Category Archives: Family

A Boy, A Book, and the Gulf Between Them

Forgive me, this is a hard post to write and I’d like to do justice to both the joys and the sorrows in their turn. It is a post about discoveries and magical thinking–the good and the bad involved in both. This is about a book–and a boy who will probably never read it. I would separate them, but the two things are inextricably linked for me. It would be like dividing the sun from the moon.

Be warned, as it is written on ancient maps past the edge of the known world: Here be dragons!

***

Continue reading A Boy, A Book, and the Gulf Between Them

Artful Creations of Pain and Vision

Through a friend, I was invited to join fellow service women in an community-based artistic endeavor of a most mysterious kind–one with the thrill of possibly ending up shellacked and put on display!

How could I say “No” to that?

Continue reading Artful Creations of Pain and Vision

Mission GISH-Possible

What have I been up to, you ask?

Oh, not much.

Just…

….GISH….

For the past week I have been making bizarre requests from friends, neighbors (one of whom questioned why I needed an ax and should she be worried, the other who handed me one with no questions) and completely perplexed, but nice strangers.

I’ve traveled for supplies, stumps, wings and more, keeping safe-distance practices during our unusual interactions, all in pursuit of a life beyond the ordinary.

It always starts with a small idea…and then it steamrolls into a massive production. GISH keeps me hopping for days on end until, suddenly, it’s all over and all that is left are the memories.

And the photos.

Let me share them with you now. (Brace yourselves, if you’ve never experienced unbridled GISH, perhaps you’d best be near the fainting couch or have your salts handy?)

Here we go….

Continue reading Mission GISH-Possible

Walking Buck Creek Trail

Walking Buck Creek Trail

A Remembrance–by K. L. K. Salazar

There was no plan before we left.

We just took off together—as if lured by sirens singing.

Beneath the stars, you steered me to the places that you love,

Made mysterious by the flare of rockets red glaring.

 

Through the cemetery and down the hill

To where the waters waited,

And the path was still and free of people.

 

We walked along Buck Creek Trail that Fourth of July.

Chasing fireworks just out of reach.

The flash bang of concussions meeting us in the dusk.

As slick, silent waters slid past a fallen tree.

 

Fireflies flickered, semaphore signals, beneath a gibbous moon.

When I was younger, I thought it was called a ‘Gibbon’ moon.

I couldn’t help but wonder…

Do monkeys dance, bathed by moonlight, thinking it is day?

Or does the Man in the Moon really wear a simian grin?

 

And how that mischievous moon loomed large.

A low-hanging pendulum ticking in the tree tops.

Playing peek-a-boo behind Earth’s shadow

While the jealous sun searched for its lover.

 

And then, we saw it

…A glimpse.

…A spark.

A sky lantern floating in the dark.

A flickering emanation

The softness of a scene unmarred until…

***BANG***

Followed by an emptiness–ears ringing

Eyes straining for illumination.

Then the skies rained down in jeweled profusions

Firecracker constellations.

 

And as we walked through the humid musk

Of night smells and sulfur from plentiful explosions.

Every inhalation left an acrid taste upon the tongue.

Around each curve we anticipated the next cascade to come.

But we never quite caught the pattern of their detonation.

 

When the pyrotechnics paused

We waited…wondering…

“Was that it? The last one?”

But no.

 

A serpentine hiss trailed an invisible propulsion

Launching upward, arcing toward the vault of heaven.

Earthbound, we held our breath in expectation…

Will it wither, fizzle, die?

Or will it flower, hanging time itself upon a belt of sky?

 

Silver streaks descended

Causing seizures of joy in small children.

Cascades of tinsel dripping down

From a dark blue heaven.

 

You laughed and pulled me forward through the night

Following an ever-moving horizon.

You never caught them–the man-made stars you chased.

But then, that was never your goal.

 

You wandered the night in search of adventure.

Tempted by the golden monkey moon winking down

As if sharing a cosmic joke before we departed.

 

Back through the cemetery we went

Where the little chapel hides in hedgerows

Sparklers briefly crowning trees with red, white, and blue tiaras.

And there was no tomorrow yet to fear.

 

There was only the night and the steps we took

While the fireflies danced to a tune only they could hear…

…in the dark

…on the path

…along Buck Creek Trail.

*-*-*-*-*

Fireworks 2020

Every time I tried to insert the above firework image into the poem, it mucked up the formatting. So, I’m tacking it here at the bottom. Mentally place it wherever you like in the above verse.

Buck Creek Trail - 4th of july

The author’s son, walking and recording fireworks on his iPad. Fourth of July 2020

 

Back to a Future Past…

I’ve been afraid to state an opinion.

Afraid to rock a precariously tiny boat on very troubled seas.

A friend recently suggested I “Woman up” or, in essence, to stop being a coward.

So here goes:

I am truly terrified of COVID-19. Everything I’ve read convinces me this is a plague of biblical proportions. And that’s saying something coming from an agnostic!

