Shopping for Caskets

hardware store

Or Three Poems and a Funeral

So it is October. The month when the veil between this life and after is its thinnest. And the clouds are their most dramatic. And the colors. And so many friends have recently lost parents. Loved ones. And so I offer this. Three poems, and accompanying blather looking at death. And shopping. It’s a long read. Find a place. 

I did not stand at my mother’s death bed. All eight of my siblings were there. I heard the stories a day later, post her demise. I learned of how they circled her. How my oldest brother Paul wondered if we should save the tissues, somehow preserve her final efforts at blowing her nose.

We all knew that she never smelled well, and she always had a runny nose. She told us that hard work made her nose run, and thus she tucked tissues into handy hidden places. In a pocket. A sleeve. A bra strap. And they were, finally, tucked into the tiny space between her second to last breath, and her last. One final sniffle.

I did not stand beside my siblings to witness that breath, and, instead, I sat in an over-sized arm chair in Flagstaff, Arizona with my two daughters, and we watched The Snow Queen. I quite loved the movie, or the distraction. Procrastinating the inevitable. Waiting for the call. One ear towards the phone. One listening to the dialogue. My cheek against a very alive, lovely child of mine.

My mother had been about to die so many times, and I had flown out to Detroit for a few of those or flew out shortly after the near misses. I waited as I had waited before. To see if this was it. When they knew it was, they would call. “This is it,” they would say. This is the real deal.

There is no rehearsal or practice for death. No certain cues. It will take your loved one when it is good and ready. Whether or not you are or you are not there.

In Your Pocket

The chirping of crickets
on a rainy evening
is reassuring

like the tangibility of death
right there, it’s in your pocket
it’s in titanium and roses

it’s tangled in tonight’s dreams
it’s like black crickets
waiting outside, all legs

each night when you take out the trash
or investigate the moon’s phase
or the sound of crying

from the neighbor’s cat in heat
again you are surrounded
by the comfort of a raincoat

a second skin, so familiar
with big pockets
with a tissue and a ticket stub

and death, it doesn’t need you
to do a thing, it’s right there
it’s in your pocket

So I went to a hardware store as it is what I do the way some people might go to a garden or a park or a mall or library when they need release or reprieve or quiet distraction.  For me, being inside a hardware store and meandering among miles of metal and wood and gadgets and gizmos, a place that is home to millions of answers, most of them logically achieved, is as effortless as a good night’s sleep.

Unlike libraries, when you have to touch the book and actually pull it off the shelf and open it to see the answers it provides within all of those pages of words, in a hardware store, you can see them right out in front of you. Hundreds, or just one. One little tool. A nut. Bolt. A bulb. Tubing. Problem solved.

When I arrived to my parents’ house, after my mother had passed, I learned that I was missed. It was rare that all nine of us siblings were together anymore, it is more rare now that we have been orphaned.  I learned that my four brothers and four sisters formed a circle around the hospital bed where there had been space enough for me if I had shown up.

Each had a report on her passing. Remembering details as if they had been to a party or celebration. My sister Katy raved about the efficiency of the corpse collectors. A serious pair, she told me, who walked in, suited and focused, quiet but kind. Dutiful. They entered the room where my mother lay dead, they wrapped her in the sheets that were below her body, and in a few practiced movements, she was gone. Effortless. “They knew we didn’t want them,” she reported. “I mean she died on those sheets.”

I would have liked to see them, I thought. Run my fingers along the creases made by her shrinking body. The wrinkles in the percale that surely drew lines upon the soft flesh of demise. The dent in the pillow from her sad infected skull. When I stepped into the room it was empty but for a metal hospital bed, naked, and casting shadows into the corner. The curtains were drawn, just a crack letting in the cloudy day. As if she was still within the room. Or as if her death was. The trash can was empty of all the tissue.

The last time I had seen my mother it was in that room. Sitting in the dark, on a regular bed, and searching for something in the dresser drawers. She looked up at me, tired, a bit confused. Not tired as in needing sleep. Or restless. Or troubled. Just forlorn. And finished. Finished with waiting and wondering and watching the life in which she could no longer engage walk right by her.  It was as if she wanted to say, I am in it, but dead in it. Get me out.

“What’cha looking for, Mom?” I had asked. And she pulled out a string of hooked paper clips. She had wanted only one but her arthritic fingers were stuck trying to get a single clip loosened from the chain. I freed one for her and put the rest back in the open drawer. Then closed it, and when I turned around she was gone.

Paper Clips

She fills each faded blue line
of her tiny notebooks
with illegible and confident lists
of all those unyielding symptoms
that parade daily
down her frame.

She gives but vague indication
of emotion, and she’ll only use
small words, good bad better worse.
She writes as if sipping
very hot tea. As if
to usurp her ills
with the shaky red ink.

Her knotted joints struggle
to safely guide scissors
along the columns
of women’s magazines or
The Michigan Catholic
The Detroit News
snipping out affirmations
and prayers
and the names
of saints
or stars
she should turn to.

She unhooks paper clips
from a ragged chain as long
as her arm and as tangled
as her memory
and fastens her mornings’ finds
to doctors’ business cards
attempting to design
and direct her cancer
her time her age her
death.

When the stirring
of the vertigo subsides
she will rise
from that certain
and abiding
edge of her recliner
of her refusal
to go just yet
and she’ll tack
her day’s work
an ornament, a votive
on the bulletin board
beside her bed.

Hardware stores are best when they first open in the morning. When the only customers are busy contractors and the floors are still shining from the previous night’s polishing. The clerks have had their caffeine and have not yet had to deal with even one grumpy customer who is on their fourth trip to the store still searching for the solution. All the stuff is in its place, and there are no misplaced screws. I roam the aisles imagining problems to be solved. What one tool can accomplish. One belt. One clip. One shovel.

When I walked into my parents’ house after my mother had died, I first saw my father. He had diminished, and it appeared immediately to me that with his wife’s passing he literally lost part of himself. The old adage was true, after all, I thought.

I remain unsure if the look he gave me was a question: Do you recognize me? I must look so different. Or scorn, for I had been their only child not to witness her last breath. Or just relief that I had arrived home safely. He asked me to join him and my brother to go to the funeral home.

Casket shopping. The salesman was gentle. How different than someone who might peddle strawberries or shoes. Screwdrivers or cheese graters. He showed us options for the fabrics that would caress my mother’s corpse. Satin or polyester or velvet. White or pink or pastel green.  He spoke in soft tones. Like a little breath mint releasing unfortunate options with every fresh exhale.

