Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flush with Flowers

Around this time of the year, when there’s still frost on the outdoor dog in the morning and air conditioners run like a spider-chased schoolgirl in the afternoon, I like to venture down to the Lawn & Garden department at the local Sow ‘em & Grow ‘em Store. People who should never own fertilizer are wandering past the bags of peat moss, clutching pots of distressed dahlias, and murmuring, “Wonder if I need manure?”

It’s like Disneyland for clueless people.

All I want is a bird feeder. Winter and fat Cardinals have not been kind to the little plastic number that hung in my yard all winter, and I need someplace to leave the offerings for the sparrows that exercise the dogs by flitting around just out of Labrador reach.

Here in the South, whimsical lawn ornaments are popular among the population. By whimsical, I mean ugly and offensive. By population, I mean my neighbor (you know who you are, Danny) who used to borrow a goat the last week of every month so that he didn’t have to cut the two square inches of grass that grew beside his cultivated kudzu patch.

My other neighbor has a patch of lawn decorated by a wishing well, two wooden farmer misses bending over to show polka dot bloomers, a bevy of plastic geese, and a charming white toilet holding a cluster of cheerful daffodils. These folks may have lawn furniture in the family room, but the porcelain in the front yard holds a place of honor.

Driving back home with my tiny plastic birdfeeder, I can’t help but think about my own yard. I won’t feel comfortable calling it a lawn until there is something growing in it that didn't spring spontaneously to life over the septic tank. Algae doesn’t count as lawn, even the easy-care kind.

I guess everybody celebrates Spring in their own fashion. In Augusta, the Masters has acres of azaleas, not far away the peach trees are beginning to bud. But in my little corner of the country--just below the Bible Belt and just above the Sweet Tea Bag; we take pride in our pottied plants.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spring Forward, Sleeping In

Winter inspires me to sport an unattractive, yet functional wardrobe of warm fuzzies. Those of you who have witnessed the extravanganza that is my purple flannel puppy dog pajamas and have not yet unfriended me on any major social networking sites are loyal and courageous people. I also sport soot like starlets sport beauty cream--a hazard of seasonal fireplace hugging.

There is a glimmer of hope around the kerosene heater, though, and it's not because that celebu-rodent with the spring prediction act is guessing that warmer weather is on the way. So how do I know that bigger and balmier things are out there?

Join me at Stage of Life to find out! And while you're there, hang around and check out the coupons and stuff and leave a comment or two. Why? I'm supposed to do it and I'm still in hibernation with the rest of the woodland creatures until the Labrador on my lap sees his shadow!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Point and Shoot

It's not that I don't enjoy sharing my birthday month with a fat, naked, stalker baby.

But couldn't he spend a little less time playing Black Ops and a little more time practicing his real life aim? Join me over at An Army of Ermas to see what Cupid's up to now.

And if you missed my birthday, don't worry. There is no late fee for expensive gifts.

Or chocolate.
P.S. That flower the Captain is holding? Is DEAD.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Fire for You

“What’s this?” The Captain tossed his hat and coat by the door and picked up a folded pink paper from the table.

“It’s Valentine’s Day. Cupid left it for you.”

“What’s that smell?” He wrinkled his nose.

“Maybe Cupid was having a bad day.”

“It smells like gasoline.”

“Well if Cupid didn’t have to pump her own gas, it might smell like meatloaf.”

“We’re having meatloaf? Did you put the little heart made out of catsup on the top?”

“We don’t have any catsup. I was going to the store when I ran out of gas. At the gas station the note fell out of my pocket and blew under a pickup truck. When I bent down to get it back, I spilled gas on it.”

“I’m sorry you had a bad day. Why don’t we go out?”

“Because we’re having meatloaf. It’s your favorite.”

“But we don’t have any catsup. What did you put on top?”

“Strawberry jelly.”


“That’s all we had that was red.”

“Maybe I should read the note.”

“Well, I was kind of annoyed by the time I finished it.”

“I see.” He tossed the note in a bowl on the table and touched it with the lighter we keep handy for starting the grill.

Hungry flames and the smell of burning gas flared and then receded.

He grinned. “Hottest love note I ever got. Let’s go eat.”

“Can we take your car?”

“Okay,” he put his arm around me and grinned as he guided me toward the door.

“But we’ll have to stop for gas.”

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dearest Amy...