But even more than a highly contagious disease, I am afraid to lose friendships because of COVID-19. So afraid, that I have not asked people to wear masks when I’m in close proximity. Even though I have worn mine in my yard…while by myself…while weeding.

I desperately cling to friendships, even when the cling-ee isn’t that keen on tolerating the stranglehold I have on them. I have lost friendships before. I will likely lose friendships again. Possibly over this. And I truly hate the thought.

I have been a coward; and I’m going to try very hard to stop. But even contemplating telling my friends my position, I’m feeling a welling, choking sensation I haven’t felt for years.

TIME TRAVEL SEGUE–NO, NOT THAT KIND OF SEGUEA BACK TO THE PAST KIND:

I had a job once at a place we’ll aptly refer to asDeepHell University.” It was in the fundraising department. I had a very challenging boss who, in her defense, had a very weird secretary. Me. I was the secretary.

(TRUE CONFESSION: I accidentally read a highly personal email from one of her friends when the I.T. guys accidentally linked my new email to my boss’s mail system–and I read it…and replied to it…at length…because I literally did not understand what the internet was and how it differed from emails.) This happened the very first day I worked there, but the boss forgave me. Kind of.

We managed a rocky half-year of an increasingly challenging relationship. This boss made me nervous. Like cat-on-a-hot-plate-in-a-room-full-of-rabid-pit-bulls, nervous. I took everything she said as criticism or complaints. I felt stupid, clumsy, and unsuited to the job. Everything I heard sounded like blame and hostility. I became so nervous I would plot a course around the entire department in hopes of avoiding seeing her. (Her office was right next to me, but around a corner.) It got so bad, I started doing a thing. A thing I did NOT know I was doing. I started holding my breath. I passed out several times before finally wising up and seeking professional help. I’m lucky I didn’t give myself permanent brain damage via concussion or oxygen deprivation. I have never been so grateful to be fired from a job in my life.

BACK TO THE FUTURE…MEANING THE CURRENT OR PRESENT DAY:

So, if you see me, and I keep a six foot distance from you while you are unmasked, do not be surprised and try not to take offense. Please understand, I am not judging anyone. I am not trying to make any kind of political statement. I’m just trying to make the best choice I can in a very bad time in our world.

I’m supposed to see family tomorrow. They prefer to go maskless. (Apparently they didn’t have the same fantasies about becoming Zorro I did as a child.) I really want to see them but I’m also a ticking time bomb of terror–albeit one with a love of alliteration. It tears my heart in two when I’m faced with this dilemma. I don’t want to be considered a nagging worrywart. And yet, if the wart fits…

So I’m asking them to move the get together into the backyard. And crossing my fingers that I am not dropped from future invitations of this kind–especially seeing as I organized this one. But my family has forgiven flakier behavior than this. [More on this topic in another blog post. I’ve confessed enough for one day. It’s best to spread the crazy out a little bit at a time.]

I’d like to think someday we’ll be safer and these extreme measures won’t be necessary. But that future isn’t here yet. (I’m feeling an overwhelming need to throw in another Back to the Future reference, but I’m coming up blank. You’ll just have to picture me driving a Deloreann and wearing a white, fright wig.)

And for those of you too young to get that reference, here’s a YouTube clip. (Proving I am slightly more technologically capable than my younger self.)

Back to The Future Present Tense–Plague Edition

Do you hate me now?

If you knew that, by catching COVID-19 there is no one who can watch my son, would that make a difference? Any sign of even a cold nowadays, and I lose all the help that comes into my home throughout the week. Help that keeps me from going bat-guano crazy. If I really caught COVID, I would be on my own, struggling to take care of a special needs child and afraid to ask anyone to help because I just couldn’t risk exposing somebody else to the disease.

So I will wear a mask. I will try to stay a six foot distance away. And I will not hold my breath waiting for others to understand. I am scared. For all of us!

In parting, I ask you, my viewing audience:

What would you do if you had to choose between friends…and safety?

What would you choose?

…a question that tempts me to include the following:

….And then this happened

Last night I tried to write a blog post. I was struggling to put into words how I feel about the situation in Minneapolis. The anger that permeates all the news regarding race in our country. The helplessness to change anything.

And then I went upstairs to check on my son and was reminded of WHY you never leave him alone for any reason…

This happened because I told him I was going to cut his hair the next day.

I often wonder whether my son is actually listening to me.

Now I know.

He is listening with a vengeance.

And a plan.

Below is a link on Facebook to my reaction to his styling techniques.

If you are struggling to get through depression or the continuing of Covid-19 isolation, or you could just use a laugh, it is my gift to you.

Also, you won’t be feeling so bad about your own hairstyles now, will you?

I just can’t stop laughing every time I watch this.
How can you NOT love this face!

I.E.D.s in the Family Tree

I used to scream bloody murder when I was a child. I would shriek so loud, so long, that eventually I would go hoarse. I even developed nodes–tightened knots on my vocal chords. When I finally figured out screaming wasn’t helping me I stopped. This allowed my vocal chords to relax and I discovered I had a deeper register. (As a result, I sing somewhere between contralto and tenor with a hiccup in my falsetto.)