We had too many choices for this box, this tomb that would be in the earth forever. Steel or aluminum or titanium. Wood. Ornate. Simple. Gothic. Modern. I do not remember if the sales pitch included why we would select one over the other. Was it that this material would keep the worms from getting to her flesh for longer than this one would? Surely that can’t be what was said.

Was it that this would be the softer pillow for her bones when that was all that was left of her? But surely her body would be preserved to ward off the inevitable for years. Was this pillow stain resistant? Was that one? Could we possibly care? Did he know that we were shopping there on that day in order to preserve as the relic we wanted to believe she was. This was not just another dead mother’s remains. It was our dead mother’s remains.

My dad seemed torn. If he went economy–which was his way and how he had managed the brood of nine of us, plus my mother, for decades and decades–would he appear to be cheapening her final show? But if he went elaborate, would we be, in fact, too showy? My mother was well-loved, my father her greatest fan. He chose right in the middle. Comfort, and kindness, and perfectly Pauline.

Hardware stores are gymnasiums where one can work out, where one can practice their decision making skills. For it is within these aisle that you search for something you need. Something to solve a problem. Something that requires logic and analysis. Not to satisfy a craving, fulfill an urge, feed an obsession, keep up with the Jones’.

Your options are rarely based on feeling or opinion or notion. Just the facts, ma’am. You need the ¼ inch or the ½ inch? Pick just one. The 20-pound bag covers this many square feet; the 40-pound bag this many, how many square feet are you covering?

The man who guided us through the steps of an American Catholic postmortem funeral preparation was as thorough and humane as my mother’s oncologist, with a similar goal: how do we soften the blow?  We had choices, and while none of them were based, really, in logic, at that moment, he acted as if they were, which made it seem like what we were doing was normal. Daily. Like painting a bathroom yellow. Or potting geraniums.

Which hymns? Which Bible passages? Which flowers? Which night for the rosary? How many chairs? How many hours for viewing? Open or closed casket for the funeral mass? What color hearse? What type of preservative shall we pump into this cadaver so it can last a very long time after it has been dropped into the earth?

Flying home after the funeral I watched that earth fall further and further below us. I was determined that I would be able to tell if the planet’s surface had shifted even the tiniest little bit. Did her weight,  having moved from above the dirt to inside it, make a difference? To dust we shall return.

She is probably still not dust. Pumped up with forever juice. I so wanted to tuck a cigarette in between the stiff fingers of her mannequin. That, for me, would have been more “natural,” to see her that way, ready for another puff. Less dead maybe? Instead she had a rosary, of course, wound between those fingers that had finally found what they’d been seeking.

Catholics are particular about how we appear in our final viewing. The final make up job which was supposed to make her look natural was ironic for she never wore any make up. Her hair generously coiffed, which was, in fact, appropriate. Her hair was rarely out of control, even if wound up tightly in bobby pinned curls or sponge rollers or pushed inside a night cap.

The last time I saw her she had asked me to brush her hair. I let my daughters help, and they took turns, standing behind her, seeing only the future beauty they were certain they could create.  We had to maneuver a bit around the oxygen tube that snaked down her body, across the floor, and to the canister in the hallway. She had enough tubing to  walk around the block if she wanted to, but she only went to the bathroom, the bedroom, back to the recliner in front of the window, paperclip in her fingers.

Another tube was rolled flat on her belly, then taped. That is where my dad would pour her meals. She looked to be attached to life by these tubes, but for me, it was my daughters standing behind her, pulling a brush delicately through her fragile silver hair and telling her she looked “Real nice, Grandma,” that was when I last saw her alive.

I walk down the plumbing aisle at my Ace Hardware, and I pause at the display of the rubber tubing. Large rolls of it in an array of sizes. Some of it wide enough for floodwaters. Some barely thin enough to keep someone’s mother alive with a stream of oxygen, and just long enough to say goodbye.

Death Is a Mess

We enshrouded her with white velvet, mums,
explanation, and decided against the titanium

casket, we chose brushed steel. Potato salad and hams
arrived, packaged Danish, flowers in sad friends’ hands

but death is a mess you can’t cover with food, smiles
or words, it smells. Put a lid on it, a bag, a sheet, tell

again what you witnessed with her last exhale,
how men in suits wrapped her in the stained percale;

Tell of the pastel tissue you used to wipe
her lips, her chin, her discomfort, the Kleenex piled

up like crumpled carnations in the trash, all those
layers peeling off her body until death found home,

in her throat, that rattle, and she closed your eyes,
your denial more moist than her expected demise.

I never got to say goodbye but imagined her last breath
repeated again and again by those who saw her death

those who watched the final whisper of her uneven chest
the air slowly escaping its unforgiving nest

their coffin of words couldn’t solidify death’s puddle
like formaldehyde does for the dearly beloved

but we chose the right shoes, the rosary laced
through her polished fingers, we rouged her face

then the burnished cap’s click had the final word
cousins passed holy cards and threw wormless dirt

we plant only short flowers, crocus and ivy
lawnmowers can’t reach them, keeps the grave tidy

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Be like the moon, or the sun

IMG_20180724_193934901_HDR (1)Trust.

It’s everywhere.

So many things are reliable. Trustworthy. The sun will rise. It will set. The moon cycles around our planet. Concrete hurts if you bonk your head on it. A feather pillow is a soft  place to rest your sore noggin.

So many things, at first, seem unreliable. But once you get to thinking about it, or I do, you, or I, realize, they are, actually, reliable in their unreliability. (There she goes again. Aw, c’mon, bear with me, give me a minute, I’ll warm up and make sense, soon. Promise).

For instance, the weather. Oh, “so unpredictable,” we say. But really. We are so accustomed to its unpredictability that can’t we, in fact, say it is trustworthy? Yes.

Another for instance, mad dogs. Can’t trust them. But, once we know they are mad, and we know we can’t trust them, then we do trust them or trust that they’re mad, and we can plan accordingly.

One more for instance, our bodies. These heaps of skin and bones and assorted and sundry organs and parts. Can’t trust them. Especially in aging. Who knows what they’ll think of next. This falling off. This slipping down. This shifting over. This failing. Shriveling. Stiffening. Loosening. This odd little brown thing growing right here. What is that? So, again: we can trust that aging is going to change our bodies. DRAmatically. So, it’s reliable. Trust me.

And, thus there is a pattern. It’s all the natural stuff that we can trust. All that stuff we have mostly absolutely no control over. The weather? No control. Just put up your umbrella and go about your day. The mad dog? Well, cage it, and cure it if you can. Hopefully you can. Our bodies? No control.

We can take all the supplements and the remedies we want or can afford or, as is often the case, can stomach. We can diet, exercise, and medicate. We stretch or sweat our way into, and back out of, yoga poses and classes until the cows come home, or we roll the mats back up. (Or we have the young guy next to us roll said mat. Because we can’t get back down. Or up.)

