The Joy of Jennifer

I watched her take her first breath. I was the fourth person on earth to hold her in my arms. Every year on her birthday, I thank her mom for having the courage to be a single parent.

When I took her to school, we sang “I heard it through the grapevine” by the California Raisins.

I watched Saved by the Bell with her. She loved Da Whizzer da Boz, even the scene with the monkeys. I showed her the original black and white King Kong. Her first Hitchcock movie was Lifeboat, and she named her cat Tallulah.

She has a soft voice, beautiful long hair, is pure D gorgeous, loves a guy named Dave, and is getting her PhD in something complicated.

She hates cold weather, is a vegetarian who sometimes eats fish.

She has always been joy.

Ice, Ice, Baby

My friend George was in Hawaii, and had asked me to feed her semi-feral kitty.

Shortly after she left, a series of ice and snowstorms began in St. Louis, bringing killing cold temps with it.

Her cat refused to endure the warmth of her house. He preferred the skimpy shelter provided by a raggedy pile of lumber at the edge of her property.

I would lie awake at night, listening to the wind howl, wondering if the old grey cat would be alive the next morning, and guiltily swearing at George basking away her days on A warm chain of islands in the Pacific.

Then, genius, or perhaps despair, handed me the solution.

I remembered that at the end of her porch was a small cupboard with a plug-in.

I gathered the materials I needed, jumped in my car, and drove to her house. In a near whiteout, with icecicles hanging overhead, I assembled a cat cozy dwelling. A deep basket, a heating pad and a folded pillow sham on top.

The cat was in it almost immediately. Thus he would live, with unfrozen water and food, until his mom returned from paradise, and long after.

I’ll admit that I was overly proud of myself. But I still think I should have gotten a medal in IceSaving

A Hairy Consideration

Hair, familialy speaking, is a complicated affair

My hair began turning white while I was still in high school. Just a small streak, inherited from my mother. My sister also inherited it.

At age 30, it was too much. I had it professionally dyed until I was in my fifties. At that point, I went au natural, which I discovered was a beautiful silver. My sister never bothered with such frippery, and was silver at 40.

The older of my two brothers began losing his hair, and is now pretty bald. Oddly enough, he got that from mom, too. Her father, ironically a barber, was a bald man. That gene is passed on by the mother to her sons.

My youngest brother has a full head of hair. I’m not sure of the color, because I think he cheats.

He’s in show business.

Grant

“Grant’s the name. Cary Grant.”

It wasn’t true. His name was Archibald Leach. But that face, that voice, that style. It was pure Cary Grant.

It was a persona, but I fell in love with him as a teenager, and love him still this afternoon so many years later.

His star was bright. The man behind it was troubled. He took care of his mother, married many times, and only found true happiness with his only child and his last wife.

I’ve been told that we are all stardust, and maybe that’s true. But I think the stardust that became Cary Grant was from a brighter star than most

Mr. Grant

Fabulous Fox

As soon as we heard that the New York production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess was coming to the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, we knew we were going.

There were six of us. Great friends, going out for a fabulous evening.

The Fox had undergone a complete rewrite, down the tiniest detail. So we decked ourselves out, New York style, and headed to the wonderful landmark, were ushered to our seats, and prepared ourselves for an unforgettable night of music and lyrics.

What we got was a Porgy with a vibrato like Bert Lahr, and a cast which had forgotten to enunciate.

At the intermission, our little group huddled in the lobby. My friend Jeff, a singer with a powerful good voice himself asked, “does anyone know when the English language version comes to town?”

That settled it. We departed en masse from the New York City Production before the curtain rose on Act II. The theatre was fabulous, though. You know, for flyover country.

Eternity

What is it? It’s the time between the moment you push the button and:

The coffee is made,

The elevator arrives

The toast pops up

The windshield wipers swish

The candy bar drops.

Eternity is the time beyond imagining.

Nowhere in the bible does it say,

This too shall stay

We’re only passing into eternity


		

Dawg

Six dawgs in my life thus far…

Buster, Shannon, Marcus, Maewest, Lily, and Billie Jean.

Buster, protodawg, brown midsize longtailed mutt, I dragged home on the schoolbus as a second-grader. The nun smiled as she lifted the fat puppy from the box someone had dumped and handed it to me, a wide-eyed seven-year-old.

