Thursday, October 17, 2013
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The humor and its goodness fade away
With screen door slamming sweat and jangling bliss
Sunday, June 2, 2013
With that out of the way, the following transpired:
It's important to know the depths to which my chocolaholism takes me. My standard DQ order is an Oreo Blizzard, made with chocolate ice cream mind you, with an extra ingredient - chocolate cone dip.
This is the meth-level craving buster I order when I get shaky from eating healthy all day. Usually sushi puts me over the edge. It's so...fishy and ricey.
The new summer crew is staffing the local DQ. Personnel change each summer as you might imagine when school lets out, and several times during the summer when the kids find out how awful customer service/food jobs can be. So the girl at the counter was new, and most likely has never dipped anything but a cone. I will not use the word "dip" in any other way in this story, albeit a profound temptation.
"Large Oreo Blizzard, made with chocolate ice cream..." I ordered.
"Chocolate ice cream?"
"Yes," I said, as she punched extra keys on the register.
"And chocolate cone dip."
She looked up, then back at the register, and pressed far too many keys.
"That will be $13.49," she said, smiling sheepishly as if to say, please don't use a credit card, because I don't know how to do that.
I waited for my order, watching the proceedings in the food prep area. Counter girl went back to help, swirling a football sized chocolate cone and dipping it upside down in the cone dip container.
At this point I must say, I've always been fascinated by the quickly solidifying hard shell and the magic by which ice cream defies gravity, seemingly glued to an inverted crunchy wafer cone.
She brought her giant creation over to a boy in the prep area and proudly displayed what she had made for him. He looked puzzled, glanced at my order on the overhead display and shook his head. He escorted her back to the cone dip container with a smaller version of the same thing, dipped and returned to his station. She returned to the counter somewhat deflated.
In a few moments prep boy came to the front counter with my order. There in a standard large Blizzard cup was an entire chocolate dipped soft serve cone protruding like a Beehive hairdo above the rim. I could only imagine that the entire crunchy wafer cone was submerged in chocolate ice cream and crumbled Oreo bits, but under the pressure of the moment I could focus only on the perverse mutant creation sitting on the counter between us.
I choked back a laugh and simply asked, "What is THAT?"
Prep boy looked down at what his arms and hands had led him to assemble, obvious at this point that his brain had become completely disengaged in the process. He did his best to explain.
"Oreo Blizzard...with a chocolate cone dipped."
I apologize for not taking a picture of this one-of-a-kind treat. I doubt it has ever been attempted before, and probably never will be again. Suffice it to say, I gently redirected the production and left with the order as intended. The owner got involved, refunding much of my money when she saw the number of items that had been rung up by counter girl.
Laughing most of the way home where I planned to lapse into cone-dip ecstasy and a subsequent state of lethargy, I rationalized my experience thusly: for the cost of a DQ Blizzard, I received a delicious ice cream creation, a number of good laughs, a great story and this blog post.
It's gonna be a long summer.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Twenty-five was an age at which I could still jump off a three foot wall if I wished, landing and bounding like a coiled spring without injuring myself. Pain was usually a temporary annoyance, maybe a few throbbing hours after a hard workout. A pleasant burn that made my muscles sing. And there really weren't many three foot walls where I lived. Parkour hadn't been invented yet.
Twenty-five was also the age at which I got my first glimpse into the kind of pain that becomes familiar and more frequent as the decades pass and the body loses its resilience. It was the year I headed to Wisconsin with a group of friends for a weekend getaway. Upon stepping out of the car into the cool north woods I took a deep breath of naturally pine scented air and promptly choked on a bug, coughed hard and heard a snap in my upper back that doubled me over. It was an immobilizing dislocation of something in my rib cage that was crucial to standing up straight and breathing without wincing. It was not a spasm that could be stretched out, a knuckle that could be cracked or a fatigue that could be rested away. It took me out of action for the entire weekend, flat on my back and swallowing my friend’s mother’s potent pain relievers in hopes of rejoining the fun.
But still, I recovered from that incident within a few days or weeks.
I visited a chiropractor yesterday for my injured knee. As a new patient, I was presented with forms to fill out and an interactive patient history program on a small computer terminal. A diagram of the human body, front and back, covered with small circles to indicate regions for treatment accompanied a list of qualifiers. To click inside a circle, in my case on the left knee, indicated an area of pain. Associated adjectives helped the doctor understand if certain activities initiated, aggravated or alleviated symptoms.
Presented with this cartoon version of myself and a crayon stylus, it occurred to me that recovery time from injuries in your forties and fifties leaves you with a patchwork quilt of pain, overlapping in time and debilitating to the point at which a pain free day is noticeable in the way a terminally ill patient is often reported to sit up in bed and state, “that feels great!” just before collapsing dead. “Wow, I feel great today!” Oh crap, that won’t last.
I began to poke the screen with my electronic pencil. My left shoulder hasn’t been right for four years. It is aggravated by exercise or lack of it, a true no-win scenario. And come to think of it, my right knee isn’t what I’d call a hundred percent, nor is my right wrist. Hell, I haven’t been a hundred percent since 1972.
