Fight or Flight – The Black Cloud Theory (Part 1)

Today’s DP Post challenge reminded me of a story that I wrote sometime ago.  It is an excerp from my book, Peaks and Valleys.  I’ve divided it into two parts and hope you enjoy my Fight or Flight experience enough to read the second one tomorrow.

I have a theory that there are celestial forces that cause a black cloud to align over my head like a hovering spacecraft on a regular basis.   I have no concrete proof of this theory, but it repeats itself frequently enough that I am pretty sure I am right.

I encountered this unfortunate occurrence the first time my husband had to travel without us to Louisiana for a few weeks for his job.  Suddenly, I was like a single parent of our four-year-old daughter and sole caretaker of our mobile home.  Always the optimist, I believed this would be a great opportunity to show I could manage both tasks successfully.  The first few days weren’t bad.  I dropped Laura off at daycare, went to work, came home and fixed dinner.  Laura whimpered at bedtime when her daddy was not there to tuck in his baby girl.  The weekend came and I was oblivious to the unexplainable nebula of darkness that formed in the skies above.

Laura’s blue eyes widened with excitement as she watched me push the nearly immovable coffee table across the room.  An innocent look of wonder crossed Laura’s face as I unfolded the full size sofa-sleeper.  I had planned our little living room camp-out the night before as I tried comforting Laura to sleep.  I hoped she would someday cherish the memory as much as I cherished having a sleep over at my grandparent’s home when I was small.  Her long blond braids bounced as she grabbed her tattered flannel blanket and her hand-me-down stuffed dog, Henry, and jumped onto the newly made bed.

I read her a story and soon she was fast asleep.  Despite the metal frame from the stow-away bed poking my back and hips, I too drifted off to sleep about midnight.

“BAM! BAM! BAM!”   I was jolted awake by what sounded like shotgun blasts which vibrated the wall near my head.  It was pitch black when I jumped out of bed and slammed both shins into the anvil of a table.  I probably would have paused to tend to my injuries, but my heart was pounding out of my chest with anticipation of the next round of ammo coming through the wall.  I stumbled across the room and worked my trembling fingers between the slats on the tightly closed blinds, trying hopelessly to see from where the ghastly noise had come.

Silence filled the room.  All I could see was the familiar trailer next door and a starlit sky above it.  Anxiously, I moved from room to room checking every window in great expectation of some horrific monster with a gun.  At each window I saw nothing, but peaceful moonlit yards.  My breathing began to slow and my heart no longer pounded louder than the clock on the wall.

         I did not imagine that noise, I told myself.   I glanced at my daughter sleeping soundly and began to question my sanity even more.  If the noise had been as loud as I remember, how could she still be asleep?

A few minutes passed when I heard a light rap on a distant door and a voice say, “Hey Mike, get up.  The police are on the way.”   It was Jerry, the neighbor, from two trailers up the road trying to stir my next door neighbor.  He seemed relatively calm as he walked back and forth waiting for Mike to come out.

I could not go back to bed until I knew what had happened.  I quickly got dressed and decided to go outside to get an explanation.  I listened as Jerry explained to Mike that he had been home from work for just a short while when he heard the engine of his new car start up.  He grabbed his loaded 20-gauge shotgun and chased the would-be thieves down to my trailer where he pulled the trigger and let off a few rounds.  Now I understood why the shots I heard were so close to my house.  The boys had jumped out of his car and it rolled until it was stopped by Mike’s car.

The only casualties from the shotgun blast were a few cars across the street which looked like they had been sandblasted.  Within a few minutes, the police arrived with a canine unit and having a great fear of dogs, I excused myself to check on Laura.  She was still sleeping soundly and oblivious to the excitement of the night.  I put on a pot of coffee and settled down with a paperback until dawn.

to be continued…….

Inspiration is essential to writing passionately.  Soon I’ll be nestled in this rugged swing, listening to a nearby babbling brook, greeting the crisp morning chill as I put pen to paper and let my imagination flow.

Not only will I have the perfect inspiration, I’ll be visiting family.  The hours of endless chatter and laughter are priceless.  Georgia’s on my mind and life is good.

Where do you find inspiration?

An Old Dog Or An Old Fool?????

I have always proclaimed my ineptness when it comes to computers and their infinite ability to make me feel ignorant, though never more than through this week’s efforts to the weekly writing challenge – And Now For Something Completely different.

How can it be so difficult to insert more than one picuture into a post?  It’s not like my portable einstein gives me a clue as to what I’m doing wrong- well, perhapps it does, but it is in a foreign techinical language that I have yet to master.

Still, I am a hopeful person, so I persist.

