“We must make the boxes!” the elementary school teacher barked at the group of kindergartners sitting on the floor.

I was one of those students, and I nodded in agreement. We all nodded. The time had come to make the boxes.

Everyone was handed a shoe box and soon we were gluing construction paper, tissue, and newspapers on to them. A small rectangular hole was cut on the top. Some had glitter sprinkled on them while others had paper hearts affixed to the sides.

Valentine’s day was approaching and these were our mailboxes, eager to accept the valentines from our fellow students. Maybe a cherry flavor sucker would make its way in, if you were lucky. We lined them up on a table, ready for the big day.

The teacher implemented a classroom rule: you had to get every student a card. No skipping anyone.

Excited, my mom and I went to the grocery store and bought an inexpensive box of Valentine’s cards, designed for this very thing. They weren’t large at all, maybe 3 inches by 4 inches. My mom let me pick out the design I liked.

I went home, tore into the box, and wrote messages in each card to my classmates. Neatly, I printed their names on the outside of the envelopes and stuffed the cards in them.

I didn’t want to lick the glue and my kindergarten mind didn’t come up with the solution of running a damp sponge across the seal, so I stuck them in my book bag unsealed.

When I arrived at school, and the teacher gave the signal we could start stuffing the mailboxes, I realized in horror over half of my cards had fallen out of the envelopes. They weren’t in my book bag either.

Ridden with guilt and shame, I placed the empty envelopes into the Valentine’s day boxes.

Happy Valentine’s Day this year and happy Valentine’s Day next year.

Kitties say Happy Valentine's Day

 

3 months after meeting Russell.

Russell. Sigh. I loooove him.

I love the way he masticates his food

And wraps his soft hands around his fork.

I love the way his blue eyes gaze upon me,

And how he’s always in a fantastic mood.

It’s so cute how he sips his tea.

A hot cup to enjoy as the light fades to dark.

At night I lay besides him,

And listen to his breath.

In and out, up and down, rises his chest.

So sexy as I swell with adoration

My love for him crests.

 

9 months after meeting Russell.

Russell. I looooothe him.

His jaw flaps open as he smacks his food.

And his pale wussy hands clutch his knife.

Did not his parents tell him this was rude?

Morning, night, and day, he plods around

Dragging his feet along the ground,

consumed with being sullen.

He stares at me with those grotesque eyes,

Now orbs of aqua repulsion.

The way he slurps his tea makes me want to cry

Plus, he never leaves the tea bag in long enough to steep

He farts and breathes like an old pug while he sleeps.

And rolls around to steal the covers.

Until it becomes a crisis.

My irritation with him rises.

 

Ten months after meeting Russell.

It is over. Our love is done,

Withered up like a leaf on a tree at the beginning of winter, waiting to blow away in the frigid air.

No more will grow back as the roots of the tree have rotted, eaten by maggots and worms.

It is over. Our love is done.

 

Twelve months after meeting Russel

Joshua. Sigh. I looooooove him…

 

 

No more sparkling decorations. No more parties. No more fun.

January is the dreariest of the months.

The glow of the Christmas lights have darkened as the decorations have been stashed away. By the side of the road sits a brown, crispy hull of a Christmas tree, a shell of its former glory. It used to make people gleeful with its white or colored lights and dangling ornaments. Now, its cruelly tossed out, waiting to be ground up into tiny bits so it can decompose. Fake trees are stashed in stifling closets, attics, or basements, forgotten until next year. In the meantime the plastic tree hibernates, collecting dust, and feeling neglected.

People, after a month of over-consuming, over-socializing, and being overwhelmingly busy, scale back and opt to stay home. They embrace their New Year’s Resolutions of denying themselves fun rich foods, cookies, and alcoholic drink. The days of an overflowing supply of cheese accompanied by a forever refilling wine glass are gone. Pizza has been replaced with salads, which are great, but not so appealing when rain seeps from swirling gray skies, and the chill drives the cat inside to eat out of boredom and get chubby.