What I couldn’t have told you, even if you had asked, was why. Why did I devolve into a nightmare child shuddering in hysterics? I couldn’t tell you then, but I might be able to tell you now.

But first, a little back story…

Continue reading I.E.D.s in the Family Tree

When Life Hands You Bitter Melon…

Thanksgiving was one of the roughest weeks I have had this year. Technically, it was rougher on the kid than on me. But misery rolls downhill, like Jack and Jill, leaving you with a busted head and an empty pail.

Continue reading When Life Hands You Bitter Melon…

Think Pink

Right after finishing GISH, Kiri took a tumble in the hallway. She wrenched her ankle, her knee, and her hip. She cracked her head against the wall. She went camping and got vertigo. Obviously she’s under a curse. (Actually, this might explain more than a few things wrong with her…) Join her internal debate team in figuring out the cure!

Continue reading Think Pink

Boob Job

I’m finally getting around to taking care of a small matter of imbalance. It seems I’ve been a bit lopsided lately. Leaning a bit to the left, if you will. Turns out there’s a reason for that! With the news the doctor gave me, I’ve decided to go ahead and have some work done.

I don’t have all the details yet, but I wanted to keep you abreast of the situation; I’m having a little corrective surgery. Before you panic and start picturing me as a centerfold model in the next AARP circular. It’s nothing that drastic. I’ve just reached an age where the fun-fun mammograms I’ve been having routinely for decades have finally paid off. They found something worth looking for.

To be honest, I’ve been waiting for something to happen for a while. Bad news comes in threes, and after the tree killed our roof two summers ago, and last year we experienced the dubious pleasures of salmonella and the criminal justice system for minor children, I had the feeling the Bad Sh*t Happens Universe wasn’t finished with me. The trilogy was yet to be completed.*

I go through a few more medicinal hoops, ring a few more lab test bells, and the doctors schedule me for surgery in a few weeks. Now all I have to do is tell everyone I know the good news.

In a manner that suits my personality…

I want to have a last hurrah before picking my son back up from camp. I send out a hurried request for a Girls’ Night Out. Friends join me at Noto’s Restaurant on the beach. It’s insanely busy and loud, but has a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan. We chat about everything–which includes someone introducing me to a term I’ve never heard of before. The friend mimes pulling an imaginary peanut M&M from her generous cleavage, saying, “Hashtag: Boob Snack,” and pretends to nosh on it. This seems like a great segue for my announcement.

I order a desert appropriate to the occasion. While handing out our choices, the helpful waiter, Chris, makes the mistake of asking, “So, what’s the big reveal?”

Bodacious Babe Drops the Bombe on the Beach!

In the spotlight, holding up my mounds of ice cream with cherries, I blurt. “I have breast cancer!”

In the appalled silence that follows, the waiter escapes, and I hurry to explain. “It’s really, really small! It’s so small that finding it was very lucky.”

It’s like a micro-tumor. Only about 5-6 millimeters. And today I learned that it is moderately slow growing and is responsive to hormone therapy. I got a grade of Stage 1-A. Or as that doctor put it,”If you have to get breast cancer, this was the best kind to get.”**

Hugs are given and I feel warm and fuzzy, especially after the waiter comes back to tell us he comped me my ice cream! A friend says we should go out more often…and I agree, adding, “We can take turns being the person with cancer to snag a free desserts! Hashtag: Boob Snack!”

We leave the place cackling like mad women and tromp to the nearby beach to take selfies in the sunset. It was the best end to a day a girl can have, surrounded by loving, laughing ladies.

That’s the news, everybody. I go under the knife on August 20th. And while I appreciate thoughts and prayers, I’m even more appreciative of thoughtfulness and practical help. Which leads me to my second bit of news.

Before any of this happened, I signed up to take part in something called GISH, an acronym for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (the World has Ever Known) which starts JULY 27th. I’ve never done it before and, from what I understand, I will be performing acts of charity while dressed entirely in cheese, or some other wild suggestion, created by a team of very disturbed/imaginative people.

This brings me to you…my adoring friends, my extended family, and wacky Chicago fan club! (Please note the use of the Oxford Comma per your request, K, J, and MJ!) I hope I may call on you all in my hour of need. If I require someone to go out, dressed like sasquatch in a tutu, to serenade strangers on a street corner while playing a stringed bass (the fish, not the instrument) I am totally playing the ‘C’ card and asking for help. It’s either that, or you get to mow my lawn for me. You decide. But, I’m totally milking this cancer thing for all it’s worth. Consider yourself warned.

Tomorrow I get the kid back from camp. So, if I miss your kind words, know that I will look forward to reading them once life gets back to normal. For a given value of normal equal to infinity plus or minus the deviation of the norm over pie.***

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*The third movie is always the one where the hero wins in the end, right? So, it’s all good.

** Unless one could be diagnosed with unnaturally young and perky boobs after 50? It could happen. Right?

***This is not a typo. MMmmmm…PIE!