We woke up this morning feeling old and sluggish and not well rested. My sinus infection, your bad back. My bum knee, your bum hips. So many things that come with age. But right now we're making soup for lunch while reading the paper and talking about how we'll probably celebrate NEXT weekend at the Dog Show, since neither one of us feels like partying today.

And that's fine.

Because we who have reached a certain point in life, if we've watched the world carefully enough, know how to make adjustments. It comes with wisdom, you know. The ability to celebrate the day, not the date. To look at a gray hair and not see age, but a battle scar.

So Happy Birthday, Baby Girl. You're still the best thing in my life, and my life has always been full of good things.

Soup's on. Let's enjoy.

The Cap'n

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Locked Out and Loaded

Dear Lock People,

I can see why you are very proud of your product. I, too, would aspire to make the very best lock ever to nestle in throwaway packaging if I were in your place. Keeping things safe and secure is your business.

However, I am writing because I sense a flaw in your vision. Although it is essential for the very best of products to lock, I find it can be just as important for such an item to unlock, thereby instilling a sense of calm in the person standing outside the door with several bags of groceries, who wants to come in out of the rain and deposit the bags on the kitchen counter just inside the door.

From my vantage point on the steps I can see:

1. The kitchen counter, bare of grocery bags.

2. Two large dogs and a small salami-shaped dog, who sense my presence outside the door.

3. The garbage can in the act of performing a one and a half gainer, which is due to the fact that the dogs are very excited that I am outside the door. Labradors express great joy by flinging coffee grounds throughout the house in a sort of native doggie dance of abandon.

Looking down, I can also see that the gourmet ice cream, double chocolate Moose Tracks, that I bought as a reward for cleaning out the refrigerator and starting on a new exercise regime has begun to melt and is, even now, performing a kind of scientific experiment with the bottom of the paper bag.

I now regret choosing paper instead of plastic in an attempt to throw myself in with the ecologically-minded set who have actually already abandoned paper for recyclable bags made from reconstituted shower caps.

I also regret my new exercise regime, which consists of one sit-up, performed with the aid of two inquisitive Labradors striving to certify my identity as I became one with the dust bunnies and a small, insistent splinter on the floor. Because I accomplished the sit-up and passed the canine equivalent of a TSA patdown, I now have semi-soft Moose nuggets in my shoe.

In case you have questions of user error in mind, I have already checked the key in my hand to ascertain that it does not fit:

My car
My husband’s car
My diary

I am also pleased to announce that I discovered that the reason the door wouldn’t open when I pressed the button marked “unlock” on my key fob is that the unlock button only works on the doors to the car, which is presently flashing its lights and honking its horn in a psychotic attempt to alert passersby to the fact that I'm locked out of my house with overloaded bags of food, free for those who don't mind jacking a gallon of warm milk and six thawed Lean Cuisine dinners featuring limp pasta from a hysterical woman who resembles your mother on the day you decided to move back home.

In typical fashion all this serves to accomplish is to draw the attention of the cat, who skitters toward the door and finds, to her delight, the puddle of Moose Tracks that is oozing down my leg.

So just now I am trying to shake the cat off my leg, juggle the groceries, coerce the dogs to turn the deadbolt, and ram the key far enough into the lock to solve all our problems. If I had an extra limb, I would use it to do a Google Earth search on my iPhone to find your exact location.

And do you know what I’m thinking, Lock People? I’m thinking that if I had your Quality Control guy right here in front on me, I would whittle a key out of whichever part of him was most likely to conform to the crooked little slot that is barring me from tracking melted Moose Tracks, wet kitty, and a squishy thing stuck in the treads of my hiking boots into the kitchen and through the coffee grounds and orange peels to get to my dancing dogs.

Do you know what else I’m thinking? I’m thinking that the packaging for this handy doorknob/lock combination, which the Captain tossed nonchalantly in the garbage a year ago when he was installing this product, said “Lifetime Guarantee.” And I’m wishing I had read the fine print then to see which mayfly’s lifetime you used as a basis for this guarantee, because that's exactly how long yours is going to be once we meet to assign blame.

But for now, I am going to kick the door with my shoe until my son, who is downstairs engrossed in perfecting his score on the Let’s Sweat section of Just Dance, feels the vibration and experiences the tsunami it starts in the toilet in the guest bathroom.

When he finally opens the door, I am going to call you on the telephone and invite you over for ice cream.

And coffee grounds.

And you know what? You may keep this invitation to use at any time.

It has a lifetime guarantee.