Monday, October 29, 2012

Kitty Kitty

Dear Mom,

I know you were never much of a cat fan, but how can you resist these little stinkers? Which kitty do you think is the most adorable?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Myrtle the Turtle

Dear Mom,

Not only does watermelon remind me of you, it is my favorite fruit. I just bought one at Trader Joe’s and I was a little worried it might not be very good since it’s towards the end of the watermelon season. But oh, was it delicious. I think that’s the last one I’ll purchase for the year so as not to ruin the watermelon season for myself.

What does this have to do with Myrtle the Turtle? Hang on, I’m getting to it.

I cut up the watermelon and put the rinds in a bag to carry out to the woods—hoping some critter would find it a tasty treat. And surprise, here’s what I saw…

 Can you see him in the lower left corner?

Here he is!
As soon as I spotted it, it reminded me of my younger years when we’d go to Uncle Harold and Aunt Mary’s farm. Once we got there, you’d let Ruthie roam wherever we wanted and off into the woods we’d go… seemed like we’d always find a turtle. Sometimes you’d let us take the turtle home.

Remember when we found a three-legged turtle that we named Myrtle the Turtle? And Myrtle the Turtle lived in our basement… that is until the day Myrtle was in the wrong spot—where Dad pulled the car in and….

I guess you cleaned up the mashed Myrtle before Ruthie and I got come from school. You never told us what really happened, but that Myrtle must have gotten away. We found out from Dad many, many years later that he ran over Mrytle. I never held it against Dad, after all, it was an accident. But as an immature kid, would I have seen it that way?

Do you think that was the right decision looking back? To protect children from knowing the truth—fearing it’d be too traumatic or that we would’ve resented Dad for not being more careful?

I did the same thing to my daughter, Rita. She was in Kindergarten when I broke the news that her black cat, Spaz ran away. In reality, I drove Spaz to the Humane Society. Trust me, I had a good reason why, and I didn’t feel Rita was mature enough to understand. I too, had protected her from seeing the truth about someone.

I wonder whether I would have acted differently if you had told us the truth about Myrtle?

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Dear Mom,

I had a 40th grade school reunion about a week ago. A few traveled from out of state: all the way from California and two from Texas. Several drove hours from Illinois and the outskirts of Missouri. It was nice that those who came made the effort.

I personally was impressed with one classmate. One who was bullied—it wasn’t called that back then, but that’s what it was… I feel shame for not being brave enough to have put an end to it. Or for not truly being her friend. I was kind of dumb.

I think about my own kids and how they were brave enough to help the underdog. I thank God that I at least taught them better. I found out years later that my own baby had been picked on in high school… she never told me then. But talk about a heart breaker.

I’m not a poet, so my critique friends gave me a few tips. Thank you.

This poem could be for my daughter too, but I wrote it for my classmate.


I could never be that brave.
Day after day after day
teased, tormented,
Ugly words slapping her face.

Nearly everyone participated
in some shape or form.
I don’t know how
she held her head high.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words will never hurt me.”
They hurt me just watching.
I wasn’t brave.

I didn’t stand up and
say, “Stop it. Leave her alone.”
Darkness settled near me, I feared I’d be next.
No, I wasn’t brave.

I wondered when she got home
from school whether she dreamed
of a better life. Did she write in her diary
who she hated, anger filling page after page?

Or were the pages soaked
from tears spilling out, endlessly?
Because sticks and stones…
words do hurt.

There are choices
wallow in self-pity, or pick up
all the pieces and put yourself back together again.
Make a difference in the world.

To be so brave.

I’ve always admired
and will always admire
her beauty, her strength
her courage.

With love,

Monday, October 8, 2012


Dear Mom,

You cooked and served a lot of odd things before, but I don’t ever remember kale being one of them. I read somewhere that kale is good for my body type, but I’ve never eaten it. Until…

At one of our critique meetings, Sioux brought us each a little bag with some kale chips that she had made. I devoured the entire bag of the little curly crisp leaves. Then I craved them.

My daughter, Rita and I went to Tower Grove Farmer’s Market one Saturday. Rita thought it opened at 7AM and wanted to get there on time in the event a vendor had fresh milk and butter—since she heard it disappeared fast.

The market didn’t open until 8AM, so we sat on the steps and watched the farmers set out their produce. There was honey, coffee, tea, breads, pastry, poultry, beef, gelato, soap, flowers, crafts, and of course, fruits and vegetables—whatever was in season. The Holy Crepe (love that name) served crepes out of this converted short bus that is now a traveling crepe feast. Ten Lives had cats for adoption (another cat-chy name - oh, I couldn't resist). I can’t forget Praise the Lard (who sold pork). Rather clever names for a farmer’s market.

I was on a mission to find kale and had no idea if it was in season or not. I spotted two vendors selling kale. The first bunch of kale I purchased was an oval shaped, flat leaf. It didn’t look anything like Sioux’s kale. The next batch had some weird looking shapes in the bag, but I bought it anyway. Part of me wondered if they were passing off some greenery as kale. As we were leaving, I spotted a craft vender that had some herbs and the curly kind of kale, but I was out of money…

After I got home, I washed, dried and prepped the leaves in olive oil and sea salt, then baked the kale in the oven. I searched in the Internet for kale and found there are different varieties. The following came from Wikipedia.

Kales can be classified by leaf type:
·       Curly leaved (Scots Kale)
·       Plain leaved
·       Rape Kale
·       Leaf and spear (a cross between curly leaved and plain leaved Kale)
·       Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato, and dinosaur Kale)

I’m not sure which variety one particular leaf I bought falls under, but it reminded me of a pin oak leaf (see top photo, middle leaf). Kind of tasted like one too—or at least how I imagined a brown, crunchy fallen pin oak leaf might taste. Forget about eating the stem. You’d need to be a horse or a cow that had plenty of experience chewing hay. The curly leaf was light and crisp and nearly melted in your mouth.

I’m a curly leaf kind of gal, what about you?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Grand Dogs

Dear Mom,

Guess you didn’t know you are a great grandmother… to dogs. Sorry, you never were much of a dog person, at least from what I can remember.

I visited Rita one day at her house on The Hill and she pulled out different crafts that she was working on for her business, EgabragCrafts. She left the room and came back with one of her babies—a pug named Gramma.

  Gramma, "Oh for the love of..."

 Doc looks up, "Where's mine?" 
Gramma: "You'll be sorry..."

She left with Gramma and came back with Computer. I have no idea what kind of dog he is, but if you put Computer in a Star Wars ewok costume, he passes for an ewok hands down. I’m pretty sure he was less than thrilled to be dressed like a skeleton.

"Please, don't ever do that again."

 Their beagle, Goddie cried out...

 "Whoooooo.... stop the madness.”