a song by Billy Joel (c’mon, I know we’re all old enough to remember that one). It’s how I have to be with myself about my writing from time to time. The honest truth is, as determined, dedicated, and confident we are that being  a writer is exactly what we’ve always wanted, the plain facts are it’s hard work and we have good days and bad days. Lately, I’ve been in a horrible funk. Certain as can be that I’ve lost my mind and gone off on the wrong path. I mean who am I to write? What have I done or seen? What hidden truths are so monstrously important that I have to toss them at the world on so many pages of paper?

Truth is, I have to stop thinking like that. This is my passion. There’s not one thing I’ve wanted longer or more ardently. I have to accept that there will be good moments and bad, when everything I write is like a slug from under a rock–gray, shapeless, unappealing. This even happens to the best writers, so who am I to let myself get discouraged? A quitter? No way. I’ve ink in my veins and can’t deny it.

So, with renewed vigor, I’m going to get back to writing fiction and be all that I can be! So won’t you join me? Set a summer resolution to write more, write often, write terrifically!

And while you’re at it, enter MP’s Summer of Fiction or Summer of Poetry contest while there’s still time! I can’t enter, so I leave it up to you to dazzle me with your prose and poems. I’ve got my shades so you can shine! :chic:

Ashamed to say…

While I’m enjoying this summer immensely, I am ashamed to say I’ve got too damned much to do to derive the full joy I should. I suppose that’s a good thing, being busy I mean, until you couple it with the precious darlings home for summer break. It’s a disastrous combination. I can’t seem to finish anything. There’s always some kid crisis to deal with, or auto repair headaches, and god-knows-what-else. Some days I can hardly have a coherent thought for longer than 10 seconds. Or maybe that’s not just the distractions so much as the hormones I’m gradually losing. I’m in an odd spot with kids aged 6 and 9 and in the midst of that pre-menopausal phase where things are unpredictable at worst, and often absent for long months at best!

Anyway…July is on the horizon and I’ve got some great things planned. Also, we’re seeing contest deadlines loom. Get your poems and stories in!

Love ‘n hugs, ladies and gents! Let freedom ring!

Shoved up my…

Good morning, Kats and Kitties! What’s just about the saddest way to lay eyes on one of the most gorgeous young men on the planet? (Okay, I say young because I’m most likely old enough to be his youngish mother. In fact he’s probably quite mature for thirty-ish.) Anyway. To answer my own question: in a hospital gown when you’re being wheeled into an exam suite for your second colonoscopy. Now, for those of you pinching up your faces, let me remind you, for us with family histories of colon cancer, these procedures are an ugly evil, prepped by (in this instance) 36 hours of fasting (some lucky folks have more like 24 hours, but then they have to guzzle lax in the middle of the night), two horrid doses of laxatives and ponds of sports drinks that pretty much make you pee from both ends, as it were.

The good news is, I got to lay eyes on pretty Dr. P, meet some of the kindest nurses colleges ever created, and have one kick-ass post-procedure meal at Chili’s. Not quite sure which was more satisfying: Dr. P’s warm smile and brilliant eyes, or the taco quad stuffed with shrimp and spicy chicken. The good news is, I had only one polyp this time, and Dr. P says if the lab results are favorable I might get to go five years before undergoing this again–rather than three like the last time.

So, to all you doubters who wonder if these procedures are worth it, I’ll send you one notch down to read my last post and say, yes, for you, for those you love, follow your doctor’s advice.

Now, about that mammogram I need to schedule… :cow:


Yikes! June has arrived and is moving swiftly along. Ordinarily, it’s a month I anticipate greatly with the usually balmy weather, sunny skies, baby birds still begging for worms they’re nearly big enough to catch themselves. It’s lovely. Yet, today I’m enjoying it with a few caveats thrown in.

First, my sister-in-law and I just completed our annual garage sale. Cripes, what a business that is. This year it seemed slightly less painful than some others…perhaps we’re finally getting it down to an art form. Best news? I have a tidy little sum to show for it and a lot less crap to trip over in my house and garage.

In contrast to all that hubbub, today I’m in preparations for my second colonoscopy. The first was 3-1/2 years ago. Family history, don’t ya know. Kinda tough being stuck at an age that requires such procedures yet still having two-kids’-worth of junk to sell on a garage sale. Life gives us real benders sometimes, and these overlapping levels of life are often beyond comprehension. Guess you just have to live them.