Perhaps my theme is designed to hold only one photo.  I may be on to something.  Let me struggle for another two days and see if I can get the grasp of this.  Oh look!  Third picture and I successfully changed positions.  Thank you new theme!!

Please tell me I am not the only one who struggles to make sense out of something that was designed to be so simplel  I need some support and encouragement.  Can an old dog learn new tricks or will I remain stuck in the paper and pen world until I fade away?

What’s in it for You?

It amazes me how many people publish books and write blogs.  There were over a million posts on just today.  My inherent desire to understand fellow writers leads me to ask the question “Why do you write?”

For me, I think there are three main reasons that come to mind.

  1. Writing is my passion.  Pens and paper can be found on nearly every flat surface in my house.  It comforts me to work through my emotions whether I am happy or sad, frustrated or fulfilled.  Writing my first book, Peaks and Valley, (available through Amazon and Kindle) provided me an opportunity to revisit my childhood.  It also allowed me to recognize issues that sometimes kept me from embracing life to the fullest.  The therapeutic aspect was an unexpected bonus.  By writing I can script romantic fascinations and be openly honest without risking being misunderstood by family and friends.
  2. When I retired, I began to feel removed from people other than my immediate family.  I thrive on being connected to other people.  Writing my blog increases the chance of connecting with people who share a common interest, fellow writers.  When I check my stats and see that someone read one of my posts, it brings a smile to my face.  Should someone take the time to leave a comment, I am delighted and encouraged to keep writing.
  3. On numerous occasions, something I wrote, a poem, a letter, a short story, has touched another person’s soul and perhaps made their day a little brighter.  There is a voice in my head, call it divine intervention or a gift that speaks words of comfort for me to share with others in times of need.  It is my belief that each of us are blessed with gifts and once we recognize them, it is our duty to share them.

So why do you write?  I’d love to know.

Crazy Family Traditions: A Dime a Dozen or a Dozen Dimes?

Over the years I’ve heard many stories about pennies from Heaven or a penny for your thought.  I’ve heard Don’t take any wooden nickels on more than one occasion.  In our family, the coin of choice seems to be a dime.

Who knows how it started, but my grandfather, who had a delightful sense of humor and seemed to always find a way to make a buck, would tell anyone who asked to use the bathroom to leave a dime, followed by one of his hearty chuckles.  I don’t remember ever seeing a dime on the commode, perhaps because back in the fifties, 10 cents could actually buy a bottle of coke or some other necessity. (yes, a bottle of Coke is a necessity when the temperatures exceed 100 degrees for more than a week!)

Sometime this past year, a family member decided to dust off my grandfather’s urging and take it to another level.  I began finding the small shiny coins accumulating whenever the culprit visited.  Others decided to join in the fun.  It wasn’t long before a pile formed.  It became a nuisance to clean around them, but I didn’t feel right putting them in my purse and spending them.

While I appreciated the humor and generous donations, I needed to find a way to dispense of the silly deed before it became a new tradition.  I decided to post a little ditty on the wall above the dimes.  It goes like this:

We’ll always remember that our Grandpa once said

Please leave a donation if you’re using the head

But traditions have changed along with the times

You’re no longer required to leave a few dimes

Now here’s the dilemma, there’s been overflow

Someone too generous and not in the know

Please take back your donation; now don’t make me frown

And remember the seat should always be down

Thanks, The Establishment

So does your family have any silly family traditions that have gotten out of hand?  I’d love to hear about them.

Joy, joy, joy

Sometimes joy spills over from one day to the next, like a baseball winning streak.  I love when that happens.

The abundance of springtime pleasures, like sunny skies, luscious green lawns and trees that are cloaked with leaves, helps to keep my mood elevated.

Thursday evening my husband and I had dinner with my daughter, her boyfriend and his three members of his family, who were visiting from South Carolina.  We tried a new barbeque place that came highly recommended.  It turned out to be a shack, literally.  Fortunately, everyone accepted the accommodations without complaint.  Good food and good company made for a pleasant evening.

Friday, the plans were to visit the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis with the visiting family.  Storms rolled in from the west and we cancelled those plans.  Instead, we all met at a large nearby nursery where we spent an hour or two enjoying the abundance of flowers and plants.  The pleasant substitution fulfilled my urge to see mother natures’ bountiful display and to purchase a few additions for our garden.

Saturday morning I sat at the computer, frustrated that I had not found words to fill the pages of the document on the screen.  For three weeks, I tried to compose a poem to present to my brother-in-law at his eightieth birthday party.  Suddenly, my fingers began pecking at the keyboard and words appeared, as they often do.  I have found that I just need to receive them when God is ready to send them my way.