We can do crosswords and learn Japanese and take up the French horn; taking full advantage of all that science tells us might ease or slow down our aging. But, folks, c’mon. We have no control. You get old. It’s trustworthy. It’s going to happen. Differently for everyone, (and hopefully for everyone), but we have no control.

Trust. And then there’s us. When it comes to us humans, the feeling-thinking-speaking sector of the species, well, that’s where absolute and unpredictable unpredictability really comes into play. We are not trustworthy.

We go off. We go down. We go under. We have a litany of prepositional actions that we undertake on a regular basis. We go over. We go within. We go against. We go forward. Fall back. Fall down. Start up again. Sometimes. And in no particular pattern.

We make choices. Consciously, or less consciously, and that always lends itself to tremendous story. Oh, I was so drunk. So hungry. So full. Too tired. Too busy.

Sick. Distracted. Stressed. Oppressed.

So so. Too too. You name it. We blame it.

We make choices. Even in the face of things we can’t control. Call it what you will, but many of us, for the most part, not always, but often, we have control over some aspect of results, and we make choices.

Clouds don’t. Planets don’t. Stars don’t. Not even the great big ones. The moon doesn’t. And, for the most part, dogs don’t, especially the mad ones. Nor do our bodies. They all just do what they do. No control.

Humans have it. It is a wonderful amazing thing. We can make choices: we can decide to rise. We can decide to set. All day long, and as out of control as we might like to claim we are at the moment of any given choice (I was so tired), usually the poorer ones (I was so thirsty), the hurtful ones (I was so confused), the stupid ones (I was so uncertain), we make them. Choices. And we are ultimately, and most usually, to blame for our actions. End of our sorry excuse-laden story. We make choices. So many of us. We just do.

And that is why trust is a rare commodity. More valuable than just about anything. To truly be able to trust someone is a gift like no other. To be trustworthy, is a tremendous gift to give. In small ways. Or big. From below or above. From whatever preposition we like, we can build trust with someone.

As I watch my daughter ready to marry, I know that her decision to commit to spending her life with the man she has chosen is a reaction to trust. They trust each other. This trust will lead to good things.

Of all the things I tried to do right in raising a couple of adolescent daughters on my own, building trust was the most important. I trusted them, and I believe they knew that; I worked to earn their trust, and it was like any other live thing you might tend. A campfire. A kitten. A child. If you stop tending, well, the proverbial shit, and that ever so f’n reliable fan, they step in and do their business. Eww.

Severing trust is, well, really bad. It sucks. When someone you trust does something hurtful. Ding! Dang. Trust can go down hard. Then if there are a few more dings. Few more dangs. Or sometimes all it takes is a big womp. Concrete against skull bone. Life altering. Where’s the pillow.

It can change a race. A gender. A nation. A romance. A family. A business. But not the moon. Or the stars.

I trusted my parents, and they trusted me, a bit. It wasn’t as mutual, or as strong, as I wish it was, in retrospect. I remember feeling unsafe growing up, but not too often; and again, retrospect is an ever-changing filter through which I review the past. There were some sketchy moments where I, too, may have dinged the trust I had tried to earn, and they severed my trust in them.

But trust can be re-built. That’s the beauty of us humans with choices. We can have re-do’s. Re-runs. Do-overs. Apologies. Address the choices. The trust cleavered like a muscle from bone at the corner butcher?  Ouch. It can be reattached.

So when we can? Choose better or wiser. Even if it seems like we can’t, choose kinder. Build trust. Feel stuck? Compassionate’s a decent way to go. Honest is always a good direction. When you believe you can. Go ahead. When you believe you can’t, reconsider. Too late can happen. Too many dings, dangs, and/or womps. Trust is down for the count. Be careful.

It’s an earned thing, trust is. It’s like interest. And this is not high finance. You don’t get anything back unless you invest. And the interest rate can be fickle. And there can be recessions and depressions. Oppressions. Lots of ‘essions.

But one thing is certain. There is no return if there is no investment, and often, the greater the investment . . . if you can . . . even in the smallest of ways . . . Because like so many investments, that whole “granted” thing comes to play. “Well I thought if I just . . .” If I just apologized. If I just explained. If I just brought you flowers. If I watched for one more day. If I just fixed your refrigerator.

Then all the trust would be there waiting, fresh as bread. Well, not exactly. Apologies and roses are a nice beginning. Thank the solar heavens we do not have to encourage the sun to rise each day, eh? The mad dog to be less mad? The moon to get full again, please? Nah, those things give us hope and trust.

So be like the moon. Be more like the sun. Every morning. There you are. Same place. Same time. Ready to work. No excuses.

Here’s a poem, telling a long-ago story, from a years-later perspective, about when parents tampered with trust. It can be so easy in parenting, and we don’t even realize we’ve done it, until it’s too late. Letting trust take the back seat.

Leaving the Picnic

They piled into the backseat
like a scratchy blanket, flanked
by their sunburned siblings, folded
upon one another, feet wedged
atop the empty picnic basket,
cooler and baseball gloves.

Her ears buzzed sharp and hot
like the slap of the black strap swing
like the ungreased squeak
of the carousel going around and
around she had leaned away from center
watched the upside-down parents
at the picnic tables, their non-stop talk,
laughter and drinking.
She smiled at the dizzy.

Eventually dusk’s pink and gray
parked softly upon the miles of green
making perfect shadows for “hide and seek”
just one more round as the parents’ voices
turned to lilting, low whispers,
secrets and hidden giggles.

Moms packed up leftovers, the melted
chocolate bars and salty chip bits,
pops gone flat in the sun.
They brushed burger crumbs
under tables for tomorrow’s birds.
Dads finished the tepid beers
then called, “It’s time to go”
and nobody had found her
she’d hidden so well and proudly
beamed following everyone
to the Dodge Dart.

The day’s hum curled up under
her long braid now an asylum
of crazy knots; too tired to untie or to
bicker or complain about who got
the window seat, the four siblings watched
streetlights as they passed the park,
spotted hiding places they’d missed.

The baby slept in the small space
between mom and dad where
an occasional flood of a stop light
or mom lighting another long cigarette
silhouetted their tipsiness
against the sparkling windshield.

Dad laughed harder each time
he arrived once again at the yield sign
on Chalfonte and Outer Drive streets
smacking his Bermuda hem wondering
where he had made a wrong turn
and making it again.

She tried only once to offer help,
“Turn here, Dad. Go left.”
His reply bounced across each of their faces
in the dim backseat like four square, “No, no,
no; no. I’m alright, kids, I’m doing just fine,”
and he turned right again.

