I Duel Five-Year Olds Before Breakfast

   I wake to the sound of excited voices and happy laughter.  I smile. It's pleasant to wake to the fact that faraway cousins have gotten up at an unearthly hour for a Saturday, drove a long time, and are at this moment downstairs eating pancakes. 
   After getting ready to face the day, I meander downstairs to greet them, and to claim my share of the coffee before it's slurked down by everyone else. (Only one person out of the thirteen of our combined families doesn't like coffee. This means one has to be Prompt.)   At the foot of the staircase I say hello to the littlest one, a brown-eyed boy of five. 
  "Hey," he says back, in his high, little-kid voice.  He is holding a sword my brother whittled out of wood.  I watch him swing it around. "Shing!" he cries, drawing it from an imaginary scabbard.  He draws another one. "Shiiiiing!"   
  "Those are pretty cool," I grin at him. 
  "Here," he says, and hands me one.   He put one hand up in the air, "En garde!"  
  I raise my sword, and he whacks away, simultaneously supplying the sound effects of clashing metal. Meanwhile, I'm not keeping the properly straight face that befits a serious sword fighter.
  I go offensive, and force him backward away from his mom. (So that he doesn't accidentally hit her.) He breaks away and runs through the living room in fine style. I run the other way and cut him off. 
  "Hah!" I cry, "Gotcha!"  
  "Huh-uh!" he grunts, eyes twinkling defiantly. 
  We fight all around the living room, even a little on the stairs. Eventually I am getting the worst of it *ahem*, so we stop and I finally get my coffee. I stand in the kitchen, chatting with my aunt and my mom. Suddenly he pops through the door, brandishing his weapon.  
  I put my hands in the air (yes, very carefully, so as not to spill the coffee) and say in mock terror, "Oh no! It's a stick-up!"  
  We resume our clashing. 
  Because really, how many chances does one get in a lifetime to have an indoor duel before breakfast?

Dishwashing Duty

 The things one does to pass the time while washing dishes can be at times amusing or absurd. Although most often, it happens to be both.
  For instance, my youngest (12) brother and I had this conversation while washing up after supper.  All I can say is: he started it.

N: Tiddely-pom.

D: (Is thinking about something or another, and doesn't pay any attention)

N: Are we soon DONE?  Tiddely-pom. 
    'Cus this is BOOOOORING.  Tiddely-pom.

D: (Still ignoring him)

N: (says several more inane things, always ending, of course in Tiddely-pom, throwing a couple extra "Tiddely-poms" in, whenever he feels so led, for good measure)

N: When are we DONE?  Tiddely-pom. 

D: (awakens to the fact that her brother is quoting A.A. Milne)  I don't KNOW. Tiddely-pom.

N: Well I wish you DIIID. Tiddely-pom.

D: Pretty SOON. Tiddely-pom.

N: I'm just doing this to make it more INTERESTING: Tiddely-pom.
     'Cus frankly, this is BORING, Tiddely-pom.
     And so far it's been SUCCESSFUL, Tiddely-pom.

D: (Is trying not to grin)  Oh, REALLY?  Tiddely-pom.

N: Tiddely-pom. 

D: Tiddely-pom.

(They both proceed to try to sing a harmonic duet of tiddely-poms, which proved to be unsuccessful.)


Worlds Shaken


  I am happy. I have stopped in at the office for my check, and now I am going to the bank. I will be heading home after that, and ahead of me lies the weekend with promises of family time and christmas cheer. I turn on the radio, to my favorite classical station. Immediately, I know something is wrong. 
 The news guy is on, his voice sounding tight and worried for a smooth-talking news guy. The story is slow in coming, even with updates like, every minute, it seems. There's been a school shooting. Oh NO, I think, not AGAIN...  
  Crazy numbers swirl around. Eighteen, twenty people killed.  Horrors, I think.  Then I hear it, the fact that most of the victims (such an impersonal word) were kids. children. Six. Seven-year olds.  NO. nonononono. Nooooooooooo.   Tears fill my eyes and I blink furiously, willing the road to clear of the deluge it's momentarily engulfed in. I exit the highway, wondering why the flags aren't lowered at the township building. I turn off the president's voice, I can not listen any longer. No. 
  I want to tell everyone, ask the tellers at the bank, have you heard?  there's been kids killed today.   I go home and turn on my mp3, and listen to every dirge and requiem and song of lament that I can find, and I sing them to heaven.  Later, I read their names, and think of their families. I am sad.
  At the supper table I look at my complete family around the table, and I am so grateful for this moment. Right now, with them. Right here, I am happy. 
  But still, somewhere, I am sad.


Contagious, Cont.