Yes, January is the dreariest of the months.

Getting a friend to meet you somewhere in January is almost impossible as they only want to huddle at home, hungry and agitated as they buckled down on their diet plan for the first three weeks. They also suffer from sore muscles, having joined a gym and with much enthusiasm, did too much the first two sessions. Moving presents a burden, so much in fact, they probably won’t pick up their cell phones to answer your texts about getting together.

The cold weather lingers and the plants have died, some becoming nothing more than piles of sludge on the ground. Others simply wither and turn brown. Spring hovers around the corner, waiting to do its dance to lure the flowers out of the ground. The warm weather feels distant and impossible to reach.

So let’s pop open the champagne and raise out glass for a toast and say good-bye to January, the dreariest of all months.

Frenemy is disgusted by the January weather.

Cats and yoga mats

She sleeps in the corner, her tail wrapped around her body, her head nestled into her front paws. Her whiskers quiver and her back legs twitch at dreams of far-off fields, teaming with light brown wheat and an abundance of rats. 

It is the time of day that I stretch my muscles, taunt from too much sitting and I will push through a series of sun salutations with a personal vow to add one more than the day before. 

I remove the yoga mat from the closest, its squishiness sinking beneath my fingers.  Often it smells like last night’s dinner. Perhaps I should move it out of the pantry and into an actual closet. 

I place it on the floor, quiet, and with deliberation I roll the mat out. 

Instantly, the cat springs to life, dreams of rats forgotten, and she sprints to the yoga mat and plops in the middle of it. 

Just like the day before and the day before that. 

Cats and yoga mats.

I adore making New Year’s Resolutions. The new year starts, full of hope and promises that changes can be made, and triggers inspiration. My list starts with a few and then grows to many, some of them merely to do items but I prefer to call them resolutions, all 31 of them.

The year started off a bit gloomy as an illness had left me dozing on the sofa and unable to think for 21 days. The virus has cleared my system, and my functioning brain has switched back on, and I’m ready to get started.

Except I’m kind of weak so the exercise one will have to wait until later.

And now I’m super hungry, so maybe I should hold off on the Mcdougal style diet.

I don’t feel like going anywhere so the visit to new restaurants will be put on hold.

Hmmmm, maybe it’s not time to tackle NYR.

February anyone? Sounds like an excuse…

Mostly this post isn’t meant to be exciting, but to try some new things I’ve learned about WordPress. And following the youtube video I watched didn’t solve the issues I was having. Comments on blog post tips appreciated!

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

I could have sworn my cat Frenemy rolled her eyes when Buddy the elf said that on the TV. My eyes narrowed as I looked at her. She sat next to me, upright instead of her usual relaxed curled position. Her eyes fixated on the movie.

“It’s OK, Frenemy. It’s just a movie.”

She fell over and put her head into my lap.

“Merry Christmas.”

I frowned. That wasn’t a line from the movie. I didn’t have my laptop open, or my phone near me. No one else was in the house. Shrugging, I returned to the movie, the best Christmas movie ever. I don’t care that people say The Christmas Story, It’s A Wonderful Life, or Die Hard was the ultimate Christmas movie; the award went to Elf. I bet most people don’t know the original script ended with Santa and Mrs. Claus splitting, ready to bring in the divorce lawyers. The studio executives made the right call in having that part of the movie removed.

“Hey, I was talking to you. Merry Christmas.”

I turned the television off and groaned. No one wants to have auditory hallucinations right before the holidays.

“Down here.”

Frenemy was staring up at me. Those words definitely came from her mouth.

“Jesus Christ,” I screamed as I flung the cat out of my lap onto the floor.  

“No need for such theatrics,” she pouted.

“You talk? Since when?”

She ignored my question.

“I got you a Christmas gift.”

My mouth gaped open several inches before I gathered my senses on what action needed to be taken. There’s only one thing to do when your cat starts talking to you.