Mom suggested nothing as he drove
them in circles more loose and forgiving
than her thin arm draped over the seat
behind him, pointing her silent Winston
in the direction she wished he had gone.

The loops he drove grew larger and less
complicated than the tangled limbs
of children finding security or prayer
in the grit of their picnic skin and sticky hair.
Everyone was awake now waiting,
even the baby gurgled at mom’s hip.

The hum and sweet buzz of the day’s games
had gone numb inside her spinning head
as Dad circled for what seemed
like hours around and around and nothing
could conquer her relentless faith
in his navigation even as they passed
the park one more time, her hiding place
where everyone could see.

Photo by me, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, at moonrise/sunset, a favorite place to picnic.

 

Let’s Begin this Day, Shall We?

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Let’s Begin this Day

Oh, the existential crisis of it all. Am I odd in my daily questioning of purpose? The history and plight of our existence? The why’s and wherefore’s of this reflection I observe? This being? The physical. And the verb. To be. Shakespeare offered an option. Or not. To be, that is. Oh. I just watch the sunrise each morning.

The Bees

The bees sing in the abelia from dawn to dusk
their flight patterns swipe across the pale pink bursts
as if they were buttering the bush with their buzz
layering sweet cream across light brown wheat toast
as big as my thumb these dining creatures
make breakfast outside my window.

When thrown into “awake” in the middle of the night, and my head seems to have hit my crumpled, moist pillow like a hardball into a well-worn leather mitt: Ow. No! Darn it, not again. It is only 3:27 am. Or 2:01 am. Or 4:10 am and just a half hour before the alarm. I know the rule, “Don’t look at the time” because it makes it harder to go back to sleep. Or to be awake. Full of judgment. And stress. Fighting with time. “Only three hours? Why did I wake up now? I don’t even have to pee. I normally sleep like a rock.” Everything, then,  is tossed onto the proverbial table and up for discussion. Sleep patterns. Wake patterns. Life patterns. Life purpose. Uh-oh. Here we go. And that is when I truly wish I was Romeo’s sister, and not his owner.

The Dog

The old dog runs back and forth and back across
the blue-fenced yard each morning chasing
phantom tennis balls or those teasing bees
he’s like a pillowcase in a determined breeze
flapping after wind he cannot fetch or catch
anymore, an alpha champion aged out of the game
master now at ignoring two blown knees
still thrilled by bumbles, and stilted leaps

Awake or asleep is not anything he judges. Nor is to be or not. Nor is life, death, existence. Dogs do not have existential crises. They want food, walks, water, and love. In that order. Oh, to be a dog. They never feel to be the speck that they are as I do. Over and over until when I look in the mirror I am surprised at how large I am. How my speck-ness is magnified. Self importance floods right into the glass, looking at the big-ness of me. So much skin to consider. So many, many bones. Where did I get all of these bones? I consider my reflection, and my reflecting on it, for far, far too long.

The Cat

The cat considers the door for a very long while, she puts
her paw upon it, like a wounded friend offering sympathy,
comfort, then ‘no,’ more like, ‘nah,’ she pulls her furry
foot back , cleans it, scraping away such nonsense
with her tiny serrated tongue, as if caked with grit
she saws her mitt, then decides, ‘no this door is an enemy,’
and she extends ten claws like pitchforks and readies
to wage war against the solid oak, certain victory.

I track how many times I ask the unanswerable and tire of not knowing. No wonder religion or politics fill people with zeal. They’ve created the answers I refuse. As exhausting as it to ponder it all, and the wonder of it all, I prefer to be surprised, and soothed by the sure gestures of kindness. To be enraged at calculated acts of evil. And not know any more than that. As tired and as sleepless as I may be, it is better than believing in any explanation I could have conjured, something handy for blame, judgment, sense, determination, or passive prayer. No, I strive to be excuse-less. To believe in what I can create: art, breakfast, strong coffee. Children. Kindness.

Mostly, to maintain the surprise. The glory and and the awe. To be struck by it again and again. No fast explanation or answer. For as soon as I grow accustomed to this human-ness, I will wish to “not be.” To be suits me. To be surprised by all of it. Awake or asleep. Again and again.

The Human

The woman visits each window and door each
morning, stands on the front, then back, porches
nodding to the horizons like the master of the parade
of day that approaches, approving its beginning
and reconciling the surprise: it has happened again!
Offering this day, these tiny prayers, and one long deep breath
then the water boils on cue, ready for the Aeropress.

This lovely photograph is from this lovely blog http://www.theorangebee.com/2016/06/12/attract-pollinators-garden/

Splitting

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Splitting

Funny how planning a wedding, a celebration of love, leads to conversations about divorce. What? It’s true.

On gorgeous, sunny days do we talk about the vicious rainstorm that ruined last weekend’s picnic? Well, I guess sometimes we do.

We are creatures, on good days, who think about the whole picture. The bigger picture. The good, the bad, and the divorce.

Thus talk of marriage brings talk of divorce. Talk of unions leads to talk of splitting. Talk of splitting makes me think about bananas.

Bananas

You can split a banana, and put ice cream between the two slices, and slather it with chocolate and cherries, whipped cream and nuts, and nobody cares that the banana is no longer whole. Everyone is excited to see it divided, and they don’t even remember what it was like when it was one, all wrapped up in a comfy yellow skin, hanging all crazy upside down on a tree. Nope. People just remember the joy and the yum of that damn fruit severed right down the middle. And it’s dessert.

Divorce should be more like bananas.

Seconds

You can split a second. You can do something so fast, or something can happen so quickly, that an observer doesn’t even notice it. Yet it could be a big deal. Smooth and harmless. Like in magic. And in a split second, the rabbit appeared, the card came to the top, the quarter vanished.

Divorce should be more like seconds.

Ends

You can split a strand of hair. My girlfriends and I, when we were teens with long teen-aged hair, would sit around with scissors – yes, we did this – talking and laughing as we used to do, and we would use the scissors to snip off the split ends of individual strands of hair. A result of dry winter conditions, chlorine from pools, too much sun, blow dryers, or curling irons. Lots of brushing. The solution was simple. A good trim, but better yet, hanging out with friends, scissors in hand, solving life’s little problems.

Divorce should be more like split ends.

Hairs

Splitting hairs, however, is another thing. We don’t like it when people split hairs, when they go on about something, usually in an argument, comparing two things, and diving deeply into unnecessary detail to prove their point. This can be important if you are arguing for the use of a comma, or the amount of a prescription drug to take. It can be annoying if you have been pulled over, and the cop tells you that you were going 10 mph over the speed limit, and you are tempted do say, “No,officer, I am sure it was 8 mph.” You may then be accused of splitting hairs, and you will get the ticket anyway. Don’t split hairs if you don’t have to.