Poke, poke, poke, I colored in the circles. My back hurts all the time, sometimes when I awake in the morning after a night spent running down hallways looking for a classroom on the last day of the semester or chasing antelope in my dreams. My stomach hurts. Apparently I can no longer digest pepperoni. Poke, color, poke.
Doctors shouldn’t ask questions they don’t want answered, I thought as I completed the exercise. But maybe this guy had magical methods unrevealed to older, less athletic patients afraid to admit their frailty. After all, he is the team chiropractor for a major professional Chicago sports team. These young bucks take a beating regularly and come back for more within hours or days. Many of them are in their twenties. Some are twenty-five. Oh yeah. Just starting to hurt. They have no idea what lies ahead.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
An out of work flight attendant
Saturday, May 25, 2013
My entry in the April Writers Weekly 24-hour writing contest. Results to be announced in June. A few modifications in this posting are thanks to some very respected writing friends.
Instructions - write no more than 925 words to this prompt:
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Curls of white steam that drifted from a cradled mug and over Sarah’s fingers dissipated into the chilled darkness of an unheated living room. Embers crackled in a wood stove, the only source of warmth in this sixth winter since onset of the reversal. Cambridge was a distasteful memory still, eight years after her dismissal. She felt as fragile as one of the glass flowers exhibited at the university’s museum, and as breakable.
April arrived with weather that seemed to mock lengthening days with temperatures that seldom rose above zero. Her supply of firewood was almost exhausted and the food she stored in September was running low. She stared at the glass specimen on the kitchen table. Galanthus nivalis, the snowdrop, her favorite from Harvard’s collection, stolen on her last day as professor of botany.
Sarah sipped hot tea and recalled spring festivals in nature preserves where spiked trees sported buckets that gradually collected oozing liquid life. As a student volunteer she served Maple syrup on stacks of pancakes and sold jars of clover honey from the previous summer. Trickling streams fed by snowmelt signaled the approach of warmer weather, of life emerging from the sterilizing chill of the dark season, snowdrops sprouting from under layers of ice-encrusted brown and yellow leaves.
On early spring mornings he would leave their bed, dress quietly and tromp into the woods with a hand shovel and a small clay pot. By the time she arose, coffee and a small floral arrangement graced their breakfast table. Often a handwritten note accompanied the snowdrops she so dearly loved, but most often a message was delivered in person and with a kiss.
The April sun lacked its pre-shifted intensity, but still melted the snow on Sarah’s roof, compressing layers until an overhanging drift fell with a light thump on the front porch. It remained a sure sign that spring would eventually triumph over winter, perhaps by July. If only life on Earth could say the same.
In the seventh spring, Sarah emerged from confinement and slowly opened her front door. Wind and snow swirled and the cold lashed her cheeks. Footprints led to and from the front porch. She imagined that they were other than her own, that the postman had made his rounds, delivering ads, bills and perhaps a birthday card. She would be forty-two. She could not remember if he was older or younger. She cried as she struggled to remember his face. Her tears froze instantly on her cheeks and shook her into the moment. His body was hidden by snow at the far end of the porch, carefully preserved for later burial when the ground eventually softened.
The loneliness inside the house was different than that which she found outside, exposed to the wind and alone in the snow. She felt tiny at the edge of a blanketed white expanse between her house and the next, only fifty yards away. She couldn’t help but admire the sparkling landscape. Fragile tree branches, encrusted bushes and frosted houses were reminiscent of the beautiful glassy exhibit where she first noticed her precious snowdrop.
The stinging air froze the tiny hairs in her nostrils, causing her to breathe through her mouth. Gasping on the frigid air, she raised a scarf up over her face to her eyes. With a snow shovel and broom she cleared fallen snow, uncovering a wicker swing, an old milk can and a pile of inverted terra cotta pots. She paused to pick one up and examined it in a loving flood of memories until the cold forced her back inside with an armful of firewood and an intriguing idea.
Returning to the porch with the glass snowdrop in her gloved hand, Sarah scooped snow into an empty pot. She carefully planted the glass flower in the white potting mix and set it on the ground at her feet. There, the first snowdrop of spring proudly emerged against all odds and according to a forgotten timeline. Sarah smiled and glanced at the neighboring homes. The Johannsons lived to her north and the Muellers to her south. She had discovered their frozen bodies earlier in the winter, but continued to visit and ensure that they were undisturbed.
Over the next two weeks, Sarah worked diligently at her newfound creative pursuit. Her garden expanded with different specimens and over a wider area. She worked until her limbs grew numb and the cold forced her back indoors. The wood stove served as a hot plate to melt buckets of snow. It gave her purpose.
A gentle snow fell on Sarah’s garden, her exhibit. She shoveled a path to the buried street, plunged the shovel into a snow bank and turned to admire her work. Scattered across the neighbors’ adjoining snow-covered lawns, new growth sprouted from a series of rounded pedestals that Sarah had packed and molded like the bases of snowmen. She carefully applied the water she had warmed to thaw and reshape frozen limbs. The specimens seemed proud and alert in their icy matrix, especially Sally Johannson, arms outstretched, her naked gray body defiant against the elements and glistening like a glass flower. Her white hair fell about her shoulders like the three milky petals of a snowdrop. Sarah laughed and laughed until she cried.