He could jump any fence, bounding out to mate, fight and come home, bloodied but unbowed. We knew nothing of neutering then. He was loyal only to us, hated the mailman, and lived to be 16 years old.

In another life, I came out of the grocery store to find Shannon cowering under my car. I had cans of cat food in my bag of groceries, and made the rookie mistake of opening a can, which lured the starving dog from underneath the car directly into my heart. As I drove home she crept onto my lap and put her front paws around my neck. I was a mom. She was never, in her 6 years, quite housebroken. I finally learned the cause was bladder stones, and the vet put her down.

I had hardly recovered when a dear friend opened a large cage in her back yard, releasing the hounds! Three gorgeous standard poodle puppies. One of them, a deep brown, curly coated male, made three wide loops around the yard and jumped into my arms. Marcus would be with me for 14 wonderful years, clowning, playing, and guarding me ferociously. He was my first standard poodle, but not my last.

I thought, poodle it is, and adopted a big, blond female named MaeWest. I wanted to love her. But no matter how long I walked her, played outside with her, let her wander around the yard, she came back into my condo and crapped on the hardwood floor. Fortunately, my neighbor upstairs adored her, and even with full crapping disclosure, wanted to have her.

When I married and moved into a house with a fenced yard, I adopted Lily, a gorgeous bi- color standard found at the side of the highway with two pups. We built her a huge kennel in our bedroom. She barked at my husband and hid under my knees. We hired a trainer. One day we left for a few hours. She tore her kennel to pieces and chewed a huge corner off an oriental rug. We took her to the dog park, where she ran like a greyhound, let the puppies maul her, rolled in shit and wouldn’t come when we were ready to leave. We tried some tranquilizing drugs. Finally, we bought a ridiculously priced item called a thundershit, designed to calm frightened dogs. We tried, and tried. For a year. Then, tearfully, We returned her to her previous owner. She was a broken dawg, probably a breeder used only for having puppies. Another owner tried with her for another unsuccessful year. Then put her down.

Next, into my life pranced Billie Jean. She was discovered at the pound. We don’t know why or how she got there. But she’s a pound poodle. Black curly coat, sweetest heart ever, bed hog, English speaking, joyous and (we think) about 12 years old. We’ve had two near-death experiences with her, but she bounces back. It’s impossible not to love her, and when it’s time, I will provide her with a fear-free, peaceful and painless exit.

And then? We’ll see. Dawg is good

Amen

Catholic

“including a wide variety of things; all embracing”

This was never my experience of catholic.

It was exclusionist in extremis

No women priests

No married priests

No sex before marriage

No birth control

No abortion

No homosexual marriage

No Lgtbq recognition

Nononononono

However

Hide the worst problem:pedophilia

Shuffle the guilty around like the ball under the cup at a sideshow game

Instead of charging them with child molestation, turning them over to law enforcement, trying them, and sending them to prison.

They’ve made some deals, paid some victims, sure.

I know the problem exists wherever there are adults have power over children

But only the catholic church has embraced it for centuries. You know, in its all-embracing way

Birthday

I was born on Easter Sunday, 1942, wearing a suit especially made for me. It was, as they say now, bespoke.

It was knit up in my mother’s womb from dna passed from one generation to the next for eons.

When it was new, my birthday suit shone with innocence, without shame or wrinkles

People came to marvel at its beauty. Some brought gifts, not of frankincense and myrrh, but things needed, rattles and rolls of blanket, no shaking, please.

The miracle that happened then was that every year, on that same day, my birthday suit was noticeably bigger. It had a little blurs of shame, too, more each year.

It was prime in its time, though. Adorned in glimmer, shimmer and gold.

As years folded neatly into decades quick as silver, my birthday suit began to show its age. It wrinkled easily. It didn’t clean as well.

It’s clearly seen its share of wear. It hangs differently now, and in different places. Not the same suit anymore.

I’m not ready to throw it in the bin yet, but I can see the bin from where I stand. That’s the way with birthday suits. They all fall apart eventually, Easter born or not.

Amen

April

Yep, she’s the cruelest month. She begins with a joke by offering us a bouquet of flowers wrapped in tornadoes.

She lets things grow to full bud, then whips temperatures wildly from freeze to tropic.

She writes poems in a pandemic, life and death, win, lose, draw.

She poses as Spring, rising from a terrible winter like Venus on the halfshell.

But the scariest yet best offering of April is my birthday, which thankfully, gets bigger every year.

Amen