Listen, I’d love to write more at the moment, but the magic laxative they’ve forced me to imbibe is churning away at my insides and I might have to dash. My advice to you all? Listen to your doctor when she says you need a test or medicine or some such so that you can be around for your children (spouse, family, cousins, friends) and to (wo)man garage sales for years to come.

Love you all, sisters!


mixing clay and water to obtain a proper consistency

Do you believe May is 2/3 gone? Where the hell does the time go? Ah, yes, the perils of gaining wisdom–time speeds up until years pass as fast as cat naps. You know how when you go somewhere new it seems to take a lot longer to get there than it does to get home? It’s all about how the mind perceives an experience. The first part of the journey the ‘going to’ is an irregular path, unknown to us so we are distracted and diverted by new experiences, sights, smells, roads untraveled.  Think of it as a wild line, darting off in a direction before returning to the original path. Thus the journey seems to take longer as our mind gathers the tidbits of the adventure. The return, the ‘coming from’ is straight as an arrow, now familiar and even welcome, as something inside yearns to be in the cradle of home. We ignore the diversions and focus on the goal we know so well. The speeding by of our more, ahem, mature years, is kind of like that. As children, everything seemed new to us, vivid, fresh, we anticipated everything, and none of it came fast enough.  We were on the ‘going to’ path with so much to discover. Only now, as we are in the ‘coming from’ frame of life, do we find more things are familiar than unfamiliar. We know the worst thunderstorms appear in April and May.  We no longer tremble in fear that every dark cloud from April until September will send us diving beneath our blankets. In fact, even that lovely tingle of fear, we both despised and longed for, barely rises within.

We are tempered. The material of us is mixed with the fluid of experience so more of life  is familiar than new. So what have we got to say about it? What’s there to do? Sit on our asses and accept it? I don’t think so!  Let’s get the hell off our bottoms and make some new experiences. Enrich our lives by taking  new paths and lengthening the illusion of shortening years.

Don’t ask for water when you can choose to taste the wine!  :drink:

Share your ‘Pause stories!

Got any Menopause horror stories? Devastating hot flash in the middle of an important meeting? Did you receive a nasty, messy, surprise monthly gift in those peri-meno years? At the worst possible moment?

Share it here by posting a comment or put it up on the MP facebook page’s Discussion board. Come on, share with your sisters. You know you want to!

Make us laugh. Make us shake our heads and go, “Oh, Lord, I know exactly what you mean!” We want to know what sort of hell nature put you through as you graduate(d) from childbearer to honored priestess of wisdom!


Rainy days :-(

Sure, we need rain, and wind has a cleansing effect–like a fan in a stinky restroom, only better–but honestly, it’s May 11, why am I still wearing fleece and listening to the click of the thermostat?  Spring has sprung! Let there be sunshine and 75 degrees, please!

Today is a mixed day for me. On this date in 1922 my father was born. He was a hardworking man with a sharp sense of humor, very devoted to family. We lost him in November 2004. His sometimes gruff and frank nature is sorely missed. If you’re watching me today, Dad, I wish you all the goodness and rest you spent a lifetime earning. You’re my hero and I love you.  I rejoice in your life and reflect on the sorrow of your passing.

In a little more than a month, I’ll be thinking of Dad again, a little more than an ordinary day, as we all recognize and celebrate fatherhood. But Father’s Day also is a mixed emotional event, as it recalls the date of my mother’s death in 1984. She too gave her all to her family. She was a baker, a nurturer, and a woman who volunteered for church and non-profit organizations. She had nothing but love to give and I only regret that she didn’t live long enough for me to fully appreciate all she did and gave (and to tell her so). Mom was thin and beautiful in her youth. She left us letters and a diary or two so we can glimpse her passion and verve. Perhaps it is from her that my love of writing springs.

Ironic, I suppose, that I’m having my second colonoscopy in June, since it was colon cancer that took her from us. I’m not yet 50, but have followed my doctor’s advice to be checked early for polyps that can lead to cancer.  Three years ago, I learned that getting checked early and having a few polyps removed is far easier than fighting cancer–no matter what discomforts and hunger pangs we must endure to prepare for the test.

This is a reminder to every woman out there, and men too, get the tests done your doctor recommends, change your diet and your exercise habits. Live as long and strong as you can for those you love. In writing, we talk about he importance of characters and their portrayal. You’re a character in your family members’ lives–make your journey into a long, rambling novel of memories and events that you don’t want to put down.