“Do you like the cat food I feed you? Of course you do, you inhale it. Why do you get up and sprint from one room to another? Do you have a cat friend in the neighborhood? Is someone else feeding you? Would you be OK if I got you a kitten friend?”

I took a deep breath in the middle of my barrage of questions but before I could continue, she interrupted me.

“You already know the answer to those questions. Come here.”

She strolled from the floor to underneath the Christmas tree, the one I spent 2.2 hours searching for, scrounging through every tree at not one, not two, but three different tree sellers. On that day, at that given moment, it was the best Christmas tree available for purchase.

Proudly, I wrapped it in lights and covered it with ornaments shaped like cats.

“Underneath the tree is your gift,” she said with excitement swelling in her tiny cat voice.

On my hands and knees, I crawled underneath the tree,
swearing under my breath at the latest round of needles on the ground. Christmas trees really do need a tree skirt and a full time Roomba that can drive over it without scrunching it up.

A tiny small black item was on the floor.

I picked it up and scooted back from under the tree. It sat
in my hand, dark gray, almost black, and under an inch long. It was shaped like a kidney bean and had the texture of liver.

“What is it?”

“A snack, for you!” If a cat could smile, I swear she was beaming. “A rat kidney.”

My arm stiffened, shocked at the thought of a rodent organ sitting in the palm of my hand.

Resisting the urge to throw it on the floor, I weakly smiled.

“Thank you, Frenemy. I’m touched you thought of me.”

Just then the door opened and Jim entered, juggling two bags of groceries I had politely asked him to pick up on his way home from working out.

“What do you have there?”

“A rat kidney.”

“Don’t touch that. Throw it away and wash your hands!”

He grabbed a tissue and took the organ out of my hand and into the trash.

“Please don’t,” I called after him, “you’ll hurt Frenemy’s feelings. She gave that to me for Christmas.”

He gave me an odd look.

“She’ll be OK.”

“She told me she picked it out for me, as a snack.”

“Are you feeling OK? You look flushed.”

I looked around for Frenemy who now stood in front of the door, meowing at the dark wood,   commanding someone to come open it.

“She was talking to me, like talking talking.”

He placed his hand on my forehead.

“You’re burning up. Go lie down and I”ll get you some water. The fever is making you delirious.”

So the cat wasn’t really talking to me. She didn’t think of me and get me a Christmas gift. The rat kidney snack was really for her to munch on later. It was just illness induced hallucinations.

Disappointed and now feeling achy with a previously
unnoticed scratchy throat, I sank onto the sofa. Jim opened the door to let Frenemy out, who turned just \before she exited and winked at me.

“Merry Christmas,” she whispered.

Frenemy the Christmas Cat

Paws have hidden socks by the chimney with care

Sofas have been decorated with wisps of cat hair

Ornaments rearranged, some onto the floor

While human owners trek to the store

To buy treats of turkey and chicken

And thick dark gravy perfect for lickin’

The room is quiet and dark except for the glow

From the Christmas tree, covered in fake snow

The silence in the house gives Frenemy a pause

As she examines the rat kidney she left for Santa Paws.

She’s been a good kitty, no scratching this year

She made all the rats and mice and frogs disappear

No vomiting on anyone’s favorite shoes

And only once did she steal the cashews

Her eyes grow heavy as she waits for his appearance

Promising herself not to cause interference

Yet she falls asleep, way too early,

Missing the man that smells like stale burley.

While he gobbles up his fresh rat kidney

He checks the list for a gift for Frenemy.

She wakes up surprised to find presents galore

And bats around the gifts, searching for

The one addressed to best kitty ever

certain it will contain a toy mouse made of leather.

No where to be found, she flops over with a sigh.

She’s a tough cat, she’s not going to cry.

Scissors are found and waved about, ready to cut,

the paper and tape while Frenemy licks her butt.

I haven’t been super active on my blog. It’s a shame really because I would love to be posting two or three times a week.