In the afternoon we attended a wonderful outdoor party for the octogenarian.  The temperatures neared 100 degrees and the humidity left everyone drenched, yet visiting with extended family on such a joyous occasion made the conditions bearable and well worth the brow wiping.

When I returned home Saturday night, I delighted in reading a post on Facebook announcing the husband of a dear friend received a phone call for a life-saving liver transplant that he desperately needed for months.

An email from my brother informed me that another relative had made significant advances in recovering from a debilitating illness.  I believe it is a sign that prayers are being answered, even if the message came with a cautiously optimistic warning.

By the time I attended church on Sunday, my cup overflowed with blessings.

I hurried home from church anxious to get an update on the condition of the liver transplant recipient.  Much to my dismay, our internet service did not work.

Computers are my nemesis.  I have a love/hate relationship with them.  My ignorance consumes many frustrating hours when something goes amiss.

I don’t really understand the difference between a router and a modem; much less know how to make them function properly after a glitch occurs.

After trying the standard options of disconnecting and restarting the pc and laptop, I turned to my husband for help.  Understanding that he shares the same limited knowledge, I watched as he completed all the familiar procedures that I performed.

He successfully restored the internet access on his personal computer.  Relieved that I could get an update on the condition of my friend’s husband, I could sleep peacefully and tackle the rest of the problem on Monday.

Unfortunately, the wireless access continued to elude my laptop.  Rain dripped down from the cloudy skies, threatening to dampen my spirits, but I am not one to lose my patience easily.

My frustration level did not rise until I realized that I could not print from my laptop without the internet connection.  On my umpteenth try, I decided to move a few wires to another port and managed to restore the connection.

After cheering and exchanging a high-five with my husband, I tried to contain the feeling of superiority that overcame me momentarily.

Life regained momentum in a positive direction.  Now, if the clouds part long enough to get a walk in, I’ll continue the winning streak.

Humor Wins

Humor has a way of creeping into my brain at the most inopportune times.  I like to think that I display appropriate behavior most of the time, but on at least one occasion, I embarrassed myself and my daughter with uncontrollable giggling.  In order to understand how a visual memory made me look like a fool, I have to share a story.

My husband and I were visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Georgia.  On a whim, we decided to visit Babyland General Hospital, the birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids, in Cleveland, Georgia.  Yes, there really is such a place, complete with nurses, doctors and orderlies.

The dolls born in this unique location are hand-made of cloth.  They have fat faces and and wide-opened arms.  Some are born bald and some have curly or wavy heads of hair.  They originate in a large cabbage patch under the Magic Crystal Tree.  When a family decides to adopt one of the kids, a nurse announces “Cabbage dilation; all staff on standby.”

The contractions are timed and when the birth is imminent, a doctor appears and listens to the cabbage with a stethoscope.  He or she then injects it with “Imagicillin”, yanks the nude baby from the patch and cameras flash, recording the remarkable event.  (Really, I’m not making this up.)

The newborn birthed on our visit that day had exaggerated dimples, much like the Pillsbury dough boy, and a full head of bright, red hair that looked as if someone pressed their fingers firmly on the baby’s head to make ripples that were evenly distributed on both sides of the head.  The bizarre and funny experience apparently burned an image in my subconscious only to manifested itself later.

Fast forward a few days after vacation.  My daughter, in the process of selecting a realtor to sell her home, invited me join her when a potential broker made his pitch to her.  I stood in the living room when Laura answered the door to let the agent in.  In walked an adult version of the Cabbage Patch Doll birthed during our visit to Georgia.  The man had plump, peach cheeks with huge dimples and red wavy hair split down the center of his head.

My mind immediately revisited the process of his head being yanked out of the cabbage patch.  I felt the strong urge creep from my stomach and nearly escaped my mouth before I excused myself and rushed to the bathroom.

I turned on the water in hopes that it would drown out the uncontrollable laughter.  I tried to compose myself with little success.  After five or ten minutes, I exited the bathroom and took a seat next to my daughter as she sat listening to the man explain why the company he represented should list her home.

Unable to look directly at the realtor without losing control, I tried to focus on a picture hanging on the wall, sucked in my cheeks and clenched my jaw in hopes that I would not repeat my inappropriate behavior.  The second the interview was over and Laura escorted the man out the door, I fell to the floor in hysteria.  To this day, I cannot think about the face without breaking into unconstrained laughter.

I’d like to think I am not alone in having such an embarrassing moment.  Sometimes humor takes control and can’t be quieted.  I’d love to hear from you if you can relate.