February Photo A Day: Guilty Pleasure

I can’t imagine that anyone would be surprised by this. As much as I talk about it, however, it’s rare that I have more than one of my favorite Starbucks drinks a week, usually on Friday’s Craft Night. We provide the home-cooked meal, and Rhonda and Lindsey get Starbucks for us as dessert.

Because people are generous, my additional indulgences are courtesy of gift cards–thank you, thank you–you know who you are! I also cut the calories by getting non-fats and skinnies. Maybe, ultimately, Starbucks is my guiltless pleasure!

Prompt from FMS Photo A Day.

ETA: Ha. After I posted this, Tom returned from errands with this coffee for me, which he picked up when he was using the last of a B&N gift card to get me the score of Breaking Dawn 2 (my other guilty pleasure; now I have all five soundtracks and all five scores, and they are amazing to write to…not that I’m saying I’m writing or anything). So that’s TWO Starbucks in less than twenty-four hours. I AM LIVING THE LIFE.

February Photo A Day: Something Orange

Mine hasn’t yet bloomed, so here’s a shot of a neighbor’s orange Gerber daisy.

For my friends in the Northeast, I’m NOT adding bouquets of pink to be mean. I’m simply showing you what lies beyond your blizzard. Come August, when heat and mosquitos have enslaved me within my house, you can publish photos of balmy days in the garden, breezy times on the water, etc.




Yellow jacket on redbud blooms.

Prompt from FMS Photo A Day.

February Photo A Day: Your Name

I received this from my parents as a ‘tween for my bicycle. Clearly I never left my bike out in the rain because the tag isn’t much weathered. From the time of my first bike (and I remember the training wheels!) when I was a youngster, my bikes meant freedom. I try to believe that in small towns or at least suburbs somewhere, children still fly out the door in the mornings and grab their bikes, only to come home if they’re hungry or when dusk sets in.

Of course, back then, there were no helmets and lots of wrecks and crashes. In our family, my brother’s bike catastrophe was breaking his arm. I remember I was too young to be allowed in the hospital to see him when he had to stay overnight, but because I was a worrier, my mother let me stand on the grass outside and pointed out the window where he stood, waving his casted arm at me. My sister’s catastrophe: wrecking her bike on a hill. She and the bike slid down together, its pedal stabbing her in her leg, which had to be stitched. My mother said the resident putting in her sutures had shaking hands and wasn’t doing a great job. She was worried what kind of scar it would leave and gave the attending physician an anxious look. He tactfully asked the resident if he wasn’t long overdue for a break and offered to finish. Once the resident was gone, he removed the stitches and started over, making a tidy job of it.

There are only a few of my own accidents that I remember. My training wheel slipped off the sidewalk once and I was thrown into a ditch. I remember screaming all the way home and sitting on the kitchen counter, feet in the sink, while my mother washed my wounds and applied iodine (that hurt worse than the wreck). One time I found an iron rod, probably a piece of rebar, and was dragging it behind me as I rode. I stupidly let it get ahead of me and pole vaulted myself over the handlebars, landing in the middle of the street on my back and, as they say, getting the wind knocked out of me. The only witness was a woman standing in her kitchen window. She ran out to make sure I was okay and helped me and the bike to the curb. After a few minutes, I was on my way. She kept the rebar. Another time my foot slipped off the pedal and I scraped the top of it on the asphalt (it was the South; I was barefooted). For years, I had four little circular scars at the base of my toes, but those are long gone.

Then there was the time my bike and its tag betrayed me. It was probably ninth grade, and my boyfriend (Tim) wasn’t delighted when I spent lots of time with just Riley. But Riley had taught himself new songs on the guitar and begged me to come over after school one afternoon to listen. Riley lived several blocks from me, but right around the corner from Lynne, so I told Tim I was going to Lynne’s that afternoon, then pedaled straight to Riley’s. We were in the basement–where his drums, piano, and guitars were–when the doorbell rang. Riley went to answer it, and I heard Tim’s voice ask, “Is Becky here?”