  I was in the library the other day, (again, I know) selecting books for my two younger brother's schoolwork.  Hence, I was in the kid's wing, therefore: I talked to Miss Nancy again. And guess what?  She sent me her poem!  I thought I'd share it, since it nearly drives me wild with curiosity when I'm reading a book and the characters are discussing a book or poem they read, AND THEY NEVER SAY WHAT IT WAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  
  Come on people, I understand that it's a convenient writer trick, but I would like to be in on the joke too...  so I won't put you all through the same mental torture.
  The poem is untitled.

The python rests
upon himself
completely self-contained
Bejeweled in colored scales
Brilliant green
Golden yellow
Earthy brown
Opening himself wide
Only for what
Sustains him
He makes us shudder
His eyes so cold, uncaring
Beautiful predator
Completely self-contained.

-Nancy Antram

  After promising to email me the poem, she told me what a strange coincidence it was that I'd checked out 'The Importance of Being Earnest',  because she'd just been reminiscing with an old theater friend about the time (times?) they'd performed it. She confided that she'd played the character 'Gwendolyn', and said how much fun it'd been.  Wish I could've seen it...



Enthusiasm is contagious,

did you know that?   

  I was giggling quietly to myself as I left the library this morning, and continued to giggle through most of downtown. I love my local library, where most of the librarians know me, and sometimes comment on the books I get ("Oh, you're reading Oscar Wilde's works.." the older gentleman librarian said, in that peculiar soft voice of his, the already long laugh lines at the corners of his eyes lengthening even further into an approving smile.  I wasn't really, I mean it was the first Wilde book I've listened to. You should too. 'The Importance of Being Earnest' is incredibly humorous, and now my sister and I quote it back and forth. 
  "My dear Algy, you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist if one isn't a dentist. It produces a false impression.")  and sometimes recommend books too me, or point out new arrivals, and tell me to tell my mother hi, from Marilyn. 
 The reason I was amused?  Picture this if you will:

 I wander into the library, say hello to the downstairs librarian and grab 'The Essential Calvin and Hobbes' for my brothers (and me, when I have time) from the Graphic Novels. I run upstairs, choose two 'Nate, the Great' books, make some impulse picks, find something for me to listen to, and proceed to the checkout or whatever you like to call the librarian's desk.  (I can't think right now.)  
  Miss Nancy, the black-haired children's librarian, is busy at the moment, gossiping quietly with Marilyn, a downstairs librarian who has white hair and looks like she would play the piano quite well and artistically.  She comes over to me, still talking with Marilyn, who is apparently leaving.
  I think to myself that I've never seen Miss Nancy look so happy, and it soon becomes apparent to me as to why she looks so radiant. 
  She is scanning my card when, kind of out of the wild blue, she says, "I wrote a poem today! It just... CAME!" 
  Both Marilyn and I laugh, and Marilyn looks at me to say:  "She's good at that. You should hear her limericks." 
  "No, really!" bubbles Miss Nancy, "It only took me, like, three minutes! I saw that picture of the python and there it was!"   
  We talk a little about poetry writing, how it's hard to rhyme, how she mostly writes free verse, how she can't make it happen, it only happens when the inspiration comes, etc. 
   "Here! I'll just read it to you."  She smiles and rushes over to her computer, grabs a piece of paper off the top of the Stacks on her desk, and clears her throat.  
  She begins, slightly self-conscious, and Marilyn and I listen, smiling absently at the ceiling as we do so.  
  The poem is about a python, self-contained, a predator, jeweled scales the colors of earth, and it's cold eyes.  I hate snakes, but the poem is enough to make me see (for a little) the menacing beauty of  monster like a python.  She ends, looking up with a happy little laugh, and Marilyn and I laugh back and talk all at once, to tell her our reactions. 
   "Ooooo," I say, "It's like, step away from the poem, there's a snake in there!!!" 
   They laugh at me, and Miss Nancy thinks it would be a good title for the poem and shows us the bookcover on which the bejeweled python stares out at us with cold, predatory eyes, just like she said.      
  "Wow, what a morning..." I think to myself, as I trot down the steps with my armload of books and dodge between the brick pillars towards my vehicle.
  "A poet and a python."   
  Then I felt an urge to write it all down, so I have, on here.  I tell you, enthusiasm is contagious!  Go tell someone what you're excited about. It will inspire them.


...In Honor of All My Friends Who Are Not Here With Me To Try Out My New Teacups

  I found these Artsy (rainey, seee???)  teacups at the thriftstore on Saturday.  I couldn't just leave them there, so they came home with me, and now I am using them with Great Satisfaction.  Wish you were here...

 "You can never get a cup of tea large enough, or a book long enough, to suit me."  -C.S. Lewis

Smart man.