So why don’t I?

Because I’m an idiot when it comes to using WordPress.  I’ve read claims it’s simple, a drag and drop sort of builder.  Yet, somehow it never quite works out for me and my blog posts end up looking like they should be on a Geocities page.  For those of you who are full of youth and vigor, and do not know what Geocities was, it was a free site that would host your own personal website. You used their format.  It was clunky with awkward graphics.  It was so awful, it was awesome.

Why can’t doing a blog post be like setting up a Shutterfly photobook?

I think I’m aging myself here.

In any case, complications or not, I plan to post on a more regular basis.  Interesting, snazzy stuff.

About squirrels

Or stories about alien octopus

Or something about my perpetual love of lettuce.

Or….whatever I feel like.

If anyone has suggestions on how to make visually interesting posts with the least amount of work, let me know in the comments and please don’t say use AI.  No, just no to that.

For the bored, or maybe just the curious, check out what Geocities websites looked like.  Of course, this is not representative of ALL of them, but you get the vibe. 

https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/geocities-before-the-internet-was-cool

This is the second part of the short story The Blind Date which was inspired by the painting “Medusa” by Susan Sheets. You can purchase the painting at the Archway Gallery.  I encourage you to check out more of her art and the rest of the artists at Archway.

THE BLIND DATE –

part 2

Bill and Marsha eased into light-hearted, semi-thrilling conversation, and she giggled at some inane comment he made about taquitos vs flautas. She licked her lips. Flirty.

She flushed at her silliness. Of course, he wouldn’t pick up on her visual cues.

He paused in their conversation and took three hard swallows of wine as if he wanted to finish the glass off all at once.

“So, uh,” he stammered, searching for the right away to approach the topic, “why were you so excited when you realized I was blind?”

Her shoulders tensed, waking up the dormant snakes as they sensed her unease. The turban undulated slightly, moving off kilter on her head.

She inhaled.

“I have a physical feature that people might find off-putting,” she said, hoping her voice sounded casual and light, like having moving snakes on her head was common, like a crooked nose or a wondering eye.

He nodded.

“Me too.”

He placed his hands on his sunglasses, then hesitated a fraction of a second before removing them.

“Look,” he instructed and leaned in closer.

His eyes were golden in color, expanding across the entire eyeball, and his pupils were narrow rectangles. He had goat eyes.

“They’re beautiful,” she murmured.

He leaned back and smiled.

“What’s your unusual characteristic?”

Oh shit. Here it goes. One… two… three.. go…

“I have snakes on top of my head.”

He didn’t recoil, or laugh, or swear. He didn’t claim to not believe her or comment only evil women had snake hair. In fact, he seemed nonplussed, like every other woman in his life had legless reptiles on top of
their head.

“Snakes? Like Medusa?”

“Yes.”

“May I touch them?”

No one had ever touched her snakes before. The thought made her anxious.

“Yes, but not here.”

They paid their bill, and Marsha drove them to Bill’s apartment for some heavy snake petting.

She could hear her blood swish in her ears as she got out of her car, louder with each step closer to his apartment. She wished she had some gum.

Once inside, all thoughts of strangers touching her reptiles disappeared. Shelves lined the living room, wall to ceiling, with every space occupied by dolls, New Kids On the Block dolls to be exact. Donny, Joe, Danny, Jordan, Jonathan, and even Mark who quit the band after a few months so he could enjoy cocaine instead. The dolls eyes, lifeless glass orbs, stared at her. He led her to a sofa. She bumped into a coffee table, and a New Kids on the Block vase stuffed with dead flowers wobbled.

“Who decorated your apartment?” she asked.

“I did. Ok, maybe not exactly, but I told my sister what I wanted and she put it together.”

“Oh.”

A grown man in love with the New Kids on the Block. She had to get out of there.

“The snakes?” he asked gently.

She hesitated. They did have a wonderful dinner, he
respected her rules, and he had eyes like a goat’s. Maybe it’d be OK.