“No,” Riley lied.

“Her bike’s outside.”

“Oh, yeah. She and Lynne went somewhere and asked if they could leave it in my yard. If you want to hang out here, you can probably catch her when she comes by to get it.”

By that time, I was out the garage door, grabbing my bike and hauling butt to Lynne’s. When Tim drove by later, Lynne and I were innocently sitting in her front yard, my bike next to us, making dandelion chains. Was he fooled? Who knows. But it gave Riley a favorite story to tell on me long after Tim and I were a distant memory.

Prompt from FMS Photo A Day.

February Photo A Day: Soft

This brush, this blanket, this baby: all soft.

Guinness has been getting treatments for her ears for over a month now. The ear wash dries inside and around her ears and stiffens the hair there. We use this brush to try to work it out and make that part of her coat as soft as the rest of her. I know she’s so tired of having her ears treated twice a day, so I try to make the brushings seem like she’s being pampered and petted.

As for the treatments, we can see the difference–her equilibrium is slowly improving, and there are sounds she can hear, mostly if they’re sounds she’s prepared for.

Last month marked the twelfth year she’s been with us. She’ll be thirteen in April. And I think anyone who’s met her would agree: the best and most real softness is what Guinness brings to your heart.

Prompt from FMS Photo A Day.

February Photo A Day: Something You Smelled

Coffee! Before I did my errands this morning, I allowed myself the rarest of treats: breakfast at Baby Barnaby’s. Perfect grits, and that orange juice is freshly squeezed in their groovy machine right before your eyes. Other than at the table of family or good friends, the only breakfast I love equally is in New Orleans at the Clover Grill. For me, it’s a much shorter drive to Baby Barnaby’s.

Prompt from FMS Photo A Day.

February Photo A Day: Pattern

Pattern and Snarl

Life likes a little mess. All patterns need a snarl.
The best patterns know how best to heed a snarl.

Every high style, every strict form was once nonce.
The best way to save a snagged pattern? Repeat the snarl.

Eden used to snow in fractals, rain in syncopated runs.
Adam never imagined he would hear its seedlings snarl.

Tug the wrong thread, and your wool sweater vanishes at once.
Death pulls at a wisp of us—and just like that, it’s freed the snarl.

What is it about order that we love? This sense,
Maybe, that a secret informs the pattern?

Is it a toddler’s joy in doing things again?
Is it the entropy in us that warms to pattern?

I never intended this line to rhyme on again again.
Then again, sometimes it’s the snarl that adorns the pattern.

Poem by Amit Majmudar.

Pictured: the very messy part of an unfinished counted cross-stitch project begun twenty years ago. It was meant to be part of healing from the death of a friend. It was meant to be a gift to another friend. It traveled with me all over the country, in cars, on planes, in homes of family and friends: people who loved me. Then in my Aries way, I put it aside too long one time, and now it lives in a bag deep in my closet, behind coats, hovering over bins of journals, the cloth yellowed and spotted, the webbing of threads on its underside uncut, never tied off. A “pattern and snarl” indeed, like the maddening, unfinished, criss-crossing lives we lead. If we’re lucky.

Prompt from FMS Photo A Day.

February Photo A Day: Fork

This month I’ll attempt to do each day’s challenge as provided on the FMS Photo A Day site. Today I chose the fork from my parents’ cutlery set, another of the things (besides me!) they brought back from Germany. We still use it. Tim usually says, “This knife is dull,” then I say, “But it’s pretty,” which now that I think about it, makes it like a few people I know.

Here, from Christmas when I was elevenish, Daddy is using the fork and knife to carve the turkey.

I see that because Mother set the table for our feast with her finest china, she removed the humble Tupperware salt and pepper shakers to shoot the photo. Yet there they sit, nestled among the plants in the corner, undercutting her fancy intentions.