Divorce should not be about splitting hairs.

Kids

As if you could split kids. (Stick to splitting hairs, I say). Imagine a couple during divorce negotiation: “You take the right halves, and I’ll take the left.” or “You take the front halves, I’ll take the backs.” As if the kids were were cattle, and parents were butchers, and divorce judges could procure meat for the courts. ‘Just all ham shanks this week.’

Is that any more ridiculous than ‘You take summers.’ Or weekends. Or after school hours? Or, as is the case with the person who bought my house in Flagstaff, four doors up from the house her ex-husband had just purchased, so they could “Split the kids.”

What? But all of that would be better, I suppose, than the parent who does not want half. Back, front, summer, or otherwise. Doesn’t even want a quarter. Not a rump. Not the lard. Like a vegetarian walking right by the butcher shop.

Divorce should not be like butchering the calf, or the kids, as the case may be.

Atoms

You can split atoms. Kaboom! What a cool thing it must have been, for a split second anyway, for good old Ernie Rutherford, when he realized all the energy that could be released when he split that first atom. ‘Holy fucking shit’ he might have said years later. Einstein said something like that. This is bad. This could be really bad.

This is probably not unlike what some married people go through. A kaboom sort of moment. That Holy-Fucking-Shit-I-can-do-this moment. That moment when they realize that they can get out of this thing that is bringing them down, or confusing them, or wearing them out, or scaring them. They can act like an atom. Kaboom.

Divorce should not be like atoms.

Checks

You can split the check. When you are out for a meal with a friend, and you order very similar things, or you order things to split, it makes sense, and can make the wait person’s life a little easier–especially if it’s a little busy inside the establishment–by splitting the check.

Now granted, there are those (and we’ve all been with, or been, this person) who say, “Let’s just split the check,” when it is really not an even deal. When the suggestor has, in fact, had twice as many drinks, or an extra order of fries, or dessert, or whatever. So splitting isn’t really a proposal of even distribution.

The suggestee may often feel obligated to agree, to be nice, or to save said wait person a moment or two during their busy shift.

Or, the suggestee could just hang on to their onions (as the Russians call them), or ovaries as the case may be, and say, ‘No, that’s okay. I’ve got cash.’ (Good to always carry cash for just this type of situation).

Suggestor might then look a little put out because they might have kind of sort of thought they were going to get a bit of a free ride on this one, and were, in fact, just about to order another glass of wine.

Divorce should be like checks.

Houses

You can split a house, and split-level houses were a mid-century rage. So you could be upstairs, sort of. Or downstairs, kind of. Or hard to find, always.

The Macklers moved into such a home in the late seventies, and it came in handy for someone like my mother, who had a bad back. She did not have to go up the whole flight of stairs with each delivery of clean laundry.

Or for me because I had places to go. The little den on the lowest level. The big television room on the middle level. Or the sitting room on the upper level. Houses should always have places to get away. Especially when there are lots of kids. To get away from.

Divorce should be like houses.

Infinitives

You can split that dang infinitive. And usually repair it right away, or you should at least try for heaven’s sake. For instance, that famous one: “To boldly go where no man has gone before . . .” That is one split infinitive that should have been repaired! It should have been “To go boldly where no man has gone before.” And, while we’re at it, let’s repair that other tiny slip. “To go boldly where no one has gone before.” See, there you go. All fixed.

Divorce should be like an infinitive.

Guts

You can split a gut. Laughing until you do is a bit of a gruesome image. However, the exaggeration of it is why it is compelling. Same as splitting your sides, or your pants. Laughter, a good hard belly laugh, does feel that way. As if there is going to be a physical division of some sort. Laugh your head off. Laugh ’til you pee your pants. Luckily, except for maybe a sore jaw bone, or aching gut muscle, or maybe a little dribble in your drawers, laughing hard is good medicine.

Divorce should be like guts.

Peas

Speaking of peas. You can split them. Sunday was often soup day in the Mackler household. And, said soup was often made by my dad. One of my favorites was split pea soup. Bright green soup with pastel pink chunks of ham. Colorful and yummy both.

Those little hard nugget peas, like rocks they are, could choke a baby! Or old lady. But when you cook them so long they turn into gloopy glop, and then that magic happens. and you have . . . soup! Rich and memorable. Savory and heartwarming.

Granted, if you’re like me, said soup from former rocks might lead to a little bit of gas. But I live alone. We’re all good.

Divorce should be like peas.

Divorce, I suppose, is rarely what we think it will be. Or should be. If we have thought about it at all. Until the surprise moment. Kaboom. The split and the long lasting ripples. Rippling right through new marriages. New love.

Just make soup, I say. Or pie. We survive.

Put Mystery in a Pie

Put mystery in a pie
and you’ll have them begging for more
Put scorn in the crust
and it will brown too dark

Put cinnamon in split pea soup
your guests will think it is so exotic
With some people
it doesn’t take much to make them feel exotic

Remember when tacos were exotic, to most Americans,
and then Taco Bell took over
Remember when goulash was exotic
it will stay that way

Put mystery in a pie
in between each apple or berry
Tuck a secret between the spices
seal it up with butter on your fingers

There’s mystery in the American pie
to this day some don’t understand
Who was Miss American Pie?
or why did we have to say good bye?

There’s also mystery in Pi
keeping scientists up late
all over the world
Do her lithe lines ever end?

There’s mystery in pie charts
especially those used by candidates
to make points for the dummies
They think we’re all dummies

There’s no berries in pie charts
that’s a problem, no mystery
because a few huckles or straws
a goose or a blue
a rasp or a black
now we’re talking
100% chartable
possibly mysterious
definitely
delicious
pies.

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

An Ode to “Up North”

port austin 2012 taylor martinez from mapinet 2
Going Up North

We packed our stuff as blue collar kids do,
in old board beer cases, names scribbled in blue;
We emptied fat piggy banks, I grabbed one more book,
the Dodge Dart all filled up, after one last look,

we took to the road, unending flow of concrete,
knowing sand would soon cover our soft winter feet;
the menagerie of numbers led us to M-53,
Detroit now behind, we headed straight to the sea.

We passed rows of meadow, cornfield, and orchard,
my adolescent me, so romantic, so tortured.
Changing scenery showed me there’s more than one home:
my future had comforts tucked behind the unknown.

Finally Port Austin, we drove right past the wharf.
The lake glistened before us, we were duly “up north.”
Entering the cottage, a dusty beach-side abode,
we rummaged through cases, stripped off our clothes.

