In light of the hot summer we’re having I decided to share this poem I wrote about my childhood.
Steamy air and sticky skin,
The thin sheet I toss aside
As on the old mattress I sprawl.
The whirring fan provides little relief.
A full moon in the open window,
A balmy breeze stirs the curtains.
In the field chirping crickets
Accompany clamoring katydids.
Their cacophony was my summer time lullaby.
The pessimist and the optimist were arguing whether the glass was half empty or half full. Each was trying to make the other see his point of view. Their waiter came by and simply refilled the glass.
I dug my fingers into the bread dough and squeezed. I stretched it and folded it over and mashed it down onto the counter. After kneading the dough for a few minutes, I formed it into two round balls. I floured the pizza pans and was about to flatten the dough onto them when a frog jumped up on the counter to my left. For a second we both froze and stared at each other. I was startled to see such a large frog. It was twice as big as my fist. That’s the largest frog I’ve seen in these parts. And it was sitting right next to my pizza dough! Moving quickly I grabbed it around the middle before it could jump away. It struggled a in my dough covered hands but I held tight. No way was I going to let it jump on my dough!
“How did you get in here?” I asked, even though I knew it couldn’t tell me. We don’t have a pond in the yard, so where could he have come from? I couldn’t begin to guess, but one thing I did know, he was going out the back door.
Once he was outside, I went back into the kitchen and I washed my hands and prepared the dough to go in the oven. I opened the oven and another frog jumped up on to the open door and then onto the pizza pan as I put it into the oven. It didn’t like the heat, I guess and jumped right back out. When I closed the oven there was frog on the stove top and more frogs hopping across the kitchen floor.
I was starting to wonder if I had be transported back to ancient Egypt right after Moses sent all those frogs as a plague on the people. But I knew that couldn’t be, because I just put my pizza dough in an electric oven. Egyptians would have wood fired ovens made of clay or bricks.
I grabbed the other pizza pan before the frogs crawled all over it and turned back to the clay oven and using the long handled paddle I stuck it through the little door and set it on the shelf over the flames.
With my bread baking I turned to the problem of the frogs. They were everywhere now. I watched them in horror as I realized it would be impossible to get them all out and keep them out.
Then I opened my eyes. I was sitting in bed with my back propped against a pillow, and there were no frogs.
Dr. Yan Pol loved cats. But his arthritis was making it difficult to get around and he knew he wouldn’t always be able to take care of them. So he built one last droid and programmed it to take over the job for him. The pain in his joints was much easier to bare once he saw how well the droid, which he named Clack, cared for his cats.
When a strange virus wiped out the human race Clack adopted the other cats in the neighborhood. Many years passed but the cats on Apricot Street knew they could always count on Clack to be there for them.
This story is a writing exercise I did when someone shared the photo below on one of my Facebook groups.
Do you ever stop and think? For us introverts it’s a common practice. You might think we are so quiet because we have nothing to say. The truth is we are thinking of at least five different thing that could be said and weighing the potential outcomes. Often by the time we think of the best thing to say in given moment, the moment has already passed, and the conversation has shifted to a new topic and the process of contemplating the wittiest comeback starts all over.
I can remember many times as a young person thinking of wonderful comebacks to a cocky remark someone made in our youth group meeting, the morning after the exchange. It made me feel really frustrated and I would ask myself, “why couldn’t I have thought of that last night?”
At other times I would try to keep up with the extroverts and say the first thing that popped into my head with the usual result being that the words would come out wrong and I would be misunderstood or the thing I had intended as a joke would be taken as an insult.
Over the years I’ve developed a preemptive strategy for situations like that. I often imagine ahead of time what someone might say and then work out how I might respond to steer the conversation in the direction I wanted it to go. Sometimes these premeditated dialogues serendipitously fit a situation I found myself in and the words came out just right and everyone had a good laugh, both because what I said was funny and because they couldn’t believe it came out of my mouth!
Perhaps all this thinking makes me seem slow witted at times, but it does offer one advantage: with all these running dialogues in my head I’m never bored from lack of conversation!
I can paint the world that I see
And you can paint the world you see.
From my point of view
I’ll show things to you
That seem new.
Look and see!
If you will show me your own view,
I will stop and look on with you.
Together maybe we
Can teach souls to see
Here to view.
The Beauty is right here in me
And out there hidden in that tree.
I know it is true,
I see it in you!
What a view!
Can’t you see?
We each have our own point of view.
I want to see your vantage too.
That’s my point, you see.
Please share your’s with me.
Now we see
a good view!
I can’t tell you what the flavor notes were. I just remember I really liked the coffee. It was the summer of 1999 and I was in southern Brazil. Well, it was June anyway, but Curitiba, the town I was in, is south of the equator, so it was winter there. The weather was pleasant but cool most days, a lot like Pensacola in November. It got cold over night a couple times and that might be why they served coffee and warm leite with breakfast, or maybe that’s just Brazil. Whatever their reason, I was glad to have a hot drink on those cool mornings. That was when I learned to drink coffee black. The first few mornings I added milk (leite) and sugar, but one morning I decided to taste the coffee before adding anything. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked it. I had assumed that people who drank coffee black were either in a hurry or had burnt off all their taste buds. Maybe both. But that day it occurred to me that perhaps I hadn’t given coffee a fair chance, or maybe coffee in Brazil was just better. In case Brazilian coffee was better I bought some to take back to the States.
That Fall I started college. I didn’t drink the coffee in the dining hall, at first. I knew it would not be as good as drinking Brazilian coffee in Brazil. Then about a month into my first semester the late nights and early mornings began to take a toll. So one morning at breakfast in the dining hall I got a cup of black coffee. Sitting at my table I took a sip and almost spewed it out but I remembered my manners in time, and instead I scrunched up my eyebrows, closed my eyes, pursed my lips, and swallowed. Then I quickly grabbed my cup of orange juice and chased it down. I looked up to see another guy across the room laughing at me. I’m glad someone was amused. I was not. I stared down at the dark liquid in my mug. What have they done to the coffee? I wondered. Undrinkable as it was I still wanted the caffeine, so I found the cream and sugar. It masked the disagreeable flavor a little but it still didn’t taste good.
I had a similar experience with a book recently. The author was new to me but since it was Sci-Fi, I took a chance on it. I like Sci-Fi, and the description sounded good so I plunged in, and wanted to throw it in the trash. You can’t throw an ebook, and deleting just isn’t the same. The problem was the author had yet to master “show, don’t tell.” I tried to endure it, but as I read further I realized his characters were more like cardboard cutouts than real people. I couldn’t stand it. Too bad too because the plot seemed to be shaping up into an intriguing adventure.
The problem with poorly written books is you can’t fix them. You can’t fix bad coffee either. You can try to mask the flavor with cream and sugar but you’ll only ruin the cream and sugar. Thankfully coffee has come a long way in America over the last eighteen years, and a good cup of Brazilian coffee isn’t hard to find, even in this small town. I had one this morning. And well written books aren’t hard to find either. The local library is always adding to its collection. I’m thankful that in the twenty-first century no one has to settle for inferior coffee or poorly written books.
I hope that young author will continue to improve his craft, then someday I will be able to enjoy one of his books. In the mean time I will drink good coffee and read well written books.