She removed the turban from her head. The snakes waved in the air, happy to have fresh air after being stuffed into the warm head-covering. She guided his hand to them. At first, they recoiled and scooted away from his touch, but as the seconds passed, they relaxed. His hand slid down one of the slender bodies.

“Amazing,” he whispered.

His face was inches from her, his cologne gently drifting in the air. A man was touching her with her snakes loose and free, and he didn’t die.

Screw those New Kids on the Block.

She inched forward, ready to make her move.

A scream shattered the moment. Startled, Bill fell backwards on the sofa. An arm slithered around Marsha’s neck while another pinned her arms behind her back. The screaming continued.

She twisted her body around, desperate to free from the person’s grasp. Whoever it was had a tremendous amount a strength, and it couldn’t be a man because he would have crumbled to the ground, clutching his chest.

The person dragged her into the bathroom. Marsha struggled to get free, trying to dig her heels into the solid floor, but the assailant managed to shove her head into the toilet. She had Marsha pinned down.

It was Marsha’s turn to shriek between gasps of air as she lifted her face out of the water. Each time she was  pushed back into the toilet water. If she couldn’t get her head out soon, she’d drowned.

Suddenly, the evil woman was jerked away.

“Tina. TINA! Stop it.”

Bill was yelling at this person, this Tina.

He pushed her aside and took Marsha into his arms.

“Are you OK?”

A bit shaken, but overall, physically OK. Mentally was another story.

“Who is this person who tried to kill me?”

Tina, the wanna-be murderer, sobbed and shrieked, her arms flinging in the air and the occasional foot stomping on the floor, a grown woman sinking into a tantrum.

“My sister Tina. She sometimes stays with me when she’s, uh, between boyfriends,” he rotated to the direction of Tina. “Who is leaving right now. Get out.”

“She’s a monster!” Tina screeched.

“Oh, that’s rich coming from someone who has a lizard tail.”

“Wait, what?” Marsha asked, her curiosity peaked, and the attempted murdered almost forgotten, almost.

Tina flounced at of the bathroom and slammed the apartment door behind her as she left.

He apologized over and over as he helped Marsha to her feet and helped her rinse and towel off her snakes. He left, only to return with a large t-shirt, jogging pants, and a fluffy bathrobe.

“I’m sorry I don’t have anything closer to your size. Would you like to shower?”

“I just want to calm down first.”

They returned to the living room where he sat her on the sofa and brought her a hot cup of tea. Earl gray forgotten, he drew her into his arms, and rubbed the back of her neck. The snakes curled up and went to sleep. She could get used to this. 

Maybe the evening wasn’t a complete disaster.

“Will you ever go on another date with me?” he asked.

“Yes. I’m glad I stuck around, despite getting assaulted. You know, I almost left when I saw the New Kids on the Block stuff.”

“New Kids?”

“Yea, you know your décor.”

“My décor is all horses. I love horses. I rode them as a child as part of a program to help me gain my independence.”

“Horses…”

She looked at the dolls that had fallen to the floor during her attack and laughed.

“One of these days, I have something to tell you,” she said as they curled up in each other’s arms, ready to forget the weirdness of the night.

When I saw this painting hanging up at the Archway Gallery in Houston, TX, I was intriqued.  Here was a modern day Medusa. My mind started whirring about what that would mean for a woman, being a Medusa during contemporary times.  Would she hide it from the world or start her own Youtube channel? Do the snakes, or looking into her eyes, turn people into stone like it did in Greek Mythology? How does she feel about the burden of the snakes? There was a story there; in fact, dozens and dozens of potential stories.

“Medusa” was created by Susan Sheets, a Texas artist who made this one and other incredible paintings that are soulful up close, and take on an element of photorealism as you step away.  I recommend you stop by Archway Gallery and check out her work.  I encourage you to purchase a painting or two.

THE BLIND DATE –

part 1

Marsha had sworn off dating. Nearly every first date ended the same. With death. The man simply keeled over.