Mom and Dad smiled, stopped us in our tracks:
no water and sunshine ’til we helped with the tasks:
crates, baskets, and boxes all hauled to their place,
then bikini-clad girls could run ran straight to the lake.

Waves, white caps, shells, and water glass galore;
swimming, and tanning, and strolling the shore;
the crazy hat contest, mom offered the prize,
after dinners dad chauffeured the best sunset drives.

A week on Lake Huron, I’d refresh and refuel,
it softened the angst of this tough teen-aged girl;
I’d watch my awkward exit, go out with the tide;
I’d convince myself that surely I could be less shy.

We’d walk to the country store, giggle till we dropped
bought Slow Pokes for the week, and bottles of pop,
candy necklaces that colored our oiled necks pink,
then cigarettes ‘for mom,’ we’d order with a wink.

The nasty sand flies acted as if they’d been invited,
even wake-up thunderstorms left us all delighted.
Racko, rummy, ‘red pop’ – such afternoon reprieve,
dad grilled the burgers before we’d call out ‘hide and seek!’

Lake nights are unfamiliar with needled city glare;
they know layered quiet, starry breezes for my hair.
My poet learned to listen on secret sunrise ambles,
how to paddle words and swim away from life’s frazzle.

Yet effortless and soothing, and never enough,
languid lake days ended, and departure splashed rough.
For years those vacations freed me from my blues,
forty-five years later I believe they still do.

I crave water, wave, sand as I listen to my desert.
The river calls me now as if I was tethered
to the rush, the gurgles, steadfast friends of mine,
someday I’ll return, go “up north” one more time.

IMG_20180729_203455447 (1)

Top Photo by Taylor Martinez on Mapio.com
Photo of me at the cottage by one Mackler or the other, a photo deeply pinked by time, I softened it as best I could. 1975?.

 

Sweeping, Summer Musing, or How Summer Celebrates Death

My brain is quiet. My heart still. This is a summer rambling. For when the cat’s got your tongue. Or mine. And thus I sweep.

Just ask the girls. If they see me sweeping, it does not occur to them that perhaps there was dust or pet hair or sand on the floor, and it needed to be swept up. No, they think, “What’s wrong?” “Mom’s stressed.” “Who’s in trouble?”

I do not know how or when it started, but there is something about sweeping when I’m uptight that seems to be a mainstay Anne Marie behavior. Whether it is a tense moment with the girls, I sweep. An upsetting phone call, I sweep. My mother’s dying, I sweep. My house was well swept during the divorce years. My house seems to be swept well this summer.

If all else fails, during tough times, I get sweeping, and I will have clean floors. The inner thinking, so deep and certainly not in a transcribable language, deep inside my brain, if I could see it, must look like this:

What can I control? What can I control? Dust. I can control dust. Sweep. 

At work I don’t sweep, but I’ll file, straighten the piles on my desk. Or take a walk. I guess we all have our thing. I had a boss who brought in flowers and would take a bit of time arranging them in small vases about the work place. We all knew she was avoiding something, overthinking something . . .

I have a friend who bakes. Anything. Everything. When cookies arrive at odd times for no reason from her? I know she is stressed. Another friend who gardens. We all receive bouquets when stress hits.

My ex-husband would run. And run. And run. There must have been a whole lot of stress when he trained for and then ran a marathon.

There are those, of course, who smoke or drink, or those who do housework or yard work, or feed the donkeys. Or write. Or think. Or sweep. Like me. I’m a sweeper.

Currently, even sweeping is not doing it for me. What can I control? So little. I sweep the garage. Concentric circles, until I have a pile in the middle. Swoop it up. Swept.

I’ve little to write about, obviously, as I’ve little to think about because I’m so busy thinking about whatever it is that I think about. All day long. Not what I want to think about. Does that make sense, I ask, thinking of my colleague who asks this question after every few sentences all day long. Does that make sense?

Is her line of inquiry indicative of her own lack of confidence, or a simple disbelief that her listener is following or can follow? I nod, and I give her great breadth of empathy and understanding in this little communication habit of hers.

She is a woman of true reluctance and self-doubt, a woman of tremendous brilliance and verve. She walks each day, breathes each and every breath, with the trepidation that appears to rest upon the souls of any parent whom I have ever met who has lost a child. She, her eldest son to the Afghanistan war.

There is no sweeping for this.

Sometimes the grief/anger watches from behind her eyes like an arched-back cat ready to pounce upon any misplaced sentiment regarding war or patriotism or even the notion of giving. “I know giving,” she tells me. “My son gave his life to this country, and I gave my son to this country. Don’t talk to me about giving she says. Does that make sense?

I am a fundraiser. I talk about giving.

Or sweeping.

Or thinking. I am thinking about how every summer kicks off with remembering. Memorial Day. I spent mine with my oldest daughter and our weekend was not about remembering but planning, or so we thought, planning her wedding. We focused on future, but can one plan a future, the future, any future anything without considering the past?

Take a wedding, for instance. We talked about mine to her father. We talked about my niece’s two years ago. We talked about my parents’. We remembered things we’ve read about weddings, or heard or said or wondered or imagined about weddings, we brought the past, inevitably, into our discussion about the future. We drove to the wedding site only to pass abandoned buildings, homes, an entire mining operation. (I live in an old copper mining town). Celebrations of future blend with past.

Memorial Day, a day to remember. The fallen. My colleague spent that weekend travelling to Phoenix for a military memorial service. “I go every year,” she says. It makes sense.

I sweep the kitchen. Working hard to accurately angle the bristles, I am certain I can get all the crumbs, bits, pieces. Broccoli. Dog food. Cashews. All of that which hides out in the little cave that runs under the lower cupboards. A long dark space of gathering. A hallway of meal and snack archives. Remembering. What did she have for dinner last Tuesday. I will find control.

I am thinking about how a summer that begins with remembering then continues to Father’s Day, another day of remembering.  In this time of life, of summer, of fruit stands and farmers markets and vacation and heat and celebration and so much living. We remember. So many people wrote and shared about the fathers they have lost.

I thought mostly about the the fathers who have lost a child. Father’s Day feels like a slap, perhaps, to them. An in-your-face boast. A nah nah nah nah nah. I say Happy Father’s Day to them, those fathers, but it is with hesitation. While I believe them to be good dads, they deem themselves futile. Does that make sense?

I sweep in my dreams. Repeating of late. Each night. And later on each day when I pass my bed on the way to the closet or bathroom, I remember the dreams. All over again. I dream that I walk into a house, and discover a room. The room. The hidden room. The room that I forgot. The room that makes me feel warm and welcome and comfortable. A room that is no longer mine but that I get to visit. Perhaps have again. Often there are things wrong. Broken doors or windows. Or furniture. I think about how I can repair and clean. Restore. Sweep.

Does this dream, do these rooms–that I forget about and then discover again, always with a sense of awe, sentimentality and nostalgia–represent the novel I am not writing? The friends I have not reached? The relationships I have not closed? Or is it just a room. Rooms. Because I have not cleaned my house. Because I have rooms to clean and sweep.

Adrienne Rich says have one. Have a room of one’s own. I have eight. Lucky me. I use only half on any given day. The other half on any other given day. I have given, my colleague says. More than a day, certainly. Does that makes sense.

I dream of houses large and full of broken
windows and floors but I am thrilled to
have finally found a place where I belong
how did I forget about this I wonder
as I wander about and measure for beds
and move sheets of linoleum, latch casements
pick up shards of ceramic coffee cups
and decide where the dog
will sleep and the
baby.

I sweep the patio. I think that maybe it is the heat. The heat, or the darkened house, that leads to this pause. I am in a pause. A hot pause. Not meno-. Just hot.

I posted about the heat. I write about the heat. I am trying to master the heat. This week the heat softened with the monsoons.* Yet while the temperatures are lower, outside, the temperature inside my house seems not to have noticed. It seems to be in a consistent state of tightly squeezing the heat in a big bear hug. As if to say, I love you heat, I love you and I missed you, don’t go. This makes no sense. I sweep the porch, it is so cool.

I think about the two eagles watching the muddy river. High and brown and happy. Both. The eagles and the river. They scream at each other, a young one, and its mother. Eagle screams are like children on a playground. I check to see if there are any. Children on the playground. There are not. It’s the eagles. Surely they’ve swept out the nest.

The Verde River is brown. Ha. The green river.

It splashes fast and far below the birds. I think of how quiet they have been, the eagles and the river. Summer brings out the scream and the roar. Like a lion. Summer heat and rain and thinking about nothing else but what I am thinking about.

I sweep up tufts of cat hair. Dog hair. My hair. All us old mammals losing our hair. I think of how tired, downcast, and heavy people seem recently. Shiny. Clad in as little clothing, or very little clothing, as possible. Then I see the fallen horse. Dead Horse Ranch State Park. The river ran through the park apparently. Then receded. One horse down. The summer is a time of witnessing. Skin. Pelts. Water. And dust.

I think about the tarantula I discover hiding behind a pot of snap dragons. A hairy creature as big as my hand and snoozing. Or thinking. Thinking about how annoying it is that this human pulled out this pot of snap dragons to rearrange the pots in order to sweep so she could think through things. Humans make no sense thinks this arachnid.

The sun is less present, hidden, like a room I have yet to find, behind clouds, or dreams. The spider wants to build a private room and I have interrupted. I am sorry. I was just thinking. Go back to your dreams. I am sure they make more sense than mine.

I am thinking about how thinking keeps me from thinking what I want to think about. Or write about. It is not writer’s block I suffer, it is a thinking block. I shut off my brain. I bring it back to quiet. My heart to still. I sweep.

When the news of the world hurts and it does. When leadership does not know quiet or still or think. When the world throws hard balls fast and I have never been an athlete, never learned how to catch, I close my eyes, I always have, when the ball is headed my way.

They laughed at me on the intramural team I joined in 1972. “No, you have to keep your eyes open when the ball comes to you,” the coach said as kindly as she could. With a bit of pity and a bit of scorn, but mostly an outright bemusement for it never occurred to her that there was a person on the planet who would join a team, don a baseball mitt, pick up a bat, ready to swing . . . and then close her eyes when the bad news came my way. Close my eyes and go quiet. Like a tarantula. Like a dream of hidden sunshine or rooms. Like a father missing his child. Senseless. Just sweep.

Then summer brings us to the day of celebrating all things American. United States. Patriotism. Independence. Freedom. And I close my eyes.

I spend the day helping a friend clip the rubbery growth on the hooves of her donkeys to  free them from pain as they walk around the dusty pen. Free them from pain as my friend looks around and with a sweeping motion of her heart tells me this is all his. Her deceased husband’s. He is free now of the work on this New Mexican ranchita they built together over nearly 20 years. And she sees no relenting, no freedom, from the grip that grief has on her thin shoulders.

The worry and the moving, the moving from one chore, one task, one meal, one day to the next, one at a time. She fears there is no freedom from his death. And she is right. We cannot be free from death. Independence Day celebrates freedom and never before in my life have I seen freedom questioned or scorned or defied or embraced as I did this day. My country. This grief.

She leaned against the donkey as he ate the grain, she grabbed his leg, bent it at the knee, gave the leg to me, I held it, strong, she took the clipper, large enough to pull off a toe, and pinched the growth on the bottom of his hoof and it was gone. Free. She gave the animal freedom from pain. Rubbery growth gone. Back to strident hoof. Freedom. Does that make sense?

Now I think about the monsoons. How these rains bring freedom from heat. From stifling. Stifle. There are those who complain. Too hot. Too cold. Too wet. Too dry. Too humid. Too perfect.

There are those who complain about their kids. And those who have none. Kids or complaints. There are those who complain about their husbands or donkeys or tarantulas and the donkey and tarantula did not complain. And the husband died.

I sweep my way into the dog days of summer. Sirius. Serious humidity. I sweep my way through this desert life. Rife with river and small lizards skittering about, up, down and around the walls of my house. Across the windowsill of each room. The dog chased them. Dug for them. Realized how futile it was. The cat watches them.

It will be Labor Day soon. A national ode to working. Sweeping. I want to be a tarantula hiding behind the snap dragons. Does that make sense?

It is time to sweep. Again. It is slow warm summer. My brain is still. My heart quiet. I’ve so little to say. Too much thinking. Death. The floors all dust free.

dashing-1660319_1280

Photos from Pixabay.com; http://arachnoboards.com/threads/awesome-hides.293827/; from Michelle; and and the bad blurry ones are from yours truly.

(For you readers who may not know the rains, the southwest, the monsoons, here is a quick article. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Monsoon.)

Surviving at 103 – Degrees that is, Farenheit

alison-marras-361006-unsplash
Or Rules for Cools

How could I have forgotten about this? This thing? This heat? As in living in it. As in the bulk of my waking hours, and some of my sleeping hours, being focused on it? Actually, focused on staying cool. Avoiding sweat. How can sweat surprise me?

Perhaps I did not remember this potentially all-consuming life style after having lived in Flagstaff, Arizona at 7200 feet for 17 years. Where the focus of my days was quite often getting warm. Bringing every ounce of sunshine into my house. Relishing a sun-warmed car, which I had purposely parked so the windshield faced the brightest direction, so at the end of my errand or visit or day I was welcomed by warmth. I loved warmth.