No, Marsha was not slipping poison into their drinks or shooting large doses of heroin into their arms.

Truth be told, the deaths were the men’s fault. She gave them specific instructions, and being the gender that always thinks they are right, the men did not follow the instructions. They had to be the ones to make the rules, not her. And it cost them the ultimate.

However, there was one man who did follow her requests, and his death was neither a result of his aggressiveness or need to break the rules. It was entirely an accident.

It was the fourth date when it happened. Up to that point, he had been respectful and continued do so. When she was with him, he made her laugh, and she found herself looking forward to the next date. This one had true potential.

They were at his apartment, a tidy one bedroom with sparse furniture and a rabbit named Fred that hopped around with freedom and glee as he chewed on the baseboards. They settled on his couch, obviously something his mom insisted he purchase from Crate and Barrel. It was nice but not his style.

They proceeded to kiss, light at first, and then with a bit more intensity. Passion bubbled through both and before either realized, they were going at it hot and heavy.

It was then he knocked the turban off her head.

Yes, Marsha almost always wore a large turban, often a pink and turquoise one. Sometimes, she mixed it up and wore a large floppy red hat instead or a ridiculous beehive wig.

The head covering was a life-or-death situation. It served a purpose greater than anyone would expect. You see, Marsha suffered from Medusa Syndrome.

It started in her early twenties, with itchy nubs protruding from her scalp. In a few weeks, they shot out to look like sticks, and before long, they had eyes and tongues that flicked in the air. They were full on reptiles, more specifically, snakes. Marsha was terrified.

They waved in the air, happy to have a home and not much responsibilities. She didn’t know what to do, but going to the doctor seemed out of the question. They might lock her away in a laboratory, performing scan after scan, test after test, blood draw after blood draw. She showed them to her best girlfriends who suggested she keep them covered.

Her best friend asked, “Do you have to feed them?”

She didn’t know.

But it didn’t take long for Marsha to discover that if a non-relative male human looked at the snakes, they collapsed clutching their chests. In a few minutes, they passed away from a heart-attack. She was even more horrified by this than the actual snakes.

Interestingly enough, the snakes had no effect on women. Marsha sometimes wondered if she shouldn’t switch to being a lesbian.

Still, she wanted to be in a relationship with the opposite sex. She went on dates with the men, giving them clear instructions to never remove her head covering. Most couldn’t make it through one date before ripping it off. She didn’t understand the desire to see what was there. Did they think she was bald? And if so, so what?

Back to the man who made it to the fourth date. He followed her instructions and ticked off all the right boxes. He volunteered to feed a cat colony once a week. He visited the nursing home and played songs on his guitar, just for the fun of it. He had steady employment and made wise choices with his money. He had a pet rabbit that he adored.

But more importantly, he was fun to be with. He made Marsha laugh until the corner of her eyes crinkled, and tiny tears of joy slipped out.

It was the make-out session on the couch that accidentally knocked the turban off and cost him his life. Crying, she ran out of the apartment, and swore off dating.

Now her friend wanted her to go on a blind date. This was a bad idea. It could only end one way.

Her friend insisted. Just this one, to see if she liked him.

Reluctantly, she agreed.

They met in a low-key, not very busy restaurant that had a reputation of not serving you what you ordered. You told the waiter you wanted spaghetti, and you got minestrone soup.

You asked for a steak, you got grilled chicken. Still, Marsha liked the place. It was adventure to eat there.

When she arrived, he was already at the table, the glow from the candle on the table flickering. It reflected in the wrap around sunglasses he wore.

She sat down and introduced herself. She extended her hand. He did the same, four inches left to her hand.  

“Oh my God!” she exclaimed, “You’re blind!”

He stiffened.

“Is that a problem?”

“No, absolutely not.” She couldn’t hide the glee in her
voice.

He frowned.

Her friend was right. This one might actually work.

PART 2 will be posted shortly.