Now it is all turned around. I am not welcomed by nor do I welcome warmth. It is confounding me. This thing. This heat thing.

Once upon a time, many years ago I lived in the desert and I knew heat. For 12 years. Las Cruces, New Mexico. Where it was hot. Really really hot. Just about as hot as it is here in my new little town. Cottonwood.  Arizona. High desert. 3300 feet. Where at least two months of the year are spent running from heat. Hiding from it. Deterring it. Redirecting. I had forgotten it.

Perhaps on purpose.

Grocery stores are crowded in the morning. Streets are empty in the afternoon. The rec center is packed all the time. I do more laundry. I drink more fluids. The dog is under the bed. The cat is under a different bed. I cannot touch the outside of my own house. It will hurt my hand. I complain.

Wait. Stop. Don’t.

Aha! The memories are returning. That thing. That thing that I survived. Yes! I remember now!

I survived the heat of summers in southern New Mexico by following rules. The first one? No complaining. Absolutely none. It does nothing to keep you cool. In fact, inevitably, it makes you hotter. In fact, it makes the room hotter. I see a person’s cheeks flush when they say, “Damn it’s hot.” Perspiration grows on their lip when they say, “Sure is hot out!”

It could be that they are standing in 103 degree sunshine. Or it could just be complaining. Stop it. Refraining from complaining will keep you cool. And there’s more.

Rules for Cools

  1. Check on the ice. Make sure it is frozen. Check on it often.
  2. Grab a popsicle while you are there.
  3. DON’T cut your hair short. Nope. Wrong! Keep it long. You can’t get short hair off your neck or forehead or away from your ears.
  4. Avoid looking at a thermometer between 8am and 8pm  Don’t look at your phone, your computer, don’t ask anyone, and turn off the radio! Numbers make you sweat profusely when they soar towards triple digits. Stop it.
  5. Remember Patagonia. Remember the Arctic. Remember them when you are checking on the ice. Grab another popsicle.eric-welch-251400-unsplash
  6.  Ahhhhhh. Just stare at images of the arctic. I’m feeling cooler already.
  7. If you have to wear a bra, choose one that separates your boobs and holds them up. Little pockets of pooling salt water are bad. Bad. Lift and  separate, girls.
  8. Guys, I don’t know what you can do to lift ’em, but if there is a way, get them out of the way.
  9. Or simply do as Joey Tribbiani from Friends always did. Go commando.
  10. Do outdoor things before 8 am. Or after 8 pm. Otherwise, stay indoors. Duh, right? Do you know how many people I see running? Walking their dog? At 103????
  11. Offer your stupid neighbors ice.thermomenter
  12. Forget efficiency. The environment. It’s okay. LOVE your AC or swamp cooler.
  13. Remember single digit utility bills from last winter. When the rest of the country was paying hundreds of dollars for heat, and you were sitting on your patio drinking coffee at 68 degrees. Turn on the AC and afford it!
  14. Do not take your dog for a walk no matter how eagerly and sad he looks at you. Don’t buy it. He can wait until after 8pm like everyone else. Or everyone else who has a brain.
  15. Check on your dog. If you’re not walking him, he’s under the bed. Consider joining him. Bring ice.
  16. Remember Michigan. Remember the frozen boogers of walking to school at 7 am in the winter. Wind chills. Frozen snot. Ahhhhhh.5a4fe5003ac3f.image
  17. Get rid of your high-end, silky, 800 thread ct, stick-to-your-skin-when-you’re-hot sheets. Really? Go for Percale. 250 ct. Cool crisp and just like Grandma’s fresh off the line.
  18. Compare your life to people who live in Phoenix. Or Las Vegas. Baton Rouge. Bullhead City. Feel blessed. Laugh. Ha! At least it’s not 120. Repeat often.
  19. Imagine THEIR utility bills, and crank that AC!
  20. Eat cold chocolate. Keep it in the fridge. Or the freezer. Then, when you check on the ice, you can grab some chocolate. Eat it often.
  21. Chocolate makes you ‘be’ whatever you need to be. Be smarter? Chocolate! Be Prettier? Chocolate. COOLER? Chocolate!!!!
  22. Remember the ice caves of Flagstaff. Hold that image in your brain. Close your eyes. Stay there for a bit. Yes.ice on eldon
  23. Ice cream is allowed on all diets when it’s 103. Even 93. Or 83. 73 could be pushing it. But definitely 103. Have multiple flavors on hand. Check on them often. And the ice. Make sure it is frozen. emma-goldsmith-667225-unsplash
  24. Get out of those stupid stretch pants. Good God, women. Linen. Baggy loose fitting lovely, lovely linen. Wrinkles? What wrinkles? Quit adding more skin to the skin you want to shed. Linen. Yards and yards of linen.
  25. Or cotton. Or nudity. Yards and yards of it.
  26. Linen sheets. They’re expensive. So what? Shop smart. Shop for cool.
  27. Drink everything cold. Water. Wine. Whatever. If you can’t handle it cold, sensitive teeth? (Really? Whatever). Don’t drink it. Don’t like iced coffee? Eat frozen chocolate. Don’t like cold red? Don’t be stupid. Drink it or switch to white. IT’S 103!!!!
  28. Eat cold foods. Strawberry soup. Avocado soup. Gazpacho soup. Ice soup. Check on the ice.monika-grabkowska-667454-unsplash
  29. Popsicles. Popsicles. Popsicles. Do I need to say it again?
  30. Any sicle. Fudgsicle. Icicle. Freeze Pops.
  31. Freeze blueberries. Grapes. Raspberries. Choclate chips. Cheerios. Grab a handful when …. you ….
  32. Check on the ice!
  33. Wear cold jewelry. Keep your pearls in the freezer. Refreeze throughout the day.
  34. Keep your shoes in the freezer. Socks. Bras. Refreeze throughout the day. (Probably don’t do this at work.)arunas-naujokas-590857-unsplash
  35. Check on the ice.
  36. Don’t look. You’re tempted. But, don’t. No matter how much you think you are dying to know. You do not need to know. Knoweldge is not power. 103 usually looks the same. 103. But sometimes it looks worse. 105. 107. Don’t look until after 8pm. Then you can look.
  37. Get it out of your system, when it says 71, feast your eyes. Then look away. It will change soon enough.
  38. Stay cool, my friends.
  39. Be cool.Excess-Fridge-Ice-

Photos from unsplash; southbendtribune.com; http://blog.espares.co.uk/espares; https://www.storyblocks.com/s